I must constantly make clear that these are not lefty-rants I am offering. If you think that, then you are seeking comfort in reassuring delusions. You are not actually reading or exploring, and you are not trying to see things from a fresh angle. (As if this "you" applies to any of the modernists who haunt this place! ;-)
In fact, I'm a big promoter of market-based solutions to problems. Like many of my honest-modernist conservative friends, I deeply believe that expanding a sense of market involvement among the world's poor will help us all. My paper on accountability arenas focuses specifically on the vital importance of Liberal Competition, not only markets but also science, democracy and courts, which enhance progress through reciprocal accountability. ("Liberal" in this case is in the classic and truer usage, going back 200 years.)
But that's the point. Mystical Propertarianism is not about markets. Nor is it about achieving practical aims; like reducing deficits, propelling research, spurring the economy, stimulating investment, or any of the other surface rationalizations.
No, Propertarianism is a romantic-dogma, a faith-based cult that pushes an agenda of cheating markets in order to re-establish the traditional aristocratic social order.
And make no mistake, you cannot avoid the historic fact. I will reiterate it till you yell uncle! Across 4,000 years, vastly more markets were destroyed by aristocratic cheaters than were ever destroyed by socialists.
May I re-state this in a clear historical illustration?
Let's go back in time to the origins of the insipid and horrifically stupid left-right-political-axis which is currently hobbling all subtlety in 21st Century social thinking. At least back when it started, left-vs-right bore some marginal relevance... to the French Assembly in 1789, right after it was formed out of the older Estates General.
What were the Estates General?
In 1789, facing bankruptcy, Louis XVI called the Estates General in a desperate hope of raising money. The Estates General had three chambers, one for each of society's three "estates" or status groups. The nobility, the churchmen (including vastly wealthy monastic orders), and the commoners. Of these three, only commoners paid taxes - lots of them - even though the aristocracy and monasteries held nearly all the land and money.
Louis had already erected walls around French cities to collect levies and tariffs on goods entering and leaving... a restraint of trade that we now know to have been impoverishing madness. Every other attempt to squeeze the farmers and tradesmen and workers proved just as counterproductive... as British mercantilism had only spurred the American colonies to revolt.
Now, in desperation, Louis turned to the gentry and bishops and monks, asking them to vote an end to their tax exempt status.
A few saw what was happening and were willing. Most dug in their heels, calling it "Our money"... or "our ancient privilege"... or "God's money"... The few who weren't blind walked across a tennis court and joined the Commons in forming the new Assembly. But it was too little, too late, to stanch the anger - and the rage.
I could cite a myriad other examples - from Czarist Russia to the Old South - from Babylon to Charles I - but the pattern is simply too common, too banal, too predictable... and yet too-commonly ignored.
It is human nature for dogmatists and aristocrats to join forces, finding lovely phrases and justifications for taking over the machinery of the state and then using it (and the distraction of war) to enforce a pyramidal hierarchy of privilege. Suppressing true markets and finding excuses to quash competition from the lower orders. Taxing everybody but themselves. Granting themselves contracts and/or even gifts from the state treasury. Justifying secrecy and closed courts and cronyism and evasion of every kind of accountability.
It is - alas - boring old human nature. Church and nobles and the State - wedded against the people who make and build and think and grow and toil. Remember, this is me talking, not some socialist. So you cannot dismiss this as a socialist rant. You know it is what nearly always happened. And you know it's happening now.
In fact, the only surprising thing is that - for a few hundred years - we seemed to evade this repetitious pattern... of aristocrats combining with clergy to take over government and use it for their own ends. Destroying markets because true markets engender upward mobility. Wrapping themselves in the flag. Evading accountability. Thinking themselves smart, while their every move is too staggeringly stupid to believe.
===Continue to Part IV
or return to Part 1 of this series
See also: Class War and the Lessons of History