Friday, April 28, 2017

The “Future” of Whose “Freedom” Foundation?

Apparently Pope Francis made the unforgiveable mistake of comparing something – anything – to the suffering of those held in Nazi concentration camps.  In this case, the Pope was speaking of the refugees in Europe.  This didn’t sit well with some:

“The conditions in which migrants are currently living in some European countries may well be difficult and deserve still greater international attention, but concentration camps they certainly are not,” said David Harris, the [American Jewish Committee’s] chief executive. “The Nazis and their allies erected and used concentration camps for slave labor and the extermination of millions of people during World War II. There is no comparison to the magnitude of that tragedy.”

The author of the Op-Ed, Dawn Eden Goldstein, a “Jewish convert to Catholicism,” thinks that the Pope’s words may not be such a stretch:

Calling the living conditions at sites such as Moria, the place on the Greek island of Lesbos that Francis called a “concentration camp,” merely “difficult” diminishes the gravely inhumane treatment that men, women and children are suffering for no other crime than wanting freedom and a better life.

Of course, one can feel sympathy for such refugees; one is free to aid and assist them if they choose.  But such feelings will stem from sources other than “freedom” – at least my freedom. 

Examine the statement: they “are suffering for no other crime than wanting freedom and a better life.”  To paraphrase Ayn Rand: “You demand a ‘better life’?  From whom?” Blank-out.

Want” in such a context cannot be viewed in any way other than a positive right – a “right” that demands a violation of the freedom of those upon whom the burden of satisfying the “right” is placed. 

I have many “wants.”  In what way, consistent with freedom, are these wants to be satisfied?  The only answer, consistent with libertarian theory, is simple and straightforward: my “wants” are to be satisfied by the sweat of my brow; my “wants” are to be met by the voluntary transactions in the market (to include, of course, the possibility of voluntary charity). 

There is no other method available to the philosophically consistent libertarian as a libertarian.

Of course, I don’t expect Pope Francis to follow this reasoning; his role, as errantly as he often performs it, is as a Christian leader.  Clearly, Dawn Eden Goldstein does not follow this reasoning. 

I bet right about now you are wondering why I have even bothered writing something on this topic: non-libertarians writing non-libertarian things.  As Captain Renault would say: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!  Just before his winnings are stuffed in his pocket.

Well, I will tell you…. Where did I find this tidbit of news?  After all, I am not a regular reader of the New York Times.  Did it pop up on Google News?  A CNN headline?  Some socialist, left-leaning website?

It came in my email – the daily email sent by

The Future of Freedom Foundation was founded in 1989 by FFF president Jacob Hornberger with the aim of establishing an educational foundation that would advance an uncompromising case for libertarianism in the context of both foreign and domestic policy.

The mission of The Future of Freedom Foundation is to advance freedom by providing an uncompromising moral and economic case for individual liberty, free markets, private property, and limited government.

I can understand such a message distributed by a relief organization, a Christian group, even a government agency.  But I do not understand the connection to a foundation dedicated to “uncompromising…libertarianism.”


Francis’ remarks on refugee camps are indeed shocking, but they are shocking for a purpose: to challenge the world, and every one of us personally, to take action for the good of souls and bodies.

A nice sentiment; taken voluntarily, very Christian.  A perfectly reasonable approach to be taken by many organizations with such a mission.  But a sentiment not to be found in libertarian theory.

There is no freedom to be found in positive rights; positive rights are the last refuge of a…well, you know.  If this is the future of freedom – my freedom, my “individual liberty” – well…I do not understand the definition of these terms.


  1. {“Want” in such a context cannot be viewed in any way other than a positive right – a “right” that demands a violation of the freedom of those upon whom the burden of satisfying the “right” is placed.}

    Positively smashing.

    I agree with the article, but am hopeful that a libertarian society would be one in which resides a modicum of noblesse oblige. On the flip-side, I would hope for there to be grateful recipients, instead of haughty victims.

    1. Brutus, my preference also is to live in a society that is generous, charitable, grateful and respectful.

      That I focus sharply when I read something that bastardizes libertarian theory and freedom should not lead one to make assumptions (no, I certainly do not suggest that you are) regarding my personal, subjective preferences.

  2. In any other era this pope would be called a heretic. Am I wrong?