Page:Essays on Political Economy (Bastiat).djvu/202

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
194
THE LAW.

said is, that plunder is more visible by its partiality in protectionism,[1] and by its universality in communism; whence it follows that, of the three systems, socialism is still the most vague, the most undefined, and consequently the most sincere.

Be it as it may, to conclude that legal plunder has one of its roots in false philanthropy, is evidently to put intentions out of the question.

With this understanding, let us examine the value, the origin, and the tendency of this popular aspiration, which pretends to realise the general good by general plunder.

The Socialists say, since the law organises justice, why should it not organise labour, instruction, and religion?

Why? Because it could not organise labour, instruction, and religion, without disorganising justice.

For, remember, that law is force, and that consequently the domain of the law cannot lawfully extend beyond the domain of force.

When law and force keep a man within the bounds of justice, they impose nothing upon him but a mere negation. They only oblige him to abstain from doing harm. They violate neither his personality, his liberty, nor his property. They

  1. If protection were only granted in France to a single class, to the engineers, for instance, it would be so absurdly plundering, as to be unable to maintain itself. Thus we see all the protected trades combine, make common cause, and even recruit themselves in such a way as to appear to embrace the mass of the national labour. They feel instinctively that plunder is slurred over by being generalised.