Posted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 11:51 pm Post subject: The more things change...
... the more they stay the same. Apropos of nothing, an excerpt from the essay 'Justice and Fraternity' by Frederic Bastiat:
Suppose that a professor of chemistry were to say: "The world is threatened by a great catastrophe; God has not taken proper precautions. I have analyzed the air that comes from human lungs, and I have come to the conclusion that it is not fit to breathe; so that, by calculating the volume of the atmosphere, I can predict the day when it will be entirely polluted, and when mankind will die of consumption, unless it adopts an artificial mode of respiration of my invention."
Another professor steps forward and says: "No, mankind will not perish thus. It is true that the air that has already served to sustain animal life is vitiated for that purpose; but it is fit for plant life, and what plants exhale is favorable to human respiration. An incomplete study has induced some to think that God made a mistake; a more exact inquiry shows a harmonious design in His handiwork. Men can continue to breathe as Nature willed it."
What should we say if the first professor overwhelmed the second with abuse, saying: "You are a chemist with a cold, hard, dried-up heart; you preach the horrible doctrine of laissez faire; you do not love mankind, since you demonstrate the uselessness of my respiratory apparatus."
This is the sum and substance of our quarrel with the socialists. Both they and we desire harmony. They seek it in the innumerable schemes that they want the law to impose on men; we find it in the nature of men and things.
Something I've noticed in my readings of historical thinkers is that, very few, if any, wrote without reference to God, irrespective of their ideology or argument. The role of God's will in government was, however, generally split along ideological lines, which is a topic for another discussion. What I found amusing here was the clear parallels with today's global warming debate - I had been reading this passage when 905 Tory made a reference to Arrhenius in the thread below. Both produced their major works in the 1800s.
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