About the principles of good government

Although many of the institutions of Good Government can be traced back to classical Greece and republican Rome, most evolved in England, beginning in the time of Alfred the Great and culminating in the great struggles between the Long Parliament and the Charles I, and between John Lilburne (1614–1657) and the authorities at the dawn of the Enlightenment.

It fell to John Locke (1632– 4) and Algernon Sidney (1623–1683) to frame these principles into a coherent moral philosophy. Their work, amplified and expanded by John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon in Cato’s Letters (written between 1720 and 1723), were then seized upon by the American revolutionaries, who blended them with the Common Law, proven colonial institutions, and lessons learned from classical, medieval, and contemporary governments, into a complementary whole. At the same time the picture was completed by Adam Smith who proffered his great work on the Wealth of Nations which explained how the principles of good government apply to economics.

Although these principles, substantially put into practice by the Anglo-Americans and to a lesser extent the rest of Europe by the 19th Century, have been subsequently refined and developed, the core discoveries remain immutable. Their immutability comes from their being founded on human nature which itself is immutable.

Thus it is always folly to abandon the accumulated wisdom of the centuries in favor of ideologies dreamed up by radical philosophers who scorn the teachings of experience. When a field of inquiry has attained its foundation, the proven discoveries, such as individual rights, become the foundation on which the logic of all new hypotheses must be critiqued. That is why when the Soviets announced an economic system which ignored individual rights in favor of collectivism the result was entirely predictable—tens of millions of people starved to death.

Thus the principles of good government are not the work of a single race or age, but of all races and ages. They are the evolved reflection of what works with human nature. Their truth is borne out in the success of the American Revolution which led to freedom, prosperity, and happiness, while the French and Russian revolutions, and every other form of government devised by radical philosophers, has led inevitably to the guillotine, war, dictatorship, starvation and misery.