FRÉDÉRIC BASTIAT’S LEGACY
In 2010, Atlas Network's international teams took the clear and easily understood message of Frédéric Bastiat - that of property, freedom, prosperity, and peace - to the people of the world, in dozens of languages. The project included essay contests, translation and publication of Bastiat’s works (in print and online), Freedom Schools, videos, new media, such as blogs, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Orkut, Vimeo and more.
Evidence for the Relationship Between Free Trade and Peace
- Peace through Trade or Free Trade, Patrick J. McDonald, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 48, No. 4 (Aug., 2004), pp. 547-572 A series of statistical tests demonstrates that higher levels of free trade, rather than trade alone, reduce military conflict between states. Moreover, contrary to conventional wisdom, these arguments suggest how the puzzling case of World War I may confirm, rather than contradict, the central claims of commercial liberalism.
- Trade, Peace and Democracy: An Analysis of Dyadic Dispute, Carlos Seiglie and Solomon W. Polachek, June 2006, Institute for the Study of Labor Discussion Paper No. 2170 Cross-sectional evidence using various data on political interactions confirms that trading nations cooperate more and fight less. A doubling of trade leads to a 20% diminution of belligerence.
- Trade Does Promote Peace: The Perils of Simultaneous Estimation of the Reciprocal Effects of Trade and Conflict, Journal of Peace Research, Hegre, Havard, John O’Neal and Bruce Russett This article confirms that trade promotes peace and conflict contemporaneously reduces commerce, even with extensive controls for traders’ rational expectations of violence.
- The Capitalist Peace, Erik Gartzke, American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 51, No. 1, January 2007, Pp. 166–191 This article offers a contrarian account based on liberal political economy. Economic development, free markets, and similar interstate interests all anticipate a lessening of militarized disputes or wars. This ‘capitalist peace’ also accounts for the effect commonly attributed to regime type in standard statistical tests of the democratic peace.
- “Want World Peace? Support Free Trade.” Don Boudreaux, Christian Science Monitor, November 20, 2006
- The Invisible Hand of Peace Capitalism, The War Machine, and International Relations Theory, Patrick J. McDonald, Cambridge University Press (2009) The Invisible Hand of Peace shows that the domestic institutions associated with capitalism, namely private property and competitive market structures, have promoted peace between states over the past two centuries. It employs a wide range of historical and statistical evidence to illustrate both the broad applicability of these claims and their capacity to generate new explanations of critical historical events.
- “Investing in Peace: Economic Interdependence and International Conflict,” Erik Gartzke, Quan Li, and Charles Boehmer, International Organization , Vol. 55, No. 2 (Spring 2001)
Bastiat’s Life and Work
No writer ever explained the danger of legal plunder better than the French writer Frédéric Bastiat. His brilliant arguments against socialism led the great F. A. Hayek to call him “a publicist of genius.” He used logic and humor to explode the fallacies on which interventionism and statism rest. He showed that destruction – through war or natural disasters – cannot create wealth, that restricting trade cannot expand prosperity, and that using force to benefit some at the expense of others erases from everyone’s conscience the distinction between justice and injustice. Bastiat showed that respect for property and free exchange is the foundation of freedom, prosperity, social progress, and peace – at home and abroad. Our property is always at risk from thieves. We lock our doors and employ police to protect us from common thieves, but protection from the biggest thieves - those who use the law to plunder - is much more difficult. For that we need public education and moral awakening: stealing by the ballot box is no better than stealing by picking pockets. Bastiat devoted his life to promoting liberty by exposing the fallacious reasoning behind interventionist policies. His message remains as important today as ever, for we continue to hear the same errors that Bastiat refuted. They must be refuted again and again. The issues Bastiat addressed are not of mere historical interest. Many people still espouse the doctrines of destructionism that Bastiat refuted. A summary of Bastiat’s written work can be found in Liberty Fund’s online Library of Liberty. To access individual works, click on the titles below.
Modern Day Examples of the Broken Window Fallacy
Economic historian Robert Higgs subjects to critical scrutiny the common claim that “World War II ended the Great Depression” and finds that Bastiat was right: destructionism does not promote economic prosperity.
- Wartime Prosperity? A Reassessment of the U.S. Economy in the 1940s - Robert Higgs
- Regime Uncertainty: Why the Great Depression Lasted So Long and Why Prosperity Resumed after the War - Robert Higgs
- From Central Planning to the Market: The American Transition, 1945-1947) - Robert Higgs
- Depression, War, and Cold War: Studies in Political Economy (on Amazon) - Robert Higgs
- Will Terrorism Resuscitate the U.S. Economy? - Timothy Noah
- Reckonings: After the Horror - Paul Krugman
- Quake in Japan: Through Kobe’s Rubble, an Economic Rainbow - Nicholas Kristof
Students for Liberty, Atlas Network and Bastiat
Atlas Network has partnered with Students for Liberty to publish a special book for students in North America, The Economics of Freedom: What Your Professors Won’t Tell You, and to sponsor an essay contest in English. Find out more here. In celebration of Bastiat’s birthday on June 30, 2010, Sloane Frost of Atlas Network partner Students for Liberty discusses the importance of Frédéric Bastiast for college students, and describes the joint Atlas Network/Students for Liberty project to promote his ideas on college and high school campuses.
Also from Dr. Tom G. Palmer: Peace, Love, & Liberty, a provocative new book of essays edited by Dr. Tom G. Palmer on the topics of peace and war to be published September 15, 2014.