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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

AUTHOR: Frédéric Bastiat (1801–50)
QUOTATION: 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.
ATTRIBUTION: FRÉDÉRIC BASTIAT, Essays on Political Economy, part 4, “The Law,” p. 20 (185–?).