We proclaim our deep respect for the property of this class of people who is the most fervent in opposing our demands.

William Johnson Fox, translated by Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works, Volume 3, pages 223 to 235 (in French)
Covent Garden, January 25th 1844

Weekly meetings take place again in London after a two-months gap. The speech is from William Johnson Fox, of which three parts are translated, viz. a reminder of the objective of the League, a criticism of the “independence from foreigners” argument and some factual considerations about the misery created by the Corn Laws.

Today’s quote is extracted from the first part reminding the public about the objective of the League, viz. the complete and unconditional repeal of the Corn Laws. This is a principle of justice, which is not a bargaining chip because the right of “each man to exchange the product of his honest labour against what he assesses to be the most useful for his sustenance or his well-being” is not “a question admitting degrees”. What the extracted quote reveals is the intellectual integrity of those who support this principle. The opponents to the League are not attacked for who they are but for what they do. Their property desserves all the respect given to others’ property and what is unacceptable is the plunder they organise.

On the contrary, the second part of the speech shows that the intellectual property of the landlords is questionable, in particular when they use the argument of economic independence to justify protectionism. After listing a multitude of foreign goods and services that the opponents to free-trade benefit from by arguing about being “independent from foreigners”, William Fox asserts: “I do not contest his luxury consumption; what I argue against is the sophism, the hypocrisy, the iniquity of talking about independence when it pertains to food while at the same time he submits to depend on foreigners for all these items of enjoyment and pomp”.

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