Sunday, April 18, 2010

NYT links to Lew Rockwell essay on medieval Iceland

A New York Times article about Iceland's reaction to the (perhaps overblown) volcanic ash hovering over Europe has this extremely uncharacteristic link to an anarcho-capitalist history of Iceland posted on kinda/sorta/maybe racist Lew Rockwell's website:

It may seem to outsiders that Iceland has leapt on to the world stage, but Icelanders say otherwise. Sparsely populated with about 310,000 residents, they say it has long had a streak of influence elsewhere far out of proportion to its economic power or population. Settled in the ninth century by Norsemen, it was for several centuries thereafter a zone of experimentation in radical free market economics known as the Icelandic Free State, with no taxes, no police or army, and certainly no bureaucrats.

It was those settlers’ descendants — spiritually, at least, and known, unflatteringly, as “the Vikings” — who ran all over the globe in the last decade brokering wild, overleveraged deals that led to the crash in 2008.

Based on the context and the subprime dig, I'm going to guess that the author just thought it was interesting and clever and isn't actually an anarcho-capitalist sympathizer. But even so, I'm surprised that it got by the copyeditor – there aren't many links to outside sites in NYT stories (though their bloggers and columnists have more).

In any case, the link is quite interesting. In general I'm wary of Lew Rockwell and his circle (mostly due to this little scandal, which forever tarred Ron Paul as a racist), but I think that one thing that anarcho-capitalists do well is history (especially founder of the ideology, Murray Rothbard, with his masterful, underrated four volume history of pre-Revolutionary America, Conceived in Liberty), so I'm inclined to believe that it's probably at least close to accurate.

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