Archive for July, 2012

July 31, 2012

Ralph Raico on Classical Liberal Class Theory

by Dan Stanford

The man who converted me from Marxism to libertarianism, my college Professor Ralph Raico, has a new book out called Classical Liberalism and the Austrian School.  It is getting much deserved attention and fantastic reviews from Walter Block, Hunt Tooley and Robert Wenzel.  Among the many poignant insights is a chapter concerning classical liberal vs. Marxist theories of class conflict.

Class conflict is most famously associated with Karl Marx. It is a widely used tool in social theory and is perhaps the most familiar theorem in all of the social sciences. Raico shows that the class conflict theory was well understood, especially among French classical liberals in the first decades of the nineteenth century.  He uncovers  that the class conflict theory of exploitation was not only commonplace amongst these French thinkers, but it preceded Marx’s writings and Marx openly admitted that he borrowed the concept.  These French liberals understood class conflict not as a conflict on the basis of owners of means of production as Marx had morphed the concept – but in the sense of legal, or state-sanctioned, class distinctions. The major implication of this is not bragging rights, but Raico explains why the liberal theory of class conflict is simply a much better theorem.  It is able, in fact, to explain social reality and Marxist regimes more effectively than Marx’s own version. The liberal theorem rightly puts the focus upon the true perpetrator of class conflict throughout history, the state, which distinguishes the tax-paying  from the the tax-eating class.  Raico first presented these findings in 1974 to a libertarians scholars conference in New York City in a paper he presented called “Classical Liberal Exploitation Theory” Here is an article similar to the version published in his new book.

July 30, 2012

George Will: Romney “Losing at This Point in a Big Way”

by Eric T. Phillips

On ABC’s This Week:

July 30, 2012

Classic Quote of the Day

by Eric T. Phillips

“The omnicompetent, paternalistic state, guiding all the affairs of mankind, satisfying all individuals’ wants, is the ideal of twentieth-century social planners. This arrangement is intended to gratify the maternal demands of humanity, and twentieth-century social aspiration, saturated with the ideas of Bentham and Marx, scarcely conceives of wants that are not material. That men are kept in perpetual childhood–that, in spirit, they never become full human beings–seems no great loss to a generation of thinkers accustomed to compulsory schooling, compulsory insurance, compulsory military service, and even compulsory voting.”

Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind

July 28, 2012

The Booms and Busts of the Libertarian Movement (Updated and Expanded)

by Eric T. Phillips

Dan’s recent post reminds me of Walter Block’s “Won’t You Come Home…” series of articles directed at former libertarians who have since repudiated their earlier views. Recounting his youthful optimism, Block writes:

When I first entered the libertarian movement in 1962 I thought that our movement would inexorably grow: after all, once a person was introduced to this philosophy, he would never renounce it: libertarianism, I thought then and still think now, it so true, so just, so beautiful that no one could ever take it up and then put it down. So, all we activists had to do was preach the good word, eventually everyone would agree with the freedom philosophy, and peace and prosperity would one day be ours.

His outlook changed, of course, as throughout the years he watched people like William Evers, Alan Greenspan, Dana Rohrabacher, and Randy Barnett abandon the libertarian movement. I, too, was in many ways overly optimistic about the future of libertarianism when I was first exposed to Austrian economics and Rothbardianism. I remember trying to calculate how many people each activist would have to convert to bring about a free society within a generation or two. Like the young Block, I assumed that once a person was a libertarian, that was that. Unfortunately, the reality is that there are a lot of places like SUNY throughout the country, and in a culture so hostile to libertarianism, there is bound to be attrition. The truth, justice, and beauty of libertarianism sometimes are no match for a high paying and prestigious job in the establishment, acceptance into the mainstream political debate, or even the allure of a rival school of radical political philosophy.

I fear that the libertarian movement will be especially vulnerable to defections in the aftermath of periods of rapid growth, such as we have recently been experiencing with the Ron Paul Revolution. Any group needs time to assimilate new members through internal education and organization, and this requires both the expansion of existing institutions and the construction of new ones. Without such efforts at consolidation, recently minted libertarians will be left adrift in a sea of socialism and fascism.

The continued success of the Mises Institute is encouraging, as is the foundation of the Tenth Amendment Center, which has so far proven itself radical, consistent, and well-run. It remains to be seen, however, whether Rand Paul and the Republicans running for Congress under the Ron Paul banner will prove themselves agitators for an uncompromising brand of liberty like Ron Paul himself or will content themselves with expanding and integrating themselves into the Jim DeMint wing of the Republican party. If they choose the latter course and continue to throw time and resources towards supporting poseurs like Ted Cruz, they’re going to squander a lot of the grassroots enthusiasm that Ron has built up over the past 4 years.

If the Rand Paul wing continues to take the direction it looks to be headed in, hopefully those disillusioned by the new strategy will find places for themselves in the more consistent parts of the libertarian movement. The internet makes this more possible than ever before. There will be friction, however, and a lot of the misdirected energy will simply be wasted. Some will be so frustrated by the perceived sell-outs that they’ll drop out of the world of politics altogether. Those consistent libertarians  interested in practical political activism will have fewer outlets for their energies, and if they don’t have the time and resources to start a new campaign or organization themselves, they’ll either have to settle for working for someone they don’t agree with or quitting the field entirely.

If the Rand Paul wing continues to take the direction it looks to be headed in, in other words, the libertarian movement will suffer a ‘recession.’ I have no doubt that it will survive–it’s survived much worse in the past. But Walter Block is going to have to write a lot more “Won’t you come home…” articles in the future.

July 27, 2012

“I Support Free Speech…Unless It Offends Me”

by Eric T. Phillips

That’s what those who are trying to block Chick-Fil-A from expanding into cities like Boston and Chicago are essentially saying. In a post today, Glenn Greenwald excoriates “every petty tyrant [who], by definition, has the temptation to abuse his power to punish those with views he dislikes.” See especially his responses to his mindless liberal critics in the updates.

Note: Greenwald is discussing threatened actions by political officials, not private decisions on boycotting.

July 26, 2012

House Passes Ron Paul’s Audit the Fed Bill 327-98

by Eric T. Phillips

Ron Paul talks about his victory on Bloomberg:

As Dr. Paul explains, this bill still has a long way to go; it’s opposed by Harry Reid, the president, and, of course, Ben Bernanke. I remember when Herman Cain told us that if we audited the Fed we wouldn’t find anything. If that were true, why are three of the most powerful men in the world fighting this bill tooth and nail?


July 24, 2012

Links of the Day

by Eric T. Phillips

The Federal Government has been running $1 trillion plus dollar deficits for five straight years now.

According to NSA whistleblowers, the agency has been illegally collecting information about Americans on a massive scale since 9/11. They apparently have a dossier on almost every person in the country.

The Feds are still pretending that documents released by Wikileaks are secret. They recently released redacted versions of documents that are already available in full for anyone with an internet connection. Compare the full and edited versions here.

Aurora, CO has strict gun control laws. Shockingly, James Holmes did not obey them.

Contrary to leftist propaganda, the government did not invent the internet. Xerox and Apple led the way.

July 23, 2012

What If 20% of the Adults in That Theater Had Been Armed?

by Eric T. Phillips

The nutjob James Holmes would be dead and more of his innocent victims would still be alive. Gary North explains how an anti-gun culture is an invitation for bullies and madmen to rule.

July 21, 2012

What a SUNY education can do for YOU

by Dan Stanford

A very intellectual and articulate friend of mine used to claim he was a Ron Paul libertarian and he would even wear ‘End the Fed’ t-shirts.  A few days back we got into an argument. After learning about the wonders of the Soviet Union under Stalin, he’s given up his old creed.  This took place during his graduate studies in history at the University of Buffalo.  Now he is enamored with Stalin’s Five-Year Plans, which, according to my friend, greatly raised the U.S.S.R.’s standard of living, provided universal health care coverage, and allowed women to have greater rights than in western countries.  I had very little to say back to what I took as enormously outlandish statements about our own country’s need for more of a “Machiavellian ruler” who can get these type of things done. I believe my friend even expressed his admiration for the Marxist historian E.H. Carr.  Ron Paul is apparently no match for a solid state university education.

July 21, 2012

Horrifying, But Rare

by Eric T. Phillips

Writing in the Ottawa Citizen, Dr. Grant Duwe explains how mass public shootings are not a new phenomenon, how they are unrelated to levels of gun ownership and the strictness of gun control laws, and how their prevalence has declined since reaching a peak in the 1990’s.


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