The Book and Author
by Bertrand de Jouvenel
When a reviewer wishes to give special recognition to a book, he predicts that it will still be read "a hundred years from now." The Law, first published as a pamphlet in June, 1850, is already more than a hundred years old. And because its truths are eternal, it will still be read when another century has passed.
Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) was a French economist, statesman, and author. He did most of his writing during the years just before—and immediately following—the Revolution of February 1848. This was a period when France was rapidly turning to complete socialism. As a Deputy to the Legislative Assembly, Mr. Bastiat was studying and explaining each socialist fallacy as it appeared. And he explained how socialism must inevitably degenerate into communism. But most of his countrymen chose to ignore his logic.
The Law is here presented again because the same situation exists in America today as in the France of 1848. The same socialist-communist ideas and plans that were then adopted in France are now sweeping America. The explanations and arguments then advanced by Mr. Bastiat are—word for word—equally valid today. His ideas deserve a serious hearing.
by Dean Russell
This translation of The Law was done by Dean Russell of The Foundation staff. His objective was an accurate rendering of Mr. Bastiat's words and ideas into twentieth-century, idiomatic English.
A nineteenth-century translation of The Law, made in 1853 in England by an unidentified contemporary of Mr. Bastiat, was of much value as a check against this translation. In addition, Dean Russell had his work reviewed by Bertrand de Jouvenel, the noted French economist, historian, and author who is also thoroughly familiar with the English language.
While Mr. de Jouvenel offered many valuable corrections and suggestions, it should be clearly understood that Dr. Russell bears full responsibility for the translation.
The parenthetical expressions and the italicized words throughout this book were supplied by Mr. Bastiat. All subheads and bracketed material were supplied by the translator.
Return to top