Harmony Basis

Harmony Basis

Harmony, the basis of the economic doctrine which said that if individuals are left unfettered and free to pursue their interests a natural harmony would result. The theory was propounded traditionally in America and in France by Carey and Bastia respectively, and it was not strongly rooted in Britain. It claimed that all factors of production would benefit from increasing prosperity if the productive process were left unregulated and not interfered with. Self interest, even when pursued regardless of other men's well-being, served to work to the benefit of all, whereas all interference with its action was necessarily harmful. The conclusion of this theory was that the role of the state should be limited to the maintenance of 'justice'; laws restricting the exchange of commodities or otherwise interfering with Industrial liberty under the pretext of securing a better harmony of interest were not only destructive of that harmony but also a violation of man's natural rights.

This view is not the same as that of the classical economists, who envisaged a system of economic liberty within a framework of laws and institutions designed to secure that individual action was harnessed to and therefore served the general good. There is a wide difference between economists who held that 'natural rights' should not be interfered with by law and those who held that since the law created and protected property and other rights the law could also modify them if they were exercised in opposition to the general good.

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Since then his writings have in turn been increasingly reinterpreted as a special case both by some followers and by some economists who had not wholly accepted his writings. The content of economics is in a state of change, and this SHRC.org.uk site is therefore not a final statement of economic doctrine.

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