Monday, November 3, 2008

Readings: Mirabeau

"All the possessions consisted of scattered and secret securities, a few warehouses, and passive and active debts, whose true owners are to some extent unknown, since no one knows which of them are paid and which of them are owing. No wealth which is immaterial or kept in people's pockets can ever be got hold of by the sovereign power, and consequently will yield it nothing at all. This is a truth which should be constantly repeated to the governments of those agricultural nations which take such pains to school themselves to become merchants, i.e. to plunder themselves. The wealthy merchant, trader, banker, etc., will always be a member of a republic. In whatever place he may live, he will always enoy the immunity which is inherent in the scattered and unknown character of his property, all one can see of which is the place where business in it is transacted. It would be useless for the authorities to try to force him to fulfill the duties of a subject: they are obliged, in order to induce him to fit in with their plans, to treat him as a master, and to make it worth his while to contribute voluntarily to the public revenue."
Victor Riqueti, marquis de Mirabeau, Philosophie rurale (1763)

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