Did you know...

That the penalty for "breaking down a fishpond" in England in 1800 was death?


  1. Hmm. I'm wondering what "breaking down a fishpond" even means. Oh well. Having the death penalty for something like that is what happens when you place property near or at the top in a scheme of rights.

    1. I'd guess with a raised pond someone might break the walls holding in the water. Why they would do that i don't know.

    2. If the fishpond is fed by a body of water such as a stream, it may sometimes absorb all of that stream's flow, preventing people downhill from making use of the previously freely flowing water.

      -----------scratch the above-------------------

      The Black Act, named for the blackened faces of poachers who conducted raids on aristocratic estates after the south seas bubble, seems to be the origin of this penalty.

      There are several books about it.

      "the Black Act, a law of unprecedented savagery passed by Parliament in 1723 to deal with 'wicked and evil-disposed men going armed in disguise'. These men were pillaging the royal forest of deer, conducting a running battle against the forest officers with blackmail, threats and violence. These 'Blacks', however, were men of some substance; their protest (for such it was) took issue with the equally wholsesale plunder of the forest by Whig nominees to the forest offices."

  2. Gene,

    As an aside, I'd like to ask you a question or two about the brand of libertarianism that you used to subscribe to. When I look at Kinsella's arguments against, say, the incorporation doctrine or Herr Hoppe's comments about local control I can only think that there is something bizarre about them. Not only am I strictly opposed to what they were suggesting on the grounds that it would let localities do unjust things, but it all seemed like they were blurring the lines between public and private property. I've been saying for a while that states don't have rights and that the incorporation doctrine was a great boon, but Kinsella's idea seemed different from the typical conservative lines about it being the people of the state's decision. Do you think that you might understand what I'm getting at here? I'm also trying to understand why it seems so strange.

    Rothbard's idea of libertarian communities sounded to me to be exactly like city-states. If the local community abridged your rights, then move, is something along the lines of the reply I might expect. It seems like he merged property and sovereignty into one thing.

  3. Damn. My lengthy comment didn't appear. Oh well. I'll simplify what I had tried to ask in it.

    Off topic, what do you think the roots of the LvMI-style libertarianism are? I've found the cadre's ideas to be…bizarre. Some of their ideas seem like muddled, garbled nonsense. Rothbard's scenarios of libertarian communities were more like city states and Hoppe's fetish for "anarcho"-monarchism was even more bizarre. Libertarianism supposedly developed out of the Old Right and classical liberalism, and the LvMI's stuff seems like neither.

    1. See my essay "Liberty Versus Libertarianism" in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. If you can't get access I can send you a copy. Leave address here.

    2. I'm not one to post my email address on the open web, so I created a side address to use here: temporaryreceiver201@gmail.com

      I've had a long winding road through political thought. I've picked up concepts from soaking in stuff about America's founding and such that I feel are important to me:
      •Consent of the governed.
      •A constitution protects the minority from the majority.
      •The social contract being between the government and the governed.

      Looking at it, you can see that there is nothing explicit about capitalism or about property rights. Those two things are sort of lost in the general idea of freedom. When you talk about the Founding Fathers, it isn't in terms of them fighting to engage in capitalism or for the protection of their property rights. The tale is always in terms of them fighting for their independence from England's rule and the issue of economic policy isn't used as a central tenet of discussion, so this is why I've found myself irked by how it seems like some people see economics as the be-all-end-all of life. It's painted as "capitalism versus communism" instead of "freedom versus totalitarianism". To put it another way, I assume that when most people think about the Soviet Union they think about the penetration of control exerted over their lives and not their lack of property rights. Know what I mean?

  4. I've looked at the summary and "freedom as non-domination" caught my eye. I first encountered this term in the Wikipedia article on classical republicanism which, as I am aware, has been associated with the label "communitarian" in recent times. Freedom as non-domination is an appealing concept, though I'm thinking more of a cross between freedom as non-domination and freedom as non-interference. From what little I know about "communitarianism", it sounds like radical centrism.

  5. During that period theft of something worth more than 12 pence was punishable by death. Even at that time 12 pence wasn't a large sum.

    That said, often the sentences were commuted to transportation to Australia.

    Part of the reason for it was that law enforcement was very patchy at that time, so the strategy of punishing severely the few who were caught was used.

  6. Judging by the phrasing of some of your other blog posts, what I know from the Wikipedia page on communitarianism, your occasional choice of the word "polity", and references to Aristotle, it seems to me that you have an organicist view of states. Am I correct?