The first grave doubts as to the divine character of the capitalist order

came to bourgeois economists under the immediate impact of the first

crises of 1815 and 1818-19 in England. Even then it had still been

external circumstances which led up to these crises, and they appeared

to be ephemeral. Napoleon’s blockade of the Continent which for a

time had cut off England from her European markets and had favoured

a considerable development of home industries in some of the contin-

ental countries, was partly responsible; for the rest the material exhaus-

tion of the Continent, owing to the long period of war, made for a

smaller demand for English products than had been expected when the

blockade was lifted. Still, these early crises were enough to reveal to the

contemporary world the sinister aspects of this best of all social orders.

Glutted markets, shops filled with goods nobody could buy, frequent

bankruptcies-and on the other hand the glaring poverty of the toiling

masses-for the first time all this starkly met the eyes of theorists who

had preached the gospel of the beautiful harmonies of bourgeois laissez-

faire and had sung its praises in all keys. All contemporary trade reports,

periodicals and travellers’ notes told of the losses sustained by English

merchants. In Italy, Germany, Russia, and Brazil, the English disposed