Gustave de Molinari, Les Soirées de la rue Saint-Lazare: entretiens
sur les lois économiques et défense de la propriété (Evenings on Saint
Lazarus Street: Discussions on Economic Laws and the Defence of Property)
[A Draft of Liberty Fund's new translation]
[May 17, 2012]
– Continuation on the attacks made on external property. – The
law of compulsory acquisition for reasons of public utility. – Legislation
relating to mines. – The public domain, property belonging to the State,
departments and communes. – Forests. – Roads. – Canals.
– Waterways. – Mineral waters.]
Title Page of the original 1849 edition
The photo of Molinari (1819-1912) which accompanied
his obituary in the Journal des économistes
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Molinari's book Les Soirées de la rue Saint-Lazare; entretiens sur les
lois économiques et défense de la propriété. (Paris: Guillaumin, 1849)
is being translated by Liberty Fund. The translation was done by Dennis O'Keeffe
and it is being edited by David M. Hart. The critical apparatus of foontnotes
and glossary entries, and introduction are being provided by David Hart.
We welcome feedback from Molinari scholars to ensure that this edition will
be a great one and thus befitting Molinari in his centennial year.
page has a detailed Table of Contents and links to other Chapters.
The Third Evening
– Continuation on the attacks made on external property. – The
law of compulsory acquisition for reasons of public utility. – Legislation
relating to mines. – The public domain, property belonging to the State,
departments and communes. – Forests. – Roads. – Canals.
– Waterways. – Mineral waters.
We have noted that property rights with respect to works of the intellect
are very badly treated under the present regime. Material property is more
favored in the sense that it is guaranteed in perpetuity. This recognition
and guarantee, however, are in no sense absolute. An owner can have his property
confiscated under the law of expropriation for reasons of public utility.
What? Do you wish to abolish that tutelary law without which no undertaking
on the grounds of public utility would be possible?
What do you understand by an undertaking on the grounds of public utility?
An undertaking on grounds of public utility is…an undertaking
[p71] useful to everybody, a railway, for example.
Oh, and is not a farm which produces food for everybody not an undertaking
also useful to all? Is not the need to eat at the very least as universal and
necessary as the need to travel?
No doubt, but a farm is a rather limited individual enterprise.
Not always. In England there are immense farms. In the colonies there are
farms which belong to numerous and powerful companies. Anyway, what does it
matter? The usefulness of an enterprise is not always a function of the space
it occupies and the law does not investigate whether an enterprise known as
“a public utility” is owned by a company or isolated individual.
We could not establish any analogy between a farm and plantation and a railway.
The development of a railway is subject to certain natural exigencies; the
slightest deviation in the route, for example, can entail a large increase
in costs. Who will pay for this increase? The public. Well, I ask you, must
the interest of the public, the interest of society be sacrificed to the stubbornness
and greed of some landowner?
Ah, Mr Conservative. These are words which reconcile me to you. You are a
fine fellow. Let us shake on it.
There are in the Sologne vast stretches of extremely poor land. The poverty stricken
peasants who farm there receive only a meager return for the most laborious
efforts. Yet close to their wretched hovels rise magnificent chateaux with
immense lawns where wheat would grow in abundance. If the peasants of the Sologne
demanded that these good lands be expropriated and transformed into fields
of wheat, would not the public interest require that this be granted them?
You go too far. If the law of expropriation were
used in the cause of public utility to transform lawns and pleasure gardens
into fields of wheat, what would happen to the security of property? Who would
want to manicure a lawn, lay out a park, decorate a chateau?
Expropriation always entails an indemnity.
But the indemnity is not always big enough. There are things for which no
indemnity could compensate. Can you pay for the roof which has sheltered generations,
the hearth around which they have lived, the great trees which witnessed their
births and their deaths? Is there not something of the sacred in these centuries
old abodes, in which the traditions of the ancestors live on, [p73] in which
so to speak the very soul of the family breathes? Is not the expulsion of a
family forever from its ancient patrimony, the commission of a deeply immoral
Except, of course, when it is a question of building a railway.
Everything depends on the extent to which the undertaking is useful.
But is anything more useful than farming devoted to the people’s subsistence?
For my part I strongly hope that the law of expropriation for reasons of public
utility will soon be given enlarged scope. The Convention had potatoes grown
in the Tuileries gardens. What a sublime example! May our legislative Assemblies
keep it forever in mind! How many thousands of hectares lie unproductive around
the luxurious residences of the lords of the earth? How many mouths could we
feed , how much work could we distribute by handing over these fine lands to
workers ready to farm them? Oh you rich aristos, one
day we will plant potatoes in your sumptuous flowerbeds; we will sow turnips
and carrots in place of your dahlias and your Bengal rose bushes! We will expropriate
you for the sake of public utility.
Fortunately the expropriation panels will
not give permission for these barbarous projects.
Why not? If Public Utility demands that your chateaux [p74] with their lawns
and parklands be replaced by fields of potatoes why should the panels not agree
to the expropriation? If some grant it happily when it is a question of turning
farmlands into railways, will not others agree to it with all the more reason
when it is a question of replacing luxurious parklands with farming? Will you
cite in your reply to me the actual composition of expropriation panels? They
are made up of big landlords, a fact of which I am not unaware, but this latter
kind of panel will not escape the law of universal suffrage any more than the
former will. We will have small owners and workers coming on to them, and then
my word… big property will dance a merry tune.
That is a subversive proposal of the first order.
What do you expect? A law you established yourself is being enlarged and its
application generalized on grounds of Social Utility. Your work is being completed.
Can you complain about it?
I know very well that expropriation in the service of public utility has its
dangers, especially since that accursed revolution… Is it not however indispensable?
Are not private interests perpetually at war with public interests?
Moreover does not this law contain an implicit recognition of property? If
the State did not respect property rights, would it have gone to the trouble
of demanding a law of expropriation from the Legislative Chambers? Would simple
ordinances not have sufficed?[p75] Does the law of expropriation on the grounds
of public utility not subsume an implicit recognition of property?
Yes, in the way that rape subsumes an implicit recognition of virginity.
What about the indemnity?
Do you think any indemnity could compensate for a rape? Now if I do not want
to hand over my property to you and by using your superior strength you rob
me of it, are you not committing a serious crime?  The indemnity will not efface this
assault made against my rights. But, you will object, the public interest may
require the sacrifice of certain private interests, and this necessity must
be provided for. And this is you, a conservative who is speaking to me in these
terms? Is it really you denouncing for my benefit the antagonism between the
public interest and private interests? Do take care, are you not talking socialism?
Probably. To each his own. We have denounced
and were the first to do so, this lamentable idea of an opposition between
the public interest and private interests.
Yes but how can you put an end to it?
That is very simple. We get rid of private interests. We bring about the return
of the wealth of each to the domain of All. We apply on an immense scale [p76]
the law of expropriation in the cause of public utility.
And if there truly is antagonism between the interest of each person and the
interest of all, you are acting very wisely and your adversary is in error
in not following you all the way.
You are being sarcastic! Do you happen to believe that private interests naturally
coincide of themselves with public interest?
If I were not convinced of it, I would have become a socialist a long time
ago. I would wage, as you do, perpetual war against private interests, I would
demand a tightly knit association, a community, and who knows what else. I
would not wish at any price to maintain a social order where no one would prosper
save on the condition of hurting other people. Thank God, however, that society
is not constructed thus. The various interests are naturally in agreement.
The interest of each person coincides naturally with the interest of all. Why
therefore make laws which put the former at the mercy of the latter? Either
these laws are pointless, or as the Socialists claim, society needs remaking.
You argue as if all men had an accurate understanding of what is in their
own interest. Well, this is false. Men frequently mistake what is in their
I know perfectly well that men are not infallible; I also know, however, that
each man is the best judge of his own interest.
Perhaps you are right in principle, but in practice some people are truly
obstinate and stupid.
Not so obstinate and not so stupid when their interests are in question. I
admit, however, that people of that type can ruin some useful enterprises.
Do you think that the present law does not cause more harm than they would
be able to? Does it not compromise the security of present property and does
it not menace it in the future too?
It is quite certain that socialism would make a truly deplorable use of the
law of expropriation in the cause of public utility.
And you conservatives who passed that law, would you willingly oppose its
application? Is this not a dangerous weapon which you have forged for your
enemies’ use? By declaring that some majority or other has the right to seize
an individual’s property when the public interest demands it, have you not
supplied socialism in advance with a justification for such expropriation and
a legal means of carrying it out?
Alas! But who could foresee that infernal revolution?
When one engages in law making, one has to foresee everything.
Along with this law which threatens property right down [p78] to its roots,
our Code includes other laws involving partial attacks on certain property;
mining legislation for example. Like
the works of the intellect, mines end up outside the common law.
Is this not a special kind of property and ought it not therefore to be subject
to special laws?
What does today’s legislation with regard to the mines say?
French legislation on the mines has for a century undergone very diverse modifications.
Under the Ancien Régime the mines were considered as belonging to the royal
domain. The king granted mining licences as seemed to him appropriate, to the
finder, to the owner of the land or to any other, in exchange for a tenth of
the annual output. When the Revolution liberated property and labour, people
must have hoped that this advantage would be extended to mining property; unfortunately
it did not turn out that way. The law makers refused to grant subterranean
property its charter of liberation.
Three opinions emerged on the issue of this kind of property. Some said that
underground property was simply attached to surface property; according to
others it belonged to the whole community; according to a third group it reverted
to the finders. In this last view, the only equitable one, the only one consistent
with law, the owners of the land could demand only a simple indemnity for those
parts of the surface of the land which were necessary for exploiting the mineral
deposits, and the government[p79] likewise could not demand anything save a
tax for the legal protection granted to the miners.
According to you then, the ownership of mines ought therefore to be classed
in the same category as property rights over inventions?
Precisely. Let us suppose you are a gold prospector. After a lot of searching
you have managed to find a seam of this precious metal. You have the sole right
to exploit this seam that you alone have discovered.
On this reckoning the whole of America should have belonged to Christopher
Columbus who had discovered it.
You are forgetting that America was already to a great extent under ownership
at the time of Christopher Columbus’s discovery. Moreover, it is a rule of the law
of nations that an uninhabited land belongs to the first to discover it.
If however, after having discovered it, these first comers decide that it
is not appropriate to exploit it, their property rights die. How do you explain
this demise of property rights?
The right of property does not die. One ceases to possess only when one renounces
that possession. If I have discovered a mine I will exploit it or I will cede
it to someone who will exploit it. The case will be the same if I have discovered
a country: I will exploit it or sell it. [p80]
What if you keep it without exploiting it?
It will be my right but not in my interest. Looking after anything is costly:
you have to pay for the security of property. If therefore I do not want to
develop the land or mineral deposit which I have discovered, and if no one
wants to buy it from me I will soon give up on looking after it; for it will
incur losses rather than profits for me. So there is, you see, no draw back
in leaving to the finder the full disposition of whatever he has discovered.
The discoverer of a deposit possesses a right to it; that seems to me quite
legitimate. It is right that his work of discovery be remunerated. Do not society
and those who own the surface of the land, however, also have some rights on
what is underground? Society protects those who work the mines and it supplies
them with the means to work them. As for the owners of the surface of the land,
do they not have a claim on the ground below by the very fact of occupying
the surface? Where is the boundary between the two properties?
Yes, where is the boundary?
Neither society nor the owners of the land can claim the least right to what
is underground. I have already demonstrated to you in respect of inventions,
that society has no right to the fruits of the work of individuals. There is
no point going over this again. As [p81] for the owners of the surface land,
Mirabeau has clearly refuted
their claims to the ownership of the sub-soil: “The idea that being the owner
of a stream or river makes one the owner of the ground below our fields seems
to me as absurd as the idea of preventing the passage of a hot air balloon
because it passes over the property of a particular landowner.” Why is this absurd? Because the
ownership of the fields lies solely in the value which work has given to the
surface of the land and the owners of the land have contributed nothing of
value to what lies below the soil, just as they have contributed nothing to
the air above it. Search out who has worked or is working and you will always
know who possesses or ought to possess a thing.
But is it possible to discover a mine and to exploit it without the
agreement of those who own the surface land?
What happens is this. You ask the owners of the land for permission to explore
the ground, at the same time undertaking to give them a payment or part ownership
of the mine by way of compensation for the damage which may be caused to them.
Once the mine is opened up, you divide up the potential profits and set to
work on it. If the exploitation of what lies under the ground is such as to
harm the surface property, the owners of that property obviously have the right
to oppose this or to claim a further indemnity. Their choice will be the indemnity,
since the opening of a mine, by giving a new outlet for their products, directly
or indirectly increases their incomes. In this way, interests which appear
opposed, are naturally reconciled.
Unfortunately, the Constituent Assembly and Mirabeau himself, did not understand
that the ownership of mineral resources could without any drawbacks, be left
unregulated. They attributed the ownership of mines to the nation. They produced
a form of underground Communism. The law of 1791 put the government in charge
of allocating the ownership of mineral deposits, and it limited the tenure
of licences to fifty years. Moreover the government was given the power to
withdraw these licences if the mines were not maintained in good shape or if
they stopped operating for a while.
Undoubtedly the most destructive clause in this legislation was the one limiting
the length of leases. Given the huge capital investments mining demands and
the preparatory work sometimes stretching over several years, it was important
above all that entrepreneurs be assured as to the future; to limit their enjoyments
of their rights was to force them to limit their efforts to invest; it was
to place an almost insurmountable obstacle in the way of their developing the
mining of minerals.
The government’s prerogative to withdraw licences in certain specified circumstances
also entailed very serious drawbacks. It is not easy to determine whether a
mine is being well or badly managed. Opinions can be divided on the most appropriate
means of exploitation. It was argued against wholly unrestricted exploitation,
for example, that the managements extracted the richest seams first of all
and neglected the others. Were they not, however, in taking such a decision,
merely acting in the most rational way? Was it not obvious one should start
with the most productive [p83] parts of the mining project? In starting with
developing the less rich seams, would not the licencees have damaged their
infant enterprise? Nor could it easily be decided with any greater certainty
whether a developer was right or wrong to abandon all or part of his project
for a while. His personal interest, which was to keep it all going constantly,
was in this respect an insufficient guarantee. Unless demand slowed down, in
which case the partial or total cessation of extracting minerals would of course
be justified, what interest could he have in interrupting work?
They reformed that bad law.
They reformed it very incompletely. The law of 21 April, 1810, which replaced
it, gave the government the right to grant or withdraw licences. The difference,
however, is that licences ceased to be limited to fifty years. Even so, in
other ways the situation of mine owners has been worsened. The 1810 law forbade
them to sell in lots or to split up their mines without a prior authorization
from the government, and it subjected their mining to a surveillance system
created for this purpose. Furthermore, it maintained the alleged rights of
surface landowners, and entrusted the Council of State with the task of determining
the amounts of compensation to be granted them. Mining found itself, in this
way, closely regulated and heavily burdened.
So what was the result of this law? It was to [p84] reduce to the minimum
the mining of minerals. Who would want
today to be a discoverer of mines? Who would want to specialize in finding
new deposits of various minerals? Before a discovery can be exploited, does
one not have to lobby for a licence for long years (the licence to use something
one already owns by creating it by means of one’s own work), and having obtained
it, submit oneself to an irksome surveillance and brutish directions from the
administration of mining? What would happen to our agriculture, I ask
you, if our farmers could not remove a shovelful of earth without the approval
of some official from the Ministry of Agriculture? If they could not sell the
merest parcel of land without the say-so of government? If in a word the government
took it upon itself the right to take their property from them, at will? Would
not this be the death of our farming? Would not investable funds soon turn
away from so detestably oppressed an industry? …Well in fact investment capital
has been turned away from mining ventures. It has been necessary to grant them
special privileges to attract it back. It has been necessary to keep out foreign
competition, and there has thus been facilitated on the domestic front the
establishment of an immense monopoly, to persuade investment funds to venture
to participate in an industry subservient to the government’s good pleasure.
It has been necessary to burden consumers of mineral products with some of
the damage inflicted on the ownership of mines. Is this not barbarous?
Let us suppose on the contrary that in 1789 the oppressive right which monarchs
had taken upon themselves to cede the ownership of mines at will, had simply
been abolished; [p85] let us suppose further that this ownership had been freely
given and guaranteed to those who had created it. Would not the production
of mines have developed to the maximum, without there having been any need
to protect it? Might not that source of production which still yields only
scant output flow copiously in the long run?
Yes, ownership is a marvelous thing. One works with such ardor when one is
always sure of possessing the fruits of one’s labor, and of being able to dispose
of it at will – consuming it, giving it away, lending it, or selling
it, all without hindrance, harassment or irritation. Property! That is the
real California. Long live property!
Long live labor!
Labor and property go together, since it is work which creates property and
property which calls out for labor. So long live labor and property!
Government harms the development of production, not only by hampering individual
ownership, but also by claiming certain properties for itself. Alongside the
property of individuals there is, as you know, the public domain or common
property. The State, the departments and the communes, own considerable wealth:
fields, meadows, forests, canals, roads and buildings and the like. Do not these diverse properties,
which are managed in [p85] society’s name, constitute a genuine case of communism?
Yes, to a certain extent. Could things be arranged otherwise, however? Does
not the government have to have certain kinds of property at its disposal?
It is set up to render certain services to society…
The government must…govern.
Govern, by Jove! What do you mean by that, however? Is it not to manage various
interests and harmonize them?
There is no need for interests to be managed or harmonized. They manage and
harmonize themselves quite well without anyone interfering.
If that is how it is, what must government do?
It must guarantee for each individual his freedom of activity, the security
of his person and the conservation of his property. To exercise this particular
function, to render this special service to society, government has to have
access to certain resources. Anything more it possesses is unnecessary.
But if it renders other services to society, if it supplies education, if
it finances religion, if it contributes [p87] to the transport of men or merchandise
by land or by water, if it makes tobacco or porcelain, or carpets, or gunpowder
In a word if it is communist! Well it does not need to be communist. Like
any entrepreneur the government must do one thing and one only, or risk doing
what it does very badly. All governments have as their main function the production
of security. Let them confine themselves to
You have just given us a very rigorous application of the principle of the
division of labor. What you would like to see then is the disappearance of
the public sector, with the State selling the greater part of its property,
and with all production becoming, in a word, specialized.
I would like this for a better development of production. In England there
was recently an inquiry into the management of public property. Nothing could
be more instructive than the results thrown up by this research. In England
the public domain consists of ancient fiefdoms of the crown, which have now
become public property. These properties are huge as well as magnificent. In
the hands of individuals, they would yield a worthwhile output. Controlled
by the State they yield almost nothing.
If you will allow I will give you a single instance.
The main wealth of this domain consists in the four forests of New Forest,
Walham, Whittlewood and Whychwood. These
forests are entrusted to guardians who [p88] administer them. These are the
Dukes of Cambridge and Grafton, Lord Mornington and Lord Churchill. The guardians
receive no formal payment but are allotted a very sizeable payment in kind,
including game, timber etc. The annual income from the New Forest adds up on
average to £56,000 or £57,000 sterling, approximately Fr 1, 500,000. The Treasury
has never garnered more than £1000 of this income, while the maintenance of
the forest between 1841 and 1847 cost the State more than £2000.
This is a flagrant abuse. Do not forget, though, that this is happening in
Plenty of other abuses happen in our democratic France. It has long been known,
in France and in England, that the management of state property is dreadful.
That is only too true. There are types of property that obviously must remain
in the hands of the State, the roads for example.
In England the roads are owned by individuals, and nowhere does one see them
so well maintained.
What about the tolls then? Traffic is not free in England as it is in France.
Excuse me, but it is much freer in Great Britain, [p89] for road communications
are much more numerous. And do you know why? Quite simply because the government
has left it to individuals to build roads and has not got involved in building
But I ask once more, what about the tolls?
Oh, do you think then that the roads in France are built and maintained for
nothing? Do you think that the public does not pay for their construction and
maintenance as happens in England? Only, here is the difference. In England
road construction and costs are paid for by those who use them; in France they
are paid by the taxpayers, including the goatherds of the Pyrenees and the
peasants of the Landes who
do not set foot twice a year on a national highway. In England it is the user
of such means of transport who pays for them in the form of tolls; in France
the whole community pays in the shape of taxes, often of a most excessive and
irksome kind. Which is preferable? 
And the canals, is it not appropriate for them to be left in the public domain?
No more so than the roads. In which countries are the canals the most numerous,
the best constructed and the best maintained? Is it in the countries where
they are in the hands of the state? No! It is in England and [p90] in the United
States where that have been built and are used by private groupings of private
Would not roads and canals constitute oppressive monopolies if they were privately
You forget that they engage in mutual competition. I will show you later on
that in any enterprise subject to an open regime of free competition, price
must necessarily fall to the level of real costs of production or use and that
the owners of a canal or road cannot receive anything in excess of the equitable
remuneration of their capital and their labour. This is an economic law as
positive and exact as a law of physics.
Most natural waterways, which require a certain amount of management and maintenance
work, could with advantage be privately owned in the same way. You know to
what inextricable difficulties the common ownership of waterways gives rise
today. The dams lead to countless legal cases, and irrigation systems are obstructed
everywhere. It would be different if each lake or waterway had its owners against
whom those living beside the water could have recourse in case of damage, and
who would have responsibility for providing artificial waterfalls and establishing
irrigation canals where need arose. 
The State is still the owner of most sources of mineral water. So these are
very badly run, though not lacking in administrators and inspectors. Moreover,
under the pretext that artificial mineral waters serve as medicaments, their
fabrication has been [p. 91] put under government surveillance. Yet more administrators
Ah, government is our great running sore!
There is only way to heal that particular sore, and that is by governing less.
 In a lengthy article Michel Chevalier captures the excitement which was
stimulated by the construction of railways, both concerning the new technology
and the possibilities of drastic reductions in the cost of transport. Buried
among the mass of technical information are a number of matters of concern
to the economists: that the cost of building the network was increased
by tariffs on imported iron rails; that the lowered costs of shipping goods
across international borders strengthened the peaceful economic bonds between
people, but also made it easier for States to move troops to the border;
that railways provided much needed competition with the canal system, which
some considered to be a “natural monopoly”; that attempts by the government
to impose lower rates on railways was “a very serious attack on the spirit
of association ... [and] the freedom of industry”; and that economic liberty
had within itself the means to correct any excesses or abuses in pricing
or investment. [See Michel Chevalier, “Chemins de fer”in JDE,
vol. 1, pp. 337-362.]
 La Sologne is a heavily forested region in central France between the
Loire and Cher rivers.
 The right to a legally determined, prior compensation for property confiscated
by the state was enshrined in the Declaration of Rights of Man and the
Citizen in June 1791 (Article 19) and in the Civil Code of 1804 (articles
544 and 545). The Law of 8 March 1810 established tribunals for the purpose
of determining the amount of compensation payments. The Law of 7 July 1833
(and amended by the Law of 6 May 1841) created special juries of local
landowners which would determine the level of compensation for confiscated
land. [See, A. Legoyt, "Expropriation pour cause d'utilité publique,” DEP, vol. 1, pp. 751-53.]
 Molinari uses the word “aristos”in the original. It is short for “aristocrats”and
has a negative connotation.
 The “jurys d’expropriation” (or Compensation Juries) were established
by the law of 7 July 1833 to determine the amount of compensation the state
would pay to land owners who had their property confiscated to build public
works such as roads and railways, A “jury”of 16 property owners were called
together to assess the value of the confiscated property. It is similar
to the eminent domain laws in the United States. [See the article by A.
Legoyt on “Expropriation pour cause d’utility publique,” DEP,
vol. 1, pp. 751-53.]
 Throughout this conversation Molinari uses the word “viol”which means
rape. In this sentence he continues to use the language of rape to describe
other kinds of violations of private property. Thus, here we have translated
“ravir” (ravish) and “viol” (rape) as “rob”and “serious crime”.
 Molinari uses the Latin phrase “Suum cuique”which was used by many authors
in the ancient world. It is most commonly associated with the jurist Ulpian
who contributed to Justinian’s codification of Roman law (c. 530). In 1.1.10
there is “Iustitia est constans et perpetua voluntas ius suum cuique tribuendi”and
“Iuris praecepta sunt haec: honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique
tribuere”which can be translated as "Justice is the constant and perpetual
wish to render to every man his due”and “The principles of the law are
these: to live honorably, to harm no one, to give to each his own”respectively.
de l'empereur Justinien: traduites en français avec le texte en regard,
suivies d'un choix de textes juridiques relatifs à l'histoire externe du
droit romain et au droit privé antéjustinien, recueil publié par M. Blondeau (Paris: Videcoq, 1838), 2 vols. See vol. 1, p. 11.
 Molinari is referring to a key aspect of Bastiat’s economic thinking
here, namely the idea of “the harmony of interests”. Bastiat developed
these ideas at length in his unfinished magnum opus Economic Harmonies (1850).
Later in “Les Soirées” Molinari does use the word “harmony” but here he
uses words such as “coincider”or “accorder”. A good summary of the topic
is provided by Charles Coquelin, the editor of the DEP, in “Harmonie industrielle,” DEP, vol. 1, pp. 851-55. He notes the concurrent emergence of the term
“harmony” in France and the U.S. at roughly the same time: Bastiat’s Economic
Harmonies in 1850 and Henry Carey’s The Harmony
of Interests in 1851. Carey accused Bastiat of
plagiarising the idea but this charge was later withdrawn.
 The Law of 21 April, 1810 regulated the mining industry in France. See
A. Legoyt, “Mines, minières et carrières,” DEP, vol. 2, pp. 178-88.
 Molinari takes sides here in a debate which had divided the economists
since before the Revolution. The Physiocrat Turgot argued in the 1770s
that first use and occupancy by an individual bestowed a property right
to the resource which was owned by that individual. Liberal revolutionaries
like Mirabeau and post-revolutionary liberals like Charles Comte believed
that ownership of mineral resources resided with the Nation which could
sell or license them at will. Other post-revolutionary liberals like Charles
Dunoyer believed that owners of surface land also owned the mineral rights
to the resources under their land. Molinari clearly sided with Turgot in
arguing that the first user or occupant was the just owner of the property.
[See the glossary entry on “Property Rights in Mineral Resources.”]
 This topic is discussed in the 2nd Soireé.
 The standard account for the Economists of the original and just acquisition
of private property in land out of a state of communal tribal ownership
is provided by Charles Comte, Traité de la Propriété,
2 vols. (Paris: Chamerot, 1834), vol. 1, chap. X "De la conversion
du territorie national en propriétés privées,” pp. 139-61. Comte believes
it was a near universal phenomenon that communally owned land eventually
was transformed into private ownership as soon as an individual was able
through the self denial of immediate consumption to save enough to survive
long enough to engage in the more protracted process of cultivating a plot
of land until the harvest. This resulted in dramatically higher output
than hunting and gathering or other communal activities. Comte believes
this process of privatization was a just one for two reasons: firstly,
the private farmer needed much less land than previously in order to create
a greater output and the land he no longer needed was left for the other
members of the tribe to use; secondly, by creating a more productive resource
he unintentionally increased the value of the surrounding land and thereby
gave to the community much more than he had taken in privatizing his parcel
of land. Thus, Comte concludes, no "usurpation” was committed in this
original act of privatization of the land (pp. 150-51). Although neither
Molinari nor Comte mentions John Locke by name there is an obvious parallel
here to the Lockean proviso concerning the end of the state of nature -
that "enough, and as good, left in common for others.” [See, John
Locke, Two Treatises of Government,
ed. Thomas Hollis (London: A. Millar et al., 1764). CHAP. V. (para. 27)
Of PROPERTY. </title/222/16269/704358>.]
A similar set of arguments in defence of the legitimacy of the first user
of a piece of land to having ownership of that land can be found in Pierre-Louis
Roederer's "Lectures on the Right of property" which he gave
to the Lycée in December 1800. [See, Pierre-Louis Roederer, Discours sur le droit
de propriété, lus aux Lycée, les 9 décembre 1800 et 18 janvier 1801,
(Paris, Didot, 1839). “Premiere discours sur let droit du propriété, lu
au Lycée, le 9 décembre 1800,” pp. 7-24. It is quite likely that Roederer,
Comte and Molinari knew of the 18th century natural law writings of theorists
like Burlamaqui. The Swiss natural law theorist Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui
(1694-1748) has a similar notion of a Lockean Proviso in Élémens
du droit naturel (1774) which is: ".. in taking
part of this (commonly owned) land, one should not deprive others of anything;
(that) there remain enough for all (il en restait assex pour tous).” [See,
Part III, chap. VIII "De l'origine et de la nature de la propriété,”
pp. 135 in Elémens
du droit naturel, par Burlamaqui; et Devoirs de l'homme et du citoyen,
tels qu'ilsw lui sont prescits par la loi naturelle; traduits du latin
de Pufendorf par Barbeyrac, avec les notes du traducteur et le jugement
de Leibnitz. Nouvelle édition (Paris: Janet et
 Mirabeau (1749-91) was a journalist and politician who made a name for
himself as one of the leading orators during the French Revolution. He
was a supporter of constitutional monarchy and wrote on economics and banking.
[See the glossary entry on "Mirabeau".]
 Mirabeau, Speech in the National Assembly, 21 March, 1791 “Sur la question
de savoir si les mines pouveaient être considérées comme propriété publiques.”
Honoré-Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau, Oeuvres de Mirabeau,
précédées d'une notice sur sa vie et ses ouvrages, par M. Merilhou (Paris: Lecointe et Pougin, 1834), 3 vols. Vol. 3. Discours
et opinions, p. 110.
 Mines could not be owned as private property but could only be licenced
from the state for fixed periods upon an annual payment of royalties to
the state. [See the discussion of the changing laws concerning mining in
A. Legoyt, “Mines, minières et carrières,” DEP, vol. 2, pp. 178-88 - the Law of 12 July 1791, the Law of 21 April
1810, and the Law of 27 April 1838.]
 Mining was administered by the Ministry of the Interior. The number of
new mining licences issued between 1811 and 1848 was 760 which returned
to the Treasury royalties of fr. 227,652 in 1835, fr. 533,391 in 1847,
and fr. 397,202 in 1848 which were very low amounts compared to other sectors
of the economy. [See, "Statistique de l'industrie minérale,” in Annuaire
de l'économie politique (1850), pp. 170-71. See also the Budget for 1848
in the Appendix.]
 Mining rights and land ownership issues in California would have been
very much on Molinari’s mind at this time. The California gold rush had
began with the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in January 1848 and the
hundreds of thousands of gold seekers who flocked to the gold fields were
known as the “forty niners” (1849). At this time California was not yet
a state in the Union (it was admitted in September 1850) and was occupied
by the U.S. following the Mexican-American War 1846-1848. The treaty which
ended the war and which ceded California to the U.S. was signed in February
1848. Land ownership, especially mining rights, were in a state of flux.
For the time being, Mexican mining law continued to apply whereby the first
to stake a claim to mining land created “ownership”of it as far as later
arrivals were concerned. Molinari was fascinated by the U.S. and travelled
there extensively in the 1870s writing a series of articles for the Journal
des Débats which were published as book: Lettres sur les États-Unis
et le Canada addressés au Journal des débats à l'occasion de l'Exposition
Universelle de Philadelphie (Paris: Hachette, 1876).
 State owned property ("la domaine public") was considerable
in France and included property and real estate. Under "property”
("meubles") was the following: the national printing service,
the contents of the National Libraries, the contents of the National Archives,
the contents of the art galleries, museums, and scientific laboratories,
the arms held by the armed forces and navy, the furnishings and equipment
of the government administration, and the contents of all government owned
factories and workshops. The complete value of this property of the state
is not known as it was not officially assessed at the time. However, the
armed forces did give a figure for the value of the fire arms it owned
(fr. 1.12 million) and its ships (fr. 120 million). Under "real estate
("immeubles) was the following: public buildings, forges, founderies,
workshops, land, forests, national roads, railways, canal tow paths, lakes.
The value of the latter was estimated in January 1850 to be worth fr. 1.3
billion. The earnings from government owned property was estimated in 1850
to have been fr. 221 million, or 6.4% of total government income. [See,
A. Legoyt, "Domaine public", DEP,
vol. 1, pp. 573-77.]
 The Economist gives a more detailed answer to this question in the 11th
 The Conservative lists the industries in which the French state either
ran government owned factories or had an outright monopoly. Ambroise Clément
lists under the category of "privileged” or "legal monopolies”
the manufacture and sale of tobacco products, gunpowder, the delivery of
mail, the issuing of money, education, and public works. He also lists
numerous areas of economic activity which can only be practiced with a
government issued license such as mines, legal notaries, lawyers, bailiffs,
money changers, brokers, printers, book sellers, bakers, butchers, and
porters. Ambroise Clément,
"Monopole,” in DEP vol.
2, pp. 219-25.
 Molinari caused a furore in the Political Economy Society when he published
an article using this very phrase as its title on the private provision
of security services in the February 1849 issue of the JDE (“The Production of Security”) which he then followed up with the
11th Soirée of his book published later in the year. This provoked a hostile
reaction at a meeting of the Political Economy Society in September and
a very critical review of his book Les
Soirées by Coquelin in the October 1849 issue of
the JDE. See Molinari, "De la production de la sécurité,”in JDE, Vol. XXII, no. 95, 15 February, 1849, pp. 277-90.
 The British Parliament held an inquiry into revenue from Crown Lands
in late 1847 and 1848 which issued a Report: Report, Evidence,
and Appendix, on the Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues of the Crown, Reports
from Committees: Eighteen Volumes. Session 18 November 1847 - 5 September
1848. Vol. XXIV. Parts I and II (1847-8).
 New Forest is in Hampshire, England and was created as a royal forest
by William I in 1071; Walham is north of Gloucester near the River Severn;
Whittlewood Forest is in Northamptonshire; Wychwood Forest is is Oxfordshire.
 The English Radical John Wade has a section in his Extraordinary
Black Book (1832) on crown land and those who benefited
from privileged access to them (what he called “jobbing the crown-lands”)
(p. 196 ff.). The body to administer Crown Forests was created in 1810
called The Commissioners of Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues.
 Dupuit in his article on “Voies de communication” DEP, vol. 2, pp. 846-54, argues that there are three alternatives when
it comes to the provision of communication routes (railways, roads, canals):
there is either a private monopoly, a State monopoly, or competition between
private companies. He dismisses the first two categories on the grounds
of justice and economic incentive problems and supports the third on the
grounds that “unlimited competition” and “complete liberty” will overcome
the disadvantages of the first two.
on British toll system????
 The Département des Landes (des Gascognes) is in South West France and
is the birthplace of Molinari’s friend and colleague Frédéric Bastiat.
 Although Adam Smith believed roads were a public good which should be
provided by the state because it was not in the interest of any particular
individual or group to build and maintain them, he believed that they should
not be paid for out of general revenue but by those who used the roads
via a toll [ Wealth
of Nations, Book V, Chap. 1, Part C, paragraphs 1 & 2]. This view was challenged
by J.-B. Say in the Cours
complet (1828) who thought that roads were so vital
to a nation’s economy that they should be paid for out of general revenue
and not tolls on users. [Cours complet (1840),
vol. 2, Chap. XXIII “Dépense des voies de communication, et particulièrement
des routes,” pp. 306-8]. By 1852 Molinari and the Economists had returned
to Smith’s view that it was “just and rational” that users of roads be
charged according to how much they made use of them. See J. Dupuit, “Routes
et chemins, DEP,
vol. 2, pp. 555-60.
 Michel Chevalier notes that the privately owned canals in Britain are
more efficiently built and run than the state owned canals in France. Concerning
the latter he states “State owned canals are poorly maintained; and furthermore,
for the most part, they have not even finished building them, and God knows
when they will be; and the administration of them is well below mediocre.”The
state owned or licensed canals in America, on the other hand, were more
quickly and efficiently built than in France, but the process of getting
their construction approved and funded were highly politicised and the
strong political incentives which existed sometimes meant too many licences
were granted. See Michel Chevalier, “Canaux de navigation,” DEP, vol. 1, pp. 264-72.
 There is a fascinating discussion of the private provision of water in
cities like London and Paris by Dupuit in “Eau,” DEP, vol. 1, pp. 629-37. Dupuit contrasts the free and competitive provision
of water (and gas) in London with the government monopoly in Paris. Although
he has some qualms about rival companies tearing up the streets to service
their different sets of customers, he is impressed with the better quality
of filtered London water and the more rational method of pricing. The low
government fixed price of water in Paris was only “apparently free” as
the costs of supplying it had to be borne by somebody and there was no
incentive for the providers of water to innovate or for the consumers of
water to economise on their use of it.
 Molinari uses the word “plaie”or “wound/sore”several times in Les Soirées to
describe the government and its actions. He goes a step further in his
article “Nation” in DEP, vol. 2, pp. 259-62 where he describes governments which overstep
the boundaries of their proper sphere of activity as “ulcerous”and the
economist as the surgeon who must cut out the cancerous flesh from the
social body. [See the glossary entry on “Ulcerous Government”.]