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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 39

Laissez Faire

Laissez Faire.

There are three sharply distinguished systems of government theoretically advocated, the paternal, the Social Democratic, and the police, Manchester or laissez faire systems. According to the first of these the people is to be governed; according to the second the people is to govern itself; according to the third all government is to be dispensed with, except for the protection of persons and property. The paternal government has been often tried, and with very varying degrees of success, but its faults are obvious, grievous, radical, incurable, above all its hopelessly non-progressive character. The Social Democratic form of society has never existed except on a small scale, and under special conditions not generally attainable. The police government has never been tried, nor could such a government, or no-government, be suffered to exist even by way of experiment, Herbert Spencer to the contrary notwithstanding. The most advanced states have always had some mixed form of government hitherto, and it may be possible that a mixed government is the best in some page 17 cases, or even in all cases. One thing at least is clear. Every government must distribute, as well as protect, property, and do much else beside. The ridiculous imbecility of laissez faire is well illustrated by the land problem.