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Frederic BASTIAT

economist

Frederic BASTIAT, French economist. Leading founder of Associations pour la liberté des échanges; Secretary, Paris Association; Member, Constituent Assembly, 1848, subsequently Legislative Assembly.

Background

BASTIAT, Frederic was born in 1801 in Bayonne, France.

Career

Inspired by the successes of the British Anti-Corn Law League, he became a lifetime campaigner for free trade. His brilliant first article in this vein in the Journal des Economistes (1844) was succeeded by his popular series of Sophismes économiques (1845). These included the famous ‘Petition of the candlemakers’, a satirical attack on protectionism using the analogy of candlemakers who petition for the suppression of unfair competition from sunlight.

He also directed controversial writings at Proudhon and the socialist writers. His Harmonies économiques, of which a first volume appeared before his death, was an attempt at a systematic exposition of his economic ideas. His analysis is considerably inferior to his satirical powers, and his theory of value, rejecting the Ricardian emphasis on costs and sacrifices for a system based on the exchange of services, is perhaps the most interesting contribution.

Achievements

  • Leading founder of Associations pour la liberté des échanges. Secretary, Paris Association. Member, Constituent Assembly, 1848, subsequently Legislative Assembly.

Works