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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/10885/lady-liberty/

Lady Liberty

October 22, 2009 by

The story was fairly typical for movies about the English aristocracy: a young girl marries into power only to find herself trapped in a loveless marriage. Hidden amid the romance, costumes, and drama, I would strike libertarian gold! FULL ARTICLE by Pia Varma


Dick Fox October 22, 2009 at 8:40 am

I wouldn’t get too excited. Hollywood always extols the virtues of absolute freedom when it supports their libertine desires, but when it means actual economic freedom and personal freedom for the average man freedom becomes defined as slavery and the state becomes the liberator as we are all put into chains.

Ken October 22, 2009 at 9:52 am

@Dick Fox, a fair observation. However, it’s not so much that they intend to say — or indeed even realize — what they are saying, but that they say it at all. It is our task to make a lesson of it. :-)

Irv Cohen October 22, 2009 at 11:20 am

Never heard of The Duchess but if it might get the wife interested in politics it could be worth viewing. She already is on board philosophically but can’t see the point of bothering when the fix is so obviously in.

Michael Wilson October 22, 2009 at 12:39 pm

I think the actress’s first name is spelled ‘Keira’, not ‘Kiera’.

Paul Stephens October 22, 2009 at 2:10 pm

So, ‘laissez-faire capitalism’ IS “Economic Royalism” after all! Hayek did identify with the “Old Whigs”, and of course Pitt and other “New Whigs” were defenders of “the American Experiment.”
George Washington was a distant cousin of George III, and I’ve heard somewhere that the reason he “revolted” was because the King wouldn’t give him (and Franklin) all the land they wanted – stolen, of course, from the indigenous people who didn’t believe in aristocracy or private ownership of Mother Earth.
No wonder contemporary politics is so confused!
Congress is prohibited under our Constitution from granting titles of nobility, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make them up for ourselves. I think I’m the 4th Duke of Waldegren, for example (based on the science fiction of A. Bertram Chandler), but it doesn’t have much “cash value.”
Von Hayek and von Mises dropped their honorifics for many years, but Hayek claimed his back at the end of his life. His was an earned title, though, granted to his great-grandfather, I believe, in the Napoleonic Wars. His father was a biology professor, so Hayek always put scientific understanding ahead of politics. And he was a war hero, having been an artillery spotter in the fragile airplanes of the day during WWI.
Few people remember that!
He identified more with the Scottish Enlightenment than the corrupt English aristocracy, though.
I’ll have to read some of your other film reviews. Have you seen “Midnight Cowboy” lately?
We’re more in the Russell, Dukes of Bedford tradition, here in Montana.

Thomas Talionis October 22, 2009 at 2:21 pm

I couldn’t agree with Dick Fox more. For example, the Star Wars Prequels were specifically made to condemn the Bush admin. but they apply more appropriately to the Obama admin. Also, see the work of Alan Moore. And for Mr. Stevens, you should also read Chandler.

The Sci-Fi genre might as well be renamed the Libertarian genre. Yet, Lefties will still fail to see the irony.

Historical pieces also tend to extol Libertarians values because the contrast is more black and white. Nobody cheers for serfdom. But people will vote for it today under a different name.

And I’m curious if Pia has ever seen a movie that hasn’t made her think of politics.

Amit B. October 22, 2009 at 2:46 pm


how could land be stolen from people who don’t believe in the concept of ownership, as you stated? And I heard somewhere that Washington and others pledged their ‘lives and fortunes’ to form the republic.

Economic Royalism is a phrase invented to demonize those selfish individuals who don’t want to bend a knee to the State. (watch the clip of Glenn Beck in Moore’s movie saying he wants his whole pie. Fascist!)

Much the same way Marxists have been inventing derogatory terms for freedom. Capitalists had no need to label a system of living freely. They just lived freely.

Jacob Steelman October 22, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Freedom is not as Ms Varma states a matter of organisation and marketing but politics is. Freedom is a moral issue as Mises, Rothbard, Sennholz, Hayek and others so vividly evidence. Politics is a numbers game like marketing and selling the latest fashions. To make political parties or political issues popular one must fashion issues and arguments that are appealing to a large audience which requires compromising on such absolutes as Freedom. Politics also requires compromises to achieve your political objectives within political bodies such as Congress. After the passage of legislation politics also requires bargaining and compromise with the bureaucrats overseeing the legislation. The result in this den of statists and anti-freedom vipers is a compromising and watering down of absolute Freedom. This watered down version becomes the new definition of freedom. Ron Paul’s Fed transparency bill is a great political marketing device to raise the attention of voters but in the end the bureacrats and politicians will water it down to being quite meaningless. In order to be able to market and organise this the entire concept necessarily had to be a compromise of the real issue – abolition of the Fed. Why? The vast majority of people would reject abolition of the Fed when it came down to vote on the issue but would agree with the concept of transparency. It has a nice ring of fairness to it but at the end of the day it will be made meaningless by the bureacrats. Having been involved in the libertarian-Austrian economics philosophy for over 40 years I can attest to the dismal failure of libertarians in the political arena. Remember term limits. And what better example of attempted marketing and organisation than the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidates in 2008. For Libertarians, libertarians and Austrians to play in the political arena requires that they get down in the statist mud and compromise principle. If we are going to do that then let’s not do it with political issues that will be made meaningless by the politicians and bureaucrats let’s try to hit the home run as they did in Philiadelphia on July 4,1776.

Thomas Talionis October 22, 2009 at 3:29 pm


Pia quoted the Dutchess refuting the claim ‘freedom in moderation” with ‘freedom is an absolute.’

Pia went on to say, “Georgiana recognized that liberal ideals could only be spread through dedicated organizing and savvy marketing.”

Yes, freedom is a moral issue but how do you propose we spread the message other than organizing and savvy marketing? I can’t help but think of the “I don’t have to worry about paying my mortgage” girl from the Obama rally. How do we reach her? She went on to say “if i help him . . . he’s gonna help me.” What do you do with that mindset?

Kato October 22, 2009 at 3:52 pm

If Pia is getting into the movie review biz, I suggest watching District 9.

Lefties love it because it deals with the divisive issue of racism. But it goes on to demonstrate why. Socialism, of course.

When you make one group of people responsible for the lives of another group, you breed resentment. A must see.

Regarding the politics of politics, what can you do? People, usually Lefties, point to the founding of our country and say they all owned slaves, therefore a free republic doesn’t work. Or Capitalism doesn’t work, let’s all be slaves.

Enlightenments don’t happen over night and unfortunately there is pandering and there are concessions made to inch forward.

Abe Lincoln didn’t receive the Republican nomination for his second term because wouldn’t grant blacks 100% of their rights immediately. He was pandering to Democrats. Lincoln made another concession to the Republican candidate (Fremont) to drop out. That concession was a Constitutional Amendment abolishing slavery.

Lincoln originally came from the American Whig Party which was inspired by the British Party’s ideals. They formed in America to oppose Statism and Aristocracy. Millard Fillmore was a Whig and got the boot from the party because he deviated from it’s ideals.

We need a political party with that kind of integrity. Too many politicians get lumped together which becomes fodder for the Paul Stevens of the world who use that to refute ideals.

Thomas Talionis October 22, 2009 at 5:10 pm

Kato, was I right about sci-fi movies or what? District 9 also demonstrates how central planning creates crushing poverty, ghettos and crime.

Peter October 22, 2009 at 10:36 pm

While Georgiana understood Fox’s position that the revolution was a triumph for the people of France over the corrupt King Louis VIII …

That would be Louis XVI, Louis VIII having been dead for about 600 years by the time of the Revolution :)

sheridan October 22, 2009 at 10:54 pm

@Dick Fox

Yeah, makes you wonder if there’s any substantive difference between a libertarian and a libertine…

Kato October 23, 2009 at 12:07 am
newson October 23, 2009 at 12:56 am

…and following the tangent introduced by kato, how nicely “kung fu” the tv series with david carradine has weathered the decades. full of excellent examples of retaliatory but not aggressive violence.


newson October 23, 2009 at 12:59 am

as for “the duchess” – good movie. though it didn’t strike any libertarian chord in me.

Amit B. October 23, 2009 at 1:41 am

Sorry to go off on a semi-tangent, but I just saw a commercial for a Snugee . . . for your pet dog.

And I wonder, does Paul Stephens and his ilk consider that an example of economic royalism?

Franklin October 23, 2009 at 11:26 pm

Heh, not sure that the TV series _Kung Fu_ didn’t do its own pandering; ratings (those votes of the masses) seemed to rise with the fight scenes. In the first season, poor Caine withstood dreadful violence and fought only to defend himself. By the third season, if you just gave him a dirty look you’d get a foot right in your face.

terry richards October 24, 2009 at 11:44 pm

I think it is amusing that the Mises institute has a writer on this site who works with Ann Coulter, happily identifies herself as conservative, and even went so far as to support the campaign of John McCain.

What kind of free market-libertarian site are we trying to run here? The last thing this place needs is an icon from the right wing-talk radio-paranoia-anti-intellectual crowd. They should stay to their side and leave us alone. Letting people like Pia speak for us does nothing for our movement. I would run far far far away from those people. What is next, a weekly column by Michael Savage?

Thomas Talionis October 25, 2009 at 2:40 am

1st: Just because Pia had dinner with Ann Coulter doesn’t mean they work together.

2nd: Do you think she voted for McCain or Ron Paul in the primary?

3rd: What does it mean to be a Conservative?

Thomas Talionis October 25, 2009 at 3:06 am

Also, you may have heard Ron Paul explain (repeatedly) that it just makes more sense to work through the Republican Party structure. It is the best way to get his/our message out.

Pia did the same thing while “supporting the McCain campaign.” If you were there, you would’ve heard her use that opportunity to talk to hundreds of people, face to face, about ending the Fed or free trade or the Constitution, etc.

You are criticizing her for the same things that Ron Paul does for the Libertarian movement. (there are very few people doing it.)

Also, Ron Paul began his first Republican debate by saying, “I’m the only real Conservative up here.”

to further my point, there is a video floating around on the internet of Pia schooling Michael Steele, telling him what he needs to do, but I’m sure you didn’t see that before posting your pro-intellectual comment.

Paul Stephens October 25, 2009 at 3:57 am

A lot of stuff, here! I really enjoyed Pia’s review, and other things she has written. What is my “ilk?”
The British social philosopher (and epistemologist) I admire most is Bertrand Russell, John Russell’s grandson (the first Liberal PM), with whom Bertrand lived in his early years at Blechsly Park – the same place that British intelligence “broke the code” of the Nazis in WWII- Alan Turing, a student of Wittgenstein, being now synonymous with some of the basic postulates of cybernetics. And of course Wittgenstein was a student of Russell – he came to Cambridge to study with Russell. (Hayek is Wittgenstein’s 2nd cousin – their mothers were first cousins, amazingly enough).
Yet, you will rarely if ever find references to Russell (or Wittgenstein or even Popper) in the Libertarian literature. He was a socialist, an atheist, an advocate of free love, etc. – very dangerous ideas to the ‘advocates of capitalism.’
I once thought that Ayn Rand might have taken the “rand” from Bertrand. Now, it seems more likely that she borrowed it from Rose Rand, a Russian-Jewish woman philosopher associated with the Vienna Circle – Verein Ernst Mach. Both Wittgenstein and Popper were participants in those discussions.
So, I would say that libertarianism is more of a tendency or world-view than it is an “ideology.” And for every right-wing “advocate of capitalism” who calls herself “libertarian,” there are a dozen or more “left libertarians” who support socialism, intellectual freedom, environmental sustainability, a social safety net and public goods like healthcare, education, libraries, PBS, etc.
I was an Ayn Rand disciple from age 16-21, at which time I studied with Hayek for two terms, and it was he that convinced me that Ayn Rand’s epistemology (and personality cult) sucked.
After that, I read the Anarchists – especially the individualist anarchists who also influenced Engels, Tucker, Spooner, and many others. Most of them were also Kantians and Transcendentalists, not materialists.
If we could somehow bring all these threads together, we would have something. And I’m not sure that Mises would be part of it, although he was certainly a great thinker and teacher. But too much a bourgeois, and too tied in with the capitalist establishment, in my view.
If you believe that corporations (or wealthy individuals) have “property rights” over earth, water, and our common home, you are not a libertarian, in my view. You are an expropriator of the commons for mostly evil purposes.
(and I am, by the way, from the same branch of the Stephens family as the VP of the Confederacy, who was a great constitutional scholar, among other things. Indeed, the only major difference I would have with him is his defense of black slavery, based on Biblical understanding)

Pia October 25, 2009 at 8:39 am

Terry, I appreciate your comment and understand your concern. Let me assure you, I have spent several years trying to convince the Republican establishment to change its ways and see our point of view. I still believe it might be possible…mostly because of all the work that Ron Paul has done to shake up the party.

Regarding John McCain, I met with him. I wish you could have heard the conversation! :) Needless to say, I left much more frustrated than inspired.

Regarding the word conservative, Im not really sure what to call myself anymore. I suppose classical liberal would be the best description but most people don’t know what that is. I believe in Austrian economics so Im an Austrian, but again, a lot of people don’t know that term either. A libertarian? Yes, but not a registered libertarian. Ah! I hate labels. I’ll stick with an ‘advocate of the free markets’!

Amit B. October 25, 2009 at 1:24 pm


If you believe in the Constitution, you believe in property rights (which is Capitalism).

Property rights have advanced our world exponentially. Example: Native Americans lived at the mercy of their god, Mother Earth. They got what they were given. When Mother Earth stopped giving water, they had to move.

Los Angeles has no water. Yet it is the most populous city in America. We did so by taking control of Mother Nature.

It is no small wonder that your ‘ilk’ are also the eugenicists and population control advocates. (Margaret Sanger was also a ‘free love’ advocate.)

Rand, by contrast, was vocal in her opposition to those ideas because she believed that man was awesome enough to keep advancing technology to accommodate a growing population.

Some people (your ilk) must think it is just a coincidence that the world has developed so exponentially over the last 200 years. You fail to see the connection between the new found right to property. Feudalism didn’t work. Communism was/is genocidal.

The extreme Left (communists) are anti-technology agrarians. Because they find technology overwhelming. They are primitives. Irony abounds as they call themselves Progressives. Methinks they protest too much.

Mother Earth worship has been around since day one of humanity. Private ownership, just over 200 years. Which one has given us more?

Paul Stephens October 25, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Study the history of corporations (a good resource is http://www.reclaimdemocracy.org. ) Originally, they were Royal Charters, like the East India Companies or Hudson’s Bay (which once controlled all of central Canada, including parts of the upper Midwest. In the U.S., they were originally started for a single public purpose, time-limited, regulated in their rates of return, and restricted to one project like building a railroad or canal. Gradually, they expanded, gained “fictional personhood,” and now actually have more rights and privileges (including the right to massively lie to us for political purposes in political campaigns, etc.) than real people.
Apparently, you see no problem with the earth’s population having expanded 7-fold over the past 100 years. Yes, “capitalism” and corporate organization has “made this possible.” We are now some 5 times above the earth’s long-term carrying capacity, and global warming, massive environmental degradation, pollution, and radiation poisoning threatens our continued survival. Human population has become like a metastasized cancer, eliminating thousands – maybe millions – of other species by destroying their habitats and poisoning them.
It doesn’t matter who is “to blame” for this – “capitalists” or “socialists.” The fact is, we are all to blame, unless we are indigenous peoples who never wanted this, and always opposed it.
But the “disaster capitalist” or “gangster capitalist” way is always to blame the victims, and liquidate them or “remove” them to concentration camps, or just let them die and rot in the streets.
Most people who defend “capitalism” are now apocalyptic “end of world’ers.” And there are materialists with the same view – Trotskyists or Atlas Shrugged devotees who say, “Yes, the current rotten “capitalist” (or “socialist”) system is killing everyone, but rejoice! The end is near.
I’m old enough (now in my 60′s, and without children or family) to take a stoical attitude about this, and quit beating myself up about it. Any time I cash in now, I’m winners. You younger people need to take a stronger stand against the madness, and much of it started with Ayn Rand and the other “advocates of Capitalism”.
Americans used to be a “can-do”, “we can fix it” kind of people. Now, all they do is deny and blame. If you think that “government is the problem, not the solution,” you don’t understand government, and how it needs to be separated from the Corporate State. And corporations need to simply be abolished, and all the “property” they claim to own and control, returned to the people.
Property is for individuals (and then, only what you can responsibly use and manage), not corporations.

Abhilash Nambiar October 25, 2009 at 4:49 pm

This article gives the idea, that if only there was good marketing, libertarian ideas would take center stage. That is a very oversimplified argument to make indeed. There is no one size fits all solution for spreading the message of liberty. Different people value different things differently and thus liberty appeals to them for different reasons. Yet there it is the extremely oversimplified assertion.

Georgiana recognized that liberal ideals could only be spread through dedicated organizing and savvy marketing.

There is nothing fundamentally libertarian or otherwise about marketing. It is just one tool in the arsenal of anyone trying to promote an idea. It maybe more important at times and at other times less important.

Amit B. October 25, 2009 at 5:43 pm


I was going to pull out the origin of corporations card first. This was also a time where individuals were trading with each other. The gentry didn’t like where this was leading so they created corporations for the purpose of creating monopolies.

This is the essence of Fascism or Corporatism. This is what FDR tried to do with the New Deal but our Constitution stopped him.

However, there is a difference in monopolies and free business entities such as the good people that built my house. I don’t know how to build a house. So I turned to them. A corporation, a group of people that do know how. And for a fee, I have a house and they have money. A collectivist should understand that certain things can only be achieved by working together.

You say we must separate business and state. So do I. So did Ayn Rand.

You’re thoughts on population control speak for themselves. Though I must mention, the mixture of Socialism, Environmentalism, Agrarianism, Egalitarianism and Nativism is a bad combo.

Amit B. October 25, 2009 at 5:47 pm

Actually I must apologize. If you want to reduce the world’s population, mixing those ideologies works pretty well.

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