Frederic Bastiat 101: Inspiring Minds to Embrace Economic Freedom
Zatrun Published at March 09, 2023

Frederic Bastiat was a French economist, writer, and a leading member of the French Liberal School. As a member of the French National Assembly, Bastiat developed the economic concept of opportunity cost and began presenting the Broken Window Fallacy. Economist Joseph Schumpeter described him as the “most brilliant economic journalist who ever lived.”

As an advocate for classical and Adam Smith economics, his views supported free markets and influenced the Austrian School. He is best known for his book, “The Law,” where he argued that the law should protect individual property rights and not allow the plundering of others’ property. Find out more about the great economist Frederic Bastiat by reading this article.

Who is Frederic Bastiat?

Frederic Bastiat developed an interest in intellectual pursuits, including philosophy, history, politics, religion, travel, poetry, political economy, and biography, when he decided, he did not want to work with his uncle and instead pursued formal work in Paris.

However, he was unable to realise this dream, as his grandfather was ill, and he needed to go to the Mugron estate with him. Bastiat went with him and took care of him. When Bastiat was 24, his grandfather died and left the family property to him, providing him the opportunity to continue his theoretical research.

After the middle-class revolution in 1830, Bastiat became politically active and was appointed as a justice of the peace in Mugron in 1831 and elected to the Council General of Landes in 1832. Following the French Revolution of 1848, Bastiat was elected to the national legislative assembly.

His Political Career and Economic Contributions

Frederic Bastiat’s economics career began in 1844 when his first article was published in the “Journal des économistes” in October. He travelled around France to promote his ideas and contracted tuberculosis, which ended his life by preventing him from speaking further. In his book, “The Law,” Bastiat wrote, “I will proclaim this principle with all my might until my dying day (unfortunately too close at hand).” This last line is understood to be a reference to the effects of tuberculosis.

In the fall of 1850, he was sent to Italy by his doctors and travelled to Pisa and then to Rome. On December 24, 1850, Bastiat passed away at the age of 49, whispering the word “truth” twice and asking those around him to come closer.

Frederic Bastiat’s most famous work is “The Law,” which was published in 1850 as a brochure. It defines a just legal system and shows how such a system facilitates a free society. In “The Law,” Bastiat wrote that everyone has the right to protect their “person, liberty, and property.” The state should only be a “collective force” to defend these rights. According to Bastiat, justice (in terms of protecting life, liberty, and property) has certain limits, but state power, extending to humanitarian endeavors, is unlimited and can grow indefinitely.

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