Front Page Titles (by Subject) Liberal Class Analysis - Literature of Liberty, July/September 1978, vol. 1, No. 3
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Liberal Class Analysis - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, July/September 1978, vol. 1, No. 3 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Liberal Class Analysis
“Pierre-Louis Roederer, Jean Baptiste Say, and the concept of industrie.” History of Political Economy 9 (Winter 1977): 455–475.
In the late eighteenth century, the French term industrie acquired revolutionary connotations in classical liberalism's vocabulary of economic and class analysis. Industrie came to mean the honest and creative productivity of the class of industrieux (intellectuals, workers, and capitalists) in contrast to the parasitism and conquest of the class of feudal landholders.
In 1795, Jean-Jacques Lenoir-Larouche attempted to extend to nonagricultural production the Physiocrats' favorable attitude toward agriculture. Yet it was Pierre-Louis Roederer who had already, in 1793, described agricultural prosperity as dependent on the industrial sector. In the same year, Joseph Barnave claimed that the centuries' long development of “industrial property” was morally superior to landed (i.e., feudal) property since it was based on labor rather than conquest.
Unfortunately, Roederer's Mémoires sur quelque points déconomie publique, read at the Lycéee in 1800 and 1801, has gone virtually unnoticed. The fullest commentary on Roederer's economic theory appears in one of Edgard Allix's several neglected essays on the history of economic thought, (1913). Roederer set out to refute the physiocratic doctrine that land was the only productive factor and the only legitimate source of political power. Roederer's Lockean position maintains that property was founded in the natural liberty of each person to apply his faculties. Mobile property (or capital) preexisted civil society, and as the fruit of one's applied faculties, gave rise to all other property, including land. Accordingly, agriculture required prior savings (i.e., capital) and investment before cultivation could be productive. For Roederer, the propriétaire d'industrie invested his capital by gaining a skill or by training for a profession as a scientist or a lawyer.
In developing the nuances of industrie, Jean-Baptiste Say's Traité (1803) emphasized that wealth should be understood in terms of utility based on subjective, rather than objective, evaluation. For Say, industrie indicated labor or “execution,” “theory” or the knowledge of laws and course of nature, and their “application.” Thus, those persons identified as industrieux were the savants, entrepreneurs, and workers. The savant derived most of his income from interest on his capital of knowledge.
Roederer had held that “capitalists who exert their industrie on their capital” earned profits as indemnity for risk and wages, and earned a further indemnity for risk and rent for their capital. Say made no distinction, however, between profits and wages of industrie. The entrepreneur earned wages determined by the skill required for the job.
Say sought to justify a profit to the entrepreneur that was distinct from profit to capital. He claimed it was difficult to distinguish between the profits of capital and of the entrepreneur's industrie. However, Say judged that the entreprenur's industrie might be the difference between profits of individual concerns in the same business, adjusted for differences in capital employed. He also attributed the sources of the profits of the entrepreneur to risk-taking, financial prudence, perseverance, judgement, and knowledge of the world and of business. Say's A Catechism of Political Economy suggests, in Joseph Schumpeter's estimate, the influence of Richard Cantillon's Essai sur la nature du commerce général (1755).
After the second edition of the Traité (1814), Say provided a class analysis of society to the liberal intellectuals. He wrote of his suspicions of feudal landholdings;
The least challengeable property is that of the personal faculties, as it has been granted to no-one else. The next is the property of capital, since it was originally acquired through thrift, and whoever saved a product could, by consuming it, destroy anyone else's right to the same product. The least honorable of all is immobile property, since it is rarely that it does not derive from a fraudulent or violent spoliation.
Say further emphasized the role of the worker in productive activity.
Say's liberal disciples (Charles Comte and Charles Dunoyer) in their publication, Le Censeur européen, saw in the emergence of the industrieux the victory of commercial civilization over warrior barbarism. They considered the possessors of the largest sums of capital as the natural leaders of industry. These liberals attributed unemployment to the continued existence of anti-industrial institutions and values. Full employment would emerge only when feudal and mercantilist laws were expunged.
Saint-Simon, associated at first with Say's disciples, broke with liberalism and sought to recreate the authority of medieval society. Saint-Simonian positivism concluded that if the industrieux were the productive people, the bankers and the workers deserved special legislation to give them political power. [On Say, Dunoyer, Chas. Comte, and Saint-Simon, cf. Elie Halevy, “Saint-Simonian Economic Doctrine,” The Era of Tyrannies (1965) pp. 21–104.]