The Classic Blueprint for a Just Society
Автор(и) : Frédéric Bastiat
Издател : Foundation for Economic Education
Място на издаване : Irvington-on-Hudson, NY, USA
Година на издаване : 2000
ISBN : 1-57246-073-3
Брой страници : 82
Език : английски
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The Law, original French title La Loi, is a 1850 book by Frederic Bastiat. It was written at Mugron two years after the third French Revolution of 1848 and a few months before his death of tuberculosis at age 49. The essay was influenced by John Locke's Second Treatise on Governmentand in turn influenced Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson. It is the work for which Bastiat is most famous along with The candlemaker's petition and the Parable of the broken window.
In The Law, Bastiat states that "each of us has a natural right — from God — to defend his person, his liberty, and his property". The State is a "substitution of a common force for individual forces" to defend this right. The law becomes perverted when it punishes one's right to self-defense in favor of another's acquired right to plunder.
Bastiat defines two forms of plunder: ""stupid greed and false philanthropy"". Stupid greed is ""protective tariffs, subsidies, guaranteed profits"" and false philanthropy is ""guaranteed jobs, relief and welfare schemes, public education, progressive taxation, free credit, and public works"". Monopolism and Socialism are legalized plunder which Bastiat emphasizes is legal but not legitimate.
Justice has precise limits but philanthropy is limitless and government can grow endlessly when that becomes its function. The resulting statism is "based on this triple hypothesis: the total inertness of mankind, the omnipotence of the law, and the infallibility of the legislator". The relationship between the public and the legislator becomes "like the clay to the potter". Bastiat says, "I do not dispute their right to invent social combinations, to advertise them, to advocate them, and to try them upon themselves, at their own expense and risk. But I do dispute their right to impose these plans upon us by law—by force—and to compel us to pay for them with our taxes".
"Self-preservation and self-development are common aspirations among all people. And if everyone enjoyed the unrestricted use of his faculties and the free disposition of the fruits of his labor, social progress would be ceaseless, uninterrupted, and unfailing.
But there is also another tendency that is common among people. When they can, they wish to live and prosper at the expense of others. This is no rash accusation. Nor does it come from a gloomy and uncharitable spirit. The annals of history bear witness to the truth of it: the incessant wars, mass migrations, religious persecutions, universal slavery, dishonesty in commerce, and monopolies. This fatal desire has its origin in the very nature of man — in that primitive, universal, and insuppressible instinct that impels him to satisfy his desires with the least possible pain."
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.