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The Law [Paperback]

Bastiat Frederic Bastiat , Frederic Bastiat
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 1 2006
French political libertarian and economist CLAUDE FRÉDÉRIC BASTIAT (1801-1850) was one of the most eloquent champions of the concept that property rights and individual freedoms flowed from natural law. Here, in this 1850 classic, a powerful refutation of Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto, published two years earlier, Bastiat discusses: . what is law? . why socialism constitutes legal plunder . the proper function of the law . the law and morality . "the vicious circle of socialism" . the basis for stable government . and more.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and thought-provoking April 12 2004
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Good short argument for limited government Feb. 2 2004
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Almost every paragraph of this masterpiece contains a quote for the ages. Every sentence a dagger through the heart of socialism and proponents of its policies from antiquity to 19th century France.

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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Urgent read for every politician and voter! Aug. 11 2010
By D Glover TOP 500 REVIEWER
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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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
In a small handful of words Frederick Bastiat lays before us an encyclopedia for freedom. Written more than 100 years ago, he clearly articulates what a government should be and... Read more
Published 7 days ago by garret seinen
5.0 out of 5 stars The Law
Excellent! A view of Law as it should be, written in 1850. This book could, in large part, have been written recently. Read more
Published on Jan. 5 2012 by fanrep
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read
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 more
Published on Dec 23 2010 by Andrew Phillips
5.0 out of 5 stars "Let Us Now Try Liberty"
Fredric Bastiat's "The Law" covers much more than simply legal constructs. It is an in-depth study of the nature of ordered liberty, economics, socialism, law, the human drive to... Read more
Published on June 6 2004 by Michael Weiser
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of compelling simplicity and relevance
I have advanced degrees in economics and engineering, a successful career both within the corporate world and as an entrepeneur, have had the great fortune to know senators,... Read more
Published on Jan. 18 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear, Elegant Phrasing and Startling Insights
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... Read more
Published on June 22 2003 by Ken Carroll
5.0 out of 5 stars A great, short piece bashing the state on moral grounds
While Bastiat may make one never want to hear the phrase "legal plunder" again, the message of this pamphlet is as relevant now as it was in 1850. Read more
Published on June 17 2003 by Daniel L. Lurker
5.0 out of 5 stars The best secular book investment you'll ever make!!
This is it! In 60 odd pages, Bastiat concisely describes why attempts to redistribute wealth and resources for societal equity amount to no more than legal plunder and ultimately... Read more
Published on March 23 2003 by W. Huber
5.0 out of 5 stars A rock upon which to build!
Have you suspected that taxation was a bad thing? But you don't have the amunition to really *prove* that it is bad? Read more
Published on Jan. 30 2003 by Martha de Forest
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