“I do not know if my approach here is “thick” or “thin” and do not really care; I have never found the thick-thin paradigm to be coherent, consistent, well-defined, necessary, or even useful. It’s full of straw men, or seems to try to take credit for quite obvious and uncontroversial assertions. I respect many of the libertarians arguing for it, but I’m not persuaded. I reject the very paradigm, just as I and other standard, radical anarchist libertarians reject the coherence of the left-right spectrum (from our perspective, left and right are just different flavors of statism/socialism; we are neither; we are better than both). I am not a left- or right-libertarian; I am a libertarian. And I don’t think I’m thick, and I don’t think I’m thin, because I think this entire way of looking at things is confused. I’m a non–thick-thinner.”—Stephan Kinsella (via freebroccoli)
3 Reasons Why There is No Such Thing as Positive Rights
"1. Rights, by definition, are universal, meaning that everyone can exercise them, even simultaneously. For instance, everyone can simultaneously exercise one’s right to property without generating any necessary conflict of interests, let alone a logical contradiction. But since exercising a "positive right" means coercing another to provide one with a specific good or service, everyone attempting to exercise a "positive right” simultaneously results in no one being able to exercise it, since where everyone wants to take, there is no one left to take from.
2. Rights, being by definition universal, hold true regardless of time and place. For instance, the right to property was as valid in the early Neolithic as it is today. However, “positive rights” are often “rights” to goods and services whose wide availability is a recent phenomenon. It would be preposterous to claim that, say, the “right” to education held true in the early Neolithic, since education in the modern sense of the term did not exist at that time. This indicates that this and other recently invented “rights” are not genuine rights, but modern privileges.
3. Genuine rights cannot clash. For instance, exercising one’s right to property does not violate any right of anyone else. On the contrary, since exercising a “positive right” means coercing another to provide one with a specific good or service, it necessarily violates another’s right to liberty and property, and thus necessarily generates a clash of rights. This indicates that only one of these rights – the one that can be exercised without generating a necessary conflict of interests – is a genuine right rather than a disguised privilege.” — Jakub Bozydar Wisniewski
In the United States, the prospects are a little more cloudy, but here too we see the “New Left” picking up a lot of the positions that we “extreme Right-Wingers” used to have. Much of the position that used to be called “extreme Right-Wing” twenty years ago is now considered quite leftish.
As a result, I, with the same position I had then, have been shifted bodily from extreme right to left without any effort on my part at all. Decentralization; community control; attack on Leviathan government, on bureaucracy, on government interference with each person’s life; attack on the state-ridden educational system; criticism of unionism, which is tied up with the state; opposition to militarism, war, imperialism, and conscription; all these things that the Left is now beginning to see, is precisely what we “extreme Right-Wingers” have been saying all along. And, as far as “decentralization” goes, there is nothing that is so decentralized as the free market, and perhaps this too will come to the attention of the public.
"1. Entrepreneurship, which is the fullest expression of liberty, is based on shrewdness, ingenuity, and tactical perspicacity. Political power, which is the diametric opposite of liberty, is ponderous, anachronistic, and perpetually behind the curve. Hence, a great window of opportunity to prove themselves opens up for all those who possess entrepreneurial talent – especially if it is coupled with technological talent – a window of opportunity to create solutions that allow for circumventing political power’s sphere of influence, and thus for undermining the belief in its indispensability. This is precisely how Bitcoin slowly sterilizes the power of central banks, the Internet erodes political control over the flow of information and the enforceability of “intellectual property rights”, and arbitration agencies reduce the role of legislation. In addition, the emergence of such solutions offers a clear illustration of the fact that effective entrepreneurship not only does not need political protection, but actually thrives to the extent that it is free from its influence.
2. One should use every possible opportunity to promote sound economic knowledge, which describes the process whereby individuals and their voluntary associations build their well-being on the basis of free exchange of goods and services in an environment of respect for property rights, unhampered competition, and spontaneously emerging price system. In other words, there is never too much of Bastiat and Hazlitt, be it among family members, friends, or colleagues. The more widespread this knowledge gets, and the more obvious its message becomes, the greater will be the social pressure to regain ever more areas of freedom of action understood as a precondition of personal well-being.
3. It is worthwhile to use every possible opportunity to promote the feeling of self-reliance, self-governance, and entrepreneurial initiative at the most local level possible. The goal of this activity is to bring about the greatest possible fragmentation and decentralization of all kinds of political structures, which is likely to lead to much greater economic integration of the territories under their control. This is a logical conclusion stemming from the fact that the smaller a given political organism is, the less capable it is of draining the vital forces of the local economy and hampering its spontaneous development, and the less resources it can devote to that purpose. In the most optimistic case, the ultimate culmination of such a decentralization process would be the emergence of a genuinely free and genuinely global economy composed of hundreds of thousands or even millions of independent economic zones, neighborhood associations, charter cities, and other forms of contractual, propertarian arrangements integrated through free trade and the global division of labor.
4. It is worthwhile to build in our social circles the most cosmopolitan atmosphere possible, an atmosphere that underscores the moral irrelevance of all affiliations that are not the result of a voluntary choice (including, for instance, ethnic affiliations), the moral universality of the principles of peaceful human coexistence, and the economic benefits stemming from it. It is important to bear in mind that in all likelihood it is precisely the instinctive attribution of moral meaning to ethnic affiliations that is the main driving force of oppressive political entities known as nation-states, together will all the armed conflicts that take place between them. Relegating all sentiments associated with such affiliations to purely aesthetic categories would be a very significant step on the road to initiating the decentralization processes described in the previous point, together with all their positive consequences.
5. Finally, as time and opportunities permit, it is worthwhile to engage in all kinds of charitable and philanthropic activities, especially if one can make one’s efforts in this context truly effective thanks to one’s entrepreneurial talent. The existence of such enterprises is always a clear sign for the broader community that effective help for the needy has its origin not in the will of “political authorities”, but in the grassroots efforts of free individuals and their voluntary associations, whose philanthropic initiative does not die even when the bulk of their resources is confiscated by the “authorities” in question. In other words, it is a signal showing that a consistent diminution of the influence of political power not only increases the scope of freedom of action, but also the scope of the most morally beneficial, natural consequence of this freedom, which is authentic charity.”
“The United States is again being subjected to that “complex of fear and vaunting” (in the brilliant phrase of Garet Garrett’s) which drove us, and the Western world, into two other disastrous wars in our century. Once again, the American public is being subjected to a nearly unanimous barrage of war propaganda and war hysteria, so that only the most searching and rational can keep their heads. Once again, we find that there has emerged upon the scene an Enemy, a Bad Guy, with the same old Bad Guy characteristics that we have heard of before; a diabolic, monolithic Enemy, which, generations ago in some “sacred texts,” decided (for reasons that remain obscure) that it was “out to conquer the world.”—Murray Rothbard
“If Smith and a group of his henchmen aggress against Jones and Jones and his bodyguards pursue the Smith gang to their lair, we may cheer Jones on in his endeavor; and we, and others in society interested in repelling aggression, may contribute financially or personally to Jones’s cause. But Jones has no right, any more than does Smith, to aggress against anyone else in the course of his “just war”: to steal others’ property in order to finance his pursuit, to conscript others into his posse by use of violence, or to kill others in the course of his struggle to capture the Smith forces. If Jones should do any of these things, he becomes a criminal as fully as Smith, and he too becomes subject to whatever sanctions are meted out against criminality.”—Murray N. Rothbard, War, Peace, and the State
"Historically division of labor originates in two facts of nature: the inequality of human abilities and the variety of the external conditions of human life on the earth. These two facts are really one: the diversity of Nature, which does not repeat itself but creates the universe in infinite, inexhaustible variety….
These two conditions … are indeed such as almost to force the division of labor on mankind. Old and young, men and women cooperate by making appropriate use of their various abilities. Here also is the germ of the geographical division of labor; man goes to the hunt and woman to the spring to fetch water. Had the strength and abilities of all individuals and the external conditions of production been everywhere equal the idea of division of labor could never have arisen … No social life could have arisen among men of equal natural capacity in a world which was geographically uniform….
Once labor has been divided, the division itself exercises a differentiating influence. The fact that labor is divided makes possible further cultivation of individual talent and thus cooperation becomes more and more productive. Through cooperation men are able to achieve what would have been beyond them as individuals….
The greater productivity of work under the division of labor is a unifying influence. It leads men to regard each other as comrades in a joint struggle for welfare, rather than as competitors in a struggle for existence.”
“Every man must have freedom, must have the scope to form, test, and act upon his own choices, for any sort of development of his own personality to take place. He must, in short, be free in order that he may be fully human.”—Murray Rothbard
Rothbards natural rights theory is sound, it is essentially the same in content as Hoppe’s from my perspective. Hoppe’s preface of TEOL is glowing with admiration for Rothbard. Hoppe is a disciple of Rothbard writing in the tradition.
Rothbard only fails in his defense of ‘natural rights’, not in his expositions of them, of what they entail, of how they are to be understood. He provides a tour de force in these areas.
Rothbard falls short by relying on the Aristotelian teleology, and appeal to the ‘objective’ value of ‘life’ which he said could not be contradicted. He comes close to, without reaching the Hoppean stance… From my perspective he is groping in the direction of it without seeing what it is. Naturally without it, he flails and seems weak to his critics.
Hoppe’s approach appeared novel to Rothbard, and excited him. Hoppe provides the superior defense.
The above is comment from a Mises Forum discussion. I would clarify that Rothbard fully accepted Hoppe’s argumentation ethics with open arms. Calling it amajorbreakthrough. I would also agree with him in that:
"…As a natural rightser, I don’t see any real contradiction here, or why one cannot hold to both the natural-rights and the Hoppean-rights ethic at the same time. Both rights ethics, after all, are grounded, like the realist version of Kantianism, in the nature of reality. Natural law, too, provides a personal and social ethic apart from libertarianism; this is an area that Hoppe is not concerned with…"
“These considerations are not a plea for opening America and the British Dominions to German, Italian, and Japanese immigrants. Under present conditions America and Australia would simply commit suicide by admitting Nazis, Fascists, and Japanese. They could as well directly surrender to the Führer and to the Mikado. Immigrants from the totalitarian countries are today the vanguard of their armies, a fifth column whose invasion would render all measures of defense useless. America and Australia can preserve their freedom, their civilizations, and their economic institutions only by rigidly barring access to the subjects of the dictators. But these conditions are the outcome of etatism. In the liberal past the immigrants came not as pacemakers of conquest but as loyal citizens of their new country.”—Ludwig von Mises, Omnipotent Government, p. 114
“Attempts to justify on economic grounds the policy of restricting immigration are therefore doomed from the outset. There cannot be the slightest doubt that migration barriers diminish the productivity of human labor. When the trade unions of the United States or Australia hinder immigration, they are fighting not only against the interests of the workers of the rest of the countries of the world, but also against the interests of everyone else in order to secure a special privilege for themselves. For all that, it still remains quite uncertain whether the increase in the general productivity of human labor which could be brought about by the establishment of complete freedom of migration would not be so great as to compensate entirely the members of the American and Australian trade unions for the losses that they could suffer from the immigration of foreign workers.”—Ludwig von Mises, Liberalism
"Before closing, I want to render a sense of something that history books will not capture and future generations may not understand: namely, the profound and benevolent impact of Murray Rothbard’s charisma on young scholars. Although reprints of his work will display the stunning breadth of his scholarship, they will give no clue as to the humor that made his listeners literally laugh for hours in after-conference sessions and gatherings at his home. When people finally walked away from Murray – reluctant to leave a world in which ideas were so much fun – they scattered to libraries and typewriters to research and write up the articles he had inspired. Murray Rothbard believed that ideas mattered. He infused you with that belief. I still hear his voice – admittedly a bit squawky – insisting that a certain insight was "Key! It’s key to the issue!," and admonishing me to write it up.
Murray had a habit of sitting with his right arm draped over his head, the elbow resting about five inches above ear level. I remember walking into a room where Murray was holding court for three young men who sat attentively before him, lined up on the couch. Each one had his right arm draped over his head. Not one realized they were mimicking him. A whole generation of libertarian theorists wanted to be Murray Rothbard. We adopted his slang terms, his gestures, his eccentricities… hopefully some of his intellectual magic has rubbed off as well.”
"To adopt an excellent strategem of Ludwig von Mises in abstracting from contemporary emotions: Let us postulate two contiguous Nation-States, "Ruritania" and "Fredonia." Let us assume that Ruritania has suddenly invaded eastern Fredonia, and claims it as its own. Must we automatically condemn Ruritania for its evil "act of aggression" against Fredonia, and send troops, either literally or metaphorically, against the brutal Ruritanians and in behalf of "brave, little" Fredonia? By no means.
For it is very possible that, say, two years ago, eastern Fredonia had been part and parcel of Ruritania, was indeed western Ruritania, and that the Rurs, ethnic and national denizens of the land, have been crying out for the past two years against Fredonian oppression. In short, in inter-national disputes in particular, in the immortal words of W. S. Gilbert:
Things are seldom what they seem, Skim milk masquerades as cream.
The Beloved international cop, whether it be Boutros Boutros-Ghali or U.S. troops or the New York Times Editorialist had best think more than twice before leaping into the fray…”
"The data of history are logically compatible with any of such rival interpretations, and historians, insofar as they are just historians, have no way of deciding in favor of one or the other. If one is to make a rational choice among such rival and incompatible interpretations, this is only possible if one has a theory at one’s disposal, or at least a theoreticalproposition, whose validity does not depend on historical experience but can be established a priori, i.e. once and for all by means of the intellectual apprehension or comprehension of the nature of things.
In some circles this kind of theory is held in low esteem; and some philosophers, especially of the empiricist-positivist variety, have declared any such theory off-limits or even impossible. This is not a philosophical treatise devoted to a discussion of issues of epistemology and ontology. Here and in the following, I do not want to directly refute the empiricist-positivist thesis that there is no such thing as a priori theory, i.e., propositions which assert something about reality and can be validated independent of the outcome of any future experience.
It is only appropriate, however, to acknowledge from the outset that I consider this thesis—and indeed the entire empiricist-positivist research program, which can be interpreted as the result of the application of the (egalitarian) principles of democracy to the realm of knowledge and research and has therefore dominated ideologically during most of the twentieth century,—as fundamentally mistaken and thoroughly refuted.”
“Albert Jay Nock was not a reformer and found offensive any society with a “monstrous itch for changing people.” He had “a great horror of every attempt to change anybody; or I should rather say, every wish to change anybody; for that is the important thing.” Whenever one “wishes to change anybody, one becomes like the socialists, vegetarians, prohibitionists; and this, as Rabelais says, ‘is a terrible thing to think upon.’” The only thing we can do to improve society, he declared, “is to present society with one improved unit.” Let each person direct his efforts at himself or herself, not others; or as Voltaire put it, “Il faut cultiver notre jardin.””—Robert Thornton
"How far would Mises push the principle of secession, of self-determination? Down to a single village, he states; but would he press beyond even that? He calls the right of self-determination not of nations, “but rather the right of self-determination of the inhabitants of every territory large enough to form an independent administrative unit.” But how about self-determination for the ultimate unit, for each individual? Allowing each individual to remain where he lives and yet secede from the State is tantamount to anarchism, and yet Mises comes very close to anarchism, blocked only by practical technical considerations:
If it were in any way possible to grant this right of self-determination to every individual person, it would have to be done. This is impracticable only because of compelling technical considerations, which make it necessary that the right of self-determination be restricted to the will of the majority of the inhabitants of areas large enough to count as territorial units in the administration of the country.
That Mises, at least in theory, believed in the right of individual secession and therefore came close to anarchism can also be seen in his description of liberalism, that “it forces no one against his will into the structure of the State.”
And Mises did believe in a vigorous right to secede, Liberalism pp. 109-10:
The right of self-determination in regard to the question of membership in a state thus means: whenever the inhabitants of a particular territory, whether it be a single village, a whole district, or a series of adjacent districts, make it known, by a freely conducted plebiscite, that they no longer wish to remain united to the state to which they belong at the time, but wish either to form an independent state or to attach themselves to some other state, their wishes are to be respected and complied with. This is the only feasible and effective way of preventing revolutions and civil and international wars. … However, the right of self-determination of which we speak is not the right of self-determination of nations, but rather the right of self-determination of the inhabitants of every territory large enough to form an independent administrative unit. If it were in any way possible to grant this right of self-determination to every individual person, it would have to be done.
"The standard reply of the Fed and its partisans is that any such measures, however marginal, would encroach on the Fed’s "independence from politics," which is invoked as a kind of self-evident absolute. The monetary system is highly important, it is claimed, and therefore the Fed must enjoy absolute independence.
"Independent of politics" has a nice, neat ring to it, and has been a staple of proposals for bureaucratic intervention and power ever since the Progressive Era. Sweeping the streets; control of seaports; regulation of industry; providing social security; these and many other functions of government are held to be "too important" to be subject to the vagaries of political whims. But it is one thing to say that private, or market, activities should be free of government control, and "independent of politics" in that sense.
But these are government agencies and operations we are talking about, and to say that government should be “independent of politics” conveys very different implications. For government, unlike private industry on the market, is not accountable either to stockholders or consumers.
Government can only be accountable to the public and to its representatives in the legislature; and if government becomes “independent of politics” it can only mean that that sphere of government becomes an absolute self-perpetuating oligarchy, accountable to no one and never subject to the public’s ability to change its personnel or to “throw the rascals out.”
If no person or group, whether stockholders or voters, can displace a ruling elite, then such an elite becomes more suitable for a dictatorship than for an allegedly democratic country. And yet it is curious how many self-proclaimed champions of “democracy,” whether domestic or global, rush to defend the alleged ideal of the total independence of the Federal Reserve.”
"It is not so patently evident, however, that advancing the health of the state is good for the rest of us. Indeed, this conclusion rests on several whopping assumptions: that the state’s interest coincides with the interest of every one of its subjects, that there is harmony between state and society, and that there is no ruling class dominating and exploiting the rest of us.
Would anyone really say that it is self-evidently good and “value-free,” for example, for social scientists to advise a government on how most efficiently to set up concentration camps, or how best to reduce opposition to such camps on the part of the public? Is our highest objective really to see to it that those who are “meant to govern” keep the allegiance of the bulk of their subjects under any and all circumstances?
If not, and if Rose and Peters would draw the line at the most outrageously despotic of states, then what principles would they set forth to guide them? In short, when, if ever, does the exercise of political authority become for them a worse evil than its enfeeblement?
No book on political authority that does not even address such questions is worthy of serious attention. The major interest of this book, in the last analysis, is in its revelation of the parlous state of the profession of political science.”
“The charm of group egalitarianism for the intellectual-tech-nocratic-therapeutic-bureaucratic class, then, is that it provides a nearly endless and accelerating supply of oppressed groups to coalesce around the egalitarians’ political efforts. There are, then, far more potential supporters to rally around the cause than could be found if only “the poor” were being exhorted to seek and promote their “rights.” And as the cause expands, of course, there is a multiplication of jobs and an acceleration of taxpayer funding flowing into the coffers of the Procrustean ruling elite, a not-accidental feature of the egalitarian drive. Joseph Sobran recently wrote that, in the current lexicon, “need” is the desire of people to loot the wealth of others; “greed” is the desire of those others to keep the money they have earned; and “compassion” is the function of those who negotiate the transfer. The ruling elite may be considered the “professional compassionate” class. It is easy, of course, to be conspicuously “compassionate” if others are being forced to pay the cost.”—Murray Rothbard
It’s either by Frank Chodorov, or Leonard E. Read… or someone similar:
The point is about politicians always attempting to reform.. like they’re on their fiftieth reform, and still haven’t got it right. Perhaps they should try freedom?
Along those lines. Any ideas?
Have you ever noticed how statists are constantly “reforming” their own handiwork? Education reform. Health-care reform. Welfare reform. Tax reform. The very fact they’re always busy “reforming” is an implicit admission that they didn’t get it right the first 50 times.
The list is endless: Canadian health care, European welfarism, Argentine Peronism, African postcolonial socialism, Cuban communism, on and on ad infinitum. Nowhere in the world has the statist impulse produced an omelet. Everywhere—it yields the same: eggs beaten, fried, and scrambled. People worse off than before, impoverished and looking elsewhere for answers and escape. Economies ruined. Freedoms extinguished.
It is a telling conclusion that statists have no successful model to point to, no omelet they can hold up as the pièce de résistance of their cuisine. Not so for those of us who believe in freedom. Indeed, economists James Gwartney, Robert Lawson, and Walter Block in their survey, Economic Freedom of the World: 1975–1995, conclude that;
“No country with a persistently high economic freedom rating during the two decades failed to achieve a high level of income. In contrast, no country with a persistently low rating was able to achieve even middle income status… . The countries with the largest increases in economic freedom during the period achieved impressive growth rates.”
Perhaps no one explained the lesson of all this better than the French economist and statesman Frédéric Bastiat more than 150 years ago:
“And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty”
"In addition to our re-evaluation of the origins and nature of the Cold War, we engaged in a thorough reassessment of the whole “left-right” ideological spectrum in historical perspective. For it was clear to us that the European Throne-and-Altar Conservatism that had captured the right wing was statism in a virulent and despotic form; and yet only an imbecile could possibly call these people “leftists.” But this meant that our old simple paradigm of the “left Communist/total government … right/no government” continuum, with liberals on the left of center and conservatives on the right of center, had been totally incorrect. We had therefore been misled in our basic view of the spectrum and in our whole conception of ourselves as natural “extreme rightists.” There must have been a fatal flaw in the analysis. Plunging back into history, we concentrated on the reality that in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, laissez-faire liberals, radicals, and revolutionaries constituted the “extreme left” while our ancient foes, the conservatives, the Throne-and-Altar worshippers, constituted the right-wing Enemy. Leonard Liggio then came up with the following profound analysis of the historical process, which I adopted.
First, and dominant in history, was the Old Order, the ancien régime, the regime of caste and frozen status, of exploitation by a war-making, feudal or despotic ruling class, using the church and the priesthood to dupe the masses into accepting its rule. This was pure statism; and this was the “right wing.” Then, in seventeenth and eighteenth-century Western Europe, a liberal and radical opposition movement arose, our old heroes, who championed a popular revolutionary movement on behalf of rationalism, individual liberty, minimal government, free markets and free trade, international peace, and separation of Church and State-and in opposition to Throne and Altar, to monarchy, the ruling class, theocracy, and war. These-“our people”-were the Left, and the purer their libertarian vision the more “extreme” a Left they were. So far, so good, and our analysis was not yet so different from before; but what of socialism, that movement born in the nineteenth century which we had always reviled as the “extreme left”?
Where did that fit in? Liggio analyzed socialism as a confused middle- of-the road movement, influenced historically by both the libertarian and individualist Left and by the conservative-statist Right. From the individualist Left the socialists took the goals of freedom: the withering away of the State, the replacement of the governing of men by the administration of things (a concept coined by the early nineteenth-century French laissez-faire libertarians Charles Comte and Charles Dunoyer), opposition to the ruling class and the search for its overthrow, the desire to establish international peace, an advanced industrial economy and a high standard of living for the mass of the people. From the conservative Right the socialists adopted the means to attempt to achieve these goals: collectivism, state planning, community control of the individual. But this put socialism in the middle of the ideological spectrum. It also meant that socialism was an unstable, self-contradictory doctrine bound to fly apart rapidly in the inner contradiction between its means and its ends. And in this belief we were bolstered by the old demonstration of my mentor Ludwig von Mises that socialist central planning simply cannot operate an advanced industrial economy.
The Socialist movement had, historically, also suffered ideologically and organizationally from a similar inner contradiction: with Social Democrats, from Engels to Kautsky to Sidney Hook, shifting inexorably rightward into accepting and strengthening the State apparatus and becoming “left” apologists for the Corporate State, while other socialists, such as Bakunin and Kropotkin, shifted leftward toward the individualist, libertarian pole. It was clear, too, that the Communist Party in America had taken, in domestic affairs, the same “rightward” path-hence the similarity which the “extreme” red-baiters had long discerned between Communists and liberals. In fact, the shift of so many ex-Communists from left to the conservative Right now seemed to be not very much of a shift at all; for they had been pro-Big Government in the 1930s and “Twentieth Century American” patriots in the 1940s, and now they were still patriots and statists.” — Murray N. Rothbard, Betrayal of the American Right
"The clash of the positivists with praxeology resulted from their theory of meaning. Briefly put, they held that deduction cannot give us any knowledge about the empirical world. All necessary truths are analytic; they are tautologies that are empirically meaningless. Since praxeology proceeds by deduction from a necessarily true axiom, the threat posed by positivism is apparent. Economics is supposed to apply to the world: it is not "an unearthly ghostdance of bloodless categories." If the method it uses must fail of its purpose, Misesian economics is ruined.
Mises’s most important argument against the positivists was a simple one. They purport to banish metaphysics and follow science, but their own position is metaphysical. “[T]he epistemology of positivism is itself based on a definite brand of metaphysics.” If positivists accurately took note of praxeology, they would be forced to abandon their views.
Praxeology is a deductive discipline that, contrary to positivist dogma, does give us knowledge of the real world. To declare illegitimate an existing science because it violates a philosophical doctrine is itself illegitimate: Metaphysics cannot overturn science.
The force of Mises’s point is twofold. First, he himself agrees with the positivists that philosophy is subordinate to science. When he claims that a philosophic doctrine cannot overturn a conclusion of science, he speaks on his own behalf. But, more fundamentally, his argument works against the positivists even if one disagrees with Mises’s view about the relation of science to philosophy. The positivists do agree with him here: his argument is thus an effective ad hominem retort against them. They, the opponents of metaphysics, are themselves engaged in metaphysics if they reject praxeology.”
Mises uses the same response to Karl Popper’s falsifiability criterion. Popper, unlike the positivists, did not take all metaphysical statements to be meaningless. He instead adopted the more limited position that all scientific statements must be capable of being proved false. The theorems of praxeology, insofar as they are deductively derived from a self-evident axiom, fail this test: nothing can falsify them.
Mises’s reply is characteristically forthright. If Popper wishes to classify praxeology as unscientific, that is his affair. The proper tests of praxeology are the truth of its axioms and the validity of its arguments. Why should it matter whether praxeology meets the criterion of science proposed by a particular writer? Why does it count against a statement that it is metaphysical in Popper’s sense? Here once more Mises uses an ad hominem argument. Like the positivists, Popper contended that definitions do not describe real essences: they are arbitrary proposals for the use of a term. Mises cleverly uses this view against Popper to show that his own characterization of scientific statements is an arbitrary proposal.”
— David Gordon, The Philosophical Contributions of Ludwig von Mises
The productive rich are richer, so they have more to contribute to charity.
The productive poor are richer, so they are less reliant on charity, thus leaving more charitable help for the involuntarily non-productive poor.
All productive individuals, being able to keep all the fruits of their labor and thus feeling that their liberty and dignity is genuinely respected, have not only the means, but, more importantly, also a genuine incentive to contribute to charity.
The voluntarily non-productive poor, knowing that they have no right to live at the expense of others, have a strong incentive to become productive, thus leaving more charitable help for the involuntarily non-productive poor.
In sum, under the system in question there is less poverty, both involuntary and voluntary, and more means to eliminate it.
Under a statist system of “public welfare”:
The productive rich are poorer, so they have less to contribute to the “welfare fund”, let alone to private charity.
The productive poor are poorer, so they are more reliant on “public welfare”, thus leaving less “welfare aid” for the involuntarily non-productive poor.
All productive individuals, being regularly expropriated of a large part of the fruits of their labor and thus feeling that they are treated like slaves or milking cows, have not only hardly any means, but, more importantly, also hardly any incentive to contribute to the “welfare fund”, let alone to private charity, or even to continue being productive.
The voluntarily non-productive poor, believing that they have a right to live at the expense of others, have a strong incentive to remain non-productive, thus leaving less “welfare aid” for the involuntarily non-productive poor.
In sum, under the system in question there is more poverty, both involuntary and voluntary, and less means to eliminate it.
The experience of “regime change” in Iraq raises fundamental questions about political economy and philosophy. For example, the looting and vandalizing that occurred after the military defeat of the Saddam Hussein government in Baghdad was cited as proof of the necessity of a state. Hans Hoppe refutes the idea.
The excerpt below is as relevant now as it was when first published in 2003:
[P]redictably, the aggressor State, the U.S., has been successful in invading and occupying Iraq. Once Baghdad was conquered by U.S. troops, the Saddam Hussein government effectively ceased to exist, and a new, U.S. government was established in Iraq. Instead of Saddam Hussein, it was now the U.S. military that acted as ultimate judge in Iraq.
No people can be ruled for long at the point of a gun, however. In order to endure, the new U.S. government must gain legitimacy within the Iraqi public. Yet contrary to U.S. government propaganda, the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been no act of liberation. If A frees B, who is held hostage by C, this is an act of liberation.
It is not an act of liberation, however, if A frees B from the hands of C in order to take B hostage himself. It is not an act of liberation if A frees B from the hands of C by killing D. Nor is it an act of liberation if A forcibly takes D’s money to free B from C.
Accordingly, unlike genuine liberation, which is greeted by the liberated with unanimous assent, the U.S. occupation has been met with much less than universal enthusiasm by the “liberated” Iraqis. Even many of Saddam Hussein’s opponents, who gladly saw him overthrown, still consider the U.S. an uninvited invader.
Confronted thus with a legitimacy-deficit, what better way to demonstrate the “necessity” of a continued U.S. presence than by the old and tried method of first creating chaos? The U.S. occupiers incite the Baghdad masses to loot first (seemingly justified) only “government property,” but then also private property.
Moreover, in shooting indiscriminately at any armed Iraqi, and then confiscating privately held weapons, the U.S. troops prohibit any effective self-defense on the part of the looters’ Iraqi victims (and hence prevent the re-emergence of a natural order). In the ensuing Hobbesian anarchy, Baghdad’s propertied class comes out and begs its occupiers for protection.
In conclusion, rather than cause and reason for the State, Hobbesian anarchy as seen in Baghdad is result and consequence of State-making and-overtaking, otherwise known as “regime change.”
The same goes with ISIS and any further US intervention.
Friedman:"In my view, the fundamental conflict is not between bad men and good men but between mistaken beliefs and correct beliefs."
Rothbard:"Granted that life is more pleasant following this tack, but alas, it misses the crucial point. Also, it is unpleasantly reminiscent of the tactic of all ruling classes in history: criticize inflation, but never the inflators; price controls, but never the people doing the controlling, etc. The point is that sins, errors, evils, etc. are not just floating abstractions; they are committed by real persons in the real world, and therefore they cannot be combatted unless people know what is going on in the concrete and who is doing it. Who is inflating and regulating, and for what purpose? It is at that point that we realize that not just abstract error but conscious evil is being perpetrated for the sake of ill-gotten money and power." (From the Jan '81 edition of the Libertarian Forum)
“If a prominent politician hires a hall to make a speech, stay away; the absent audience will bring him to a realization of his nothingness. The speeches and the written statements of a political figure are designed to impress you with his importance, and if you do not listen to the one or read the other you will not be influenced and he will give up the effort. It is the applause, the adulation we accord political personages that registers our regard for the power they wield; the deflation of that power is in proportion to our disregard of these personages. Without a cheering crowd there is no parade. Social ostracism alone can bring down the top layer of political skullduggery to its moral level.”—Frank Chodorov
New Libertarian:Since joining Libertarian groups and educating myself about liberty I've had to work through biases to understand things better, now other people see me as a compassion-less asshole because I've invested the energy in doing so and to understanding things better.
Konrad Graf:I think this is a very common experience. Part of what is happening is that intellectual thickets, including false associations, outright lies, and falsifications of history accepted as dogma, have been constructed over a very long period of time to actively prevent people from discovering and understanding these kinds of insights. Some initial strategies include trying to prioritize being constructive over being critical (there is just way too much to criticize anyway...) and learning to watch out for how people have been trained to rapidly topic-shift to avoid real issues and keep discussions within the approved narrative tracks. Fortunately today, there are a lot more people on the same page (or similar) and more ways to make contact with them than there were 25 or so years ago when I was taking first steps in this direction.
“In accordance with this non-methodical philosophical interests continued to drift from one subject to another. Already in his Philosophical Explanations, he had confessed “I have found (and not only in sequence) many different philosophies alluring and appealing, cogent and impressive, tempting and wonderful.” (p. 20). Libertarianism—ethics—carried no particular or even unique weight within Nozick’s philosophy. It was one exciting subject among unnumerous others, to be taken up for “exploration” or dropped as one’s curiosity demanded. It was not entirely surprising then when, only a few years after the publication of the very book that had made him famous, it became increasingly obvious that Nozick had all but abandoned even his kind and gentle libertarianism. And when he at last acknowledged openly (in The Examined Life, a book of neo-Buddhist on the meaning of life) that he was no longer a libertarian and had converted to communitarian social democracy, he still felt under no obligation to give reasons for his change of mind and explain why his previous ethical views had been false. Interestingly, this development seems to have had little effect on the status of Anarchy, State, and Utopia as prime libertarian philosophizing.”—Hans-Hermann Hoppe
"…My very first step in the following chain of reasoning, then, has been called “the a priori of argumentation” by such philosophers as Jürgen Habermas and K.O. Apel. […] With this step I lose, once and for all, the company of philosophers like Habermas and Apel. Yet, as will become clear immediately, it is directly implied in the previous step. That Habermas and Apel are unable to take this step is, I submit, due to the fact that they, too, suffer, as do many other philosophers, from a complete ignorance of economics, and a corresponding blindness towards the fact of scarcity. The step is simply this… […]
Apel and Habermas are essentially silent on the all-decisive question of what ethical prescription actually follows from the recognition of the “a priori of argumentation.” However, there are remarks indicating that they both seem to believe some sort of participatory social democracy is implied in this a priori. The following explains why nothing could be further from the truth.”
“As noted, you have to have many abilities or acts to homestead a thing—you have to think, create, innovate, judge, move, emborder, transform. Yeah, but you don’t own these things you do; you own the thing you homestead because by your actions you emborder it and therefore set up an objective indicator that you have now possessed it; as the first possessor, you have the best claim to it. This nowhere assumes you own your labor; this assumption is not needed. Labor-ownership is both unnecessary and insufficient. It’s unnecessary because you don’t need to “own” your labor to show that some thing you labored on is owned by you—you are the first user of the thing regardless of whether you own your labor. And it’s insufficient because there is no reason to assume that you are not just throwing your labor away, if you do own it—if you spit in the ocean you lose your spit, you don’t homestead the ocean.”—Stephan Kinsella