We demanded that the State directly create happiness for the citizens.

Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works volume I, page 177 (in French)
Letter dated June 27th, 1848

It is right after the June Days Uprising that Frédéric Bastiat writes this letter to Richard Cobden. If he is touched by the tragedy that had just occurred (several thousands casualties within four days in Paris), he is trying to explain the deep roots of it (the immediate explanation was the closing of the National Workshops, a sad political experience ignoring economic realities).

Today’s quote sums up his thoughts pretty well. The essential issue I that responsibility for something (happiness in this case) has to be borne by someone or by an institution (the State in this case) who cannot cope with it (in our case, happiness can only be found by each individual while legislation can only forbid or impose things).

The Journal des Economistes dated June 15th 1948 (i.e. right before the June Days Uprising) had published a pamphlet Justice and Fraternity that was dealing precisely with this topic of impossibility for government to have the fraternal policy that revolutionaries hoped for. I had extracted the following quote in particular: “New demands from the public, new taxes from the state, and we can go only from one revolution to the next”. History that followed has shown us that, unfortunately, Frédéric Bastiat was rather close to the truth but that he had never really been heard on that point.

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