It is not true that the great laws of Providence are hastening society along the road to disaster.
The Economic Harmonies constitute the attempt by Frédéric Bastiat to publish a treatise on political economy, as had been done previously by Adam Smith with the Wealth of Nations or Jean-Baptiste Say with the Treatise on Political Economy and will be done after him by John Maynard Keynes with the General Theory or Ludwig von Mises with Human Action. To the Youth of France is its introduction.
In this introduction as well as in today’s quote, Frédéric Bastiat shares his optimism towards society and its evolution. He is not gullible and can see that there is still a lot of room for improvement but he opposes the socialist and catholic schools, which, after seeing that the wrong exists in this world, conclude that it is necessary to coerce society into change for the better so that it can live peacefully. Frédéric Bastiat retorts that, if man is fundamentally bad, it is impossible to identify who would be the fundamentally good man whose views need to be imposed upon others but, if he is fundamentally good, freedom is what will allow society to improve constantly.
This last point will therefore be at the core of his Magnus Opus, which he reminds us in writing: “However much we may admire compromise, there are two principles between which there can be no compromise: liberty and coercion”.