Juin La loi pervertie! Nous tenons de Dieu le don qui pour nous les renferme tous, la Vie, — la vie physique, intellectuelle et morale. Mais il est une autre disposition qui leur est aussi commune. On peut lui opposer de graves objections.
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Whereas justice has precise limits, philanthropy is limitless and thus government can grow endlessly when that becomes its function. The resulting statism is "based on this triple hypothesis: the total inertness of mankind, the omnipotence of the law, and the infallibility of the legislator. 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. He goes on to describe the rights that those individuals do have, which he recognizes as natural rights , based on natural law.
On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place. Therefore, government is simply an extension of these specific natural rights to a collective force, and its main purpose is the protection of these rights. Any government that steps beyond this role, acting in ways that an individual would not have the right to act, places itself at war with its own purpose: But, unfortunately, law by no means confines itself to its proper functions.
And when it has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose.
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.
Bastiat thus also points out that those who resist plunder, as is their natural right, become targets of the very law that was supposed to protect their rights in the first place. Laws are passed saying that opposing plunder is illegal, with punishments that will accumulate to death, if resisted consistently. Though living in France, this book was written when slavery was still legal in the United States , and was very controversial there, as well as in the rest of Europe.
In the U. Globally famous was the two key components of this, with the northern states imposing crippling tariffs that impoverished the south, and trying to ban slavery. Bastiat pointedly mentions both slavery and tariffs are forms of legal plunder. As a consequence of this, there appears to be no country in the world where the social order rests on a firmer foundation. But even in the United States, there are two issues — and only two — that have always endangered the public peace. What are these two issues?
They are slavery and tariffs. These are the only two issues where, contrary to the general spirit of the republic of the United States, law has assumed the character of a plunderer. Slavery is a violation, by law, of liberty. The protective tariff is a violation, by law, of property. Bastiat goes on to describe other forms of plunder, both legalized by the state and banned. He then concludes that the problem of it must be settled once and for all.
He says that there are three ways to do so: The few plunder the many. Everybody plunders everybody. Nobody plunders anyone. He points out that, given these options, what is obviously the best for society is the last one, with all plunder being ended.
Influence[ edit ] The Law has been cited by many thinkers from a broad range of ideologies. Ron Paul describes it as one of the main books that influenced him. The Federalist Society includes it on their pre-law reading list.
La Loi (pamphlet)
La Loi (pamphlet)