Friday, February 2, 2024

An Enemy of Liberty


Finally, after almost four months of genocidal behavior by the state of Israel and genocidal cheerleading by Walter Block, there is a response from someone meaningful in Block’s intellectual orbit and not just from a random libertarian affiliate of Block’s or a random bug like me:

An Open Letter to Walter E. Block, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe

Block, to his credit, has published countless articles that pass muster by libertarian standards and there are likely many more to come…

Block has done this, no doubt.  He will remind anyone who will listen about how much he has published.  He will often write of someone with whom he has a disagreement, “we agree on perhaps 95% of all topics,” when writing of economics or the application of the non-aggression principle.

This is true for me as well: I agree with Block on all of the simple things: minimum wage, rent control, etc.  It is the important things – those things that contribute to a peaceful life that approaches and maintains liberty – where I find him an enemy of humanity and peace.  And his call for genocide is certainly one of these things.

Hoppe makes a rational, point-by-point, critique of Block’s claim that the Jews – as a group – had the right consistent with the non-aggression principle and Lockean property notions to displace Palestinians from their homes and land in 1948.  It is a topic that I covered six years ago, here.

Block’s argument hinges on, among other things, DNA and cultural continuity – neither passing muster from a libertarian viewpoint, and either opening the door for a war all against all – as we all have DNA and cultural characteristics from both past victims and past perpetrators.

On the DNA point, Hoppe makes an interesting comment:

(Interestingly, it appears that the closest genetic similarity to ancient Jews could be found among indigenous Christian Palestinians.)

Coincidentally, just a few days ago, Ron Unz wrote on exactly this point, within an article that covers extensively the DNA story of those who today are identified as Jews:

The tremendous historical irony that the current Palestinians—now suffering horrifying massacres in Gaza—are almost certainly the closest lineal descendants of the Biblical Israelites was highlighted by Sand and had been similarly emphasized by Beaty in his 1951 book.

As to the cultural continuity, I won’t – nor am I qualified to – go into much detail about the various meaningful changes in Hebrew / Jewish cultural practices through history.  It is clear that the Hebrew religious traditions at the time of Moses and Joshua and David were quite different than the traditions of Second Temple Judaism which are also quite different than the traditions that developed in the centuries after Christ.  (I touch on this second change here.)

Returning to Hoppe, he then moves on to the editorial co-written by Block about four months ago, which I had written on when I became aware of it. 

…it is this screed of his, then, that reveals Block as an unhinged, bloodthirsty monster, rather than a libertarian committed to the non-aggression-principle…

Yes, that’s how I felt about it at the time.  The evidence since then has only proven out what any thinking person knew was to come.

Hoppe rightly dismisses Block’s one-sided and distorted telling of the history:

…Block’s sketchy, characteristically one-sided remarks on the history of modern Israel and the region aside, which could have come directly from the Israeli ministry of propaganda…

Further, Hoppe again does a point-by-point takedown of Block’s views in this editorial, from a libertarian perspective.  He then adds, addressing the most egregious aspects of Block’s work:

What must be avoided, however, in any case and at all costs, is an escalation of the armed conflict through a massive retaliatory strike by the Israeli military against the Hamas housing and hiding out in Gaza.

But this is precisely what Block are demanding.

Hoppe then addresses several of the many unhinged comments of Block’s, which need not be repeated here.

Whatever these outpourings of Block’s are, they have nothing whatsoever to do with libertarianism. In fact, to advocate the indiscriminate slaughter of innocents is the total and complete negation of libertarianism and the non-aggression principle.


I am not so concerned about the negation of libertarianism and the non-aggression principle.  I mean, I guess I am, as the NAP is a necessary, albeit insufficient, condition for liberty and peace.  But the ways in which these concepts are understood by many who claim the labels make them less than helpful in even understanding what these words mean, let alone describing all that is necessary for a peaceful life and community.

Walter Block, in almost every way, demonstrates his credentials in and adherence to libertarian principles.  Yet, he manages to combine, in one person, the worst of left-libertarianism (open borders and abortion, for example) with the worst of Ayn Randianism (Palestinians are animals, for example).

This combination is far more destructive than the reality of Block’s negation of the non-aggression principle.  This combination places Block in the group of those who wish to destroy any semblance of a culture that holds values conducive to life and liberty.


  1. This episode just proves who Block really is and why he makes all his other arguments. He is a Jewish Supremacist, Zionist. If you look at all his argumentation this is at the center, a defense of the modern Ashkenazi Jewish world-view and moral system. It is the only way you can go from non-aggression, to abortion, to open borders, to kill all the Gazans.

    I've never really liked him much, as I have never adopted the pure libertarian position on bribery, intellectual property, libel, or slander.

    1. RMB, it is interesting: draw the line of best fit through all of Block's positions on various subjects and you get something closer to a person desiring to destroy western civilization (and the liberty that came from this) and protect his in group than you do, say, a Murray Rothbard.

  2. Both Dr. Hoppe's letter and the Unz article are excellent intellectual ammunition regarding how to argue against the American regime's involvement in yet another war being played out before the coming presidential election. That the Palestinian Christians are closer genetically to the ancient Jews than are the Ashkenasic or Sephardic Jews has been demonstrated in other places, and is surely ironic. The notion that the Romans drove the whole Jewish population from the Holy Land is rightly challenged Mr. Unz. The one ownership claim that Dr. Hoppe says might have some weight involves the preserved genetic line of the priests (kohenim), and that claim would only extend to the land formerly occupied by the temple. If I have properly understood Chapter 5 of Second Samuel, it seems that David dispossessed the original inhabitants of Jerusalem of that piece of real estate by violence (i.e., robbery), not by homesteading.

    1. God commanded Israel to take the land by force as a judgment for the great sin of the Canaanites. They were practicing mass child sacrifice and rampant prostitution. He gave them 400 years to repent. They got worse and He sent judgment. He was going to do the same thing to Nineveh but they repented through Jonah's preaching.

  3. I wonder did anybody ever ask him about open borders for Israel? I am pretty sure he would oppose it for Israel. Anybody knows if he ever addressed this obvious contradiction in his beliefs?

    1. I don't recall if I have ever privately challenged Block on this - I may have as we have gone back and forth on this topic in email.

      I have challenged a few others:

  4. I read as much of the Unz article as I could. It sounded like he thinks Ashkenazi Jews are genetically Jewish at least partially. He rejects the theory that they are Khazars. I don't see anything that says the Palestinians are closer to the Biblical Jews genetically than Ashkenazis. I think they are, but I didn't find that part of the article.

    1. It's there in the article. Here are the three paragraphs about it:
      "As Sand persuasively argued, over the centuries many of those Jews eventually converted to Christianity then later to Islam following the Muslim conquest, and they are the ancestors of today’s Palestinians, leavened by an admixture from all the various conquering groups of the last two thousand years, including Arabs, Crusaders, and Turks. Thus, the direct descendants of the Judeans lived continuously in their homeland prior to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. The tremendous historical irony that the current Palestinians—now suffering horrifying massacres in Gaza—are almost certainly the closest lineal descendants of the Biblical Israelites was highlighted by Sand and had been similarly emphasized by Beaty in his 1951 book.

      Although this view might seem shocking to the vast majority of both Gentiles and Jews, certainly including most present-day Israelis, Sand and Beaty were hardly alone in reaching that conclusion. David Ben-Gurion was Israel’s founding father and first prime minister, while Yitzhak Ben-Zvi became the country’s second president after the death of Chaim Weizmann, and in 1918 as young Zionist leaders, they had co-authored Eretz Israel in the Past and the Present, the most important Zionist book of that era, very successfully released in both Hebrew and Yiddish. In that work, they summarized the strong historical evidence that the local Palestinians were obviously just long-converted Jews, expressing the hope that they would therefore be absorbed into the growing Zionist movement and become an integral part of their planned State of Israel; Ben-Zvi published a later 1929 booklet making the same points. It was only after the Palestinians became increasingly hostile to Zionist colonization and they began violently clashing with those European settlers that that Judean ancestry of the Palestinians was tossed down the memory-hole and forgotten.

      Thus, despite a long series of military conquests and foreign overlords, the Israelites of the Old Testament had remained in place for well over two thousand years, annually plowing their fields until they were brutally uprooted and expelled from their ancient homeland by Zionist militants in 1948, a story I had told in a lengthy article last month."

      Also, in the beginning he refers to the book by Shlomo Sand, The Invention of the Jewish People.

    2. aDNA studies are in the process of clarifying most of these questions.
      The groups closest to ancient samples from Israel are Samaritans, the Druze and certain Lebanese Christians. Sephardim and Mizrahim are both closer than Ashkenazi Jews, who have both South and Eastern European admixture. There are also Ashkenazi samples from the Medieval period showing East Asian admixture, indicating they may in fact descend from the Khazars (who were a intermediate Turkic group) but they left no modern descendants.

  5. Just adding a note that David Gordon has now weighed in with Wanjiru Njoya, in a deft article that pairs well with Hoppe's but takes a more philosophical tack, broadening beyond mere NAP and Randianism.

    I have direct associations with the MI and Lew. I think one of the reasons for the delayed response to Walter's screeds is more shock than anything. Walter has always ruffled a few feathers over his unhealthily focused commitment to proselytizing "evictionism", so I think there was confusion because Walter can be so solid in other areas and a true ally. So it took some time to accept that indeed, Walter had taken off a mask that perhaps has always been there.

    Anecdotally, I was with Walter once on a bus tour many years ago and he was recounting old youthful episodes with Rothbard. One thing that struck me was how giddily he relayed stories about the two of them when they showed leftist levels of immaturity and libertinism (something MNR clearly grew out of). They were young so that wasn't the source of my discomfort; it's that Walter wasn't embarrassed by these youthful episodes but seemingly proud.

  6. On the light side of things ("the comedians will save us"), Dr.Leonard Liggio, a good friend of Murray R., had heard that Walter Block was seeking out counseling for his personality rough spots. "Don't bother spending the money, Walter.', Leonard advised, "You're a pest and you're always going to be a pest."