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Molinari’s Evenings on Saint Lazarus Street (1849)

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) (1849)

Conversations between a Socialist, a Conservative, and an Economist.

[A Draft of Liberty Fund's new translation]
[May 17, 2012]


[Table of Contents]

Molinari_1849LesSoireesRSL-TP300.jpg MolinariObitB-300
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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  • ToC of Les Soirés

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 a great one and thus befitting Molinari in his centennial year.

We will put the chapters online at the Online Library of Liberty in a reasonably good first draft as they become available.


The Original Title Page

See the image above left for a facsimile of the original title page from 1849. A transcription is below:

Les Soirées de la rue Saint-Lazare; entretiens sur les lois économiques et défense de la propriété


By M. G. DE MOLINARI, Member of the Political Economy Society of Paris.

“Il faut bien se garder d’attribuer aux lois physiques les maux qui sont la juste et inévitable punition de la violation de l’ordre même de ces lois, instituées pour opérer le bien.” F. QUESNAY.

[It is necessary to refrain from attributing to the physical laws the evils which are the just and inevitable punishment for the violation of this very order of laws, which have been instituted in order to produce good.]

Éditeurs de la Collection des principaux Économistes, du Journal des Économistes, du Dictionnaire du Commerce et des marchandises, etc.




Table of Contents [May 17, 2012 Draft]

Molinari's Preface

The First Evening - SUMMARY: Attitudes to the problem of society. – That society is governed by natural, immutable and absolute laws. – That property is the foundation of the natural organization of society. – Property defined. – Listing the attacks mounted today on the principle of property.

The Second Evening - SUMMARY: Attacks made on external property. – Literary and artistic property. – Counterfeiting – Ownership of inventions.

The Third Evening - SUMMARY – 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.

The Fourth Evening - SUMMARY: The right to make a will. –Legislation regulating inheritance. – The right of inheritance. – Its moral outcomes. – Its material outcomes. – Comparison of French and British agriculture. – On entail and its utility. The natural organization of farming under a regime of free property.

The Fifth Evening - SUMMARY: The right to lend. –Legislation regulating lending at interest. – Definition of capital. – Motives driving capital formation. – On credit. – On interest. – On its constituent elements. – Labor. – Hardship. – Risks. – How these conditions can be alleviated. – That the laws cannot achieve this. – The disastrous results of legislation restricting the rate of interest.

The Sixth Evening - SUMMARY: The right of exchange. – On the exchange of labor. –Laws on unions. – Articles 414 and 415 of the Penal Code – The Union of Paris Carpenters, 1845. – Proof of the law which makes the price of things gravitate towards their production costs. – Its application to labor. – That the worker can sometimes dictate to the employer. – An example from the British West Indies. – The natural organization of the sale of labor.

The Seventh Evening - SUMMARY: Right to trade, continuation. – International trade – Protectionism. – Its purpose. – M. de Bourrienne’s Aphorisms. – Origin of Protectionism. – Mercantilism. –Arguments for protection. – Currency depletion. – Independence from other countries. – Increase in domestic production. – That Protectionism has reduced overall output. – That it has made production precarious and distribution unfair.

The Eighth Evening - SUMMARY: Attacks made on internal property. – Industries monopolised or subsidised by the State. – Production of money. – The nature and uses of money. – Why a country could not use up all its currency. – Communication routes. – Managed expensively and badly by the state. – Carrying letters. – Postmasters. – That government intervention in production is always harmful. – Subsidies and privileges for theatres. – Public libraries. – Subsidies to religion. – Monopoly of teaching. – Its dire results.

The Ninth Evening - SUMMARY: Continuation of attacks made on internal property. – Right of association. – Legislation which in France regulates commercial companies. – The public limited company and its advantages. – On banking monopolies. – Functions of banks. – Results of government intervention in the affairs of banks. – High cost of discounts. – Legal bankruptcies. – Other privileged or regulated industries. – The bakery trade. – The meat trade. – Printing. – Lawyers. – Stock and investment brokers. – Prostitution. – Funeral directors. – Cemeteries. – The Bar. – Medicine. – The Professoriat. – Article 3 of the law of July 7-9, 1833.

The Tenth Evening - SUMMARY: On state charity and its influence on population. – The law of Malthus. – Defence of Malthus. – On the population of Ireland. – How to put an end to Ireland’s woes. – Why state charity creates an artificial growth in population. – On its moral influence on the working class. – That state charity discourages private charity. – On the quality of the population. – Ways of improving the population. – The mixing of races. – Marriage. – Successful marriages. – Ill-matched marriages. – Their influence on race. – In what situation, under what regime would the population most easily maintain itself at the level of its means of existence.

The Eleventh Evening - SUMMARY: On government and its function – Monopoly governments and communist governments. – On the liberty of government. – On divine right. – That divine right is identical to the right to work. – The vices of monopoly government. – War is the inevitable consequence of this system. – On the sovereignty of the people. – How we lose our sovereignty. – How we can retrieve it. – The liberal solution. – The communist solution. – Communist governments. – Their vices. – Centralization and decentralization. – On the administration of justice. – On its former organisation. – On its current organisation. – On the inadequacy of the jury system. – How the administration of security and of justice could be made free. – The advantages of free governments. – How nationality should be understood.

The Twelfth and Last Evening - SUMMARY: Rent. – Its nature and its origin. – Resumé and Conclusion.

Last modified April 10, 2014