'THE difference between error and fallacy is easy to grasp. Error designates merely a false opinion; fallacy designates also a false opinion, but which is made the means to an end'1 Thus writes Bentham in his Political Fallacies. Now what, according to him, are the causes of fallacies? Every public man is constantly submitted to the influence of two distinct interests: the public interest, 'constituted of the share he has in the happiness . . . of the whole community', and private interest, 'constituted of the share which he has in the well-being of some portion of the community less than the major part'2 A public man will have recourse to fallacy to the extent to which, when his private interest conflicts with the general interest, he necessarily wishes to defend the interest of the particular corporation to which he belongs against the general interest. To show that there was no identity between the interests of the governors and the governed, and to work for the realisation of such an identity was the tendency of the efforts of the reformers. To make people believe that this identity of interests between the governors and the governed had already been brought about was the tendency of all the speeches of the members of the governing corporation. Grouped under the banner of Bentham and James Mill, and finding at last, on the re-establishment of peace, a public to listen to them, the Philosophical Radicals attacked, systematically and en bloc, all the fallacies of the conservative parties.
First, they attacked economic fallacies. Each group of producers demanded the protection of the State against foreign competition; but the result of this policy of protection was that all the consumers, that is to say all the citizens without exception, suffered. There was a conflict between the private interest of the groups and the general interest of the nation. The Utilitarian economists, Ricardo and his disciples, demanded that this policy which was both absurd and complicated, should be abandoned, and that the interests of the____________________