The Simplified Wealth of Nations of Adam Smith, Book 5, Chapter 1d: Government Expenses -- Expenses on Justice
Chapter 1d, Part 2: Expenses on Justice
The second duty of the sovereign is to protect every member of society from the injustice or oppression of every other member.
- The administration of justice requires very different costs in the different periods of society.
A nation of hunters has:
Men who have no property can only injure one another in their persons or reputations.
- no property that exceeds the value of two or three days labour
- no established magistrate or any regular administration of justice
46 "Civil government supposes a certain subordination."
- When a man kills, wounds, beats, or defames another, the doer receives no benefit.
- When a person injures another person's property, the doer's benefit is often equal to the sufferer's loss.
- Envy, malice, or resentment are the only passions which can prompt one man to injure another in his person or reputation.
- But most men are not very frequently under the influence of those passions.
- The very worst of men are only occasionally under them.
- The gratification of those passions do not give any real or permanent advantage.
- Thus, it is commonly restrained in most men by prudence.
- Men may live in society with some tolerable security even if there is no civil magistrate to protect them from those passions.
- The passions which prompt men to invade property are:
- the avarice and ambition in the rich
- the hatred of labour and the love of present ease and enjoyment in the poor
- These passions are much more steady in their operation and much more universal in their influence.
- "Wherever there is great property there is great inequality."
- For every very rich man. there must be at least 500 poor.
- The affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the many.
- The affluence of the rich excites the indignation of the poor.
- The poor are often driven by want and prompted by envy to invade his possessions.
- The owner of that valuable property can sleep in security only under the civil magistrate's shelter.
- That property may have been acquired:
- by many years' labour or
- by many successive generations.
- He is always surrounded by unknown enemies.
- He can never appease his enemies.
- He can be protected from their injustice by the civil magistrate's powerful arm which continually chastises it.
- The acquisition of valuable and extensive property necessarily requires the establishment of civil government.
- Where there is no property that exceeds the value of two or three days labour, civil government is not so necessary.
- The necessity of civil government gradually grows up with the acquisition of valuable property.
- So the principal causes which naturally introduce subordination gradually grow up with the growth of that valuable property.
Four causes naturally introduce subordination.
- 48 The superiority of personal qualifications made up of:
- Bodily qualifications
- Examples are:
- Agility of body
- A man who can force two weak men to obey him through bodily strength is a very strong man
- The qualifications of the body can give little authority unless supported by the qualifications of the mind.
- Mental qualifications
- Examples are:
- Wisdom and virtue
- Moderation of mind
- The qualifications of the mind can alone give a very great authority.
- They are invisible qualities, always disputable, and generally disputed.
- No society has ever settled the rules of precedency of rank and subordination according to those invisible qualities.
- They have settled it according to something more plain and palpable.
- 49 The superiority of age.
- An old man is more respected than a young man of equal rank, fortune, and abilities.
- Among nations of hunters, such as the North American tribes, age is the sole foundation of rank and precedency.
- To them:
- 'father' has a superior rank
- 'brother' is of an equal rank
- 'son' is of an inferior rank
- In the most civilized nations, age regulates rank among those who are equal in every respect.
- Among brothers and sisters, the eldest always takes place.
- In the succession of the paternal estate, everything which cannot be divided, such as a title of honour, is given to the eldest in most cases.
- "Age is a plain and palpable quality which admits of no dispute."
- 50 The superiority of fortune.
- The authority of riches is great in every age of society.
- It is perhaps greatest in the rudest age of society.
- Inequality of fortune is greatest in the rudest age of society.
- The increase of a Mongol chief's herds and stocks can only be used in maintaining a thousand men.
- The rude state of his society does not afford him any manufactured produce, any trinkets or baubles, for which he can exchange his surplus rude produce.
- The thousand men he maintains, depends entirely on him.
- They must obey him in peace and war.
- He is their general and judge.
- His chieftainship is the effect of his superior fortune.
- In a civilized society, a man may possess more fortune and yet not be able to command a dozen people.
- His estate's produce might maintain more than a thousand people.
- But they pay for everything that they get from him.
- He gives to others what he gets in equivalent.
- No one is entirely dependent on him.
- His authority extends only over a few menial servants.
- However, the authority of fortune is very great even in an opulent and civilized society.
- The authority of fortune is much greater than the authority of age or personal qualities.
- This has been the constant complaint of every society which had any considerable inequality of fortune.
The first period of society is the period of hunters.
- It has no such inequality.
- Its universal poverty establishes universal equality.
- The superiority of age or personal qualities are the feeble and sole foundations of authority.
- There is little or no authority or subordination in this period.
The second period of society is the period of shepherds.
- It has very great inequalities of fortune.
- It gives the greatest superiority of fortune.
- This gives great authority to those who possess it.
- Authority and subordination are most perfectly established in this period.
- The authority of an Arabian scherif is very great.
- The authority of a Mongol khan is totally despotical.
- 51 The superiority of birth.
- It supposes an ancient superiority of fortune in the family of the person who claims it.
- All families are equally ancient.
- A prince's ancestors may be better known.
- But they cannot be more ancient than a beggar's ancestors.
- Everywhere, the antiquity of family means:
- the antiquity of wealth or
- that greatness which accompanies wealth.
- Everywhere, upstart greatness is less respected than ancient greatness.
- The hatred of usurpers and the love of an ancient monarch family are founded on:
- people's natural contempt for usurpers, and
- people's natural veneration for monarchs,
- A military officer always obeys his superior who has always commanded him.
- He cannot bear to obey his inferior.
- Men easily submit to a family which their ancestors have always submitted to.
- They are angered when another family, whom they had never acknowledged any such superiority, dominates over them.
The distinction of birth is subsequent to the inequality of fortune.
- It can have no place in nations of hunters where all men are equal in fortune.
- They must likewise be very nearly equal in birth.
- The son of a wise and brave man may be more respected than a man of equal merit who has a coward or foolish son.
- The difference will not be very great.
- There never was a great family whose illustration was entirely derived from the inheritance of wisdom and virtue.
The distinction of birth always takes place among nations of shepherds.
- Such nations are always strangers to luxury.
- Great wealth can scarce ever be dissipated among them by improvident profusion.
- Shepherd nations have the most number of revered families with great ancestors.
- This is because only shepherd nations can continue the wealth in the same families.
Birth and fortune are the two circumstances which principally set one man above another.
- They are:
- the two great sources of personal distinction, and
- the principal causes which naturally establish authority and subordination among men.
- Among nations of shepherds, birth and fortune operate with their full force.
- The great shepherd has a natural authority over his clan's inferior shepherds.
- He is respected because of:
- his great wealth
- the many people who depend on him for subsistence
- his birth's nobleness, and
- his illustrious family's immemorial antiquity.
- He can command the united force of more people than other shepherds.
- His military power is greater than that of other shepherds.
- In wartime, all shepherds naturally gather under his banner.
- His birth and fortune naturally procures to him some executive power.
- By commanding the united force of more people, he is best able to compel anyone who has injured another to compensate the wrong.
- Those who are too weak to defend themselves naturally look up to him for protection.
- They naturally complain to him of the injuries done to them.
- His interposition is more easily submitted to even by the person complained of.
- His birth and fortune naturally procures him some judicial authority.
Next: Chapter 1e: Fees on Justice