Thus it is really true! no man on earth was granted the privilege of intellectual universality.

Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works, Volume 1, pages 452 to 460 (in French)
October 1846

This second letter to Alphonse de Lamartine was written in response to an article he had published in the newspaper he founded in Mâcon in 1843, Le Bien Public. Frédéric Bastiat had been genuinely upset by the article and he chose to comment en excerpt of it on two columns in this letter (silly things written by Lamartine in the left column and explanation for his wrath in the right column). Lamartine appears here essentially as yet another protectionnist, supporting ideas that Bastiat hopes he did not think through. In his comments, he will go as far as writing: “when somebody does not know the laws of exchange, he needs to study them or shut up.”

This half-baked insult is following the one I chose to quote that is addressed directly in the introduction of the letter and which, in a more colloquial language, reminds me of this often pronounced phrase by my father: “we all are the moron of somebody else”.

I do not know if Lamartine took the pain of reading the letter he received (the criticism is such that he may have been tempted to ignore it as soon as the third paragraph) but I highly recommend reading it. In it, Frédéric Bastiat identifies with ease the mistakes of the famous poet and shows in a few sentences why protectionism is not acceptable to any level.

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