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

“Thus, if there exists a law which sanctions slavery or monopoly, oppression or robbery, in any form whatever, it must not even be mentioned. For how can it be mentioned without damaging the respect which it inspires? Still further, morality and political economy must be taught from the point of view of this law; from the supposition that it must be a just law merely because it is a law. Another effect of this tragic perversion of the law is that it gives an exaggerated importance to political passions and conflicts, and to politics in general.”

Frederic BastiatFrederic Bastiat
~ Frederic Bastiat

"The Law" by Frederic Bastiat (1848)

Ratings and Comments

  • Reply
Dan    6/26/08

I still have my copy of "The Law" after twenty years, an inspirational example of reason, logic and common sense. Its' message contains eternal truth that anyone with a patriotic passion should know and hold close to their hearts.

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

I just read the extended content from which this quote was taken. What just precedes the "Thus" is the proposition that a state supported professorship must not attack the laws of the state. What Bastiat is worried about here is the freedom of people to be nonconformists. Conforming or nonconforming is what he is talking about not 'slavery, oppression, etc" If that is the case then I give it a five. We should preserve freedom and nonconformity!

Bryan Morton, Stuart, FL

Waffler, isn't conformity a form of slavery and oppression? I love "The Law" by Bastiat. It does a better job of nailing the problems of political power than any other book I've read. You can read it here on Liberty-tree or at .

E Archer, NYC

Bastiat's 'The Law' is one of the most concise essays about the dangers of socialist ideals that has ever been written. When Bastiat says "the supposition that it must be a just law merely because it is a law," he really shows how we generally treat all 'laws' as 'lawful' thus allowing each bad precedent to spawn another breach in the security of liberty. Brilliant work.

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

Yes Bryan I agree and it may be that in the France of Bastiat government control of professors in a "government" school was much more of an issue than in diverse America. I can't make an argument that professors in state universities in America have a fear of being "state" controlled. My perception is that the erge to control free thinking professors and universities generally comes from the right or conservative wing of the politcal spectrum.

J Carlton, Calgary

The majority of "laws" are not based in any kind of "justice", they are in place only to provide a government with powers of control. We could print every law of justice required for a moral society on a single sheet of paper. Here again bastiat demonstrates his brilliance and clarity of thought. I wonder what he would have thought of laws that allow a major city to be locked down under martial law in a matter of minutes....

Mary - MI
  • Reply
Mary - MI    5/3/13

Frederic Bastiat was one of the most profound thinkers of his day. His ringing words are just as relevant today as when they were first put to paper.
Everyone who has not read 'The Law' should place it as an immediate must do.
I have purchased many a copy to give out to members of my township board, as well as friend's and neighbors. My personal copy is thoroughly highlighted.


Get a Quote-a-Day!

Liberty Quotes sent to your mail box daily.