Re: poly: Re: libertarianism

From: david friedman <>
Date: Tue Feb 17 1998 - 19:03:32 PST

At 1:31 AM -0800 2/17/98, d.brin wrote:

>There was authority in those cultures. Tribal, capricious, with life and
>death decisions made by local 'farmers' (read landowning petty lords) whose
>qualification for such power over their thralls was blood inheritance,
>never mitigated by due process or accountability. Don't get me wrong. I
>respect that Iceland was better than average. But give me the nitpicking
>complexity of modern law. Please.

I don't feel like getting entangled in the whole argument, although I am
curious as to whether you have checked to see if your account or Perry's of
the measurable facts (government employment and non-entitlement spending)
is correct, but your description does not sound much like saga period

1. Tribal? What in Iceland what you describe as a tribe?

2. There were thralls for the first century or so, but they were a tiny
part of the population. Would you describe a farmer whose land is farmed by
himself, his adult sons, a couple of hired men and one thrall as a
"landowning petty lord?" Or are you talking about the Godar, and
misidentifying the Thingmen--who certainly did have legal recourse against
their Godi--as "thralls?"

3. Anyone who thinks that what distinguished Icelandic law from modern law
was *our* law's nitpicking complexity hasn't read _Gragas_--or paid much
attention to the sagas.


>and part has absolutely undeniably been a result of state-mediated goodies
>like sewers, clean water supplies, vaccination campaigns, child labor laws,
>GI Bills, assaults on racism, and universal free public education

You might want to look at West's _Education and the Industrial Revolution_
for some evidence of mass education prior to state involvement. For a brief
summary, check out my article "The Weak Case for Public Schooling" linked
to the libertarian page of my web site:

David Friedman
Received on Wed Feb 18 08:14:50 1998

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