Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Excerpts from "The Law" - V

What is law? What ought it to be? What is its domain?
What are its limits? Where, in fact, does the prerogative
of the legislator stop?

I have no hesitation in answering, Law is common
force organized to prevent injustice;—in short, Law is Justice.

It is not true that the legislator has absolute power
over our persons and property, since they pre-exist, and
his work is only to secure them from injury.

It is not true that the mission of the law is to regulate
our consciences, our ideas, our will, our education, our
sentiments, our works, our exchanges, our gifts, our
enjoyments. Its mission is to prevent the rights of one
from interfering with those of another, in any one of these

Law, because it has force for its necessary sanction,
can only have the domain of force, which is justice.

And as every individual has a right to have recourse to
force only in cases of lawful defense, so collective force,
which is only the union of individual forces, cannot be
rationally used for any other end.

The law, then, is solely the organization of individual
rights that existed before law.

Law is justice.

So far from being able to oppress the people, or to
plunder their property, even for a philanthropic end, its
mission is to protect the people, and to secure to them the
possession of their property.

It must not be said, either, that it may be philanthropic,
so long as it abstains from all oppression; for this
is a contradiction. The law cannot avoid acting upon our
persons and property; if it does not secure them, then it
violates them if it touches them.

The law is justice.
Frederic Bastiat - The Law(1850)

Bastiat's The Law can be found for free here and here, or at Amazon .

Other excerpts linked here: I, II, III, IV, V

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