The trade winds are the prevailing pattern of easterly surface winds found in the tropics, within the lower portion of the Earth's atmosphere, in the lower section of the troposphere near the Earth's equator…. The trade winds of both hemispheres meet at the doldrums.
The trade winds are the cure for the doldrums.
Prior to starting my series on The Libertarian Forum, edited by Murray Rothbard, I had not read much of the (relatively) early Murray Rothbard. The newsletter came out twice per month beginning in 1969.
I have written about a half-dozen posts, reviewing various issues of the newsletters; I have yet to read even the first year of this fifteen-year series. I have not written on several of the issues that I have read, this for various reasons.
Perhaps most prominent among these reasons: Rothbard was, in some ways, a hard-core leftist; I find no reason to examine hard-core leftist positions – further, on some of these positions I am aware that Rothbard changed his views, so why spend energy on these.
On the other hand, in most areas Rothbard has remained consistent – and in many of these areas I hold common cause. Most significantly this is true regarding his views on foreign intervention and actions of the police state. I find no evidence that he ever budged on these.
Am I critical of Rothbard because of this, because his views have evolved and changed? Nothing could be further from the truth. To begin: what can be properly labeled “libertarian thought,” Rothbard almost single-handedly developed from whole-cloth.
Well, maybe not whole-cloth and maybe not single-handedly, but pretty close on both counts. Certainly I can think of no other individual who wrote so much for so many years with a single aim in mind: that of increasing liberty by developing libertarian thought such that it could be used as an intellectual weapon to bring down the state.
That Rothbard’s views evolved during his intellectual journey is no vice – it is a virtue. Starting from (almost) nothing, he wrote on hundreds of aspects that were supportive of his singular aim. Like any honest intellectual, he let the evidence lead him where it did – not where he had previously decided it must take him. He did not remain stuck merely because he felt invested.
Suffice it to say, my own views correspond much more with the later Rothbard than with the early Rothbard. I have not examined why his views evolved and why he moved in the direction that he did. My blog is the evidence as to why I have moved in the direction that I have.
Learning on Murray’s Knee
Any libertarian thinker worth his salt will gladly admit that this is true – certainly figuratively. We owe an unpayable debt to the work of Rothbard.
For some libertarian thinkers, it is also literally true. Walter Block is one of these; has said of himself that he is trying his best to take what he learned while sitting at Murray Rothbard’s knee. I believe Walter knew Murray quite well, and knew him during those early years in New York.
While Rothbard’s views on some libertarian topics have evolved, Block has not taken a similar path on similar issues: specifically to the focus of this post, the issue of immigration and open borders. But that Walter disagrees with his libertarian mentor is neither here nor there – no one owns a monopoly on truth.
In any case, what is “truth” when it comes to a subjective political / social philosophy? The best we can do is place our theoretical “truth” against what we see and observe in the behavior and nature of man, what we have seen in man’s history, what we have seen as consequences of the various political / social paths that man has tread.
What else do we have to weigh the consequences of political / social theory applied? The ivory tower?
The Bad Economist
Any economist worth listening to understands the concept of secondary and tertiary consequences. A child can understand the initial consequence of an action; it takes critical thinking, maturity, historical and social context, and an understanding of human action to develop a rational view of the secondary and tertiary consequences of an economic policy decision.
Is not the same true for the political / social theorist? Is it not appropriate to consider the secondary and tertiary consequences of the political and social theories that we advocate? Must we remain as intellectual children to avoid the accusation of straying from the one true faith, with ideology placed on a pedestal as man’s salvation?
In many ways this has been my journey at this blog: how do I take what I understand from libertarian theory and free market economics and apply it in a world made of humans? How do we get from where we are to a society where we have more freedom, less state? How do we maintain our relatively increased freedom if / when we achieve such a condition? Where and under what conditions has such relative liberty been achieved and maintained?
I am learning that I am learning nothing new; Hans Hoppe has plowed this field long before I ever began, and has done it far better than I ever will. Yet, I enjoy my journey – as it is mine.
The Bad Political Theorist
Which comes to my point – and, as you can tell, the point has something to do with Walter Block. I am finding that Walter is one who, when it comes to libertarian theory, cares not about secondary and tertiary consequences – and this is the most charitable interpretation I can offer. I would hate to think that he does understand the consequences but continues to advocate his positions in the face of this.
So I do not re-live the entire history, I will offer the most recent example – and the one that has finally forced me to confront what I have been keeping buried under the surface for quite some time.
The details of this recent background can be found here. I will offer a summary: Walter offered that in the 1930s the Canadian Prime Minister denied entry to Canada of European Jews. Walter commended the Prime Minister’s decision – after all, most Jews were:
…really despicable people. They want to overturn capitalism, promote social justice and egalitarianism, ride roughshod over private property rights, enrage the masses against the highly accomplished elite, will donate gobs of money to the most left wing politicians available, and all the rest.
Walter’s words, not mine. After being pressed by me (after all, Walter sounded more like Hans Hoppe than he did Walter Block), he decided that he was wrong in supporting the Canadian Prime Minister:
Allow all the Jews to settle in Canada in 1939 or so when they arrived by boat. There's plenty of virgin territory there. To prevent their settlement there is to violate the NAP. I take the NAP VERY seriously. For me, it is the libertarian lodestar, compass
Yes, the Canadian Prime Minister should have let them in. The borders have been open as long as there is virgin territory in the country. I only add now, that I full well realize why the Canadians didn't want these Jew commies in their country. But Jew commies, all commies, still have rights; the right to settle in virgin territory.
What is the Point of Libertarian Philosophy?
Heaven help me, I hope the point is to build a foundation on which to increase liberty. If it is merely to defend the undefendable…let’s just call this intellectual masturbation. And that’s the best interpretation I can offer.
Handing Them the Bullets to Shoot You With
Going back to the Canadian Prime Minister; Walter, knowing that they are communists and knowing the actions they will take, decides it is advancing the cause of liberty to let communists into Canada. What Walter advocates is the following: Someone comes to your house to rob you and rape your daughters. You open the door, hand them your firearm, and welcome them in.
Why do I say this? Try this: Communists invade America with helicopters and tanks – we would know what to do and we have seen the movie – “Red Dawn.”
But Walter says if the communists come without weapons this is OK – even though they come to rob you and rape your daughters. Even knowing their intent (as Walter clearly knows), you hand them your firearms while welcoming them into your front door.
“Oh, bionic, no one is handing them their firearms.” Well…the firearm you hand them is the ballot; the firearm you hand them is the politician looking to find more sheep who will give the politician a platform from which to rob you and rape your daughters.
Remember, even on virgin land they get to vote; even on virgin land, politicians will use them in order to increase political power.
Block knows that they are coming to rob him and rape his daughters – read his original post, for goodness sakes. He welcomes them, knowing this; he hands them his firearms knowing this. And Block says this is perfectly libertarian.
Does this sound like a strategy for increasing liberty? Whose – your liberty or the communist Jew’s liberty? Is the distinction important to you and your family?
In an interview, Block stated, "In the fifties and sixties, I was just another commie living in Brooklyn."
I have been reminded that Walter holds to some very important positions – perhaps most importantly that he wishes to privatize everything. What a useless proposition in a land where communists have the vote and it is libertarian to allow them all in. If this is libertarian, it is a philosophy of suicide.
I know that Block brings many people to libertarianism, but if this is the libertarianism to which he brings them…it is undefendable.