- Condy Raguet (1784-1842) was also a staunch critic of government fiat paper money in his Treatise on Currency and Banking (1839).
- We now have a third representative of the 19th century American free trade movement online to add to Henry George (1839-1897) and William Graham Sumner (1840-1910), namely Condy Raguet (1784-1842). Their arch intellectual foe was Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804) who defended government funded infra-structure projects and high tariffs (the so-called "American System") in his Report on Manufactures (1791) and whose ideas dominated American economic policy for over a century. Why hasn't anybody made a musical about Condy Raguet? I wrote a screenplay about the life and times of Fréréric Bastiat. (with images)
- Condy Raguet, The Principles of Free Trade (1835)
- William Graham Sumner, Protectionism. The -Ism which Teaches that Waste makes Wealth (1885)
- Henry George, Protection or Free Trade (1886)
- William Graham Sumner (1840-1910) spent much of his life attacking the fallacies and sophisms of tariffs and the system of protectionism in the United States. He was active in the rather small American free trade movement for whom he gave lectures and wrote pamphlets. In his approach and his rhetoric he was very much in the tradition of Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) referring to the “sophisms” of protectionism and the “plunder” which benefited some vested interests at the expense of ordinary consumers and tax-payers (his “forgotten” men and women). See his Lectures on the History of Protection in the United States (1877), Protectionism. The -Ism which Teaches that Waste makes Wealth (1885), and his overview of free trade “Liberté des Échanges” (1891) which was never translated into English.
- Ever since Marcus Junius Brutus (88-42 BC) stabbed Julius Caesar to death in 44 BC, people have been asking is it right to kill a tyrant and, if so, when and by whom. The question was especially important for the Levellers who participated in the trial and execution of King Charles I in 1649 and who also opposed the growing powers of the “Protector” Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) who replaced him. The radical Leveller “agitator” Edward Sexby (ft. 1642–1667) defended the right of the people to assassinate a tyrant in 1657 in the pamphlet “Killing, no Murder” (in which he had Cromwell in mind). We have put this pamphlet online, along with some other pamphlets by him and his contribution to the Putney Debates in Oct/Nov. 1647 where he defended the rights of the ordinary soliders, as well as two critics of him, an anonymous author and Michael Hawke, both of whom agreed that killing a king, even a bad one, was murder. Here Sexby is very much in the tradition of the French “monarchomach” theorists (from the Greek μόναρχος and μάχομαι, meaning “those who fight against monarchs”) who emerged during the French Wars of Religion in the late 16th century, such as François Hotman (1524–1590), Théodore de Bèze (1519–1605), Simon Goulart (1543–1628), Nicolas Barnaud (1538–1604), Hubert Languet (1518–1581), Philippe de Mornay (1549–1623) and George Buchanan (1506–1582). See:
- England had Herbert Spencer (1820-1903); France had Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912); and America had William Graham Sumner (1840-1910). All three did pioneering work in the emerging discipline of “sociology”, were radical classical liberals (libertarians), and were active in popularizing their ideas via journalism. Sumner was a professor of sociology at Yale University who wrote on free trade and protection, sound money and banking, and was an outspoken member of the American Anti-Imperialist League. His work on classical liberal class analysis should also be mentioned, where he championed the interests of “The Forgotten Man and Woman” who paid the taxes which made it possible for the various vested interest groups, both large (plutocrats and party bosses) and small (those who sought government jobs), to enjoy their privileged position. Sumner also wrote several works against the theory and practice of socialism. In his view the great clash of the future would be between socialists from below and plutocrats from above, with the “forgotten” man and woman caught in the middle.We have online four volumes of his collected essays, his major treatise on sociology, and several other works:
- some more Leveller pamphlets (29 items), this time by William Walwyn (c.1600-1680), to add to our collection of works by John Lilburne (24 items) and Richard Overton (23)
- A good counterpoint to Mises' theoretical critique of Socialism (1922) is the work of the Scottish economist and poet Alexander Gray (1882-1968) The Socialist Tradition: Moses To Lenin (1946). He provides a comprehensive history of socialism which is peppered with his great insight, deep learning, and sceptical and witty observations. See for example his chapter on Fichte.
- German “idealism” could produce a liberal like Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) or authoritarian statists like Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814) and Georg Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831). It seemed that the “absolute idealism” of the latter two thinkers resulted in a new form of “absolute government” rule. In the case of Fichte he wrote the little known Der geschlossene Handelsstaat (The Closed Commercial State) (1800) in which he argued for a centrally planned economy one hundred years ahead of its time [auf deutsch in HTML and facs. PDF]. He was reacting to the economic impact of the Napoleonic Wars on the fragmented German states and the rise of England as an industrial and commercial power. In France, the same concerns led the liberal Jean-Baptiste Say to write his Treatise on Political Economy (1803) [HTML] in which he advocated the exact opposite, the most “open commercial state” imaginable.
- 100 years ago Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) demolished the very foundations upon which socialism rested. In 1920 he wrote an essay on the difficulties (or indeed impossibility) of rational "Economic Calculation" in a socialst economy [English and German] and in 1922 a large book on Socialism in which he braodened his critique of socialism into the most devasting one ever written. We are putting the later online (or rather the 2nd. edition of 1932) in German in HTML and facs. PDF
- By the mid-1920s Mises had expanded his critique of Bolshevik central planning into a more general theory of "Interventionismus" or "interventionism" by which he meant any large-scale government intervention in the economy without the direct ownership by the state of all private property and the means of production (such as factories and farms). He began with an article on “Interventionismus” (1926) [HTML auf deutsch] which he expanded and developed over the years in a series of further articles and books. He had in mind (in chronological order) the policy of "Kriegssozialismus" (war socialism) pursued in Germany during WW1, the policy of economic "autarchy" (national self-sifficiency) pursued by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s, and the policies of most western nations after WW2, namely Keynesian inspired interventionism concerning interest rates and the supply of money, as well as the interventionism and redistribution of wealth required to build the welfare state.
- as part of my ongoing commemoration of Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912)'s bicentennial, I have added HTML versions of his three major sociological works (and one later summary volume) which we already have in facs. PDF. They make a very interesting parallel intellectual achievement to rival that of his contempory radical English liberal Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) and his Principles of Sociology (1874-96). What makes Molinari very unusual is his economic analysis of literally "everything" including marriage and having a family, art, urban development, the behaviour of politicians and bureraucrats (so early public choice theory), why governments often fail in managing economic resources and services like the police and the military, the rise of market institutions over the centuries, the role of war in economic development and the rise of states, and very interesting from my perspective, the emergence of political classes and how they organise and use the state for their own purposes and benefit (he made a fundamental distinction between "les mangeurs des taxes" (the tax eaters) and the tax papyers. He began doing this in his articles for the Dictionnaire de l'économie politique (1852) and later returned to it some 30 years later in the following works:
- L’évolution économique du XIXe siècle: théorie du progrès (Economic Evolution in the 19th Century: A Theory of Progress) (1880) [HTML] and [facs. PDF]
- L’évolution politique et la révolution (Political Evolution and the Revolution) (1884) [HTML] and [facs. PDF]
- Grandeur et decadence de la guerre (The Rise and Fall of War) (1898) [HTML] and [facs. PDF]
- and a final fourth volume which summarises his life's work on this topic: Économie de l’histoire: Théorie de l’Évolution (The Economics of History: A Theory of Evolution) (1908) [HTML] and [facs. PDF]
- the English radical individualist and advocate of "voluntaryism" Auberon Herbert (1838-1906) presented some of the most eloquent visions of what a free society might look like and the moral reasons for rejecting state compulsion in all its forms, in:
- The Right and Wrong of Compulsion by the State: A Statement of the Moral Principles of the Party of Individual Liberty (1885) [HTML and facs. PDF]
- “The Ethics of Dynamite,” Contemporary Review (May 1894) [HTML and facs, PDF]
- The Principles of Voluntaryism and Free Life (1897) [HTML and facs. PDF]
- The Voluntaryist Creed and A Plea For Voluntaryism (1908) [HTML and facs. PDF]
- Burke's attack on the principles of the French Revolution was quickly responded to by Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) who wrote not one but two "Vindications" - one vindicating the rights of men (1790) [HTML] and the other extending her response to include the rights of women (1792) [HTML].
- A youthful radical indiscretion or an attempt at satire of an opposing view? The 26 year old Edmund Burke (1729-1797) may have made the same mistake as the 20-something Étienne de la Boétie (1530-1563) in his Vindication of Natural Society (1756) in which he, perhaps too cleverly, criticises government or "artificial society" and pushes "logic" to an "unacceptable" extreme (i.e. unacceptable to the ruling elites who might employ him later). We have three editions of this work to help you make up your own mind: 1756, 1757, and 1858 [HTML]. Is this an example of the "battle of the Prefaces"?