Books Should Be Free is now
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

Morals of Economic Internationalism   By: (1858-1940)

Book cover

First Page:

THE MORALS OF ECONOMIC INTERNATIONALISM

By

J. A. HOBSON

AUTHOR OF "THE INDUSTRIAL SYSTEM," "THE EVOLUTION OF MODERN CAPITALISM," "WORK AND WEALTH," ETC.

BOSTON AND NEW YORK HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY The Riverside Press Cambridge 1920

COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY THE REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BARBARA WEINSTOCK LECTURES ON THE MORALS OF TRADE

This series will contain essays by representative scholars and men of affairs dealing with the various phases of the moral law in its bearing on business life under the new economic order, first delivered at the University of California on the Weinstock foundation.

THE MORALS OF ECONOMIC INTERNATIONALISM

It ought not to be the case that there is one standard of morality for individuals in their relations with one another, a different and a slighter standard for corporations, and a third and still slighter standard for nations. For, after all, what are corporations but groupings of individuals for ends which in the last resort are personal ends? And what are nations but wider, closer, and more lasting unions of persons for the attainment of the end they have in common, i.e., the commonwealth. Yet we are well aware that the accepted and operative standards of morality differ widely in the three spheres of conduct. If a soul is imputed at all to a corporation, it is a leather soul, not easily penetrable to the probings of pity or compunction, and emitting much less of the milk of human kindness than do the separate souls of its directors and stockholders in their ordinary human relations. There is a sharp recognition of this inferior moral make up of a corporation in the attitude of ordinary men and women, who, scrupulously honest in their dealings with one another, slide almost unconsciously to an altogether lower level in dealing with a railroad or insurance company. This attitude is due, no doubt, partly to a resentment of the oppressive power which great corporations are believed to exercise, evoking a desire "to get a bit of your own back"; partly to a feeling that any slight injury to, or even fraud perpetrated on, a corporation will be so distributed as to inflict no appreciable harm on any individual stockholder. But largely it is the result of a failure to envisage a corporation as a moral being at all, to whom one owes obligations. Corporations are in a sense moral monsters; we say they behave as such and we are disposed to treat them as such.

The standard of international morality, particularly in matters of commercial intercourse, is on a still lower level. If, indeed, one were to press the theoretic issue, whether a state or a nation is a morally independent being, or whether it is in some sense or degree a member of what may be called an incipient society of states or nations, nearly every one would sustain the latter view. We should be reminded that there was such a thing as international law, however imperfect its sanctions might be, and that treaties, alliances, and other agreements between nations implied the recognition of some moral obligation. How weak this interstate morality is appears not merely from the fact that under strong temptation governments repudiate their most express and solemn agreements to that temptation individuals sometimes yield in their dealings with one another but also from the nature of the defence which they make of such repudiation. The plea of state necessity, which Germany made for the violation of the neutrality of Belgium, and which was stretched to cover the brutal mishandling of the Belgian people, is unfortunately but an extreme instance of conduct to which every state has had recourse at times, and still more significant which every state defends by adducing the same maxim, " salus reipublicæ suprema lex ".

Here is the sharpest distinction between individual and national morality. There are certain deeds which a good and honorable man would not do even to save his life; there are no deeds, which it is admitted that a statesman, acting on behalf of his country, may not do to save that country... Continue reading book >>




eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book



Popular Genres
More Genres
Languages
Paid Books