In response to the oppressive and overreaching tactics of the elite-dominated French government of the mid-1800s, Frederic Bastiats The Law attacks the vicious circle of socialism perpetuated by powerful leaders and a society dependent on government-provided goods and servicesa frighteningly similar relationship to todays imbalance between citizens and government.
As Bastiat explains, it is simply the act of living, rather than submission to government, which guarantees an individual the natural rights to life, liberty, and property; governments function is not to award these rights, but to protect them. While it is widely understood that one individual may not legally rob another of any of these rights, Bastiat questions why citizens allow a government, which is in effect merely a collective group of individuals, to rob them of these rights continuously without once breaking the lawthus defeating the key purpose of government.
The Law calls for the reinstatement of a political system that defends justice as a societys most valuable commodity and implements only those laws which citizens would, by their natural rights, find respectable. This critical look at the over-development of government is a timeless testament to the value of individual liberty and to the importance of ensuring that justice prevails to reign over us all.
We owe a large part of our clear-sightedness to Bastiat. Once he had grasped and explained a principle, he could put the argument in so many lights and forms as to leave no one an excuse for missing or evading it.
, author of Economics in One Lesson
The Law created order in my thinking about liberty and just human conduct.
Walter E. Williams, John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University.
Bastiat is a great prophet of liberty, the free society, and the free market.
Václav Klaus, economist and President of the Czech Republic
About the Author
Claude Frédéric Bastiat (6/30/180112/24/1850) was a French classical liberal theorist, political economist, and member of the French assembly.