And besides, am I betraying my trust when I reflect on the causes of the storm and strive to act accordingly?

Frédéric Bastiat
Economic Harmonies

Frédéric Bastiat lays down the framework of political economy (that will be later called economic science). An interesting point on which he insists is he fact that the economy is not necessarily immoral (men can be) but that it is amoral. It is no accident if Adam Smith wrote two different books – The Wealth of Nations pertaining to economic phenomena following The Theory of Moral Sentiments that focuses on moral issues. If somebody dies by falling a cliff, nobody condemns the law of universal gravitation for being immoral; it would be desirable if the law of supply and demand were not condemned for all the misery that exists in the world.

A definition of what is the economy is offered that I find particularly to the point: “political economy may be defined as the theory of exchange”. Friedrich Hayek is convinced of the same, who would then attempt to make the term “catallactics” more popular in order to avoid the ambiguities that may have appeared concerning the objectives of economic science further to Karl Marx and the constructivists that followed.

In any case, what today’s quote is showing us is that Frédéric Bastiat, despite being a Member of Parliament, was not a politician looking to find out what the most popular “solution” would be to any given issue but a man of integrity trying to understand the world around him in order for humanity to progress.

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