The Law by Frederic Bastiat: Summary
The Law by Frederic Bastiat
“Law is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense”
Law is organized justice by force. We have a right to defend our person, our property, and our liberty. All people are born with these natural rights because they are God-given before man-made law existed.
The State should not interfere with the private affairs of free men. But today the law is perverted to deprive one group to benefit another by allowing legal plunder. Some wish to traffic the property of others and make plunder a right. Some want to live at the expense of others by using politics to seize the productions of the faculties of his fellow man. Plunder prevails everywhere it is less burdensome than work. Plunder ceases when it becomes more burdensome than work.
There should not be any government subsidies, government schools, government welfare, or any government involvement whatsoever with labor. Big government does not encourage producing goods and services for the marketplace but using politics to plunder your fellow citizens.
Business spends massive amounts of money and time lobbying instead of investing money and time in production.
Corrupt Uses of the Law by Immoral States
Charity is love. Government corrupts charity because true charity is given from the heart not from the barrel of a gun. Forced equality of wealth and pervasive regulation are the enemies of liberty. They exaggerate the importance of politics and come from a sick and compulsive desire to rule over others.
When law and morality contradict, the citizen has the cruel alternative of losing his moral sense or losing respect for the law.
It is theft to take property away from the person it belongs to and give it to another person to whom it does not belong. If the government takes from one to give to another, what would be the crime if the recipient did it himself? Is it not theft? This sows disunity and reprisals. Socialism is simply legalized theft.
There is no right to free assistance, unearned wages, free education, or free health care. The only thing guaranteed a citizen should be the free exercise of his faculties. You cannot be free and not free at the same time.
The Law as Umpire: Not Picking Sides
The law should not be involved with religion, art, education, industry, commerce, agriculture, charity or labor.
Socialism pretends to realize the general good by general theft.
The law should only use force to impose on men that they do no harm to others. The law is to prevent injustice. If you force a man to work he is not free and if you force a man to surrender the fruits of his work—his property—he is not free.
Forced, imposed association or organization is bad; free natural association or organization is good. The Devil says if you oppose State education you oppose education—that is a lie. The Devil says if you oppose equality at the barrel of a gun you are against the poor—that is a lie.
Socialists see Mankind as a subject for social experiments— the State as potter and the People as clay in its hands to mold as it sees fit—as if the State were God.
The progressive is the ultimate elitist, placing himself and his intellectual ideas above others; claiming the right to rearrange the human race; willing to enslave others to achieve their fanciful vision; the great savior who won’t leave us alone, who violates liberty of conscience, freedom of association, freedom of exchange; to make me be what he wishes me to be. People are nothing more than raw material. They think so little of mankind and so much of themselves.
If the human race is so bad that it needs a leviathan state to rule over every aspect of it, how can the ruling elite be so good? Are they not part of the human race?
We are training people to be incapable of raising themselves by their own choices and energies to well-being by having them expect everything from the State.
The Law vs. Liberty
Every regulation deprives industry of its liberty.
Is there not a grievance in the nation that government does not act to solve?
It is not the mission of the law to regulate our consciences and ideas. Its mission is to protect people and their property—not to plunder. A multitude of forced utopias compete to take charge of the forces of the law. Legislation becomes the battlefield for everybody’s dreams and covetousness.
Do you truly believe that if the government does not tell us what to think; how and when we may talk about or honor God; when and where we may get together and with whom; how children must be educated, where and by whom; how and when we may work and what our wages must be; who can sell what and where; and how charity must be distributed: that our whole world will collapse?
A society that is free, safe, stable, and responsible is the one in which a virtuous man will attain his fullness with dignity. The law should not interfere with private activity; regulation should be sparse and simple, taxes light; transactions, meetings, and clubs should be no business of the government.
Wealth, labor, and production should be unaffected by government. T
he thought of God should prevail over the inventions of men. Liberty is an act of faith in man and God.