Bastiat was Wrong…

…but not for the reason you’re probably hoping.  Personally, I feel Frederic Bastiat was erudite in explaining the virtues of liberty and laws that maximize human dignity.  But he is wrong, or at least incomplete in his reasons for such strong opposition to it.  He wrote in The Law:

[W]hat is the political struggle that we witness? It is the instinctive struggle of all people toward liberty…. It must be admitted that the tendency of the human race toward liberty is largely thwarted, especially in France. This is greatly due to a fatal desire — learned from the teachings of antiquity — that our writers on public affairs have in common: They desire to set themselves above mankind in order to arrange, organize, and regulate it according to their fancy.

Bastiat is only half right.  He is correct in assessing mankind’s lust for power and desire to rule but is overly optimistic about the universality of the desire to be free.  He ignores the complicity of the citizenry in the establishment of authoritarian forms of government.  Didn’t ancient Israel cry unto the Lord for the establishment of a king despite the litany of warnings from the prophet Samuel?  And why did they do it?  To be like other nations and for someone else (other than the Lord) to fight their battles.  They were willing to pay the heavy price for that privilege.

Philanthropic Tyranny, meet your willing citizens.

There is a more striking example that is uniquely Mormon, as far as I know.  We believe in a pre-earth life as spirit children of God.  Prior to the creation of the world, Heavenly Father presented a plan for us to progress, to be tested and according to our diligence and faith exalted.  Lucifer proposed a counter offer whereby none would be lost, all for the low low price of forgoing Free Will.  A full third of the hosts of Heaven followed Lucifer and were cast out.

So even in the presence of God there is something within each of us that is tempted to sell our liberty for a mess of pottage.  No wonder this is the great political struggle.

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Filed under Free Will, Politics, Various and Sundry

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