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The Law

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4.38  ·  Rating details ·  10,351 ratings  ·  825 reviews
How is it that the law enforcer itself does not have to keep the law? How is it that the law permits the state to lawfully engage in actions which, if undertaken by individuals, would land them in jail? These are among the most intriguing issues in political and economic philosophy. More specifically, the problem of law that itself violates law is an insurmountable conundr ...more
Paperback, 61 pages
Published June 30th 2011 by Ludwig von Mises Institute (first published November 14th 1849)
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Jef oh yes. I had to keep checking the dates it was written/published, because it seemed to be about today!
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Stephen
6.0 stars. The newest member of my list of "All Time Favorite" books. I can not believe I have never read (or until somewhat recently heard) of this classic of limited government and libertarian political philospophy. Bastiat's message is clear...the only proper role of the law (i.e. government) is to safeguard the individuals right to his/her life, liberty and property. Any actions by the government beyond this limited sphere will actually act to violate the rights of one group at the expense ...more
zikafus
Feb 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, politics
My favorite book. Changed my life.
Brenda
Mar 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ALL who love Freedom
the same situation exists in America today as in the France of 1848

Socialists desire to practice legal plunder, not illegal plunder. Socialists, like all other monopolists, desire to make the law their own weapon. And when once the law is on the side of socialism, how can it be used against socialism? For when plunder is abetted by the law, it does not fear your courts, your gendarmes, and your prisons. Rather, it may call upon them for help.

Limited legal plunder: This system prevailed when the
...more
Kassi
Sep 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
While I agree with Bastiat entirely, the way that he has presented "the classic blueprint for a just society," is exactly why people who lean more towards socialist ideas scoff at those who are for capitalism, economic stability, and most importantly honoring the fundamentals of the need for law: to protect life, liberty, and property.

The first chapter started out wonderfully, articulately and simple. It was accessible and easy to understand and apply. I was excited as I hoped to share this with
...more
David Reed
Apr 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I believe EVERYONE should read this short little book. It so clearly states what the law (government) should do, and what the law should not do. If someone desires FREEDOM in their life, they should take to heart what is presented in this very readable book. While written in 1850 (by a Frenchman!), I have never found a more clear, succinct writing on this subject.

It is in from this book that I learned an appropriate phrase for taxes: Legal Plunder. I understand now how individuals can not give t
...more
K.
My husband and I have agreed that this is an important enough book that everyone in the whole world should read it!! If our government officials understood this book our budget would be far more balanced! I am not even close to a political or any kind of economist but this book was very readable and I understood it all.

Quote
"The state is a great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else."
Justin Benjamin
Jul 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
Having been greatly encouraged by some libertarian friends to read “The Law” by Frédéric Bastiat, I finally got around to reading it today, and if I were to simplify my impressions of it in as few words as possible, it would be an anti-communist manifesto. In fact, the book’s structure, style, methodology, and zealotry are almost identical in form and potency. Like Marx’s Communist manifesto, it starts out by stating ideals which it assumes all members of society to hold in common, describes how ...more
framptonhollis
Edit: yeah, this review has basically been rendered irrelevant since i wrote it. i'm like socialistic now, i had that libertarian phase last yr., was still finding myself politically, still probably am.


Am I a libertarian?

Um...that's a difficult question for someone like me to answer. I am quite open about my political views,as many naturally are, it's just that they're so hard to pin down. I'm not really left wing, and God knows I'll never be right wing, so I've always obviously and correctly a
...more
Gabriella Hoffman
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Book #21: Had to re-read “The Law” by Frederic Bastiat after 5-6 years. It’s essential reading, especially for Millennials, today. Important to know about the consequences of legal plunder, protectionism, socialism, and communism...

A quick read. Go for it!

14 more books to go! #QuestTo35
Tom
Mar 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I listened to this as an Audiobook and just now remembered that I have not added it to my collection. This is a reminder that I need to read it in print. It's a foundational book for anyone interested in the philosophy of Politics (with a capital "P") and wanting to understand whence comes any legitimacy of the Law itself. Hint: Much of what purports now to be legitimate law is not, per Bastiat. Only the truly heroic dare flout it, but the rest of us obey illegitimate law only out of fear of the ...more
Nimrod Daniel
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, economics
A life changing book that everyone should read.
Samuel Marinov
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: law, politics, government
This is a great little book on law, government, and politics. Its main goal is to refute the socialist claim that one can create equality through the law. When law is given a goal other than its proper one, defense of rights through force, it becomes an instrument for plunder and destruction. Instead of creating equality, it ends up destroying property, liberty, and on occasion, life itself. Two goals drive that strive: greed and false philathropy.

Bastiat also argues that almost every politician
...more
Philip
This book will appeal to people who like to droll on and on about the evil statists coming for your money, guns and liberty. The Garrrrrr... Taxation is theeeeffft... people.

And on the one hand - I get it. You worked for it. You earned it. You keep it.

Bastiat discusses legal and illegal plunder. (You know, taxation vs. theft.)

And so, for a lot of it, the Libertarian/Capitalist in me wanted to clap along and write "YES!" in the margins throughout.

But then I kept wondering about other forms of leg
...more
Matt
Oct 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Wayne Cribb
An amazing little pamphlet, and a must read and re-read. Clear and concise, this book explains the proper relationship between law and liberty, and predicts the perversion of the law - "The law has been perverted through the influence of two very different causes—naked greed and misconceived
philanthropy" (i.e. good intentions).

Letting Bastiat talk about the law:

Nothing, therefore, can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense; it is the substit
...more
Kimbolimbo
Dec 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
155650 Every time I read this book I can't help but wish that everyone I know would take the time to study the principles within. Great book. Let me say that again, great book. A must have in every home, office, bathroom, car, backpack, library and shelf.
Patrick
Mar 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ideas
amazon review:
The Law was originally published in French in 1850 by Frederic Bastiat. It was written two years after the third French Revolution of 1848. From Wikipedia: Claude Frédéric Bastiat (29 June 1801 – 24 December 1850) was a French classical liberal theorist, political economist, and member of the French assembly. He was notable for developing the important economic concept of opportunity cost. Bastiat was born in Bayonne, Aquitaine, France. When he was nine years old, he was orphaned a
...more
Otto Lehto
Jul 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Bastiat has written a potent and concise summary of 19th century classical liberalism. The book, really an essay, offers a tenable and tenacious defence of constitutional liberty. It is a rhetorical masterpiece and a passionate, straightforward postulation of a clear moral world view that privileges individual liberty over various socialist usurpations of government power, i.e. the committing of a "legal crime," towards the furthering of minority or majority interests.

Although I disagree on som
...more
Rick Davis
Aug 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
This is a book that should be read by every American citizen, especially in an election cycle in which both sides are interested in getting their bully elected in order to extort from others for their interests. In the words of J. R. R. Tolkien, "...the proper study of Man is anything but Man; and the most improper job of any man, even saints (who at any rate were at least unwilling to take it on), is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the oppo ...more
Sumirti Singaravel
Aug 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone who loves conflicts
Recommended to Sumirti by: The Libertarian Economist blog
"THE MORE CORRUPT THE STATE, THE MORE NUMEROUS THE LAWS" - TACITUS

There are certain books which drastically change the way you look at the world. They will shook you down, call you a fool at your face, pass a quiver through your spine and give you goose bumps.

This is one such book.

Although written in the 19th century, every word this book utters, holds good even today. It is a strong argument put forth to defend the 'Liberty' of man. The author chides away every attempt to apply the instrument
...more
Florin Andrei
Feb 17, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french, philosophy
Indulge me, M. Basitat, and imagine yourself in a society where the law is but the criminal code, for that is what you propose in your pamphlet (or should I call it an essay?). Imagine a society where you are free to do everything except that which violates the persons' liberty and property. Am I missing something?

Let us make a bargain. I will sell you the beans land makes over the next Y years for a sum of money, X.

Scenario 1: war breaks out and the price of beans increases, I give you X back a
...more
Dina
Jan 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed his plain, easy to understand explanation of law and the logical development of his views. A must read!
Jim McCoy
Feb 12, 2020 rated it did not like it
used to pride myself as a libertarian but as I grew older, my views and opinions have changed to the contrary.

what the heck did I just read? most of this is just a rant. The copy I received was printed the day it was shipped. That pretty much warned me what I was to read was not widely accepted (if not at all).

legal plunder by government so we should not have any government regulation and "the market will resolve itself." In the modern day, then won't it be corporate plunder to follow? If we a
...more
Francis Petkovich
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A truly timeless classic, that seeks to answer many of the questions that are still plaguing politics today.

What should be the role of the state?

What should be the main goal of Laws?

What should the government seek to achieve with society?

Despite being written in 1850, it still holds so much weight that at times it felt like Bastiat was directly answering today's politicians, and in a way he does.

Jeremy
Feb 01, 2011 rated it really liked it

Quotes:

Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.

No one would have any argument with government, provided that his person was respected, his labor was free, and the fruits of his labor were protected against all unjust attack.

Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain – and since labor is pain in itself – it follows that men will r
...more
The Pillars Of Liberty
May 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Cindy
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Deserving of 6+ stars. An absolute favorite. Profound and timeless. Bastiat truly provides perspective in this modern world that keeps promoting socialist values on everyone and everywhere. This is a must read. Every high school is the nation should include this text in their history studies.
I keep it on my devices so I can pick it up and reread passages often.
Jay Roberts, CFP®, CRPC ®
The Law exists in a comical realm of fringe reality. While reading this, I had this thought, “Libertarianism only exists in a world without causation.” Basically, this reality can only exist in a world where no other interactions take place. This is similar to all extreme ideologies, be it Communism or Milton Friedman’s version of Capitalism. Like those concepts, The Law fails to take into account human nature in the slightest. Better yet, it fails to take in the realities of the natural world. ...more
Michael
May 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This short book provides one of the most succinct explanations of what the relationship between law and freedom should be that I have found so far. It is a must read of anyone who values their freedom, which should be you. Here are some gems:

"It is not because men have made laws, that personality, liberty, and property exist. On the contrary, it is because personality, liberty, and property exist beforehand, that men make laws."

"Hence come an infinite multitude of plans for organization; teriffs
...more
Heta Shukla
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
All people wants to b free, all says they wants their own freedom, they want to direct their own affairs, and they shall direct them. And for their own good ,they do elect the party who attracts, who talks about philanthropy and changes in system. But once the party or legislature is elected and freed from this campaign promises, they changes.
Political parties: In their power they become blind to gain more power for their ownselfs.
Even in worse scenarios, the mankind ( public ) don't do raise th
...more
Cathy
Mar 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This short essay is one of the best arguments on the purpose of law and government that I have ever read. Though it was first published in 1850, you might think it came out of the mind of some present day "Tea Party" conservative or the Heritage Foundation think tank.

In a nutshell, Bastiat presents the purpose of law--all law: "Law is justice." Just that, nothing more. "Its [proper] mission is to protect the people, and to secure to them the possession of their property." Any government legisla
...more
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Claude Frédéric Bastiat (29 June 1801 – 24 December 1850) was a French classical liberal theorist, political economist, and member of the French assembly.

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“Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.” 293 likes
“If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?” 200 likes
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