Eyewitness to Musketeers, Monarchs, Ministers, and Mobs of Plundering
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.
It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
John Adams, President 1797-1801
The means by which to make The Constitution inadequate has been to systematically remove the moral and religious foundations of the people. Failing to transmit the moral and religious foundations upon which the political contract was premised, what remains is an emotional pity driven mob; the social compact of Rousseau’s raw sensory driven romanticism….the animal instinct.
Accepting the reality of the present, it behooves us to learn from an eyewitness as to what transpires in nations that choose to be serfs under the tyranny of the mob and its “spirit of begging.”; The predator pack that feeds off of compatriots.
French Economist and Statesman, Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) was a privileged witness to France’s unsettled history, particularly: after the Revolution of 1789, the Napoleonic Empire, the return of the monarchy in 1815, another revolution in 1830, and another revolution in 1848 at which time the Second Republic was founded and universal suffrage was adopted for the first time in French history.
France was racked with wave after wave of revolutionary upheaval including those of budding communism. Recall that Karl Marx (1818-1883) had moved to Paris in 1843; was expelled from Paris in 1845; expelled from Brussels and returned to Paris where revolution had overthrown the monarchy in 1848; Marx is expelled from Paris again in 1849 to take up permanent residence in London. (in the British Museum’s Reading Room)
Frederic Bastiat was a thinker and an actor in public affairs. He was a politician who was inspired by both economic and ethical principle, which is a rare occurrence, then or now. Margaret Thatcher describes herself as “a devotee of Bastiat.”
Bastiat demonstrates how the combination of careful logic, consistency of principle, and clarity of exposition is the instrument for solving most economic and social problems. He presents facts on topics at the center of current political debates in such an understandable, clear and coherent manner that reading his work is a pleasurable must for the citizens of today. (Excerpts follow…*)
Peace and Freedom or the Republican Budget
Frederic Bastiat, February 1849
“A program! A program!
That is the cry that rises from all sides to the cabinet.…
I will not review all the articles of the expenditures that I consider it to be useful and good policy to cut. The budget reflects nothing but politics. It swells or decreases depending on whether public opinion requires more or less from the state.
What good would it do to show that the elimination of such and such a government department would lead to this or that major saving if the taxpayer himself prefers the department to the savings?
There are reforms that have to be preceded by lengthy debates and a slow preparation of public opinion and I do not see why I should go down a path in which it is clear that public opinion would not follow me. This very day the National Assembly took the decision to draw up the first budget of the Republic. It has a short and very limited time only in which to do this.
With a view to setting out a reform that is immediately practicable, I have to turn away from the general and philosophical considerations that I first thought of putting before the reader. I will limit myself to indicating them.
What postpones any radical financial reform to a far distant future is that
in France people do not like freedom.
They do not like feeling responsible for themselves and have no confidence in their own dynamism; they feel reassured only when they feel the pressure of government pulling strings on all sides, and it is precisely these pulling of strings that are so expensive.
If, for example, people had faith in the freedom of education, what would need to be done other than abolishing the public education budget?
If people really valued freedom of conscience, how would they achieve it other than by abolishing the budget for religious practice? [Non profit status, faith based initiatives, federal grants etc.]
If people understood that farming is improved by farmers and trade by traders, they would come to the conclusion that the budget for agriculture and commerce is superfluous and is something that the most advanced nations are careful not to inflict upon themselves.
…Thus, freedom is the first and most fertile source and spring of savings.
However, this spring is not made for our lips. Why?
Solely because public opinion rejects it.
Our children will therefore continue, under the monopoly of the university….We will continue not to be free and as a result to pay for our servitude, since peoples can be held in servitude only at great expense.
We will continue to see farming and commerce languish and succumb under the yoke of our restrictive laws and, what is more, pay the cost of this torpor, for all the hindrances, regulations, and useless formalities can be carried out only by agents of government enforcement, and the agents of state can live only through the budget.
And, it must be repeated, the harm is without a remedy that can currently be applied, since the public opinion attributes to oppression all the intellectual and industrial development that this oppression has not succeeded in stifling.
An idea that is as strange as it is disastrous has taken hold of people’s minds. When it is a question of politics, people assume that the social engine, if I can call it this, is in accordance with individual interest and opinion.
We cling to Rousseau’s axiom, “The general will cannot err.”
And on this basis, we decree universal suffrage with enthusiasm.
However, from all other points of view, we adopt exactly the opposite hypothesis. We do not accept that the driving force of progress lies in individuality, its natural yearning for well-being, a yearning that is increasingly enlightened by intelligence and guided by experience.
No. We start off from the concept that mankind is divided into two:
first, there are individuals who are inert and deprived any dynamism or stimulus to progress or who obey depraved impulses which, left to themselves, reduce them to absolute evil;
and second, there is a collective being, a common force, the government in short, to which is attributed inborn knowledge, a natural passion for good, and the mission to change the direction of individual tendencies.
We assume that if they were free, men would avoid all forms of education, religion, or production or, what is worse, that they would seek out education to attain error, religion to end up in atheism, and work to consummate their ruin.
This being so, it is necessary for individual to be subject to the regulatory action of the collective being, which however, is none other than the coming together of these individuals themselves.
Well, I ask you, if the natural inclinations of all the fractions tend toward evil, how will the natural inclinations of the whole tend toward good?
If all the innate forces of man are directed toward nothingness, on what will the government, made up of men, take its point of support in order to change this direction?
Be that as it may, as long as this strange theory remains in force, we will have to give up freedom and convenient economics that it brings. We ought to pay for our chains when we love them, given that the state never gives us anything for nothing, not even irons.
The budget is not only the whole of politics, it is also in many respects the moral code of the people.
It is the mirror in which, like Renaud, we might see the image of and punishment of our preconceived ideas, our vices, and our wild pretensions. Here again, there are torrents of wrong expenditure that we are reduced to leaving to run, since they are caused by leanings which we are not ready to abandon; what would be more unreal than to wish to neutralize an effect while the cause continues to exist?
I will mention, among other things, what I do not fear to call, even if the word sounds harsh,
the spirit of begging, which has spread to all classes,
the rich as much as the poor.”
The results of nations of individuals that are not led by The Holy Spirit continue to be the spirit of begging. The plague has hit America. The vector has been public Education and public media, the potters of public opinion. Whoever controls media and education owns the blacksmith as well.
* [bold emphasis, mine]