Frederic Bastiat quote from Economic Harmonies:
“And what element of progress is there in the world whose beneficial action has not been marred, particularly at the beginning, by much suffering and hardship? Our great urban masses of human beings stimulate bold flights of thought, but they often deprive individuals in their private life of the corrective of public opinion and serve to shelter debauchery and crime. Wealth combined with leisure favors the cultivation of the mind, but it also nurtures ostentation and snobbishness among the great and resentment and envy among the lowly. Printing brings enlightenment and truth to all strata of society, but it also brings nagging doubt and subversive error. Political liberty has let loose enough tempests and revolutions upon the earth and has sufficiently modified the simple and naive customs of primitive peoples to make serious thinkers wonder whether they would not prefer tranquillity under the shadow of despotism. Christianity itself has sown the great seed of love and charity upon ground soaked in the blood of the martyrs.
Why has it entered into the plans of infinite Goodness and Justice that the happiness of one region or one age should be purchased by the sufferings of another age or another region? What is the divine purpose hidden under this great and irrefutable law of solidarity, of which competition is merely one of the mysterious aspects? Human wisdom does not know the answer, but human wisdom does know that good is constantly spreading and evil diminishing. Beginning with the social order as it had been made by conquest, where there were only masters and slaves, and where the inequality within society was extreme, the work of competition in bringing ever closer together men of different rank, fortune, and intelligence could not be accomplished without inflicting individual hardships that, as the work has progressed, have continually become less, like the vibrations of a sound or the oscillations of a pendulum. Against the sufferings still in store for it, humanity is daily learning how to oppose two powerful remedies, foresight, born of experience and enlightenment, and social co-operation, which is organized foresight.” Frederic Bastiat
What amazes and heartens me is his utter dedication to an optimistic view of life under the banner of Christ, and a simultaneous utter rejection (elsewhere) of the doctrine of salvation by the power of government. I know it shouldn’t surprise me… but it does.