"The extension of an order of peace beyond the small purpose-oriented organization became thus possible by the extension of purpose-independent ('formal') rules of just conduct to the relations with other men who did not pursue the same concrete ends or hold the same values except those abstract rules - rules which did not impose obligations for particular actions (which always presuppose a concrete end) but consisted solely in prohibitions from infringing the protected domain of each which these rules enable us to determine. Liberalism is therefore inseparable from the institution of private property which is the name we usually give to the material part of this protected individual domain." F. A. Hayek, "The Principles of a Liberal Social Order, "
Much has changed since 1966. Liberalism is still on the march, having won its staring contest with Marxism just over a decade ago. However, many challenges still remain.
In order to realize how the words of Adam Smith and of Hayek concern the spread of liberty and its sustainability, we must remember its beginnings in the modern world, and its growth.
Private property is inseparable from liberalism. So says the learned; however, evidence of this can be found in the first major spurt of classical liberalism in the modern age. In 1763, the horrific and world-wide Seven Years War came to a close. Tens of thousands were dead, strewn across the different continents on both land and sea. The Constitutionalist, but Rowdy king of
The jewels of the
By 1763, things were in full swing. The mercantilist system had served the Crown well, and grew richer by the day, despite the debt. The monarchy had just gained
But how to pay for all of this?
The American colonists, being students of Voltaire, Rousseau, and Burke, whether knowingly or not, would not stand for the suspension or restrictions on their right to trade. The fundamental rights and privileges of life, liberty, and property were enshrined in the hearts, minds, and souls of the colonists, many of whose ancestors came to escape persecution or the unjust lack of property.
The words of Montesquieu, Descartes, and Smith, as well as those mentioned above, served to remind the few that wanted to hear it how the world was destined for so much more, if only the last vestiges of the feudal system and mercantilism could be thrown off and replaced by liberty; true liberty. Many are called liberals today that do not realize the great meaning and responsibility of that title. The rights of representative governments, inalienable rights, and that of property, otherwise known as the pursuit of happiness were forefront and vital.
So the Yanks would not take it, but went forward aggressively while diplomatically. The King and Parliament were petitioned, told of the grievances that the Colonists had to suffer at the hands of the British legislation. Many entreaties were made many times, however, in almost all English corners, it fell on deaf ears. Edmund Burke, the great Scottish thinker, heard them and broadcast them to the House of Commons, but they also were deaf.
Free trade and liberalism went hand in hand in causing the American Revolution. Man finally learned to put nothing before his God-given rights, and the words of Hayek could be heard echoing in that past. The shots at
This is just one example of how Hayek’s words are golden, even before they were spoken. Truths are truths, no matter when.
Even today these lessons live on as strong as ever. Look no further than the collapse of Marxism throughout Europe, the Soviet Union, and
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