Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER IX: ECONOMIC REACTION OF 1881 - The Comedy of Protection
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CHAPTER IX: ECONOMIC REACTION OF 1881 - Yves Guyot, The Comedy of Protection 
The Comedy of Protection, trans. M.A. Hamilton (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1906).
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ECONOMIC REACTION OF 1881
Competing industries in Parliament—M. Marc Maurel turned out as a consumer—Demagogic agitation—Breaking off the Treaty with England.
The Chamber of Deputies had nominated a Commission of Inquiry. The necessary basis of political morality is the understanding that members are not to use their seats to further private interests. The principle is clear. No one remembers it, however, when the question of Protection comes to the fore. Those whose interests are bound up with Protection, the great landowners, mine-owners, cotton-spinners, manufacturers of every description, get themselves elected as members of the Customs Commission, undertake the reports, take part in discussion. They say: “I am a competitor; empower me to make you vote for Customs duties which will benefit me at the expense of the rest of the electorate.” The members acquiesce. It is true, he is a competitor; and therefore the Government assigns a prominent part in discussion and on commissions to these men, who look after their private interest at the expense of the general good. The Customs Commission thus composed recognised so clearly that it represented the interests of producers as opposed to consumers that it refused to listen to M. Marc Maurel, a prominent Free Trade manufacturer from Bordeaux, when he demanded a hearing on behalf of the consumers. Had he, as a manufacturer, demanded Customs duties he would have been heard at once. When he tried to raise a voice on behalf of that “forgotten man” whom Mr. Graham Sumner has so wittily described, he was shown the door.1 Of course the manufacturers, following the recognised tradition, cloaked their claims with democratic pretexts. They pretended to be defending “Home Industry”; and they brought up gangs of workmen whom they induced—short-sighted men!—to say to the Commission, “If you do not pass the highest duties demanded by our masters, we shall riot.” Thus they gave their men an excellent introduction to striking and Socialism. The Republicans gave way to a policy of mingled bribery and threats. Ad valorem were replaced by specific duties: thus cheap products could be taxed and their price was raised, not as in the projected tariff 24 per cent., but 70 and 80 per cent. Under such conditions England refused to renew the commercial treaty. Belgium did renew on the understanding that England should enjoy most favoured nation treatment.
“Protectionism,” by Graham Sumner.