rediscover the pleasures of self-directed learning

BFU Summary
B&M vs. D/L
happy birthday Bastiat
Renaissance Learning
Business Learning
Libre Université
Flash Intro
The Netcohort
Silent Partner
Free Speech


Claude Frédéric Bastiat

Born : 29 June 1801 in Bayonne France

Claude Frederic Bastiat picture from the site

Died: 24 December 1850 in Rome Italy

quotes of and information on C. F. Bastiat


Frederic Bastiat was a statesman, philosopher, author, leader, economist, and witty satirist. Bastiat had an ability to communicate effectively in a penetrating yet humorous style.



"Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." - Bastiat


"Law cannot organize labor and industry without organizing injustice." - Bastiat


"When goods do not cross borders, soldiers will." - Bastiat



Europe at the end of the agricultural age was going through changes made possible by industrialization. Efficiency was a new goal, and size was a primary method for acquiring efficiency. Large organizations provided an economy of scale that drove down costs. Lower costs and competition started to drive down prices of goods. The predecessor of the middle class, the trade guilds, were doomed by these economies of scale. Agricultural workers were being displaced by machinery, and being trained to operate other machinery. There was a migration not just from farm to city, but there was also a personal migration from being a serf in a feudal society toward independence.


(To those screaming about the horrors of the industrial age; please yourself if you wish to live in a wattle and daub hut surviving on gruel while experiencing famines, slavery, and plagues. Rational people tend to prefer the better life offered by an open capitalist society. Don't demand others give up their lives by spieling your emotional screed reinforced with factual errors; and don't procure some government busybody to demand it of others for you. That is still theft. )



"Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Thus the beneficiaries are spared the shame and danger that their acts would otherwise involve. But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them and gives it to the other persons to whom it doesn't belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime. Then abolish that law without delay; No legal plunder; this is the principle of justice, peace, order, stability, harmony and logic." - Bastiat


"The sort of dependence that results from exchange, i.e., from commercial transactions, is a reciprocal dependence. We cannot be dependent upon a foreigner without his being dependent on us. Now, this is what constitutes the very essence of society. To sever natural interrelations is not to make oneself independent, but to isolate oneself completely" - Bastiat.


"By virtue of exchange, one man's prosperity is beneficial to all others." - Bastiat



Functions previously performed in the private sector, such as insurance and education, were appropriated by the state. Advances in transportation design and organization made free trade a major political issue. France centralized and regulated social arrangements under a national banner. Laws were created that hurt consumers and small businesses, while favoring one person, location, or class. Reaction to unjust applications of The Law impelled Bastiat to some of his greatest works. "But we assure the socialists that we repudiate only forced organization, not natural organization. We repudiate the forms of association that are forced upon us, not free association. We repudiate forced fraternity, not true fraternity. We repudiate the artificial unity that does nothing more than deprive persons of individual responsibility. We do not repudiate the natural unity of mankind under Providence." - Bastiat



"Life, faculties, production, in other words, individuality, liberty, property, this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place." - Bastiat


"When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law." - Bastiat


"Each of us has a natural right, from God, to defend his person, his liberty, and his property." - Bastiat



Feudal agriculture forced people to be married to the land and allied to a lord. The industrial revolution offered a chance to innovate and develop. This presented a frightening prospect if for generations your family had not traveled more than a few miles from home. The options for the ambitious were rapidly increasing, although for many the promise of a better life would take time to fulfill. The once stratified society was becoming more fluid, with more opportunity, and with different and greater risks. This is again the case, adaptable knowledge workers are finding opportunity in another technological revolution. The changes are more rapid this time, the risks and rewards are greater. Conversion to a network society presents a frightening prospect to a sedentary work force untrained for rapid social order transitions.



"Property, the right to enjoy the fruits of one's labor, the right to work, to develop, to exercise one's faculties, according to one's own understanding, without the state intervening otherwise than by its protective action; this is what is meant by liberty" - Bastiat


"Now, legal plunder can be committed in an infinite number of ways. Thus we have an infinite number of plans for organizing it: tariffs, protection, benefits, subsidies, encouragements, progressive taxation, public schools, guaranteed jobs, guaranteed profits, minimum wages, a right to relief, a right to the tools of labor, free credit, and so on, and so on. All these plans as a whole, with their common aim of legal plunder,   constitute socialism." - Bastiat


"No legal plunder: This is the principle of justice, peace, order, stability, harmony, and logic. Until the day of my death, I shall proclaim this principle with all the force of my lungs (which alas! is all too inadequate)." - Bastiat



In Bastiat's time society was at a nexus. With the inception of the industrial age the moribund trade guilds were doomed by increasing economies of scale. This new age also contributed to the creation of the skilled middle class worker. We have entered a similar period today, in reverse. The receding middle class is condemned as technology and robotics replace repetitious manual tasks. This time the large institutions propelled into existence by industrial age centralization will morph into the smaller, more efficient networks demanded by the information age.


The emerging information society will create a replacement for the middle class; customer centric knowledge workers attuned to each clients specific needs. This new class will exist in a network society composed of those that think, know, and accomplish. We will call these new above average individuals and teams the Netcohort. The netcohort already works as small protean associations within the transformational structure of an emerging Netcohort Society; mobilis in mobili.



"Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state wants to live at the expense of everyone." - Bastiat


"Man is born a proprietor, because he is born with wants whose satisfaction is necessary to life, and with organs and faculties whose exercise is indispensable to the satisfaction of these wants. Faculties are only an extension of the person; and property is nothing but an extension of the faculties. To separate a man from his faculties is to cause him to die; to separate a man from the product of his faculties is likewise to cause him to die" - Bastiat


"Often the masses are plundered and do not know it." - Bastiat



The new social order may well revert to old tribal ways, a cohort of small trusting groups, mobile and opportunistic. The future looks toward a network society based on reputation, accomplishment, and knowledge. The current school system is archaic, processing students into social machine parts for a prior age. Those that succeed as the new Netcohort will be knowledgeable and flexible; and they will continue learning their entire lives. Renaissance education, diverse knowledge combined with accomplishment, will be necessary to prepare for the networking society. This style of learning can be a pleasure as you study what you want and need to know. Prepare yourself for societal transformation. We are crossing a bridge to great opportunity.



"I have seen countries in which the people think that agriculture can make no progress unless the government supports experimental farms; that there will soon be no horses if the government does not provide studs; that fathers will not have their children educated or will have them taught only immorality if the government does not decide what is proper to learn. " - Bastiat


"When under the pretext of fraternity, the legal code imposes mutual sacrifices on the citizens, human nature is not thereby abrogated. Everyone will then direct his efforts toward contributing little to, and taking much from, the common fund of sacrifices. Now, is it the most unfortunate who gains from this struggle? Certainly not, but rather the most influential and calculating." - Bastiat


"Men naturally rebel against the injustice of which they are victims. Thus, when plunder is organized by law for the profit of those who make the law, all the plundered classes try somehow to enter, by peaceful or revolutionary means, into the making of laws. According to their degree of enlightenment, these plundered classes may propose one of two entirely different purposes when they attempt to attain political power: Either they may wish to stop lawful plunder, or they may wish to share in it." - Bastiat



The usefulness of the wisdom of Bastiat is based on parallels of his age to ours, and on contrasts. Our main difference with Bastiat's era is the vector of institutional growth. In Bastiat's France the incipient industrial revolution favored large vertically integrated organizations. Today information management and miniaturization technologies necessitate increasingly smaller organizations.

Society can move toward competitive and market efficient small groups, or toward violent and closed tribal units. Bastiat's works take on new meaning as they lay a course of justice for use in the transition.



" We cannot but be astonished at the ease with which men resign themselves to ignorance about what is most important for them to know; and we may be certain that they are determined to remain invincibly ignorant if they once come to consider it as axiomatic that there are no absolute principles." - Bastiat


"If you wish to prosper, let your customer prosper. When people have learned this lesson, everyone will seek his individual welfare in the general welfare. Then jealousies between man and man, city and city, province and province, nation and nation, will no longer trouble the world." - Bastiat



"Away with the whims of governmental administrators, their socialized projects, their centralization, their tariffs, their government schools, their state religions, their free credit, their bank monopolies, their regulations, their restrictions, their equalization by taxation, and their pious moralizations! And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works." - Claude Frederic Bastiat

return to top of page



Back to the Bastiat Free University renaissance learning introduction page.


Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More


Creative Commons License
This web site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.



Contact link at the Bastiat Free University lens.