Page:Essays on Political Economy (Bastiat).djvu/198

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190
THE LAW.

You would oppose law to socialism. But it is the law which socialism invokes. It aspires to legal, not extra-legal plunder. It is of the law itself, like monopolists of all kinds, that it wants to make an instrument; and when once it has the law on its side, how will you be able to turn the law against it? How will you place it under the power of your tribunals, your gendarmes, and of your prisons? What will you do then? You wish to prevent it from taking any part in the making of laws. You would keep it outside the Legislative Palace. In this you will not succeed, I venture to prophesy, so long as legal plunder is the basis of the legislation within.

It is absolutely necessary that this question of legal plunder should be determined, and there are only three solutions of it:—

  1. When the few plunder the many.
  2. When everybody plunders everybody else.
  3. When nobody plunders anybody.

Partial plunder, universal plunder, absence of plunder, amongst these we have to make our choice. The law can only produce one of these results.

Partial plunder.—This is the system which prevailed so long as the elective privilege was partial—a system which is resorted to to avoid the invasion of socialism.

Universal plunder.—We have been threatened by this system when the elective privilege has become universal; the masses having conceived the idea