How does an 1850 Frenchman’s perspective align with today?
What is the Purpose of Law?
Laws should be set to prevent certain actions which harm individuals and their property. It should not be used to compel or force people to act in a certain way.
One of the main ways in which those in power use the law as a weapon of force is through ‘legalized plunder’. One of the most accepted and prevalent forms of legalized plunder is taxation.
Legalized plunder has been so prevalent throughout history because often groups who are initially the victim of legalized plunder try to gain power not to put an end to it, but so they can use the law to take the property of others.
“When a politician views society from the seclusion of his office he is struck by the spectacle of inequality that he sees. He deplores the deprivations, which are the lot of so many of our brothers, deprivations, which appear to be even sadder when contrasted with luxury and wealth. Perhaps the politician should ask himself whether this state of affairs has not been caused by old conquests and lootings, and by more recent legal plunder. . . But the politician never gives this a thought. His mind turns to organizations, combinations, and arrangements – legal or apparently legal. He attempts to remedy the evil by increasing and perpetuating the very thing that caused the evil in the first place: legal plunder.” (The Law, Frederick Bastiat)
Would a society that didn’t engage in legalized plunder (taxation) help others through voluntary means?
Bastiat suggested that the belief that only governments are capable of providing certain services arises from a perverse view of humanity – a view which maintains that free individuals lack the compassion, concern, and capability to help those in need.
“If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good?” (The Law, Frederick Bastiat)
In summary of this small pamphlet, “The purpose of the law should not be to cause justice to reign but to prevent injustice from reigning. Justice is achieved only when injustice is absent.” p 29 “The Law”.