Economic Sophisms

Frédéric Bastiat
Bastiat, Frédéric
Display paragraphs in this book containing:
Arthur Goddard, trans.
First Pub. Date
Irvington-on-Hudson, NY: The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc.
Pub. Date
Introduction by Henry Hazlitt

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.
  • The French editor's notes, color-coded purple in the text, are bracketed and labeled "EDITOR" below.
  • The translator's notes, color-coded blue in the text, are bracketed and labeled "TRANSLATOR" below.

Notes to "Introduction," by Henry Hazlitt.

** (New York: Oxford University Press, 1954), p. 500.

Notes to "Author's Introduction to the French Edition."

1. [Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), influential English philosopher and jurist. His Book of Fallacies probably suggested to Bastiat the title of the present work.—TRANSLATOR.]

2. [The brief volume containing the first series of the Economic Sophisms appeared at the end of 1845. Several chapters in it had been published in the Journal des économistes, in the April, July, and October, 1845, issues.—EDITOR.]

3. [This concept was afterward the basis for the pamphlet, "What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen" (Selected Essays on Political Economy, chap. 1).—EDITOR.]

4. [The ideologists referred to here and at this time were the followers of Étienne Bonnot de Condillac (1715-1780), who was concerned mainly with psychology but also wrote about politics and economics. Napoleon used the word "ideologist" as a derisory denotation for visionary and impractical thinkers, and Bastiat is using it in the same sense.—TRANSLATOR.]

5. [Auguste, Vicomte de Romanet, author of Rapport fait au Comité central pour la défense du travail national (1843), publicist, and protectionist.—TRANSLATOR.]

6. [Newspaper of the Committee for the Defense of Domestic Industry, a protectionist organization founded by P. A. H. Mimerel de Roubaix. See infra, p. 12.—TRANSLATOR.]

First Series, Chapter 1

7. [Pierre Laurent Barthélemy, Comte de Saint-Cricq, member of the Chamber of Deputies, Minister of Commerce from January 4, 1848 to August 8, 1829, and later a Peer of France.—TRANSLATOR.]

8. [T. R. Bugeaud de la Piconnerie (1784-1849), known chiefly as a military leader. He was also a member of the Chamber of Deputies, and was interested in agriculture, and endorsed protectionist principles.—TRANSLATOR.]

9. [Antoine Maurice Appolinaire, Comte d'Argout (1782-1858), administrator and fiscal specialist, Governor of the Bank of France.—TRANSLATOR.]

10. [A hectare is 2.471 acres. A department is the largest administrative subdivision of France, averaging about 3,000 square miles.—TRANSLATOR.]

11. [The legislature of France, comprising the Chamber of Peers and the Chamber of Deputies.—TRANSLATOR.]

12. [Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), limed humanistic essayist of the Renaissance.—TRANSLATOR.]

13. [A businessmen's association headed by P. A. H. Mimerel de Roubaix (1786-1871), a textile manufacturer.—TRANSLATOR.]

14. [The author modified the terms of this proposition in a later work. Cf. Economic Harmonies, chap. 11.—EDITOR.]

15. We have no noun in French to express the idea that is opposite to high price ("cheapness" in English). It is quite noteworthy that the people instinctively express this idea by this paraphrase: advantageous market, good market [bon marché]. The protectionists really ought to do something about changing this expression. It implies a whole economic system that is the converse of theirs.

16. [The author has treated this subject at greater length in Economic Harmonies, chap. 11, and, in another form, in the article "Abundance" written for the Dictionnaire de l'économie politique.—EDITOR.]

First Series, Chapter 2

17. [Cf. on this same subject infra, Second Series, chap. 14, and Economic Harmonies, chaps. 3 and 11.—EDITOR.]

First Series, Chapter 3

18. [Sisyphus, in Greek mythology, is the symbol of human futility. For his crimes on earth he was condemned to spend eternity in the underworld rolling a heavy stone to the top of a mountain only to have it roll back to its starting place.—TRANSLATOR.]

19. For this reason, and for the sake of conciseness, we ask the reader to pardon us if we henceforth designate this system by the term Sisyphism.

20. [Baron P. C. F. Dupin (1784-1873), an engineer, mathematician, statistician, and economist; member of the Chamber of Peers and Minister of the Navy.—TRANSLATOR.]

21. [A quintal varies greatly from place to place; in this context it is probably the metric measure of 100 kilograms or 220.46 pounds.—TRANSLATOR.]

22. [The centiare is 1/10,000 of the hectare, one square meter, or 1.196 square yards. The commune is the smallest administrative unit in France, averaging less than ten square miles. The error may be Argout's, Bastiat's, or the publisher's, but centiare here should read are (1/100 of a hectare): with about 35,000 communes in France, there would be about 0.45 hectare, or forty-five ares, per commune in sugar beets.—TRANSLATOR.]

23. It is only fair to state that M. d'Argout put this strange language into the mouths of the opponents of the sugar beet. But he expressly appropriated it and sanctioned it besides by virtue of the very law for which it served as justification.

24. Assuming that from 48,000 to 50,000 hectares are enough to provide for the present per capita consumption, it would require 150,000 if per capita consumption were tripled, as M. d'Argout admits is possible. Furthermore, if the sugar-beet crop were rotated every six years, it would occupy successively 900,000 hectares, or 1/38 of the arable land.

25. [Cf. on the same subject infra, Second Series, chap. 16, and Economic Harmonies, chap 6.—EDITOR.]

First Series, Chapter 4

26. The Vicomte de Romanet.

27. Mathieu de Dombasle.

28. [Two geographical provinces of France, Guienne being in the southwestern part of the country and Brittany in the northwestern part.—TRANSLATOR.]

29. [A city of about 20,000 inhabitants in Brittany, possessing great beauty of location and considerable historical and architectural significance. However, probably because of its distance from Paris, it has often been the target of jokes in about the same vein as those directed at the fictitious "Dogpatch" in the United States.—TRANSLATOR.]

30. [There are 100 centimes in a franc.—TRANSLATOR.]

31. [The principal river of Portugal, on whose estuary Lisbon is situated.—TRANSLATOR.]

32. [Johann Gutenberg (1398?-1468), a citizen of Mainz, Germany, who is generally credited (perhaps erroneously) with having invented the technique of printing with movable type, was not a copyist, and may very well have not profited from his printing enterprises. Bastiat's knowledge of Gutenberg may have come in part from the various forged documents about Gutenberg current and accepted in Europe in the early 1800s.—TRANSLATOR.]

33. [Saint-Simonianism was the name applied to the doctrines and program of Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Comte de Saint-Simon (1772-1837), historically the founder of French socialism, who urged the establishment of an industrial state administered according to "scientific" principles. His works were influential in his time and for many years after.—TRANSLATOR.]

34. It is true that labor does not receive a uniform remuneration. It varies according to whether it is more or less exhausting, dangerous, skilled, etc. Competition establishes for each category a current price, and it is this variable price that I am discussing.

35. [A metric unit of volume equaling 2.838 bushels.—TRANSLATOR.]

36. [Fourierism was the term applied to the doctrines and program of F. C. M. Fourier (1772-1837), a French socialist who urged the reconstruction of society on the basis of large groups of about 1,600 persons, called "phalanges," each occupying a common building, or "phalanstery." His ideas were very influential at home and abroad; Brook Farm, Massachusetts, was an experimental society based on Fourierism.—TRANSLATOR.]

37. [The theory sketched in this chapter is the same as the one that, four years later, was expanded in Economic Harmonies. Remuneration paid exclusively for human labor; the gratuitous utility of natural resources; the progressive harnessing of these resources for the benefit of mankind, whose common patrimony they thus become; the raising of the general standard of living and the tendency toward relative equalization of conditions: these can be recognized as all the essential elements in the most important of Bastiat's works.—EDITOR.]

First Series, Chapter 5

38. [Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), great French ascetic, religious philosopher and writer, and geometer; his best-known work, the Pensées, comprises fragments of his incomplete planned defense of the Christian religion.—TRANSLATOR.]

39. [Cf. Economic Harmonies, chap. 18.—EDITOR.]

40. [The Anzin Company was a remarkable business organization, already close to a century old in Bastiat's day, based on huge coal-mining operations in northeastern France.—TRANSLATOR.]

41. [The Catholic Church in France was a state church, financed by taxes levied on the whole public.—TRANSLATOR.]

42. [From the fable, The Weasel that Got Caught in the Storeroom (La Belette entrée dans un grenier), by Jean de la Fontaine (1621-1695)..—TRANSLATOR.]

43. [Cf., in Vol. V (of the French edition), the pamphlet "Peace and Liberty."—EDITOR.]

First Series, Chapter 6

44. [L. M . C. H. Gaulthier de Rumilly (1792-1884), a Deputy and an authority on tariffs, railroads, and trade.—TRANSLATOR.]

45. [G. T. Lestiboudois (1797-1876), a Deputy and a doctor.—TRANSLATOR.]

46. [In March, 1850, the author was again forced to combat the same sophism, which he heard expressed in the Chambers. He amended the preceding demonstration by excluding from his calculations the costs of transportation, etc. Cf. Selected Essays on Political Economy, chap. 13.—EDITOR.]

First Series, Chapter 7

47. ["Perfidious Albion" is England, along with a typically French jibe at the English fog, which keeps the sun from interfering with artificial light in England as much as it does in France. During the 1840's, Franco-English relations were occasionally very tense.—TRANSLATOR.]

First Series, Chapter 8

48. [A department of southwestern France along the estuary of the Gironde River, famed for such wines as Médoc, Sauternes, and Graves.—TRANSLATOR.]

First Series, Chapter 10

49. [This is a partial quotation from La Fontaine's fable, The Coach and the Fly (Le Coche et la mouche): "Over a sandy, hilly, and difficult road, / Exposed to the sun on all sides / Six strong horses were drawing a coach."—TRANSLATOR.]

50. [These names contain the roots of the Latin words meaning "foolish" and "childish."—TRANSLATOR.]

First Series, Chapter 11

51. [Christophe Joseph Alexandre Mathieu de Dombasle (1777-1843), a farmer and agronomist noted for his developments of farm machinery, and the author of various works on taxation setting forth his protectionist ideas.—TRANSLATOR.]

52. [Alexandre Moreau de Jonnès (1778-1870), a French economist, statistician, and author, Director of the Statistical Bureau in the Ministry of Trade, 1834-1852.—TRANSLATOR.]

53. [This thought often recurs in the author's writings. In his eyes it was of capital importance, and it led him, four days before his death, to make this recommendation: "Tell M. de F.* to treat economic questions always from the consumer's point of view, for the interest of the consumer is identical with that of mankind."—EDITOR.]

    * [Fontenay, the French editor.—TRANSLATOR.]

54. [Auguste, Vicomte de Saint-Chamans (1777-1861), a Deputy and Councillor of State, a protectionist, and a proponent of the balance of trade. The quotation is from his Du Système impôt fondé sur les principes d'économie politique.—TRANSLATOR.]

55. [Cf. infra, Second Series, chap. 5, and Economic Harmonies, chap. 4.—EDITOR.]

First Series, Chapter 12

56. [Bastiat here refers by name to certain securities that enjoyed wide public confidence at the time: those of the Comptoir Ganneron, a bank in which, at the height of the speculation, almost four hundred million francs were invested; those of the fur-trading company founded by Sir Alexander MacKenzie and later amalgamated with the original Hudson's Bay Company; and those of the Northern Railway of France.—TRANSLATOR.]

57. [An old French measure of area differing in value according to locality but being about an acre.—TRANSLATOR.]

58. [Provence is an old province of southeastern France along the Mediterranean. Médoc is a farming district southwest of the Gironde River. The Hyères Islands are in the Mediterranean off Provence.—TRANSLATOR.]

59. [Cf. Economic Harmonies, chap. 14.—EDITOR.]

First Series, Chapter 13

60. [Jean-Baptiste Say (1767-1832), a French professor of political economy and a free-trade advocate. His ideas had great influence on Bastiat.—TRANSLATOR.]

61. [De l'administration commerciale opposée a l'économie politique, page 5.—EDITOR.]*

    * [F. L. A. Ferrier (1777-1861), French tariff administrator and author of books on tariffs and finance.—TRANSLATOR.]

62. [Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683), French statesman, chief economic and financial advisor to King Louis XIV, under whom he served as Controller-General of Finances. He is credited with introducing the mercantilist system in conjunction with the many industries that he promoted.—TRANSLATOR.]

63. Could we not say: In what a frightfully prejudicial light Messrs. Ferrier and Saint-Chamans are put by the fact that economists of every school, that is, all the men who have studied the question, have reached the conclusion that, after all, freedom is better than coercion, and the laws of God are wiser than those of Colbert?

64. Du système de l'impôt, etc., by the Vicomte de Saint-Chamans, p. 11.

65. [An administrative unit in France, between the commune and the department.—TRANSLATOR.]

66. [Cf. chap. 15.—EDITOR.]

First Series, Chapter 14

67. [In French, la méture, a rather rare dialect word. Maslin is a mixture of different kinds of grain, usually wheat and rye, or a bread baked from such a mixture. Biscay and Navarre are provinces of Spain just across the Pyrenees from France.—TRANSLATOR.]

68. [Cf., infra, chaps. 18 and 20, and the letter to M. Thiers entitled "Protectionism and Communism," Selected Essays on Political Economy, chap. 7.—EDITOR.]

First Series, Chapter 16

69. [The Spanish legislature.—TRANSLATOR.]

70. [A river rising in Spain and flowing through Portugal into the Atlantic.—TRANSLATOR.]

71. [A member of the inferior nobility.—TRANSLATOR.]

72. [Toulouse is a French city on the Garonne well upstream from Bordeaux. Palencia is a Spanish city on a tributary of the Douro; and Oporto, a Portuguese city at the mouth of the Douro.—TRANSLATOR.]

73. [A modified version of the personification of the Rhine in the Fourth Epistle of the French poet Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711).—TRANSLATOR.]

First Series, Chapter 17

74. [Alexandre Étienne Simiot, author of Gare du chemin de fer de Paris à Bordeaux (Bordeaux: Durand, 1846), and subsequently representative of the Gironde in the Constituent Assembly.—TRANSLATOR.]

First Series, Chapter 18

75. [Cf., in Vol. V (of the French edition), the first letter to M. de Larmartine, and Economic Harmonies, chap. 1—EDITOR.]*

    * [Alphonse Marie Louis de Prat de Lamartine (1790-1869), leading French poet, a less important historian, a member of the Chamber of Deputies, and a major political figure just after the fall of King Louis Philippe in 1848.—TRANSLATOR.]

First Series, Chapter 19

76. [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. Henry John Temple, Viscount Palmerston (1784-1865), British statesman, Foreign Secretary when Economic Sophisms was written, and an opponent of France.—TRANSLATOR.]

77. [Cf. the pamphlet entitled "Justice and Fraternity," Selected Essays on Political Economy, chap. 4. Cf. also the Introduction to "Cobden and the English League," and the "Second Campaign of the League," in Vol. II (of the French edition).—EDITOR.]

First Series, Chapter 20

78. Du système de l'impôt, etc., p. 438.

First Series, Chapter 21

79. I do not mention explicitly here that portion of the remuneration which reverts to the entrepreneur, the capitalist, etc., for several reasons: first, if one looks at the matter closely, one will see that this always involves the reimbursement of money paid in advance or the payment for labor already performed; secondly, because under the general term labor I include not only the wages of the workingman but also the legitimate recompense of all factors co-operating in the work of production; and thirdly, and above all, because the production of manufactured goods is, like that of raw materials, burdened with interest charges and costs other than those for manual labor, so that the objection, in itself absurd, would apply to the most complicated spinning operation just as well as, and even better than, to the most primitive kind of agriculture.

80. [Cf., in Vol. I (of the French edition), the brief work dated 1834, entitled: "Reflections on the Petitions from Bordeaux, from Le Havre, etc."—EDITOR.]

First Series, Chapter 22

81. [Paul-Louis Courier de Méré (1772-1825), French army officer, scholar, and publicist. The quotation is from his political satire, the Pamphlet des pamphlets.—TRANSLATOR.]

82. [Nicolas de Malebranche (1638-1715), theologian and philosopher, author of La Recherche de la vérité.—TRANSLATOR.]

83. [Also known as Mehemet Ali (1769-1849), viceroy of Egypt, who reformed Egypt to some extent according to European principles.—TRANSLATOR.]

84. [The Mountains of the Moon, in east-central Africa, are the traditional source of the Nile. However, the Nile-borne sediment in Egypt comes from Ethiopia via the Blue Nile.—TRANSLATOR.]

85. [Louis Dominique Cartouche (1693-1721), a celebrated Parisian outlaw, as synonymous with "highway robber" to the French as Jesse James is to Americans.—TRANSLATOR.]

86. [J. P. G. M. A. Seraphin, Comte de Villèle (1773-1854), French statesman, an extreme conservative, in Bastiat's time a member of the Chamber of Peers.—TRANSLATOR.]

First Series, Chapter 23 Conclusion

87. [In French, "j'en passe, et des meilleurs," a line from the famous and controversial play Hernani, by Victor Hugo (1801-1885). It was spoken by the Spanish grandee, Don Ruy Gomez de Silva, as he exhibited the portraits of his ancestors.—TRANSLATOR.]

88. [Pierre Simon, Marquis de Laplace (1749-1827), French astronomer and mathematician, whose great achievement was to solve the problem of apparent instability in the solar system.—TRANSLATOR.]

89. [We noted, at the end of chapter 4, that it obviously contained the germ of the doctrines expanded in Economic Harmonies. Here again we find on the author's part, a desire to undertake the writing of this last work at the first suitable opportunity.—EDITOR.]

90. [In The Would-Be Gentleman (Le Bourgeois gentilhomme), by J. B. P. Molière (1622-1673), M. Jourdain, a bourgeois being trained in the manners of gentlemen, had never realized that common speech could have the high-sounding name of "prose."—TRANSLATOR.]

91. [Adam Smith (1723-1790), Scottish moral philosopher and economist, probably the most influential of all writers and thinkers in the realm of economic freedom.—TRANSLATOR.]

92. [L. J. Thénard (1777-1857), a chemist; A. M. Legendre (1752-1834), a geometrist; Étienne Bezout (1730-1783), a mathematician.—TRANSLATOR.]

93. [Latin, "Mere words and sounds, and nothing more."—TRANSLATOR.]

94. [In The Would-Be Gentleman, the fencing master assures M. Jourdain that dueling is not at all dangerous, for all M. Jourdain need do is hit his adversary and not be hit in return.—TRANSLATOR.]

95. [A complex and efficient weaving apparatus developed over a lengthy period; one of the numerous contributors to this development was J. M. Jacquard (1752-1834), a businessman and inventor of Lyons, France.—TRANSLATOR.]

96. [This thought, which ends the first series of Economic Sophisms, was to be taken up again and expanded by the author at the beginning of the second series. The impact of plunder upon the fate of man concerned him deeply. Having touched on this subject several times in Economic Sophisms and Selected Essays on Political Economy (cf., in particular, "Property and Plunder," chap. 6, and "Plunder and Law," chap. 8), he reserved a place for a lengthy discussion of it in the second part of Economic Harmonies, among the "Disturbing Factors," chap. 18. Final testimony of the importance that he attached to it was his statement on the eve of his death: "An important task for political economy is to write the history of plunder. It is a long history involving, from the very beginning, conquests, migrations of peoples, invasions, and all the disastrous excesses of violence at grips with justice. All this has left an aftermath that still continues to plague us and that renders it more difficult to solve the problems of the present day. We shall not solve them so long as we are unaware of the way, and of the extent to which, injustice, present in our very midst, has gained a foothold in our customs and laws."—EDITOR.]

Second Series

* [The second series of Economic Sophisms, several chapters of which had been published in the Journal des économistes and the newspaper, Le Libre échange, appeared at the end of January 1848.—EDITOR.]

Second Series, Chapter 1

1. [Cf., in Vol. VI (of the French edition), chaps. 18, 19, 22, and 24, for the further remarks planned and begun by the author on "Disturbing Factors" (Economic Harmonies, chap. 18) affecting the harmony of natural laws.—EDITOR.]

2. [This quotation is from Part One of the Discourse on Inequality by J. J. Rousseau (1712-1778), a French philosopher. Bastiat was so impressed it that he referred to it five times in his Economic Harmonies.—TRANSLATOR.]

3. [Cf., in Vol. I (of the French edition), the letter addressed to the President of the Peace Congress at Frankfort.—EDITOR.]

4. [The reference is to such French West Indian islands as Martinique and Guadeloupe, where slavery existed until 1848 or later.—TRANSLATOR.]

5. [More efficient (and humane) methods of production in India had resulted in a sharp drop in indigo productions by slave labor in the West Indies.—TRANSLATOR.]

6. [Cf., in Vol. I (of the French edition), the letter addressed to M. Larnac; and in Vol. V (of the French edition), "Parliamentary Inconsistencies."—EDITOR.]

7. [Cf. Selected Essays on Political Economy, chap. 5, "The State," and chap. 2, "The Law," and Economic Harmonies, chap. 17, "Private and Public Services."—EDITOR.]

8. [For the distinction between true monopolies and what have been called natural monopolies, cf., in Economic Harmonies, chap. 5, note 2, accompanying the analysis of Adam Smith's theory of value.—EDITOR.]

9. [The author was soon to witness an increase in this source of disruption and to wage energetic war against it. Cf. Selected Essays on Political Economy, chap. 5, "The State"; Vol. II (of the French edition), "Disastrous Illusions," and Vol. VI (of the French edition), the final pages of chap. 4.—EDITOR.]

Second Series, Chapter 2

10. [Alfonso X (the Learned), ruler of Castile from 1252 until 1284, a weak king but a man of encyclopedic interests. He is supposed once to have observed, as Bartlett's Familiar Quotations has it: "Had I been present at the Creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better ordering of the universe."—TRANSLATOR.]

11. [In Molière's comedy, Tartuffe, or the Impostor, Tartuffe is the scheming hypocrite, and Orgon his well-meaning dupe.—TRANSLATOR.]

12. [The African problem constituted a series of costly military expeditions by the French to conquer Algeria.—TRANSLATOR.]

13. [François Pierre Guillaume Guizot (1787-1874), French statesman and historian, chief rival of Thiers for political power in the 1840's. He urged the French people to devote themselves to making money, opposed domestic reforms, and was friendly toward Britain.—TRANSLATOR.]

Second Series, Chapter 3

14. [The nickname for French peasants as a class.—TRANSLATOR.]

15. [Laurent Cunin-Gridaine (1778-1859), a textile manufacturer, Deputy, Minister of Commerce, and extreme advocate of protectionist policies.—TRANSLATOR.]

Second Series, Chapter 4

16. [A department in southwestern France.—TRANSLATOR.]

Second Series, Chapter 5

17. [This chapter first appeared as an article in Le Libre échange, issue of July 25, 1847.—EDITOR.]

18. Recently M. Duchâtel,* who had formerly advocated free trade, with a view to low prices, stated in the Chamber, "It would not be difficult for me to prove that protectionism results in low prices."

    * [Charles Jacques Marie Tanneguy, Comte de Duchâtel (1803-1867), author of Considérations d'économie politique sur la bienfaisance (1836). He collaborated with Pierre Leroux and others in editing Le Globe, a political and literary review, served as a cabinet minister under the July monarchy, and was one of the promoters of the tariff reform of 1834.—TRANSLATOR.]

19. [Bastiat himself lived for some time in the rue Choiseul, while the Odier Committee (see infra, p. 167) was established in the rue Hauteville.—TRANSLATOR.]

20. [The author, in the speech he gave on September 29, 1846, at Montesquieu Hall, provided a striking illustration demonstrating this very principle. Cf. this speech in Vol. II (of the French edition).—EDITOR.]

21. [The Committee for the Defense of Domestic Industry, a protectionist organization of which Antoine Odier (1766-1853), President of the Chamber of Commerce of Paris, a Deputy, and later a Peer of France, was one of the leaders.—TRANSLATOR.]

22. [In Le Libre échange of August 1, 1847, the author presented an exposition of this topic that we deem worthy of reprinting here.—EDITOR.]

Second Series, Chapter 6

23. [This chapter first appeared in the Courier français (September 18, 1846), whose columns were opened to the author so that he could reply to the attacks which had appeared in L'Atelier. It was only two months later that the newspaper Le Libre échange appeared.—EDITOR.]

24. [Words enclosed in quotation marks are in English in the original.—TRANSLATOR.]

25. [Richard Cobden (1804-1865), English manufacturer, member of Parliament, and champion of free trade, known personally to Bastiat and much admired by him. Lord George Bentinck (1802-1848), known in Parliament almost exclusively for his leadership of the opposition to free trade.—TRANSLATOR.]

26. [In France at this time, just as traditionally in the United States, there was an agricultural, free-trade South and an industrial, protectionist North.—TRANSLATOR.]

27. [In 1836 the monasteries in Spain were closed, and their property was confiscated by the government.—TRANSLATOR.]

28. [Meeting-place, in Paris, of the Chamber of Deputies.—TRANSLATOR.]

29. [In France at this time, out of a population of about thirty millions, perhaps as many as 200,000 men from the upper-income group were empowered to vote.—TRANSLATOR.]

30. [Cf., in Vol. II (of the French edition), the point-blank polemic against various newspapers.—EDITOR.]

Second Series, Chapter 7

31. [The Deciuses referred to here were Publus Decius Mus, father and son, both military leaders of the Roman Republic between 350 and 275 B.C. Each is said to have performed an act of self-devotion by hurling himself into the enemy's midst when the Roman column he was leading was repulsed by the foe.—TRANSLATOR.]

32. [Écus, obsolete French coins approximating in size the later silver five-franc piece.—TRANSLATOR.]

Second Series, Chapter 8

33. [Latin, "after this; therefore, on account of it."—TRANSLATOR.]

34. [Taken from Le Libre échange, December 6, 1846.—EDITOR.]

35. [In 1846 Parliament had taken the longest step toward introducing free trade by ending the duties on imports of grain.—TRANSLATOR.]

Second Series, Chapter 9

36. [Taken from the Journal des économistes, January, 1846.—EDITOR.]

37. [A reference to the ancient legend of King Midas, who, after preferring Pan's flute to Apollo's lyre in a musical contest, had a pair of ass's ears clapped on his head by Apollo.—TRANSLATOR.]

38. [Excerpts from a scene in Molière's Le Misanthrope, in which Alceste, the misanthrope, is trying to tell Oronte, a silly nobleman, that a sonnet of Oronte's is literarily worthless. The problem arises from the fact that Alceste, an upright man, is severely limited by strict rules on his conduct and speech. He is, however, a personal advocate of frankness, so that after several circumlocutions he bursts out with the last line.—TRANSLATOR.]

39. [In Molière's L'Avare, Harpagon, the miser, asks this question of Élise, his daughter, regarding "marriage."—TRANSLATOR.]

40. Possessing a farm that provides him with his living, he belongs to the protected class. This circumstance should disarm criticism. It shows that, if he does use harsh words, they are directed against the thing itself, and not against anyone's motives.

41. [Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Bk. I, chap. x, Pt. II.—TRANSLATOR.]

42. Here is the text: "May I cite again the tariff laws of the 9th and 11th of last June, whose object is in large part to encourage overseas shipping by increasing on several articles the surtaxes on goods entering under foreign flags. Our tariff laws, as you know, are generally directed toward this end, and, little by little, the surtax of ten francs, established by the law of April 28, 1816, being often insufficient, is disappearing, to give place to.... a form of protection that is more efficacious and more consonant with the relatively high cost of our shipping." (M. Cunin-Gridaine, meeting of December 15, 1845, opening statement.) The expression ".... is disappearing" is really precious!

43. [Cf. supra, First Series, chap. 5.—EDITOR.]

44. [This the real de vellón, a base-silver coin, of which there were twenty to the piaster (peso). The real de plata was presumably sterling and valued at one-eighth of a piaster, which consequently was a "piece of eight."—TRANSLATOR.]

45. [Faithful to his promise to alter his literary style, Bastiat here indulges in a parody of Molière's parody on the conferring of the degree of Doctor of Medicine in his comedy, The Imaginary Invalid (Le Malade imaginaire). Molière says in macaronic Latin: "I give and grant you / Power and authority to / Practice medicine, / Purge, / Bleed, / Stab, / Hack, / Slash, / and Kill / With impunity / Throughout the whole world."—TRANSLATOR.]

46. [Laissez passer: "allow to pass," substantially equivalent to laissez faire.—TRANSLATOR.]

Second Series, Chapter 10

47. [An adaptation from a popular song, author unknown. The "column" refers to the Vendôme Column standing in the heart of Paris, made from the brass of the cannons captured by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805.—TRANSLATOR.]

48. [Village near Paris containing the best-known insane asylum in France.—TRANSLATOR.]

49. [A Berber people of Algeria and Tunisia.—TRANSLATOR.]

50. [The puncheon was a varying measure, but it might take four to make a tun of 252 gallons.—TRANSLATOR.]

51. [There tribute was often exacted from the unwary traveler.—TRANSLATOR.]

52. [Cf., in Vol. I (of the French edition), the "Letter to M. Larnac," and, in Vol. V (of the French edition), "Parliamentary Inconsistencies."—EDITOR.]

Second Series, Chapter 11

53. [First published in Le Libre échange, January 17, 1847.—EDITOR.]

54. [Bastiat again offers a parody of Molière, this time the words of Alceste in the dialogue about the poor sonnet, from The Misanthrope, Act I, scene ii.—TRANSLATOR]

55. [In fact, the author had said five centimes, in May, 1846, in an article in the Journal des économistes, which became chapter 12 in the second series of Economic Sophisms.—EDITOR.]

56. [A textile-manufacturing city in Belgium.—TRANSLATOR]

57. [A textile-manufacturing city in France, near Paris.—TRANSLATOR]

58. [A local tax on certain commodities (foodstuffs, liquids, fuels, fodder, building materials, etc.) imposed as a condition of their being brought into a town or district. The term is also used, by extension, as here, to refer to the place where the octroi is payable or the official body empowered to collect it.—TRANSLATOR]

59. [Two suburban communes that became parts of the city of Paris in 1860.—TRANSLATOR]

60. [The French word for "tax" here, and in many other places in the book, is contribution. This word also means in French a voluntary and nongovernmental act.—TRANSLATOR]

61. [French gendarmes, a word with no exact English equivalent.—TRANSLATOR]

62. [Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal de Richelieu (1585-1642), brilliant chief minister of France, 1624-1642.—TRANSLATOR]

63. ["Freedom of education" for Bastiat involved lessening or removing the strict controls on the schools imposed by both the Roman Catholic Church and certain government officials.—TRANSLATOR.]

64. [The first French railroads were constructed partly by private British capital, and partly by cooperation between the French government and private French capital.—TRANSLATOR.]

Second Series, Chapter 12

65. [First published in the Journal des économistes of May, 1846.—EDITOR.]

66. [These were simply the meetings of the Chambers in election years. The same principle is well known in the United States.—TRANSLATOR.]

67. [This is a reference to the common practice of drinking hot water for therapeutic purposes.—TRANSLATOR.]

68. [In Bastiat's own time he might have referred to British parliamentary reform in 1832, postal reform in 1839, and fiscal reform piecemeal from 1842 on.—TRANSLATOR.]

69. [Quoted from the "Largo al factotum" aria in the first act of The Barber of Seville.—TRANSLATOR.]

70. [I.e., James Goodfellow, the French counterpart of John Bull.—TRANSLATOR.]

71. [Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850), English statesman, member of the Conservative Party, Prime Minister in the 1840's; Lord John Russell (1792-1878), English statesman, member of the Whig Party, Peel's successor as Prime Minister; later, Sir Rowland Hill (1795-1879), British educator and administrator chiefly responsible for the introduction of the "penny post" in England in 1840. The reference in the text is to the sum of £13,360 presented to Mr. Hill by public subscription in 1846.—TRANSLATOR.]

72. [The Anti-Corn-Law League, organized in England to publicize the desirability of repealing the import duties on grains, and to bring pressure on Parliament to enact this repeal. It soon broadened its efforts into a general free-trade movement.—TRANSLATOR.]

73. [Bastiat here reverts to the case of the letter that is not prepaid.—TRANSLATOR.]

74. [This "Go on" and the six that follow are in English in the original.—TRANSLATOR.]

75. [Alexis Piron (1689-1773), a minor poet and dramatist, but a legendary figure because of his brilliant and devastating wit, which often bested even the redoubtable Voltaire.—TRANSLATOR.]

76. [For some reason there is no mention of stamps, although the first ones appeared in 1840, and this essay was written in 1846.—TRANSLATOR.]

77. [Tobacco was and is a government monopoly in France.—TRANSLATOR.]

78. [Adolphe Vuitry (1813-1885), French economist and legislator.—TRANSLATOR.]

79. [John MacGregor (1797-1857), statistician, historian, diplomat, and freetrader. In 1840 he became one of the joint secretaries of the British Board of Trade. He published between 1841 and 1850 voluminous reports on tariff regulations in various countries.—TRANSLATOR.]

80. [What Mr. MacGregor actually wrote on this subject in his The Commercial and Financial Legislation of Europe and America (London: Henry Hooper, 1841) was: "The tax imposed upon the public by the late post-office reform is so very moderate, that while it still yields a considerable revenue, which we believe confidently will increase, no one can desire any alteration in the rate of postage" (p. 264).—TRANSLATOR.]

Second Series, Chapter 13

81. [Reference to the most famous of all the popular songs of Pierre-Jean de Béranger (1780-1857)—TRANSLATOR.]

82. [An old French monetary unit, originally equal to the value of a pound of silver, but gradually reduced and finally replaced by the franc.—TRANSLATOR.]

83. [A coin of minor denomination, worth about three-fifths of a sou, deriving from the Roman denarius, in use up to the French Revolution.—TRANSLATOR.]

84. [Wood for fuel used to be floated down the Seine into Paris.—TRANSLATOR.]

85. [In Molière's The Would-Be Gentleman, a flatterer assures M. Jourdain that his father did not "sell" dry goods; he merely "gave them away for money," thus "proving" that he was a noble and not a bourgeois.—TRANSLATOR.]

86. [There is a pun here almost impossible to render into English. The French word battre, which means "beat," also means "churn."—TRANSLATOR.]

87. [A French department southeast of Paris, situated on the Yonne River, a tributary of the Seine.—TRANSLATOR.]

88. [A province of France, southwest of Paris.—TRANSLATOR.]

89. [Cf. supra, First Series, chap. 6.—EDITOR.]

90. [A forest just north of Paris, notorious as a resort of thieves.—TRANSLATOR.]

Second Series, Chapter 14

91. [First published in Le Libre échange, March 21, 1847.—EDITOR.]

92. [What follows is based on Robinson Crusoe, the famous novel by the English author, Daniel Defoe (1659-1731). A number of students of economics, including Bastiat, have used what has been called the "Crusoeist" approach to economic problems by starting with the simplest possible economic organization.—TRANSLATOR.]

93. [There is a nuance of meaning here in the French that cannot be reproduced in English. The French word étranger means both "foreigner" and "stranger." Bastiat's point, as is evident in what follows, is, not that the visitor was just a stranger, but that he was a foreigner in the sense of being external to Robinson's and Friday's economic system.—TRANSLATOR.]

94. [The reference is to the Odier Committee. See supra, p. 167.—TRANSLATOR.]

95. [Cf. supra, First Series, chaps. 2 and 3, and Economic Harmonies, chap. 6.—EDITOR.]

Second Series, Chapter 15

96. [First published in Le Libre échange, April 26, 1847.—EDITOR.]

97. [It would be uneconomic to work ore of such low grade.—TRANSLATOR.]

98. [Flourishing grain region of north-central France.—TRANSLATOR.]

99. [Industrial town in the vicinity of Rouen.—TRANSLATOR.]

100. [From the play, Mr. Vulture (Monsieur Vautour), by the French dramatist Marc Antoine Madeleine Désaugiers (1772-1827). The name became a common slang expression used to typify the heartless usurer, creditor, and landlord.—TRANSLATOR.]

Second Series, Chapter 16

101. [First published in Le Libre échange, December 13, 1846.—EDITOR.]

102. [Auguste Adolphe Marie Billault (1805-1863), an economist and member of the Chamber of Deputies.—TRANSLATOR.]

103. [A ticket at odds of 75,000 to one.—TRANSLATOR.]

104. [This is quoted from Collin d'Harleville (1785-1806), minor dramatist and writer of light verse.—TRANSLATOR.]

105. [There is a pun here that cannot be rendered into English. The French word gaucherie means both "left-handedness" and "clumsiness;" and Bastiat clearly intended this double sense.—TRANSLATOR.]

106. [Another pun in French: La main gauche étant fort gauche à la besogne,....—TRANSLATOR.]

107. [It was at Montesquieu Hall that the first public meeting of the French freetraders was held, on August 28, 1846.—TRANSLATOR.]

Second Series, Chapter 17

108. [First published in Le Libre échange, February 14, 1847.—EDITOR.]

109. [If the author had lived longer, he probably would have published a third series of Economic Sophisms. The chief contents of such a book would appear to have already been published in the columns Le Libre échange.—EDITOR.]

End of Notes

Top of File
Return to top
Liberty Fund logo, amagi symbol
The cuneiform inscription in the Liberty Fund logo is the earliest-known written appearance of the word "freedom" (amagi), or "liberty." It is taken from a clay document written about 2300 B.C. in the Sumerian city-state of Lagash.
Contact Site Map Privacy and Legal