Portrait of Frédéric Bastiat

Bastiat on disbanding the standing army and replacing it with local militias (1847)

Found in: The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 3: Economic Sophisms and “What is Seen and What is Not Seen”

The French economist and free trade activist Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) dreams of slashing the size of the French government’s budget by abolishing the standing army and replacing it with local militias:

War & Peace

The Utopian politician: “[Cutting tariffs] have given me something even more precious.”

His adviser: “And what is that, if you please?”

The Utopian politician: “International relationships based on justice, and the likelihood of peace, which is almost a certainty. I would disband the army.”

Adviser: “The entire army?”

The Utopian politician: “Except for some specialized divisions, which would recruit voluntarily just like any other profession. And as you can see, conscription would be abolished.” …

His adviser: “In short, you are disarming the country based on a Utopian faith.”

The Utopian politician: “I said that I was disbanding the army and not that I was disarming the country. On the contrary, I intend to give it an invincible force.”

His adviser: “How are you going to sort out this heap of contradictions?”

The Utopian politician: “I will call on the services of all citizens.‘ …

The Utopian becomes excited: “Thank heavens; my budget has been reduced by 200 million! …"