Let progress come from dusk or dawn, what counts is that it comes.
Complete Works volume I, page 143 (in French)
Letter dated October 22nd, 1846
Today’s quote concludes a reflexion from Frédéric Bastiat about nationalism (anachronistic if we consider that it started with Bismarck) and that he names “national envy”. Yet, the quality of those who help humanity to progress is universal and cannot be granted to the place where they were born.
It is clear that, even if Frédéric Bastiat was a Frenchman, he had great admiration for men who were passionate about freedom wherever they came from and that he would not pride himself of being a Frenchman above all – he was a citizen of the world. He also mentions in his letter that “nations pride themselves a lot for producing a great musician, a good painter, a smart captain, as if it added anything to their own merit”. This quote translates the fact that nationalism is also a form of collectivism while we are all individuals – if one can rejoice about the success of other people, let’s not deceive ourselves about the source of merit, which is individual.
I hesitated to extract a different quote that is dear to me so I give it here point-blank: “it is not necessary to kill people to teach them how to live”. He refers here to a speech from Richard Cobden and I believe this is a truth that we should always keep in mind when we see all the constructivists who are ready to impose their own views about what is good on individuals in spite of them.