The Science of Pasionat Intrs

:
A Intducton to Gabriel Tarde's
Economic Antropology
Brno Latou æd Vincent Antonin Upinay
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¹ 2009 Bruno Latour and Vincent Antonin Lepinay
P right rsered.
Pricky Paradigm Pss, LLC
5629 South University Avenue
Chicago, Ü60637
ww.prcky-paradigm.com
ISBN-lO: 0-9794057-7-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-979-4057-7-8
LCCN: 2009936907
Printed in the United States of America on acid-fre paper.
The tendency to m/Þmh& economic science and
the tendency to 9nrÞ0Ønm it, fa fm being irec­
oncilable, should rather, in our vew, lend each other
mutual suppor.
The dotrine of laissez-faire therfore has the great­
est afnity wit that of society-as-orasm, and te
blows aimed at the former rebound on the latter.
-abriel Tarde*
Imagine how things might have turned out had no one
ever paid attention to Da Kpta. A centry later, the
book would have been rediscovered and people would
have been struck with amazement by it scope and
audacity-an isolated, little understod work, without
any scientfc, politcal or social impact; a work tat had
generated neither disciples nor exegeses, and one that
no attempt at application had come to tform.
How diferent te history of te 20th centur would
have been had the bible of men of action been Gabriel
Tarde's Pscholgi
E
coique, published in 1902,
instead of Mar's work! But perhaps it is not too late to
reinvent, through a little essay in historical fction, a
* A rfernce t the 192 manuscript of Ptb»bmÉt»mçuta acce­
sible online via the Prickly Pradig website (ww .prickly-pardig.com/
catlog.htl). I that verion, all page numbrs a fm the original
version of PtbøÉæçut a it app on Gallica, the Bdmbtçut
Nat d Fan webite (http://gallica.bnf).
Z
theory of political economy in which Tarde plays the
role that, in the real course of history, was occupied by
Marx.
At frst glance, it seems difcult to take seri­
ously the ramblings of this sociologist who had no
disciples; who treats conversation among idlers as a
"factor of production"; who denies the central role
attributed to poor old labor; who distinguishes, in the
notion of capital, the "seed" or "germ" (the sofware)
from the "cotyledon" (the hardware), to the advantage
of the former; who follows, with equal attentveness,
fluctUations in the price of brad and variations in the
prestge of political fgures, on instruments he names
"glorimeters"; who uses as a typical example of produc­
tion not, as everone else does, a needle factor but
rather te book industry, paying attention not only to
the disseminaton of the books themselves, but also to
te dissemination of the ideas contained m their pages;
who approaches the queston of biopower as if econ­
omy and ecology were already intertwined; who moves
seamlessly from Darwin to Ma and from Adam Smith
to Antoine-Augustin Curot, but without believing
for a moment in the usual divisions of economic
science; who is interested in luxur fashions, consump­
tion, quality labels and recreation as much as he is
interested in the militar industr and in colonizaton;
who continually uses examples found in te a market,
in te dissemination of philosophical ideas, in ethics,
and in the law, as u tey all counted equally in te
production of wealt; who makes science, innovation,
innovators, and even idleness itself the basis of
economic activity; who spends considerable time
folowing railway tacks, telegraph wires, press public­
ity, the grwth of tourism; who, above all, dos not
J
believe in the existence of Capitalism, does not see in
the 19th century the terrifing rise of cold calculatons
and of the reign of the commodit but on the contrary
who defnes the growth of markets as that of pasins;
who congratulates the socialists on having created a
new fee for association and organization.
It is thi old reactonary we would like to rnder
once again relevant? It is this little bit of economic
archeology that we would like to dust of and polish?
Precisely Let us be honest enough to acknowl­
edge that reading Da Kpital would seem quite tou­
bling to us if we had not benefted from over a century
of commentaries on it. Everg will initially seem
foreign in the economics of Tarde, but perhaps only
because it u aU new-that, at least, is what we hope to
show. Written amidst the frst great era of globalizaton,
grappling with all of the technological innovations of
the rimes, taken with the moral and politcal problem of
class struggles, profoundly involved in bio-sociolog
founded on quantitative methods which at the rime
could only be dreamed of but which have today
become available thans to the extension of digitization
techniques, it is because it seems feshly minted that we
are presenting this' work, a century later, in the middle
of another period of globalizaton, at a rme of moral,
social, fmancial, political and ecological crisis. Tis apa
is not ofered as a simple oddity that might interest
economic historians, but instead as a doent that is
essential in order to attain an alternatve understanding
of our past, and, thus, of our ftur.
We frst considered republishing the two large
volumes of Psycholgie Economique, but were
confronted with the extaordinar evolution of the
book market-an evolution in itself perfectly Tardian.
4
I
I
Given that the original work is accessible in image . I
I
format on the Gallica website (http://gallica.bnf.fr
/)
and in text format (Word or PDF) on the excellent
Canadian website Les clasiques des sciences sociales
(http://classiques.uqac.ca/), it would not make much
sense to publish it in its entirety, at a prohibitive cost.
We have therefore decided to publish tis introduction
separately with relatively long quotations, to give
readers the desire to turn to the digital versions of the
French text t explore it frther. In addition, to save
those readers who dislike reading on te computer
screen and who would rater not overwhelm their
printer by printing out the two enormous volumes, we
have ·added on a website a selection of the texts we feel
best illustrate the work's importance.
The question Tarde asks himself is quite simple:
to what does te surprising notion of political economy
that arose in the 18t century correspond? For m,
ideas guide te world, and more specifcally the ideas
economists arrive at concerning te subject of teir
discipline. To what stange idea of science and of poli­
tics does it correspond? For it is indeed a question frst
of reversing ideas, opinions, and arguments, in order to
grasp the change that Tarde prposes t te theory of
political economy: yes, for m, the superstructure
determines "in the frst and in the last instance" te
infrastructures, which, in fact, as we shall later see, do
not exist.
A stange revolutionar one might say this
atheistic materialist who, a hundred years before the
development of market anthropolog detects in the
atheist materialism of the economists of his time, both
lef and right leaning, a particularly perverse form of a
hidden God. Tarde in efect criticizes all tose for
b
whom onl a miraculus Prince seems able to
produce automatically, with its invisible or visible hand,
the pre-established harmony-wheter tat of the
Market or that of the State, this matters little, because
for him, te inventors of political economy agree on
nearly everything, and frst and foremost on the ex­
tence of economics as a feld in itself. Whereas this is
precisely what he disputes.
This lone rvolutionary, not linked to any orga­
nization or par wit no successors and practically no
predecessors, wonders what would happen if we were
truly unbelieving, truly anosc when it comes to the
subject of economics. <%d what if there were in fact no
divinity at all ruling over economies?" is really te ques­
tion he asks. If we agreed once and for all to apply tis
idea of immanence without any transcendence, could
we not once again engage in politics? The politics tat
the sectarians of Mammon, Go of Prvidence and of
automatic Harmony and that those of te State have
been forbidding us from practicing for so long-yes, a
politcs of libe. Liberalism then? Why should we be
afraid to use tis word, as long as we remember that its
opposite can only be te term «Providentialism"? Ad
what Hthe choice had never been between Market and
State organizations, between liberals and socialists, but
instead between those who believe in the miracles of a
pr-established harmony and those who refse to
«believe in miracles"? Culd we not r-rad, rtospec­
tively, everything that has happened to us in the past
two hundred years and that we have far too hastily
summarized under the name of «capitalism"?
PART I
It Is Because The Economy Is
Subjective That It Is Quantifiable
In order to understand Tarde's economic antpolog
we must frst accept a complete rversal of our habits:
nothing in the economy u objectve, all is subjective
or, rather, inter-subjectve, and that upreciel wh it can
be renred quantfabl and scintf. But on conditon
that we modif what we expect fm a science and what
we mean by quantg. These conditions will indeed
modif our habits of thought in no small way
A Retur t Value(s)
Uan altogether classical way Tarde begin by defg
value. But alost immediately he forces us to change
ö
direction. Because value is a highly psychological .
dimension and one that depends on belief and on
desire, it is quantifable because it possesses a certain
intensity:
It [alue] is a quality, such as color, that we attribute to
things, but that, like color, exists only within us by way of
a perectly subjective truth. It consists in the harmoniza­
tion of the collective judgments we make concerning the
aptitude of objects to be more or less-and by a greater
or lesser number of people-believed, desired or
enjoyed. Thus, this quality belongs among those peculiar
ones which, appearing suited to show numerous degrees
and to go up or down this ladder without changing their
essential nature, merit the name "quantity."
This point is fndamental, and Tarde maintains
it beginning in the ver frst artcle he published when
he was a judge in the small town of Sarlat in the South
West of France where he lived most of his life before
moving to Paris. To tr the social sciences into tue
sciences, it is necessary to reach a property that is quan­
tifable, which, paradoxically is contained inid subjec­
tivities. But although this argument might call to mid
the position of marginalist whose point of departure is
solidly anchored in individuals, one must never under­
estimate Tare's originality Indeed, never does he put
the adjectives "social" and "psychological" in opposi­
tion to each other. Despite Durkheim's well-known
criticisms of m, what Tarde designates as a psycho­
logical phenomenon never refers to anything personal
or interior to the subject-what he later calls "intra­
psychological" and about which he ofen asserts that
nothing can be said-but always to that which is the
9
most social in us, and which he calls, for this rason,
"inter-psychological." ^ a result� nothing is more
foreign to his anthrpology than the idea meconomic
agents cut of from the social world and whose calcula­
tio
ns would present clearly-defned boundaries. The
words "intimacy" and "subjectvity" mlt not mislead
us: at our most intimate level, it is always the "many"
th
at rules. What makes Tarde so difcult for us to
understand, afer more than a century of sociologism, is
that he never places society and the individual in oppo­
sition, but, rather, he sees the two as nothing but
temporary agrgates, partial stabilizations, nodes i
networks that are completely free of the concepts
contained in ordinary sociology
What is at the basis of the social sciences, in his
view, is a kind of contaminatn that moves constantly
frm point to point, from individual to individual, but
without ever coming to a halt at any specifc stop.
Subjectivity always rfers to the contagious nature of
desires and beliefs, which jump frm one individual to
the next without ever-and here is the crucial point­
going through a social context or a stucture. The
words "social," "psychological," "subjective" and
"inter-subjective" ar, thus, essentially equivalent, and
they all refer to a type of path, a trajectory that
demands, for us to b able to follow them, that we
never presume the prior existence of a society or of an
economic infastructure, of a general plan distinct from
the coming together of its members.
The great advantage of these ways of proceed­
ig is that they immediately bring into plain sight the
practical means thrugh which the contagion, the cont­
amination from one poit to another, takes place­
what Tarde calls "rayons imitatfs" ("imitative rays") in

the
book
that made him famous, Les Lois d l)imitatn
(Te Laws of Imitatn).
This initial defnition of the "quantum," which
is specifc to values, will allow Tarde to unfurl, in lieu of
the economy a fabric made of intertwined relation­
ships, where we must above Mbe carefl not to rush to
identif those which are literall economic and those
that might only be metaphorcall so. Tarde indeed wil
continuously show that, on the contrar economics as
a discipline risks losing Mscientifc objectivity because
of a mistaken understanding both of its limit, which
are too restrictive, and of it ambitions, which are too
vast.
Two Mistakes to Be Avoided
Le us proceed slowly in order to flly grasp the origi­
nality of Tarde's position. Te notion of value extends
frst of Mto mas esent of belie and dre:
This abstract quantity is divided into three main cate­
gories which are the Original and esential notions of
shared living: truth as a value, utility a a value, and
bauty as a value.
The quantitative nature of all of the terms I just listed
is just as real as it is scarcely apparent; it Is involed in all
human judgments. No man, no people has ever failed to
seek, as a prize for relentless efors, a cerain grwth
either of wealth, or glor, or truth, or power, or aristic
peretion; nor has he failed to fght against the danger of
a decrase of all of these assets. We all speak and write
as though there existed a scale of these diferent orders
of magnitude, on which we can place different peples
and different individuals higher or lower and make them
rise or fall continuously. Everone is. thus implicitly and
intimately convinced that all these things, and not only the
first, are, in fac, real quantities. Not to recognize this truly
quantitative-if not measurable de jure and de facto­
aspect of power, of glor, of truth, of beauty, is thus to go
against the constant of mankind and to set
"
as the goal of
universal effor a chimera.
II
There is then a quantitative cor which is essen­
tial
to M of our assessments, no matter the object, and
soial science must take M of these assessment into
account. But, unfortunately Tarde is quick to add,
political economy confsed two completely diferent
kinds of quantifcation: that which is "ral and scarcely
apparent," and that which is "convenient and apparent"
but which refect only the een of a very small
number of calculating instents intertwined with
our passions.
And yet. of all these quantities, only one, wealth, was
grasped clearly a such and was considered worhy of
being made the subject of a special science: Political
Economy. Bu, even though this objet, indeed, given its
monetary sign, lends itself to a more mathematical­
sometimes even illusor-precision in its speculation, the
other terms also each desere to be studied through a
separate science.
Te question of the "monetary sign" must be
considered extemely careflly Indeed, Tarde her avoids
two symmetical errors that we t ofen commit: mL
viewing economics as a sort of reducton, one that
freezes subjectvity into objectivity; or, conversely
extending this frst "reducton" to M actvities, een the
1Z
"highest," believing that one is thus displaying a sharp
critical spirit.
Yet, not even once in this book does Tarde
complain that economists, "ignoring the wealth of
human subjectivity" strive to "quantif all" at the risk
of thus "amputating" what is human from its "moral,
emotional, aesthetic and social dimensions." His criti­
cism is just the opposite: economist d not sufcientl
quantf all of the valuations to which they have access.
Or, rather, they do not go back far enough, along a
continuum, towards the intersection of the tensors and
vectors of desire and belief that lie at the heart, we
might say of soial mte.
But the economist neglects to recognize that there is no
wealth either, whether agricultural, industrial or other, that
cannot be considere from the pOint of view of either the
knowledge it involves, the powers it grants, the rights of
which it is a product, or its more or les aesthetic or
unaesthetic character.
But the opposite mistake would be to think that
Tarde extends the quantifcations of wealth ordinarily
accepted in economics to the metaphora analysis of
truths, glories, powers, ethics, right and a, in the
manner of Pierr Bourdieu, by the incrased use of the
terms capital, interest, calculation and proft, whether
qualifing them as "symbolic" or not. Once again, it is
the reverse: the quantifable root that will allow for the
founding of a true economic science lies frst of all in
the complex interplay between trust and mistrust, and
onl then, OUt of convenience and simplifcation, trans­
ported into the relatively simplifed case of the
"exchange of assets." One could almost say that, in the
1J
generalized economics that he put forward, it is the
political economy of wealth that represents its
metaphorical extension, or rather its metonymic
narrowing-a tiny part being taken for the whole.
Tare proposes, instead, to extend economics to al
valuations, without, however, being li�ited to follow­
ing the very small number of valuations that people
have leared, for the sake of convenience, to measure in
terms of money
Ceasing to Confuse Recto with Vero
It is only once we understand the extent to which he
avoids making these two mistakes (the lament against
quantifcation, on the one hand, and the metaphorical
extension of calculations of wealth to other forms of
"symbolic" value, on the other) that we can measure
the audacity originality and fertility of the following
statement:
It is my intention to show, to the contrar, that, if we wish
to come to true and, consequently, genuinely scientific
laws in political eonomy, we must turn over, so to spek,
the alway useful but slightly worn garment of the old
schools, turn i inside out, bring to light that which was
hidden and ask the signified for an explanation of the
signifier, and ask the human spirit for an explanation of
social materials.
How can we explain the fact that economists
made such a serious mistake concerning the recto and
verso of their science? Te reason given by Tarde gos
along with what market anthropologists have shown
14
again and again over the past decade or so: no relation­
ship is economic without there being an extension of
the calculation techniques of economist-in the broad­
est sense of the word. The feld of economis, invented in
the 18th centur did not discover a continent; instead,
it built one from scratch, or, rather, organized one,
conquered it, and it colonized it. To quote Michel
Callon's powerfl phrase, it is the economic discipline
that frames and shapes the economy as an entity: '�ith­
out economics, n economy." Contrary to the robinson­
ades of the 18th centu and just as Karl Polanyi and
later Marshal Sahlins had so skl y shown, man is not
bor an economist, he becomes one. On condition,
however, that he is surrounded by enough instment
and enough calculative devices to render otherwise
imperceptible diferences visible and readable. To prac­
tice economics is not to reveal the anthropological
essence of humanity; it is to organize in a certain way
something elusive. Neither is it, as we shall soon see, t
uncover the tue nature of humanit
In order to understand how the work of econ­
omists fat relationships which, without them,
would have entirely diferent forms, we must accurately
grasp the small suplent contributed by the invention
of calculation devices and, in partcular, standards such
as currency
Wealth is something much simpler and more easily
mesured; for i comprise infnite degrees and ver few
difernt types, with ever decreasing differences. So that
the gradual replacement of the nobility by wealth, of aris­
tocracy by plutocracy, tends to render the social status
increasingly subject to numbers and measures.
Ib
If all of Prust's subtlety is requird to place the
diferences in social ran between �wann and Madame
Verdurin on a value scale, this attention to detail is no
longer necessary in order to classif the world's billion­
aires-any run-ofthe-mil Fone journalist would have
no trouble doing so- nce measurement take the form
of credit and capital. We must be cf, though: this
does not mean that we have become plutocratic, that the
dominance of commodity has been bradened, that
numbers in monetary quantty are encroaching on the
real and materal infrastructure that seems to underlie
the economy as an entity Not at all: the measur having
become "simpler," "social stats" has, as a result,
become easier to identif So it is indeed appropriate to
distinguish between two types of measurment, one that
capturs the ral state, which we could call meared
measurment, to distinguish it from the type that
formats the social world and that we could call mear­
ing measurement. Tis distincton allows us to see that
there a indeed other instument available to make the
economy tly quantifable.
Now, a man's glor, no less than his credit, no less than
his forune, is to increse or decrese without changing in
its nature. It is, therefore, a sor of social quantity . .. .
Priests and the religiOUS have studied the factors involved
in the production (meaning here reproduction) of beliefs,
of "truths", with no les care than that with which econo­
mists study the reprduction of wealth. They could give
us lessons on the practices best suited to sowing the
fith (retreats, forced meditation, preaching), and on the
radings, the conversations, and the typs of conduct
that weaken it.
1b
Let us intrduce the term valuemeter to describe
all of the devices which make visible and readable the
value judgments that form the foundation of what
Tarde calls economics. It is easy to imagine how inter­
ested he would be in the current era, in which we see
growing number of new ways of "obtaining data," in
the form of audience ratngs, polls, marketing sureys,
shows like Amercan Idl, competitions, rankings,
auctions, spying, clicks of the mouse, etc.-new means
of gathering data which are very prcious for "render­
ing the social status increasingly subject to numbers and
measures." One might almost say that it was Tarde's
bad luck to have lived a h century before the "quali­
quantitative" types of data that are toay made more
and more numerous through new information and
communication systems. It is said of Tarde that he
indulges in a mere "literary" sociolog and that is
indeed true: he wanted desires and beliefs to be quanti­
fed, while the statistics of his day-which he knew
well, having headed the Institute of Statistics of the
Justice Ministry-were far too rudimentary to capture
them. Today's wave of digitization should make us
perhaps much more attentive to Tarde's argument.
How to Specif Quantities
Let us, however, take care to correctly understand his
thought: everything is potentially a number, because
valuemeters only gather, concentrate, extract and
simplif subtle weighings, innumerable "logical duels"
that constantly occur within us when we encounter
those to whom we have strng attachments and whom
IT
we need in order to exist. In other wors, Tarde does
not claim that the calculation devices used by econo­
mists perform the social, in a way comparable to what
a wafe-maker would do to batter, shapeless in itelf,
poured in by the ladle. For him, there already exist in
the batter, dare we say a partcular t of quantum
that has only an inirect mto what economist call the
quantifable. It is precisely this indirect aspect that
explains why they were so ofen mistaken when trying
to render their discipline more scientifc and why they
confsed heads and tails. Once again, it is not a ques­
tion of complaining about economists and their mania
for quantifing, which would have applied the same
standard of comprehension to all subjects. On the
contrary argues Tarde, one must lament the fact that
they do not have enough of a taste for quantifcation to
seek out, in each type of practice, the tensors that are
specifc to it. Tarde argues that the very places econo­
mists may have failed in their quantifcation reveal a
number of interesting things regarding the other types
of quantifcation which are just waiting t be brought
to light, provided we make the efort to go and seek
them out.
P of the other instrument available to make
economics truly quantifable constitute the best proof
that there is a vast resere of quantifcation.
There are indeed other mesures: each type of statistic is
one. Te rise or fall in popularity of a public fgure is
measured fairly accurately through voting statistics.
What count-literally-is the comparison of
judgment. T his process is in no way connected to
money as such; it is found in all valuemeters and all

glorimeters. That is why it is easy to follow the grow­
ing comparison in two domains that an economist
would likely separate but that Tarde has no truble m­
ing, such as the press and currency:
' . . . J The development of the press had the effect of giving
moral values a quantitative characer that was more and
more marked and better and better suited to justify their
comparison with the exchange value. The latter, which
must also have been quite confused in the centuries
before the common use of currency, became better
defined as currency spread and became more unifed. It
was then a
b
le to give rise, for the first time, to political
economy. Similarly, before the advent of the daily press,
fhe notions of the scientific or literar value of writing, of
people's tame and reputation, were still vague, as the
awareness of their gradual waxings and wanings could
barely be felt; but with the development of the press,
thee ideas beame clearer, were accentuated, became
worhy of being the objects of philosophical speulations
of a new sor.
The originality of drawing such a paralel is
clear: Tarde does not say that the press is subject to the
"deleterous infuence of the powers of money"; the
connecton beteen the to domains does not pass
through the rquired step of searching for hidden forces
in infastuctures-as we shall see, there is not, for
Tarde, any infastructure at all. Te connecton between
the two domains is itely mor intmate. Tarde
compares two styles of trajectory and contamination,
both of which-the frst one several centuries ago and
the second right bfore our eyes-allow us to identif
the instumentation tugh which we move fom a
local, individual and ipractcal system of quantifcation
19
to one that is generalied, rapid, and refexive. Credit
and credibility require accounting instument or, to use
a term that is not Tarde's but that defmes precisely the
movement of inter-comparison, they need metlg.
Valuemeters connected together, litte by litte, end up
building metological chains which make the inter­
comparison of subjectivities increasirgly "precise,"
"accentuated," and "worthy of being object of specula­
tions of a new sort." And, among these speculations,
Tarde never fails to include the sociology of science, a
typical case of a metology of learned literature, made
visible and readable by the very extension of the quasi­
currency we call credibility where, better than anywhere
else, the very prducton of the fnely diferentiated
degres of belief play out.
How is a man's credit, his fme and his glor, born, and
how does it grow in all of its forms? It is indeed worh
looking at these different forms of production, as well as
the production of wealth and of its venal value.... If there
are any "natural laws" that rgulate the manufacture of
these or those items in greater or lesser quantities and
the increase or decrease of their venal value, why would
there not b one that would rgulate the appearance,
grwth, increse or decrease of the popular enthusiasm
for this or that man, of the royalist loyalty of a people, of
its religious faith, of its trust in this or that institution?
If you really want to quantif-which is, afer
all, the foundation of all sciences-you should try to
tind all the available types of quantum, instead of using
just one to analyze all the others. The quantifcation of
glory is as good a measure of wealth as wealth is of
faith, or as faith is of enthusiasm, and so forth. Users
W
of Google will have no difculty understanding what
digitization has done to the calculation of authority
the mapping of credibility and the quantifcation of
glory
Quantifying, Yes, but Doing So Advisedly
We now understand the confsion of economists as
Tarde sees them: while they may have been right to seek
to quantif they misidentifed the source that could
have allowed them to give certainty to their discipline
at last. Their mistake consisted in the following: they
took for a "measured measure" the "measuring
measure" allowed by an extension of the chains of inter­
comparison. This extension itself was due to an entirely
difernt phenomenon than the one they believed they
wer observing. They in fact thought that progrss in
economics had to be progress in detachment, distance
and objectvity
To be as objetive and abstract as one culd: that was the
metho ... The idel was to concal under abstrctions
such as credit, seric and work, the sensations and feel­
ings underying them, so that no one could notice them,
and to treat these abstractions as objects: r and mate­
rial objects analoos to the objects trated by the
chemist or the physicist and, as with them, falling under
the law of number and measurmnt. Thus, the rubric of
money and finances, wher this twofold ideal seems to b
rlized, where everhing sems to b denumerable and
measurable just as in physic and chemistr, has always
ben the economists' hobbyhorse.
ZI
^ a measuring measure, money is, of course,
excellent, but what it measures, or rather what it regis­
ters in a simplifed manner to make it easier to captur,
has no kind of link with what is indicated in the
n
umbers. Not, as the perpetual humanist critics of
economics believe, because "the human heart cannot be
reduced to calculation," bur, on the contar because
the human heart calculates and compares constantly,
but on a diferent scale and thrugh very diferent, less
readable and less contasting weights. This is why Tarde
continues the previous sentence and proposes that we
shif our attention towards the true source of all other
measures:
It rmains true that value, of which money is but the sign,
is nothing, absolutely nothing, if not a combination of
entirely subjective things, of beliefs and desirs, of ideas
and volitions, and that the peaks and troughs of values in
the stock market, unlike the oscillations of a barometer,
could not even remotely be explained without considering
their psychological causes: fits of hope or discourage­
ment in the public, propagation of a go or bad sensa­
tional stor in the minds of speulators.
So, here we fnd the explanation of the
rcto/verso inversion which might have seemed, when
we introduced it earlier, a gratuitous defance on the
part of Tarde.
It is not that economists have entirely ignored this subjec­
tive aspect of their subject. . . this subjective aspet has
always been rgared as the verso and not the recto of
economic science. The masters of this diSCipline have
wrongly believed, I rpeat, that a dominant, or even
exclusive, proccupation with the external side of things
Z
could alone raise their obserations to the dignity of a
scientifc corpus. Even when they had to directly envisage
the psycholoical side of the phenomena they investi­
gated-the motivations of the worker or the needs of the
consumer, for example-they conceive of a human
heart so simplifed and so schematic: so to speak, a
human sol s mutilated that this minimum of indispens­
able psycholoy had the air of a mere postulate fated to
support the geometrc unfolding of their deductions.
Uwe had quoted this passage at the begn g
of our essay it would have seemed lke the usual lament
against economist' mania for quantifing, whereas we
must understand it, instead, as a call to lok eehere,
and ·especially elewhere, for the valuemeter capable of
capturing "human souls" when they evaluate their good
and their evil, when they believe, when they desir,
when they pray when they want, when they become
intertined. It is on this new and shifed basis that Tarde
ofers the diferent social sciences a kind of new da:
' ... ] Political eonomy, thus surrounded, wold lose, it is
true, its mysterious isolation as an unstable blok cast in
the desert of an as-yet-unborn sociology, by metaphysi­
cians or logicians. It WOUld, however, gain by appearing in
its true plac a a social SCience, and by seeing its ever­
day notions, its diviSions, and its theries, controlled by
the Sister-sciences which would be illuminated by its light
and would illuminate it with theirs.
Needless to say intellectual history did not take
this pact in any way seriously and people continued
for a centry t hold onto the rlatively absurd idea
that economic as a discipline had miraculously discov­
ered underneath it a submerged frozen continent, the
Z
economy, govered by rigid laws and which had the
unheard-of ability to freze the superstructres built
on top of it. Among the social sciences, economics
alone was to be considered. truly scientifc because it
alone had succeeded in reaching the rational and objec­
tive core of the human soul.
A Mistake in Temperature
How can we sum ariz Tarde's innovation so as to
remember that the question is indeed one of quantif­
ing the economy albeit by shg it entirly into the
realm of inter-subjectvity-the only means, paradoxi­
cally by which it can be renderd somewhat scientifc?
First of all, by avoiding another epistemological error,
which is also, as we shall see later, a serious political
error: the mistake of thinking that the more valuemeters
and metological chains ther are, the mor economic
history moves from passion to rason, fom the irra­
tional to the rational, from the warmth of traditional
haggling to the "economic horrr" of "neo-liberal"
markets.
Will we say that the progress of rason, the supposed
companion of the progress of civilization, take reponsi­
bility for ralizing little by little the abstraction imagine by
economists, stripping concrte man of all the motives for
action besides the motive of personal interest? Bu noth­
ing lets us suppose this and ther is not a single aspect
of social life in which one does not see passion grw and
unfold together with intelligence ... So i is in the economic
world, and nowhere, not even her, do I pereive traces
Z4
of a refrgerating transformation of man in a less and less
passionate and more and more rational direction.
The new economies observed by Tarde from his
Chair at the College de France, that of class struggles,
of the frst great globalization movement, of the
massive migrations of men, of frnzied innovations
punctuated by the great World Fairs, and the carving up
of the colonial empires, in no way demonstated the
advent of rason. Rther, it presented a spectacle of:
[ ... | passions of unpreedented intensity, proigious
ambitions of conquest, a sort of new religion, SOialism,
and a proselytising ferour unknown since the prmitive
Church. These are the intersts, the passionate intersts,
which it is a question of making agree with one another
and with the equally passionate interests o billionaire
capitalists, no less inebriated with the hope of winning,
the pride of life, and the thirst for power.
What, then, is economics? We can now defne it
as the "science of passionate intersts."
We must not misunderstand this, though.
Tarde is not saying that, alas, caculating economic
reason fmds itself distorted, kidnapped and prturbed
by passions, coalitions, contaminations and rumors
which prevent its calculations from being correct; he is
not saying that, if, by some impossible miracle, we
were able to rid ourselves of M of this irrational
jumble, we would fmaUy recover economic rason.
No, eerthin in economics is irratonal, ee
r
thing in
economics is, we might say, extra-economic (in the
everyday sense of the word). Ad this is because it is
made up of passions whose astonishing development
Zb
in
the 19th century only amplifed their interconnec­
tions. It is precisely this intertwining that economists
simultaneously caught sight of and, amazingly fed
immediately with horror, as though they had seen the
head of Gorgon.
In inventing homo economicus, economists have
engaged in a double abstraction. First, the unwarranted
one of having conceived of a man with nothing human in
his heart; seond, of having represented this individual as
detache from any group, corporation, set, party, home­
land, or assoiation of any sort. This second simplifcation
is no les mutilating than the first, whenc it derives.
Never, in any period of histor, have a proucer and a
consumer, a seller and a buyer been In ech other's pres­
ence without having first been united to one another by
some entirly sentimental relation-being neighbours,
sharing citizenship or rligious communion, enjoying a
community of Civilization-and, second, without having
ben, respectively, escorted by an invisible cortege of
associates, friends, and coreligionists whose thought has
wighed on them in the discussion of prices or wages,
and has fnally won out, most often to the detriment of
their strictly individual interest. Never, indeed, not even in
the frst half of the nineteenth centur-which is never­
theless the sole perio in the histor of labor conditions in
which ever workers' corporation in France semed to
have been destroyed-did the worker appear free from
ever formal or moral commitment to his comrades, in the
prsence of a boss himself entirely disengaged from strict
obligations or propriety towards his own colleagues or
even his own rivals.
The attachment are what must be quantifed;
how could this have been forgoten? It wil be argued
Æ
that institutional economics, the economics of conven- .
tions, has for years accepted such imbrglios as fact.
That may be true, but Tarde's bok was published in
1902! Why did we lose a century? This is all the more
striking because Tarde goes much frther than today's
cautious researchers who are content to corrct the
Ptolemaic system of the pure and perfect market by
adding to it a multitude of epicycles turning in aU direc­
tions-contacts, trust, information, rules, norms, and
coalitons. Yet, much lke Copernicus had no one to
read his bok, Tarde alrady placed the quantitative
focus elsewher. Ther is no Prvidence in this "invisi­
ble cortege of associates," and certainly not that of
haroniing rason. Tarde's ambition, all the more
radical seeing as it dos not lean on any school, consists
indeed in making the cycles of passionate interests
revolve around a diferent sun, a sun which sheds light
and bur-which sheds light becuse it burns.
Geting Closer Instead of Moving Away
To flly grasp this point, we must agre to give up one
last epistemological prtension, that of diane and
eet. Having reached this point, Tarde, ever cour­
teous, allows himself a touch of irony rgarding the
acrbatic maneuvers economists perform in order to
get as far away as possible from prcisely the phenom­
ena that they have the chance of being in close contact
with, and which, as a result, should jump out at them!
The argent, which is completely counter-intuitive,
merits frther analysis. Tarde begins by dstinguishing
between two types of psychology not in relaton to the
Z
nature of the objects to which they are applied, but in
relation to the degree of prxmit we have to them.
The eminently psychological nature of the social
sciences, of which political economy is but a branch,
would have given rse to fewer objections ha9 the distinc­
tion been made between two psychologies that are
normally blended into one.... it is useful to note that the
objets of the self can be either natural things, unfath­
omable in their hereticaly sele inner depths, or other
selves, other spirts wher the self is refleced by its exter­
nal manifestation and learns to know itself better by
discovering others. The latter objects of the self, which
ar simultaneously subjects like it, give rise to an entirely
exceptional relationship between them and it. which
cares sharply, in high relief, among the usual relation­
ships of the self with the entities of nature, minerals,
plants, and even lowr species of animals .... they ar the
only objects captured from the inside, because their inti­
mae natur is the ver one of which the subject obser­
ing them is conscious. However, when the self loks at
minerals or stars, material substances of any sort,
whether organic or inorganic, the fores that prouced
these forms can only be guesed at by hypothesis, and
only their outwar sign is perceived.
This surprising diference between the human
world and the natural world, one that does not divide
according to the usual distinction between the
symbolic world, on the one hand, and the material
world, on the other, can b found in all of Tarde's
work. Let us remember that, for Tarde, "everything is
society": stars, cells, bodies, political grups, the lively
frings of the brain. "Material," for Tarde, therefore
frst and foremost means "social." Could he have been
Æ
a socio-biologist (or as they said at the time, bio-soci-·
ologist)? Could he have committed the sin of natural­
ization? Or worse, that of social Darwinism? No,
because there is a diference in capture and not in
nature between the objects called material and the
subject of society: we can see the former from afar,
roughl, andfom the outsid; whereas we see the latter
from up clse, in sal numbers, and fom the insi!
Thus, we understand ver well that, when it is a question
of studying the relationships of the self with natural beings
and of establishing the physical sCiences, including evn
biology, the self tries its best to systematically forget itself
. as much as possible, to put the least of itself and of the
personal imprssions it rceives from the outside, in the
notions it conceive of matter, of force and of life, to
resolve, if possible, all of natur in terms of extension and
points in motions, in geometrical notions, whose origin,
also utterly psychological, only reveals itself to ver prac­
ticed analytical eyes and in fact dos not involve their
psycholoical nature at all.
Tarde does not claim that economists would be
wrong to teat human objects like natural objects under
the prtext that, as is so ofen said, that which is human
"eludes natur and objectivit" He willngly acknowl­
edges that there are excellent rasons, in physics, in
chemistr or in biolog to take the associations of enti­
ties from the outside as statistical clouds, subject to
exteral forces which gover them. But if we adopt this
perspective in many cases, it is because we cannot grasp
them
fom close enough, as we are not able to penetrate
into their innermost beings. Even if their "origin," like
that of M monads, is psychological and made up of
Æ
relationships, their "nature," seen from a distance and
as a whole, no longer appears to b such. In any case,
there would be no advantage, no epistemological gain,
in making such a supposition. Ad her he is, drawing
the following stnning conclusion:
But is this a reson, when the moment comes to study
the reciproal relationships of selves-that is, to establish
the soial sciences-for the self to continue to tr to run
away from itself, and to take as a moel for its new
sciences the sciences of natur? By the most exceptional
of privileges, he fnds himself, in the social world, seeing
clearly to the bottom of those beings whose relationships
he studies, holding in his hands the hidden drives of the
actors, and yet he would gladly give up this advantage to
be able to moel himself after the physicist or the natu­
ralist who, not having it, is fored to do without it and to
compenste for it as he can!"
"To r away from itself"? We understand the
horrr that Durkheim felt when he learned of the work
of his elder. If ther is, for Tarde, a mistake to be
avoided, it is to take social facts "as things," wheras, in
the other sciences, if we take things "as things," it is for
lack of a better alteratve! How could sociologists and,
even more surprisingly economists, have had the crazy
idea of wanting to imitate physicist and biologists
thrugh an entirly artifcial efort at distancing, while
the very thinkers they tried to imitate would give their
right hands to fmd themselves at last close to particles,
cells, frgs, bodies with whom they try to come into
intimate association with the help of their instruments?
Why do economists r away by giving themselves a
certain distance which any researcher would wish to
Æ
eliminate, at the risk of losing the long dreamt of
opportunity to understand the social, while the others,
the "true" scholars, try at all costs, with the invention of
all sorts of instent, to co nearer to that which is
at a distance from them?
Here indeed is the core, the difcult, technical
and ever new point of Tarde's proposition: u we can
distinguish, in any given aggregate, associates, on the
one hand, and laws, stuctures, and rules, on the other,
it is because we are forced to ignor what shapes them
frm the inside through the swarming of assessment
and battles of logic. To put it bluntly the notion of
struc is a makeshif one, an artifact of our igno­
rance, itelf due to our having too great a distance with
what we study We shall show, frther on, the surpris­
ing political consequences Tarde will deduce from this
point, which remains, a hundrd years later, an incom­
prehensible paradox for the majority of the social
sciences. For the moment, let u understand that he
will, u economist, make as much as possible of
"this exceptional privilege" that makes it possible to
capture the "hidden drives" that connect u to goods,
without having to hypothesize about "natural laws"
which would, in ad itn, give shap t these attach­
ment. It is thanks to this privilege that Tarde invent a
soiology and an economics which will be able to do
without any transcendence. He will not fee in the face
of economics. He want us to look at the head of
Gorgon head-on.
But, one might wonder, economist are no
fols, so why did they try to imitate an epistemology
which distanced them so frm their prject of quantif­
cation in thinking that they were imitatng the exact
sciences whose libid scndi they were in fact reversing?
JI
Tarde's answer to this is very similar to that of Karl
Polanyi, and he draws, in fact, from the same source
through a Sismondi quote. There have to be ve
r
powerfl politcal reasons in order to suspend M
common sense and to reverse M principles of method
in this way
Why did economists conceive of the object of their
science in its most material aspects? Sismondi answers:
"It was, he says, from the science of finance that was
brn that of political economy, through an order that was
the reverse of the natural progression of ideas.
Philosophers wanted to protect the population from the
plundering ravages of absolute power ; they felt that, to
make themselves heard, they needed to speak to the
rulers of their intests and not of justice and duty; they
tried to show them cleary what the nature and the causes
of the wealth of nations wre, to teach them to share it
without destroying it." That is one reason why plitical
economy, from its beginnings, tok on such a positive
color, and decided, due to their own bias, to disregard
any psychological or moral conSideration.
A entre discipline, thousands of deparent,
hundrds of thousands of MBNs, to protect us fm the
ravages of "absolute power"? P of that, to protect one's
proprty? The inventon of an entre imprsonal science
to avoid favoring pople? A disinterested science of
interst, entrely based on the defense of interst? We
understand the reason, but, for heaven's sake, pleads
Tarde, let us not confse this convenient soluton with
the demands of a science that desered better. Now we
must invert the inversion, put economics upright again
and let it walk at last on it own two feet: the ideas that
guide the world (and in particular those of economist,
W
who perform passions and interst) and the value me­
ters which refect their movement and accentuate their
readabilit We must stop consing economics, the dici­
pline-the word has never been mor ftting-and the
economy The choice has to be made between ecoics
and ecoy. The latter stll remains an unknown cont­
nent because the former, busy prforming it, has contn­
uously fed it me compositon.
PART II
The Nature of Economics
By inverting the economist' inversion of a science
invented for reasons too strictly politcal, Tarde opens
up a continent which still remains, a century later,
largely unknown, the contnent of the atahnt t
good and ba, which he want to place at the heart of
the discipline he intends to re-foud and which he
names "economic psycholog" But where should this
contnent be sitated? Surely not aue the law, ethics,
aesthetcs, and mores, m an infrastructure whose cold
objectvity would obey calculable laws. Of course, there
a indeed laws, there are indeed calculatons, ther a
indeed objectcatons, but M of this circulates like the
rest-we now understand-by contagion, following
along the networks of inter-comparison, a far aay as
ther are economist, both prfessional and amateur, a
¾
lg a accounting techniques are being invented, devel­
oped and maintained. P of this infrastructure is ad d
to the assoiations of people and goods whose judg­
ment it simplifes in part, but which, in part, it compli­
cates frter.
Yet, if one no longer believes that economics
has captured the deep meaning of the economy which
it had been content simply to format, how should one
approach the task of elaborating a social science capable
of seizing both the formattng of the economic sciences
and that which constantly escapes this same formattng?
Invention Before Accumulation
The soluton Tarde ofers to this queston may seem
fairly perplexing to us: it consist in thrustng the econ­
omy back into the general movement of monads he
developed in his other works. The pullulatng of living
societes whose intertWining forms the texture of the
world is not chaotc but ends up by creating interfer­
ences, rhythms, and amplifcatons, on conditon that
one agrees to discern three stages in U prliferation:
the reetit of a frst df erence, the op osit created
by the repetition, and, fnally the aptat making it
possible for it to temporarily get out of these opposi­
tons thanks to new diferentations. We must be car­
fl not to read into this movement a return of Hegel's
dialectic. No superior law guides this world towards a
denouement thrugh the play of negatvity and contra­
diction. Tere is, contrary to the notebooks of the
young Ma, no adventure of subject and object at play
in these issues of capital and labor. Let us not forget
¾
what Tarde says against M philosophy of identity as
contradiction: "To exist is to difer."
^ a result, the supreme law for him is not
negation-and even less the negaton of negaton-but
rather inventon, which, once repeated obstnately
brings about countless struggles, which can only b
gotten out of through other inventors. Fify years
before Joseph Schumpeter, eighty years before the
development of the economics of technical change,
Tarde places innovation and the monitoring of inven­
tions at the heart of m dotrine. Follow innovatons
frm the mesh woven in the brain of individuals-a
brain itelf conceived, as we have seen, as a mass of
neurons; analyze by which canals they spread; docu­
ment the conflict they give rise to when they enter into
a struggle with those innovatons previously repeated;
observe how they end up combining, piling up one on
top of the other, adjustng themselves, and you will
have the whole economy whether it be of new rligious
convictions, new plant, new legal codes, railways,
fnancial tools, or politcal opinions.
The problem can be summed up as follows: to grasp as
closely as possible the genesis of inventions and the laws
of imitations. Economic progress supposes two things: on
the one hand, a grwing number of diferent desires, for,
without a difernce in desires, no exchange is possible,
and, with the appearance of each new, diferent desire,
the life of exchange is kindled. On the other hand, a grow­
ing number of similar exemplars of each desire taken
separately, for, without this similitude, no industr is possi­
ble, and, the more this similitude expands or prolongs
itself, the mor producion is widened or reinforced.
Æ
The notion of accumulation does not do justice .
to this proess of diferentiaton. It describes a phase­
but only a phase--f the industry during which only
the author of the repetition is active. It only marks a
moment, albeit one necessary to development, which
allows markets to grow, but never to change paths. It is
also the product of an economic science-starting with
economic soiology-which treat entties-humans
and asset, serices and technologies-as interchange­
able, since they are seen from a distance, without
capturing the small diferences that would explain that
change is not an exogenous shok suddenly befalling
monomaniacal capitalist. This is what Tarde criticizes
in Darin:
His mistake [ . . . ] seems to me to have been in relying far
more on the struggle for existence, a bioloical form of
opposition, than on cross-breading and hybridization,
biological forms of adaptation and harmony. A function
just as imporant as the production of a new species
would not be able to be a continuous and daily function,
while the simple production of a new individual-genera­
tion-is an intermittent function. An eceptional phenom­
enon, and not a daily phenomenon, must be at the base
of this specifc novelty. And [ . . . ] a ferile hybridization, as
an exception, is far neater than a hereditar accumulation
of small advantageous variations, thrugh competition
and selection, to explain the formation of new types of life.
If accumulaton is not the relevant point of entry
to understand the dynamics of the economy one must
look elsewhere. The interference and intersecton of the
paths of desire WmO inabit individuals are much
better suited to provide informaton on the prbability
JT
of inflexion points. Herein lies the prblem of the
notion of accwnulation: it dos not
p
rovide information
on the intenits of the economy
When, at the crucial moment, on a battlefeld, just the
right glance from the general lets an uncerain victor tilt
to one side, the victory is due to this sudde
n
idea, not to
the accumulation of the prior efors. And when, out of a
thousand researchers, a single one, through a sudden
intuition, discovers the solution to the enigma psed to
all. it is not the long and sterile efors of the others, not
even the duration and intensity of his own efors-ofen
lesser than theirs-to which credit for the discovery
should be given.
Accwnulation is not a good candidate, and
efort alone guarantees nothing. So what are econo­
mist lef with to explain the shapes of the economy?
Genius, of course, but a type of genius that is attained
frst of M through the interference of all the lines of
imitation. Genius does not guarantee anything; it is
simply a quick way to sum up what we have obsered,
not what we may predict. In hindsight, the unique
confguration which brings into existence the soluton
to a recalcitrant mathematcal problem, or the general's
glance that saves his troops from death, now that is
where genius lies; it does not reside at all in the author
of the theorem, nor in the general himself. Tarde
mentions genius fairly ofen as if he gave importance
to the outer wrapping of the individual "genius," but
this is a linguistic simplifcaton and a way of evoking
the ability to compose using lines of infuence. Genius
is not a point of departure; it is no more a place of
action than it is one of passion. It is more precisely a
Æ
moment of incandescence that can only ever be
described, never recreated. Here again, Tarde does not
set up an oppositon between the mysterious origin of
the individual genius and the slavish imitation of past
models. He shifs levels: a genius is an individual in
whom the multitudes of repetitions and imitations
(those lively frings of the brain) lead, dare we say a
life of their own.
Let us note, in passing, that trade, which so
ofen seres as a pillar for the economic robinsonnades
of the 19th centur does not fmd it place in Tarde's
economics. Trade does indeed exist, but it is brught
back to it proper role in the genealogy of market.
What launches a market, what builds an economy is
not trade, which is but a zero-sum game; it is rather the
pooling and the coordinatng of prviously scattered
energies. Tarde places faith and tst at the center of
this pooling efort.
Only half of the truth is being told in seeing the trade
contract as the essential and seminal economic event.
Trade, in truth, favors and develops directly only
consumption. The direct agent of production is another
contract, which is no less seminal and no less fundamen­
tal: the loan contract. Through trade, we do each other
favors, but all while defying one another: give and take;
through loans, we place trust in one another.
Tus, we can see a very singular relationship
between faith and invention: a shared movement
consistng in connectng and gathering previously sepa­
rate entties. It is necessary for there to be trust for the
frst transactons to come into being; it is necessary to
loosen the fIaton of 1M ecoicu on the lure of
Æ
proft because there needs to b also passion and risk­
taking in order to bring the economy towards new
paths through the emergence of smal diferences.
Trust, much like inventon, crates new groupings; it
folds the economy in a certain way which W then b
confrmed through repettion.
Difrence and Rettn u both the ttle of
Gilles Deleuze's thesis and Tarde's fndamental princi­
ple. Invention produces diferences; repetton alows
for their difsion; confct is inevitable; no pre-estab­
lished harmony allows for a soluton (as we shal later
see) : it is necessary to invent yet other solutons in
order to temporarily generate other innovations,
which, by repeatng themselves, will produce other
diferences, and the cycle will begin again. That is the
fndamental rhythm, the back beat that, alone, alows
economic actvity to acquire realism. What we need to
follow in order to establish an economic science are
"states of mind" and "logical duels."
From salesman to client, from client to salesman, from
consumer to consumer and from producer to producer,
whether competing or not, there is a continuous and
invisible transmission of feelings-an exchange of
persuasions and excitement through conversations,
through newspapers, through example-which precedes
commercial exchanges, ofen making them possible, and
which always helps to set their conditions.
Te fabric of vectors and tensors which defmes
the attachment of people and assets consist-and here
lies Tarde's truly innovative character-f argument
whose premises and deductions form practical slgi
which are, in fact, the whole substance of economics.
M
Either through authoritarian suggestion or through
demonstration, we can only communicate our thoughts
to others (which is equivalent to a gif of assets, the unilat­
eral beginning of an exchange of goods) on condition that
we present them through their measurable and quantita­
tive aspects. If it is a question of forcing our judgment into
someone else's head, through demonstration, we will
need a more or less explicit syllogism, that is a relation­
ship between species and genus or between genus and
species, established between two ideas, which means
that one is included i n the other, is of the same type
(undetermined or determined but real) of things which are
similar, and perceived as similar, that the other, the
general prposition, encompasses and contains.
For Tarde, the economic matter-this is what
rmains so difcult for us-is a real force because it is a
rhetorical power: it is indeed a question of persuasion,
syllogism and conviction. Or, rather, rhetoric attains in
it such power because it encraches, so to speak, on the
ability of the monads themselves to assess and to calcu­
late. It is because of this background of "calcuable
forces" that the addition of calcuative devices, of
metrlogical chains, can have such a performative,
explicatory capacity that they can even become forces
of production. It is because the monads calcuate at æ
times ad in æ possible manners that the addition of
calculative devices, which are mnuscue prostheses,
brings about such a prodigious amplifcaton of evalua­
tions. Tarde's cleverness lies in adding, to the intertWin­
ing of calculatons, the decisive role of theories and
doctrine.
Nowhere can his acumen be better seen than on
the widely-discused subject of "fair price." P no time
does he think it possible to appeal to nature-to natural
41
law-in order to establish the diference with "real
price," but neither does he ever have recourse to the
objectivity simply of the market to defne this price.
Economists, in viewing as the natural or normal price the
price to which the freest, most unbridleq competition
leads, believed they were in so dOing eliminating the
bothersome idea of fir price. But, in reality, all they did
was to justif i n this way the real prices precisely, ofen
the most abusive ones, formed under the tyrannical rule
of the strongest. And the problem is that this way of
seeing things, which is in itself an unconscious way of
conceiving of fair price all while denying it, in fact acts, in
quite a regrettable way, on real price. When everone has
been persuaded, on the strength of the work of ancient
economists, that the price automatically determined by
the "free play of supply and demand" is justice itself,
there is no doubt that this general belief plays a par in
making it possible for exorbitant prices, or prices so
minimal that public conscience would have rejected
them other times, to be established without protest, or
even with general approval.
P always for Tarde, the sciences do mor than
just know: they add themselves to the world, they
involve it, they fold it, they complicate it on numerus
point all while simplifing it on others-but we should
never assume that we can trust them to eliminate
morality, that "bothersome idea" of social justice. Even
u one succeeds, thrugh scientc claim, in aligning
power struggles, or objective science and the nature of
things, the fact remains that millions of gaps, judg­
ment, small diferences, and criticisms would force
everyone to reevaluate the relation between the "justi­
fed price" and the "fair price."
W
Besides, how can we deny the action of the idea that each
period or each countr has on what is just as regards
price? To what type of consumption is morality entirely
foreign, i by morality we mean the superior and profound
rule of conduct in accordance with the major convictions
and passions which guide life? And, if we set aside these
convictions and these dominating passions which, silent
or conscious, are the social and individual forces par
excellence, what are we explaining in political economy?
Nothing will cool passionate interests.
Imagining � economy that is wise at last, reigning
coolly over individuals who a rational and reasonable
at .ast, ruled by good governance, is like imagining an
ecological system with no anials, plants, viruses, or
earthworms.
A Social Darinism, But an Invered One
P shoud be clear by now this model takes aer
Darwin more than afer Hegel. One might arue that
the whole second half of the 19th century was
Darwinian. But Tarde understands immediately thanks
to m metaphysics of diference, that Darinism, that
ultimate remedy against æ Prvidentialism, immedi­
ately becomes a poison-social Darwinism-as soon as
one surreptitiously adds to it, in ad itn to the
monads, an acial stucture, a master plan, a fnalit
a design. P is invention, mutiplicity and rpetition,
but the latter are guided by no plan, no dialectic, no
fnality It is precisely concerning the living, those close
to us, that we must above æ not start to separate those
who organize frm those who are orgd. Tarde is
¾
one of the rare thinkers of the 19th century to have
"registered" Darwinism without . immediately stg
his discoveries through the addition of an artifcial ta­
scendence: evolution as a creator, the optum, natral
selection of the fttest. Here is indeed yet another exam­
ple of Tarde's originality: in his view to naturaliz
always means to un-objectif in order to "inter-subjec­
tif" and, by the same token, to pull economic activity
away from scientifc claims. That is why he immediately
sees how to extract Darwin's poison and to keep only
the remedy to the serious sickness whch consist in
seeing, to use the American expression, intelient
dsin in the living.
We know well that the touchstone, in econom­
ic as well as in biology, is always the queston of
competition, of aggression. It is always possible to tel
the true fom the false Darwinist by the pleasure he
takes in justfing (or not) economic competton
thrugh stories of wolves, foxes, bonobos or praying
mantises. Whereas, Tarde, with a perfectly steady hand,
always keeps us from mistaking competition for some­
thing other than a partcular moment beteen inven­
tion and adaptation. There is no ambiguity on this
point: economist, just like naturalist, must all be rex­
amined so that we might grasp what "natur" can really
ofer us.
Tis mistake, without a doubt, is not limited to econo­
mists. Tey borrowed it from the naturalists who were for
a long time seduced, in grand fashion i is true, by the
paradoxical idea of seeing in the continuous battle of the
living the fundamental cause of life's progress
,
and in the
generalized murder of individuals the ver creation of
species. And, cerainly, it is good that Darwin's genius
¾
pushed this paradox to its limit, for, at present, it is still
established that natural selection, that excellent agent of
purifying elimination, does not create anything and posits
that which it claims to explain-living renovations-in the
form of individual variations, and that the secret of these
creations of life are hidden from our ees in the depths of
the ferilized egg instead of consisting in the outer shock
of organisms fghting each other. . . . Do we not see what
the gradual propagation of the struggle for existence and
of natural selection unleashed in terms of ferocious covet­
ing between nations and classes? There had to be a soci­
ety saturated by the law of force, correctly or not
deduced fr
o
m these hypotheses, to make possible this
enormous number of assaults against the weak o the
defeated which, under the name of colonial politics or
class struggles, our European statesmen already practice
and our theoreticians justify in advanc.
There isn't the shadow of acquiescence, as we
can see, with the naturalization of the struggle for life.
One would have to wait for half a century and for the
brilliant work of Polanyi to fmd the same degre of
indignation against the alarming sophism of a deceptive
economics justed by an equally deceptive view of
biology But Tarde goes frther than Polanyi, for he
want to remedy the errrs of biology as well, and to
purge not only economics but ntre itelf of æ
Providentialism:
[he mistake] is not only apt to skew the spirit. but also
to corrupt the hear. It consists in believing, essentially,
that, behind the cloth where human events are woven,
there is a sor of Mephistophelian, unsettling irony, that
enjoys making good come from evil and evil come from
good, in endowing murderous hatred, exasperation, and
the bellicose conflict of egos and rapacities with salutar
ferility, and in making love, faith, disinterestedness, and
abnegation harmful. A distressing d
o
ctrine whose truth
should be deplored as it is taught, but which, proven
false, must be radically extirpated, because it is an
encouragement of the evil it praises, and because it para­
lyzes the generous impulses rendered impbtent by it.
¾
It is possible to measure once again, just as for
the question of fair price, the efciency of a sociology
which always follows the material path covered by
ideas: in order to "unleash ferocious coveting" and to
commit "assault against the weak or the defeated,"
there must be a "doctine"-and thus researchers,
thinkers, media, and metrological chains. A doctrine
that is M the more "distrssing" as it dos not settle­
as the usual critics of natural selecton dofor bringing
humans down to the level of animals, but rather, and
what is perhaps worse in Tarde's view, it brings the
animal and the living down as well, to the level of what
economism had tried to do with humans.
If ther is one thing that Tarde will not allow, it
is to justif war and the survival of the fttest: this
refsal applies to plant and animals, as well as to men.
This does not mean that confict did not exist. On the
contrary they make up half of the book. Never does he
give himself over to the pleasures of a harmonious ecol­
ogy which would appeal to the great peace of natur in
order to be rid of human baseness. Conficts are every­
where, but nothing guides them; there is no optmum
which guarantees the survival of the fttest. There is no
dialectic, there is no more Prvidence than there is
Mephistopheles, no more God than there is the Devil.
For Tarde, to naturalize does not mean to lower but on
M
the contrary to elate economic activity to the level of .
prliferation, mutiplication, and invention, which will
make it possible to explain the cotet of goods and not
only the foof the exchange.
Redistributing Production Factors
Indeed, this Darwinian (but neither social nor neo­
Darwinian) manner of conceiving of the intertWining
of an economics of natur, makes Tarde, in a sense, an
attentive observer of what was not yet, at his time,
called biotechnology and bio-politics. Nothing
prevent human beings from adding ends to these
naturs, now in the plural, that have no fnalit given
that they ar m inventions frm below, so to speak!
The ideal end towards which humanity moves, without
yet having a prcise awareness of it, is, on the one hand,
to compose, using the best of all of the planet's flora and
fauna, a harmonious concer of living beings, working
together, within a common system of ends, towards the
ver same ends as those of man, freely pursued; and, in
addition, to capture all the forces, all the inorganic
substances, to subjugate them, together, as simple
means, to the now converging and consonant ends of
life. It is frm the viewpoint of this distant outcome that
one must stand to understand the extent to which the
fundamental conceptions of political economy need to be
reised.
This is the reVsion
,
that Tarde takes upon
himself in m Pscholgi Econiqu. By plunging
economic activity back into the universal fow of
4T
monads, he never believes that it is possible to under­
stand the inventions of economics a anything other
than the amplicat of the inventions of nature. What,
in his view is the principle production factor? Te
connecting of human inventions to the countless inven­
tions of this nature, which nothing unifes.
Is this only the reproduction of wealth? Tat could be, but
on condition that we carry out a thorough analysis of this
reproduction. To distinguish land, capial and labor, does
not elucidate much for us. If we get to the bottom of
these things we find that they work themselves out
through diferent kinds of repetitions. What is land if not
the ensemble of physical/chemical and living forces which
act on each other and through each other, and some of
which-heat, light, electricity, chemical compounds and
substances-consist in radiating repetitions of ethereal or
molecular vibrations, and the others, CUltivated plants and
domestic animal s-i n no less radiating and expansive
repetitions of generations conforming to the same
organic type or to a new race created by the ar of
gardeners and breeders?
We can see how Tarde solves the prblem of
naturalization: by coming nearer to the innovations,
repetitions, and adaptations of things themselves, by
ofering them, a he says, new hait. The consequence
that foUows-so astonishing for today's rader, who is
so quick to lok for the factors of production in capital
and work-is to see both of them redistributed.
What is labor, if not an ensemble of human activities
doomed to repeat indefnitely a cerain series of learned
acts, taught through apprenticeship, for example, whose
contagion tends also to radiate ceaselessly?-And what
¾
is capital itself, if not, in what, in my view, is its essence,
a cerain group of given inventions, but ones viewed by
the person exploiting them as known, that is as though
they had been transmitted to him by the inventors
through an increasingly generalized and popularized intel­
lectual repetition?
It seems that Tarde likes research but not work!
He sings the praises, in 1902, of a civilization of leisure,
cafes, conversation, fashion, trinkets, tourism. At the
very moment when the iron law of ennui and mecha­
nization was being imposed, when there woud soon be
the law of the division of labor, Tarde sings the praises
of idleness, of the chatter of the idle classes, like in the
following striking passage on one of his favorite hobby­
horses: conversation as an essential producton factor.
Conveation is eminently interesting to the economist.
There is no economic relationship between men that is not
frst accompanied by an exchange of words, whether
verbal, written, printed, telegraphed, or telephoned. Even
when a traveler exchanges products with islanders whose
language he does not know, these swaps only take place
through the means of signs and gestures which are a
silent form of language. In addition, how do these needs
for production and consumption-for sale and purchase
-which have just been mutually satisfed by a trade
concluded thanks to conversation arise? Most ofen,
thanks again to conversations, which had spread the idea
of a new product to buy or to produce from one interocu­
tor to another, and, along with this idea, had spread trust
in the qualities of the product or in its forhcoming output,
and, fnally, the desire to consume it or to manufacture it.
If the public never conversed, the spreading of merchan­
dise would almost always be a waste of time, and the
j
hundred thousand adverising trumpets would sound in
vain. If, for just one wek, conversation cease in Pars, it
would show ver quickly through the singular decrease In
the number of sales in stores. There is n manager more
powerul than consumption, nor, as a resuit, any factor
more powerul -albeit indirect-in production than the
chatter of individuals in their idle hours.
Æ
Ma would have not liked this argument. Sure,
but what woud today's Vm marketing specialists
say-those who calculate, with extremely sensitive
mechanisms, the slightest mood variations on the most
narcissistic of blogs? Here again, Tarde did not, in his
time, possess the means to prove that the quantifca­
tions to which he aspired wer possible, but today's
general digitization makes it possible now to come back
to his inital hypotheses, perhaps more proftably
Capital Trends
A shocking reversal of values, inverting the harsh reali­
ties of material infrastructurs? Tarde does not, in fact,
reverse anything, because, for m, there is no infra­
structure nor any superstucture. For he previously
redistributed the factors of prduction, seeing, in the
subtle variations of belief and desire, the true sources of
value. While barely exaggerating, one can say that in
economics, Mis superfcial, mis moral, aU is irrational,
all is subtlety We have but to read Tarde's discussion of
capital to be convinced:
In my view, there are two elements to be distinguished in
the notion of capital: first, essential, necessar capital:
N
that is, all of the ruling inventions, the primar sources of
all current wealth; second, auxiliary, more or less useful
capital: the products which, born frm these inventions,
help, through the means of these new services, to create
other products.
These two elements are diferent in mor or less the
same way as, in a plant seed, the germ is diferent fom
those little supplies of nutrients which envlope it and
which we call cotyledons. Cotyledons ar not indispens­
able; there are plants that reproduce without them. They
are just very useful. The difculty is not in noticing them,
when the seed is opened, for they are relatively large. The
tiny germ is hidden by them. The economists who saw
capital as consisting solely in the saving and accumula­
tion of earlier prducts are like botanists who would view
a seed as being entirely made up of cotyledons.
"Cotyledon capital"! We can just imagine
Lenin, in Zurich, reading Tarde and laughing uprari­
ously at this ridiculous botanic and bucolic image. How
far this is from the image of giant power ham ers,
from the smoking factories, frm the workshops, from
the strikes, and from the barricades which, at the time,
ignited the spirit of the revolutionaries. But wait! Wait!
The story is not yet fnished. Tose who today pass i
front of the rusted remains of industial rs or who
place fowers i front of the monument erected i
honor of the victs of rvolutons ought to read with
grater attention what diferentiates, according to
Tarde, "auxliary capital" from "essental capital."
In short, the only thing that is absolutely indispensable for
the production of a new engine is the detailed knowledge
of a engine's parts, of how to manufacture them and,
even before that, how to extract the materials fom which
they are made. This bundle of ideas, each of which is a
large or small invention, owed to a known or unknown
inventor, this bundle of inventions all gathered in a brain:
that is the only portion of old products-for this is indeed
a mental product, the fruit of school teaching-that is
imperatively required for the building of an engine. And
the same could be said for the production of any item.
Of course, the individual who, reduced to this intel­
lectual legacy of the past, would have neither seeds, nor
supplies, nor tools, would therefore be in a deplorable
condition to carry out agricultural or industrial work. But it
would not be impossible for him to produce, a bit sooner
or a bit later-whereas, if, provided with the seeds or the
most abundant materials, amassed and accumulated
through savings, and with the most pereted equipment,
he is at the same time ignorant of the serets of the
industry he claims to lead, or the methods of the cultur
in which he engages, he will be struck by production
impotence in spite of all of his supposed capital.
bI
We who fnd ourselves grappling, a century
afer this work, with so-called "knowledge societies,"
facing globalization, confronted with burning ques­
tions of technical research, politics, innovation, and
who begin to penetrate into the most intmate abilities
of living organisms, understnd that the image of capi­
tal itself must change from top to bottom. To be sure,
Tarde sometimes hesitates on the exact characterizaton
of germ-capital. But, what interest him each tme is the
ability of germ-capital to vary over time, to difer.
Let u reflect for a moment on the diferent
oppositions Tarde set up t defne the germinal char­
acter of capital. First of all, he rdefmes the distincton
between capitl and labor: "The distinction between
capita and labor thus comes back, in essence, to that of
I

1
I
a model and its copy" Let us try to see mor clearly into . 1
this distnction which seems so odd to us, given that we 1
are so used to thinking of labor a the main source of
value. ,
If capital is the model and labor it" copy it is
frst of all because Tarde understands work in its most
basic sense, in order to clearly detach what falls into the
categor of rpetition from what falls into that of
invention. Work is a raw force, an inertia without
specifc qualities and incapable of efecting diferences
in its own movement. Any change afectng it comes
from the outide. Thus, the work of invention praised
by labor sociologists as a trademark of the irreducibility
of the human is already of a diferent order: it already
contains myriad operators of diferentation that mold
this raw force to it environment and adjust it so as to
maintain it habit. Even the most repetitive labor, we
know, requires a contnuous production of small inno­
vations that circulate and that are, in fact, small, prelim­
inar resolutions of opposition. Labor alone can never
diverge and efect diferences in adversity: alone, it can
only rpeat and ehaust itelf. Equipped with a model,
it bends and lengthens its trajectory in order to get
around obstacles. Tarde has the audacity to not take the
work of invention-which is to say the stock in trade of
labor sociologist-for a pure trend but rather to see in
it a web and an intertinng of a raw force with active
models mobilized according to oppositions. He pays
very close attention to these models.
[ . . . ] If he dos not have any tools, the worker in the felds
will manufacture them using simpler tools, or een using
his fingers; deprived of colours or brushes, the painter will
also manage to make them; but on one condition, which
is the only necessar one: that both worker and painter
will have already seen tools and their making, which they
will take as moels, unless, having never seen them, or
never seen them being made, they invent them.
W
Labor as raw force, then, stongly resembles
"cotyledon capital"-secondary capital. These two
species share the characteristic of not being able to
defect their trajectory autonomously What is the
reason for their lack of autonomy? Paradoxically it is
bcause they are tends which are too pure, which means
that they are incapable of changing course. Autonomy
comes onl t compound, only to those entities which are
the result of unstable interferences. When the raw
force of bare work consist of an example of a previous
solution to a similar opposition, a diference can be
efected. When inen matter fnds itelf plugged into a
production technique, a process of animatn is carried
out, which brings us into the work of capitl in the
stict sense. Just like raw labor, cotyledon capital is an
exercise in thought, a borderline case that is indeed
dif cult to fmd in the feld of economic anthropology
In practice, it is always a compound which is encou­
tered. But it is once again Tarde's analytical stength to
point to the large conceptual tends that the notion of
capital-and, as we shall see, that of capitalsm-too
quickly confate.
In difcult but illuminating passages, Tarde
comes t liken individuation, oscillation and germina­
tion. To be a genius and to be a germ are ofen
confsed. It is as much a redefnition of a germ as oscil­
lation as it is a redefmition of genius as the intersection
of lines of infuence and imitaton. Tarde even, at times,
identfes the spirit with the germ, such as when he uses
æ
the expression "human capital,�' with the innovative
ability of entrepreneur in mind. But against an econo­
mistic reading of huan capital, whose posterity in the
Chicago School in the person of Gary Becker we well
know Tarde places the line dividing the waters else­
where. Once again the economic agent is not the only
place for diferentiation of the germ. One can even say
that the 1M economicu is the poorest case of diferen­
tation: faithfl to his maximizaton maxims, he will be
content with ratiocinating and repeating rather than
difering. If one want to fmd in economic literarure an
example of the work of germination, it is to John
Maynard Keynes or Joseph Schumpeter that one should
look, in the portrait they paint of entepreneurs. There
is thus a double reading of this new theory of capital
brought by the germ. On the one hand, we have capi­
tal as a soure of oscillation, following Tarde's interest
in hestatn (found in a number of his earlier writngs) .
It u literally, using an expression which has become
standard among the historians and sociologists of the
contemporary sciences, a srudy of capital in the making.
But there is another possible reading of the
germ-capital which minimizes it collaborative origin
and its revolutonary dimension. Such a reading
emphasizes instead the ger as a fnished product that
can be prserved and passed from one generation to
another. The potentl character of the germ is thus lost.
Instead, what comes to the forefront is the close rela­
tonship between the germinal form of capital and the
memor capacity of the economic organizations that
carr it.
A discovery or an invention, that might increase man's
knowledge of power, or both at the same time, always
manifests itself either within us, in the memor of our
nerves or muscles, as a mental cliche, an acquired habit,
a notion, a talent-or, on the outside, in a book or a
machine. A book is but an exension and an appendix of
our brain; a machine is an additional limb. We might say
either that a book is an exerior memor or that a memory
is an internal book, one that a sort of invisible librarian,
hidden in our inner self, placed befor our eyes at the
desired moment. Similarly, a machine is an exerior talent
and a talent is an inner machine . . . . Thus, the different and
multiple skills of the craftsmen of old, their long appren­
ticeships and their gradual storing up of particular habits,
all this was made largely useless by the construction of
later machines. The latter are nothing more than the
outward projetion, as well as the often prodigious ampli­
fication of these talents and of the organs through which
such talents ar exhibited. And one can just as well say
that, if the destruction of such machines frced talents to
be revived, if, for example, the elimination of printing
presses brought back calligraphers and manuscript illu­
mi nators, or if the elimination of texile mills brought back
the old spinners, these reborn talents would be like the
simplified and reduced re-embodiments of the destroyed
machines.
W
Tools and memories are thus inextricably
linked. The profound and the supercial, the interal
and the external, the natural and the artifcial-no cate­
gory escapes the Tardian re-reading.
In redefning germ-or necessary-capital,
Tarde also redefmes cotyledon-r secondary-capital.
It is not very difcult to be more precise on this topic
than the economist, so slipshod was the manner i
which the latter dealt with material capital, seen as a
great heap of undif rentted junk. Tarde's in ovative
W
thinkng is nowhere more evident than in his crssed
reading of the worlds of nanr and artifce. Searching
for what characterizes the tool, he comes to defme it as
agraient of restance.
All tools, both those used for manual tasks and those
used for intelleual tasks themselves, are, it should be
noted, substances in the solid state, and not i n the liquid
or gaseous state. . . . Why is this the case? Beause, you
can only lean on something that puts up some resistance:
solidity is both resistance and suppor. Equipment and
Slidity are two ideas so intimately connected that, even in
animal and plant fife, from one end to the other of the
,zoological scale, we can observe this indissoluble link. The
tools of living creatures are the appendices or extensions
of each cell. They ar mor or less mobile and always
made out of a more or les resistant fabric, and they are
the limbs of the organism as a whole, limbs that always
have a cerain solidity in relation to the rest of the body.
We see the tension between the germ and te
cotyledon better afer this mention of the essential
solidity of tools and of physical capital. By distinguish­
ing the destinies of the two forms of capital-the indis­
pensable one which never stops inventing and difering,
and the secondary one which always remains anchored
to it habit-Tarde maks it possible to draw attention
to a new range of variatons: while germ capital always
meets invention (or adaptaton), cotyledon capital
draws opposition to itelf. The germ survives only by
i
ts versatility and its ability not to be frozen in a static
formula but rather to explore new connections-and to
avoid opposition by constandy adapting. Fixed capital,
material capital, is never so lucky; it atract opposition
like a lighting rod.
bT
An Economics of Com possibilities
Tarde endows infra-human or supra-human agencies
with desires by once again breaking down the bound­
aries established by an economic theory more
concerned with order than with the intelligibility of the
associations between people and goods. His masterly
example of the economics of books clearly illustrates
the tension which runs through this new theory of capi­
tal. Tarde describes the book-as-asset as that which
becomes capable of creating fiends and enemies,
attractions and repulsions, through a game of quota­
tions and references.
But, whether considered as product or as a teaching, a
book is capable of allying itself with other books or of
combatting them. There is no book, considered as a
teaching, which is not made with other books, often given
in the bibliography, and among which ther are some of
which one can sy that it is made for them, beause it
confrms and completes them . . . If we wer looking for the
general conditions of the prduction of books, as econo­
mists have looked for those of the production of
commodities, we would see that the famous distinction
betwen the thre factors of land, capital and labor can
possibly be applied here but with some great and instruc­
tive transformations, particularly raring capital, which
should be constred as the ceaselessly growing bequest
of worhy ides frm the past, of subsequent discoveries
and inventions.
By it power in defming networks and in
putting together aggregates, the book participates in
the work of the germ. It can be drafed in an innovative
W
series when it is made a precursor, an initiator of some
novelty It can also be rediscovered afer several decades
of slumber and reopen a whole continent for fture
research (much like Tarde's work! ) . When it is forgot­
ten, it is but a repetitive specimen and a case of cotyle­
don-capital. But when it is rediscovered, it activity
picks up again, just lik bacteria that has been quiescent
at low temperature. Once again, one must be carefl
not to be misled by the metaphor of the germ�ode­
and of the cotyledon-shapeless matter. Nothing is
shapeless in Tarde's ontology let alone in his econom­
ics. It is no coincidence that Tarde is Leibnizian: in each
fsh, there are ponds filled with more fsh, and so forth,
a' infnitum.
It is stng to note how Tarde's sharp attention
to the circulation of examples and the processes of dif­
sion was present in the economic literature of the 1980s
under the notions of standardization and path depen­
denc Such literatur brought back to the forefront the
specifc material quality of economic goods themselves.
The characteristcs of these gods, which had been held
at a distance and which entered into models as mer
point in a contnuous space (and thus point which
could be moved about because they wer, essentially
interhangeable), arise again as the sources of large-scale
industrial deployment. Without always formulatng
them in the same way these more recent economic theo­
ries take up the most original Tardian intuitons: not to
assign a source to the economy (rarity maation,
interst), but rather to assign it a psychology based on
compatbiity and harony on oppositon and rhytms.
Economics no longer rests on a pedestal or on an ulti­
mate foundation site, but rather solely on the stability of
a confguration. From Upoint of view, the divisions of
b8
traditonal economic theor no longer make sense.
Micro and Macro are but two arbitary point which
hide mthe work of formatting, coordination, standard­
ization and compatibility · and end up temporarily
resolving certain confict through new adaptatons.
There Has Never Been a "Capitalist Regime"
If we accept all of Tarde's stange ideas on producton
factors, we may notice that, decidedly in our histor
something other than the rise of capitalism has
occurred. Tarde does not believe that any great split,
radical revolution, or epistemological break occurred to
upset economic histor and give birth t the capitalist
hydra.
What rally accumulates, as we know, beause of a need
that is not historical nor confned to our modern society,
but rather logical and universal, is the germ-capital , that
legacy of the indestructible ideas of man's genius. From
this point of view, to speak of a cpitalist rgime, as if
capitalism wer a transitory phase of social development,
would be to use the most ill-suited expression, the most
likely to lead the spirit astray. When it comes to material­
capital, bam of this intelletual capital, it continuously
self-destructs and reproduces itself, and i is to this alone
that John Stuart Mill's remark concerning the speed with
which capital rgenerates itself after the ravages of war or
revolution applies. But it does not always rgenerate. We
have seen it annihilated, never to rise again; and the
spetacle of nations in decline, gradually growing poorer,
is such as to convince us that there is no internal need
forcing it always to grow.
W
Wat, ten, happened under te name of capi�
ralism? No "internal
,
necessity" can explain it.
Thrughout Pscholgie Econoique, Tarde emphasizes
another phenomenon, witout any break with te past,
which he defmes as the etensin or intensfcatn of te
networks of imitation and contamination with its
resulting mathematiztin, which we must no longer
confse, as should by now b clear, with cool objectif�
cation. Never do we move from te old�fashioned
charm of exchange t commercial abstraction. For
Tarde, therefore, there is no rise in abstraction, no
commodity fetishism, nor any decrease of passions or
increase in coldness. We move from the past to te
present through a greater intertwining of distances,
through a grater interlacing, through a more intricate
involvement of te new techniques in innovation,
production, commercialization and communication.
This is true, for example, for the passage from town
criers to moder advertising:
The rason behind this evolution, this gradual replace­
ment of acoustic adverising by visual advertising, is that
the latter is far more likely than the former to spread more
widely. Its reach, through newspaper announcements,
thrugh the many examples of wall posters, can spread
endlessly, whereas it is difcult and costly to greatly
increase the number of town criers. Adverising, in short,
evolves in the direction of greater and greater rach, fe
and easy. The number of acoustic adverisements would
not be able to go beyond a cerain number in the city
streets without resulting in a general deafening, whereas
the number of visual adverisements can grow without
any one of them losing its distinct visual character,
although they might become blurred in one's memory.
bI
Here again we fnd te m noted earlier,
between techniques and accounting instents, on te
one had, and what we might call ' the lnthening o
ntork. Capitalism, as we shall see in te last section,
indeed poses a immense political ad moral problem
which fascinates Tarde, but he does not cut into a histor­
ical antropology trough the sudden eruption of
modernity and abstaction. Well before Ferand Braudel
and Immauel Wallerstein, it is in terms of networks and
of the broadening of trust systems tat one should grasp
te antropology of markets on te path to globaliza­
tion. Their rage can D extended, but tey canot be
made less social, less inter-subjective, less passionately
interested. One can "economize" a society but one ca
neiter rationalize it nor modernize it. So true is tis
tat Tarde described even te Stock Market ad its
astonishing discoveries as familiar places, in the vein of
traditional markets, or, rater, as places ofering, 4 to
the ve instrments, the same inter-subjectivity even
more entangled, even mor intense.
I challenge anyone to justify, through rason alone,
through the cold and judicious calculation of probabilities,
for the use of sensible wits, lef to their own devices, with­
out the infuence of other, the vaguely rhythmic oscilla­
tions of any given value, for example of the English stock
over the last two centuries.
If you would like to undertand why te econ­
omy is frst and foremost inter-subjective, you have to
head to the stock markets! There, you will not fnd
abstraction, but, on te contrar blinding evidence tat
all speculation tere is a question, precisely, of specula­
tion-in the inter-subjective and psychological sense of
W
te duels discussed earlier. No one who tries to make
sense of the recent world fnancial crisis will deny tat
Tarde must be right. Whereas the usual complaint is
tat fmace has made the economy too abstract,
however, on te stock exchange the economy works not
on its head, but indeed on its feet.
Before the bradening of the markets and the institution
of Stock Echanges, there were no frard sales to
tyrannically fx the price of wheat. But was the price of
wheat, under the Ancien Regime for example, determined
by the real insufciency or overabundance of wheat in a
given region, or at a given time? No. At that time, when
people were ver ill-informed, when one knew only the
harest of one's one village, abundance or scarcity was
judged based on the amount of wheat brought into the
market hall of the little neighboring town. It was enough
for a few monopolizers (for there were indeed such
people then, just as today there are big bankers who play
on the Stock Markets), to drain the harvests of one or two
towns, or to stock their own harest (in the case of large
landowners), to create the appearance of an entirely ari­
fcial scarity, which rsulted nonetheless, as if i had
been real , in a prdigious hike in the price of wheat.
We can see how far we a here fm te idea of
a eed dns of te economic i the social. And this
is for a critical reason to which Tarde dedicates may
pages: through te spread of valuemeters, the economic
discipline modifes the caullit of the social itself
Economics dos not lower the temperatur and te
subjectvit of passions: through measure, it ofers tem
a slight additonal predictability If the teor of the
Stock Market is, for Tare, just as importat a te ques­
tion of price formaton, it is because i it, we can clearly
ô
see the entirely psychological passage fm unceraint t
p
rbabilit, a passage just facilitated, . amplifed, simpli­
fed, and formatted, by te spread of accoWtng instru­
ments and calculating devices. Hence, the parallel
between the history of the mathematzation, econo­
mization and "fnancialiation" of the .social world,
moving little by little, thans to the prliferation of
valuemeters, frm one regime of uncertinty to another:
Mathematical evolution moves from arithmetic to algebra,
from the theor of numbers to that of functions. Monetar
evolution moves from metal Cins to paper money (a kind
of algebrac sign of currency), and from the trade of
commodity (where an amount of money is traded for an
item or a service) to the trde of stok market values
(where financial securities are exchanged for each other).
On the stock market, values, which are relationships
between sums of money and objects, are themselves
assessed in relation to each other. It is a second-degree
rlationship. Through the quoted value, they present
themselves a functions of each other, rising or falling
toether following cerain las.
That is why he can write the following sentence
which essentially sumarizes his whole bo k: "The
tendency to mathematz economic science and the
tendency to pscholgiz it, far from being irreconcilable,
must thus instead lend each other mutual support in
our view."
We are now i a position to understand how
Tarde, settng aside all the usual divisions of teatises,
wil now divide the subject of his economic psycholog
Instead of "production of riches" let us say eonomic
rptitin: by this we will understand the rlations that
¾
men enterain with one another, frm the standpoint of
the propagation of their similar needs, of their similar
labors, of their similar judgments bearing on the greater or
lesser utility of these labors and of their outcomes, or of
their similar transactions . . .
Under the heading of economic opposition, I aim to
understand the relations between men from the stand­
point of the unnoticed psychological contradiction
between their needs and their judments of utility, from
the standpoint of the more apparent conflict between
their labors by way of competition, strikes, trade wars,
and s on� The entire theor of prices, of cost-value,
which presupposes internal struggles and the sacrifices
'of some desires to other, is also connected to this
subject. Under the heading of ecnomic adaptation, I will
treat the relations that men enterain with one another
from the standpoint of the cooperation of their old inven­
tions to the satisfaction of a new need or the better satis­
faction of an old need, or of the cooperation of their
efors and their labors in view of the rproduction of
already invented riches Omplicit or explicit association.
natural or arifcial organization of work.
Having undergone this transformation,
economics will no longer Dthat "erratc block" which
he mocked earler:
If one agrees to attempt a recasting of political economy
following this new model, one will see, I believe, what it
can gain by eliminating what is freign to it, by a better
distribution of what belongs to it and which it already
possesses, by acquiring what it had nelected to claim
as its own. It will become both more clear-cut and
denser, better delimited and beter fulflled. And at the
same time. the fecundity of the triparite classifcation
that can be equally applied to the theor of knowledge,
the theor of power, rights and duties, and to the
aesthetics, will become apparent.
M
PAR III
Economics Without Providence
Te reader is now ready, we hope, to register the
strangeness of a book which will allow hi to gain a
new grasp on economics-a raw not a cooked one. He
will above all have to get used to following tajectories
that are not led by anythng, that a not guided by any
underlying stucture, nothing that can b captured in
advance by a law outide the phenomena it gover­
especially not that of nature. By becoming Darwinian,
genuinely Darwinian, nature in the hands of Tarde has,
one might say, ls its han, this Pil o inPl hand
which had animated it untl then. All of Tarde's sociol­
og all of his metaphysics, rises up against what seems
to O an ineradicable prejudice whenever it comes to
economic questons: that there exists somewher, in
the market, in nature, in the State, a harmonizaton
N
mechanism which we could rely on so as not to have
to practice politics anymore. For Tarde, though, there
is no Providence; that is the heart of the book, the knot
towards which everything converges. As a result, we
must make do otherwise than by trusting in the
economics of economists, wheter they be right-wing
or left-wing. How can we do this? Necessarily through
artifce and invention.
The Return. of Politics in Political Economy
We fnd the argument in its clearest form both at the
beginning ad the end of the book. Let u begin wit
te end, with this declaration tat we can call construc­
tivist, avant mlUe.
The entire political economy of Adam Smith and his
school is based on the premise of the spontaneous
agreement between egoisms: hence the economic
harmonies of Bastiat. The question is to know if these
personal interests achieve harmony on their own or arifi ­
cially. This question cuts the opposite way fom that of
Smith, for anyone who embraced economic opposition in
its entirety, which showed us the hostility of interests,
which is so fquent, and so often essential and radical. It
follows that the harmonization of interests can only be
obtained through arifice, and inventions are this arifice.
Let u remember that tis is written in 1902,
twelve years before the cataclysm of the Great War
which will leave u stunned for a centur ffeen years
before the Rssia Revolution, right in the middle of
the debate between liberalism and socialism, laissez-faire
M
ad protectionism-a debate still current in the form of
"neo-liberalism" and "anti-globalization. " Tarde,
because he renewed social theory in m other bok as
much as the ties between te social ad natural sciences,
ca fmm y ask te mother of m questions, in terms of
" artifce" and "invention": it is the retur of the word
"political" in the phrase "political economy" an obvi­
ously impossible rturn as long as people believed in te
existence of a material infrastructure governed by
"natural laws" smuggled in from a biology of fatasy
The distinction between Politics and Political Economy,
thus understood, is a clear cut as possible. One looks
for the path towards the strongest collaboration among
the desires of a nation or of a party in one same
endeavor; the other looks for the path of their greatest
and most reCiprcal usage-two ver diferent ways of
understanding their adaptation.
There is no more a "embeddedness" of te
economic in te social (for te good reason that the
social is not a domain on its own, but a principle of
association ad contamination) tha there is a political
realm which would limit, along a border to be defned,
te empire of what is economic. There is no domain at
m. there is only a expading fabric of interweaving
desires ad beliefs, each of which benefts more or less
greatly from the techniques of communication-from
the newspaper to the telegraph, all the way to the chat­
ter of te idle classes-as well as frm calculating
devices-from te prices on price-tags mthe way to the
Stock Exchage ad the collection of statistical data.
Put oterwise, economics and politc dal wit the same
object, follow the same fabric, feel their way around te

same network, depend on the same influences and the
same containations.
How can we distinguish them ten? Only by
te type of organization tey promote: "collaboration"
for politicians; "reciprocal use" for economists. We ca
indeed speak of harmonization concerning tem, but
tis is not given by a law of evolution: it is a problem
whose solution depends on our own inventions.
Finally, in order for production to best adjust itself to
consumption, is it not necessar for each of these terms
to harmonize as best as possible with itself, that is, for
the diferent types of production to hamper each other a
little a possible, to help each other a much as possi­
ble, to converge as much a possible towards common
national goals? For there to be, in shor, the best possi­
ble organization, whether spontaneous or conscious, of
work; and for the diferent kinds of needs and consump­
tions to conform, in their spontaneous or conscious hier­
archy, to the most logical possible sor of cmmon plan
of conduct and of general life? These are two major
problems which have plagued societies since the begin­
ning of time and which have been given a series of solu­
tions. Concerning the first, there was the slave solution in
Antiquity, the monastic and guid solution in the Middle
Ages, the lberal solution of current times, a we wait for
the socialist solution or any other one, whose formula is
being sought.
It is useless to dream of a development of
economics such that politics would no longer b neces­
sar; it is useless to dream of a development of politics
such that economics would no longer need to play out.
There are only diferent ways of organizing and divid­
ing up passionate interests. U the interg of
71
desires and beliefs, everg has to be the object of an
artifcial organization. We cannot leave it in anyone's
hands. There may be a "life plan," a "common plan of
conduct" ; only one thing is cerain: they will be imma­
nent, contingent, and orchestated, not tanscendent.
But in order to grasp the power of thi� constaint, of
this immanence, we have to get to the bottom of this
question of Prvidence, all the way to the ultmate
source of the doctrine of intellient dsin.
The "Adam Smith Problem"
and the Question of God
How to fnd the "artifces" whose discovery will hence­
forth occupy politcal life, without being able to rely on
a natural science? How to become inventve in politcal
economy as well? The same question is posed at the
beginning of the book when, over several astonishing
pages, written years before the approaches of
Schumpeter and Albert Hirschmann, Tarde discusses
what is commonly called the '�dam Smith problem"
and gives it, as he so ofen does, an entrely original
soluton. Te problem is well-known: how can we
explain that the author of Te lalth of Natns is also
the author of the Teor of Moral Sentments when
Smith himself never drew a connecton between the
two works? "One could say that an almost airtght wall
separates, within him, his two orders of research."
Tarde, like all economic historians, is surprised by this.
What i s nonetheless surprising is the small role played by
psychology in these economic writings of Smith and the
Æ
total absence of colective psychology. It is he, though,
Smith himself, who was the frst to study sympathy, a
source and foundation of inter-mental psychology. How is
it that he never felt the need nor the opporunity to make
use of the keen observations he had made concerning
the mutual stimulation of sensibilities, in order to explain
the economic relationships of men?
Who, then, is this absent one, this Great Other,
whose presence Smith does not even need to mention,
so obvious it is to him? Tarde's answer is a theological
one:
ye can understand that a man so willing to see a divine
arist behind the canvas of human eents and a divine
wisdom behind all human folly, must have had no dificulty
in seeing egoism itself, the love of the self, as vested with
a sacred function, one that is eminently suited to weave
and strengthen social harmony. Thus, when he based all
of political economy on that prnciple, and reduced homo
economicus to interest, of course setting aside aU afe­
tion and all abnegation, i was not, for him, the efet of
an epicurean and materialistic conception. It was, on the
contrar, a natural continuation of his piety and his faith in
Go. Behind the eoistic man, there was a benefcent
Go, and the apology of the former's egoism was, in
truth, but a hymn in prose to the infnite goodness of the
latter.
To the "invisible procession" of which he spoke
earlier, we must add God. Now this is economic
anthrpolog and of the deepest kind. But it is an
anthropology that can O practced only on conditon
that the link between the assessments of the human
hear and the calculatons that allow for the wealth of
7J
natons b renovated. Egoism is sacred; it is viewed as
sacred. Take away God, and everg collapses!
But Smith's successors. in our century. are athe­
ists . . . . Or. at the very least, if they do believe in GO, their
speculations carry no trace of this belief. That is why, by
continuing to base political eonomy on the premise of
man's pure egoism and the battle of interests, after having
banished the idea of Providence. they eliminated, without
realizing it, the keystone of the system. which has lost all
of its former solidity. Te have. if we prefer, eliminated
heaven from this now incomprehensible landscape. or
put out the light of the lantern. which no longer illuminates
or explains anything.
The "keystone" of the economic "system" is
God! Let us not misunderstand Tarde's intentons.
Unlike so many truly reactionary thinkers of the 19th
centur such as Joseph de Maistre or Louis de Bonald,
Tarde dos not in any way wish to argue that we should
once again trust ourselves to the care of divine
Providence! His point is far more ironic, he gos much
deeper, his approach is much more biting towards 8
scientfc pretensions: those atheist economists who
came aer Smith are only atheists for h. They
pretended to eliminate Smith's God, who had been in
charge of regulating the relatonship between economy
and moralit æthe while upholding the principles of a
theocratc order. They settled for placing an airtight
wall between the two orders of phenomena. The hand
has perhaps become invisible, but it is stil the hand of
the All-Powerl, which alone can make u obey with­
out grumbling against the laws of economic. The illu­
sion r deep, but what is most astonishing is that it
74
has worked for two centuries, and never more than
today has it been displayed: a God who is crossed out,
negated, and denied, still reguates the automatic
achievement of harmony
What Tarde demands of economists is a bit of
honesty: if you really want your optimum, your
harmonies, your natural laws, your inexible iron laws,
to be religious and providental, then, for the love of
God, say so! But do not act as though, behind this
"secular religion," to use Polanyi's phrase, you had really
secuarized economics. In other words, economics is
still searching · for an approach that would be able to
make it, fnally, materialistc and atheistic. For Tarde,
everything in moder economic is marked by the seal
of transcendence and of the sacred. ^ Nietsche
wondered about science: "How we, to, are still pious?"
The Likely Mistake of the Coming Socialism
The objecton may be raised that there existed, at the
same period, several socialist schools that aimed, too, to
reveal the exploitation that is hidden behind vain claims
of objectvity and, above all, to put politcs back into
economic-and to do so far more vigorously But
Tarde knows these doctrnes well; he is passionate about
the social question; he reads Mar with the same atten­
ton as he reads Da. Nevertheless, he dos not treat
the dfion of Mar's doctines any diferenty than he
dos the spreading of the ideas of Malthus or Spencer.
At no tme does he think that they will reveal the pres­
ence of indisputable fact behind the smokescren of
ideologies. There is nothing more foreign to Tarde than
7b
the noton of an ideology which could hide or invert
te science. If Marxism spreads, it is through the same
mechanisms as 8 other forms of imitatve rays:
If workers from the most divere professions form coali­
tions, it is only with a view to the famous "cl9ss struggles. "
When such a coalition is produced, i t is always through
the initiative and rousing propaganda of the workers from
a professional body that stands out and is specifcally
designate for this mission, such as that of typographers,
and it i s only afer many elements of resistance, defeated
one afer the other by many personal infuences and
suggestions, that repeted assemblies rsult in this
alliance both on the ofensive and the defensive.
"Class stggles," just as the "pure and perfect market,"
do not for the basis of the economy but rather one of
the possible versions of the economic discipline. While,
for the pure and perfect market, scholarly jourals and
papers a necessar for class stggles, what is needed
is "repeated assemblies" and "propaganda." ^ always,
Tarde invites us not to jump immediately outside of the
point-to-point networks which convince, link by m,
individual by individual. That is what allows him to
ofer a both generous and yet unforgiving assessment of
Marxism. Tarde gives Mar credit for having been inno­
vatve concerg the passions, but yet without having
questioned the economists' inversion of the recto and
the verso.
The socialist schools, as well as the French schools of
1 848 and the German schools of today, thawed political
eonomy and made it passionate; and it is in this way
alone that they introduced a new psychological element
into it, which did not, by the way, change anything in the
7b
fundamental notions. The passion that inspired these
doctrines often varied; and, in the combination of
generosity and hatred of which it is composed, the
p
roportions of the two are rversed; while more generous
than hateful in France, it has become more hateful than
generous in Germany. Compare Leroux or Proudhon
even to Karl Marx. Under the empire of these intense feel­
ings, economic theories became more colorful and invig­
orated, but, at heart, they maintained and even accentu­
ated the old claim of objectivity, of the geometrical
deduction of rigid formulas, having the appearance o
f
physical laws.
. Marists have not set aside from the old dialec­
tic the Mephistophelian taste for war, the "mother of all
things," and they have maintained the idea of a direc­
tion, structure, design and law in histor In essence,
one transcendence has taken the place of another: the
gaining of pas i great� the gaining ofimmanence is
none. The Go, the Mammon, the Devil of harmony is
always venerated. Tus, in Tarde's view, Marxism ofers
the worst of both worlds: a growth of the passions and
a growth of the claim of objectivit U other words,
thank to him, we will begin to hate, in the name of
science, on an even greater scale! Crimes committed in
the nae of dialectical materialism will O able to add
themselves to the crimes justfed by capitalism. In
1902? You must admit, that's not bad.
But let u note that there is nothing nostalgic
about Tarde's argument, nor is there anything reac­
tionary or simply defensive. He fnds it fascinating that
socialism was able to innovate on the very nature of
economic pasins. What he is concered with is there­
fore not socialism in itself, of which he approves the
Ï
general direction, but rather the difculty in ornizing
production, both from a technica and a quasi-account­
ing point of view.
The socialist standpoint on the organization of work can
be considered as the fusion of the political and economic
standpoints into one, through the absotion of the
second by the first. The originality of socialism consist in
having added, to the ver small number of collective goals
that men united in a nation can pursue-patriotic glor,
war, conquest, defense of territor-a great new goal,
ver much worhy of their efforts: the conscious and
systematic organization of work. Ecept that, were this
goal to be attained, it would become far more dificult for
a new nee, and consequently, for a new industr, to
interpose itself in the chain of recognize needs. Work will
ossify itself by organizing itself.
The doubts that Tarde has about socialism and,
in particular, its Marxist version, do not rest at 8, we
can see, on a sor of moral or political aversion. He
skips over M of the objections with which his contem­
poraries concerned themselves. He gives socialsm its
chances, and designates with tact the central point of
the whole theory: can the economy be rendered
predital by economics? Let u remember that, for
Tarde, there is no infrastmcture, no automatsm, no
harmony; there are no natural laws, no laws of devel­
opment; everything rests on artifce and inventons,
facilitated, coordinated, simplifed, gathered and assem­
bled by the measuring instmments which feed the
economic discipline and which spread out from the
metrlogical chains. It is only through te sprading of
instmments that the social is rendered both quantifable

and predictable to itself, through a powerl process of
. refexivit Now, economics as a discipline, in making
itself mathematical, can do a lot, but it can only format
the economy which always overflows from it on all
sides. "Future invention: that is the pitall of all calcula­
tons; that is the unexpected against which all prophe­
cies come up."
The question [of the socialist organization of labor) , is, in
essence, to know whether we will ever be able, through
marelously rapid commercial statistics, both cerain and
pre, and through other means of information, to
render certain or almost certain the prdictions, always
more o less conjetural today, of producers, so that there
might be no more risk run, nor, as a result, any more
injustice or inconvenience in eliminating the boss's proft,
a necesar compensation for his current risks. If the day
came when nature and the extent of consumers'
demands could b thus predicted with cerainty by
producer, then, and only then, would the State be able
to think seriously about takng their place, directing fom
above centralize and organized national work, or, at the
ver least, workers would b able to lay claim to their par
of the boss' profts, their boss having become their
colleague, a more intelligent and talented colleague, and
better paid as such and a the creator of the business,
but not because of risks taken, given that such risks
would no longer exist.
It makes us wonder what we accomplished in
the 20th century since the queston essentialy rmains
today with the same intensity as yesterday-r, rather,
with even greater intensit because passionate interests
have grown and combined enorously Te question of
risk-sharing, of what is good and what is bad, of State
Æ
organization, of the quality of data, of the coordination
of agreements btween likes and dislikes, and, above 8,
of the predictability that can be given to the habits
contracted by the swarming of attachments, that is
indeed the substance of political economy Yet, if Tarde
doubts the ability of socialism to solve �ese questons,
it is bcause he doubts the virtues of regimentation:
In principle, then, there is nothing inconceivable about
this. But, I must say, i I consult experience, that I do not
see any less that there is ver little basis for the dream of
a general and centralized organization of work by the
State. Never, without a doubt, will it b possible to preict
the needs of all citizens with as much rigor and certainty
as those of a marching army; nevertheless, we know how
flawe even the most perfect militar supply organization
is in a time of combat. Not a day passes without either
the excess or the shorage of required supplies making
itself painfully felt. All the more, under the collectivist
regime, we would have reason to complain daily of civil­
ian supply systems, whose task would be complicated in
a completely different way.
There u nothing messier than war; nothing
messier than the economic of war; nothing messier
than communism, which would take total mobilization
as an ideal model for the economy Of course, Tarde,
like all those of his time, was terribly mistaken on the
fture of coordinaton and perpetual peace, which, in
their view, the frst great wave of globalization
heralded. And yet, October 1917 would soon take on
the task of verifing this prediction concerning what
could be expected fom the socialism of war. If there is
one thing that totalitarianism is incapable of following
through with, it u ttaizt.
CONCLUSION
If You Chase the Big Beast Away,
It Comes Galloping Back
It u decidedly not easy to be agnostc when it comes to
economics. Neither Smith, nor the inventors of the
market, nor socialism have yet achieved it. ^ long as
politics u not recognized as a "power of invention," to
use Maurizio Laz ato's tite, ther will not be any
taking back of economics by politc, and thus no
socialism. We have to go even frther and recognize,
behind the Market's invisible hand, behind the State's
visible hand, the same barly secularized fgure, the
social Organism, the Big Amal. That u what we will
need to tackle in order to truly get to the bottom of the
subject of economics.
U order to understand what makes Tarde so
innovative in economics, it is necessary to fly grasp
the innovaton he bring to sociology The idea, made
W
famous by Polanyi, of an "embeddedness" of that
. which is economic in that which is social had the great
impracticality of assuming the prior existence of society.
We can understand, then, that the theoretical gain could
not be very great: in passing from economism to
economic sociolog 8that was happening was shifing
an already-established structure-the infrastructure and
its laws-to another structure, it, too, already in place:
society and its laws. Of coure, we leared a Jot about
the "extra-economic" fctors of contracts, of trades and
of tastes, but it was, m a way, to move from one struc­
ture to another: Yet, the "involution" Tarde proposes of
all the laws of a structur in the swarming of monads
had the drastic consequence of dissolving all struc­
tures-that of the pure and perect market, of course,
but alo those of the social world which are accepted by
sociologists like Durkheim and his disciples. Along
with the dissolution of societ 8 the metaphor of
embeddedness also disappear. Economics no longer lies
in the Procustian "bed" of the social, because tere is no
more bed, no more pillow to rest one's head, no more
canopy no more duvet.
In a decisive passage, Tarde brings together M
of his sociological, economic and political thought-it
was the last course he taught at the College de France,
two years before his death-by showing by which
paradoxical m the idea of harmony through the
market and the idea of society always, deep down,
went hand-in-hand.
Thus, there is no social harmony, and espeially no
eonomic harmony not preeded and prepared by a
psychological harmony, and at the origin of all associa­
tions between men we will fnd an association between a
man's ideas. Let us pause fr a moment to point out the
philosophical signifcance of the fact just obsered. It
follows, of course, that society is not 'a organism; but
does it follow that it is not a reality which is distinct from
its members? Now here is a question which demands a
clear answer. If the idea of a social organism can be
defended, it is only insofar as it is an expressIon, albeit an
unforunate one, of social realism, that is to say of society
seen as a real being and not just as a cerain number of
real beings.
W
Ttus aut omni? The question remains. From
the beginning of his career, Tarde argues against
those-Comte, Spencer, Durkheim-who wish to
distinguish rigidly the type of reality that is Society
from the types of realities of the "real beings" who
make it up. Where 8 sociologists would like to see
two orders of reality-the Macro and the Micro­
Tarde insists, page after page, on proving that,
precisely in the case of human societies grasped from
within, we know without a doubt that ther is only
one order of reality. Never, from among the gathered
associates, does the social structure, this cosa mentaie,
suddenly emerge.
And yet, as intimate, as harmonious as a given social
group may be, one never observes springing up e
abrpto i n the midst of surprised associates a common
self, a real and not merely metaphorical self, the wonder­
ful rsult of which they would be the conditions. Without
a doubt, there is always an associate who represents and
personifes the whole group, or else a small number of
associates (the ministers of a State), each of whom, in a
paricular manner, rprsents no less fully an individual
manifestation of it. But this leader or these leaders are
¾
always also members of the group, born of their own
fathers and mothers and not of their subjects or collec­
tively of those they manage.
Despite a century of passing over this pons aino­
rm of socia theory again and again, it is clearly not a
question here of opposing holism and individuaism.
P we have seen, for Tarde it is no more true that ter
is the individual than that there is societ It is necessary
to fnd a solution oter tan "socia reaism" to the
question of the composition of that which is socia,
since "socia realism" is a most unrealic solution, that
we still continue, a century later, to draw from the
aleged opposition between individua and society
Yet, the best suppor for this conception, might that not
be the discovery of the "natural laws· which, independent
of any individual will, might lead individuals, along paths
already traced, to a more and more perect political,
moral, and economic organization? Te doctrne of lais­
sez-faire thus has much in common with that of society­
as-organism, and the blows directed against the latter
hav repercussions on the former. If we were right to
believe in the spontaneous harmonization of societies, we
would also be right to view society as a real being, as we
do a plant or an animal. But, really, is the illusion of this
providential predestination not dissipating more and more,
even from an economic point of view? When it comes to
the political point of view, it is enough to open one's eyes
to see nations rising and falling, strngthening or weaken­
ing, according to whether or not they have found, at the
right moment, the strong hand of a statesman; and it is no
longer possible to believe in an innate sense of direction
that guides peoples with no apparnt driver.
W
On both sides of the battle of giant which pit
interventionism against laissez-faire, socialism against
neo-liberalism, there are the same principles of sociol­
ogy (the idea of "organism"), the same economic prin­
ciples ("providential predestination"), and the same
ethical principles ("the belief in the spontaneous
harmonization of societies") . But how else can it be
done? How can one escape this "seductive mistake"?
However, should renouncing this error [that of society-as­
organismJ, s seductive for so long, lead us to deny all
speific reality of the social whole, to view it as a simple
total, a numerical exprssion of the assembled individu­
als? No. If we refuse to allow natural laws in the given
sense, and also formulas for evolution which are their
most reent form, we are allowing in ever individual a
more or less acute need for the logical coordination of
ideas, for the final coordination of acts, a need which is
kindled through the coming together of individuals, and
which becomes a general trend toward a growing logic
and fnality, in any categor of social facts, and ends up
making order out of disorder everwher, and carding
chaos into a world.
"To card chaos into a world": that is the goal
that we might ofer to passionate interest. There is no
harmony there are no natural laws, no "evolutionary
formulas" like those that dialectical materialism popu­
larized at the time, no revolution to expect-but that
does not mean that one should, through a pleasant
expectation of postodernism, abandon the ideas of
totality and fmality There is indeed for Tare a "social
whole" but-and this is what distinguishes mfrom a
of his contemporaries, indeed from 8 of our contem­
poraries, ad what gives his book such a pristine novel
M
character-this social whole is to be bilt, through
inventions, through artifce. It is in front of u, not
behind u. Finalism is not transcendent and exteral,
but rather immanent and internal, simply "kindled" and
made "more logical" by the very way individuals, their
ideas and their passions come together and connect, on
condition that they efectively "car chaos into a
world." To become a world, in other words, is one
possibility among others. Ther is nothing inevitable
about it. ^ a result, it may not come about; it can fail.
Chaos can dissolve it. And Tare concludes this bit of
bravura with' a profession of faith:
'This manner is diferent from that of providential
harmonies or linear evolutions in that, instead of forcing
the social train to follow a single path, always the same
one, it gives i fr more freedom. And, from there, we are
led not to deny social reality but to conceive of i as alive
and real in an altogether difernt way, rich in manifesta­
tions and in unexpeted itineraries in an altogether difer­
ent way. A algebraic formula that provides solutions to a
great number of diferent problems is one thing, an arith­
metical equation that applies to one problem only and
contains one solution only is something else. I am a ral­
ist as well, in the sense that only sciety brings to reality,
in my view, like in the view of my opponents, potentialities
c
ontained within individuals and which each of them
separately would not be able to bring to fruition; but I hold
that these potentialities ar individual ideas and wills, I
situate them in the brains instead of placing them
nowere other than in ontological clouds; and I say that
these potentialities ar innumerable. inexhaUstible, just
like their spiritual source, instead of limiting them to a
strictly determined or rather predetermined number.
ö7
We must understand that the exprssion "politi­
cal economy" dos not have the same meaing at all,
depending on whether we unite or oppose two provi­
dences, that of Society and that of the Market, or on
whether we deny al providences, that of Society as well
as that of the Market, the car of ensuring our common
existence in advance. For, in order to fnally be "realis­
tic," one would need to agre to inhert an entirely
diferent histor one which does not follow a "linear
evolution," one which would accept being feed from
the "ontological clouds," and which would give the
"social ta" "fre play" It might be objected that we
are dealing her with a charming enthusiasm, one which
does not commit us to anything. Let us note, however,
that it is indeed economic science that Tarde means to
renew, and that we must take the parallel he draws
beteen the passing from determinaton to freedom and
the passing frm "arithmetic" to "algebra" extrmely
serously D no tme does Tare ask us to chose
beteen cold economics and wa subjectivity Instead,
it is frm the fee play of passionate interst that he
expect mor quantcation, which is to say mor soial
connectons, to "card chaos into a world." .

The Science of Passionate Interests:
An Introduction to Gabriel Tarde's

Economic Anthropology
Bruno Latour and Vincent Antonin Upinay

PRICKLY PARADIGM PRESS CHICAGO

© 2009 Bruno Latour and Vincent Antonin Lepinay All rights reserved.
Prickly Paradigm Press, LLC 5629 South University Avenue Chicago, n 60637 www.prickly-paradigm .com ISBN-lO: 0-9794057-7-7 ISBN-13: 978-0-979-4057-7-8 LCCN: 2009936907

Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper.

The tendency to mathematize economic science and the tendency to psychologize it, fa: from being irrec­ oncilable, should rather, in our view, lend each other mutual support. The doctrine of laissez-faire therefore has the great­ est affinity with that of society-as-organism, and the blows aimed at the former rebound on the latter. -Gabriel Tarde*

Imagine how things might have turned out had no one ever paid attention to Das Kapital. A century later, the book would have been rediscovered and people would have been struck with amazement by its scope and audacity-an isolated, little understood work, without any scientific, political or social impact; a work that had generated neither disciples nor exegeses, and one that no attempts at application had come to transform. How different the history of the 20th century would have been had the bible of men of action been Gabriel Tarde's Psycholo gic Economique, published in 1902, instead of Marx's work! But perhaps it is not too late to reinvent, through a little essay in historical fiction, a
*ALl references to the 1902 manuscript of Psychowgie Economique are acces­ sible online via the Prickly Paradigm website (www .prickly-paradigm.com/ catalog.html). In that version, all page numbers are from the original version of Psychologie Economique as it appears on Gallica, the BiblWtheque Nationale de France website (http://gallica.bnf.fr).

fluctUations in the price of bread and variations in the prestige of political figures. paying attention not only to the dissemination of the books themselves. who continually uses examples found in the art market. innovation. labels and recreation as much as he is interested in the military industry and in colonization. and even idleness itself the basis of economic activity. it seems difficult to take seri­ ously the ramblings of this sociologist who had no disciples. quality.2 theory of political economy in which Tarde plays the role that. who moves seamlessly from Darwin to Marx and from Adam Smith to Antoine-Augustin Cournot. on instruments he names "glorimeters". with equal attentiveness. consump­ tion. but also to the dissemination of the ideas contained in their pages. in the real course of history. who. above all. but rather the book industry. who distinguishes. who follows. At first glance. who denies the central role attributed to poor old labor. who is interested in luxury. the growth of tourism. innovators. was occupied by Marx. as everyone else does. who approaches the question of biopower as if econ­ omy and ecology were already intertwined. who treats conversation among idlers as a "factor of production". as if they all counted equally in the production of wealth. a needle factory. in the notion of capital. the "seed" or "germ" (the software) from the "cotyledon" (the hardware). telegraph wires. to the advantage of the former. and in the law. who spends considerable time following railway tracks. in ethics. but without believing for a moment in the usual divisions of economic science. in the dissemination of philosophical ideas. does not . fashions. press public­ ity. who uses as a typical example of produc­ tion not. who makes science.

at least. in the middle of another period of globalization. and. fmancial. This apax is not offered as a simple oddity that might interest economic historians. thus. profoundly involved in bio-sociology. who congratulates the socialists on having created a new fever for association and organization. is what we hope to show. but instead as a document that is essential in order to attain an alternative understanding of our past. Written amidst the first great era of globalization. at a rime of moral. taken with the moral and political problem of class struggles.3 believe in the existence of Capitalism. founded on quantitative methods which at the rime could only be dreamed of but which have today become available thanks to the extension of digitization techniques. social. Everything will initially seem foreign in the economics of Tarde. but perhaps only because it is aU new-that. of our future. Let us be honest enough to acknowl­ edge that reading Das Kapital would seem quite trou­ bling to us if we had not benefited from over a century of commentaries on it. it is because it seems freshly minted that we are presenting this' work. but were confronted with the extraordinary evolution of the book market-an evolution in itself perfectly Tardian. political and ecological crisis. It is this old reactionary we would like to render once again relevant? It is this little bit of economic archeology that we would like to dust off and polish? Precisely. but on the contrary who defines the growth of markets as that of passions. We first considered republishing the two large volumes of Psycholo gie Economique. does not see in the 19th century the terrifying rise of cold calculations and of the reign of the commodity. . a century later. grappling with all of the technological innovations of the rimes.

detects in the atheist materialism of the economists of his time. in fact. this atheistic materialist who. in order to grasp the change that Tarde proposes to the theory of political economy: yes. the superstructure determines "in the first and in the last instance" the infrastructures. a hundred years before the development of market anthropology.uqac.bnf.4 I Given that the original work is accessible in image format on the Gallica website (http://gallica.fr/) and in text format (Word or PDF) on the excellent Canadian website Les classiques des sciences sociales (http://classiques. one might say. do not exist. and arguments. In addition. to give readers the desire to turn to the digital versions of the French text to explore it further. a particularly perverse form of a hidden God. T he question Tarde asks himself is quite simple: to what does the surprising notion of political economy that arose in the 18th century correspond? For him. To what strange idea of science and of poli­ tics does it correspond? For it is indeed a question first of reversing ideas. opinions. and more specifically the ideas economists arrive at concerning the subject of their discipline. ideas guide the world. Tarde in effect criticizes all those for .ca/). at a prohibitive cost. to save those readers who dislike reading on the computer screen and who would rather not overwhelm their printer by printing out the two enormous volumes. A strange revolutionary. for him. We have therefore decided to publish this introduction separately. as we shall later see. we have ·added on a website a selection of the texts we feel best illustrate the work's importance. II I . both left and right leaning. which. it would not make much sense to publish it in its entirety. with relatively long quotations.

with its invisible or visible hand. a politics of liberty. and that those of the State have been forbidding us from practicing for so long-yes. but instead between those who believe in the miracles of a pre-established harmony and those who refuse to «believe in miracles"? Could we not re-read. <%1d what if there were in fact no divinity at all ruling over economies?" is really the ques­ tion he asks. the pre-established harmony-whether that of the Market or that of the State. as long as we remember that its opposite can only be the term «Providentialism"? And what if the choice had never been between Market and State organizations. not linked to any orga­ nization or party.5 whom only a miraculous Providence seems able to produce automatically. If we agreed once and for all to apply this idea of immanence without any transcendence. retrospec­ tively. the inventors of political economy agree on nearly everything. Liberalism then? Why should we be afraid to use this word. Whereas this is precisely what he disputes. This lone revolutionary. this matters little. truly agnostic when it comes to the subject of economics. everything that has happened to us in the past two hundred years and that we have far too hastily summarized under the name of «capitalism"? . and first and foremost on the exis­ tence of economics as a field in itself. between liberals and socialists. God of Providence and of automatic Harmony. with no successors and practically no predecessors. because for him. could we not once again engage in politics? The politics that the sectarians of Mammon. wonders what would happen if we were truly unbelieving.

Tarde begins by defining value. inter-subjective. T hese conditions will indeed modify our habits of thought in no small way. rather. But almost immediately he forces us to change . all is subjective­ or.PART I It Is Because The Economy Is Subjective That It Is Quantifiable In order to understand Tarde's economic anthropology. we must first accept a complete reversal of our habits: nothing in the economy is objective. and that is precisely why it can be rendered quantifiable and scientific. But on condition that we modify what we expect from a science and what we mean by quantifying. A Return to Value(s) In an altogether classical way.

it is necessary to reach a property that is quan­ tifiable. merit the name "quantity. this quality belongs among those peculiar ones which. appearing suited to show numerous degrees and to go up or down this ladder without changing their essential nature. Despite Durkheim's well-known criticisms of him. Thus. Indeed. But although this argument might call to mind the position of marginalists whose point of departure is solidly anchored in individuals. like color. and Tarde maintains it beginning in the very first article he published when he was a judge in the small town of Sarlat in the South West of France where he lived most of his life before moving to Paris. To turn the social sciences into true sciences. it is quantifiable because it possesses a certain intensity: It [Value] is a quality. which.8 direction. paradoxically. dimension and one that depends on belief and on desire. exists only within us by way of a perfectly subjective truth. is contained inside subjec­ tivities. one must never under­ estimate Tarde's originality. desired or enjoyed. never does he put the adjectives "social" and "psychological" in opposi­ tion to each other. what Tarde designates as a psycho­ logical phenomenon never refers to anything personal or interior to the subject-what he later calls "intra­ psychological" and about which he often asserts that nothing can be said-but always to that which is the . that we attribute to things. but that. Because value is a highly psychological . such as color." T his point is fundamental. It consists in the harmoniza­ tion of the collective judgments we make concerning the aptitude of objects to be more or less-and by a greater or lesser number of people-believed.

takes place­ what Tarde calls "rayons imitatifs" ("imitative rays") in . that we never presume the prior existence of a society or of an economic infrastructure." "subjective" and "inter-subjective" are. he sees the two as nothing but temporary aggregates. the cont­ amination from one point to another. for this reason." "psychological. from point to point. which jump from one individual to the next without ever-and here is the crucial point­ going through a social context or a structure. from individual to individual. thus. What makes Tarde so difficult for us to understand. it is always the "many" that rules. after more than a century of sociologism. What is at the basis of the social sciences. partial stabilizations. for us to be able to follow them. Subjectivity always refers to the contagious nature of desires and beliefs. The words "intimacy" and "subjectivity" mlJSt not mislead us: at our most intimate level. but. nodes in networks that are completely free of the concepts contained in ordinary sociology. "inter-psychological." As a result� nothing is more foreign to his anthropology than the idea of economic agents cut off from the social world and whose calcula­ tions would present clearly-defined boundaries. but without ever coming to a halt at any specific stop. and which he calls. and they all refer to a type of path. essentially equivalent. is a kind of contamination that moves constantly. rather. is that he never places society and the individual in oppo­ sition. The great advantage of these ways of proceed­ ing is that they immediately bring into plain sight the practical means through which the contagion. The words "social.9 most social in us. of a general plan distinct from the coming together of its members. a trajectory that demands. in his view.

or truth. utility as a value.10 the book that made him famous. or artistic perfection. or power. on which we can place different peoples . which are too restrictive. Les Lois de l)imitation T his initial definition of the "quantum." which is specific to values. and beauty as a value. (The Laws ofImitation). in lieu of the economy. No man. economics as a discipline risks losing all scientific objectivity because of a mistaken understanding both of its limits. it Is involved in all human judgments. nor has he failed to fight against the danger of a decrease of all of these assets. will allow Tarde to unfurl. a fabric made of intertwined relation­ ships. Tarde indeed will continuously show that. and of its ambitions. which are too vast. The quantitative nature of all of the terms I just listed is just as real as it is scarcely apparent. where we must above all be careful not to rush to identify those which are literally economic and those that might only be metaphorically so. a certain growth either of wealth. no people has ever failed to seek. as a prize for relentless efforts. The notion of value extends first of all to all assessments ofbeliefand desire: This abstract quantity is divided into three main cate­ gories which are the Original and essential notions of shared living: truth as a value. or glory. We all speak and write as though there existed a scale of these different orders of magnitude. Two Mistakes to Be Avoided Let us proceed slowly in order to fully grasp the origi­ nality of Tarde's position. on the contrary.

are. lends itself to a more mathematical­ sometimes even illusory-precision in its speculation. even though this object." and that which is "convenient and apparent" but which reflects only the extension of a very small number of calculating instruments intertwined with our passions. But. one that freezes subjectivity into objectivity. is thus to go " against the constant of mankind and to set as the goal of universal effort a chimera. Tarde here avoids two symmetrical errors that we toO often commit: ftrst. indeed. Tarde is quick to add. and social science must take all of these assessments into account. and not only the first. in fact. T here is then a quantitative core which is essen­ tial to all of our assessments. of glory. political economy confused two completely different kinds of quantification: that which is "real and scarcely apparent. The question of the "monetary sign" must be considered extremely carefully. of all these quantities. Everyone is. given its monetary sign. Not to recognize this truly quantitative-if not measurable de jure and de facto­ aspect of power. unfortunately. no matter the object. the other terms also each deserve to be studied through a separate science. extending this ftrst "reduction" to all activities. even the . thus implicitly and intimately convinced that all these things. was grasped clearly as such and was considered worthy of being made the subject of a special science: Political Economy.11 and different individuals higher or lower and make them rise or fall continuously. viewing economics as a sort of reduction. Indeed. wealth. And yet. of truth. But. only one. or. of beauty. real quantities. conversely.

along a continuum. powers.12 "highest." One could almost say that. or its more or less aesthetic or unaesthetic character." strive to "quantify all" at the risk of thus "amputating" what is human from its "moral. whether agricultural. industrial or other. in the manner of Pierre Bourdieu. in the . of social matter. the powers it grants. emotional. interest." believing that one is thus displaying a sharp critical spirit. But the economist neglects to recognize that there is no wealth either. OUt of convenience and simplification. we might say. glories. rather. Yet. the rights of which it is a product. "ignoring the wealth of human subjectivity. not even once in this book does Tarde complain that economists." His criti­ cism is just the opposite: economists do not sufficiently quantifY all of the valuations to which they have access. ethics. But the opposite mistake would be to think that Tarde extends the quantifications of wealth ordinarily accepted in economics to the metaphorical analysis of truths. rights and arts. calculation and profit. Once again. by the increased use of the terms capital. whether qualifying them as "symbolic" or not. aesthetic and social dimensions. and only then. it is the reverse: the quantifiable root that will allow for the founding of a true economic science lies first of all in the complex interplay between trust and mistrust. they do not go back far enough. trans­ ported into the relatively simplified case of the "exchange of assets. Or. that cannot be considered from the pOint of view of either the knowledge it involves. towards the intersection of the tensors and vectors of desire and belief that lie at the heart.

on the other) that we can measure the audacity. and the metaphorical extension of calculations of wealth to other forms of "symbolic" value. Ceasing to Confuse Recto with Verso It is only once we understand the extent to which he avoids making these two mistakes (the lament against quantification. and ask the human spirit for an explanation of social materials. without. to the contrary. on the one hand. that. bring to light that which was hidden and ask the signified for an explanation of the signifier. the always useful but slightly worn garment of the old schools. however. being li�ited to follow­ ing the very small number of valuations that people have learned. How can we explain the fact that economists made such a serious mistake concerning the recto and verso of their science? The reason given by Tarde goes along with what market anthropologists have shown . or rather its metonymic narrowing-a tiny part being taken for the whole.13 generalized economics that he puts forward. to extend economics to all valuations. it is the political economy of wealth that represents its metaphorical extension. to measure in terms of money. for the sake of convenience. so to speak. if we wish to come to true and. instead. originality and fertility of the following statement: It is my intention to show. we must turn over. consequently. genuinely scientific laws in political economy. Tarde proposes. turn it inside out.

conquered it. tends to render the social status increasingly subject to numbers and measures. without them." Contrary to the robinson­ ades of the 18th century. organized one. and just as Karl Polanyi and later Marshal Sahlins had so skillfuly shown. no economy. To prac­ tice economics is not to reveal the anthropological essence of humanity. it is to organize in a certain way something elusive. standards such as currency. in particular. To quote Michel Callon's powerful phrase. to uncover the true nature of humanity. rather. it is the economic discipline that frames and shapes the economy as an entity: '�ith­ out economics. for it comprises infinite degrees and very few different types. Wealth is something much simpler and more easily measured.14 again and again over the past decade or so: n o relation­ ship is economic without there being an extension of the calculation techniques of economists-in the broad­ est sense of the word. did not discover a continent. that he is surrounded by enough instruments and enough calculative devices to render otherwise imperceptible differences visible and readable. On condition. would have entirely different forms. man is not l born an economist. Neither is it. we must accurately grasp the small supplement contributed by the invention of calculation devices and. however. as we shall soon see. instead. In order to understand how the work of econ­ omists formats relationships which. with ever decreasing differences. or. of aris­ tocracy by plutocracy. invented in the 18th century. it built one from scratch. So that the gradual replacement of the nobility by wealth. T he field of economics. he becomes one. . and it colonized it.

no less than his fortune.. It is. this attention to detail is no longer necessary in order to classify the world's billion­ aires-any run-of-the-mill Fortune journalist would have no trouble doing so--once measurements take the form of credit and capital. as a result.15 If all of Proust's subtlety is required to place the differences in social rank. that the dominance of commodity has been broadened. They could give us lessons on the practices best suited to sowing the faith (retreats. is to increase or decrease without changing in its nature. of "truths". that numbers in monetary quantity are encroaching on the real and material infrastructure that seems to underlie the economy as an entity. Not at all: the measure having become "simpler. between �wann and Madame Verdurin on a value scale. no less than his credit. We must be careful. to distinguish it from the type that formats the social world and that we could call measur­ in measurement. So it is indeed appropriate to distinguish between two types of measurement. one that captures the real state. the conversations. . with no less care than that with which econo­ mists study the reproduction of wealth. become easier to identify. and the types of conduct that weaken it. This distinction allows us to see that g there are indeed other instruments available to make the economy truly quantifiable. . . therefore." "social status" has. though: this does not mean that we have become plutocratic. Now. and on the readings. a man's glory. preaching). which we could call measured measurement. Priests and the religiOUS have studied the factors involved in the production (meaning here reproduction) of beliefs. a sort of social quantity. forced meditation.

and that is indeed true: he wanted desires and beliefs to be quanti­ fied. competitions. How to Specify Quantities Let us. Today's wave of digitization should make us perhaps much more attentive to Tarde's argument. innumerable "logical duels" that constantly occur within us when we encounter those to whom we have strong attachments and whom .-new means of gathering data which are very precious for "render­ ing the social status increasingly subject to numbers and measures. in which we see growing numbers of new ways of "obtaining data. take care to correctly understand his thought: everything is potentially a number." One might almost say that it was Tarde's bad luck to have lived a full century before the "quali­ quantitative" types of data that are today made more and more numerous through new information and communication systems. however. It is said of Tarde that he indulges in a mere "literary" sociology. rankings. It is easy to imagine how inter­ ested he would be in the current era. having headed the Institute of Statistics of the Justice Ministry-were far too rudimentary to capture them. because valuemeters only gather. marketing surveys. extract and simplify subtle weighings. polls.16 Let u s introduce the term valuemeter t o describe all of the devices which make visible and readable the value judgments that form the foundation of what Tarde calls economics." in the form of audience ratings. while the statistics of his day-which he knew well. concentrate. clicks of the mouse. shows like American Idol. auctions. etc. spying.

provided we make the effort to go and seek them out. the tensors that are specific to it. poured in by the ladle. which would have applied the same standard of comprehension to all subjects. The rise or fall in popularity of a public figure is measured fairly accurately through voting statistics. For him. T his process is in no way connected to money as such. dare we say. All of the other instruments available to make economics truly quantifiable constitute the best proof that there is a vast reserve of quantification. shapeless in itself. Tarde argues that the very places econo­ mists may have failed in their quantification reveal a number of interesting things regarding the other types of quantification which are just waiting to be brought to light. argues Tarde. it is found in all valuemeters and all . Once again. Tarde does not claim that the calculation devices used by econo­ mists perform the social. a particular type of quantum that has only an indirect link to what economists call the quantifiable. There are indeed other measures: each type of statistic is one.17 we need in order to exist. It is precisely this indirect aspect that explains why they were so often mistaken when trying to render their discipline more scientific and why they confused heads and tails. there already exists in the batter. What counts-literally-is the comparison of judgments. On the contrary. in each type of practice. it is not a ques­ tion of complaining about economists and their mania for quantifying. in a way comparable to what a waffle-maker would do to batter. In other words. one must lament the fact that they do not have enough of a taste for quantification to seek out.

there is not. . were accentuated. Similarly. Tarde compares two styles of trajectory and contamination. to political economy. of people's tame and reputation. for Tarde. both of which-the first one several centuries ago and the second right before our eyes-allow us to identify the instrumentation through which we move from a local. the connection between the two domains does not pass through the required step of searching for hidden forces in infrastructures-as we shall see. The connection between the two domains is infinitely more intimate. The latter. J The development of the press had the effect of giving moral values a quantitative character that was more and more marked and better and better suited to justify their comparison with the exchange value. It was then able to give rise. T he originality of drawing such a parallel is clear: Tarde does not say that the press is subject to the "deleterious influence of the powers of money". any infrastructure at all. before the advent of the daily press. T hat is why it is easy to follow the grow­ ing comparison in two domains that an economist would likely separate but that Tarde has no trouble link­ ing. became worthy of being the objects of philosophical speculations of a new sort. but with the development of the press. as the awareness of their gradual waxings and wanings could barely be felt. . for the first time. individual and impractical system of quantification . such as the press and currency: [. were still vague. fhe notions of the scientific or literary value of writing. these ideas became clearer. which must also have been quite confused in the centuries before the common use of currency.18 glorimeters. became better defined as currency spread and became more unified.

" "accentuated. as well as the production of wealth and of its venal value. instead of using just one to analyze all the others. increase or decrease of the popular enthusiasm for this or that man. little by little. and reflexive. Valuemeters connected together. the very production of the finely differentiated degrees of belief plays out. of its religious faith. born. Users . among these speculations. after all. Tarde never fails to include the sociology of science. a typical case of a metrology of learned literature.19 to one that is generalized. rapid. Credit and credibility require accounting instruments or. the foundation of all sciences-you should try to tind all the available types of quantum. If there are any "natural laws" that regulate the manufacture of these or those items in greater or lesser quantities and the increase or decrease of their venal value. growth. of its trust in this or that institution? If you really want to quantify-which is." And. and so forth. of the royalist loyalty of a people. and how does it grow in all of its forms? It is indeed worth looking at these different forms of production." and "worthy of being objects of specula­ tions of a new sort.. The quantification of glory is as good a measure of wealth as wealth is of faith. they need metrology. made visible and readable by the very extension of the quasi­ currency we call credibility where. to use a term that is not Tarde's but that defmes precisely the movement of inter-comparison. his fame and his glory. How is a man's credit. end up building metrological chains which make the inter­ comparison of subjectivities increasirigly "precise. better than anywhere else. why would there not be one that would regulate the appearance... or as faith is of enthusiasm.

and to treat these abstractions as objects: real and mate­ rial objects analogous to the objects treated by the chemist or the physicist and. . distance and objectivity. The ideal was to conceal under abstractions such as credit.. the rubric of money and finances. service and work. Yes.. as with them. Their mistake consisted in the following: they took for a "measured measure" the "measuring measure" allowed by an extension of the chains of inter­ comparison. where everything seems to be denumerable and measurable just as in physics and chemistry. where this twofold ideal seems to be realized. the sensations and feel­ ings underlying them. T hey in fact thought that progress in economics had to be progress in detachment. they misidentified the source that could have allowed them to give certainty to their discipline at last. falling under the law of number and measurement. so that no one could notice them. Quantifying. Thus. To be as objective and abstract as one could: that was the method. has always been the economists' hobbyhorse. but Doing So Advisedly We now understand the confusion of economists as Tarde sees them: while they may have been right to seek to quantify. the mapping of credibility and the quantification of glory.20 of Google will have no difficulty understanding what digitization has done to the calculation of authority. T his extension itself was due to an entirely different phenomenon than the one they believed they were observing.

when we introduced it earlier. of ideas and volitions. of which money is but the sign. . So. and that the peaks and troughs of values in the stock market. It is not that economists have entirely ignored this subjec­ tive aspect of their subject . T his is why Tarde continues the previous sentence and proposes that we shift our attention towards the true source of all other measures: It remains true that value. is nothing. on the contrary. this subjective aspect has always been regarded as the verso and not the recto of economic science. as the perpetual humanist critics of economics believe. absolutely nothing. has no kind of link with what is indicated in the numbers. of beliefs and desires. that a dominant. because "the human heart cannot be reduced to calculation. propagation of a good or bad sensa­ tional story in the minds of speculators. or rather what it regis­ ters in a simplified manner to make it easier to capture. . or even exclusive. money is. if not a combination of entirely subjective things. I repeat. excellent. but on a different scale and through very different. preoccupation with the external side of things . The masters of this diSCipline have wrongly believed. Not. less readable and less contrasting weights. of course. could not even remotely be explained without considering their psychological causes: fits of hope or discourage­ ment in the public.21 As a measuring measure. unlike the oscillations of a barometer. but what it measures. here we find the explanation of the recto/verso inversion which might have seemed. a gratuitous defiance on the part of Tarde. because the human heart calculates and compares constantly." bur.

it is true. for the valuemeters capable of capturing "human souls" when they evaluate their good and their evil. it would have seemed like the usual lament against economists' mania for quantifying.22 could alone raise their observations to the dignity of a scientific corpus. as a call to look everywhere. It is on this new and shifted basis that Tarde offers the different social sciences a kind of new deal: [. its mysterious isolation as an unstable block cast in the desert of an as-yet-unborn sociology.. controlled by the Sister-sciences which would be illuminated by its light and would illuminate it with theirs. Even when they had to directly envisage the psychological side of the phenomena they investi­ gated-the motivations of the worker or the needs of the consumer. instead. and people continued for a century to hold onto the relatively absurd idea that economics as a discipline had miraculously discov­ ered underneath it a submerged frozen continent. when they desire. intellectual history did not take this pact in any way seriously. ] Political economy. If we had quoted this passage at the beginning of our essay. its diviSions. Needless to say. thus surrounded. by metaphysi­ cians or logicians. when they become intertwined. when they pray. however. when they believe. whereas we must understand it. gain by appearing in its true place as a social SCience. and by seeing its every­ day notions. would lose.. and its theories. and ·especially elsewhere. for example-they conceived of a human heart so simplified and so schematic: so to speak. It WOUld. the . a human soul so mutilated that this minimum of indispens­ able psychology had the air of a mere postulate fated to support the geometric unfolding of their deductions. when they want.

23 economy. economics alone was to be considered. by avoiding another epistemological error. A Mistake in Temperature How can we summarize Tarde's innovation so as to remember that the question is indeed one of quantify­ ing the economy. Will we say that the progress of reason. as we shall see later. Among the social sciences. do I perceive traces . albeit by shifting it entirely into the realm of inter-subjectivity-the only means. by which it can be rendered somewhat scientific? First of all.. and nowhere. the supposed companion of the progress of civilization. from the irra­ tional to the rational. takes responsi­ bility for realizing little by little the abstraction imagined by economists. the more economic history moves f rom passion to reason. from the warmth of traditional haggling to the "economic horror" of "neo-liberal" markets. a serious political error: the mistake of thinking that the more valuemeters and metrological chains there are. So it is in the economic world. governed by rigid laws and which had the unheard-of ability to freeze the superstructures built on top of it.. not even here. paradoxi­ cally. truly scientific because it alone had succeeded in reaching the rational and objec­ tive core of the human soul. stripping concrete man of all the motives for action besides the motive of personal interest? But noth­ ing lets us suppose this and there is not a single aspect of social life in which one does not see passion grow and unfold together with intelligence . which is also.

in no way demonstrated the advent of reason. contaminations and rumors which prevent its calculations from being correct. we were able to rid ourselves of all of this irrational jumble. alas. And this is because it is made up of passions whose astonishing development . no less inebriated with the hope of winning. everythin in g economics is. it presented a spectacle of: [. extra-economic (in the everyday sense of the word). a sort of new religion. of the first great globalization movement. everything in economics is irrational. of the massive migrations of men. of frenzied innovations punctuated by the great World Fairs. and the thirst for power.. coalitions. then. is economics? We can now define it as the "science of passionate interests.) passions of unprecedented intensity. calculating economic reason fmds itself distorted. SOCialism. kidnapped and perturbed by passions. and the carving up of the colonial empires. though. by some impossible miracle. Tarde is not saying that. that of class struggles. we might say. The new economies observed by Tarde from his Chair at the College de France.. the pride of life. No. prodigious ambitions of conquest. W hat. the passionate interests. Rather. which it is a question of making agree with one another and with the equally passionate interests of billionaire capitalists." We must not misunderstand this. he is not saying that.24 of a refrigerating transformation of man in a less and less passionate and more and more rational direction. These are the interests. if. we would fmaUy recover economic reason. and a proselytising fervour unknown since the primitive Church.

second. as though they had seen the head of Gorgon. have a producer and a consumer. and has finally won out. economists have engaged in a double abstraction. how could this have been forgotten? It will be argued . First. escorted by an invisible cortege of associates. It is precisely this intertwining that economists simultaneously caught sight of and. the unwarranted one of having conceived of a man with nothing human in his heart. whence it derives. without having been. second. friends. Never. T he attachments are what must be quantified. corporation. party. most often to the detriment of their strictly individual interest. or association of any sort. in the presence of a boss himself entirely disengaged from strict obligations or propriety towards his own colleagues or even his own rivals. home­ land. fled immediately with horror. Never. enjoying a community of Civilization-and. a seller and a buyer been In each other's pres­ ence without having first been united to one another by some entirely sentimental relation-being neighbours. in any period of history. sharing citizenship or religious communion. sect. of having represented this individual as detached from any group. This second simplification is no less mutilating than the first. respectively. and coreligionists whose thought has weighed on them in the discussion of prices or wages. not even in the first half of the nineteenth century-which is never­ theless the sole period in the history of labor conditions in which every workers' corporation in France seemed to have been destroyed-did the worker appear free from every formal or moral commitment to his comrades. indeed. amazingly. In inventing homo economicus.25 in the 19th century only amplified their interconnec­ tions.

and coalitions. we must agree to give up one last epistemological pretension. merits further analysis. information. trust. Tarde already placed the quantitative focus elsewhere. Tarde's ambition. Yet. which is completely counter-intuitive. but Tarde's book was published in 1902! Why did we lose a century? T his is all the more striking because Tarde goes much further than today's cautious researchers who are content to correct the Ptolemaic system of the pure and perfect market by adding to it a multitude of epicycles turning in aU direc­ tions-contracts. T hat may be true. not in relation to the . Having reached this point. T here is no Providence in this "invisi­ ble cortege of associates. should jump out at them! T he argument. has for years accepted such imbroglios as fact.. rules.26 that institutional economics. Tarde. as a result. ever cour­ teous. all the more radical seeing as it does not lean on any school." and certainly not that of harmonizing reason. Tarde begins by distinguishing between two types of psychology. the economics of conven. Getting Closer Instead of Moving Away To fully grasp this point. a sun which sheds light and burns-which sheds light because it burns. and which. tions. consists indeed in making the cycles of passionate interests revolve around a different sun. that of distance and exteriority. much like Copernicus had no one to read his book. allows himself a touch of irony regarding the acrobatic maneuvers economists perform in order to get as far away as possible from precisely the phenom­ ena that they have the chance of being in close contact with. norms.

bodies. because their inti­ mate nature is the very one of which the subject observ­ ing them is conscious. other spirits where the self is reflected by its exter­ nal manifestation and learns to know itself better by discovering others. but in relation to the degree of proximity we have to them. political groups. can be found in all of Tarde's work." for Tarde. whether organic or inorganic." Could he have been . T his surprising difference between the human world and the natural world. and even lower species of animals. Let us remember that. which carves sharply. or other selves. the forces that produced these forms can only be guessed at by hypothesis. which are simultaneously subjects like it. of which political economy is but a branch.. they are the only objects captured from the inside. in high relief. for Tarde. one that does not divide according to the usual distinction between the symbolic world.. cells. plants. The latter objects of the self. on the one hand.. material substances of any sort.. "Material. on the other. and only their outward sign is perceived.. among the usual relation­ ships of the self with the entities of nature. unfath­ omable in their hermetically sealed inner depths. when the self looks at minerals or stars. and the material world. "everything is society": stars. therefore first and foremost means "social. give rise to an entirely exceptional relationship between them and it. The eminently psychological nature of the social sciences.. However. it is useful to note that the objects of the self can be either natural things. the lively firings of the brain.27 nature of the objects to which they are applied. minerals. would have given rise to fewer objections ha9 the distinc­ tion been made between two psychologies that are normally blended into one.

of force and of life. also utterly psychological. Even if their "origin. to take the associations of enti­ ties from the outside as statistical clouds. in geometrical notions. that of social Darwinism? No. as we are not able to penetrate into their innermost beings. Tarde does not claim that economists would be wrong to treat human objects like natural objects under the pretext that. is psychological and made up of . when it is a question of studying the relationships of the self with natural beings and of establishing the physical sCiences. whose origin. in physics." like that of all monads. the self tries its best to systematically forget itself . if possible. as much as possible. only reveals itself to very prac­ ticed analytical eyes and in fact does not involve their psychological nature at all. bio-soci-· ologist)? Could he have committed the sin of natural­ ization? Or worse. subject to external forces which govern them. all of nature in terms of extension and points in motions. in small numbers. or in biology. to resolve. andfrom the outside. including even biology. andfrom the inside! Thus. as is so often said. because there is a difference in capture and not in nature between the objects called material and the subjects of society: we can see the former from a ar. it is because we cannot grasp them from close enough. we understand very well that. that which is human "eludes nature and objectivity. whereas we see the latter from up close. in chemistry." He willingly acknowl­ edges that there are excellent reasons. to put the least of itself and of the personal impressions it receives from the outside. But if we adopt this perspective in many cases.28 a socio-biologist (or as they said at the time. f rou ghly. in the notions it conceives of matter.

he finds himself. to establish the social sciences-for the self to continue to try to run away from itself. a mistake to be avoided." seen from a distance and a whole. while the very thinkers they tried to imitate would give their right hands to fmd themselves at last close to particles. drawing the following stunning conclusion: But is this a reason. and yet he would gladly give up this advantage to be able to model himself after the physicist or the natu­ ralist who. no epistemological gain. bodies with whom they try to come into intimate association with the help of their instruments? Why do economists run away by giving themselves a certain distance which any researcher would wish to .29 relationships." it is for lack of a better alternative! How could sociologists and. not having it." whereas. their "nature. frogs. is forced to do without it and to compensate for it as he can!" "To run away from itself"? We understand the horror that Durkheim felt when he learned of the work of his elder. economists. cells. no longer appears to be such. And here he is. if we take things "as things. for Tarde. even more surprisingly. and to take as a model for its new sciences the sciences of nature? By the most exceptional of privileges. in the other sciences. in the social world. holding in his hands the hidden drives of the actors. as there would be no advantage. when the moment comes to study the reciprocal relationships of selves-that is. have had the crazy idea of wanting to imitate physicists and biologists through an entirely artificial effort at distancing. in making such a supposition. If there is. In any case. it is to take social facts "as things. seeing clearly to the bottom of those beings whose relationships he studies.

He wants us to look at the head of Gorgon head-on. an artifact of our igno­ rance. economists are no fools. with the invention of all sorts of instruments. To put it bluntly.30 eliminate. technical and ever new point of T arde's proposition: if we can distinguish. give shape to these attach­ ments. an incom­ prehensible paradox for the majority of the social sciences. structures. But. while the others. let us understand that he will. in addition. the surpris­ ing political consequences Tarde will deduce f rom this point. further on. associates. on the one hand. on the other. itself due to our having too great a distance with what we study. It is thanks to this privilege that Tarde invents a sociology and an economics which will be able to do without any transcendence. He will not flee in the face of economics. a hundred years later. unlike economists. so why did they try to imitate an epistemology which distanced them so from their project of quantifi­ cation in thinking that they were imitating the exact sciences whose libido sciendi they were in fact reversing? . to come nearer to that which is at a distance from them? Here indeed is the core. without having to hypothesize about "natural laws" which would. in any given aggregate. at the risk of losing the long dreamt of opportunity to understand the social. one might wonder. and laws. the difficult. which remains. We shall show. make as much as possible of "this exceptional privilege" that makes it possible to capture the "hidden drives" that connect us to goods. it is because we are f orced to ignore what shapes them from the inside through the swarming of assessments and battles of logic. the notion of structure is a makeshift one. try at all costs. For the moment. and rules. the "true" scholars.

thousands of departments. to make themselves heard. An entire discipline. they tried to show them clearly what the nature and the causes of the wealth of nations were. from the same source through a Sismondi quote. . to protect one's property? The invention of an entire impersonal science to avoid favoring people? A disinterested science of interest.31 T arde's answer to this is very similar to that of Karl Polanyi. in fact. f T arde." That is one reason why political economy. pleads understand the reason. due to their own bias. put economics upright again and let it walk at last on its own two f eet: the ideas that guide the world (and in particular those of economists. he says. Philosophers wanted to protect the population from the plundering ravages of absolute power . from its beginnings. Now we must invert the inversion. they needed to speak to the rulers of their interests and not of justice and duty . but. they felt that. entirely based on the defense of interests? We or heaven's sake. through an order that was the reverse of the natural progression of ideas. took on such a positive color. There have to be very powerful political reasons in order to suspend all common sense and to reverse all principles of method in this way. from the science of finance that was born that of political economy. hundreds of thousands of MBNs. Why did economists conceive of the object of their science in its most material aspects? Sismondi answers: "It was. to teach them to share it without destroying it. to disregard any psychological or moral conSideration. let us not confuse this convenient solution with the demands of a science that deserved better. and he draws. to protect us from the ravages of "absolute power"? All of that. and decided.

. the disci­ e pline-the word has never been more fitting-and the economy. W must stop confusing economics. has contin­ uously fled its mte composition. The choice has to be made between economics and econom The latter still remains an unknown conti­ y. busy performing it. nent because the former.32 who perform passions and interests) and the valueme­ ters which reflect their movement and accentuate their readability.

the continent of the attachments to goods and bads." But where should this continent be situated? Surely not abuve the law. both professional and amateur. like an infrastructure whose cold objectivity would obey calculable laws. f ollowing along the networks of inter-comparison. aesthetics. but all of this circulates like the rest-we now understand-by contagion. a century later. Of course. as . largely unknown.PART II The Nature of Economics By inverting the economists' inversion of a science invented f reasons too strictly political. which he wants to place at the heart of the discipline he intends to re-found and which he names "economic psychology. ethics. Tarde opens or up a continent which still remains. as f away as ar there are economists. there are indeed objectifications. and mores. there are indeed calculations. there are indeed laws.

rhythms. Yet. the opposition created by the repetition. contrary to the notebooks of the young Marx. and amplifications. it compli­ cates further. on condition that one agrees to discern three stages in this proliferation: the repetition of a first difference. in part. The pullulating of living societies whose intertWining forms the texture of the world is not chaotic but ends up by creating interfer­ ences. No superior law guides this world towards a denouement through the play of negativity and contra­ diction.34 lon as accounting techniques are being invented. We must be care­ ful not to read into this movement a return of Hegel's dialectic. and. but which. no adventure of subject and object at play in these issues of capital and labor. how should one approach the task of elaborating a social science capable of seizing both the formatting of the economic sciences and that which constantly escapes this same formatting? Invention Before Accumulation The solution Tarde offers to this question may seem fairly perplexing to us: it consists in thrusting the econ­ omy back into the general movement of monads he developed in his other works. All of this infrastructure is added to the associations of people and goods whose judg­ ments it simplifies in part. finally. if one no longer believes that economics has captured the deep meaning of the economy which it had been content simply to format. Let us not forget . devel­ g oped and maintained. There is. the adaptation making it possible for it to temporarily get out of these opposi­ tions thanks to new differentiations.

Fifty years before Joseph Schumpeter. financial tools. once repeated obstinately. which can only be gotten out of through other inventioris. . brings about countless struggles. The problem can be summed up as follows: to grasp as closely as possible the genesis of inventions and the laws of imitations. analyze by which canals they spread. and you will have the whole economy. new legal codes. as a mass of neurons. or political opinions.35 what Tarde says against all philosophy of identity as contradiction: "To exist is to diff er. the supreme law for him is not negation-and even less the negation of negation-but rather invention. Economic progress supposes two things: on the one hand. T arde places innovation and the monitoring of inven­ tions at the heart of his doctrine." As a result. railways. which. a grow­ ing number of similar exemplars of each desire taken separately. without this similitude. different desire. as we have seen. On the other hand. eighty years before the development of the economics of technical change. no exchange is possible. and. with the appearance of each new. piling up one on top of the other. a growing number of different desires. and. for. no industry is possi­ ble. adjusting themselves. observe how they end up combining. the more production is widened or reinforced. Follow innovations from the mesh woven in the brain of individuals-a brain itself conceived. without a difference in desires. whether it be of new religious convictions. docu­ ment the conflicts they give rise to when they enter into a struggle with those innovations previously repeated. the life of exchange is kindled. for. the more this similitude expands or prolongs itself. new plants.

biological forms of adaptation and harmony. albeit one necessary to development. one must look elsewhere. must be at the base of this specific novelty. a biological form of opposition. A function just as important as the production of a new species would not be able to be a continuous and daily function. It describes a phase­ but only a phase---of the industry during which only the author of the repetition is active. It only marks a moment. since they are seen from a distance.] a fertile hybridization. And [. . but never to change paths. through competition and selection. An exceptional phenom­ enon. It is also the product of an economic science-starting with economic sociology-which treats entities-humans and assets. as an exception. The interference and intersection of the paths of desire which inhabit individuals are much better suited to provide inf ormation on the probability . than on cross-breading and hybridization. . without capturing the small diff erences that would explain that change is not an exogenous shock suddenly befalling monomaniacal capitalists. This is what T arde criticizes in Darwin: His mistake [. is far neater than a hereditary accumulation of small advantageous variations.is an intermittent function. to this process of differentiation. . . If accumulation is not the relevant point of entry to understand the dynamics of the economy.36 The notion of accumulation does not do justice . services and technologies-as interchange­ able. and not a daily phenomenon. while the simple production of a new individual-genera­ tion. to explain the formation of new types of life. ] seems to me to have been in relying far more on the struggle for existence. which allows markets to grow.

of course. a single one. it is no more a place of action than it is one of passion. Genius is not a point of departure.37 of inflexion points. Genius does not guarantee anything. through a sudden intuition. it is simply a quick way to sum up what we have observed. discovers the solution to the enigma posed to all. at the crucial moment. it does not reside at all in the author of the theorem. or the general's glance that saves his troops from death. out of a thousand researchers. but a type of genius that is attained first of all through the interference of all the lines of imitation." but this is a linguistic simplification and a way of evoking the ability to compose using lines of influence. And when. Herein lies the problem of the notion of accwnulation: it does not provide inf ormation on the intensities of the economy. just the right glance from the general lets an uncertain victory tilt to one side. When. the victory is due to this sudden idea . It is more precisely a . not what we may predict. it is not the long and sterile efforts of the others. So what are econo­ mists left with to explain the shapes of the economy? Genius.often lesser than theirs-to which credit for the discovery should be given. Accwnulation is not a good candidate. now that is where genius lies. not to the accumulation of the prior efforts. and effort alone guarantees nothing. Tarde mentions genius fairly often as if he gave importance to the outer wrapping of the individual "genius. the unique configuration which brings into existence the solution to a recalcitrant mathematical problem. not even the duration and intensity of his own efforts. on a battlefield. In hindsight. nor in the general himself.

but all while defying one another: give and take. favors and develops directly only consumption. He shifts levels : a genius is an individual in whom the multitudes of repetitions and imitations (those lively firings of the brain) lead. which is but a zero-sum game. through loans. in passing. we place trust in one another. which so often serves as a pillar for the economic robinsonnades of the 19th century. Thus. Trade . we do each other favors. it is rather the pooling and the coordinating of previously scattered energies. Let us note. but it is brought back to its proper role in the genealogy of markets. which is no less seminal and no less fundamen­ tal: the loan contract. Only half of the truth is being told in seeing the trade contract as the essential and seminal economic event. that trade. never recreated. what builds an economy. in truth. it is necessary to IXation of Homo economicus on the lure of loosen the f . The direct agent of production is another contract. Through trade. dare we say. Tarde does not set up an opposition between the mysterious origin of the individual genius and the slavish imitation of past models. What launches a market. a life of their own. does not f md its place in Tarde's economics. T rade does indeed exist. is not trade. we can see a very singular relationship between faith and invention: a shared movement consisting in connecting and gathering previously sepa­ rate entities. It is necessary f there to be trust for the or first transactions to come into being. Tarde places faith and trust at the center of this pooling effort.38 moment of incandescence that can only ever be described. Here again.

allows economic activity to acquire realism. through example-which precedes commercial exchanges. it folds the economy in a certain way which will then be confirmed through repetition." From salesman to client. The fabric of vectors and tensors which def mes the attachments of people and assets consists-and here lies Tarde's truly innovative character-of arguments whose premises and deductions form practical syllo isms g which are.an exchange of persuasions and excitement through conversations. and which always helps to set their conditions. by repeating themselves. the whole substance of economics. That is the fundamental rhythm. often making them possible. . through newspapers. from consumer to consumer and from producer to producer. Invention produces differences. from client to salesman. there is a continuous and invisible transmission of feelings . Di rence and Repetition is both the title of ffe Gilles Deleuze's thesis and T arde's fundamental princi­ ple. much like invention. whether competing or not. What we need to follow in order to establish an economic science are "states of mind" and "logical duels. and the cycle will begin again. the back beat that. repetition allows f their diffusion. creates new groupings. in fact. T rust. conflict is inevitable. alone. will produce other differences. which.39 profit because there needs to be also passion and risk­ taking in order to bring the economy towards new paths through the emergence of small diff erences. no pre-estab­ or lished harmony allows for a solution (as we shall later see) : it is necessary to invent yet other solutions in order to temporarily generate other innovations.

For Tarde. rather. which means that one is included in the other. It is because the monads calculate at all times and in all possible manners that the addition of calculative devices. the economic matter-this is what remains so difficult for us-is a real f orce because it is a rhetorical power: it is indeed a question of persuasion.. that they can even become f orces of production. explicatory capacity. Or. Tarde's cleverness lies in adding. is of the same type (undetermined or determined but real) of things which are similar. the decisive role of theories and doctrine. of metrological chains. If it is a question of forcing our judgment into someone else's head.40 Either through authoritarian suggestion or through demonstration. on the ability of the monads themselves to assess and to calcu­ late. through demonstration. we will need a more or less explicit syllogism." At no time does he think it possible to appeal to nature-to natural . Nowhere can his acumen be better seen than on the widely-discussed subject of "fair price. to the intertWin­ ing of calculations. that the other. which are minuscule prostheses. It is because of this background of "calculable f orces" that the addition of calculative devices. and perceived as similar. rhetoric attains in it such power because it encroaches. syllogism and conviction. so to speak. established between two ideas. we can only communicate our thoughts to others (which is equivalent to a gift of assets. encompasses and contains. that is a relation­ ship between species and genus or between genus and species. can have such a perf ormative. the unilat­ eral beginning of an exchange of goods) on condition that we present them through their measurable and quantita­ tive aspects. brings about such a prodigious amplification of evalua­ tions. the general proposition.

the sciences do more than or just know: they add themselves to the world. in reality. or prices so minimal that public conscience would have rejected them other times. which is in itself an unconscious way of conceiving of fair price all while denying it. they involve it. Economists. But. in fact acts. they complicate it on numerous points all while simplifying it on others-but we should never assume that we can trust them to eliminate morality. When everyone has been persuaded. to be established without protest. through scientific claim.41 law-in order to establish the difference with "real price. all they did was to justify in this way the real prices precisely. most unbridleq competition leads. Even if one succeeds. that the price automatically determined by the "free play of supply and demand" is justice itself." but neither does he ever have recourse to the objectivity simply of the markets to define this price. or even with general approval. and criticisms would f orce everyone to reevaluate the relation between the "justi­ fied price" and the "fair price. often the most abusive ones. there is no doubt that this general belief plays a part in making it possible for exorbitant prices. that "bothersome idea" of social justice." . the fact remains that millions of gaps. formed under the tyrannical rule of the strongest. they f old it. on the strength of the work of ancient economists. on real price. or objective science and the nature of things. judg­ ments. And the problem is that this way of seeing things. As always f Tarde. believed they were in so dOing eliminating the bothersome idea of fair price. in quite a regrettable way. small differences. in aligning power struggles. in viewing as the natural or normal price the price to which the freest.

One might argue that the whole second half of the 1 9th century was Darwinian.last. or earthworms. that ultimate remedy against aU Providentialism. Imagining � economy that is wise at last. that Darwinism. But an Inverted One As should be clear by now. ruled by good governance. no finality. A Social Darwinism. thanks to his metaphysics of difference. an artificial structure. Tarde is . in addition to the monads. those close to us. immedi­ ately becomes a poison-social Darwinism-as soon as one surreptitiously adds to it. All is invention. viruses. silent or conscious. but the latter are guided by no plan. But Tarde understands immediately. a finality. is like imagining an ecological system with no animals. that we must above aU not start to separate those who organize from those who are organized. this model takes after Darwin more than after Hegel. no dialectic. a master plan. if we set aside these convictions and these dominating passions which. what are we explaining in political economy? Nothing will cool passionate interests . how can we deny the action of the idea that each period or each country has on what is just as regards price? T what type of consumption is morality entirely o foreign. reigning coolly over individuals who are rational and reasonable at .42 Besides. if by morality we mean the superior and profound rule of conduct in accordance with the major convictions and passions which guide life? And. It is precisely concerning the living. multiplicity and repetition. a design. are the social and individual forces par excellence. plants.

it is good that Darwin's genius . the optimum. with a perfectly steady hand. by the same token. intelligent design in the living. to naturalize always means to un-objectifY in order to "inter-subjec­ tif}r. And. That is why he immediately sees how to extract Darwin's poison and to keep only the remedy to the serious sickness which consists in seeing. immediately stifling his discoveries through the addition of an artificial tran­ scendence : evolution as a creator. is always the question of competition." and. just like naturalists. f oxes. in grand fashion it is true. by the paradoxical idea of seeing in the continuous battle of the living the fundamental cause of life's progress. of aggression. and in the generalized murder of individuals the very creation of species. to pull economic activity away f rom scientific claims. must all be reex­ amined so that we might grasp what "nature" can really off us. always keeps us f rom mistaking competition f some­ or thing other than a particular moment between inven­ tion and adaptation. There is no ambiguity on this point: economists. er This mistake. They borrowed it from the naturalists who were for a long time seduced. is not limited to econo­ mists. in econom­ ics as well as in biology.43 one of the rare thinkers of the 1 9th century to have "registered" Darwinism without . natural selection of the fittest. to use the American expression. It is always possible to tell the true from the false Darwinist by the pleasure he takes in justifYing (or not) economic competition through stories of wolves. Whereas. Here is indeed yet another exam­ ple of Tarde's originality: in his view. bonobos or praying mantises. without a doubt. certainly. We know well that the touchstone. T arde.

or One would have to wait f half a century and for the or brilliant work of Polanyi to f md the same degree of indignation against the alarming sophism of a deceptive economics justified by an equally deceptive view of biology. exasperation. It consists in believing. does not create anything and posits that which it claims to explain. to make possible this enormous number of assaults against the weak or the defeated which. our European statesmen already practice and our theoreticians justify in advance. it is still established that natural selection. for. that enjoys making good come from evil and evil come from good.living renovations -in the form of individual variations. and to purge not only economics but nature itself of all Providentialism: [The mistake] is not only apt to skew the spirit. . and . at present.44 pushed this paradox to its limit. . unsettling irony. in endowing murderous hatred. . there is a sort of Mephistophelian. behind the cloth where human events are woven. with the naturalization of the struggle f life. under the name of colonial politics or class struggles. essentially. Do we not see what the gradual propagation of the struggle for existence and of natural selection unleashed in terms of ferocious covet­ ing between nations and classes? There had to be a soci­ ety saturated by the law of force. correctly or not deduced from these hypotheses. that. and that the secret of these creations of life are hidden from our eyes in the depths of the fertilized egg instead of consisting in the outer shock of organisms fighting each other. but also to corrupt the heart. There isn't the shadow of acquiescence. But T arde goes further than Polanyi. as we can see. f or he wants to remedy the errors of biology as well. that excellent agent of purifying elimination.

media. to naturalize does not mean to lower but on . A doctrine that is all the more "distressing" as it does not settle­ as the usual critics of natural selection do-f bringing or humans down to the level of animals. there is no more Providence than there is Mephistopheles. to the level of what economism had tried to do with humans. There is no dialectic. just as for the question of fair price. A distressing doctrine whose truth should be deplored as it is taught. but rather. and what is perhaps worse in T arde's view. This does not mean that conflicts did not exist." there must be a "doctrine"-and thus researchers. On the contrary. Conflicts are every­ where. but nothing guides them. faith. If there is one thing that T arde will not allow. they make up half of the book. it is to justify war and the survival of the fittest: this refusal applies to plants and animals. proven false. and abnegation harmful.45 the bellicose conflict of egos and rapacities with salutary fertility. there is no optimum which guarantees the survival of the fittest. no more God than there is the Devil. as well as to men. and because it para­ lyzes the generous impulses rendered impbtent by it. thinkers. Never does he give himself over to the pleasures of a harmonious ecol­ ogy which would appeal to the great peace of nature in order to be rid of human baseness. but which. and in making love. must be radically extirpated . the efficiency of a sociology which always f ollows the material path covered by ideas : in order to "unleash f erocious coveting" and to commit "assaults against the weak or the defeated. It is possible to measure once again. For T arde. it brings the animal and the living down as well. disinterestedness. and metrological chains. because it is an encouragement of the evil it praises.

at his time. which will make it possible to explain the content of goods and not only the f orm of the exchange. and.46 the contrary to elevate economic activity to the level of . an attentive observer of what was not yet. without yet having a precise awareness of it. freely pursued. to the now converging and consonant ends of life. multiplication. Nothing prevents human beings from adding ends to these natures. all the inorganic substances. now in the plural. together. using the best of all of the planet's flora and fauna. given that they are all inventions from below. to compose. is. It is from the viewpoint of this distant outcome that one must stand to understand the extent to which the fundamental conceptions of political economy need to be revised. By plunging g economic activity back into the universal flow of . on the one hand. as simple means. within a common system of ends. to capture all the forces. Redistributing Production Factors Indeed. working together. makes T arde. so to speak! The ideal end towards which humanity moves. and invention. in addition. a harmonious concert of living beings. towards the very same ends as those of man. that have no finality. in a sense. himself in his Psycholo ic Economique. to subjugate them. this Darwinian (but neither social nor neo­ Darwinian) manner of conceiving of the intertWining of an economics of nature. This is the reVIsion that T arde takes upon . proliferation. called biotechnology and bio-politics.

who is or so quick to look f the factors of production in capital or and work-is to see both of them redistributed. he never believes that it is possible to under­ stand the inventions of economics as anything other than the amplification of the inventions of nature. T distinguish land. chemical compounds and substances . electricity. What is labor. repetitions. and adaptations of things themselves. if not an ensemble of human activities doomed to repeat indefinitely a certain series of learned acts. capital and labor. in his view. is the principle production factor? The connecting of human inventions to the countless inven­ tions of this nature. does o not elucidate much for us.heat. but on condition that we carry out a thorough analysis of this reproduction. and some of which .consist in radiating repetitions of ethereal or molecular vibrations. What. light. CUltivated plants and domestic animals-in no less radiating and expansive repetitions of generations conforming to the same organic type or to a new race created by the art of gardeners and breeders? We can see how Tarde solves the problem of naturalization: by coming nearer to the innovations. What is land if not the ensemble of physical/chemical and living forces which act on each other and through each other. new habits. taught through apprenticeship. as he says.47 monads. Is this only the reproduction of wealth? That could be. by offering them. for example. The consequence that f oUows-so astonishing f today's reader. whose contagion tends also to radiate ceaselessly? -And what . and the others. If we get to the bottom of these things we find that they work themselves out through different kinds of repetitions. which nothing unifies.

when there would soon be the law of the division of labor. thanks again to conversations. like in the f owing striking passage on one of his favorite hobby­ oll horses: conversation as an essential production factor. whether verbal. that is as though they had been transmitted to him by the inventors through an increasingly generalized and popularized intel­ lectual repetition? It seems that T arde likes research but not work! He sings the praises. printed. T arde sings the praises of idleness. caf es. Even when a traveler exchanges products with islanders whose language he does not know. if not. in my view. along with this idea. telegraphed . of a civilization of leisure. trinkets. tourism. how do these needs for production and consumption . If the public never conversed. and. Conversation is eminently interesting to the economist. which had spread the idea of a new product to buy or to produce from one interlocu­ tor to another. and the j . In addition. a certain group of given inventions. or telephoned. the desire to consume it or to manufacture it. but ones viewed by the person exploiting them as known.for sale and purchase -which have just been mutually satisfied by a trade concluded thanks to conversation arise? Most often. written. had spread trust in the qualities of the product or in its forthcoming output. of the chatter of the idle classes. conversation. is its essence.48 is capital itself. the spreading of merchan­ dise would almost always be a waste of time. these swaps only take place through the means of signs and gestures which are a silent form of language. fashion. in 1902. and. in what. finally. At the very moment when the iron law of ennui and mecha­ nization was being imposed. There is no economic relationship between men that is not first accompanied by an exchange of words.

49 hundred thousand advertising trumpets would sound in vain. all is moral. f or him. There is no manager more powerful than consumption. the true sources of value. but today's general digitization makes it possible now to come back to his initial hypotheses. nor. all is superficial. seeing. the slightest mood variations on the most narcissistic of blogs ? Here again. in the subtle variations of belief and desire. essential. Capital Trends A shocking reversal of values. perhaps more profitably. aU is irrational. all is subtlety. Sure. there is no infra­ structure nor any superstructure. one can say that in economics. but what would today's viral marketing specialists say-those who calculate. Tarde did not. possess the means to prove that the quantifica­ tions to which he aspired were possible. in his time. as a resuit.albeit indirect -in production than the chatter of individuals in their idle hours. For he previously redistributed the factors of production. reverse anything. We have but to read Tarde's discussion of capital to be convinced: In my view. conversation ceased in Paris. While barely exaggerating. inverting the harsh reali­ ties of material infrastructures? Tarde does not. If. there are two elements to be distinguished in the notion of capital: first. Marx would have not liked this argument. with extremely sensitive mechanisms. it would show very quickly through the singular decrease In the number of sales in stores. any factor more powerful . in fact. necessary capital: . for just one week. because.

second." In short. even before that. born from these inventions. the germ is different from those little supplies of nutrients which envelope it and which we call cotyledons. from the strikes. in a plant seed. all of the ruling inventions. more or less useful capital: the products which. auxiliary. reading Tarde and laughing uproari­ ously at this ridiculous botanic and bucolic image. "Cotyledon capital"! We can just imagine Lenin. and f rom the barricades which. how to extract the materials from which . through the means of these new services. when the seed is opened. help. The economists who saw capital as consisting solely in the saving and accumula­ tion of earlier products are like botanists who would view a seed as being entirely made up of cotyledons. to create other products. from the workshops. from the smoking factories.50 that is. in Zurich. according to Tarde. ignited the spirit of the revolutionaries. How far this is from the image of giant power hammers. The difficulty is not in noticing them. The tiny germ is hidden by them. at the time. Cotyledons are not indispens­ able. "auxiliary capital" from "essential capital. the only thing that is absolutely indispensable for the production of a new engine is the detailed knowledge of an engine's parts. for they are relatively large. the primary sources of all current wealth. there are plants that reproduce without them. of how to manufacture them and. They are just very useful. Those who today pass in front of the rusted remains of industrial ruins or who place flowers in front of the monuments erected in honor of the victims of revolutions ought to read with greater attention what diff erentiates. These two elements are different in more or less the same way as. But wait! Wait! The story is not yet fInished.

what interests him each time is the ability of germ-capital to vary over time. in essence. confronted with burning ques­ tions of technical research.whereas. This bundle of ideas. We who find ourselves grappling. First of all. with so-called "knowledge societies. reduced to this intel­ lectual legacy of the past. each of which is a large or small invention. and with the most perfected equipment. Of course. Tarde sometimes hesitates on the exact characterization of germ-capital.51 they are made. the fruit of school teaching. would therefore be in a deplorable condition to carry out agricultural or industrial work. if. And the same could be said for the production of any item. To be sure. provided with the seeds or the most abundant materials. nor tools. owed to a known or unknown inventor. would have neither seeds. amassed and accumulated through savings. and who begin to penetrate into the most intimate abilities of living organisms. a bit sooner or a bit later. the individual who. politics. Let us reflect for a moment on the different oppositions Tarde sets up to define the germinal char­ acter of capital." facing globalization.that is imperatively required for the building of an engine. innovation. to differ. to that of . or the methods of the culture in which he engages. he is at the same time ignorant of the secrets of the industry he claims to lead. nor supplies. he will be struck by production impotence in spite of all of his supposed capital. But. he redef mes the distinction between capital and labor: "T he distinction between capital and labor thus comes back. a century after this work. understand that the image of capi­ tal itself must change from top to bottom. But it would not be impossible for him to produce. this bundle of inventions all gathered in a brain: that is the only portion of old products-for this is indeed a mental product.

T arde has the audacity to not take the work of invention-which is to say the stock in trade of labor sociologists-for a pure trend but rather to see in it a web and an intertwining of a raw force with active models mobilized according to oppositions. it can only repeat and exhaust itself. the painter will also manage to make them. deprived of colours or brushes. the work of invention praised by labor sociologists as a trademark of the irreducibility of the human is already of a different order: it already contains myriad operators of diff erentiation that mold this raw force to its environment and adjust it so as to maintain its habits. or even using his fingers. but on one condition. . we know. Even the most repetitive labor. Any change aff ecting it comes from the outside. in order to clearly detach what falls into the category of repetition f rom what f alls into that of invention. will manufacture them using simpler tools. [ ] If he does not have any tools. the worker in the fields . prelim­ inary resolutions of opposition. . . Work is a raw force. it bends and lengthens its trajectory in order to get around obstacles. Equipped with a model. requires a continuous production of small inno­ vations that circulate and that are. If capital is the model and labor it" copy. . He pays very close attention to these models. small. which . it is first of all because T arde understands work in its most basic sense." Let us try to see more clearly into this distinction which seems so odd to us. Thus.� a model and its copy. Labor alone can never diverge and effect diff erences in adversity: alone. in fact. given that we are so used to thinking of labor as the main source of value. an inertia without specific qualities and incapable of eff ecting differences in its own movement.

which they will take as models. Labor as raw force. it is because they are trends which are too pure. strongly resembles "cotyledon capital"-secondary capital. such as when he uses . they invent them. When the raw force of bare work consists of an example of a previous solution to a similar opposition.53 is the only necessary one: that both worker and painter will have already seen tools and their making. unless. or never seen them being made. it is always a compound which is encoun­ tered. T arde even. a borderline case that is indeed difficult to f md in the field of economic anthropology. cotyledon capital is an exercise in thought. But it is once again T arde's analytical strength to point to the large conceptual trends that the notion of capital-and. These two species share the characteristic of not being able to deflect their trajectory autonomously. Autonomy comes only to compounds. as we shall see. What is the reason for their lack of autonomy? Paradoxically. When inen matter finds itself plugged into a production technique. T arde comes to liken individuation. that of capitalism-too quickly conflate. identifies the spirit with the germ. a diff erence can be effected. which means that they are incapable of changing course. only to those entities which are the results of unstable interferences. which brings us into the work of capital in the strict sense. oscillation and germina­ tion. T be a genius and to be a germ are often o confused. Just like raw labor. It is as much a redefinition of a germ as oscil­ lation as it is a redef mition of genius as the intersection of lines of influence and imitation. In difficult but illuminating passages. having never seen them. then. a process of animation is carried out. at times. In practice.

or both at the same time. he will be content with ratiocinating and repeating rather than differing. using an expression which has become standard among the historians and sociologists of the contemporary sciences. But there is another possible reading of the germ-capital which minimizes its collaborative origin and its revolutionary dimension. that might increase man's knowledge of power. it is to John Maynard Keynes or Joseph Schumpeter that one should look.54 the expression "human capital. Once again the economic agent is not the only place f differentiation of the germ. a srudy of capital in the makin g. There is thus a double reading of this new theory of capital brought by the germ. The potential character of the germ is thus lost. If one wants to f md in economic literarure an example of the work of germination. what comes to the forefront is the close rela­ tionship between the germinal form of capital and the memory capacity of the economic organizations that carry it. Such a reading emphasizes instead the germ as a finished product that can be preserved and passed from one generation to another. Instead. It is literally. T arde places the line dividing the waters else­ where. following T arde's interest in hesitation (f ound in a number of his earlier writings) . On the one hand. always . A discovery or an invention. But against an econo­ mistic reading of human capital.�' with the innovative ability of entrepreneurs in mind. One can even say or that the Homo economicus is the poorest case of differen­ tiation: faithful to his maximization maxims. whose posterity in the Chicago School in the person of Gary Becker we well know. in the portraits they paint of entrepreneurs. we have capi­ tal as a source of oscillation.

In redefining germ-or necessary-capital. these reborn talents would be like the simplified and reduced re-embodiments of the destroyed machines. so slipshod was the manner in which the latter dealt with material capital. on the outside. seen as a great heap of undifferentiated junk. a machine is an exterior talent and a talent is an inner machine . as well as the often prodigious ampli­ fication of these talents and of the organs through which such talents are exhibited. It is not very difficult to be more precise on this topic than the economists. A book is but an ex. . placed before our eyes at the desired moment. in a book or a machine. their long appren­ ticeships and their gradual storing up of particular habits.55 manifests itself either within us. if the destruction of such machines forced talents to be revived. Similarly. or if the elimination of textile mills brought back the old spinners.or. the different and multiple skills of the craftsmen of old. for example. a talent. a notion. Thus.tension and an appendix of our brain. all this was made largely useless by the construction of later machines. the natural and the artificial-no cate­ gory escapes the T ardian re-reading. . an acquired habit. And one can just as well say that. the elimination of printing presses brought back calligraphers and manuscript illu­ minators. Tools and memories are thus inextricably linked. a machine is an additional limb. T arde's innovative . We might say either that a book is an exterior memory or that a memory is an internal book. if. as a mental cliche. T arde also redef mes cotyledon-or secondary-capital. one that a sort of invisible librarian . hidden in our inner self. The latter are nothing more than the outward projection. in the memory of our nerves or muscles. The profound and the superficial. the internal and the external. .

are. Fixed capital. W see the tension between the germ and the e cotyledon better after this mention of the essential solidity of tools and of physical capital. both those used for manual tasks and those used for intellectual tasks themselves. . All tools. cotyledon capital draws opposition to itself. . Why is this the case? Because. and not in the liquid or gaseous state. The tools of living creatures are the appendices or extensions of each cell. limbs that always have a certain solidity in relation to the rest of the body. . material capital.zoological scale. it attracts opposition like a lightning rod. even in animal and plant fife. and they are the limbs of the organism as a whole. from one end to the other of the . it should be noted. substances in the solid state. is never so lucky. you can only lean on something that puts up some resistance: solidity is both resistance and support. and the secondary one which always remains anchored to its habits-T arde makes it possible to draw attention to a new range of variations: while germ capital always meets invention (or adaptation). we can observe this indissoluble link.56 thinking is nowhere more evident than in his crossed reading of the worlds of nanIre and artifice. They are more or less mobile and always made out of a more or less resistant fabric. . Searching for what characterizes the tool. he comes to def me it as agradient of resistance. The germ survives only by its versatility and its ability not to be frozen in a static formula but rather to explore new connections-and to avoid opposition by constandy adapting. By distinguish­ ing the destinies of the two forms of capital-the indis­ pensable one which never stops inventing and differing. Equipment and SOlidity are two ideas so intimately connected that.

a book is capable of allying itself with other books or of combatting them. which is not made with other books. which should be construed as the ceaselessly growing bequest of worthy ideas from the past. attractions and repulsions. whether considered as product or as a teaching. capital and labor can possibly be applied here but with some great and instruc­ tive transformations. we would see that the famous distinction between the three factors of land. because it confirms and completes them . But. particularly regarding capital. If we were looking for the general conditions of the production of books. .57 An Economics of Com possibilities Tarde endows infra-human or supra-human agencies with desires by once again breaking down the bound­ aries established by an economic theory more concerned with order than with the intelligibility of the associations between people and goods. There is no book. By its power in def ming networks and in putting together aggregates. His masterly example of the economics of books clearly illustrates the tension which runs through this new theory of capi­ tal. T arde describes the book-as-asset as that which becomes capable of creating friends and enemies. of subsequent discoveries and inventions. and among which there are some of which one can say that it is made for them. often given in the bibliography. the book participates in the work of the germ. It can be drafted in an innovative . as econo­ mists have looked for those of the production of commodities. through a game of quota­ tions and references. . considered as a teaching.

the divisions of . Economics no longer rests on a pedestal or on an ulti­ mate foundation site. essentially. on opposition and rhythms. When it is forgot­ ten. The characteristics of these goods. its activity picks up again. Such literature brought back to the f orefront the specific material quality of economic goods themselves. arise again as the sources of large-scale industrial deployment. maximization. which had been held at a distance and which entered into models as mere points in a continuous space (and thus points which could be moved about because they were. but rather solely on the stability of a configuration. an initiator of some novelty. From this point of view. But when it is rediscovered. interchangeable). there are ponds f illed with more fish. just like bacteria that has been quiescent at low temperature. these more recent economic theo­ ries take up the most original T ardian intuitions: not to assign a source to the economy (rarity. It can also be rediscovered after several decades of slumber and reopen a whole continent for future research (much like Tarde's work ! ) . interest). but rather to assign it a psychology based on compatibility and harmony. Nothing is shapeless in T arde's ontology. and so forth. it is but a repetitive specimen and a case of cotyle­ don-capital.58 series when it is made a precursor. Once again. Without always formulating them in the same way. one must be careful not to be misled by the metaphor of the germ�ode­ and of the cotyledon-shapeless matter. let alone in his econom­ ics. It is striking to note how Tarde's sharp attention to the circulation of examples and the processes of diffu­ sion was present in the economic literature of the 1 980s under the notions of standardization and path depen­ dency. It is no coincidence that T arde is Leibnizian: in each fish. ad' in finitum.

From this point of view. we may notice that. and it is to this alone that John Stuart Mill's remark concerning the speed with which capital regenerates itself after the ravages of war or revolution applies. would be to use the most ill-suited expression. to speak of a capitalist regime. that legacy of the indestructible ideas of man's genius. Micro and Macro are but two arbitrary points which hide all the work of formatting. decidedly. in our history. We have seen it annihilated. coordination. or epistemological break occurred to upset economic history and give birth to the capitalist hydra. is the germ-capital. What really accumulates. When it comes to material­ capital. it continuously self-destructs and reproduces itself. never to rise again. gradually growing poorer. standard­ ization and compatibility. is such as to convince us that there is no internal need forcing it always to grow. because of a need that is not historical nor confined to our modern society. Tarde does not believe that any great split. There Has Never Been a "Capitalist Regime" If we accept all of Tarde's strange ideas on production factors. as we know. But it does not always regenerate. the most likely to lead the spirit astray. · and end up temporarily resolving certain conflicts through new adaptations.59 traditional economic theory no longer make sense. as if capitalism were a transitory phase of social development. but rather logical and universal. and the spectacle of nations in decline. radical revolution. . something other than the rise of capitalism has occurred. bam of this intellectual capital.

whereas the number of visual advertisements can grow without any one of them losing its distinct visual character. . evolves in the direction of greater and greater reach. as should by now be clear.60 What. We move from the past to the present through a greater intertwining of distances. through a greater interlacing. free and easy. This is true. Never do we move from the old�fashioned charm of exchange to commercial abstraction. through a more intricate involvement of the new techniques in innovation. The number of acoustic advertisements would not be able to go beyond a certain number in the city streets without resulting in a general deafening. For T arde. through the many examples of wall posters. f example. Advertising. through newspaper announcements. Throughout Psycholo ie Economique. can spread endlessly. then. although they might become blurred in one's memory. in short. production. T g arde emphasizes another phenomenon. which we must no longer confuse. nor any decrease of passions or increase in coldness. no commodity f etishism. Its reach. . which he def mes as the extension or intensi cation of the fi networks of imitation and contamination with its resulting mathematization. theref ore. with cool objectifi� cation. whereas it is difficult and costly to greatly increase the number of town criers. happened under the name of capi� ralism ? No "internal necessity" can explain it. is that the latter is far more likely than the former to spread more widely. this gradual replace­ ment of acoustic advertising by visual advertising. commercialization and communication. f or or the passage from town criers to modern advertising: The reason behind this evolution. there is no rise in abstraction. without any break with the past.

as we shall see in the last section. One can "economize" a society. left to their own devices.61 Here again we find the link noted earlier. through the cold and judicious calculation of probabilities. through reason alone. precisely. with­ out the influence of others. the vaguely rhythmic oscilla­ tions of any given value. but. Their range can be extended. it is in terms of networks and of the broadening of trust systems that one should grasp the anthropology of markets on the path to globaliza­ tion. less passionately interested. even more entangled. for example of the English stock over the last two centuries. for the use of sensible wits. but one can neither rationalize it nor modernize it. If you would like to understand why the econ­ omy is first and f oremost inter-subjective. even more intense. you will not find abstraction. on the contrary. of specula­ tion-in the inter-subjective and psychological sense of . indeed poses an immense political and moral problem which fascinates T arde. the same inter-subjectivity. Well before Fernand Braudel and Immanuel W allerstein. on the one hand. blinding evidence that all speculation there is a question. but they cannot be made less social. less inter-subjective. I challenge anyone to justify. Capitalism. as places offering. down to the very instruments. in the vein of traditional markets. but he does not cut into a histor­ ical anthropology through the sudden eruption of modernity and abstraction. you have to head to the stock markets ! There. So true is this that T arde described even the Stock Market and its astonishing discoveries as f amiliar places. rather. or. between techniques and accounting instnunents. and what we might call ' the lengthenin of g networks.

which resulted nonetheless. No one who tries to make sense of the recent world financial crisis will deny that T arde must be right. But was the price of wheat. it offers them a slight additional predictability. we can clearly . on the stock exchange the economy works not on its head. the economic discipline modifies the calculability of the social itself. in a prodigious hike in the price of wheat. just as today there are big bankers who play on the Stock Markets). it is because in it. or at a given time? No. determined by the real insufficiency or overabundance of wheat in a given region. abundance or scarcity was judged based on the amount of wheat brought into the market hall of the little neighboring town. there were no forward sales to tyrannically fix the price of wheat. And this is f or a critical reason to which T arde dedicates many pages: through the spread of valuemeters. when people were very ill-informed. to create the appearance of an entirely arti­ ficial scarcity. Before the broadening of the markets and the institution of Stock Exchanges. It was enough for a few monopolizers (for there were indeed such people then. or to stock their own harvest (in the case of large landowners).62 the duels discussed earlier. Whereas the usual complaint is that f mance has made the economy too abstract. an embeddedness of the economic in W can see how f we are here from the idea of e ar the social. Economics does not lower the temperature and the subjectivity of passions: through measure. just as important as the ques­ tion of price f ormation. however. but indeed on its f eet. At that time. If the theory of the Stock Market is. under the Ancien Regime for example. as if it had been real. when one knew only the harvest of one's one village. to drain the harvests of one or two towns. f T or arde.

thanks to the prolif eration of valuemeters. far from being irreconcilable. setting aside all the usual divisions of treatises. are themselves assessed in relation to each other. moving little by little. It is a second-degree relationship. Hence." W are now in a position to understand how e T arde. a passage just facilitated. by the spread of accoWlting instru­ ments and calculating devices. from the theory of numbers to that of functions. the parallel between the history of the mathematization. simpli­ fied. from one regime of uncertainty to another: Mathematical evolution moves from arithmetic to algebra.social world. On the stock market. they present themselves as functions of each other. and f ormatted. rising or falling together following certain laws. amplified.63 see the entirely psychological passagefrom uncertainty to probability. Instead of "production of riches" let us say economic repetition: by this we will understand the relations that . must thus instead lend each other mutual support in our view. That is why he can write the f ollowing sentence which essentially summarizes his whole book : "The tendency to mathematize economic science and the tendency to psycholo gize it. values. . Through the quoted value. Monetary evolution moves from metal COins to paper money (a kind of algebraic sign of currency). which are relationships between sums of money and objects. econo­ mization and "financialization" of the . and from the trade of commodity (where an amount of money is traded for an item or a service) to the trade of stock market values (where financial securities are exchanged for each other). will now divide the subject of his economic psychology.

by a better distribution of what belongs to it and which it already possesses. economics will no longer be that "erratic block" which he mocked earlier: If one agrees to attempt a recasting of political economy following this new model. is also connected to this subject. and so on� The entire theory of prices. or of the cooperation of their efforts and their labors in view of the reproduction of already invented riches Omplicit or explicit association. And at the same time. of their similar judgments bearing on the greater or lesser utility of these labors and of their outcomes. from the standpoint of the more apparent conflict between their labors by way of competition. better delimited and better fulfilled. one will see. trade wars.64 men entertain with one another. . from the standpoint of the propagation of their similar needs. of their similar labors. Under the heading of economic adaptation. I aim to understand the relations between men from the stand­ point of the unnoticed psychological contradiction between their needs and their judgments of utility. . which presupposes internal struggles and the sacrifices 'of some desires to others. what it can gain by eliminating what is foreign to it. of cost-value. I will treat the relations that men entertain with one another from the standpoint of the cooperation of their old inven­ tions to the satisfaction of a new need or the better satis­ faction of an old need. natural or artificial organization of work. Under the heading of economic opposition. It will become both more clear-cut and denser. by acquiring what it had neglected to claim as its own. Having undergone this transformation. or of their similar transactions . the fecundity of the tripartite classification . I believe. strikes.

. the theory of power. will become apparent.65 that can be equally applied to the theory of knowledge. rights and duties. and to the aesthetics.

this Pisible or inPisible hand which had animated it until then. genuinely Darwinian. that are not guided by any underlying structure. nature in the hands of Tarde has. lost its hand.PART III Economics Without Providence The reader is now ready. a harmonization . to register the strangeness of a book which will allow him to gain a new grasp on economics-a raw. one might say. He will above all have to get used to following trajectories that are not led by anything. All of Tarde's sociol­ ogy. rises up against what seems to be an ineradicable prejudice whenever it comes to economic questions : that there exists somewhere. nothing that can be captured in advance by a law outside the phenomena it governs­ especially not that of nature. By becoming Darwinian. in the State. we hope. all of his metaphysics. in nature. not a cooked one. in the market.

For Tarde. which is so frequent. that is the heart of the book. The question is to know if these personal interests achieve harmony on their own or artifi­ cially. though. As a result. The entire political economy of Adam Smith and his school is based on the premise of the spontaneous agreement between egoisms: hence the economic harmonies of Bastiat. there is no Providence. twelve years bef ore the cataclysm of the Great W ar which will leave us stunned f a century. right in the middle of the debate between liberalism and socialism. with this declaration that we can call construc­ tivist. avant la leUre. which showed us the hostility of interests. and inventions are this artifice. and so often essential and radical. It follows that the harmonization of interests can only be obtained through artifice. for anyone who embraced economic opposition in its entirety. How can we do this ? Necessarily through artifice and invention. the knot towards which everything converges. of Politics in Political Economy We find the argument in its clearest f orm both at the beginning and the end of the book.68 mechanism which we could rely on so as not to have to practice politics anymore. laissez-f aire . The Return. fifteen years or bef ore the Russian Revolution. This question cuts the opposite way from that of Smith. Let us begin with the end. Let us remember that this is written in 1 902. whether they be right-wing or left-wing. we must make do otherwise than by trusting in the economics of economists.

economics and politics deal with the same ob ject. follow the same fabric. One looks for the path towards the strongest collaboration among the desires of a nation or of a party in one same endeavor. is as clear cut as possible. but a principle of association and contamination) than there is a political realm which would limit. in terms of m " artifice" and "invention": it is the retur. because he renewed social theory in his other books as much as the ties between the social and natural sciences. the other looks for the path of their greatest and most reCiprocal usage-two very different ways of understanding their adaptation. feel their way around the ." an obvi­ ously impossible return as long as people believed in the existence of a material infrastructure governed by "natural laws" smuggled in f rom a biology of fantasy.69 and protectionism-a debate still current in the f orm of "neo-liberalism" and "anti-globalization. Put otherwise. The distinction between Politics and Political Economy. There is no domain at all : there is only an expanding fabric of interweaving desires and belief each of which benefits more or less s.n of the word "political" in the phrase "political economy. can f ally ask the mother of all questions." Tarde. greatly f rom the techniques of communication-from the newspaper to the telegraph. all the way to the chat­ ter of the idle classes-as well as from calculating devices-from the prices on price-tags all the way to the Stock Exchange and the collection of statistical data. along a border to be defined. There is no more an "embeddedness" of the economic in the social (f or the good reason that the social is not a domain on its own. the empire of what is economic. thus understood.

whose formula is being sought. there was the slave solution in Antiquity. the the monastic and guild solution in the Middle Ages. to help each other as much as possi­ ble. but this is not given by a law of evolution: it is a problem whose solution depends on our own inventions. "reciprocal use" f economists. for the different types of production to hamper each other as little as possible. Concerning the first. in short.70 same networks. that is. is it not necessary for each of these terms to harmonize as best as possible with itself. the liberal solution of current times. to converge as much as possible towards common national goals? For there to be. Finally. How can we distinguish them then? Only by the type of organization they promote : "collaboration" f politicians. as we wait for socialist solution or any other one. of work. it is useless to dream of a development of politics such that economics would no longer need to play out. the best possi­ ble organization. It is useless to dream of a development of economics such that politics would no longer be neces­ sary. whether spontaneous or conscious. to the most logical possible sort of common plan of conduct and of general life? These are two major problems which have plagued societies since the begin­ ning of time and which have been given a series of solu­ tions. of harmonization concerning them. and for the different kinds of needs and consump­ tions to conform. There are only different ways of organizing and divid­ ing up passionate interests. in order for production to best adjust itself to consumption. In the intertwining of . W can or or e indeed speak. depend on the same influences and the same contaminations. in their spontaneous or conscious hier­ archy.

Tarde discusses what is commonly called the '�dam Smith problem" and gives it. without being able to rely on a natural science? How to become inventive in political economy as well? The same question is posed at the beginning of the book when. What is nonetheless surprising is the small role played by psychology in these economic writings of Smith and the . The "Adam Smith Problem" and the Question of God How to find the "artifices" whose discovery will hence­ f orth occupy political life. of this immanence. not transcendent. There may be a "life plan. and orchestrated. We cannot leave it in anyone's hands. But in order to grasp the power of thi� constraint. as he so often does. like all economic historians. only one thing is certain: they will be imma­ nent. within him. over several astonishing pages. contingent. The problem is well-known: how can we explain that the author of The l*alth ofNations is also the author of the Theory of Moral Sentiments when Smith himself never drew a connection between the two works? "One could say that an almost airtight wall separates." a "common plan of conduct" . is surprised by this. artificial organization." Tarde. an entirely original solution. written years before the approaches of Schumpeter and Albert Hirschmann. we have to get to the bottom of this question of Providence. all the way to the ultimate source of the doctrine of intelligent design. his two orders of research.71 desires and belief everything has to be the object of an s.

in order to explain the economic relationships of men? Who. Behind the egoistic man. How is it that he never felt the need nor the opportunity to make use of the keen observations he had made concerning the mutual stimulation of sensibilities. and the apology of the former's egoism was. But it is an anthropology that can be practiced only on condition that the link between the assessments of the human heart and the calculations that allow f the wealth of or . the love of the self. and of the deepest kind. for him. must have had no difficulty in seeing egoism itself. the effect of an epicurean and materialistic conception. It was. then. as vested with a sacred function. there was a beneficent God. one that is eminently suited to weave and strengthen social harmony. It is he. Thus. who was the first to study of collective psychology. a natural continuation of his piety and his faith in God. so obvious it is to him? Tarde's answer is a theological one: yve can understand that a man so willing to see a divine artist behind the canvas of human events and a divine wisdom behind all human folly. a source and foundation of inter-mental psychology. Now this is economic anthropology. though. and reduced homo economicus to interest. whose presence Smith does not even need to mention. it was not. when he based all of political economy on that principle. sympathy. this Great Other. on the contrary. To the "invisible procession" of which he spoke earlier. in truth. but a hymn in prose to the infinite goodness of the latter.72 total absence Smith himself. is this absent one. we must add God. of course setting aside aU affec­ tion and all abnegation.

Tarde does not in any way wish to argue that we should once again trust ourselves to the care of divine Providence! His point is far more ironic. the keystone of the system. their speculations carry no trace of this belief. They have. eliminated heaven from this now incomprehensible landscape. . by continuing to base political economy on the premise of man's pure egoism and the battle of interests. Egoism is sacred. Or. if they do believe in God. but what is most astonishing is that it . which has lost all of its former solidity. . in our century. The illu­ sion runs deep. Take away God. Unlike so many truly reactionary thinkers of the 19th century. are athe­ ists . .73 nations be renovated. they eliminated. which no longer illuminates or explains anything. The "keystone" of the economic "system" is God! Let us not misunderstand Tarde's intentions. it is viewed as sacred. who had been in charge of regulating the relationship between economy and morality. or put out the light of the lantern. his approach is much more biting towards all scientific pretensions : those atheist economists who came after Smith are only atheists for fun. They settled for placing an airtight wall between the two orders of phenomena. if we prefer. all the while upholding the principles of a theocratic order. he goes much deeper. at the very least. which alone can make us obey with­ out grumbling against the laws of economics. but it is still the hand of the All-Powerful. after having banished the idea of Providence. That is why. such as Joseph de Maistre or Louis de Bonald. They pretended to eliminate Smith's God. without realizing it. The hand has perhaps become invisible. and everything collapses ! But Smith's successors.

There is nothing more f oreign to Tarde than . still regulates the automatic achievement of harmony. too. too. everything in modern economics is marked by the seal of transcendence and of the sacred. Nevertheless. behind this "secular religion.74 has worked f or two centuries. But Tarde knows these doctrines well. your harmonies." to use Polanyi's phrase. f or the love of God. several socialist schools that aimed. he does not treat the diffusion of Marx's doctrines any diff erently than he does the spreading of the ideas of Malthus or Spencer. you had really secularized economics. and never more than today has it been displayed : a God who is crossed out. at the same period. materialistic and atheistic. your inflexible iron laws. above all. are still pious ?" The Likely Mistake of the Coming Socialism The objection may be raised that there existed. negated. your natural laws. to reveal the exploitation that is hidden behind vain claims of objectivity. In other words. to be religious and providential. then. As Nietzsche wondered about science : "How we. he is passionate about the social question. say so! But do not act as though. At no time does he think that they will reveal the pres­ ence of indisputable facts behind the smokescreen of ideologies. economics is still searching · for an approach that would be able to make it. and denied. For Tarde. to put politics back into economics-and to do so far more vigorously. What Tarde demands of economists is a bit of honesty: if you really want your optimum. finally. he reads Marx with the same atten­ tion as he reads Darwin. and.

" do not f orm the basis of the economy. defeated one after the other by many personal influences and suggestions. it is only with a view to the famous "cl9:ss struggles. thawed political economy and made it passionate. which did not. scholarly journals and papers are necessary. That is what allows him to off a both generous and yet unf er orgiving assessment of Marxism. individual by individual. such as that of typographers." just as the "pure and perf ect market. and it is only after many elements of resistance. what is needed or is "repeated assemblies" and "propaganda. f the pure and perf or ect market. " When such a coalition is produced. f class struggles. change anything in the . link by link. "Class struggles. as well as the French schools of 1 848 and the German schools of today." As always. that repeated assemblies result in this alliance both on the offensive and the defensive. but yet without having questioned the economists' inversion of the recto and the verso.75 the notion of an ideology which could hide or invert true science. and it is in this way alone that they introduced a new psychological element into it. by the way. Tarde invites us not to jump immediately outside of the point-to-point networks which convince. Tarde gives Marx credit f having been inno­ or vative concerning the passions. it is through the same mechanisms as all other f orms of imitative rays: If workers from the most diverse professions form coali­ tions. While. i t is always through the initiative and rousing propaganda of the workers from a professional body that stands out and is specifically designated for this mission. The socialist schools. If Marxism spreads. but rather one of the possible versions of the economic discipline.

that's not bad. Under the empire of these intense feel­ ings. thanks to him. the p roportions of the two are reversed. economic theories became more colorful and invig­ orated . He finds it fascinating that socialism was able to innovate on the very nature of economic passions. the Devil of harmony is always venerated. In other words." and they have maintained the idea of a direc­ tion. while more generous than hateful in France. The passion that inspired these doctrines often varied . The God. at heart. in the combination of generosity and hatred of which it is composed. Compare Leroux or Proudhon even to Karl Marx. the "mother of all or things. Marxism off ers the worst of both worlds : a growth of the passions and a growth of the claim of objectivity. of which he approves the . we will begin to hate. on an even greater scale ! Crimes committed in the name of dialectical materialism will be able to add themselves to the crimes justified by capitalism. In 1902? Y ou must admit. in the name of science. nor is there anything reac­ tionary or simply defensive. the Mammon. design and law in history. What he is concerned with is there­ f ore not socialism in itself. and. In essence. but. in T arde's view.76 fundamental notions. they maintained and even accentu­ ated the old claim of objectivity. of the geometrical deduction of rigid formulas. . Thus. But let us note that there is nothing nostalgic about T arde's argument. having the appearance of physical laws. one transcendence has taken the place of another: the gainin ofpassion is great� the gainin o immanence is g g f none. Marxists have not set aside from the old dialec­ tic the Mephistophelian taste f war. structure. it has become more hateful than generous in Germany.

defense of territory-a great new goal. through the absorption of the second by the first. no laws of devel­ opment. on a sort of moral or political aversion. The originality of socialism consist in having added. conquest. it would become far more difficult for a new need. It is only through the spreading of instmments that the social is rendered both quantifiable . coordinated. He skips over all of the objections with which his contem­ poraries concerned themselves. gathered and assem­ bled by the measuring instmments which f eed the economic discipline and which spread out f rom the metrological chains. no harmony. The socialist standpoint on the organization of work can be considered as the fusion of the political and economic standpoints into one. were this goal to be attained. both f rom a technical and a quasi-account­ ing point of view. everything rests on artifice and inventions. Except that.patriotic glory. to interpose itself in the chain of recognized needs. simplified. for T arde.n general direction. in particular. there is no infrastmcture. Work will ossify itself by organizing itself. very much worthy of their efforts: the conscious and systematic organization of work. we can see. war. there are no natural laws. facilitated. to the very small number of collective goals that men united in a nation can pursue. do not rest at all . He gives socialism its chances. for a new industry. its Marxist version. but rather the difficulty in organizing production. and designates with tact the central point of the whole theory: can the economy be rendered predictable by economics ? Let us remember that. no automatism. and consequently. The doubts that Tarde has about socialism and.

so that there might be no more risk run. would the State be able to think seriously about taking their place. their boss having become their colleague. of what is good and what is bad. and only then. always more or less conjectural today. It makes us wonder what we accomplished in the 20th century. a more intelligent and talented colleague. rather. of State . but it can only format the economy which always overflows from it on all sides." The question [of the socialist organization of labor) . is. both certain and perfect. as a result. If the day came when nature and the extent of consumers' demands could be thus predicted with certainty by producers. can do a lot. directing from above centralized and organized national work. or. through marvelously rapid commercial statistics. in essence. The question of risk -sharing. any more injustice or inconvenience in eliminating the boss's profit. nor. given that such risks would no longer exist. workers would be able to lay claim to their part of the boss's profits. to render certain or almost certain the predictions. in making itself mathematical. and better paid as such and as the creator of the business. that is the unexpected against which all prophe­ cies come up. since the question essentially remains today with the same intensity as yesterday-or. a necessary compensation for his current risks. at the very least. to know whether we will ever be able. of producers. economics as a discipline. because passionate interests have grown and combined enormously. . but not because of risks taken. reflexivity. Now. with even greater intensity. "Future invention: that is the pitf of all calcula­ all tions. and through other means of information. then.78 and predictable to itself through a powerful process of .

it is because he doubts the virtues of regimentation: In principle. the first great wave of globalization heralded. I must say. that is indeed the substance of political economy. under the collectivist regime. Not a day passes without either the excess or the shortage of required supplies making itself painfully felt. of the predictability that can be given to the habits contracted by the swarming of attachments. there is nothing inconceivable about this. All the more. nothing messier than communism. that I do not see any less that there is very little basis for the dream of a general and centralized organization of work by the State. of the coordination of agreements between likes and dislikes. Y et. it is totalization. and. if I consult experience. If there is one thing that totalitarianism is incapable of f ollowing through with. There is nothing messier than war.79 organization. if T arde doubts the ability of socialism to solve �ese questions. then. in their view. which would take total mobilization as an ideal model for the economy. . like all those of his time. without a doubt. nevertheless. will it be possible to predict the needs of all citizens with as much rigor and certainty as those of a marching army. October 1 9 1 7 would soon take on the task of verifying this prediction concerning what could be expected from the socialism of war. we would have reason to complain daily of civil­ ian supply systems. which. whose task would be complicated in a completely different way. was terribly mistaken on the future of coordination and perpetual peace. nothing messier than the economics of war. Tarde. of the quality of data. we know how flawed even the most perfect military supply organization is in a time of combat. But. Of course. above all. And yet. Never.

behind the Market's invisible hand." to use Maurizio Lazzarato's title. the same barely secularized figure. it is necessary to fully grasp the innovation he brings to sociology. nor the inventors of the market. behind the State's visible hand. That is what we will need to tackle in order to truly get to the bottom of the subject of economics. Neither Smith. the social Organism. As long as politics is not recognized as a "power of invention. In order to understand what makes Tarde so innovative in economics. the Big Animal. It Comes Galloping Back It is decidedly not easy to be agnostic when it comes to economics. The idea.CONCLUSION If You Chase the Big Beast Away. made . nor socialism have yet achieved it. and thus no socialism. We have to go even further and recognize. there will not be any taking back of economics by politics.

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famous by Polanyi, of an "embeddedness" of that . which is economic in that which is social had the great impracticality of assuming the prior existence of society. We can understand, then, that the theoretical gain could not be very great: in passing from economism to economic sociology, all that was happening was shifting an already-established structure-the infrastructure and its laws-to another structure, it, too, already in place: society and its laws. Of course, we learned a Jot about the "extra-economic" factors of contracts, of trades and of tastes, but it was, in a way, to move from one struc­ ture to another: Yet, the "involution" T arde proposes of all the laws of a structure in the swarming of monads had the drastic consequence of dissolving all struc­ tures-that of the pure and perfect market, of course, but also those of the social world which are accepted by sociologists like Durkheim and his disciples. Along with the dissolution of society, all the metaphors of embeddedness also disappear. Economics no longer lies in the Procustian "bed" of the social, because there is no more bed, no more pillow to rest one's head, no more canopy, no more duvet. In a decisive passage, Tarde brings together all of his sociological, economic and political thought-it was the last course he taught at the College de France, two years before his death-by showing by which paradoxical link the idea of harmony through the market and the idea of society always, deep down, went hand-in-hand.
Thus, there is no social harmony, and especially no economic harmony not preceded and prepared by a psychological harmony, and at the origin of all associa­ tions between men we will find an association between a

83
man's ideas. Let us pause for a moment to point out the philosophical significance of the fact just observed. It follows, of course, that society is not 'an organism; but does it follow that it is not a reality which is distinct from its members? Now here is a question which demands a clear answer. If the idea of a social organism can be defended, it is only insofar as it is an expressIon, albeit an unfortunate one, of social realism, that is to say of society seen as a real being and not just as a real beings.

certain number of

Totus aut omnis? The question remains. From the beginning of his career, Tarde argues against those-Comte, Spencer, Durkheim-who wish to distinguish rigidly the type of reality that is Society from the types of realities of the "real beings" who make it up. Where aU sociologists would like to see two orders of reality-the Macro and the Micro­ Tarde insists, page after page, on proving that, precisely in the case of human societies grasped from within, we know without a doubt that there is only one order of reality. Never, from among the gathered associates, does the social structure, this cosa mentaie, suddenly emerge.
And yet, as intimate, as harmonious as a given social group may be, one never observes springing up ex

abrupto in the midst of surprised associates a common
self, a real and not merely metaphorical self, the wonder­ ful result of which they would be the conditions. Without a doubt, there is always an associate who represents and personifies the whole group, or else a small number of associates (the ministers of a State), each of whom, in a particular manner, represents no less fully an individual manifestation of it. But this leader or these leaders are

84
always also members of the group, born of their own fathers and mothers and not of their subjects or collec­ tively of those they manage.

Despite a century of passing over this pons asino­ of social theory again and again, it is clearly not a question here of opposing holism and individualism. As we have seen, for Tarde it is no more true that there is the individual than that there is society. It is necessary to find a solution other than "social realism" to the question of the composition of that which is social, since "social realism" is a most unrealistic solution, that we still continue, a century later, to draw from the alleged opposition between individual and society.
rum Y et, the best support for this conception, might that not be the discovery of the "natural laws· which, independent of any individual will, might lead individuals, along paths already traced, to a more and more perfect political, moral, and economic organization? The doctrine of lais­ sez-faire thus has much in common with that of society­ as-organism, and the blows directed against the latter have repercussions on the former. If we were right to believe in the spontaneous harmonization of societies, we would also be right to view society as a real being, as we do a plant or an animal. But, really, is the illusion of this providential predestination not dissipating more and more, even from an economic point of view? When it comes to the political point of view, it is enough to open one's eyes to see nations rising and falling, strengthening or weaken­ ing, according to whether or not they have found, at the right moment, the strong hand of a statesman; and it is no longer possible to believe in an innate sense of direction that guides peoples with no apparent driver.

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On both sides of the battle of giants which pits interventionism against laissez-faire, socialism against neo-liberalism, there are the same principles of sociol­ ogy (the idea of "organism"), the same economic prin­ ciples ("providential predestination") , and the same ethical principles ("the belief in the spontaneous harmonization of societies") . But how else can it be done? How can one escape this "seductive mistake"?
However, should renouncing this error [that of society-as­ organismJ, so seductive for so long, lead us to deny all specific reality of the social whole, to view it as a simple total, a numerical expression of the assembled individu­ als? No. If we refuse to allow natural laws in the given sense, and also formulas for evolution which are their most recent form, we are allowing in every individual a more or less acute need for the logical coordination of ideas, for the final coordination of acts, a need which is kindled through the coming together of individuals, and which becomes a general trend toward a growing logic and finality, in any category of social facts, and ends up making order out of disorder everywhere, and carding chaos into a world.

"To card chaos into a world": that is the goal that we might off to passionate interests. There is no er harmony, there are no natural laws, no "evolutionary f ormulas" like those that dialectical materialism popu­ larized at the time, no revolution to expect-but that does not mean that one should, through a pleasant expectation of postmodernism, abandon the ideas of totality and f mality. There is indeed f T or arde a "social whole" but-and this is what distinguishes him from all of his contemporaries, indeed from all of our contem­ poraries, and what gives his book such a pristine novel

it can fail. An algebraic formula that provides solutions to a great number of different problems is one thing. inexhaUstible. it may not come about. on condition that they effectively "card chaos into a world. rich in manifesta­ tions and in unexpected itineraries in an altogether differ­ ent way. but I hold that these potentialities are individual ideas and wills. in my view. but rather immanent and internal. . It is in front of us. not behind us. is one possibility among others. I am a real­ ist as well. their ideas and their passions come together and connect. in the sense that only society brings to reality. like in the view of my opponents.86 character-this social whole is to be built. from there. through inventions. it gives it far more freedom. There is nothing inevitable about it. I situate them in the brains instead of placing them nowhere other than in ontological clouds. Finalism is not transcendent and external. And T arde concludes this bit of bravura with ' a profession of faith: 'This manner is different from that of providential harmonies or linear evolutions in that." To become a world. and I say that these potentialities are innumerable. Chaos can dissolve it. potentialities contained within individuals and which each of them separately would not be able to bring to fruition. always the same one. we are led not to deny social reality but to conceive of it as alive and real in an altogether different way. simply "kindled" and made "more logical" by the very way individuals. through artifice. in other words. instead of limiting them to a strictly determined or rather predetermined number. an arith­ metical equation that applies to one problem only and contains one solution only is something else. And. instead of forcing the social train to follow a single path. As a result. just like their spiritual source.

For. one which does not f ollow a "linear evolution." and which would give the "social train" "free play. . in order to finally be "realis­ tic. the care of ensuring our common existence in advance. however. that it is indeed economic science that T arde means to renew. which is to say more social connections. or on whether we deny all providences. rom the free play of passionate interests that he it is f expects more quantification. to "card chaos into a world. one which does not commit us to anything." ." It might be objected that we are dealing here with a charming enthusiasm.87 We must understand that the expression "politi­ cal economy" does not have the same meaning at all. depending on whether we unite or oppose two provi­ dences. At no time does T arde ask us to choose between cold economics and warm subjectivity. Let us note. Instead. and that we must take the parallel he draws between the passing from determination to freedom and the passing from "arithmetic" to "algebra" extremely seriously. that of Society and that of the Market. that of Society as well as that of the Market." one which would accept being freed f rom the "ontological clouds." one would need to agree to inherit an entirely different history.

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