Front Page Titles (by Subject) A Fatal Tendency of Mankind - The Law
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A Fatal Tendency of Mankind - Frédéric Bastiat, The Law 
The Law, trans. Dean Russell, introduction by Walter E. Williams, foreword by Sheldon Richman (Irvington-on-Hudson NY: Foundation for Economic Education, 1998).
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A Fatal Tendency of Mankind
Self-preservation and self-development are common aspirations among all people. And if everyone enjoyed the unrestricted use of his faculties and the free disposition of the fruits of his labor, social progress would be ceaseless, uninterrupted, and unfailing.
But there is also another tendency that is common among people. When they can, they wish to live and prosper at the expense of others. This is no rash accusation. Nor does it come from a gloomy and uncharitable spirit. The annals of history bear witness to the truth of it: the incessant wars, mass migrations, religious persecutions, universal slavery, dishonesty in commerce, and monopolies. This fatal desire has its origin in the very nature of man—in that primitive, universal, and insuppressible instinct that impels him to satisfy his desires with the least possible pain.