Re: ECON: Re: Russia coming around?

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Thu Nov 22 2001 - 03:29:03 MST

On Tue, Nov 20, 2001 at 01:31:33PM -0500, Mike Lorrey wrote:
> The problem, of course, is that while perfect capitalism has never be
> statutorily allowed to be tried,


Something a lot of Libertarians seem to avoid thinking about is the
fact that the minarchist night-watchman state with unhampered capitalism
that they crave *has* actually been tried. And found wanting.

Britain, 1770-1870 or thereabouts. It's near as dammit the minarchist
state they keep banging on about. No income tax, night-watchman goverment,
a navy (the main military force) than ran at a profit (by enforcing
blockades with confiscation of blockade-runner's assets) and so on.

It was a roaring success for business -- but it wasn't a very nice place
for ordinary people to live and it sowed the seeds of its own collapse.
Clue: the pollution was so bad that massive public works had to be created
to deal with it (read up on The Great Stink of 1853 if you don't believe
me). Second clue: social conditions were sufficiently bad that *England*
was where Marx expected the communist revolution to break out. Third
clue: the libertarian "utopia" of imperial Britain was dismantled from
the inside out by its own people.

-- Charlie

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