MEN LOVE POWER. They love it so frenziedly that, in order to capture it or to keep it, there is nothing that they would not sacrifice, not even the peace and happiness of their own country.
Unfortunately, I cannot find the translation on the Online Library of Liberty but there seem to be a URL for future use so I still point at it. A consequence of this is that the quote is my own translation from the French original version.
This last text before moving on to the Economic Harmonies is exploring some constitutional aspects concerning the separation of powers. These discussions took place under the Second Republic and if it seems obvious to us nowadays that some functions in the civil service are incompatible with some elective mandates, a number of questions remain valid when one look at the issues of revolving doors nowadays.
For anybody interested in these institutional issues, Frédéric Bastiat offers here some thoughts while comparing the American and British systems to the French one.
Today’s quote is as valid today as it was then and pertains to the very nature of man. One can regret his weaknesses but it would be a pity to ignore them and declare they should not exist in order for the political system to function normally. Frédéric Bastiat acknowledges their existence and request them to be acknowledged while establishing a constitution, however revolting these might be. To refuse the romance that consists in believing that politicians are aliens permanently in abnegation for the public good is the best way to avoid bad surprises, from sterile political battles to real world against foreigners. As Milton Friedman would put it later: “I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing.”