Circulation Against Circulation


For the scourge of the people, the source of the scarcity, is the obstacles placed in the way of circulation, under the pretext of rendering it unlimited. Is public subsistence circulating when greedy speculators are keeping it piled up in their granaries? It is circulating when it is accumulated in the hands of a small number of millionaires who withhold it from the market, to make it more valuable and more scarce; who coldly calculate how many families must starve before they reach a price fixed by their terrible greed? Is it circulating when all it does is cross the regions that produce it, before the very eyes of destitute citizens suffering the tortures of Tantalus, to be swallowed up in the unknown pits of some entrepreneur in public scarcity? Is it circulating when beside the most abundant harvests the needy citizen languishes, unable to give a gold piece or a slip of paper precious enough to purchase a little bit? Circulation is that which puts essential foodstuffs within reach of all men, and carries abundance and life to humble cottages.

(Robespierre, ‘Sur les subsistances’, quoted in the forthcoming book by Geoff Mann, In the Long Run We’re All Dead)

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