≡ Menu

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

From Mises blog: Happy We-Should-Restore-The-Monarchy-And-Rejoin-Britain Day! [archived comments below]

See also Down with the Fourth of July

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.

archived comments and here:

Comments (109)

  • Manuel Lora
  • Stephan, why do you hate America?
  • Published: July 2, 2009 1:32 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • Manuel: Because I don’t have Stockholm Syndrome.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 1:41 PM

  • Manuel Lora
  • ZING.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 1:44 PM

  • Horst Muhlmann
  • This is a repeat of what I said here but this is a more appropriate thread. 

    I think you are onto something here. Compare the United States with the Cayman Islands and with pre-takeover (or even post-takeover for that matter) Hong Kong. Areas that have remained British colonies have fared far better than those that have become independent.

    Hmmm. Is India the counterexample? I’m not knowledgeable enough to say. Pakistan certainly is not a counterexample.

     

  • Published: July 2, 2009 1:47 PM

  • dchunter
  • No, the declaration and the constitution were not perfect documents. But declaring freedom from England’s tyranny was a huge leap in the right direction.It is a shame that we are racing back toward tyranny at such a frightening pace right now. It won’t be long before this experiment fails.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 1:50 PM

  • Teresa
  • Stephan –
    You might have a different persective of all the wrongs you attribute to just the united States after you read: Why American History Is Not What They Say: An Introduction to Revisionism. It’s available in the Mises bookstorePlus – You are free to move to whatever country you’d like to ‘try one utopian experiment after another’
  • Published: July 2, 2009 1:52 PM

  • Andre
  • Democracy, in one form or another, would have emerged, regardless, if we left Britain or not. With monarchies, you can pinpoint all anger and bitterness on one man, the king. With a democracy, well, you can vote. An incredible, powerful myth that fosters obedience. What state wouldn’t love that?
  • Published: July 2, 2009 1:58 PM

  • Chris H
  • If only the American colonists had has a bit more patience, the tax/representation issue could have been resolved without any violence. The majority of the English population was sympathetic to the American colonist’s case; it was just a matter of waiting a few years.Of course, if the French hadn’t been so thoroughly beaten in the French Indian War, fear of the French would probably have continued to make the taxes paid to the English king seem like a bargain.

    Without the American revolution, the French revolution that followed would have been less likely and we might well have been spared the slaughter of over 20 million in the subsequent Napoleonic wars in Europe.

  • Published: July 2, 2009 1:58 PM

  • jc butte
  • Hmm, the United States was the first country in the world in which individuals could hold property in allodia. If that isn’t libertarian, then I’ve absorbed the wrong worldview.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 2:04 PM

  • ShedPlant
  • Interesting polemic.However, blaming the American revolution for everything bad since (while omitting anything in that span of time which could be considered laudable) suffers from the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 2:21 PM

  • theCL
  • Kinsella is generally a bright guy, extremely smart, really. But the Revolution was hardly the cause of the problems we face in America today. Those problems are too legion to bother going into here.A King could have (probably would have) brought the hammer of tyranny down faster. Also, attacking men who lived in another time and place, under circumstances anyone today can only imagine (unless there’s a time-machine I’m not aware of), is fruitless.

    America is not about the government, never was. It’s about the spirit of liberty.

  • Published: July 2, 2009 2:30 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • dchunter:

    No, the declaration and the constitution were not perfect documents. But declaring freedom from England’s tyranny was a huge leap in the right direction.

    So everyone seems to assume. England’s “tyranny” was trivial compared to Washington’s.

    Teresa:

     

    Plus – You are free to move to whatever country you’d like to ‘try one utopian experiment after another’

    America–love it or leave it, eh? No thanks–what I tell moronic conservatives who spout that nonsense is that if they don’t like it that I can stay here and complain about it, they can get the hell out.

    jc butte:

    Hmm, the United States was the first country in the world in which individuals could hold property in allodia. If that isn’t libertarian, then I’ve absorbed the wrong worldview.

    Yes, sounds to me like you’re buying into a rosy view of things. See
    Peculium, and the State as Overlord.

    theCL:

    Kinsella is generally a bright guy, extremely smart, really.

    Can I put this on my Man-Love page? 🙂

     

    But the Revolution was hardly the cause of the problems we face in America today. Those problems are too legion to bother going into here.

    A King could have (probably would have) brought the hammer of tyranny down faster. Also, attacking men who lived in another time and place, under circumstances anyone today can only imagine (unless there’s a time-machine I’m not aware of), is fruitless.

    America is not about the government, never was. It’s about the spirit of liberty.

    When you say America “is” “about” the spirit of liberty, do you mean it actually is–or that you would like it to be? If you mean the former, I think you are wrong. If we were really “about” liberty I would not pay half my income in taxes every year.

  • Published: July 2, 2009 2:49 PM

  • 8
  • 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…Your first bit about the murdering and Empire is a bit odd. Had the American colonists stayed loyal subjects, it’s quite possible that the Empire would have no border today. The above statement, however, is a question neither right nor left want to raised. For the right, it is anti-American and un-patriotic. For the left, it means their ideology is fruit of a poisoned tree.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 2:52 PM

  • Michael Orlowski
  • How would have Britian been less tyrannical? Only WWII bankrupted their empire, they were in many wars themselves priar to the Great War also. They also became democratic socialists, so what difference does it make. I can see your anger, but rejoining Britain is erroneous and misleading.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 3:12 PM

  • Jonathan Catalan Finegold
  • Stephen,The mistake you make is to assume that there wouldn’t have been a similar evolution of events under British rule. You assume that after 233 years we would have still been the same colonies under the same government. Let’s not forget Britain’s wars, and the inflationary policies the Bank of England and the British government had to pay for them (and, in fact, many wars were started by Britain to maintain “balance of powers”).

    Sorry, I just don’t see the accuracy in your arguments.

    I see the point that our government today might be worse (in regards to its role) as compared to that of 18th century England. But, the premise that everything would have remained the same is wrong.

  • Published: July 2, 2009 3:25 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • Finegold and Orlowski — the idea is that the traditional monarchical system was a better restraint on state tyranny than democracy has been; that what eroded this was WWI being turned into a world war and a crusade for democracy by America’s entry; that we would not have done this had Lincoln not prevented the CSA secession and centralized power; and this would not have happened if we had not seceded in the first place from England.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 3:38 PM

  • James Vanderbelt
  • It’s comical how you point out locations in historical documents and try to “intelligently” pull them apart.I had a good laugh, well done, you should do standup!

    If you had it your way we’d all be on candid-camera like you brits are on every street corner today.

  • Published: July 2, 2009 3:45 PM

  • Dennis
  • The major problem with government in the U.S. is not the Declaration of Independence, but the Constitution. This country would be much better off if the Articles of Confederation were still in effect.While democracy certainly was not an improvement over monarchy, I do not accept the assertion that monarchy is a more just form of government than democracy. The establishment of natural elites as chosen by the market is a desirable goal, but a monarchy established and maintained by force of law has substantial potential to enable the politically powerful to ride roughshod over the rights of the political minority.

    The anarcho-capitalist system developed by Rothbard would be a great improvement over democracy and any form of monarchy that I am aware of. Rothbard’s system integrates the insights of praxeology and natural law theory into a magnificent political system that has little in common with either democracy or monarchy.

  • Published: July 2, 2009 3:47 PM

  • Zephram Stark
  • Where does the Declaration of Independence or Constitution of the United States specify “a Democracy?”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DokFwjeleUU

    The Constitution specifically guarantees a Republican form of government to every State, not a Democracy. If domestic enemies of the Constitution (like Barack Obama) have circumvented and undermined the Constitution, they should be your target, not the Republican principles that founded our great nation.

  • Published: July 2, 2009 3:47 PM

  • Roy
  • Please explain the traditional, unwritten, limits on state power that were in place prior to the Magna Carta.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 3:50 PM

  • Essential Complexity
  • Stephan,It’s amazing that you would subscribe to the view that the Federal Reserve, or any other central planning committee, cannot set interest rates or prices generally because an economy is an essentially complex phenomenon, and yet you would predict the course of subsequent world historical events assuming the American Revolution had never occurred? This post if laughable, at best amusing speculation.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 3:52 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • Zephram: of course the US is a democracy. The Constitution provides for election of the President and Congressmen, and, indirectly, of Senators (and now direct election). Sure, there are some paper “limits,” like a Bill of Rights (that was not added till 1791), but all democracies have some limits. America is clearly a democracy, sad to say.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 3:53 PM

  • Essential Complexity
  • Stephan,It’s amazing that you would subscribe to the view that the Federal Reserve, or any other central planning committee, cannot set interest rates or prices generally because an economy is an essentially complex phenomenon, and yet you would predict the course of subsequent world historical events assuming the American Revolution had never occurred? This post if laughable, at best amusing speculation.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 3:53 PM

  • theCL
  • Can I put this on my Man-Love page? 🙂

    Sure, but I’ll have to refrain from (possibly) noting anything I may like about your opinions and ideas from this day forth, I wouldn’t want it to go to your head.

    If we were really “about” liberty I would not pay half my income in taxes every year.

    You wouldn’t pay income taxes at all! But there you are again, right back to defining America by its government. I hate those bastards every bit as much as you do, but they’re the government, not America.

    If we, as humans, define ourselves by our governments, we’re ALL rotten bastards who don’t deserve to live – all of humankind, from day one forward. But that’s a depressing way to live.

    In my view, you represent the most geniune American (although you may not like to hear that), because you’re anti-state!

  • Published: July 2, 2009 3:54 PM

  • Thinker
  • Interesting idea: suppose several freedom-loving states secede from the Union, join a confederacy, and declare the Queen of England to be their Head of State with absolute authority…except for delegating any of her new duties. She’d probably be so overwhelmed that the states would essentially have anarchy with a government officially in place.Ridiculous, I know, but still fun to ponder.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 4:08 PM

  • Zephram Stark
  • Stephan, you really need to read the Constitution. It specifically states that is a complete set of the powers we give Washington DC. We vote on which employees we think should implement these powers, but only the Constitutional Amendment Process can add new powers to the Constitution. The highest law of the United States provides for consent of the governed. It is as far away from the concept of a Democracy as you can get using eighteenth century technology.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 4:13 PM

  • Anonymous
  • So Kinsella loves Empires as long as it is not the US. And it appears that seceding from an empire is only good when the seceders have libertarian principles so secession is pretty much always wrong. Also if US independence corrupted the UK shouldn’t it be the UK’s fault for colonizing the US in the first place?”the idea is that the traditional monarchical system was a better restraint on state tyranny than democracy has been; that what eroded this was WWI being turned into a world war and a crusade for democracy by America’s entry; that we would not have done this had Lincoln not prevented the CSA secession and centralized power; and this would not have happened if we had not seceded in the first place from England”

    Okay the “traditional monarchial system” was under serious erosion before WWI. Oh and in England it was under erosion long before the American Revolution occured what with Cromwell, the Revolution of 1688 and the gradual creation of the post of Prime Minister.

    Also how exactly did Northern Victory lead directly to US intervention in WWI? And how did US independence lead to Northern Victory?

    And why stop at the revolution? Why not start with British colonization? And blame that on the Spanish. And blame that on the Crusades. And blame that on the Muslims. And blame that on the Fall of the Roman Empire. And blame that on the creation of the Empire. And blame that on the Roman Republic’s creation. And blame that on Romulus. And so on…

  • Published: July 2, 2009 4:18 PM

  • Michael Orlowski
  • Stephan, I understand that, but our secession from Great Britain has nothing to do with the Declaration. I don’t think the Washingtonian principle really fits in with Wilsonianism. They’re both of American origin(I think), but ideologically different.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 4:26 PM

  • Jonathan Finegold Catalán
  • Stephen,

    he idea is that the traditional monarchical system was a better restraint on state tyranny than democracy has been;You assume that Great Britain would have remained an absolute monarchy. The assumption is great, but it’s just an assumption. And, blaming world events solely on U.S. independence is kind of farfetched. It’s possible that the world would have taken a similar route, regardless (US independence was not the first effort to install a democratic government).

    that what eroded this was WWI being turned into a world war and a crusade for democracy by America’s entry;

    Sorry, I don’t see the connection between the fall in power of the British monarchy and the U.S. entrance into the First World War. Post-war events would have been very similar, at least in regards to the power of the state. I think you are assuming that the only factor is the United States, and in that regards your wrong.

    and this would not have happened if we had not seceded in the first place from England.

    Do you blame decolonization on the United States? Do you blame the independence movement in South America on the United States? Would have these events taken place despite independence of the United States? That last question is the important question, and I believe that they would have taken place, even if not at the time they did.

    Colonial independence was inevitable.

  • Published: July 2, 2009 4:29 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • “You wouldn’t pay income taxes at all! But there you are again, right back to defining America by its government. I hate those bastards every bit as much as you do, but they’re the government, not America.”Yes–do you think the Declaration and the Constitution were not act by the government?

    Zephram Stark:

    “Stephan, you really need to read the Constitution. It specifically states that is a complete set of the powers we give Washington DC. We vote on which employees we think should implement these powers, but only the Constitutional Amendment Process can add new powers to the Constitution.”

    Nonsense. The Supreme Court was estalbihsed with the practical ability to construe it. They do so and add powers all the time.

    “The highest law of the United States provides for consent of the governed. It is as far away from the concept of a Democracy as you can get using eighteenth century technology.”

    Nonsense. We had a legislature. It was elected by the people. Democracy.
    Anonymous:

    “So Kinsella loves Empires as long as it is not the US.”

    I hate all states.

    “And it appears that seceding from an empire is only good when the seceders have libertarian principles so secession is pretty much always wrong.”

    Seceding is always problematic because it is done by states who invariably commit aggression in seceding (e.g. tax, conscription).

    “Also how exactly did Northern Victory lead directly to US intervention in WWI?”

    Read Turtledove. Of course with two nations, USA and CSA, WWI would have turned out very differenlty.

    “And why stop at the revolution? Why not start with British colonization? And blame that on the Spanish. And blame that on the Crusades. And blame that on the Muslims. And blame that on the Fall of the Roman Empire.”

    I stopped at the Protestant Revolution in When Did The Trouble Start?.

    Michael Orlowski:

    “Stephan, I understand that, but our secession from Great Britain has nothing to do with the Declaration.”

    What? Just two unrelated events in 1776?

  • Published: July 2, 2009 5:26 PM

  • Sherman
  • Kinsella’s childish posts are the reason I’ll never donate another dime to LMI.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 5:29 PM

  • Paul
  • The King wasn’t absolute, there was a Parliament and power was divided between them. It wasn’t so much the King’s taxes and laws as Parliament’s. So it was Monarchy; Aristocracy and a bit of Democracy as well, a kind of Aristolean state.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 5:45 PM

  • LightBringer
  • A cogent argument, Stephan, but one that raises certain questions. It is tempting to consider the USA in a vacuum but you must think of the consequences that out Empire had on us, the British. While you were subsidising industry, raising tariff walls and setting the Mason-Dixon line aflame in a meaningless war against peaceable separatists, we were building the world’s first and only laissez-faire capitalist superpower, tearing through regulations, protectionist legislation and taxes. In stark contrast to any of today’s spineless sycophants, William Gladstone, the then Chancellor, is recorded as saying “In time of peace nothing but dire necessity should induce us to borrow” in response to a financial crisis. This was the man who was democratically elected as Prime Minister four times – this alone shows that the common man in 19th Century Britain understood and agreed with induvidualist, capitalistic principles. How then, did we fall so far, so quickly? How then, little more than 50 years after Gladstone passed away, had the poison of collectivism spread so far that we were nationalising the means of production and establishing the all-encompassing Welfare State, which would hamstring every honest man in Britain from the cradle to the grave?Because of Empire. The only reason taxes were ever raised during the Liberal period was to fund foreign adventures. Thankfully, Gladstone viewed the colonies with professed disinterest, but when he was gone, so were any pretensions of non-interventionism. It was nationalism, not socialism, that drew us into World War 1, and after that nasty, costly, wasteful conflict, it was colonial greed that lead us to impose such draconic measures upon Germany, which made World War 2 almost inevitable. And, with that, the spectre of total war came to life, dooming ‘liberal’ Britain to a spiral downwards into collectivist Hell. Again, it was the Empire that drove Churchill to make ceaseless war upon Germany, devastating the world yet again and selling his soul and half of Europe to the Devil in Moscow. And when it was over? So much devastation, so much death, we resorted to social democracy, unthinkable a few decades before. The bitter irony is that we lost our Empire anyway. Without our colonial possessions perhaps we could have remained neutral while the Eagle and the Bear tore themselves apart, offering definitive proof that peaceful capitalism works and that socialism breeds only suffering. Indeed, we are much better placed that even Switzerland to do so – no invader has stepped on British soil since the 1200s.

    So yes Stephan, perhaps America would have benefited if it had remained British. But was it worth the cost? In the end, I think we have to take the blame. Britain shouldn’t have taxed the Thirteen Colonies. This is all a long, bloody lesson that teaches us one thing: perhaps the cry should have been No Taxation! No Representation! Sic Semper Tyrannis!

  • Published: July 2, 2009 5:45 PM

  • Zephram Stark
  • “The Supreme Court was established with the practical ability to construe it. They do so and add powers all the time.” ~StephanIf the Supreme Court adds powers to the Constitution without a Constitutional Amendment, it does so illegally. The Constitution does not give the Supreme Court that power. Your issue is with people who you claim are committing acts that would necessarily be breaches of the law, not the law itself or the ideology of “consent of the governed” behind it.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 5:59 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • Zephram: “If the Supreme Court adds powers to the Constitution without a Constitutional Amendment, it does so illegally. The Constitution does not give the Supreme Court that power.”So what if it’s illegal? The whole Constitution is illegal. The state is criminal. And it does give them that power: it’s implied in the doctrine of concurrent review, just as the jury has an implied right of annulment because of double jeopardy combined with the right to jury trial.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 6:13 PM

  • Samuel Wonacott
  • I think the problem with Stephen’s analysis is that he ignores what exactly Hoppe means by monarchy. As should be obvious to anyone who has read his book, Hoppe wasn’t using the term monarchy in its limited dictionary meaning. As he points out, just because you have a “king” does not mean you have the form of monarchy Hoppe is (partially) defending.
    When Hoppe talks about monarchy he means a very particular form of monarchy: that which existed in Western Europe. The reason I believe this is significant is because the form of monarchy in Western Europe developed very gradually through many hundreds of years. As Bruce Benson points out in his book “The Enterprise of Law”, the “King” started out with very little power. He had no monopoly on force over his kingdom. Power was almost entirely decentralized. Over time the king slowly grabbed more power, usurped the power of taxation away from the various regional lords and barons, and began to have the monopoly on law and order slightly resembling the powers the state has today.
    The point here is that the only reason the Kings in Western Europe resembled “property owners” with long time horizons and a large amount of resistance from the private sector (churches and whatnot) is because of the very gradual movement from a time in which the state virtually did not exist, to a more centralized state with one ruler. Had a fully matured monarchy suddenly been forced upon the people of the 1100s, you would have had a dictator with no appreciation for the past, no connection to the various power struggles between himself and the ruled, and no sense of being an owner in the sense Hoppe analogizes between a king as part of a dynasty and a private property holder. It would be like making some random man the father of a ten year old family with kids and all. The man would simply have no appreciation for the bond those individuals in a family feel between themselves. He could not be a part of the family in any meaningful sense.
    Likewise, had we seceded from Britain and suddenly instituted a monarchy I think it would have gone horrible awry. Whoever was instituted king would be, again, simply a dictator. He would have no sense of being a property owner, or at least as much a sense as Kim Jong-il has. When discussing monarchy in Western Europe, you simply cannot ignore the fact that it developed within a very definite cultural setting. To focus simply on “the king” is to disregard the decentralized environment of Western Europe, the power of the church, barons, and lords, and a host of other historical relationships. Believing that monarchy in the U.S. would have turned out the same way monarchy after hundreds of years is simply wishful thinking.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 6:27 PM

  • Michael Orlowski
  • I’m sorry my wording was incorrect on the first statement of my last passage, however what I meant to say was our secession from an also tyrannical, bureaucratic parliamentary monarchy doesn’t correlate with future events. I think secession is liberty, and maybe our secession wasn’t our own ideal anarcho-capitalist society, it was directed towards more liberty. Like I said before, Britain’s monarchy didn’t stop the socialization and their empire was dismantled because of the second World War, and if they didn’t enter it, they would still have the empire.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 6:32 PM

  • scineram
  • What makes the feds strictly limited in powers when it has all that is necessary and proper, and to provide for general welfare?
  • Published: July 2, 2009 6:35 PM

  • Anonymous
  • “Nonsense. We had a legislature. It was elected by the people. Democracy.”Britain had a popularily elected legislature in 1776, was it a Democracy as well?

    “Read Turtledove. Of course with two nations, USA and CSA, WWI would have turned out very differenlty.”

    In his books Southern Victory doesn’t stop US intervention in WWI and the US becomes an Empire anyway and the CSA gets taken over by Nazis. So what is your point?

  • Published: July 2, 2009 7:02 PM

  • Anonymous
  • “Nonsense. We had a legislature. It was elected by the people. Democracy.”Britain had a popularily elected legislature in 1776, was it a Democracy as well?

    “Read Turtledove. Of course with two nations, USA and CSA, WWI would have turned out very differenlty.”

    In his books Southern Victory doesn’t stop US intervention in WWI and the US becomes an Empire anyway and the CSA gets taken over by Nazis. So what is your point?

  • Published: July 2, 2009 7:03 PM

  • Anonymous
  • “Nonsense. We had a legislature. It was elected by the people. Democracy.”Britain had a popularily elected legislature in 1776, was it a Democracy as well?

    “Read Turtledove. Of course with two nations, USA and CSA, WWI would have turned out very differenlty.”

    Well yeah WWI would have been different if the USA and the CSA were seperate countries but I fail to see how Turtledove, an author of alternative history books “proves” that Northern Victory lead to US intervention in WWI since in his books Southern Victory doesn’t stop US intervention in WWI and the US becomes an Empire anyway and the CSA gets taken over by Nazis. So what is your point?

  • Published: July 2, 2009 7:05 PM

  • fundamentalist
  • Kinsella makes the same mistake that Marx and most socialists make: they compare an imaginary ideal with a real world system. Of course the US falls far short of an imaginary anarco-capitalist kingdom! The real world is far different that any utopia created in a fevered brain.Of course, someone will point out the anarcho-capitalist societies that supposedly existed in the past, such as ancient Ireland. But they didn’t survive, did they? Just as the limited government of the original US didn’t survive. What flaw existed in those ancient anarcho-capitalist societies that caused them to fall and become monarchies or, worse, republics?

    The problem with nations is not the system. Monarchies, democracies, republics, anarchy can all be good or bad; it all depends upon the people in them. The idea that the system makes people good or bad is pure socialism and I found it astounding that libertarians adopt it uncritically.

    The government of the US has grown into a monster, not because it was a democracy but because the people of the nation turned socialist. If monarchies are so wonderful, what happened to the UK? It had a wonderful monarchy like Kinsella dreams about at night. What happened?

    And to blame the US for the tragedies of the 20th century is just plain stupid!

  • Published: July 2, 2009 7:24 PM

  • fundamentalist
  • Kinsella almost gets the to the real root of cause/effect in history in his “When Did The Trouble Start?” It actually did begin in the Garden of Eden. The history of mankind is one sorry mess after another down to the present.But something interesting happened in the 1500’s. The Dutch Republic created capitalism, and for the first time in mankind’s history people were safe from starvation. The Dutch changed a lot of things. They broke the power of kings and nobility to steal, rape and murder commoners. They instituted the first nation with the rule of law. Women achieve equality never before seen in history.

    No, the Dutch Republic was a far from Kinsella’s anarcho-cap utopian as it could possibly be. On the other hand, it was light years from monarchical Europe, too. The Dutch built a republic with a limited government and lifted its people from starvation to wealth that astounded the rest of the world.

    The US attempted to copy the Dutch system and succeeded for a while. No, it never came close to being the wonderful place to live that ancient anarcho-capitalist Ireland was. But the people were freer than the citizens of any other country on the planet except the Dutch. And they were wealthier, too. And the Dutch created limited warfare, not some monarch. They created it because they were Godly people. But to earn the freedom that people like Kinsella snear at cost them 12 long bloody years of war against his wonderful monarch the king of Spain who murdered hundreds of thousands of women and children, after his troops had raped the women. Not one good thing came from a monarch anywhere in the world at any time in history.

    Freedom from European tyrannies and wealth have a lot to offer. Many Europeans at the time agreed and did all they could to get to the US. Makes one wonder if all the European monarchies were so wonderful as Kinsella and Hoppe proclaim, why did so many people want to leave?

  • Published: July 2, 2009 7:42 PM

  • Daniel J. Fallon
  • Samuel,Nice comment. Would you further say that Hoppe uses Monarchy as an ideal type, essentially as a tool by which to form historical understanding? Hoppe, with a working pure definition, plugs “King” into Mises’s Evenly Rotating Economy and Voila! derives the theoretical basis by which to make sense of what is really a very complex, nuanced and long set of events.

    Hoppe might be criticized for blurring the lines between writing on theoretical grounds vs. an actual event- but that is another fish to fry.

    In add, I do not believe that Hoppe is supportive of Monarchy and only prefers it relatively. An English King would probably have him deported, jailed or worse, either for being Catholic (is this correct?) or too anarchic. If you find a quotation that says otherwise, please post. Cheers. -Dan

  • Published: July 2, 2009 7:46 PM

  • fundamentalist
  • Kinsella: “…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…”You don’t think that is a bit of post hoc ergo propter hoc?

    Samuel: “…Hoppe wasn’t using the term monarchy in its limited dictionary meaning.”

    I think Hoppe was using as his ideal an imaginary monarchy, not one that ever existed in history. He seems to use the myth of the bandit king as his model where the bandit becomes the king but allows freedom a property for his subjects because he knows he will benefit the most from it.

    Some stupid academic dreamed up the story of the bandit king to explain how governments formed. But Douglas North, with John Joseph Wallis and Barry R. Weingast, has the real explanation based on the actual study of history. The dominant form of government throughout history and throughout the world today is what North calls the natural state. In the natural state, a leader, such as a king, sets at the top, but he knows he can’t stay in power by himself, so he gathers around him a group of powerful people who help him retain absolute power. The nobility can’t plunder each other, but in exchange for loyalty to the king they are free to rape, pillage and plunder the common people as much as they like.

    Modern societies develop when people implement the rule of law where everyone in the nation are subject to the law, including the king and nobility. The Dutch Republic was the first modern nation, and it was a republic, not a monarchy.

    Monarchs in Europe never treated their people as Hoppe describes or as the bandit king nonsense claims. After the Dutch Republic won freedom for its people from the worst tyrant in Europe, the people of other nations began to demand similar freedoms and forced them at gunpoint from their beloved monarchs.

  • Published: July 2, 2009 8:18 PM

  • Daniel J. Fallon
  • Fundamentalist,But wouldn’t you say that as soon as capitalistic or free market forms of action are introduced that a particular society is not- in those particular instances- democratic, socialist or monarchical ? In other words, an act of governance cannot simultaneously be communist and capitalist even though, from far away, it may seem that the two may blend. Doesn’t capitalism imply self-government, unlike the other forms? Modern China would serve as an example. Cheers- Dan
  • Published: July 2, 2009 8:22 PM

  • LightBringer
  • I think Britain in the 19th century proves that laissez-faire capitalism can exist under a parliamentary democracy in certain circumstances – this is encouraging, as it offers a possible avenue to bringing about such a system here and now. The only measure by which we can rank forms of government is size – a small government is always better than a big government – the system by which the rulers are decided is largely irrelevant. One principle certainly incompatible with libertarianism is the divine right of the king – this is a sure road to despotism. The problem with Hoppe’s analysis is that it assumes rationality on the part of the monarch. Inbreeding and such has often lead to monarchs who are insane – at least democracy does tend to weed out the Caligulas and the Henry VIIIs (most of the time, we can’t forget Hitler) and supplies a method of removing these if they do get in.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 8:30 PM

  • Richard Ebeling
  • Mr. Kinsella is frustrated that the Founding Fathers were not libertarians, as he understands that idea.Yes, it was a great tragedy that those Founding Fathers failed to consult the works of Murray Rothbard before they decided on their courses of action. If only they had, perhaps, had the chance to read advanced copies of Rothbard’s work, say, in early galley pages!

    Oh, that’s right, Rothbard only was writing about 200 years later! How stupid of me!

    There are at least two ways of looking at historical events. One is to evaluate all that has happened in the past from one’s normative perspective in the present, and to use that as a benchmark to praise or condemn. (Of course, there is always a tomorrow when some other evaluator will do the same to our views, ideas, and actions.)

    The other approach is to trace out and understand the evolution of the ideas through historical time. This approach can assist in appreciating how the ideas of the present emerged over time from the earlier intellectual processes of discovery, debate, and improvement (and sometimes retrogression).

    In this latter perspective, one can better (and perhaps more tolerantly) grasp how earlier thinkers may only have seen all the implications of their own ideas “through a glass darkly.” And how later thinkers saw some of the inconsistencies or contradictions that those earlier thinkers did not fully comprehend. And, thus, we better see the growth of knowledge at work.

    If we were to follow Mr. Kinsella’s view applied to Austrian Economics, we would have tear up and throw away our copies of Bohm-Bawerk. After all, he believed that utility was measurable (clearly an original sin that leads to progressive income taxation) and he worked for the State (he was finance minister of Austria-Hungary and he put together taxing legislation – obviously, a plunderer through-and through); and, oh, no, like 90 percent of all of those who have laid the groundwork for modern classical liberalism and libertarianism Bohm-Bawerk believed in – limited government. Oh, no, that means we have to tear up Mises’ works, too!

    Now, of course, we always judge the ideas of the past by our own understandings and perspectives that are held our today. How else can we do it? But our interpretations of earlier men and their ideas is tempered when we put them in that more historical, evolutionary intellectual context when we judge them from our more “lofty” contemporary point-of-view.

    Richard Ebeling

  • Published: July 2, 2009 8:41 PM

  • Daniel J. Fallon
  • Well then, Prof. Kinsella, it seems that Dr. Ebeling is accusing you of presentism. How do you plead?
  • Published: July 2, 2009 8:56 PM

  • P.M.Lawrence
  • jc butte wrote “Hmm, the United States was the first country in the world in which individuals could hold property in allodia”.No, actually; the concept had been implemented many times, e.g. the “barons of the land” held allods in the Latin Empire set up after the Fourth Crusade.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 9:29 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • Ebeling:

    Mr. Kinsella is frustrated that the Founding Fathers were not libertarians, as he understands that idea.

    Yes, it was a great tragedy that those Founding Fathers failed to consult the works of Murray Rothbard before they decided on their courses of action. If only they had, perhaps, had the chance to read advanced copies of Rothbard’s work, say, in early galley pages!

    Oh, that’s right, Rothbard only was writing about 200 years later! How stupid of me!

    Dr. Ebeling,

    My contention is not that they are to blame for not being libertarians. It is that they were not, contrary to libertarian mythologizing and wishful thinking, libertarians. I do not say they had no excuses for not being libertarian. I only say that they were not libertarian. Nor was America at its founding.

     

    If we were to follow Mr. Kinsella’s view applied to Austrian Economics, we would have tear up and throw away our copies of Bohm-Bawerk. After all, he believed that utility was measurable (clearly an original sin that leads to progressive income taxation) and he worked for the State (he was finance minister of Austria-Hungary and he put together taxing legislation – obviously, a plunderer through-and through); and, oh, no, like 90 percent of all of those who have laid the groundwork for modern classical liberalism and libertarianism Bohm-Bawerk believed in – limited government. Oh, no, that means we have to tear up Mises’ works, too!

    We can plainly and honestly admit where some of our teachers were wrong, without self-delusion. I do not put Bohm-Bawerk in the same category as a bunch of politicians, anyway.

    Now, of course, we always judge the ideas of the past by our own understandings and perspectives that are held our today. How else can we do it? But our interpretations of earlier men and their ideas is tempered when we put them in that more historical, evolutionary intellectual context when we judge them from our more “lofty” contemporary point-of-view.

    So… I should keep the prints, then?

    I notice Dr. Ebeling does not deny that the Founders were unlibertarian. He does not deny the substance of my charges. Only that I am perhaps unfair in judging them too harshly. When the taxes and depredations on the lives and freedom of me and those I love and care for, foisted upon me by the mammoth state that grew from the seeds of the Founders’ enthusiasm, fall below 10%, say, I’ll perhaps have the leisure to contemplate the munificence they bestowed on me. (Though somehow I think I’ll never find a way to “understand” their racism and slaving. I’m just too “intolerant.”)

  • Published: July 2, 2009 9:36 PM

  • Christopher
  • “The anarchists contend that a social order in which nobody enjoys privileges at the expense of his fellow-citizens could exist without any compulsion and coercion for the prevention of action detrimental to society. Such an ideal society could do without state and government…
    “The anarchists overlook the undeniable fact that some people are either too narrow-minded or too weak to adjust themselves spontaneously to the conditions of social life…An anarchistic society would be exposed to the mercy of every individual. Society cannot exist if the majority is not ready to hinder, by the application or threat of violent action, minorities from destroying the social order. This power is vested in the state or government.
    “…The state is essentially an institution for the preservation of peaceful interhuman relations.”
    von Mises, Human ActionThen there’s the “post hoc ergo prompter hoc” problem; i.e., “The Declaration of Independence in 1776 led to all the standard evils…”

    A concrete pourer sets the foundation. The builder puts up the house. Should the concrete pourer be blamed if the house collapses due to termite infestation? I’d think not. It is completely unreasonable to say that the Declaration, or the Constitution, has “caused” the mess that we are in. The fallibility of man has caused the mess. When power and dominance are attainable, man will unfortunately falter, even in a theoretical anarchistic social order.

  • Published: July 2, 2009 9:50 PM

  • vlad popovic
  • Isn’t Britain marginally more socialist than we are?Why should we wish to be British subjects when, in my opinion, we are plenty socialist already?

    I am not happy with things as they are, but rejoin Britain?

    Cracka please!

  • Published: July 2, 2009 10:06 PM

  • HL
  • Ah, my beloved Stephan. Any radical thought worth stating is worth stating in an uncompromising manner and with a touch of “zing.” To wake the slumbering masses is fun; to speak openly to the “remnant” is divine.Where would have I cast my lot if Sam Adams had sat down with me at the tavern? No doubt, revolution. That’s not to say my choice would have been optimal; just understandable and quite reasonable under the circumstances. The end result was not what it could have been – and those who took over afterwards were far in character from the dear Sam I followed, but isn’t that life?
  • Published: July 2, 2009 10:12 PM

  • Nuke Gray
  • It’s always fun to pick on the past. But couldn’t Kinsella help us all better, by showing how we can correct our present societies? A female friend of mine laments that we don’t live in a perfect society, and injustices are everywhere- but I point out that this gives us the chance to be the heroes that the future reads about, and admires!
    Please, Mr Kinsella- give us The Anarcho-Capitalist Home Recipe Book, for healing law-sick societies!
  • Published: July 2, 2009 10:26 PM

  • Nuke Gray
  • It’s always fun to pick on the past. But couldn’t Kinsella help us all better, by showing how we can correct our present societies? A female friend of mine laments that we don’t live in a perfect society, and injustices are everywhere- but I point out that this gives us the chance to be the heroes that the future reads about, and admires!
    Please, Mr Kinsella- give us The Anarcho-Capitalist Home Recipe Book, for healing law-sick societies!
  • Published: July 2, 2009 10:27 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • HL–nicely put. And of course one cannot still but feel a bit of a twinge of regret that one could not meet the “radicals” that Hummel described–“men such as Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, Richard Henry Lee and Thomas Jefferson”–though I’m too modern, “presentist,” and “intolerant” enough to really overlook … slaveowning by any of them. An excuse for not being a modern libertarian is one thing, but for slavery…? Helloo… Okay, so I confess: I don’t think I can get over the “owning fellow humans” thing. We rural Louisianans are small-minded like that. Not nearly “cosmopolitan” enough.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 10:32 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • Lawrence, Butte: also, the term “allodial” gets my crankdar going. It has nutball connotations, sort of like too many Initial Caps.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 10:37 PM

  • Peter
  • Hmm, the United States was the first country in the world in which individuals could hold property in allodiaHmm., nonsense. Individuals – kings, i.e., – have always done so; and non-kings can’t do so in the US…
  • Published: July 2, 2009 11:23 PM

  • anonymous
  • Well going after the Founders for slaveowning strikes me as rather “cosmopolitan”, like those folks who think the Constituition is irrelevant due to this fact and that any argument supporting original intent or limited government are from reactionaries from “the horse and buggy age.” A good way to smear any opponent of big government.
  • Published: July 2, 2009 11:23 PM

  • Gil
  • Wow, fundamentalist makes some pretty darn good points! Inevitably, there’s a “ha ha” about the ‘founding fathers’. They weren’t anti-government – just anti-foreign government. They weren’t against taxes – they were against foreign taxes and seeing their money going abroad. Such is the lot of a great many people. How many people complain when they have to take orders but are quite happy to give them when they are the ‘top dog’? How many people hate being lied to but will lie when it suits their purposes. Suppose society does collapse in a way everyone becomes a private property owenrs only to have a great many owners become mini-tyrants and start attaacking and seizing the land and property of other private property owners because there’s no one to stop them and the cycle of society begins anew?
  • Published: July 3, 2009 12:26 AM

  • proud patriot
  • 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 IIYou’re article is disgusting, Stephen. You blame the freedom-loving patriots of the American Revolution for the mass murdering tyrants of the twentieth century. And you overlook the atrocities of the British Empire!

    Thomas Paine suggested that the American Revolution was divine retribution against Britain for her crimes in India and Africa. I agree. In fact, every innovation of tyranny in America originated in England. Before there was a Federal Reserve and American banksters, there was a Bank of England and chartered corporations. America would have never been involved in WWI or WWII without the influence of British statesmen, most notably Winston Churchill. The American intervention in Iran merely protected British oil interests. The list goes on and on.

    So lets take a look at the Declaration of Independence and see what the Americans were up against:
    He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
    He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
    He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
    He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

    For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
    For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
    For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
    For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
    For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury

    The Revolution was fully justified, and I’m glad it happened.

  • Published: July 3, 2009 1:11 AM

  • Nuke Gray
  • Thomas Paine died poor and alone- retribution for his rabble-rousing and delusional book. As for the ‘sins’ of Britain against India and Africa, they were sinning against themselves before Britain arrived! I’ll bet the Amerindians wish that Britain had kept the palefaces cooped up in Eastern North America, instead of taking their lands and pushing them onto reservations! Your ancestors did that, Proud Patriot!
    And Britain was the major power to outlaw slavery, in 1833, whilst your US had 1/3 of it’s States with slave societies! When Britain freed it’s slaves, they intermarried with the working class. What happened to your ex-slaves? Were they allowed to intermarry?
    And one of the original taxes that ‘enflamed’ super-delicate American opinion was an existing tax that had been around for years before, but not enforced- Americans had been more inclined to smuggling than paying taxes. Perhaps they could have negotiated, if both sides had been more reasonable.
  • Published: July 3, 2009 1:49 AM

  • Justin
  • We here in Australia never got rid of the British monarchy, and what difference did it make?Hmm, lemme see now: the attempt to limit the growth of the state by written constitution has been just as much of a failure in Australia as it was in the USA. Your government has overspread its consitutional limits more, but then, it’s had more time to do it.

    But, in 1975, the Governor-General (Queen’s viceroy) did sack the Prime Minister who tried to run up a big debt without consent of Parliament, so it was good fun to watch him eat humble pie.

  • Published: July 3, 2009 1:54 AM

  • Gil
  • Isn’t Australia an example of what might have happened if the American Revolution never happened? Australia and the U.S.A. have reasonably similar governments, economies, standards of living, etc., yet Australia never seceded. It would seem the West was moving towards Representative Democracies anyway and those who fought in the Revolution died in vain (ha ha!).
  • Published: July 3, 2009 2:37 AM

  • Nuke Gray
  • As for Britain ‘dragging’ America into both world wars, I thought Germany sank the Lusitania, and Japan bombed Pearl Harbor? Weren’t those the causes of American entry into the Wars?
    Which country first used atomic bombs on its’ enemy? Was it Britain? It couldn’t have been America, surely? And which country thinks of Latin America as ‘its’ zone of influence? Is the Monroe Doctrine something that Britain forced you to do? If so, how?
  • Published: July 3, 2009 3:08 AM

  • EIS
  • This is pure crap, and it completely contradicts Austrian principles. The belief that power should be completely centralized, in the hands of one individual, is the antithesis of libertarianism. I don’t know why this was even posted.
  • Published: July 3, 2009 3:13 AM

  • EIS
  • This is pure garbage. The belief that power should be completely centralized in the hands of one individual, completely contradicts Austrian principles and libertarian doctrine. I don’t know why this was even posted. We’re Anarchists.
  • Published: July 3, 2009 3:15 AM

  • newson
  • to eis:
    hoppe is championing monarchy over popular democracy, not vis-à-vis anarchy, as the post makes clear.i think the princely family of liechtenstein is a better example than britain. it has a more active role than the queen of england, essentially just a figurehead. even the house of lords has become democratized.
  • Published: July 3, 2009 3:39 AM

  • newson
  • to nuke gray:
    if you’ve got a taste for revisionism, you’ll find plenty of material on this site challenging “the official story” of both the lusitania and pearl harbour incidents.
  • Published: July 3, 2009 3:44 AM

  • Scott
  • Well the colonies revolt, helped spark others. At least the ‘national razor’, wasn’t employed. The U.S.C. was a federalist usurpation of the confederation. As a citizen of the U.S.; I’m glad not to pay the burden of crown taxes on top of the taxes I already pay. I once felt the same, we have independence from one tyrant, in order to live under a different tyranny. On democracy, Aristotle called it rule of the poor. American democracy would have proved him wrong. It is oligarchy.
  • Published: July 3, 2009 6:01 AM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • It’s astonishing to me that some libertarians want to overlook the typical crimes committed by states anytime there is war–or to deny that the Declaration had anything to do with the Revolutionary War. “Proud Patriot” above says that I “blame the freedom-loving patriots of the American Revolution for the mass murdering tyrants of the twentieth century”.The Declaration of Independence of course led to all the standard evils of war and raising an army-as Hummel noted, “unfunded government debt, paper money, skyrocketing inflation, price controls, legal tender laws, direct impressment of supplies and wide-spread conscription.”

    Casual googling leads to all kinds of information on this. E.g.: as noted here:

    The absence of a strong, central, colonial government resulted in a vast shortage of funding and human resources. Paper money and bills of credit financed the war, and while the paper money became almost valueless, inflation rocketed. Profiteers took advantage of these conditions to make money while workers held strikes for higher wages. Soldiers were also in short supply, with state militias sometimes competing against the Continental Army for them. Soldiers were generally ill fed, poorly clothed, and lacked weapons.

    Around 5,000 blacks served in the colonial army. At first only free blacks were accepted, but the shortage in soldiers led to the conscription of slaves. Blacks fought with whites in unsegregated units. Americans Indians, threatened by colonial expansion, most often fought for the British, and after the revolt ended their claims to land and self-rule were largely ignored.

    And here:

    As the war dragged on, it became more difficult to find soldiers. States increased bounties, shortened terms, and reluctantly forced men to serve. But conscription was such a distasteful and dangerous exercise of state power that legislatures would use it only in extreme circumstances. More frequently, legislatures tried to reinforce the army with men drawn by incentive or compulsion from the militia for only a few months of summer service. The army’s composition thus reflected a bewildering variety of enlistment terms. After 1779, for example, a Connecticut company might have eight or ten privates serving for three years or the war, and twice or three times that number enlisted only for the summer. Washington’s complaints to Congress have obscured his genius in building an effective army out of the limited service most Americans were willing to undertake.

    Here:

    During the Revolutionary War, state governments assumed the colonies’ authority to raise their short‐term militias through drafts if necessary. They sometimes extended this to state units in the Continental Army, but they denied Gen. George Washington’s request that the central government be empowered to conscript. As the initial volunteering slackened, states boosted enlistment bounties and held occasional drafts, producing more hired substitutes than actual draftees.

    Here:

    Even with their powerful new ally, the Americans remained in dire straits. Enlistments were down and conscription, while utilized, was unpopular.

    This book mentions the execution of soldiers during the Revolutionary War for desertion and other things — “For examples of soldiers executed without recourse to a trial by courts-martial, see Henry Lee, Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United States ..”

    As my friend Manuel Lora wrote me: “In order to be free we shall establish a state, inflate the money supply, control trade and enslave people to work the fields and the killing fields. … Happy 4th of July.”

  • Published: July 3, 2009 8:10 AM

  • S.M. Oliva
  • Sometimes I think Kinsella became a libertarian just so he could find reasons to explain why everyone else isn’t a libertarian.
  • Published: July 3, 2009 8:22 AM

  • fundamentalist
  • Daniel: “But wouldn’t you say that as soon as capitalistic or free market forms of action are introduced that a particular society is not- in those particular instances- democratic, socialist or monarchical ?”I guess it depends upon one’s definition of capitalism. In my definition, all that is required is property rights, the rule of law and a relatively honest judiciary and police. Real property rights, and not just paper titles, limit government to protecting life, liberty and property. I can see where such a system could exist under a monarchy, democracy or anarchism.
  • Published: July 3, 2009 8:24 AM

  • Emil Suric
  • “It’s astonishing to me that some libertarians want to overlook the typical crimes committed by states anytime there is war–or to deny that the Declaration had anything to do with the Revolutionary War.”Yes, war is a terrible thing, with human right violations as the inevitable consequence. But how does this legitimize your point? How does a libertarian prefer monarchies over constitutional republics? You can be a libertarian and hate America, but you can’t be one and support monarchies (relatively speaking of course).

    As far as slavery is concerned, it’s not simply an American issue, or an American contradiction. It was a plague which infected the vast majority of human civilization. The first actual ban on slavery occurred only in 1772.

    Furthermore, America may be hell, but relatively speaking, it’s the greatest country in the world. No other nation shares our standard of living, and no other nation has ever seen such a vast creation of wealth despite the numerous interventionist policies which seek to retard it.

  • Published: July 3, 2009 8:32 AM

  • fundamentalist
  • The Constitution of the US is political poetry. It is among the most beautiful documents on government ever written by mankind. It created about the most perfect government that mankind is capable of producing.But for its wonderful ideas to be implemented required self-control and honesty on the part of those charged with instantiating its principles. Many of the writers understood that. They did their best to limit the federal government. Unfortunately, succeeding generations chafed at those limits and discovered every dishonest way possible to escape them. It’s not the founders’ fault that they couldn’t control the selfishness, dishonesty and power hungry nature of later generations.

    And the American people are at fault, too, because they elected the SOB’s who destroyed the Constitution. They did so out of greed and envy. As de Tocqueville realized, the experiment ended when people realized they can vote themselves an income.

    The inauguration of the president is one of the most disgusting ceremonies in political life because the president swears to uphold the Constitution, then spends the next four years shredding it with the joyful approval of the American people, Congress and the Supreme Court. If we had an honest military, the generals, who are also sworn to uphold the Constitution, would arrest every one of them and hang them for treason.

  • Published: July 3, 2009 8:49 AM

  • fundamentalist
  • It’s important to keep in mind that the founders considered the Constitution to be an experiment. They weren’t certain it would succeed. Their weakness was in misjudging human character. They believed man is better than he really is. The experiment failed, as Kinsella pointed out. But the fault doesn’t lie in the beautiful document they created, but in the character of men and women who were supposed to implement it. The American experiment proves that people are incapable of ruling themselves justly.
  • Published: July 3, 2009 9:04 AM

  • fundamentalist
  • It’s important to keep in mind that the founders considered the Constitution to be an experiment. They weren’t certain it would succeed. Their weakness was in misjudging human character. They believed man is better than he really is. The experiment failed, as Kinsella pointed out. But the fault doesn’t lie in the beautiful document they created, but in the character of men and women who were supposed to implement it. The American experiment proves that people are incapable of ruling themselves justly.
  • Published: July 3, 2009 9:10 AM

  • Samuel Wonacott
  • Fundamentalist, I’m not sure I agree with you. While you won’t hear me making the same irrational comments Kinsella has been making, I do think one of the faults lies in the Constitution itself. See, I think we have to take human nature as a given, and human nature is ultimately selfish, corrupt, and wicked. As far as I’m concerned, humans are bad, and most of human history attests to that.The question becomes one of minimizing the bad aspects of human nature. It becomes an institutional question (realizing that ultimately no institution will be perfect). How do we create a system where the incentives just so happen to align with the parts of human nature worth bringing out? The Constitution, while agreeing with you that it is a beautiful document, is not a system where the bad aspects of human nature are limited. The idea of a government with divided powers has been criticized by most libertarians and rightly I believe. How can you have a system where the divided powers are ultimately part of the same organization? It would be like Wal-Mart creating its own court system, and expecting the Wal-Mart court to rule fairly in cases involving Wal-Mart!

    As James Madison said, “If men were angels we need not have government.” The correct response is “if men are devils we DARE not have government.”

  • Published: July 3, 2009 11:09 AM

  • Tomás
  • Nicely done, Stephan!You know you’ve won when your opponents are off attacking strawmen.

    Please don’t ever change.

  • Published: July 3, 2009 11:16 AM

  • John Seiler
  • I just got in the government mail a summons from the IRS demanding that I file its complicated tax forms for 2007. I didn’t file on time, as I usually do as an obedient imperial slave, because just before April 15 that year, my mother died, and I just haven’t gotten around to it since then. The same thing happened the next year, 2008, when my father died just before April 15.King George III had no income tax on Americans.

    So as I cringe in fear before the mighty IRS, where, exactly, is my “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness”?

  • Published: July 3, 2009 11:38 AM

  • John Seiler
  • Malcolm Muggeridge wrote in 1954, when the State in Britain was much smaller than today, but growing frightfully fast:”The State, in fact, is the greatest of all tyrants, the ultimate tyrant. Kings can be executed, oligarchies can be broken up, millionaires can be despoiled of their money, Popes can be defied and heresies persisted in, but the State is, in principle, ourselves, and how can we put down ourselves? We who are the Leviathan cannot slay it. To try to do so is suicide, not rebellion.”

    (“Farewell to Freedom” in “Things Past: An Anthology,” p. 111.)

  • Published: July 3, 2009 12:21 PM

  • Brandon
  • “It’s important to keep in mind that the founders considered the Constitution to be an experiment. They weren’t certain it would succeed.” FundamentalistThe same can be said for FDR and his socialism. Uncertainty of results doesn’t let people off the historiographical noose.
  • Published: July 3, 2009 12:32 PM

  • vc
  • “It’s important to keep in mind that the founders considered the Constitution to be an experiment. They weren’t certain it would succeed.” FundamentalistWhat does “succeed” mean?

    The Constitution slyly stripped limitations from the Articles of Confederation and granted powers couched in vague language. This allowed the continual accrual of power and centralization that we see today.

    To deny this was purposeful or that they did not know it would “succeed”, as such, is to deny the entirety of history, the nature of man, and the plain meaning of the relevant texts.

    I am free because the government allows me to apply for licenses to do alomost anything I want, most of the time, as long as I obey their regulations and give them a hefty cut.

  • Published: July 3, 2009 1:52 PM

  • Nick
  • Grow up, Steve.
  • Published: July 3, 2009 2:44 PM

  • matt
  • stephen you make my head hurt sometimes. i appreciate your writings and agree with a lot of your ideas but sometimes i think you just like to be disagreeable. i swear i wouldn’t be surprised to read a critique from you on why the sun isn’t bright or water’s not really wet.
  • Published: July 3, 2009 3:58 PM

  • Indecence Day
  • The ONLY ones who benefit from democracy are the politicians. Democracy means that power “shifts” every 4 years without bloodshed.Politicians no longer have to fear for their necks and they even have a lifetime pension plan, free healthcare etc.

    Today’s politicians are worse than yesterday’s kings.

    Democracy is a crime against humanity. We want individual freedoms not mob rule !

    And it’s not even democracy, because we don’t vote for policies, we vote for politicians. The decision making power are in the hand of politicians, not in the hand of the people.

    Every major decisions should be submitted to a vote and the more you pay taxes, the more your vote should count.

  • Published: July 3, 2009 6:33 PM

  • josh
  • So, does this mean Rothbard instead should have written Conceived in Tyranny ?
  • Published: July 3, 2009 6:35 PM

  • I Can’t Believe What We’ve Become
  • “But had we never left? One percent tax paid to a distant King over the ocean sound appealing, anyone?”I’d drink that cup of tea anytime, LOL !

    If they tought that taxation without representation was bad, they should see how taxation with representation looks like, it’s a real steal, LOL !

    I’d be very happy to change systems and only pay 1% to a distant king and get to keep 99% of my income.

    LOL ! Democracy and the USA sucks, the 4th of july is going to be the saddest day in my life.

  • Published: July 3, 2009 6:41 PM

  • I Can’t Believe What We’ve Become
  • “But had we never left? One percent tax paid to a distant King over the ocean sound appealing, anyone?”I’d drink that cup of tea anytime, LOL !

    If they tought that taxation without representation was bad, they should see how taxation with representation looks like, it’s a real steal, LOL !

    I’d be very happy to change systems and only pay 1% to a distant king and get to keep 99% of my income.

    LOL ! Democracy and the USA sucks, the 4th of july is going to be the saddest day in my life.

  • Published: July 3, 2009 6:41 PM

  • J.K. Baltzersen
  • I am largely in agreement with Mr. Kinsella. However, I have doubts about how helpful his provocative style is.Limitations — formal or informal — on the powers of the monarchy is one thing. Transferring power from him to another body is another thing. They are conceptually separate. Yet, most people — when they debate this issue — confuse these two concepts

    Secession from Britian and the American parting from the monarchical order too are two separate concepts. As Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn noted, the American War for Independence was not initially anti-monarchical.

    In 1775, Parliament was the target of the colonists’ complaints. A year later — when the Declaration of Independence was signed — the King got all the blame. Yet, the Declaration of Independence was against a particular Prince. It did not denounce monarchy as such. There were several candidates for an American monarch. Anti-monarchist sentiment, however, quite soon became an essential element of Americanist mythology.

    My main point here is that parting from the monarchical order was not a necessary consequence of parting from the British Empire.

    When we see claims that centralizing all power in one man is not in line with Austrian thought, this illustrates the misunderstanding of Western classical monarchy by modern man, perhaps by Americans in particular. Also, the “Austrian school” was born under the Habsburg monarchy. Here culture, arts, and sciences flourished. It was not a system where all power was centralized in one man.

    Mr. Kinsella has gotten harsh criticism for his counterfactual scenario. It has been suggested that the U.S. would be very much like Australia or Canada is today. Yes, that is a possible scenario, but it is not very likely. Yes, the “Glorious Revolution” did take place about a century before the U.S. Constitution came into being, but without the American War for Independence, we would probably not have had the French Revolution or American entry in World War I. It is likely that absolute democracy would have had a much harder time developing.

  • Published: July 3, 2009 7:07 PM

  • Cybertarian
  • What we need is CYBERTARIANISM.That is computer-networks assisted libertarianism.

    Right now, the free-market is being assaulted by interest groups, criminal gangs, police organizations, governments, international laws, national laws, the senate, unions etc.

    What we need to do is create an artificial intelligence impersonation of the market.

    Someone, an artificial someone, a computer generated someone which in itself represents the market. The free-market capitalism.

    What is needed is that it would be necessary to use this intermediary to buy and sell.

    This impersonation of the market would then garantee that anyone who uses this system is free from the assaults of taxation, regulation or prohibition.

    Anyone who would then assault a market participant by either taxing or controlling him would automatically be debarred from using the system and the impersonation would then forbid that aggressor from buying and selling.

    Freedom to buy and sell and the assurance that the ones you do business with are not there to get you, this would be the doctrine.

    Under Cybertarianism, people could buy and sell whatever they want at the price of the market.

    This means they could buy and sell weapons, drugs, organs, controversial medical procedures and all the information, software and media they want. Nothing would be censored.

    However, what would be immediately punished would be the crime of hindring the market.

    Anyone who wants to tax(steal) from another, anyone who wants to decide what gets to be sold or bought, anyone who wants to prohibit certain goods or services would immediately be debarred from the system and condemned to a slow and painful starvation.

    We need to create an impersonation that will represent free-market capitalism and that will be there to protect this market from plunderers and tyrants.

  • Published: July 3, 2009 7:10 PM

  • fundamentalist
  • Samuel: “The correct response is “if men are devils we DARE not have government.”That assumes that anarchism would work. The evidence for that is pretty slim. The same evil that exists in mankind and empowered them to break the restraints of the Constitution would still be at work in anarchy and could result in a far worse situation. Of course, I wouldn’t mind giving it a try if it ever becomes possible. I don’t oppose anarchism on moral grounds the way anarchists oppose the state. I just question its viability. Still, I would like to give it a go.

    Vc: “The Constitution slyly stripped limitations from the Articles of Confederation and granted powers couched in vague language. This allowed the continual accrual of power and centralization that we see today.”

    Much of what the founders did was pragmatic politics. The 13 states started the revolutionary war and then refused to pay for it. Had it not been for the generosity of the French government, which we bankrupted, and the Dutch, we would have lost the war. Increasing the power of the federal government to tax was just a pragmatic move to make sure it didn’t suffer from the hypocrisy and dishonesty of the state legislators again.

    I don’t think the Constitution allowed any of the growth of power of the government. The writers were honest men. They didn’t foresee that politicians who succeeded them would be so incredibly dishonest in interpreting the Constitution. Had the Constitution been followed as written and interpreted from original intent, the federal government would be less than 1% its current size. But dishonest presidents, congressmen and justices twisted the wording of the document, or simply ignored it. A good example if the fraudulent use of the interstate commerce clause. The court has allowed dishonest presidents to commit all kinds of crimes by appealing to that clause.

    Maybe the writers didn’t foresee such incredible dishonesty, or maybe they foresaw it and realized that if people were going to be so immoral, they could do nothing to stop them. I tend to lean toward the latter because many of the founding fathers warned that an immoral people would rip through the Constitution as though it were a spider’s web.

    If politicians are willing to distort words to the degree that day means night, and black means white, then we have left the rule of law far behind and have descended into the mud pit of the arbitrary rule of men with no limitations on their power or the evil they can commit. When the leadership has descended to that level of immorality and the people applaud it, there is nothing left to do but fold our hands and wait for the wrath of God.

  • Published: July 3, 2009 7:28 PM

  • proud patriot
  • Stephen’s pathetic screed about the Declaration of Independence misses the whole point: the Declaration was the first legal document ever to express the right of the populace to “alter or abolish” their system of government. Without that right, a libertarian anarchocapitalist paradise is just a pipe dream, not a viable political option.In his essay “When Did The Trouble Start?” he somehow paints the Bill of Rights (which protects individual freedoms against federal and state governments) as destructive to liberty.”The Constitution as ratified in 1789 was fine as it was. Boy, what a great achievement. But the Bill of Rights was added in 1791. If this had not been done…. there would be stronger structural limits on federal action in place today.”

    Then, he pinpoints the Protestant Reformation as the cause of the “trouble”.

    Stephen Kinsella, an opponent of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, and a defender of royal and papal authority, somehow passes for a libertarian. Weird, I know.

  • Published: July 3, 2009 8:20 PM

  • Andrey
  • Good article.A lot of perceptive men understand that democracy is a very dangerous, destructive system. At least a lot of monarchies were static and limited. A democracy is the most dynamic system, it always changes and grows, and it tends to become more and more oppressive, have more and more regulations and interventions into human life. That’s the nature of the system.

    The constitution was probably intended to limit the democracy, but it seems that the nature of the system dictates its growth, not some document intended to limit it. Under monarchy there were fewer incentives for rulers to grow government as fastly and recklessly as under democracy. Under democracy there are a lot of incentives and opportunities to do that and more ‘rulers’ who can do it and get away with it.

  • Published: July 3, 2009 8:45 PM

  • vc
  • @fundamentalistyour naivte is astonishing.

    Hamilton,for example, wanted to appoint George Washington as permanent president and have him appoint the state governors.

    They didn’t dislike the British mercantilism in principle, they just wanted to be in charge of it.

    The simple exclusion of the word “expressly” before the word delegated was a purposeful act meant only to allow the unbridled power of the central government to unfurl at an acceptable pace.

    I strongly suggest that you read http://www.javelinpress.com/hologram_of_liberty.html

    And consider Spooner’s admonishment: “But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it.”

    IMHO, even a cursory reading of the relevant texts, the early case law, and the history indicates that the coup succeeded and that everything we have today was preordained. “We are living in Hamilton’s republic”, as a great thinker has recently stated.

  • Published: July 3, 2009 8:47 PM

  • Gil
  • You got to be kidding vc, fundamentalist’s on a roll! The system failed because the people failed. If the average people are generally terrible then society (regardless of its make up) will be terrible. After all, that Mudderidge quote is utter garbage – presidents, prime ministers, senators, ministers, etc., are flesh&blood; people as well. His rant gives a righteous sense of helplessness as he depicts the state as ‘all-powerful’, He reckons he can get away with that bull because few people would actually know what it’s like to live in a stern monarchy or papacy. Those who actually did usually regarded the monarchy or the papacy as seemingly all powerful too (e.g. Frank McCourt).However, I disagree with “I don’t think the Constitution allowed any of the growth of power of the government.” The U.S. Constitution has an amendment process therefore it can be change and the government thereof (e.g. the 16th Amendment).
  • Published: July 3, 2009 9:54 PM

  • Yossarian
  • J.K. Baltzersen: I am largely in agreement with Mr. Kinsella. However, I have doubts about how helpful his provocative style is.Why the doubts? I thought it was terrific and meant to be provocative. Judging by a lot of the comments, this essay hit a nerve with a lot of people who expressed anger that someone would dare question anything about the intentions of the founding fathers.

    I mean really – I’m new here, but if I didn’t know better, I’d think I had stumbled across a conservative or republican site: pro-founding fathers, pro-Constitution and DOI, etc. Yikes.

    Fundamentalist: The writers were honest men. They didn’t foresee that politicians who succeeded them would be so incredibly dishonest in interpreting the Constitution.

    Well, you may be right about that if you gloss over Washington’s saddling up Old Paint to lead troops to put down a tax “rebellion” and the precedent-setting of “implied powers” and his national bank and John Adams’s Alien and Sedition Acts, and Jefferson’s embargo and Louisiana Purchase, and Monroe’s war and the Monroe Doctrine.

    Fundamentalist: [the Flounders] weakness was in misjudging human character. They believed man is better than he really is.

    Wrong. The founding fathers never trusted or even liked the masses, but held them in contempt, like all politicians. Hamilton wrote that the people, being turbulent and changing, could not judge or determine right, and that “nothing but a permanent body can check the imprudence of democracy. Their turbulent and uncontrolling disposition requires checks.”

    Then there are the People-Are-Stupid letters exchanged between Jay and Washington. In 1786, John Jay wrote to Washington: “The mass of men are neither wise nor good…” to which Washington replied: “We have probably had too good an opinion of human nature… Experience has taught us, that men will not adopt & carry into execution, measures the best calculated for their own good without the intervention of a coercive power.” Washington to Jay, 1787: “…mankind are not competent to their own government, without the means of coercion in the Sovereign.” Washington to Madison, 1787: “I have my doubts whether any system without the means of coercion in the Sovereign, will enforce obedience to the Ordinances of a Genl Government.”

    The Flounders were only against the King eating out our substance because they wanted to do it.

    Good job Stephan, more, more!

  • Published: July 3, 2009 10:41 PM

  • mdeals
  • Monarchy isn’t perfect as Hoppe argues .
  • Published: July 4, 2009 12:49 AM

  • Michael
  • Yeah, no thanks, I’d rather the world didn’t have, what, Canada + UK + America + ??? all under one top government.
  • Published: July 4, 2009 5:30 AM

  • DS
  • Comment on a couple of odd quotes along the same the vein:”King George III had no income tax on Americans.”

    “I’d be very happy to change systems and only pay 1% to a distant king and get to keep 99% of my income.”

    First, you are aware that the Constitution had to be amended in order to institute a permanent income tax (Lincoln did it unconstitutionally and it was revoked), right? If the Constitution caused the income tax, why did 3/4ths of the States have to agree to amend teh document in order to allow it? The implication in these quotes is that the Constitution allowed for and even encouraged the income tax.

    The original income tax was at a very low rate and supposedly only paid by the very rich. ALL taxes start small and grow over time, how do people who presumably have read Mises, Rothbard and Hayek not know that?

    The Constitution was certainly not a perfect document, mainly because it contained the seeds of its own destruction in a couple of vague passages and because the document’s writers did not take into account the idea that everybody in the Federal government and the majority of the citizens who elect them would decide to just ignore it when it didn’t fit their whims, or twist its words to mean exactly the opposite of what it intended. The Constitution was created in secret in order to re-write the Articles of Confederation, an imperfect document whose flaws were greatly exagerrated for sure. I don’t even argue that the “Founding Fathers” were a homogeneous group who were all of the same mind, or who were universally brilliant, honest or benevolent – they were flawed individuals who were acting partially in their own self interest. They created a hybrid document that was a compromise, as all things written by comittee end up being. The document created as many questions as answers which is why the politics of the early republic were so nasty, confrontational and personal – because they were arguing over real issues unlike the phony dance played out by Demoplicans and Republicrats today. I don’t think anybody who visits this site thinks the path eventually taken was the right one, but I don’t think this path was the destiny of the United States, just unfortunately where it ended up. In order to get to where we are today the Constitution had to be violated and ignored repeatedly to the point where it isn’t even used any more. It truly is a relic and a museum piece, literally and figuratively.

    But to argue that the secession from England was a mistake, that the Declaration of Independece was a fraudulent document and that the Americans would have been better off and had more liberty under the monarchical rule of a mercantilist empire is absurd in the extreme.

    I try to only use the word Stupid once a year. I’m using it now.

  • Published: July 4, 2009 7:05 AM

  • P.M.Lawrence
  • DS wrote “But to argue that the secession from England [sic – England wasn’t independent and running things by then, which is why the last Governor of Virginia was a Scot] was a mistake, that the Declaration of Independece [sic] was a fraudulent document and that the Americans would have been better off and had more liberty under the monarchical rule of a mercantilist empire is absurd in the extreme. I try to only use the word Stupid once a year. I’m using it now.”But, but, but… there’s absolutely nothing to buttress that position beyond the self serving claims of the rebels (face it, with its gross distortions and outright untruths that’s all the Declaration of Independence was), and a lot pointing the other way, like the actual experiences of everybody else who stayed in the British Empire willingly (not the unwilling ones like the Irish, of course – but their situation was different, a result of conquest, and wouldn’t have been matched by the American colonies’ non-rebellion). As for the mercantilism, on net while that lasted that actually favoured the colonies’ export trade at British expense, e.g. banning tobacco production in Gloucestershire helped the southern colonies, and the northern colonies were helped by providing a market for their staples in the British sugar producing islands that the French and Dutch weren’t allowed in (most complaints about the mercantilism amount to complaining that there was no protection of northern manufacture). Also, the British government spent additional hard money in the colonies without taking any out (it was committed not to spend taxes raised there anywhere else). So even if the counterfactual turns out to be wrong it is neither absurd nor stupid.
  • Published: July 4, 2009 8:40 AM

  • DS
  • “As for the mercantilism, on net while that lasted that actually favoured the colonies’ export trade at British expense, e.g. banning tobacco production in Gloucestershire helped the southern colonies, and the northern colonies were helped by providing a market for their staples in the British sugar producing islands that the French and Dutch weren’t allowed in (most complaints about the mercantilism amount to complaining that there was no protection of northern manufacture).”Mercantilism certainly spins a tangled web of winners and losers. Every government interference has people who benefit more than others, and at the expense of others. The colonists were no different – those that benefitted from the perculiarities of the colonial arrangement were called Loyalists and they faught aginst the colonial rebels on the side of the government. How noble.

    “….and a lot pointing the other way, like the actual experiences of everybody else who stayed in the British Empire willingly….”

    Define “willingly”. The absense of risking your life in rebellion against the most powerful military on the planet? If that’s the definition then yes, every British colony willingly stayed in the British empire.

  • Published: July 4, 2009 9:57 AM

  • Daniel J. Fallon
  • The Founding Fathers (forgive the aggregation) did not satisfactorily resolve the question of “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” (Who will guard the guards themselves?).Hoppe points to the FF’s general acceptance of Hobbesian thought as the origin of this major weakness. Hobbes believed that society needed for its existence and sustainability an absolutely privileged power that could crush all threats.

    True, the FF’s, to their credit, recognized the flaw in unchecked power and recommended competition as a way of creating balance without mitigating freedom. However, they did not go far enough in this reasoning. The FF’s created a massive contradiction by exempting government itself from competition (except for that phrase about abolishment in the DOI) . Call it the Hobbesian Exemption.

    Madison’s Fed #10 is a great example. Madison realizes that competing factions stunt the possibility of tyranny. But then he envisions interests competing, ironically, for the control of a non-competitive institution that 1) has more power than any faction and 2) holds this power by self-proclamation.

    That said, the FF’s should still be recognized for the radical social scientists they were. Who now is prepared to make that one last logical leap of courage and dispense with Hobbes forever?

  • Published: July 4, 2009 10:46 AM

  • Richard Garner
  • I’m kind of sympathetic to Stephan’s position here. Many of the revolutionaries, like John Adams, were concerned about the violation of colonists’ “rights as Englishmen,” and I read another suggestion that Britain may not even have gone to war with America hadn’t it been that a better statesman was sick in bed and couldn’t attend parliament when the decision was to have been made (forgive me, I can’t recal the details, so I don’t know who this would have been, but I suspect William Pitt) – it is likely that, instead, more powers would have devolved to the colonies, and the colonists would have accepted instead of war. Britain criminalised slavery much earlier than the US, and so slavery would have ended earlier in the US much earlier and probably with much less loss of life. On the mercantilist thing, mercantile capitalism was collapsing in the UK already, starting with the rise of the classical economists, Smith’s explicit assault on mercantilism, Ricardo’s defense of free trade. The US engaged in protectionism at the time that the British had their Anti-Corn Law league and ended tariffs. Further, people here are concerned about what British influence on American politics would have been, would the US have been as socialist as the UK and Canada (i.e., slightly more than it is now), but why presume that the influence goes one way: The UK could have been less socialist and more receptive to the classical liberal ideas circulating in the colonies if the US hadn’t seceded.
  • Published: July 4, 2009 12:56 PM

  • N. Joseph Potts
  • Mather Byles said it all in 1770: Which is better—to be ruled by one tyrant three thousand miles away, or by three thousand tyrants not a mile away?We have met the enemy, and he is us.
  • Published: July 4, 2009 3:04 PM

  • Yossarian
  • Richard Garner: “…but why presume that the influence goes one way: The UK could have been less socialist and more receptive to the classical liberal ideas circulating in the colonies if the US hadn’t seceded.”Good point and I tend to agree with you.
  • Published: July 4, 2009 3:44 PM

  • P.M.Lawrence
  • DS wrote “Mercantilism certainly spins a tangled web of winners and losers. Every government interference has people who benefit more than others, and at the expense of others. The colonists were no different – those that benefitted from the perculiarities of the colonial arrangement were called Loyalists and they faught aginst the colonial rebels on the side of the government. How noble.”That’s plain wrong. The beneficiaries were more in the coastal towns or near them and still revolted, and the Loyalists were more common in the back country, like up “state” New York and the former Jacobites in the Carolinas.

    Of my “….and a lot pointing the other way, like the actual experiences of everybody else who stayed in the British Empire willingly….”, he asks ‘Define “willingly”. The absense of risking your life in rebellion against the most powerful military on the planet?’

    That’s a straw man, and what’s more a faulty characterisation of what happened. The rebels were allied with the most powerful military on the planet, and with others too!

    Just about all British possessions fell in one of two groups:-

    – settled by the British, and willingly keeping the connection; or

    – conquered by the British, and unwillingly or passively keeping the connection.

    South Africa and Canada were mixed cases, being unions of parts of each sort. Only in America were there areas that were settled by the British and unwillingly keeping the connection.

    Notice how, when force was not an issue, as in many places in 1939, it was really only Ireland that didn’t throw in with Britain.

  • Published: July 4, 2009 11:02 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • See some of the great comments to my post The Murdering, Thieving, Enslaving, Unlibertarian Continental Army, including this one by Bob Kaercher:“I understand that you are an anarcho-libertarian, and therefore you view the very existence of the state to be a criminal act. But there are a great many libertarians who do not come to the same conclusion you do about that.”

    Well that’s a given, and largely beside the point. Most libertarians who identify themselves as anarchist are well aware that they are a (albeit growing and progressively more vocal) minority in the movement. But whether or not a “great many libertarians” reach the same conclusions about a given claim has no bearing on the correctness or incorrectness of the claim itself.

    I’ve also come across some minarchists who think a “limited” amount of taxation is permissible to maintain the minimal “night watchman” state, and I’ve also come across other minarchists who are adamantly opposed to taxation. But there is a burden on both of these “limited government” camps to reconcile the self-contradiction of their respective positions.

    First we need to ask ourselves, what is taxation? Well, taxation is theft. Even if only a few people in society don’t want the so-called “services” provided by a government and therefore don’t want to pay the taxes that fund them, those few people are being robbed and that is morally wrong. Even those who say they don’t mind paying taxes are being robbed because they’ve never been given a choice in the first place and so their “consent” is meaningless considering that they’ve never been in the position of being free to reject government “services” and taxation. (On this, see Rad Geek’s excellent blog post, “Can Anybody Ever Consent to the State?” http://radgeek.com/gt/2009/01/08/can_anybody/)

    So the minarchist who defends limited taxation to maintain their ideally minimal state is in the morally awkward position of defending “limited” theft and bullying. Sort of like proposing that a mugger be allowed to regularly steal only a few bucks out of your wallet each time they put their gun to your head instead of simply denouncing mugging.

    The minarchists who defend the concept of a “limited” state and at the same time denounce taxation and instead propose strictly voluntary donations put themselves in the awkward position of defending something that simply does not comport with reality: If a government is run solely on donations, then people are free not to donate and instead seek similar services from other agencies competing in the market, which makes the minimal “government” no government at all but a market competitor. This is, in effect, market anarchy. If an agency initiates force against individuals in order to maintain itself as the only “provider” of certain protective services and establish itself as a “limited” government (in other words, a “limited” monopoly), then this calls into question the minarchist’s commitment to a gov’t being “limited” if he defends this. (On this, see the late Roy Childs’ open letter to Ayn Rand: http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig4/childs1.html)

    As for the Tea Parties, I don’t think it’s necessarily contradictory for an anarchist to support and attend these rallies, though that may depend upon the overall character of each rally. Based on what I’ve read, most of those things devolve into being more “Support The Troops” rallies than rallying cries against taxation (mass slaughter by government is funded by taxes–Surprise!!!), but there may be genuine opportunities for anarchists to make some progress in persuading sincerely anti-tax people to take their principles to their logical conclusion and adopt the anarchist view. Of course, some of these rallies may be less fertile grounds for such anarcho-conversion than others seeing as how they are organized and funded by the pro-Big Government GOP.

    The fact of the matter is that probably 98% of people today would be utterly shocked by proposals for a government-less society. We anarchists shouldn’t let that restrict ourselves, especially when we see the opportunity to connect with some people who are genuinely outraged by at least some government policies to at least some degree. What’s the sense of singing only to the choir?

  • Published: July 5, 2009 1:05 PM

Stephan Kinsella July 2, 2009 at 9:36 pm

Ebeling:

Mr. Kinsella is frustrated that the Founding Fathers were not libertarians, as he understands that idea.

Yes, it was a great tragedy that those Founding Fathers failed to consult the works of Murray Rothbard before they decided on their courses of action. If only they had, perhaps, had the chance to read advanced copies of Rothbard’s work, say, in early galley pages!

Oh, that’s right, Rothbard only was writing about 200 years later! How stupid of me!

Dr. Ebeling,

My contention is not that they are to blame for not being libertarians. It is that they were not, contrary to libertarian mythologizing and wishful thinking, libertarians. I do not say they had no excuses for not being libertarian. I only say that they were not libertarian. Nor was America at its founding.

If we were to follow Mr. Kinsella’s view applied to Austrian Economics, we would have tear up and throw away our copies of Bohm-Bawerk. After all, he believed that utility was measurable (clearly an original sin that leads to progressive income taxation) and he worked for the State (he was finance minister of Austria-Hungary and he put together taxing legislation – obviously, a plunderer through-and through); and, oh, no, like 90 percent of all of those who have laid the groundwork for modern classical liberalism and libertarianism Bohm-Bawerk believed in – limited government. Oh, no, that means we have to tear up Mises’ works, too!

We can plainly and honestly admit where some of our teachers were wrong, without self-delusion. I do not put Bohm-Bawerk in the same category as a bunch of politicians, anyway.

Now, of course, we always judge the ideas of the past by our own understandings and perspectives that are held our today. How else can we do it? But our interpretations of earlier men and their ideas is tempered when we put them in that more historical, evolutionary intellectual context when we judge them from our more “lofty” contemporary point-of-view.

So… I should keep the prints, then?

I notice Dr. Ebeling does not deny that the Founders were unlibertarian. He does not deny the substance of my charges. Only that I am perhaps unfair in judging them too harshly. When the taxes and depredations on the lives and freedom of me and those I love and care for, foisted upon me by the mammoth state that grew from the seeds of the Founders’ enthusiasm, fall below 10%, say, I’ll perhaps have the leisure to contemplate the munificence they bestowed on me. (Though somehow I think I’ll never find a way to “understand” their racism and slaving. I’m just too “intolerant.”)

Christopher July 2, 2009 at 9:50 pm

“The anarchists contend that a social order in which nobody enjoys privileges at the expense of his fellow-citizens could exist without any compulsion and coercion for the prevention of action detrimental to society. Such an ideal society could do without state and government…
“The anarchists overlook the undeniable fact that some people are either too narrow-minded or too weak to adjust themselves spontaneously to the conditions of social life…An anarchistic society would be exposed to the mercy of every individual. Society cannot exist if the majority is not ready to hinder, by the application or threat of violent action, minorities from destroying the social order. This power is vested in the state or government.
“…The state is essentially an institution for the preservation of peaceful interhuman relations.”
von Mises, Human Action

Then there’s the “post hoc ergo prompter hoc” problem; i.e., “The Declaration of Independence in 1776 led to all the standard evils…”

A concrete pourer sets the foundation. The builder puts up the house. Should the concrete pourer be blamed if the house collapses due to termite infestation? I’d think not. It is completely unreasonable to say that the Declaration, or the Constitution, has “caused” the mess that we are in. The fallibility of man has caused the mess. When power and dominance are attainable, man will unfortunately falter, even in a theoretical anarchistic social order.

James September 17, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Thank you for this reasoned opinion. Kinsella is ridiculous and is just looking to get some hits on the Mises page, he can’t be serious with blaming the Declaration for our problems today. The argument can be made against the Constitution but the Declaration? Come on now…

vlad popovic July 2, 2009 at 10:06 pm

Isn’t Britain marginally more socialist than we are?

Why should we wish to be British subjects when, in my opinion, we are plenty socialist already?

I am not happy with things as they are, but rejoin Britain?

Cracka please!

HL July 2, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Ah, my beloved Stephan. Any radical thought worth stating is worth stating in an uncompromising manner and with a touch of “zing.” To wake the slumbering masses is fun; to speak openly to the “remnant” is divine.

Where would have I cast my lot if Sam Adams had sat down with me at the tavern? No doubt, revolution. That’s not to say my choice would have been optimal; just understandable and quite reasonable under the circumstances. The end result was not what it could have been – and those who took over afterwards were far in character from the dear Sam I followed, but isn’t that life?

Nuke Gray July 2, 2009 at 10:26 pm

It’s always fun to pick on the past. But couldn’t Kinsella help us all better, by showing how we can correct our present societies? A female friend of mine laments that we don’t live in a perfect society, and injustices are everywhere- but I point out that this gives us the chance to be the heroes that the future reads about, and admires!
Please, Mr Kinsella- give us The Anarcho-Capitalist Home Recipe Book, for healing law-sick societies!

Nuke Gray July 2, 2009 at 10:27 pm

It’s always fun to pick on the past. But couldn’t Kinsella help us all better, by showing how we can correct our present societies? A female friend of mine laments that we don’t live in a perfect society, and injustices are everywhere- but I point out that this gives us the chance to be the heroes that the future reads about, and admires!
Please, Mr Kinsella- give us The Anarcho-Capitalist Home Recipe Book, for healing law-sick societies!

Stephan Kinsella July 2, 2009 at 10:32 pm

HL–nicely put. And of course one cannot still but feel a bit of a twinge of regret that one could not meet the “radicals” that Hummel described–”men such as Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, Richard Henry Lee and Thomas Jefferson”–though I’m too modern, “presentist,” and “intolerant” enough to really overlook … slaveowning by any of them. An excuse for not being a modern libertarian is one thing, but for slavery…? Helloo… Okay, so I confess: I don’t think I can get over the “owning fellow humans” thing. We rural Louisianans are small-minded like that. Not nearly “cosmopolitan” enough.

James September 17, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Have you ever considered that your tolerance is no more or less a product of your time as was their intolerance.

I’m a history major and I’ve taken several African history classes, and something that is never spoken of is in 15th and 16th century England, the definition of black in addition to just being a color also included sin, evil, the unknown (as in nighttime) etc. This definition was fueled by Biblical texts that associate darkness with Hell and sin, and being the opposite of the light that God represented. So when the Englishmen began to see Africans for the first time, they associated the Biblical understanding of darkness and black with the much darker skin of these new people and unfortunately the rest is history. As much as we can view that from the 21st century in disdain, how in the world were they supposed to be tolerant in a homogeneous, religiously superstitious society?

Not much changed in thinking between the 1st contact with Africa and 18th century America. Slowly people were beginning to realize that Africans were fully and equally human, but that radical shift in opinion does not happen overnight. As for the Founders owning slaves, firstly Adams and Paine were not slaveholders, so feel free to sit down with them.

As for Jefferson, Henry, and Lee, as Virginians under the Manumission Act of 1723 it was illegal to just up and free your slaves. The master would have to make a recommendation to the courts as to the exemplary character of a slave he wanted to set free, and the courts would decide if the slave was worthy. And specifically speaking of Jefferson, the majority of his slaves were inherited through his marriage to his wife Martha Wayles. He didn’t go out of his way to buy them.

Yes I realize its very easy to judge them, and in a 21st century world they would be worthy of full disdain. But by and large, you are a product of the times you live in. The tolerance and acceptance that you speak of was no more known or understood to the 18th century world than the technology used to make the first automobile. I suppose we should judge Jefferson and Paine that they were using archaic buggies and carriages too?

Stephan Kinsella July 2, 2009 at 10:37 pm

Lawrence, Butte: also, the term “allodial” gets my crankdar going. It has nutball connotations, sort of like too many Initial Caps.

Peter July 2, 2009 at 11:23 pm

Hmm, the United States was the first country in the world in which individuals could hold property in allodia

Hmm., nonsense. Individuals – kings, i.e., – have always done so; and non-kings can’t do so in the US…

anonymous July 2, 2009 at 11:23 pm

Well going after the Founders for slaveowning strikes me as rather “cosmopolitan”, like those folks who think the Constituition is irrelevant due to this fact and that any argument supporting original intent or limited government are from reactionaries from “the horse and buggy age.” A good way to smear any opponent of big government.

Gil July 3, 2009 at 12:26 am

Wow, fundamentalist makes some pretty darn good points! Inevitably, there’s a “ha ha” about the ‘founding fathers’. They weren’t anti-government – just anti-foreign government. They weren’t against taxes – they were against foreign taxes and seeing their money going abroad. Such is the lot of a great many people. How many people complain when they have to take orders but are quite happy to give them when they are the ‘top dog’? How many people hate being lied to but will lie when it suits their purposes. Suppose society does collapse in a way everyone becomes a private property owenrs only to have a great many owners become mini-tyrants and start attaacking and seizing the land and property of other private property owners because there’s no one to stop them and the cycle of society begins anew?

proud patriot July 3, 2009 at 1:11 am

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

You’re article is disgusting, Stephen. You blame the freedom-loving patriots of the American Revolution for the mass murdering tyrants of the twentieth century. And you overlook the atrocities of the British Empire!

Thomas Paine suggested that the American Revolution was divine retribution against Britain for her crimes in India and Africa. I agree. In fact, every innovation of tyranny in America originated in England. Before there was a Federal Reserve and American banksters, there was a Bank of England and chartered corporations. America would have never been involved in WWI or WWII without the influence of British statesmen, most notably Winston Churchill. The American intervention in Iran merely protected British oil interests. The list goes on and on.

So lets take a look at the Declaration of Independence and see what the Americans were up against:
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury

The Revolution was fully justified, and I’m glad it happened.

Nuke Gray July 3, 2009 at 1:49 am

Thomas Paine died poor and alone- retribution for his rabble-rousing and delusional book. As for the ‘sins’ of Britain against India and Africa, they were sinning against themselves before Britain arrived! I’ll bet the Amerindians wish that Britain had kept the palefaces cooped up in Eastern North America, instead of taking their lands and pushing them onto reservations! Your ancestors did that, Proud Patriot!
And Britain was the major power to outlaw slavery, in 1833, whilst your US had 1/3 of it’s States with slave societies! When Britain freed it’s slaves, they intermarried with the working class. What happened to your ex-slaves? Were they allowed to intermarry?
And one of the original taxes that ‘enflamed’ super-delicate American opinion was an existing tax that had been around for years before, but not enforced- Americans had been more inclined to smuggling than paying taxes. Perhaps they could have negotiated, if both sides had been more reasonable.

Justin July 3, 2009 at 1:54 am

We here in Australia never got rid of the British monarchy, and what difference did it make?

Hmm, lemme see now: the attempt to limit the growth of the state by written constitution has been just as much of a failure in Australia as it was in the USA. Your government has overspread its consitutional limits more, but then, it’s had more time to do it.

But, in 1975, the Governor-General (Queen’s viceroy) did sack the Prime Minister who tried to run up a big debt without consent of Parliament, so it was good fun to watch him eat humble pie.

Gil July 3, 2009 at 2:37 am

Isn’t Australia an example of what might have happened if the American Revolution never happened? Australia and the U.S.A. have reasonably similar governments, economies, standards of living, etc., yet Australia never seceded. It would seem the West was moving towards Representative Democracies anyway and those who fought in the Revolution died in vain (ha ha!).

Nuke Gray July 3, 2009 at 3:08 am

As for Britain ‘dragging’ America into both world wars, I thought Germany sank the Lusitania, and Japan bombed Pearl Harbor? Weren’t those the causes of American entry into the Wars?
Which country first used atomic bombs on its’ enemy? Was it Britain? It couldn’t have been America, surely? And which country thinks of Latin America as ‘its’ zone of influence? Is the Monroe Doctrine something that Britain forced you to do? If so, how?

EIS July 3, 2009 at 3:13 am

This is pure crap, and it completely contradicts Austrian principles. The belief that power should be completely centralized, in the hands of one individual, is the antithesis of libertarianism. I don’t know why this was even posted.

EIS July 3, 2009 at 3:15 am

This is pure garbage. The belief that power should be completely centralized in the hands of one individual, completely contradicts Austrian principles and libertarian doctrine. I don’t know why this was even posted. We’re Anarchists.

newson July 3, 2009 at 3:39 am

to eis:
hoppe is championing monarchy over popular democracy, not vis-à-vis anarchy, as the post makes clear.

i think the princely family of liechtenstein is a better example than britain. it has a more active role than the queen of england, essentially just a figurehead. even the house of lords has become democratized.

newson July 3, 2009 at 3:44 am

to nuke gray:
if you’ve got a taste for revisionism, you’ll find plenty of material on this site challenging “the official story” of both the lusitania and pearl harbour incidents.

Scott July 3, 2009 at 6:01 am

Well the colonies revolt, helped spark others. At least the ‘national razor’, wasn’t employed. The U.S.C. was a federalist usurpation of the confederation. As a citizen of the U.S.; I’m glad not to pay the burden of crown taxes on top of the taxes I already pay. I once felt the same, we have independence from one tyrant, in order to live under a different tyranny. On democracy, Aristotle called it rule of the poor. American democracy would have proved him wrong. It is oligarchy.

Stephan Kinsella July 3, 2009 at 8:10 am

It’s astonishing to me that some libertarians want to overlook the typical crimes committed by states anytime there is war–or to deny that the Declaration had anything to do with the Revolutionary War. “Proud Patriot” above says that I “blame the freedom-loving patriots of the American Revolution for the mass murdering tyrants of the twentieth century”.

The Declaration of Independence of course led to all the standard evils of war and raising an army-as Hummel noted, “unfunded government debt, paper money, skyrocketing inflation, price controls, legal tender laws, direct impressment of supplies and wide-spread conscription.”

Casual googling leads to all kinds of information on this. E.g.: as noted here:

The absence of a strong, central, colonial government resulted in a vast shortage of funding and human resources. Paper money and bills of credit financed the war, and while the paper money became almost valueless, inflation rocketed. Profiteers took advantage of these conditions to make money while workers held strikes for higher wages. Soldiers were also in short supply, with state militias sometimes competing against the Continental Army for them. Soldiers were generally ill fed, poorly clothed, and lacked weapons.

Around 5,000 blacks served in the colonial army. At first only free blacks were accepted, but the shortage in soldiers led to the conscription of slaves. Blacks fought with whites in unsegregated units. Americans Indians, threatened by colonial expansion, most often fought for the British, and after the revolt ended their claims to land and self-rule were largely ignored.

And here:

As the war dragged on, it became more difficult to find soldiers. States increased bounties, shortened terms, and reluctantly forced men to serve. But conscription was such a distasteful and dangerous exercise of state power that legislatures would use it only in extreme circumstances. More frequently, legislatures tried to reinforce the army with men drawn by incentive or compulsion from the militia for only a few months of summer service. The army’s composition thus reflected a bewildering variety of enlistment terms. After 1779, for example, a Connecticut company might have eight or ten privates serving for three years or the war, and twice or three times that number enlisted only for the summer. Washington’s complaints to Congress have obscured his genius in building an effective army out of the limited service most Americans were willing to undertake.

Here:

During the Revolutionary War, state governments assumed the colonies’ authority to raise their short‐term militias through drafts if necessary. They sometimes extended this to state units in the Continental Army, but they denied Gen. George Washington’s request that the central government be empowered to conscript. As the initial volunteering slackened, states boosted enlistment bounties and held occasional drafts, producing more hired substitutes than actual draftees.

Here:

Even with their powerful new ally, the Americans remained in dire straits. Enlistments were down and conscription, while utilized, was unpopular.

This book mentions the execution of soldiers during the Revolutionary War for desertion and other things — “For examples of soldiers executed without recourse to a trial by courts-martial, see Henry Lee, Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United States ..”

As my friend Manuel Lora wrote me: “In order to be free we shall establish a state, inflate the money supply, control trade and enslave people to work the fields and the killing fields. … Happy 4th of July.”

S.M. Oliva July 3, 2009 at 8:22 am

Sometimes I think Kinsella became a libertarian just so he could find reasons to explain why everyone else isn’t a libertarian.

fundamentalist July 3, 2009 at 8:24 am

Daniel: “But wouldn’t you say that as soon as capitalistic or free market forms of action are introduced that a particular society is not- in those particular instances- democratic, socialist or monarchical ?”

I guess it depends upon one’s definition of capitalism. In my definition, all that is required is property rights, the rule of law and a relatively honest judiciary and police. Real property rights, and not just paper titles, limit government to protecting life, liberty and property. I can see where such a system could exist under a monarchy, democracy or anarchism.

Emil Suric July 3, 2009 at 8:32 am

“It’s astonishing to me that some libertarians want to overlook the typical crimes committed by states anytime there is war–or to deny that the Declaration had anything to do with the Revolutionary War.”

Yes, war is a terrible thing, with human right violations as the inevitable consequence. But how does this legitimize your point? How does a libertarian prefer monarchies over constitutional republics? You can be a libertarian and hate America, but you can’t be one and support monarchies (relatively speaking of course).

As far as slavery is concerned, it’s not simply an American issue, or an American contradiction. It was a plague which infected the vast majority of human civilization. The first actual ban on slavery occurred only in 1772.

Furthermore, America may be hell, but relatively speaking, it’s the greatest country in the world. No other nation shares our standard of living, and no other nation has ever seen such a vast creation of wealth despite the numerous interventionist policies which seek to retard it.

fundamentalist July 3, 2009 at 8:49 am

The Constitution of the US is political poetry. It is among the most beautiful documents on government ever written by mankind. It created about the most perfect government that mankind is capable of producing.

But for its wonderful ideas to be implemented required self-control and honesty on the part of those charged with instantiating its principles. Many of the writers understood that. They did their best to limit the federal government. Unfortunately, succeeding generations chafed at those limits and discovered every dishonest way possible to escape them. It’s not the founders’ fault that they couldn’t control the selfishness, dishonesty and power hungry nature of later generations.

And the American people are at fault, too, because they elected the SOB’s who destroyed the Constitution. They did so out of greed and envy. As de Tocqueville realized, the experiment ended when people realized they can vote themselves an income.

The inauguration of the president is one of the most disgusting ceremonies in political life because the president swears to uphold the Constitution, then spends the next four years shredding it with the joyful approval of the American people, Congress and the Supreme Court. If we had an honest military, the generals, who are also sworn to uphold the Constitution, would arrest every one of them and hang them for treason.

fundamentalist July 3, 2009 at 9:04 am

It’s important to keep in mind that the founders considered the Constitution to be an experiment. They weren’t certain it would succeed. Their weakness was in misjudging human character. They believed man is better than he really is. The experiment failed, as Kinsella pointed out. But the fault doesn’t lie in the beautiful document they created, but in the character of men and women who were supposed to implement it. The American experiment proves that people are incapable of ruling themselves justly.

fundamentalist July 3, 2009 at 9:10 am

It’s important to keep in mind that the founders considered the Constitution to be an experiment. They weren’t certain it would succeed. Their weakness was in misjudging human character. They believed man is better than he really is. The experiment failed, as Kinsella pointed out. But the fault doesn’t lie in the beautiful document they created, but in the character of men and women who were supposed to implement it. The American experiment proves that people are incapable of ruling themselves justly.

Samuel Wonacott July 3, 2009 at 11:09 am

Fundamentalist, I’m not sure I agree with you. While you won’t hear me making the same irrational comments Kinsella has been making, I do think one of the faults lies in the Constitution itself. See, I think we have to take human nature as a given, and human nature is ultimately selfish, corrupt, and wicked. As far as I’m concerned, humans are bad, and most of human history attests to that.

The question becomes one of minimizing the bad aspects of human nature. It becomes an institutional question (realizing that ultimately no institution will be perfect). How do we create a system where the incentives just so happen to align with the parts of human nature worth bringing out? The Constitution, while agreeing with you that it is a beautiful document, is not a system where the bad aspects of human nature are limited. The idea of a government with divided powers has been criticized by most libertarians and rightly I believe. How can you have a system where the divided powers are ultimately part of the same organization? It would be like Wal-Mart creating its own court system, and expecting the Wal-Mart court to rule fairly in cases involving Wal-Mart!

As James Madison said, “If men were angels we need not have government.” The correct response is “if men are devils we DARE not have government.”

Tomás July 3, 2009 at 11:16 am

Nicely done, Stephan!

You know you’ve won when your opponents are off attacking strawmen.

Please don’t ever change.

John Seiler July 3, 2009 at 11:38 am

I just got in the government mail a summons from the IRS demanding that I file its complicated tax forms for 2007. I didn’t file on time, as I usually do as an obedient imperial slave, because just before April 15 that year, my mother died, and I just haven’t gotten around to it since then. The same thing happened the next year, 2008, when my father died just before April 15.

King George III had no income tax on Americans.

So as I cringe in fear before the mighty IRS, where, exactly, is my “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness”?

John Seiler July 3, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Malcolm Muggeridge wrote in 1954, when the State in Britain was much smaller than today, but growing frightfully fast:

“The State, in fact, is the greatest of all tyrants, the ultimate tyrant. Kings can be executed, oligarchies can be broken up, millionaires can be despoiled of their money, Popes can be defied and heresies persisted in, but the State is, in principle, ourselves, and how can we put down ourselves? We who are the Leviathan cannot slay it. To try to do so is suicide, not rebellion.”

(“Farewell to Freedom” in “Things Past: An Anthology,” p. 111.)

Brandon July 3, 2009 at 12:32 pm

“It’s important to keep in mind that the founders considered the Constitution to be an experiment. They weren’t certain it would succeed.” Fundamentalist

The same can be said for FDR and his socialism. Uncertainty of results doesn’t let people off the historiographical noose.

vc July 3, 2009 at 1:52 pm

“It’s important to keep in mind that the founders considered the Constitution to be an experiment. They weren’t certain it would succeed.” Fundamentalist

What does “succeed” mean?

The Constitution slyly stripped limitations from the Articles of Confederation and granted powers couched in vague language. This allowed the continual accrual of power and centralization that we see today.

To deny this was purposeful or that they did not know it would “succeed”, as such, is to deny the entirety of history, the nature of man, and the plain meaning of the relevant texts.

I am free because the government allows me to apply for licenses to do alomost anything I want, most of the time, as long as I obey their regulations and give them a hefty cut.

Nick July 3, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Grow up, Steve.

matt July 3, 2009 at 3:58 pm

stephen you make my head hurt sometimes. i appreciate your writings and agree with a lot of your ideas but sometimes i think you just like to be disagreeable. i swear i wouldn’t be surprised to read a critique from you on why the sun isn’t bright or water’s not really wet.

Indecence Day July 3, 2009 at 6:33 pm

The ONLY ones who benefit from democracy are the politicians. Democracy means that power “shifts” every 4 years without bloodshed.

Politicians no longer have to fear for their necks and they even have a lifetime pension plan, free healthcare etc.

Today’s politicians are worse than yesterday’s kings.

Democracy is a crime against humanity. We want individual freedoms not mob rule !

And it’s not even democracy, because we don’t vote for policies, we vote for politicians. The decision making power are in the hand of politicians, not in the hand of the people.

Every major decisions should be submitted to a vote and the more you pay taxes, the more your vote should count.

josh July 3, 2009 at 6:35 pm

So, does this mean Rothbard instead should have written Conceived in Tyranny ?

I Can’t Believe What We’ve Become July 3, 2009 at 6:41 pm

“But had we never left? One percent tax paid to a distant King over the ocean sound appealing, anyone?”

I’d drink that cup of tea anytime, LOL !

If they tought that taxation without representation was bad, they should see how taxation with representation looks like, it’s a real steal, LOL !

I’d be very happy to change systems and only pay 1% to a distant king and get to keep 99% of my income.

LOL ! Democracy and the USA sucks, the 4th of july is going to be the saddest day in my life.

J.K. Baltzersen July 3, 2009 at 7:07 pm

I am largely in agreement with Mr. Kinsella. However, I have doubts about how helpful his provocative style is.

Limitations — formal or informal — on the powers of the monarchy is one thing. Transferring power from him to another body is another thing. They are conceptually separate. Yet, most people — when they debate this issue — confuse these two concepts

Secession from Britian and the American parting from the monarchical order too are two separate concepts. As Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn noted, the American War for Independence was not initially anti-monarchical.

In 1775, Parliament was the target of the colonists’ complaints. A year later — when the Declaration of Independence was signed — the King got all the blame. Yet, the Declaration of Independence was against a particular Prince. It did not denounce monarchy as such. There were several candidates for an American monarch. Anti-monarchist sentiment, however, quite soon became an essential element of Americanist mythology.

My main point here is that parting from the monarchical order was not a necessary consequence of parting from the British Empire.

When we see claims that centralizing all power in one man is not in line with Austrian thought, this illustrates the misunderstanding of Western classical monarchy by modern man, perhaps by Americans in particular. Also, the “Austrian school” was born under the Habsburg monarchy. Here culture, arts, and sciences flourished. It was not a system where all power was centralized in one man.

Mr. Kinsella has gotten harsh criticism for his counterfactual scenario. It has been suggested that the U.S. would be very much like Australia or Canada is today. Yes, that is a possible scenario, but it is not very likely. Yes, the “Glorious Revolution” did take place about a century before the U.S. Constitution came into being, but without the American War for Independence, we would probably not have had the French Revolution or American entry in World War I. It is likely that absolute democracy would have had a much harder time developing.

Cybertarian July 3, 2009 at 7:10 pm

What we need is CYBERTARIANISM.

That is computer-networks assisted libertarianism.

Right now, the free-market is being assaulted by interest groups, criminal gangs, police organizations, governments, international laws, national laws, the senate, unions etc.

What we need to do is create an artificial intelligence impersonation of the market.

Someone, an artificial someone, a computer generated someone which in itself represents the market. The free-market capitalism.

What is needed is that it would be necessary to use this intermediary to buy and sell.

This impersonation of the market would then garantee that anyone who uses this system is free from the assaults of taxation, regulation or prohibition.

Anyone who would then assault a market participant by either taxing or controlling him would automatically be debarred from using the system and the impersonation would then forbid that aggressor from buying and selling.

Freedom to buy and sell and the assurance that the ones you do business with are not there to get you, this would be the doctrine.

Under Cybertarianism, people could buy and sell whatever they want at the price of the market.

This means they could buy and sell weapons, drugs, organs, controversial medical procedures and all the information, software and media they want. Nothing would be censored.

However, what would be immediately punished would be the crime of hindring the market.

Anyone who wants to tax(steal) from another, anyone who wants to decide what gets to be sold or bought, anyone who wants to prohibit certain goods or services would immediately be debarred from the system and condemned to a slow and painful starvation.

We need to create an impersonation that will represent free-market capitalism and that will be there to protect this market from plunderers and tyrants.

fundamentalist July 3, 2009 at 7:28 pm

Samuel: “The correct response is “if men are devils we DARE not have government.”

That assumes that anarchism would work. The evidence for that is pretty slim. The same evil that exists in mankind and empowered them to break the restraints of the Constitution would still be at work in anarchy and could result in a far worse situation. Of course, I wouldn’t mind giving it a try if it ever becomes possible. I don’t oppose anarchism on moral grounds the way anarchists oppose the state. I just question its viability. Still, I would like to give it a go.

Vc: “The Constitution slyly stripped limitations from the Articles of Confederation and granted powers couched in vague language. This allowed the continual accrual of power and centralization that we see today.”

Much of what the founders did was pragmatic politics. The 13 states started the revolutionary war and then refused to pay for it. Had it not been for the generosity of the French government, which we bankrupted, and the Dutch, we would have lost the war. Increasing the power of the federal government to tax was just a pragmatic move to make sure it didn’t suffer from the hypocrisy and dishonesty of the state legislators again.

I don’t think the Constitution allowed any of the growth of power of the government. The writers were honest men. They didn’t foresee that politicians who succeeded them would be so incredibly dishonest in interpreting the Constitution. Had the Constitution been followed as written and interpreted from original intent, the federal government would be less than 1% its current size. But dishonest presidents, congressmen and justices twisted the wording of the document, or simply ignored it. A good example if the fraudulent use of the interstate commerce clause. The court has allowed dishonest presidents to commit all kinds of crimes by appealing to that clause.

Maybe the writers didn’t foresee such incredible dishonesty, or maybe they foresaw it and realized that if people were going to be so immoral, they could do nothing to stop them. I tend to lean toward the latter because many of the founding fathers warned that an immoral people would rip through the Constitution as though it were a spider’s web.

If politicians are willing to distort words to the degree that day means night, and black means white, then we have left the rule of law far behind and have descended into the mud pit of the arbitrary rule of men with no limitations on their power or the evil they can commit. When the leadership has descended to that level of immorality and the people applaud it, there is nothing left to do but fold our hands and wait for the wrath of God.

proud patriot July 3, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Stephen’s pathetic screed about the Declaration of Independence misses the whole point: the Declaration was the first legal document ever to express the right of the populace to “alter or abolish” their system of government. Without that right, a libertarian anarchocapitalist paradise is just a pipe dream, not a viable political option.

In his essay “When Did The Trouble Start?” he somehow paints the Bill of Rights (which protects individual freedoms against federal and state governments) as destructive to liberty.”The Constitution as ratified in 1789 was fine as it was. Boy, what a great achievement. But the Bill of Rights was added in 1791. If this had not been done…. there would be stronger structural limits on federal action in place today.”

Then, he pinpoints the Protestant Reformation as the cause of the “trouble”.

Stephen Kinsella, an opponent of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, and a defender of royal and papal authority, somehow passes for a libertarian. Weird, I know.

Andrey July 3, 2009 at 8:45 pm

Good article.

A lot of perceptive men understand that democracy is a very dangerous, destructive system. At least a lot of monarchies were static and limited. A democracy is the most dynamic system, it always changes and grows, and it tends to become more and more oppressive, have more and more regulations and interventions into human life. That’s the nature of the system.

The constitution was probably intended to limit the democracy, but it seems that the nature of the system dictates its growth, not some document intended to limit it. Under monarchy there were fewer incentives for rulers to grow government as fastly and recklessly as under democracy. Under democracy there are a lot of incentives and opportunities to do that and more ‘rulers’ who can do it and get away with it.

vc July 3, 2009 at 8:47 pm

@fundamentalist

your naivte is astonishing.

Hamilton,for example, wanted to appoint George Washington as permanent president and have him appoint the state governors.

They didn’t dislike the British mercantilism in principle, they just wanted to be in charge of it.

The simple exclusion of the word “expressly” before the word delegated was a purposeful act meant only to allow the unbridled power of the central government to unfurl at an acceptable pace.

I strongly suggest that you read http://www.javelinpress.com/hologram_of_liberty.html

And consider Spooner’s admonishment: “But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it.”

IMHO, even a cursory reading of the relevant texts, the early case law, and the history indicates that the coup succeeded and that everything we have today was preordained. “We are living in Hamilton’s republic”, as a great thinker has recently stated.

Gil July 3, 2009 at 9:54 pm

You got to be kidding vc, fundamentalist’s on a roll! The system failed because the people failed. If the average people are generally terrible then society (regardless of its make up) will be terrible. After all, that Mudderidge quote is utter garbage – presidents, prime ministers, senators, ministers, etc., are flesh&blood people as well. His rant gives a righteous sense of helplessness as he depicts the state as ‘all-powerful’, He reckons he can get away with that bull because few people would actually know what it’s like to live in a stern monarchy or papacy. Those who actually did usually regarded the monarchy or the papacy as seemingly all powerful too (e.g. Frank McCourt).

However, I disagree with “I don’t think the Constitution allowed any of the growth of power of the government.” The U.S. Constitution has an amendment process therefore it can be change and the government thereof (e.g. the 16th Amendment).

Yossarian July 3, 2009 at 10:41 pm

J.K. Baltzersen: I am largely in agreement with Mr. Kinsella. However, I have doubts about how helpful his provocative style is.

Why the doubts? I thought it was terrific and meant to be provocative. Judging by a lot of the comments, this essay hit a nerve with a lot of people who expressed anger that someone would dare question anything about the intentions of the founding fathers.

I mean really – I’m new here, but if I didn’t know better, I’d think I had stumbled across a conservative or republican site: pro-founding fathers, pro-Constitution and DOI, etc. Yikes.

Fundamentalist: The writers were honest men. They didn’t foresee that politicians who succeeded them would be so incredibly dishonest in interpreting the Constitution.

Well, you may be right about that if you gloss over Washington’s saddling up Old Paint to lead troops to put down a tax “rebellion” and the precedent-setting of “implied powers” and his national bank and John Adams’s Alien and Sedition Acts, and Jefferson’s embargo and Louisiana Purchase, and Monroe’s war and the Monroe Doctrine.

Fundamentalist: [the Flounders] weakness was in misjudging human character. They believed man is better than he really is.

Wrong. The founding fathers never trusted or even liked the masses, but held them in contempt, like all politicians. Hamilton wrote that the people, being turbulent and changing, could not judge or determine right, and that “nothing but a permanent body can check the imprudence of democracy. Their turbulent and uncontrolling disposition requires checks.”

Then there are the People-Are-Stupid letters exchanged between Jay and Washington. In 1786, John Jay wrote to Washington: “The mass of men are neither wise nor good…” to which Washington replied: “We have probably had too good an opinion of human nature… Experience has taught us, that men will not adopt & carry into execution, measures the best calculated for their own good without the intervention of a coercive power.” Washington to Jay, 1787: “…mankind are not competent to their own government, without the means of coercion in the Sovereign.” Washington to Madison, 1787: “I have my doubts whether any system without the means of coercion in the Sovereign, will enforce obedience to the Ordinances of a Genl Government.”

The Flounders were only against the King eating out our substance because they wanted to do it.

Good job Stephan, more, more!

mdeals July 4, 2009 at 12:49 am

Monarchy isn’t perfect as Hoppe argues .

Michael July 4, 2009 at 5:30 am

Yeah, no thanks, I’d rather the world didn’t have, what, Canada + UK + America + ??? all under one top government.

DS July 4, 2009 at 7:05 am

Comment on a couple of odd quotes along the same the vein:

“King George III had no income tax on Americans.”

“I’d be very happy to change systems and only pay 1% to a distant king and get to keep 99% of my income.”

First, you are aware that the Constitution had to be amended in order to institute a permanent income tax (Lincoln did it unconstitutionally and it was revoked), right? If the Constitution caused the income tax, why did 3/4ths of the States have to agree to amend teh document in order to allow it? The implication in these quotes is that the Constitution allowed for and even encouraged the income tax.

The original income tax was at a very low rate and supposedly only paid by the very rich. ALL taxes start small and grow over time, how do people who presumably have read Mises, Rothbard and Hayek not know that?

The Constitution was certainly not a perfect document, mainly because it contained the seeds of its own destruction in a couple of vague passages and because the document’s writers did not take into account the idea that everybody in the Federal government and the majority of the citizens who elect them would decide to just ignore it when it didn’t fit their whims, or twist its words to mean exactly the opposite of what it intended. The Constitution was created in secret in order to re-write the Articles of Confederation, an imperfect document whose flaws were greatly exagerrated for sure. I don’t even argue that the “Founding Fathers” were a homogeneous group who were all of the same mind, or who were universally brilliant, honest or benevolent – they were flawed individuals who were acting partially in their own self interest. They created a hybrid document that was a compromise, as all things written by comittee end up being. The document created as many questions as answers which is why the politics of the early republic were so nasty, confrontational and personal – because they were arguing over real issues unlike the phony dance played out by Demoplicans and Republicrats today. I don’t think anybody who visits this site thinks the path eventually taken was the right one, but I don’t think this path was the destiny of the United States, just unfortunately where it ended up. In order to get to where we are today the Constitution had to be violated and ignored repeatedly to the point where it isn’t even used any more. It truly is a relic and a museum piece, literally and figuratively.

But to argue that the secession from England was a mistake, that the Declaration of Independece was a fraudulent document and that the Americans would have been better off and had more liberty under the monarchical rule of a mercantilist empire is absurd in the extreme.

I try to only use the word Stupid once a year. I’m using it now.

{ 136 comments… read them below or add one }

P.M.Lawrence July 4, 2009 at 8:40 am

DS wrote “But to argue that the secession from England [sic – England wasn’t independent and running things by then, which is why the last Governor of Virginia was a Scot] was a mistake, that the Declaration of Independece [sic] was a fraudulent document and that the Americans would have been better off and had more liberty under the monarchical rule of a mercantilist empire is absurd in the extreme. I try to only use the word Stupid once a year. I’m using it now.”

But, but, but… there’s absolutely nothing to buttress that position beyond the self serving claims of the rebels (face it, with its gross distortions and outright untruths that’s all the Declaration of Independence was), and a lot pointing the other way, like the actual experiences of everybody else who stayed in the British Empire willingly (not the unwilling ones like the Irish, of course – but their situation was different, a result of conquest, and wouldn’t have been matched by the American colonies’ non-rebellion). As for the mercantilism, on net while that lasted that actually favoured the colonies’ export trade at British expense, e.g. banning tobacco production in Gloucestershire helped the southern colonies, and the northern colonies were helped by providing a market for their staples in the British sugar producing islands that the French and Dutch weren’t allowed in (most complaints about the mercantilism amount to complaining that there was no protection of northern manufacture). Also, the British government spent additional hard money in the colonies without taking any out (it was committed not to spend taxes raised there anywhere else). So even if the counterfactual turns out to be wrong it is neither absurd nor stupid.

REPLY

DS July 4, 2009 at 9:57 am

“As for the mercantilism, on net while that lasted that actually favoured the colonies’ export trade at British expense, e.g. banning tobacco production in Gloucestershire helped the southern colonies, and the northern colonies were helped by providing a market for their staples in the British sugar producing islands that the French and Dutch weren’t allowed in (most complaints about the mercantilism amount to complaining that there was no protection of northern manufacture).”

Mercantilism certainly spins a tangled web of winners and losers. Every government interference has people who benefit more than others, and at the expense of others. The colonists were no different – those that benefitted from the perculiarities of the colonial arrangement were called Loyalists and they faught aginst the colonial rebels on the side of the government. How noble.

“….and a lot pointing the other way, like the actual experiences of everybody else who stayed in the British Empire willingly….”

Define “willingly”. The absense of risking your life in rebellion against the most powerful military on the planet? If that’s the definition then yes, every British colony willingly stayed in the British empire.

REPLY

Daniel J. Fallon July 4, 2009 at 10:46 am

The Founding Fathers (forgive the aggregation) did not satisfactorily resolve the question of “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” (Who will guard the guards themselves?).

Hoppe points to the FF’s general acceptance of Hobbesian thought as the origin of this major weakness. Hobbes believed that society needed for its existence and sustainability an absolutely privileged power that could crush all threats.

True, the FF’s, to their credit, recognized the flaw in unchecked power and recommended competition as a way of creating balance without mitigating freedom. However, they did not go far enough in this reasoning. The FF’s created a massive contradiction by exempting government itself from competition (except for that phrase about abolishment in the DOI) . Call it the Hobbesian Exemption.

Madison’s Fed #10 is a great example. Madison realizes that competing factions stunt the possibility of tyranny. But then he envisions interests competing, ironically, for the control of a non-competitive institution that 1) has more power than any faction and 2) holds this power by self-proclamation.

That said, the FF’s should still be recognized for the radical social scientists they were. Who now is prepared to make that one last logical leap of courage and dispense with Hobbes forever?

REPLY

Richard Garner July 4, 2009 at 12:56 pm

I’m kind of sympathetic to Stephan’s position here. Many of the revolutionaries, like John Adams, were concerned about the violation of colonists’ “rights as Englishmen,” and I read another suggestion that Britain may not even have gone to war with America hadn’t it been that a better statesman was sick in bed and couldn’t attend parliament when the decision was to have been made (forgive me, I can’t recal the details, so I don’t know who this would have been, but I suspect William Pitt) – it is likely that, instead, more powers would have devolved to the colonies, and the colonists would have accepted instead of war. Britain criminalised slavery much earlier than the US, and so slavery would have ended earlier in the US much earlier and probably with much less loss of life. On the mercantilist thing, mercantile capitalism was collapsing in the UK already, starting with the rise of the classical economists, Smith’s explicit assault on mercantilism, Ricardo’s defense of free trade. The US engaged in protectionism at the time that the British had their Anti-Corn Law league and ended tariffs. Further, people here are concerned about what British influence on American politics would have been, would the US have been as socialist as the UK and Canada (i.e., slightly more than it is now), but why presume that the influence goes one way: The UK could have been less socialist and more receptive to the classical liberal ideas circulating in the colonies if the US hadn’t seceded.

REPLY

N. Joseph Potts July 4, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Mather Byles said it all in 1770: Which is better—to be ruled by one tyrant three thousand miles away, or by three thousand tyrants not a mile away?

We have met the enemy, and he is us.

REPLY

Yossarian July 4, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Richard Garner: “…but why presume that the influence goes one way: The UK could have been less socialist and more receptive to the classical liberal ideas circulating in the colonies if the US hadn’t seceded.”

Good point and I tend to agree with you.

REPLY

P.M.Lawrence July 4, 2009 at 11:02 pm

DS wrote “Mercantilism certainly spins a tangled web of winners and losers. Every government interference has people who benefit more than others, and at the expense of others. The colonists were no different – those that benefitted from the perculiarities of the colonial arrangement were called Loyalists and they faught aginst the colonial rebels on the side of the government. How noble.”

That’s plain wrong. The beneficiaries were more in the coastal towns or near them and still revolted, and the Loyalists were more common in the back country, like up “state” New York and the former Jacobites in the Carolinas.

Of my “….and a lot pointing the other way, like the actual experiences of everybody else who stayed in the British Empire willingly….”, he asks ‘Define “willingly”. The absense of risking your life in rebellion against the most powerful military on the planet?’

That’s a straw man, and what’s more a faulty characterisation of what happened. The rebels were allied with the most powerful military on the planet, and with others too!

Just about all British possessions fell in one of two groups:-

– settled by the British, and willingly keeping the connection; or

– conquered by the British, and unwillingly or passively keeping the connection.

South Africa and Canada were mixed cases, being unions of parts of each sort. Only in America were there areas that were settled by the British and unwillingly keeping the connection.

Notice how, when force was not an issue, as in many places in 1939, it was really only Ireland that didn’t throw in with Britain.

REPLY

Stephan Kinsella July 5, 2009 at 1:05 pm

See some of the great comments to my post The Murdering, Thieving, Enslaving, Unlibertarian Continental Army, including this one by Bob Kaercher:

“I understand that you are an anarcho-libertarian, and therefore you view the very existence of the state to be a criminal act. But there are a great many libertarians who do not come to the same conclusion you do about that.”

Well that’s a given, and largely beside the point. Most libertarians who identify themselves as anarchist are well aware that they are a (albeit growing and progressively more vocal) minority in the movement. But whether or not a “great many libertarians” reach the same conclusions about a given claim has no bearing on the correctness or incorrectness of the claim itself.

I’ve also come across some minarchists who think a “limited” amount of taxation is permissible to maintain the minimal “night watchman” state, and I’ve also come across other minarchists who are adamantly opposed to taxation. But there is a burden on both of these “limited government” camps to reconcile the self-contradiction of their respective positions.

First we need to ask ourselves, what is taxation? Well, taxation is theft. Even if only a few people in society don’t want the so-called “services” provided by a government and therefore don’t want to pay the taxes that fund them, those few people are being robbed and that is morally wrong. Even those who say they don’t mind paying taxes are being robbed because they’ve never been given a choice in the first place and so their “consent” is meaningless considering that they’ve never been in the position of being free to reject government “services” and taxation. (On this, see Rad Geek’s excellent blog post, “Can Anybody Ever Consent to the State?” http://radgeek.com/gt/2009/01/08/can_anybody/)

So the minarchist who defends limited taxation to maintain their ideally minimal state is in the morally awkward position of defending “limited” theft and bullying. Sort of like proposing that a mugger be allowed to regularly steal only a few bucks out of your wallet each time they put their gun to your head instead of simply denouncing mugging.

The minarchists who defend the concept of a “limited” state and at the same time denounce taxation and instead propose strictly voluntary donations put themselves in the awkward position of defending something that simply does not comport with reality: If a government is run solely on donations, then people are free not to donate and instead seek similar services from other agencies competing in the market, which makes the minimal “government” no government at all but a market competitor. This is, in effect, market anarchy. If an agency initiates force against individuals in order to maintain itself as the only “provider” of certain protective services and establish itself as a “limited” government (in other words, a “limited” monopoly), then this calls into question the minarchist’s commitment to a gov’t being “limited” if he defends this. (On this, see the late Roy Childs’ open letter to Ayn Rand: http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig4/childs1.html)

As for the Tea Parties, I don’t think it’s necessarily contradictory for an anarchist to support and attend these rallies, though that may depend upon the overall character of each rally. Based on what I’ve read, most of those things devolve into being more “Support The Troops” rallies than rallying cries against taxation (mass slaughter by government is funded by taxes–Surprise!!!), but there may be genuine opportunities for anarchists to make some progress in persuading sincerely anti-tax people to take their principles to their logical conclusion and adopt the anarchist view. Of course, some of these rallies may be less fertile grounds for such anarcho-conversion than others seeing as how they are organized and funded by the pro-Big Government GOP.

The fact of the matter is that probably 98% of people today would be utterly shocked by proposals for a government-less society. We anarchists shouldn’t let that restrict ourselves, especially when we see the opportunity to connect with some people who are genuinely outraged by at least some government policies to at least some degree. What’s the sense of singing only to the choir?

REPLY

Gil July 6, 2009 at 1:29 am

Why can’t a State form voluntarily, S. Kinsella? Why can’t a group of people start off in a land where they decide they want a government, a constitution and (hopefully) some sort of representative democracy that allow a change in politicians to (hopefully) stop abuse of the system? From then on immigrants can hardly complain since they chose to move. Children can’t complain (because you don’t get to choose your birthplace let alone your parents) but they can emigrate if they like. How would such a State be wrong? How would it be different from a migrant traversing a land filled with private property owners to which he must follow rules and pay rent to the private owners if he wants to stay anywhere?

“If a government is run solely on donations, then people are free not to donate and instead seek similar services from other agencies competing in the market, which makes the minimal ‘government’ no government at all but a market competitor.”

You might be surprised (or maybe not) at Libertarians who actually argue this and I too have given the same response yet they think a ‘voluntary government’ is somehow different.

At the end of the day, doesn’t Mel Gibson ask the hard question to freedom seekers in movies such as The Patriot and Braveheart? Could you really want freedom that bad that you’d actually physically do something about it? Would you really be to literally fight in the vein that the 2nd Amendment supposedly means? After all, it’s clear in the movie The Patriot, the ‘patriot’ was obviously Heath Ledger’s character not Mel Gibson’s. Gabriel (Ledger) was for the cause from the start whilst Benjamin (Gibson) only cared when the fight got personal. There’s nothing stop people from ganging up and marching to the White House and dragging out the occupants and start real change other than lack of will.

REPLY

nate-m July 4, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Why can’t a State form voluntarily, S. Kinsella?

Well, generally, they simply do not. To avoid any confusion: We are talking about ‘The State’, as in ‘state government’, which describes the individuals that make up the machinery of the state. Military, police, politicians, judges, bureaucrats, etc.

From then on immigrants can hardly complain since they chose to move. Children can’t complain (because you don’t get to choose your birthplace let alone your parents) but they can emigrate if they like.

That sort of stuff is the exact opposite of ‘voluntary’, right? I mean except for the small group of people at the beginning, which were a minority themselves, it’s completely involuntary.

How would such a State be wrong? How would it be different from a migrant traversing a land filled with private property owners to which he must follow rules and pay rent to the private owners if he wants to stay anywhere?

Because instead of dealing with individuals and voluntary exchanges regarding their private property your dealing with a state government that violates all those people’s private property and will restrict your movement and do everything to extract taxes from you, involuntary.

There are potentially other forms of ‘government’ besides ‘state government’.

REPLY

Ball July 6, 2009 at 1:53 am

Wait…so we would have been better off had we not declared independence?

Had we not declared independence from the British Empire, we would have suffered their paternalistic BS laws much like many other British colonies. (not to mention, now, the U.K. itself) You may not appreciate the modest measure of freedoms we have enjoyed here, but compare that to the chaos of lawless gun-restricted British colonies in the Caribbean, the ruthless gunboat diplomacy in SE Asia, and not least of all the economic calamities of African colonies, now nations.

B-b-but it isn’t a libertarian utopia blah blah…well no shit! You’re never going to see that DECLARED any more than anyone has declared a market in anything which isn’t cartelized. The politics of the day was a compromise between selfish, distrustful fiefdoms as it ALWAYS WILL BE because it is necessarily so! Nature abhors a vacuum and no sooner would there be anarchy than there would be some douche taking advantage of it. Only a self-interested fief has the interest and specialization to defend itself against another. What, you think we’re going to take up arms out of civic duty every time some douche forms a gang (which would be always)?

I am anti-state, but no student of history can write such tripe. To be anti-state is to be anti-cartel. Independence, alone, helps in this effort by breaking up the Empire (until we were reigned back in via debt instruments). However, the Founders, the self-interested untrusting fiefdoms, accomplished far more in creating a federated power-devolved system. It was a good solution for the times and kept the major empire-building douchebags off our back for more than a century.

You have a lot to learn from the authors of the passages you deride.

REPLY

Ball July 6, 2009 at 2:15 am

>So everyone seems to assume. England’s “tyranny” was trivial compared to Washington’s.

Bullsh*t!

That’s news to Ireland, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, “India”, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Borneo, China, South Africa…the sun never set on Pax Britannica and they had gunboats to make sure large corporate interests were served. To make a tiny example, they promised the Philippines independence then promptly massacred 200,000 of them. They didn’t drop bombs like in Iraq, but it wasn’t any less brutal.

This reminds me of Rothbard’s analysis of the cold war where he laid more blame on the Russians. Why? Because he was more familiar with American policy! People always demonize the devil they know.

That doesn’t make any of it good by any stretch of the imagination, but your blanket statement is just flat out false. We may have invented modern total war during our civil war, and many methods of efficient killing and destruction, but our largest total was 3mil in Vietnam which the British empire can easily match. Hell, the 7 years war alone cost 1.4mil.

Finally, until the world can better defend themselves from imperialists, we will have empire.

REPLY

P.M.Lawrence July 6, 2009 at 2:55 am

Ball wrote “Wait…so we would have been better off had we not declared independence? Had we not declared independence from the British Empire, we would have suffered their paternalistic BS laws much like many other British colonies. (not to mention, now, the U.K. itself) You may not appreciate the modest measure of freedoms we have enjoyed here, but compare that to the chaos of lawless gun-restricted British colonies in the Caribbean, the ruthless gunboat diplomacy in SE Asia, and not least of all the economic calamities of African colonies, now nations.”

This completely omits that all these things stem from the accelerated end of empire after two world wars under duress from… the USA. Where that didn’t supervene, the historical record is clear that things were better under British rule than in the USA. That’s why, for example, Canada paid close attention to the US example when working out what to go for in (independent) Dominion status: not as a model, but as an awful warning of mistakes to avoid.

Then Ball wrote of ‘So everyone seems to assume. England’s [sic] “tyranny” was trivial compared to Washington’s’, ‘Bullsh*t! That’s news to Ireland, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, “India”, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Borneo, China, South Africa…the sun never set on Pax Britannica and they had gunboats to make sure large corporate interests were served. To make a tiny example, they promised the Philippines independence then promptly massacred 200,000 of them.’

Over and above what I just mentioned about the US role in this, Britain never ruled Rwanda, Ethiopia, Borneo or China (apart from Hong Kong and – briefly – similar exclaves, and a brief period in part of Borneo after the Second World War, setting up for independence), let alone the Philippines. And, as for the rest, it would indeed be news to them – because Britain was always as hands off as practical, while the USA was always all about making others over in its own image (like the French). Ireland is a possible exception, but in that case Britain was caught up by outside forces and an inheritor rather than a driver of the situation (I write this as a descendant of active Irish nationalists; my great-uncle Leopold Kerney was the diplomat who conducted discussions with the Germans about the possible recovery of Ulster). It’s also worth noticing that “corporate”, here, can only refer to the specialised chartered companies that were specifically set up to get at the areas concerned instead of having British involvement (e.g. the North Borneo Company), and does not mean the same as today; Britain generally did not have corporations then.

As for “We may have invented modern total war during our civil war, and many methods of efficient killing and destruction, but our largest total was 3mil in Vietnam which the British empire can easily match. Hell, the 7 years war alone cost 1.4mil.”

Even if that were true, the blame sheets home to Austria and Prussia, not Britain.

REPLY

KP July 6, 2009 at 7:54 am

Kinsella, you are assuming that the US(colonies) would not try to succeed when the abolition of slavery was implemented in Britain and British colonies in 1833. 30 or so odd years before the civil war.

Also you are assuming that the US would look how it is currently, but the expansion of US territories included much land that was not Englands, but were from Spain and France. So the purchase of the Louisiana, or Alaska, may not have been accomplished by Britain.

Finally, the constitution in its final form was a compromise, it has both limited government and a strong central government within its writing. Our founding fathers were not all anarchist or tyrants but people who ideals were all incorporated within the declaration of independence and the constitution. And for those who would argue about slavery and the status in the declaration of independence(written by Thomas Jefferson, a slave owner), should read the first draft where close to 80 lines were removed by many founding fathers who were slave owners before the final draft.

REPLY

DS July 6, 2009 at 8:01 am

“I’ve also come across some minarchists who think a “limited” amount of taxation is permissible to maintain the minimal “night watchman” state, and I’ve also come across other minarchists who are adamantly opposed to taxation. But there is a burden on both of these “limited government” camps to reconcile the self-contradiction of their respective positions. ”

“One percent tax paid to a distant King over the ocean sound appealing, anyone? ”

Apparently self-contradiction is in the eye of the beholder.

So, a little taxation is OK, as long as its done from a distance by a monarch, but all taxation is theft and wrong? Your line of reasoning seems to be that the King only charged a little tax but the taxation was much higher in America 130 years later once the Constitution was amended to allow it.

A self-proclaimed anarcho-capitalist (of course, a true anarcho-capitalist would find the British Empire an appalling abomination) touting the benefits of one government over another is kind of like a vegetarian arguing that steak is better than chicken. I think what is really going on here is that you hate chicken so much that you would gladly eat steak just to spite chicken, claims of vegetarianism be damned.

REPLY

darjen July 6, 2009 at 8:23 am

DS,
yes, of course the British empire was apalling. that doesn’t change, though, that the burden of government on the people is less under a king. you really should read hoppe’s book, which thoroughly explains why. and that goes for everyone else who has criticized kinsella.

REPLY

Bob Kaercher July 6, 2009 at 12:16 pm

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.

REPLY

Ball July 6, 2009 at 1:32 pm

P.M.Lawrence wrote “This completely omits that all these things stem from the accelerated end of empire after two world wars under duress from… the USA. Where that didn’t supervene, the historical record is clear that things were better under British rule than in the USA. That’s why, for example, Canada paid close attention to the US example when working out what to go for in (independent) Dominion status: not as a model, but as an awful warning of mistakes to avoid.”

I fail to see how the USA is responsible for either world war. We didn’t have a single thing to do with WW1 prior to 1917 except supplying munitions. We did PROLONG the war and help set the stage for the raping of Germany, but you seem to imply that we started it or somehow dragged the UK into it. As for WW2, again, we weren’t in Europe enforcing the Versailles treaty, were we? The most you can claim is some banks in the US were funding the Nazis and the Allies, but how does being a British colony prevent that? Would we be too poor to lend money?

You mention Canada, and yet I have to wonder how you can claim they’ve made fewer “mistakes.” You mention both world wars, but Canada participated in both and bled heavily. They also followed the US lock-step in the Cold War. As for civil rights, the Canadian government didn’t even recognize any area of Canadian life which they did not have dominion until 1960 (100 years since it existed). Perhaps you think this would have been wholly unnecessary had they not confederated in the first place.

I have to scratch my head as to what measure you deem Canadians better off. Sure, they’ve invaded fewer nations, but mostly because they’ve been too poor to do so and have had to deal with internal conflicts and regulatory policy. Had they been as rich, they would have caused as much evil—treating the world like they did aboriginals.

Sure, things look better for Canada now that they’re paying down debts and have oil to sell, but they were hardest hit by the Great Depression and outdid the New Deal by leaps and bounds. Things were so bad Newfoundland wanted out. Things didn’t improve until the 1960s, thanks mainly due to trade with the industrialized USA and its insatiable hunger for natural resources.

What mistake did they avoid again?

REPLY

Bob Kaercher July 6, 2009 at 2:35 pm

I find some of the references here to British paternalism and their BS laws rather amusing, considering the abysmal state of the paternalistic BS laws that have been enacted here in the US since 1776. We’re constanyly taxed for this, that and the other thing all “for our own good” because we’re just not as smart as all those gubmint boys and gals in Washington who know what’s best for the rest of us.

The very best that can probably be said for the secession from the British Empire as United States vis a vis liberty is that it’s turned out be a wash. Which is no improvement at all.

REPLY

Brendan Trainor July 6, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Mr Kinsella’s pov is well worth considering. I think he takes too broad brush to paint all the founders as “racists” when some were not, but indeed they compromised on the issue for the sake of unity.

I too rebel against the myths that surround the Constitution. If the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land, why are there no punishments for passing laws in violation of it? If Congress passes unconstitutional laws, shouldn’t those who sponsored it or voted for it have to suffer some punishment?

The English Constitution (unwritten, traditional common law) does not specify the taxing powers of Parliament. Our Constitution does. It talks about direct taxes, excises, imposts, duties, all fully enshrined as Constitutional and therefore always “on the table”.

The Sixteenth Amendment only imposed income taxes as excise taxes, but no one in government wants to enforce that. Libertarians all too often throw up their hands and refuse to admit that truth. So even the Constitutional taxation distinctions are lost because a piece of paper backed up by the guns of the state cannot hold the greed back.

People go to prison defending the old rag, but politicians get reelected for trashing it.

Technology, not constitutions, are the hope for libertarians

REPLY

fundamentalist July 6, 2009 at 3:53 pm

Brendan: “…why are there no punishments for passing laws in violation of it?”

When Congress, the President and the Supreme Court all agree to rape the Constitution, that leaves just the American people to defend it, and they have abdicated. They abdicated because the state bribed them with promises of taking from the rich and giving to them. Envy triumphed over morality and law. But then, that’s the history of mankind.

REPLY

Yossarian July 6, 2009 at 4:11 pm

A hint of what the founding fathers had in mind was that right after declaring that all men are created equal, the term “the governed” is used. You can be governed without your consent or you can be governed with your consent, but by God you WILL be governed.

REPLY

Jeros July 6, 2009 at 7:51 pm

Dammit to hell Steven,

I don’t agree with every point you make, but after giving them honest consideration and accepting the implications for those I cannot refute, the futility of the situation sure has me depressed.

How does one offset the feeling of helplessness that is the side affect of knowing every block used to construct one’s world view is made of sugar cubes?

How do you people cope?!?! Shouldn’t this website display some sort of disclaimer warning of possible mental damages associated with the collapse of ones reality?

REPLY

Lucie July 6, 2009 at 8:04 pm

um….forgive me, but did you expect perfection from imperfect Founders? Most would agree that the world is not perfect, and America is not perfect, but in my experience, our system of government seems to produce LESS tyranny and bloodshed. Not NONE by any means. Anyone can criticize, but realisic, compassionate suggestions for improvement take guts. I didn’t see a whole lot of that in your article.

REPLY

Nuke Gray July 6, 2009 at 9:37 pm

The trouble with many people is that they seem to expect one answer will satisfy all people, and then nothing will need to be done, ever again! In “Atlas Shrugged”, Galt’s Strike is supposed to permanently reform the statist society, and future ages will never revert to statism or lootism. As If!!!
What we need is a permanent resistance movement, resisting all intrusions by any state beyond the rights that we might grant to the state. I am working on a novel, but the central ‘villain’ is a group of libertarians who call themselves Underdogs United, with the motto ‘Liberating Victimless Underdogs’. They act as an insurance firm for black marketeers. I.E., drug-dealers can take out insurance against getting caught, and they’ll be rescued by trained professionals if the cops do catch them- or get money deposited into their accounts for every day ‘inside’.
Whether it is feasible, or not, the idea of an in-place libertarian resistance movement is one we can all use.

REPLY

P.M.Lawrence July 6, 2009 at 10:31 pm

Ball wrote of my “This completely omits that all these things stem from the accelerated end of empire after two world wars under duress from… the USA. Where that didn’t supervene, the historical record is clear that things were better under British rule than in the USA. That’s why, for example, Canada paid close attention to the US example when working out what to go for in (independent) Dominion status: not as a model, but as an awful warning of mistakes to avoid.”, “I fail to see how the USA is responsible for either world war. We didn’t have a single thing to do with WW1 prior to 1917 except supplying munitions. We did PROLONG the war and help set the stage for the raping of Germany, but you seem to imply that we started it or somehow dragged the UK into it…”

That’s a straw man. I was not commenting the World Wars, but on his “Had we not declared independence from the British Empire, we would have suffered their paternalistic BS laws much like many other British colonies. (not to mention, now, the U.K. itself) You may not appreciate the modest measure of freedoms we have enjoyed here, but compare that to the chaos of lawless gun-restricted British colonies in the Caribbean, the ruthless gunboat diplomacy in SE Asia, and not least of all the economic calamities of African colonies, now nations” – which he omitted from my quotation above.

His ‘You mention Canada, and yet I have to wonder how you can claim they’ve made fewer “mistakes.”‘ is also a straw man.

I made no such claim. I claimed that Canada drew on US experience not as a model but as an awful warning of particular mistakes to avoid. Canada managed to avoid the structures that fed regional civil war – even though there was even more regional difference.

“Sure, things look better for Canada now that they’re paying down debts and have oil to sell, but they were hardest hit by the Great Depression and outdid the New Deal by leaps and bounds. Things were so bad Newfoundland wanted out.”

That’s plain wrong. Newfoundland wasn’t even in Canada. What Newfoundland sought then was a closer connection to the UK. It actually joined Canada after the Second World War.

“What mistake did they avoid again?” is a nonsense. Go and look, since you are uninformed and won’t be told.

REPLY

nuke gray July 7, 2009 at 2:40 am

Could you fix the flag? You left off some diagonal red lines on the white diagonals.
Take a blue flag, put a white diagonal cross on it, and a red diagonal cross within that cross, then put a white non-diagonal cross on top of those, and add a red cross on top of that, over all the others. What is so hard?

REPLY

J.K. Baltzersen July 7, 2009 at 3:45 am

“nike gray”:

Could you fix the flag?

I’m afraid the flag is the right one. It was introduced in 1707, and it contains the crosses of St. George (England) and St. Andrew (Scotland). The cross of St. Patrick (Ireland) was added later (1801).

REPLY

Tatiana Covington September 17, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Headline from a future alternate history:

CANADA, UNITED STATES MERGE!
Parliament Expands for 51 New Provinces
King Henry IX Says: “Welcome Back!”

REPLY

J. Patrick March 16, 2011 at 5:38 pm

And this is what happens when non-historians try to analyze history. Using the Declaration of Independence as the lynch pin that plunged the world into all the evils of statism and war that has ravaged civilization since the 18th c. is purely counterfactual, which any historian will tell you is basically a mental circle jerk. You have no evidence to say that things would have been better had America stayed in the British Empire, that’s pure speculation. It fails to consider the myriad factors that have influenced every single event of history since the Revolution. You do a poor job of setting up a direct correlation between the Declaration and the evils you decry. Merely saying that there’s a connection does not make it so.

You also seem to know very little about what the crown and Parliament were actually doing towards the colonies. Taxation was the last straw that broke the colonists’ back, but it certainly wasn’t the only one. Fears of an Anglican bishopric being installed in New England, Parliament’s vetoes of certain northern colonies (Connecticut, for example) trying to ban the importation of slaves prior to 1776, the loss of due process (taking colonists to Canada or England for trials instead of having the trial in the location of the crime), writs of assistance that were written on the spot that gave royal authorities permission to search your house, raising a standing army among the people –all these non-economic issues also pressed upon the colonists to break from the realm.

As for economics, I’m not sure where your 1% figure comes from. But for someone who supposedly supports free trade, how can you endorse the mercantilist policy of the crown?

Have you ever heard of any of these Parliamentary acts?

Navigation Act of 1651
Enumerated Commodities Act of 1660
Act of Frauds 1662
Staple Act of 1663
Plantation Duty Act of 1673
Navigation Act of 1696
Act for Suppressing Piracy, 1699
Woolens Act of 1699
Amendments and additional regulations added to the Enumerated Commodities Act in 1704
Naval Stores Act 1705
Coinage Act of 1708
Post Office Act of 1710
Broad Arrow Act of 1711
Artificers Act of 1718
Amendments and additional regulations added to the Enumerated Commodities Act in 1721
Broad Arrow Act of 1722
Six-penny Duty Act of 1729
Debt Act of 1732
Hat Act of 1732
Molasses Act of 1733
Iron Act of 1750

Of course, this is followed by:

Stamp Act of 1765
Declaratory Act of 1766 (more on this)
Townshend Acts of 1767
Broad Arrow Act of 1772
Coercive Acts of 1774 (you gotta love the name of this one)

These laws required that all ships entering American ports be built in England, manned by English crews, goods from foreign countries coming into the colonies had to go through England first to pay a duty, the colonists could not buy sugar, rum and molasses from non-English colonies in the Caribbean, and when they did buy from other English colonies they still paid a duty to the crown. Certain acts, like the Hat Act, restricted how many apprentices a hat maker could have (limiting the size of his business) and banned the export of any hats made in the colonies to England. The colonies were not allowed to entice artisans to leave England to emigrate to America, the tallest trees in New England were marked and reserved to be sent to England for the ship building business there; the New England shipbuilding business had to use the trees that the royal authorities did not pick for themselves. Raw wool produced in the colonies was banned from export and intercolonial trade.

Even some of the Acts, like the Iron Act, that seems like it benefits the colonies (the iron act dropped duties on exports of raw pig and bar iron from the colonies to England) really works against them. Raw iron could be produced in the colonies, but finished iron goods were banned. When the colonists purchased finished iron goods, they had to buy them from England and pay the duty, even though the raw iron had originally come from the colonies. How anyone can argue in support of these policies is ridiculous.

The act that was most foreboding to the colonists was the Declaratory Act of 1766, which affirmed that Parliament “had, hath, and of right ought to have, full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America … in all cases whatsoever.” This act was almost identical to the Dependency of Ireland Act of 1719, upon which the Penal Laws were based, and which effectively enslaved the Irish people in their own land. There was no reason to believe that two laws, which had identical wording, would lead to a different result if the American colonies acquiesced to Parliament’s power. England had long viewed the colonies as others in the realm, and not as equal English citizens.

In 1776, independence was fully justified. What happened after that independence was achieved is another story, one that is worthy of criticism. But blaming the state of things today on that one event is like blaming someone who dies in a car accident for leaving the house in the morning. It’s casually related, in the sense that each event happens chronologically before the next, but that’s the furthest the connection can be made. Leaving the house is no more the blame for a car accident victim’s death than declaring independence in 1776 can be held responsible for the wrongs that have come through the US govt.

I find it interesting, and telling, that you decided to wade into 18th c. history and make a claim, yet you have very little primary evidence from the period you are criticizing to support that criticism.

Let’s not even get started on the motto of the British monarchy, “Dieu et mon droit” (God and my right), which was the basis that the monarchy used for its power over the realm.

There are very specific methodological approaches to analyzing history and having an arguable interpretation. This blog article is a good example of what happens when you don’t follow that methodology.

REPLY

Xavier Méra July 4, 2011 at 10:28 pm

I do not understand. What happened to the case for libertarian decentralism? Why does it not apply anymore, suddenly, without explanation except for all the bad things that followed independence (assuming they are necessarily related to the independence, which is not necessarily obvious)? Plus you link to one of your post where “libertarian centralism” is supposed to be wrongheaded, as usual. That’s confusing to say the least. Certainly, if one can say independence was a mistake given what happened after or could happen after, this test can be applied to any past example or prospect for secession. It becomes a case by case empirical question if secession was or is to be encouraged. And “libertarian centralism” is no more suspect than “libertarian decentralism” a priori. Or did I miss something?

REPLY

Stephan Kinsella July 4, 2011 at 11:21 pm

It is all ceteris paribus.

REPLY

Xavier Méra July 6, 2011 at 1:46 am

Ok. But then it all depends on these things which happen not to be ceteris paribus in reality. So what is supposed to differentiate the libertarian centralist from the decentralist except a different assessment in some particular case of what was better or worse between a more or less centralized power structure?

And how all of this is compatible with the apparently systematic decentralist position you had before, such as when you were writing among other things that “I also think shifting power up, more centrally, in the hopes that the central decision-maker will be “better” than the lower levesl of government is unlibertarian and naive.” http://blog.mises.org/3683/libertarian-centralists/ If one does not hold things ceteris paribus, it is conceivable that some central decision makers will be less oppressive than local ones. Certainly, if one thinks that things would have been better under British rule, one must certainly hold this view. But then one cannot say that expecting a less oppressive regime from centralization is typically unlibertarian and naive as a general rule. It would depend on the specific actors and circumstances involved. Otherwise, expecting nicer things from the British empire than a separated US government would be unlibertarian and naive. So what am I missing here?

Share
{ 9 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.

Leave a Reply

© 2012-2022 StephanKinsella.com CC0 To the extent possible under law, Stephan Kinsella has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to material on this Site, unless indicated otherwise. In the event the CC0 license is unenforceable a  Creative Commons License Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License is hereby granted.

-- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright

%d bloggers like this: