Saturday, March 30, 2013

"...une saine politique que le commerce amène toujours..." — Raynal

AM | @HDI1780

Adam Smith quotes Raynal in chapter 11 of the first book of the Wealth of Nations [see]. Presumably, the Scottish philosopher and economist was aware of Horace Walpole's mordant criticism of Histoire des deux Indes. This is why Raynal is presented as a "sometimes" well-informed author:

According to the eloquent and, sometimes, well-informed Author of the Philosophical and Political History of the establishment of the Europeans in the two Indies, the annual importation of registered gold and silver into Spain, at an average of eleven years; viz. from 1754 to 1764, both inclusive; amounted to 13,984,185¾ piastres of ten reals.

The footnotes related to HDI in the Edwin Cannan edition of the Wealth of Nations (1904) were not written by Adam Smith. They are all Cannan's notes. I am on the lookout for more references, and I think I have already found quite a few of them. Cannan thinks that Smith read the 1773 edition printed in Amsterdam:

& augmentée d'une Table des Matieres.
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___


This appears to make sense; as Smith biographer Nicholas Phillipson writes, "In the spring of 1773 Smith decided to end his Kirkcaldy retreat and to finish the Wealth of Nations in the capital. He needed company and American news" (*). Presumably, Smith bought his Histoire des deux Indes volumes in London, in May or June 1773. But keeping track of Cannan's footnotes is no easy task. One of the problems is the scarcity of Google Books volumes of the 1773 edition; so far I have only found versions of volume I [see] and volume II [see].

& & &

But there is another problem. Some of the references given by Cannan do not seem to match the content of the 1773 edition at all. One example that 'works' is the quote about Pope Alexander III in the second chapter of Book III:

The time and manner, however, in which so important a revolution was brought about is one of the most obscure points in modern history. The Church of Rome claims great merit in it; and it is certain that so early as the twelfth century, Alexander III. published a bull for the general emancipation of slaves. It seems, however, to have been rather a pious exhortation than a law to which exact obedience was required from the faithful.

Cannan's footnote reads: "...tom.1., p.12". But it isn't there! Rather, it is on page 18 [see]. One can find it, however, on page 12 of the 1772 edition [see]. In other words: Smith did not buy the 1773 edition! This is not a trivial discovery — it will simplify things quite a bit, because the 1772 version of Histoire des deux Indes is much easier to track with Google Books. So stay posted for much more news. Anyway, here's that passage on the Pope:

Il est vrai que le Pape Alexandre III déclara que des Chrétiens devoient être exempts de servitude ; mais il ne fit cette déclaration que pour plaire aux rois de France & d'Angleterre, qui vouloient abaisser leurs vassaux. La religion Chrétienne défend si peu la servitude, que dans l'Allemagne Catholique, en Bohême, en Pologne, pays très-catholiques, le peuple est encore esclave, sans que l'Eglise le trouve mauvais.

(*) Nicholas Phillipson. Adam Smith. An Enlightened Life. London: AllenLane, 2010, p. 209.

Friday, March 29, 2013

"...les Danois furent devenus la propriété d'un chef unique" — Raynal

AM | @HDI1780

Voltaire, writes Jonathan Israel, "was among those who responded enthusiastically [to the 1771 events in Denmark] penning an Épître à sa majesté le Roi de Danemarc, sur la Liberté de la Presse accordée dans ses États, which was immediately printed in both French and Danish versions in Copenhagen" (*). The authors of Histoire des deux Indes did not appear to share that enthusiasm. In his Tableau de l'Europe (1774), Alexandre Deleyre —who does write about Gustav III's coup d'État in Sweden— fails to mention the events in Denmark. In fact, he writes, "Les Russes & les Danois n’ont pas les mêmes préjugés, quoique soumis à un pouvoir également arbitraire" (p. 11).

& & &

In his large-scale revision of the Tableau for the third edition of HDI, Diderot remains largely silent on this issue. He does add some important fragments on Russia, and he decides to tone down Deleyre's celebration of mixed government — clearly reflecting the impact of events in North America (1, 2, 3). Here's my hypothesis: while Diderot may have supported the substance of Struensee's reforms, he disliked the manner in which they were carried out. In fact, he warns readers about the dangers of enlightened despotism in a passage added to the discussion of Denmark:

Un premier despote juste, ferme, éclairé, est un grand mal; un second despote juste, ferme, éclairé, seroit un plus grand mal; un troisième qui leur succéderoit avec ces grandes qualités seroit le plus terrible fléau dont une nation pourroit être frappée. On sort de l’esclavage où l’on est précipité par la violence; on ne sort point de celui où l’on a été conduit par le tems & par la justice. Si le sommeil d’un peuple est l’avant-coureur de la perte de sa liberté; quel sommeil plus doux, plus profond & plus perfide que celui qui a duré trois règnes, pendant lesquels on a été bercé par les mains de la bonté? (HDI 1780, xix.2, p. 41).

Can we conclude that Struensee's efforts were supported mostly by the moderates, while receiving only scant support from the radicals? Things were more complicated than that. Diderot was still reeling from the shock provoked by Maupeou's coup in early 1771. Again, Voltaire supported the move against Parlements, while Diderot pointed to the damage done to the balanced constitution and to the notion of judicial independence (see his letter to princess Dashkoff). And we must not forget how warmly he praised the notion of forme judiciaire, which he deemed as important as the substance of the law:

Regina mundi forma.

Was not Struensee's government by decree a blatant violation of forme judiciaire? Was it not on that account similar to Maupeou's gouvernement arbitraire? These are all important questions that remain unanswered. But sometimes silence speaks volumes.

(*) Jonathan Israel: "Libertas Philosophandi in the Eigthteenth Century: Radical Enlightenment versus Moderate Enlightenment (1750-1776)", in Elizabeth Powers (ed.) Freedom of Speech.The History of An Idea. Bucknell University Press, 2011, pp. 1-19.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

"Peuples, ne permettez donc pas à vos prétendus maîtres de faire, même le bien, contre votre volonté générale" — Deleyre

AM | @HDI1780

[1] Helvétius. Felicito desde aquí a José-Manuel Bermudo por la primera traducción de De l'esprit al castellano. El profesor Bermudo es un incansable divulgador de los ilustrados radicales. Los lectores de este blog tal vez recuerdan que desde aquí notamos la gran influencia de Helvétius sobre algunos puntos importantes de la Histoire des deux Indes, en particular en lo relativo al liderazgo político (1, 2, 3). Queda mucho trabajo por hacer sobre este punto. Afortundamente, ahora tenemos una herramienta más.

(*) Claude-Adrien Helvétius. Del espíritu [1758]. Barcelona: Editorial Laetoli, 2013. Traducción de José-Manuel Bermudo. [web].

[2] Ferguson. There is a new intellectual biography of Adam Ferguson, by Ian McDaniel (*). In his Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767), Ferguson rejects the idea of trade humanism that is so forcefully expressed in the first two editions of Histoire des deux Indes. From the editors: "Democratic forces, intended as a means of liberation from tyranny, could all too easily become the engine of political oppression—a fear that proved prescient when the French Revolution spawned the expansionist wars of Napoleon". Did Raynal and/or Diderot read Ferguson as they toned down their optimism about trade in the 1780 edition of HDI?

(*) Ian McDaniel. Adam Ferguson in the Scottish Enlightenment. Harvard, 2013. [web][Jeffrey Collins: "A Skeptical Modern", Wall Street Journal, 25 March 2013].

[3] Hegel. "Hegel remained a 'Raynalist' throughout his life", writes Susan Buck-Moors in her widely debated 2009 book on Hegel and Haiti (*). But it was Denis Diderot who penned the chapters in Book XI of Histoire des deux Indes that caused such a deep impression on the young Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Ms Buck-Moors also notes that Hegel "was fascinated, perhaps terrified" by Adam Smith's account of pin making in Wealth of Nations (p. 5). Here again we see the influence of the co-authors of HDI: it was Alexandre Deleyre's article EPINGLE in Encyclopédie that inspired the Scottish economist.

(*) Susan Buck-Moors. Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009.

[4] Struensee. I have just discovered this essay on Johann Friedrich Struensee's rise and fall (*). The author, Jonathan Israel, notes that "The removal of such restrictions [press freedom] was also the goal in the early 1770s of Diderot and of such writers as Naigeon, Raynal, Deleyre and others of their circle". This is a fascinating episode indeed. While I am all in favor of Struensee's ideas, it is perhaps worth reflecting about the manner in which he introduced them — decrees. One can guess from the lack of enthusiasm displayed by Diderot —who fails to mention Struensee in his revision of Deleyre's Tableau de l'Europe—, that he had little taste for such "gouvernement arbitraire" (see HDI 1780, xix.2, p. 41).

(*) Jonathan Israel: "Libertas Philosophandi in the Eigthteenth Century: Radical Enlightenment versus Moderate Enlightenment (1750-1776)", in Elizabeth Powers (ed.) Freedom of Speech.The History of An Idea. Bucknell University Press, 2011, pp. 1-19.

Friday, March 22, 2013

" astonishly ambitious program of political and social reform" — Jonathan Israel

AM | @HDI1780

El otro día fuimos con Claudia a ver "Un asunto real" (En kongelig affære, 2012), película danesa dedicada a los últimos años de la vida de Johann Friedrich von Struensee, el reformista alemán que introduce en 1770, en Dinamarca, el primer decreto de libertad de prensa, además de muchas otras reformas 'ilustradas'. Siempre me interesó de manera especial el Siglo de las Luces. Tuve la suerte, como historiador, de descubrir muchas de las fuentes utilizadas por Mariano Moreno, el más ilustrado defensor rioplatense de los ilustrados [ver].

La aventura de Struensee —se convierte en amante de la reina y desde esa posición logra introducir las reformas— muestra hasta qué punto las ideas de los philosophes franceses forman la base de una acción política concreta. El final de Struensee es ... de terror. Los conservadores prevalecen; tras un simulacro de juicio a comienzos de 1772, el verdugo le corta las manos y la cabeza ante miles de espectadores. Struensee estaba particularmente influenciado por las ideas de Claude-Adrien Helvétius, autor del best-seller Del espíritu (1758). Helvétius es un autor interesante. Hace muchos años compré los cinco tomos de sus obras en una librería de usados, ya desaparecida, en la calle French en Buenos Aires, en una edición de 1795. Terminé de leerlas el año pasado.
* * *
Del espíritu acaba de ser traducido al castellano por José-Manuel Bermudo, el incansable divulgador de los 'ilustrados radicales' [ver]. Estoy convencido que Joseph Schumpeter se inspira en Helvétius en sus ideas sobre el carácter del innovador [ver]. (Schumpeter lo cita en su History of Economic Analysis, pero solamente como precursor del utilitarismo). En el Río de la Plata, Gregorio Funes y Mariano Moreno eran asiduos lectores de este simpático philosophe ultra-sensualista, gran promotor de la libertad de prensa. De hecho, Moreno se inspira en una cita de Tácito en Del espíritu para el lema de la Gazeta de Buenos-Ayres.
¿Y la película? No es gran cosa, a pesar de buenas actuaciones. Los conservadores parecen una caricatura. De todas maneras, vale la pena verla, si es posible en el original. (La traducción castellana es un desastre). Dinamarca es hoy universalmente vista como una de las naciones más prósperas y mejor gobernadas del mundo. Hay cada vez más estudios dedicados al problema de Getting to Denmark. Lo mínimo que puedo asegurar, en el país de Mariano Moreno, es que sin libertad de prensa jamás llegaremos ... a Dinamarca.

Ver las páginas dedicadas a Struensee por Jonathan Israel en A Revolution of the Mind. Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy (Princeton, 2010, pp. 75-77) y en Democratic Enlightenment. Philosophy, Revolution, and Human Rights 1750-1790 (Oxford, 2011, pp. 823-826). Sobre la idea de "llegar a Dinamarca": Francis Fukuyama. The Origins of Political Order, Vol. 1 (New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 2011) [web] (ver).