by Frederic Bastiat
The Law was originally published in French in 1850 by Frederic Bastiat. It was written two years after the third French Revolution of 1848 and a few months before his death of tuberculosis at age 49. It is the work for which Bastiat is most famous.
In The Law, Bastiat says "each of us has a natural right – from God – to defend his person, his liberty, and his property". The State is a "substitution of a common force for individual forces" to defend this right. The law becomes perverted when it is used to violate the rights of the individual, when it punishes one's right to defend himself against a collective effort of others to legislatively enact laws which basically have the same effect of plundering.