История на икономическата мисъл

Profession of Faith to the Electors of the District of Saint-Sever (1846)

À Messieurs les électeurs de l'arrondissement de Saint-Séver (1846)

Автор(и) : Frédéric Bastiat

Издател : Foundation for Economic Education

Място на издаване : New York, USA

Година на издаване : 2001

Брой страници : 20

Език : английски


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In 1846, France was still a monarchy, known as the "July Monarchy", because the King, Louis-Philippe, came to power after a popular upheaval against the previous king, Charles X, in July 1830. From an administrative point of view, France was divided - as it is still today - into "départements", or departments, and the departments in "arrondissements", themselves divided into "cantons". In the text which follows, the word "arrondissement" has been aptly translated by "district", and we shall use this translation in this introduction. As is still the case today, each district sent one representative to parliament.
At that time, Bastiat was living in the canton of Mugron, belonging to the district of Saint-Sever, itself a part of a department called "Les Landes". This canton, district, and department still exist today, with practically the same boundaries. Bastiat was a candidate for parliament in the district of Saint-Sever.
In 1846, there was something different, though: only those paying a certain amount of taxes were entitled to vote. In the district of Saint-Sever, they numbered only 369! Besides, the ""préfet"", the local representative of the central power, did not have the same neutrality vis a vis the electorate as he has to day under the law. He would use all the influence he could exert in favor of the "official" candidate, the one supported by the monarchy. The "official" candidate was a certain Mr Larnac, who was elected with 170 voices. Bastiat got only 53!
And yet he had written to his electors, in splendid and luminous prose, the most sensible and responsible "profession of faith" ever written by a candidate to parliament. The Cercle Frédéric Bastiat is proud to have translated this address, and the Foundation for Economic Education is proud to publish it in 2001, for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bastiat.
This letter contains most of the themes against which Bastiat had fought for the previous two years, and would continue to fight during the four last years of his life:
• The tendency for governments to expand and spend.
• The submission of legislative to executive power.
• The frequent changes of government to satisfy the ambition of some MP to become ministers.
• The tacit agreement among political opponents to maintain the level of state expenditures.
• The excessive number of civil servants in parliament.
• The colonial conquests.
The burden of State Intervention.
More constructively, it also contained the great universal ideas for which he was to become famous:
• A minimum State reduced to Justice, Police, and Defense.
• Freedom of exchange.
• Freedom of education.
• The right of property.
In 1848, a revolution brought the monarchy down and installed the 2nd Republic. Universal suffrage was instituted. The vote was now at the department level: 7 "deputies" were to be elected for Les Landes to the "Assemblée Constituante", a temporary parliament elected to draw up the Constitution. Bastiat was one of them, coming second in term of the number of votes. He was reelected to the National Assembly the following year, where he had a profound moral influence - alas without significant practical results - until 1850, the year of his death.

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