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Island territories in western Europe, ruled since 1921 by the Monarchy of the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom or Britain, is a country in northwestern Europe, off the coast of the continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The country includes the island of Great Britain, the northeastern part of the island of Ireland and most of the smaller islands within the British Isles. Northern Ireland shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland; otherwise, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel, the Celtic Sea and the Irish Sea. The total area of the United Kingdom is 244,376 km², with an estimated population of nearly 67.6 million people in 2022.

Geographical type: Island Group

Latitude: 55° N — Longitude: 3° W

Area: 242,495 km²

ISO 3166-2 code: GB

Notable Places

  • England - The southern part of the island of Great Britain
  • Scotland - Territory in the north of the island of Great Britain, ruled since 1707 by the Monarchy of the United Kingdom, the Pàrlamaid na h-Alba and the Riaghaltas na h-Alba

Deathplace of

Antony Flew, in Reading, Berkshire, on 8 Apr 2010

Measures of Freedom

UpdEconomic Freedom Summary Index, Economic Freedom of the World, 19 Sep 2023
2021: 8.02, Rank: 9
Human Freedom Index [PDF], The Human Freedom Index 2023: A Global Measurement of Personal, Civil, and Economic Freedom
2021: 8.39, Rank: 17, Personal freedom: 8.66, Economic freedom: 8.01
UpdUnited Kingdom: Freedom in the World 2024 Country Report, Freedom in the World 2024
2024: Status: Free, Aggregate Score: 91/100, Political Rights: 38/40, Civil Liberties: 53/60
The United Kingdom (UK)—which includes the constituent countries of England, Scotland, and Wales along with the territory of Northern Ireland—is a stable democracy that regularly holds free elections and hosts a vibrant media sector. While the government generally enforces robust protections for political rights and civil liberties, recent years have featured new restrictions on the right to protest as well as rising Islamophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment.


"Bad Money Drives Out Good", by Charles Adams, Freedom Daily, Dec 2003
Explains Gresham's Law, recounting how Queen Elizabeth I restored pure silver coinage, how the Romans debased the Greek silver drachma and how Swiss bankers bought gold from the U.S. Treasury in the early 1970s
Henry VIII, had been adulterating the English shilling, the basic coin ..., by replacing 40 percent of the silver in the coin with base metals—a clever way, so he thought, to increase the government’s income without raising taxes ... Queen Elizabeth ... called in all the adulterated shillings her father had minted, melted them down, removed all the base metal, and minted pure silver shillings to replace the "bad money." The English shilling became the most sought-after coinage in international commerce and put Britain on the road to become the superpower of the world for centuries to come.
Related Topics: Gold Standard, Money, Switzerland
UpdBetter Them Than Us, by Scott McPherson, 19 Jan 2004
Discusses the Brazilian Estatuto do Desarmamento (law 10826 of 2003) and the similar Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 in the United Kingdom vis-à-vis findings by Gary Kleck and John Lott regarding gun ownership and prevalence of crime
Casting further doubt on the efficacy of gun control, the United Kingdom in 1997 passed a total ban on the private possession of handguns following a high-profile public shooting in Scotland and all but eliminated every other form of gun ownership. This is the precise "antidote" desired by gun-control supporters elsewhere. Six years later, "peaceful" Britain now has the highest overall crime rate in the Western world, and violent crime is skyrocketing. Gang wars and drive-by shootings are increasing. Such is the wisdom of gun control.
Child Labor and the British Industrial Revolution, Part 1, by Lawrence W. Reed, Freedom Daily, Sep 1999
Contrasts the situation of "free labour" and "parish apprentice" children, as defined by J.L. and Barbara Hammond, during the British Industrial Revolution, the latter being mostly orphans placed in the custody of parish, i.e., government, authorities
Everyone agrees that in the 100 years between 1750 and 1850 there took place in Great Britain profound economic changes. It was the age of the Industrial Revolution, complete with a cascade of technical innovations, a vast increase in industrial production, a renaissance of world trade, and a rapid growth of urban populations. Where historians and other observers clash is in the interpretation of these great changes ... The enemies of freedom—of capitalism—have successfully cast this matter as an irrefutable indictment of the capitalist system as it was emerging in 19th-century Britain.
The Colonial Venture of Ireland, Part 2, by Wendy McElroy, Freedom Daily, Jun 2004
Historical account of Ireland from 1840 to the first decade of the twentieth century, including the Young Irelanders, the famines, the Irish in North America, Captain Boycott, the demand for home rule, the Gaelic League and the emergence of Sinn Fein
Protectionists within his own party, the Tories, cried out in opposition and Peel tendered his resignation to Queen Victoria. She refused to accept it ... The British parliamentary session of 1869 was largely and successfully devoted to Irish disestablishment: that is, to removing the Anglican Church as the state church ... In 1874 elections, Gladstone's Liberal Party lost decisively—another political victim of the "Irish Question." ... Meanwhile, in Britain, the costs of the Boer War in South Africa and a declining economy made the Tories unpopular and brought the Liberals to power in 1906.
UpdThe Colonial Venture of Ireland, Part 4, by Wendy McElroy, Freedom Daily, Aug 2004
Historical account of the partitioned Ireland from 1922 to the 1970's, including Éamon de Valera, the creation of the Republic of Ireland, the conflicts with and eventual split up of the IRA, and civil rights marches and riots in the North
Soon, a constitutional crisis in Britain would present [de Valera] with an opportunity: King Edward abdicated his throne and was succeeded by George VI ... To the British, Northern Ireland ceased to be a burning issue. One historian estimated that, in 1964 and 1965, the House of Commons devoted less that one-fifth of 1 percent of its time to discussing Ulster ... Eddie McAteer declared in the spring of 1972,
I am not anti-British, but I do complain that the British mind seems incapable of realizing that other countries would wish to deprive themselves of the services of British rule ...
Related Topics: Ireland, World War II
UpdThe Disastrous Middle Of the Road Policy, by Ludwig von Mises, The Commercial and Financial Chronicle, 4 May 1950
From a speech to the University Club of New York on 18 Apr 1950; argues that the middle of the road policies of interventionism, such as price controls and progressive taxation, eventually lead to socialism via central planning
[In the World War II] Great Britain again resorted to price ceilings for a few vital commodities and had to run the whole gamut proceeding further and further until it had substituted all-around planning of the country's whole economy for economic freedom. When the war came to an end, Great Britain was a socialist commonwealth. It is noteworthy to remember that British socialism was not an achievement of Mr. Attlee's Labor Government, but of the war cabinet of Mr. Winston Churchill. What the Labor Party did was ... retaining socialism as it had developed during the war in the post-war period.
Federalist No. 5: The Same Subject Continued: Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence, by John Jay
Ironically argues that separate confederacies, specifically Northern and Southern, may result in conflict between them since one could be at war with a foreign nation with which the other wants to be at peace
The history of Great Britain is the one with which we are in general the best acquainted, and it gives us many useful lessons. ... Although it seems obvious to common sense that the people of such an island should be but one nation, yet we find that they were for ages divided into three, and that those three were almost constantly embroiled in quarrels and wars with one another. Notwithstanding their true interest with respect to the continental nations was really the same, yet by the arts and policy and practices of those nations, their mutual jealousies were perpetually kept inflamed ...
The Federalist No. IV: The Same Subject continued: Concerning Dangers from foreign Force and Influence, by Publius, The Independent Journal, 7 Nov 1787
Considers the potential of invasion on Great Britain's constituent countries (if they had separate armies and fleets) and the United States if divided into 13 states or three or four confederacies, arguing for the advantages of centralization
What would the militia of Britain be, if the English militia obeyed the government of England, if the Scotch militia obeyed the government of Scotland, and if the Welsh militia obeyed the government of Wales! Suppose an invasion, would those three governments (if they agreed at all) be able, with all their respective forces, to operate against the enemy so effectually as the single government of Great-Britain would? ... [L]et those four ... constituent parts ... be under four independent governments, and it is easy to perceive how soon they would each dwindle into comparative insignificance.
Related Topic: War
Upd"Free-Speech Zone", by James Bovard, The American Conservative, 15 Dec 2003
Provides various examples of "free speech zone" incidents as well as reactions in the U.S. and overseas
For Bush's recent visit to London, the White House demanded that British police ban all protest marches, close down the center of the city, and impose a "virtual three day shutdown of central London in a bid to foil disruption of the visit by anti-war protesters," according to Britain's Evening Standard. But instead of a "free speech zone"—as such areas are labeled in the U.S.—the Bush administration demanded an "exclusion zone" to protect Bush from protesters' messages.
The Global Education Industry: Lessons from Private Education in Developing Countries, by Antony Flew, The Freeman, Sep 2000
Reviews the tittle 1999 book by James Tooley, which includes surveys of "private education alternatives in 13 developing countries" as well as analysis and recommendations
After all the privatizations of the Thatcher years, the British-maintained school system is one of the two largest industries that still remain under state ownership and control. (The other is the National Health Service.) Both are effectively monopolistic and therefore liable to all the notorious faults of monopolies, particularly those run by the government. State education in Britain is not strictly speaking a monopoly because the private provision of educational services is permitted and exists on a relatively small scale.
Related Topics: Brazil, Educational Freedom, India
UpdGovernment Interventionism in Ireland, Part 1, by Scott McPherson, Freedom Daily, May 2004
Account of Irish history in the early 20th century, contrasting the views of unionists in Ulster with those of nationalists desiring home rule or outright separation from Britain
Ireland at the turn of the 20th century was poised for change. Most of Ireland's inhabitants wanted to alter in some respect the nature of their relationship with Great Britain, which had been interfering in Irish affairs for more than 700 years ... Since the 1880s, Liberal governments had been introducing "home rule" legislation in the House of Commons in hopes of placating separatist sentiments in Ireland ... The Liberal Party was wary of going head to head with empire-minded voters in England or radical Protestants in northeast Ireland.
The Greatness of Peace Activist John Bright, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 24 May 2013
Commentary on John Bright's opposition to war and interventionism. with relevant excerpts to several of his speeches
In [1858] Bright spoke at a banquet ... [H]e surveyed Britain's foreign policy since the Glorious Revolution ...
... We have that which some people call a great advantage—the National Debt—a debt which is now so large ... We have that, moreover, which is a standing wonder to all foreigners who consider our condition—an amount of apparently immovable pauperism, which to strangers is wholly irreconcileable with the fact that we, as a nation, produce more of what should make us all comfortable than is produced by any other nation of similar numbers on the face of the globe ...
Related Topics: John Bright, Ethics, War
Hitler's Mutual Admiration Society, by Jacob G. Hornberger, 29 Oct 2003
Describes the mutual admiration society that existed in the 1930s between Franklin Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini
In his book Adolf Hitler, John Toland points out,
Churchill had once paid a grudging compliment to the Führer in a letter to the Times: "I have always said that I hoped if Great Britain were beaten in a war we should find a Hitler who would lead us back to our rightful place among nations."
... William L. Shirer wrote "... Even a man as perspicacious as Lloyd George, who had led England to victory over Germany in 1918 ..." A reminder of this dark secret recently surfaced ... in the form of a nice review of Hitler's mountaintop home, published as late as 1938 by a prominent British magazine named Homes & Gardens.
Related Topics: Germany, Franklin D. Roosevelt
How Franklin Roosevelt Lied America Into War, by William Henry Chamberlin, Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, 1953
Excerpted from chapter 8, "The Bankruptcy of a Policy", of the Harry Elmer Barnes anthology; describes several actions by Roosevelt and his administration which contradicted his campaign pledges "to keep our country out of war"
The exchange of American destroyers for British bases ... in September, 1940. ... The secret American-British staff talks in Washington in January-March, 1941. ... The British Isles were not invaded in 1940, at the height of Hitler's military success on the Continent. They were much more secure against invasion in 1941. Contrast the scare predications ... about the impending invasion of Britain in the first months of 1941, with the testimony of Winston Churchill, as set down in his memoirs: 'I did not regard invasion as a serious danger in April, 1941, since proper preparations had been made against it.'
Independence Day Propaganda, by Anthony Gregory, 4 Jul 2011
Argues that the American Revolution, albeit of a libertarian flavor, had several unsavory shortcomings both before and after 4 July 1776
Although the British were hardly altruistic angels toward the Indians, they posed a less urgent threat than the Americans. Given this and such British policies as the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which forbade white settlers from moving into the Indian Reserve west of the Appalachian Mountains, it is no surprise the Indians mostly fought for England in the American Revolution ... In 1778, the British empire sent the Carlisle Commission to America to negotiate a truce, offering a qualified independence of the sort that would have eventually amounted to commonwealth status.
The Middle East Harvests Bitter Imperialist Fruit, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 20 Jun 2014
Describes how the seeds of the current turmoil in the Middle East were planted a century ago by British and French imperialists
The government of Great Britain wanted to disrupt the Ottoman Empire's ability to help Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire in the Great War. So the British dispatched personnel, most famously T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), to persuade the Arab leaders to revolt against the Turks, in return for which they would gain their independence in (roughly) the Levant (what today is Israel/Palestine, Jordan, Syria), Mesopotamia (Iraq), and the Arabian Peninsula ... The British officials, however, never intended to honor this promise to let the Arabs go their own way at the war's end.
Monetary Central Planning and the State, Part 29: The Gold Standard in the 19th Century, by Richard M. Ebeling, Freedom Daily, May 1999
Discusses the evolution of the gold standard, from the creation of the Bank of England (1694), the Bank Restriction Act (1797), arguments for its repeal by David Ricardo and John Stuart Mill, and its international development until the 1890s
In Great Britain, the lesson had been learned as a result of the British government's financing of the war against Napoleon. The Bank of England, a private corporation, had been born in 1694 out of the British government's need for cheap loans ... [L]ater, the bank was given extensive monopoly rights covering banking and note-issuing activities within England, with its monopoly power reinforced by an act of Parliament in 1742 ... Between 1797 and 1814, commodity prices in general in Britain had about doubled and the value of the British paper pound had depreciated by about 30 percent ...
Money and Gold in the 1920s and 1930s: An Austrian View, by Joseph Salerno, The Freeman, Oct 1999
Criticizes Richard Timberlake's The Freeman articles on U.S. monetary policy during 1920-39, contrasting the British Banking School vs. Currency School definitions of inflation
The British pound in the mid-1920s was overvalued vis-à-vis gold and the U.S. dollar, causing British products to appear relatively overpriced in world markets. As a result, Great Britain experienced imports chronically in excess of exports accompanied by persistent balance-of-payments deficits and outflows of gold reserves. Had the Fed deflated the U.S. money supply, thus lowering U.S. prices even more relative to British prices as Timberlake claims was its intention, it would have exacerbated, and not resolved, Great Britain's gold drain.
Our Elective Monarchy, by Sheldon Richman, 16 Jun 2004
Comments on the "fit for a king" funeral for Ronald Reagan and the similar treatment given to other U.S. Presidents, contrasting them to the treatment of Prime Ministers in Great Britain
Any president is treated like royalty in the United States. To see this, compare the treatment of the prime minister of Britain. Look at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and No. 10 Downing Street ... Great Britain's government is a parliamentary system under a monarchy. Thus the head of state and the head of government are different people ... The Parliament's vigorous questioning of the prime minister is the most public manifestation of this feature of the British government. Elected officials grill the chief executive, who is one of their own, and he must answer ... But they would not think of grilling the queen.
The Second Superpower is the Real Fourth Estate, by Kevin Carson, 28 Jun 2013
Explains the term the "Fourth Estate", how the current fourth estate are simply stenographers and who are supplanting them as true journalists, as per James Moore's idea of a "Second Superpower"
"The Fourth Estate," as a nickname for the press, is anecdotally attributed to Edmund Burke, when the House of Commons was opened up to press reporting in the 18th century ... in the United States ... This collusion between the Fourth Estate and the other three is a lot like what happened between the original Three Estates in 19th century Britain: the Whig landed aristocracy and old-money mercantilists were silent partners who financed much of the industrial revolution, and the new upstart industrial capitalists were cemented into the old ruling class establishment with titles of nobility.
Terrorism Comes with Empire, by Jacob G. Hornberger, 8 Jul 2005
Reflects on the 7 July 2005 London bombings (and 1993 and 2001 attacks in New York and the Pentagon) and why England and the U.S. were the targets rather than Switzerland
[England's] foreign policy in the Middle East can be summed up as follows: Whatever the U.S. government does, the British government supports and joins. Thus, the British government participated in President Bush's recent war on Iraq—a war against a sovereign and independent country that never attacked the United States or England or even threatened to do so ... The terrorist retaliations are rooted in anger and hatred not for American and English "freedom and values," as President Bush and Prime Minister Blair maintain, but instead in anger and hatred for U.S. and British foreign policy.
Related Topics: Imperialism, Iraq War, Switzerland
A Three-Pronged Blunder, or, What Money is, and What it Isn't, by George Selgin, 27 Oct 2021
Examines the common, three-part textbook definition of money, offering counterarguments for the "store of value" and "unit of account" parts, reviewing what Jevons and Menger wrote about money's functions
[C]onsider ... the British pound sterling. Long before Great Britain ever had such a thing as a pound coin, the pound sterling had served as its principal accounting unit. On the other hand, the gold "guinea," which for most of its existence was worth 21 shillings, or one pound and 1 shilling, was an actual coin that circulated, along with fractional counterparts, in Great Britain between 1663 and 1814 (when it gave way to sovereigns). Yet it saw only very limited use—in contracts between "gentlemen"—as an accounting unit. Yet who doubts that guineas were British "money"?
The U.S. Base on Diego Garcia: An Overlooked Atrocity, by Sheldon Richman, 4 Jun 2013
Describes the disheartening and shameful story of the forced evacuation of Diego Garcia's native inhabitants by Great Britain during 1968-1973, so that the United States could set up a Navy base, as well as current efforts to redress those actions
Great Britain claims the island ... "In 1965, after years of secret negotiations, Britain agreed to separate Chagos from colonial Mauritius (contravening UN decolonization rules) to create a new colony, the British Indian Ocean Territory. In a secret 1966 agreement, Britain gave U.S. officials base rights on Diego Garcia." But it did more than that. Britain "agreed to take those 'administrative measures' necessary to remove the nearly 2,000 Chagossians in exchange for $14 million in secret U.S. payments." The British kept their end of the bargain. In 1968, Britain began blocking the return of Chagossians ...


The Roots of the Great Depression, by Richard Timberlake, Navigator, Jan 2001
Interview topics include the Federal Reserve policy during 1920-1939, the British attempt to return the pound to its World War I value and U.S. interventions during the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations
Timberlake: ... British policymakers called for returning the pound to its pre-war value of $4.865 ... The pre-war parity could not be reached unless (1) the British price level was brought down from its wartime level to something near its pre-war value, or (2) the price level of Britain's major trading partner, the United States, increased by approximately the same amount ... The ongoing attempt to raise the gold value of the pound resulted in this constant pressure to lower money prices, which had a depressive effect on employment, income, and output.

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "United Kingdom" as of 19 May 2024, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.