The Law By Frederic Bastiat and Tom DiLorenzo
How is it that the law enforcer itself does not have to keep the law? How is it that the law permits the state to lawfully engage in actions that, if undertaken by individuals, would land them in jail?
These are among the most intriguing questions in political and economic philosophy. They apply in every way to our own time — to whenever and wherever the state creates for itself different rules and different laws from those by which it expects other people to live. The problem of law that itself violates law is an insurmountable conundrum of all statist philosophies.
The problem of unjust law has never been discussed so profoundly and passionately as in this 1850 essay by Frederic Bastiat. This legendary essay, written in a white heat of anger against the leaders of 19th-century France, shocked millions out of their toleration of despotism — which is precisely why so many people credit it for first showing them the light of liberty.
This new edition from the Mises Institute revives a glorious translation that circulated in Britain in the generation that followed Bastiat’s death, and has been out of print for over a hundred years. This translation — a more sophisticated, more substantial, and more precise rendering than any in print — provides further insight into Bastiat’s argument in one of the most penetrating and powerful essays written in the history of political economy.