department of economy, an act, a habit, an
institution, a law, gives birth
not only to an effect, but to a series of effects. Of these effects, only the
first is immediate; it manifests itself simultaneously with its cause; it is
seen. The others unfold in succession for they are not seen and it is well for
us if they are foreseen.
good economist and
economist this constitutes the whole
difference, the one takes account of the visible effect while the other takes
account both of the effects which are seen and also of those which it is
necessary to foresee. Now this difference is enormous, for it almost always
happens that when the immediate consequence is favorable, the ultimate
fatal, and the converse.
Hence it follows that the
economist pursues a small present good, which will be followed by a great
evil to come, while the true economist pursues a great good to come, at the
risk of a small present evil.
In fact, it is the same in the science of
health, arts, and in that of morals.
happens, that the sweeter the first fruit of a habit is, the more bitter are
the consequences. Take, for example,
debauchery, idleness, prodigality. When, therefore, a man, absorbed in
the effect which is visible, has not yet learned to discern those which are not
visible, he gives way to fatal
habits, not only by inclination, but by calculation.
This explains the
fatally grievous condition of
surrounds men's actions which are determined by their first
consequences, the only ones which men
Experience teaches effectually, but
Experience makes us
acquainted with all the effects of an action, by causing us to feel them;
and we cannot fail to finish by knowing that fire burns, if we have burned
For this rough teacher, I should
like, if possible, to substitute a more gentle one,
The pleasures of the senses too much indulged, or
too long persisted in, lay the foundation of diseases, which either cut life
prematurely, or make the evening of our days miserable.
There is in all of a strong
disposition to believe that anything lawful is also just. This belief is so
widespread that many individuals have erroneously held that things are 'just'
because the law makes them so or because
authority claims it is so.
The law perverted ! The
police powers of the state perverted along with it !!
The law, not only
turned from its proper purpose, but made to follow an entirely contrary
purpose! Law - the weapon of every kind of greed !!!
checking crime law itself guilty of evils it is supposed to punish !!!!
Moral duty requires me to call the attention of my fellow citizens to
Life Is a Gift from God
We hold from God the
gift which includes all others. This gift is life " physical,
intellectual, and moral life.
But life cannot
maintain itself alone. The Creator of life has entrusted us with the
responsibility of preserving, developing, and perfecting it. In order that we
may accomplish this, He has provided us with a collection of marvelous
faculties. And He has put us in the midst of a variety of natural resources. By
the application of our faculties to these natural resources we convert them
into products, and use them. This process is necessary in order that life may
run its appointed course.
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. Life, liberty, and
property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the
fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to
make laws in the first place.
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? Since no
individual acting separately can lawfully use force to destroy the rights of
others, does it not logically follow that the same principle also applies to
the common force that is nothing more than the organized combination of the
If this is true, then
nothing can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the
natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for
individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual
forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties,
and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to
reign over us all.
A Just and
If a nation were
founded on this basis, it seems to me that order would prevail among the
people, in thought as well as in deed. It seems to me that such a nation would
have the most simple, easy to accept, economical, limited, nonoppressive, just,
and enduring government imaginable " whatever its political form might be.
Under such an administration, everyone would
understand that he possessed all the privileges as well as all the
responsibilities of his existence. No one would have any argument with
government, provided that his person was respected, his labor was free, and
the fruits of his labor were
protected against all unjust attack. When successful, we would not have to
thank the state for our success. And, conversely, when unsuccessful, we would
no more think of blaming the state for our misfortune than would the farmers
blame the state because of hail or frost. The state would be felt only by the
invaluable blessings of safety provided by this concept of government.
It can be further
stated that, thanks to the non-intervention of the state in private affairs,
our wants and their satisfactions would develop themselves in a logical manner.
We would not see poor families seeking literary instruction before they have
bread. We would not see cities populated at the expense of rural districts, nor
rural districts at the expense of cities. We would not see the great
displacements of capital, labor, and population that are caused by legislative
The sources of our
existence are made uncertain and precarious by these state-created
displacements. And, furthermore, these acts burden the government with
Complete Perversion of the Law
law by no means confines itself to its proper functions. And when it has
exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some
inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it
has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to
destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that
it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real
purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal
of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and
property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect
plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish
How has this
perversion of the law been accomplished? And what have been the results?
The law has been
perverted by the influence of two entirely different causes: stupid greed and
false philanthropy. Let us speak of the first.
Tendency of Mankind
self-development are common aspirations among all people. And if everyone
enjoyed the unrestricted use of his faculties and the free disposition of the
fruits of his labor, social progress would be ceaseless, uninterrupted, and
But there is also
another tendency that is common among people. When they can, they wish to live
and prosper at the expense of others. This is no rash accusation. Nor does it
come from a gloomy and uncharitable spirit. The annals of history bear witness
to the truth of it: the incessant wars, mass migrations, religious
persecutions, universal slavery, dishonesty in commerce, and monopolies. This
fatal desire has its origin in the very nature of man " in that primitive,
universal, and insuppressible instinct that impels him to satisfy his desires
with the least possible pain.
Property and Plunder
Man can live and
satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his
faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property.
But it is also true
that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products
of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder.
Now since man is
naturally inclined to avoid pain " and since labor is pain in itself " it
follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work.
History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion
nor morality can stop
When, then, does
plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than
It is evident, then,
that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to
stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the
law should protect property and punish plunder.
But, generally, the
law is made by one man or one class of men. And since law cannot operate
without the sanction and support of a dominating force, this force must be
entrusted to those who make the laws.
This fact, combined
with the fatal tendency that exists in the heart of man to satisfy his wants
with the least possible effort, explains the almost universal perversion of the
law. Thus it is easy to understand how law, instead of checking injustice,
becomes the invincible weapon of injustice. It is easy to understand why the
law is used by the legislator to destroy in varying degrees among the rest of
the people, their personal independence by slavery, their liberty by
oppression, and their property by plunder. This is done for the benefit of the
person who makes the law, and in proportion to the power that he holds.
Men naturally rebel
against the injustice of which they are victims. Thus, when plunder is
organized by law for the profit of those who make the law, all the plundered
classes try somehow to enter " by peaceful or revolutionary means " into the
making of laws. According to their degree of enlightenment, these plundered
classes may propose one of two entirely different purposes when they attempt to
attain political power: Either they may wish to stop lawful plunder, or they
may wish to share in it.
Woe to the nation
when this latter purpose prevails among the mass victims of lawful plunder when
they, in turn, seize the power to make laws! Until that happens, the few
practice lawful plunder upon the many, a common practice where the right to
participate in the making of law is limited to a few persons. But then,
participation in the making of law becomes universal. And then, men seek to
balance their conflicting interests by universal plunder. Instead of rooting
out the injustices found in society, they make these injustices general. As
soon as the plundered classes gain political power, they establish a system of
reprisals against other classes. They do not abolish legal plunder. (This
objective would demand more enlightenment than they possess.) Instead, they
emulate their evil predecessors by participating in this legal plunder, even
though it is against their own interests.
It is as if it were
necessary, before a reign of justice appears, for everyone to suffer a cruel
retribution " some for their evilness, and some for their lack of
Results of Legal Plunder
It is impossible to
introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this:
the conversion of the law into an instrument
What are the
consequences of such a perversion? It would require volumes to describe them
all. Thus we must content ourselves with pointing out the most striking.
In the first place,
it erases from everyone's conscience the distinction between justice and
No society can exist
unless the laws are respected to a certain degree. The safest way to make laws
respected is to make them respectable. When law and
each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral
sense or losing his respect for the law. These two evils are of equal
consequence, and it would be difficult for a person to choose between them.
The nature of law is
to maintain justice. This is so much the case that, in the minds of the people,
law and justice are one and the same thing. There is in all of us a strong
disposition to believe that anything lawful is also legitimate. This belief is
so widespread that many persons have erroneously held that things are "just"
because law makes them so. Thus, in order to make plunder appear just and
sacred to many consciences, it is only necessary for the law to decree and
sanction it. Slavery, restrictions, and monopoly find defenders not only among
those who profit from them but also among those who suffer from them.
The Fate of Non-Conformists
If you suggest a
doubt as to the morality of these
institutions, it is boldly said that "You are a dangerous innovator, a utopian,
a theorist, a subversive; you would shatter the foundation upon which society
rests." If you lecture upon
morality or upon
political science, there will be found official organizations petitioning the
government in this vein of thought: "That science no longer be taught
exclusively from the point of view of free trade (of liberty, of property, and
of justice) as has been the case until now, but also, in the future, science is
to be especially taught from the viewpoint of the facts and laws that regulate
French industry (facts and laws which are contrary to liberty, to property, and
to justice). That, in government-endowed teaching positions, the professor
rigorously refrain from endangering in the slightest degree the respect due to
the laws now in force."
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,
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.
I could prove this
assertion in a thousand ways. But, by way of illustration, I shall limit myself
to a subject that has lately occupied the minds of everyone: universal
The followers of
Rousseau's school of thought " who consider themselves far advanced, but whom I
consider twenty centuries behind the times " will not agree with me on this.
But universal suffrage " using the word in its strictest sense " is not one of
those sacred dogmas which it is a crime to examine or doubt. In fact, serious
objections may be made to universal suffrage.
In the first place
the word universal conceals a gross fallacy. For example, there are 36
million people in France. Thus, to make the right of suffrage universal, there
should be 36 million voters. But the most extended system permits only 9
million people to vote. Three persons out of four are excluded. And more than
this, they are excluded by the fourth. This fourth person advances the
principle of incapacity as his reason for excluding the others.
means, then, universal suffrage for those who are capable. But there remains
this question of fact: Who is capable? Are minors, females, insane persons, and
persons who have committed certain major crimes the only ones to be determined
Why Voting Is Restricted
A closer examination
of the subject shows us the motive which causes the right of suffrage to be
based upon the supposition of
incapacity. The motive is that the elector or voter does not exercise this
right for himself alone, but for everybody. The most extended elective system
and the most restricted elective system are alike in this respect. They differ
only in respect to what constitutes incapacity. It is not a difference of
principle, but merely a difference of degree. If, as the republicans of our
present-day Greek and Roman schools of thought pretend, the right of suffrage
arrives with one's birth, it would be an injustice for adults to prevent women
and children from voting. Why are they prevented? Because they are presumed to
be incapable. And why is incapacity a motive for exclusion? Because it is not
the voter alone who suffers the consequences of his vote; because each vote
touches and affects everyone in the entire community; because the people in the
community have a right to demand some safeguards concerning the acts upon which
their welfare and existence depend.
Is to Restrict the Law
I know what might be
said in answer to this; what the objections might be. But this is not the place
to exhaust a controversy of this nature. I wish merely to observe here that
this controversy over universal suffrage (as well as most other political
questions) which agitates, excites, and overthrows nations, would lose nearly
all of its importance if the law had always been what it ought to be. In fact,
if law were restricted to protecting all persons, all liberties, and all
properties; if law were nothing more than the organized combination of the
individual's right to self defense; if law were the obstacle, the check, the
punisher of all oppression and plunder " is it likely that we citizens would
then argue much about the extent of the franchise?
circumstances, is it likely that the extent of the right to vote would endanger
that supreme good, the public peace? Is it likely that the excluded classes
would refuse to peaceably await the coming of their right to vote? Is it likely
that those who had the right to vote would jealously defend their privilege? If
the law were confined to its proper functions, everyone's interest in the law
would be the same. Is it not clear that, under these circumstances, those who
voted could not inconvenience those who did not vote?
Idea of Legal Plunder
But on the other
hand, imagine that this fatal principle has been introduced: Under the pretense
of organization, regulation, protection, or encouragement, the law takes
property from one person and gives it to another; the law takes the wealth of
all and gives it to a few " whether farmers, manufacturers, ship owners,
artists, or comedians. Under these circumstances, then certainly every class
will aspire to grasp the law, and logically so.
The excluded classes
will furiously demand their right to vote " and will overthrow society rather
than not to obtain it. Even beggars and vagabonds will then prove to you that
they also have an incontestable title to vote. They will say to you:
"We cannot buy wine,
tobacco, or salt without paying the tax. And a part of the tax that we pay is
given by law " in privileges and subsidies " to men who are richer than we are.
Others use the law to raise the prices of bread, meat, iron, or cloth. Thus,
since everyone else uses the law for his own profit, we also would like to use
the law for our own profit. We demand from the law the right to
relief, which is the poor man's plunder. To obtain this right, we also
should be voters and legislators in order that we may organize Beggary on a
grand scale for our own class, as you have organized Protection on a grand
scale for your class. Now don't tell us beggars that you will act for us, and
then toss us, as Mr. Mimerel proposes, 600,000 francs to keep us quiet, like
throwing us a bone to gnaw. We have other claims. And anyway, we wish to
bargain for ourselves as other classes have bargained for themselves!"
And what can you say
to answer that argument!
Law Causes Conflict
As long as it is
admitted that the law may be diverted from its true purpose " that it may
violate property instead of protecting it " then everyone will want to
participate in making the law, either to protect himself against plunder or to
use it for plunder. Political questions will always be prejudicial, dominant,
and all-absorbing. There will be fighting at the door of the Legislative
Palace, and the struggle within will be no less furious. To know this, it is
hardly necessary to examine what transpires in the French and English
legislatures; merely to understand the issue is to know the answer.
Is there any need to
offer proof that this odious perversion of the law is a perpetual source of
hatred and discord; that it tends to destroy society itself? If such proof is
needed, look at the US [in 1850]. There is no country in the world where the
law is kept more within its proper domain: the protection of every person's
liberty and property. As a consequence of this, there appears to be no country
in the world where the social order rests on a firmer foundation. But even in
the US, there are two issues " and only two " that have always endangered the
and Tariffs Are Plunder
What are these two
issues? They are slavery and tariffs. These are the only two issues where,
contrary to the general spirit of the republic of the US, law has assumed the
character of a plunderer.
Slavery is a
violation, by law, of liberty. The protective tariff is a violation, by law, of
It is a most
remarkable fact that this double legal crime " a sorrowful inheritance
from the Old World " should be the only issue which can, and perhaps will, lead
to the ruin of the Union. It is indeed impossible to imagine, at the very heart
of a society, a more astounding fact than this: The law has come to be an
instrument of injustice. And if this fact brings terrible consequences to
the US " where the proper purpose of the law has been perverted only in the
instances of slavery and tariffs " what must be the consequences in Europe,
where the perversion of the law is a principle; a system?
Mr. de Montalembert
[politician and writer] adopting the thought contained in a famous proclamation
by Mr. Carlier, has said: "We must make war against socialism." According to
the definition of socialism advanced by Mr. Charles Dupin, he meant: "We must
make war against plunder."
But of what plunder
was he speaking? For there are two kinds of plunder: legal and illegal.
I do not think that
illegal plunder, such as theft or swindling " which the penal code defines,
anticipates, and punishes " can be called socialism. It is not this kind of
plunder that systematically threatens the foundations of society. Anyway, the
war against this kind of plunder has not waited for the command of these
gentlemen. The war against illegal plunder has been fought since the beginning
of the world. Long before the Revolution of February 1848 " long before the
appearance even of socialism itself " France had provided police, judges,
gendarmes, prisons, dungeons, and scaffolds for the purpose of fighting illegal
plunder. The law itself conducts this war, and it is my wish and opinion that
the law should always maintain this attitude toward plunder.
This legal plunder
may be only an isolated stain among the legislative measures of the people. If
so, it is best to wipe it out with a minimum of speeches and denunciations "
and in spite of the uproar of the vested interests.
But it does not
always do this. Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Thus
the beneficiaries are spared the shame, danger, and scruple which their acts
would otherwise involve. Sometimes the law places the whole apparatus of
judges, police, prisons, and gendarmes at the service of the plunderers, and
treats the victim " when he defends himself " as a criminal. In short, there is
a legal plunder, and it is of this, no doubt, that Mr. de Montalembert
Identify Legal Plunder
But how is this legal
plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons
what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong.
See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the
citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.
Then abolish this law
without delay, for it is not only an evil itself, but also it is a fertile
source for further evils because it invites reprisals. If such a law " which
may be an isolated case " is not abolished immediately, it will spread,
multiply, and develop into a system.
The person who
profits from this law will complain bitterly, defending his acquired
rights. He will claim that the state is obligated to protect and encourage
his particular industry; that this procedure enriches the state because the
protected industry is thus able to spend more and to pay higher wages to the
Do not listen to this
sophistry by vested interests. The acceptance of these arguments will build
legal plunder into a whole system. In fact, this has already occurred. The
present-day delusion is an attempt to enrich everyone at the expense of
everyone else; to make plunder universal under the pretense of organizing it.
Plunder Has Many Names
Now, legal plunder
can be committed in an infinite number of ways. Thus we have an infinite number
of plans for organizing it: tariffs, protection, benefits, subsidies,
encouragements, progressive taxation, public schools, guaranteed jobs,
guaranteed profits, minimum wages, a right to relief, a right to the tools of
labor, free credit, and so on, and so on. All these plans as a whole " with
their common aim of legal plunder " constitute socialism.
Now, since under this
definition socialism is a body of doctrine, what attack can be made against it
other than a war of doctrine? If you find this socialistic doctrine to be
false, absurd, and evil, then refute it. And the more false, the more absurd,
and the more evil it is, the easier it will be to refute. Above all, if you
wish to be strong, begin by rooting out every particle of socialism that may
have crept into your legislation. This will be no light task.
Mr. de Montalembert has been accused of
desiring to fight socialism by the use of brute force. He ought to be
exonerated from this accusation, for he has plainly said:
"The war that
we must fight against socialism must be in harmony with law, honor, and
But why does not Mr. de Montalembert see that he has placed
himself in a vicious circle? You would use the law to oppose socialism? But it
is upon the law that socialism itself relies. Socialists desire to practice
legal plunder, not illegal plunder. Socialists, like all
other monopolists, desire to make the law their own weapon. And when once the
law is on the side of socialism, how can it be used against socialism? For when
plunder is abetted by the law, it does not fear your courts, your gendarmes,
and your prisons. Rather, it may call upon them for help.
this, you would exclude socialism from entering into the making of laws? You
would prevent socialists from entering the Legislative Palace? You shall not
succeed, I predict, so long as
legal plunder continues to be the main business of the legislature. It is
illogical " in fact, absurd " to assume otherwise.
The Choice Before Us
This question of
legal plunder must be settled once and for all, and there are only three ways
to settle it:
- The few plunder the many.
- Everybody plunders
- Nobody plunders
We must make our
choice among limited plunder, universal plunder, and no plunder. The law can
follow only one of these three.
plunder: This system prevailed when the right to vote was restricted. One
would turn back to this system to prevent the invasion of socialism.
plunder: We have been threatened with this system since the franchise was
made universal. The newly enfranchised majority has decided to formulate law on
the same principle of legal plunder that was used by their predecessors when
the vote was limited.
plunder: This is the principle of justice, peace, order, stability,
harmony, and logic. Until the day of my death, I shall proclaim this principle
with all the force of my lungs (which alas! is all too inadequate).
Function of the Law
And, in all
sincerity, can anything more than the absence of plunder be required of the
law? Can the law " which necessarily requires the use of force " rationally be
used for anything except protecting the rights of everyone? I defy anyone to
extend it beyond this purpose without perverting it and, consequently, turning
might against right. This is the most fatal and most illogical social
perversion that can possibly be imagined. It must be admitted that the true
solution " so long searched for in the area of social relationships " is
contained in these simple words: Law is organized justice.
Now this must be
said: When justice is organized by law " that is, by force " this excludes the
idea of using law (force) to organize any human activity whatever, whether it
be labor, charity, agriculture, commerce, industry, education, art, or
religion. The organizing by law of any one of these would inevitably destroy
the essential organization " justice. For truly, how can we imagine force being
used against the liberty of citizens without it also being used against
justice, and thus acting against its proper purpose?
Fraternity Destroys Liberty
Mr. de Lamartine once
wrote to me thusly: "Your doctrine is only the half of my program. You have
stopped at liberty; I go on to fraternity." I answered him: "The second half of
your program will destroy the first."
In fact, it is impossible for me
to separate the word fraternity from the word voluntary. I
cannot possibly understand how fraternity can be legally enforced
without liberty being legally destroyed, and thus justice being
legally trampled underfoot
Legal plunder has two
roots: One of them, as I have said before, is in human greed; the other is in
At this point, I
think that I should explain exactly what I mean by the word plunder.
I do not, as is often
done, use the word in any vague, uncertain, approximate, or metaphorical sense.
I use it in its scientific acceptance " as expressing the idea opposite to that
of property [wages, land, money, or whatever]. When a portion of wealth is
transferred from the person who owns it " without his consent and without
compensation, and whether by force or by fraud " to anyone who does not own it,
then I say that property is violated; that an act of plunder is committed.
I say that this act
is exactly what the law is supposed to suppress, always and everywhere. When
the law itself commits this act that it is supposed to suppress, I say that
plunder is still committed, and I add that from the point of view of society
and welfare, this aggression against rights is even worse. In this case of
legal plunder, however, the person who receives the benefits is not responsible
for the act of plundering. The responsibility for this legal plunder rests with
the law, the legislator, and society itself. Therein lies the political danger.
It is to be regretted
that the word plunder is offensive. I have tried in vain to find an
inoffensive word, for I would not at any time " especially now " wish to add an
irritating word to our dissentions. Thus, whether I am believed or not, I
declare that I do not mean to attack the intentions or the
morality of anyone.
Rather, I am attacking an idea which I believe to be false; a
system which appears to me to be unjust; an injustice so independent
of personal intentions that each of us profits from it without wishing to do
so, and suffers from it without knowing the cause of the suffering.
Systems of Plunder
The sincerity of those who
advocate protectionism, socialism, and communism is not here questioned.
Any writer who would do that must be influenced by a political spirit or a
political fear. It is to be pointed out, however, that protectionism,
socialism, and communism are basically the same plant in three different stages
of its growth. All that can be said is that legal plunder is more visible in
communism because it is complete plunder; and in protectionism because the
plunder is limited to specific groups and industries. Thus it follows that, of
the three systems, socialism is the vaguest, the most indecisive, and,
consequently, the most sincere stage of development.
But sincere or
insincere, the intentions of persons are not here under question. In fact, I
have already said that legal plunder is based partially on philanthropy, even
though it is a false philanthropy.
explanation, let us examine the value " the origin and the tendency " of this
popular aspiration which claims to accomplish the general welfare by general
Since the law
organizes justice, the socialists ask why the law should not also organize
labor, education, and religion.
Why should not law be
used for these purposes? Because it could not organize labor, education, and
religion without destroying justice. We must remember that law is force, and
that, consequently, the proper functions of the law cannot lawfully extend
beyond the proper functions of force.
When law and force
keep a person within the bounds of justice, they impose nothing but a mere
negation. They oblige him only to abstain from harming others. They violate
neither his personality, his liberty, nor his property. They safeguard all of
these. They are defensive; they defend equally the rights of all.
Injustice - Law as a Negative Concept
The harmlessness of the mission
performed by law and lawful defense is self-evident; the usefulness is obvious;
and the legitimacy cannot be disputed.
a friend of mine once remarked, this negative concept of law is so true that
the statement, the purpose of the law is to cause justice to reign, is
not a rigorously accurate statement. It ought to be stated that the purpose
of the law is to prevent injustice from reigning. In fact, it is
injustice, instead of justice, that has an existence of its own.
Justice is achieved only when injustice is absent.
But when the law, by means of its necessary agent, force, imposes upon men a
regulation of labor, a method or a subject of education, a religious faith or
creed " then the law is no longer negative; it acts positively upon people. It
substitutes the will of the legislator for their own wills; the initiative of
the legislator for their own initiatives. When this happens, the people no
longer need to discuss, to compare, to plan ahead; the
law does all this for them. Intelligence becomes a useless prop for the people;
they cease to be men; they lose their personality, their liberty, their
Try to imagine a regulation of labor imposed by force that is not a violation
of liberty; a transfer of wealth imposed by force that is not a violation of
property. If you cannot reconcile
these contradictions, then you must conclude that the law cannot organize labor
and industry without organizing injustice.
When a politician
views society from the seclusion of his office, he is struck by the spectacle
of the inequality that he sees. He deplores the deprivations which are the lot
of so many of our brothers, deprivations which appear to be even sadder when
contrasted with luxury and wealth.
politician should ask himself whether this state of affairs has not been caused
by old conquests and lootings, and by more recent legal plunder. Perhaps he
should consider this proposition: Since all persons seek well-being and
perfection, would not a condition of justice be sufficient to cause the
greatest efforts toward progress, and the greatest possible equality that is
compatible with individual responsibility? Would not this be in accord with the
concept of individual responsibility which God has willed in order that mankind
may have the choice between vice and virtue, and the resulting punishment and
But the politician
never gives this a thought. His mind turns to organizations, combinations, and
arrangements " legal or apparently legal. He attempts to remedy the evil by
increasing and perpetuating the very thing that caused the evil in the first
place: legal plunder. We have seen that justice is a negative concept. Is there
even one of these positive legal actions that does not contain the principle of
You say: "There are
persons who have no money," and you turn to the law. But the law is not a
breast that fills itself with milk. Nor are the lacteal veins of the law
supplied with milk from a source outside the society. Nothing can enter the
public treasury for the benefit of one citizen or one class unless other
citizens and other classes have been forced to send it in. If every
person draws from the treasury the amount that he has put in it, it is true
that the law then plunders nobody. But this procedure does nothing for the
persons who have no money. It does not promote equality of income. The law can
be an instrument of equalization only as it takes from some persons and gives
to other persons. When the law does this, it is an instrument of plunder.
With this in mind,
examine the protective tariffs, subsidies, guaranteed profits, guaranteed jobs,
relief and welfare schemes, public education, progressive taxation, free
credit, and public works. You will find that they are always based on legal
plunder, organized injustice.
You say: "There are
persons who lack education," and you turn to the law. But the law is not, in
itself, a torch of learning which shines its light abroad. The law extends over
a society where some persons have knowledge and others do not; where some
citizens need to learn, and others can teach. In this matter of education, the
law has only two alternatives: It can permit this transaction of
teaching-and-learning to operate freely and without the use of force, or it can
force human wills in this matter by taking from some of them enough to pay the
teachers who are appointed by government to instruct others, without charge.
But in this second case, the law commits legal plunder by violating liberty and
You say: "Here are
persons who are lacking in
religion," and you turn to the law. But law is force. And need I point out what
a violent and futile effort it is to use force in the matters of
It would seem that
socialists, however self-complacent, could not avoid seeing this monstrous
legal plunder that results from such systems and such efforts. But what do the
socialists do? They cleverly disguise this legal plunder from others and even
from themselves under the seductive names of fraternity, unity, organization,
and association. Because we ask so little from the law only justice the
socialists thereby assume that we reject fraternity, unity, organization, and
association. The socialists brand us with the name individualist.
But we assure the
socialists that we repudiate only forced organization, not natural
organization. We repudiate the forms of association that are forced
upon us, not free association. We repudiate forced fraternity, not
true fraternity. We repudiate the artificial unity that does nothing
more than deprive persons of individual responsibility. We do not repudiate the
natural unity of mankind under Providence.
A Confusion of Terms
Socialism, like the
ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between
government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing
being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being
done at all.
We disapprove of
state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education.
We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion
at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are
against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to
accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to
The Influence of Socialist
How did politicians
ever come to believe this weird idea that the law could be made to produce what
it does not contain the wealth, science, and religion that, in a positive
sense, constitute prosperity?
Is it due to the influence of our modern writers on public affairs?
especially those of the socialist school of thought base their various theories
upon one common hypothesis: They divide mankind into two parts. People in
general with the exception of the writer himself form the first group. The
writer, all alone, forms the second and most important group. Surely this is
the weirdest and most conceited notion that ever entered a human brain!
In fact, these
writers on public affairs begin by supposing that people have within themselves
no means of discernment; no motivation to
action. The writers assume that people are inert matter, passive particles,
motionless atoms, at best a kind of vegetation indifferent to its own manner of
existence. They assume that people are susceptible to being shaped by the will
and hand of another person into an infinite variety of forms, more or less
symmetrical, artistic, and perfected. Moreover, not one of these writers on
governmental affairs hesitates to imagine that he himself under the title of
organizer, discoverer, legislator, or founder is this will and hand, this
universal motivating force, this creative power whose sublime
mission is to mold these scattered
materials persons into a society.
writers look upon people in the same manner that the gardener views his trees.
Just as the gardener capriciously shapes the trees into pyramids, parasols,
cubes, vases, fans, and other forms, just so does the socialist writer
whimsically shape human beings into groups, series, centers, sub-centers,
honeycombs, labor-corps, and other variations. And just as the gardener needs
axes, pruning hooks, saws, and shears to shape his trees, just so does the
socialist writer need the force that he can find only in law to shape human
beings. For this purpose, he devises tariff laws, tax laws, relief laws, and
Socialists Wish to Play
Socialists look upon
people as raw material to be formed into social combinations. This is so true
that, if by chance, the socialists have any doubts about the success of these
combinations, they will demand that a small portion of mankind be set aside
to experiment upon. The popular idea of trying all systems is
well known. And one socialist leader has been known seriously to demand that
the Constituent Assembly give him a small district with all its inhabitants, to
try his experiments upon.
In the same manner,
an inventor makes a model before he constructs the full-sized machine; the
chemist wastes some chemicals the farmer wastes some seeds and land to try out
But what a difference
there is between the gardener and his trees, between the inventor and his
machine, between the chemist and his elements, between the farmer and his
seeds! And in all sincerity, the socialist thinks that there is the same
difference between him and mankind!
It is no wonder that
the writers of the nineteenth century look upon society as an artificial
creation of the legislator's genius. This idea the fruit of classical education
has taken possession of
intellectuals and famous writers of our country. To
intellectuals and writers, the relationship between persons and the
legislator appears to be the same as the relationship between the clay and the
Moreover, even where
they have consented to recognize a principle of action in the heart of man and
a principle of discernment in
man's intellect they have
considered these gifts from God to be fatal gifts. They have thought that
persons, under the impulse of these two gifts, would fatally tend to ruin
themselves. They assume that if the legislators left persons free to follow
their own inclinations, they would arrive at atheism instead of religion,
ignorance instead of knowledge,
poverty instead of
production and exchange.
According to these
writers, it is indeed fortunate that Heaven has bestowed upon certain men
governors and legislators the exact opposite inclinations, not only for their
own sake but also for the sake of the rest of the world! While mankind tends
toward evil, the legislators yearn for good; while mankind advances toward
darkness, the legislators aspire for enlightenment; while mankind is drawn
toward vice, the legislators are attracted toward virtue. Since they have
decided that this is the true state of affairs, they then demand the use of
force in order to substitute their own inclinations for those of the human
Open at random any
book on philosophy, politics, or history, and you will probably see how deeply
rooted in our country is this idea the child of classical studies, the mother
of socialism. In all of them, you will probably find this idea that mankind is
merely inert matter, receiving life, organization,
prosperity from the power of
the state. And even worse, it will be stated that mankind tends toward
degeneration, and is stopped from this downward course only by the mysterious
hand of the legislator. Conventional classical thought everywhere says that
behind passive society there is a concealed power called law or
legislator (or called by some other terminology that designates some
unnamed person or persons of undisputed influence and authority) which moves,
controls, benefits, and improves mankind.
A Defense of Compulsory Labor
Let us first consider
a quotation from Bossuet [tutor to the Dauphin in the Court of Louis XIV] :
One of the things most
strongly impressed (by whom?) upon the minds of the
Egyptians was patriotism.... No
one was permitted to be useless to the state. The law assigned to each one his
work, which was handed down from father to son. No one was permitted to have
two professions. Nor could a person change from one job to another.... But
there was one task to which all were forced to conform: the study of the laws
and of wisdom. Ignorance of religion and of the political regulations of the
country was not excused under any circumstances. Moreover, each occupation was
assigned (by whom?) to a certain district.... Among the good laws, one of the
best was that everyone was trained (by whom?) to obey them. As a result of
this, Egypt was filled with wonderful inventions, and nothing was neglected
that could make life easy and quiet.
Thus, according to
Bossuet, persons derive nothing from themselves. Patriotism,
husbandry, science all of these are given to the people by the operation of the
laws, the rulers. All that the people have to do is to bow to leadership.
Bossuet carries this idea of the state as the source of all
progress even so far as to defend the
Egyptians against the charge
that they rejected wrestling and music. He said:
"How is that possible?
These arts were invented by Trismegistus [who was alleged to have been
Chancellor to the Egyptian god Osiris]."
And again among
Bossuet claims that all comes from above:
"One of the first
responsibilities of the prince was to encourage agriculture.... Just
as there were offices established for the regulation of armies, just so were
there offices for the direction of farm work....
The Persian people
were inspired with an overwhelming respect for royal
And according to Bossuet, the Greek people, although
exceedingly intelligent, had no sense of personal responsibility; like dogs and
horses, they themselves could not have invented the most simple
Greeks, naturally intelligent
and courageous, had been early cultivated by the kings and settlers
who had come from Egypt. From
these Egyptian rulers,
the Greek people had learned
bodily exercises, foot races, and horse and chariot races.... But the
best thing that the Egyptians
had taught the Greeks was to
become docile, and to permit themselves to be formed by the law for the public
Idea of Passive Mankind
It cannot be disputed
that these classical theories [advanced by these latter-day teachers, writers,
legislators, economists, and philosophers] held that
everything came to the people from a source outside themselves. As another
example, take Fenelon [archbishop, author, and instructor to the Duke of
He was a witness to
the power of Louis XIV. This, plus the fact that he was nurtured in the
classical studies and the admiration of
antiquity, naturally caused Fenelon to accept the idea that mankind should be
passive; that the misfortunes and the
prosperity vices and virtues
of people are caused by the external influence exercised upon them by the law
and the legislators. Thus, in his Utopia of Salentum, he puts men with
all their interests, faculties, desires, and possessions under the absolute
discretion of the legislator. Whatever the issue may be, persons do not decide
it for themselves; the prince decides for them. The prince is depicted as the
soul of this shapeless mass of people who form the nation. In the
prince resides the thought, the foresight, all progress, and the
principle of all organization. Thus all responsibility rests with him.
The whole of the
tenth book of Fenelon's Telemachus proves this. I refer the reader to
it, and content myself with quoting at random from this celebrated work to
which, in every other respect, I am the first to pay homage.
With the amazing credulity which is typical of the classicists, Fenelon ignores
the authority of reason and facts when he attributes the general happiness of
the Egyptians, not to their own
wisdom but to the wisdom of their kings:
"We could not turn our eyes to
either shore without seeing rich towns and country estates most agreeably
located; fields, never fallowed, covered with golden crops every year; meadows
full of flocks; workers bending under the weight of the fruit which the earth
lavished upon its cultivators; shepherds who made the echoes resound with the
soft notes from their pipes and flutes."
Later, Mentor desired that I
observe the contentment and abundance which covered all Egypt, where twenty-two
thousand cities could be counted. He admired the good police regulations in the
cities; the justice rendered in favor of the poor against the rich; the sound
education of the children in obedience, labor, sobriety, and the love of the
arts and letters; the exactness with which all religious ceremonies were
performed; the unselfishness, the high regard for honor, the faithfulness to
men, and the fear of the gods which every father taught his children. He never
stopped admiring the prosperity of the country.
"Happy," said he, "is the people ruled by a wise king in such a
Socialists Want to Regiment
People Fenelon's idyl on Crete is even more alluring.
Mentor is made to say:
"All that you see in this wonderful island
results from the laws of Minos. The education which he ordained for the
children makes their bodies strong and robust. From the very beginning, one
accustoms the children to a life of frugality and labor, because one assumes
that all pleasures of the senses weaken both body and mind. Thus one allows
them no pleasure except that of becoming invincible by virtue, and of acquiring
glory.... Here one punishes three vices that go unpunished among other people:
ingratitude, hypocrisy, and greed. There is no need to punish persons for pomp
and dissipation, for they are unknown in Crete.... No costly furniture, no
magnificent clothing, no delicious feasts, no gilded palaces are
Thus does Mentor prepare his student to mold and to
manipulate doubtless with the best of intentions the people of Ithaca. And to
convince the student of the wisdom of these ideas, Mentor recites to him the
example of Salentum. It is from this sort of philosophy that we receive our
first political ideas! We are taught to treat persons much as an instructor in
agriculture teaches farmers to prepare and tend the soil.
Name and an Evil
Now listen to the
great Montesquieu on this same subject:
To maintain the spirit of
commerce, it is necessary that all the laws must favor it. These laws, by
proportionately dividing up the fortunes as they are made in commerce, should
provide every poor citizen with sufficiently easy circumstances to enable him
to work like the others. These same laws should put every rich citizen in such
lowered circumstances as to force him to work in order to keep or to gain.
Thus the laws are to
dispose of all fortunes!
Although real equality is
the soul of the state in a democracy, yet this is so difficult to establish
that an extreme precision in this matter would not always be desirable. It is
sufficient that there be established a census to reduce or fix these
differences in wealth within a certain limit. After this is done, it remains
for specific laws to equalize inequality by imposing burdens upon the rich and
granting relief to the poor.
Here again we find
the idea of equalizing fortunes by law, by force.
In Greece, there were two
kinds of republics. One, Sparta, was military; the other, Athens, was
commercial. In the former, it was desired that the citizens be idle;
in the latter, love of labor was encouraged.
Note the marvelous genius of
these legislators: By debasing all established customs by mixing the usual
concepts of all virtues they knew in advance that the world would admire their
Lycurgus gave stability to
his city of Sparta by combining petty thievery with the soul of justice; by
combining the most complete bondage with the most extreme liberty; by combining
the most atrocious beliefs with the greatest moderation. He appeared to deprive
his city of all its resources, arts, commerce, money, and defenses. In Sparta,
ambition went without the hope of material reward. Natural affection found no
outlet because a man was neither son, husband, nor father. Even chastity was no
longer considered becoming. By this road, Lycurgus led Sparta on to
greatness and glory.
This boldness which was to
be found in the institutions of Greece has been repeated in the midst of
the degeneracy and corruption of our modern times. An occasional
honest legislator has molded a
people in whom integrity appears as natural as courage in the Spartans.
Mr. William Penn, for
example, is a true Lycurgus. Even though Mr. Penn had peace as his objectivity
while Lycurgus had war as his objective they resemble each other in that their
moral prestige over free men allowed them to overcome prejudices, to subdue
passions, and to lead their respective peoples into new paths.
The country of Paraguay
furnishes us with another example [of a people who, for their own good, are
molded by their legislators].
Now it is true that if one
considers the sheer pleasure of commanding to be the greatest joy in life, he
contemplates a crime against society; it will, however, always be a noble ideal
to govern men in a manner that will make them happier.
Those who desire to
establish similar institutions must do as follows: Establish common
ownership of property as in the republic of Plato; revere the gods as
Plato commanded; prevent foreigners from
mingling with the people, in order to preserve the customs; let the state,
instead of the citizens, establish commerce. The legislators should supply arts
instead of luxuries; they should satisfy needs instead of desires.
Those who are subject
to vulgar infatuation may
exclaim: "Montesquieu has said this! So it's magnificent! It's sublime!" As for
me, I have the courage of my own opinion. I say: What! You have the nerve to
call that fine? It is frightful! It is abominable! These random selections from
the writings of Montesquieu show that he considers persons, liberties, property
mankind itself to be nothing but materials for legislators to exercise their
The Leader of the Democrats
Now let us examine
Rousseau on this subject. This writer on public affairs is the supreme
authority of the democrats. And although he bases the social structure upon the
will of the people, he has, to a greater extent than anyone else,
completely accepted the theory of the total inertness of mankind in the
presence of the legislators:
If it is true that a great
prince is rare, then is it not true that a great legislator is even more rare?
The prince has only to follow the pattern that the legislator creates. The
legislator is the mechanic who invents the machine; the prince is merely
the workman who sets it in motion.
And what part do
persons play in all this? They are merely the machine that is set in motion. In
fact, are they not merely considered to be the raw material of which the
machine is made?
Thus the same
relationship exists between the legislator and the prince as exists between the
agricultural expert and the farmer; and the relationship between the prince and
his subjects is the same as that between the farmer and his land. How high
above mankind, then, has this writer on public affairs been placed? Rousseau
rules over legislators themselves, and teaches them their trade in these
Would you give stability to
the state? Then bring the extremes as closely together as possible. Tolerate
neither wealthy persons nor beggars. If the soil is poor or barren, or the
country too small for its inhabitants, then turn to industry and arts, and
trade these products for the foods that you need.... On a fertile soil if
you are short of inhabitants devote all your attention to agriculture,
because this multiplies people; banish the arts, because they only
serve to depopulate the nation....
If you have extensive and
accessible coast lines, then cover the sea with merchant ships; you
will have a brilliant but short existence. If your seas wash only inaccessible
cliffs, let the people be barbarous and eat fish; they will live more
quietly perhaps better and, most certainly, they will live more happily.
In short, and in addition to
the maxims that are common to all, every people has its own particular
circumstances. And this fact in itself will cause legislation appropriate to
This is the reason why the
Hebrews formerly and, more recently, the Arabs had religion as their principle
objective. The objective of the Athenians was literature; of Carthage and Tyre,
commerce; of Rhodes, naval affairs; of Sparta, war; and of Rome, virtue. The
author of The Spirit of Laws has shown by what art the legislator
should direct his institutions toward each of these objectives.... But
suppose that the legislator mistakes his proper objective, and acts on a
principle different from that indicated by the nature of things? Suppose that
the selected principle sometimes creates slavery, and sometimes liberty;
sometimes wealth, and sometimes population; sometimes peace, and sometimes
conquest? This confusion of objective will slowly enfeeble the law and impair
the constitution. The state will be subjected to ceaseless agitations until it
is destroyed or changed, and invincible nature regains her empire.
But if nature is
sufficiently invincible to regain its empire, why does not Rousseau
admit that it did not need the legislator to gain it in the first
place? Why does he not see that men, by obeying their own instincts, would turn
to farming on fertile soil, and to commerce on an extensive and easily
accessible coast, without the interference of a Lycurgus or a Solon or a
Rousseau who might easily be mistaken.
that as it may, Rousseau invests
creators, organizers, directors, legislators, and controllers of society with a
terrible responsibility. He is, therefore, most exacting with
He who would dare to undertake
the political creation of a people ought to believe that he can, in a manner of
speaking, transform human nature; transform each individual who, by himself, is
a solitary and perfect whole into a mere part of a greater whole from which the
individual will henceforth receive his life and being.
Thus the person who would undertake
the political creation of a people should believe in his ability to alter man's
constitution; to strengthen it; to substitute for the physical and independent
existence received from nature, an existence which is partial and moral. In
short, the would-be creator of political man must remove man's own forces and
endow him with others that are naturally alien to
Poor human nature! What would
become of a person's dignity if it
were entrusted to the followers of Rousseau?
Legislators Desire to Mold Mankind
Now let us examine
Raynal on this subject of mankind being molded by the legislator:
The legislator must first
consider the climate, the air, and the soil. The resources at his disposal
determine his duties. He must first consider his locality. A
population living on maritime shores must have laws designed for navigation....
If it is an inland settlement, the legislator must make his plans according to
the nature and fertility of the soil....
It is especially in the
distribution of property that the genius of the legislator will be found. As a
general rule, when a new colony is established in any country, sufficient land
should be given to each man to support his family....
On an uncultivated island
that you are populating with children, you need do nothing but let the seeds of
truth germinate along with the development of reason.... But when you resettle
a nation with a past into a new country, the skill of the legislator rests in
the policy of permitting the people to retain no injurious opinions
and customs which can possibly be cured and corrected. If you desire to prevent
these opinions and customs from becoming permanent, you will secure the second
generation by a general system of public education for the children. A prince
or a legislator should never establish a colony without first arranging to send
wise men along to instruct the youth...
In a new colony, ample
opportunity is open to the careful legislator who desires to purify the
customs and manners of the people. If he has virtue and genius, the land
and the people at his disposal will inspire his soul with a plan for
society. A writer can only vaguely trace the plan in advance because it is
necessarily subject to the instability of all hypotheses; the problem has many
forms, complications, and circumstances that are difficult to foresee and
settle in detail.
Legislators Told How to Manage Men
to the legislators on how to manage people may be compared to a professor of
agriculture lecturing his students: "The climate is the first rule for the
farmer. His resources determine his procedure. He must first consider
his locality. If his soil is clay, he must do so and so. If his soil is
sand, he must act in another
manner. Every facility is open to the farmer who wishes to clear and improve
his soil. If he is skillful enough, the manure at his disposal will
suggest to him a plan of operation. A professor can only vaguely trace this
plan in advance because it is necessarily subject to the instability of all
hypotheses; the problem has many forms, complications, and circumstances that
are difficult to foresee and settle in detail."
Oh, sublime writers!
Please remember sometimes that this clay, this
sand, and this manure which you
so arbitrarily dispose of, are men! They are your equals! They are intelligent
and free human beings like yourselves! As you have, they too have received from
God the faculty to observe, to plan ahead, to think, and to judge for
Here is Mably on this
subject of the law and the legislator. In the passages preceding the one here
quoted, Mably has supposed the laws, due to a neglect of security, to be worn
out. He continues to address the reader thusly:
Under these circumstances,
it is obvious that the springs of government are slack. Give them a
new tension, and the evil will be cured.... Think less of punishing faults, and
more of rewarding that which you need. In this manner you will restore
to your republic the vigor of youth. Because free people have been
ignorant of this procedure, they have lost their liberty! But if the evil has
made such headway that ordinary governmental procedures are unable to cure it,
then resort to an extraordinary tribunal with considerable powers for
a short time. The imagination of the citizens needs to be struck a hard blow.
In this manner, Mably
continues through twenty volumes.
Under the influence
of teaching like this " which stems from classical education " there came a
time when everyone wished to place himself above mankind in order to arrange,
organize, and regulate it in his own way.
Next let us examine
Condillac on this subject of the legislators and mankind:
My Lord, assume the
character of Lycurgus or of Solon. And before you finish reading this essay,
amuse yourself by giving laws to some savages in America or Africa. Confine
these nomads to fixed dwellings; teach them to tend flocks.... Attempt to
develop the social consciousness that nature has planted in them.... Force them
to begin to practice the duties of humanity.... Use punishment to cause sensual
pleasures to become distasteful to them. Then you will see that every point of
your legislation will cause these savages to lose a vice and gain a virtue.
All people have had laws.
But few people have been happy. Why is this so? Because the legislators
themselves have almost always been ignorant of the purpose of society, which is
the uniting of families by a common interest.
Impartiality in law consists
of two things: the establishing of equality in wealth and equality in
dignity among the citizens.... As the
laws establish greater equality, they become proportionately more precious to
every citizen.... When all men are equal in wealth and
dignity " and when the laws leave no
hope of disturbing this equality " how can men then be agitated by greed,
ambition, dissipation, idleness, sloth, envy, hatred, or jealousy?
What you have learned about
the republic of Sparta should enlighten you on this question. No other state
has ever had laws more in accord with the order of nature; of equality.
Error of the Socialist
Actually, it is not strange that during the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries the human race was regarded as inert matter, ready to receive
everything " form, face, energy, movement, life " from a great prince or a
great legislator or a great genius. These centuries were nourished on the study
of antiquity. And antiquity presents everywhere " in
Rome " the spectacle of a few men
molding mankind according to their whims, thanks to the prestige of force and
of fraud. But this does not prove that this situation is desirable. It proves
only that since men and society are capable of improvement, it is naturally to
be expected that error, ignorance, despotism, slavery, and superstition
should be greatest towards the origins of history. The writers quoted above
were not in error when they found ancient institutions to be such, but they
were in error when they offered them for the admiration and imitation of future generations.
Uncritical and childish conformists, they took for granted the grandeur,
happiness of the artificial societies of the ancient world. They did not
understand that knowledge appears and grows with the passage of time; and that
in proportion to this growth of knowledge, might takes the side of
right, and society regains possession of itself.
Actually, what is the
political struggle that we witness? It is the instinctive struggle of all
people toward liberty. And what is this liberty, whose very name makes the
heart beat faster and shakes the world? Is it not the union of all liberties
liberty of conscience, of education, of association, of the press, of travel,
of labor, of trade? In short, is not liberty the freedom of every person to
make full use of his faculties, so long as he does not harm other persons while
doing so? Is not liberty the destruction of all
despotism including, of course,
legal despotism? Finally, is not
liberty the restricting of the law only to its rational sphere of organizing
the right of the individual to lawful self-defense; of punishing injustice?
It must be admitted
that the tendency of the human race toward liberty is largely thwarted,
especially in France. This is greatly due to a fatal desire learned from the
teachings of antiquity that our writers on public affairs have in common: They
desire to set themselves above mankind in order to arrange, organize, and
regulate it according to their fancy.
And now that the
legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon
society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all
systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and
While society is
struggling toward liberty, these famous men who put themselves at its head are
filled with the spirit of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. They think
only of subjecting mankind to the philanthropic tyranny of their own social
inventions. Like Rousseau, they desire to force mankind docilely to bear this
yoke of the public welfare that they have dreamed up in their own imaginations.
This was especially
true in 1789. No sooner was the old regime destroyed than society was subjected
to still other artificial arrangements, always starting from the same point:
the omnipotence of the law.
Listen to the ideas
of a few of the writers and politicians during that period:
SAINT-JUST: The legislator
commands the future. It is for him to will the good of mankind. It is
for him to make men what he wills them to be.
ROBESPIERRE: The function of
government is to direct the physical and moral powers of the nation toward the
end for which the commonwealth has come into being.
BILLAUD-VARENNES: A people
who are to be returned to liberty must be formed anew. A strong force and
vigorous action are necessary to destroy old prejudices, to change old customs,
to correct depraved affections, to restrict superfluous wants, and to destroy
ingrained vices.... Citizens, the inflexible austerity of Lycurgus created the
firm foundation of the Spartan republic. The weak and trusting character of
Solon plunged Athens into slavery. This parallel embraces the whole science of
LE PELLETIER: Considering
the extent of human degradation, I am convinced that it is necessary to effect
a total regeneration and, if I may so express myself, of creating a new people.
Again, it is claimed that persons are
nothing but raw material. It is not for them to will their own
improvement; they are incapable of it. According to Saint-Just, only the
legislator is capable of doing this. Persons are merely to be what the
legislator wills them to be. According to Robespierre, who copies
Rousseau literally, the legislator begins by decreeing the end for which
the commonwealth has come into being. Once this is determined, the
government has only to direct the physical and moral forces of the
nation toward that end. Meanwhile, the inhabitants of the nation are to
remain completely passive. And according to the teachings of Billaud-Varennes,
the people should have no prejudices, no affections, and no desires except
those authorized by the legislator. He even goes so far as to say that the
inflexible austerity of one man is the foundation of a republic.
cases where the alleged evil is so great that ordinary governmental procedures
cannot cure it, Mably recommends a dictatorship to promote virtue: "Resort," he
says, "to an extraordinary tribunal with considerable powers for a short time.
The imagination of the citizens needs to be struck a hard blow." This doctrine
has not been forgotten. Listen to Robespierre:
"The principle of the
republican government is virtue, and the means required to establish virtue is
terror. In our country we desire to substitute
selfishness, honesty for honor, principles for customs, duties for manners, the
empire of reason for the tyranny of fashion, contempt of vice for contempt of
poverty, pride for
insolence, greatness of soul for vanity, love of glory for compassion of money,
good people for good companions, merit for intrigue, genius for wit, truth for
glitter, the charm of happiness for the boredom of pleasure, the greatness of
man for the littleness of the great, a generous, strong, happy people for a
good-natured, frivolous, degraded people; in short, we desire to substitute all
the virtues and miracles of a republic for all the vices and absurdities of a
At what a tremendous
height above the rest of mankind does Robespierre here place himself! And note
the arrogance with which he speaks. He is not content to pray for a great
reawakening of the human spirit. Nor does he expect such a result from a
well-ordered government. No, he himself will remake mankind, and by means of
This mass of rotten
and contradictory statements is extracted from a discourse by Robespierre in
which he aims to explain the principles of
morality which ought to guide a revolutionary government. Note that
Robespierre's request for dictatorship is not made merely for the purpose of
repelling a foreign invasion or putting down the opposing groups. Rather he
wants a dictatorship in order that he may use terror to force upon the country
his own principles of morality. He says that
this act is only to be a temporary
measure preceding a new
constitution. But in reality, he desires nothing short of using terror to
extinguish from France selfishness, honor, customs, manners, fashion,
vanity, love of money, good companionship, intrigue, wit, sensuousness, and
poverty. Not until
he, Robespierre, shall have accomplished these miracles, as he so
rightly calls them, will he permit the law to reign again.
(At this point in the
original French text, Mr. Bastiat pauses and speaks thusly to all do-gooders
and would-be rulers of mankind: "Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think
that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to
reform everything! Why don't you reform yourselves? That task would be
these gentlemen " the reformers, the legislators, and the writers on public
affairs " do not desire to impose direct
despotism upon mankind. Oh no, they
are too moderate and philanthropic for such direct action. Instead, they turn
to the law for this despotism,
this absolutism, this
omnipotence. They desire only to make the laws.
To show the
prevalence of this queer idea in France, I would need to copy not only the
entire works of Mably, Raynal, Rousseau, and Fenelon " plus long extracts from
Bossuet and Montesquieu " but also the entire proceedings of the Convention. I
shall do no such thing; I merely refer the reader to them.
Wanted Passive Mankind
It is, of course, not
at all surprising that this same idea should have greatly appealed to Napoleon.
He embraced it ardently and used it with vigor. Like a chemist, Napoleon
considered all Europe to be material for his experiments. But, in due course,
this material reacted against him.
At St. Helena,
Napoleon " greatly disillusioned " seemed to recognize some initiative in
mankind. Recognizing this, he became less hostile to liberty. Nevertheless,
this did not prevent him from leaving this lesson to his son in his will: "To
govern is to increase and spread morality, education, and happiness."
After all this, it is
hardly necessary to quote the same opinions from Morelly, Babeuf, Owen,
Saint-Simon, and Fourier. Here are, however, a few extracts from Louis Blanc's
book on the organization of labor: "In our plan, society receives its momentum
Now consider this:
The impulse behind this momentum is to be supplied by the plan of
Louis Blanc; his plan is to be forced upon society; the society referred to is
the human race. Thus the human race is to receive its momentum from Louis
Now it will be said
that the people are free to accept or to reject this plan. Admittedly, people
are free to accept or to reject advice from whomever they wish. But
this is not the way in which Mr. Louis Blanc understands the matter. He expects
that his plan will be legalized, and thus forcibly imposed upon the people by
the power of the law:
In our plan, the state has
only to pass labor laws (nothing else?) by means of which industrial progress
can and must proceed in complete liberty. The state merely places society on an
incline (that is all?). Then society will slide down this incline by the mere
force of things, and by the natural workings of the established mechanism.
But what is this
incline that is indicated by Mr. Louis Blanc? Does it not lead to an abyss?
(No, it leads to happiness.) If this is true, then why does not society go
there of its own choice? (Because society does not know what it wants; it must
be propelled.) What is to propel it? (Power.) And who is to supply the impulse
for this power? (Why, the inventor of the machine " in this instance, Mr. Louis
Vicious Circle of Socialism
We shall never escape
from this circle: the idea of passive mankind, and the power of the law being
used by a great man to propel the people.
Once on this incline,
will society enjoy some liberty? (Certainly.) And what is liberty, Mr. Louis
Once and for all, liberty is
not only a mere granted right; it is also the power granted to a person to use
and to develop his faculties under a reign of justice and under the protection
of the law.
And this is no pointless
distinction; its meaning is deep and its consequences are difficult to
estimate. For once it is agreed that a person, to be truly free, must have the
power to use and develop his faculties, then it follows that every person has a
claim on society for such education as will permit him to develop
himself. It also follows that every person has a claim on society for tools of
production, without which human activity cannot be fully effective. Now by what
action can society give to every person the necessary education and the
necessary tools of production, if not by the action of the state?
Thus, again, liberty is
power. Of what does this power consist? (Of being educated and of being given
the tools of production.) Who is to give the education and the tools of
production? (Society, which owes them to everyone.) By what action is
society to give tools of production to those who do not own them? (Why, by
the action of the state.) And from whom will the state take them?
Let the reader answer
that question. Let him also notice the direction in which this is taking us.
Doctrine of the Democrats
phenomenon of our times " one which will probably astound our descendants " is
the doctrine based on this triple hypothesis: the total inertness of mankind,
the omnipotence of the law, and the infallibility of the legislator. These
three ideas form the sacred symbol of those who proclaim themselves totally
The advocates of this
doctrine also profess to be social. So far as they are democratic,
they place unlimited faith in mankind. But so far as they are social, they
regard mankind as little better than mud. Let us examine this contrast in
What is the attitude
of the democrat when political rights are under discussion? How does he regard
the people when a legislator is to be chosen? Ah, then it is claimed that the
people have an instinctive wisdom; they are gifted with the finest perception;
their will is always right; the general will cannot err; voting cannot be too
When it is time to
vote, apparently the voter is not to be asked for any guarantee of his wisdom.
His will and capacity to choose wisely are taken for granted. Can the people be
mistaken? Are we not living in an age of enlightenment? What! are the people
always to be kept on leashes? Have they not won their rights by great effort
and sacrifice? Have they not given ample proof of their intelligence and
wisdom? Are they not adults? Are they not capable of judging for themselves? Do
they not know what is best for themselves? Is there a class or a man who would
be so bold as to set himself above the people, and judge and act for them? No,
no, the people are and should be free. They desire to manage their own
affairs, and they shall do so.
But when the
legislator is finally elected " ah! then indeed does the tone of his speech
undergo a radical change. The people are returned to passiveness, inertness,
and unconsciousness; the legislator enters into omnipotence. Now it is for him
to initiate, to direct, to propel, and to organize. Mankind has only to submit;
the hour of despotism has struck.
We now observe this fatal idea: The people who, during the election, were so
wise, so moral, and so perfect, now have no tendencies whatever; or if they
have any, they are tendencies that lead downward into degradation.
But ought not the
people be given a little liberty?
But Mr. Considerant
has assured us that liberty leads inevitably to monopoly!
We understand that liberty means
competition. But according to Mr. Louis
Blanc, competition is a system that ruins the businessmen and exterminates
the people. It is for this reason that free people are ruined and
exterminated in proportion to their degree of freedom. (Possibly Mr. Louis
Blanc should observe the results of
in, for example, Switzerland, Holland, England, and the US.)
Mr. Louis Blanc also tells us that competition
leads to monopoly. And by the same reasoning, he thus informs us that
low prices lead to high prices; that competition drives production
to destructive activity; that competition drains away the sources of
purchasing power; that
competition forces an increase in production while, at the same time, it
forces a decrease in consumption. From this, it follows that free people
produce for the sake of not consuming; that liberty means oppression and
madness among the people; and that Mr. Louis Blanc absolutely must attend
Socialist Fear All Liberties
Well, what liberty should the legislators permit people to have? Liberty of
conscience? (But if this were permitted, we would see the people taking this
opportunity to become atheists.)
Then liberty of education? (But parents would pay professors to teach their
children immorality and falsehoods; besides, according to Mr. Thiers, if
education were left to national liberty, it would cease to be national, and we
would be teaching our children the ideas of the Turks or Hindus; whereas,
thanks to this legal despotism over
education, our children now have the good fortune to be taught
the noble ideas of the Romans.)
Then liberty of labor? (But that would mean competition which, in turn, leaves
production unconsumed, ruins businessmen, and exterminates the people.)
Perhaps liberty of trade? (But everyone knows " and the advocates of protective
tariffs have proved over and over again " that freedom of trade ruins every
person who engages in it, and that it is necessary to suppress freedom of trade
in order to prosper.)
Possibly then, liberty of association? (But, according to socialist doctrine,
true liberty and voluntary
association are in contradiction to each other, and the purpose of the
socialists is to suppress liberty
of association precisely in order to force people to associate together in true
Clearly then, the conscience of the social democrats cannot permit persons to
have any liberty because they believe that the nature of mankind tends always
toward every kind of degradation and disaster. Thus, of course, the legislators
must make plans for the people in order to save them from themselves.
This line of reasoning brings us to a challenging question: If people are as
incapable, as immoral, and as ignorant as the politicians indicate, then why is
the right of these same people to vote defended with such passionate
The claims of these
organizers of humanity raise another question which I have often asked them and
which, so far as I know, they have never answered: If the natural tendencies of
mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it
that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators
and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe
that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind? The
organizers maintain that society, when left undirected, rushes headlong to its
inevitable destruction because the instincts of the people are so perverse. The
legislators claim to stop this suicidal course and to give it a saner
direction. Apparently, then, the legislators and the organizers have received
from Heaven an intelligence and virtue that place them beyond and above
mankind; if so, let them show their titles to this superiority.
They would be the
shepherds over us, their sheep. Certainly such an arrangement presupposes that
they are naturally superior to the rest of us. And certainly we are fully
justified in demanding from the legislators and organizers proof of this
that I do not dispute their right to invent social combinations, to advertise
them, to advocate them, and to try them upon themselves, at their own expense
and risk. But I do dispute their right to impose these plans upon us by law "
by force " and to compel us to pay for them with our taxes.
I do not insist that
the supporters of these various social schools of thought " the
Proudhonists, the Cabetists, the Fourierists, the
Universitarists, and the Protectionists " renounce their various ideas. I
insist only that they renounce this one idea that they have in common: They
need only to give up the idea of forcing us to acquiesce to their
groups and series, their socialized projects, their free-credit banks, their
Graeco-Roman concept of morality, and their commercial regulations. I ask only
that we be permitted to decide upon these plans for ourselves; that we not be
forced to accept them, directly or indirectly, if we find them to be contrary
to our best interests or repugnant to our consciences.
But these organizers
desire access to the tax funds and to the power of the law in order to carry
out their plans. In addition to being oppressive and unjust, this desire also
implies the fatal supposition that
the organizer is infallible and mankind is incompetent. But, again, if
persons are incompetent to judge for themselves, then why all this talk about
This contradiction in ideas is,
unfortunately but logically, reflected in events in France. For example,
Frenchmen have led all other Europeans in obtaining their rights " or, more
accurately, their political demands.
Yet this fact has in
no respect prevented us from becoming the most governed, the most regulated,
the most imposed upon, the most harnessed, and the most exploited people in
Europe. France also leads all other nations as the one where revolutions
are constantly to be anticipated. And under the circumstances, it is quite
natural that this should be the case.
And this will remain the case so long as our politicians continue to accept
this idea that has been so well expressed by Mr. Louis Blanc: "Society receives
its momentum from power." This will remain the case so long as human beings
with feelings continue to remain passive; so long as they consider themselves
incapable of bettering their prosperity and happiness by their
own intelligence and their own energy; so long as they expect everything from
the law; in short, so long as they
imagine that their relationship to the state is the same as that of the sheep
to the shepherd.
As long as these
ideas prevail, it is clear that the responsibility of government is enormous.
Good fortune and bad fortune, wealth and destitution, equality and inequality,
virtue and vice " all then depend upon political administration. It is burdened
with everything, it undertakes everything, it does everything; therefore it is
responsible for everything.
If we are fortunate,
then government has a claim to our gratitude; but if we are unfortunate, then
government must bear the blame. For are not our persons and property now at the
disposal of government? Is not the law omnipotent?
In creating a
monopoly of education, the government must answer to the hopes of the fathers
of families who have thus been deprived of their liberty; and if these hopes
are shattered, whose fault is it? In regulating industry, the government has
contracted to make it prosper; otherwise it is absurd to deprive industry of
its liberty. And if industry now suffers, whose fault is it?
In meddling with the
balance of trade by
playing with tariffs, the government thereby contracts to make trade prosper;
and if this results in destruction instead of
prosperity, whose fault is it?
In giving the
maritime industries protection in exchange for their liberty, the government
undertakes to make them profitable; and if they become a burden to the
taxpayers, whose fault is it?
Thus there is not a
grievance in the nation for which the government does not voluntarily make
itself responsible. Is it surprising, then, that every failure increases the
threat of another revolution in France?
And what remedy is
proposed for this? To extend indefinitely the domain of the law; that is, the
responsibility of government.
But if the government
undertakes to control and to raise wages, and cannot do it; if the government
undertakes to care for all who may be in want, and cannot do it; if the
government undertakes to support all unemployed workers, and cannot do it; if
the government undertakes to lend interest-free money to all borrowers, and
cannot do it; if, in these words that we regret to say escaped from the pen of
Mr. de Lamartine, "The state considers that its purpose is to enlighten, to
develop, to enlarge, to strengthen, to spiritualize, and to sanctify the soul
of the people" " and if the government cannot do all of these things, what
then? Is it not certain that after every government failure " which, alas! is
more than probable " there will be an equally inevitable revolution?
[Now let us return to
a subject that was briefly discussed in the opening pages of this thesis: the
relationship of economics and of politics " political economy.]
A science of
economics must be developed before a science of politics can be logically
formulated. Essentially, economics is the science of determining whether the
interests of human beings are harmonious or antagonistic. This must be known
before a science of politics can be formulated to determine the proper
functions of government.
the development of a science of economics, and at the very beginning of the
formulation of a science of politics, this all-important question must be
answered: What is law? What ought it to be? What is its scope; its limits?
Logically, at what point do the just powers of the legislator stop?
I do not hesitate to
answer: Law is the common force organized to act as an obstacle of
injustice. In short, law is justice.
It is not true that
the legislator has absolute power over our persons and property. The existence
of persons and property preceded the existence of the legislator, and his
function is only to guarantee their safety.
It is not true that
the function of law is to regulate our consciences, our ideas, our wills, our
education, our opinions, our work, our trade, our talents, or our pleasures.
The function of law is to protect the free exercise of these rights, and to
prevent any person from interfering with the free exercise of these same rights
by any other person.
Since law necessarily
requires the support of force, its lawful domain is only in the areas where the
use of force is necessary. This is justice.
Every individual has
the right to use force for lawful self-defense. It is for this reason that the
collective force " which is only the organized combination of the individual
forces " may lawfully be used for the same purpose; and it cannot be used
legitimately for any other purpose.
Law is solely the
organization of the individual right of self-defense which existed before law
was formalized. Law is justice.
Law and Charity Are Not the Same
The mission of the law is not to oppress persons and plunder them of
their property, even though the law may be acting in a philanthropic spirit.
Its mission is to protect persons and property.
Furthermore, it must not be said that the law may be philanthropic if, in the
process, it refrains from oppressing persons and plundering them of their
property; this would be a
contradiction. The law cannot avoid having an effect upon persons and
property; and if the law acts in any manner except to protect them, its actions
then necessarily violate the liberty of persons and their right to own
The law is justice " simple and clear, precise and bounded. Every eye can see
it, and every mind can grasp it; for justice is measurable, immutable, and
unchangeable. Justice is neither more than this nor less than this. If you
exceed this proper limit " if you attempt to make the law religious, fraternal,
equalizing, philanthropic, industrial, literary, or artistic " you will then be
lost in an uncharted territory, in vagueness and uncertainty, in a forced
utopia or, even worse, in a multitude of utopias, each striving to seize the
law and impose it upon you. This is true because fraternity and philanthropy,
unlike justice, do not have precise limits. Once started, where will you stop?
And where will the law stop itself?
for Stable Government
Law is justice. In
this proposition a simple and enduring government can be conceived. And I defy
anyone to say how even the thought of revolution, of insurrection, of the
slightest uprising could arise against a government whose organized force was
confined only to suppressing injustice.
Under such a regime,
there would be the most prosperity " and it would be the
most equally distributed. As for the sufferings that are inseparable from
humanity, no one would even think of accusing the government for them. This is
true because, if the force of government were limited to suppressing injustice,
then government would be as innocent of these sufferings as it is now innocent
of changes in the temperature.
As proof of this
statement, consider this question: Have the people ever been known to rise
against the Court of Appeals, or mob a Justice of the Peace, in order to get
higher wages, free credit, tools of production, favorable tariffs, or
government-created jobs? Everyone knows perfectly well that such matters are
not within the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals or a Justice of the Peace.
And if government were limited to its proper functions, everyone would soon
learn that these matters are not within the jurisdiction of the law itself.
But make the laws
upon the principle of fraternity " proclaim that all good, and all bad, stem
from the law; that the law is responsible for all individual misfortunes and
all social inequalities " then the door is open to an endless succession of
complaints, irritations, troubles, and revolutions.
Law is justice. And
it would indeed be strange if law could properly be anything else! Is not
justice right? Are not rights equal? By what right does the law force me to
conform to the social plans of Mr. Mimerel, Mr. de Melun, Mr. Thiers, or Mr.
Louis Blanc? If the law has a moral right to do this, why does it not, then,
force these gentlemen to submit to my plans? Is it logical to suppose
that nature has not given me sufficient imagination to dream up a
utopia also? Should the law choose one fantasy among many, and put the
organized force of government at its service only?
Law is justice. And
let it not be said " as it continually is said " that under this concept, the
law would be atheistic, individualistic, and heartless; that it would make
mankind in its own image. This is an absurd conclusion, worthy only of those
worshippers of government who believe that the law is mankind.
Nonsense! Do those
worshippers of government believe that free persons will cease to act? Does it
follow that if we receive no energy from the law, we shall receive no energy at
all? Does it follow that if the law is restricted to the function of protecting
the free use of our faculties, we will be unable to use our faculties? Suppose
that the law does not force us to follow certain forms of religion, or systems
of association, or methods of education, or regulations of labor, or
regulations of trade, or plans for charity; does it then follow that we shall
eagerly plunge into atheism, hermitary, ignorance, misery, and greed? If we are
free, does it follow that we shall no longer recognize the power and goodness
of God? Does it follow that we shall then cease to associate with each other,
to help each other, to love and succor our unfortunate brothers, to study the
secrets of nature, and to strive to improve ourselves to the best of our
The Path to Dignity and Progress
Law is justice. And
it is under the law of justice " under the reign of right; under the influence
of liberty, safety, stability, and responsibility " that every person will
attain his real worth and the true dignity
of his being. It is only under this law of justice that mankind will
achieve " slowly, no doubt, but certainly " God's design for the orderly and
peaceful progress of humanity.
It seems to me that
this is theoretically right, for whatever the question under discussion "
whether religious, philosophical, political, or economic; whether it concerns
equality, right, justice, progress, responsibility, cooperation, property,
labor, trade, capital, wages, taxes, population, finance, or government " at
whatever point on the scientific horizon I begin my researches, I invariably
reach this one conclusion: The solution to the problems of human relationships
is to be found in liberty.
And does not
experience prove this? Look at the entire world. Which countries contain the
most peaceful, the most moral, and the happiest people? Those people are found
in the countries where the law least interferes with private affairs; where
government is least felt; where the individual has the greatest scope, and free
opinion the greatest influence; where administrative powers are fewest and
simplest; where taxes are lightest and most nearly equal, and popular
discontent the least excited and the least justifiable; where individuals and
groups most actively assume their responsibilities, and, consequently, where
the morals of admittedly imperfect human beings are constantly improving; where
trade, assemblies, and associations are the least restricted; where labor,
capital, and populations suffer the fewest forced displacements; where mankind
most nearly follows its own natural inclinations; where the inventions of men
are most nearly in harmony with the laws of God; in short, the happiest, most
moral, and most peaceful people are those who most nearly follow this
principle: Although mankind is not perfect, still, all hope rests upon the free
and voluntary actions of persons within the limits of right; law or force is to
be used for nothing except the administration of universal justice.
This must be said:
There are too many "great" men in the world " legislators, organizers,
do-gooders, leaders of the people, fathers of nations, and so on, and so on.
Too many persons place themselves above mankind; they make a career of
organizing it, patronizing it, and ruling it.
Now someone will say:
"You yourself are doing this very thing." True. But it must be admitted that I
act in an entirely different sense; if I have joined the ranks of the
reformers, it is solely for the purpose of persuading them to leave people
alone. I do not look upon people as Vancauson looked upon his automaton.
Rather, just as the physiologist accepts the human body as it is, so do I
accept people as they are. I desire only to study and admire.
My attitude toward
all other persons is well illustrated by this story from a celebrated traveler:
He arrived one day in the midst of a tribe of savages, where a child had just
been born. A the crowd of soothsayers,
magicians, and quacks " armed with rings, hooks, and cords " surrounded it. One
said: "This child will never smell the perfume of a peace-pipe unless I stretch
his nostrils." Another said: "He will never be able to hear unless I draw his
ear-lobes down to his shoulders." A third said: "He will never see the sunshine
unless I slant his eyes." Another said: "He will never stand upright unless I
bend his legs." A fifth said: "He will never learn to think unless I flatten
"Stop," cried the
traveler. "What God does is well done. Do not claim to know more than He. God
has given organs to this frail creature; let them develop and grow strong by
exercise, use, experience, and liberty."
Let Us Now Try
Liberty ! God has given to men all that is necessary for them to accomplish
He has provided a social form as well as a
of persons are so constituted that they will develop harmoniously in the clean
air of liberty.
Away, then, with quacks and organizers!
with their rings, chains, hooks, and pincers!
Away with their
Away with the whims of government administrators,
socialization projects, centralization, tariffs, government sponsered
education, government sponsered religion, debt slavery, banking monopolies,
equalization by taxation, regulation and restriction, and pious
back to stacks
This web site is not a commercial web site and
is presented for educational purposes only.
This website defines a
new perspective with which to engage reality to which its author adheres. The
author feels that the falsification of reality outside personal experience has
created a populace unable to discern propaganda from reality and that this has
been done purposefully by an international corporate cartel through their
agents who wish to foist a corrupt version of reality on the human race.
Religious intolerance occurs when any group refuses to tolerate religious
practices, religious beliefs or persons due to their religious ideology. This
web site marks the founding of a system of philosophy named The Truth of the
Way of Life - a rational gnostic mystery religion based on reason which
requires no leap of faith, accepts no tithes, has no supreme leader, no church
buildings and in which each and every individual is encouraged to develop a
personal relation with the Creator and Sustainer through the pursuit of the
knowledge of reality in the hope of curing the spiritual corruption that has
enveloped the human spirit. The tenets of The Truth of the Way of Life are
spelled out in detail on this web site by the author. Violent acts against
individuals due to their religious beliefs in America is considered a "hate
This web site in no way condones violence. To the contrary the
intent here is to reduce the violence that is already occurring due to the
international corporate cartels desire to control the human race. The
international corporate cartel already controls the world economic system,
corporate media worldwide, the global industrial military entertainment complex
and is responsible for the collapse of morals, the elevation of self-centered
behavior and the destruction of global ecosystems. Civilization is based on
cooperation. Cooperation does not occur at the point of a gun.
social mores and values have declined precipitously over the last century as
the corrupt international cartel has garnered more and more power. This power
rests in the ability to deceive the populace in general through corporate media
by pressing emotional buttons which have been preprogrammed into the population
through prior corporate media psychological operations. The results have been
the destruction of the family and the destruction of social structures that do
not adhere to the corrupt international elites vision of
a perfect world. Through distraction
and coercion the direction of thought of the bulk of the population has been
directed toward solutions proposed by the corrupt international elite that
further consolidates their power and which further their purposes.
views and opinions presented on this web site are the views and opinions of
individual human men and women that, through their writings, showed the
capacity for intelligent, reasonable, rational, insightful and unpopular
thought. All factual information presented on this web site is believed to be
true and accurate and is presented as originally presented in print media which
may or may not have originally presented the facts truthfully. Opinion and
thoughts have been adapted, edited, corrected, redacted, combined, added to,
re-edited and re-corrected as nearly all opinion and thought has been
throughout time but has been done so in the spirit of the original writer with
the intent of making his or her thoughts and opinions clearer and relevant to
the reader in the present time.
Fair Use Notice
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not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making
such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of criminal
justice, human rights, political, economic, democratic, scientific, and social
justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such
copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In
accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is
distributed without profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information
for research and educational purposes. For more information see:
www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted
material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you
must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
© Lawrence Turner
All Rights Reserved