Communism is fought with communist arguments.

Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works volume I, page 182 (in French)
Letter dated December 31st, 1849

In context, it could be possible to substitute the words “socialism”, “collectivism” or “constructivism” to the word “communism”. The latter, which nowadays represent different things to different people, was even less well defined or understood in 1849, just one year after the publication of the Communist Manifesto.

What Frédéric Bastiat is bewailing here is the absence of economic culture in France, including by the governing elite. It has not changed much since and it is easier to find politicians who believe that their own will is sufficient to produce results independently from economic constraints than to find politicians able to understand that constraining individuals in their economic activities is necessarily sub-optimal.

This letter does not goes into the details of the “communist arguments” he is referring to but from the other writings of the author, it is easy to deduct that, what he blames contemporary politicians for is to fight constructivist ideas in asserting their own constructivist ideas. Individual freedom has never been at the heart of French politics and the idea of taking from the ones to give to the others seems legitimate to all that govern, which brings us closer each day to the dictatorship of the majority (which differs from the dictatorship of the proletariat only through those who are in power).

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