Monday, March 24, 2014

Peter Boettke Charges That I Am Uwilling to Engage in Honest Intellectual Dialogue

GMU professor Peter Boettke is up in arms about this post of mine: The Hayek Problem.

After referencing the post and then quoting a long passage from Mises, he writes:
Since such a quote was provided by Mises and from a very prominent source in Mises's works -- his book Liberalism--- do you believe that EPJ will admit to their error or not?  Nope because engaging in honest intellectual dialogue is NOT the game they are playing.
Who "they" are I am not sure. Last I looked, I am not playing any games and there are no billionaire brothers writing me any checks.

As for Boettke's point, his Mises quote shows that Mises was not an anarchist. This is not a surprise. I am not  aware of anyone who considers Mises an anarchist. My point was that Hayek leaked from a pure libertarian position in ways that Mises and Rothbard never did. The specific problem I saw in the Sunstein quote of Hayek was when Hayek wrote that a competitive system needed a "continually adjusted legal framework." Sunstein jumped on this. He was writing in the context of reporting on what he called FDR's proposal for a "Second Bill of Rights." He took the Hayek quote to buttress his support of a "Second Bill of Rights." At best, Hayek must be charged with sloppy writing, which Sunstein used to his advantage.

I repeat, Mises and Rothbard would never write anything like this. Nothing in the Boettke quote of Mises shows Mises holding this changing framework view. Indeed, it shows the opposite that Mises held that the role of government was not only limited but fixed. From Boettke's quote of Mises:
This is the function that the liberal doctrine assigns to the state: the protection of property, liberty, and peace.
Beginning and end of Mises' view. And, of course, it is no surprise that Boettke supplied a Mises quote and not Rothbard, since Rothbard was an anarchist and it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find a Rothbard quote that could even be attempted to be distorted into Hayek's call for a jumping jack legal framework.

But there was a greater point to my original post beyond the Sunstein use of a Hayek quote. It is that the Cato and GMU crowd tend to promote Hayek over Mises and Rothbard. In fact, isn't that what Boettke is doing in his response to me. He is attempting to muddy the differences between Hayek on the one side and Mises and Rothbard on the other. The differences can not be denied. Indeed, in my original post I linked to a post where Rothbard identifies 48 non-libertarian positions of Hayek. (SEE: 48 Non-Libertarian Positions Held By Friedrich Hayek).

Thus the point remains, why does Cato have a huge painting of Hayek hung on the wall at Cato but not one of either Mises or Rothbard? And why is Boettke attempting to down play the serious differences between Hayek on the one hand  and Mises and Rothbard on the other?


  1. I swear I read somewhere once Walter Block saying that Hayek said that he held statist positions in order to be invited to the table for policy discussions. Since reading that, I've taken every word of Hayek's with a grain of salt: how can we know what he really believed, versus what he wrote just to appear "reasonable"?

    I can't find the quote any more though. Maybe it wasn't Walter Block who said it, or maybe I didn't read it and in fact heard it during a recorded lecture. If anyone could find that quote it'd be amazing!

  2. Peter Boettke, typical clueless professor. Let's see what he wrote about anarchists and his strawman conception of anarchist Utopia.

    "There is, to be sure, a sect that believes that one could quite safely dispense with every form of compulsion and base society entirely on the voluntary observance of the moral code. The anarchists ... "

    And what of the infinity of words spilled over how the law is enforced in an anarchist society? What about the fanciful novels about insurance providers? The private production of defense? Theories of justice, punishment and restitution?

    All this literature has been swept under the rug by "esteemed Professor" and "curator of the One True Austrian Economics". And how does Professor Boettke address these issues? By turning a blind eye to them!

    Having accomplished his mighty intellectual feat, Professor Boettke can now bask in the glory of his intellectual cowardice, and off he goes raining fire and brimstone upon poor Wenzel !

    Why would anyone trust this dishonest scammer from GMU? He has no knowledge of the subject matter ... he's clueless.

    You are better off reading Heinlein than the garbage that comes from these GMU guys these days.

  3. What's wrong with Heinlein?

  4. Is Peter Boettke a collectivist parasite that thinks it owns everyone and their incomes?
    Hence, "They".

  5. In response to my old tape of Hayek on "Meet the Press" in 1975, Richard Ebeling wrote:

    The summer that Hayek gave this interview in 1975 he was a senior fellow at the Institute for Humane Studies, when they were still headquartered in Menlo Park, CA.

    Before he went to do the interview, some of us who were on IHS fellowships that summer as well — Gerry O’Driscoll, Sudha Shenoy, Don Lavoie, Gary Short, Larry White, Roger Garrison and myself, among others — told him we would be watching very carefully to make sure that he did not “leak.”

    So if he was consistent, principled, and uncompromising during that interview on Meet the Press, I’d like to think it was (at least partly) because we had warned him he’d be answerable to this group of other Austrians for any, well, “errors” or “omissions”!

    Richard Ebeling

    1. LMAO!

      I wonder who gave Ebeling his 30 pieces. Is it Koch derived through one of its tentacles?

  6. Robert, since it appears honest intellectual dialogue is actually not something Boettke is interested in, why not call his bluff and invite him to debate on your show? I'll be shocked if he accepts, but it will nonetheless be fun to read his justifications for dodging you.

    1. Nice idea. From Jesse the Mind to Peter the Body.

  7. My primary exposure to Hayek is Road To Serfdom. He does show some 'fence sitting' (e.g. political) leanings as has been discussed. One has to imagine that what has transpired today was evolving at the time they lived (e.g. Keynes crusading for his way; eagerly adopted by central statists loving debt, power control), so the evidence we see today of Mises and other Austrians theorems have come true. So, if we could bring both back from the dead it would be interesting to see their present day impartation of theorems. One thing with Mises, having gotten mostly through The Theory of Money and Credit, it is astounding the insights he had about money, debt back in the early 20th century, of which unfortunately much has come true (on steroids).