Front Page Titles (by Subject) 133.: Letter to Félix Coudroy - The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics
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133.: Letter to Félix Coudroy - 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 Félix Coudroy
Paris, 25 April 1849
[vol. 1, p. 97]
My dear Félix, the elections may well be approaching, but I am not receiving any direct news of them. A nice, affectionate letter from Domenger is the sum of my pittance. I may presume that I am the only representative in this situation, and this gives me a premonition of my fate. Besides this, I have received a few bits of indirect information through Dampierre. He has left me in no doubt that the region has formed a movement, which implies that the confidence it placed in me has been withdrawn. I am neither surprised nor upset by this, as far as I am concerned. We are in an age in which you have to fling yourself into one of the extremist parties if you wish to succeed. Whoever casts a cool eye on the exaggerations of the parties and combats them remains abandoned and crushed in the center. I am afraid that we are moving toward a social war, a war of the poor against the rich, which may be the dominant event of the end of this century. The poor are ignorant, violent, and riddled with illusionary and absurd ideas, and the movement which is carrying them along is unfortunately justified to a certain extent by genuine claims, since indirect taxes are a reverse form of progressive taxation for them. As this is so, I could have only one plan, to combat the errors of the people and anticipate well-founded complaints, in order never to leave justice on their side. This has given rise to the eight or nine pamphlets I have written and my votes for all the financial reforms.
However, it has happened that, taking advantage of the need for security, which is the salient characteristic of public opinion, the rich are exploiting this need to the benefit of their own injustice. They remain cold and selfish, and they weaken any effort made to save them, their sole dream being the restoration of the small number of abuses brought down by the Revolution.
In this situation a clash appears inevitable to me, and it will be terrible. The rich are counting a great deal on the army, but experience of the past should make them rather less confident in this regard.
As for me, I ought to have been out of favor with both parties for the very reason that I was more concerned with combating their errors than enrolling myself under their banner; I and all the other men of scientific good will, that is to say, that which is based on justice as explained by science, will remain on the sidelines. The new Chamber, which ought to have been the same as the present one without the extremes, will on the contrary be made up of the two extreme camps, and intermediate prudence will be banished from it.263 If this does happen, there is just one thing left for me to say: may God protect France! My friend, by remaining in obscurity, I would have reasons with which to console myself if at least my somber predictions fail to materialize. I have my theory to write down and I am receiving powerful encouragement just at the right time. Yesterday I read these words in an English review: in political economy, the French school has gone through three phases encapsulated by the following three names, Quesnay, Say, and Bastiat.264
Of course, it is premature for me to be assigned this rank and role, but it is clear that I have a new, fertile idea that I believe to be true. This idea is one that I have never developed methodically. It has come through almost accidentally in a few of my articles, and since this has been enough to catch the attention of learned men, since it has already been given the honor of being considered as a milestone in science, I am now certain that when I produce the complete theory it will at least be examined. Is this not all I could wish for? With what ardor will I use my retirement to set out this doctrine, in the certainty that it will be scrutinized by judges who understand and who are waiting for it!
On the other hand, professors of political economy are trying to teach my Theory of Value265 but are no more than feeling their way. It has made an impression in the United States, and yesterday in the Assembly a delegation of Americans presented me with a translation of my works.266 The preface shows that they are waiting for the fundamental idea which up to now has rather been outlined than formulated. This situation is also true for Germany and Italy. It is true that all this is happening in the closed circle of professors, but it is through them that ideas make their entrance into the wider world.
I am therefore ready to accept with resolution the naturally very hard life that will be allocated to me. What gives me courage is not Horace’s “non omnis moriar,”267 but the thought that perhaps my life will not have been pointless for the human race.
Right now, where will I base myself in order to carry out my task, in Paris or in Mugron? I have not yet taken any decision but I feel that in your company the work would be better formulated. Having just one concept and subjecting it to an enlightened friend is certainly the best recipe for success.
[263 ]Bastiat’s prediction was right: the extreme right got 53 percent of the seats; the extreme left, 35 percent; and the moderate republicans, 9.3 percent.
[264 ]That is, the physiocrats, the Smithians, and now the followers of Bastiat.
[265 ]Bastiat could be referring to chapter 5 of Economic Harmonies, “On Value.” (OC, vol. 6, p. 140, “De la valeur.”)
[266 ]An example of an American translation of one of Bastiat’s works is an 1848 translation of Economic Sophisms, titled Sophisms of the Protective Policy. See Letter 63, note 142.
[267 ]“All of me shall not die.”