Chapter 7: Power and Wealth: Quesnay Betrayed by the Tableau Économique?
Jean Cartelier 1. INTRODUCTION Loïc Charles and Philippe Steiner () rightly draw our attention to Quesnay’s neglected political views, namely the project of making France strong enough to confront England in economic and in military aﬀairs.1 Schematically, Quesnay insists more upon wealth than upon population, which makes a diﬀerence from most of the economists of his time, and more upon the navy than upon the army. Walter Eltis () carefully relates the ‘explanations’ of the Tableau économique contained in l’Ami des Hommes and the Philosophie rurale to the policy recommendations of Quesnay. He emphasises the practical character of these diﬀerent Tableaux by contrast with the abstract character of the ﬁrst versions and of the Formule. He gives also a detailed account of the eﬀects of diﬀerent policies, namely the extension of grande culture, free trade of corn (which amounts to a higher price of corn) and tax reform. Gianni Vaggi () insists on the modernisation of agriculture as a decisive element of the power of a nation. Such preoccupations seem well in accordance with Quesnay’s more general concern, that is refounding the French monarchy on a natural order in which politics and economics can hardly be distinguished. As a matter of fact, Quesnay pursued more or less the same apparent objectives as Colbert, i.e. wealth and power for the French monarchy, but the means and the social philosophy he advocated make it impossible to confuse them: the physiocratic idea of a royaume agricole is...
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