When considering exchanges, what is simpler than liberty?

Thomas Spencer, translated by Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works, Volume 3, pages 153 to 160 (in French)
Drury Lane, April 26th 1843

Surprisingly, I cannot find a wikipedia page presenting the author, the reverend Thomas Spencer. However, it is fortunately possible to refer to the Dictionary of National Biography to discover who he was.

In this speech, he emphasises his neutrality (being, through is profession, neither on the side of the manufactures nor on the side of the farmers) to insist on the fact that he is motivated by justice. He insists that the League is not motivated by unethical considerations either when he mentions that its advocates “did not intend to let anybody nor let themselves benefit from this system of privileges”. He also exposes the illegitimacy of parliament when “it hinders commerce and invades the domain of private activity”. This latter point remains a prominent topic nowadays when government relies upon democracy to justify the dictatorship of the majority – a truly liberal constitution would circumscribe the powers of government to fight against injustice, be it for the minorities as much as the majorities.

I choose today’s quote for the self-evidence that it presents. It seems to me that the onus of the proof should systematically be on those who pretend to limit individual freedoms before implementing restrictive policies. And this should be the case beyond the realm of exchanges (asking “Why choose simplicity when complexity can be implemented?” is not a satisfactory answer but a joke).

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