Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Law by Frédéric Bastiat

One of the shortest, yet for me most influential, books I have read is The Law, written by Frédéric Bastiat in 1850, shortly before his death.  Frédéric Bastiat was a member of the French Assembly, classical liberal theorist, and political economist.  

In The Law, Bastiat explains how the powers of society are derived from the God-given rights of man.  The purpose of law should be to institute justice.  An extension of the powers of government into philanthropy would, he posits, counter the primary purpose.  

Bastiat decries what he calls "legal plunder" and the tendency of legislatures to consider themselves wiser than the populace--except during election time.  

To date, this brief explanation of the role of government is the best I have encountered, and I recommend it to anyone interested in political science.  I enjoyed Bastiat's writing style thoroughly, and after reading The Law, went on to read every book and essay of his that I could find.

The Law is available in printed form at libraries and, and as a free ebook from


  1. Very interesting, Bethany! It sounds like it would be an excellent read to help one understand the purpose of government and legal system.

  2. lovely blog :)

  3. Sounds like a heavy reads. I dont usually read these books but at times when a friend recommend(and he got good taste), I would read it

  4. Sounds like some heavy reading. I don't think that will go on my list, but thanks for sharing.

  5. This seems like a good read.. I have been trying to go over the "basics" and "classics" recently, and I want to brush up on books of antiquity...

    Anyhoo, I found your blog through a fellow blogger, and just wanted to stop by and say hi! It would totally make my day if you did the same, or better yet, keep in touch! <3 -

  6. This book sounds very interesting to me. I enjoy reading about history, politics and the way things work. I would read this book - thanks for sharing. Karen


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