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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: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #56,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Booklover73 on May 10 2012
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 By D Glover TOP 500 REVIEWER on Aug. 11 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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 expose the unjust foundations of these economic systems and show them for the unworkable, freedom-crushing and ultimately counter-productive models that they are. All forms of statist government are based on a naïve understanding of human nature, thinking only (some) individuals are 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.

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.
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