Sinful city and innocent countryside. The physiocrats' concept of the town/city
The paper discusses the political views of the physiocrats known in the litarture on the subject primarily as economists, with special regard to the way the praise of the life in the country and the dismissal of urbanity as immoral complements the economic argument that value is produced by agriculture only, industry and commerce merely tranforming its products, and thus the latter can be regarded as improductive.
The author attempts to show the relationship between certain elements of the argumentation of the physiocrats with the republican discourse described by John Pocock in connection with Renaissance Italy and 17th-18th-century England in his The Machiavellian Moment. In the light of this interpretation the essay attempts to reconsider the physiocrats' views on the theory and practice of political representation, on the freedom of commerce, on the history of France, and, of course, on the relationship between the city and the countryside. This approach makes it possible to regard the physiocrats not exclusively as a "sect" and the forerunners of Adam Smith, but to find a place for them in the political intellectual history of the eighteenth century.