Thursday, April 24, 2014

Walter Block: "Jeffrey Tucker Went Off the Deep End"

Walter Blocks slaps down libwaps, plus much more.


  1. So NOW, Walter Block says that libertarianism is limited to the non-aggression principle.

    But two years ago, he insisted that it was an absolute requirement of libertarianism to support a conservative Republican politician (Ron Paul) for president, and that Wendy McElroy was not a libertarian because she didn't do so.

    So which is it: Is libertarianism just the non-aggression principle, or is it the non-aggression principle plus other things?

    1. Dear Thomas K,
      are you referring to this article .
      if its another please lmk which one because i would love to read it.

    2. Fair criticism, particularly if you take the heading and subheading alone and disregard the rest.
      In context, it's clear he feels she was being dishonest and unfair in her criticism, and that calls her into question. Indeed, he starts his piece, second sentence: "Not only is she a libertarian, she is one of the most talented and creative and hard-working leaders of our movement."

      But then he offers a distinction. "She believes in the libertarian message, fervently. She defends it, brilliantly. She extends it, creatively. But, as far as acting so as to promote liberty, her trashing of Dr. Ron Paul’s candidacy gives the lie to that. Belief is necessary, but not sufficient, for being a libertarian. Wendy passes the first test, but not the second."

      Now this is interesting, as this can indeed draw parallels with the divisive left-libertarian penchant to conjure new terms ("thin", "brutalist") to disparage other libertarians who don't act according to some standard.

      I think he was correct to call out McElroy for her hyperbolic and fallacious commentary (e.g. Ron Paul didn't support the war in Iraq; Paul simply used the lack of due process to highlight the illegality of the war [as Block notes in the video above, this is part of Paul's "gentle" approach]); not to mention that she herself claimed Paul was not a "real" libertarian.

      But I won't defend Block, as much as I respect him. He was right in much of his criticism but wrong to disavow her as a libertarian and "thicken" libertarian qualifications just as the left-libertarians are wrong to do the same. And I would further argue that the left-libertarians are worse as they not only disavow, they disparage - and not just an individual but entire groups. It's not just a one-time offense, with the left-libertarians, it's part of the approach. Not very tolerant, that.

      Can't all of you stop being knuckleheads and making enemies of those who want the world free of aggression?

    3. @ Orlando

      I like much of your commentary. There are nuances right now within libertarians discussions that are hard to know exist, let alone debate if you aren't a "old timer".

      Of course, hardcore libertarianism(which I am), means strict adherence to the NAP.

      The fact is, I was a HUGE supporter of Ron Paul starting in 06', but by my own standards today I can't support any politician or the system today.

      RP has said he doubts whether the defense functions(and courts) can really be supported without a tax, which means coercion and a NAP violation.

      I, as a thinking person(and hopefully fair), can recognize this as a fair debating point and I see it as quite reasonable as a disagreement. But if I'm to be consistent in my understanding of the NAP being basis for libertarianism, how can I say that Ron Paul is such if fundamentally he rejects it at even a base level?

      All of this said, I have tremendous respect for the man and appreciate everything he has done.

      I think from time to time about whether I could I have made the jump straight from being a Ron Paul supporter to being a Rothbardian. I have my doubts(unfortunately), and this is where MAYBE we need to draw some kind of distinction between libertarianism and those philosophies that incorporate libertarianism but AREN'T.

      My argument being that some people(like myself) need these transition steps while assimilating the arguments & logic and trying to fit them into their lives consistently.

      The mistake the libwaps have made is starting this "label war" in which each side is using terms that might be construed as offensive and hindering discussion.

      The correct path seems to be to speak to those people with concerns outside of libertarianism about HOW libertarianism can achieve their goals within adherence to the NAP consistently.(not through positivist means, or in Ron Paul's case maybe we need to lock him in a room with Dr. Block and have Block brow beat him with his academic!)

      It's a difficult moment for libertarians right now, but the one take away from the above video for me was the point that Block makes about the growth of the movement in general, which obviously is great.

    4. Ben C,

      Yes, that was the article I was referring to. It's been a few years since I read it, but I still think my characterization of it holds up.

      Of course, I also think that Ron Paul's two presidential campaigns were calamities for the libertarian movement in general and for specifically./

      Even setting aside the fact that Paul is an anti-libertarian social conservative, once he got caught lying about the newsletters and once the Rothbard/Rockwell/Paul "paleo strategy" was revealed, LRC's only real option for maintaining its place of primacy in the movement was to say "yeah, we fucked up pretty bad there and we'll try to do better in the future."

      Instead LRC doubled down on the lies and "statism's just fine, as long as it's Ron," of which Block's article on McElroy is a prime example. The principled libertarians started disappearing from LRC's masthead, leaving only those whose primary talents run to screeching "smear!" and trying as hard as possible not to be the first person to stop applauding when Stalin ... er, Paul ... er, Lew ... finishes a speech.

      So I can accept the possibility that my view of Block's particular piece might be colored by my overall view of the decline of LRC.

  2. From my interactions with him, I'd say that Jeffrey Tucker has been off the deep end for years, if not his entire life.

    1. We're these in person or online