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Theological underpinnings of a Free Society


Thank you for being here today [Fundación Rafael del Pino, Madrid, May 17, 2017]. Once again, it gives me great satisfaction and joy to be able to address you all, at (what I believe is) the Tenth Spanish Conference on Austrian Economics. Typically, my lectures cover topics related to economic theory or libertarian philosophy. Last year, I made an exception, for which I offered a detailed explanation, and I delivered a brief talk on the subject of the political landscape at the time. I believe the situation warranted it. This year, I am going to make another exception, and we will digress briefly into the realm of theology.

A few years back, Professor María Blanco, who may be here today, interviewed me for a book on the leading Spanish economists, and I stressed that in the multidisciplinary approach of the Austrian school, it is very important that we not overlook theology. Philosophy and law are quite necessary, but theology is also key, and it is an area we must explore. Today, I am going to do some research, or at least share a series of reflections on the sphere of theology and its relationship to the libertarian movement.

My first words should be of gratitude, of thanks, to Pope Francis, because he has inspired the content of these reflections. Specifically, I am referring to Pope Francis’s comments on libertarians in his April 28 message to participants in the plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. So, I thank Pope Francis for providing the motivation behind what I am going to say today.

I would like to add that I prepared this lecture in the shade of a pine tree, on the banks of the Mediterranean Sea, at my home in Majorca on Saturday, May 13, 2017 — exactly one hundred years after Our Lady of Fatima first appeared to the three Portuguese shepherd children, Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucia. Incidentally, the main message of Our Lady of Fatima was that a great tragedy was going to strike the world with the Marxist Revolution, the triumph of the Communist Revolution in Russia, and that many prayers should be said for Russia. The prayers seem to have had an effect, and seventy-some years later, the Wall came down, and real socialism disappeared, though it must be said that cultural communism and Marxism are still omnipresent, even in broad areas of the Catholic Church. Therefore, allow me to dedicate my remarks today to Our Lady of Fatima, because a centennial comes around only every one hundred years.


Well, I would like to start from a premise. Our initial premise will be that God exists. Of course, this will come as a shock to many people. Others — believers — will find it obvious. Still others will have their doubts. Many will be put off, especially in a group of economists, philosophers, freedom-loving people, and libertarians, like the group I am in today. However, I would ask that, at least for the sake of argument, even those who do not believe in God make an effort to imagine, for the next few minutes, that God does exist. That is the starting premise of my entire talk today.

And what do I mean by “God”? By “God,” I mean the supreme, loving Creator of all the things and creatures that have been created. Elsewhere, I have developed at some length the theory that one of the most important creatures to be created is the human being, whom God created in his own image and likeness, and that if there is a point of connection between the image and likeness of God and of man, it lies precisely in creative entrepreneurial ability. The human capacity to discover, to see, and to create new things (in-en-prehendo, prehendi, prehensum) connects God and man. I am not going to elaborate on that theory now, since you are already familiar with it, and it is expounded in several of my papers.

Nevertheless, today I will go a step further and attempt to demonstrate that God is not only the supreme, loving Creator of all things, but also a libertarian. This is the main contention of my remarks today. So, what does it mean to be a “libertarian”? Perhaps it is idle of us to pose this question in the context of this conference. A “libertarian” is someone who loves human freedom (which is one and indivisible). Libertarians defend free enterprise, the creative capacity of human beings, and the spontaneous market order. Above all, libertarians abhor the organized, systematic coercion of those monopolistic agencies of violence we know as “states.” In other writings, for instance in my article, “Classical Liberalism versus Anarchocapitalism,” I have examined the reasons the state is not only unnecessary, but also highly inefficient and, more importantly, immoral, and why we must dismantle it.

So, what does it mean to say that God is a libertarian? (This is the next step.) What meaning should we attribute to this phrase or expression? It means that God, the Lord of all the universe, who has created his laws from nothing, and who therefore has absolute power over the Earth and the rest of the universe, nevertheless does not use force, but always leaves his creatures free. He gives them the freedom even to rebel against him. There are the fallen angels, for instance. These are spiritual beings who rebelled against their Creator. God leaves human beings free even to rebel against him. In this sense, human beings are more fortunate than the fallen angels, because happily, humans have been redeemed. In other words, God forgives human beings again and again, and he allows them to get up and start over.

Forced conversion would be contrary to the inherent freedom which characterizes the supreme, loving Creator of all things.

God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He always lets people do as they will; he lets things happen; he allows the universe, with the order he has created, to spontaneously evolve by itself. God lets do; he lets pass; the world goes on by itself. “Laissez faire, laissez passer, le monde va de lui mȇme” could be the motto of our libertarian God. And this is true, even though man tests God again and again and demands that he manifest his supreme power, that he give us crystal clear, undeniable signs of his power — and then we will believe in him. But of course, God does not fall for this, because a forced conversion, the result of a cataclysm, would be contrary to the inherent freedom which characterizes the supreme, loving Creator of all things.

At the time of Jesus, the Zealots (and the world is still full of zealots today) were crying out for the creation of an all-powerful world state, a kingdom of the Messiah, who would exercise his power and impose his will on the whole world. People asked for other signs as well. When Jesus hung, crucified, on the cross, they mocked him and said, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross, and then we will believe in you.” But Jesus, God the Son, a libertarian, did not come down from the cross. And why did he not make fire rain down — wreak devastation — and thus manifest the will of the supreme Creator? Like napalm in the Vietnam War, or Donald Trump’s “mother of all bombs.” Even apostles as beloved by the Son of God as James and John (no less) fall into this temptation when they ask Jesus for permission to call down fire from heaven and exert God’s power. I will read this passage word for word. We find it in St. Luke, chapter 9. It says, “On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.”[1] Why this reaction? Because God — in this case, God the Son — is a libertarian.

And even though he has the power and capacity to establish the best welfare state imaginable, God the Son does not get caught up in any such plan. We have the example of his best-known speech, the Sermon on the Mount, which includes the Beatitudes. There was a crowd of people, and Jesus later took pity on them because they had nothing to eat, and he performed the miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves. They all ate and were satisfied, and they realized that Jesus was capable of feeding the whole world free of charge. It seemed to them like paradise. And what was the reaction of the people? I am afraid that, rather than internalizing the message of the Beatitudes, they were tempted by the chance to achieve, then and there, a welfare state, and they immediately wanted to appoint Jesus head of state; in short: to make him king. Let us see how the Gospel of St. John puts it (6, 14-15). It reads, “When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” Why? Because God the Son is a libertarian.

And the kingdom of God “is not from this world.” Jesus himself says this to a frightened official of the Roman state, who is also in charge of judging him. “My kingdom is not from this world.” This may appear to mean that there are two types of kingdoms or states: the kingdoms of this world, which on their own level are legitimate (remember, “give … to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s”), and the kingdom of God, of heaven (“…and [give] to God the things that are God’s”). That is the standard interpretation, which has prevailed up to now, but I believe it is utterly false from beginning to end.

When Jesus is asked the trick question about paying taxes to the emperor, he gets around it in a very intelligent way. “Show me the coin used for the tax … Whose head is this…?” “The emperor’s.” “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And he avoids problems for the time being, but at no point does he specify what is the emperor’s. Maybe nothing. In fact, Jesus never paid any tax himself. The only time he had to pay a tax, he instructed St. Peter, “…Cast a hook, and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel; take that and give it to them for me and for yourself” (St. Matthew 17:22-27).

I believe the correct interpretation is that the kingdom of God, which is the exact opposite of the kingdoms of this world, of states, and which never systematically uses violence and coercion, is a kingdom that has already arrived. It has been given to us free, in an act of immense mercy and love (Deus Caritas Est), and it should lead to the dismantling of the kingdoms, or states, of this world, because God is a libertarian, and he made man in his own image and likeness.


But what are the origin and the nature of the states or kingdoms of this world? Without a doubt (and I am going to try to demonstrate this here this afternoon), the state is the embodiment or instrument of evil, of the devil. I will show that this is true. But first, allow me to make a brief digression on the origin of the state — the origin of the kingdom (or kingdoms) of this world.

Perhaps the clearest explanation is found in the Old Testament, in the book of First Samuel. There we read how the kingdoms of this world of states emerged with a deliberate act of human rebellion against the kingdom of God. We will read from First Samuel, chapter 8. Up until then, the Israelites had lived in a state of semi-anarchy and had turned to a series of judges or mediators to settle their disagreements. But at a certain point, they approached Samuel and said, “Give us a king to govern us.” In other words, “Give us a state.” We read in First Samuel that Samuel was very displeased by this, and that he turned to God, or Yahweh, and said, “Listen, these people expect us to give them a state.” And what does God, or Yahweh, answer? He literally says the following: “…They have rejected me from being king over them.” That is, the state, the kingdom of this world, arose as the alternative to the kingdom of God. But God is a libertarian, and he lets people do as they will. He lets them do as they will. “You want a state? Go right ahead. But please, Samuel, before they proceed, ‘solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.'” And Samuel, without wasting any time, called the people together and said, “So, you say you want a state? Well, ‘These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He [the state] will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants [just like now]. He will take your menservants and maidservants, and the best of your cattle and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.'” Well, as you can see, the warning of Yahweh is abundantly clear. (And yet, we have the nerve to complain.)

The state is the true Antichrist. That is where humanity’s problem lies.

Anyway, the state is the main instrument of evil. In the state, the evil one wields his power. Who is the evil one? The devil, the fallen angel. What is the goal of the evil one? To destroy the work of God. To destroy the spontaneous order of the universe, which includes the spontaneous order of the market. That is his goal. Who is our enemy? Who is the enemy of libertarians? The devil. We are up against the devil (we have our work cut out for us), and one of his chief manifestations is the state. He is hard but not impossible to overcome, because we have an ally who is much more powerful than the devil. There is no doubt that the state is the embodiment of the devil. But I am not the one who says it. There would be no merit in that. It would be an argument from authority. “Professor Huerta de Soto says God exists and the state is the embodiment of the devil.” An argument from authority. I am not the one who says this. No. St. Luke the Evangelist says it, and the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger, really drives it home in his very remarkable biography titled Jesus de Nazareth. In the first to be published of the three volumes, there is a sublime chapter in which the author comments on each of the temptations God the Son (that is, Jesus) was subjected to.

And in St. Luke, chapter 4, starting with verse 5, we find a description of the third temptation, the gravest and the strongest. The gospel reads, “And the devil took him up, and showed him all the kingdoms [that is, all the states] of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, ‘To you I will give all this authority and their glory; [and the following words of the devil, recorded by the evangelist, are key:] for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours.'” Thus, according to the devil himself, all of the states on the Earth are under his command and depend on him. So, we can understand why they inflict so much harm. What does Jesus answer? Jesus says, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'” Why is that? Because God is a libertarian.

Ratzinger himself (What a pope! What a brilliant mind!) warns that the main threat of our time lies precisely in the deification of human reason and in the attempt, through pseudo-scientific so-called social engineering and the state, and led by governments, authorities and experts, to create nirvana, an earthly paradise, here and now in the world. Humanity’s great problem is that we have turned the state into a golden calf everyone worships. The state is the true Antichrist. That is where humanity’s problem lies.

Let us see how Ratzinger explains it in Jesus of Nazareth, because he does so very precisely. I will read his words. He writes (and I quote), “The tempter is not so crude as to suggest to us directly that we should worship the devil. He merely suggests that we … choose to give priority to a planned and thoroughly organized world…” He later mentions Soloviev as follows: “Soloviev attributes to the Antichrist a book entitled The Open Way to World Peace and Welfare. This book becomes something of a new Bible, whose real message is the worship of well-being and rational planning.” Benedict XVI returns to this idea in his encyclical Spe Salvi, in paragraph 30, where he strongly condemns (quote), “…the hope of creating a perfect world … thanks to scientific knowledge and to scientifically based politics…” Ratzinger also gave a wonderful speech before the German parliament, in which he said [quoting St. Augustine], “Without justice – what else is the State but a great band of robbers?” And you and I know that both today and historically, and both quantitatively and qualitatively, the main violators and enemies of justice (and law) have been precisely the state and the government. To put it another way, the phrase “a state governed by the rule of law” is a contradiction in terms. There is no greater enemy of Law (with a capital L) than the state. We are daily witnesses to this, from the time we get up to the time we go to bed. Well, if the chief enemy of Law is the state, and Ratzinger himself has already made clear that a government or state which is not subject to the rule of law is actually a band of robbers, the conclusion of the syllogism is crystal clear: states and governments are bands of robbers.

Incidentally, Ratzinger makes another very important point. He says, “Do you know when the church got off track? It is quite simple: the moment it became the official state church.” He says it got off track not as you might think, with the Edict of Thessalonica, which made it the official church of the empire, but before that, with Constantine. The Edict of Milan — religious freedom, the year three hundred thirteen. But a few years later, in the year three hundred twenty-one, what did Constantine do? He declared Sunday an official day of rest throughout the empire, in honor of Christians. And several years after that, the Council of Nicea. “Okay, the bishops can assemble and arrive at consensuses and agreements, but these will be valid only if I, Constantine, approve them.” After that, the Catholic Church was lost. It became an institution in cahoots with the state. Now we can understand many historical atrocities, including the Crusades and genocidal institutions like the Inquisition, since the church in many instances became an instrument of evil as the official state church. That is why, according to Ratzinger, it is vital to separate the two institutions.

However, from an intellectual standpoint, the greatest harm lies elsewhere. For centuries and centuries, the Church has been the official state church, and as a result, a legion of intellectuals, of theologians, have devoted all of their efforts to attempting to justify the unjustifiable; namely, that the state is legitimate. Let us hope that the Church changes direction, and that starting now, it overcomes its Stockholm syndrome and begins to denounce the state, rather than the spontaneous market order.


Still, what most disciplines the wicked is the market.

I believe I have established that out of love, God gives us his kingdom; that God is a creator and a libertarian; and that the main threat to the kingdom of God lies in the deification of human reason, The Fatal Conceit, the title of Hayek’s last work. And specifically, it lies in the states, or kingdoms, of this world, which embody systematic evil. Then, what should be the guiding theme of our daily actions? That is obvious. We must devote all of our intellectual and physical efforts and energy, all of our being, to the dismantling of states and the advancement of God’s spontaneous order based on love and voluntary cooperation. Logically, this involves promoting the market, private property, the entrepreneurial economy, free enterprise, the spontaneous market order. As a necessary (in any case) but not a sufficient condition, human beings must also have the guidance of ethics and morality. Still, what most disciplines the wicked is the market. For the market obliges us, in a context of voluntary cooperation, to engage in conversation with others, to try to discover their needs and peacefully satisfy them. It obliges us to preserve a reputation, if we want people to keep doing business with us in the future. This explains why the great Montesquieu arrived at the conclusion that “wherever there is commerce, there we meet with agreeable manners.” For as Pope Saint John Paul II very clearly stated, in the market, man collaborates “in a progressively expanding chain of solidarity.” This chain reaches the remotest corners of human life.

Actually, I have been reviewing the statements John Paul II makes on the church’s social doctrine in Centesimus Annus, and they really are spectacular. Let us recall a few. John Paul II writes the following (and I quote): “When a firm makes a profit, this means that productive factors have been properly employed and corresponding human needs have been duly satisfied.” Therefore, profit should be sought not out of greed, but as a sign of doing good to others. Pope John Paul II also writes, “…The principle task of the State is to guarantee [private property, among other essentials]…” Bravo, John Paul! “…to guarantee [individual freedom and private property, among other essentials] so that those who work and produce can enjoy the fruits of their labours and thus feel encouraged to work efficiently and honestly.” He also says, “…Where self-interest is violently suppressed [by the state — who else?], it is replaced by a burdensome system of bureaucratic control which dries up the wellsprings of initiative and creativity.” This happens to us every day in the oppressive environment in which we live.

He specifically criticizes the welfare state. He says that “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions…” He affirms that “…needs are best understood and satisfied by people who are closest to them and who act as neighbours to those in need.” He criticizes the welfare state as follows: “By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending.” And what is the just price? What does John Paul II consider the just price? We often hear that “People must pay the just wage.” But what is the just price? The Holy Father responds that it is the one “mutually agreed upon through free bargaining.” Those are the very words of Pope Saint John Paul II.

A Catholic must support private-property anarchy.

And what conclusion do I come to? I come to the conclusion that a Catholic must be a libertarian on social issues. I go even further. A Catholic must support private-property anarchy. Indeed, we have just heard a defense of private property. True economic science shows that the only way a stateless system could possibly work is through the spontaneous market order and the private provision of all public goods. That is the highest stage of civilization conceivable–the embodiment of the kingdom of God, to the greatest extent humanly possible, here on Earth. Private-property anarchy; or if you prefer, we can call it “libertarian capitalism,” though that term frightens John Paul II here. He reflects on the word “capitalism” and basically says, “Well, since everything negative has, for decades and decades, been described as ‘capitalism,’ I propose we use another term. Which one? ‘Business economy,’ ‘market economy,’ or ‘free economy.'” But why? Let us call things by their names. Libertarian capitalism; private-property anarchy; or the best expression of all: anarchocapitalism. From a scientific standpoint, this expression is far more accurate than, for instance, “self-government,” or other terms which lead to confusion and are truly mellifluous. Let us be proud of being private-property anarchists — anarchocapitalists. In fact, God is a libertarian, and he is on our side.

Etymologically, according to the Dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy, “anarchy” means “the absence of all public authority.” The expression is perfect. Everything would be private, and there would be no public authority. Archein comes from Greek. It means “rule.” Archein — rule, public authority. “Anarchy”: no public authority. Another term that can be used is akrata, from the Greek kratos, which means “absolute power.” This reminds me of the famous anecdote of Hayek’s declaring himself an enemy of democracy. Demos – kratos. He says “Kratos means ‘absolute power,’ and I am against all absolute power. Absolute power, even if backed by the people, is not viable.” So, Hayek proposes another name — isonomy or demarchy. You have all studied this already, in the three volumes of Law, Legislation, and Liberty. No absolute power — akrasia, akrata. Let us be proud to be anarchocapitalists and akratas.


I will conclude my remarks today with some verses by a great Spanish libertarian, a great anarchist who was born in Seville — Melchor Rodríguez. I do not know if you have heard of him. Melchor Rodríguez García. He was briefly the Mayor of Madrid, the last under the Spanish Republic. Together with Colonel Casado and General Cipriano Mera, two anarchist comrades, he staged a coup d’état against the communist forces and those of President Negrín (who was Stalin’s puppet) to end the civil war, and they were the ones who handed Madrid over to the forces of General Franco.

Melchor Rodríguez is also known as the “Red Angel.” And why is he known as the “Red Angel”? Because he saved over twelve thousand, five hundred prisoners (in the jails of Madrid) from being murdered or lynched. The illegal removal of prisoners in Madrid, which ended in the Paracuellos executions, and for which the communist Santiago Carrillo was directly responsible (by act or omission), was immediately halted the moment Melchor Rodríguez was appointed General Inspector of Prisons by the Minister of Justice, García Oliver, a fellow anarchist. Immediately. Rodríguez García arrived, took up his post, and said, “It is prohibited for anyone to leave between seven in the evening and seven in the morning without my direct authorization by telephone.” The executions stopped.

It goes without saying that there followed a huge smear campaign against Melchor Rodríguez, who was a leading figure in the anarchosyndicalist movement in Spain. He was accused of being a traitor to the republic, but he responded, “You are the traitors; you have stained with blood the noble doctrine of anarchy.” And he added, “One may die for an ideal, but never kill for one.” Perhaps the most sublime example of dying for an ideal is provided by God the Son — Jesus. He died for the ideal of redeeming all mankind. There is no doubt that he was a victim of reasons of state and of a political plot. A victim of state violence… Melchor Rodríguez was asked, “Why have you done this? Why do you defend the fifth columnists we have in jail? Are you perhaps a Catholic sympathizer?” Melchor Rodríguez responded, “I did it not because I am Catholic, but because I am a libertarian,” unaware that Catholic and libertarian may have been two sides of the same coin. In addition, Melchor Rodríguez García, though he belonged to the Iberian Anarchist Federation, also belonged to a group called “Los Libertos,” who defended these pacifist and freedom-based views.

Four months later, he was dismissed from his post and appointed (note what a tough job) General Inspector of Cemeteries in Madrid. With his team, he occupied the palace of the Marquis de Viana, here in Madrid. He began by making an inventory of all the contents of the palace. And notice how respectful of private property this anarchosyndicalist was. When the owner recovered the palace after the war, he expressly told authorities that not one single silver teaspoon was missing. The Red Angel, Melchor Rodríguez, did not have the chance to get an education. He was born into an extremely poor family, and he made a living as a bullfighter, but that career was cut short. He devoted himself body and soul to promoting the anarchist ideal, but from this freedom perspective I am talking about. When the war was over, he was tried and condemned to death by Franco, but fortunately, and thanks to two thousand, five hundred signatures of people who were saved through his good offices, including General Muñoz Grandes, he was pardoned. He spent a few years in jail and returned to civilian life. And he lived out the rest of his days, until the year 1972, in which he died, practicing the noble profession of insurance agent for the company Adriática, which makes him doubly likable to me. And I have no doubt that if Melchor Rodríguez had had the opportunity to receive an education, and he were here with us today, the Red Angel would be an anarchocapitalist.

And I conclude with the verses he wrote. I quote:

“Anarchy means:
Beauty, love, poetry
Equality, fraternity
Feeling, freedom
Culture, art, harmony
Reason, the supreme guide,
Science, the exalted truth
Life, nobility, goodness
Satisfaction, joy
All of this is anarchy And anarchy, humanity.”
And anarchy, humanity.”

[1]   All Bible quotations are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition.

Jesús  Huerta de Soto

Jesús Huerta de Soto

Jesús Huerta de Soto is Professor of Political Economy at King Juan Carlos University (Madrid, Spain), author of many books on theory and history, and one of the world’s leading Austrian School economists. 

This article was originally published on Read the original article.


Catalonia Shows the Danger of Disarming Civilians

 Since the tragic murder of 59 peaceful concertgoers in Las Vegas Sunday, I’ve heard well-intentioned Americans from all political corners echoing heartbroken and tempting refrains:

Can’t we just ban guns?

Surely we can all get together on the rocket launchers.

Things like this would happen less often.

We have enough military.

While victims were still in surgery, some took to television and social media to criticize the “outdated” and “dangerous” Second Amendment to the Constitution. They have lived so long in a safe, stable society that they falsely believe armed citizens are a threat to life and liberty for everyone.

Those who claim to see no necessity or benefits of individual gun ownership need only look to the rolling hills of Catalonia, where a live social experiment is currently unfolding.

Unarmed Patriots

Just hours before an alleged lone gunman opened fire from the Mandalay Bay casino, the citizens of a small region surrounding Barcelona, Spain, cast a vote for their regional independence. Catalonia’s citizens have a unique language, culture, and history, and consider Spain a neighboring power, not their rightful rulers. So as America’s Continental Congress heroically did (and as Texans and Californians occasionally threaten to do) Catalonia wished to declare independence and secede.

Spain has enacted, it would seem, the kind of “common sense restrictions” American gun-control advocates crave.

Polling stations in Catalonia were attacked by heavily armed agents of the state with riot gear and pointed rifles. Spanish National Police fired rubber bullets and unleashed tear gas canisters on voters, broke down polling center doors, disrupted the vote, and destroyed enough ballots to throw results into serious doubt.

Exceedingly few of those would-be patriots were armed.

In Spain, firearm ownership is not a protected individual right. Civilian firearms licenses are restricted to “cases of extreme necessity” if the government finds “genuine reason.” Background checks, medical exams, and license restrictions further restrict access. Licenses are granted individually by caliber and model, with automatic weapons strictly forbidden to civilians. Police can demand a citizen produce a firearm at any time for inspection or confiscation. Spain has enacted, it would seem, the kind of “common sense restrictions” American gun-control advocates crave.

But of course, that doesn’t mean that Spanish citizens don’t buy guns. In fact, Spanish taxpayers maintain an enormous arsenal of weapons, which are all in the hands “professional armed police forces within the administration of the state, who are the persons in charge of providing security to the population.”

Those agents of the state weren’t “providing security to the population” of Catalonia on Sunday — they were pointing guns at would-be founding patriots who had challenged the rule of their oppressors.

“If somebody tries to declare the independence of part of the territory — something that cannot be done — we will have to do everything possible to apply the law,” Spain’s justice minister said in a public address.  While many polling places were closed or barricaded, 2.3 million voters (90% in favor of independence) were permitted to vote, he claimed, “because the security forces decided that it wasn’t worth using force because of the consequences that it could have.”

The consequences of a government using force to control those it is sworn to protect must be high. When citizens are armed, the consequences for tyranny rise and its likelihood falls.

Armed Tyrants

Americans have grown too trustful of the State, too ready to assume bureaucrats have only our best interests at heart. Even with a maniacal man-child in the Oval Office, many are seemingly eager to turn over individual liberty to those who promise to manage our lives for us. The United States was designed to be the smallest government in the history of the world, with no standing army, and little right to intrude in the private activities of its citizens. Instead, we have the most powerful and intrusive government in human history, with 800 permanent military bases in 70 countries, unfathomable firepower, and staggering surveillance capabilities. Unchecked abuses of power are routine and tolerated.

67 federal agencies, including the IRS and the FDA, have military weapons, according to the OpenTheBooks Oversight Report The Militarization of America. Among the most intrusive programs, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Safety Authority, do not disclose their weaponry budget.

Don’t say “Americans shouldn’t be allowed to buy guns” when what you mean is “citizens should only be allowed to buy guns for their rulers.”


The number of armed government officials with arrest and firearm authority has doubled since 1996. The US now has more armed “civilian” federal officers (200,000+) than US Marines (182,000). The IRS spends millions of taxpayer dollars annually on pump-action shotguns, AR-15 rifles, riot gear, and Special Forces contractors to train thousands of “special agents” in targeting American citizens.

Local police, sheriffs, and state troopers have also been armed to wage war against American citizens.  Battlefield weapons are being given to state and local police, allegedly to combat drug trafficking and fight terrorist threats at local pumpkin festivals. Military SWAT-style raids are used to serve search warrants for low-level drug possession, not hostage situations. Relatives and neighbors of alleged criminals have had government guns held to their children’s heads. Violations of civil rights, including illegal searches and the seizure of money and property without evidence of any crime, are commonplace.   

Law enforcement requests military equipment directly from the Pentagon’s war-fighting machine: tanks, machine guns, rocket launchers, tear gas, camouflage, shields, and gas masks.  Military equipment is often purchased with civil asset forfeiture slush funds to bypass legislative appropriations challenges.

The high percentage of civilian law enforcement who are military veterans (one in five, by some estimates) compounds the cultural risks of treating average Americans like enemy combatants.

Showdowns between civilians and heavily armed agents of the state in Ferguson, Baltimore, the Oregon Wildlife Refuge, and at various other political protests across the country should remind us that gun control advocates won’t be reducing the number of guns so much as shifting them all into either federal or criminal hands.

The senseless murder in Las Vegas is a frighteningly familiar tragedy. But don’t say “Americans shouldn’t be allowed to buy guns” when what you mean is “citizens should only be allowed to buy guns for their rulers.”

Laura Williams

Laura Williams

Dr. Laura Williams teaches communication strategy to undergraduates and executives. She is a passionate advocate for critical thinking, individual liberties, and the Oxford Comma.

This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Secession Is a Solution for Deep Political Division

Sometimes in a relationship you just need to go your separate ways. Sometimes it gets to the point where you lose the joy that brought you together and maintaining the relationship becomes a hellish ordeal. If you try to duke it out for too long resentment builds. Resentment will eventually turn to hate. At this point, when just sheer momentum is holding you together and nothing more, all you experience is pain.

It’s not you, it’s me.

Think of how much more peaceful the world would be if we were allowed to make this decision for ourselves.

This situation is as true for romantic relationships as it is for all others. But the most enduring relationship, one that conventional wisdom doesn’t even allow us to question, is the political one that binds us to everyone else around us.

Except by great effort and expense, we don’t typically get to choose our partners in a political relationship. We are born into it. There’s no courtship, no taking into account of our personal preferences. It just is.

And like a romantic relationship gone sour, this forced betrothal to the hundreds of millions around us is the principal cause of society’s problems. Unable to go our separate ways from people we don’t like or who we don’t agree with, resentment builds. And as we see particularly with the current election, that resentment eventually turns into hate.

It is surprising how civil people are to one another when they are not bound to them.

The market is a prime example of this. With people free to interact socially or economically, or not, with those around them we see a relatively peaceful, civil, and courteous environment. If I don’t like you or the way you do business then I don’t have to associate with you (modern “civil rights” laws notwithstanding). We’re polite to each other (hopefully), we part ways, and we go back to being happy.

Contrast this with politics.

Why One Ruler for All?

Political ideas often go right to the core of people. Many hold their political ideas as a key part of their identity and as such they are extremely important to them. But in politics you are prevented from solely interacting with, and building a community with people who have similar values and political ideas. We are forced to hear and live under ideas that we may find repulsive or even inhuman.

The slavers were forced to live under the same roof as the abolitionists, the pro-lifers with the pro-choicers, the Left with the Right, the Trump crazies with the Clinton lunatics, individualists with collectivists, the pro-liberty people with everyone else, and the list goes on and on.

But why?

Why do we need to submit to people and ideas that go against our own convictions?

Sometimes you just need to say, “Hey, you’re a good person and I wish you the best, but I just feel like I need to go my own way. It’s not you, it’s me.”

Think of how much more peaceful the world would be if we were allowed to make this decision for ourselves. Think if every region, state, city, and individual were allowed the freedom to build or be a part of a society based around their own values and those of like-minded people. The animosity that builds as a result of having to tolerate and accept the ideas which we perceive as wrong or harmful would largely disappear. You would still not like people, and their ideas might still bother you, but you wouldn’t have to live with them, and you wouldn’t be subject to their political force.

These attempted and successful secession movements were simply groups of people no longer satisfied with the existing political order and wishing to go their separate ways.

In a word, what I am describing is secession: the severing of political ties to an entity or group that you no longer wish to be associated with. This is an idea that everyone should be able to get behind. But for some reason it is considered so far beyond conventional political discourse, beyond the Overton Window, that it isn’t even thought of.

In spite of this, we do have historical examples that school teaches us to look favorably upon. Namely, the American Revolution, Texas Revolution, The Hartford Convention, and the proposed Abolitionist Secession prior to the Civil War. Our most modern example (though perhaps not looked upon favorably by the establishment) is the secession of the UK from the European Union.

These attempted and successful secession movements were simply groups of people no longer satisfied with the existing political order and wishing to go their separate ways. And though the term “secession” has been tainted since the Southern States’ fateful attempt to leave the Union, we need to understand that the term merely denotes the innocuous idea of people building a political and economic order that is more in line with their values.

Denial and Disgust

This election is sufficient to show us the necessity of the principle of secession. The amount of hostility around the candidates and their supporters is bringing the political order to the breaking point. There is going to be more opposition, denial, and disgust than we have ever seen since perhaps the Election of 1860. And we all know how that one ended.

But is it so crazy to think that maybe people should be allowed to set up political and governance systems that are more in tune with what they hold dear? What is the point of forcibly binding together people who never see eye to eye on anything, and who have a relationship that is increasingly spilling over into pure and open hatred?

Like a romantic relationship whose time has come, maybe the time has come to at least discuss a divorce of some of our political relationships. 320 million people is a political love-entanglement gone way too far.

Cut out the things we don’t like. Remove the things that cause us pain and go from there. This is how most of us try to live every other area of our lives.

Let’s try it for politics.

Ryan Miller

Ryan Miller

Ryan Miller is a University of Michigan graduate, freelance translator, and aspiring blogger. He is also a Praxis participant in the September 2016 cohort.

This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Secession – Road to Nowhere (or Somewhere)

We’re on a road to nowhere

Come on inside

Takin’ that ride to nowhere

We’ll take that ride

I’m feelin’ okay this mornin’

And you know

We’re on the road to paradise

Here we go, here we go

–        Talking Heads

Sheldon Richman has written a piece addressing secession: “TGIF: Is Secession by Referendum Libertarian?”  I call it the libertarian road to nowhere, but this is standard fare and to be expected from many who self-describe as left-libertarians.

Living in the vacuum of theory or in some libertarian fantasy world (both of which happen to be places where many libertarian thinkers live), the answer to Richman’s question is a resounding “no.”

I have concerns about secession by referendum. Individual secession, of course, is no problem; that’s simply libertarianism.

My concerns about group (not individual) secession are over the process of peaceful separation, namely, the referendum. Libertarians have long criticized political democracy — that is, the settling of “public” matters by majority vote either directly or through so-called representatives — as inherently violative of individual rights. By what authority does a majority lord it over a minority?

Well, doesn’t this critique apply to referenda on secession?

Richman asks: why should the minority – those who may prefer to stay within the old system – be forced to secede?  It is a fair question.  If you want pure theory, a political vote is not libertarian as a minority is forced to the will of the majority.  I agree with this wholeheartedly.

With this preamble out of the way, let’s get to the meat of Richman’s piece:

Does this mean we libertarians have no remedy for people who wish not to live under the central government of a large nation-state?

Great!  Let’s have Richman’s solution:

Of course we have: anarchism, in which each individual is sovereign and free to contract with market firms for security and dispute resolution.

So…since libertarians cannot support secession by referendum, we are left with convincing seven billion people of the value of political, individual anarchy.  They will all just opt out at the same moment – no pushback from the state or even their neighbors.  All of them, simultaneously, having this “aha” moment.

This is Richman’s solution.

Expanding on this idea, he cites Roderick Long:

The concept of panarchy comes from an 1860 work of that title by the Belgian botanist and political economist Paul Émile de Puydt (1810-1891). The essence of his panarchist proposal is that people should be free to choose the political regime under which they will live without having to relocate to a different territory.

Under panarchism, individuals could in effect secede, but their next-door neighbors need not. Problem solved! This may not satisfy nationalists big and small, but it would protect individuals.

That’s it, lickety-split!  “Problem solved!”  Seven billion people will simultaneously grasp the concept that they do not have to live under the same governmental jurisdiction as their neighbor!

I have not taken leave of my senses. I realize that panarchism is not on today’s agenda. But it will never be on it if we never talk about it. With secession and conflict in the news, what could be a better time?

I am fully supportive of talking about ideas and especially ideas supportive of decentralization.  Does this support for discussion therefore exclude the possibility of supporting an action that helps bring a decentralizing idea one step closer to fruition?

Let’s Compare

Richman’ road to nowhere: somehow, after we talk about it for a while, seven people will spontaneously decide to secede – to break from their current, forced, political bonds and form new, voluntary bonds.  They will all simultaneously grasp the idea that they do not have to live under the same governmental jurisdiction as their neighbor.

bionic’s road to somewhere: libertarianism in theory is decentralization in practice.  We will not get from something less than 200 political units to seven billion or 1.5 billion (one per household) or even a few thousand without getting to 201 first.

The libertarian solution for those within a seceding unit who do not wish to secede is to support the next secession and the next one and the next one.  But we won’t get to the fourth secession (or four-hundredth or four-thousandth) without supporting the first one.

The western world is handing libertarians the solution to all of our pontificating on a silver platter, yet too many libertarians (and Richman isn’t alone) are unable to grasp this. There is not a country in the western world that is immune from this reality today – current polities are fracturing.

Libertarians such as Richman are perfectly acceptable to those who support the status quo.  They are harmless; they are “safe” to the regime; they pose absolutely no danger.

Libertarians such as these are on a road to nowhere.

Posted by bionic mosquito at 5:57 AM

Originally published here:

Bionic Mosquito


Libertarian Self-Government

Hans Herman Hoppe,as always, highlighting critical points aiding the advancement of a free society.


Lessons from the EU for Cape Independence

Have you ever heard of Deutsch Jahrndorf? No? I don’t blame you. The tiny Austrian village, which is situated four miles from the Danube, is utterly unremarkable, except for the fact that it sits on the border of three countries. To the east is Slovakia. To the south lies Hungary. As such, within shouting distance of one another, live three peoples speaking completely unintelligible languages. Austria belongs to the West Germanic language group, Hungary to Finno-Ugric and Slovakia to West Slavic.

I thought about the exquisitely rich tapestry of European languages, cultures, customs, and nationalities as I watched the sad spectacle of Spanish riot police and Catalan separatists confronting one another on the streets of Barcelona. How on earth can the European Union unite that which history forced asunder?

The Folly of the EU

The European Union, French President Emmanuel Macron has recently declared to almost universal acclaim, needs more unity, including the creation of “a eurozone budget managed by a eurozone parliament and a eurozone finance minister”.

Therein lies the conundrum of European unification.

The need for the centralization of power in Brussels is, apparently, the lesson that the EU establishment has learned from the outcome of the British referendum on EU membership. Meanwhile, in Catalonia, millions of people have set their sights on independence from Spain. Foremost among their complaints is that the Catalan budget is influenced by Madrid.

Independence, the Catalans feel, will rectify a grave injustice occasioned by the French capture of Barcelona in 1714. The conqueror, Duke of Anjou, became the first Bourbon king of Spain under the name of Philip V. His descendant, Philip VI, is on the throne today. In Europe, ancient lineages last as long as ancient resentments.

Therein lies the conundrum of European unification. On the one hand, people throughout much of Europe desire greater autonomy. Madrid has the vexing problem of the Basque Country to worry about as well as Catalonia. In Italy, Padania and South Tyrol in the North don’t feel like they have very much in common with the Mezzogiorno in the South. Corsica does not want to be French and Britain has only recently revisited a territorial arrangement that dates back to 1707.

On the other hand, every separatist movement in Europe declares its support for the project of European unification. But, how likely is it that people annoyed by Madrid, Rome, Paris, and London will be happy to have their affairs decided upon in Brussels? Will the Catalans, resentful of subsidizing farmers in Andalusia, quietly have no problem with subsidizing Polish peasants in Lower Silesia?

How Did It Go So Wrong?

Speaking of Brussels, it is both the seat of the increasingly dysfunctional EU and the capital of Flanders, which wants to separate from Belgium. It’s complicated.

On a continent inhabited by a multitude of diverse peoples with no shared identity, Macron’s proposal, if implemented, will surely prove to be the EU’s undoing.

Years from now, when the EU is either reformed beyond recognition or gone, historians will debate what went wrong and when. The Maastricht Treaty of 1992, which reinvigorated the British Eurosceptic movement that ultimately delivered Brexit, will be one of the obvious culprits. But I think that the problems of European integration are of an older vintage. Perhaps because it was signed by none other than Margaret Thatcher, the Single European Act of 1986 does not get the attention it deserves. Yet it was SEA that eliminated the national veto in a number of crucial policy areas and replaced it with qualified majority voting (QMV). Thatcher acceded to this new arrangement, for it was meant to break down intra-European trade barriers and transform the fledgling “common market” into a freer “single market”. Unfortunately, the introduction of QMV also meant that, occasionally, individual nation states got outvoted on issues they cared deeply about. Accusations of “meddling from Brussels” grew.

To make matters worse, the SEA engorged the powers of the Commission. That proved to be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the Commission went after the anti-competitive practices of nation states with gusto. On the other hand, it used its new powers to start over-regulating economic activity. The regulatory and protectionist impulses of the nation states, in other words, were replaced by regulatory and protectionist impulses at the pan-European level and Europe became less competitive vis-á-vis the rest of the world. Maastricht and the Lisbon Treaty sped up the excessive centralization of power in Brussels that was already underway and transformed the European Economic Community into the EU with its own flag, anthem, and currency.

To those symbols of statehood, President Macron now wishes to add a financial transfer union, which, he feels, is necessary to make a success of the single currency. On a continent inhabited by a multitude of diverse peoples with no shared identity, Macron’s proposal, if implemented, will surely prove to be the EU’s undoing.

Reprinted from CapX

Marian L. Tupy

Marian L. Tupy

Marian L. Tupy is the editor of and a senior policy analyst at the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.

This article was originally published on Read the original article.

John Fairbairn

From Wikipedia. Fairbairn's involvement in media, and his struggle against the Cape Governor Lord Charles Somerset before entering politics is something we need to take cognisance of.

John Fairbairn (educator)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
John Fairbairn
John Fairbairn Esq - Cape Educator and Politician.jpg
Born 9 April 1794
Roxburghshire, Scotland
Died 5 October 1864 (aged 70)
Cape TownCape Colony
Occupation Teacher, newspaper proprietor, politician and financier

John Fairbairn (9 April 1794 – 5 October 1864) was a newspaper proprietor, educator, financier and politician of the Cape Colony.

According to the Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa, “The embryo of the State education system we know today, trial by jury, the principle of the mutual life assurance company – all these were fruits of his endeavours at the Cape”.[1]

Early life

John Fairbairn was born in Carolside Mill in the Parish of LegerwoodBerwickshire, Scotland on 9 April 1794, the son of James Fairbairn and Agnes[2] Brack, who married at Lauder, Berwickshire 20 March 1783, James living in the Parish of Westruther, Berwickshire at the time.[3]

He attended the University of Edinburgh where he studied Medicine “acquiring at the same time a more than passing knowledge of classical languages and mathematics”.[4] He did not graduate and, in 1818, he turned to education, and for more than 5 years taught at Bruce’s Academy in Newcastle upon Tyne. Here he also joined the Literary and Philosophical Society.

In 1822, Thomas Pringle persuaded him to emigrate to Cape Town, promising a literary and teaching career in the recently annexed Cape Colony.

Newspaper proprietor

Fairbairn arrived in Table Bay on 11 October 1823 aboard the brig Mary. The Cape at the time was under the authoritarian control of the British Governor Lord Charles Somerset. Both the school and the scientific society which Pringle and Fairbairn tried to establish, both were obstructed and shut in 1824-1825 because of the Governor’s disapproval of their activities.

With Pringle, he then turned to editing. Together they founded a periodical, the South African Journal in 1824, but the Governor closed it in the same year. They then founded another periodical, the New Organ in 1826 but it immediately suffered the same fate.

The Commercial Advertiser

He and Pringle had been invited by George Greig in January 1824 to take over the editing of The South African Commercial Advertiser, southern Africa’s first private and independent newspaper. The Governor censored the paper in May 1824, due to the reporting of a libel case that the Governor was already involved in. The newspaper reopened in 1825 with Fairbairn as the only editor, and he continued until 1859. He became sole owner too in 1835, when he purchased Greig’s shares.

The newspaper faced further suppression, and in 1827 Fairbairn travelled to London to seek justice. He was given permission to open the newspaper again, but only if he avoided all controversy regarding politics or public persons. By this time, Fairbairn had acquired a considerable following among the normal citizens of the Cape Colony.

In 1829, the press was given freedom from the Governor’s control, but still were bound by strong libel rules. Three decades later in 1859, Fairbairn was eventually to help pass the bill in parliament to end these restrictions.

Fairbairn was strongly liberal, and had been a radical abolitionist in his early career. Via his newspaper, he publicly maintained that most conflict on the frontier was entirely the fault of the colonists, not of the Xhosa, and he advocated equal treaties with the Xhosa states based on international law. He therefore supported the frontier policy of Andries Stockenstrom which aspired to establish exactly that.

In the mid-1830s, the Commercial Advertiser, representing the Cape Town liberals, was engaged in a “newspaper war” with the main newspaper of the conservative eastern frontier, Robert Godlonton‘s Grahamstown Journal. The country’s main Dutch newspaper, De Zuid Afrikaan ended up siding with the Grahamstown Journal. In spite of the pressure, Fairbairn maintained his position of siding with the Xhosa, up until the outbreak of the 7th Frontier War (1846), when the circumstances of its outbreak led him to become disillusioned and pessimistic regarding the entire frontier situation. He even publicly condemned the Xhosa chiefs for their actions.

Family life


Fairbairn married Elizabeth (Eliza) Philip, daughter of John Philip on 24 May 1831. Fairbairn’s wife, Eliza, died on 30 May 1840, four days after the birth of May Emma, at the age of twenty-eight. Fairbairn never remarried, and spent the remainder of his life as a widower.

Five children were born to Fairbairn and Eliza.

  • Jane Agnes b. 1832. m. F.S. Watermeyer; the parents of Ben Watermeyer and several other MPs.
  • John Philip b. 1834. Drowned in the Gamtoos River near Hankey in the Eastern Cape on 1 July 1845
  • James Alexander b. 1836. m. Kate Lamb
    • John b. 1863. m. Winifred Difford d. 12 November 1925. Buried in St. Saviour’s Church Cemetery, Claremont, Cape Town[5]
      • John b.1912. m. Rozanne Robinson. Annexed Marion Island for South Africa in 1947 during Operation Snoektown
  • Elizabeth Ann Wills (Eliza) b. 1838.
  • May Emma b. and d. 1840.

As a widower, Fairbairn was responsible for the education of his children. Jane and Eliza were sent to a private school in Claremont, Mrs Rose’s School for Ladies.

Political career

The convict ship (1849-50)

The British Government made an attempt in 1849 to form a penal settlement at the Cape, but when the ship Neptune arrived at Simon’s Bay, with 282 convicts aboard, the citizens protested and boycotted any persons or institutions having dealings with her. Fairbairn became Secretary of the “Anti-Convict Association” which formed in May 1849 under the leadership of Hercules Jarvis and other local leaders. Fairbairn led a radical faction however, which fought to ensure that no supplies whatsoever was obtainable, either for the convicts or for the troops.

A few months later, Fairbairn’s actions caused the Chairman and moderates of the Association to resign, and left Fairbairn for a while as the sole leader of the association in Cape Town. Riots and public disorder ensued.

During the riots, Fairbairn was even attacked and assaulted in his house at Sea Point by government thugs, who also wrecked his house. In the end the colonists were victorious, and on 21 February 1850, the Neptune set sail for Tasmania.[6][7]

Fight for Representative Government (1850-1854)

Fairbairn was deeply involved in the struggle by the local Cape citizens to attain “Representative Government” in the form of an elected Parliament.

In 1850, Fairbairn was popularly elected to the small and relatively powerless “Legislative Council”, together with three other local leaders. However the Governor Harry Smith added an additional, un-elected member, Fairbairn’s old enemy the conservative Robert Godlonton, who favoured greater Imperial control over southern Africa. Conflict ensued, as Fairbairn (supported by the other elected or “popular” members) condemned the move and asked that the Council be suspended until it could be re-constituted as a proper, fully elected and representative council. Fairbairn also argued against any property qualification for election (franchise qualifications were however the norm at the time). Eventually the four “popular members” published their “Eleven Reasons” for their protest, and resigned.

Encouraged by the Cape Town municipality, they met with other popularly elected leaders, and drew up a draft constitution (“The Sixteen Articles”). Fairbairn and Stockenstrom then travelled to London to get approval of the constitution, but was unsuccessful.

Member of the First Parliament (1854-1864)

When the Cape finally obtained a Parliament in 1854, Fairbairn was immediately elected as a member of the Assembly (lower house) representing Swellendam. He held this seat for ten years, up until his death in 1864.

He was initially proposed as Speaker of the first Parliament, but narrowly lost to Christoffel Brand. He was also an early supporter of the move for “responsible government” – the next step in the Cape’s gradual independence, which entailed an elected Executive. Later, the first Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, John Molteno, hailed John Fairbairn as father of representative government and freedom of the press in the Cape.[8]

Death and legacy

In 1859 Fairbairn gave up his journalistic work and editorship of the Commercial Advertiser. His other contributions included the building of hard roads over the sands of the Cape flats, the first life-saving boat to operate around the Cape peninsula and the introducing of the Jury system.

However it is as a tireless fighter for press freedom that he is most remembered. His role as the leader of the free and liberal press of the Cape was taken over by Saul Solomon, and his newspaper the Cape Argus.

Death (1864)

Fairbairn died suddenly in Cape Town on 5 October 1864 at the Wynberg home of his son-in-law, advocate Frank Watermeyer, and was buried in the Somerset Road cemetery in Cape Town. Watermeyer died in the same year, having dutifully taken on Fairbairn’s many debts.[9]

Before the levelling of the Somerset Road Cemetery and building started on the site in about 1922, a number of inscribed stones were lifted from their graves and deposited at the Woltemade cemetery at Maitland which had been opened as Cape Town’s principal graveyard in 1886. Here can be found the stones of John Fairbairn, his wife Elizabeth and other members of the Fairbairn and Philip families.[10]


In 1947 the British Government decided to give Marion Island and Prince Edward Island to South Africa, to prevent them falling into hostile hands. HMSAS Transvaal was dispatched in great secrecy, and on 4 January 1948, Lieutenant Commander John Fairbairn, great grandson of John Fairbairn, landed on Prince Edward Island and claimed the islands for South Africa.[11] The meteorological station is known as Fairbairn Settlement and is on Transvaal Cove.

In 2007, Fairbairn’s great great great granddaughter, Tessa Fairbairn, was awarded the Order of Simon of Cyrene. She was the head of St. Cyprian’s School, a progressive girls’ boarding and day school in Cape Town, South Africa for 17 years.[12]


Bust in foyer of Fairbairn College

“Few men could have lived lives as full of worthwhile activity as John Fairbairn did. Few men could have got so little recognition from history”.[4]

When an English-medium co-educational high school was established in Goodwood, Cape Town in 1977, the School Governing Body decided to name it Fairbairn College.[13]

Fairbairn Capital is an investment company within the Old Mutual group of companies. It was named after the founder of Old Mutual, John Fairbairn. According to the Fairbairn Capital website, in naming it Fairbairn Capital, “we recognise his contributions, draw on his heritage and laud his values”.[14]

Old Mutual International is based in Fairbairn House in St Peter Port on the island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands.[15]

On 24 August 1994, the John Fairbairn boardroom was opened at the South African Chamber of Business parliamentary information centre in Cape Town by SA Chamber of Business director-general Mr Raymond Parsons. The boardroom together with the Rainbow Room was sponsored by Shell SA and Old Mutual and is used for meetings of businessmen and politicians.[16]

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