Liberty and Power Liberty and Power blog brought to you by History News Network. Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:36:23 +0000 Zend_Feed_Writer 2.1.3 (http://framework.zend.com) http://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/author/32 editor@hnn.us (History News Network) History News Network Of Irish Famines, Slavery, and the libeling of laissez-faire In a recent column for the Washington Post, political scientist Henry Farrell attempted to lay part of the blame of two notorious historical events on what he sees as a “laissez faire” mentality that operates at the expense of human suffering. The occasion for Farrell’s claim is a curious one. He employed an ill-worded and somewhat tactless review of a recent book about slavery in the Economist magazine to remind readers that the same magazine had made similarly callous remarks about the victims of the Irish famine.

While his observation might carry some weight if it illustrated a standing pattern, his particular offense in the second case comes from a much older column – as in something that was published in 1847.

If taking modern publications to task for the uncouth musings of long-dead editors sounds slightly odd, it might be similarly observed that the Washington Post is far from immune from an ignominious publication record as this racially charged 1902 headline attests:

Turning specifically to the famine, a studious reader might also notice that Mr. Farrell seems to have a strange affinity  for flogging this 167 year old hobgoblin whenever the Economist’s masthead comes up for discussion. More problematic from a historical perspective though is the argument he attempts to extract from the episode:

In both instances, The Economist’s deep-rooted fondness of laissez faire slipped into a shameful tendency to minimize the human costs of those at the wrong end of the system, whether it was those who suffered and were murdered beneath the whip of slavery or those who starved to death, in part thanks to The Economist’s own vigorous advocacy.

A damning indictment of laissez faire capitalism, one might conclude, if only it were true! Unfortunately for Mr. Farrell, he has his 19th century politics confused, and confused badly at that.

Consider the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846. This hallmark of the very same 19th century “laissez faire” philosophy he derides as callous was actually carried to fruition as part of a conscious effort to relieve famine-plagued Ireland from the artificially onerous food prices that came about under Britain’s agricultural protective tariff regime. Now consider Farrell’s harsh depiction of free markets against the open humanitarian appeal of the following passage from an 1845 free trade speech by Richard Cobden, the chief architect of the Corn Law repeal:

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Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:36:23 +0000 http://hnn.us/blog/153496 http://hnn.us/blog/153496 Liberty and Power Liberty and Power 0
Democrats are part of the problem in Ferguson, too Democrats quickly staked a claim to the moral high ground. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.) are prominent members of both the House Judiciary Committee and the Congressional Black Caucus. Along with Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), they initiated a call for a congressional hearing on the use of excessive force by American law enforcement. The Republicans will almost certainly cooperate, if only because it would be impolitic not to do so. Moreover, the hearing would be post-election and not necessarily lead to a change in law or policy.]]> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:36:23 +0000 http://hnn.us/blog/153492 http://hnn.us/blog/153492 Liberty and Power Liberty and Power 0 Anthony Gregory: The Failures of President George W. Bush on The Tom Woods Show The Power of Habeas Corpus in America appeared on the Tom Woods radio show to discuss the record of President George W. Bush.  Listen to the recent show inside.]]> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:36:23 +0000 http://hnn.us/blog/153484 http://hnn.us/blog/153484 Liberty and Power Liberty and Power 0 Devil is in the Details of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act Even worse, "a provision ... lets the money be kept by the agency imposing the fine, the Education Department's (DOE) Office for Civil Rights (OCR)." This creates a huge incentive for OCR to be aggressively punitive or to accuse innocent universities of misrepresentation or substandard compliance. Even an inability to comply would not exempt institutions from fines. For example, they are required to enter into a "memorandum of understanding" with local law enforcement. If the latter refuses, then "[t]he Secretary of Education will then have the discretion to grant the waiver." Not the obligation but the discretion.]]> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:36:23 +0000 http://hnn.us/blog/153483 http://hnn.us/blog/153483 Liberty and Power Liberty and Power 0 Beware of Kafkatrapping The term derives from Franz Kafka's novel The Trial in which a nondescript bank clerk named Josef K. is arrested; no charges are ever revealed to the character or to the reader. Josef is prosecuted by a bizarre and tyrannical court of unknown authority and he is doomed by impenetrable red tape. In the end, Josef is abducted by two strange men and inexplicably executed by being stabbed through the heart. The Trial is Kafka's comment on totalitarian governments, like the Soviet Union, in which justice is twisted into a bitter, horrifying parody of itself and serves only those in charge]]> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:36:23 +0000 http://hnn.us/blog/153482 http://hnn.us/blog/153482 Liberty and Power Liberty and Power 0 Out of Iraq, Etc.! History alone does not tell us what, if anything, outside powers should do now; there’s no going back in time. But we can say that without foreign interference, even a violent evolution of the region might have been far less violent than it has been during the last century. At least, the violent factions would not be seeking revenge against Americans.]]> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:36:23 +0000 http://hnn.us/blog/153481 http://hnn.us/blog/153481 Liberty and Power Liberty and Power 0 The 100th Anniversary of the Great State Crime     That would have been bad enough, but the conflict was merely Act One in a much bigger war. The “peace” settlement vindictively branded Germany uniquely culpable and imposed border adjustments that made Act Two a virtual certainty. The so-called Second World War, which began after the 21-year intermission from 1918 to 1939, claimed at least 60 million lives, at least 19 million of which were noncombatants.]]> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:36:23 +0000 http://hnn.us/blog/153479 http://hnn.us/blog/153479 Liberty and Power Liberty and Power 0 The U.S. Government Still Tries to Subvert Cuba But it was 2014. The AP news report said President Barack Obama and presumably then–secretary of state Hillary Clinton had plotted to incite a popular uprising — to “gin up opposition” — against the Cuban government by sending in young Latin Americans masquerading as tourists and health workers.]]> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:36:23 +0000 http://hnn.us/blog/153478 http://hnn.us/blog/153478 Liberty and Power Liberty and Power 0 I Can't Help if I'm a Libertarian Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:36:23 +0000 http://hnn.us/blog/153476 http://hnn.us/blog/153476 Liberty and Power Liberty and Power 0 Borderlands: What's Happening to America? Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:36:23 +0000 http://hnn.us/blog/153475 http://hnn.us/blog/153475 Liberty and Power Liberty and Power 0 Central Bank Theater  As the curtain rose on the economic stage, it revealed politicians and central bankers hand-in-hand, ready to act out a farce. A June 23rd article in Bloomberg constituted the first review. It opened, “Germany has decided its gold is safe in American hands.” The gold in question is the massive German reserve that is allegedly stored at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (NY Fed). On January 16, 2013 Germany’s central bank, the Bundesbank – or BuBa to its critics -- announced an intention to repatriate a sizable portion of its gold from the NY Fed by 2020. But, now, the government's budget spokesman Norbert Barthle declared, “The Americans are taking good care of our gold. Objectively, there’s absolutely no reason for mistrust.” Objectively, there's no reason for trust. ]]> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:36:23 +0000 http://hnn.us/blog/153474 http://hnn.us/blog/153474 Liberty and Power Liberty and Power 0 National monuments, about land or territory? Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:36:23 +0000 http://hnn.us/blog/153473 http://hnn.us/blog/153473 Liberty and Power Liberty and Power 0 The Economics of Marriage and Divorce: Those who get hitched are more likely to get rich Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:36:23 +0000 http://hnn.us/blog/153472 http://hnn.us/blog/153472 Liberty and Power Liberty and Power 0 The NSA Nation Moves to the Next Level Minerva Initiative after the Roman goddess of war. ]]> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:36:23 +0000 http://hnn.us/blog/153471 http://hnn.us/blog/153471 Liberty and Power Liberty and Power 0 Relationship of Politics to Morality
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Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:36:23 +0000 http://hnn.us/blog/153470 http://hnn.us/blog/153470 Liberty and Power Liberty and Power 0
Open Source, Sexist? Spare Me. Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:36:23 +0000 http://hnn.us/blog/153469 http://hnn.us/blog/153469 Liberty and Power Liberty and Power 0 Classifying America: Government’s Power to Define Is the Power to Discriminate Yet here we are today with racial classifications that conceal the divisions within the so-called “races.” To define a group as eligible for benefits or preferences is to exclude those outside the group of the same treatment. Equal protection of the law goes out the window as individuals or business in government-defined preferential groups benefit from “affirmative discrimination” while those not-so-defined suffer.]]> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:36:23 +0000 http://hnn.us/blog/153468 http://hnn.us/blog/153468 Liberty and Power Liberty and Power 0 Triumph and Trashing of the Civil Rights Act Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:36:23 +0000 http://hnn.us/blog/153467 http://hnn.us/blog/153467 Liberty and Power Liberty and Power 0 Robert Higgs Discusses Effects of WWI on Tom Woods Show Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:36:23 +0000 http://hnn.us/blog/153466 http://hnn.us/blog/153466 Liberty and Power Liberty and Power 0 A Hundred Years of War Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:36:23 +0000 http://hnn.us/blog/153465 http://hnn.us/blog/153465 Liberty and Power Liberty and Power 0