Review of Panarchy
by Paul-Émile de Puydt (1860)

by C. D. B. [= Charles Joseph Marie Ghislain de Brouckère (1796-1860)?]

[Thanks to David M. Hart for the tentative identification (more about de Brouckère
here and here), though Charles Le Hardy de Beaulieu is also a possibility. – RTL]

Click here for the French version
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Trimestrial Review, volume 27, July 1860.

PEDP-P.1 Political economy teaches that competition is the best and even the only means of regularly obtaining consumer goods of the highest quality and at the lowest price. This is one of the best demonstrated truths of science, and each application it receives gives it a striking confirmation.
PEDP-P.2 Also, these applications of scientific truth grow more numerous every day, but by an inconceivable aberration, the most useful commodity of them all, one that is as necessary to the maintenance of the social body as bread is to the conservation of human life, security, in every locale escapes the beneficent and regulatory influence of competition, its manufacture remaining everywhere the object of the most absolute monopoly from which the consumer can escape only by resorting to the extreme expedients of emigration, rebellion, or death.
PEDP-P.3 M. P.-E. de Puydt, until now better known for his charming and witty literary publications than for works in political economy, has just published in the Trimestrial Review, under the name of “Panarchy,” an outline of a system that would have the advantage of submitting the industry of security production, otherwise known as governments, to a competition as complete as that in which manufacturers of fabrics, for example, engage in a country under free trade, and achieves this without having recourse to revolutions, barricades, or even the smallest act of violence.
PEDP-P.4 If society were to adopt the system proposed by M. de Puydt, each citizen would be able change governments at least as easily as a tenant changes furnished apartments in a large city; because he would need to commit himself for only one year to follow the laws of the government of his choice and to defray expenses at rates discussed in advance. At the end of this year’s trial, the citizen would be free to subscribe, for his consumption of security and other public services, to the establishment that produced these things in the manner most congruent with his tastes and for the amount that he desires to devote to this expense.
PEDP-P.5 How the author has succeeded in resolving, with a truly marvelous simplicity, the problem of the best and most economical government, agitated for centuries by the most powerful minds, including Aristotle, Plato, and J. J. Rousseau, how he lays out his system with clarity in a style consistently free of the dryness that so often puts off readers of works on political economy, excellently satirising the shortcomings of present-day governments; how the author foresees and refutes all the objections that might be raised against his system, is something that we cannot pause to describe, for it would exceed the limits assigned to this article, and above all would diminish the pleasure that the reader will discover by becoming familiar on his own with De Puydt’s short work.
PEDP-P.6 Indeed, all those who are interested in the propagation of sound economic ideas will read with interest this first attempt, already so remarkable, and which offers us the prospect of one more skillful champion of the cause of laissez-faire, laissez-passer, that is to say, of one of the most extensive and most fruitful manifestations of the great principles of JUSTICE AND LIBERTY.

C. D. B.

The Belgian Economist: Organ of the Interests of Industry and Trade
(4 August 1860, N° 31, Sixth Year), p. 503.

[Online editor’s note: This journal was edited by Gustave de Molinari, whose
1849 works The Production of Security and Soirées on the Rue Saint-Lazare
are likely to have influenced de Puydt’s idea of panarchy. – RTL]

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