Front Page Titles (by Subject) 136.: 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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136.: 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
[vol. 7, p. 401]
My election,272 which I learned of two days ago, will make me busier after it than before, for while I was able to neglect it a little, I must not at least forget to express my total gratitude to my friends, not for the service they have rendered me, but for the devotion and confidence that they have demonstrated. You are in the front rank of these and I am most touched by the zeal you devoted to this, especially as it must have cost you a great deal. I know that you dislike electioneering and that for a long time you wished to take only a purely personal part in it. On the other hand, you must have put yourself into conflict with very many of your friends. I want you to know that these circumstances taken together have made me appreciate your devotion all the more.
What will be the fate of the new Assembly? People are pinning high hopes on it. God willing, these will not be pure illusions. It will certainly not be better intentioned than the one that has just passed on. But what do intentions achieve? Like La Presse, I think that the best assembly is good only for preventing evil. To do good, you need the initiative of a more concentrated power; we have had the proof of this for the last five months. The government has limited its role to arousing and sustaining a conflict, and the Chamber, with all its good intentions, was unable to do anything about this.
What makes the future fearful is ignorance. The poor classes are becoming regimented and are marching as one man to a senseless war, without the slightest premonition that they are committing suicide, since after they have destroyed capital and the very motive that builds it up, what will be their fate?
Fundamentally, the matter of taxation alone should stand between the two classes. Achieving proportional taxes is all that justice requires; beyond this, there is only injustice, oppression, and misfortune for all. But how do we put this across to men who combat the very principle of ownership?
I will tell you that in my head there is a thought that is absorbing me, distracts me from my work, and makes me neglect my friends. This is a new explanation of these two words: property and community.273 I think that I can show in the most obvious way that the natural order of society bases on ownership itself the most beautiful, wide-ranging, and progressive community. This may appear paradoxical to you, but I have total certitude in my mind. I am anxious to be able to put this thought to the general public as I think that it will reconcile sincere men in all schools of thought. It will doubtless not draw the leaders of sects, but it will prevent the young people in schools from going to enroll themselves under the flag of communism. Am I in the coils of an illusion? This is possible, but the fact is that I am consumed with the desire to publish my idea. I am still afraid that I will not have the time, and when cholera was decimating the Assembly I said to God, “Do not take me from this world before I have accomplished my mission.”
[271 ]Most probably 15 or 16 May 1849.
[272 ]Bastiat, who was the deputy representing the Landes in the Constituent Assembly of 1848, was reelected in 1849 to the Legislative Assembly.
[273 ]Chapter 8 of Economic Harmonies deals with that very subject. (OC, vol. 6, p. 256, “Propriété, communauté.”)