Gustave de Molinari (3 March 1819 - 28 January 1912) was a political economist and classical liberal theorist born in Belgium associated with French laissez-faire economists such as Frédéric Bastiat and Hippolyte Castille. Living in Paris, in the 1840s, he took part in the Ligue pour la Liberté des Échanges (Free Trade League), animated by Frédéric Bastiat. On his death bed in 1850, Bastiat described Molinari as the continuator of his works. In 1849, shortly after the revolutions of the previous year, Molinari published two works: an essay, 'The Production of Security', and a book, Les Soirées de la Rue Saint-Lazare, describing how a market in justice and protection could advantageously replace the state.
In the 1850s, Molinari fled to Belgium to escape threats from France's Emperor Napoleon III. He returned to Paris in the 1860s to work on the influential newspaper, Le Journal des Débats, which he edited from 1871 to 1876. Molinari went on to edit the Journal des Économistes, the publication of the French Political Economy Society, from 1881 until 1909. In his 1899 book, The Society of Tomorrow, he proposed a federated system of collective security, and reiterated his support for private competing defense agencies.
Ralph Raico wrote:
In his last work, published a year before his death in 1912, Molinari never relented. The American Civil War had not been simply a humanitarian crusade to free the slaves. The war "ruined the conquered provinces", but the Northern plutocrats pulling the strings achieved their aim: the imposition of a vicious protectionism that led ultimately "to the regime of trusts and produced the billionaires".
Molinari's grave is located at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France.
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