The essay might have been written today. It applies to our own time. It applies in all times in which the state assumes unto itself different rules and different laws from that by which it expects other people to live. And so we have this legendary essay, written in a white heat against the leaders of 19th century France, the reading of which has shocked millions out of their toleration of despotism. This new edition from the Mises Institute revives a glorious translation that has been out of print for a hundred years, one that circulated in Britain in the generation that followed Bastiat's death.
This newly available translation provides new insight into Bastiat s argument. The question that Bastiat deals with: how to tell when a law is unjust or when the law maker has become a source of law breaking? When the law becomes a means of plunder it has lost its character of genuine law. When the law enforcer is permitted to do with others lives and property what would be illegal if the citizens did them, the law becomes perverted. Bastiat doesn t avoid the difficult issues, such as why should we think that a democratic mandate can convert injustice to justice.
He deals directly with the issue of the expanse of legislation: It is not true that the mission of the law is to regulate our consciences, our ideas, our will, our education, our sentiments, our works, our exchanges, our gifts, our enjoyments. Its mission is to prevent the rights of one from interfering with those of another, in any one of these things. Law, because it has force for its necessary sanction, can only have as its lawful domain the domain of force, which is justice.
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Von Marc Dierckx Am hilfreichsten 06.12.2015
Gaming the game
Frederic Bastiat preceeded the essence of "Arrows theorem" by more than 100 years: it is impossible to devise a game system that is able to cater for the interest of everybody and will result in a "just society". All games, ergo laws are devised for the interest of a few and can be exploited by people that will start to game the game. Adding more game rules to the game will not help to make the system more just, but will just increase the degrees of freedom to more subtlely usurp the idea of a "just society". So Bastiat has a good argument to plead his just cause and it remains worthwhile to give him a second hearing after 100 years.
A pity that I did not like the voice of the narrator, but I suppose that could be just my problem.