§--'s Reviews > The Law

The Law by Frédéric Bastiat
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Mar 08, 10

bookshelves: politics
Recommended for: liberals
Read from March 04 to 08, 2010, read count: 1

I...don't know about this--there's a lot to think about here. Bastiat is basically defending--in a very sharp way--Locke's ideas without mentioning Locke.

What I do know is that this would never catch on in the United States today, which is not that bad of a thing since I don't think the current generation can be trusted with any more liberty than has been given. Bastiat seems to believe that liberty allows people to improve, yet I see no evidence in support of this belief. Like my political theory professor put it, "if you believe in the immortality of the soul, you are not going to argue for liberty of conscience; you are going to listen to the experts, the Church, and do what they say." His point is that the people who argue for freedom of conscience usually mean it for a euphemism to mean the abolition of conscience.

Libertarians are great at economics and their math is usually impeccable; socially, though, liberty is reckless.

Progress is the neon lights of strip clubs, internet pornography, government funded abortion on demand, contraception given out for free at colleges, violence on television, the acceptance of vulgarity, the decriminalization of marijuana, and the list goes on...

Like Chesterton said, "Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable." In other words, everybody agrees that we can't allow everything--what we argue about is where to draw the line. Bastiat argues for liberty assuming that the people are virtuous. I somehow doubt that they were all that wonderful back in his time but they are certainly terrible (I, since I am a person, am included in this assessment) now.

Bastiat is right, and indeed humorous, about the arrogance of the socialists and their compulsion to remake the world in their own personal image. One reason Bastiat's ideas (like Locke's) don't translate into contemporary society is that they are both working within the natural rights tradition of Aquinas, something that was completely overthrown by Nietzsche in Western culture (I say overthrown, not refuted, simply because he at no point refuted the idea of natural rights. Rather, Nietzsche and his followers assume it and proceed from there. Much of philosophy since Nietzsche has simply been the examination of the consequences of having atheistic assumptions rather than Western Christian ones.). So, we have Democratic politicians who out of one side of their mouths say "I'm personally against abortion but I feel we must legally allow it..." and out of the other side of their mouths they prattle on about changing the social order, about the "Republican war on the middle class," and making health care accessible to all (despite that we already have Medicaid). So, on the one hand, there is the open denial of the existence of an objective Good to be sought, and on the other, there is the assumption of it. This is equally evident in Democratic attacks on Republicans, all of which have absolutist assumptions. Then, humorously, when Democrats are criticized, they turn into pragmatists. They're master shape-shifters; it's quite the trick.

In sum, this was a good read, a refreshing one, but I can't agree with all of it and it certainly is impossible to envision being put into practice now.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by booklady (new)

booklady '...people who argue for freedom of conscience usually mean it for a euphemism to mean the abolition of conscience.' Hear, hear! What is your professor's name? I like his quote!

§-- Professor Roberto Alejandro, a genius who changed my life and to whom I owe a large part of my puny intellectual life.

message 3: by booklady (new)

booklady Thank you Steve! And although I respect the humility inherent in that statement, the books you read and reviews you write would seem to indicate just the opposite.

§-- Thank you very much for your kind words, but the reason I read is to be less stupid, not because I am smart. I have a long way to go: look at that to-read list!

message 5: by booklady (new)

booklady Ah yes...! I know what you mean... And yet still...I admire all that you have read and are reading. Sadly less and less people read really challenging books anymore.

Best of luck with your 'to-read' list!

message 6: by Tara (new) - added it

Tara Beckwith A government cannot make a man moral.

message 7: by booklady (new)

booklady Nor intelligent, nor anything else for that matter. That is the wonder of human free will, given us by a Loving God.

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