But I, for my part, thought that we made the law and that we paid the State to protect our rights, and not to destroy them.
Letter No. 2
F. Bastiat to the journalist at La Voix du Peuple
Here is the answer to Chevé in which Frédéric Bastiat manages to respect his opponent despite the dumb things written in the first letter; he attempts to convince him. In order to build his argument, he starts from the agreement in which both men find themselves in, which is that a service offered to pay for a service received is perfectly legitimate (which justifies “house rent, farm rent, instalments, ground-rent, loan payments, or interest”). He points at Chevé’s mistake using a reductio ad absurdum argument showing why the latter’s way of defining equality of service is a non-starter. One can also peep at a definition of value that allows to explain interest (comparing the use of something to a sum of money or an amount of labor, and trading on this basis).
What Frédéric Bastiat had also certainly seen is that his socialist opponents had autocratic leanings that they themselves ignored. It is often what explains the difference in the liberal approach in comparison to the socialist approach when both are facing a situation that both deem perfectible. Today’s quote is typical of the anointed who attempts to impose his views but who, despite all the good intentions he may have, is dangerously mistaken and ignores the institutions that are in place in order to limit human errors.
Other quotes from Free Credit:
First letter – Second letter – Third letter – Fourth letter – Fifth letter – Sixth letter – Seventh letter – Eighth letter – Ninth letter – Tenth letter – Eleventh letter – Twelfth letter – Thirteenth letter – Fourteenth letter