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Happy We-Should-Restore-The-Monarchy-And-Rejoin-Britain Day!

The celebration of the 4th of July as if it’s a libertarian holiday is a bit much to bear. Secession from Britain was a mistake. It’s easy enough to realize that the Constitution was not some libertarian achievement as conservatives and libertarians delude themselves into thinking. The Declaration of Independence in 1776 led to all the standard evils of war and raising an army–in the words of Jeff Hummel, “unfunded government debt, paper money, skyrocketing inflation, price controls, legal tender laws, direct impressment of supplies and wide-spread conscription.” Hmm, doesn’t sound very libertarian to me. (See also below on the language of the Declaration.) Stealing, conscripting, enslaving, murdering. The glorification of democracy. The expansion of empire. The entrenching of corporatist interests with the state. The substitution of traditional order with worship of the democratic state.

Monarchy isn’t perfect, as Hoppe argues, but the move from monarchy to democracy was not “progress” as even some libertarians have mistakenly believed (as Hoppe notes, “although aware of the economic and ethical deficiencies of democracy, both Mises and Rothbard had a soft spot for democracy and tended to view the transition from monarchy to democracy as progress”). When I suggest it was a mistake to secede from Britain, libertarians–brainwashed by both Saturday morning Schoolhouse Rock propaganda (No More Kings; Fireworks; Three-Ring Government; The Preamble; Let Freedom Ring) and Randian pro-America mythology–freak out. “You want us to have a king? How terrible?!” or “But Britain is more socialist than we are!” Well, first, I don’t want us to have a king. I’d prefer we have no state: no kings or congresscritters or revenuers. But we have a king now, under another name; he can tax and murder us, just like the dreaded monarchian boogey-man; the state is overlord of all our property, as in feudalism. And rejoining socialist Britain now would be terrible–but would the European monarchies have become democratic socialist states if America had never left Britain? Our secession led to a constructivist new utopian order based on a “rational, scientific” paper document and the rejection of traditional, unwritten, limits on state power, thus setting the world on the path of democracy and democratic tyranny, and all the evils of the 20th Century–WWI, WWII, the Holocaust, the Cold War, Communism, Naziism, Fascism, Great Depressions I and II (see Goodbye 1776, 1789, Tom for links). America’s reckless utopianism corrupted its mother state, rendering it unfit to rejoin. But had we never left? One percent tax paid to a distant King over the ocean sound appealing, anyone? (See Would YOU sign the Declaration of Independence?)

If I didn’t hate states and flags so much I might just fly the ole Union Jack this Saturday!

What about the Declaration itself? How libertarian is it? Well, let’s just take a few choice parts:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,

–Well, yes, except for Africans and women, and young men who don’t want to be drafted or executed for desertion, and probably atheists and witches.

that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men,

This is not the reason governments form–to secure our rights. This is just a sales job for the criminal state.

deriving their just powers

This falsely implies the state can have just powers. It cannot.

from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends,

This implies government does not necessarily become destructive–that good goverment is possible. It’s not.

it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government,

But not to have no government, right? Why does it deny us the right to get rid of the state altogether?

laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

In other words, they should be free to try one utopian experiment after another.

Update: Some friends sent me some other useful links debunking the “libertarian” aspects of the American Revolution: First, regarding US independence, see A gentle introduction to Unqualified Reservations (part 2), by Mencius Moldbug (“So: let’s put it as bluntly as possible. At present you believe that, in the American Revolution, good triumphed over evil. This is the aforementioned aggregate. We’re going to just scoop that right out with the #6 brain spoon. As we operate, we’ll replace it with the actual story of the American Rebellion – in which evil triumphed over good”). According to Moldbug everything people know about the American Revolution is BS. He recommends this wonderful piece: Strictures upon the Declaration of the Congress at Philadelphia, a devastating attack on the Declaration of Independence and American Revolution written by one of its contemporaries, Thomas Hutchinson, the former Governor of Massachusetts.

And let’s not forget Mencken’s classic The Declaration of Independence in American — an excerpt:

That any goverment that don’t give a man these rights ain’t worth a damn; also, people ought to choose the kind of goverment they want themselves, and nobody else ought to have no say in the matter. That whenever any goverment don’t do this, then the people have got a right to can it and put in one that will take care of their interests. Of course, that don’t mean having a revolution every day like them South American coons and yellow-bellies and Bolsheviki, or every time some job-holder does something he ain’t got no business to do. It is better to stand a little graft, etc., than to have revolutions all the time, like them coons and Bolsheviki, and any man that wasn’t a anarchist or one of them I. W. W.’s would say the same. But when things get so bad that a man ain’t hardly got no rights at all no more, but you might almost call him a slave, then everybody ought to get together and throw the grafters out, and put in new ones who won’t carry on so high and steal so much, and then watch them. This is the proposition the people of these Colonies is up against, and they have got tired of it, and won’t stand it no more. The administration of the present King, George III, has been rotten from the start, and when anybody kicked about it he always tried to get away with it by strong-arm work. Here is some of the rough stuff he has pulled: …

Update: Hurrah for King George!, by John Attarian.

[Mises crosspost]

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{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Tony July 2, 2009, 4:35 pm

    and the rejection of traditional, unwritten, limits on state power, thus setting the world on the path of democracy and democratic tyranny

    I used to think you were a good critical thinker, but your promotion of Jeff Hummel’s very clearly biased (if not outright propogandist) rant on the founding of the US order has me wondering. Just to remind us of some facts: as of 1776, it had not been very long since a number of monarchies claimed absolute power in all things (including religion). In France, the monarchy was still thoroughly tyrannic, even though there were paper constraints on it, in practice they amounted to little. In Britain, the only reason there were limits on the state was due to the screaming democratic sorts who pushed for ever more power in the Parliament – i.e. because of democratic forces. Germany was still a hodge-podge of semi-autocratic monarchies, as was Italy.

    There simply was NO SUCH THING as “traditional, unwritten, limits on state power”. The British “tradition” was of recent vintage, not entirely secure, and due solely to democratic forces. None of the other countries had a clearly defined limit on state power (unless you want to count the limits imposed by the Church – and somehow I don’t think this is what you wish to rest your case on).

    I know you are anti-statist. For the sake of the argument, by hypothesis if you assume that a state exists and a move to no-state is not a realistic option, the move to democracy in 1776 cannot be shoehorned into some vast evil repudiation of law and order. It may have been done cynically, or poorly, but if the people have the right to establish a state, they have a right to disestablish the former state and erect a new one.

  • Jim Cox July 3, 2009, 11:19 am

    As I suspect you know, Jefferson’s orginal draft submitted to the Contintental Congress included this denunciation of the King:

    “waging cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation …Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce.”

    but it was struck (as was about 25% of what he submitted) as a compromise to get the heavy-into-slavery states to agree to the Declaration.

    Instead of denouncing the founders as a bunch of hypocrites, realize that these people set forth the ideas that eventually resulted in the end of slavery–which was common around the world at the time and had been since the dawn of history. And, these leaders actually advocated something–ending slavery–which went against their own financial interests! How many people ever do such a thing? So, the question is not how could these people be such hypocrites advocating ending slavery while owning slaves? The better question is: How could a group of people born into a society where slavery was the norm make the philosophical leap to being against slavery? That’s what’s remarkable! They deserve honor, not scorn.

    Here’s a source of Jefferson quotes: http://etext.virginia.edu/jefferson/quotations/jeff1290.htm

  • Stephan Kinsella July 6, 2009, 11:36 am

    Wow, a great comment by Bob Kaercher on the Mises cross-post:

    Bob Kaercher

    I would never propose rejoining the Brits nor would I ever favor a monarchy, but I think I can appreciate what’s illustrated by the comparison being made here, which is that the vote-for-your-favorite-dictator democracy celebrated every 4th of July was hardly an improvement. As much as that may rankle the feathers of some American libertarians who have still not quite totally detoxed from the years of brainwashing by the media, popular culture, hearing family and neighbors spouting widely held assumptions with no or little basis in fact, and/or government schooling, the founding of the United States is hardly an historical event to be cheered by libertarians. Something good may be said for the secession from the British Empire, sure, but we should ask ourselves: To what did we secede?

    “The revolution was betrayed!” This seems to be the view of the American War for Independence held by a lot of American libertarians. But on closer examination I think it’s more accurate to conclude that the rotten fruits we’re choking on today—endless war on bureaucratically defined vices at home and whatever country Uncle Sam feels like targeting abroad, increasing debt and taxation, the trampling of individual freedom, etc., etc., etc.—are what any libertarian should fully expect to have evolved out of the political arrangement established by the sacrosanct and hallowed founders.

    The whole thing was corrupt from the get-go. As Stephan mentioned, really think about what’s written in the Declaration of Independence. Okay, there’s some great language about equality, which I take to mean equality of individual rights, not material or physical “equality,” i.e., no person may treat any other as their own personal property. Ah, but this did not apply to the slaves–no, no, no, no! A horrible compromise was made with southern slaveholding interests to strike Jefferson’s original language that was critical of slavery for the sake of unity. Remember, these new States with a capital S must be United with a capital U. Unity trumps principle! And we know what happened to a lot of Indians who weren’t exactly thrilled with going along with Uncle Sam’s Program.

    So, okay, then as you proceed through the document there’s some great stuff about King George’s abuses of power. But then you get to the founders’ answer to this tyranny: A different brand of tyranny, one that’s homegrown! Those passages smack of collectivism through and through! There’s all this “We” being the “Representatives” of “the People” of the Colonies, and acting on the “Authority” of “the People” these purported “Representatives” declare that these Colonies are now independent of the King, sure, but as STATES that are UNITED. Lysander Spooner was right about the BS of such language. It’s the language of power.

    Why not declare secession from the King as free and sovereign individuals with each person being free to secede (or maybe even not to secede for those colonists who didn’t mind staying under the King’s rule) by their own lights, entering into various associations by purely voluntary choice? Why did they have to secede as “United States”? Because that was the only way that the political elites who spearheaded that “American Revolution” could maintain any power.

    So considering that this political unit called the “United States of America” was founded on the ideas of unity trumping principle and freedom, on the ideas of collectivism, we probably should conclude that it wasn’t that the founders’ principles were admirable but imperfectly implemented, or just a little flawed here and there, or were simply misinterpreted or misunderstood by succeeding generations, but that their principles were far less than libertarian to begin with and we are now tragically stuck with the bitter consequences of such principles.

  • nancy March 12, 2010, 11:12 am

    I would not want to be under british rule, you are a subject, under
    the king or Queen. In United states of America, Our Constitution
    start with WE THE PEOPLE. The people have to say what the
    feel about what bills they trying to pass. Under the king, you have
    no say so. Also it use to be if the king thought you did something
    wrong against him, He called it treason and you were excuted.
    In England people use watch the public hangings.
    Remember country wanted to more land , more power, did you
    ever play the game risk. In the Game you try to conquer as much
    land as possible, and you invest.
    In America we did not want to be under british control.
    You think taxes are high now they will be worst.
    Yes, we kick the british out from double taxation, and now our
    own government taxes us to much. But Alot of people feel
    our government has money, never guestion were the money
    comes from. Well, it comes from all the taxes they need to
    collect .

  • Crownprussian January 21, 2011, 7:08 pm

    America does, indeed, need a monarchy (with the election of the tyrant Obama, more than ever, to undo his damage!) But NOT back under British rule. King George threw the Crown of America away and abandoned his colonies; they cannot be reclaimed. The American Crown now lies forgotten and dusty (metaphorically speaking) and must be found by an American citizen, to be a new, truly different Crown. We have worked tirelessly in this direction since 1983.

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