Three very interesting quotes

~ Ludwig von Mises, [1949]

“We call contentment or satisfaction that state of a human being which does not and cannot result in any action. Acting man is eager to substitute a more satisfactory state of affairs for a less satisfactory. His mind imagines conditions which suit him better, and his action aims at bringing about this desired state. The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness. A man perfectly content with the state of his affairs would have no incentive to change things. He would have neither wishes nor desires; he would be perfectly happy. He would not act; he would simply live free from care.

“But to make a man act, uneasiness and the image of a more satisfactory state alone are not sufficient. A third condition is required: the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness. In the absence of this condition no action is feasible. Man must yield to the inevitable. He must submit to destiny.”


~ John Robison, [1798]

“Virtue is the cultivation of the human soul, and not the mere possession of good dispositions; all men have these, and occasionly exhibit them. But virtue supposes exertion; and, as the husbandman must be incited to his laborious task by some cogent motive, so must man be prompted to that exertion which is necessary on the part of every individual for the very existence of a great society: For man is indolent, and he is luxurious; he wishes for enjoyment, and this with little trouble. The less fortunate envy the enjoyments of others, and repine at their own inability to obtain the like. They see the idle in affluence. Few, even of good men, have the candour, nay, I may call it the wisdom, to think on the activity and the labour which had procured these comforts to the rich, or to their ancestors; and to believe that they are idle only because they are wealthy, but would be active if they were needy. Such spontaneous reflections cannot be expected in persons who are engaged in unceasing labour, to procure a very moderate share (in their estimation at least of the comforts of life. Yet such reflections would, in the main, be just, and surely they would greatly tend to quiet the minds of the unsuccessful.”


~ Frederic Bastiat, [1874]

“Workmen! they talk to you a great deal upon the artificial organisation of labour;–do you know why they do so? Because they are ignorant of the laws of its natural organisation; that is, of the wonderful organisation which results from liberty. You are told, that liberty gives rise to what is called the radical antagonism of classes; that it creates, and makes to clash, two opposite interests–that of the capitalists and that of the “prolétaires.” But we ought to begin by proving that this antagonism exists by a law of nature; and afterwards it would remain to be shown how far the arrangements of restraint are superior to those of liberty, for between liberty and restraint I see no middle path. Again, it would remain to be proved that restraint would always operate to your advantage, and to the prejudice of the rich. But, no; this radical antagonism, this natural opposition of interests, does not exist. It is only an evil dream of perverted and intoxicated imaginations. No; a plan so defective has not proceeded from the Divine Mind. To affirm it, we must begin by denying the existence of God. And see how, by means of social laws, and because men exchange amongst themselves their labours and their productions, see what a harmonious tie attaches the classes one to the other! There are the landowners; what is their interest? That the soil be fertile, and the sun beneficent: and what is the result? That corn abounds, that it falls in price, and the advantage turns to the profit of those who have had no patrimony. There are the manufacturers–what is their constant thought? To perfect their labour, to increase the power of their machines, to procure for themselves, upon the best terms, the raw material. And to what does all this tend? To the abundance and the low price of produce; that is, that all the efforts of the manufacturers, and without their suspecting it, result in a profit to the public consumer, of which each of you is one. It is the same with every profession. Well, the capitalists are not exempt from this law. They are very busy making schemes, economising, and turning them to their advantage. This is all very well; but the more they succeed, the more do they promote the abundance of capital, and, as a necessary consequence, the reduction of interest. Now, who is it that profits by the reduction of interest? Is it not the borrower first, and finally, the consumers of the things which the capitals contribute to produce?

“It is therefore certain that the final result of the efforts of each class is the common good of all.

“You are told that capital tyrannises over labour. I do not deny that each one endeavours to draw the greatest possible advantage from his situation; but, in this sense, he realises only that which is possible. Now, it is never more possible for capitals to tyrannise over labour, than when they are scarce; for then it is they who make the law–it is they who regulate the rate of sale. Never is this tyranny more impossible to them, than when they are abundant; for, in that case, it is labour which has the command.”


2 thoughts on “Three very interesting quotes

  1. I wonder about the last quote… that the result is the common good of all… this system of “profit” (and thus power) has caused and is causing a great deal of hardship & destruction as takes over indigenous cultures which have survived for many years… leaving sickness, poverty and hunger instead… how do you compare that quote (of ‘ideals’) to this real life account:

  2. What Bastiat is saying is that capital is good for everyone and that capital begets capital. No one can argue that these poor Guatemalans lack capital. There is obviously an imbalance.

    Recall that Bastiat’s quote ends with, “it is never more possible for capitals to tyrannise over labour, than when they are scarce; for then it is they who make the law–it is they who regulate the rate of sale. Never is this tyranny more impossible to them, than when they are abundant; for, in that case, it is labour which has the command.”

    What he is advocating, I am convinced, is the solution to such situations occurring in Guatemala. What he advocates specifically is liberty.

    What he shows in the essay from which this quote is pulled is that acts contrary to liberty hamper prosperity. The workers were convinced the solution laid in intervention by law. He showed quite handily that the result of attacking capital is scarcity and the view that those who have it work counter to prosperity of the masses is simply false.

    He’s much more eloquent that I. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed his writing and style of argument. He makes a great case, even if it’s not entirely convincing in this slice that I have shared.

    (Essays on Political Economy –

    It must be that there is a very real and intentional hampering of productivity in Guatemala. Production is a source of authority and those in power often seek to control it by means of laws and regulations that inevitably leads to shortage and an ever increasing reliance on public assistance and government. I know nothing of the politics of Guatemala, but I’ll bet ya there is some real crony capitalism going on. By crony capitalism, I am referring to those who secure profits by either directly from government payments or by lobbying leaders to enact laws that eradicate competition.

    Read a fantastic book by Shane Coley, “Know Stealing”

    I got the book free for the Kindle some time ago. I’ve had correspondence with Shane a few times via facebook. This book is the single book I refer people to for an understanding of legitimate authority. He covers pretty much every topic under the sun and, at the point I have reached in the book, makes some seriously amazing points about how production and authority are connected. I highly recommend it to anyone.

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