Isqua Istari

The Wise Wizards

The Law: Bastiat

Posted in Articles,Podcasts by Ziggy Sunday December 15, 2013 at 20:31

“The Law” by Frederic Bastiat

Full text (translated to English) can be found under the link above.

My own audio recording of the same. It’s free!

I have read this book several times now, and it always produces a fury of righteous indignation, and an encouragement to justice and liberty. To read it is to understand, as the text is so simple that I can not imagine any serious misunderstanding arising from it. However, Bastiat does fail on several points, mostly in the direction of personal refutations which are, to the current audience, largely irrelevant. Even so, the timeless nature of the text shines through these odd moments. I highly recommend anyone interested in political discussions peruse this little gem.

If time is scarce, one may omit the second half, as it is largely a refutation of the role of “classical education” in the downfall of enlightened society. As such education has been largely abandoned, I find it markedly less useful than the other parts of the text. Still, for those who are curious about the disadvantages of classical culture, this text also provides an interesting perspective on the topic. If you pick up the text again for the last few paragraphs you will not have missed much of material importance.

I have no doubt that this text is an education to itself in the foundations of governance. Ignore it at your peril, and enjoy it when you can!

Bastiat Describes a Nation

Posted in Other by Ziggy Thursday October 6, 2011 at 15:27

Keep in mind, this passage was written 150 years ago. The ever relevant Frederic Bastiat:

It is quite common, however, to attribute to capital a kind of deadly efficiency that would implant selfishness, hardness, and Machiavellian duplicity in the hearts of those who possess it or aspire to possess it. But is this not confused thinking? There are countries where labor is mainly fruitless. The little that is earned must quickly go for taxes. In order to take from you the fruit of your labor, what is called the state loads you with fetters of all kinds. It interferes in all your activities; it meddles in all your dealings; it tyrannizes over your understanding and your faith; it deflects people from their natural pursuits and places them all in precarious and unnatural positions; it paralyzes the activities and the energies of the individual by taking upon itself the direction of all things; it places responsibility for what is done upon those who are not responsible, so that little by little the distinction between what is just and what is unjust becomes blurred; it embroils the nation, through its diplomacy, in all the petty quarrels of the world, and then it brings in the army and the navy; as much as it can, it perverts the intelligence of the masses on economic questions, for it needs to make them believe that its extravagances, its unjust aggressions, its conquests, its colonies, represent a source of wealth for them. In these countries it is difficult for capital to be accumulated in natural ways. Their aim, above all, is by force and by guile to wrest capital from those who have created it. The way to wealth there is through war, bureaucracy, gambling, government contracts, speculation, fraudulent transactions, risky enterprises, public sales, etc. The qualities needed to snatch capital violently from the hands of the men who create it are exactly the opposite of the qualities that are necessary for its creation. It is not surprising, therefore, that in these countries capital connotes ruthless selfishness; and this connotation becomes ineradicable if the moral judgments of the nation are derived from the history of antiquity and the Middle Ages.

Though I would love to credit Bastiat with incredible foresight, it appears he is merely observing a current state of affairs. What this passage really says is that things have not become materially worse than they were a couple of centuries ago. Unfortunately, neither is our understanding (as a culture) much improved.

Bastiat’s Ideal First Speech of Office

Posted in Articles by Ziggy Monday June 13, 2011 at 13:16

I’ve been reading through the writings of Fredric Bastiat. There are so many great statements in there, and whenever I find one I want to tell everyone. My resistance to quoting him has been waning, and it finally snapped today.

Although he states a very specific case, I believe this is his idealization of the speech that any government official should make, from the heart, on taking office. From Economic Harmonies by Frederic Bastiat:

“We have tried so many things; when shall we try the simplest of all: freedom? Freedom in all our acts that do not offend justice; freedom to live, to develop, to improve; the free exercise of our faculties; the free exchange of our services. What a fine and solemn spectacle it would have been had the government brought to power by the February Revolution spoken thus to the citizens:


Arguments for Tyranny

Posted in Articles by Ziggy Monday February 11, 2019 at 14:35

I’ve already made several forays into the realm of the nature of proper governance. Here’s the most extensive of them:

Which was itself heavily informed by the writings of one Frederic Bastiat, some of which passages I have commented on here:

But in this article, I’d like to explore a few unusual arguments, take them to their extremes, and hopefully gain a better understanding of the nature of political power. Because political power is an evergreen source of contention, mainly because it is all about contention. Politics is about who should be on our side whom we should always defend and opportunistically admire, and who should be on the other team whom we should always despise and opportunistically destroy.


Inspirational Passage

Posted in Other by Ziggy Tuesday October 25, 2011 at 14:47

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. (more…)

Liberty and the Constitution of the United States

Posted in Articles by Ziggy Wednesday May 25, 2011 at 17:31


I’ve been reading a lot of Frédéric Bastiat recently. He makes a very strong argument for freedom, government focus on criminal justice, and non-involvement in everything else. I want to believe him, and have been doing some thought exercises to test the idea. So far, it’s coming out alright. To see where I’m coming from here, read The Law and (if you’re up to it) Economic Harmonies.

So, I figured I’d read through the US Constitution with this in mind and find out if it matches up with this idea of liberty. As Bastiat says, “The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all.” (my emphasis added) Is this the kind of “liberty and justice” the United States is founded on? Let’s find out!

(spoiler: My conclusion is that Article 1 and the 18th amendment are the main offenders. The rest are quite respectful of liberty.)


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