Not being able to talk, I decided to write instead.

Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works volume I, page 96 (in French)
Letter dated March 15th, 1849

This letter refers to the communication difficulties that Frédéric Bastiat experimented and that remain a recurring issue. The quote mentions his preferred choice of communication and this is the best one for men of integrity (politicians prefer oral speech that is more difficult to track and allows to say a lot of nonsense without the listeners to notice – moreover, it is more easily subject to denial).

Frédéric Bastiat attributes his choice of writing to his sickness although what he describes about his oral interventions is universal – erroneous attribution of thought and speech distorsion (which can go as far as misconstruction). In our times when television and videos allow to reach a large audience, one could think that writing is less important but I think that, even if the audience is reduced, the quality of written speech and debate is so much better that it is far from obsolete.

Moreover, this letter tells us that the difficulties to debate important themes in parliament led to the writing of a long list of “brochures” – this is good news for posterity as well as for us, readers of Bastiat’s writings!

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