Pagina:Scientia - Vol. VII.djvu/101

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on the use of the differential calculus etc. 93


recognises as fully as one could desire that the entrepreneur is constantly pursuing his maximum advantage. But, we read, «cette fin elle-meme peut se modifier par l’effet des moyens dont on veut se servir pour l’attendre»1. The «curve of pursuit» along which the entrepreneur thus moves lands him in a position of null remuneration, through the action of competitors in the pursuit. «De cette façon les entreprises concurrentes, aboutissent là ou elles ne se proposaient nullement d’aller. Chacune d’elles ne recherchait que son propre avantage et ne souciait des consommateurs que dans la mesure où elle pouvait les exploiter, et au contraire par suite de toutes les adaptations et réadaptations successives enforcées par la concurrence toute cette activité des enterprises tourne au profit des consommateurs»2.

Admitting that a process of the sort described may occur in certain phases of competition to which we are coming3, I do not recognise the description as typical of the entrepreneur’s function in general, in a condition of stable equilibrium, or steady flow. In the pursuit of his maximum advantage he is rather to be compared to the lover on the Grecian vase, celebrated by Keats, who though winning rear the goal, does not advance — but does not therefore recede. Professor Pareto puts the case of an entrepreneur renting land from a landlord and producing wheat4. «If the entrepreneur has a monopoly he will procure for himself the maximum of advantage or profit («benefice»)5. Agreed; assuming, what is indeed not explicably affirmed, that there is a plurality of competing landlords. «If there is competition between the entrepreneurs», the proprietor «will take all the benefice of the production and the entrepreneur nothing». Again agreed; assuming, what is now affirmed, that there is a single landlord and a plurality of competing entrepreneurs. But neither of these assumptions is appropriate to the normal case of Production and Distribution. We ought to assume a plurality both of landlords and entrepreneurs, like the Xs and Ys in the above paragraphs.

  1. «Manuel d’Economie Politique». Ch. V. S. 11.
  2. Loc. cit. S. 74.
  3. Subdivision B.
  4. Loc. cit. S. 62.
  5. S. 64.