soll2_Chris J RatcliffeGetty Images_liztruss Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Britannia Deranged

Britannia Unchained, the 2012 manifesto that UK Prime Minister Liz Truss wrote with other Conservative MPs, reveals her remarkably strange and dystopian vision of free-market capitalism. It also provides important insights into the radical ideology behind Trussonomics and the government’s disastrous budget plan.

LOS ANGELES – There are many strands of free-market thinking. Adam Smith believed it was a branch of moral philosophy. For Ayn Rand, it was a branch of pop philosophy. Milton Friedman himself would be the first to admit that free-market capitalism is idealistic. There is certainly a utopian aspect to the notion that simply liberating capital from all constraints would bring about a free, prosperous society.

But anyone who reads Britannia Unchained – the 2012 manifesto that UK Prime Minister Liz Truss and her Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng, wrote with other Conservative MPs – will instead find a remarkably dystopian vision of free-market economics.

Aside from the warning that an increase in government borrowing could raise interest rates and sink investment – which, ironically, Truss and Kwarteng did not heed when putting together their “mini-budget” – Britannia Unchained is unmoored from economic reality. Instead, it is an odd combination of Victorian self-help clichés, Randian platitudes, and incongruous factoids presented in a strange stream-of-consciousness style.

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