Born in 1801, Frédéric Bastiat was a French legislator, author, economist and political philosopher who came of age during the Napoleonic Wars. This was was a time of "extensive government intervention in economic affairs." Major cultural and political splits between rural and urban centers of France, coupled with the aftermath of the 3rd French Revolution the people of France, resulted in the election of a parliament that was primarily moderate and conservative, using today’s applicable terminology.
In 1848, Bastiat was elected to the French parliament. In 1850, he published his most infamous work, simply titled The Law. What is The Law? The law, according to Bastiat, is defined thusly:
"Law Is Organized Justice. It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense... If every man has the right of defending, even by force, his person, his liberty, and his property, a number of men have the right to combine together to extend, to organize a common force to provide regularly for this defense… Collective right, then, has its principle, its reason for existing, its lawfulness, in individual right”
This is the law and this is what makes law just. This is what makes law agreeable to all.
"It is not true that the legislator has absolute power over our persons and property. The existence of persons and property preceded the existence of the legislator, and his function is only to guarantee their safety. It is not true that the function of law is to regulate our consciences, our ideas, our wills, our education, our opinions, our work, our trade, our talents, or our pleasures. The function of law is to protect the free exercise of these rights, and to prevent any person from interfering with the free exercise of these same rights by any other person. Since law necessarily requires the support of force, its lawful domain is only in the areas where the use of force is necessary. This is justice."
For more information on Frédéric Bastiat or his work, visit the Foundation for Economic Education: