Thursday, September 5, 2013

Notes from "The State" by Bastiat

Note # 1

"The State! What is it? Where is it? What does it do? What should it do? We only know that it is a mysterious being; and, it is certainly the most petitioned, the most harassed, the most bus­tling, the most advised, the most reproached, the most invoked, and the most challenged of any being in the world."

Note # 2

"...you have designed Uto­pias, and if so, that you are look­ing to The State for the realiza­tion of them."

Note # 3

"The hundred thousand mouths of the press and of the platform cry out all at once—"

  • Organize work and the workmen. Cover the country with railways. Irrigate the plains.
  • Reforest the hills.
  • Establish model farms.
  • Educate the youth.
  • Assist the aged.
  • Equalize the profits of all trades.
  • Lend money without interest to all who wish to borrow.
  • Restrict commerce.

Note # 4

"The mission of The State is to enlighten, to develop, to ennoble, to strengthen, and to sanctify the soul of the people."

Note # 5

"...it has been proven that The State has no means of granting privileges to some without adding to the labor of others."

Note # 6

"The State is the great fiction through which everybody endeav­ors to live at the expense of everybody."

Note # 7

"The State quickly perceives the advan­tages it can derive from the role entrusted to it by the public. It will be the judge, the master of the destinies of all. It will take a lot: then much will remain for itself. It will multiply the number of its agents, and increase its functions, until it finally acquires crushing proportions."

Note # 8

"I contend that the personifica­tion of The State has been in the past and will be in the future, a fertile source of calamities and revolutions. There is the public on one side, The State on the other, considered as two distinct beings; the latter obligated to bestow upon the former, the former hav­ing the right to claim from the latter a flood of human benefits."

Note # 9

"The State has two hands, one for receiving and the other for giving—a rough hand and a smooth one. The activity of the second is necessarily subordinate to the activity of the first."

Note # 10

"It is utterly impossible for it to confer a specific benefit upon some of the individuals who make up the community, without inflicting a greater injury upon the community as a whole."

Note # 11

"Our demands, therefore, place The State in an obvious dilemma! If it refuses to grant the requested benefit, it is accused of weak­ness, and incapacity. If it tries to grant their requests, it is obliged to load the people with in­creased taxes—to do more harm than good—and to bring upon it­self general displeasure from an­other quarter."

Note # 12

"To live upon credit, that is, to exhaust the future, is cer­tainly a temporary method of reconciling them—an attempt to do a little good now, at the expense of a great deal of harm in the fu­ture."

Note # 13

"Citizens! At all times, two political systems have been in existence, and each can justify itself with good reasons. According to one of them, The State should do a lot, but then it should take a lot. Ac­cording to the other, this twofold activity ought to be limited. We have to choose between these two systems."