Some Leading Principles of Political Economy Newly Expounded

By J. E. Cairnes | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V. ON SOME DERIVATIVE LAWS OF VALUE.

§ 1. I PROPOSE to call attention in this chapter to some examples of value which I think may not improperly be called "derivative laws" of that phenomenon. I refer to those changes in the values of different kinds of commodities which occur when the general laws of value, such as we have found them to be, come into operation under the actual circumstances of progressive societies.

When a colony establishes itself in a new country, the course of its industrial development naturally follows the character of the opportunities offered to industrial enterprise by the environment. These will of course vary a good deal, according to the part of the world in which the new society happens to be placed; but, speaking broadly, they will be such as to draw the bulk of the industrial activity of the new people into some one or more of those branches of industry which have been conveniently designated "extractive." Agriculture, pastoral and mining pursuits, and the cutting of lumber, are among the principal of such industries; and they, together with the rude handicrafts immediately dependent on them, are what we find, in fact, to be the main occupations of all newly-settled communities. Now it is mainly, if not exclusively, to this class of industrial pursuits that that law of Political Economy, or more properly of physical nature, applies, which Mr. Mill has rightly characterized as the most important proposition in economic science--the law, as he phrased it, of "diminishing productiveness," Most of my readers will

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