Harispe’s book could have been written today, at least at any time after the economic crisis of 2008:

One of the causes of the malaise and suffering of the laboring classes, that once again reveals the hypocrisy of our society, is credit. It hides our savagery under a generous surface. Credit, in effect, is a tyrant and an exploiter … It has been diverted from its social purpose; it has become a public evil and overwhelms the poorer classes, destroying their existence and security. Credit nowadays is the surest means for a capitalist to double or triple his capital in the least possible time, to make a dishonest fortune, all built on the catastrophes, tears and sufferings of the unhappy.

Again, the stock exchange:

The stock exchange takes no account of work, real activity, even of production. All that is of no importance. The stock exchange is at the mercy of capital which makes it go up and down according to its whims. That an industry is highly prosperous, that its production is rising as well as its profits: all of no importance … The stock exchange, servant and accomplice of capital, grasping, thieving, rotten, falls on the shares of this flourishing industry the better to take control of it.

Has anyone not read similar sentiments recently, even in the pages of the Financial Times? Is there, indeed, anyone who has not in the least had such thoughts in the last six or seven years? Is it that mankind never learns, or that resentment springs eternal?


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