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François Quesnay

François Quesnay

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François Quesnay was a French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 economist
Economist
An economist is a professional in the social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from economics and write about economic policy...

 of the Physiocratic
Physiocrats
Physiocracy is an economic theory developed by the Physiocrats, a group of economists who believed that the wealth of nations was derived solely from the value of "land agriculture" or "land development." Their theories originated in France and were most popular during the second half of the 18th...

 school. He is known for publishing the "Tableau économique
Tableau économique
The Tableau économique or Economic Table is an economic model first described in François Quesnay in 1759, which lay the foundation of the Physiocrats’ economic theories....

" (Economic Table) in 1758, which provided the foundations of the ideas of the Physiocrats. This was perhaps the first work to attempt to describe the workings of the economy in an analytical way, and as such can be viewed as one of the first important contributions to economic thought.

Life



Quesnay was born at Merey
Merey
Merey is a commune in the Eure department in Haute-Normandie in northern France.-History:As Madrie it was a pagus in the north of Gaul lying between the Seine river and the rivers Eure and Iton...

, in today's Eure département, near Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, the son of an advocate
Advocate
An advocate is a term for a professional lawyer used in several different legal systems. These include Scotland, South Africa, India, Scandinavian jurisdictions, Israel, and the British Crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man...

 and small landed proprietor. Apprenticed
Apprenticeship
Apprenticeship is a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a skill. Apprentices or protégés build their careers from apprenticeships...

 at the age of sixteen to a surgeon
Surgery
Surgery is an ancient medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate and/or treat a pathological condition such as disease or injury, or to help improve bodily function or appearance.An act of performing surgery may be called a surgical...

, he soon went to Paris, studied medicine and surgery
Surgery
Surgery is an ancient medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate and/or treat a pathological condition such as disease or injury, or to help improve bodily function or appearance.An act of performing surgery may be called a surgical...

 there, and, having qualified as a master-surgeon, settled down to practice at Mantes. In 1737 he was appointed perpetual secretary of the academy of surgery founded by François Gigot de la Peyronie
François Gigot de la Peyronie
François Gigot de la Peyronie was a French surgeon who was born in Montpellier, France. His name is associated with a condition known as Peyronie's disease....

, and became surgeon in ordinary to the king
Louis XV of France
Louis XV was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1 September 1715 until his death. He succeeded his great-grandfather at the age of five, his first cousin Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, served as Regent of the kingdom until Louis's majority in 1723...

. In 1744 he graduated as a doctor of medicine; he became physician in ordinary to the king, and afterwards his first consulting physician, and was installed in the Palace of Versailles
Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles , or simply Versailles, is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. In French it is the Château de Versailles....

. His apartments were on the entresol, whence the Réunions de l'entresol received their name. Louis XV esteemed Quesnay highly, and used to call him his thinker; when he ennobled him he gave him for arms three flowers of the pansy (derived from pensée, in French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 meaning thought), with the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 motto
Motto
A motto is a phrase meant to formally summarize the general motivation or intention of a social group or organization. A motto may be in any language, but Latin is the most used. The local language is usual in the mottoes of governments...

 Propter ex cogitationem mentis.

He now devoted himself principally to economic studies
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

, taking no part in the court intrigues which were perpetually going on around him. Around 1750 he became acquainted with Jean C. M. V. de Gournay
Jean Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay
Jean Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay was a French economist and intendant of commerce, one of the creators of the laissez faire, laissez passer economic philosophy...

 (1712–1759), who was also an earnest inquirer in the economic field; and round these two distinguished men was gradually formed the philosophic sect of the Économistes, or, as for distinction's sake they were afterwards called, the Physiocrates. The most remarkable men in this group of disciples were the elder Mirabeau
Victor de Riqueti, marquis de Mirabeau
Victor de Riquetti, marquis de Mirabeau was a French economist of the Physiocratic school. He was the father of great Honoré, Comte de Mirabeau and is, in distinction, often referred to as the elder Mirabeau....

 (author of L'Ami des hommes, 1756–60, and Philosophie rurale, 1763), Nicolas Baudeau
Nicolas Baudeau
Nicolas Baudeau was a Catholic cleric, theologian and economist, who was born in Amboise, France, on 25 April 1730. In 1765 he founded the first economics periodical to be published in France, Éphémérides du citoyen, and was at first an opponent of the physiocrats. Later on however he became a...

 (Introduction a la philosophie économique, 1771), G. F. Le Trosne (De l'ordre social, 1777), André Morellet
André Morellet
André Morellet was a French economist and writer. He was one of the last of the philosophes, and in this character he figures in many memoirs, such as those of Madame de Rémusat....

 (best known by his controversy with Galiani
Ferdinando Galiani
Ferdinando Galiani was an Italian economist, a leading Italian figure of the Enlightenment. Friedrich Nietzsche called him the "most fastidious and refined intelligence" of the 18th century....

 on the freedom of the grain trade during the Flour War
Flour War
The Flour War of 1775 was an uprising caused by the excessive price of bread in France before the French Revolution. Early in the season for wheat harvesting and flour production, the government enacted fewer price controls than later in the year, leaving prices to the free market. This caused...

), Mercier Larivière, and du Pont de Nemours
Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours
Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours was a French nobleman, writer, economist, and government official, who was the father of Eleuthère Irénée du Pont, the founder of E.I...

. Adam Smith
Adam Smith
Adam Smith was a Scottish social philosopher and a pioneer of political economy. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, Smith is the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations...

, during his stay on the continent with the young Duke of Buccleuch
Henry Scott, 3rd Duke of Buccleuch
Henry Scott, 3rd Duke of Buccleuch and 5th Duke of Queensberry KG KT FRSE was a Scottish nobleman and long-time friend of the notable Sir Walter Scott...

 in 1764-1766, spent some time in Paris, where he made the acquaintance of Quesnay and some of his followers; he paid a high tribute to their scientific services in his Wealth of Nations.

Quesnay died on December 16, 1774, having lived long enough to see his great pupil, Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Baron de Laune
Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Baron de Laune
Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot, Baron de Laune , often referred to as Turgot, was a French economist and statesman. Turgot was a student of Francois Quesnay and as such belonged to the Physiocratic school of economic thought...

, in office as minister of finance. He had married in 1718, and had a son and a daughter; his grandson by the former was a member of the first Legislative Assembly.

Works




In 1758 he published the Tableau économique (Economic Table), which provided the foundations of the ideas of the Physiocrats. This was perhaps the first work to attempt to describe the workings of the economy in an analytical way, and as such can be viewed as one of the first important contributions to economic thought.

The publications in which Quesnay expounded his system were the following: two articles, on "Fermiers" and on "Grains", in the Encyclopédie
Encyclopédie
Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers was a general encyclopedia published in France between 1751 and 1772, with later supplements, revised editions, and translations. It was edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert...

of Diderot
Denis Diderot
Denis Diderot was a French philosopher, art critic, and writer. He was a prominent person during the Enlightenment and is best known for serving as co-founder and chief editor of and contributor to the Encyclopédie....

 and D'Alembert
Jean le Rond d'Alembert
Jean-Baptiste le Rond d'Alembert was a French mathematician, mechanician, physicist, philosopher, and music theorist. He was also co-editor with Denis Diderot of the Encyclopédie...

 (1756, 1757); a discourse on the law of nature in the Physiocratie of Dupont de Nemours (1768); Maximes générales de gouvernement economique d'un royaume agricole (1758), and the simultaneously published Tableau économique avec son explication, ou extrait des économies royales de Sully
Maximilien de Béthune, duc de Sully
Maximilien de Béthune, first Duke of Sully was the doughty soldier, French minister, staunch Huguenot and faithful right-hand man who assisted Henry IV of France in the rule of France.-Early years:...

(with the celebrated motto, Pauvres paysans, pauvre royaume; pauvre royaume, pauvre roi); Dialogue sur le commerce et les travaux des artisans; and other minor pieces.

The Tableau économique, though on account of its dryness and abstract form it met with little general favor, may be considered the principal manifesto of the school. It was regarded by the followers of Quesnay as entitled to a place amongst the foremost products of human wisdom, and is named by the elder Mirabeau, in a passage quoted by Adam Smith
Adam Smith
Adam Smith was a Scottish social philosopher and a pioneer of political economy. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, Smith is the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations...

, as one of the three great inventions which have contributed most to the stability of political societies, the other two being those of writing and of money. Its object was to exhibit by means of certain formulas the way in which the products of agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

, which is the only source of wealth, would in a state of perfect liberty be distributed among the several classes of the community (namely, the productive classes of the proprietors and cultivators of land, and the unproductive class composed of manufacturers and merchants), and to represent by other formulas the modes of distribution which take place under systems of Governmental restraint and regulation, with the evil results arising to the whole society from different degrees of such violations of the natural order. It follows from Quesnay's theoretic views that the one thing deserving the solicitude of the practical economist and the statesman is the increase of the net product; and he infers also what Smith afterwards affirmed, on not quite the same ground, that the interest of the landowner is strictly and indissolubly connected with the general interest of the society. A small edition de luxe of this work, with other pieces, was printed in 1758 in the Palace of Versailles under the king's immediate supervision, some of the sheets, it is said, having been pulled by the royal hand. Already in 1767 the book had disappeared from circulation, and no copy of it is now procurable; but, the substance of it has been preserved in the Ami des hommes of Mirabeau, and the Physiocratie of Dupont de Nemours.

His economic writings are collected in the 2nd vol. of the Principaux économistes, published by Guillaumin, Paris, with preface and notes by Eugène Daire; also his OEuvres économiques et philosophiques were collected with an introduction and note by August Oncken (Frankfort, 1888); a facsimile reprint of the Tableau économique, from the original MS., was published by the British Economic Association (London, 1895). His other writings were the article "Évidence" in the Encyclopédie, and Recherches sur l'évidence des vérites geometriques, with a Projet de nouveaux éléments de géometrie, 1773. Quesnay's Eloge was pronounced in the Academy of Sciences
French Academy of Sciences
The French Academy of Sciences is a learned society, founded in 1666 by Louis XIV at the suggestion of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, to encourage and protect the spirit of French scientific research...

 by Grandjean de Fouchy (see the Recueil of that Academy, 1774, p. 134). See also F.J. Marmontel
Jean-François Marmontel
Jean-François Marmontel was a French historian and writer, a member of the Encyclopediste movement.-Biography:He was born of poor parents at Bort, Limousin...

, Mémoires; Mémoires de Mme. du Hausset; H. Higgs, The Physiocrats (London, 1897).

An alternative and historical view


Descriptions of Quesnay’s economic theory are normally based on the texts which are read from the point of view of today’s mainstream neoclassical theory
Neoclassical economics
Neoclassical economics is a term variously used for approaches to economics focusing on the determination of prices, outputs, and income distributions in markets through supply and demand, often mediated through a hypothesized maximization of utility by income-constrained individuals and of profits...

. Understood within a historical context and the point of view of the contemporary classical economic theory, these texts reveal a different content.
Quesnay’s thinking is shaped by the systemic circulation
Systemic circulation
Systemic circulation is the part of the cardiovascular system which carries oxygenated blood away from the heart to the body, and returns deoxygenated blood back to the heart. This physiologic theory of circulation was first described by William Harvey...

 of blood rediscovered by William Harvey
William Harvey
William Harvey was an English physician who was the first person to describe completely and in detail the systemic circulation and properties of blood being pumped to the body by the heart...

 in 1628. Quesnay financed his studies by engraving anatomical copperplates, so he knew what he was talking about. At this time physicians explained bloodletting
Bloodletting
Bloodletting is the withdrawal of often little quantities of blood from a patient to cure or prevent illness and disease. Bloodletting was based on an ancient system of medicine in which blood and other bodily fluid were considered to be "humors" the proper balance of which maintained health...

 according to Galen
Galen
Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus , better known as Galen of Pergamon , was a prominent Roman physician, surgeon and philosopher...

: an infection can be cured by lowering blood pressure at a spot well away from the infection. Quesnay – using a system of tubes – demonstrated that to diminish pressure the spot is irrelevant. This proof advanced by a surgeon, someone quite below the social standing of physicians, annoyed the physicians; but it gave fame to the country surgeon Quesnay who in 1749 became personal physician of the Pompadour
Madame de Pompadour
Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour, also known as Madame de Pompadour was a member of the French court, and was the official chief mistress of Louis XV from 1745 to her death.-Biography:...

.

This dispute was no trifle, it was a clash between medical paradigm
Paradigm
The word paradigm has been used in science to describe distinct concepts. It comes from Greek "παράδειγμα" , "pattern, example, sample" from the verb "παραδείκνυμι" , "exhibit, represent, expose" and that from "παρά" , "beside, beyond" + "δείκνυμι" , "to show, to point out".The original Greek...

s. Bloodletting
Bloodletting
Bloodletting is the withdrawal of often little quantities of blood from a patient to cure or prevent illness and disease. Bloodletting was based on an ancient system of medicine in which blood and other bodily fluid were considered to be "humors" the proper balance of which maintained health...

 was recommended by Galen
Galen
Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus , better known as Galen of Pergamon , was a prominent Roman physician, surgeon and philosopher...

, 129 – 200 AD, whose theories dominated Western
Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

 medical science for over a millennium, but whose original texts became accessible to West-European physicians only by translations from Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 into Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 at the beginning of the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

. According to Galen blood has a one-way flow from the heart to the organs where it is consumed. Quesnay based his argument on the systemic circulation
Systemic circulation
Systemic circulation is the part of the cardiovascular system which carries oxygenated blood away from the heart to the body, and returns deoxygenated blood back to the heart. This physiologic theory of circulation was first described by William Harvey...

 of blood
Blood
Blood is a specialized bodily fluid in animals that delivers necessary substances such as nutrients and oxygen to the cells and transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells....

 rediscovered by William Harvey
William Harvey
William Harvey was an English physician who was the first person to describe completely and in detail the systemic circulation and properties of blood being pumped to the body by the heart...

 (1578–1657) in 1628, which became conclusive only when Malpighi
Marcello Malpighi
Marcello Malpighi was an Italian doctor, who gave his name to several physiological features, like the Malpighian tubule system.-Early years:...

 in 1661 discovered the capillaries. So Quesnay’s argument supposed that blood was recycled, something incomprehensible within the system of Galen. It was a discussion with the unhearing. But there is an interesting analogy in economic theory: As for Galen arterial blood from the heart and venous blood from the liver is consumed by all organs, for Harvey blood is recycled, so in neoclassical economics commodities flow one-way to be destroyed by producing personal utility and in classical economics at least the output of “productive” labour is input to the next economic circle.

Quesnay’s interests in economics arose about 1750 – already in his early sixties – when his position at the court confronted him with France’s proximate national bankruptcy
Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is a legal status of an insolvent person or an organisation, that is, one that cannot repay the debts owed to creditors. In most jurisdictions bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor....

. He regarded the economic circle of commodities as similar to the blood circle dispensing with the pulmonary circle as the role of the lung was still not understood. Lavoisier
Antoine Lavoisier
Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier , the "father of modern chemistry", was a French nobleman prominent in the histories of chemistry and biology...

’s experiments with oxygen
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

 started a bit later. As the heart has a special importance for the organs, so has according to Quesnay agriculture for the social and economic system.

Historically France’s kings had a weak position vis-à-vis their barons. To increase his independence the king impoverished the high nobility by forcing them to be present at the Court, to outmatch each other in luxury and to neglect their properties. The Palace of Versailles
Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles , or simply Versailles, is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. In French it is the Château de Versailles....

 was built in this tradition. Half a percent of the population – the high nobility boasting to descend from the Germanic conquerors and the Church populated with nobles – drew almost the totality of the nation’s net income. So the quasi-totality of demand for artisan and industrial services came from a social sector which offered no input to the circular economic flow
Circular flow of income
In economics, the terms circular flow of income or circular flow refer to a simple economic model which describes the reciprocal circulation of income between producers and consumers...

. And if Nobility and Church were irrelevant for economic reproduction, so were those working for them: the artisans.

Classical economic theory from Adam Smith
Adam Smith
Adam Smith was a Scottish social philosopher and a pioneer of political economy. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, Smith is the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations...

 to John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill was a British philosopher, economist and civil servant. An influential contributor to social theory, political theory, and political economy, his conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state control. He was a proponent of...

 made Quesnay’s argument about “unproductive labour”
Unproductive labour in economic theory
Unproductive labour is labour which does not further the end of the system. Therefore this concept has sense only with reference to a determined system. In classical economics the end is growth and development, in Marxian economics the end is capitalistic profit and in business the end is to place...

 one of its central propositions. In his Tableau Économique Quesnay shows that the landed class (nobility and church) obtained agricultural and industrial services but does not produce anything apart from letting their land to the farmer, that the artisans paid to agriculture and other artisans as much as they produced and that only the farmers retained a net profit after restocking production costs and supplying the landed class and the artisans.

Of course, Quesnay could not openly declare that the landed class and all working for them were parasites
Parasitism
Parasitism is a type of symbiotic relationship between organisms of different species where one organism, the parasite, benefits at the expense of the other, the host. Traditionally parasite referred to organisms with lifestages that needed more than one host . These are now called macroparasites...

. He could not criticise the system he wanted to save. The politically correct way to phrase it was to declare artisans and manufacturers as “classe sterile”. So Quesnay asserts a difference between the work of an artisan and of a farmer. The price of industrial commodities is determined by costs of re-production
Cost-of-production theory of value
In economics, the cost-of-production theory of value is the theory that the price of an object or condition is determined by the sum of the cost of the resources that went into making it...

. Competition will level higher prices to this “natural” standard. Agricultural prices are above costs of reproduction, so that only agriculture creates wealth whereas all other sectors are only reproductive. One reason that an increased agricultural supply does not reduce prices is the quasi-unlimited demand.
  • «Il faut distinguer ... une augmentation par réunion des matières premières et de dépense en consommation de choses qui existaient avant cette sorte d´augmentation, d´avec une génération, ou création de richesse, qui forment un renouvellement et un accroissement réel de richesses renaissantes.»


Quesnay’s distinction between agricultural and industrial prices can be understood by the very different British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 distinction of these sectors. David Ricardo
David Ricardo
David Ricardo was an English political economist, often credited with systematising economics, and was one of the most influential of the classical economists, along with Thomas Malthus, Adam Smith, and John Stuart Mill. He was also a member of Parliament, businessman, financier and speculator,...

 explains that an increase in agricultural production will increase prices because less productive land will be ploughed. But an increase of production of industrial commodities will lower costs of production per piece and therefore prices. To Quesnay this is the other way round, historically quite correct:

Adam Smith
Adam Smith
Adam Smith was a Scottish social philosopher and a pioneer of political economy. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, Smith is the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations...

’s famous assertion that a widening of markets leads to increased production with decreasing unit costs because of a deepening of the division of labour and induced inventions refers only to mass production. The artisans of France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 however had a made-to-order production; the production of luxury goods offers normally no economies of scale. Quesnay coached Adam Smith in Paris to argue in economic circles and Smith intended to dedicate him the “Wealth of Nations” had Quesnay not died before. But even Smith could not grasp some of the physiocratic ideas because of their special relation to the French situation which was very different from the British notably concerning the distribution of wealth.

England’s industrial revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

 was preceded by an agrarian revolution which adopted Chinese inventions – of course without acknowledging it. The north of France showed already examples of a capitalistic agriculture following the British line. An adoption of the British model for all of France promised a surge of productivity as a precondition of a future industrial development. Quesnay’s assertion that the future of France lay in an agricultural development and not in the extension of present industrial structures is an analytical master piece not equalled.

The demand of this future capitalistic agriculture for industrial goods offers a new market for French industry. Serving this market French industry and trade will become “productive” because its output becomes the input of the next economic circle. And this industrial production will show “decreasing costs”. To call industry and crafts a „classe stérile“ is therefore generally false, but in this historical situation correct.

With Turgot
Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Baron de Laune
Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot, Baron de Laune , often referred to as Turgot, was a French economist and statesman. Turgot was a student of Francois Quesnay and as such belonged to the Physiocratic school of economic thought...

 as „contrôleur général des finances”, 1774, the first steps were made to implement the physiocratic programme. But as many personalities and groups made their profit from the former financial chaos, Turgot’s reforms swelled the resistance. Abrogating grain customs within France, he harmed many noble tax collectors who paid a fix sum to the king to collect three times more. The bad harvest of 1774 raised wheat prices and tax collectors promoted rumours that now with free trade even the king gained by grain speculation. People marched to the gates of Versailles. When in 1776 Turgot proposed to abolish enforced rural labour and the urban guilds as a first step to abolish all privileges, the king sided with his enemies and asked for Turgot’s resignation. His adversary Jacques Necker
Jacques Necker
Jacques Necker was a French statesman of Swiss birth and finance minister of Louis XVI, a post he held in the lead-up to the French Revolution in 1789.-Early life:...

 became Director-General of Finance and physiocratic ideas immediately lost all importance in the Parisian salons where Madame Necker was now presiding. Rather than raising taxes, more loans were used to fund the French debt. That and the French involvement in the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 paved the way for the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

.

Chinese influences


The influence of Chinese
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 ideas and concepts on Quesnay should not be forgotten: in his lifetime he was known as the European Confucius
Confucius
Confucius , literally "Master Kong", was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher of the Spring and Autumn Period....

. The doctrine and even the name of "Laissez-faire
Laissez-faire
In economics, laissez-faire describes an environment in which transactions between private parties are free from state intervention, including restrictive regulations, taxes, tariffs and enforced monopolies....

" may have been inspired by the Chinese concept of Wu wei
Wu wei
Wu wei is an important concept of Taoism , that involves knowing when to act and when not to act. Another perspective to this is that "Wu Wei" means...

.

See also

  • Liberalism
    Liberalism
    Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

  • Contributions to liberal theory
    Contributions to liberal theory
    Individual contributors to classical liberalism and political liberalism are associated with philosophers of the Enlightenment. Liberalism as a specifically named ideology begins in the late 18th century as a movement towards self-government and away from aristocracy...

  • History of Economic Thought
    History of economic thought
    The history of economic thought deals with different thinkers and theories in the subject that became political economy and economics from the ancient world to the present day...

  • Ronald L. Meek
    Ronald L. Meek
    Ronald Lindley Meek was a Marxian economist and social scientist known especially for his scholarly studies of classical political economy and the labour theory of value....