By Bastiat F.
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Additional info for Bastiat Collection: Harmonies of political economy
If, on the other hand, society is a human invention, if men are regarded only as inert matter, to which a great genius, like Rousseau, must impart sentiment and will, movement and life, then there is no such science as Political Economy. There are only an indefinite number of possible and contingent arrangements, and the fate of nations must depend upon the Founder to whom chance shall have committed their destinies. In order to prove that society is subject to general laws, no elaborate dissertation is necessary.
I say this in order that it may not be supposed that I intend to criticize my predecessors in giving to Political Economy limits somewhat different from those they have assigned to that science. Economists have of late been reproached with addicting themselves too much to the study of Wealth. It has been wished that they had found a place in their science for all that, directly or indirectly, contributes to the happiness or sufferings of humanity. They have even been supposed to deny everything which they did not profess to teach—for example, the phenomena of sympathy, which is as natural to the heart of man as the principle of selfinterest.
If they are possessed of a disputatious turn and a peevish temper, they enter with eagerness into an analysis of Evil. They dissect it, they put it in the crucible, they interrogate it, they remount to its causes, they pursue it to its consequences; and, as by reason of our native imperfection there is nothing in which Evil is not present, they asperse and disparage everything. They exhibit to us Property, Family, Capital, Labor, Competition, Liberty, Personal Interest, only in one of their aspects, and always on the dark side, the side that injures or destroys.