Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Walter Block to Brad DeLong: Say Something Substantive!

Prof. Brad DeLong sent this email in response to this commentary by Prof. Walter Block, which Dr. Block provided as a link to Dr. DeLong.:

From: Brad DeLong
Sent: Sunday, September 15, 2013 10:45 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Re: Response to Brad DeLong
Why would it interest me? Galbraith is not a totalitarian. You should be deeply, deeply ashamed of yourself.
Sincerely yours, 
Brad DeLong
Professor of Economics J. Bradford DeLong
U.C. Berkeley

The following email was then sent to Professor Brad DeLong by Dr. Walter Block:

Dear  Prof. DeLong:

The following quotes are from this news story: "Russian leader draws fire with letter to Americans" Wall street journal 9/13/13, p. A7 (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323846504579071514012606076.html):

That position (that is, Putin’s) drew howls from members of Congress.
Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), a frequent Putin critic, tweeted that the op-ed was "an insult to the intelligence of every American."
Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) told CNN he read the piece and "almost wanted to vomit."
The White House said Mr. Putin was "isolated and alone" in blaming the rebels for the attack.

Note, if you will, that you are doing much the same thing with me, as McCain, Menendez and  “the White House,” are doing with Putin. Forget about who is right, Putin or his U.S. critics (I support Putin here). Just focus on the fact that Putin’s critics content themselves with ad hominem attacks, with name calling. They say nothing of substance. That is precisely what you do with me.

To reiterate. I publish an article critical of Hayek, for insufficiently supporting free enterprise

Block, Walter E. 1996. "Hayek's Road to Serfdom," Journal of Libertarian Studies: An Interdisciplinary Review, Vol. 12, No. 2, Fall, pp. 327-350, http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/12_2/12_2_6.pdf; reprinted in Ama-gi: Journal of the Hayek Society at the London School of Economics, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 22-25

In it I state: “Walter Block is associate professor of economics at the College of the Holy Cross. The author would like to thank the following people for helpful comments on an earlier draft: Peter Boettke, Laurence Moss, David Tuerck, James Wible, and 2 anonymous referees. The usual caveat applies.

In your blog (http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2013/09/peter-boettke-laurence-moss-david-tuerck-james-wible-and-two-anonymous-referees-have-a-huge-amount-to-apologize-for.html) you mention not a single, solitary error I have made. Instead, you attack Boettke, Moss, Tuerck, Wible, and 2 anonymous referees who I thank for helping me with this aricle.

I write a reply and have the decency to send it to you (you never sent me your blog in which you call me a “clown” for rebuking Hayek):

Block, Walter E. 2013. “Response to Brad DeLong.” September 15;

And now you say that I (I!) “should be deeply, deeply ashamed of (my)self.” But why oh why should I (I!) be ashamed of myself? It would appear to me that if anyone in our two person conversation should be “deeply, deeply ashamed of (him)self it is not me. I’ll give you one guess as to who that should be. Yes, I also engaged in name calling, but only after you did; only in response to you. And I, obviously, was not serious about this; you, I think, were, are. I am willing to debate you on these issues, personally on a stage at one or both of our universities, or in print, if and when you ever bestir yourself to leave off with the name calling, and come up with something of substance. What error did I make with regard to Hayek? Is he really a staunch free enterpriser as most people think, and I misinterpreted him? What evidence can you call upon to support such a contention.

Hey, how am I going to convert you to Austro-libertarianism if you keep avoiding issues of this sort? C’mon, give me a fair chance at you. Say something substantive! You’re not giving me much of a target if you don’t. In contrast, my article of 1996, plus my debate with your fellow commie (I’m kidding! I’m kidding; well, mostly) Milton Friedman (Block, Walter E. 2006. “Fanatical, Not Reasonable: A Short Correspondence Between Walter E. Block  and Milton Friedman (on Friedrich Hayek ’s Road to Serfdom).” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 20, No. 3, Summer, pp. 61-80;http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/20_3/20_3_4.pdf) gives you a gigantic target.

P.S. Galbraith? How did he get into this?

 Dr. Walter E. Block is the Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics at the Joseph A. Butt, S.J. College of Business, Loyola University New Orleans


  1. DeLong is mad that Block called Galbraith a totalitarian more than anything.


    Interesting newspaper article from 1977.

    "[Galbraith] says his commitment to democracy is beyond question but he also says, in words that could come from a dictator, that 'those who resist the general interest must themselves be resisted.'"

    "This tendency in Galbraith's ideas is toward the totalitarian state in which any power independent of state power would be quickly recognized by a public educated to this 'duty' and so brought under control."

  2. Doug,

    You surely are able to grasp that Galbraith's point in that article was to oppose Big Business going into bed with Big Labor and deflect the bill to the general public (the taxpayers).

    The very fact that Don McGillivray doesn't understand that and blurts out a phrase that Galbraith's ideas are toward the totalitarian state doesn't imply that you have to parrot him.

  3. I briefly add the section that Doug left out from his two quotes:

    When any groups - corporations, unions, lawyers, physicians, professors or whatever, puts its interests ahead of the "public interest" then the people "must sense, react and oppose." Democratic education, in Galbraith's view, must be training "in this recognition and this duty."

    Allways go to the sources to read if someone genuinely makes a reasonable edit in quoting.

    I think the key issue here, and in this entire mail-exchange between Block and DeLong is that a.o. Galbraith's view that Democratic education should be about training people to recognize cronyism and pushing group-agenda's cannot and shouldn't be construed as totalitarian in nature.