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Free Market Capitalism as the Antidote to the World’s Ills

In following the daily news events both in the United States and around the rest of the world, it is easy to get lost in the detail and not step back once and awhile and remind ourselves what the really important issues are. Under the anxiety of a possible nuclear war in Korea, actual terrorist attacks in the Middle East and by seemingly “lone wolves” in other countries, threats of trade wars, and polarizing trends in politics in many places, the real underlying issue is and remains, how should people live together?

Clearly people are not living as harmoniously, peacefully and prosperously as they could, and many of us believe they should. The question is, why? The sophisticates will say that life, politics, and local and global society are complex. It is just the way it is, and we have to just “muddle through” on a daily basis as best we can.  The dreamers of various sorts will point to racism, class conflict, gender wars, the one true religion, or the transcendent ideological purpose. If only their brand of salvation was established all the problems of the world would go away.

All of these conceptions of the solutions to our problems share one thing in common. They invariably involve someone in society imposing their vision and will on the rest of mankind. This is fairly obvious when we turn to the religious or ideological fanatic. Make the world follow my faith or my political utopia or my ideal of a “socially just” society, and then peace and happiness will reign with an end to all the strife dividing humanity.

Element of Coercion in Proposals to Make a Better World

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How Mises Explained the Fall of Rome

How Mises Explained the Fall of Rome

An excerpt from Mises’ classic work, ‘Human Action’.

Observations on the Causes of the Decline of Ancient Civilization

Knowledge of the effects of government interference with market prices makes us comprehend the economic causes of a momentous historical event, the decline of ancient civilization.

It may be left undecided whether or not it is correct to call the economic organization of the Roman Empire capitalism. At any rate it is certain that the Roman Empire in the second century, the age of the Antonines, the “good” emperors, had reached a high stage of the social division of labor and of interregional commerce. What brought about the decline of the empire and the decay of its civilization was the disintegration of this economic interconnectedness.

Several metropolitan centers, a considerable number of middle-sized towns, and many small towns were the seats of a refined civilization. The inhabitants of these urban agglomerations were supplied with food and raw materials not only from the neighboring rural districts, but also from distant provinces. A part of these provisions flowed into the cities as revenue of their wealthy residents who owned landed property. But a considerable part was bought in exchange for the rural population’s purchases of the products of the city-dwellers’ processing activities. There was an extensive trade between the various regions of the vast empire. Not only in the processing industries, but also in agriculture there was a tendency toward further specialization. The various parts of the empire were no longer economically self-sufficient. They were mutually interdependent.

What brought about the decline of the empire and the decay of its civilization was the disintegration of this economic interconnectedness, not the barbarian invasions. The alien aggressors merely took advantage of an opportunity which the internal weakness of the empire offered to them.

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What We Can Do…

What We Can Do…

Until enough people’s minds are changed about coercion and collectivism, resistance is futile. The debate will continue to be about how much should be stolen from whom and for what purpose – rather than about whether anything should be stolen by anyone for any purpose.

As things are, many people believe it is ok to steal from others – provided the stealing is done on their behalf by other people (these are called “tax collectors”) and the stolen goods are called by pleasant but intellectually dishonest, morally evasive names (examples include Social Security, welfare, foreign aid, grants and so on).

Using this technique of doublethink, people are able to do things to other people – or urge they be done to other people, on their behalf – without feeling ashamed or guilty, as they would if they were to do these things themselves, personally.

This “surgical excision” of the psychologically normal human revulsion for other-than-defensive violence and for the use of violence to take things from others is the keystone of the coercive collectivist system. Dislodge it and the whole edifice collapses.

It is that simple – and that hard.

Simple, because the moral principle is already established.

Excluding psychological defectives – the relatively small population in every society that does not feel ashamed or guilty about the use of violence (these people are called “criminals”) most people do feel ashamed and guilty when they steal or resort to violence.

And hence, most people do not steal or resort to violence.

It is a broadly accepted moral principle that theft and violence are wrong things; that those who steal and threaten to harm others in order to get what they want are not good people. This is half the battle, already won.

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Kafka-like Persecution of Julian Assange

Kafka-like Persecution of Julian Assange


The siege of Knightsbridge is both an emblem of gross injustice and a grueling farce. For three years, a police cordon around the Ecuadorean embassy in London has served no purpose other than to flaunt the power of the state. It has cost £12 million (about $18.7 million). The quarry is an Australian charged with no crime, a refugee whose only security is the room given him by a brave South American country. His “crime” is to have initiated a wave of truth-telling in an era of lies, cynicism and war.

The persecution of Julian Assange is about to flare again as it enters a dangerous stage. From Aug. 20, three quarters of the Swedish prosecutor’s case against Assange regarding sexual misconduct in 2010 will disappear as the statute of limitations expires. At the same time Washington’s obsession with Assange and WikiLeaks has intensified. Indeed, it is vindictive American power that offers the greatest threat – as Chelsea Manning and those still held in Guantanamo can attest.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at a media conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo credit: New Media Days / Peter Erichsen)

The Americans are pursuing Assange because WikiLeaks exposed their epic crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq: the wholesale killing of tens of thousands of civilians, which they covered up, and their contempt for sovereignty and international law, as demonstrated vividly in their leaked diplomatic cables.

WikiLeaks continues to expose criminal activity by the U.S., having just published top secret U.S. intercepts – U.S. spies’ reports detailing private phone calls of the presidents of France and Germany, and other senior officials, relating to internal European political and economic affairs.

None of this is illegal under the U.S. Constitution. As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama, a professor of constitutional law, lauded whistleblowers as “part of a healthy democracy [and they] must be protected from reprisal.” In 2012, the campaign to re-elect President Barack Obama boasted on its website that he had prosecuted more whistleblowers in his first term than all other U.S. presidents combined.

 

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