The Book and Author
When a reviewer wishes to give special recognition to a book, he predicts that it will still be read "a hundred years from now." The Law, first published as a pamphlet in June, 1850, is already more than a hundred years old. And because its truths are eternal, it will still be read when another century has passed.
Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) was a French economist, statesman, and author. He did most of his writing during the years just before -- and immediately following -- the Revolution of February 1848. This was the period when France was rapidly turning to complete socialism. As a Deputy to the Legislative Assembly, Mr. Bastiat was studying and explaining each socialist fallacy as it appeared. And he explained how socialism must inevitably degenerate into communism. But most of his countrymen chose to ignore his logic.
The Law is here presented again because the same situation exists in
America today as in the France of 1848. The same socialist-communist
ideas and plans that were then adopted in France are now sweeping
America. The explanations and arguments then advanced against socialism
by Mr. Bastiat are -- word for word -- equally valid today. His ideas
deserve a serious hearing.
This translation of The Law was done by Dean Russell of the foundation staff. His objective was an accurate rendering of Mr. Bastiat's words and ideas into twentieth century, idiomatic English.
A nineteenth century translation of The Law, made in 1853 in England by an unidentified contemporary of Mr. Bastiat, was of much value as a check against this translation. In, addition, Dean Russell had his work reviewed by Bertrand de Jouvenel, the noted French economist, historian, and author who is thoroughly familiar with the English language.
While Mr. de Jouvenel offered many valuable corrections and suggestions, it should be clearly understood that Dr. Russell bears full responsibility for the translation.
The raw digital copy of The Law was provided by:
The following is the accompanying notes from Mr. Metzger:
Enclosed in this and a succeeding message, you will find the complete text of the book The Law, by Frederic Bastiat. The Law is a fairly short book at only about 120kbytes, and it is one of the finest descriptions of purpose and proper role of law and government that one could imagine. Bastiat's views are held by many libertarians today, and I especially encourage the non-libertarians among you to read this and consider it carefully, if only so that you can argue against the libertarian position with greater understanding. It's a very quick read and it's enlightening. What more could you ask for?
I wish to sincerely thank The Foundation for Economic Education, the copyright holder of this translation, for giving me permission to post the text of The Law to UseNet.
The Foundation, which is a nonprofit research and educational institution, asked only that copies of this text must mention that:
The Lawful Path wishes to express its sincerest gratitude to all those who helped to bring this document to the InterNet. Our contribution was in taking the raw digital form and modifying it to include all the italicized words and parenthetical expressions of the Author and the subheadings and bracketed material of the Translator.
(Isaiah 33:22) For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us.