The Law Paperback – Dec 1 2006
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About the Author
Frederic Bastiat, who was born two hundred years ago, was a leader of the French laissez-faire tradition in the first half of the nineteenth century. He was influenced by Cobden's Anti-Corn Law League and became a convinced free trader. Joseph Schumpeter described Bastiat as "the most brilliant economic journalist who ever lived." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I must say that Frederic Bastiat was able to pack more fascinating analysis into a short space than any other writer I have ever seen. He was definitely cast in the same mold as the founding fathers of the United States, with his belief that life, liberty and property are the unalienable gifts of God. He persuasively argues for the defense of these rights, and shows what happens when a people decide to trample upon them.
If you are interested in the philosophy that produced the United States of America, then I highly recommend that you read this fascinating and thought-provoking book!
Bastiat starts off saying that the basic gifts man has from God are: life, liberty, and property. It is appropriate and correct to defend yourself, your liberty, and your property. "The Law" was created to ensure that individuals in society were allowed to use these gifts.
Bastiat says that unfortunately "The Law" is abused by the greed and false philanthropy of man. There are two basic ways of getting ahead in life, the first is to work hard and produce, the second is to plunder from others. When trade off and risks for plunder are better than labor, many people will turn to plunder. It is very tempting for those who make laws to use the law to plunder. Bastiat says "legal plunder" is to use the law to take property, which if was done without the benefit of the law would have been considered a crime.
He has some fairly pointed barbs at socialists. He says many of the writers at his time seem to view people as raw material, to be formed or controlled. He says that most socialists see mankind as evil, while they (the socialists) are good. This leads the socialists to feeling justified in using "The Law" to make mankind be good.Read more ›
The author wrote this as he was dying of tuberculosis. I consider this his deathbed love letter to humanity.
NB I deduct two stars for the frequent typos in what is a short, 58-page document, not to mention the sloppy formatting (widow and orphan headings and paragraphs, full-size superscripts and footnotes). I will look for another publisher's edition for my library and donate this shoddy Cosimo copy to a friend.
But more than just a negative refutation, Bastiat makes the positive case that the law has only one purpose: to preserve justice. Bastiat convincingly bases this assertion on self evident natural law. In order to preserve and ensure justice, the law must protect the safety of persons, their property, and their freedom to make choices as they see fit. Therefore the law's purpose is negative, serving as a protection against violence, coercion and theft. The law is not to be a positive force which prescribes behaviors, even if those behaviors are generally agreed to be good things.
In opposition to this limited role of the law, Bastiat shows that in socialist/communist states, the government has expanded the purpose and role of the law to include things it was never intended to.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Fantastic book for anyone willing to expand their political views.Published 3 months ago by Eric De Amorim
Everyone should read this.
I don't know much about law, but I found this book straight and to the point. A very intelligent book written well with sound arguments.
Very clear, concise book on freedom and liberty.
A must read for anyone interested in law, public policy and basic human rights.
I ordered the lowest priced edition, thinking that the low cost would be a result of the cheaper materials used in production. Read morePublished on Oct. 26 2013 by ila rae sharpe
Excellent! A view of Law as it should be, written in 1850. This book could, in large part, have been written recently. Read morePublished on Jan. 5 2012 by fanrep
This book is probably on the shelf of every Libertarian you'll every meet and is, for it's small size, a damning indictment of big government and the very real decay it produces in... Read morePublished on Dec 23 2010 by Andrew Phillips