French Classical Liberal Thought

[Updated: 18 December, 2021]

RECENT ADDITIONS - Blog posts & Papers - Bastiat - Molinari - La Boétie - Others


Recent Additions (Blog posts and Papers)

Blog posts:

  1. Bastiat’s Anti-socialist Pamphlets, or “Mister Bastiat’s Little Pamphlets”” (13 May, 2021)
  2. The Socialist Critique of Private Property and Free Markets and the French Political Economists’ Response” (12 May 2021)
  3. The Socialist Critique of Private Property and Free Markets. Part I: The French (8 Feb. 2021)
  4. The Institut Coppet's Collected Works of Molinari (9 December, 2020)
  5. The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism (2008) (6 December, 2020)
  6. The Cover Art of Voluntary Servitude (29 November, 2020)
  7. Molinari's articles in the Dictionnaire de l'économie politique (1852-53) (14 October, 2020)
  8. Gustave de Molinari and the Story of the Monopolist Grocer (3 June, 2020)
  9. "Gustave de Molinari and the Story of the Monopolist Grocer"
  10. Bastiat on the Seen and the Unseen (29 May, 2020)
  11. Some Key Terms used by Bastiat in his Economic Theory (22 December, 2019)

Some recent papers of mine:

  1. Bastiat’s Economic Harmonies: A Reassessment after 170 years” A Paper given to the Political Economy Project Dartmouth College, (7 Jan. 2020)
  2. Bastiat on Harmony and Disharmony” A Paper given to the American Institute for Economic Research, Great Barrington, Mass. (Jan. 2020)
  3. "Bastiat on the Seen and the Unseen: An Intellectual History" (20 May, 2020)
  4. Was Molinari a true Anarcho-Capitalist?: An Intellectual History of the Private and Competitive Production of Security”. A paper given at the Libertarian Scholars Conference, NYC (21 Sept. 2019)
  5. Some Thoughts on an ‘Austrian Theory of Film’: Ideas and Human Action in a Film about Frédéric Bastiat”. A paper given at the Libertarian Scholars Conference, NYC (21 Sept. 2019)
  6. "The Paris School of Liberal Political Economy, 1803-1853." (long version 2018, CUP chapter 2019)


Recent Additions - Frédéric Bastiat (1810-1850)

  • 27 years after Bastiat's death, his close friend Hortense Cheuvreux (1808-1893), the wife of the wealthy industrialist and supporter of the liberal political economists Casimir Cheuvreux, published anonymously a collection of her letters from Bastiat. This suggests more than just a passing acquaintance in my view but this is hard to prove. These letters reveal another more personal side to Bastiat which does not come out in Paillottet's heavily edited (and redacted) collection: Lettres d’un habitant des Landes (1877) [HTML and facs. PDF (en français)]
  • Since there is no good HTML version of the works of Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) online in French I decided to do one myself. There are 7 volumes in the 2nd 1864 edition done by Paillottet. The two collections of his Economic Sophisms and pamphlets in vol. 4 and vol. 5 are the first cabs off the rank. Those available in HTML are in bold. The complete table of contents of the set (with links) can be found here:
    • 1. Correspondance et mélanges (1862) - HTML and facs. PDF.
    • 2. Le Libre-Échange (1862) - HTML and facs. PDF.
    • 3. Cobden et la Ligue ou L'agitation anglaise pour la Liberté des Échange (1864) - HTML and facs. PDF.
    • 4. Sophismes économiques. Petits pamphlets I (1863) - HTML and facs. PDF.
    • 5. Sophismes économiques. Petits pamphlets II (1863) - HTML and facs. PDF.
    • 6. Harmonies économiques (1864) - only in facs. PDF. We have a version of this work from the 6th edition of 1870 in HTML and facs. PDF.
    • 7. Essais, Ébauches, Correspondance (1864) - HTML and facs. PDF.
  • as an historian I much prefer to see an author's works listed chronologically rather than "thematically". I have created such a list of nearly 300 items Bastiat published with links to the relevant texts.
  • Here are some of Bastiat's major works (en français) in a single file - HTML (from the OC) and facs. PDF (published book, article, or pamphlet). He devoted the first part of his life to opposing protectionism (1844 - Feb. 1848) and the second to opposing socialism (Feb. 1848-1850):
    • on protectionism and free trade:
      • Bastiat's long introduction to his 1st book on Cobden et la ligue, ou l’Agitation anglaise pour la liberté du commerce (Cobden and the (Anti-Corn Law) League, or the English Free Trade Movement) (1845) [HTML and facs. PDF]
      • Sophismes économiques (1846) (the "first series") [HTML and facs. PDF] [English at OLL]
      • Sophismes économiques. Deuxième série. (1848) [HTML and facs. PDF] [English at OLL]
    • His anti-socialist pamphlets from Feb. 1848-50:
      1. "Du Communisme," Libre-Échange (27 juin, 1847) - technically not part of the anti-socialist campaign during the Second Republic but an early piece attacking the socialist ideas of Philippe Buchez who edited the workers' magazine L'Atelier (the Workshop) and became the first President of the Republic [HTML and facs. PDF]
      2. the first article he wrote after the Feb. Revolution was "Funestes illusions" (Disastrous Illusions) JDE (mars, 1848) in which he urged the people to abolish all political and economic privileges and not to replace the old group of "plunderers" with a new group as the socialists were urging them to do [HTML and facs. PDF] [English at OLL]
      3. "Propriété et loi" (Property and Law) JDE (mai, 1848) - a defence of property rights against the criticism of socialists like Louis Blanc and others [HTML and facs. PDF] [English at OLL]
      4. "Justice et fraternité" (Justice and Fraternity) JDE (juin, 1848) - a response to the socialist Pierre Leroux [HTML and facs.PDF] [English at OLL]
      5. "Individualisme et fraternité" (Individualism and Fraternity) (c. June 1848) - an unpublished paper also written to refute the socialist's claim (esp. by Louis Blanc) that free markets led to ruinous individualism and competition while socialism led to fraternity and brotherhood for the workers. [HTML] [English at OLL] This is a a topic he would return to in several chapters of Economic Harmonies such as chap. X “Concurrence” (Competition) [HTML] and XXI “Solidarité” (Solidarity) [HTML]
      6. "L'État" (June, Sept. 1848 and early 1849): there were three versions of this famous essay -the 1st in June before the June Days riots in Paris which was short and written for the ordinary worker in the streets [English at OLL]; the 2nd longer version was written for a high-brow magazine in Sept. 1848); and the 3rd longest version was written as a pamphlet and gave a detailed critique of Ledru-Rollin's socialist (Montagnard) party platform. [HTML and PDF] [English at OLL].
      7. "Propriété et spoliation" (Property and Plunder) JDD (juli 1848) [HTML and facs. PDF] [English at OLL] - a defence of property, especially of land, against the criticism of Victor Considerant
      8. Capitale et rente (Capital and Rent) (1849) [HTML and facs. PDF] - in opposition to the criticisms of Proudhon and others on the legitimacy of rent
      9. Protectionisme et Communisme (Protectionism and Communism) Jan. 1849) - addressed to the conservative politician Adolphe Thiers pointing our the similarities between conservative and socialist policies, namely their use of state coercion to give privileges to some members of society at the expence of others [HTML and facs. PDF] [English at OLL]
      10. Maudit argent! (Damned Money!) (1849) [HTML and facs. PDF] - in opposition to socialist misconceptions about money, banking, and debt
      11. Spoliation et Loi (Plunder and Law) (1850) [HTML and facs. PDF] [English at OLL] - written to oppose the ideas of Louis Blanc, the Luxembourg Commission, and the National Workshops program
      12. Gratuité du crédit. Discussion entre M. Fr. Bastiat et M. Proudhon (Free Credit. A Discussion between M. Fr. Bastiat and M. Proudhon) (1850) [HTML and facs. PDF] - an extended debate with Proudhon over the legitimacy of profit, interest and rent.
      13. Baccalauréate et socialisme (The Baccalaureat and Socialism) (1850) [HTML and facs. PDF] [English at OLL] - written to oppose the teaching of interventionist and statist ideas ("socialism") in government schools by means of the teaching of the Latin language which was supported by conservatives like Adolphe Thiers
      14. La Loi (The Law) (June 1850) - one of the last things Bastiat wrote before his death; a lengthy critique of the ideas of Louis Blanc and the 18th century predecessors of socialist ideas, most notably Rousseau and Robespierre [HTML and facs. PDF] [English at OLL]
      15. in "Propriété, Communauté" (Private and Communal/Community Property) (chap. VIII of Harmonies Économiques 1850) Bastiat attempts to answer the socialist critique of private property by showing that a system based on private property actually increases the amount of "communal" property to the enormous benefit of all members of the community. [HTML] [English here]
      16. "Liberté, Égalité" (Liberty and Equality) (1850) - a draft of a chapter for the Harmonies Économies which was never published. He attempts to explain how the liberal understanding of "equality" differs from that of the socialists'. [HTML] [English at OLL]
    • in the last months of his life he wrote on more general economic matters:
      • Ce qu'on voit et ce qu'on ne voit pas, ou l'Économie politique en une leçon (What is Seen and What is Not Seen, or Political Economy in One Lesson (1850) [HTML and facs. PDF] [English at OLL]
      • his unfinished treatise on economic theory Harmonies Économiques (Economic Harmonies) : the first half published in his lifetime (10 chaps in early 1850) in facs. PDF; and a partly "completed" posthumous edition in 1851 (with an additional 15 chapters or sketches of chaps, and an outline of a much larger future work on economic "harmony" and "disharmony") in HTML and facs. PDF [English here]
  • Bastiat's Harmonies économiques (1851) in English (Stirling trans.) [HTML] and French [HTML]
  • A list of the collected (complete?) works of Frédéric Bastiat with links to the texts
  • "Bastiat on the Seen and the Unseen: An Intellectual History"

Recent Additions - Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912)

  • as part of my ongoing commemoration of Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912)'s bicentennial, I have added HTML versions of his three major sociological works (and one later summary volume) which we already have in facs. PDF. They make a very interesting parallel intellectual achievement to rival that of his contempory radical English liberal Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) and his Principles of Sociology (1874-96). What makes Molinari very unusual is his economic analysis of literally "everything" including marriage and having a family, art, urban development, the behaviour of politicians and bureraucrats (so early public choice theory), why governments often fail in managing economic resources and services like the police and the military, the rise of market institutions over the centuries, the role of war in economic development and the rise of states, and very interesting from my perspective, the emergence of political classes and how they organise and use the state for their own purposes and benefit (he made a fundamental distinction between "les mangeurs des taxes" (the tax eaters) and the tax papyers. He began doing this in his articles for the Dictionnaire de l'économie politique (1852) and later returned to it some 30 years later in the following works:
    • L’évolution économique du XIXe siècle: théorie du progrès (Economic Evolution in the 19th Century: A Theory of Progress) (1880) [HTML] and [facs. PDF]
    • L’évolution politique et la révolution (Political Evolution and the Revolution) (1884) [HTML] and [facs. PDF]
    • Grandeur et decadence de la guerre (The Rise and Fall of War) (1898) [HTML] and [facs. PDF]
    • and a final fourth volume which summarises his life's work on this topic: Économie de l’histoire: Théorie de l’Évolution (The Economics of History: A Theory of Evolution) (1908) [HTML] and [facs. PDF]
  • some works by Gustave de Molinari:
    • his pathbreaking work Les Soirées de la rue Saint-Lazare; entretiens sur les lois économiques et défense de la propriété (1849) which is one of the earliest one-volume descriptions of the classical liberal worldview, how a laissez-faire liberal society would privately provide so-called "public goods", even police and national defence (chap. 11), which makes it the first defense of anarcho-capitalism. In HTML and facs. PDF.
    • an early work on class analysis based on the idea of the conflcit between the "tax-payers" and the "tax-eaters": Les Révolutions et le despotisme envisagés au point de vue des intérêts matériels (Revolutions and Despotsism seen from the perspective of material interests) (1852) In HTML and facs. PDF (en français)
    • his treatise on economics: Cours d’économie politique (1855, 1863) in which he considerably expanded his discussion of how all public goods could be provided on the free market. Vol. 1 HTML and PDF; vol. 2 HTML and PDF (en français).
    • Notions fondamentales économie politique et programme économique (1891) is interesting because at the ripe old age of 72 he takes on the growing socialist movement with a criticism of their economic programme and provides one for radical liberals like himself. In HTML and facs. PDF.
  • A selection of Molinari's articles from the Dictionnaire de l'économie politique (1852-53) (7) translated into English; his complete collection (30) en français
  • "Gustave de Molinari and the Story of the Monopolist Grocer"
  • Gustave de Molinari on Economists as the Bookkeepers of Politics: "Unfortunately, no one listens to economists" (1852)



Recent Additions - Étienne de la Boétie ()

  • An eleventh version of Boétie's "Voluntary Servitude" (1835) [facs. PDF] : this one has long and very radical Preface by the Liberal Catholic Robert de Lamennais written in 1833 [Preface facs. PDF].
  • The 1735 translation by "T. Smith" of Boétie's Discourse of Voluntary Servitude. This is a good translation which captures the measured pace and rhetorical side of the "Discourse". The word "discours" in French can also mean "speech".
  • The Cover Art of the Discours: a collection of interesting covers of various editions of the "Discourse."
  • Ten different versions of Étienne de la Boétie's Discours de la servitude volontaire (1576) - Old French, modern French, and English translations - with more to come.
    • Special Note 1: a side-by-side Comparative Edition of different French and English versions of the text
    • Special note 2: the parallel edition with the illustrations by Louis Jou on one side and a modern French version (Bonnefon) on the other


Recent Additions - Other French Liberals

  • to counter the growth of socialism in France in the 1840s and 1880s French political economists were particularly active, such as Bastiat and the contributors to the Dictionnaire de l'économie politique (1852-53) in the first period, and Leroy-Beaulieu (see below) and the contributors to the Nouveau dictionnaire d'économie politique (1891) in the second. See
    • 1840s/50s: Louis Reybaud's article “Socialistes, Socialisme” in the DEP (en français) HTML and facs. PDF; which was translated and published 40 years later in Lalor's Cyclopedia (1881) along with dozens of other articles from the DEP [HTML and facs. PDF]; Reybaud also wrote a 2 vol. history and critique of socialism in 1849, Les Études sur les réformateurs contemporains, ou socialistes modernes vol.1 facs. PDF and vol. 2 facs. PDF.
    • also the article on "Communism" by the economist Henri Baudrillart in the DEP [HTML and facs. PDF] and the trans. in Lalor [HTML and facs. PDF]
    • 1890s; the Nouveau DEP also included three articles on socialism (only in French):
      • a long article by Eugène d’Eichthal, “Socialisme,” NDEP, T. 1, pp. 815-860 [facs. PDF]
      • a short article by Urbain Guérin, “Socialisme Chrétien,” NDEP, T. 1, pp. 860-67. [facs. PDF]
      • and another long article by Ludwig Bamberger attacking the newest version of socialism known as “Socialisme d’état” (state socialism), NDEP, T. 1, pp. 867-82 [HTML and facs. PDF]
    • one of the last members of the radical "Paris School" of political economy, the politician, political economist, and radical indivdualist Yves Guyot (1843-1928), took on the socialists in many works in the 1890s and early 1900s, such as
      • La Tyrannie Socialiste (1893) [HTML and facs. PDF] trans. as The Tyranny of Socialism [HTML and facs. PDF]
      • Les Principes de 89 et le Socialisme (1894) (en français) in HTML and facs. PDF
      • La Comédie socialiste (1897) - facs. PDF
      • Les travaux publics (1897) - drawing upon his experience as Minister for Public Works (1889-92) - facs. PDF
      • Le collectivisme futur et le socialisme présent (1906) - a short speech or essay attacking socialist plans before the Chambre (en français) HTML and facs. PDF.
      • La Démocratie individualiste (1907) in which he shows his endebtedness to the ideas of Herbert Spencer and the Liberty and Property Defence League - facs. PDF
      • Sophismes socialistes et faits économiques (1908) [HTML and facs. PDF] trans. as Socialistic Fallacies [HTML and facs. PDF] - better trans. as "Socialist Sophisms and Economic Facts".
      • La Gestion par l’État et les Municipalités (1913) [HTML and facs. PDF] trans. as Where and Why Public Ownership has failed [HTML and facs. PDF] - better trans. as "The State and Municipal Administration (of public works)"
  • one of the leading French defenders of free markets and individual liberty and a critic of socialism/Marxism was Paul Leroy-Beaulieu (1843-1916): see his
  • more Voltaire: the Dictionnaire philosophique (1764)
    • which started off in the early editions being "portable" - French (1764) facs. PDF and English (1765) facs. PDF
    • but which had expanded into 4 large vols. by the 1878 ed. - French HTML and an English translation pubished in 1901 in HTML and PDF.
  • an illustated essay on the 18thC French Robin Hood: the Anti-Tax Smuggler Louis Mandrin (1725-1755)
  • a work by the conservative politician and historian Adolphe Thiers (1797-1877) defending the right to own property which was under attack during the 1848 Revolution: De la Propriété (1848) (en français) in HTML and facs. PDF; and in English with a slightly different title, The Rights of Property: A Refutation of Communism & Socialism (1848) in HTML and facs. PDF - Molinari reviewed this book and criticised Thiers for ignoring one of the main complaints of the socialists about the current distribution of property, namely, that one should not defend unjustly acquired property by means of state privileges and monopolies
  • the articles on French classsical liberals which I wrote for the Cato Institute's Encyclopedia of Libertarianism (2008): Comte, Charles (1782-1837), Condorcet, Marquis de (1743-1794), Constant, Benjamin (1767-1830), Dunoyer, Charles (1786-1862), French Revolution, Molinari, Gustave de (1819-1912), Say, Jean-Baptiste (1767-1832), Tracy, Destutt de (1754-1836), and Turgot, Anne-Robert-Jacques (1727-1781)