65 Frederic Bastiat Quotes from the French Economist

Frédéric Bastiat was a French economist known for his support of free trade and Adam Smith’s economics.

He founded the ‘Associations for Free Trade’ in 1846 and used its journal to share his views against protectionism.

In his book “Sophisms of Protection” he shared a satiric story about candlemakers wanting protection from the sun to boost their profits.

Frederic Bastiat Quotes

This story is often used by modern economists to argue for free trade.

Bastiat also talked about the hidden consequences of government policies.

He was against socialism and won a seat in the French Constituent Assembly in 1849 because of his campaign against it.

Below are some of the best quotes by Frédéric Bastiat.

Best Frederic Bastiat Quotes


Taking Five and Returning Four is not Giving. ~ Frédéric Bastiat.


Repetition may not entertain, but it teaches. ~ Frederic Bastiat.


When goods do not cross borders, soldiers will. ~ Frederic Bastiat.


No legal plunder: This is the principle of justice… ~ Claude-Frédéric Bastiat.


It’s always tempting to do good at someone else’s expense. ~ Frederic Bastiat.


Let us first of all frugality in government-peace and freedom we will have as a bonus. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

Legal plunder has two roots: One, as we have just seen, is in human selfishness; the other is in false philanthropy. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder. ~ Frederic Bastiat.


Liberty is an acknowledgement of faith in God and his works. ~ Frederic Bastiat.


When two workmen run after one master, wages fall; they rise when two masters run after one workman. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

We hold from God the gift which includes all others. This gift is life – physical, intellectual, and moral life. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

Famous Frederic Bastiat Quotes

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. ~ Frederic Bastiat.


Law and Charity Are Not the Same. ~ Frédéric Bastiat.

When, then, does plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labor. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

The law commit legal plunder by violating liberty and property. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

The solution of the social problem is in liberty. ~ Frederic Bastiat.


The plans differ; the planners are all alike… ~ Frederic Bastiat.

Treat all economic questions from the viewpoint of the consumer, for the interests of the consumer are the interests of the human race. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

Either fraternity is spontaneous, or it does not exist. To decree it is to annihilate it. The law can indeed force men to remain just; in vain would it would try to force them to be self-sacrificing. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

Countries which enjoy the highest level of peace, happiness and prosperity are the ones where the law least interfered with private affairs. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

Popular Frederic Bastiat Quotes

The profit of the one is the profit of the other. ~ Frederic Bastiat.


If goods don’t cross borders, armies will. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

By virtue of exchange, one man’s prosperity is beneficial to all others. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

They would be the shepherds over us, their sheep. Certainly such an arrangement presupposes that they are naturally superior to the rest of us. And certainly we are fully justified in demanding from the legislators and organizers proof of this natural superiority. ~ Frederic Bastiat.


Justice is achieved only when injustice is absent. ~ Frédéric Bastiat.

There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

I cannot possibly understand how fraternity can be legally enforced without liberty being legally destroyed… ~ Frederic Bastiat.

Trade barriers constitute isolation; isolation gives rise to hatred, hatred to war, and war to invasion. ~ Claude-Frédéric Bastiat.


Property does not exist because there are laws, but laws exist because there is property. ~ Frédéric Bastiat.

Now, legal plunder can be committed in an infinite number of ways. Thus we have an infinite number of plans for organizing it: tariffs, protection, benefits, subsidies, encouragements, progressive taxation, public schools, guaranteed jobs, guaranteed profits, minimum wages, a right to relief, a right to the tools of labor, free credit, and so on, and so on. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

Great Frederic Bastiat Quotes

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. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

When plunder becomes a way of life, men create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it. ~ Frederic Bastiat.


The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

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. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

Why don’t you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

Law cannot organize labor and industry without organizing injustice. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

Slavery, protection, and monopoly find defenders, not only in those who profit by them, but in those who suffer by them. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

Thought-Provoking Frederic Bastiat Quotes

If you wish to prosper, let your customer prosper. ~ Frédéric Bastiat.

Try to imagine a system of labor imposed by force that is not a violation of liberty; a transfer of wealth imposed by force that is not a violation of property rights. If you cannot do so, then you must agree that the law cannot organize labor and industry without organizing injustice. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

Man acquires wealth in proportion as he puts his labor to better account. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

It is not true that the legislator has absolute power over our persons and property. The existence of persons and property preceded the existence of the legislator, and his function is only to guarantee their safety. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

Trade protection accumulates upon a single point the good which it effects, while the evil inflicted is infused throughout the mass. The one strikes the eye at a first glance, while the other becomes perceptible only to close investigation. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state wants to live at the expense of everyone. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

Since no individual acting separately can lawfully use force to destroy the rights of others, does it not logically follow that the same principle also applies to the common force that is nothing more than the organized combination of the individual forces? ~ Frederic Bastiat.

Profound Frederic Bastiat Quotes

Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Sometimes the law places the whole apparatus of judges, police, prisons and gendarmes at the service of the plunderers, and treats the victim – when he defends himself – as a criminal. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

And this is what has taken place. The delusion of the day is to enrich all classes at the expense of each other; it is to generalize plunder under pretense of organizing it. ~ Frédéric Bastiat.

Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don’t you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

The politician attempts to remedy the evil by increasing the very thing that caused the evil in the first place: legal plunder. ~ Frederic Bastiat.


It is easier to show the disorder that must accompany reform than the order that should follow it. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

There are people who think that plunder loses all its immorality as soon as it becomes legal. Personally, I cannot imagine a more alarming situation. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

Deep Frederic Bastiat Quotes

We cannot doubt that self-interest is the mainspring of human nature. It must be clearly understood that this word is used here to designate a universal, incontestable fact, resulting from the nature of man, and not an adverse judgment, as would be the word selfishness. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

Nothing is more senseless than to base so many expectations on the state, that is, to assume the existence of collective wisdom and foresight after taking for granted the existence of individual imbecility and improvidence. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

And what is liberty, whose very name makes the heart beat faster and shakes the world? Is it not the union of all liberties – liberty of conscience, of education, of association, of the press, of travel, or labor, or trade? ~ Frederic Bastiat.

When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law. ~ Frédéric Bastiat.

Property, the right to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor, the right to work, to develop, to exercise one’s faculties, according to one’s own understanding, without the state intervening otherwise than by its protective action; this is what is meant by liberty. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

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. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

The law has been perverted through the influence of two very different causes-naked greed and misconceived philanthropy. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

Top Frederic Bastiat Quotes

The most urgent necessity is, not that the State should teach, but that it should allow education. All monopolies are detestable, but the worst of all is the monopoly of education. ~ Frederic Bastiat.


Is not liberty the destruction of all despotism – including, of course, legal despotism? ~ Frederic Bastiat.

Competition is merely the absence of oppression. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

The law can be an instrument of equalization only as it takes from some persons and gives to other persons. When the law does this, it is an instrument of plunder. ~ Frederic Bastiat.

The balance of trade is an article of faith. ~ Frédéric Bastiat.

In short, is not liberty the freedom of every person to make full use of his faculties, so long as he does not harm other persons while doing so? ~ Frederic Bastiat.

So these were the 65 top Frederic Bastiat quotes and sayings.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Mandy Hale quotes and Miles Davis quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar