The Vicious Circle of Socialism (The Law-Part 58)

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 Blanc?

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.

~Frédéric Bastiat, The Law, 1850

Part 59 – The Doctrine of the Democrats

The Law series STARTS HERE —>

Published in: on August 26, 2010 at 17:49  Leave a Comment  

Napoleon Wanted Passive Mankind (The Law-Part 57)

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 from power.”

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 Blanc.

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 Blanc.)

~Frédéric Bastiat, The Law, 1850

Part 58 – The Vicious Circle of Socialism

The Law series STARTS HERE —>

Published in: on August 25, 2010 at 16:21  Leave a Comment  

The Indirect Approach to Despotism (The Law-Part 56)

Usually, however, 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.

~Frédéric Bastiat, The Law, 1850

Part 57 – Napoleon Wanted Passive Mankind

The Law series STARTS HERE —>

Published in: on August 24, 2010 at 16:35  Leave a Comment  

Dictatorial Arrogance (The Law-Part 55)

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 terror.

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.

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 sufficient enough.

~Frédéric Bastiat, The Law, 1850

Part 56 – The Indirect Approach to Despotism

The Law series STARTS HERE —>

Published in: on August 23, 2010 at 23:45  Leave a Comment  

Social Tyranny~How to be Liberated

I haven’t read John Stuart Mill yet, but I like the excerpt from his essay, On Liberty, as posted on the following “An Unquiet Mind” blog post by Ajay Menon:

Mill & Structural Coercion

Here is a portion of that excerpt:

Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.

The social tyranny Mill refers to does happen at national levels, but the more insidious forms occur on smaller scales. Consider the legendary high school lunchroom where students divide into groups based on similar interests. Once a student becomes part of a group, he is expected to behave a certain way, to like certain styles, music, activities, etc., and to shun certain things, including people. Essentially, each smaller “society” has established its own set of mandates which limit each members’ individual liberty by its threat of ostracizing the offending member. In other words the group is controlled or “enslaved” by fear.

Do we grow out of this after high school or college? Of course not. Why? Maybe it is because we care too much about what other people think. So we have allowed ourselves to be controlled by others based on our social standing, our political affiliation, our religious organizations, our families, and so on. How do they control and “enslave the soul”? Fear.

Why do we allow ourselves to become involved in groups where fear is a controlling factor? Most likely because we did not realize this before. But once we recognize that we are enslaved, then we can do something about it. What is the solution? Love. True, unconditional love for friends, enemies and those who will potentially ostracize you when you begin to exercise your new found liberty.

From now on, let us do things because they are the right thing, the loving thing, to do, rather than the group mandated thing to do. Then we will really begin to experience liberty.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”

~John, the Apostle (I John 4:18)

Published in: on August 21, 2010 at 23:09  Leave a Comment  

The Socialists Want Dictatorship (The Law-Part 54)

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.

In 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 morality for 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 love 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 monarchy.

~Frédéric Bastiat, The Law, 1850

Part 55 – Dictatorial Arrogance

The Law series STARTS HERE —>

Published in: on August 21, 2010 at 20:51  Leave a Comment  

Philanthropic Tyranny (The Law-Part 53)

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 government.

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.

~Frédéric Bastiat, The Law, 1850

Part 54 – The Socialists Want Dictatorship

The Law series STARTS HERE —>

Published in: on August 19, 2010 at 03:25  Leave a Comment  

What Is Liberty? (The Law-Part 52)

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.

~Frédéric Bastiat, The Law, 1850

Part 53 – Philanthropic Tyranny

The Law series STARTS HERE —>

Published in: on August 18, 2010 at 13:44  Leave a Comment  

The Error of the Socialist Writers (The Law-Part 51)

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 Egypt, Persia, Greece, 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, dignity, morality, and 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.

~Frédéric Bastiat, The Law, 1850

Part 52 – What Is Liberty?

The Law series STARTS HERE —>

Published in: on August 17, 2010 at 16:17  Leave a Comment  

“…Put the Legislation Together to Control the People”

IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT, AMERICA?!

For more context to the title quote click here.

Published in: on August 16, 2010 at 20:16  Leave a Comment  
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