Front Page Titles (by Subject) 127.: Letter to Bernard Domenger - The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics
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127.: Letter to Bernard Domenger - Frédéric Bastiat, The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics 
The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics, translated from the French by Jane and Michel Willems, with an introduction by Jacques de Guenin and Jean-Claude Paul-Dejean. Annotations and Glossaries by Jacques de Guenin, Jean-Claude Paul-Dejean, and David M. Hart. Translation editor Dennis O’Keeffe (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2011).
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Letter to Bernard Domenger
Paris, 21 March 1849
[vol. 7, p. 392]
Your letter has reached me attached to that from M. Dup——.247 The minister of trade had initially made me promises. Later, I learned that Dup—— had insisted with all his customary tenaciousness. Yesterday evening, I went to Buffet’s house, taking Turpin with me. As he had been present at the General Council, he could testify as to what had happened and he did so in very formal terms. We met Dampierre there and he helped us. In spite of all this, I saw that the minister was uneasy; Duv——’s obsessions must have frightened him. He told us, “If I refuse Duv—— his farm, it will cause his death.”
I had already written Buffet a closely reasoned letter and will write another, which I will end as follows: France wants administrative decentralization. If the minister believes he can overlook the wishes of all the regular mouthpieces of the département and act as he wishes, when it is a matter of determining where a farm will be set up, he may as well eliminate the institution of the general councils, as they will then just be a mirage.
I ask you, my dear D., to apologize on my behalf to M. Dup—— for not replying to him today. I will do so when I have further information. You see how the law regarding political associations248 arouses Paris. The minister was very reckless to raise this matter. However, his unfortunate tactic is to disregard the Assembly, and I believe that he wished to have the law rejected in order to attribute full responsibility for the future to it.
No vote has ever cost me so dear as the one I cast yesterday. You know that I have always been in favor of freedom except for the repression of crime. I must admit that in the face of the political clubs this principle appears to have to give way. When I contemplate the fear they inspire in peace-loving people, the memories they resurrect, etc., etc., I tell myself that those who sincerely love the Republic must understand that they have to make it loved. It will be compromised if there is an intention to impose by force on the country an institution or even a liberty which appalls it. I therefore voted for the elimination of the clubs.
When I did this, I did not hide the disadvantages of this action. To succeed in politics, you have to join a party and, if possible, the strongest party. Voting according to your conscience with the right and the left according to the circumstances is to risk being abandoned by both. But before reaching this point, I had taken the decision only to consult my judgment and conscience and not vote according to party lines. This influenced the proposal I put forward. Systematic majorities and minorities are the death of representative government.
I believe that our government will make a considerable effort to avoid war. In previous times we might have feared that it would be carried along by popular feelings in support of Italy, but things have changed a great deal. The disturbances in the peninsula have reduced this support. Charles Albert249 will probably be defeated before we have the time to debate the opportunity of what should be done. But once the Austrians have reached Turin, all will not be lost, far from it. I am not even sure that it is only then that serious problems will begin. Oh, how difficult is it for men to get along together, when it might be so easy!
[247 ]On 3 October 1848, a decree established that there would be a farm school in each département. The General Council of the Landes decided that the school would be in the Chalosse. On 15 October, Aristide Dupeyrat declared his candidacy for the direction of the school. He was eventually chosen from among several candidates.
[248 ]Léon Faucher had submitted a law forbidding clubs of political orientation because some clubs were engaging in vigorous campaigning and fomenting trouble. The law was passed (404 votes for, 303 against).
[249 ]On February 1849, in Rome, the Assembly decided to end the temporal authority of the papacy and proclaim the republic in Tuscany. The same year, Charles Albert, king of Sardinia, invaded Lombardy but was defeated by Austria and had to abdicate.