Brussels Dispatch: Yesterday’s history is today’s politics


The Petrograd Strikes, which heralded the start of the 1917 Revolution in Russia commenced on 22 February; find a moment for reflection this Sunday. Even though the Soviet system of Communism lasted for 69 years, its ideology is evidently still very much alive and well: the British government now spends half the nation’s income. Yesterday’s history is today’s politics, to adapt the adage.

This Thursday our very own Nicholas II went to see the Pope. Perhaps he asked the Vicar of Christ to pray for a miracle – huge monetary expansion without hyperinflation – or perhaps he asked for the economy to receive the Last Rites. Ironically, one of the things the Prime Minister did discuss was freeing the world from poverty. He can contribute best to this desirable goal in Great Britain by the near abolishment of the State. Government remains the problem, not the solution, and we can work our way back into prosperity, as opposed to continue to regulate ourselves into impoverishment.

I came across this passage today in Ludwig von Mises’s Human Action which underlines this point (Chapter 21, Part 7):

The outstanding fact about the Industrial Revolution is that it opened an age of mass production for the needs of the masses. The wage earners are no longer people toiling merely for other people’s well being. They themselves are the main consumers of the products the factories turn out…The very principle of capitalist entrepreneurship is to provide for the common man…There is in the market economy no other means of acquiring and preserving wealth than by supplying the masses in the best and cheapest way with all the goods they ask for.

Blinded by their prejudices, many historians and writers have entirely failed to recognise this fundamental fact. As they see it, wage earners toil for the benefit of other people. They never raise the question who these “other” people are.

The free market must be permitted to get on with offering exchanges in which both parties expect to benefit, unhampered by unpredictable behaviour-altering regulation and wealth confiscation. Only the State coerces.

The only question Mr Brown should be asking is which tax (capital gains tax, corporation tax, income tax, ‘inflation tax’, or VAT) he should scrap  first.