The Law

by Frédéric Bastiat

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A Temporary Dictatorship

Here is Mably on this subject of the law and the legislator. In the passages preceding the one here quoted, Mably has supposed the laws, due to a neglect of security, to be worn out. He continues to address the reader thusly:

"Under these circumstances, it is obvious that the springs of government are slack. Give them a new tension, and the evil will be cured.... Think less of punishing faults, and more of rewarding that which you need. In this manner you will restore to your republic the vigor of youth. Because free people have been ignorant of this procedure, they have lost their liberty! But if the evil has made such headway that ordinary governmental procedures are unable to cure it, then resort to an extraordinary tribunal with considerable powers for a short time. The imagination of the citizens needs to be struck a hard blow."

In this manner, Mably continues through twenty volumes.

Under the influence of teaching like this -- which stems from classical education -- there came a time when everyone wished to place himself above mankind in order to arrange, organize, and regulate it in his own way.

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It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.