We believe that government or collective force is mainly and almost exclusively appointed in order to prevent and repress abuse.
Complete Works, Volume 2, pages 116 to 124 (in French)
June 27th, 1847
In this article, Frédéric Bastiat is delighted that the socialist newspaper L’Atelier expressed its support to private property, hence against communism. It does not make of it a supporter of free-trade but allows to engage in a civilised discussion. He explains here why he is afraid of communism, be it because of the fecklessness of those who support it purely out of politician grounds (“I do not believe in communism, but I am preaching it”) or because of the iniquitous action of government when it is serving the bourgeoisie to the detriment of the people (“to decree, despite looming food shortages, that the legislation creating obstacles against the entry of animal foodstuff should be maintained”).
This is the frame into which today’s quote appears. After criticising the constructivist approach of communism (that, in essence, denies the freedom of those to whom the legislator’s view is imposed), he notes that collective action must be limited. If it restrains itself in preventing abuse, it cannot prescribe (or dictate) human action.