"The Law"

Frédéric Bastiat
Bastiat, Frédéric
Display paragraphs in this essay containing:
Dean Russell, trans.
First Pub. Date
Irvington-on-Hudson, NY: Foundation for Economic Education, Inc.
Pub. Date
2nd edition. Introduction by Walter E. Williams, Foreword by Sheldon Richman, and "The Book and Author" by Bertrand de Jouvenel.

* 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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