3-5 Most Libertarian Societies in World History

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    In response to this Salon.com article and others like it: http://www.salon.com/2013/06/04/the_question_libertarians_just_cant_answer/

    What do you guys consider to be the 3-5 most libertarian societies in world history? What do we point to as the case studies for libertarianism…both in terms of greatest degree of liberty and greatest degree of prosperity.



    I think Tom’s answer in his blog is the best answer.

    Additionally, the Heritage Society publishes an annual index of economic freedom. The most recent list of almost 200 countries is at http://www.heritage.org/index/.

    But it also occurs to me that liberty is a work in progress and it’s being tried all the time, every where, to different degrees.

    If your job was to set the destination year on the time machine, how far back would you set it to go to a culture that thought the earth was a flat surface located in the center of the universe and that any attempt to create a democratic, self-governing political system was absurd and insane.

    Once there, whenever that was, as you gradually reverse the time dial and return to the present, liberty was incrementally growing (admittedly in fits and spurts and not without setbacks) in virtually every sphere of human society.

    We’ve actually arrived at a time and place where individuals freely communicate globally over the internet with such an unprecedented degree of liberty that they can assiduously avoid regressive publications like The New York Times and Salon!

    With regard to “world history” and libertarianism, a few examples that come readily to mind as advancements of liberty – the central tenet of libertarianism – Magna Carta and the English Bill of Rights pop up, along with America’s Bill of Rights, the U.S. Constitution and the 13th amendment.


    Mises wrote in “Liberalism” (first published in 1927 in German): “The philosophers, sociologists, and economists of the eighteenth and the early part of the nineteenth century formulated a political program that served as a guide to social policy first in England and the United States, then on the European continent, and finally in the other parts of the inhabited world as well. Nowhere was this program ever completely carried out. Even in England, which has been called the homeland of liberalism and the model liberal country, the proponents of liberal policies never succeeded in winning all their demands. In the rest of the world only parts of the liberal program were adopted, while others, no less important, were either rejected from the very first or discarded after a short time. Only with some exaggeration can one say that the world once lived through a liberal era. Liberalism was never permitted to come to full fruition.

    Nevertheless, brief and all too limited as the supremacy of liberal ideas was, it sufficed to change the face of the earth. A magnificent economic development took place. The release of man’s productive powers multiplied the means of subsistence many times over. On the eve of the World War (which was itself the result of a long and bitter struggle against the liberal spirit and which ushered in a period of still more bitter attacks on liberal principles), the world was incomparably more densely populated than it had ever been, and each inhabitant could live incomparably better than had been possible in earlier centuries.”

    Read the rest at Mises.org.


    Jonah Goldberg has a good response to Lind in today’s (Friday, June 14, 2013) National Review Online. The title is “Freedom: The Unfolding Revolution” with a sub-title of
    “The libertarian idea is the only truly new political idea in the last couple thousand years.” He points out that every other “progressive” political idea is just another flavor of statism.


    He’s wrong about that: federalism was a new idea “in the last couple thousand years,” as were an independent judiciary, representative assemblies, and trial by jury. Mr. Goldberg ain’t no historian.


    True, he ain’t. But by that standard, most historians aren’t either. :0)


    Some areas from the American Old West were probably very libertarian. People settled out west faster than it took for government to be established. Check out Tom Wood’s 33 Questions “Was the Wild West really so Wild?”

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