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The Law was originally published in French in 1850 by Frederic Bastiat. It was written two years after the third French Revolution of 1848 and a few months before his death of tuberculosis at age 49. It is the work for which Bastiat is most famous. This translation to American English is from 1874.
because they believe that the nature of mankind tends always toward every kind of degradation and disaster. Thus, of course, the legislators must make plans for the people in order to save them from themselves. 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? The Superman Idea The claims of these
compel us to pay for them with our taxes. I do not insist that the supporters of these various social schools of thought--the Proudhonists, the Cabetists, the Fourierists, the Universitarists, and the Protectionists -- renounce their various ideas. I insist only that they renounce this one idea that they have in common: They need only to give up the idea of forcing us to acquiesce to their groups and series, their socialized projects, their free- credit banks, their Graeco-Roman concept of
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
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? Under these circumstances, is it likely that the extent of the right to vote would endanger that supreme good, the public peace? Is it likely that the excluded classes would refuse to peaceably await the coming of their right to vote? Is it likely that those who
to follow their own inclinations, they would arrive at atheism instead of religion, ignorance instead of knowledge, poverty instead of production and exchange. The Socialists Despise Mankind According to these writers, it is indeed fortunate that Heaven has bestowed upon certain men -- governors and legislators -- the exact opposite inclinations, not only for their own sake but also for the sake of the rest of the world! While mankind tends toward evil, the legislators yearn for good;