Re: ECON: Re: Russia coming around?

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Sun Nov 25 2001 - 19:23:19 MST

On Thursday, November 22, 2001 5:29 AM Charlie Stross
>> The problem, of course, is that while perfect capitalism has never be
>> statutorily allowed to be tried,
> Eh?!?
> 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.

I don't think so, but let's go on.

> 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.

Not exactly. The British Empire at that time did implement a few free
market policies, but overall it was not a minarchy. Taxing, regulating
trade, regulating the banking system, etc. do not a minarchy make.

> 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.

Actually, pollution was encouraged by the governments of England at that
time abrogating private property rights. If property had been protected and
extended, then would be polluters would have had the law against them.
Minarchy is not about one group using the government to take (e.g., tax) or
damage (e.g., pollute) another's property. In fact, that's exactly why many
classical liberals, libertarians, and Objectivists want a minarchy: to stop
such takings.

It's notable, too, that during much of the same period, government power in
Britain grew. In some areas, granted, there was a decline, but overall it
grew. (Ditto for the US. Federal government power especially grew during
the 19th and even more so in the 20th centuries. The trend continues,
mostly unabated in the US. In Britain, at least, some secessionists are
asserting themselves -- in Scotland and Wales.)


Daniel Ust

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