Left to itself, it soon exceeds the limits which circumscribe its mission. It increases beyond all reason the number and wealth of its agents. It no longer administers, it exploits. It no longer judges, it persecutes or takes revenge. It no longer protects, it oppresses.

Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works, adresses
November 1830

Today’s quote is referring (“it”) to the government. In his address to the electorate of the Département of the Landes in 1830, Frédéric Bastiat is attempting to convince about the role of a parliament. According to him, it is not an assembly the vocation of which is to allow its members to obtain a sinecure for themselves or pork barrels for their electorate but is an essential force of opposition in a liberal democracy. After listing the base material reasons upon which some candidates count, he explains why it is necessary to put in place some forces of opposition, which is summed up in today’s quote. Without them, power will naturally drift towards the excesses that can be observed in all tyrannies (which, as history will show, includes communist dictatorships because the cause is the absence of forces of opposition). 

Unfortunately, this is a necessary condition but not a sufficient one, which is highlighted in the first sentence of the address: “A people is not free simply because it has liberal institutions”.

Besides, there is a point I do not understand in this text. It Is dated November 1830 and, according to Guillaumin, it is in support of M. Faurie’s candidacy. However, the elections of 1830 occurred in July. If anybody knows the explanation for this apparent inconsistency, please do not hesitate to give it in the comments section.

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