How Much Industry Does a Nation Need?

  • Florian Schui

Abstract

After Voltaire left Berlin in 1753, the controversy about Colbert and the continued growth of industry reached a new stage. A highly critical account of the age of Louis XIV by the Abbé de Saint-Pierre (1658–1743) was published in 1756. In the same period, the Physiocratic school with its strong views about industry and marked dislike of Colbert rose to dominate the debates on political economy. However, in the period was also published an eloquent defence of Colbert. In Jacques Necker (1732–1804) — the author of the 1773 Eulogy of Jean-Baptiste Colbert — Voltaire finally found an ally in the defence of the minister. At the centre of the debates was the question of how much industry a nation needed in order to be prosperous and virtuous. The relative sizes that the sectors of industry and agriculture should have were controversially discussed and moral arguments were fielded alongside with political economy arguments. It was in this period that Diderot accused his opponents of wanting to ‘build industry on the ruins of agriculture’.1

Keywords

Income Expense Smoke Defend Gout 

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Notes

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© Florian Schui 2005

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  • Florian Schui

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