Student Of Liberty

6. – THE PEOPLE AND THE BOURGEOISIE.

Can one assimilate wealth obtained by force to that acquired through work?

Frédéric Bastiat
Economic Sophisms Third Series

In his Preface to the second edition of Capital on January 24th 1873, Karl Marx dismisses Frédéric Bastiat as “the most superficial […] apologetic of vulgar economy”. I suspect that he took the pain of this accusation 23 years after the latter’s death because he recognised in Bastiat a serious opponent, able to spot through the contradictions of Marxian thought, in the same way as some dismiss the Cato Institute today as the hawks on the payroll of the Koch brothers – it is easier to launch and ad hominem attack than explain what is wrong with Bastiat’s thought.

This article lost in the middle of the Complete Works denounces why the concept of class struggle is a fallacious concept that ill-defines what is the bourgeoisie (we shall learn in the 20th century that the bourgeois – the enemy – could be anybody to be sent to the Goulag or to the fields after a thorough self-criticism). What makes me sad is that the confusion between wealth ill-acquired or acquired through legitimate means is still very much present nowadays and that one sees multiple protests springing up here and there from people who believe that any wealth is not legitimate, which justifies any sort of violence in their eyes. What depresses me is that, if I am right that their issues or misfortunes do not come from there, they can have as many cultural revolutions as they want without being able to solve any of their problems. 

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