LINGUET: Karl Marx and Poe
I've mentioned Henri Linguet more than once on the list, most recently in regard to my
reissue of his Memoirs of the Bastille. Interesting to find Karl Marx quoting him, and pretty accurately summarizing Linguet's stance, saying that he gives his ideas ”—half-seriously, half-ironically— a reactionary appearance":
||438| Linguet, Théorie des lois civiles, etc., Londres, 767.
In accordance with the plan of my work socialist and communist writers are entirely excluded from the historical reviews. These reviews are only intended to show on the one hand in what form the political economists criticised each other, and on the other hand the historically determining forms in which the laws of political economy were first stated and further developed. In dealing with surplus-value I therefore exclude such eighteenth-century writers as Brissot, Godwin and the like, and likewise the nineteenth-century socialists and communists. The few socialist writers whom I shall come to speak of in this survey either themselves adopt the standpoint of bourgeois economy or
contest it from its own standpoint.
Linguet however is not a socialist. His polemics against the bourgeois-liberal ideals of the Enlighteners, his contemporaries, against the dominion of the bourgeoisie that was then beginning, are given—half-seriously, half-ironically—a reactionary appearance. He defends Asiatic despotism against the civilised European forms of despotism; thus he defends slavery against wage-labour.
Vol. I. The only statement directed against Montesquieu: l’esprit des lois, c’est la propriété,* shows the depth of his outlook.
The only economists whom Linguet found to deal with were the Physiocrats.
The rich have taken possession of all the conditions of production; [hence] the alienation of the conditions of production, which in their simplest form are the natural elements themselves.
“In our civilised countries, all the elements [of nature] are slaves” ([Linguet, Théorie des lois civiles…, Londres, 1767], p. 188).
In order to get hold of some of this wealth appropriated by the rich, it must be purchased with heavy labour, which increases the wealth of these rich persons....
It's rather eery - given my involvement with them both - to see that Poe mentioned him as well:
Mill says that he has "demonstrated" his propositions. Just in the same way Anaxagoras demonstrated snow to be black, (which, perhaps, it is, if we could see the thing in the proper light,) and just in the same way the French advocate, Linguet, with Hippocrates in his hand, demonstrated bread to be a slow poison. The worst of the matter is that propositions such as these seldom stay demonstrated long enough to be thoroughly understood.
Edgar A. Poe - Marginal Notes (I) - A sequel to the "Marginalia" of the Democratic Review - http://www.eapoe.org/works/misc/mar0845.htm
I was also late to notice that the Voltaire Foundation will be putting Linguet's correspondence on-line at some point: "We are also helping prepare for publication electronic editions of the
correspondences of Linguet and of Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, both of which will be integrated into the Electronic Enlightenment in due course." http://www.e-enlightenment.info/about/intellectual_rationale.htm