Archive for the ‘#plunder’ Tag

Law is Force   2 comments

Frédéric Bastiat was a contemporary with Alexis de Toqueville and they both came from France. Both were admirers of the United States who noted risks to that wonderful experiment in constitutional republicanism with democratic features. While Toqueville focused on the United States in the most familiar of his writing, Bastiat focused on France while touching on the United States system.  I find Bastiat’s writing to be prescient. He spoke to his own time and society, but he could have been addressing his comments to American circa 2017.

To read the entire series, here is the Table of Contents.

 

Remembering that Bastiat defined plunder as anytime property is transferred from the person who produced it to one who has not earned it against the will of the producer.

 

With this understanding, let us examine the value, the origin, and the tendency of this popular aspiration, which pretends to realize the general good by general plunder.

 

Bastiat heard the socialists say that the law organizes justice, so it made sense to them that it should organize labor, education, and religion. Unfortunately, the law can’t organization labor, education and religion without disorganizing justice.

Law is force, and … the domain of the law cannot properly extend beyond the domain of force.

When the law’s force keeps people within the bounds of justice, nothing is imposed upon the individual beyond an obligation to abstain from doing harm. The law is not violating a man’s personality, liberty or property when it holds him to justice, which guards the personality, liberty and property of others. The law defends the equal right of all.

The aim of the law is to prevent injustice from reigning.

Injustice results from the absence of justice. When the law uses its force to impose a form of labor, a method or subject of education, a creed, or worship, it is no longer negative. It has acted positively upon people. It has substituted the will of the legislator for the will of the individual. The individual no longer as to think for himself. The law does that for him.

They cease to be men; they lose their personality, their liberty, their property.

  • How is any form of labor imposed by force not a violation of liberty?
  • How is any transmission of wealth by force not a violation of property?

Image result for image of government as forceThe law cannot organize labor and industry without organizing injustice. When a politician views inequality from his ivory tower, he mourns the sufferings of so many people, comparing their state to that of the rich and comfortable. He wants to remedy that sorry condition. Maybe he should look at history and ask if that social state has not been caused by plunder in ancient times when conquest was everywhere or, conversely, by plunder in more recent times, embodied by taxes levied by government.

The politician’s mind turns toward combinations, arrangements, legal or organizations. Instead of allowing justice to work, he tries to fix the problem by increasing the very thing that produced the evil of inequality in the first place. Rather than impose mere limits on oppressive behavior, he seeks instead to plunder some for the advantage of others.

But wait – there are people who have no money. Shouldn’t they be able to apply to the law for relief? But the government has no resources of its own. It must obtain whatever it has from society.

Nothing can enter the public treasury, in favor of one citizen or one class, but what other citizens and other classes have been forced to send to it.

If everyone were to draw from the public storehouse only what he as contributed, then the law wouldn’t be a plunderer, but that doesn’t help the guy with no money, so this law doesn’t promote equality. It is an instrument of equalization (only so) far as it takes from one party to give to another, and then it is an instrument of plunder.

France had tariffs and subsides in the 1840s, and all sorts of other economic “rights. At the bottom of all this legal plunder, Bastiat saw an organized injustice.

But, people need to be educated, so we apply to the law. But the law has no enlightenment of itself. It extends over a society where there are men who have knowledge, and others who have not; citizens who want to learn, and others who are disposed to teach.

It can only do one of two things:

  • allow a free operation to this kind of transaction
  • else preempt the will of the people in the matter, and take from some of them sufficient to pay professors commissioned to instruct others for free.

The second suggestion would be a violation of liberty and property – legal plunder.

But, there are people wanting in morality or religion and those concerned about this apply to the law; but law is force, and it is foolishness to introduce force into matters of labor, education and faith.

 

Shades of Plunder?   1 comment

Frédéric Bastiat was a contemporary with Alexis de Toqueville and they both came from France. Both were admirers of the United States who noted risks to that wonderful experiment in constitutional republicanism with democratic features. While Toqueville focused on the United States in the most familiar of his writing, Bastiat focused on France while touching on the United States system.  I find Bastiat’s writing to be prescient. He spoke to his own time and society, but he could have been addressing his comments to American circa 2017.

To read the entire series, here is the Table of Contents.

Bastiat believed that there were only three possible ways for a society to use the law.

  • When the few plunder the many. (Partial Plunder)
  • When everybody plunders everybody else. (Universal Plunder)
  • When nobody plunders anybody. (Absence of Plunder)

Recognizing that people might not have considered these subjects, Bastiat examined these shades of plunder.

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

Image result for image of shades of plunderUniversal plunder. We have been threatened by this system when the elective privilege has become universal; the masses having conceived the idea of making law, on the principle of legislators who had preceded them.

Absence of plunder. This is the principle of justice, peace, order, stability, conciliation, and of good sense, which I shall proclaim with all the force of my lungs (which is very inadequate, alas!) till the day of my death.

And, in all sincerity, can anything more be required at the hands of the law? Can the law, whose necessary sanction is force, be reasonably employed upon anything beyond securing to every one his right? I defy anyone to remove it from this circle without perverting it, and consequently turning force against right. And as this is the most fatal, the most illogical social perversion that can possibly be imagined, it must be admitted that the true solution, so much sought after, of the social problem, is contained in these simple words—LAW IS ORGANIZED JUSTICE.

Now it is important to remark, that to organize justice by law, that is to say by force, excludes the idea of organizing by law, or by force any manifestation whatever of human activity—labor, charity, agriculture, commerce, industry, instruction, the fine arts, or religion; for any one of these organizings would inevitably destroy the essential organization. How, in fact, can we imagine force encroaching upon the liberty of citizens without infringing upon justice, and so acting against its proper aim?

Here I am taking on the most popular prejudice of our time. It is not considered enough that law should be just, it must be philanthropic. It is not sufficient that it should
guarantee to every citizen the free and inoffensive exercise of his faculties, applied to his physical, intellectual, and moral development; it is required to extend well-being,
instruction, and morality, directly over the nation. This is the fascinating side of socialism.
But, I repeat it, these two missions of the law contradict each other. We have to choose between them. A citizen cannot at the same time be free and not free. Mr. de
Lamartine wrote to me one day thus: “Your doctrine is only the half of my program; you have stopped at liberty, I go on to fraternity.” I answered him: “The second part
of your program will destroy the first.” And in fact it is impossible for me to separate the word fraternity from the word voluntary. I cannot possibly conceive fraternity legally enforced, without liberty being legally destroyed, and justice legally trampled under foot. Legal plunder has two roots: one of them, as we have already seen, is in human greed; the other is in misconceived philanthropy.

 

Plunder of Socialism   Leave a comment

Frédéric Bastiat was a contemporary with Alexis de Toqueville and they both came from France. Both were admirers of the United States who noted risks to that wonderful experiment in constitutional republicanism with democratic features. While Toqueville focused on the United States in the most familiar of his writing, Bastiat focused on France while touching on the United States system.  I find Bastiat’s writing to be prescient. He spoke to his own time and society, but he could have been addressing his comments to American circa 2017.

To read the entire series, here is the Table of Contents.

For a modern libertarian-conservative, Bastiat’s own example in France is interesting. The head of state at the time was concerned about socialism because socialism always leads to plunder.

Image result for image of plunder of socialismSocialists are not thieves in the usual sense of the word. The plunder they exercise is typical of what collectivists have exercised since the beginning of time. Plunder is not new to socialists. Yet, in Bastiat’s time, the government wanted to stand against socialism, never noting the irony that the government itself had been plundering for a long time before the socialists arose.

When the law is discovered to be perverted, the best thing we can do is remove the perversion quickly and completely. How do we distinguish when the law has been perverted? Whenever the law allows property to be taken from some and given to others, that allows a citizen to do something that would ordinarily be considered a crime, then the law is perverted.

It’s not legal to steal from random strangers in the park to fund your drug habit. Nor is it legal to steal from your neighbor’s paycheck to fund the creation of that park.

Abolish this law without delay; it is not merely an iniquity—it is a fertile source of iniquities, for it invites reprisals; and if you do not take care, the exceptional case will extend, multiply, and become systematic.

Of course, those who benefit from this law, will complain that they have a “right” to be protected and encouraged. He will insist that it is good for society, so the State should support it. “The delusion of the day is to enrich all classes at the expense of each other; it is to generalize plunder under pretense of organizing it.”

Legal plunder can take many forms, so are seen an infinite multitude of  organization, tariffs, protection, perquisites, gratuities, encouragements, progressive taxation, free public education, right to work, right to profit, right to wages, right to assistance, right to instruments of labor, gratuity of credit. Socialism is a false and absurb doctine that must be refuted, but that will be easier if you root it out of existing legislation where it has crept in unnoticed.

The problem, Bastiat saw, was not just that socialism was on the rise, but that the French government had perverted the law to allow legal plunder. There are only three ways for society to organize itself.

  • When the few plunder the many. (Partial Plunder)
  • When everybody plunders everybody else. (Universal Plunder)
  • When nobody plunders anybody. (Absence of Plunder)

These are the only three choices that the law can produce.

Plunder Defined   1 comment

Frédéric Bastiat was a contemporary with Alexis de Toqueville and they both came from France. Both were admirers of the United States who noted risks to that wonderful experiment in constitutional republicanism with democratic features. While Toqueville focused on the United States in the most familiar of his writing, Bastiat focused on France while touching on the United States system.  I find Bastiat’s writing to be prescient. He spoke to his own time and society, but he could have been addressing his comments to American circa 2017.

To read the entire series, here is the Table of Contents.

Although Bastiat did not start with a definition of plunder, I felt it was too important to the essay to not put his definition at the forefront of the series.

 

 

Bastiat had already written for 10 pages before he decided to explain his meaning of the word “plunder”.

I do not take it, as it often is taken, in a vague, undefined, relative, or metaphorical sense. I use it in its scientific acceptation, and as expressing the opposite idea to property.

For Bastiat, plunder was “when a portion of wealth passes out of the hands of him who has acquired it, without his consent, and without compensation, to him who has not created it, whether by force or by artifice.”

Whenever property is violated, plunder is perpetrated. Bastiat submitted that the law ought to repress plunder always and everywhere. If the law itself is used to plunder rather than repress plunder, then Bastiat still called that “plunder” and considered it to actually be worse if the government did it instead of highway robbers. Why? Because the person who profits from the plunder is not directly responsible for the plunder. It is the law, legislator, and society itself that presents a danger to our production.

Bastiat wished he had a better word, something that didn’t have such an offensive connotation. He didn’t want to impugn the intentions or morality of anyone. He was attacking an idea that he believed was false that created a system that appeared to be unjust. We each profit from the system whether we wish it or not and suffer from it whether or not we are aware of the cause. This understanding does not speak to intentions.

Protectionism, socialism, including communism, are really all part of the same plant at different stages of its growth. Protectionism is partial plunder. Communism is universal plunder. Socialism is more vague and undefined, offered by sincere people who misconceive philanthropy. He didn’t doubt their intentions were well-meant while at the same time refuting their idea.

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