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Bastiat: A Pioneer in Constitutional Political Economy


  • Dorn James A.

    (Cato Institute & Towson University)


Bastiat emphasized the institutional infrastructure of a market economy and the principle of spontaneous order. He began with first principles - the primacy of property and consent - and derived the legitimate functions of government. As a pioneer in constitutional political economy, he examined the relation between economics and politics, employed methodological individualism, and extended the exchange paradigm to collective choice. He showed that the attenuation of economic liberty in the pursuit of distributive justice under majoritarian government would lead to rent-seeking, corruption, and politicization of economic life.Bastiat met l'accent sur l'aménagement institutionnel de l'économie de marché et sur le principe de l'ordre spontané. Son analyse débute avec les principes premiers - la primauté de la propriété et du consentement - et il infère de ces principes les fonctions légitimes du gouvernement. En tant que pionnier de l'économie politique constitutionnelle, il examine les liens entre la sphère économique et la sphère politique, a recours à l'individualisme méthodologique et étend le paradigme de l'échange aux choix collectifs. Il montre que l'érosion de la liberté économique qu'entraîne la recherche d'une justice distributive sous un gouvernement majoritaire mène à la recherche de rentes, à la corruption et à la politisation de la vie économique.

Suggested Citation

  • Dorn James A., 2001. "Bastiat: A Pioneer in Constitutional Political Economy," Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, De Gruyter, vol. 11(2), pages 1-17, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:jeehcn:v:11:y:2001:i:2:n:11
    DOI: 10.2202/1145-6396.1026

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James Dorn, 1991. "Madison's constitutional political economy: Principles for a liberal order," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 163-186, March.
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