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The Law by Frédéric Bastiat
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May 05, 10

Read in June, 2009 — I own a copy

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

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

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

In The Law, Frederic Bastiat determines quite bluntly two types of plunder; "stupid greed and false philanthropy"; stupid greed is explained as "protective tariffs, subsidies, guaranteed profits" and false philanthropy is "guaranteed jobs, relief and welfare schemes, public education, progressive taxation, free credit, and public works". Monopolism and Socialism are both forms of plunder to which Bastiat emphasizes as legal and illegitimate.

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

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

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

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

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