The Law Info

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The Law was originally published as a pamphlet in 1850 by
Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850). Bastiat wrote most of his work in the few
years before and after the French Revolution of 1848. The Law is
considered a classic and his ideas are still relevant today. The essay
was published in French in 1850. This piece was published in English as
part of Essays on Political Economy (G.P. Putnams & Sons, 1874) with
authoritative translation by British economist Patrick James
Stirling.


Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for The Law:

5

Jul 10, 2010

6.0 stars. The newest member of my list of "All Time Favorite" books. I can not believe I have never read (or until somewhat recently heard) of this classic of limited government and libertarian political philospophy. Bastiat's message is clear...the only proper role of the law (i.e. government) is to safeguard the individuals right to his/her life, liberty and property. Any actions by the government beyond this limited sphere will actually act to violate the rights of one group at the expense 6.0 stars. The newest member of my list of "All Time Favorite" books. I can not believe I have never read (or until somewhat recently heard) of this classic of limited government and libertarian political philospophy. Bastiat's message is clear...the only proper role of the law (i.e. government) is to safeguard the individuals right to his/her life, liberty and property. Any actions by the government beyond this limited sphere will actually act to violate the rights of one group at the expense of another.

A few interesting quotes:

"The mission of law is not to oppress persons and plunder them of their property, even thought the law may be acting in a philanthropic spirit. Its mission is to protect property."

"But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime."

"You say: 'There are persons who lack education' and you turn to the law. But the law is not, in itself, a torch of learning which shines its light abroad. The law extends over a society where some persons have knowledge and others do not; where some citizens need to learn, and others can teach. In this matter of education, the law has only two alternatives: It can permit this transaction of teaching-and-learning to operate freely and without the use of force, or it can force human wills in this matter by taking from some of them enough to pay the teachers who are appointed by government to instruct others, without charge. But in the second case, the law commits legal plunder by violating liberty and property."

"As long as it is admitted that the law may be diverted from its true purpose--that it may violate property instead of protecting it--then everyone will want to participate in making the law, either to protect himself against plunder or to use it for plunder."

This book is right up there with The Road to Serfdom as a seminal work of limited government. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!! ...more
4

Mar 13, 2008

the same situation exists in America today as in the France of 1848

Socialists desire to practice legal plunder, not illegal plunder. Socialists, like all other monopolists, desire to make the law their own weapon. And when once the law is on the side of socialism, how can it be used against socialism? For when plunder is abetted by the law, it does not fear your courts, your gendarmes, and your prisons. Rather, it may call upon them for help.

Limited legal plunder: This system prevailed when the the same situation exists in America today as in the France of 1848

Socialists desire to practice legal plunder, not illegal plunder. Socialists, like all other monopolists, desire to make the law their own weapon. And when once the law is on the side of socialism, how can it be used against socialism? For when plunder is abetted by the law, it does not fear your courts, your gendarmes, and your prisons. Rather, it may call upon them for help.

Limited legal plunder: This system prevailed when the right to vote was restricted. One would turn back to this system to prevent the invasion of socialism.

Universal legal plunder: We have been threatened with this system since the franchise was made universal. The newly enfranchised majority has decided to formulate law on the same principle of legal plunder that was used by their predecessors when the vote was limited.

No legal plunder: This is the principle of justice, peace, order, stability, harmony, and logic.


...more
2

Sep 08, 2008

While I agree with Bastiat entirely, the way that he has presented "the classic blueprint for a just society," is exactly why people who lean more towards socialist ideas scoff at those who are for capitalism, economic stability, and most importantly honoring the fundamentals of the need for law: to protect life, liberty, and property.

The first chapter started out wonderfully, articulately and simple. It was accessible and easy to understand and apply. I was excited as I hoped to share this with While I agree with Bastiat entirely, the way that he has presented "the classic blueprint for a just society," is exactly why people who lean more towards socialist ideas scoff at those who are for capitalism, economic stability, and most importantly honoring the fundamentals of the need for law: to protect life, liberty, and property.

The first chapter started out wonderfully, articulately and simple. It was accessible and easy to understand and apply. I was excited as I hoped to share this with my husband to allow him to open up to my ideas on politics which are different from his (he's a democrat/socialist).

However, the rest of the book just seemed to be a rant that got more and more impassioned as it went along, which to me seemed to take away from the reader's ability to take what he was saying seriously. I was disappointed because even though I agreed with everything he said and thought his applications of his ideas were great, I felt sort of embarrassed about his inability to keep calm in expressing his ideas.

The book is sound, based on sound ideas and should appeal to any libertarian. I nodded a lot as I was reading it. "Yes!" I kept telling myself, "this is definitely true." Unfortunately the truth was told, in this case, in a way that I don't think would be very accessible to the people that Bastiat was intent on reaching. I think a democrat/socialist might mislabel it "too radical" when they really mean, "too impassioned."

It is for that reason, I'm sorry to say, I was unable to rate this any higher. ...more
5

Apr 10, 2009

I believe EVERYONE should read this short little book. It so clearly states what the law (government) should do, and what the law should not do. If someone desires FREEDOM in their life, they should take to heart what is presented in this very readable book. While written in 1850 (by a Frenchman!), I have never found a more clear, succinct writing on this subject.

It is in from this book that I learned an appropriate phrase for taxes: Legal Plunder. I understand now how individuals can not give I believe EVERYONE should read this short little book. It so clearly states what the law (government) should do, and what the law should not do. If someone desires FREEDOM in their life, they should take to heart what is presented in this very readable book. While written in 1850 (by a Frenchman!), I have never found a more clear, succinct writing on this subject.

It is in from this book that I learned an appropriate phrase for taxes: Legal Plunder. I understand now how individuals can not give to the government rights that they do not have individually. For example, if one person does not have, naturally, the right to take another persons property, then a group of individuals can not give to the government the right to take property from others.

This book substantiates why the minimalist Federal Government established in the United States provides the most freedom, and the evils and dangers of protectionism, socialism, and other means and methods of government to intrude into our lives (beyond the basic need to protect life, liberty, and property).

...more
5

Feb 25, 2008

My husband and I have agreed that this is an important enough book that everyone in the whole world should read it!! If our government officials understood this book our budget would be far more balanced! I am not even close to a political or any kind of economist but this book was very readable and I understood it all.

Quote
"The state is a great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else."
2

Jul 29, 2014

Having been greatly encouraged by some libertarian friends to read “The Law” by Frédéric Bastiat, I finally got around to reading it today, and if I were to simplify my impressions of it in as few words as possible, it would be an anti-communist manifesto. In fact, the book’s structure, style, methodology, and zealotry are almost identical in form and potency. Like Marx’s Communist manifesto, it starts out by stating ideals which it assumes all members of society to hold in common, describes how Having been greatly encouraged by some libertarian friends to read “The Law” by Frédéric Bastiat, I finally got around to reading it today, and if I were to simplify my impressions of it in as few words as possible, it would be an anti-communist manifesto. In fact, the book’s structure, style, methodology, and zealotry are almost identical in form and potency. Like Marx’s Communist manifesto, it starts out by stating ideals which it assumes all members of society to hold in common, describes how such ideals have been violated by the very apparatus intended to fulfill them, and the account of history by which this progressive perversion took place. Uncannily similar to Marx’s manifesto, Bastiat serves to compare, contrast, and justify his idealogy by quoting all his detractors, and then refuting their arguments. Additionally, as if to brazenly admit to plagiarizing from “The Communist Manifesto” (as I am almost certain it did!), “The Law” concludes by screaming its conclusive creed in ALL CAPS. I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt prior to that, but after reading Bastiat’s treatise to its conclusion, I cannot in good conscience deny that this book is a shameless copycat of the very political work(s) it condemns.

However, whereas Marx’s rebuttals are more scientific and logical, Bastiat relies heavily on appeals to emotion, appeals to nature, and similar fallacies. Here, the first big difference between “The Law” and “The Communist Manifesto” become evident: while both Marx and Bastiat rely on biased, passionate propaganda to define and justify their respective ideologies, Bastiat’s arguments are weak and, contrary to his claims in the concerning treatise, rationally deficient. This becomes particularly evident as he repeatedly calls upon “God” as the endower of rights and the regulator of human impulses. Note that I am not saying that God doesn’t exist (in fact, I am a firm believer in a higher power, though “he” is sufficiently beyond our comprehension to be adequately understood), but that “God” should not be cited in any serious political work, lest the work be converted into a religiously-charged, dogma-filled political “Bible”. Indeed, “The Law” is a perfect “Bible” for libertarians, but an intellectual disappointment for more serious thinkers.

Admittedly, the beginning arguments of “The Law” were compelling and rational, and remarkably objective in their conveyance. The idea that every individual’s life, liberty, and property should be defended by the government, that every violation of these rights should be repressed and neutralized through the force of the state, and the government’s authority should not extend beyond the domain of the defense of these rights. If “The Law” from this premise focused its energies on a defense of these rights, and outlined a practical means of implementing such protections in the state, it would be a political treatise anyone could benefit from reading. But following the premise, what awaits is a political cesspool of anti-socialist, anti-communist propaganda, and a dull and repetitive invocation of God, “Justice”, and the author’s ideological “Law”. In this respect, the logical inferences of “The Law” reminds me of Rene’ Descartes’ doubting methodology, in which he determines everything but “existence” (“I think therefore I am”) can be doubted…only to from that premise determine that God exists, therefore he would not deceive us about reality, therefore reality is exactly how we perceive it to be. It seems that Bastiat shares with Descartes’ this rational-schizophrenia, in both cases to the logical detriment of their respective theories.

Beyond its religious and dogmatic tone (and the fallacies resulting from its theological foundations), one of my biggest criticisms of “The Law” was its inclusion of “wealth” in its definition of “private property”. In my opinion “wealth” cannot justifiably be considered private property (as wealth is almost always produced through the cooperative efforts of a collective, and accumulated through trade with others), the idea that the government should protect the inherent rights of individuals, named property, facility, and person- resonates strongly with me. However, these ideas are narrowly limited by the author to little more than defense against physical injury, destruction, or plunder of a person’s life (person), liberty (faculty), or property, and advocates the equal protection of individual wealth, even if that wealth is disproportionate to their labor, and most importantly, is acquired at the expense of others’ property (through preventing them from being able to pay for property), facility (by limiting their opportunities for education and self-improvement), and even person (for the poor, who lacking basic subsistence due to being underpaid, are unable to afford shelter or even food, and often starve and die).

My biggest criticism of the book, however, is my biggest criticism of libertarianism: it goes to great length about the problems of the government, but provides no legitimate solutions- just ideas. It claims that humans have a natural impulse to improve themselves and by extension, society, but if that were the case there would be no oppressive government to violate our liberties, much less would such a government continue to perpetuate despite the clear technological means for universal welfare. It claims that if governments merely protect the property, facility, and the people of their respective nations, that all/most of the problems concerning private life will somehow be fixed. To agree with “The Law” to this end would require ignoring the poor, the starving, the intellectually deprived- in other words, to find “social darwinism” in its most extreme form to be an “ideal” solution. If “The Law” sought to reform the government to better protect private property while at the same time better serving public interests, I would find it an exemplary work. But instead it naively asserts the same dogma it did in the very beginning: that by merely restricting the government to defense of the individual, without any intervention in the people’s person, property, or faculty, the concerning problems will fix themselves- implicitly through natural human instinct- a notion so absurdly unsophisticated, that it defeats all remaining credibility this work of propaganda might have otherwise retained. ...more
1

Jan 28, 2018

Edit: yeah, this review has basically been rendered irrelevant since i wrote it. i'm like socialistic now, i had that libertarian phase last yr., was still finding myself politically, still probably am.


Am I a libertarian?

Um...that's a difficult question for someone like me to answer. I am quite open about my political views,as many naturally are, it's just that they're so hard to pin down. I'm not really left wing, and God knows I'll never be right wing, so I've always obviously and correctly Edit: yeah, this review has basically been rendered irrelevant since i wrote it. i'm like socialistic now, i had that libertarian phase last yr., was still finding myself politically, still probably am.


Am I a libertarian?

Um...that's a difficult question for someone like me to answer. I am quite open about my political views,as many naturally are, it's just that they're so hard to pin down. I'm not really left wing, and God knows I'll never be right wing, so I've always obviously and correctly assumed I was somewhere in the middle. Where exactly in the middle I am is mostly a mystery to myself as of now, but I do feel as if I am approaching the controversial libertarian movement's alluring belief system due to my strong views on individual liberties and freedom (freedom of speech in particular), but my actual poitical party or philosophy will most likely never be set in steady stone. However, I have still shown obvious interest in exploring libertarianism and its many intriguing forms. So, naturally, I have turned to literature to help me understand some of these concepts while also having a hopefully good time.

I've already read some Ayn Rand and have found it surprisingly enjoyable and most misunderstood if way too extreme and stern for my taste, and I have now just finished my first reading of Frederic Bastiat's passionate plea against what he believes to be the evils of socialism and communism, and a strong defense for his belief that the law should be no less than "justice", and should only be utilized to protect the individual liberties of all! Talk about libertarian talking points! But, Bastiat was an early voice of avocation for these reasonably radical positions, and, armed with ink and pen, he used this brief canvas of political philosophy now known as The Law to nail his firmly placed beliefs into the hard wooden floor with. And he does not do this gently. This man has passion, which is a large part of this small book's greatness! Not only are his points, for the most part, quite valid and sensible, but his way of expressing them is just the right balance of sarcastic sass and respectable sincerity, a delightful duo of tonal magic that makes the man not only come across as a smart and rational thinker but also a seemingly fun and cool guy you can hang out with.

This writing is witty and convincing, although the arguments aren't always perfect as more evidence and examples could easily have been used to help propel this work into a total masterpiece of political philosophy. However, in its current state, it is approaching said territory, which is more than I can say about most books. Whether you agree or disagree (I actually did disagree with a few of his points in this work, believe it or not (as I said I'm not a full on libertarian and probably never will be)) with Bastiat's strong and heavy and controversial beliefs, this is still something of a must read for those interested enough in political science and just all history in general. ...more
5

Mar 17, 2011

I listened to this as an Audiobook and just now remembered that I have not added it to my collection. This is a reminder that I need to read it in print. It's a foundational book for anyone interested in the philosophy of Politics (with a capital "P") and wanting to understand whence comes any legitimacy of the Law itself. Hint: Much of what purports now to be legitimate law is not, per Bastiat. Only the truly heroic dare flout it, but the rest of us obey illegitimate law only out of fear of the I listened to this as an Audiobook and just now remembered that I have not added it to my collection. This is a reminder that I need to read it in print. It's a foundational book for anyone interested in the philosophy of Politics (with a capital "P") and wanting to understand whence comes any legitimacy of the Law itself. Hint: Much of what purports now to be legitimate law is not, per Bastiat. Only the truly heroic dare flout it, but the rest of us obey illegitimate law only out of fear of the consequences of disobedience (sometimes coupled with ignorance of its illegitimacy). And therein lies the fear and ignorance that permits tyranny to "govern". Of course, the innate human tendency to desire to control the lives of others allows lawmakers to pass illiberal laws with the full backing of illiberal constituents, whose natural inclination is to support any law that only appears to affect the freedom of others. ...more
5

Dec 08, 2018

Book #21: Had to re-read “The Law” by Frederic Bastiat after 5-6 years. It’s essential reading, especially for Millennials, today. Important to know about the consequences of legal plunder, protectionism, socialism, and communism...

A quick read. Go for it!

14 more books to go! #QuestTo35
5

Dec 14, 2007

155650 Every time I read this book I can't help but wish that everyone I know would take the time to study the principles within. Great book. Let me say that again, great book. A must have in every home, office, bathroom, car, backpack, library and shelf.
4

Dec 25, 2013

This is a great little book on law, government, and politics. Its main goal is to refute the socialist claim that one can create equality through the law. When law is given a goal other than its proper one, defense of rights through force, it becomes an instrument for plunder and destruction. Instead of creating equality, it ends up destroying property, liberty, and on occasion, life itself. Two goals drive that strive: greed and false philathropy.

Bastiat also argues that almost every politician This is a great little book on law, government, and politics. Its main goal is to refute the socialist claim that one can create equality through the law. When law is given a goal other than its proper one, defense of rights through force, it becomes an instrument for plunder and destruction. Instead of creating equality, it ends up destroying property, liberty, and on occasion, life itself. Two goals drive that strive: greed and false philathropy.

Bastiat also argues that almost every politician in office sees the populace as a passive mold of clay, waiting to be formed according to the legislators' will. To them, humanity is completely inactive and inert, except for them. Which is why so many nations have fallen in history.

The reason why I gave this 4 and not 5 stars is because Bastiat does not recognize the root of the problem. He sees religion as a side, cultural thing, and not as the driving force behind all of society, culture, law, rights, and property. He states,

"Now, labor being in itself a pain, and man being naturally inclined to avoid pain, it follows, and history proves it, that wherever plunder is less burdensome than labor, it prevails; and neither religion nor morality can, in this case, prevent it from prevailing."

It is exactly religion and morality that prevent it, for the solutions that Bastiat proposes in The Law only come from Christianity. And it is only Christianity that believes that it is "natural" and wrong for man to avoid work (as Bastiat implies in the above quote), because Christianity is the only religion that believes the total depravity of all men. All other religions believe in the natural goodness of man, and therefore see work as evil, unless it's work to progress their religion. Plunder only becomes less burdensome when Christianity abandons its foundations in the Dominion Covenant and the Law of God. Only a return to those will drive back socialism.

Another part I found disagreement with is this quote, "When and force keep a man within the bounds of justice, they impose nothing upon him but a mere negation." This is not true at all. Every law is both positive and negative, something which it commands and something it forbids, regardless of how it is stated. A law saying "you shall not murder" states not to murder, but also states to protect life from danger. A law saying "you shall not steal" says to not steal, but it also says to work to earn one's living. Positive and negative law is an inescapable entity. The only question is which religion and system of morals will the law be derived from.

Some great quotes from the book (very applicable today):

"Law is justice."

"The law has been perverted through the influence of two very different causes--naked greed and misconceived philanthropy."

"When law and morality are in contradiction to each other, the citizen finds himself in the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense, or of losing his respect for the law--two evils of equal magnitude, between which it would be difficult to choose."

"Slavery, protection [tariffs], and monopoly find defenders, not only in those who profit by them, but in those who suffer by them. If you suggest a doubt as to the morality of these institutions, it is said directly--'You are a dangerous experimenter, a utopian, a theorist, a despiser of the laws; you would shake the basis upon which society rests." (This one reminds me of the story of William Wilberforce, and of many, many different issues in society today.)

"...in public lecterns salaried by the treasury, the professor abstain[s] rigorously from endangering in the slightest degree the respect due to the laws now in force." (Think: public schools.)

"Another effect of this deplorable perversion of the law is that it gives to human passions and to political struggles, and, in general, to politics, properly so called, an exaggerated importance." (Everything nowadays revolves around politics, and too often, to get a name in the world, you either have to be a politician or an entertainment star. While politics is important, socialism exaggerates it.)

"They [typical politicians] divide mankind into two parts. Men in general, except one, form the first; the politician himself forms the second, which is by far the most important."

"Moreover, every one of these politicians does not hesitate to assume that he himself is, under the names of organizer, discoverer, legislator, institutor or founder, this will and hand, this universal initiative, this creative power, whose sublime mission it is to gather together these scattered materials, that is, men, into society. Starting from these data, as a gardener according to his caprice shapes his trees into pyraminds, parasols, cubes, cones, vases, espaliers, distaffs, or fans; so the Socialist, following his chimera, shapes poor humanity into groups, series, and circles, subcircles, honeycombs, or social workships, with all kinds of variations. And as the gardener, to bring his trees into shape, needs hatchets, pruning hooks, saws, and shears, so the politician, to bring society into shape, needs the forces which he can only find in the laws; the law of tariffs, the law of taxation, the law of assistance, and the law of education."

"[quoting a socialist] The principle of the Republican Government is virtue, and the means to be adopted, during its establishment, is terror. We want to substitute, in our country, morality for self-indulgence, probity for honor, principles for customs, duties for decorum, the empire of reason for the tyranny of fashion, contempt of vice for contempt of misfortune, pride for insolence, greatness of soul for vanity, love of glory for love of money, good people for good company, merit for intrigue, genius for wit, truth for glitter, the charm of happiness for the weariness of pleasure, the greatness of man for the litteness of the great, a magnanimous, powerful, happy people, for one that is easy, frivolous, degraded; that is to say, we would substitute all the virtues and miracles of a republic for all the vices and absurdities of monarchy." (Tell me this isn't happening today. This is exactly the goal of socialists, and they've achieved it.)

"One of the strangest phenomena of our time, and one that will probably be a matter of astonishment to our descendants, is the doctrine which is founded upon this triple hypothesis: the radical passiveness of mankind,--the omnipotence of the law,--the infallibility of the legislator: this is the sacred symbol of the party that proclaims itself exclusively democratic." (Capitalize the first letter of the last word, and you've got the United States and its current leadership in government.) ...more
5

Oct 21, 2012

An amazing little pamphlet, and a must read and re-read. Clear and concise, this book explains the proper relationship between law and liberty, and predicts the perversion of the law - "The law has been perverted through the influence of two very different causes—naked greed and misconceived
philanthropy" (i.e. good intentions).

Letting Bastiat talk about the law:

Nothing, therefore, can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense; it is the An amazing little pamphlet, and a must read and re-read. Clear and concise, this book explains the proper relationship between law and liberty, and predicts the perversion of the law - "The law has been perverted through the influence of two very different causes—naked greed and misconceived
philanthropy" (i.e. good intentions).

Letting Bastiat talk about the law:

Nothing, therefore, can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense; it is the substitution of collective for individual forces, for the purpose of acting in the sphere in which they have a right to act, of doing what they have a right to do, to secure persons, liberties, and properties, and to maintain each in its right, so as to cause justice to reign over all.

And if a people established upon this basis were to exist, it seems to me that order would prevail among them in their acts as well as in their ideas. It seems to me that such a people would have the most simple, the most economical, the least oppressive, the least to be felt, the most
restrained, the most just, and, consequently, the most stable Government that could be imagined, whatever its political form might be.

It's in the public domain. Get your free pdf here http://mises.org/document/2731/The-Law ...more
3

Jun 24, 2018

This book will appeal to people who like to droll on and on about the evil statists coming for your money, guns and liberty. The Garrrrrr... Taxation is theeeeffft... people.

And on the one hand - I get it. You worked for it. You earned it. You keep it.

Bastiat discusses legal and illegal plunder. (You know, taxation vs. theft.)

And so, for a lot of it, the Libertarian/Capitalist in me wanted to clap along and write "YES!" in the margins throughout.

But then I kept wondering about other forms of This book will appeal to people who like to droll on and on about the evil statists coming for your money, guns and liberty. The Garrrrrr... Taxation is theeeeffft... people.

And on the one hand - I get it. You worked for it. You earned it. You keep it.

Bastiat discusses legal and illegal plunder. (You know, taxation vs. theft.)

And so, for a lot of it, the Libertarian/Capitalist in me wanted to clap along and write "YES!" in the margins throughout.

But then I kept wondering about other forms of legal plunder - Civil Asset Forfeitures and Corporate Exploitation, for example - and the Left-leaning/Socialist in me wanted to say, "now hold on a minute."

All my Libertarian friends point to Venezuela and shout out, "SEE! SEE!" without also looking to Scandinavia our Canada. (Or right here in the United States, in some regards.)

And that bothers me.

Here in the United States, I have the "freedom" to go to any doctor I want. But with $16.78 in my pocket, how free am I, really? Am I more free than the people of Canada?

And while, as a teacher I often question compulsory education I'm sure I don't want to live in a society where kids are on perpetual summer break. ...Or have that option. Like Malcolm Gladwell says in Outliers, it's not that American Schools are failing - they're doing really well... It's being out of school that's bad for achievement.

Bastiat rightly points out that just because Libertarians don't think the government should be doing something does not mean that they are against that thing. Still, I can't envision the education levels rising in this Utopia he wants to create.

Ultimately, it's about balance. No one is advocating for zero regulation. (Bastiat uses extremist terms in his headings, like, "The Socialist Despise Mankind" and "The Socialist Want Dictatorship." Maybe there was a Socialist in 1850 writing headings like, "The Libertarian Wants The Purge to Become Real" or "Libertarians Want the Death of Civilization.")

Balance. If I own a farm and use water for the farm, and you move upstream and start dumping toxic waste into the water... What happens? Your land, your business?

If you can make money selling nukes, what business is it of the government's to stop you? (Tyrants).

In Economics, there have been some big jumps throughout history. Cambrian explosions, if you will. Bastiat was good, and many of his principles remain, but we may soon need to do a thorough reworking of our economic systems. 1650 was not 1850, and 1850 is not 2050. Raising the minimum wage isn't pushing people out of jobs. Automation was already doing that. Raising the minimum wage may speed up that process in some places, but it's coming.

What does Bastiat do with those people? Back to the debtors prisons of old? Corporate indentured servants? Survival of the fittest?

I read this as part of a group, where (I believe) the majority claim to be Libertarian. I'm interested in hearing their thoughts on it. ...more
5

Aug 04, 2016

This is a book that should be read by every American citizen, especially in an election cycle in which both sides are interested in getting their bully elected in order to extort from others for their interests. In the words of J. R. R. Tolkien, "...the proper study of Man is anything but Man; and the most improper job of any man, even saints (who at any rate were at least unwilling to take it on), is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the This is a book that should be read by every American citizen, especially in an election cycle in which both sides are interested in getting their bully elected in order to extort from others for their interests. In the words of J. R. R. Tolkien, "...the proper study of Man is anything but Man; and the most improper job of any man, even saints (who at any rate were at least unwilling to take it on), is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity." ...more
5

Jul 11, 2012

Bastiat has written a potent and concise summary of 19th century classical liberalism. The book, really an essay, offers a tenable and tenacious defence of constitutional liberty. It is a rhetorical masterpiece and a passionate, straightforward postulation of a clear moral world view that privileges individual liberty over various socialist usurpations of government power, i.e. the committing of a "legal crime," towards the furthering of minority or majority interests.

Although I disagree on Bastiat has written a potent and concise summary of 19th century classical liberalism. The book, really an essay, offers a tenable and tenacious defence of constitutional liberty. It is a rhetorical masterpiece and a passionate, straightforward postulation of a clear moral world view that privileges individual liberty over various socialist usurpations of government power, i.e. the committing of a "legal crime," towards the furthering of minority or majority interests.

Although I disagree on some of the particulars, most notable the extent of the legitimate social functions of government, I find his main argument wholly convincing, beautifully argued and distilled down to a delightfully readable, byte-sized manifesto that still holds water today. A deserved classic of libertarian thought. ...more
5

Mar 03, 2012

amazon review:
The Law was originally published in French in 1850 by Frederic Bastiat. It was written two years after the third French Revolution of 1848. From Wikipedia: Claude Frédéric Bastiat (29 June 1801 – 24 December 1850) was a French classical liberal theorist, political economist, and member of the French assembly. He was notable for developing the important economic concept of opportunity cost. Bastiat was born in Bayonne, Aquitaine, France. When he was nine years old, he was orphaned amazon review:
The Law was originally published in French in 1850 by Frederic Bastiat. It was written two years after the third French Revolution of 1848. From Wikipedia: Claude Frédéric Bastiat (29 June 1801 – 24 December 1850) was a French classical liberal theorist, political economist, and member of the French assembly. He was notable for developing the important economic concept of opportunity cost. Bastiat was born in Bayonne, Aquitaine, France. When he was nine years old, he was orphaned and became a ward of his paternal grandparents. At 17, he left school to work in his family's export business. Economist Thomas DiLorenzo suggests that this experience was crucial to Bastiat's later work since it allowed young Frédéric to acquire first-hand knowledge of how regulation can affect markets. Sheldon Richman notes that "he came of age during the Napoleonic wars, with their extensive government intervention in economic affairs." When Bastiat was 25, his grandfather died, leaving the young man the family estate, thereby providing him with the means to further his theoretical inquiries. Bastiat developed intellectual interests in several areas including philosophy, history, politics, religion, travel, poetry, political economy and biography. After the middle-class Revolution of 1830, Bastiat became politically active and was elected justice of the peace in 1831 and to the Council General (county-level assembly) in 1832. He was elected to the national legislative assembly after the French Revolution of 1848. His public career as an economist began only in 1844. It was cut short by his untimely death in 1850. Bastiat had contracted tuberculosis, probably during his tours throughout France to promote his ideas, and that illness eventually prevented him from making further speeches (particularly at the legislative assembly to which he was elected in 1848 and 1849) and took his life. Bastiat died in Rome on 24 December 1850. Bastiat was the author of many works on economics and political economy, generally characterized by their clear organization, forceful argumentation, and acerbic wit. Economist Murray Rothbard wrote that "Bastiat was indeed a lucid and superb writer, whose brilliant and witty essays and fables to this day are remarkable and devastating demolitions of protectionism and of all forms of government subsidy and control. He was a truly scintillating advocate of an untrammeled free market." On the other hand, Bastiat himself declared that subsidy should be available, but limited: "under extraordinary circumstances, for urgent cases, the State should set aside some resources to assist certain unfortunate people, to help them adjust to changing conditions." Among his better known works is Economic Sophisms, which contains many strongly worded attacks on statist policies. Bastiat wrote it while living in England to advise the shapers of the French Republic on pitfalls to avoid. Contained within Economic Sophisms is the famous satirical parable known as the "Candlemakers' petition" which presents itself as a demand from the candlemakers' guild to the French government, asking the government to block out the Sun to prevent its unfair competition with their products. He also facetiously "advocated" forbidding the usage of everyone's right hand, based on the assumptions that more difficulty means more work and more work means more wealth. Much like Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal or Benjamin Franklin's anti-slavery works, Bastiat's argument cleverly highlights basic flaws in protectionism by demonstrating its absurdity through logical extremes. Bastiat's most famous work, however, is undoubtedly THE LAW, originally published as a pamphlet in 1850. It defines, through development, a just system of laws and then demonstrates how such law facilitates a free society. He also famously engaged in a debate, between 1849 and 1850, with Pierre-Joseph Proudhon about the legitimacy of interest. ...more
1

Feb 17, 2014

Indulge me, M. Basitat, and imagine yourself in a society where the law is but the criminal code, for that is what you propose in your pamphlet (or should I call it an essay?). Imagine a society where you are free to do everything except that which violates the persons' liberty and property. Am I missing something?

Let us make a bargain. I will sell you the beans land makes over the next Y years for a sum of money, X.

Scenario 1: war breaks out and the price of beans increases, I give you X back Indulge me, M. Basitat, and imagine yourself in a society where the law is but the criminal code, for that is what you propose in your pamphlet (or should I call it an essay?). Imagine a society where you are free to do everything except that which violates the persons' liberty and property. Am I missing something?

Let us make a bargain. I will sell you the beans land makes over the next Y years for a sum of money, X.

Scenario 1: war breaks out and the price of beans increases, I give you X back and sell the beans to Bonaparte for 3X, and you cannot complain of the lost profit because the beans were not your property. Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name. It's Scrooge. Contract law? What contract law?

Scenario 2: not a penny must be wasted so my farm hands die of starvation, because I don't pay them enough to keep them fed, and no beans are cultivated. Good thing I collected X before handing over those beans, eh? Oh, and I'm saving a bunch in operating expenses too. Shame there isn't some law protecting the farm hands. How do you like those beans?

Scenario 3: war doesn't break out and Caleb Trask has flooded the market with beans. So you grossly overpaid for my product. Well I'm rich, but you're ruined. Now I have no one to sell my product to, and it's costing me a fortune to run this farm. Wait, quickly to the economics textbook. It will have a solution for our predicament. Oh yes, there it is: a Great Depression.

What I am trying to say, M. Bastiat, is that some laws other than criminal laws prosecuting theft and assault may be necessary for the operation of society. We need to cover contract law, employment law and other types of law you disparage to have a functioning society. We would also need to make laws relating to dangerous substances, or intoxicating substances, and as far-reaching as relating to the ethics of research so that people don't become lab rats in psychology experiments (a truly undesirable possibility - by the bye, Dr. Milgram sends his regards).

Now what you saw above was an argument conducted in a logical fashion with a dash of rhetoric and decent grammar. You see I would, like you, employ excellent grammar and rhetoric in my argument, however, unlike you, I have substituted time earmarked to the study of rhetoric and grammar to better grasp logic.

Until you have done the same, please refrain from wasting readers' time. If they have come upon your work they seek intellectual gratification which can only be obtained elsewhere. ...more
5

Jan 22, 2009

I really enjoyed his plain, easy to understand explanation of law and the logical development of his views. A must read!
4

Sep 10, 2013

This booklet was originally published in 1850. Bastiat is all about liberty and personal freedom, about limiting the scope of government involvement in people's lives, about not sculpting society to the grandiose schemes of socialists and politicians. I'm with him all the way. I'm not a great historian so I'm sure my perspective is shallow, but I was surprised that the issues he discusses were so prevalent in 1850; I hadn't ever considered that. So in addition to appreciating his clear This booklet was originally published in 1850. Bastiat is all about liberty and personal freedom, about limiting the scope of government involvement in people's lives, about not sculpting society to the grandiose schemes of socialists and politicians. I'm with him all the way. I'm not a great historian so I'm sure my perspective is shallow, but I was surprised that the issues he discusses were so prevalent in 1850; I hadn't ever considered that. So in addition to appreciating his clear observations on socialists and social do-gooders who would fashion society after their own plans at the expense of individual freedom, and his refutation of their desire to implement their plans by making laws and using government force to carry it out, I also learned that human nature never changes; there will always be people who believe they know what is best for society and that it is their mission, for the greater good of mankind, to force their ideas on everyone else. Bastiat could have been living in America today and he would have written the same booklet.

The booklet was originally written in French. I went through two different translations. The translation by Dean Russell was by far the best and easiest to understand. I have now studied a third version, that was published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute. There are translation differences, some fairly significant, between these versions. For the most part the Mises version was clearest for me. ...more
5

Apr 26, 2013

Fiery, passionate writing that actually makes sense? How can it not be five-stars? And how dare we expect less from the great Mr. Bastiat?
His message really is simple: that the law is made to protect individual liberty so by God, why should it be used for any other purpose?

"It is not because men have made laws, that personality, liberty, and property exist. On the contrary, it is because personality, liberty, and property exist beforehand, that men make laws. What, then, is law? ... It is the Fiery, passionate writing that actually makes sense? How can it not be five-stars? And how dare we expect less from the great Mr. Bastiat?
His message really is simple: that the law is made to protect individual liberty so by God, why should it be used for any other purpose?

"It is not because men have made laws, that personality, liberty, and property exist. On the contrary, it is because personality, liberty, and property exist beforehand, that men make laws. What, then, is law? ... It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.

...

Collective right, then, has its principle, its reason for existing, its lawfulness, in individual right; and the common force cannot rationally have any other end, or any other mission, than that of the isolated forces for which it is substitute. Thus, as the force of an individual cannot lawfully touch the person, the liberty, or the property of another individual-for the same reason, the common force cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, the liberty, or the property of individual or of classes."

How, then, could the law possibly be abused? Why two things, of course: naked greed and misconceived philanthropy. We all know about the former, so I choose to elaborate on the latter. Bastiat went to deep lengths to explain how sometimes (Sometimes? No! All the time!) lawmakers get too carried away in making laws that directly generates wealth to a portion of the society. As is all of philanthropy, while this is certainly well-intended, the consequence is that in order to make this happen, such laws actually take away the liberty of some people and transfer it (forcibly) to others. And this violates the purpose of a law in the first place. He calls this "legal plunder", or a forced deprivation of liberty by means of law. Which is of course, ironic, self-defeating, and harmful. Not to mention, since philanthropy has practically no end, where would the Law end? Since there is practically no limit to "provide good to the common people", really, where does it stop? We've established that the law is collective force, so every time a law is made for this purpose you are automatically relinquishing your personal liberty. If that doesn't scare you, I seriously don't know what will.

"But how is it to be distinguished? Very easily. See whether the law takes from some persons that which belongs to them, to give to others what does not belong to them. See whether the law performs, for the profit of one citizen, and to the injury of others, and act that this citizen cannot perform without committing a crime."

Well, that sounds mean. Shouldn't we as a civilized and organized society help each other out? Isn't that, like, the purpose of, like, "being" a society?

Yep. Mr. Bastiat is rolling his eyes and rolling in his grave too.

"It is not natural organization, but forced organization. It is not free association, but the forms of association that they would impose upon us. It is not spontaneous fraternity, but legal fraternity. It is not providential solidarity, but artificial solidarity, which is only an unjust displacement of responsibility.

...

In fact, [they assume that] men are devoid of any principle of action, and of any means of discernment in themselves; that they have no initiative; that they are inert matter, passive particles, atoms without impulse; at best a vegetation indifferent to its own mode of existence, susceptible of assuming, from an exterior will and hand an infinite number of forms, more or less symmetrical symmetrical, artistic, and perfected."

To paraphrase him: "D'oh! Who said we shouldn't help each other out? You could, you should, and you WOULD! But if you're writing it into a law you're forcing people to be good, and that means: 1) the government assumes you are an idiot who can't get your shit together and do it out of your own volition and motivations and 2) it takes away your liberty, which is what the law is supposed to protect in the first place, D'oh!"

Hmmm. I wonder what does that imply, then? Here is the final paragraph, which summarizes his views and serves as only the punchline of his other works (which I canNOT wait to get my hands on):

"God has implanted in mankind all that is necessary to enable it to accomplish its desires. ... The social organs are constituted so as to enable them to develop harmoniously in the grand air of liberty. Away, then, with quacks and organizers! Away with their social laboratories, their governmental whims, their centralization, their tariffs, their universities, their State religions, their inflationary or monopolizing banks, their limitations, their moralizations, and their equalization by taxation! And now, after having vainly inflicted upon the social body so many systems, let them end where they ought to have begun-reject all systems, and try liberty-liberty, which is an act of faith in God and in His work."

Too radically libertarian for your plate, eh? It nearly gave me a heart attack. And boy I loved it. ...more
4

Feb 01, 2011


Quotes:

Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.

No one would have any argument with government, provided that his person was respected, his labor was free, and the fruits of his labor were protected against all unjust attack.

Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain – and since labor is pain in itself – it follows that men will
Quotes:

Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.

No one would have any argument with government, provided that his person was respected, his labor was free, and the fruits of his labor were protected against all unjust attack.

Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain – and since labor is pain in itself – it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work.

Under the pretense of organization, regulation, protection, or encouragement, the law takes property from one person and gives it to another; the law takes the wealth of all and gives it to a few.

But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.

Now, legal plunder can be committed in an infinite number of ways. Thus we have an infinite number of plans for organizing it: tariffs, protection, benefits, subsidies, encouragements, progressive taxation, public schools, guaranteed jobs, guaranteed profits, minimum wages, a right to relief, a right to the tools of labor, free credit, and so on, and so on. All these plans as a whole – with their common aim of legal plunder – constitute socialism.

Here I encounter the most popular fallacy of our times. It is not considered sufficient that the law should be just; it must be philanthropic.

The law can be an instrument of equalization only as it takes from some persons and gives to other persons. When the law does this, it is an instrument of plunder.

We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality.

It must be admitted that the tendency of the human race toward liberty is largely thwarted… This is greatly due to a fatal desire – learned from the teachings of antiquity – that our writers on public affairs have in common: They desire to set themselves above mankind in order to arrange, organize, and regulate it according to their fancy.

The total inertness of mankind, the omnipotence of the law, and the infallibility of the legislator. These three ideas form the sacred symbol of those who proclaim themselves totally democratic.

If people are as incapable, as immoral, and as ignorant as the politicians indicate, then why is the right of these same people to vote defended with such passionate insistence?

Every individual has the right to use force for lawful self-defense. It is for this reason that the collective force – which is only the organized combination of the individual forces – may lawfully be used for the same purpose; and it cannot be used legitimately for any other purpose.

The mission of the law is not to oppress persons and plunder them of their property, even though the law may be acting in a philanthropic spirit. Its mission is to protect persons and property.

And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty. ...more
5

Mar 11, 2011

This short essay is one of the best arguments on the purpose of law and government that I have ever read. Though it was first published in 1850, you might think it came out of the mind of some present day "Tea Party" conservative or the Heritage Foundation think tank.

In a nutshell, Bastiat presents the purpose of law--all law: "Law is justice." Just that, nothing more. "Its [proper] mission is to protect the people, and to secure to them the possession of their property." Any government This short essay is one of the best arguments on the purpose of law and government that I have ever read. Though it was first published in 1850, you might think it came out of the mind of some present day "Tea Party" conservative or the Heritage Foundation think tank.

In a nutshell, Bastiat presents the purpose of law--all law: "Law is justice." Just that, nothing more. "Its [proper] mission is to protect the people, and to secure to them the possession of their property." Any government legislature that seeks to move beyond that singular purpose ends up in the realm of oppression; for, he argues "The law cannot avoid acting upon our persons and property; if it does not secure them, then it violates them if it touches them."

Bastiat touches on every ill that affects citizens today at the hands of the government. It's obvious that the ideas that Bastiat espouses were the same ideas that many of our American Founders believed and implemented into our own government framework (though since then they have been gradually smothered by the very philosophies that the author battled against in his time.) We can clearly see in our Constitution that the founders understood the principle of inherent (God-given) human rights: life, liberty, and property (also described as the pursuit of happiness, or fruits of one's labor). These are the divine rights of all mankind that government is obliged to protect, not oppress.

This book is just as relevent today as when it was first published, and should be part of every American's library. It's only 55 pages, and can be read in only one or two sittings.

(www.cathyf.org)
...more
5

May 05, 2010

Written by TJ Lawrence
Tuesday, 09 February 2010 01:52

The Law, a book authored by French economist, politician and political theorist Frederic Bastiat was originally published as a pamphlet in the final year of Bastiat's life having died in December of 1850 while suffering from tuberculosis. The Law, originally written in French during a time when France was rapidly turning into complete Socialism was entitled La Loi, the book has been translated into English, published several times since its Written by TJ Lawrence
Tuesday, 09 February 2010 01:52

The Law, a book authored by French economist, politician and political theorist Frederic Bastiat was originally published as a pamphlet in the final year of Bastiat's life having died in December of 1850 while suffering from tuberculosis. The Law, originally written in French during a time when France was rapidly turning into complete Socialism was entitled La Loi, the book has been translated into English, published several times since its original pamphlet form and has more recently been made widely available via various outlets on the Internet. Frederic Bastiat did much of his writing after The French Revolution in 1848 and produced several other famous works one of which illuminates the hidden costs of destroying other peoples' property using the now famous "Broken Window Fallacy"; this less famous essay is entitled "That Which Is Seen, That Which Is Unseen".



As this writing was originally published as a pamphlet, it comes as quite a simple and short read. One could easily find time to read this in one setting or even broken up into several 15 minute sessions. The book walks through a very simple to understand method of thought and is fairly easy to comprehend given the age of the document. It was once said that Frederic's work will "still be read a hundred years from now"; given that we have already surpassed the timeline of this prophetic quote, Bastiat's words ring soundly true even to this day.

In The Law, Frederic Bastiat determines quite bluntly two types of plunder; "stupid greed and false philanthropy"; stupid greed is explained as "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 both forms of plunder to which Bastiat emphasizes as legal and illegitimate.

To some at first, reading these words will come as quite a shock, a little over-the-top, even radical and in many ways they would be correct. The ideas put forth in this 1850 pamphlet walks the reader through each tenant of Socialism and proves using Natural Law its fallacy and explains Socialism's eventual slip into what we know as Communism. Bastiat was trying to wake up his government and the people of France, he was pointing across the pond saying "look at the United States [in 1850:]. There is no country in the world where the law is kept more within its proper domain: the protection of every person's liberty and property. "

The United States is now unfortunately afforded the opportunity in history to read this classical work of Liberty again and to use it as a wake up call of their own. The people shall use it to remember the principles the founder's of these United States embodied in the first American Revolution. The principles that brought men together to pledge their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor, to defend their natural rights granted to them by their creator and to declare their independence from the grips of a despotic government.

As Bastiat writes, "May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works."

You can read Frederic Bastiat's The Law and many more classical works of Liberty for free at www.ThePillarsOfLiberty.com

...more
5

Aug 08, 2013

"THE MORE CORRUPT THE STATE, THE MORE NUMEROUS THE LAWS" - TACITUS

There are certain books which drastically change the way you look at the world. They will shook you down, call you a fool at your face, pass a quiver through your spine and give you goose bumps.

This is one such book.

Although written in the 19th century, every word this book utters, holds good even today. It is a strong argument put forth to defend the 'Liberty' of man. The author chides away every attempt to apply the instrument "THE MORE CORRUPT THE STATE, THE MORE NUMEROUS THE LAWS" - TACITUS

There are certain books which drastically change the way you look at the world. They will shook you down, call you a fool at your face, pass a quiver through your spine and give you goose bumps.

This is one such book.

Although written in the 19th century, every word this book utters, holds good even today. It is a strong argument put forth to defend the 'Liberty' of man. The author chides away every attempt to apply the instrument of law to anything other than to promote justice and sharply details out how the law is increasingly "perverted" for the purposes of "legal plunder". He argues that the law, instead of protecting the "personality, liberty and propery" of man, is being framed and organized to promote the interests of few group of individuals or of the state itself by depriving the interests of other group of men, all in the disguise of philanthropy and common good.

What enthralled me more is that every argument, warning, consequence of "legal plunder" is more applicable to my country, India, in its present day. For example: We have the 'National Rural Employment Guarantee Act' which guarantees 100 days of work to every citizen. It is up-roared as a triumph by the media and the ruling party although it contradicts the very logic that more the citizens are dependent on the government for work, more true that the government has failed. We have the 'Right to Education Act' (passed on April 1) but nowhere quality education is provided. The ruling party is vehemently proposing to bring-in "Food Security Act", which could dent our fiscal bills and escalate our debts, to provide food at the lowest cost possible to nearly 65% of the population, when our very system of Public distribution system is itself full of loopholes. The greater the number of laws passed everyday, the bigger is the magnitude of corruption perpetuated by people occupying the higher offices, as it increases the sphere of authority of bureaucrats and parliamentarians.

What are the consequences of such legal plunder? Bastiat answers, "It would efface from everybody’s conscience the distinction between justice and injustice". This is once again true, especially among youngsters, and the number of people engaged in plunder,corruption is increasing day-by-day and the one who stands uncorrupted or holds truth is being constantly rebuked as 'stupid, impotent and unwise' instead of being saluted, honoured and followed.

Another remarkable quality of Bastiat is, unlike Rousseau and his counterparts, he envisions a government which is stable and a society which is progressive, self-correcting and peaceful as against the one which is ever-active to go for revolution to overthrow the administration.

With the extreme clarity of thought and simple language, Bastiat singularly questions everything which we leave unquestioned and take for granted. It certainly gripped me as a fever and made me to 'Think' and 'See'. Its no wonder that it has reached us today, enduring all the test of time.

A Tour-de-Force, indeed.





...more
4

Aug 09, 2011

The Law exists in a comical realm of fringe reality. While reading this, I had this thought, “Libertarianism only exists in a world without causation.” Basically, this reality can only exist in a world where no other interactions take place. This is similar to all extreme ideologies, be it Communism or Milton Friedman’s version of Capitalism. Like those concepts, The Law fails to take into account human nature in the slightest. Better yet, it fails to take in the realities of the natural world. The Law exists in a comical realm of fringe reality. While reading this, I had this thought, “Libertarianism only exists in a world without causation.” Basically, this reality can only exist in a world where no other interactions take place. This is similar to all extreme ideologies, be it Communism or Milton Friedman’s version of Capitalism. Like those concepts, The Law fails to take into account human nature in the slightest. Better yet, it fails to take in the realities of the natural world. Libertarianism is nothing more than anarchy by another name. The history of social organization is rife with oligarchies for a reason. Groups will work towards maximizing their own power base by taking power from those who cannot defend themselves.

The world as Bastiat would have it is full of strong individualism. However, an individual will always be weaker than an organization that seeks to impose its will on others. Bastiat, and all Libertarians in general, wish to enjoy the maximum amount of freedoms possible, without creating a framework that would prevent anyone else from taking those freedoms. For example, they rally against taxes. How than would the army’s be paid to protect their boarders? They are against public education, yet cannot say how an uneducated man could protect their freedom or livelihood from the cons of the educated men. Finally, Bastiat continually strikes out against Socialism (though it appears he is warning more about Communism). The rants against Socialism actually made the concept sound more enticing than they should have, which I am sure was not the author’s intent.

All in all, I still would have this be fundamental book for people to read. It warns of extremism while making a case for extremism itself. On that point alone, it lays the foundation for the next stage of society. Obviously, all of mans creations can be improved, and governance is no exception. After reading this, I began to wonder how I could help improve our system with these concerns in mind. ...more

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