“Money … is the nerve center of the economic system. If, therefore, the state is able to gain unquestioned control over the unit of all accounts, the state will then be in a position to dominate the entire economic system, and the whole society.”—Murray N. Rothbard, The Case for a 100 Percent Gold Dollar
For the aspiring Austro-Libertarian: What to read?
I thought I would recommend some of the not so well known but nevertheless mind-blowing journal articles that should be read by everyone in the movement, especially by those outside it. This will be the first in a series of many.
If you’re just starting out it is probably best to study the classics and introductory books. However, understanding the framework of knowledge, praxeology — the science of human action — and where the two important fields of economics and jurisprudence (political philosophy) reside is very helpful. This is the most cutting edge article out there that exists today.
Action-based legal theory is a discrete branch of praxeology and the basis of an emerging school of jurisprudence related to, but distinct from, natural law. Legal theory and economic theory share content that is part of praxeology itself: the action axiom, the a priori of argumentation, universalizable property theory, and counterfactual-deductive methodology. Praxeological property-norm justification is separate from the strictly ethical “ought” question of selecting ends in an action context. Examples of action-based jurisprudence are found in existing “Austro-libertarian” literature. Legal theory and legal practice must remain distinct and work closely together if justice is to be found in real cases. Legal theorizing was shaped in religious ethical contexts, which contributed to confused field boundaries between law and ethics. The carrot and stick influence of rulers on theorists has distorted conventional economics and jurisprudence in particular directions over the course of centuries. An action-based approach is relatively immune to such sources of distortion in its methods and conclusions, but has tended historically to be marginalized from conventional institutions for this same reason.
I don’t think the above will be bested in a very long time. It is a big read for a journal article, but do not let that put you off. It is well worth it. If you’re not a fan of reading online, I would suggest printing it out - which can be done very easily for around $5. It’s something you will come back to often. A one stop shop for understanding Austro-Libertarianism in one read.
“Economic power, then, is simply the right under freedom to refuse to make an exchange. Every man has this power. Every man has the same right to refuse to make a preferred exchange. Now, it should become evident that the “of the-road” statist, who concedes the evil of violence but adds that the violence of government is sometimes necessary to counteract the “private coercion of economic power,” is caught in an impossible contradiction. A refuses to make an exchange with B. What are we to say, or what is the government to do, if B brandishes a gun and orders A to make the exchange? This is the crucial question. There are only two positions we may take on the matter: either that B is committing violence and should be stopped at once, or that B is perfectly justified in taking this step because he is simply “counteracting the subtle coercion” of economic power wielded by A. Either the defense agency must rush to the defense of A, or it deliberately refuses to do so, perhaps aiding B (or doing B’s work for him). There is no middle ground!”—Murray N. Rothbard, Power and Market: Government and the Economy (Menlo Park, Calif.: Institute for Humane Studies, 1977), p. 229.
In explicitly understanding knowledge as displayed in argumentation as a peculiar category of action, it becomes clear immediately why the perennial rationalist claim that the laws of logic—beginning here with the most fundamental ones, i.e., of propositional logic and of Junctors (“and,” “or,” “if-then,” “not”) and Quantors (“there is,” “all,” “some”)—are a priori true propositions about reality and not mere verbal stipulations regarding the transformation rules of arbitrarily chosen signs, as empiricist-formalists would have it, is indeed correct. They are as much laws of thinking as of reality; because they are laws that have their ultimate foundation in action and could not be undone by any actor. In each and every action, an actor identifies some specific situation and categorizes it one way rather than another in order to be able to make a choice. It is this which ultimately explains the structure of even the most elementary propositions (like “Socrates is a man”) consisting of a proper name or some identifying expression for the naming or identifying of something, and a predicate to assert or deny some specific property of the named or identified object; and which explains the cornerstones of logic: the laws of identity and contradiction. And it is this universal feature of action and choosing which also explains our understanding of the categories “there is,” “all” and, by implication, “some,” as well as “and,” “or,” “if-then” and “not.”
One can say, of course, that something can be “a” and “non-a” at the same time, or that “and” means this rather than something else. But one cannot undo the law of contradiction; and one cannot undo the real definition of “and.” For simply by virtue of acting with a physical body in physical space we invariably affirm the law of contradiction and invariably display our true constructive knowledge of the meaning of “and” and “or.”
 On rationalist interpretations of logic see Blanshard, Reason and Analysis, chapters 6, 10; P. Lorenzen, Einfuhrung in die operative Logik und Mathematik (Frankfun/M.: Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft, 1970); K. Lorenz, Elemente der Sprachkritik (Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp, 1970); idem, “Diedialogische Rechtfertigung der effektiven Logik,” in: E Kambartel and J. Mittelstrass, eds., Zum normativen Fundament der Wissenschaft (Frankfurt/M.: Athenaum, 1973).
On the propositional character of language and experience, in particular, see W. Kamlah and P. Lorenzen, Logische Propiideutik, chapter 1; P. Lorenzen, Normative Logic and Ethics, chapter 1. Lorenzen writes:
"I call a usage a convention if I know of another usage which I could accept instead… However, I do not know of another behavior which could replace the use of elementary sentences. If I did not accept proper names and predicators, I would not know how to speak at all… . Each proper name is a convention … but to use proper names at all is not a convention: it is a unique pattern of linguistic behavior. Therefore, I am going to call it ‘logical’. The same is true with predicators. Each predicator is a convention. This is shown by the existence of more than one natural language. But all languages use predicators" (ibid., p. 16). See also J. Mittelstrass, "Die Wiederkehr des Gleichen," Ratio (1966).
On the law of identity and contradiction, in particular, see B. Blanshard, Reason and Analysis, pp. 276ff, 423ff. On a critical evaluation of 3- or more-valued logics as either meaningless symbolic formalisms or as logically presupposing an understanding of the traditional two-valued logic see W Stegmiiller, HauptstrOmungen der Gegenwartsphilosophie vol. 2 (Stuttgart: Kroner, 1975), pp. 182-91; B. Blanshard, Reason and Analysis, pp. 269-75. Regarding, for instance, the many-valued or open-textured logic, proposed by E Waismann, Blanshard notes:
"We can only agree with Dr. Waismann-and with Hegel-that the black-and-white distinctions of formal logic are quite inadequate to living thought. But why should one say, as Dr. Waismann does, that in adopting a more differentiated logic one is adopting an alternative system which is incompatible with black-and-white logic? What he has actually done is to recognize a number of gradations within the older meaning of the word ‘not’. We do not doubt that such gradations are there, and indeed as many more as he cares to distinguish. But a refinement of the older logic is not an abandonment of it. It is still true that the colour I saw yesterday was either a determinate shade of yellow or not, even though the ‘not’ may cover a multitude of approximations, and even though I shall never know which was the shade I saw" (ibid., pp. 273-74).
In a world of total privatization, who should own the road at the front of my house, me, my neighbour across the road or someone else? And how should money be collected to pay for its upkeep? (bearing in mind that I live on a major road. The road is also my only access point. So the owner of the road would have a monopoly over it, which would be a problem if someone else owned it)
“This is a magnificent contribution to the libertarian edifice. It tackles an immensely important problem, a complex one, and argues on the basis of plumb line libertarianism. It is also inspiring, and rivetting. Congratulations to Hans, once again. All libertarians are greatly in his debt.”
I hope that helps, if not the paragraphs preceding and following should clear it up. Otherwise there is also Rothbard speaking about private roads here with a playlist to real life examples of such scenarios working remarkably well.
“But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people. … This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution.”—John Adams to Hezekiah Niles, 1818
“Right is a principle; utility is only a result. Right is a cause; utility is only an effect. Say to a man: you have the right not to be put to death or arbitrarily plundered. You will give him quite another feeling of security and protection than you will by telling him: it is not useful for you to be put to death or arbitrarily plundered.”—Benjamin Constant, Principles of Politics, p.41
“The State has its own agenda, that is, … all States everywhere are run by a ruling class, the people running the State, and one of their interests is to extend as well as maintain the power and wealth arising from that rule.”—Murray N. Rothbard, Letter to Robert Higgs.
“In one sense, the adoption of libertarian values and institutions would be a return; in another, it would be a profound and radical advance. For while the older libertarians were essentially revolutionary, they allowed partial successes to turn themselves strategically and tactically into seeming defenders of the status quo, mere resisters of change. In taking this stance, the earlier libertarians lost their radical perspective; for libertarianism has never come fully into being. What they must do is become “radicals” once again, as Jefferson and Price and Cobden and Thoreau were before them. To do this they must hold aloft the banner of their ultimate goal, the ultimate triumph of the age-old logic of the concepts of free market, liberty, and private property rights. That ultimate goal is the dissolution of the State into the social organism, the privatizing of the public sector.”—Murray N. Rothbard, Capitalism versus Statism
Hit me up with some download recommendations… movies, tv shows etc. you think I might be interested in. Or your favorites. They don’t have to be new or recent.
Thanks to the once monopolistic nature of the telecommunications industry here in Australia it has held back growth, innovation and competition. So the general case being for internet packages; they generally come with a cap per month. Prices are expensive compared to the US. If you go over the cap, speeds are slowed - or you are charged extortionate rates. So when you have left over cap/allowance you try to use it before it resets. I’ve got a lot to ‘burn’ this month. The existence of the cap probably entices many folks to ‘get value’ for what they have already paid for (a certain number of mb’s) and could instead - increase the net amount of download bandwidth as opposed to lessening it.
This is a chilled mixtape I made for what I think were the best songs of last year with that vibe. I enjoy sharing music, so feedback (good or bad) is always welcome! If you think I missed anything, speak up!
Perfect tumblr music haha. Tracklist is available here. Free download too.
It’s already been done; , , , *. And so I issue you the same response
I think, however, that either libertydefender misunderstands me or I misunderstand libertydefender. My first question for praxeologists was whether or not they could demonstrate that all the results of Misesian economics are derived logically from axioms (necessary for their claim of a logically consistent, a priori theory). By mentioning how mathematicians approach this, I may have confused matters. I am not suggesting that economics should rely on mathematical symbols or models. Rather, I was pointing out that the reason mathematics uses a formal language (which, in advanced mathematics, is more akin to English than the symbols most people are familiar with in the basic algebras/calculus) is to rid ourselves of ambiguity and unspoken assumptions. This considerably simplifies attempting to prove that a broad theory is true.
There is absolutely no misunderstanding. I acknowledge all that, and it is precisely what those four* posts address. All you have done is merely reiterated the exact same premises. In regards to your first question, I’m not sure you actually understand praxeology and economic science.
"In the study of human action, on the other hand, the proper procedure is the reverse. Here we begin with the primary axioms; we know that men are the causal agents, that the ideas they adopt by free will govern their actions. We therefore begin by fully knowing the abstract axioms, and we may then build upon them by logical deduction, introducing a few subsidiary axioms to limit the range of the study to the concrete applications we care about. Furthermore, in human affairs, the existence of free will prevents us from conducting any controlled experiments; for people’s ideas and valuations are continually subject to change, and therefore nothing can be held constant. The proper theoretical methodology in human affairs, then, is the axiomatic-deductive method. The laws deduced by this method are more, not less, firmly grounded than the laws of physics; for since the ultimate causes are known directly as true, their consequences are also true." ~ Rothbard, Mantle of Science.
Whether the logical deduction is sound or not, you will have to specifically attack the reasoning and "results of Misesian economics". Books have been written on justifying the logical deduction of money (to name one specific area) and it’s praxeological foundations based on human action.
"The present work deduces the entire corpus of economics from a few simple and apodictically true axioms: the Fundamental Axiom of action-that men employ means to achieve ends, and two subsidiary postulates: that there is a variety of human and natural resources, and that leisure is a consumers’ good.” In “Power and Market” (p. 1309, in the same volume) he than describes concordantly the “three universally acceptable axioms: the major axiom of the existence of purposive human action; and the minor postulates, or axioms, of the diversity of human skills and natural resources, and the disutility of labor." ~ Rothbard: Man, Economy, and State, p. xxxi.
It’s hardly so broad as to run into the problems you propose. What is broad however, is your criticism. So broad as to render it largely useless. How about instead of this generalized ‘hypothetical’ issue, you state the case (symbolize) with real world examples, and prove that it is necessary “to rid ourselves of ambiguity and unspoken assumptions.” It’s all so blase. What are these apparently unspoken assumptions, where is the ambiguity?
So, in this article linked by libertydefender, when the author argues against using equations (mathematical models), the author doesn’t refute the argument that Mises et al have not proven their theory logically consistent. I absolutely agree that mathematical equations are insufficient to study economics. Mathematical logic is not, however, equations, and the dichotomy proposed between mathematical and verbal logic is a false one: mathematical logic is verbal. There are, to be sure, carefully defined symbols — but I don’t much care whether you use all words or all symbols, as long as they are unambiguously defined.
Mathematical logic defines all the variables. Can the same be said for attempting to describe human action? This has all been addressed at length in the replies, I suggest an actual post by post, ‘line by line’ refutation might be more helpful in future. Because I really don’t see anything new being added to the discussion here.
I will note, however, in response to this article linked by libertydefender, that when Rothbard says (as quoted in that article):
The use of the calculus, for example, that has been endemic in mathematical economics assumes infinitely small steps. Infinitely small steps may be fine in physics where particles travel along a certain path; but they are completely inappropriate in a science of human action, where individuals only consider matter precisely when it becomes large enough to be visible and important. Human action takes place in discrete steps, not in infinitely small ones
he is adopting a contradictory viewpoint. Rothbard assumes, many times in his work, that supply and demand intersect, absolutely unlikely in the discrete steps he considers.
That’s like the cretinists who claim that evolution is wrong because of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. They think that since we get “more complex” with evolution, it can’t happen because it violates “entropy”. Which is nonsense, since that would mean we couldn’t even grow.
Similarly, you contend that supply/demand can’t intersect in finitely many discrete steps. Yes not only can it: it does. Different price points are tried. Prices go up and down based on supply and demand. And yet the price points are discrete along the historical continuum.
More to the point, I fail to see how any of the articles libertydefender links address my first argument. There is evidence that praxeology is not entirely generated by its axioms. For example, in Human Action (p. 65 in the Mises Institute edition) Mises writes:
The disutility of labor is not of a categorial and aprioristic character. We can without contradiction think of a world in which labor does not cause uneasiness, and we can depict the state of affairs prevailing in such a world. Experience teaches that there is disutility of labor.
This is a synthetic argument, then, one which requires empirical evidence to prove (there is no way, in other words, to prove this axiomatically, since, as Mises points out, it is possible without contradiction to construct a different scenario.) I don’t recall where, but Blaug has argued that a posteriori assumptions are necessary also to justify Mises’ use of a negatively sloped demand curve (which economists, particularly Steve Keen, have ably demonstrated to be false.)
It was referenced in the last post , the very last line - though admittedly not clear. "You made another post, and I’ve addressed it here.” So I suppose it should be have been labelled * (just added into the top). And as you will see it directly addressed those points. In short: It’s always been admitted that there are a priori axioms from some empirical observations.
“It should be noted that for Mises it is only the fundamental axiom of action that is a priori; he conceded that the subsidiary axioms of the diversity of mankind and nature, and of leisure as a consumers’ good, are broadly empirical.” ~ Murray N. Rothbard, Praxeology: The Methodology of Austrian Economics, p3.
Your point raised is null and void. Nor have I seen any demonstration of the negatively-sloping demand curve to be false. And the idea of disutility of labor is based on subjective preference.
So when I challenged praxeologists to produce a version of their theory which, unlike Mises and Rothbard’s writings, carefully defines all terms, enumerates axioms, and formally proves every claim, it was to answer these charges. I wasn’t suggesting that mathematics should be used in economics (though I do see a place for it, more on that elsewhere). Rather, I was arguing that praxeologists have failed to accurately demonstrate that they can deduce the entirety of their economic theory from their stated axioms.
I’m not sure why you guys don’t understand, that I understand what you guys are trying to do. It’s like you can’t seem to comprehend that I get it, and object. Nor have you at all proven Mises and Rothbard haven’t clearly defined their terms and proven their claims. This comes off as nothing but an argument from ignorance. What other books/sources have you read? There are considerable resources out there where they do just that (many linked to in the previous discussions above).
Thank you, someone who actually understands the point I was trying to get at! And as I’ve demonstrated earlier, if Misesean praxeology truly has any sort of explanatory power, then via Godel’s Incompleteness Theorems it will necessarily be unable to prove at least one result. Conza and others have asked me what the use of symbolization is; infinitegames summarized that pretty well. But necessarily, a symbolic reduction raises further problems which, I am convinced thus far, praxeology is incapable of addressing.
I find the claim I didn’t understand what you were getting at rather amusing. And I’d put forward neither of you have adequately addressed the points raised against, nor made a credible case for the use of symbolizing economics. Obviously that isn’t up for me to decide, but instead the reader, whom I think -anyone not completely invested in positivism, or mathematics- will agree with. In regards to the above, I have already addressed these points here  (which wasn’t responded to) and will add to the edifice of argument against.
Precisely what the particular unprovable claim is I am not certain. However, it is problematic for a theory so wide in scope.
Again you admit to having no precise idea what this apparent unprovable claim is, and side with it anyway? What theory so wide in scope? Praxeology isn’t just some theory (Chapter 2 - On Praxeology and the Praxeological Foundation of Epistemology, ESAM by Hoppe). Size is not the issue, soundness is - and your contended "problem" with praxeology, isn’t actually one at all.
I don’t necessarily dispute any of the claims made by praxeology. I think the empirical evidence shows, for example, Austrian business cycle theory to be very accurate. Rather, my issues with praxeology are that it is incomplete.
If you don’t agree with the methodology of praxeology, and the Austrians claims for the status of economic propositions, then your agreement is completely superficial.
Newsletter Smear - Failing: A Funny Thing Happened On My Way Through The Security Booth
Every day I deliver packages to the same building a few times each day. I always talk up Ron Paul when I get a chance, but one individual I've worked on converting is the loading dock supervisor. Manny is in his early 50's from the Dominican Republic. Manny was a Obama supporter when I first talked to him about Paul. This was several months ago. Our first political talk happened when he noticed the two Paul bumper stickers on my car. When he asked me about Paul, he first made fun of him. But as I explained Paul's positions on foreign policy he became intrigued. He started doing a little research and became more curious about him. Once he watched the debates, it was a done deal.
So, when the media started in on the newsletters, I was curious to see how Manny would react. I had my game plan ready when I went in last week. As soon as he saw me, he called me into his office. Manny pointed at his computer, he was reading an article about Paul and the newsletters. Before I even had a chance to say anything, Manny started ranting in his broken English.
Manny:"Frankie...Frankie...tell me...why they lie about this man. He's a good man...why they lie about him like that?"
***:My game plan went out the window. I didn't have to defend Paul or explain how the whole newsletter thing came about. I just had to explain to him that, sadly, politics can be a very dirty business. But that's not what convinced me that the smear attempt was failing, it was when I was leaving the building complex and passed by the security booth. I talked to George. George is the security guard in his early 60's from Puerto Rico. We have never really talked much, never mind politics. George would be around sometimes when I was talking to Manny about politics, and when Manny would ask George who he liked, George would say Obama and leave it at that. Well, when I passed by the security booth this is how the conversation went.
George:Hey brother, Paul is doing good in Iowa.
Me:Yes he is, only a few more days until the Caucus.
George:You think he win?
Me:Yes, I think he's going to win. But right now they're going after Paul with newsletters that were written many years...
George:Yes, I know. They're calling him racist
Me:Let me tell you about those newsletters...
George:I know all about them from the t.v...
***:At this point I was going to just let it go, so I decided to ask him about Obama in a joking way.
Me:Still going to vote for Obama? You going to wear an Obama t-shirt on election day next year?
Me:(laughing)...You're not going to wear an Obama shirt?
George:No...I'm voting for your guy Paul.
Me:What?!?! Since when George? What changed your mind?
George:All these tricks they are doing. They say your guy hates black people...hates minorities...people like me. I don't think so. I watch him in the debates. He don't talk like that. I think they're scared of him and now they are lying about him to to trick us. So, I'm going to vote for Paul.
***:I'm telling ya, I almost felt like crying listening to George talk. I put my car in park, got out, and shook his hand and welcomed him to the Revolution. He said "thank you" with a big smile on his face. And this is why I think the smear campaign is failing. Two older Spanish men, listening to the newsletter crap and I didn't even have to defend Paul. They both saw right through it. Heck, the smear attempt converted George lol. Tuesday is going to be a great day everyone. Peace.