Frederic BastiatFrederic Bastiat, (1801-1850) [Claude Frederic Bastiat] French economist, statesman, and author. He did most of his writing during the years just before -- and immediately following -- the French Revolution of February 1848

Frederic Bastiat Quote

“What, then, is the law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense. ... since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force -- for the same reason -- cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individual groups. ... 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.”

Frederic BastiatFrederic Bastiat
~ Frederic Bastiat

"The Law" by Frederic Bastiat (1848)

Ratings and Comments

J Carlton, Calgary

Classic Bastiat

cal, lewisville, tx

Here one has the right to life, liberty, and property-so long as that one pays the taxes on it. Cap and Trade will even tax the air we breathe. Makes one question just who's liberty and property it really is.

Mike, Norwalk

Always loved the way Bastiat merged positivist law, man's rules, natural law, that which exists with consequence and administrations / applications together to make the point. It here leaves no doubt as to an accurate conclusion. Such style has also been a great way to expose man's inhumanity to man.

jim k, Austin,Tx

It's scary to realize that the crowd in Washington stays up nights figuring new ways to tax us, naturally it's for our own good.

Jamie, Nelson

That it aptly demonstrates the human condition. When Plato's told us, "The good do not need laws telling them what to do, the bad just find ways around them". He was trying to show that condition in a few words? So, where do we find those freedoms craved? Maybe, it could be, a case of one person's freedom is another's slavery?.... i dunno?

Mike, Norwalk

Jamie, you're absolutely right about one man's freedom. Waffler worlders are thigmotropic like cockroaches (slaves at mind and heart), they need / like to be closed in on all sides to live in and, expand their domain. They want all to be equally boxed in and controlled as they are. That is freedom to them. Freedom to others is an individual inalienable right as well as a lawful and just, without walls or otherwise limits, existence. It is only in the latter (without limits) were both can choose and measure a level of freedom. Bastiat here describes that conflict well.

Uben Hadagin, Wafflerville, Slobovia

I think no one pays taxes and no one wants us to pay taxes when all that we have in banks is numbers. Our Marxist misleaders have no need for money as long as all of us will risk our lives and even die for more numbers, Taxes cannot be paid with anyting less than silver coins when the dollar was fixed as a measure of silver in the Coinage act of 1792. as for agent Waffler, he is as useful as tits on a boar but this statement won't slow him down when he is rewarded with paper for gaeassing good people. If you doubt that Waffler and the rest of us are slaves, see: and

E Archer, NYC

The logic of Bastiat is timeless. Everyone should read 'The Law.'

  • Reply
Nick    8/31/10
Waffler, Smith

You guys still love Bastiat and he is not talking about us or the US or your city or your state. It is pure poppycock. He says that he dislikes law as a principled stand. Do you all dislike law period? In know that Archer and probably Mike do, they and their ilk want government to be held accountable but as for themselves they wish to be held accountable to nothing. Go figure, sounds like spoilt children to me. It is great to hear from slobovia.

kimo, Lahaina

I pray before I die, I will see the reinstatement of my country to the full constitution. I pray you youngsters, can somehow defeat the monster. God forgive me, that we helped create, believing in justice, to wind up enslaved by it/ j. lowe kahana maui

Justin, Elkland

Bastiat proves that truth is truth no matter when it was written.

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Zealot    12/8/10

We do not have a lawful government anymore. It disappeared after the takeover of your personal and state sovreignty by the US FEDERAL gummint under that tyrant Abraham Lincoln. We have a "legal" gummint and are enslaved to the banksters and the BAR attorneys are their facilitators. Bastiat was correct in his book "The Law". Thomas Jefferson also warned about the Judiciary and their ability to steal all that our forefathers died for.

Robert, Somewhere in the USA

Timeless reason....

E Archer, NYC

Wow, I mean, this is about as clear as you can get. Waffler suffers from his Orwellian socialized education. Again, the only argument proffered is a character attack on others, not the content of Bastiat's message. SO shallow and obvious...


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