The Law

Narrated by: Floy Lilley
Length: 1 hr and 50 mins
Categories: History, World
4.5 out of 5 stars (151 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

How is it that the law enforcer itself does not have to keep the law? How is it that the law permits the state to lawfully engage in actions which, if undertaken by individuals, would land them in jail? These are among the most intriguing issues in political and economic philosophy. More specifically, the problem of law that itself violates law is an insurmountable conundrum of all statist philosophies. The problem has never been discussed so profoundly and passionately as in this essay by Frederic Bastiat from 1850.

This essay might have been written today. It applies to our own time. It applies in all times in which the state assumes unto itself different rules and different laws from that by which it expects other people to live. And so we have this legendary essay, written in a white heat against the leaders of 19th-century France, the reading of which has shocked millions out of their toleration of despotism. This new audio edition, from the Mises Institute, revives a glorious translation that has been out of print for 100 years, one that circulated in Britain in the generation that followed Bastiat s death.

This newly available translation provides new insight into Bastiat's argument. The question that Bastiat deals with: how to tell when a law is unjust or when the law maker has become a source of law breaking? When the law becomes a means of plunder it has lost its character of genuine law. When the law enforcer is permitted to do with others' lives and property what would be illegal if the citizens did them, the law becomes perverted.

Bastiat doesn t avoid the difficult issues, such as why should we think that a democratic mandate can convert injustice to justice? He deals directly with the issue of the expanse of legislation: It is not true that the mission of the law is to regulate our consciences, our ideas, our will, our education, our sentiments, our works, our exchanges, our gifts, our enjoyments. Its mission is to prevent the rights of one from interfering with those of another, in any one of these things. Law, because it has force for its necessary sanction, can only have as its lawful domain the domain of force, which is justice.

Public Domain (P)2011 The Ludwig von Mises Institute

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This is abridged

Any additional comments?

Bastiat is incomparable. But this is an abridged recording that does not include the last 10 or so pages of this essay.

4 people found this helpful

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My childhood education

Let alone my college education would not approve of this. Pretty crazy that the media and school system don't really teach much.

2 people found this helpful

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Succinct Summation of the Law

This was a short, yet informative read (err, listen) on the true purpose of law & it's common manipulations by those who would seek to abuse law for their own benefit. Highly recommend reading this, would love to see this taught in schools but not holding my breath on it.

1 person found this helpful

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A finely-crafted acerbic rant

I had expected a dry treatise on the creation of law and its rightful function. I received it. But this was only the first thing The Law accomplished, as it ran headlong from its premises into a positively acidic teardown of those arguments which assume the rightful place of the common man is to be directed and molded by his betters, and not in any means to pursue his own goals and interests.
Floy Lilley narrates this screed fantastically, with a bit of a crusty, tempered voice that moves effortlessly from instruction to dry sarcasm and back. I could listen to her endlessly, particularly with such words to work with

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Oh Boy! 🙄

This is a great book. Very important information to know especially in our current climate of Democratic Socialism.

However the over dramatizing of the reading made me feel like putting a gun to my head! If I were to have a current Democrat listen to this book they would feel as if they were being lectured by an elitist!

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Great essay, ok performance

Really enjoyed the content as I am a firm believer in liberty and unshackling the individual. However the reader was slightly flat at times for what I find to be an impassioned topic. I love the work of literature, but feel it was missing the aura of rebellion and liberty that inspired it in this performance.

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again and again

revisiting this after a decade I see the more I know the better it gets.

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  • JD
  • 07-30-19

Listen to this book

Great and thoughtful! Well worth the purchase. Libertarian ideals made plain. Cant recommend enough!! Liberty!!

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Important read for all who'd be learned citizens

Important read for all who'd be learned citizens. Great reading and even greater analysis on law, plunder, socialism, communism, and liberty

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Definitely needing read by all!

A jewel needing serious consideration as to what is our role, are we to be free or slaves to one another? Should we be free to enjoy the productivity of our labors & unfettered possession of our property, free & clear of taxes on such or else fearing confiscation? We were once in a very different realm of liberty & freedom than how the present is being construed, let us strive for that rebirth.