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The Law (1850)

von Claude Frédéric Bastiat

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1,447259,751 (4.28)9
First published as a pamphlet in June 1850, The Law is already well over a hundred years old, and it will still be read when another century has passed. America now faces the same situation France did in 1848 and the same socialist-communist plans and ideas adopted there are now sweeping America-the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe notwithstanding. Bastiat's explanation of and arguments against socialism are as valid today as they were when written, and his ideas deserve serious consideration. "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."-Frederic Bastiat… (mehr)
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Spouses' textbook ( )
  The_Literary_Jedi | Jun 11, 2021 |
Although obviously dated (first published in 1849), this pamphlet mentions more key ideas of liberalism than I was expecting, and uses some terms that surprised me a bit.

For example, I wasn't expecting to read such a scathing critique of “socialism”. Or to find such a clear definition of the State and of State force as necessarily limited to protecting the (pre-existent, natural) rights of individuals (“personality, freedom, and property”) and to prevent injustice, rather than actively pursuing justice. It's a very clear defence of private property, individual projects of life and personal initiative, and an attack on redistribution, tariffs, subsidies, and an ever-expanding government that meddles with every aspect of life. Definitely, I was not expecting to find the word “communism” in the text!

I guess I had my historical timing wrong. For example, I had forgot that [b:The Communist Manifesto|30474|The Communist Manifesto|Karl Marx|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1565912767l/30474._SY75_.jpg|2205479] was published just months before (in 1848), so there is that. Also, and according to a very quick search on Wikipedia, terms such as “socialism” are much older than I thought.

Overall an interesting read, if nothing else because it is enlightening to learn how many of “modern” dilemmas in economics, political philosophy, and contingent politics, were current 170 years ago, or even before that. ( )
  tripu.info | Jan 5, 2021 |
A great argument from a French classical liberal (modern libertarian) philosopher of the early 1800s about which matters are proper for the law and state to speak on (defense of life, liberty, and property) and are improper (socialism and resource redistribution.) ( )
  octal | Jan 1, 2021 |
An amazing book! Almost every sentence rings true, and you want to highlight the whole book.

At some points there are a lot of detail on specific persons and ideas in post revolutionary France, but in general the whole book is applicable for all people and all times.
A must read! ( )
  rendier | Dec 20, 2020 |
It's more of an attack on the positions of the author's contemporaries than a reasoned argument for principle. I was hoping for the reasoned argument, but it was full of denouncements and sensational phrasing. It made a few good points, and even made some of them well, but it did not live up to expectations. I hope [b:Harmonies of Political Economy|21462181|Harmonies of Political Economy (Illustrated)|Frédéric Bastiat|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1394828000l/21462181._SX50_.jpg|1681384] turns out to be better when I get around to it. ( )
  apotheon | Dec 14, 2020 |
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The law perverted!
La loi pervertie !
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Il faut le dire : il y a trop de grands hommes dans le monde ; il y a trop de législateurs, organisateurs, instituteurs de sociétés, conducteurs de peuples, pères des nations, etc. Trop de gens se placent au dessus de l'humanité pour la régenter, trop de gens font métier de s'occuper d'elle.
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.
It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder.
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.
No legal plunder: This is the principle of justice, peace, order, stability, harmony, and logic. Until the day of my death, I shall proclaim this principle with all the force of my lungs (which alas! is all too inadequate).
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Wikipedia auf Englisch (3)

First published as a pamphlet in June 1850, The Law is already well over a hundred years old, and it will still be read when another century has passed. America now faces the same situation France did in 1848 and the same socialist-communist plans and ideas adopted there are now sweeping America-the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe notwithstanding. Bastiat's explanation of and arguments against socialism are as valid today as they were when written, and his ideas deserve serious consideration. "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."-Frederic Bastiat

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340.1 — Social Sciences Law Law Theory

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Durchschnitt: (4.28)
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