Selected Essays on Political Economy

Frédéric Bastiat
Bastiat, Frédéric
Display paragraphs in this book containing:
Seymour Cain, trans.
First Pub. Date
Irvington-on-Hudson, NY: The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc.
Pub. Date
Includes Preface by George B. de Huszar, introduction by Friedrich A. Hayek

Notes to the Electronic Edition:

* Each footnote is marked in the text by a colored-coded superscript and in this footnote file according to its authorship as follows:

  • The author's original notes, color-coded red in the text, are unbracketed and unlabeled below. They are grouped together with the French Editor's notes in the "EndNotes."
  • The French editor's notes, color-coded red in the text, are bracketed and labeled "EDITOR" below. They are grouped together with the author's notes in the "EndNotes."
  • The translator's notes, color-coded blue in the text, are bracketed and labeled "TRANSLATOR" below.

Top of File Translator's Notes to Selected Essays Author's and Editor's Notes to Selected Essays Notes to The Law, translated by Dean Russell

Translator's Notes to Selected Essays on Political Economy.

Chapter 1

1. [In French, Jacques Bonhomme, used like "John Bull" in English to represent the practical, responsible, unassuming average man.—Translator.]

2. [Newspaper of the Committee for the Defense of Domestic Industry, a protectionist organization.—Translator.]

3. [Auguste, Vicomte de Saint-Chamans (1777—1861), Deputy and Councillor of State under the Restoration, protectionist and upholder of the balance of trade. His celebrated stand on the "obstacle" here quoted by Bastiat comes from his Nouvel essai sur la richesse des nations, 1824. This work was later (1852) incorporated in his Traité d'économie politique.—Translator.]

4. [In Act II of The Barber of Seville, Basile, the musician, says: "I have arranged several proverbs with variations."—Translator.]

5. [Adolphe Thiers (1797-1877), French statesman and distinguished historian. In his long political career he was Deputy and Prime Minister (1836 and 1840), and, as a final tribute, was elected President of the Third Republic in 1871.—Translator.]

6. [Alphonse Marie Louis de Lamartine (1790-1869), one of the great poets of French romanticism and subsequently a distinguished statesman. First elected Deputy in 1834, he attained his greatest glory at the time of the Revolution of 1848, when he was a prime mover in the establishment of the Republic. By his eloquence he calmed the Paris mobs that threatened to destroy it and became the head of the provisional government. More an idealist and orator than a practical politician, however, he soon lost influence and retired to private life in 1851.—Translator.]

7. [This refers to the Great Exhibition, in Hyde Park, London, in 1851, sponsored by the London Society of Arts, an association devoted to the development of arts and industries. The first in a series of great international exhibitions, or "world fairs," it was famous for the Crystal Palace, a remarkable architectural structure, in which the exhibitions were displayed. Albert, Queen Victoria's Prince Consort, presided over the exhibition.—Translator.]

8. [I.e., from City Hall to the theatrical suppliers on the Left Bank.—Translator.]

9. [Charles Dupin (1784-1873), distinguished French engineer and economist, professor at the Conservatory of Arts and Crafts, Deputy, and Senator. His greatest contribution to political economy was in the field of economic statistics.—Translator.]

10. [Achille Fould (1800-1867), politician and financier.—Translator.]

11. [Jean Martial Bineau (1805—1855), engineer and politician, Minister of Finance in 1852.—Translator.]

12. [Originally a parade ground in Paris on the Left Bank of the Seine, the Champ-de-Mars is now a park between the Eiffel Tower and the Military Academy.—Translator.]

13. [Failures in the grain and potato crops in northern and western Europe in 1846 resulted in a rise of food prices in 1847, the year of "dear bread" and of agricultural, industrial, and financial depressions.—Translator.]

14. ["Hunger is an evil counsellor." Virgil's Aeneid VI, 276.—Translator.]

15. [References to Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Comte de Saint-Simon (1760-1825), historic founder of French socialism; to the phalanstères, or common buildings, proposed by Francois Marie Charles Fourier in 1832 in his newspaper Le Phalanstère to house "phalanges" of sixteen hundred persons each as part of a socialistic scheme; and to Voyage to Icaria, a utopian book by Étienne Cabet (1788-1856).—Translator.]

16. [In French, "M. Prohibant": this ironic term for a protectionist, coined, as Bastiat says, by Charles Dupin, could be roughly translated as "Mr. Restrainer-of-Trade" or "Mr. Protectionist."—Translator.]

17. [Jacques Bénigne Bossuet (1627-1704), bishop of Condom and of Meaux, was the outstanding pulpit orator of his day, his funeral orations for members of the royal family ranking as brilliant examples of French classical style and power. As tutor to the heir apparent, the son of Louis XIV, he wrote his Histoire universelle, one of the classics on which French school children were raised for generations. His vigorous stand against Protestantism and his successful leadership of the Gallican movement, which brought increased independence to the French Catholic Church, reveal him as an important ecclesiastical, as well as literary, figure.—Translator.]

18. [Popular demonstrations against Prime Minister Guizot on February 22, 1848, resulted in his dismissal by King Louis Philippe. This prudent move, however, proved unavailing for the King, because the next day troops fired on a group of demonstrators, and the people of Paris responded with an armed revolt, which brought about the abdication of Louis Philippe and the establishment of the Second Republic.—Translator.]

19. [The new regime brought in by the February Revolution sponsored national workshops to deal with the unemployment problem and also added forty-five centimes to the rate of indirect taxation. The workshops proved to be an unsatisfactory solution of the unemployment problem, a farcical system of handouts for little or no work. When it was decided to abolish the national workshops and find the unemployed places in the army, public works, or private industry, the workingmen of Paris, incensed at the government's betrayal of the "right to employment," revolted and were subdued, after fierce fighting, in June, 1849.—Translator.]

20. [Vicomte François René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848), a forerunner of the romantic movement in French literature, and a royalist of the Bourbon stamp in politics. He served the restored Bourbon monarchy, after Napoleon's fall, as ambassador to England and Germany and as Minister of Foreign Affairs. His most famous works were The Genius of Christianity and Memoirs from beyond the Tomb.—Translator.]

Chapter 2

21. [Pierre Auguste Remi Mimerel de Roubaix (1786-1872), textile manufacturer and politician. After his protectionist activities, which aroused Bastiat's ire in 1848-49, he was appointed by Napoleon III to the Advisory Council and to the Commission of Manufacturers. He was elected Representative in 1849 and named Senator by Napoleon in 1852.—Translator.]

22. [Charles, Count de Montalembert (1810-1870), publicist and exponent of liberal Catholicism.—Translator.]

23. [Pierre Carlier (1799-1858), French politician and police administrator. Chief of Paris police during both the 1830 and the 1848 revolutions, he was named Prefect of Police in 1849.—Translator.]

24. [Bastiat is alluding here to the lung trouble that was to prove fatal to him. Cf. p. 301 infra.—Translator.]

25. [For the rendering of the original French la spoliation by the English word "plunder" rather than "spoliation," cf. the footnote to the title of chap. 6, p. 152 infra.—Translator.]

26. [François de Salignac de La Mothe-Fénelon (1651-1715), Archbishop of Cambrai, preceptor to the grandson of Louis XIV, author of a collection of Fables, the Dialogues of the Dead, and Tèlèmaque.—Translator.]

27. [In French, Salente, the legendary city where Fénelon establishes his utopian government in Tèlèmaque.—Translator.]

28. [In Tèlèmaque Mentor is the tutor of the young prince.—Translator.]

29. [Olivier de Serres (1539-1619), one of the fathers of French agriculture and advisor to Henry IV.—Translator.]

30. [This is the answer of Alceste to his friend, Philinte, who has just hypocritically praised a very bad sonnet. (Molière, Le Misanthrope, Act I, scene ii.)—Translator.]

31. [The Abbé Guillaume Raynal (1713-1786), historian and philosopher, particularly known for his works on French medieval literature.—Translator.]

32. [Gabriel Bonnot de Mably (1709-1785), historian and philosopher, brother of the more famous Condillac.—Translator.]

33. [Étienne Bonnot de Condillac (1715-1780), one of the important figures of the French Enlightenment and author of the Treatise on Sensations, which advanced Locke's theories deriving all knowledge and experience from the senses. His ideas on political economy are to be found in his Le Commerce et le gouvernement.—Translator.]

34. [Louis Antoine Léon de Saint-Just (1767-1794), an important figure in the French Revolution. He was a member of the Committee of Public Safety responsible for the Reign of Terror. An ardent disciple of Robespierre, he was guillotined, like his master, when their government was overthrown.—Translator.]

35. [Jean Nicolas Billaud-Varenne (1756-1819), member of the Convention during the Revolution; first a supporter, then an enemy, of Robespierre; later deported for his part in the Reign of Terror.—Translator.]

36. [Louis Michel Lepéletier de Saint-Fargeau (1760-1793), member of the Revolutionary Convention, assassinated after he had voted for the death of Louis XVI.—Translator.]

37. [A relatively obscure eighteenth-century philosopher, known almost entirely through his works, which reveal a praiseworthy zeal to reform the social abuses of his day (Essai sur l'esprit humain, Essai sur le coeur humain, 1745; Physique de la beauté, 1748; Le Prince .... systeme d'un sage gouvernement, 1751). His Naufrage des îles flottantes ou Basiliade, 1753, a utopian "epic," and his Code de la nature, 1755, contained radical notions of pure communism which strongly influenced Babeuf.—Translator.]

38. [Noël Babeuf (1764-1797), founder of La République des égaux dedicated to a doctrine of complete social and economic equality. In 1796 he organized with his followers (les Babouvistes) a conspiracy to overthrow the Directory. The conspiracy was exposed and led to the arrest of the leaders and the death of Babeuf.—Translator.]

39. [Robert Owen (1771-1858), British reformer and socialist, active in efforts to improve factory workers' conditions.—Translator.]

40. [Louis Blanc (1811-1882), French politician and historian, creator of the social "workshop," which combined elements of the co-operative and the trade-union. He attributed the evils of society to the pressures of competition, proposing instead "to each according to his needs, from each according to his abilities."—Translator.]

41. [Victor Considérant (1808-1893), as a socialist of the Fourier school, is the frequent object of Bastiat's criticism.—Translator.]

42. [Followers of Étienne Cabet (1786-1856), French socialist, theorist, and experimenter. He founded associations in France; in Red River, Texas; and in Nauvoo, Illinois, to put into practice the theories set forth in his Voyage to Icaria.—Translator.]

43. [Followers of Pierre Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865), French social theorist and experimenter, a prolific writer on political and economic questions, for the most part radical or anarchistic in viewpoint. Bastiat and he had a fiery controversy over his proposal of loans without interest.—Translator.]

44. [Pierre Laurent Barthélemy, Comte de Saint-Cricq, member of the Chamber of Deputies, Minister of Commerce from January 4, 1828 to August 8, 1829, and later a Peer of France.—Translator.]

45. [Armand de Melun (1807-1877), a prominent philanthropist, leader in the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, and in politics a moderate conservative.—Translator.]

46. [Louis Adolphe Thiers (1797-1877), French statesman and historian, opponent of free trade, and, in Bastiat's time, advocate of an aggressively anti-English policy for France.—Translator.]

47. [Jacques de Vaucanson (1709-1782). His claim to fame rests on his automatons, of which "The Flute Player" and "The Duck" were best known.—Translator.]

Chapter 3

48. [Félicité de Lamennais (1782-1854), French philosopher, Catholic priest, reformer, and ardent champion of the working classes.—Translator.]

49. ["The right to use and abuse."—Translator.]

50. [Gaius Luscinus Fabricius, distinguished Roman general and consul whose integrity so impressed Pyrrhus when he was sent as an ambassador to treat for the ransom and exchange of prisoners in 280 B.C. that they were released without ransom. He died so poor that the state had to provide for his daughter.—Translator.]

51. [Lucius Licinius Lucullus (110-56 B.C.), Roman general and plutocrat famous for the sumptuousness and elegance of his mode of life and especially for his extravagant gourmet meals.—Translator.]

52. [The meeting-place of the National Assembly.—Translator.]

53. [This title of address used during the French Revolution has, of course, an ironic connotation here, much like the term "Comrade" in our time.—Translator.]

54. [François Vidal (1814-1872), journalist, politician, and writer on economic subjects. An ardent advocate of government intervention in the relations between labor and capital, he edited a number of publications, including La Presse. After the Revolution of 1848, Louis Blanc made him secretary of the commission for the organization of labor. He later took an active part in the political opposition to Louis Bonaparte. His most famous work, to which Bastiat's French editor makes reference on p. 327 infra, is entitled De la rèpartition de richesses ou De la justice distributive en èconomie sociale (1846). It is a critical examination of the economic doctrines of his day.—Translator.]

55. [In 1846, Bastiat helped to organize the first Association for Free Trade in Bordeaux, and soon thereafter he was named secretary of a similar association established in Paris—Translator.]

Chapter 4

56. [Writing before the time of Karl Marx, Bastiat uses this term, of course, to designate generally those political theorists, like the others whose names follow, who advocated collectivism as a means to advance equality.—Translator.]

57. [Pierre Leroux (1797-1871), French philosopher, publisher, and encyclopedist, a disciple of Saint-Simon. Editor of Le Globe.—Translator.]

58. [Publius Decius Mus, father and son, both military leaders of the Roman Republic between 350 and 275 B.C., are said to have performed acts of self-devotion by hurling themselves into the midst of the enemy when the Roman column each was leading was repulsed.—Translator.]

59. ["Unto death, even death on the Cross."—Translator.]

60. [Armand Barbès (1809-1870), follower of Babeuf and organizer, in 1838, with Louis Blanqui and Martin Bernard, of the "Society of the Seasons," which attempted an unsuccessful insurrection in 1839. The death sentence pronounced upon him for his part in this affair was commuted to life imprisonment, but he was liberated by the Revolution of 1848 and died in voluntary exile.—Translator.]

61. [Marie Joseph Sobrier (1825-1854), editor, in collaboration with George Sand, Eugène Sue, and others, of La Commune de Paris, journal du citoyen Sobrier, moniteur des clubs, des corporations, d'ouvriers et de l'armée, a daily newspaper that began publication in May, 1848, and ceased at the end of September, 1849.—Translator.]

Chapter 5

62. [A local tax on certain commodities (foodstuffs, fodder, liquids, fuels, building materials, etc.) imposed as a condition of their being brought into a town or district.—Translator]

63. [In 1848, members of the Socialist Democrat Party. The name, of course, goes back to the militant "Mountain" Party of Danton and Robespierre during the French Revolution.—Translator.]

Chapter 6

64. [In French, la spoliation. While the English cognate "spoliation" has exactly the same meaning of "theft by force or fraud," it is so infrequently used that the word "plunder" is substituted in these pages as coming closer to the emotional connotations of la spoliation.—Translator.]

65. [John Ramsay McCulloch (1789-1864), British economist and statistician and author of Principles of Political Economy (1825).—Translator.]

66. [David Buchanan, the younger (1779-1848), journalist and author on economic subjects, editor of Adam Smith's works in 1814.—Translator.]

67. [David Ricardo (1772-1823), English economist of the classical school.—Translator.]

68. [George Poulett Scrope (1797-1876), English economist and geologist, prolific writer of pamphlets, particularly in refutation of the Malthusian theory.—Translator.]

69. [Nassau William Senior (1790-1864), English economist and first professor of political economy at Oxford.—Translator.]

70. [This is an allusion to an anecdote, The Miller of Sans-Souci (Le Meunier de Sans-Souci), recounted by Andrieux, an eighteenth-century wit, poet, and playwright. When Frederick the Great was making plans to construct his estate of Sans-Souci, he discovered that the view of one of the proposed avenues was blocked by a mill. He summoned the owner and offered to purchase the offending mill at a good price. The miller stubbornly refused to sell at any price. Becoming angry, Frederick said, "Don't you know that if I wanted to, I could take your mill away from you by force and not pay you anthing?"

"Ah, yes, you could do that," replied the miller, "if there weren't any judges in Berlin."

Highly amused at this naïveté, Frederick, according to Andrieux, allowed the miller to keep his mill. Bastiat evidently found this story an apt illustration, for he refers to it elsewhere.—Translator.]

71. [Members of an eighteenth-century philosophic and economic school founded by François Quesnay (1694-1774). Since they believed in a natural law (the jus naturae) governing all human relations as well as the physical universe, they were opposed to any man-made interference, particularly in agriculture and industry. The phrases, laisser faire, laisser passer, were coined by them to epitomize their doctrine. They also regarded all wealth as derived from the powers of Nature and therefore declared the latter to be the only legitimate sources of public finance. Because of the heavy, labored style of their writings, they were held up to ridicule by Voltaire and others, but their doctrines were accepted in part by Adam Smith and J. B. Say.—Translator.]

72. [Jean-Baptiste Say (1767-1832), French professor of political economy, champion of free trade. His views influenced Bastiat greatly.—Translator.]

73. [Pierre Jean de Béranger (1780-1857). The song in question, named simply La Liberté, was written in 1822 in protest against the suppression of free speech under the Restoration. The original French words cited by Bastiat are:

    Mon coeur en belle haine
    A pris la liberté.
    Fi de la liberté!
    À bas la liberté!

74. [Sir Thomas More (1478-1535), whose Utopia, published in Latin in 1516 and later in English, satirized the government and society of his day by comparing them with a fictitious island commonwealth, modeled on Platonic principles, in which goods would be owned in common.—Translator.]

75. [James Harrington (1611-1677), English political philosopher, whose work on the ideal state, entitled Commonwealth of Oceana, emphasizing a written constitution, indirect election of the president, the secret ballot, and rotation in office, is believed to have influenced political thought in the United States and other democracies.—Translator.]

76. [Chrysale, the sensible husband in Molière's Femmes savantes ("The Highbrow Ladies"), says this about his household. Following his wife's example, all his servants, save one, have gone in for "culchah" to the neglect of their household duties.—Translator.]

Chapter 7

77. [A businessmen's association headed by P. A. R. Mimerel de Roubaix (1786-1871), a textile manufacturer. Cf. note on p. 59 supra.—Translator.]

78. [Auguste Adolphe Marie Billault (1805-1863), French lawyer and politician. Eloquent and ambitious rather than possessing any firm political convictions, he was an influential figure during both the February Revolution of 1848 and the Second Empire. For the latter he served as Minister of Interior, Senator, and Minister without Portfolio.—Translator.]

79. [Charles Gilbert Tourret (1795-1857), engineer and politician, Deputy in 1837, Minister of Agriculture and Commerce under Cavaignac.—Translator.]

80. [River forming the frontier between France and Spain in Guipúzcoa.—Translator.]

Chapter 8

81. [Denis Benoît d'Azy (1796-1880), French politician, Deputy under Louis Philippe, Vice President of the Legislative Assembly of 1849. He was an arch conservative and protectionist. As a financier and railroad administrator he rendered notable services to the nation.—Translator.]

82. [One of several quotations Bastiat makes from Beaumarchais' The Barber of Seville. In this instance he apparently quoted from memory, for approximately these words are spoken by old Bartolo, the guardian, not by the music master.—Translator.]

83. [Adolphe Isaac Moïse Crémieux (1796-1880), a Deputy from 1842 to 1848. A moderate, he joined the revolutionary governments of 1848 and of 1870-71 as Minister of Justice. One of the most prominent Jews of his time, he secured voting rights for the Algerian Jews and founded the Alliance Israélite Universelle. Under the Second Empire he was imprisoned for a time for his opposition to Napoleon III. He became Senator for life in 1875.—Translator.]

84. [Martin Nadaud (1815-1898), French politician and a follower of Cabet. Elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1849, he voted with the "Mountain" (cf. p. 149 supra), was exiled by Napoleon in 1853, returned in 1870, and served several terms as Deputy thereafter.—Translator.]

Chapter 9

85. [It is important to distinguish between the American system of independent colleges and universities, free, within very broad limits, to establish their own requirements for academic degrees, and the French system, established by the First Empire, against which Bastiat protests. In France all higher education was completely unified under a university corps, the "University" (l'Université), headed by a "Grand Master" (le grand maître) and a "Supreme Council" (le Conseil Supérieur). This corps had full control over curriculum, methods, and requirements leading to the various academic degrees in all the schools and universities in the country. Bastiat does not exaggerate, therefore, the monopolistic power held by the "University." Reforms in the direction of liberalization did not come until the decade of 1875-1885 under the Third Republic.—Translator.]

86. [The French West Point.—Translator.]

87. [The French baccalauréat, corresponding roughly, in time, to the first two years of college in America, is conferred by the secondary schools (the collège or the lycée). The standards, however, are high, and the work is intensive, so that the student, on receiving his baccalauréat, is presumed to have completed his general education and to be qualified to study for more advanced degrees in the universities.—Translator.]

88. [Pierre Louis Parisis (1795-1866), French prelate and politician, Bishop of Langres, 1835-1851, and of Arras, 1851-1866. Elected a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1848, he showed himself an outspoken monarchist and champion of reaction; also from 1848 on, he served as a member of the Supreme Council of the "University," although Napoleon's coup d'état in 1852 ended his political career in other respects.—Translator.]

89. ["I prefer liberty, even though fraught with peril."—Translator.]

90. ["O liberté! que tes orages
      Ont de charme pour les grands cœurs!"

91. [Jules Barthélemy de Saint-Hilaire (1805-1887), French scholar and author, professor of Latin and Greek in the Collège de France, Minister of Education under Cousin in 1840. He entered politics in 1848, serving as first head of the Secretariat of the Provisional Government, then as Deputy. During this time he publicly defended the existing "University" system against the attacks of Bastiat and others on the occasion of the "Law of 1850." Known as very conservative and even reactionary, he became much more liberal in his later political career. As a protest against Napoleon III, he resigned his professorship and administrative duties at the Collège de France. After 1870, as a supporter of Thiers, he was elected to the National Assembly, became a member of the Thiers cabinet, was elected Senator for life in 1875, and, in 1880, served as Minister of Foreign Affairs.—Translator.]

92. [Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), famed humanistic essayist of the Renaissance.—Translator.]

93. [Horace, II, iii.—Translator.]

94. [Charles Rollin (1661-1741), educator, defender of the privileges of the University, and champion of classical studies. He was the author of Traité des études (1726).—Translator.]

95. [Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, Comte de Mirabeau (1749-1791), one of the great figures of the early years of the French Revolution, whose plan to set up a constitutional monarchy failed, owing to the resistance of the King and the Queen and to the radically changed political situation after 1789. He was president of the Jacobin Club, which included some of his inveterate opponents, and of the National Assembly, as well as reporter of the diplomatic committee of the Assembly.—Translator.]

96. [Jacques Pierre Brissot (1754-1793), pamphleteer, journalist, social reformer, and revolutionary. In the early years of the First French Republic he was an influential Jacobin Deputy and editor of the Patriote français. Active in the French movement to abolish the slave trade, he was the leader of the Girondins, a moderate group of republicans whose members were at first called Brissotins. He was evicted with them from the Convention and was guillotined in 1793.—Translator.]

97. [Emerich de Vattel (1714-1767), Swiss jurist, whose Law of Nations (1758) sought to apply the natural law to international relations. Liberal and humanitarian in temper, he defended the rights of neutrals in time of war, and his work influenced the subsequent development of international law.—Translator.]

98. [Don Felix de Azara (1746-1811), for twenty years Spanish commissioner for delimiting the boundaries between the Spanish and the Portuguese territories of South America, and author of Voyage dans l'Amérique méridionale depuis 1781 jusqu'en 1801 (Paris, 1809), incorporating observations on the natural history of South America and an account of the discovery and history of Paraguay.—Translator.]

99. [Louis Antoine de Bougainville (1729-1811), French navigator and explorer, who described his circumnavigation of the globe (1767-1769) in his Voyage autour du monde (1771). The largest of the Solomon Islands, which he sailed by on this voyage, is named after him.—Translator.]

100. [Théodore Rose Léon Alfred Sudre (b. 1820), publicist and economist, author of Histoire du communisme, ou Réfutation historique des utopies socialistes (1848).—Translator.]

101. [Pierre Antoine, Marquis d'Antonelle (1747-1817), journalist and politician, author of Catéchisme du tiers état (1789). He presided at the trial of Marie-Antoinette and the Girondins.—Translator.]

102. [Jean Baptiste Carrier (1756-1794), one of the most notorious administrators of the Terror. To make Nantes safe against the Vendée revolt, he set up a revolutionary tribunal that condemned masses of prisoners to the guillotine, the firing squad, and—most ingenious and efficient—the noyades, vessels with trapdoors for bottoms in which he had prisoners sunk in the Loire. He himself ended on the guillotine in December, 1794.—Translator.]

103. [Jean Paul Rabaut Saint-Étienne (1743-1793), political leader active in securing the removal of legal disabilities from non-Catholics. A Girondin, he was guillotined with the downfall of his party.—Translator.]

104. [Hospice de Quinze-Vingts, originally founded as an almshouse for three hundred blind poor. It was later placed under the jurisdiction of a special administration of that name and established as a workshop for the inmates.—Translator.]

105. [Publius Valerius Publicola, Roman general who took a leading part in the expulsion of the Tarquins in 510 B.C. and successfully defended Rome against the Volscians, the Etruscans, and the Sabines.—Translator.]

106. [One of the divisions of Fourier's phalanges.—Translator.]

107. [Henri Léon Camusat de Riancey (1816-1870), French publicist and politician with Catholic and royalist leanings, editor of the journal L'Union which he founded in 1850. Elected to the Assembly in 1845, he was outspoken in his opposition to republican government and to change in the educational system.—Translator.]

108. [Denis de Frayssinous (1765-1841), an ardent churchman and Grand Master of the University (1822).—Translator.]

109. [François Villemain (1773-1854), a Sorbonne professor, literary critic, and Minister of Public Education (1839-1844).—Translator.]

110. [François Pierre Guillaume Guizot (1787-1874), French statesman and historian, professor of history at the Sorbonne. He began his long political career as Secretary-General of the Ministry of the Interior under the Restoration government, became Minister of Public Education in 1832 under the Louis Philippe government, and finally, 1840-1848, its head. Although he was a liberal in his earlier years, his growing conservatism made him unacceptable to the leaders of the 1848 Revolution, and, from that date on, his political influence waned rapidly. As an historian and organizer of historical research, he was one of the eminent figures of his day.—Translator.]

111. [Barthélemy Prosper Enfantin (1796-1864), an engineer and also one of the founders of Saint-Simonianism.—Translator.]

112. ["And to speak the truth, antiquity, as we call it, is the young state of the world; for those times are ancient when the world is ancient; and not those we vulgarly account ancient by computing backwards; so that the present time is the real antiquity." Advancement of Learning, Book I.—Translator.]

113. [Lactantius—Translator.]

114. [Bossuet's proposal was simply for all dissenting sects to return to the authority of the Roman Catholic Church.—Translator.]

115. [Like the Revolution of 1848.—Translator.]

116. [St. Augustine, Confessions, Bk. I, xiii-xvii.—Translator.]

Chapter 10

117. [Jérôme Adolphe Blanqui (1798-1854), French economist and head of the Paris École de Commerce.—Translator.]

118. [Pellegrino Luigi Eduardo Rossi (1787-1848), politician, jurist, and distinguished political economist. Exiled for fighting for Italian unification, he became (1819) professor of law at the Academy of Geneva, as well as Deputy from Geneva to the Federal Diet. He became professor of political economy in the Collège de France in 1833, and professor of constitutional law at the Sorbonne in 1834. He was assassinated in 1848. Along with J. B. Say, he represented the practical idealism which for Bastiat was the essence of political economy.—Translator.]

119. [Michel Chevalier (1806-1879), French economist and publicist. After an early period of enthusiasm for Saint-Simonianism, during which he was editor of Le Globe, he became the champion of enlightened industrialism as the means of assuring both social progress and individual liberty. In this respect, and also in his advocacy of free trade, he was an associate of Bastiat. Along with Cobden he negotiated the famous Anglo-French commercial treaty of 1860.—Translator.]

120. [Clement Joseph Garnier (1813-1881), commentator on Adam Smith and generally recognized as one of the ablest of the French economists. Professor in the Paris École de Commerce.—Translator.]

121. [Dugald Stewart (1753-1828), Scottish philosopher of the "common sense" school, initiated by Thomas Reid, and political economist of the classical school.—Translator.]

122. [Antonio Genovesi (1712-1769), Italian philosopher and economist, professor at the University of Naples. As a liberal and a disciple of Locke, he reflected the spirit of the French Enlightenment.—Translator.]

123. [Cesare Bonesana de Beccaria (1738-1794), Italian philosopher, criminologist, and economist. He was an ardent disciple of the French Enlightenment and in his own country an eloquent and beloved advocate of justice and more humane criminal procedures. His work Crimes and Punishments (1764) is a classic treatise on criminal justice.—Translator.]

124. [Antonio Scialoja (1817-1877), Italian economist and statesman, professor of political economy at the University of Turin, and advocate of free trade. After 1860 he served the Italian government as Deputy and cabinet minister.—Translator.]

125. [Ramón de La Sagra (1798-1871), botanist, member of the Cortes, and economist. His important works in the last capacity include Lecciones de economia social (1840), Organización de trabajo (1848), and Banco del pueblo (1849).—Translator.]

126. [Alvaro Florez Estrada (1765-1833), Spain's most distinguished economist of the first half of the nineteenth century—Translator.]

127. [José de Salamanca y Mayol (1811-1883), Spanish banker and politician. In addition to serving as Minister of Finance, he was later both Deputy and Senator. He was also a builder of Spanish railroads.—Translator.]

Chapter 11

128. [The reader will recall that only a little more than a year later Bastiat died of tuberculosis.—Translator.]

129. [Antoine François Henri Lefebure de Vatimesnil (1789-1860), magistrate and politician of reactionary clerical sympathies. Minister of Public Education in 1828, he supported Louis Philippe after the July revolution.—Translator.]

130. [Original French: la coalition.—Translator.]

131. [Joseph Hume (1777-1855), British statesman and Liberal reformer, a follower of James Mill and Jeremy Bentham, active in opposing the old combination laws that favored the employers and in bringing about the repeal of the laws prohibiting the export of machinery and the emigration of workers.—Translator.]

132. [Paul Émile Doutre, a lawyer who published a treatise on electoral rights in 1846.—Translator.]

133. [Louis Greppo (1810-1890), a politician of the extreme Left.—Translator.]

134. [Adrien Théodore Benoît-Champy (1805-1872), judge, diplomat, Deputy, and Senator.—Translator.]

Chapter 12

135. [Louis Mortimer-Ternaux (1808-1871), French politician and historian. A political reactionary, he served at various intervals from 1830 to 1871 in government posts and as a member of the Assembly and as Deputy. His views are best expressed in his Histoire de la Terreur.—Translator.]

Chapter 13

136. [François Mauguin (1785-1854), French lawyer and orator. A liberal by conviction, he won fame as legal defender of numerous individuals whom he considered the victims of governmental oppression. First elected Deputy in 1827, he rose to his greatest prestige under the government of Louis Philippe.—Translator.]

137. [Auguste Adolphe Darblay (1784-1873), industrialist, and Deputy from 1840 to 1848.—Translator.]

138. [Louis Lebeuf (1792-1854), financier, and Regent of the Banque de France in 1835. One of the leaders, along with Messrs. Odier and Mimerel, of the protectionist Committee for the Defense of Domestic Industry, he was elected Deputy in 1837 and Senator in 1852.—Translator.]

Author's and French Editor's Notes to Selected Essays on Political Economy.


1. [This pamphlet, published in July, 1850, is the last that Bastiat wrote. It had been promised to the public for more than a year. Its publication had been delayed because the author had lost the manuscript when he moved his household from the rue de Choiseul to the rue d'Algen. After a long and fruitless search, he decided to rewrite his work entirely, and chose as the principal basis of his demonstrations some speeches recently delivered in the National Assembly. When this task was finished, he reproached himself with having been too serious, threw the second manuscript into the fire, and wrote the one which we reprint.—Editor.]

2. [See chap. 10 of Economic Harmonies.—Editor.]

3. [See chap. 3 of Economic Harmonies.—Editor.]

4. [The author has often invoked the presumption of truth which is connected with the universal assent manifested by the practice of all men. See especially chap. 13 of Economic Sophisms, the end of chap. 6 of the Essays (in the French edition), and in Economic Harmonies the appendix to chap. 6 entitled "Morality of Wealth."—Editor.]

5. [See in Vol. V, pages 86 and 94 (of the French edition), chaps. 14 and 18 of the first series of Economic Sophisms; as well as chap. 7 (of this volume).—Editor.]

6. [See in Economic Harmonies chaps. 3 and 8.—Editor.]

7. [See the end of the twelfth letter on Interest-free Credit, Vol, V, pages 282 ff. (of the French edition).—Editor.]

8. The Honorable Minister of War has recently affirmed that each individual transported to Algeria has cost the state eight thousand francs. Now, it is certain that the poor people involved could have lived very well in France on a capital of four thousand francs. How, I should like to know, do you help the French people when you take away one man and the means of existence for two?

9. [See note 5 supra.—Editor.]

10. If all the consequences of an action redounded on its author, we should soon enough receive our education. But this is not the case. Sometimes the visible good effects are for us, and the invisible bad effects are for others, which makes them all the more invisible. We must therefore wait for the reaction to come from those who have to endure the bad consequences of the act. Occasionally this takes a long time, and that is what prolongs the reign of error.

A man does something that produces good effects equal to ten, to his profit, and bad effects equal to fifteen, divided among thirty of his fellows in such a way that each of them receives only one half. In the total there is a loss, and there must necessarily be a reaction. We must concede, however, that it will be all the longer in coming because the bad effects are spread out so widely among the masses, while the good are concentrated at one point. [Unpublished fragment of the author.]


11. [It was in June, 1850, that the author, during a few days spent with his family at Mugron, wrote this pamphlet.—Editor.]

12. [See (in chap. 8 of this volume) the two last pages of the essay entitled "Plunder and Law."—Editor.]

13. [General Council of Manufacturing, Agriculture, and Commerce. (Session of May 6, 1850.)—Editor.]

14. If protection were granted in France to only one class—for example, to the ironmasters—it would be so absurdly spoliative that it could not be maintained. So we see all the protected industries banding together to make common cause and even to recruit members in a way calculated to make the association appear inclusive of the whole of national industry. They feel instinctively that plunder is masked by being made general.

15. [In the pamphlet "Academic Degrees and Socialism" (chap. 9 in this volume), the author, by a series of analogous citations, shows again how this same error has been handed down from the past.—Editor.]

16. For a nation to be happy, it is indispensable that the individuals that compose it have the foresight, the prudence, and the confidence in one another that is born of security.

Now, these things can be acquired only by experience. People become foresighted when they have suffered for not having been so; prudent when their rashness has been punished; etc., etc. It follows that liberty always begins by being accompanied by the evils that result from the unconsidered use that is made of it.

Seeing this, men arise who demand that liberty be proscribed. "Let the state," they say, "be foresighted and prudent for everyone."

To them I put these questions:

1. Is this possible? Can an experienced state emerge from an inexperienced nation?

2. In any case, will this not inhibit the growth of experience from the very beginning? If specific acts are imposed on men by force, how will the individual be instructed by the consequences of his acts? Will he, then, be under guardianship forever?

And the state, having ordered everything, will be responsible for everything.

There is in this the seed of revolutions without end, since they will be undertaken by a people to whom progress has been forbidden at the same time as experience. [Observation excerpted from the manuscripts of the author.]

17. Political economy takes priority over political science. The former determines whether human interests are naturally harmonious or antagonistic. The latter must know this before establishing the prerogatives of government.


18. [Article printed in the May 15, 1848, issue of the Journal des économistes.—Editor.]

19. [See, in Vol. I (of the French edition), the account of the work of M. Vidal on "The Distribution of Wealth" and, in Vol. II (of the French edition), the reply to five letters published by M. Vidal in the newspaper La Presse.—Editor.]

20. [See, in Vol. I (of the French edition), the letter addressed in January, 1845, to M. de Lamartine on "The Right to Employment."—Editor.]

21. [See, in Vol. II (of the French edition), the collection of articles on the question of subsidies and (chap. 7 of this volume), "Protectionism and Communism."—Editor.]

22. [See (in this volume) chap. 8, "Plunder and Law," and chap. 10, "Declaration of War against the Professors of Political Economy."—Editor.]


23. [Article printed in the June 15, 1848, issue of the Journal des économistes.—Editor.]

24. [See the pamphlet "Capital and Rent" and, in Economic Harmonies, chap. 7.—Editor.]

25. In practice, men have always distinguished between a business transaction and an act of pure benevolence. I have sometimes had the pleasure of seeing in action the most charitable man, the most devout heart, the most fraternal soul that I know. The priest of my village carries to a rare degree of self-sacrifice the love of his neighbor and particularly of the poor. This goes so far that when, in order to come to the aid of the poor there is need of getting money from the rich, this honest man is not very scrupulous about his choice of means. He had given shelter in his home to a seventy-year-old nun, one of those who had been displaced by the Revolution. To provide an hour of distraction to his lodger, my friend, who had never touched a card, learned to play piquet; and you should have seen him pretend to be enthusiastic about the game, so that the nun would think that she was being useful to her benefactor. This went on for fifteen years. But here is what transformed an act of simple condescension into a veritable act of heroism: the good nun was devoured by a cancer, which gave off around her a horrible stench, of which she was never conscious. Now, it was noted that the curé never took tobacco during the game for fear of making known to the poor invalid her sad condition. How many people were given the cross of the Legion of Honor this past May Day who are incapable of doing for a single day anything as heroic as my old priest did for fifteen years!

Well, I have observed this priest, and I can avow that, when he made a bargain, he was as vigilant as any honest Paris merchant. He defended his own interest in the matter of weight, measure, quality, and price, and considered himself in no wise bound to mix charity and fraternity in a business transaction.

Let us take away, then, from this word fraternity all the false, puerile, declamatory additions that have been made to it in recent times. [Unpublished draft of the author, written towards the end of 1847.—Editor.]

26. [See (in this volume chap. 6) "Property and Plunder," including the final note. See also, in Vol. II (of the French edition), the reply to a letter of M. Considérant.—Editor.]

27. [Several chapters of Economic Harmonies had already been published then in the Journal des économistes, and the author was obliged to continue this work without delay.—Editor.]

28. [At the moment when a public convention in favor of free trade was being proposed at Marseilles in August, 1847, Bastiat encountered M. de Lamartine in that city and conversed a long time with him about commercial freedom, and then about freedom in general, the fundamental dogma of political economy. See, in Vol. II (of the French edition), the note that follows the address delivered at Marseilles. See also, in Vol. I, the two letters to M. de Lamartine.—Editor.]

29. "There are three regions in which mankind can dwell: a lower, that of plunder; a higher, that of charity; and an intermediate, that of justice.

"Governments perform only actions having force as their sanction. Now, it is permitted to force someone to be just, but not to force him to be charitable. Law, when it would do by force what ethics does by persuasion, far from rising to the region of charity, falls into the domain of plunder.

"The proper domain of law and governments is justice."

[This thought of the author was written in his hand in an album of autographs that the Society of Men of Letters sent in 1850 to the Exposition in London. We reproduce it here because it seems to us to sum up the doctrine expounded in the preceding pamphlet.—Editor.]


30. [To understand the form of this composition, note that it was printed in the Journal des débats, issue of September 25, 1848.—Editor.]

31. [This last phrase is from M. de Lamartine. The author cites it also in the pamphlet (chap. 2 of this volume) entitled "The Law."—Editor.]

32. [See chap. 17 of Economic Harmonies and, in the first volume (of the French edition), the pamphlet of 1830 entitled "To the Electors of the Department of Landes."—Editor.]


33. See the little volume published by M. Considérant under the title, Théorie du droit de propriété et du droit au travail (Theory of the Right to Property and of the Right to Employment).

34. Op. cit.

35. M. Considérant is not the only one who holds it, as witness the following passage, taken from The Wandering Jew of Eugène Sue:

"Mortification would best express the complete lack of those things essential to life that an equitably organized society would owe, yes, would compulsorily owe, to every active and honest worker, since civilization has dispossessed him of all rights to the soil, and he is born with only his hands as his patrimony.

"The savage does not enjoy the advantages of civilization; but at least he has the animals of the forests, the birds of the air, the fish of the rivers, and the fruits of the earth to nourish him, and the trees of the great woods to shelter and warm him.

"Disinherited of these gifts of God, the civilized man who regards property as holy and sacred can, then, in return for his hard daily labor which enriches the country, demand a wage sufficient to live healthily—nothing more, and nothing less."

36. [This proposition is more fully developed in chap. 5 and chap. 9 of Economic Harmonies.—Editor.]

37. [See at the end of this pamphlet the protest that this first letter provoked from M. Considérant, and the reply of Bastiat.—Editor.]

38. [See the Conclusion to the first series of Economic Sophisms.—Editor.]

39. "It is not enough that value does not reside in matter or in the forces of Nature. It is not enough that it resides exclusively in services. It is also necessary that the services themselves should not have an exaggerated value. For what does it matter to a wretched worker who pays dearly for wheat whether the landowner is being paid for the productive powers of the soil or is being paid inordinately for his own industry?

"It is the task of competition to equalize services on the basis of justice. It works at it unceasingly." [Unpublished note by the author.]

[For developments of the ideas of value and of competition, see chaps. 5 and 10 of Economic Harmonies.

See further the examples cited in Economic Sophisms, chap. 4, First Series.—Editor.]

40. [On the question of middlemen, see section 2 of the pamphlet, "What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen" (chap. 1 of this volume), and the beginning of chap. 16 of Economic Harmonies.—Editor.]

41. We have recently heard it said that land rent is an illegitimate form of income. Without going that far, many people find it hard to understand why capital should yield a perpetual revenue in the form of interest. "How," they say, "can capital, once formed, yield a perpetual revenue?" Here is the explanation of this perpetuity and of its legitimacy, illustrated by an example:

I have one hundred sacks of wheat. I could use them to live on while I devote myself to useful labor. Instead of that, I put them out on loan for a year. What does the borrower owe me? The full return of my hundred sacks of wheat. Does he owe me only that? In that case, I would have rendered a service without getting anything. He owes me, then, besides the simple return of my loan, a service, a remuneration whose amount will be determined by the laws of supply and demand: that is, interest. It is evident that at the end of the year I still have one hundred sacks of wheat to loan, and so on forever after. The interest is a small portion of the labor that my loan has put the borrower in a position to perform. If I have enough sacks of wheat so that the interest suffices for my existence, I can be a man of leisure without harming anyone; and it would be easy for me to show that the leisure thus achieved is itself one of the spurs to the progress of society.

42. [This hypothesis was examined anew by the author in the last part of his letter to M. Thiers. See (in chap. 7 of this volume) the last twelve pages of "Protectionism and Communism."—Editor.]

43. [On landed property, see chap. 9 and chap. 13 of Economic Harmonies. See also, in Vol. II (of the French edition), the second parable in the speech delivered September 29, 1846, at Montesquieu Hall.—Editor.]

44. [On the objection based on the so-called monopoly of natural resources, see, in Vol. V (of the French edition), the twenty-fourth letter on "Interest-free Credit," and, in Economic Sophisms, First Series, the two last pages of chap. 14.—Editor.]

45. [On spared effort, considered as the most important element of value, see chap. 5 of Economic Harmonies.—Editor.]

46. [Published by the Journal des débats, July 28, 1848.—Editor.]


47. [At the moment when this pamphlet appeared, that is, in January, 1849, M. Thiers was held in high esteem at the Elysée Palace (the residence of Louis Napoleon as President of the Republic).—Editor.]

48. [See, in Vol. I (of the French edition), the letters addressed to M. de Lamartine in January, 1845, and October, 1846, and, in Vol. II, the article entitled "Communism," dated June 27, 1847.—Editor.]

49. [See, in Vol. II (of the French edition), the article entitled "Free Exchange," dated December 20, 1846.—Editor.]

50. [This idea, with which, according to the author, M. Billault could strengthen his argument, was soon to be adopted by another protectionist. It was developed by M. Mimerel in a speech given on April 27, 1850, before the General Council of Manufacturing, Agriculture, and Commerce. See the passage in this speech cited in the pamphlet, "Plunder and Law" (chap. 8 in this volume).—Editor.]

51. [See chap. 18 of Economic Sophisms.—Editor.]

52. [See, in Vol. II (of the French edition), "One Profit against Two Losses, Two Losses against One Profit."—Editor.]

53. [See the third letter of "Property and Plunder" (chap. 6 of this volume).—Editor.]

54. [See the last pages of the pamphlet entitled "Plunder and Law" (chap. 8 of this volume).—Editor.]

55. [See, in Vol. II (of the French edition), most of the articles comprised under the rubric, "Polemic against the Newspapers," and notably the article entitled "The Democratic Party and Free Trade."—Editor.]

56. [These two small volumes, which the author actually sent to M. Thiers, were the first and second series of Economic Sophisms.—Editor.]

57. [See the Introduction to Vol. II (of the French edition).—Editor.]


58. [On April 27, 1850, following a very curious discussion, published in the Moniteur, the General Council of Manufacturing, Agriculture, and Commerce passed the following resolution:

"That professors paid by the government should teach political economy not only from the theoretical viewpoint of free trade, but also and especially from the viewpoint of the facts and of the laws which regulate French industry."

It is to this resolution that Bastiat replied with the pamphlet, "Plunder and Law" (chap. 8 of this volume), first published in the Journal des économistes, May 15, 1850.—Editor.]

59. [The author had expressed this opinion three years before in the November 28, 1847, issue of the paper Le Libre échange. Replying to the Moniteur industriel, he had said:

"Let the reader pardon us if we assume the role of casuist for a moment. Our adversary compels us to don the learned doctor's cap and gown, and we feel all the more justified in doing so because he often delights in referring to us as 'doctor.'

"An illegal act is always immoral solely because it is disobedience of the law; but it does not follow that it is immoral in itself. When a mason (we beg pardon of our colleague for calling his attention to such a little thing), after a hard day's work, exchanges his pay for a piece of Belgian cloth, he does not commit an intrinsically immoral act. It is not the act in itself that is immoral; it is the violation of the law. And the proof is that if the law happens to be changed, no one will find fault with this exchange. It is in no way immoral in Switzerland. Now, what is in itself immoral is so everywhere and always. Will the Moniteur industriel maintain that the morality of one's acts depends on time and place?

"As there are illegal acts that are not immoral, so there are immoral acts that are not illegal. When our colleague changes our words while trying to find a meaning in them that they do not have; when certain persons, after having declared privately that they are for freedom, write and vote against it; when a master makes his slave work by beating him; the legislative code may not be violated, but the conscience of every good person is revolted. It is in the category of these acts and among the most infamous that we place restrictions on trade. Suppose one Frenchman says to another, his equal or one who should be: 'I forbid you to buy Belgian cloth, because I want you to be forced to come to my shop. This may disturb you, but it suits me; you will lose. four francs, but I shall gain two, and that will suffice for me.' We say that this is an immoral action. Whether he who ventures to do it does so by using force himself or has recourse to the aid of the law changes nothing in the character of the act. It is immoral by nature, in its very essence. It would have been immoral ten thousand years ago; it would be immoral at the antipodes; it would be immoral on the moon; because, whatever the Moniteur industriel may say, the law, which can do so much, cannot make what is evil into something good.

"In fact, we do not hesitate to say that the complicity of the law aggravates the immorality of the deed. If the law were not involved in it; if, for example, the manufacturer hired men to put into effect the restrictions he desired, the immorality would shock the Moniteur industriel itself. But now see what has happened! Because this manufacturer has found a way to spare himself the trouble, and, by putting the public police force at his service, to burden the oppressed with a part of the cost of the oppression, what was immoral has become meritorious!

"It can happen, to be sure, that men thus oppressed imagine that it is for their own good, and that the oppression results from an error common to both oppressors and oppressed. This suffices to justify their intentions and to remove from the act what would otherwise render it odious. In that case, the majority sanctions the law. One must submit to it; we will never say the contrary. But nothing will prevent us from saying to the majority that in our opinion it is mistaken."—Editor.]

60. Organisation du travail, Introd., pp. 17 and 24.

61. Moniteur of April 28, 1850.

62. Moniteur of April 28. See the opinion of M. Devinck.

63. [It is implicitly refuted in chap. 12 of the first series, and chaps. 4 and 13 of the second series, of Economic Sophisms.—Editor.]

64. [In this reply to the protectionists, which he addressed to them at the time of his departure for the department of Landes, the author, obliged to indicate briefly his views on the rational domain of legislation, felt the need to set them forth at greater length. That is what he did, a few days later, during a short stay at Mugron, by writing "The Law" (chap. 2 of this volume).—Editor.]


65. [Twenty years before, the author, in his first essay, had already pointed to freedom of education as one of the reforms that the nation should strive to obtain. See, in Vol. I (of the French edition), the pamphlet entitled "To the Electors of the Department of Landes."—Editor.]

66. "He who ventures to found a nation must feel himself capable of changing, so to speak, human nature, .... of altering the physical and moral constitution of man, etc." (Social Contract, chap. 7.)

67. [See "The Law" (chap. 2 of this volume).—Editor.]

68. Report of M. Thiers on the Law of Secondary Education, 1844.

69. Distance contributes not a little to give to ancient figures a quality of grandeur. If someone speaks to us of the Roman citizen, we ordinarily do not picture to ourselves a brigand occupied with acquiring booty and slaves, at the expense of peaceful peoples; we do not see him half-naked, shockingly dirty, going about muddy streets; we do not surprise him in the act of flogging a slave until the blood flows or putting him to death if he shows a bit of energy and spirit. We prefer to picture to ourselves a beautiful head crowning an impressive and majestic body draped like an ancient statue. We like to think of him as meditating on the high destinies of his country. He seems to us to be seeing his family gathering around the hearth, which is honored by the presence of the gods; the wife preparing the simple repast of the warrior and glancing with confidence and admiration at her husband's face; the young children attentive to the discourse of an old man who whiles away the hours by recounting the exploits and the virtues of their father.....

Oh, what illusions would be dissipated if we could evoke the past, walk down the streets of Rome, and see close up the men whom, from afar, we admire so naively! .... [Unpublished fragment of the author, a little before 1830.]

70. Those who would like to knead society as if it were dough sometimes are too modest to say, "I shall do, I shall arrange....." They prefer to make use of the indirect, but equivalent form: "It is to be done, it is to be arranged....."

71. Spirit of the Laws, Bk. IV, chap. 6.

72. Op. cit., Bk. IV, chap. 8.

73. Op. cit., Bk. V, chap. 5.

74. Op. cit., Bk. V, chap. 6.

75. Op. cit., Bk. VII, chap. 16.

76. Discours sur le rétablissement des sciences et des arts.

77. 3 Nivôse,* Year III.

    * [Nivôse was the fourth month in the French revolutionary calendar.—Translator.]

78. 23 Nivôse, Year III.

79. Ibid.

80. December 16, 1792.

81. November 21, 1794.

82. March 19, 1794.

83. [In the fragment from which we borrowed note 5 above, the author examines these two questions: First, whether self-sacrifice is a preferable political motive to self-interest. Second, whether the ancient peoples, and notably the Romans, practiced this self-sacrifice better than modern peoples.

As is well known, his conclusion is in the negative in regard to both questions. Here is one of his reasons in regard to the second:

"When I give up a part of my fortune to have walls and a roof built to protect me from thieves and from the intemperance of the weather, it cannot be said that I am animated by self-sacrifice, but that, on the contrary, I am seeking my own preservation.

"Similarly, when the Romans sacrificed their internal divisions to their safety, when they exposed their lives in battle, when they submitted to the yoke of an almost unbearable discipline, they were not sacrificing their own interests; quite the contrary, they were embracing the sole means that they had to protect themselves and to avoid the extermination by which they were constantly threatened by the reaction of subjugated peoples against their acts of violence.

"I know that some Romans gave proof of great personal self-sacrifice and devoted themselves to the welfare of Rome. But this is easily explained. The self-interest that determined their political organization was not their sole motive. Men accustomed to triumphing together and to detesting all that is foreign to their association, must have a national pride, a very exalted patriotism. All warrior nations, from the most savage hordes to the civilized peoples, who make war only occasionally, indulge in such flights of patriotism. All the more reason for the Romans to do so, whose very existence was a permanent war. Such exalted national pride, joined to the courage that warrior customs bestow, to the contempt for death that such courage inspires, to the love of glory, and to the desire to live in posterity must frequently produce spectacular actions.

"Therefore, I do not say that no virtue can emerge from a purely military society. Such a statement would be belied by the facts; for even bands of brigands offer us examples of courage, of energy, of devotion, of contempt for death, of generosity, etc. But I do contend that, like bands of plunderers, the plundering peoples have no superiority over the industrious peoples in the matter of self-sacrifice; and I add that the enormous and permanent vices of the former cannot be erased by a few spectacular actions, unworthy perhaps of the name of virtue, since they are directed toward the injury of mankind." (Unpublished fragment of the author, a little before 1830.)—Editor.]


84. [Three years before the resolution that provoked the pamphlet "Plunder and Law" (chap. 8 of this volume), the dismissal of the professors and the abolition of the chairs of political economy had been formally demanded by the members of the Mimerel Committee, which soon became more moderate and limited itself to demanding that the theory of protection must be taught as well as that of free trade.

It was with the weapon of irony that Bastiat, in the June 13, 1847, issue of the newspaper Le Libre échange, fought this demand, which was put forward then for the first time.—Editor.]

85. [That this is evidently the germ of "Academic Degrees and Socialism" (chap. 9 of this volume) will become even more apparent in the following pages.—Editor.]

86. [Mr. Whateley, Archbishop of Dublin, who established a chair of political economy in that city, had a professorship at Oxford.—Editor.]

87. [See, in Vol. II (of the French edition), the declaration of principles of the Society for Free Trade.—Editor.]


88. [Articles 413, 415, and 416 of the Penal Code punish, though in a very unequal manner, combinations of employers and of workers. A proposal to repeal these three articles had been referred by the Legislative Assembly to a committee, which judged repeal inadmissible and thought that it was absolutely necessary to maintain the repressive provisions, while modifying them, however, to make them impartial.

This aim, one may say, was not attained by the proposed modifications. M. Morin, manufacturer and representative from Drôme, convinced that the sole basis on which harmony between workers and employers could be established was equality before the law, wanted to amend the conclusions of the committee in conformity with this principle. The amendment that he presented was supported by Bastiat at the session of November 17, 1849.—Editor.]


89. [At the Legislative Assembly's session of April 1, 1850, during the discussion of the budget for public education, M. Mortimer-Ternaux, one of the Representatives, proposed an amendment to decrease by 300,000 francs the expenditures on lycées and collèges, institutions attended by the children of the middle class.

On this question the Representatives of the extreme Left voted with the extreme Right. The amendment, put to the vote, was rejected by a slight majority.

On the very next day Bastiat published in a daily newspaper the opinion on this vote which we reproduce here.—Editor.]


90. [At the time of the discussion of the general budget of expenditures in 1850, M. Mauguin naïvely expounded the old and false theory of the balance of trade. (Moniteur of March 27.) Bastiat, who had already refuted it in his Economic Sophisms, believed he ought to attack it anew; and as his health no longer permitted him to mount the rostrum, he sent to a daily newspaper, on March 29, 1850, the reflections which we here reproduce. It is to be noted that he simplifies the hypothetical calculations whereby he elucidates his thesis, excluding some of the items that he had employed in 1845. (See chap. 6 of Economic Sophisms, First Series.)—Editor.]

NOTES TO The Law, translated by Dean Russell


* Walter E. Williams, John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and Chairman of the Economics Department at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia.

1. Death is not the stated penalty for disobedience; however, death can occur if the person refuses to submit to government sanctions for his disobedience.

The Law

1. General Council of Manufacturers, Agriculture, and Commerce, May 6, 1850

2. Translator's note: At the time this was written, Mr. Bastiat knew that he was dying of tuberculosis. Within a year, he was dead.

3. Translator's note: The French word used by Mr. Bastiat is spoliation.

4. If the special privilege of government protection against competition—a monopoly—were granted only to one group in France, the iron workers, for instance, this act would so obviously be legal plunder that it could not last for long. It is for this reason that we see all the protected trades combined into a common cause. They even organize themselves in such a manner as to appear to represent all persons who labor. Instinctively, they feel that legal plunder is concealed by generalizing it.

5. Translator's note: What was then known as Paraguay was a much larger area than it is today. It was colonized by the Jesuits who settled the Indians into villages, and generally saved them from further brutalities by the avoid conquerors.

6. Translator's note: According to Rousseau, the existence of social man is partial in the sense that be is henceforth merely a part of society. Knowing himself as such—and thinking and feeling from the point of view of the whole—he thereby becomes moral.

7. At this point in the original French text, Mr. Bastiat pauses and speaks thusly to all do-gooders and would-be rulers of mankind: "Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don't you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough."

8. Translator's note: Mr. Bastiat has devoted three other books and several articles to the development of the ideas contained in the three sentences of the following paragraph.

End of Notes

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