Send us your blog post, blog address, address of other great sites or suggestions by email.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Optimistic handbook at the turn of the century

The rapid spread and even social dominance of these new ideas of laissez-faire, crypto-deism, and the morality of utility and the Golden Rule, may be seen in the Dialogues, a virtual handbook of fashionable manners and ideas for the social climber, published in 1701 by the young litterateur, Nicholas Baudot de Juilly. In Dialogues, Baudot, son of a tax farmer in Vendome, after lauding the manners taught in fashionable salons, proceeds to the ruling ideas of the day, where he vulgarizes the laissez-faire doctrine into one grounded in a frank and candid hedonism. The desire for pleasure and for the avoidance of pain was grounded in the natural drive for self-preservation. Furthermore, the God of Christianity, in the hands of Baudot, became a quasi-deistic god who has provided ‘all nature’ as a ‘great feast where in His inexhaustible goodness God has convened us’. The Garden of Eden had been a realm of enjoyment and sensate pleasure; the purpose of Jesus's arrival on earth was to recall mankind to that original enjoyment. Asceticism, furthermore, causes economic misery. Specialization, trade, and the pursuit of wealth in the marketplace were the truest, and therefore the God-given, forms of charity.
As Baudot put it: God had ‘purposely permitted us to multiply our needs in order to cause money to circulate among all men, passing from the purses of the rich to those of the poor’.
Trade, then, is the genuine charity:

All this [regional specialization and communication] has been so admirably accomplished in order to bind men to one another, who in effect should form only one single family so that the need they would have for one another would accomplish among them what charity alone ought to do. It is for this reason that men..., however different in mores, language, and Religion... are becoming united from one end of the world to another by reciprocal trade. It is also for this reason that they exchange equally things which are agreeable and those that which are necessary, so that they can not only sustain life as in a pasture like beasts, but also to render it sweeter, more humane and more polished by pleasures.

Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought (2 volume set)

No comments:

Post a Comment