Part 2a

Part 2a-Expenses on Justice

by Adam Smith Icon

44 The sovereign’s second duty is to protect every member of society from the injustice or oppression of others.

  • The administration of justice requires very different costs in the different periods of society.

Feelings in Non-Property-Owning Societies

45 A nation of hunters has:

  • no property that exceeds the value of two or three days labour, and
  • no established magistrate or any regular administration of justice.

Men who have no property can only injure one another in their persons or reputations.

  • When a man kills, wounds, beats, or defames another, the doer receives no benefit.
  • When a person injures another person’s property, the doer’s benefit is often equal to the sufferer’s loss.

Envy, malice, or resentment are the only passions which can prompt one man to injure another in his person or reputation.

  • But most men are not very frequently under the influence of those passions.
  • The very worst of men are only occasionally under them.
  • The gratification of those passions do not give any real or permanent advantage.
  • Thus, it is commonly restrained in most men by prudence.

Men may live in society with some tolerable security even if there is no civil magistrate to protect them from those passions.

Feelings in Property-Owning Societies

The passions which prompt men to invade property are:

  • the avarice and ambition in the rich, and
  • the hatred of labour and the love of present ease and enjoyment in the poor

These passions are much more steady in their operation and much more universal in their influence.

“Wherever there is great property there is great inequality.”

  • For every very rich man. there must be at least 500 poor.
  • The affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the many*.
  • The affluence of the rich excites the indignation of the poor.
  • The poor are often driven by want and prompted by envy to invade his possessions.

*Superphysics note: This is seen in monkey behavior where monkeys get jealous of monkeys that eat better. This is a sign of the development of ego.

The owner of that valuable property can be secure only under the civil magistrate’s shelter.

  • That property might have been acquired by many years’ labour or by many successive generations.
  • He is always surrounded by unknown enemies.
  • He can be protected from their injustice by the civil magistrate’s powerful arm which continually chastises it.

The acquisition of valuable and extensive property necessarily requires the establishment of civil government.

  • Where there is no property that exceeds the value of two or three days labour, civil government is not so necessary.


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