Column on the Nonsense of the New World Order

The Nonsense of "A new world order"

Tibor R. Machan

Business Week reports–July
6, 2009, page 8–that Roger Altman, Deputy Treasury Secretary under President
Bill Clinton, now CEO of an investment banking boutique (
Evercore Partners), has, like President Sarkozy of France, concluded that it’s the end for
capitalism.  As
 tells it, Boltman wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine that "The era of laissezfaire economics is over, and statism, once
discredited, is making a comeback–even in the U.S.  Also out of vague is

Yes, Virginia, there are still many grown up people who believe
that there has been rampant
 laissezfaire economics
around the world, especially in the United States of America and especially
during the last few decades.  Business Week‘s account of Bolton’s opinions
also seems to accept, without any skepticism, that statism is something novel
while the
 laissezfaire is old.

Sadly this is all wrong.  Statism has been the norm for
thousands of years, what with countries throughout history being ruled from top
down and with their economies being managed as if they were firms instead of
societies.  It is only in the last 400 years or so that the classical
liberal idea of a relatively free economy has caught on here and there, and
even then mainly in the rhetoric of various, sometimes admittedly prominent
academic economists, not in the public philosophies of nations. To its credit,
 Business Week does suggest that any move away from
globalization is going to prove to be "an especially hard toll on
developing nations." It might have added the plain historical fact that
prior to the emergence of the halting policy of very partial
 laissezfaire most of the world lingered in utter
poverty.  Apart from the rulers and their minions, few people had any
wealth to speak of.  Only in the most recent and brief period of history
has the limited measure of global free trade managed to bring forth prosperity
for ordinary people who are constantly being badgered about it, what with all
the denunciation of commercialization, greed and such in light of some degree
of enthusiasm for this new development.  Statism, which has retarded not
only commerce but nearly every decent human endeavor way in discernibly brutal
ways, has been the norm, just as one of the few–relatively speaking–prominent
champions of
 laissezfaire, the late Milton Friedman observed.  And Thomas Jefferson made
it clear to that governments tend to expand in power and freedom tends to be in
retreat more than not.  

So, the point to get clear on, is that the current retreat from
the small measure of
 laissezfaire around
the globe and, especially, America, is quite routine.  Such reactionary
developments do not deserve to be designated as the dawning of "a new
world order." Properly put, these developments would be a return to the
miserable political economies that have dominated the world for over centuries
but with a few short periods of relief here and there.  And such statism
has usually been promoted by those in the ruling classes, like Mr. Altman, who
see in it the makings of a rightly ordered universe.  It is the idea that
you and I and all people ought to be in charge of their own lives and ought to
pursue our various projects freely, in voluntary cooperation instead of as regimented
by these rulers, that is new.  

But those who insist on directing the rest of us even when no one
asked them to, have no interest in getting the historical facts right.
 The idea of
 laissezfaire economics arises from the long suppressed
and struggling idea, finally asserted by the American Founders, that no one may
rule another or, as Abraham Lincoln put it, that “No man is good enough to
govern another man, without that other’s consent.”  The rulers, of course,
would not hear of this, in large part because living by that principle would
deprive them of the opportunity to rule.  (This, more than anything else,
is the source of anti-Americanism in the midst of the world’s upper classes,
given that America is closely linked to the idea Lincoln gave voice to, even if
in reality it hasn’t followed that principles by a long shot!)

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