Bastiat on Business – July 15, 2011
Except for the institution of slavery and prevalence of tariffs, Frederic Bastiat could see very little wrong with the United States. In fact, Bastiat says, “These are the only two issues where, contrary to the general spirit of the republic of the United States, law has assumed the character of a plunderer.” The prophetic outcome of these two issues would be the Civil War. The South resented the Washington, D.C for imposing tariffs on their agricultural goods, and the North exploited the dying and barbaric institution of slavery to justify a war to prevent the South from seceding from the Union.
Bastiat believed deeply that people will not tolerate plunder forever. The institution of slavery was, and rightly so, falling out of favor around the world, and high tariffs and State’s rights were indeed the main motivation for secessionist tendencies. A population oppressed long enough will surely rebel. The South did – and Bastiat predicted it:
Slavery and Tariffs Are Plunder
Exerpt from "The Law" by Frederic Bastiat
Translated from the French by Dean Russell
Published by: Foundation for Economic Education - Irvington-on-Hudson, New York
Slavery is a violation, by law, of liberty. The protective tariff is a violation, by law, of property.
It is a most remarkable fact that this double legal crime—a sorrowful inheritance from the Old World - should be the only issue which can, and perhaps will, lead to the ruin of the Union. It is indeed impossible to imagine, at the very heart of a society, a more astounding fact than this: The law has come to be an
instrument of injustice. And if this fact brings terrible consequences to the United States-where the proper purpose of the law has been perverted only in the instances of slavery and tariffs - what must be the consequences in Europe, where the perversion of the law is a principle; a system?