Page:Essays on Political Economy (Bastiat).djvu/234

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226
THE LAW.

itself responsible. Is it to be wondered at that every failure threatens to cause a revolution?

And what is the remedy proposed? To extend indefinitely the dominion of the law, i.e., the responsibility of Government. But if the Government engages to raise and to regulate wages, and is not able to do it; if it engages to assist all those who are in want, and is not able to do it; if it engages to provide an asylum for every labourer, and is not able to do it; if it engages to offer to all such as are eager to borrow, gratuitous credit, and is not able to do it; if, in words which we regret should have escaped the pen of M. de Lamartine, "the State considers, that its mission is to enlighten, to develop, to enlarge, to strengthen, to spiritualize, and to sanctify the soul of the people,"—if it fails in this, is it not evident that after every disappointment, which, alas! is more than probable, there will be a no less inevitable revolution?

I shall now resume the subject by remarking, that immediately after the economical part[1] of the question, and at the entrance of the political part, a leading question presents itself? It is the following:—

What is law? What ought it to be? What is its domain? What are its limits? Where, in fact, does the prerogative of the legislator stop?

I have no hesitation in answering, Law is common

  1. Political economy precedes politics: the former has to discover whether human interests are harmonious or antagonistic, a fact which must have been decided upon before the latter can determine the prerogatives of Government.