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Martino Fine Books
The Law

The Law

by Frederic Bastiat
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The Law, original French title La Loi, is an 1850 book by Frédéric Bastiat. It was written at Mugron two years after the third French Revolution and a few months before his death of tuberculosis at age 49.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781614270577
Publisher: Martino Fine Books
Publication date: 05/09/2011
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 78
Sales rank: 211,735
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Frédéric Bastiat was born in Bayonne, Aquitaine, France. When he was nine years old, he was orphaned and became a ward of his father's parents. At age seventeen he left school to become more involved with his family's business as an exporter. Economist Thomas DiLorenzo suggests that this family business experience was crucial to Bastiat's later work because it allowed young Frédéric to acquire first-hand knowledge of some of the effects of trade regulations on the market. Sheldon Richman notes that "he came of age during the Napoleonic wars, with their extensive government intervention in economic affairs."

When Bastiat was twenty-five, his grandfather and benefactor died, leaving the young man the family estate and providing him with the means to further his own theoretical inquiries. His areas of intellectual interest were diverse, including "philosophy, history, politics, religion, travel, poetry, political economy, [and] biography."

His public career as an economist began only in 1844, and was cut short by his untimely death in 1850. Bastiat had contracted tuberculosis, probably during his tours throughout France to promote his ideas, and that illness eventually prevented him from making further speeches (particularly at the legislative assembly to which he was elected in 1848 and 1849) and took his life. Bastiat died in Rome on 24 December 1850.

Table of Contents


The Law

Life Is a Gift from God

What Is Law?

A Just and Enduring Government

Complete Perversion of the Law

A Fatal Tendency of Mankind

Property and Plunder

Victims of Lawful Plunder

Results of Legal Plunder

Fate of Non-Conformists

Who Shall Judge?

The Reason Why Voting Is Restricted

Answer Is to Restrict the Law

Fatal Idea of Legal Plunder

Perverted Law Causes Conflict

Slavery and Tariffs Are Plunder

Two Kinds of Plunder

Law Defends Plunder

How to Identify Legal Plunder

Legal Plunder Has Many Names

Socialism Is Legal Plunder

The Choice Before Us

The Proper Function of the Law

The Seductive Lure of Socialism

Enforced Fraternity Destroys Liberty

Plunder Violates Ownership

Three Systems of Plunder

Law Is Force

Law Is a Negative Concept

Political Approach

The Law and Charity

The Law and Education

The Law and Morals

A Confusion of Terms

Influence of Socialist Writers

Socialists Wish to Play God

Socialists Despise Mankind

A Defense of Compulsory Labor

A Defense of Paternal Government

The Idea of Passive Mankind

Socialists Ignore Reason and Facts

Socialists Want to Regiment People

A Famous Name and an Evil Idea

A Frightful Idea

Leader of the Democrats

Socialists Want Forced Conformity

Legislators Desire to Mold Mankind

Legislators Told How to Manage Men

A Temporary Dictatorship

Socialists Want Equality of Wealth

The Error of the Socialist Writers

What Is Liberty?

Philanthropic Tyranny

The Socialists Want Dictatorship

Dictatorial Arrogance

The Indirect Approach to Despotism

Napoleon Wanted Passive Mankind

The Vicious Circle of Socialism

Doctrine of the Democrats

Socialist Concept of Liberty

Socialists Fear All Liberties

The Superman Idea

Socialists Reject Free Choice

The Cause of French Revolutions

The Enormous Power of Government

Politics and Economics

Proper Legislative Functions

Law and Charity Are Not the Same

High Road to Communism

Basis for Stable Government

Justice Means Equal Rights

The Path to Dignity and Progress

Proof of an Idea

The Desire to Rule Over Others

Let Us Now Try Liberty


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The Law 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great book for everyone interested in law and for anyone who loves liberty. Ron Paul recommended it - enough said.
wroberthelms More than 1 year ago
Frederic Bsstiat had the ability to explain economic principles so anyone can understand. He wrote during the French revolution of 1850 when France was taking a sharp turn to Socialism. Everything he writes conveys common sense in common language so anyone can grasp this point. If Frederic Bsstiat were alive today, he would be disappointed with our failure to keep the Law within its proper domain.
Mpower54 More than 1 year ago
Short read written a long time ago in France. Amazing how even now this book can teach the dangers of liberalism. I highly recommend reading this book to understand why the "nanny state" does not ever work. Read this book!
Taylanator More than 1 year ago
This is a great book, very few errors in the OCR I believe. Bastiat was someone who was willing to call socialism exactly what it really was/is: Legal plunder. This book is still incredibly accurate and relevant to our day. I recommend this book to anyone interested in conservative and libertarian ideology. Freedom Works! Liberty is the answer!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I have ever read. Written by the author, Frederic Bastiat, while he knew he was dying in 1850, he left a gift to this world. Every sentence carries significant weight. Each page builds your understanding, yet you can open to any page and read it and it makes sense as he discusses and addresses a particular issue. Incredible. Everyone from High School up through adults and our senior citizens should read this piece of work. The Law, A Blueprint for a JUST Society. It is what we need in the U.S. today!
scartertn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A classic view of politics. This is another book that our current politicians should read carefully. Bastiat was absolutely correct when he said that "Law is justice" and that its primary purpose should be protect rights and not to dictate actions.
GaryWolf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bastiat's most important work was probably "The Law." Published in the year of his death, it is a concise formulation of the case for classic liberalism, and a stern warning against the dark clouds of socialism that were descending upon Europe, particularly after the great upheavals of 1848.Bastiat begins by clarifying the proper role of law in an enlightened Liberal society: the preservation of life, liberty, and property:"If every person has the right to defend--even by force--his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right--its reason for existing, its lawfulness--is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute."Bastiat explains how the collectivist agitation sweeping Western Europe in the mid nineteenth century sought to use the law for purposes well outside its purview. In a passage that sounds like it was written today, he laments this unfortunate turn of events:"The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense."One of the causes of this perversion of the law, says Bastiat, is greed. To satisfy his needs, man must labor. But needs can also be met by resorting to plunder, i.e., appropriating the fruits of someone else's labor. Socialism is nothing but generalized plunder, where groups who feel aggrieved enter the political process with the goal of using the law to steal from those they consider to be their oppressors.What are the consequences of this trend?"It would require volumes to describe them all. Thus we must content ourselves with pointing out the most striking. In the first place, it erases from everyone's consciousness the distinction between justice and injustice...The nature of the law is to maintain justice. This is so much the case that, in the minds of the people, law and justice are one and the same thing. There is in all of us a strong disposition to believe that anything lawful is also legitimate. This belief is so widespread that many persons have erroneously held that things are "just" because law makes them so. Thus, in order to make plunder appear just and sacred to many consciences, it is only necessary for the law to decree and sanction it."Bastiat's words bring to mind the contemporary wave of legislation and adjudications in the realm of affirmative action. This is one of our own highly-developed methods of legal plunder, and it has done much to "erase from everyone's conscience the distinction between justice and injustice."Taking the perversion of law to its logical extreme, Bastiat declares:"By what right does the law force me to conform to the social plans of Mr. Mimerel, Mr. de Melun, Mr. Thiers, or Mr. Louis Blanc? If the law has a moral right to do this, why does it not, then, force these gentlemen to submit to my plans? Is it logical to suppose that nature has not given me sufficient imagination to dream up a utopia also? Should the law choose one fantasy among many, and put the organized force of government at its service only?"On page after page, Bastiat picks apart socialist ideology, revealing its arrogance and its true intentions. I was particularly struck by the following passage, which carried the heading, "The Socialists Wish to Play God":Socialists look upon people as raw material to be formed into social combinations. This
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great insight to the tyrannical government that we are now tolerating in the United States. A great read.
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