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Laissez Faire and Famine

The Madras Famine of 1876-78 brought misery to 50 million Indians, taking more than 5 million lives outright. Cargos of grain for export to paying customers were loaded on ships before the eyes of the unmonied starving. 

“The principle of trade is the only rational ethical principle for all human relationships, personal and social, private and public, spiritual and material. It is the principle of justice”

—Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness

Just a few years earlier, Fyodor Dostoyevsky had taken up the question of laissez faire and famine in the age of plenty, in the pages of The Idiot, first published in serialized format in 1868.

“…As for me, I don’t believe in these wagons bringing bread to humanity. For, founded on no moral principle, these may well, even in the act of carrying bread to humanity, coldly exclude a considerable portion of humanity from enjoying it; that has been seen more than once.”

—Lebedev, Dostoyevsky's The Idiot


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