September 2022

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  
Blog powered by Typepad

« American Free Market Dogmatism | Main | Dixit profiled in Finance & Development »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

It's always a little shocking to see what Klein thinks other people think...

My roots are in Smith and Hume, not the guys he mentions. I know Klein likes to cordon off Smith and Hume as best he can, and he's welcome to give it a shot but it doesn't change the extent to which they've influenced me and many, many others.

If I may add, I think that the origin of much of the current conception of the over-arching power of the state is derived from some of the ideas surrounding the French Revolution.

Before the revolution, the King was absolute. He owned all the land and the people on it. Whatever "privileges" were possessed by the individual over himself and physical property was at the "pleasure" of the monarch.

But with the French Revolution, "sovereignty" passed from the absolute King to the absolute "people," in whose name all authority flowed, and on the basis of which all "rights" and "duties" belonging to an individual were given (and could be taken away).

As historian Hans Kohn pointed out in his, "Prelude to Nation-States: The French and German Experience, 1789-1815" (Van Nostrand, 1967) p. 47:

"When on September 29 [1792] Pierre Louis Prieur, the Commissar of the Convention, proclaimed the Republic to the army of the Ardennes, one of the officiers, hearing of the end of the monarchy, asked: 'For whom shall we fight from now on?' Prieur answered: 'You will fight for your homes, for your wives and children, for the nation, for the Republic. If you have neither the wish nor the courage to defend this noble cause, withdraw.'"

Two years later, the Jacobin leader, Barere, declared,

"The Republic must penetrate the souls of citizens through all their senses."

Earlier Barere had made clear what each Frenchman owed his country:

"Some owe [France] her industry, others their fortune, some their advice, others their arms; all owe her their blood. . . . The young men will fight; the married men will forge arms, transport baggage and artillery, and provide subsistence; the women will work at the soldiers' clothing, make tents, and become nurses in the hospitals for the wounded; the children will make lint out of linen; the old men, again performing the mission they had among the ancients, will be carried to the public squares, there to inflame the courage of the young warriors and propagate the hatred of kings and the unity of the republic. The houses of the nation will be turned into barracks, the public squares into workshops, the cellars into factories of gunpowder."

To symbolize that everything was the property of the State to be used for its declared ends, Barere declared:

"The principles that ought to guide parents are that children belong to the general family, to the Republic, before they belong to particular families. The spirit of private families must disappear when the great family calls. You are born for the Republic, and not for the pride or the despotism of families."

Everyone and everything within the boundaries of the country were viewed as the property of the State, which determined their task and use. Children, who by flesh and blood are biological and psychological extensions of the parents who conceived them, were the property of the State to whom first allegiance was owed, to be molded for the ends of the State, which represented Rousseau's "general well" that captured the will and interests of the people as a whole.

In this sense, the "conflict" is between the spirit and ideal of the individual as owning himself (that most intimate of "private properties") as reflected in the American Declaration of Independence, and the spirit and ideal of the individual as the property of the nation-state, as rapidly became the essence and driving force of the French Revolution (after the short-lived "rights of man" in 1789, with its respect for individual liberty, private property, free commerce).

We are still enveloped in the conflict and challenge of these two conceptions of man, society, and State that emerged in the Age of Enlightenment.

Richard Ebeling

His piece confirms my belief that property taxes are rent. Which means there are no real property rights, since the landlord can always throw you out for failing to pay the rent.

"The great political superstition of the past was the divine right of kings. The great political superstition of the present is the divine right of parliaments." Hebert Spencer

Btw, Hebert Spencer was the half-brother of Herbert Spencer who rewrote many of the latter's essays.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Our Books