The Law Quotes

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The Law The Law by Frédéric Bastiat
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The Law Quotes (showing 1-30 of 150)
“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.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
tags: 1850
“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?”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“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.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“Now, legal plunder can be committed in an infinite number of ways. Thus we have an infinite number of plans for organizing it: tariffs, protection, benefits, subsidies, encouragements, progressive taxation, public schools, guaranteed jobs, guaranteed profits, minimum wages, a right to relief, a right to the tools of labor, free credit, and so on, and so on.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“As long as it is admitted that the law may be diverted from its true purpose--that it may violate property instead of protecting it--then everyone will want to participate in making the law, either to protect himself against plunder or to use it for plunder.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“You say: "There are persons who lack education" and you turn to the law. But the law is not, in itself, a torch of learning which shines its light abroad. The law extends over a society where some persons have knowledge and others do not; where some citizens need to learn, and others can teach. In this matter of education, the law has only two alternatives: It can permit this transaction of teaching-and-learning to operate freely and without the use of force, or it can force human wills in this matter by taking from some of them enough to pay the teachers who are appointed by government to instruct others, without charge. But in the second case, the law commits legal plunder by violating liberty and property.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“Life Is a Gift from God.
We hold from God the gift which includes all others. This gift is life -- physical, intellectual, and moral life.

But life cannot maintain itself alone. The Creator of life has entrusted us with the responsibility of preserving, developing, and perfecting it. In order that we may accomplish this, He has provided us with a collection of marvelous faculties. And He has put us in the midst of a variety of natural resources. By the application of our faculties to these natural resources we convert them into products, and use them. This process is necessary in order that life may run its appointed course.

Life, faculties, production--in other words, individuality, liberty, property -- this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it.

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.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Thus the beneficiaries are spared the shame and danger that their acts would otherwise involve… But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them and gives it to the other persons to whom it doesn’t belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime. Then abolish that law without delay - No legal plunder; this is the principle of justice, peace, order, stability, harmony and logic.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“The mission of law is not to oppress persons and plunder them of their property, even thought the law may be acting in a philanthropic spirit. Its mission is to protect property.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“It is not true that the legislator has absolute power over our persons and property. The existence of persons and property preceded the existence of the legislator, and his function is only to guarantee their safety.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“Life, faculties, production-in other words, individuality, liberty, property-this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“The person who profits from this law will complain bitterly, defending his acquired rights. He will claim that the state is obligated to protected and encourage his particular industry; that this procedure enriches the state because the protected industry is thus able to spend more and to pay higher wages to the poor workingmen.
Do not listen to this sophistry by vested interests. The acceptance of these arguments will build legal plunder into a whole system. In fact, this has already occurred. The present-day delusion is an attempt to enrich everyone at the expense of everyone else; to make plunder universal under the pretense of organizing it.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“Legal plunder has two roots: One of them, as I have said before, is in human greed; the other is in false philanthropy.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“In fact, if law were restricted to protecting all persons, all liberties, and all properties; if law were nothing more than the organized combination of the individual's right to self-defense; if law were the obstacle, the check, the punisher of all oppression and plunder — is it likely that we citizens would then argue much about the extent of the franchise?”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“The law perverted! The law — and, in its wake, all the collective forces of the nation — the law, I say, not only diverted from its proper direction, but made to pursue one entirely contrary! The law become the tool of every kind of avarice, instead of being its check! The law guilty of that very iniquity which it was its mission to punish! Truly, this is a serious fact, if it exists, and one to which I feel bound to call the attention of my fellow citizens.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“God has given to men all that is necessary for them to accomplish their destinies. He has provided a social form as well as a human form. And these social organs of humans are so constituted that they will develop themselves harmoniously in the clean air of liberty. Away, then, with the quacks and organizers! Away with their rings, chains, hooks and pincers! Away with their artificial systems! Away with the whims of governmental administrators, their socialized projects, their centralization, their tariffs, their government schools, their state religions, their free credit, their bank monopolies, their regulations, their restrictions, their equalization by taxation, and their pious moralizations!
And, now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“One of the strangest phenomena of our time, and one that will probably be a matter of astonishment to our descendants, is the doctrine which is founded upon this triple hypothesis: the radical passiveness of mankind,— the omnipotence of the law,—the infallibility of the legislator: this is the sacred symbol of the party that proclaims itself exclusively democratic.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“In the first place, it would efface from everybody’s
conscience the distinction between justice and injustice.
No society can exist unless the laws are respected to a cer-
tain degree, but the safest way to make them respected is
to make them respectable. When law and morality are in
contradiction to each other, the citizen finds himself in
the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense, or of
losing his respect for the law—two evils of equal magni-
tude, between which it would be difficult to choose.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“. . . for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“How is it that the strange idea of making the law produce what it does not contain—prosperity, in a positive sense, wealth, science, religion—should ever have gained ground in the political world?”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“the purpose of the socialists is to suppress liberty of association precisely in order to force people to associate together in true liberty.)”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“I do not think that illegal plunder, such as theft or swindling — which the penal code defines, anticipates, and punishes — can be called socialism. It is not this kind of plunder that systematically threatens the foundations of society. Anyway, the war against this kind of plunder has not waited for the command of these gentlemen. The war against illegal plunder has been fought since the beginning of the world. Long before the Revolution of February 1848 — long before the appearance even of socialism itself — France had provided police, judges, gendarmes, prisons, dungeons, and scaffolds for the purpose of fighting illegal plunder. The law itself conducts this war, and it is my wish and opinion that the law should always maintain this attitude toward plunder.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“But we assure the socialists that we repudiate only forced organization, not natural organization. We repudiate the forms of association that are forced upon us, not free association. We repudiate forced fraternity, not true fraternity. We repudiate the artificial unity that does nothing more than deprive persons of individual responsibility. We do not repudiate the natural unity of mankind under Providence.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“We hold from God the gift which, as far as we are concerned, contains all others, Life — physical, intellectual, and moral life.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“I cannot possibly understand how fraternity can be legally enforced without liberty being legally destroyed...”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“Oh, sublime writers! Please remember sometimes that this clay, this sand, and this manure which you so arbitrarily dispose of, are men! They are your equals! They are intelligent and free human beings like yourselves! As you have, they too have received from God the faculty to observe, to plan ahead, to think, and to judge for themselves!”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“Now, legal plunder may be exercised in an infinite multitude of ways. Hence come an infinite multitude of plans for organization; tariffs, protection, perquisites, gratuities, encouragements, progressive taxation, free public education, right to work, right to profit, right to wages, right to assistance, right to instruments of labor, gratuity of credit, etc., etc. And it is all these plans, taken as a whole, with what they have in common, legal plunder, that takes the name of socialism.”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
“This line of reasoning brings us to a challenging question: If people are as incapable, as immoral, and as ignorant as the politicians indicate, then why is the right of these same people to vote defended with such passionate insistence?”
Frédéric Bastiat, The Law

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