We are not aware of any possible labour organisation in a free country other than that of freedom, compensating itself through competition, ability and morality.
Alphonse de Lamartine, quoted by Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works, Volume 1, pages 406 to 428 (in French)
This long letter written to Alphonse de Lamartine, then a Member of Parliament, further to his position in favour of the Right to Work (which will have been translated a few years later into the sad experience of the National Workshops). Frédéric Bastiat is a great admirer of this erudite and is criticising him for his inconsistency. After praising him and explaining why liberals as much as socialists were trying to rally him to their own cause, he mentions how Lamartine is trying to choose what is now described as the “Third Way” (which could therefore be applied to all his successors, the latest one being Tony Blair).
He shows by quoting him extensively how Lamartine is regularly an advocate of freedom and opposes constructivists from all schools for, eventually, refusing to choose, and to believe that it is possible to take from the ones or the others what he likes the most. He exposes also some positions in which Lamartine criticises economists, who are trying to reason according to facts, for not supporting utopian positions as the constructivists do (utopia that he recognises as such).
Today’s quote from Lamartine sums up well the position of liberals according to Frédéric Bastiat who is convinced that it shows the error in which he misleads himself when he does not stick to it. Frédéric Bastiat highlights his own conviction by reminding us that: “a principle is applicable to all times, to all places, to all climates and in all circumstances.”