Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Understanding the Multidimensional Battle for Freedom

The debate between Bob Murphy and me on what to do with the gold in Fort Knox brings up an important concept, the fact that the battle for freedom is a multidimensional battle fought on many fronts.

Murphy touches on this point a bit in his second response to me, Wenzel is Golden. But let me advance the concept further.

As any student of freedom knows, we are far from a world of total freedom. In such a world, there would be no Federal Reserve and a money(s) would be left to emerge in the markets. But, that's not going to happen anytime soon. This doesn't mean the battle for freedom should be completely given up. The pure view of a how a free market society should work must continue to be promoted, however, this doesn't mean that shorter battles can't be won in the interim that slow, halt or reverse a government encroachment on freedom.

For example, with regard to the debt ceiling, the White House is promoting the idea that there is no option but to raise the debt ceiling:
“There is no alternative to raising the debt limit. It has to be raised,” the official, who spoke to the reporters on background, said. “There’s really no way around it.”
In a brilliant attack on this concept, Murphy has pointed out that this is simply untrue that the government has incoming revenue and assets to deal with current debt obligations. Now, I'm sure that Murphy would agree with me that most of the "incoming revenue" is through taxation and he would like to see a severe decrease or elimination of taxes revenues, but at the level he is making the argument, he is taking the world we live in and stopping the growth of government. It counters the argument at hand that the debt ceiling has to be raised. Of course, once that battle is won (or lost), then the next battle, taking a chainsaw to out of control taxes and out of control spending should be engaged in full, but for heaven's sake let's at least stop the increase in the national debt ceiling--that's a major limitation on government growth.

In the same way, if Treasury Secretary Geithner called me up to ask what the government should do with gold reserves. I would never encourage him to sell the reserves if I thought I he was going to use the funds to help keep the empire running. I would argue the more freedom oriented principle which would be to return to a gold standard. Now, on the other hand, if I thought the U.S. government was going into total liquidation, then I would argue for the liquidation of gold to be returned to taxpayers.

In short, the idea is always to argue for the point that restricts government. The huge shrinkage of government, or alternatively, what I call the move toward a Private Property Society should never be eliminated as the ultimate goal  and a Private Property Society should continue to be discussed and emphasized. On the other hand, in the world of Realeconomik we are nowhere near a Private Property Society and there is nothing wrong with taking a position that limits government in only a limited way, when it does not in any way add limitations to other freedoms that already exist.


  1. Agreed. I would also add that the libertarian end goal, what you call the Private Property Society, wouldn't necessarily be an easy place to live; a life of personal responsibility is like that. Which is another way of saying: leave the utopian dreaming to the statists.

  2. Good article - I like seeing you and Murphy debate! I appreciate your point of view, but here's mine. Since the dollar is not convertible into gold, then any gold believed to be in Fort Knox actually strengthens the empire by adding to the notion that the government posesses real wealth. It is a gold backed currency that restrains government; not so when government is hoarding all the real money and forcing us to use fiat. If the government were to sell all of their gold (if they even have any), it would likely be a blow to the public's belief in their solvency, which would reduce their power. Not to mention, the gold they sell would be available to the PUBLIC, at reduced prices!! It would be a win for you and me and a big loss for the government!

  3. I, personally, prefer the idea of hoisting the black flag and opting out of the state en masse in a fusion of the styles of √Čtienne de La Bo√©tie and Samuel Edward Konkin III, but I'm a Romantic idealist