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3: The Simple Ways of an Isolated Nation Within Which Trade Enjoys Complete Freedom - Étienne Bonnot, Abbé de Condillac, Commerce and Government Considered in their Mutual Relationship 
Commerce and Government Considered in their Mutual Relationship, translated by Shelagh Eltis, with an Introduction to His Life and Contribution to Economics by Shelagh Eltis and Walter Eltis (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2008).
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This book was originally published by Edward Elgar Publishing in 1997, copyright 1997 by Shelagh Eltis and Walter Eltis. Reprinted by permission of Edward Elgar Publishing.
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The Simple Ways of an Isolated Nation Within Which Trade Enjoys Complete Freedom
Placed closely enough under the same heavens, the people whom we observe generally enjoy the same products, only in more or less abundance, depending on the nature of the soil and the hard work of the cultivators. A foodstuff, which is rare in one province, will be common in another, where a foodstuff which is common elsewhere will be scarce.
For trade between them, these peoples possess a stock in the products of which each of them has more than enough; and, as skills develop, they have another stock in their industry.
This double stock gives them the wherewithal to make exchanges of every kind; and through these exchanges, all enjoy the same products and the same goods.
They enjoy the same products, because, with the surplus of those which grow in their lands, they buy those which do not grow there.
They enjoy the same comforts, because they either develop the same skills or they trade with those who develop them.
Now it is the needs we have created for ourselves, and the means we use to satisfy them, which make our customs, our practices, our habits, in a word our behaviour.
Needs are the same for all the peoples we have imagined: the means of satisfying them are also the same. Therefore their ways are yet again the same.
So in order to give them a new way of life one would have to carry to them products foreign to their soil, or comforts unfamiliar to their skills.
But not only do they have the same mode of existence: I also state that their ways are simple and can only be simple. That is to say that it is impossible for them to know luxury.
We have seen that luxury consists in those pleasures which are the portion of a small number to the exclusion of the majority; that these pleasures only occur as people scorn common goods in order to seek out rare and expensive goods; and finally, that these goods are only rare and expensive because they come from a remote region, or because they have been worked up with great skill.
Now, following our assumptions, no foreign rarity can arrive among the peoples whom we are observing. It will not be any more in their power to obtain these works for themselves, works to which considerable labour will give a high price. As no one would be rich enough to pay for them, no artisan would dream of making them.
We have just proved that among such peoples there cannot be those overwhelming fortunes, which form from the despoilment of a host of families reduced to ruin. How could this disorder occur in a land where commerce, the sole means of obtaining ease for oneself, sinks and recovers in turn from one province to another, and everywhere keeps wealth at more or less the same level, or constantly tends to bring it back to it?
Now once this wealth cannot get lost in a small number of families, there will not be those exclusive pleasures which mock public misery, and which seem to efface the majority of the citizens from the ranks of humanity.
I do not mean that all will enjoy the same pleasures on an equal footing; doubtless not all, for instance, will wear cloth of equal fineness: but they will all wear cloth. Each, according to his position, will enjoy the comforts that the arts bring. Each one will be in plenty and ease, since all will have the use of the articles which their station in life allows them to make necessities; and if fortunes are not equal, it will only be because talents are not equal. Yet, once more, no one will be able to make excessive expenditure, because no one will be able to enrich himself exclusively.
I can see only one way to introduce luxury among these peoples: that would be to substitute exclusive privileges for freedom of trade. Then there would soon be a great disparity of fortunes, and articles which had previously been common would become scarce through the high price to which they would be raised. In such a case glass and earthenware, for instance, would become a luxury; and it is just so that china and mirrors are a luxury in our country.