The trial that ensued at the end of August was a sensation and widely reported in the press. It was during this time that relations between Enfantin and Chevalier deteriorated. Once freed, he was reintegrated into the corps des mines , and given his old rank of mining engineer second-class. Three months later he was authorised to undertake an investigation of mining, industry, and infrastructure in the United States. The mission represented an opportunity for rehabilitation.
It also coincided with the dispersal of the Saint-Simonians, which saw many of its leading members being allowed to travel to Egypt, and Enfantin after his release from jail, being permitted to join them. The American canvas painted by Chevalier was very different from that painted by Tocqueville. The book examined the state of American manufacturing, working conditions, wages, and the material conditions — including modern conveniences — of the working classes.
Utopian Socialism in the Nineteenth Century by Plekhanov
It not only gave the clearest possible snapshot of the American economy and polity, it also showed how the American economy could serve as a model for France. The work was a great success and proved highly influential.
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Chevalier reflected at length on America as a salutary example of the positive connection between an integrated infrastructure, economic growth, and political stability. Both made what had been the Saint-Simonian case for large-scale public works projects, but presented that case in the altogether more authoritative, and altogether less contentious, language of liberalism. But this use of the language of liberalism would alter the nature of liberalism itself.
Chevalier focused on how the development of infrastructure accelerated the growth of trade, national wealth, and the material conditions of all classes in society, but particularly the working classes. His mid-nineteenth-century vision for France was over a century ahead of its time, combining, as it did, Keynesianism before Keynes with late 20 th and early 21 st century globalism before the era of globalisation. They attracted the attention of political economists and public officials alike.
In he succeeded Rossi in that role and, with the exception of a brief interlude after the revolution, held that chair until his death in Throughout his time as professor of political economy Chevalier stressed the important Saint-Simonian themes of his previous works. This was because of the way in which he combined a natural scientific world-view that owed so much to his engineering education with Saint-Simonian concerns. The result yielded an odd and seemingly contradictory outcome: a rejection of unregulated competition on one hand and an endorsement of national and international trade on the other.
This apparent and ostensibly important contradiction was, in his mind, no contradiction at all. Rather, he viewed competition and trade through a scientific prism informed by a sophisticated understanding of the laws of nature and the generative capacity of natural systems.
Competition and trade were seen as a form of circulus that acted as a catalyst to innovation.
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They were therefore not expressions of individual liberty but rather part of a higher and more encompassing idea of organisation. In those lectures he described unfettered competition as disaggregating and destructive to economic, political, and social organisation. It pitted industrialists against each other and against their employees; it caused individuals to be alienated from their labours, and impoverished the labouring classes morally, intellectually, and culturally. They threatened to arrest the development of the wider economy by disrupting the circulus through the concentration of capital in the hands of a few wealthy producers.
Unfettered markets led to a concentration of capital and power that in turn was a brake on innovation. According to Chevalier this represented a squandering of human potential, a net loss for the national economy, and the fragmentation of social organisation. By taking nature — which he understood as a complex circulatory organisation, whose vitality and coherency could be positively or negatively affected by human activity — as the model for political economy, Chevalier was bound logically to stress organisation as the key to economic growth, and unrestricted competition with its resulting disorganisation as the cause of economic depression:.
Unlimited competition often causes an excessive fall in prices that appears favourable to the consumer. What occurs after all of these accidents, these extreme depressions, these jolts and these shocks, is not only a transfer of wealth to some and a loss to others; it is rather, in the greater number of cases, a dead loss. For the theorem of kinetic energies that mathematicians establish in relation to the movement of solid objects, equally subsists in the order of material interests, and perhaps too in the ethical realm.
Taking the laws of nature and the generative capacity of natural systems as the model for political economy meant that the very idea of trade became transformed.
The nature of trade itself was fundamentally transformed through its organisation and regulation. No longer conceived of as a form of competition than as a form of circulus , trade acted as a catalyst to innovation and growth. Chevalier revived the physiocratic analogy between the human body and the body of the nation, where trade — the circulation of goods, capital and services — like the circulation of blood in the human body, sustained life and supported vigour, and thus achieved a number of political ends.
These interests combined to generate growth and new interests, and these in turn combined to generate additional growth and interests. The circulatory system multiplied interests, and connections. Capacity served as the justification of imperialism. The principle he set out was that a people who failed to make productive use of their resources, to develop their economic capacity, forfeited the right to those same resources. Hence, if in private matters property implies the right to misemploy or neglect, it does not follow that this is the case in matters of civilisation.
Here reigns a divine law, the law of confiscation against those states that do not know how to make use of the talent that God has bestowed upon them, or those who use those talents in a manner contrary to the most elevated and invincible principles of civilisation, such as the bringing together of continents and races. The great irony was that whereas Chevalier condemned war and military spending as destructive to the development of economic and human capacity, he justified war with non-European peoples as a precondition to the development of those very same capacities.
But the irony did not just end there.
Oeuvres complètes - 4 volumes
Abdelnour, If you want to discuss this essay further, you can send a proposal to the editorial team redaction at laviedesidees. We will get back to you as soon as possible. Chevalier treats the question of deforestation and climate change in a number of mining reports and later works. As he put it: The Mediterranean was an arena, a closed field, where for over thirty centuries the East and the West have been locked in combat. Find us here :. Sign up and receive our weekly newsletter for free:. Email address:. Nota Bene: If you want to discuss this essay further, you can send a proposal to the editorial team redaction at laviedesidees.
You might also like. Europe: its construction, its money, its politics by Cristelle Terroni , 15 August Evans and P. Wilson, eds. Dornier and C. Poulin, eds. One is in the Appendix to Grace G. A third is in: S. Hoffman and D. Vaughan, ed. London: Constable, , which is available through archive. For discussion of Rousseau in these debates, see Grace G. Paris: Vrin, , pp. Breazeale, trans. London, Less academic but still interesting is the essay by David A.
Egron, The text is available at gallica. Boyer and Berthold Molden, eds. Bayly and E.
Biagini, eds. On peace conferences, see Sandi E. The other development to consider over the course of the second half of the nineteenth century is the debate amongst the international lawyers. For some background on the Marxist debate about nationalities, see e. There is also R. Stirk, ed. Hiden and David J. Berlin: de Gruyer, , vols. Berlin: de Gruyer, , vols 3 and 4. London: Routledge, [1st ed. See, e. Paul, , pp. For the debate on a single currency, see Hayek, Denationalisation of money: an analysis of the theory and practice of concurrent currencies London: Institute of Economic Affairs, Fossum, eds.
See also the essays in Neil Walker, ed. But things are changing fast, and a full bibliography for this final week will be supplied at the start of Lent Term. Related Papers. Saint-Pierre's 'Polysynody' and European order.
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