Bastiat Collection: Harmonies of political economy by Bastiat F.

By Bastiat F.

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They dissect it, they put it in the crucible, they interrogate it, they remount to its causes, they pursue it to its consequences; and, as by reason of our native imperfection there is nothing in which Evil is not present, they asperse and disparage everything. They exhibit to us Property, Family, Capital, Labor, Competition, Liberty, Personal Interest, only in one of their aspects, and always on the dark side, the side that injures or destroys. Their lectures on the natural history of man are, if I may use the expression, clinical lectures—the subject is always on his deathbed.

The Economic phenomena would then manifest themselves in an isolated individual. There might be a juxtaposition of persons, but there could be no society; there might be a Personal, but not a Political, Economy. qxd 52 7/6/2007 11:34 AM Page 52 The Bastiat Collection But it is not so. It is very possible, and very often happens, that the wants of one owe their satisfaction to the efforts of another. This is a fact. If any one of us were to pass in review all the satisfactions he enjoys, he would acknowledge that he owes them chiefly to efforts which he has not himself made; and in the same way, the labor which we undergo, each in his own profession, goes almost always to satisfy the desires of others.

I am not a prince, but the confidence of my fellow citizens has made me a legislator. Perhaps they will tell me that this is the time for me to act and not to write. Let them pardon me. Whether it be truth itself that urges me on, or that I am the dupe of an illusion, I have never ceased to feel the want of concentrating those ideas that have hitherto failed to find acceptance when presented in detached portions. I think I discover in the play of the natural laws of society sublime and consoling harmonies.

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