“The Free market is a summary term for an array of exchanges that take place in society. Each exchange is undertaken as a voluntary agreement between two people or between groups of people represented by agents. These two individuals (or agents) exchange two economic goods, either tangible commodities or nontangible services. Thus, when I buy a newspaper from a news dealer for fifty cents, the news dealer and I exchange two commodities: I give up fifty cents, and the news dealer gives up the newspaper. Both parties undertake the exchange because each expects to gain from it. Also, each will repeat the exchange next time (or refuse to) because his expectation has proved correct (or incorrect) in the recent past. Trade, or exchange, is engaged in precisely because both parties benefit; if they did not expect to gain, they would not agree to the exchange.”—Murray N. Rothbard, What Is the Free Market?
“The essence of logical positivism is to deny the cognitive value of a priori knowledge by pointing out that all a priori propositions are merely analytic. They do not provide new information, but are merely verbal or tautological, asserting what has already been implied in the definitions and premises. Only experience can lead to synthetic propositions. There is an obvious objection against this doctrine, viz., that this proposition that there are no synthetic a priori propositions is in itself —as the present writer thinks, false— a synthetic a priori proposition, for it can manifestly not be established by experience.”—Ludwig von Mises, The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science, pg. 5
For the aspiring Austro-Libertarian: What to read? #4
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 is the fourth in a series of many.
“A major point of dispute among libertarian theorists and thinkers today as always revolves around the age-old question of whether man can live in total anarchy or whether the minimal state is absolutely necessary for the maximization of freedom. Lost in this dispute is the question of whether man is capable of getting out of anarchy at all. Can we really abolish anarchy and set up a Government in its place? Most people, regardless of their ideological preferences, simply assume that the abolition of anarchy is possible, that they live under Government and that anarchy would be nothing but chaos and violence. The purpose of this paper is to question this venerated assumption and to argue that the escape from anarchy is impossible, that we always live in anarchy, and that the real question is what kind of anarchy we live under, market anarchy or non-market (political) anarchy.”
“Government is an agent external to society, a “third party” with the power to coerce all other parties to relations in society into accepting its conceptions of those relations. … However, that the idea of Government exists is no proof of its empirical existence. … That societies may have some form of organization they call the “government” is no reason to conclude that those “governments” are empirical manifestations of the idea of Government. … A closer look at these earthly “governments” reveals that they do not get us out of anarchy at all. They simply replace one form of anarchy by another and hence do not give us real Government. Let’s see how this is so…”
Stephan Kinsella:I agree with David Gordon. I disagree with pro-voluntary slavery libertarians, like Walter Block (Thomas L. Knapp is another, though he pettifogs on the use of the term "voluntary slavery").
Jeremiah Dyke:I too think it's insane not to have the ability to contract any percentage of your labor for any duration of time. [Sarcasm]
Stephan Kinsella:This is not an argument. Abilities don't come from opinions. Let's be clear: to justify voluntary slavery means you have to justify the use of force by a would-be "master" against a would-be "slave", if the slave tries to run away or changes his mind or disobeys an order. The libertarian thinks use of violence against another person's body is unjustified aggression, unless it is (a) consented to, or (b) in response to aggression.
But the slave has not committed aggression, so (b) is not a possible justification. Some alienabilists disingenuously argue that it IS "aggression" since the master owns the slave's body, so it's trespass (aggression) for the slave to use the master's property (the slave's body) in ways the owner (master) does not consent to. This argument is disingenuous because it is question-begging; it presupposes the legitimacy of body-alienability, in order to prove it. So this does not fly. I will say that I get very tired of people who engage in question-begging arguments. They do this all the time in IP -- where they label an act of copying "stealing" in order to show that what was "stolen" must have been ownable property. Horrible reasoning. I hope you don't engage in this kind of dishonest trick.
As for (a); clearly the slave who tries to run away does NOT consent to the force the master wants to apply to him. The only way the alienabilist can get around this is to say that the PREVIOUS consent the slave gave (say, a week before) is still somehow applicable, i.e. that the slave cannot change his mind. Why not? because ... well ... because ... well ... because the slavery contract was binding! So we see, yet again, the sneaky and dishonest resort to question-begging; slavery contracts are binding because they are binding. Neat trick, that!
The reason people can change their minds is that it does not commit aggression. And the reason a previous statement of intent is relevant is simply that it provides evidence of what the current consent is. It's a standing order, but one that can be overridden with better, more recent, evidence. If a girl tells her boyfriend he may kiss her now, and any time he feels like it in the future, then when tomorrow comes he is reasonable in assuming that she is still actually consenting NOW to another kiss, even if she says nothing, because she set up that presumption earlier. Her previous statement was not a binding contract, but just a way of establishing a standing presumption about what her ongoing consent IS. But if he goes to kiss her and she says NO, then we know that the previous statement about what her future consent WOULD be, was a bad prediction and has been undermined by the better, present/current evidence she is giving.
It is no different in all the voluntary slavery situations.
“Whether we consider the Axiom “a priori” or “empirical” depends on our ultimate philosophical position. Professor Mises, in the neo-Kantian tradition, considers this axiom a law of thought and therefore a categorical truth a priori to all experience. My own epistemological position rests on Aristotle and St. Thomas rather than Kant, and hence I would interpret the proposition differently. I would consider the axiom a law of reality rather than a law of thought, and hence “empirical” rather than “a priori.” But it should be obvious that this type of “empiricism” is so out of step with modern empiricism that I may just as well continue to call it a priori for present purposes. For (1) it is a law of reality that is not conceivably falsifiable, and yet is empirically meaningful and true; (2) it rests on universal inner experience, and not simply on external experience, that is, its evidence is reflective rather than physical; and (3) it is clearly a priori to complex historical events.”—Murray N. Rothbard, “In Defense of ‘Extreme Apriorism,” Southern Economic Journal, January, 1957, pp. 314-320.
“Shortly before Murray [Rothbard] died, I called him to tell him of my plans to run for Congress once again in the 1996 election. He was extremely excited and very encouraging. One thing I am certain of—if Murray could have been with us during the presidential primary in 2008, he would have had a lot to say about it and fun saying it. He would have been very excited. His natural tendency to be optimistic would have been enhanced. He would have loved every minute of it. He would have pushed the “revolution,” especially since he contributed so much to preparing for it. I can just imagine how enthralled he would have been to see college kids burning Federal Reserve notes. He would have led the chant we heard at so many rallies: “End the Fed! End the Fed!”—Ron Paul, End the Fed
In 1989 Robert Heilbroner, a distinguished quasi-marxist economist famously wrote in The New Yorker:
Less than 75 years after it officially began, the contest between capitalism and socialism is over: capitalism has won… Capitalism organizes the material affairs of humankind more satisfactorily than socialism.
In a sense, to their lament, the marxists are not at all relevant. Here Rothbard prophetically addresses the confused intellectuals about what would be the next statist threat: “The coming struggle will be over interventionism, some kind of statism quasi-fascism… but the full socialism has had it.”
In 1992, Robert Heilbroner continued to explain the facts of life:
Capitalism has been as unmistakable a success as socialism has been a failure. Here is the part that’s hard to swallow. It has been the Friedmans, Hayeks, and von Miseses who have maintained that capitalism would flourish and that socialism would develop incurable ailments. All three have regarded capitalism as the ‘natural’ system of free men; all have maintained that left to its own devices capitalism would achieve material growth more successfully than any other system. From [my samplings] I draw the following discomforting generalization: The farther to the right one looks, the more prescient has been the historical foresight; the farther to the left, the less so.
And so it is with that I would like to introduce the following reading list for those who have asked several questions about Marxism and what it actually entails, since unfortunately they continue to stick around.
“Without Austrian economics, I would not have had my political career. The strongest motivating force in my political activities is to live free since I was born free. Liberty is my first goal. The free market is the only result that can be expected from a free society. I do not accept individual freedom because the market is efficient. Even if the free market were less “efficient” than central planning, I would still prefer my personal freedom to coercion. Fortunately, I don’t need to make a choice. Austrian economics upholds the market’s efficiency, and that reinforces my overwhelming desire and right to be free. If no adequate intellectual explanation existed as to the efficiency of the free market, no political activism of any sort would be possible for any pro-freedom person. Our position would only be a theoretical pipe dream.”—Ron Paul, Pillars of Prosperity: Free Markets, Honest Money, Private Property.
1. A “beautiful post” consisting of absolutely no arguments. Wow, you clearly have ‘high’ standards! So ‘high’ in fact it leads to directly defending the Federal Reserve! Did Helicopter Ben give you a ‘free’ joy ride to the wonderful land of ‘legalized counterfeiting’ and promise you he’d shower all your favorite government programs with funding? Dr. Ron Paul prescribes a dose of Economics In One Lesson, and some Case Against the Fed to help rectify that blatant economic ignorance of yours.
"The financial elites of this country, were responsible for putting through the Federal Reserve System as a governmentally created and sanctioned cartel device to enable the nation’s banks to inflate the money supply in a coordinated fashion." — Murray Rothbard
Aren’t you meant to be against the financial elites? Aren’t you meant to be against the poor getting poorer, as they get screwed over via inflation? You don’t care that they lose their jobs thanks to the depression: a product of the central bank artificially lowering interest rates leading to the creation of an artificial boom through easy credit, thus resulting in malinvestment and an inevitable bust?
There is in fact legitimate and valid reasoning behind every single vote Ron Paul has made.. it’s just that you, and your fellow cohort of intellectual sloths are satisfied with taking everything you are spoon fed at face value. How about asking "why?" every once in a while? How about doing your job… which as a wannabe future journalist actually involves doing some investigating!
If you possessed a modicum of competency you would have discovered that the reason Ron Paul was the sole vote against the “Darfur Accountability and Divestment Act” is because he’s not a warmongering economic illiterate who understands that:
H.R. 180 is premised on the assumption that divestment, sanctions, and other punitive measures are effective in influencing repressive regimes, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. Proponents of such methods fail to remember that where goods cannot cross borders, troops will.
Sanctions against Cuba, Iraq, and numerous other countries failed to topple their governments. Rather than weakening dictators,these sanctions strengthened their hold on power and led to more sufferingon the part of the Cuban and Iraqi people. To the extent that divestment effected change in South Africa, it was brought about by private individuals working through the market to influence others.
No one denies that the humanitarian situation in Darfur is dire, but the United States government has no business entangling itself in this situation, nor in forcing divestment on unwilling parties. Any further divestment action should be undertaken through voluntary means and not by government fiat.
H.R. 180 is an interventionist piece of legislation which will extend the power of the federal government over American businesses, force this country into yet another foreign policy debacle, and do nothing to alleviate the suffering of the residents of Darfur.
The safe harbor provision opens another dangerous loophole, allowing fund managers to escape responsibility for any potential financial mismanagement, and it sets a dangerous precedent.
So here we discover that you and your contemporaries are nothing but rabidly confused intellectual pygmies. As for the claims of racism this sets the record straight.
2. An excellent example of cherry picking fallacy (content displayed of the bill) with no attempt at all to ascertain why Ron Paul voted the way he did. The error of such an approach is exactly the same as above, except here parts of the bill are displayed. It also attempts to shift the burden of proof. The one supporting the initiation or threat of aggression must attempt to justify the actions, even if done through arbitrary ad hoc legislation created by a self-interested ruling political elite. It’s erroneous to assume that such a framework is an implicit given.
3. Here Adam Kokesh from Adam vs. The Man responds directly to: Ten Reasons Not to Vote For Ron Paul. After shattering the arguments, he also provides some of his own ten reasons not to vote for Ron Paul:
10. I hate freedom
9. I love paying taxes for stupid crap the government shouldn’t be doing
8. I don’t want to lose my sweet job groping children at TSA checkpoints
7. I love seeing Bradley Manning tortured for speaking out against all these awesome wars
6. Obama still gives me that tingling sensation up my leg
5. The drug war is awesome!
4. I love paying the inflation tax to the Federal Reserve… even though I don’t know what that means
3. Don’t we need government to protect us from ourselves?
2. But Obama promised to keep me from ever having to take any real responsibility for myself
1. If Ron Paul wins then I won’t get to call anyone who disagrees with me a racist for not supporting our dear great imperial leader Barack Hussein Obama
“And so I find that I have become an apprentice Hands-Off Maven. I will never match my cher Maitre, but what the hell! I now understand the lingo, and can discourse upon the advantages and disadvantages of different kinds of computers. And, further, I have recently discovered the magnificent Macintosh, which, at the very least, has the best ad copy I have seen for any product in a long time. It goes straight to our hearts. (E.g.: “In this country there are 250,000,000 people, of whom only a small fraction know anything about computers. The Macintosh. For the rest of us.”) With the Macintosh you don’t have to learn complicated computer codes and signals. You “point” and move the cursor around the screen by shuffling the pointer (the “mouse”). Of course I haven’t touched a Macintosh yet, but I have become, in my own way, a Hands-Off Macintosh specialist, carving out my own little though growing niche in the mad, mad world of computers. I have read articles and learned journals on the Macintosh. It has a sparkling black on white screen instead of the dull green stuff. Etc. Why don’t I get one? Well, aside from the fact that it doesn’t fulfill my Revolutionary requirements, it will take at least a year (a lifetime in the computer world) to develop enough software, to get a letter-quality printer produced for it, etc. And hell, like I said, I can wait.”—Murray N. Rothbard on Apple Macintosh & Steve Jobs’ advertising, Libertarian Forum 1984.
[S]mith was scarcely the founder of economic science, a science which existed since the medieval scholastics and, in its modern form, since Richard Cantillon. … The problem is that he originated nothing that was true, and that whatever he originated was wrong; that, even in an age that had fewer citations or footnotes than our own, Adam Smith was a shameless plagiarist, acknowledging little or nothing and stealing large chunks, for example, from Cantillon. … For it is not just that Smith’s Wealth of Nations has had a terribly overblown reputation from his day to ours. The problem is that the Wealth of Nations was somehow able to blind all men, economists and laymen alike, to the very knowledge that other economists, let alone better ones, had existed and written before 1776. The Wealth of Nations exerted such a colossal impact on the world that all knowledge of previous economists was blotted out, hence Smith’s reputation as Founding Father. The historical problem is this: how could this phenomenon have taken place with a book so derivative, so deeply flawed, so much less worthy than its predecessors?
The answer is surely not any lucidity or clarity of style or thought. For the much revered Wealth of Nations is a huge, sprawling, inchoate, confused tome, rife with vagueness, ambiguity and deep inner contradictions. …
That should answer your question. However, Mises is more tempered than Rothbard.
“The culprit solely responsible for inflation, the Federal Reserve, is continually engaged in raising a hue-and-cry about “inflation,” for which virtually everyone else in society seems to be responsible. What we are seeing is the old ploy by the robber who starts shouting “Stop, thief!” and runs down the street pointing ahead at others.”—Murray N. Rothbard, The Case Against The Fed
Although it was better than nothing, the cost theory of value nonetheless suffered from several important flaws. Fundamentally, the cost theory is deficient because it doesn’t actually explain the determinants of market prices. Rather, the cost theory merely explains relationships among market prices.
"Costs" are prices too. To "explain" the price of a $10,000 car by reference to the prices of the engine, tires, glass, and so on, doesn’t really explain market prices per se. At best, it pushes back the explanation one step: Why does the engine have a price of $5,000, etc.?
Even on its own terms, the cost theory of value (at least as I have summarized it above) acknowledges that the present day “spot” price of a good is determined by something other than the costs of its production. The theory explicitly deals with the cases where the actual market price is either higher or lower than the long-run “anchor” price set by the cost theory, and tries to explain the forces that would move those “aberrational” prices back toward the long-run “natural” price.
The classical economists weren’t dummies. They understood that a sudden urge among the public to buy more of a certain good would lead to an immediate increase in its price. But the cost theory could only comment on this situation by saying that the market would tend toward a restoration of the same rate of profit in the industry through an increase in production to match the increased demand.
In other words, the cost theory of value could explain the long-run target toward which the day-to-day spot prices would tend. The cost theory could not explain what actually formed those spot prices on any given day.
Because the cost theory couldn’t explain how actual market prices were formed “from scratch,” it was useless when it came to nonreproducible goods. Obviously the price of the Mona Lisa, or of an original Shakespeare manuscript, would have nothing to do with the cost of producing these masterpieces.
“[T]he claim of having produced an a priori true proposition does not imply a claim of being infallible. No one is, and rationalism has never said anything to the contrary. Rationalism merely argues that the process of validating or falsifying a statement claiming to be true a priori is categorically different from that of validating or falsifying what is commonly referred to as an empirical proposition. … Revisions of mathematical arguments are themselves a priori. They only show that an argument thought to be a priori true is not.”—Hans-Hermann Hoppe, In Defense of Extreme Rationalism, p.208.
Daily Bell:How, then, does one define freedom? As the absence of state coercion?
Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe:A society is free, if every person is recognized as the exclusive owner of his own (scarce) physical body, if everyone is free to appropriate or "homestead" previously un-owned things as private property, if everyone is free to use his body and his homesteaded goods to produce whatever he wants to produce (without thereby damaging the physical integrity of other peoples' property), and if everyone is free to contract with others regarding their respective properties in any way deemed mutually beneficial. Any interference with this constitutes an act of aggression, and a society is un-free to the extent of such aggressions.
“[T]he problem of empire-building is essentially mystical. It must somehow foster the impression that a man is great in the degree that his nation is great; that a German as such is superior to a Belgian as such; an Englishman, to an Irishman; an American, to a Mexican: merely because the first-named countries are in each case more powerful than their comparatives. And people who have no individual stature whatsoever are willing to accept this poisonous nonsense because it gives them a sense of importance without the trouble of any personal effort.”—Felix Morley, Freedom and Federalism