Since political economy restricts its field of investigations, it is supposed that it despises anything that does not enter its sphere of interest.
Complete Works, Volume 2, pages 124 to 131 (in French)
September 12th, 1847
In this article, Frédéric Bastiat responds to L’Atelier newspaper that criticises him on three misplaced items when it fights against political economy and free-trade. Today’s quote is an answer to the third grievance, viz. that “political economy is the expression of the inferior aspect of man and is inspired by selfishness, while communism is only an exaggeration of a good sentiment, the sentiment of justice”.
With such an accusation, L’Atelier implies that the sentiment of justice does not constitute the motivation of the economists, which must have outraged Frédéric Bastiat who always placed justice front and center in his thoughts. He takes offence and lists the reasons why this is not true. However, he admits that, contrary to communism, political economy aims at being a “science”, which is not based on good sentiments but on facts. This is the reason why it cannot embrace all aspects of human life and does not pretend to give an answer to man in all its complexity. It is not because the economist attempts at explaining the mechanisms of exchange independently from what he considers moral or not that he is immoral. As much as biology, physics or mathematics, the “economic science” is amoral, not immoral, and one of the torts of the communist is to believe that he can regulate man and his relations towards others in all his dimensions.