GHDI logo

Wenzel Anton Kaunitz-Rietberg, "Most Graciously Commissioned Report on the Improvement of the Domestic System" for Maria Theresa (April 14, 1773)

The following is an excerpt from an unpublished manuscript of nearly 250 pages. Chancellor Wenzel Anton Kaunitz-Rietberg (1711-94) criticizes the economic anemia of the Austrian-Bohemian hereditary lands, invoking the policies and statistics-based practices of Frederickian Prussia’s interventionist statism. In keeping with this, he advances reform from above as the path to enriching society and therewith government. At the same time, however, he also expresses ideas associated with the French “Physiocratic” theorists, namely views that favored laissez-faire and free trade policies in lieu of then-current tariff protections that favored local manufacturers to the detriment of the whole economy. Kaunitz also argues for an economics-oriented education of the common people and for the promotion of an active “national spirit” or patriotism.

print version     return to document list previous document      next document

page 1 of 7

[ . . . ]

1mo What kind of ailments afflict the political body.

Ad 1mo Even if one undertakes only a cursory investigation of the domestic situation of the German hereditary lands, one sees all too clearly that they are far from the blossoming condition in which they could be, and that some are a bit feebler, others a bit less so, but all are weakened and so to say emaciated. The people are almost universally poor, oppressed, and troublesome. The rural towns are dreary, overburdened with debt, and diminished in terms of population. Rather than getting stronger, food production, manufacturing, and industry in general, as well as commerce, are falling into greater and greater decline. In ten years of peace, the debt burden of the state has not decreased, but rather increased, and instead of using this time to gather new strength to endure a future war, the hereditary lands assume a sadder appearance every day. In former times, the nobility of the hereditary lands numbered among the richest in Europe; now it is difficult for most of them to procure their own basic necessities. And their own indigence means that they are not in a position to offer the necessary help to their subjects. Members of the clergy, who previously lived in abundance and supported the state with their voluntary contributions, now find themselves in nearly the same hard-pressed circumstances. There is no group that does not feel a distinct diminishing of their inner strength. [ . . . ]

2do Which political illnesses demand the fastest and most urgent attention on account of their danger. [ . . . ]

3tio What sorts of causes give rise to both types of political illnesses.

first page < previous   |   next > last page