Legal plunder can be committed in an infinite number of ways; hence, there are an infinite number of plans for organizing it: tariffs, protection, bonuses, subsidies, incentives, the progressive income tax, free education, the right to employment, the right to profit, the right to wages, the right to relief, the right to the tools of production, interest free credit, etc., etc. And it the aggregate of all these plans, in respect to what they have in common, legal plunder, that goes under the name of socialism
All men’s impulses, when motivated by legitimate self-interest, fall into a harmonious social pattern.
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.
But how is…legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not 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 this law without delay, for it is not only an evil itself, but also it is a fertile source for further evils because it invites reprisals.
You would oppose law to socialism. But it is the law which socialism invokes. It aspires to legal, not extra-legal plunder. You wish to prevent it from taking any part in the making of laws. You would keep it outside the Legislative Palace. In this you will not succeed, I venture to prophesy, so long as legal plunder is the basis of the legislation within. It is absolutely necessary that this question of legal plunder should be determined, and there are only three solutions of it:1. When the few plunder the many. 2. When everybody plunders everybody else. 3. When nobody plunders anybody. Partial plunder, universal plunder, absence of plunder, amongst these we have to make our choice. The law can only produce one of these results. Partial plunder. This is the system which prevailed so long as the elective privilege was partial; a system which is resorted to, to avoid the invasion of socialism. Universal plunder. We have been threatened by this system when the elective privilege has become universal; the masses having conceived the idea of making law, on the principle of legislators who had preceded them. Absence of plunder. This is the principle of justice, peace, order, stability, conciliation, and of good sense.
Each of us has a natural right—from God to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties?
We always compare our labor with its results. We do not devote more effort to a given task if we can accomplish it with less; nor, when confronted with two toilsome tasks, do we choose the greater. We are more inclined to diminish the ratio of effort to result, and if, in so doing, we gain a little leisure, nothing will stop us from using it, for the sake of additional benefits, in enterprises more in keeping with our tastes.
Man’s universal practice, indeed, is conclusive in this regard. Always and everywhere, we find that he looks upon toil as the disagreeable aspect, and on satisfaction as the compensatory aspect, of his condition. Always and everywhere, we find that, as far as he is able, he places the burden of his toil upon animals, the wind, steam, or other forces of Nature, or, alas! upon his fellow men, if he can gain mastery over them. In this last case, let me repeat, for it is too often forgotten, the labor has not been lessened; it has merely been shifted to other shoulders.
A science of economics must be developed before a science of politics can be logically formulated. Essentially, economics is the science of determining whether the interests of human beings are harmonious or antagonistic. This must be known before a science of politics can be formulated to determine the proper functions of government.
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.
When goods do not cross borders, soldiers will.
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- Montesquieu French Political Philosopher
- Alexis de Tocqueville French Historian, Political Scientist
- Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand French Writer, Statesman
- Honore de Balzac French Novelist
- Margaret Fuller American Journalist, Feminist
- John Stuart Mill English Philosopher, Economist
- Adam Smith Scottish Philosopher
- Harriet Martineau English Sociologist
- James Mill Scottish Philosopher
- Pierre-Joseph Proudhon French Politician