Gustave de Molinari

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Gustave de Molinari
Gustave de Molinari

Gustave de Molinari (March 3, 1819 - January 28, 1912) was a Belgian-born economist associated with the French économistes, a group of laissez-faire liberals.

Throughout his life, together with the other économistes, Molinari defended peace, free trade, freedom of speech, freedom of association (including voluntary trade unions), and liberty in all its forms, and opposed slavery, colonialism, mercantilism, protectionism, imperialism, nationalism, corporatism, economic interventionism, government control of arts and education, and, in general, all of what he considered to be restraints on liberty. Living in Paris, in the 1840s, he took part in the "Ligue pour la Liberté des Échanges" (Free Trade League), animated by Frederic Bastiat. On his death bed in 1850, Bastiat described Molinari as the continuator of his works.

In 1849, shortly after the revolutions of the previous year, Molinari published two works: an essay, The Production of Security, and a book, Les Soirées de la Rue Saint-Lazare, describing how a free market in justice and protection could advantageously replace the state. In the preface to the 1977 English translation Murray Rothbard called The Production of Security the "first presentation anywhere in human history of what is now called anarcho-capitalism" though admitting that "Molinari did not use the terminology, and probably would have balked at the name." The first known use of the term "capitalism" was not until 1854 by novelist William Thackeray. Morever, capitalism was not defined in terms of an economic system until later in the 20th century. For example, as recently as 1909 the Century Dictionary defined it as 1) The state of having capital or property; possession of capital. 2) The concentration or massing of capital in the hands of a few; also, the power or influence of large or combined capital." Additionally, the term "anarchist" was primarily being used as an insult.

In the 1850s, Molinari fled to Belgium to escape threats from France's Emperor Napoleon III. He returned to Paris in the 1860s to work on the influential newspaper, Le Journal des Debats, which he edited from 1871 to 1876. Molinari went on to edit the Journal des Économistes, the publication of the French Political Economy Society, from 1881 until 1909. In his 1899 book, The Society of the Future, he proposed a federated system of collective security, and reiterated his support for private competing defense agencies.

External links

  • David Hart's Gustave De Molinari And The Anti-Statist Liberal Tradition
  • The Society of Tomorrow by Molinari, published electronically by The Library of Economics and Liberty with annotations, biography, etc.
  • Some works by Molinari available in original French from Hervé de Quengo's site.
  • The Molinari Institute