And I say, as emphatically as I know how: Property is not a privilege.
In everyday English (or at least French), the word “privilege” is constantly used inappropriately to notify that someone is a man of fortune or simply fortunate. To say of someone who is in high standing that he is privileged does not shock anyone. It is a pity because the definition of words is what allows us to communicate, think and get as close as possible to understanding the truth.
The abolition of privileges in France (August 4th, 1789) was still relatively recent when Frédéric Bastiat exposed the mistake in today’s quote that pertained to property in his chapter about landed property. What he exposes in his introduction is the mistake that economists (Smith, Say, Ricardo, etc…), the socialists and the communists made when trying to explain the reason for landed property’s existence. All concluded from their own vantage point of view that it was a privilege, which would have allowed the communists to hold their theory opposing it with the advantage of reason.
What Frédéric Bastiat will develop in presenting the positions of the ones and the others as well as analysing the situation is that property is not a privilege, which is a condition for it to be legitimate.
Other quotes from Landed Property:
Introduction – Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5 – Conclusion