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The Law Paperback – November 26, 2010
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No work before or since has made such a compelling case for freedom. Bastiat's message will influence students of liberty for years to come. --Andrea Millen Rich, Laissez Faire Books
Original Language: French --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Best three dollars ever spent. Ron Steele Moab, Utah
"What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.
Each of us has a natural right-from God-to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties?
If every person has the right to defend - even by force - his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right - its reason for existing, its lawfulness - is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, 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 individuals or groups.
Such a perversion of force would be, in both cases, contrary to our premise. Force has been given to us to defend our own individual rights. Who will dare to say that force has been given to us to destroy the equal rights of our brothers?Read more ›
Written in 1850, just two years after the French Revolution of 1848, the Law is part treatise and part polemic, an appeal to the French people reminding them of the proper sphere of the law and government and begging them to turn away from their descent into socialism. The Law is also a summary of much of what Bastiat considered to be important from his own work; at the time The Law was written he was very sick, and he would be dead within a year of its publication. As a French patriot, Bastiat was deeply moved by the disintegration he saw in French society.
As the last vestiges of the class-society were replaced and the new "democratic" order was being instituted, the State was more and more being used as a means by which groups of citizens (special interests) could plunder one another through taxes, transfer payments, tariffs, etc, committing what Bastiat calls "legal plunder." As he saw it, the law was being perverted into a so-called "creative" entity, through which controlling groups would seek to enforce their particular agendas at the expense and through the pocketbooks of the people in general.
Bastiat argues that the law should be properly viewed as the formal embodiment of Force. That is, human laws should be the organized and formal construction of justice. Just law, he says, is nothing more than the organization of the human right to self-defense.Read more ›
Compare these two translations:
(from the Feb 6, 2009 edition from Seven Treasures Publications):
"Existence, faculties, assimilation - in other words, personality, liberty, property - this is man. It is of these three things that it may be said, apart from all the demagogue subtlety, that they are anterior and superior to all human legislation."
(from the Dean Russell translation):
"Life, faculties, production - in other words, individuality, liberty, property - this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it."
As stated in the 15th printing of the Foundation for Economic Education edition, "A nineteenth century translation of The Law, made in 1853 in England by an unidentified contemporary of Mr. Bastiat, was of much value as a check against this translation. In addition, Dean Russell had his work reviewed by Bertrand de Jouvenel, the noted French economist, historian, and author who is thoroughly familiar with the English language."
I recommend the Russell translation from the FEE. Hopefully, Amazon will sell it soon.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One would think the author is speaking of modern day. The masses that seem to think that the law is for twisting to their own purposes are ignorant and self-serving.Published 7 days ago by R. B. Anderson
Definitely not a scholarly source. Would not recommend this book to anyone. The rhetoric in this book was awful. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Amazon Customer
See the rational arguments that underlie our Constitution, and why we are in danger today.Published 15 days ago by Robert T. Mason
The principles underlying our nation's founding are explained here in succinct, powerful language.Published 23 days ago by Tricia A
The Law is concentrated and opinionated. I throughly enjoyed reading it, even if I disagreed with some of his points (see below). Read morePublished 1 month ago by George
This is only one of the most important books you will ever read...short, sweet and to the point. It will change how you look at things.Published 1 month ago by Bryan Palmer