Updated: October 28, 2003

Table of Contents


Work on the sequel to the Traité de législation, the Traité de la propriété, was yet again suspended following the 1830 Revolution. Comte now began an uncertain career as a government official. On 18 September 1830 Comte was nominated by the more liberal-minded July Monarchy to the post of councillor of the Seine prefecture, which for some reason he did not take up. Only a few days later, on 28 September, he was also appointed to the position of procureur du roi at the Seine tribunal, but was apparently sacked some six months later for what one writer described as "indiscipline." Perhaps it was more a question of Comte attempting to continue his scholarly interests at the same time as the new régime placed demands on his time, or his continual practice of trying to thwart the government, even the more liberal-minded July Monarchy, each time it transgressed his rather strict view of individual liberties. He had another chance to run for office the following year and he was successful, being elected on 5 July 1831 as a deputy from La Sarthe and later deputy for Mamers in 1831, to which he was re-elected for second term on 21 June 1834.[631]

Comte soon became disillusioned with working for the state and decided to retire in order to complete his life's work at long last. He described his growing disillusionment with government and the mad times in which he was living:

After the revolution of 1830, having been called to a number of public duties and imagining myself not unable to be of some use to the people in public affairs..., experience soon dissipated the illusion that I had created for myself. It convinced me that I was living in impossible times when all men who claim to make use of their reason and to maintain their freedom of conscience, ought to resign themselves to not taking part in the affairs of government.[632]

A source of frustration to Comte, which came about because the two parts of his work were not published together, was that he was accused of allowing his political activities to intrude into a work of scholarship. The readers of the Traité de législation in 1826-7 naturally read it as the work of a committed liberal journalist, pamphleteer and academic. Some readers apparently interpreted Comte's discussion of the measures taken in the ancient world to discourage slaves from associating with each other as a reference to contemporary French laws banning meetings of more than twenty people. These infringements on the freedom of association had been ridiculed by Comte and other liberal journalists in the 1820s and the matter had been discussed in the Chamber of Deputies. Comte was stung by these criticisms and in an introduction to the Traité de la propriété in 1834 vehemently denied that he had alluded to contemporary affairs in what he considered to be a work of pure scholarship. It was an understandable assumption made by some of his readers, given the way in which Comte in his own life had mixed periods of intense political activity with periods of withdrawal or retirement for more academic work. Nevertheless Comte had the hope that his empirical method of analysis and his careful reading of anthropological, historical, legal and economic theory would result in a major theoretical work, a work of "science" as he termed it, which was unsullied by party political point-scoring.[633] In order to show that political point-scoring had not been his purpose he claimed he wrote the section on the freedom of association in the ancient world several years before and that the work was being printed several months before the discussion in the Chamber of Deputies had taken place.

Yet in the Traité de la propriété, in a very typical aside of about seven pages, Comte launched into a spirited defence of the freedom to associate with whomever one pleases so long as the rights of others are not harmed.[634] Although he had purged the main body of the text of any references to contemporary party political matters, the political implications of his magnum opus are made obvious in the preface where he was less reluctant to be impartial. He asserts that the faculty of associating with others, like the faculty of expressing one's opinions or undertaking a particular kind of work, was inherent in our nature and any law which attempted to interfere with the exercise of our natural faculties was an act of tyranny.

A measure which declares the innocent or honourable exercise of one or other of our faculties to be punishable is an act of tyranny whoever the authors might be. A measure which guarantees impunity to the government or to individual action which threatens public security or which disturbs society is an act no less condemnable. In either one or other of these perspectives the projected law against association deserves to be rejected.[635]

Without leaving it to the imagination of his readers Comte himself drew the connection between the absurdity of the new law preventing more than twenty people associating freely together and the futile and unjust attempts by the restored monarchy to impose arbitrary and prior censorship on its critics.

On the other hand it is impossible to agree to the idea that any association becomes criminal the moment it has more than twenty members, and to the idea that it would be impossible to guarantee public safety unless all associations over that number were handed over to arbitrary police control. It would be impossible to sustain such a system without repeating all the sophisms which were produced during the Restoration to prove that prior and arbitrary censorship was the sole means of preventing abuses of the press.[636]

What these remarks by Comte clearly indicate is that, after nearly fifteen years of study and writing on economic, historical, sociological and legal matters, he was still very much concerned with the political issues which had preoccupied French liberals in the early years of the Restoration, namely the freedoms of the press and association. It suggests that, in his mind at least, one could combine an interest in class analysis, economic exploitation, and stage theories of history, i.e. what Siedentop has described as a "sociological approach to political theory,"[637] and still remain very much within the classical liberal tradition.

It should not be surprising that Comte found political life during the July Monarchy irksome and tiring. His independence of spirit and his anti-statist liberal sentiments did not naturally incline him to a life in the Chamber of Deputies. Fortunately there was an academic alternative to political life in the form of his membership of the Academy of Moral Sciences, to which he had been elected in 1832 soon after his first foray into politics. When he was made the Academy's permanent secretary in 1834 with the completion of the Traité de la propriété, it was probably the excuse he was looking for to withdraw completely from elected office. As an academician Comte was able to devote himself to his work. From 1833 to his death in 1837 it involved the publication of the second part of his magnum opus, the Traité de la propriété, and editing the works of his father-in-law the economist Jean-Baptiste Say and Thomas Malthus. For the liberal publishing firm of Guillaumin Comte edited all the major and a number of the minor works of his mentor Jean-Baptiste Say and wrote an important assessment of his life and contribution to liberal economic and social theory.[638] He also did the same for Thomas Malthus. One of his tasks as permanent secretary of the Academy was to present eulogies which were more like biographical essays of leading intellectual figures. The task of assessing the life and work of Malthus, who died in 1834, fell to Comte. His eulogy was given in December 1836 and versions of this appeared as introductions to Malthus's major work on The Principles of Population, which remained the edition used by French political economists for decades.[639]

Comte did not live long after the publication of his magnum opus. He died in Paris on 13 April 1837 at the age of 55 after an illness lasting some ten months. Molinari attributed his death to the exhaustion brought on at an early age, due to his arduous political battles and the demands of his academic work. Molinari's diagnosis may not be medically sound but he is correct to emphasise the commitment Comte showed throughout his life to the cause of liberalism in France. He refused to compromise or submit to oppression no matter what its source. Whether under Napoleon, Louis XVIII, Charles X or Louis Philippe, Comte was prepared to criticise and expose any restriction on individual activity in the area of political, social or economic life.


After having participated in liberal politics on and off during the 1820s Dunoyer became politically active again on the eve of the 1830 Revolution when Charles X abruptly sacked the Martignac government and replaced it with the arch-reactionary government of Polignac and introduced the inevitable new censorship of the press. These acts brought to an end Dunoyer's hopes for a liberal Bourbon régime which adhered to the provisions of the Charter.[640] He expressed his opposition to Polignac's ordinances of 26 July 1830 (which reintroduced rigid control of the press, dissolved the Chamber of Deputies, and changed the electoral system in order to ensure an Ultra majority) by going "underground" and publicly declaring to refuse to pay his taxes until the freedoms guaranteed by the Charter had been reintroduced.[641] Dunoyer did not have to stay underground for long as Charles X's government collapsed quickly and was replaced by Louis Philippe's. Dunoyer was rewarded for his opposition to the previous régime with the offer of the post of prefect in Allier on 14 August 1830, and later in Mayenne (October 1832) and the Somme (November 1833).[642]

After serving as a prefect in various localities, Dunoyer's next position under the July Monarchy was as a member of the Conseil d'État in which he served from August 1837 until the coup d'état of 1851 forced him to resign. Other positions he held included the position as administrator general of the Bibliothèque du Roi in February 1839,[643] membership in the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences after his nomination by Guizot in 1832[644], and foundation membership of the Society of Political Economy in 1842.[645] He also contributed numerous essays and reviews to the new Journal des Économistes, the Journal des Débats, and the Dictionnaire d'économie politique.[646] In 1845 appeared the third and final revision and expansion of Dunoyer's work on moral philosophy and industry begun in 1825 with L'Industrie et la morale. The first expansion had occurred in 1830 with the Nouveau traité d'économie sociale, which as we have seen did not get the circulation the author would have liked because of a fire in the publisher's warehouse. Not until fifteen years after the fire destroyed the second version of his work did Dunoyer see the complete form of his work in print. Not only did it contain all the material of the Nouveau traité but also additional material dealing with new issues which had arisen in the 1840s, the most important of which was his response to the socialist criticism of liberalism. The very title of his work referred to a debate between liberals and socialists on the right to a job (liberté au travail) versus the right to seek labour or enter any occupation without restrictions (liberté du travail) with the critics of liberalism favouring the former and the laissez-faire liberals the latter formulation of the question. The new ideology of socialism was becoming a force to be reckoned with in the 1840s, which it had not been in the 1820s when Comte and Dunoyer had other concerns, most notably opposing the reaction of the Restored monarchy. Since the first appearance of his ideas in 1825, the opposition had changed from the counter-revolutionary conservatives of the Restoration to the new advocates of working class socialism of the 1840s. Because the intellectual and political context had changed so much by 1845 it is not appropriate to discuss Dunoyer's De la liberté du travail in the context of a dissertation on Restoration liberal thought.

When the 1848 Revolution broke out Dunoyer was in the Chamber of Deputies and made known his opposition to the revolution.[647] As a liberal he objected to the policies of economic intervention which in his view bordered dangerously on socialism. Just as he had opposed Napoleon Bonaparte during the Empire and the One Hundred Days, he also opposed Napoleon's nephew in 1851. Surpisingly Dunoyer was not sacked from his post as a member of the Conseil d'État in 1848 but he did resign after the coup d'état of 2 December because it violated the constitution as he saw it. He went into retirement to write an attack on Napoleon III on which he was still working when he died in Paris on 4 December 1862 after a lengthy illness.[648] He was seventy six years old.


In the short term the influence of Charles Comte and Charles Dunoyer on French liberal thought was extensive. The generation of liberals who were politically and intellectual active in the mid-nineteenth century, like Frédéric Bastiat in the free trade movement and Gustave de Molinari as a political economist, claim that the writings of Comte and Dunoyer were seminal in the formation of the later generation's liberalism. Bastiat and Molinari cite Comte's works on slavery, legislation, and property especially in this regard, as noted in previous chapters. Dunoyer was able to exert a more personal influence as he lived much longer than Comte (1867 vs 1837). His domain was the Society for Political Economy and the pages of the Journal des économistes where he continued to argue for a strong liberal position. However, at least one historian has cast doubt on Dunoyer's liberal credentials in the mid- to late-1840s. Edgar Allix argues that Dunoyer abandoned the liberal anti-statism which he had inherited from Jean-Baptiste Say in the late-1810s in order to adopt what Allix has called "the rehabilitation of the state" in his struggle against socialism. Faced with the threat of socialist revolution from below Allix argues that Dunoyer turned to the state and became "an admirer of the police and a fanatic of authority."[649] Allix's is a very strange reading of Dunoyer's work, most notably the Liberté du travail, as an examination of this work will show to what extent Dunoyer still adhered to a radial laissez-faire liberal view. It is true that some of the more extreme anti-statist, even anarchist statements (such as the one I quoted at length in the chapter dealing with Dunoyer's view of the "municipalisation of the world") were removed in the later edition. But I would argue that this shows that Dunoyer moved back into the liberal mainstream in the 1840s and 1850s in which strict and limited government was advocated (with the notable exception of Molinari who continued to develop the liberal radicalism of the early Comte and Dunoyer). Far from "deforming" liberalism in his later writings, one might argue that the period of "deformation" (or rethinking liberalism - a term I prefer) occurred in the period from 1817 to 1830 when both Comte and Dunoyer developed their ideas on class, exploitation and the evolution of history through historical stages. One might also defer to Larry Siedentop's interpretation, namely that the French liberals of the Restoration developed a new form of liberalism which did not become the orthodox view but which was supported by a handful of writers, mainly historians, like Thierry and to some extent Guizot.

The study of Comte's and Dunoyer's liberalism raises a number of important issues concerning the nature of liberalism in the early nineteenth century. Firstly, it is clear that Comte and Dunoyer in the earliest years of the Restoration could be regarded as orthodox classical liberals in their defence of what is traditionally regarded as "classical" liberalism, with their campaigns for freedom of speech and constitutional liberty. A hint of their radicalism can be got from their willingness to confront the state and the censors face to face in a number of courtroom battles. However, they were forced to reconsider the foundation of their political liberalism when their journal, Le Censeur, was closed down by the censors. Under the influence of Jean-Baptiste Say's political economy and two works by Benjamin Constant and François Montlosier on history, Comte and Dunoyer became aware of much deeper, underlying forces at work in politics which made their liberal constitutionalism less appealing. In effect, what they discovered in eighteen months of intensive reading, courtesy of the French censor, was a "social dimension" to political theory, which suggested that the campaign for political and constitutional rights had little chance of success whilst the underlying mode of production, the system of class power, and the prevailing political culture were operating to bolster illiberal policies, beliefs and institutions. It was a serious mistake of French liberals like Constant, Dunoyer argued, to focus only on the political structure or the constitution and to ignore the political culture which governed society irrespective of the specific form of the constitution. Even the political economists like Smith and Say were at fault because they had concentrated their attack on the interference of the state in the economy rather than on the public attitudes and customary behaviour of individuals which underpinned all state activity. In an extended critique of Smith and Say in the Nouveau traité Dunoyer suggested that

the conduct of the government is itself only a consequence of (the conduct) of individuals, and that the actions of the public power are only the expression of habits which govern society.[650]

Dunoyer commended the efforts of the classical political economists in exposing the problems of the "régime réglementaire" but regretted that they did not dig deep enough to uncover its true source which lay in the interventionist mores of society.[651] In contrast, the work of Comte and Dunoyer had as one of its aims to show how popular attitudes to work, exchange, and exploitation of others emerged and evolved in response to the changing means of production throughout history. They concluded that a truly liberal state would not be possible until the emerging régime of industry had had time to alter public attitudes which only then would make continued support for regulation of the economy for the benefit of one class a thing of the past.

Secondly, the social theory which emerged from their work in the years from 1817 to round about 1830 suggests that some ideas which are commonly associated with the socialist and even Marxist tradition, are also very much part of the liberal tradition. Comte and Dunoyer saw no contradiction between a belief in classical liberal constitutionalism, private property and the free market, and the use of class analysis and a theory of history based upon changing modes of production in their major theoretical works. What is now required is a reassessment of nineteenth century liberalism which takes into account the "social dimension" of liberalism originally identified by Larry Siedentop. Comte and Dunoyer are not the only liberals to have expressed an interest in the problem of class, power and the evolution of modes of production, although they did develop their ideas in greater depth and sophistication than most. There are others who toyed with the idea of a parasitic ruling class which exploited the productive "working classes" (always plural in liberal theory because it included artisans, farmers as well as entrepreneurs and intellectuals) but very few developed the argument in the detail that Comte and Dunoyer did. Moreover where they did use the idea it was often in the static context of a contemporary political struggle rather than a general formulation in the context of the historical evolution of classes over the centuries. The idea of class based upon the distinction between political privilege and market activity was taken up by a number of liberals and liberal-minded conservatives throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth and include Thomas Paine, Thomas Hodgskin, Henry Thomas Buckle,[652] W.E.H. Lecky,[653] Herbert Spencer,[654] Gustave de Molinari,[655] Vilfredo Pareto,[656] Gaetano Mosca,[657] Franz Oppenheimer,[658] and perhaps even Max Weber.[659]

Although this dissertation is not the place to provide such a new interpretation of liberalism which would take into account the concern for the "social dimension" a few suggestions of how this might be done are in order. One place to begin would be the question of a liberal theory of class, beginning with the modification and expansion of the physiocratic theory of production and the concepts of a classe productive and a classe sterile which led to a new theory of class analysis to which Comte, Dunoyer and Thierry devoted considerable space in their journal. The theorists of industrialism concluded from their theory of production that it was the state and the privileged classes allied to or making up the state, rather than all non-agricultural activity, which were essentially non productive. They therefore advocated a radical separation of peaceful and productive civil society from the inefficiencies and privileges of the state and its favourites. In their studies of societies where this separation of state and civil society did not occur, the resulting conflict between these antagonistic classes plays a very considerable part. Charles Comte based his class analysis on the distinction between the idlers and the workers. According to him "no where can wealth exist without work and when a class of the population disdains from working then it has to beg or steal."[660] When this class theory is applied to the study of history, whether by Thierry in his study of the English revolution or the Norman conquest,[661] or Constant in his work on conquest and usurpation "De l'ésprit de conquête," or Comte, Dunoyer and Thierry on the decline of slavery and serfdom and the rise of industrialism, the result is a rich and stimulating combination of social, economic and historical analysis detailing the constant battle between the exploited and the exploiter, culminating in the rise of the market society at the expense of the mercantilist ancien régime.

One of Dunoyer's insights into class analysis which has relevance for the study of twentieth century history is that no matter what the political ideology or social background of those seeking power, the enjoyment of the trappings and privileges of office soon becomes an end in itself and a new ruling class of political office-holders and their clients emerges. The power of Dunoyer's class analysis is shown by the following example. He would have had no trouble recognising the class structure of the variety of political régimes which have emerged in the twentieth century. Certainly, he would not have been surprised by the new ruling classes which emerged in Eastern Europe after 1917 and 1948-49. In fact, he predicted that any attempt to regulate and control the economy, for whatever purpose, must lead to the emergence of such a class. He thought that the only way to rid the world of the exploitation of one class by another was to destroy the very thing which made it all possible - the power of the state to distribute and control property and favours. Comte's and Dunoyer's interest in the class structure of slave societies provides an excellent example of how a liberal class analysis might be developed. Their focus on the means by which wealth is accumulated, whether by voluntary means through exchange and production, or by coercive means usually guaranteed by the power of the state; the incentives and disincentives to labour and to innovate which coercion introduces into the economy; the ways in which the politically privileged lobby and use the power of the state to maintain their position; the relationship between the means of production and the political culture of each of the classes which make up a society; and their overall view of the course of history and its future direction, are provocative and suggest a range of further questions about the development of a liberal theory of class.

There is a strain of thought within Anglo-American liberalism with similar sociological concerns to those explored by Comte and Dunoyer during the Restoration. Some of the work of Thomas Paine, Thomas Hodgskin, John Wade, and James and John Stuart Mill illustrates quite well the fact that a concern for class, based on the distinction between market created wealth and state privileged parasitism, occurs in Anglo-American thought and is similar to the more systematic theories of the radical French liberals of the Restoration period. For example, although Paine is not often included as a liberal his regard for the individual, for natural rights, for the benefits of civil society and commerce surely make a strong claim for him to be considered as being well within the broader liberal tradition. His The Rights of Man[662] is an outstanding analysis of the benefits of voluntary association and the disruptive effects of state intervention and aristocratic privilege. However, the clearest statement of his class analysis was written in 1792 in "A Letter Addressed to the Addressers on the Late Proclamation"[663] where he states that

There are two distinct classes of men in the Nation, those who pay taxes and those who receive and live upon the taxes... When taxation is carried to excess, it cannot fail to disunite those two, and something of this is now beginning to appear.

For Paine the "producing classes" were in a virtual state of war with the parasitical aristocracy, those who lived off hereditary privilege, sinecures and other government sources of wealth.[664] Unfortunately Paine's aim was not to develop these insights about class analysis into an extended theoretical work, but rather to use them polemically in his struggle against the Old Regime on both sides of the Atlantic.

Following the French Revolution and in the immediate period of economic adjustment in the 1820s an unusual parallel development in the formation of liberal class analysis took place. In both England and France radicals developed theories of class and exploitation with some striking similarities. Modern writers have interpreted the English radicals as essentially "Ricardian" in their analysis and so labelled them "Ricardian socialists". This is certainly a misnomer for John Wade and Thomas Hodgskin especially. The confusion over whether to call Wade and Hodgskin socialists or liberals is evident in Noel W. Thompson's The People's Science.[665] He manages to call them both Ricardian and Smithian socialists and still not recognise their essential liberalism. Similarly with Thomas Hodgskin in The Natural and Artifical Right of Property Contrasted (1832) where he gives a clear example of the application of the liberal non-aggression principle to the acquisition and exchange of property. He also implies that those who benefit from "artificial" property rights, i.e. by force and state privilege, comprise a class antagonistic to the producing class. The distinction is made more explicitly by John Wade in both The Extraordinary Black Book (1819) and his magazine The Gorgon. For example, in the August 8, 1818 issue of The Gorgon Wade identifies the following classes

The different classes which we have mentioned (the upper and middling classes such as the aristocrats and the Commissioners of Taxes), are identified with corruption, and from a principle of self-preservation will resolutely oppose every attempt at Reform. Opposed to this phalanx, with interests quite distinct and even incompatible, are arrayed the PRODUCTIVE CLASSES of society... who by their labours increase the funds of the community, as husbandmen, mechanics, labourers, etc; and are thus termed to distinguish them from the unproductive classes, as lawyers, parsons, and aristocrats; which are termed the idle consumers, because they waste the produce of the country without giving anything in return. To render our enumeration complete, we ought to notice the class of paupers and public creditors, and we shall then have mentioned all the elements, which form that strange compound, English society.[666]

The basic error of most scholars who have dealt with the so-called "Ricardian socialists" is to consider their class analysis as the defining characteristic of a "socialist" and to ignore their very strong belief in private property and the free market.

My final example of the awareness of class in Anglo-American liberalism comes from the writings of James and John Stuart Mill. James Mill's class analysis emerges from his distinction between "the People" and the aristocracy, or as he termed it "the sinister interests." As with Paine and Wade, Mill pits the two classes against each other in an ongoing struggle. In an essay published in 1835 in the London Review James Mill argues that "The first class, Ceux qui pillent, are the small number. They are the ruling few. The second class, Ceux qui sont pillés, are the great number. They are the subject Many."[667] John Stuart Mill incorporated this class interpretation into his analysis of the natural constituency for the Reform Party in an essay on "Reorganisation of the Reform Party" written in 1839. He defined the "Disqualified Classes," as he called them, as

All who feel oppressed, or unjustly dealt with, by any of the institutions of the country; who are taxed more heavily than other people, or for other people's benefit, who have, or consider themselves to have, the field of employment for their pecuniary means or their bodily or mental faculties unjustly narrowed; who are denied the importance in society, or the influence in public affairs, which they consider due to them as a class, or who feel debarred as individuals from a fair chance of rising in the world; especially if others, in whom they do not recognise any superiority of merit, are artificially exalted above their heads: these compose the natural Radicals...[668]

Perhaps the disappointments and disillusionment with political activity which affected Philosophic Radicalism in the 1840s prevented Mill from carrying his class analysis any further. Only in the occasional review does Mill's sympathy for this liberal class analysis reveal itself. John Stuart Mill's essays on French history reveal both his profound knowledge of French liberal thought and his interest in "philosophical history." It is the latter which shows quite clearly Mill's own sympathy towards class analysis. This is especially true in his reviews of Guizot and Tocqueville.[669]

A third issue raised by Comte's and Dunoyer's liberalism concerns the power of the state and the related problem of the relationship between the political community, or civitas, and the individuals who make up civil society. One of the distinguishing features which separates liberalism from other political theories is the use of power by the state. Liberals fear the use of power by the state and seek to limit it through a variety of means, such as constitutionalism in the case of Constant and Guizot, and the virtual abolition of the state in the case of Comte and Dunoyer. Their faith in the justice of private property and the economic harmony of the market leads them to regard the state as the source of privilege and injustice rather than the means by which these can be removed. In their own different ways conservatives, Rousseauian democrats and socialists come to the very opposite conclusion. They want to use the power of the state to create a more perfect and just society on earth, by abolishing private property, or at the very least strictly regulating its use. For example, mid-century socialists wished to replace the existing ruling class with a new group of men who would act in the true interests of the previously exploited class. For them, the power of the state is no enemy but a tool which has been badly misused in the past. Thus socialism and Marxism, according to this view, are just two of the very many political ideologies which seek to use the power of the state to bring about change. This should be contrasted to Dunoyer's view that radical change would come about by disengaging the state from all economic activity and so breaking down the monolithic nation state, or "municipalising" it to use Dunoyer's term, to such an extent that it would cease to function for all practical purposes.

Comte's and Dunoyer's radical, anti-statist liberalism has an important implication for the role of the political community or civitas in a liberal society. In a complete break with the traditions of civic humanism, Rousseauian democracy and conservatism which demanded the subjugation of the individual to the political community, the `general will' or the traditional institutions of throne and alter, the radical liberalism of Comte and Dunoyer demanded no such duty on the part of individuals who made up society. For example, Comte and Dunoyer rejected conscription (a common obligation demanded of citizens to the civitas) as a violation of individual rights and which was destructive of industrial values. In their liberal, industrial society there would be no obligation to vote as the state would be minimal or non-existent, there would be no conscription as standing armies would be abolished and trade would take the place of war as the normal form of intercourse between nations, there would be no obligation to practice the state religion or conform to Sabbatarian laws as the state would not play favourites in religion and the principle of laissez-faire would govern the operation of the economy. In a society like that envisaged by Dunoyer there would be no "civic duty" as there would be no state, no civitas to which one would be obliged to obey. The only obligations which would bind the individual would be self-imposed moral ones, which would gradually evolve as industrial societies emerged and altered or "perfected" the way people thought and behaved. These obligations included the duty to grant mutual respect for property and liberty of all those who participated in voluntary exchange and to abstain from all violence. In a key passage in the Nouveau traité Dunoyer attacked the idea that the citizen was duty bound to sacrifice their interests to those of the political community or state. The foundation stone of political duty was the belief that there was one set of moral obligations for private citizens and another set which applied to the state and public officials. Dunoyer, and I would argue most radical liberals, rejected this idea. If it was wrong to use force against the person or property of another individual then it was wrong for an individual or a political community to do this. The fundamental moral principle which should apply in liberal society was to "abstain from all violence as citizens."[670] Most individuals seemed to realise that theft and violence was wrong if committed by one individual against another. However, as soon as they became members of a political community, a "corps politique," they condoned the same actions committed by the state or its officials in the name of the civitas and thus contributed to their own impoverishment and enslavement. Dunoyer noted the strange transformation which overcame otherwise morally upright individuals when they participated in the political community:

... as members of the "corps politique" ... we are no longer the same men. We no longer recognise limits to our will. One could say that (our) actions have changed in nature because we have changed roles and that what would be a crime on the part of individuals becomes praiseworthy or at least permissible on the part of (political) authority.[671]

Even if a citizen did not use the power of the state directly to advance their interests at the expense of other individuals' property and individual liberty, but merely participated in elections and perhaps joined a political party, they would still, in Dunoyer's strict interpretation of liberal political morality, violate the rights of others. Any participation in what one might call one's "civic duties," any "exercise of the social power" rendered one guilty of harming others.[672] True liberty would only be achieved when individuals rejected the divorce between private and public morality and agreed to mutually respect the property and personal liberty of all individuals. By rejecting the "will to power" inherent in political activity individuals could break the cycle of political exploitation which profited a few at the expense of the many. Because most people persisted in judging political acts by a different moral yardstick, and persisted in thinking they were obliged to fulfil their civic duties like paying taxes and serving in the army, they were therefore "accomplices" to their own enslavement. Thus Dunoyer tied together his ideas on class, exploitation, political culture and the possibilities of dissolving the bonds of political society and of achieving a liberal, industrial society in one passage:

It would be sufficient in effect that (the public) have the will to prevent it in order to have the power to do so. One knows quite well that the sources of its forces and its resources would not have the means to use them badly if it did not consent to allow them to be put to bad use. The men invested with power have no magical powers. They like everyone else do not have the power to perform miracles. When, in a society of thirty million people, it happens that a small number of individuals are able to control the faculties of the majority of the others and to direct the exercise of all the professions, one can affirm strongly that these individuals have the majority as their accomplices, and that the excesses which they allow have their true cause in the state of the ideas and the political mores which prevail in society.[673]

But because the double moral standard is permitted by the majority to continue Dunoyer went on to ask what was the point of individuals refraining from committing violence against others when all around them the political community did exactly that but under a different name?

Indeed, what is the purpose of us individually abstaining from attacking property, from committing violence against others, from interfering in the innocent exercise of their faculties, if we commit such acts of violence politically, or if we tolerate those who exercise the social power to commit them in our name?[674]

In such a liberal society as Dunoyer has sketched one could argue there would no longer be a civitas at all.

Finally, the impact of Comte and Dunoyer on later liberals in the areas of their specific interests in property theory, slavery, and industrialism is rather mixed. In the area of property theory the greatest impact appeared to lie outside the liberal movement. Liberals like Molinari seemed to accept Comte's work as a canonical statement and leave it at that. For critics of liberalism, most notably Proudhon, Comte's work stimulated a spirited attack on the liberal conception of property in a number of works beginning in 1840. Proudhon's response to Comte is not well known and will be discussed in more detail below. Comte's and Dunoyer's work on slavery fared little better. Although it confirmed the abolitionist sentiments of a Bastiat or a Molinari it had little impact outside liberal circles. As Tocqueville found in his campaigns to abolish slavery in the late 1830s and early 1840s, the French public was entirely indifferent to the plight of the slaves in the French colonies. The abolitionist cause was kept afloat in Britain by the efforts of the liberal and reform-minded evangelical churches, a group notoriously weak on the continent. In both countries the debate about the moral evils and economic viability of slavery ended when slavery was ended. Thus Comte's work was rendered politically irrelevant in France by the 1848 revolution. Perhaps only in Russia in the late 1850s, when French speaking Russian bureaucrats were planning to reform or abolish serfdom from above, was the work of Storch, Say and Comte on slavery still of interest.

The third great interest of Comte and Dunoyer was of course the future industrial society. Grand, sweeping theories of history of the type developed by Comte and Dunoyer during the Restoration seemed to disappear from liberal thinking after 1830, with the notable exceptions of the work of Gustave de Molinari in France and Herbert Spencer in Britain The former was still producing theories of economic evolution very much along the lines of Dunoyer as late as 1880 with works like L'Évolution économique de dix-neuvième siècle. Théorie du progrès (1880).[675] Roughly contemporaneously, the latter was developing his view of the evolution of "the industrial type of society" from earlier forms of "the militant type of society" in The Principles of Sociology as part of the multi-volume work A System of Synthetic Philosophy (1876, 1893, 1896).[676] In the 1880s works of "philosophical" or "synthetic" history seemed very much out of place in a liberal movement which was dominated by utilitarianism and classical political economy and which was undergoing another transformation into the more interventionist "New Liberalism." In retrospect Molinari's and Spencer's writings make the work of Comte and Dunoyer look like the last flourish of what one might call an essentially eighteenth century perspective to history and social theory pioneered by Adam Smith or Condorcet. After mid-century such an approach came to be associated more and more with Marxism rather than with liberalism.

One explanation for the failure of the broader liberal movement after 1830 to take up the kind of liberalism advocated by Comte and Dunoyer is that their liberalism was very much a generational response to the particular problems of post-revolutionary French society. They were both educated in the first decade of the nineteenth century when the ideas of the Enlightenment and Idéologie still had a powerful attractive force. Much of their work can be seen as a response to the failure of liberalism during the revolution, the rise to power of Napoleon and the creation of a militaristic Empire, and the attempted restoration of Bourbon absolutism. As Siedentop has noted, it was these particularly French issues which gave French liberalism of this period its peculiar concern for the problems of class conflict and the deeper causes of social change. After the 1830 Revolution the vestiges of the ancien régime had been swept away and new challenges faced a new generation of liberals. The most pressing problem was the rise of the "social question" in the 1840s as urbanisation, industrial development and the rise of the labour movement forced attention on the problems of poverty, factory labour and the redistribution of wealth. The social and economic world of the 1840s was vastly different from that of the 1810s and 1820s when Comte and Dunoyer were most active, so it is perhaps not surprising that liberals adopted new methods of analysis for these new intellectual concerns.


The importance of Comte as one of the few liberals to offer a comprehensive defence of property during the Restoration and the early July Monarchy was quickly recognised by one of the leading socialist critics of property, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.[677] Well before Marx became the leading critic of liberalism, the most searching and well-known critic of liberal notions of property was Pierre-Joseph Proudhon who helped lay the foundation for the nineteenth century socialist rejection of liberal ideas of property. His criticism of property and the legitimacy of wage labour is well known, but what is unfortunately less well known is the focus of Proudhon's attack on liberal property theory, namely a number of the leading liberal political economists such as Destutt de Tracy, Jean-Baptiste Say, Pellegrino Rossi; the philosopher Victor Cousin; and jurists such as Joseph Dutens and Charles Toullier.[678] Proudhon's prime focus of attack were the French political economists, above all Say and Charles Comte, whom Proudhon dismissed as "the apostle of property and the panegyrist of labour."[679] Comte was referred to on countless occasions in Proudhon's attack on property in the two Mémoires sur la propriété especially the first memoir, printed in 1840 and better known as Qu'est-ce que c'est la propriété?[680] Proudhon attacked Comte most fiercely in chapter three, section four "On Labour - That Labour by Itself has No Power of Appropriation on Things of Nature" and section five "That Labour Leads to Equality of Property."

The debate about the nature of property which Comte's work provoked occurred at a crucial moment in the intellectual development of French liberalism and socialism. Although Comte died three years before Proudhon wrote his memoirs on property and a debate in the true sense of the word never took place between the two, they both represented the strengths and weaknesses of their respective traditions of thought. Liberalism was rapidly becoming influential among political and economic elites and the effects of liberal reforms were to be felt most in the middle decades of the nineteenth century, especially in the area of free trade. The period from the end of the Napoleon's Empire to the early years of the July monarchy were the years when liberal ideas were in the process of being formed into a new orthodoxy and Comte's rôle in this was considerable. Likewise with Proudhon. His relationship to pre-Marxist socialism is a vital one, especially in France where he had a profound impact on the French labour movement which lasted for the rest of the century. He was also instrumental in the discovery of the "social question" in France in the 1840s when problems of the conditions in the factories, the standard of living of the working class, and child and female labour became contentious issues. In terms of influence and originality the conflict between the ideas of Comte and Proudhon is most instructive and revealing of the future development of both liberalism and socialism in the nineteenth century.

The central position of Comte and Proudhon in the formation of mid-nineteenth century property theory was clearly understood by the writers and editors of the influential Dictionnaire de l'économie politique (1852) which encapsulated and epitomised the thinking of economic liberals in the mid-nineteenth century. In the article on property Léon Faucher acknowledged the fact that French liberalism owed its economic theory to Jean-Baptiste Say and its philosophy of property (as well as much of its theory of history) to Charles Comte.[681] Faucher also correctly identified Proudhon's critique of Comte's property theory as the major source of opposition to liberal views of property, although of course he was not to realise what new directions Karl Marx would take the critique of liberal property theory begun by Proudhon. Therefore Charles Comte's theory of property assumed considerable importance in the development of nineteenth century French liberal thought and provided the provocation for Proudhon's highly influential critique of property.

Proudhon's criticism of liberal ideas of property was developed in a series of "Memoires" in which he concluded that with the well-known slogan "property is theft." Proudhon adopted a crudely dialectical approach. He wanted to show that liberal ideas of property led to illiberal consequences. In his examination of land ownership he wanted to show that private ownership of land resulted in unequal access to productive assets. He criticised the principle of the first user having a right to unowned property on the grounds that it was arbitrary and unfair to later generations. Proudhon's solutions to the problem of property was common access, ownership only for one's lifetime, and the redistribution of property after the death of an owner. Perhaps Proudhon's best known and most influential arguments concerned the problem of "unearned income" from profit, interest and rent. Since he believed that only physical labour was the source of wealth, only physical labour should be rewarded financially. Also, since he rejected Say's view that intellectual labour could produce wealth he was not willing, as Say and Comte most certainly were, to allow the labour of those in the service sector to claim any reward for their labour. This disagreement over the productiveness of physical versus intellectual labour is the heart of the dispute between Proudhon and the French liberals over just claims to property.

A central point of disagreement between the two theorists was the origin of wage labour in the process of creating private property in land or improving already existing property. Comte's ideas on this question particularly incensed Proudhon in Qu'est que la propriété? and led him to one of his sharpest denunciations of the liberal argument that capitalists and landowners have the right to keep the improvements made to their property by wage labourers.[682] The matter in dispute concerns the payment of labourers to clear land, to drain a swamp or to erect a building. Proudhon's fundamental criticism is that wage labour is unjust because it prevents the labourer from receiving the full value of the wealth created by his exertions.[683] Proudhon argues that the "capitalist" who employs the labourers pays only the value of a single labourer's contribution and ignores the extra "social" component or "la force collective"[684] made possible by the division of labour and the cooperation of many labourers working on the project together. It is this "social" component of labour which the capitalist pockets for himself as profit and which Proudhon and other critics believed should be divided equally amongst the labourers.[685] The mechanisms which Comte had devised for legitimising the transfer of national property to private property were all rejected by Proudhon as inadequate or unjust. The system of wage labour, which Comte believed flowed naturally from the initial establishment of private property in land, was rejected by Proudhon because it did not reward the social or collective component of the added value. The existence of the collective force in labour meant that the transition to private property was not complete. An element of common property remained and needed to be recognised in the level of wages and rent in the market.[686]

Proudhon's argument about the important contribution made to production by the "collective force" is another instance of the often parallel arguments which he and radical liberals like Comte developed but used in opposite ways. The increase in productivity brought about by the division of labour and the use of machinery in the industrial system is used by Proudhon to argue that workers are not getting in their wages the full value of their contribution. Comte on the other hand uses a similar argument about the unintended increase in value of property brought about by a shift to a new mode of production or by improvements made by others to show that appropriation of land leaves no one worse off and to illustrate the irreversibly interdependent nature of the modern industrial system.

In addition to an argument about the continued existence of national or collective property and the inadequacy of wages paid to labourers for the value of their contribution to production Proudhon discusses an equally important matter which goes to the heart of Comte's justification for transforming public or national property into private property. This is the argument that mixing one's labour with the land (by fencing, clearing, improving) is sufficient to legitimately convert national property into private property. Proudhon asks why labour has this potent effect only once and only for the first occupant? Why doesn't the present labour of employed labourers entitle them to own the improvements they have helped create on the landowner's land? The argument that the land is already owned is dismissed by Proudhon as specious and self-serving. Proudhon asks why Comte, since his theory of property depends so much on the importance of mixing one's labour to establish a claim to ownership, would not agree that a tenant farmer should own any improvements made to the property which increases its value. Furthermore, the contribution of those workers who maintain the value of a property by their labour (rather than increasing its value) entitles them to a claim as legitimate owner. Proudhon applies this idea to all those who earn a wage or pay rent and is therefore a line of attack which undermines the entire system of private property and wage labour in an industrial economy. In the latter instance the rent a tenant farmer pays entitles the rent payer to a property right equal to the annual rent paid. Proudhon concludes that the demand for labourers to share in profits or the increased value which their labour creates in property should no longer be seen as an act of charity but as a natural right. It is a right which is inherent in the nature of labour and productive activity itself.

Many people talk of letting workers share in the products and rewards (of their labour) but this share which is demanded for them is demanded as pure charity. No none has ever proved, perhaps no one has ever imagined, that it should be theirs by natural right, by necessity, inherent in the nature of labour, inseparable from them as producers, even down to the meanest labourer. Here is my solution: The labourer retains a natural right of property in the thing he has produced even after he has received his wages.[687]

Proudhon's criticisms of the legitimacy of wage labour, like his criticism of property in general, have been so influential that it is important to understand the nature of his disagreements with liberal property theory. Since it is was in reaction to a number of liberal writers of the Restoration, including Comte's Traité de la propriété, that Proudhon first developed his thorough-going critique of property it is vital that the liberalism of this period be better understood and appreciated both for its own sake and in order to place Proudhon's criticism in its proper historical context.

Comte and Dunoyer had a less direct influence on Karl Marx. It would be more correct to say that certain aspects of French liberalism in the Restoration were taken up by Marx either directly or indirectly, especially a number of ideas on class and the economic evolution of society through stages. One can find the occasional passing reference to Restoration liberals in Marx's correspondence and theoretical works. For example, in a letter to Joseph Weydemeyer of March 5, 1852 Marx admits that

as far as I am concerned, the credit for having discovered the existence and the conflict of classes in modern society does not belong to me. Bourgeois historians presented the historical development of this class struggle, and the economists showed its economic anatomy long before I did.[688]

Later in this same letter Marx refers to Thierry, Guizot, the English radical John Wade, and Ricardo as examples of the liberals who influenced his theory of class. There are suggestions in Marx's earlier attempts at class analysis in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte and The Civil War in France that his class analysis is closer to the liberal theory, with its dichotomy between the state as exploiter and civil society as producer, than it is to the traditional, later "Marxist" view of the state as the instrument of the bourgeoisie and exploitation as the necessary result of the industrial production process. One of the few historians of the theory of class analysis to examine the French liberal origins of some of Marx's ideas about class is the Russian Marxist Plekhanov who, in "The Development of the Monist View of History," discusses the influence of Thierry and Guizot but does not mention Comte or Dunoyer in this connection.[689]

Where Marx does refer to Comte or Dunoyer by name it is usually made in passing and usually it is very disparaging. One example is a letter to J.B. Schweitzer in 1865 on the topic of Proudhon and his work. Marx refers briefly to Dunoyer's Liberté du travail as "three bulging, unbelievably boring volumes."[690] In The German Ideology (1845-6) he scoffed at Dunoyer's idea that "civil society," or the "regime of industry" as Dunoyer called it, would expand until it either took over the provision of some functions from the state or abolished other functions entirely. Marx rejects this view and suggests cryptically "Let Mr. Cobden and Monsieur Dunoyer bear this in mind."[691] Marx's treatment of Dunoyer is more matter of fact in his discussion of the emergence of private property at different stages in the economic evolution of society in the first part of The German Ideology. Marx's argues that private property is a necessity for certain industrial stages, notably for small-scale agriculture and mining, and draws upon Dunoyer's discussion of mining in the first edition of Liberté du travail (1845) to make this point. However, Marx quickly moves away from the thrust of Dunoyer's argument, which is to show the necessary continuity in property ownership in the transition from small to large-scale industry, to make his crucial point that:

...the contradiction between the instrument of production and private property is only the product of large-scale industry, which, moreover, must be highly developed to produce this contradiction. Thus only with large-scale industry does the abolition of private property become possible.[692]

Marx seemed to have more time for Comte because he admired his exhaustive treatment of the problem slavery in the Traité de législation. In The German Ideology Marx approvingly contrasts Comte's view of the suffering of slaves with that of "Saint Sancho".[693] Marx was no doubt attracted to Comte's sarcastic remarks about the payment of slaves for their labour by blows of their owner's whip instead of wages. Marx also refers to Comte in an important chapter in Capital volume one on "The Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist."[694] It takes place in the context of a discussion of the two distinct forms of capital which had appeared by the end of the middle ages. Marx approvingly quotes a passage from Thomas Hodgskin's The Natural and Artificial Right of Property Contrasted (1832) in which Hodgskin argues that the capitalist has acquired control over "all the wealth of society" and asks rhetorically by what right has such a dramatic change in the right of property occurred? Marx's intention is to show how "primitive accumulation" took place at "the dawn of the era of capitalist production" by usury within Europe and conquest, plunder and slavery outside Europe. He concludes in a passage with which Comte would have largely agreed that:

The different moments of primitive accumulation... (embrace) the colonies, the national debt, the modern tax system, and the system of protection. These methods depend in part on brute force, for instance the colonial system. But they all employ the power of the state, the concentrated and organised force of society, to hasten, as in a hothouse, the process of transformation of the feudal mode of production into the capitalist mode, and to shorten the transition. Force is the midwife of every old society which is pregnant with a new one. It is itself an economic power.[695]

Marx's discussion of Comte's treatment of slavery in the Traité de la législation follows immediately on from this passage in a discussion of the "barbarities" of the "peaceful commerce" in slaves. Marx's view is that the slave societies in the New World are a reflection of how the bourgeoisie would like to "model the world according to his own image without any interference."[696] He commends Comte for the "good compilation on the treatment of slaves" in the Traité but makes no effort to rebut Comte's claim that slavery and the class structure to which it gives rise is in complete contradiction to all the principles of a market, industrial society. In Comte's view industrial society was able to emerge because it was able to destroy the violation of property and personal liberty which was inherent in all forms of slavery. Marx on the other hand views the matter in reverse. Slavery is a precondition for the era of capitalist production and many of the methods of accumulation and exploitation developed for slavery are transferable to industrial capitalism. Marx's treatment of Hodgskin is much the same as his treatment of Comte - only taking what is necessary for his argument and ignoring the broader context and intent of their ideas. In the case of Hodgskin it is clear that Marx has misinterpreted Hodgskin's purpose, which is not to challenge the right of the capitalist to own wealth but to show how it occurred through a natural evolution often in spite of the legislators to hinder it. Marx mocks Hodgskin for asking "The power of the capitalist over all the wealth of the country is a complete change in the right of property, and by what law, or series of laws, was if effected?"[697] Marx's snide response to Hodgskin's question is to say "The author should have reminded himself that revolutions are not made with laws."[698] But this is to miss the point of Hodgskin's entire line of argument in his fifth letter which is entitled "The Legal Right of Property is undergoing subversion by the Natural Right of Property." Hodgskin's question is both rhetorical and ironic and, since, Marx is devoid of both humour and a sense of irony, it is not surprising he does not understand Hodgskin. Hodgskin's intention is, as he clearly states a few pages before the passage Marx misquotes:

My argument is, that those great changes which the law did not ordain, were effected in spite of the law. The law-maker, instead of facilitating the emancipation of villeins, did what he could to prevent it, but his ambition and his greed were overpowered by the beneficent operation of natural laws. Improvements in art and science, the introduction of commerce and manufacturing, consequent upon multiplication of the species, - to all of which, except perhaps the last, which he has opposed indirectly by mis-appropriating the produce of industry, the law-maker has in general been excessively hostile, brought about the abolition of personal slavery.[699]

The immediate context of Hodgskin's remarks about the wealth of the capitalist "at present" which Marx quotes approvingly is a discussion of the process by which the market inevitably breaks down the power and privileges of the politically privileged elite in spite of their legal efforts to prevent this from happening. According to Hodgskin, this liberating effect of the market has appeared in waves beginning with the creation of free communes during the middle ages

When the burgher, the inhabitants of towns, the slaves who emancipated themselves in spite of the legislating landowning lords, had struggled into existence and strength, they had to fight their way to security and influence against the sword-bearing law-maker.[700]

What resulted from this was a stand-off between the "feudal law-giver" and the emancipated slaves which was only resolved by an agreement on the part of the "sword-bearing law-makers" to suspend their feudal claims in return for a regular payment of "tribute."

The next stage in the struggle for the "natural right of property" came with the struggle between the old class of "legislating landowners" and the new class of "capitalists." A passage that Marx does not quote, for obvious reasons, is the following:

The capitalist was originally a labourer, or the descendent of a villein, and he obtained a profit on what he was able to save from the produce of his own labour, after he had wrested his liberty from his masters, because he was then able to make them respect his right to use the produce of his own industry.[701]

By dint of hard work and saving the capitalists were able to force the old landowning class to sell their property for "some pecuniary consideration," thus changing the composition of the present distribution of landowning. Thus, as Hodgskin acknowledges but Marx does not, the present distribution of landownership includes a mixture of justly acquired "natural" titles to property and unjustly "artificial" rights inherited from the breakdown of the feudal system. The similarity between Hodgskin's theory of history and Charles Comte's is striking, as is the complete misunderstanding of Marx on this problematical issue. In a continuation of the passage Marx pointedly refused to quote Hodgskin states in very Comteian terms:

The great mass of the original landowners' families are extinct, or the land has passed from their descendants for some pecuniary consideration; so that in fact the property of the present landowner is derived from, or represents, capital. The landowner as such, derives his right to that share of the produce of labour he receives, under the name of rent, from being the descendent of those who forcibly appropriated, not merely the land, but the labourer; or he possesses the remains of the power of those who did so appropriate the land; and his annual income now represents the compensation given to him by the good sense of society, in its progress for the emancipation of bondsmen and serfs.[702]

Thus much of the "present" distribution of landed property represents a pay-off of the "artificial" property owners to the benefit of the growing class of "natural" property owners. This situation is only temporary as the "progress" of society is towards ever increasing amounts of "natural "property (i.e. acquired through voluntary market transactions) and every decreasing amounts of "artificial" property (i.e. acquired through force or legislation). The end Hodgskin has in mind is a "new order of society" of "equal and free men," a "middle class," who are both labourers and capitalists at the same time, and who are free of legal control and regulation of the wages and interest they can earn in the free market.[703] The present situation is one of transition in which the capitalists are vainly attempting to use the power of the legislator to protect their privileges from the liberating forces of the market, just as their forebears the landowners tried to do when challenged by their "emancipated slaves." Hodgskin ends his fifth letter with a conclusion the very opposite of the one Marx imagined him to have reached. Far from arguing that it is law which brings about a revolution in property ownership Hodgskin takes the radical liberal view that

If any thing can abate the present rage for law-making, and for multiplying regulations for every part of society, the fact to be learnt by an attentive consideration of history, that laws have little or no beneficial influence over the fate of mankind, is well calculated to produce so desirable a result.[704]

The purpose of my discussion of Karl Marx and his treatment of Comte, Dunoyer and Hodgskin is to show that the connection between him and the radical liberals of the Restoration and their counterparts in Britain is a very problematical one into which space prevents me from delving at length in this dissertation. It is clear that while he was in Paris in the mid-1840s Marx read Proudhon and probably became familiar with the work of Comte on property and slavery through Proudhon's attack. His immediate intellectual and polemical task was to refute Proudhon rather than the Restoration liberals. When he did turn to the question of "historical materialism" and stage theories of history in The German Ideology (1845-6) and the Paris Manuscripts it was under the influence of his reading of the German historical school of Friedrich Karl von Savigny and the works of a number of French critics of liberal political economy published in the early 1840s such as Charles Pecqueur, Eugène Buret, and Simonde de Sismondi.[705] Only later did Marx read more deeply in the four stage theory of history advocated by Adam Smith and other members of the Scottish Enlightenment. Where he did come across French Restoration liberals and political economists it was only as an adjunct to his much greater interest in criticising British political economy. This may help explain why he plundered what he could from their work to assist him in this project, or why he apparently misread them in his haste to move onto more important matters. Further discussion of Marx's theory of history would be inappropriate here as it would involve an analysis of his political activities in the 1840s and the intellectual context in which this occurred - a topic far removed from the aim of this dissertation which has been to focus on the work of two French radical liberal journalists and academics who developed their ideas in the tumultuous years of the French Restoration.