Modern philosophers who declaim against wealth without taking into account the difference in the means of acquiring it liken themselves to Seneca or Christ. They are mere parrots repeating words that they do not understand.

Frédéric Bastiat
Economic Harmonies

At the end of the chapter on wealth, the publisher has added a note from the author titled “The Morality of Wealth”. Frédéric Bastiat reminds us that the question of moral values is not in the scope of economic science, which does not mean that economists themselves are not interested in it and may have a view on this, as a personal matter.

Yet he notes that wealth has always been a controversial topic on from this point of view. One of the reasons that he underlines is that wealth was generated through plunder in the era of the Greeks and the Romans. Let’s not forget that the education system in France in the 19th century was centred around Greek and Latin studies, which blurred the view of the world that educated people had then. This is the topic of today’s quote in which he exposes the “philosophers” who do no understand that visible material wealth further to the industrial revolution is from a totally different origin (and hence, nature) than what they think.

It is bizarre to see that this type of speech still resonates nowadays despite the evolution of the education system away from the Greek and Latin classics. What is worrying is that it is not only the philosophers who hold such a position now but also a great number of economists (who are supposed to know better).

Other quotes from Wealth:
Introduction – Thesis – Conclusion – Epilogue

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