Frédéric Bastiat: Campaigner for Free Trade, Political Economist, and Politician in a Time of Revolution

Friday, October 14, 2011
Noon (Luncheon to Follow)

Featuring David Hart, Editor, The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat, Vol. 1 (Liberty Fund, 2011); moderated by Jason Kuznicki, Editor, Cato Unbound.

Atlas Economic Research Foundation, 1st Floor Conference Room
1201 L Street N.W., Washington D.C., 20005

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Frédéric Bastiat was a pivotal figure in French classical liberalism in the mid-19th century. He suddenly emerged from the southwest province of Les Landes to assume leadership of the fledgling French free trade movement in 1844, which he modelled on that of Richard Cobden's Anti-Corn Law League in England. Bastiat then turned to a brilliant career as an economic journalist, debunking the myths and misconceptions people held on protectionism in particular and government intervention in general, which he called "sophisms" or "fallacies." When revolution broke out in February 1848, Bastiat was elected twice to the Chamber of Deputies where he served on the powerful Finance Committee and struggled to bring government expenditure under control. He confounded his political opponents with his consistent libertarianism: he denounced the socialists for their economic policies, but he took to the streets to prevent the military from shooting them during the riots that broke out in June 1848. Until his untimely death in 1850, Bastiat was an indefatigable foe of political privilege, unaccountable monarchical power, the newly emergent socialist movement, and above all, the vested interests benefited from economic protectionism. He was a giant of 19th century classical liberalism, and Liberty Fund is publishing a six-volume collection of his work.

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