Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Gournay Lives! The Freedom of Labor in a Three-Part Exchange of the 1750s

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Abstract

The present material consists of a three-part exchange that took place in France, written 1753. The first part is a spirited and insightful memorial by the great exponent of economic liberalism Vincent de Gournay (1712–1759) about the freedom to work, in opposition to the exclusionary privileges enjoyed by guilds. The second part is a reply by the Chamber of Commerce of Lyon, defending those privileges. The third part is Gournay’s rejoinder, in which he reiterates his arguments and original position, but also says, if we cannot eradicate the evils, let’s at least mitigate them by liberalizing as we can. These materials are here translated into English for the first time. Benoît Malbranque provides a Foreword and editorial notes throughout. He translated the first two parts of the exchange, from French, while Jens Grandell and Klas Eriksson translated Gournay’s response—from Swedish, oddly enough.