***** (of 5)
The bottom line: A classic, revolutionary, paradigm-shifting defense of personhood, property, and liberty.
In The Law, Bastiat makes a timeless and compelling argument in favor of the natural and innate privileges bestowed upon humankind by God of the three preserving elements of life. His central argument is summarized on page two: “It is not because men have made laws, that life, liberty, and property exist. On the contrary, it is because life, liberty, and property exist beforehand, that men make laws. What then, is the law? As I have said elsewhere, it is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.” Bastiat argues that the ultimate aim of the law is for justice “to reign over all,” and this feat is accomplished through the legislative substitution of communal power for that of the person. In all modes of operation (even in the use of force), preservation of liberty and the securitization of the person and property remain paramount. The law, in essence, is constructed as a means to serve the people and not and an end that trumps the individual.
One of the distinguishing aspects of this book from other libertarian declarations is that Bastiat does take a clear stance on the value of morality. That is, when the law and morality are opposed there are two options: (1) Lose morality and obey the injustice, or (2) Lose respect for the law. This is a key differentiation that tends to diverge from the modern libertarian ideology.
Bastiat wrote this book during the 19th century as a response to the encroaching French government on private affairs. Yet, the central tenets of his philosophical arguments remain equally as powerful. I think this text is particularly applicable in contemporary times when our political system has presented itself as horrifically flawed and often mistaken as superior to the constituents whom it is supposed to be working for.
The book is short (less than 60 pages) and is straight to the point. The link above points you to the Mises store where the book is available for $5.00, but Mises also provides a free copy in a .PDF version. Amazon also has new paperback copies for one cent!
Quite frankly, in my opinion, this is one of the greatest books ever written in the Western world and warrants a spot in everyone’s bookshelf. Read this book and free your mind.
Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal