Observing that people can generally defend their rights more efficiently by associating for mutual aid, Bastiat defined law as collective organization of the individual right of self-defense. He had his own formulation of the Law of Equal Freedom.
Force has been given to us to defend our own individual rights. Who will dare to say that force has been given to us to destroy the equal rights of our brothers? Since no individual acting separately can lawfully use force to destroy the rights of others, does it not logically follow that the same principle also applies to the common force that is nothing more than the organized combination of the individual forces? If this is true, then nothing can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all. - Frederic Bastiat, The Law
Bastiat wholeheartedly condemned statist law as a perversion of law. He also explains the motivations and incentives causing this perversion. This can be construed as an economic or psychological institutional analysis of state. This seems quite modern, anticipating the Public Choice school ("greed") and criticisms of well-meaning social engineering ("false philanthropy") so prominent a century later.
The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense. How has this perversion of the law been accomplished? And what have been the results? The law has been perverted by the influence of two entirely different causes: stupid greed and false philanthropy. - Frederic Bastiat, The Law