Thoughts on economics and liberty

Assured private property as the foundation of civilisation

It is unfortunate that just a few days after I've managed to lay my hands on the printed edition of Ludwig von Mises's book, Human Action, I find it very difficult and painful to either read or write due to severe eye strain. That also means I must cut down dramatically my interaction on this blog lest this problem worsen and make even my normal occupation difficult. 

The conversion from PDF (55MB) to Word (5MB) is never easy but I've done the first step for Human Action – a raw data dump – and uploaded it here for my convenience. I will, in due course, subject to recovering good health, do a more rigorous job – so one can readily cut and paste from it. There is no point in keeping the message of freedom hidden away inside dense books. It must be extracted and spread widely – and seeded in the wind: the internet.

At the moment, let me just highlight this wonderful extract that I randomly chanced upon:


What is called human civilization has up to now been a progress from cooperation by virtue of hegemonic bonds to cooperation by virtue of contractual bonds. But while many races and peoples were arrested at an early stage of this movement, others kept on advancing. The eminence of the Western nations consisted in the fact that they succeeded better in checking the spirit of predatory militarism than the rest of mankind and that they thus brought forth the social institutions required for saving and investment on a broader scale. 

Even Marx did not contest the fact that private initiative and private ownership of the means of production were indispensable stages in the progress from primitive man's penury to the more satisfactory conditions of nineteenth-century Western Europe and North America. What the East Indies, China, Japan, and the Mohammedan countries lacked were institutions of safeguarding the individual's rights. The arbitrary administration of pashas, kadis, rajahs, mandarins, and daimios was not conducive to large-scale accumulation of capital. The legal guarantees effectively protecting the individual against expropriation and confiscation were the foundations upon which the unprecedented economic progress of the West came into flower. These laws were not an outgrowth of chance, historical accidents, and geographical environment. They were the product of reason. 


Investment and lending abroad are only possible if the receiving nations are unconditionally and sincerely committed to the principle of private property and do not plan to expropriate the foreign capitalists at a later date. It was such expropriations that destroyed the international capital market.

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