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Friedrich A. Hayek: Champion of

Individual Liberty, Limited Government, and Free Markets

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Commanding Heights
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Hayek Quotes ] Milton Friedman ] Ayn Rand ] [ Frederick Bastiat ]

Frederick Bastiat

From "The Law"

Self-preservation and self-development are common aspirations among all people. And if everyone enjoyed the unrestricted use of his faculties and the free disposition of the fruits of his labor, social progress would be ceaseless, uninterrupted, and unfailing.

But there is also another tendency that is common among people. When they can, they wish to live and prosper at the expense of others. This is no rash accusation. Nor does it come from a gloomy and uncharitable spirit. The annals of history bear witness to the truth of it: the incessant wars, mass migrations, religious persecutions, universal slavery, dishonesty in commerce, and monopolies. This fatal desire has its origin in the very nature of man in that primitive, universal, and insuppressible instinct that impels him to satisfy his desires with the least possible pain.

Simply put, people recognize it is easier to take what they want, than to produce it themselves, or at least engage in productive activity which will allow them to exchange their labor, or the fruits of their labor, for whatever it is that they want.  Why engage in productive work, when one can engage the state in providing for your needs at the expense of others?

The classic liberal philosophers understood the dangers of man's fatal tendency for sloth when they defined what constituted fundamental human rights in the 16th through 19th centuries.  Unfortunately, classic liberalism, the philosophy of freedom, seems to have been supplanted by populism, or communalism, as if the rule of the majority is moral.

Replacing the statism of the few - the feudalist states, monarchies, or dictatorships - with the statism of the majority - democratic statism, whether it is conservative fascism or socialism of one form or another - is really replacing a tiger with a pack of wolves.  I would argue that a tiger is less dangerous, because once you kill the tiger you are safe.  Killing one wolf makes little difference ...

All information on this and referred pages should be distributed widely (with appropriate references to sources) to spread Hayek's principles to as many people as possible and move our countries toward more ideal conditions for all people.

Feel free to contact me with questions and comments: St. Augustine, Florida, USA - These pages last updated: July 17, 2003.

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