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Monday, September 29, 2008

Graverollin'!

So we've all heard of the Cato Institute, the thinktank dedicated to the promotion of fiscal libertarianism. But we don't hear very much about Cato, the pseudonymous 18th-c. epistolizers the Institute ganked its name from. Well let's read a little bit more about them in this article from Dissent, which dares to suggest that such Founding Fathers as Thomas Jefferson were—like Cato, from whom the founders derived many of their ideas, were far more populist than modern libertarians and conservatives would like you to think. Here Lew Daly quotes Cato on the free market:

A free people are kept so, by no other means than an equal distribution of property; every man, who has a share of property, having a proportionable share of power; and the first seeds of anarchy (which, for the most part, ends in tyranny) are produced from hence, that some are ungovernably rich, and many more are miserably poor; that is, some are masters of all means of oppression, and others want all the means of self-defence.
Oh WHOOPS, that doesn't sound like contemporary fiscal libertarianism at all! That sounds like... well it sounds like somebody modern "conservatives" would call a goddam commie.

Well hmmm, so JoJo read this piece and has thus been inspired to dive a bit deeper into Cato. He retrieves this pearl, on the occasion of the collapse of the "South Sea Bubble":

What progress we have lately made in England, towards such a blessed state of confusion and misery, by the credulity of the people, throwing their all upon the mercy of base-spirited, hard-hearted villains, mischievously trusted with a power to undo them, is too manifest from the woeful condition that we are in. The ruin is general, and every man has the miserable consolation to see his neighbour undone: For as to that class of ravens, whose wealth has cost the nation its all, as they are manifest enemies to God and man, no man can call them his neighbours: They are rogues of prey, they are stock-jobbers, they are a conspiracy of stock-jobbers! A name which carries along with it such a detestable and deadly image, that it exceeds all human invention to aggravate it; nor can nature, with all her variety and stores, furnish out any thing to illustrate its deformities; nay, it gains visible advantage by the worst comparisons that you can make: Your terror lessens, when you liken them to crocodiles and cannibals, who feed, for hunger, on human bodies.
Ha ha ha capitalism.

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