Can't we all just get along?

Professor Bainbridge believes that "The Mises Bloggers are Stark Raving Nuts" in reference to this post, and subsequently endorses Republicans. Along with this comes the statement from Robert Prather...

The lesson: read the Mises Blog if you like (I do), but go to the source if you wish to know about Austrian Economics and the libertarianism it's based upon. Don't let Rothbard and Rockwell lead you away from Mises and Hayek

...which is echoed by Sean Hackbarth at The American Mind.

Upon reading a statement like this, I can only conclude that very few people have actually read Rothbard. I'm not sure how Rothbard leads one away from Mises; if anything, Murray Rothbard leads people toward Mises. He did for me. When people ask me about the Austrian school of economics, I don't tell them to read Human Action; I tell them to read Man, Economy, and State and What Has The Government Done To Our Money? (both by Rothbard) first to get a flavor for Mises's economics, and only then move on to Mises's magnus opus. Rothbard had an extraordinary gift in explaining the praxeological ideas of Mises in an eloquent yet easy style. Yes, there were some differences in their views, but for the most part, these were marginal to their core commonalities. If there is any writer in history that spoke Mises's economic ideas, it was Rothbard.

As far as the War on Terror, keep in mind that there are different views held by various people at Mises.org, LewRockwell.com, and Antiwar.com, and one should not make a consensus opinion based on only a few data points. I can only speak for myself on this blog when I say that I supported military action against Al-Qaeda, albeit with deep regret at the inevitable loss in civil liberties that accompanies any war. Although I was not convinced that the US should have carried out the War in Iraq, I hoped, and still hope today, that our boys and girls come home safe and sound. Even the freest of free societies will need patriots to fight off outside threats, and I appreciate their willingness to serve. I am also glad for the Iraqi people that a tyrant butcher no longer holds power.

If this general antiwar sentiment leads some libertarians toward the Republican party, please ask yourself this question, with a firm committment to principles:

How can anyone who supports a free market economy call himself a "Southpark Republican" or "Republican Party Reptile" or any kind of "Republican"?

Back in the late 1800's socialists used to dream of the day when nationalization of entire industries occurred and government controlled of vast segments of the economy. Yet, today, a Republican president signed into law a prescription drug benefits program that expands Medicare and leads us that much closer to the socialist utopia. The 'small government' president just enacted a socialist piece of legislation, and make no mistake, that is the only descriptor that fits. And this after he increased government spending by 27% during his first two years of office. Are principles important any longer? Where is the outrage? And what truly does the Republican Party have to do with the principles of limited government?

Finally, I realize that there are some truly radical ideas within the Austro-Libertarian meta-context; many of us on this blog share them although we have come from different places to similar conclusions. My reaction at hearing many of these ideas for the first time was along the lines of, "But that's just preposterous! How dare they even think that! That goes against everything anyone with common sense knows as fact!" Yet, I had to prove to myself that they were indeed nuts, and when I read the books and argued the facts, I came to conclude that they were not nuts, and further that, some of society's biggest problems only have radical solutions.

If you really think these radical ideas are nuts, the least you can do is to listen to the arguments and prove to yourself that they are nuts. It is always important to challenge the orthodoxy, even if that orthodoxy happens to be the correct one, to remind you of why you believe what you do. Don't get comfortable believing what you believe simply because that's what you believe. Remember the reasons behind those beliefs. Catallarchists are always eager to listen and willing to engage in civil discussion.

Share this

Is it the official line of

Is it the official line of the Mises Institute that Austrian economics implies anarchism? If Mises.org and LRC are anarchist why don't they come out and say so?

Jonathon, I should have been

Jonathon,

I should have been more precise in my complaint. Rockwell would be a more fitting target, not so much Rothbard -- mostly because I haven't read Rothbard. Rockwell advocates what I can only call an isolationist policy. The article referenced by Bainbridge provides ample evidence of that.

I'm not a strict libertarian and haven't been for several years. However, it strikes me as being consistent with libertarianism to fight wars abroad to protect liberty at home. In fact, I would call it essential. That the Bush Administration, aided and abetted by the Congress, has taken license with liberty at home irks me to no end because it undermines the purpose for war in the first place.

Having said all of that, I read the Mises Blog and enjoy it very much. Obviously, the economics are excellent and it is an excellent learning tool. I'll continue to view it as such and continue to disagree vehemently on the merits of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

John, I don't know what the

John,

I don't know what the 'official line' of the Mises Institute is or even there even is one. I do know that many of their regular writers are minarchists. As far as why don't they 'come out', it's likely the same problem libertarians often run into: The A-Word is Loaded

The point of my post wasn't to argue about anarchocapitalism versus minarchism, but rather to criticize the notion that Rothbard is somehow inconsistent with Mises. The best introduction to the basic principles of Misesian economics - the praxeological method, subjective theory of value, ordinal ranks of utility, reciprocal valuation in exchange, driving force behind exchange, origin of money, structure of production, etc - is in Man, Economy, and State. The best introduction to Misesian monetary policy is in WHTGDTOM. Rothbard is at times a better Mises. I simply don't understand the "read the Mises Blog, but ignore the Rothbard" stuff comes from.

In answer to your last

In answer to your last question: ignorance of Rothbard. Until I've read him it'll remain that way. The point with Rockwell still stands.

Robert - Thanks for your

Robert - Thanks for your honest responses.

No problem. One blogger

No problem. One blogger told me it was a mistake to ever admit a mistake. It's a sign of weakness. I disagree.

So is not being a "strict"

So is not being a "strict" libertarian similar to not being a "strict" electrical engineer? I mean one day you wake up and decide that you don't like the various laws of thermodynamics and go about developing your designs according to what M.C. Escher would?

All of my roommates and just nearly all of my friends either are EE majors or have their BS in EE and none of them are wishy washy concerning the Laws of Thermodynamics.

That said, how on earth is:
- invading with force justifiable under libertarianism?
- then, the ruberic under which the entire invasion takes place is later found to be either phoney and... phoney

Actually, could someone (a "leaner" preferably) please give me some sort of justification for the invasion in retrospect.

Note: Why vote for a lesser evil? Vote Cthulhu

"The A-Word is Loaded" Oh,

"The A-Word is Loaded"

Oh, and libertarians are making such tremendous progress by steerig clear of it...

Anyone who can't get over that bar is of no great use to me.

Tim, I've become a little

Tim,

I've become a little more pragmatic with age. I'll admit things like the laws of supply and demand are universal and will admit to a morality as well. How can a country that butchers its own citizens claim any right to sovereignty? Why do we have to wait until a threat is imminent before responding?

What's phony? The National Security Assessment from last year recommended using force to create freedom as a defense against terrorism. The WMD angle -- even though they did have them -- was for the UN's consumption. Bush made a poor choice to go to the UN and to go there you need a reason. WMDs were it.

Try arguing your line with an Objectivist. They are every bit as consistent as you and the laws of thermodynamics and they would reach an opposite conclusion.

I've read plenty of Mises

I've read plenty of Mises (but not as much Rothbard) to be pretty confident that Mises wasn't an anarcho-capitalist. I don't recall Mises advocating private defense.

"With a heavy dose of fear

"With a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects, I think we can convince these people that we are here to help them," Colonel Sassaman said.

Unless anarcho-capitalists

Unless anarcho-capitalists advocate a state that strongly enforces property rights, contracts and more, Mises couldn't be considered an anarcho-capitalist under any circumstance, though I don't think that's the major issue here. In Liberalism he says repeatedly that the state is necessary for these reasons, among others.

I've read plenty of Mises

I've read plenty of Mises (but not as much Rothbard) to be pretty confident that Mises wasn't an anarcho-capitalist. I don't recall Mises advocating private defense.

Then you might have read how Mises in Nation, State, and Economy advocated secession down to the individual level, which is by definition anarchocapitalist. Although to be sure, his other writings are sometimes inconsistent with this principle.

Regardless, to dwell on this topic is to miss the forrest for the trees. I don't know if you've ever read The Structure of Liberty by Randy Barnett of the Volokh Conspiracy, but he advocates a system of market-based law even though the book is very Hayekian in flavor, talking about the "problem of knowledge" being dispersed throughout society, "coordination of resources," the rights of "several property", freedom of contract, etc. To claim that he is somehow nuts or totally inconsistent with Hayek simply because he advocates a polycentric legal order is missing the big picture.

In the same way, the more important questions of, "What determines value?" "What determines the purchasing power of money?" "What determines the prices of factors of production?" "How does money arise in a society?" etc are things that Mises and Rothbard agreed pretty much 100% on.

Robert, Unless

Robert,

Unless anarcho-capitalists advocate a state that strongly enforces property rights, contracts and more, Mises couldn't be considered an anarcho-capitalist under any circumstance, though I don't think that's the major issue here. In Liberalism he says repeatedly that the state is necessary for these reasons, among others.

Anarchocapitalists do strongly advocate property rights protection and enforcement of contracts, and they believe that the state violates property rights much more than a private enforcement might. Mises, to be sure, was a minarchist. However, as I wrote above, I believe that to discard Rothbard due to this would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. IMO, nobody wrote about the principles of Austrian economics better than Rothbard, not even Mises.

Jonathon, I'll have to read

Jonathon,

I'll have to read Rothbard before I can discard him. :)

I was simply making the point that Mises was a classical liberal and he considered the state "essential" -- his word -- to protecting these rights.

Also, even though the term "minarchist" is accurate, by using a term that so closely approximates "anarchist" aren't you suggesting that it's not such a radical departure from liberalism, which assumes a state to enforce contracts and the like?

Thank you for a thoughtful

Thank you for a thoughtful response. I have ranged the political spectrum -- the right side of it anyway -- from Objectivist (briefly) to conservative to libertarian to being a leaner, as I would now be described. The political compass in the upper-left-hand of my site is a fair representation of my views.

In some respects I've still got an Objectivist view, in that I see the state as having a monopoly on coercion -- self-defense excluded -- and see the Constitution as our protection against that. What label fits me? I don't know. Leaner is probably as good as any.

Robert, I was simply making

Robert,

I was simply making the point that Mises was a classical liberal and he considered the state "essential" -- his word -- to protecting these rights.

Well, I consider myself a classical liberal also, as seen from the description of this blog on the sidebar. I just think that the anarchocapitalist ideal is the logical extension of classical liberal philosophy.

Also, even though the term "minarchist" is accurate, by using a term that so closely approximates "anarchist" aren't you suggesting that it's not such a radical departure from liberalism, which assumes a state to enforce contracts and the like?

Well, the reason I use the term is that it is how libertarians are often divided - minarchist and anarchist. Having said that, I do not believe that the anarchist viewpoint is a radical departure from the minarchist viewpoint, although as seen from the reaction to the original Mises blog post, the "A-word" is so loaded that most people cannot handle talking about it with getting all out of sorts.

I don't know how I would classify myself. I think morally, if you want a society without coercion, the only logical view is anarchocapitalism. Yet, I don't know if such a society would be stable. It definitely would not be perfect, although neither is the current state of things. The biggest obstacle for me is the question of national defense; things like private arbitration and legal enforcement are much less insurmountable in my eyes.

For the hawkish,

For the hawkish, warblogging, neocon-infuenced wing of the libertarian movement, "Rothbardian" is almost synonymous with "idiotarian." For them, Mises and Hayek are the "good Austrians," in the same sense that for Reagan G.W. Carver and the Mills Brothers were the "good Negroes." Rothbard and Hess are beyond the pale, because they aren't moral relativists. Rather than vague criticisms of government in general, they apply Acton's law to the U.S. government in the same way as all other governments. When they say all governments are gangs of thugs, they really mean ALL GOVERNMENTS.

Wow, quite the debate

Wow, quite the debate here.

If you really think these radical ideas are nuts, the least you can do is to listen to the arguments and prove to yourself that they are nuts. It is always important to challenge the orthodoxy, even if that orthodoxy happens to be the correct one, to remind you of why you believe what you do. Don't get comfortable believing what you believe simply because that's what you believe. Remember the reasons behind those beliefs. Catallarchists are always eager to listen and willing to engage in civil discussion.

We may not agree on this issue Jonathan, but that is very well said.

Kevin, Rather than vague

Kevin,

Rather than vague criticisms of government in general, they apply Acton's law to the U.S. government in the same way as all other governments. When they say all governments are gangs of thugs, they really mean ALL GOVERNMENTS.

Playing the devil's advocate for a moment -

Suppose however that we extend your statement to acknowledging that yes, all governments are gangs, but some of these gangs are much worse than others.

If an individual takes the view that he is a sovereign individual not bound by notions of citizenship, then there might be a beneficial outcome is one of the lesser bad gangs beats up on one of the greater bad gangs.

That, if I understand correctly, is the view of many people at Samizdata - the blog that inspired me to start Catallarchy. Yet, for this, they are sometimes called neocons. I have no doubt that desire a free society as much as I do. Can their rationale not be understood in libertarian terms, even if it is not embraced by other libertarians?

Robert Prather: One blogger

Robert Prather: One blogger told me it was a mistake to ever admit a mistake. It's a sign of weakness. I disagree.

I think you are right. The ability to concede an error is a strength, not a weakness.

When you concede an error, you control the error, but when you fail to concede, the error will control you.

Jonathan, You wrote: I can

Jonathan,

You wrote:

I can only speak for myself on this blog when I say that I supported military action against Al-Qaeda, albeit with deep regret at the inevitable loss in civil liberties that accompanies any war.

Exactly what loss of civil rights. I know many point to the Patriot Act, but what specifically have they taken away?

And this after he increased government spending by 27% during his first two years of office.

Technically that is discretionary spending, but yes the point is well taken. I see Bush as the lesser of two evils. But that isn't saying much. Ideally it'd be great if there were a Presidential candidate that was more in line with the libertarian/austrian views, but there is no such viable candidate. Voting a non-viable candidate runs the risk of having Dean win the presidency.

Believe me, I don't like being in this position.

I'm a little "l"

I'm a little "l" libertarian, and I will be voting Republican. The standard isn't perfection -- the standard is the alternative, and the Democrats are definately the greater evil.

Robert, sorry to see that

Robert, sorry to see that you think I'm quixotian in my reasoning, stating:

"I've become a little more pragmatic with age. I'll admit things like the laws of supply and demand are universal and will admit to a morality as well. How can a country that butchers its own citizens claim any right to sovereignty? Why do we have to wait until a threat is imminent before responding?"

That's just collectivist speak. Countries do nothing, individuals do. Certain statists (Ba'athists or whatever you want to call them in this particular instance) were one of the prime culprits (based upon all the evidence I have been presented while sitting in my comfy arm-chair). Note: various American statists were of no help during the '70s and '80s, propping up Saddam, aiding and abetting, etc. Ever seen that picture of Rumsfeld and Hussein? Here ya go: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/press.htm

Also, please stop using we, I had no part of any invasion (I have no foreign policy, just like I have no "domestic" policy) -- nor did dozens of others I know.

"What's phony? The National Security Assessment from last year recommended using force to create freedom as a defense against terrorism. The WMD angle -- even though they did have them -- was for the UN's consumption. Bush made a poor choice to go to the UN and to go there you need a reason. WMDs were it."

And? So I come up with a report that says Eurasia will have the capability to beat you up in 5 years and has the will/determination to do so - are you losing a lot of sleep? Even after the deed was done you still are defending the actions? What on earth has anyone found that would indicate that "Iraq," "Saddam" or the Great Sand Dunes of Mesopotamia were capable of attacking the Midwest let alone some remote Samoan territory?

And why on earth do you listen to any politician? What in all of written history, contemporary or otherwise indicates that politicians (especially those of the Bush pedigree) do not operate with ulterior goals in mind and could possibly... lie?

Stop listening to statists, they stop a beating heart.

"Try arguing your line with an Objectivist. They are every bit as consistent as you and the laws of thermodynamics and they would reach an opposite conclusion."

Oh, trust me, I have had more than my fill of discussions with Roids (JTK knows this). And I would beg to differ with your conclusion (actually, I really don't need to beg, I would just frankly say so).

Phelps, feel free to join my

Phelps, feel free to join my Cthulhuarian Party sometime next year. We would appreciate your intellectual prowess and look forward to your enlightened despotism.

Tim, That's just

Tim,

That's just collectivist speak. Countries do nothing, individuals do. Certain statists (Ba'athists or whatever you want to call them in this particular instance) were one of the prime culprits (based upon all the evidence I have been presented while sitting in my comfy arm-chair). Note: various American statists were of no help during the '70s and '80s, propping up Saddam, aiding and abetting, etc.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I don't buy this "there's no such thing as society" crap. True, there are no group rights, only the rights of the individuals in summation, but your government acts on your behalf. You might not like it but you are a citizen of this country.

As for the propping up of Saddam in the 1980's -- it was the French doing it in the 1970's -- it was done because we wanted Iraq to defeat Iran in their war. Why? The Iranian hostage crisis.

And? So I come up with a report that says Eurasia will have the capability to beat you up in 5 years and has the will/determination to do so - are you losing a lot of sleep? Even after the deed was done you still are defending the actions? What on earth has anyone found that would indicate that "Iraq," "Saddam" or the Great Sand Dunes of Mesopotamia were capable of attacking the Midwest let alone some remote Samoan territory?

Yes, if they pose a threat -- and if we have reason to believe they might attack, by proxy or otherwise, better to hit them first.

You're in complete denial regarding state-sponsors of terrorism and them using terrorist groups as proxies. Besides, you ignored what I said: we are betting that freedom will be a defense against terrorism. That's what the assessment I mentioned was about.

In regards to Robert

In regards to Robert Prather's post, it's hard to believe that anyone calling themselves a libertarian could endorse a principle such as, "if X *might* attack the US, the US government is justified in attacking X."

Does Robert think I can apply this in my personal life? If my neighbor has a gun, and has looked at me oddly a few times, is it OK for me to slaughter him at will?

What moral idiocy!

Actually, Jonathan had a

Actually, Jonathan had a post on that very subject a while ago, "Nukes in a Free Society", which came to the conclusion that some weaponry was a threat simply by existing, thus legitimizing a strike against those that have it/would posess it.

Its not a stretch to see how that applies to "international" relations.

Just to be clear, my essay

Just to be clear, my essay on nukes was about direct, imminent threats to life, liberty, or property. That is the premise.

Storing a nuclear device is

Storing a nuclear device is an imminent threat? OK, I can buy that.

Guy waves a gun around in your general direction next door, and says he's gonna kill you and your family and detonate a bomb he placed under your house if you dont give him everything he wants. He also talks about how he "might" just slip some bombs to the biker gang that has sworn to rape and kill your wife & daughter.

You have your gun ready, and because you're a much better shot (and quicker), you shoot- because he's done it to his other neighbor before (set up a bomb in the basement and had his biker friends rape and kill his neighbor's wife and daughter), and the beating you gave him a month ago doesn't seem to have deterred him. Also, that biker gang just tortured and killed a family up the block.

You go over and find out that he was delusional- his gun is a waterpistol, and there is no bomb in your basement, and he had only chatted briefly with the bikers lately.

Oops- but what if he wasn't?

The neighbor in this scenario presented a direct threat to your existence, credible because he'd done it before, and doubly so in light of the recent criminal activity and the credible link between your crazy neighbor and the thugs.

How then could one condemn the man for shooting the neighbor and leading to his death? Surely it was self-defense.

Thus, ala the Nukes in a Free Society argument, the US acted on a credible threat that turned out to be wrong. Oops. Lesson? Don't act like you have WMD and threaten the US with vague hints about terror, and don't encourage people to strike against the US after a major terror attack slaughters 3000 innocents. That the retribution should have been done via non-state actors may be argued (that the methods and means employed were suboptimal), but the fact, need, and justification for retribution cannot, IMO.

Okay. I just wanted to

Okay. I just wanted to clarify my premise. You guys can debate the facts and how they fit with the premise if you want.

OK, if nuclear weapons make

OK, if nuclear weapons make a country a threat just because it possesses them, then, of course... bin Laden was justified in attacking the US!

The idea that Hussein represented a serious threat to the US is stupid, was stupid, and the people in power knew it was stupid. And, of course, the US attacked Iraq before any vague semblance of a threat by Iraq against the US was ever made.

Robert, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. I

Robert,

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. I don't buy this "there's no such thing as society" crap. True, there are no group rights, only the rights of the individuals in summation, but your government acts on your behalf. You might not like it but you are a citizen of this country."

It's my government, like Albertson's is my store? Come on, get off the civics lesson bud. Individuals act and are responsible for their own actions. If someone really does think that they are acting on my own behalf without my say so or even tacit endorsement (no I don't "vote"), then they have another thing coming. You're just a statist plain and simple (yes that does make me feel warm and fuzzy inside...). And the whole teary eyed country argument really won't work on me, I threw salt over my shoulder this morning.

Actually, getting back to your earlier statement regarding your statement:

"I've become a little more pragmatic with age."

Or in other words: "don't worry, you'll sell out when you get older too." You don't know how old I am, nor do you even know if I live in North America. Ever heard of ESL?

"As for the propping up of Saddam in the 1980's -- it was the French doing it in the 1970's -- it was done because we wanted Iraq to defeat Iran in their war. Why? The Iranian hostage crisis."

Uhh, I hate to break it to you but the Iranian Hostage crisis ended prior to Rumsfeld's visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_hostage_crisis

I won't attempt to predict why various statists wanted to get their fingers in another pie, though it's not like statists like to keep to themselves.

"Yes, if they pose a threat -- and if we have reason to believe they might attack, by proxy or otherwise, better to hit them first."

My god man, stop thinking like a Borg (actually, they were consistent in their ideology, you're just helter skelter). ANYBODY can pose a threat to me in my life time. Right now some punk kids down the street from me could be planning on filling a brown bag full of Anthrax-laden doggie doo and placing it on my porch, lighting it on fire and ringing the door bell.

Juan down the street might turn his lawn mowers into Gringophobic mowers and harass my hypothetical children that play in my front lawn.

To put it as Jason Ditz did:
"There are some rough looking Latinos down the street that might be thinking about possibly doing something that could be construed as un-friendly. After all, they don't look like me, talk like me or wear the same clothes. Better pre-emptively take them out before something happens. Might need to use a proxy too."

"You're in complete denial regarding state-sponsors of terrorism and them using terrorist groups as proxies. Besides, you ignored what I said: we are betting that freedom will be a defense against terrorism. That's what the assessment I mentioned was about."

Nah, I completely recognize the fact that all states sponsor terrorism. In order for them to exist they must force others to obey their edicts, thus they finance various scams and gangs to rape, pillage and burn the various properties of their peons. You my friend are betting your life and the lives of others on a Cloud-Nine dream that you are now somehow protected by killing innocents (as in, the families of the 10k+ civilians your Bubba bombed will not support retaliatory actions... I probably would go ballistic if some pompous bastard blew up my family from afar and had the gall to claim they were terrorists).

Oh, by the way, are you now or have you ever been a member of a terrorist party?

That troll by Kevin Carson

That troll by Kevin Carson was the funniest thing I read all day! great satire on the mindless catchphrases of a few of the more cultish Rockwellians.

or was it serious?

Tim, I can't respond to

Tim,

I can't respond to you're comment without resorting to ad hominem attacks. I'll refrain. Suffice it to say we don't share the same views -- to the relief of both, I'm sure.