The characteristic feature of plunder is its inability to provide any satisfaction without a corresponding privation…
Frédéric Bastiat exposes the distorting lens through which people usually observe warring and other typical traits of nations. Indeed, historians tend to conduct research and study the leadership of other times and spaces, largely ignoring the existence of the productive people. The classical mistake that is made out of it is to think that the present world is materialistic while, in the past, nations would focus on noble causes like glory, the arts or spirituality. However, warrior people were not glorious. They were subject to the commands of the ruling elite who, to cover themselves in glory, would send these poor sods plundering their neighbours or to the grave.
Plunder is the part of interest from an economic viewpoint. War does not produce anything, it destroys and plunders. Today’s quote enlightens us on this latter characteristic. Exchange is not a zero-sum game and allows humanity to enrich itself while plunder is a zero-sum (or even negative) game in which the wealth of the one necessarily comes against the wealth of the other.
Other quotes from War:
Self-sacrifice – Plunder – Self-interest