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Oh Yes, Economic Insanity! That’ll do!

with 11 comments

Written by Paleocrat
Jan. 4, 2009 

“It was the mystical dogma of Bentham and Adam Smith and the rest, that some of the worst of human passions would turn out to be all for the best. It was the mysterious doctrine that selfishness would do the work of unselfishness.”
GK Chesterton

The day and age of prudence and sanity is long gone, if in fact it ever did exist. We live in a time where money gurus babble on about how the most radical deregulation will mysteriously perform the functions of regulation, how an absolutely unfettered economy will bring about order, and how “the virtue of selfishness” (as Madame Rand was fond of calling it) would result in nothing short of the economic Utopia finding its home in the wildest fantasies of men like Mises and Bastiat. To be quite frank, the entire ordeal is a tad bit overwhelming for those who, like me, have a sensitive gag reflex. 

I wish these were the musings of a madman who hasn’t the slightest clue of things as they really are, the ravings of things far-fetched. Unfortunately, one has only to fetch the remote. Market mystics are commonplace, and like a bad case of herpes they show up in predictable places at just the worst times. Hucksters in tight suits and cheap cologne spouting off what Betty Crocker would consider a sure recipe for economic disaster. 

The problem isn’t so much their being large in number as it is that they are professional ear-tickerls! They know the game, and they play it like champs. The masses are assured that if they just allow their cookies to crumble, then even bigger, better tasting cookie will appear from the heaped remains they let tumble to the floor. 

It all sounds so simple! It sounds almost too good to be true. Like a good, old fashion pyramid scheme or bottle of snake oil. If only its this bit of irony was any bit ironic.

To imagine that we haven’t overcome our susceptibility to the charlatans of old. We should know better by now. Then again, there must be a reason why the adage “we never learn from history” has stood the test of time. If only there were a generation that had the kind of moral resolve and intellectual fortitude to put that precedent to rest. If only…


11 Responses

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  1. Totus Tuus ad Jesum per Mariam

    As far as Chesterton linking Adam Smith in with other “capitalists” you should read John C. Medaille’s “The Forgot Agrarian: On Rereading Adam Smith”. He gives an interesting defense of a seemingly mischaracterized Smith.


    Apostle of Mary

    January 6, 2009 at 12:21 am

  2. I have read it. It is excellent. I merely quoted Chesterton, recognized a similarity between what Chesterton described and what we are hearing from talking heads, policy wonks, and economics gurus.

    Please note that I chose to use Bastiat and Mises as my Utopians rather than Smith.

    Also, I have defended Smith in various YouTube videos, though I focused more on his “exceptions” than on his agrarianism.


    January 6, 2009 at 1:02 am

  3. To imagine that we haven’t overcome our susceptibility to the charlatans of old

    I have often used a phrase like this during my blogging, especially on the topic of government and war.

    Look at how the charlatans in the White House and Pentagon bamboozled the public with their array of ‘proofs’ that the preemptive invasion of Iraq was essential for the safety of the masses here in America.

    And, you write, … there must be a reason why the adage “we never learn from history” has stood the test of time. Indeed and one of the most reliable propaganda elements that is tried and true is Patriotism. When we are all puffed up with Patriotism there is little room for thought or wisdom.


    January 6, 2009 at 4:37 pm

  4. Just finished reading “The Rulers of Russia” by Rev. Denis Fahey. Great little pamphlet. In reading the American militia/patriot literature over the years, I ran across comments of Marxism and capitalism being the same friends. There was a cartoon, where Karl Marx was walking down the street, and the biggest capitalists were hugging him and backslapping him.

    Lo and behold, Rev. Denis Fahey writes of that very thing confirming this paradox. On the very first page that the text starts is this very interesting gem:

    “…and that Marxism is simply one of the weapons of Jewish nationalism. Capitalism, he added, is equally sacred to Israel, which makes use of both Bolshevism and Capitalism to remould the world for its ends.”

    It is interesting to note that Libertarianism is wound up with Capitalism and Free market. It is also very intriguing that most of the people involved with Libertarianism are Jews. If the Jews don’t capture the stupid goyim with marxism, they catch them with Libertarianism; libertarianism being the political handmaiden of capitalism.

    Two of the three founders of Libertarianism, Murray Rothbard and Von Mises are Jewish. Ayn Rand is Jewish. Capitalism and Marxism are thoroughly materialistic.

    Prof. Cyrus H. Gordon, Orientalist, has a small smidgeon about capitalism—it originated in the Middle East—Just like where Abraham originated from.

    Capitalism is foreign to the Indo-European peoples. It was the Phonecians that carried it to the Greek lands.

    I am afraid that I don’t adhere to socialism, distributism or capitalism; socialism and distributism are just attempts to corale capitalism. Capitalism is a beast that can not be ridden. It corrupts all that touch it.

    I am partial to Doric philosophy—have no dealings with it. I think they had the smartest answer for it.


    January 6, 2009 at 10:32 pm

  5. Fahey was a Distributist committed to Catholic Social Doctrine, Wheeler. Just for information sake.


    January 7, 2009 at 3:50 pm

  6. Mr. Wheeler- is your reference to the Doric that of a lowland Scot or to the Greek warriors?

    Just musing…


    January 8, 2009 at 1:08 pm

  7. Ahem… let me answer this one: Greek. Wheeler loves the Greeks. All things Greek. Sparta! Sparta! Sparta!

    He is of the persuasion that Doric philosophy is one and the same with the natural law, and that the Greek philosophers were to natural law what saints Peter and Paul were to the bible.

    I live in the same town as the guy. Nice enough guy. We just have our differences.


    January 8, 2009 at 1:14 pm

  8. Wheeler loves the Greeks. All things Greek. Sparta! Sparta! Sparta!

    Is that so. The lowland Scots, the Doric, are most probably conservative with their money- as most Scots are labeled- and thus the confusion with Doric Greek philosophy.

    I wonder how the Doric economic philosophy functions in the 21st century?


    January 8, 2009 at 10:38 pm

  9. Paleocrat, it’s a bit ironic that i found your work because of Chesterton, and found Chesterton because of Thomas Woods, and found him because of Murray Rothbard. I found the Chesterbelloc site also, so i’d like to say thank you.

    To the best of my knowledge, the word libertarian itself was coined by an 18th century unitarian named Jeremy Belsham. Since unitarians refuse to acknowledge Jesus’ deity, that should tell you all you need to know.

    The term was also connected with socialistic and communist variants of anarchism. So the term libertarian was used in connection with denials of Jesus’ divinity and communism from the get-go, long before Rand and company.

    The term libertarian looks so much like the term ‘libertine(see Acts of the Apostles ch.7)’ because libertarianism is in fact libertine. It seems to my unpolished self that its only connection to the Jews is its similarity to self-righteous Phariseeism.

    One similarity between libertinism/libertarianism I see is the refusal to acknowledge that somebody will govern. In their hypocrisy, they secretly wish for the power to govern every one else.

    I see too much of a similarity of sound and pronounciation in the words capitol(seat of government) and capitalism-governed by love of money. So yea, I think capitalism does lead to communism.
    When terms used to describe things and ideas look too much alike, I tend to pay attention.

    Some of Rothbard’s individual comments show that he could have been a great thinker. I think his agnosticism, and the destructive influence of Mises, Rand, and Menken on his thought damaged what could have been decent work. If he would have simplified his rhetoric, i think he would have seen his mistakes-the ones he warned other thinkers not to make.

    I do think also that capitalism is kind of a beast, like a golden calf.

    There is a Bible phrase in 2 Corinthians, “liberal distribution.” There is also Esther 1: ‘that every man should bear rule in his own house.’ Again, Micah, that ‘every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree.’ Leo XIII, Chesterton, and Belloc were Biblically correct in my view.

    For all the ‘austrian’ talk about sound economics, the store also charges an arm and a leg for Rothbard’s books. That hypocrisy is so high that you can’t see over it. That’s how high the hypocrisy is.

    I apologize for how lengthy my comments are. But I think someone does have to mention these things. I almost went in for the whole libertarian thing, and I would like any one who goes in for it to bethink themselves.


    January 11, 2009 at 12:32 am

  10. And, to top it off, more economic insanity in critiquing “economic insanity”. Rothbard more than aptly shows how Statist intervention, which is essentially violence, actually creates more chaos and disorder – perhaps see our work in Iraq, our regulation of the markets, our attempt to get poor people into homes, our attempt to *alleviate* poverty over the past 50 years, etc.

    Bubba’s comments are just silly. There is nothing hypocritical about what they charge for their books. Now, if they came along and tried to coerce you, then that would be hypocrisy. We should only expect that coercion from Statist and their education books. After all, no one would buy them if people were free.

    Thinking of Bible phrases – “thou shall not steal”. Ahh, the bane of private property right there in the Scriptures. Or, as bubba says, “His OWN house…”, “his OWN vine & fig…”

    As an aside, the etymology of the word isn’t as important as its usage, so while the history of libertarianism may be a fun discussion it isn’t that pertinent. After all, I fully affirm the deity of Christ, affirm particularism, and Trinitarianism and when it comes to pluralist and Statist law – I am a libertine. Yes, I reject the deity of the State and their universalism, aka socialism.

    The real beauty of all of this is that the current crisis is due to Statism, but freedom gets the shaft, but that’s newspeak for ya.


    January 26, 2009 at 6:59 pm

  11. Not a fan of Rothbard. Then again, our economic philosophies are the result of radically different presuppositions and, consequently, authorities.

    Distributism (i.e., Catholic Social Theory) has no qualms with private property. We just don’t see private property in an absolutist sense.

    Suffice it to say that we disagree over the proper function of the State and the role it plays in economic affairs. But that will have to wait for another blog entry.

    Please leave any future comment pertaining to this thread on our new site: It is in the blog section. We are urging all those viewing this site and leaving comments to make that transition, as we no longer post new material on this site. The new site has blogs, videos, and podcasts from my radio program, much of which I think you will find… at odds with your libertarianism. Comments are welcome.


    January 28, 2009 at 9:51 pm

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