Molinari appeals to socialists to join him in marching down “the broad, well-trodden highway of liberty” (1848)

Gustave de Molinari

At the height of the Revolution in 1848 the French political economist Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912) appealed to his socialist adversaries to join with the liberals in the pursuit of the common goal of “Justice and Plenty” and to abandon their strategy of using violence to achieve this:

Economist and socialist, we may be adversaries, but our ideal and purpose is one. We seek a society in which there will be no stint in the production of all that is needful, whether to support or to embellish human existence. We seek a society where the distribution of these products between their creators will accord with the dictates of pure justice. We seek—in one word—an ideal that may be stated in two words, Justice and Plenty!

None among you will deny this truth, and, if we say that we seek by different paths, that is the sum of our difference. Your way lies along the obscure and hitherto unexplored defile of the organisation of labour, ours down the broad, well-trodden highway of liberty. Both, we seek to lead a hesitating and halting society, nations looking—but in vain—towards the horizon in hopes of a new column of light to lead them by the way whereon it guided the slaves of Pharaoh to a Land of Promise.

January 28, 2012 is the centennial anniversary of the death of the Belgian/French free market economist Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912). In an active career which spanned over 50 years he fought doggedly against protectionism, statism, militarism, colonialism, and socialism. In one of his last books published in 1899 he quotes from an essay he wrote at the height of the 1848 Revolution in which he appeals to the socialist movement of the day to abandon their use of violence to impose an unworkable system of socialism on the economy, and to join with him and the other liberals in pursuing what he calls “the utopia of liberty” which could be achieved with the opposite means - namely peaceful trade and cooperation.