Friday, March 18, 2011

Excerpts from "The Law"

What is Law?

It is not because men have made laws, that personality,
liberty, and property exist. On the contrary, it is
because personality, liberty, and property exist beforehand,
that men make laws. What, then, is law? As I have
said elsewhere, it is the collective organization of the individual
right to lawful defense.

Nature, or rather God, has bestowed upon every one
of us the right to defend his person, his liberty, and his
property, since these are the three constituent or preserving
elements of life; elements, each of which is rendered
complete by the others, and that cannot be understood
without them. For what are our faculties, but the extension
of our personality? and what is property, but an
extension of our faculties?

If every man has the right of defending, even by force,
his person, his liberty, and his property, a number of men
have the right to combine together to extend, to organize
a common force to provide regularly for this defense.

Collective right, then, has its principle, its reason for
existing, its lawfulness, in individual right; and the common
force cannot rationally have any other end, or any
other mission, than that of the isolated forces for which it
is substituted. Thus, as the force of an individual cannot
lawfully touch the person, the liberty, or the property of
another individual—for the same reason, the common
force cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, the
liberty, or the property of individuals or of classes.
For this perversion of force would be, in one case as
in the other, in contradiction to our premises. For who
will dare to say that force has been given to us, not to
defend our rights, but to annihilate the equal rights of our
brethren? And if this be not true of every individual force,
acting independently, how can it be true of the collective
force, which is only the organized union of isolated

Nothing, therefore, can be more evident than this:
The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful
defense; it is the substitution of collective for individual
forces, for the purpose of acting in the sphere in which
they have a right to act, of doing what they have a right
to do, to secure persons, liberties, and properties, and to
maintain each in its right, so as to cause justice to reign
over all.
Frederic Bastiat - The Law(1850)

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

1 comment:

AMD said...

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