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“The School of Liberty” (1890)

Status Quaestionis


Notwithstanding your warm welcome, it is as a defendant that I stand before you in the dock today. And this defendant is fully aware of the extent and the gravity of the charges bearing down on him. He knows that he must not only defend himself and his ideas, but that he must first and foremost defend his friends, his colleagues and masters, in other words all those who together constitute the school to which they pride themselves in belonging, namely the School of Liberty. It is true that having to defend such men also means being defended by them. Because this school, which did not specifically stand trial before you, but came under a vigorous and most talented attack all the same, this school brings with it an imposing lineage of noble hearts and great minds. From Jean Bodin to Anne-Robert Turgot, from Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban to Pierre Le Pesant de Boisguilbert and François Quesnay, from Turgot to Frédéric Bastiat, Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, Jean-Baptiste Say, Charles Dunoyer, Pellegrino Rossi, and Michel Chevalier; a lineage which, I’d like to remind you, is primarily French because of its representatives’ citizenship, but is also universal thanks to its shared interests and the reach of its doctrines. Hence, it connects to Italy via Cesare Beccaria, Gaetano Filanghieri, and Camillo Benso di Cavour; to England with John Locke, Adam Smith, Richard Cobden, Robert Peel, and William Gladstone; to America thanks to Benjamin Franklin and William Channing; to Switzerland via Alexandre Vinet to cite only one; and finally to the whole of humanity, through everything that embraces respect for the human person; through all that which from a material standpoint as much as from a moral one, promotes dedication to personal responsibility, without which there is neither experience nor merit, nor right, nor duty, nor progress, nor dignity.

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