Front Page Titles (by Subject) 134.: 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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134.: 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, 29 April 1849
[vol. 7, p. 399]
I have been very dilatory in replying to your letter of the 14th, but what could I do? Nature has riddled me with the oddest afflictions and I appear to become increasingly inert just when I need to be most active. So, since the question of elections has arisen, I have become absorbed and fascinated by a purely theoretical work, which takes up all my waking hours.
The very rare items of news reaching me give me no doubt as to the result of the vote concerning me; I have lost the confidence of the region. Let me explain; my mistake, and this is only a personal point of view, has been to perceive the two conflicting exaggerations and associate myself with neither. My friend, they are leading us toward civil war, a war of the poor against the rich. The poor demand more than is just; the rich do not want to grant even what is just. This is the danger. Taxes that increase with wealth have been rejected, and this is right, but taxes that increase with deprivation have been maintained, and this has provided good arguments to the people. No one knows better than I how many absurd claims they are making, but I also know that they have well-founded complaints. Therefore simple prudence, in the absence of equity, traced out the line of conduct for me to follow: resist the illusionary demands of the people and acknowledge their legitimate claims. But alas! The notion of justice has been distorted in the minds of the poor and the sentiment of justice has been extinguished in the hearts of the rich. I have therefore had to alienate myself from both classes. All that is left to me is to be resigned to my fate.
I hope that I am a false prophet! Before February, I said: “Increasing resistance in the government and an increasingly active movement in the opposition could result only in a wrenching division. Let us seek out the point at which justice occurs as this will save us.” I was not mistaken. Both parties persisted in their ways and the result was a revolution.
Today, I say: The poor are demanding too much and the rich not granting enough; let us seek justice; this is where conciliation and security reside. But the parties persist, and we will have social war.
This will occur, I fear, in unfortunate conditions, as the more we refuse what is just to the populace the greater moral and material strength we give to its cause. This is why it is making terrifying progress. This progress is veiled by a transitory reaction, one determined by the general need for security, but it is genuine. The explosion will be delayed, but it will occur.
I had reached this point in my letter when I received one from our friends in Mugron. I left my letter to you to reply to them and naturally I repeated what I said above, since I can say only what is filling my heart. They are pressing me to return to the region, but what would I do there? Are people ready to organize major meetings? Without this, how could I make contact with such a large number of electors?
I received your letter of the 27th on the 30th. I will be going later to the Assembly and will see whether I can obtain leave of absence without any problem. I am very disinclined to do this just at the time when the budget for war will be debated and I will perhaps be called upon to defend it.
Everyone wants economy in general. But everyone resists each individual economy in particular.