Books / Digital Text
The Production of Security
There are two ways of considering society.1 According to some, the development of human associations is not subject to providential, unchangeable laws. Rather, these associations, having originally been organized in a purely artificial manner by primeval legislators, can later be modified or remade by other legislators, in step with the progress of social science. In this system the government plays a preeminent role, because it is upon it, the custodian of the principle of authority, that the daily task of modifying and remaking society devolves.
According to others, on the contrary, society is a purely natural fact. Like the earth on which it stands, society moves in accordance with general, preexisting laws. In this system, there is no such thing, strictly speaking, as social science; there is only economic science, which studies the natural organism of society and shows how this organism functions.
We propose to examine, within the latter system, the function and natural organization of government.
- 1. Although this article may appear Utopian in its conclusions, we nevertheless believe that we should publish it in order to attract the attention of economists and journalists to a question which has hitherto been treated in only a desultory manner and which should, nevertheless, in our day and age, be approached with greater precision. So many people exaggerate the nature and prerogatives of government that it has become useful to formulate strictly the boundaries outside of which the intervention of authority becomes anarchical and tyrannical rather than protective and profitable. [Note of the editor-in-chief of the Journal des Economistes, 1849.]