Bastiat’s Concept of the Politics of Plunder (L20)

One of the most famous lines of Bastiat’s Government is “government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else,” and I think it perfectly embodies his concept of plunder. He says that this desire is the “fatal disposition,” and that the product of this desire (by means of the state) is war, oppression, slavery and monopolies. Collectively, through “naked greed and misperceived philanthropy” this is the origin of plunder. Law is supposed to increase the risk of plunder, however it has in fact only become an instrument of it [plunder]. Through taxes and the right of assistance (welfare state) the government plunders the many for the benefit of some. This, says Bastiat, is a perversion of the law.

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