Page:Essays on Political Economy (Bastiat).djvu/204

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196
THE LAW.

When, from the seclusion of his cabinet, a politician takes a view of society, he is struck with the spectacle of inequality which presents itself. He mourns over the sufferings which are the lot of so many of our brethren, sufferings whose aspect is rendered yet more sorrowful by the contrast of luxury and wealth.

He ought, perhaps, to ask himself, whether such a social state has not been caused by the plunder of ancient times, exercised in the way of conquests; and by plunder of later times, effected through the medium of the laws? He ought to ask himself whether, granting the aspiration of all men after well-being and perfection, the reign of justice would not suffice to realise the greatest activity of progress, and the greatest amount of equality compatible with that individual responsibility which God has awarded as a just retribution of virtue and vice?

He never gives this a thought. His mind turns towards combinations, arrangements, legal or factitious organisations. He seeks the remedy in perpetuating and exaggerating what has produced the evil.

For, justice apart, which we have seen is only a negation, is there any one of these legal arrangements which does not contain the principle of plunder?

You say, "There are men who have no money," and you apply to the law. But the law is not a self-supplied fountain, whence every stream may obtain supplies independently of society. Nothing