Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Walter Block Email to a Leader of a Libertarian Organization on What Libertarianism is About

Walter Block has given me permission to reprint the below letter in full, which is a response to Alexander, who has refused to give me permission to print his portions of the email exchange between him and Dr. Block, because he reports that he has more important matters to address.
Dear  Alexander: 
There’s something more important for a leader of a libertarian organization such as SFL to do than to get clear on what libertarianism is? What’s that, to yet organize more “libertarian” meetings where an innacurate rendition of libertarianism is purveyed as the real article?

Remember that Rand Paul and Ron Paul both initially said they supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964, except for that part of it that forced Woolworths to serve black customers, as a violation of property rights? But Rachel Maddow forced Rand (but NEVER Ron) to back down on this very accurate understanding of libertarianism. You are taking the incorrecet Rand position. I beg you, I implore you, as a leader of a very important libertarian organization, to take the time, to make the time, to seriously consider this issue.

You say you “… do not think this is a topic that deserves emphasis…” Au contraire. The right to discriminate, freedom of association, is at the very heart of libertarianism. He who misconstrues this, like you and Rand, are misunderstanding the very core of libertarianism, the non aggression principle.

I go so far as to say that the only problem with pre 1861 slavery was that it violated freedom of association. Otherwise, slavery wasn’t so bad. They gave you gruel. You could pick cotton (good exercize). They gave you free room and board. The ONLY problem with slavery is that it violated a principle precious to libertarianism: freedom of assocation. The right to pick and choose who you associate with. And, yet, this is PRECISELY the right taken away from Woolworths, when they were forced to associate with those who they didn’t want to assocate with. By the way, would you force a black storeowner to serve a KKK member?

I know you’re very, very, very busy, way too busy to listen to a person like me who has never contributed anything to the libertarian movement, but, if you would take 5 minutes out of your busy schedule to peruse these two recent publications of mine, as I asked you to do before, I would greatly appreciate it:

Block, Walter E. 2013. “Are Criminal and other Background Checks Racially Discriminatory?August 22; http://www.lewrockwell.com/2013/08/walter-block/are-background-checks-discriminatory%e2%80%a8/
If you do not at least address this issue, more, if you continue to come down on the wrong side of this issue (by claiming that bigots cannot act compatibly with libertarianism), you will be hijacking libertarianism. You will be making it into something that it is not. Libertarianism is SOLELY a theory of when violence is justified. To say that libertarianism opposes bigotry is to say that bigots are guilty of some sort of crime, and that it would be proper to use violence against them (as specified, for example, in the so called Civil Rights Act of 1964). Do you really think racial (or sexual or whatever) discriminators, or bigots, ought to be considered criminals, and punished by law? That is the logical implication of your stance. No, I spoke falsely. That is what your viewpoint amount to, explicitly.

Dear Bob:

Please consider publishing this above letter of mine in EPJ.

Best regards to the both of you,

Walter

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

33 comments:

  1. "I go so far as to say that the only problem with pre 1861 slavery was that it violated freedom of association. Otherwise, slavery wasn’t so bad. They gave you gruel. You could pick cotton (good exercize). They gave you free room and board. The ONLY problem with slavery is that it violated a principle precious to libertarianism: freedom of assocation. The right to pick and choose who you associate with."

    I think that by saying "the right to pick and choose who you associate with," he means the right to own yourself. Otherwise I think he may get slandered for being a racist.

    Prepare for quotes taken out of context!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What is there to take out of context? Hope the GOP nominee will use that line as part of his acceptance speech. Would love to hear the 2016 GOP nominee say "the ONLY problem with slavery is that it violated freedom of association."

      Is violation of freedom of association the ONLY problem with the immigration laws? They certainly violate freedom of association. Why not open the southern border? I want my cheap labor.

      Delete
    2. Well said. Open the southern border AND the northern border. In fact, eliminate all the borders.

      Delete
    3. I'm waiting for your treatise on the difference between the debt and the deficit.

      Delete
  2. lol....Block is such a bulldog. I'm with Ron Paul, go with "non interventionist" or "voluntaryist" and let them try to corrupt that word.

    Oh well, it's still fun watching Block kick ass. I'm pretty much resigned to us already having lost the word "libertarian", but hopefully he'll prove me wrong.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Block did not kick ass. He displayed ignorance.

      Delete
    2. "Block did not kick ass. He displayed ignorance."

      Better than stupidity, which you showed when you didn't know the difference between the debt and the deficit. Have you figured that out yet?

      JWolf is starting to step up his trolling.

      Delete
  3. Walter Block is a joke and has no business lecturing anyone on who is or is not a libertarian: http://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/putin-should-not-get-the-nobel-peace-prize/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You cite the link as though your point is obvious ... but it's not. Please explain.

      Delete
    2. According to Prof. Block, Vladimir Putin is a hero because Putin gave sanctuary to Edward Snowden and opposed American intervention in Syria. Sure, Putin gave Snowden sanctuary to tick off Washington. That doesn't change the fact that Russia has it's own state surveillance operation or that his government harasses, jails, and even kills opposition journalists. His government has repressive policies against gays and ethnic and Muslim minorities. And his opposition to American intervention in Syria had little to do with a desire to promote peace. Moreover, Putin has supplied Bashar Assad's state with the means to oppress and kill the Syrian people.

      All people should oppose U.S. government surveillance. Everyone should be against another American war in the Middle East. But it does not follow that a state leader who opposes American policy is therefore a "hero". If nothing else, Putin is a statist. It could be argued, given his support for Putin, that Block is a statist. Either Block simply believes America is the only state that exist--which makes him a fool--or he's simply anti-American (which is fine, just don't hide behind libertarianism if that's your position).

      Delete
    3. Hmm, well argued. I'd like to see professor Block respond to this comment :-)

      Delete
  4. I’ve recently purchased “The Strange Career of Jim Crow” by C. Vann Woodward used for $5 at Amazon.

    http://tinyurl.com/ljvddpu

    Surprise! There was little official government segregation as of the 1880s and often little housing segregation in the south. A black Boston journalist rode integrated trains all over South Carolina in the 1880s and was amazed at the good race relations. Jim Crow came in during the late 1890s as the result of (what else?) panic voting.

    Lesson: Problems blamed on the free market are almost always caused by government interference, especially DEMOCRATICALLY determined government interference.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So pollution and exploitation of child labor are caused by government interference? A 12 year old working 12 hours for a dollar in a unsafe factory is caused by govt? There was no pollution until the govt started to fight pollution? Good luck explaining that one.

      Delete
    2. Those are primarily issues of poverty, and the free market is the most effective means humans can use to work ourselves into the wealth necessary to leave behind such things.

      There are "developing" nations who would be unable to make the transition to "developed" nations if they were prevented from allowing the children to contribute if necessary or were prevented from using the more pollution-heavy machines that they are able to afford.

      Delete
    3. Everything you mention has been explained. Either you have never read the explanation or you did not understand what you read.

      Delete
    4. Jerry: define "pollution" without referring to "public property" (which, by the way, is an artifact of government intervention). Either there is a violent invasion of private property rights or there is not. Who do you trust to make the best decision for that twelve-year old? The best decision is to be made by the kid himself or perhaps by the parents, but this best choice is unavailable if the government makes such employment impossible. Exploitation is the use of force to make people work against their will and stealing the produce. In voluntary employment there is no force, and yet you propose to introduce it by enforcing a law that will make such low-wage employment illegal.

      Your objections have been dealt with over and over again, at length. You're in for a ride :-)

      Delete
  5. Walter, you better learn to make it BLATANTLY clear where you stand or the PC police may have you lynched for being racist, evil, satanic, insensitive, and any other pc term they want to apply.

    And for the complete utter dumb asses out there with no ability to read....I am NOT in favor of slavery of any kind whatsoever. Hell, we're suffering from a form of slavery right NOW so why would I or any other libertarian want that?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I would also (and always) add that under AnCap, most people would be living in private neighborhoods and communities which would have their own private contractual codes of conduct. To the extent that they believe bigotry to be wrong, I presume that those communities would/could incorporate such beliefs into such private codes. If 53% of the population were bigoted, the other 47% could live in non-bigoted areas. Under the Miracle of Democracy, if 53% of the population is bigoted, you get Jim Crow for everyone, and it becomes a crime for white people to play pool with black people.

    So who is the racist now?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Once again, he is making invalid assumptions when defining property rights. For starters, if you are incorporating your business and limiting your personal liability, then you are asking for a public subsidy. That means the public can tell you how to run your business.

    Let's cut the BS and get to what is really going on here. Block is a white male and is unlikely to be the victim of discrimination. So he has no problem with discrimination.

    Why come out against laws which require a business to hire citizens? According to NAP, a business should be free to associate with employees who are illegal immigrants. Problem is that if you come out against immigration laws, you will not attract racists idiots. You will alienate them. So the focus is on the laws which require white people to associate with non-whites.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I'm sure that Block, as a Jewish man, has never experienced discrimination and hence underpins his entire argument on said "fact".

      lol....as for your point about incorporation I will actually credit you for sound thinking in some respects, that being said though, government controls and ultimately requires that you form these corporations for a variety of reasons, including EIN's, tax advantages(which is different from subsidies as it is naturally your money they are taking), etc. Et al

      To not take the basic step of incorporating in some fashion recognizable to the government would make it impossible for anyone to compete on any level in our economy.

      Now, the angle that interests me more, which you allude to, is this notion of avoidance of personal liability.

      Block is arguing from the perspective of actual libertarian beliefs, and under that type of society it would be much harder to avoid liability for negligence, damage, etc. and any "shell corporation" would have no protection(granted from gov't) from said liability.(which I'm sure you and I agree is inherently not just...but that's what happens under gov't monopoly of various issues)

      I think that is the point you are missing.

      Even further, under a society living in accordance with the NAP there would not be "illegal aliens" as the ability for any gov't to restrict someone's movement would not exist.

      There might be "trespassers", but that is entirely different.

      True followers of the NAP are the most strident opponents of gov't classifying humans looking for a better life as "illegal immigrants".

      The reason they are such a problem today, as opposed to 100 years ago for example in our country, is for several reasons-but the big two are:

      1. The Welfare State
      Which is redistributing tax payer money to those coming into the country.
      2. The health of the economy
      There are many "native" Americans on the lower end of the skill/pay scale that are trying to compete with them and there aren't enough jobs to go around presently.

      What do either of the two previous points have to do with the NAP? Nothing. The problems of illegal immigration revolve around gov't monopoly, that has caused ALL the above problems.

      Delete
    2. "incorporating your business and limiting your personal liability, then you are asking for a public subsidy. That means the public can tell you how to run your business."

      That's not actually how it works. (For starters, you should look up the word 'subsidy'.) Here's Rothbard: https://mises.org/rothbard/mes/chap15d.asp (scroll down to the paragraph that begins with "Finally, the question may be raised: Are corporations themselves mere grants of monopoly privilege?")

      And, we HAVE come out against immigration laws. Borders, too. That's what happens when the NAP and self-ownership and private property are all taken to their logical conclusions. Perhaps you should consider your sources when you believe these caricatures of libertarianism...

      Delete
    3. In a libertarian society, a limited liability company is set up when the stakeholders are bound by contract not to dig into the employees' or founders' personal savings in case of bankruptcy.

      This "the public" you speak of exists no more than Mickey Mouse or Mr Wenzel's Drudge Formula. It does not exist in the real world; it exists in the world of ideas. What does exist and what you are probably referring to is a set of real individuals (however you delineate who belongs to the set and who does not). But they do not think nor act in unison and are not able as one to tell you how to run your business.

      Delete
  8. Block is awesome. SFL is just another one of those Beltarian Kochtopus offshoots. "If you don't think like us, get out of the 'libertarian club'."

    ReplyDelete
  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Harold in MarylandOctober 9, 2013 at 8:19 PM

    "For starters, if you are incorporating your business and limiting your personal liability, then you are asking for a public subsidy."

    The idea of "incorporation" is a collectivist/government one, not a feature of a free-market society. Libertarians do not advocate government protection from personal liability.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I beg to disagree. Libertarians favor contract rights. If I start a company and specify in my contract with the stakeholders that in case of bankruptcy, the stakeholders have no claim to my personal property, then the courts should uphold this contract in case of bankruptcy.

      Of course, this is just financial liability against the stakeholders. It does not allow the leadership of companies to hide behind the limited liability construct while violating the rights of individuals not bound by such a contract.

      Delete
  11. "Block is a white male and is unlikely to be the victim of discrimination. So he has no problem with discrimination."

    Only except that Block is Jewish, but I'm sure he's never encountered any anti-Semitism. Oh, I almost forgot to ask, have you figured out the difference between the debt and the deficit?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He's never given me that exact age of the earth either.

      Delete
  12. i find it difficult to recommend mr. blocks' writings and lecture to friends and family that are curious about my libertarian views. as much as i appreciate his blunt approach, i realize he can seem very abrasive to newcomers that are used more p.c.rhetoric. when i saw his lecture to high school students on youtube where he actually said women who participate in 'take back the night' marches are pathetic and rapists are laughing at them, i had to cringe. there was more hard line messages in that speech but as a whole -it was not the most 'graceful ' way to introduce the message and i wondered when it was over if the teacher who had invited him didn't have a small sense of regret. that said, i'm glad he's on our side and enjoy his no bullshit, been there done that attitude.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Prof. Block has explained that corporate status should be contractual:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJT6WAw0NzY

    Prof. Block has been the victim of one of the country’s largest and most vicious hate groups, Marxist college professors:

    http://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block136.html

    http://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block138.html

    http://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block139.html

    http://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block140.html

    ReplyDelete
  14. Uh. Ya. I would probably stop posting Walters email correspondence. Most know what he is trying to say but his style leaves much to be desired.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Of course, marketplace discrimination is such a problem that hated and despised foreigners have no problem getting jobs and legislation must be enacted to discriminate against them and keep them from getting those jobs.

    And marketplace discrimination is such a problem that everyone buys goods made by hated and despised foreigners and legislation must be enacted to impose discrimination against those goods so that fewer are sold.

    In the Detroit area, the government schools in Detroit are all black and the suburban schools beyond the four mile wide mixed buffer, are all white. So who's racist now?

    ReplyDelete
  16. While I hate to take on Goliath and while I do agree with most of professor Block's email, I do not agree with all of it. Libertarianism is more than an answer to the question "in which cases is violence just?" Libertarianism is ethics; the question "which actions are right?" is a libertarian question whether or not violent actions are considered. There is no problem with saying some actions are wrong from a libertarian point of view, whilst not condoning violent intervention to prevent it. Why, I would say the propagation of Marxist philosophy is wrong, but I oppose any violence against it. I believe impersonation is wrong, but oppose violence to prevent it (unless the impersonation leads to other violation of individual rights). I believe that lying is wrong -- usually, at least -- but certainly oppose violence against liars.

    That said, I am not sure how Alexander would defend his view that discrimination and bigotry is wrong from a libertarian perspective, even from my wider-than-professor-Block's interpretation of libertarianism.

    ReplyDelete