When pity and charity substitute justice in one’s mind, all sorts of mistakes follow.

Thomas Spencer, translated by Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works, Volume 3, pages 351 to 384 (in French)
Covent Garden, June 19th 1844

Three speeches from Richard Cobden, Thomas Spencer and William Fox are extensively translated from this long meeting on June 19th. They follow the debates and votes in parliament concerning the differential tariffs on sugar. The three speeches all shed light from different angles on the issue of party bias that has been glaring on this topic. One can note that the link I give corresponds to page 355 in the French Complete Works and does not include the introduction of the topic by Frédéric Bastiat, which can be found (in French) on page 351.

Today’s quote is of a more general extent and seems appropriate to me because it precludes the future positions of Friedrich Hayek or Thomas Sowell on social justice. It is obvious that “social” justice is unjust because the qualifying adjective appears to signify that this is not your standard Justice with a capital J but something else we are talking about. This is what is exposed here by Thomas Spencer, before the phrase was coined. The man finds his legitimacy in exposing this bias that consists in ignoring some principles of justice in order to support an agenda moved by charity out of pity because he is himself a minister of the cult. He reminds us here that “the Bible does not sanction this substitution of charity for justice”, that charity is of an individual nature and cannot be institutionalised.

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