“The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law become the weapon of every kind of greed! Instead of checking crime, the law itself guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish!
If this is true, it is a serious fact, and moral duty requires me to call the attention of my fellow-citizens to it.”
These words begin a short little book on the law by a French economist, statesman, and author living in the early 1800s. The book is appropriately titled The Law.
I write about it today because of its relevance for our situation in modern America (and because I recently discussed it with Mathew Staver, the Dean of the Liberty University School of Law where I teach, and that brought it to my mind.) When Frederic Bastiat published this little book as a pamphlet in June of 1850, France was in the midst of turning nearly completely toward socialism. Given our headlong rush into socialism and Marxism here in America, and the use of the coercive power of the law of the civil government to implement this socialistic policy, I think this book is a worthy read.
You may find his comments about the United States particularly interesting. Perhaps they will serve as an enticement to read the book. Of the United States, he wrote:
Is there any need to offer proof that this odious perversion of the law is a perpetual source of hatred and discord; that it tends to destroy society itself? If such proof is needed, look at the United States [in 1850]. There is no country in the world where the law is kept more within its proper domain: the protection of every person’s liberty and property. As a consequence of this, there appears to be no country in the world where the social order rests on a firmer foundation.
He goes on to note that the United States at that time had only two problems in its law: slavery, which violates liberty, and tariffs, which violate property. He actually thought slavery could lead to the ruin of the Union. He was nearly right.
That being said, just imagine how many more problem areas he could identify in our laws today! As noted in an earlier post, one can hardly do anything to one’s own property today without the need for government permission. Accordingly, I heartily recommend this little book to anyone interested in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And, the best part it, you can download it completely free by clicking here!