I cannot avoid coming to this conclusion- that there are too many great men in the world; there are too many legislators, organizers, institutors of society, conductors of the people, fathers of nations, etc., etc. Too many persons place themselves above mankind, to rule and patronize it; too many people make a trade of looking after it.
I am acting with regard to it in the spirit that animated a celebrated traveler. He found himself in the midst of a savage tribe. A child had just been born, and a crowd of soothsayers, magicians, and quacks were around it, armed with rings, hooks, and bandages. One said- “This child will never smell the perfume of a calumet, unless I stretch his nostrils.” Another said- “He will be without the sense of hearing, unless I draw his ears down to his shoulders.” A third said- “He will never see the light of the sun, unless I give his eyes an oblique direction.” A fourth said- “He will never be upright, unless I bend his legs.” A fifth said- “He will not be able to think, unless I press his brain.” “stop!” said the traveler. “Whatever God does, is well done; do not pretend to know more than He; and as He has given organs to this frail creature, allow those organs to develop themselves, to strengthen themselves by exercise, use, experience, and liberty.”
God has implanted in mankind also all that is necessary to enable it to accomplish its destinies. There is a providential social physiology, as well as a providential human physiology. The social organs are constituted so as to enable them to develop harmoniously in the grand air of liberty. Away, then, with quacks and organizers! Away with their rings, and their chains, and their hooks and their pincers! Away with their artificial methods! Away with their social laboratories, their governmental whims, their centralization, their tariffs, their universities, their State religions, their inflationary or monopolizing banks, their limitations, their restrictions, their moralizations, and their equalization by taxation! And now, after having vainly inflicted upon the social body so many systems, let them end where they ought to have begun- reject all systems and try liberty- which is an act of faith in God and His work.”
From the concluding page of Frederic Bastiat’s The Law, first published in 1850.