Families that Discuss together, stay together

Families that Discuss together, stay together
Families that Discuss together, stay together

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My Response to Economic Harmonies by Frederic Bastiat


Bastiat’s Economic Harmonies has been a breath of fresh air for one who just finished reading the works of Karl Marx. The harsh society of socialism abolishes private property, family relations, classical education and religion. The socialists argue that capital causes a division of labor, which creates social classes, which creates hostility between the classes. They say that such a social order includes exploitation, evil choices and human suffering. To that I agree; and yet, I say, that is part of the natural path of free trade. With all good things there is opposition because men have agency. Agency is a natural order that brings choice and accountability. “Society is composed of men,” writes Bastiat, “and every man is a free agent. Since man is free, he can choose; since he can choose, he can err; since he can err, he can suffer.” There is growth through suffering and when institutions attempt to remove that error and suffering, they must remove agency and ultimately freedom. “If man-made institutions intervene in these matters to nullify divine law, evil nonetheless follows upon error, but it falls upon the wrong person. It strikes him whom it should not strike; it no longer serves as a warning or a lesson; it is no longer self-limiting; it is no longer destroyed by its own action; it persists, it grows worse.” So I echo Bastiat and proclaim, “bring on free trade and liberty!” Let the people choose for themselves.

The Socialist’s negative view of capitalism and competition is contested that evil choices made by men eventually correct themselves in time. Bastiat wrote, “Man’s principal social tendencies are harmonious in that, as every error leads to disillusionment and every vice to punishment, the discords tend constantly to disappear.” Bastiat did not try to cover up the fact that in a free society there would be errors. Competition does not remove hardship and suffering. The importance of struggle and effort, pain and suffering was essential for man’s progress. “On every rung of the ladder of progress,” says Bastiat, “a certain degree of suffering is and always will be man’s lot. But it teaches us also that suffering has a mission, since it would be impossible to comprehend the role of desire as a goad to our faculties if it lagged behind them, instead of rushing along ahead, as it does.” Although susceptible to evil and injustice, the best way to freedom, according to Bastiat, is undeniably free trade, which includes capitalism and competition.

Seemingly unbeknownst to the socialists, competition exists in both the natural and artificial order. Bastiat warned that competition could not be destroyed. In a free society it would be manifested in a struggle to become the best and most preferred producer, however in a socialist society it would be manifest in the direct opposite. Says Bastiat, “Men would still compete, but they would compete to excel in idleness, stupidity and improvidence.”

Whether we choose the natural social order or the artificial order there will always be competition, free exchange, evil, pain, and suffering. Bastiat enlightens the reader that there is a natural harmony that exists between the interests of man and mankind and that free trade and natural competition will be the mainspring to extend all the gifts of nature worldwide to bless humanity. In the spirit of the book of Revelations, Bastiat proclaims that “evil ends in good and hastens its coming, whereas the good can never end in evil, and therefore must eventually triumph.” Hooray for the good news projected in Economic Harmonies. I am convinced that no artificial social order can bring the happiness achieved in a free state.
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