Page:Essays on Political Economy (Bastiat).djvu/195

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THE LAW. 187

consequences so formidable to the United States, where there is but one exception, what must it be with us in Europe, where it is a principle—a system?

M. Montalembert, adopting the thought of a famous proclamation of M. Carlier, said, "We must make war against socialism." And by socialism, according to the definition of M. Charles Dupin, he meant plunder.

But what plunder did he mean? For there are two sorts—extra-legal and legal plunder.

As to extra-legal plunder, such as theft, or swindling, which is defined, foreseen, and punished by the penal code, I do not think it can be adorned by the name of socialism. It is not this which systematically threatens the foundations of society. Besides, the war against this kind of plunder has not waited for the signal of M. Montalembert or M. Carlier. It has gone on since the beginning of the world; France was carrying it on long before the revolution of February—long before the appearance of socialism—with all the ceremonies of magistracy, police, gendarmerie, prisons, dungeons, and scaffolds. It is the law itself which is conducting this war, and it is to be wished, in my opinion, that the law should always maintain this attitude with respect to plunder.

But this is not the case. The law sometimes takes its own part. Sometimes it accomplishes it with its own hands, in order to save the parties benefited the shame, the danger, and the scruple. Sometimes it places all this ceremony of magistracy,