However, if by usurping legislative power, landowners prohibit the landless farm laborers from working away from the land in return for subsistence, the equilibrium between services is broken.

Frédéric Bastiat
Third Letter

This third letter seems to be of major importance in the reflextion of Frédéric Bastiat towards value because he seems to touch the definition of it that Carl Menger will give a few years later. He insists on the fact that “services are exchanged for other services” and if he does not reject outright the notion of labour value, he exposes the debate trying to differentiate use-value and exchange-value as well as the issues in focusing on materiality for value.

Besides, I note his understanding of competition in this letter. Today’s quote is focusing on the evil of his time, which was constituted by erecting trade barriers all over the place, thus limiting foreign competition. However, it is clear that according to him, liberty implies free competition and that this competition sets every one of us on an equal footing. As a consequence, competition is what allows to place checks and balances on the rich and powerful, reason for which it is key to not distort it through legislation, the justification of which will hide its worse misdeed, namely to wrong those who have nothing.

Other quotes from Property and Plunder:
Part 1 of 5Part 2 of 5Part 4 of 5 – Part 5 of 5

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