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Claude Frederic Bastiat was a liberal French political economist who taught that there is a natural social harmony that emerges from the unhindered exchanges of free people, and that interference with this order prevents the existence of new value and harms society in ways that are quite real, although “unseen.”
Born in Bayonne, in southwest France, Bastiat grew up during the Napleonic Wars. Not only an economist and writer, Bastiat was also a legislator and activist who organized free trade movements in Bourdeaux and Paris. Bastiat’s defense of free exchange in his Economic Sophisms (1845) is celebrated for the clarity and imagination of his arguments and thought experiments. In The Law (1850), Bastiat argues with characteristic brevity that the authority of law is grounded in human nature, and that human nature requires liberty and property to make proper use of the material environment. Economic Harmonies (1950) is the elegant summation of Bastiat’s economic theory. Underappreciated in his time, Bastiat is now esteemed for the both depth of his economic understanding and the vivacity of his writing.
Full Bio: http://www.econlib.org/library/Bastiat/BastiatBib.html
Selected Essays on Political Economy: http://econlib.org/library/Bastiat/basEss.html
Economic Harmonies: http://econlib.org/library/Bastiat/basHar.html
Economic Sophisms: http://econlib.org/library/Bastiat/basSoph.html