We are convinced that a people adopting the restrictive regime is rushing into an antisocial policy while making a bad move for itself.

Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works, Volume 2, pages 177 to 185 (in French)
February 6th, 1847

Frédéric Bastiat keeps on responding to those who compare him to a traitor in the service of England and pursues here his efforts to describe and show the mistakes of mercantilism. He reminds us that the mercantile system “has been dominating economic thoughts for centuries” and that “it is obvious that all individual actions are conflicting with the actions of others”. His optimism and love for humanity cannot accept this as a solution for progress.

Rather than an extensive speech about the benefits of freedom, he insists in this article about the damaging effects of protectionism. He explains how England, as much as all other countries, has conducted a mercantile policy forever and that, if its ideas are shifting, it is not because it was beneficial to it (the facts tend to confirm it since it used to be the strongest economic power at the time) but indeed because it has realised what are the inherent limitations in mercantilism and the superiority of liberalism. To try and engage France towards the same route is not treason but the acknowledgment of the mistakes that have stained international relationships since time immemorial.

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