Charles Comte, Charles Dunoyer and Liberal Thought in France
Those who adhered more or less closely to the school of industrialism had a considerable influence not only on liberalism but also on political economy and on the social sciences in general. It is useful to revisit this dual influence.
With the rediscovery of the French liberal writers of the 19th century, Charles Comte and Charles Dunoyer have slowly come to be reread. But this new interest still seems largely confined to scholars specializing in liberal thought. It is to be hoped that their works will be republished and thus made accessible to a wider audience, although this is perhaps not likely to happen in a country like France, which has traditionally shown little attachment to liberalism.1 In his day, Frédéric Bastiat was among the first to consider that these two intellectual heirs of Jean-Baptiste Say were important authors who deserved particular attention. Bastiat indeed saw himself as part of an intellectual tradition which he wanted to prolong and make better known.
There is no doubt that Charles Comte’s treatise had a profound impact on the young Bastiat’s thinking. “I know of no book that makes one think harder, that casts such a new and revealing light on men and society, that produces the same sense of evidence. Given the unfair oblivion to which young ← 125 | 126 → scholars seem to have consigned this magnificent genius, I might not have the courage to speak out in this way, knowing how much I mistrust...
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