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
Резервираната от вас книга ще бъде пазена до 2 работни дни след избраната дата, след което ще бъде освободена за по-нататъшно резервиране. Съгласувайте с работното време на Библиотеката!
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.
"They wage battles in Parliament with flabby balls.
The conservatives have the official majority; they reign, they govern. But they feel confusedly that they are leading the country, and themselves, to ruin. They have the majority, but, in the depths of their conscience, the manifest fraud of the polls raises a protest that bothers them. They reign, but they can see that, under their reign, the budget increases year by year, that the present is deep in debt and the future already tied up, that the first emergency will find us without resources, and they are well aware that financial difficulties have always been the occasion for revolutionary outbursts. They govern, but they cannot deny that they govern people through their evil passions, and that political corruption is making its way into all the arteries of the electorate. They wonder what the consequences of such a serious state of affairs will be, and what is to become of a nation where immorality has pride of place and where political faith is an object of mockery and contempt. They worry on seeing the constitutional regime perverted in its very essence, to the point where the executive power and the legislative assembly have publicly exchanged their responsibilities, with the ministers surrendering to the members of parliament the job of appointing people to all posts, and the members of parliament relinquishing their share of legislative power to the ministers. As a result, they see civil servants overcome with deep discouragement, when favor and electoral submissiveness alone entitle you to promotion, and when the longest and most devoted services are held of no account whatsoever. Yes, the future of France troubles the conservatives; and how many among them would not go over to the opposition, if they could only find there some guarantees for that peace at home and abroad of which they are so fond?"
Frédéric Bastiat was born in Bayonne in 1801, and died in Rome in 1850. He spent the better part of his last years in Paris, as the editor of "Le Journal des Economistes", and from 1848, as a member of Parliament. As an economist, gifted with a very clear mind and a devastating sense of humor, he renewed the Economic science of his time by developing it from the standpoint of the consumer, i.e. the people. He was the tireless apostle of freedom of exchange and freedom of choice by individuals, without constraints or subsidies. His works are as fresh and relevant today as they were 150 years ago, and his numerous predictions about the evolution of Institutions and Societies have invariably come true. As a philosopher, he was the precursor of many present day Libertarians, building normative ethics on the foundations of individual liberty and responsibility. As a local judge, he was a paragon of efficiency and equity. As a politician with a great foresight, he was an advocate of minimum government, and fought against the indefinite extension of public expenditure. He criticized colonial expeditions and slavery. He argued for the separation of powers, for preventing MPs from being ministers at the same time, and for limiting the number of civil servants in the Assembly. He was for a greater participation of women in politics. His major writings are “The Law”, “The State”, “Economic Sophisms”, “What Is Seen And What Is Not Seen”, “Economic Harmonies”. They have been translated into many languages.
Личен сайт: http://bastiat.net/en/; http://bastiat.org/