Well, is it not better to tell the truth in the newspaper they read when the purpose is to convince the working class?

Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works volume I, page 101 (in French)
Letter dated December 14th, 1849

This letter to Félix Coudroy was sent while the heated debate between Frédéric Bastiat and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon on Free Credit was occurring (I highly recommend to read all the corresponding 14 letters which represent roughly 250 pages in the Complete Works).

Frédéric Bastiat is regretting the lack of support from the middle class (while his opponent Proudhon benefits from the support of the working class) for the simple reason that these letters are published in a socialist newspaper, La Voix du Peuple. Once again, this is the issue that we encounter between content and packaging. Our time being limited, we have to make choices and take shortcuts when we get interested in something. Often, the orator will not be listened to for what he says but for who he is. In the present case, the newspaper title is the reason why Bastiat cannot find the natural support that he could have expected.

However, today’s quote remains a perfectly valid question. Is it better to address people who are already convinced (and climb a step towards glory) or to address opponents in the hope of making them change their mind? The latter solution seems to be rather healthy in the framework of a written debate that allows the reader to choose reflection or not.

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