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The Law Paperback – Dec 1 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 68 pages
  • Publisher: Cosimo Classics (Dec 1 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596059648
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596059641
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 0.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 113 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #14,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Frederic 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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kurt A. Johnson on April 12 2004
Format: Hardcover
Frederic Bastiat (1801-50) was a French economist, philosopher and statesman, and this book was written by him as he was already dying of tuberculosis. In The Law, Monsieur Bestiat examines what the natures of law and government are and what they should be, and shows how the natural greed of humanity leads to a perversion of them. He goes on to show that the natural result of this "legal plunder" is ultimately communism and a dictatorship, not of the proletariat, but of a self-styled elite that views the proletariat as a raw material to be molded and, if necessary, broken.
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!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Henry Cate III on Feb. 2 2004
Format: Paperback
This was written in 1850, just after the 1848 revolution in France. Bastiat was concerned by all the different groups that were trying to use "The Law" or in Hayek's words, "The State" to remake society into their vision of a more perfect society. Bastiat argues that trying to use the law to help out one group does so at the expense of another group, he calls this "legal plunder" and points out how in the long run this will ruin society.
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D Glover TOP 500 REVIEWER on Aug. 11 2010
Format: Hardcover
The Law is a refutation of the systems of socialism, communism and government interventionism written prior to it's publication or since. It is a logical, well-reasoned, effectively argued refutation which, in the opinion of this reader, truly does refute these economic systems and show them for the unworkable, freedom-crushing and ultimately counter-productive models that they are, all of which are based on a naïve understanding of human nature, thinking only individuals subject to corruption and not understanding that the inherent corruption of human nature only deepens with the power granted at the organized state level. This is a true classic of economics and politics and deserves to be universally read not only by all those in government but by every voter as well.

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.

However, 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. In order to do this, the government passes laws that extend far beyond the end of justice and the law becomes grossly prescriptive rather than penal; the law legalizes behaviours that, if they were perpetrated by individuals, would be considered theft and coercion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ken Carroll on June 22 2003
Format: Paperback
Bastiat's The Law is a liberal's nightmare. Written over 150 years ago ago, it clearly defines what is wrong with socialism and explains (actually Bastiat accurately predicted) why socialist programs breed their own corruption and defines "Legal Plunder" in the clearest of terms. Don't be put off by the age of the book; the writing is more clear and more concise than almost any current book.
Here is a quote, "But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime."
I have given away at least a dozen copies of this book; I believe the book is that important. I can think of no higher personal endorsement.
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