A few gems from Bastiat’s The Law:
The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all.
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. All these plans as a whole –with their common aim of legal plunder — constitute socialism.
Funny, but I don’t remember Bastiat on any of my syllabi in pre-law undergrad or law school.
While surfing for more information about Bastiat for this post, I learned that he famously debated the anarchist Proudhon. Proudhon, it would appear, didn’t much care for Bastiat: “Your intelligence sleeps, or rather it has never been awake…You are a man for whom logic does not exist…You do not hear anything, you do not understand anything…Your are without philosophy, without science, without humanity…Your ability to reason, like your ability to pay attention and make comparisons is zero…Scientifically, Mr. Bastiat, you are a dead man.”
Bastiat was a Catholic. Devout or not, I have no idea. Proudhon, who said “God is tyranny and poverty; God is evil,” was “militantly anti-Catholic,” according to Peter Marshall. So I guess Proudhon’s over-the-top remarks might be expected.Bookmark it: del.icio.us | Reddit | Slashdot | Digg | Facebook | Technorati | Google | StumbleUpon | Window Live | Tailrank | Furl | Netscape | Yahoo | BlinkList