Dr. Gary North’s Legacy Builders

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I believe Dr. Gary North’s “Legacy Builders” series to be among the finest contributions he has published in all his voluminous writings at LRC.

It has introduced me to some significant persons in which I was not previously knowledgeable and has rekindled memories of several who made a tremendous impact on my intellectual growth and development.

I was introduced to the name of Ludwig von Mises in November of 1970 in Jerome Tuccille’s book, Radical Libertarianism: A Right Wing Alternative. I discuss the seminal impact this little volume had on me here. It completely changed my life.

My first time in print was a June 26, 1973 letter to the Tulsa Tribune’s “People’s Forum” where I criticized a Tribune editorial on the Supreme Courts’ Miller v. California decision establishing “community standards” on obscenity:

In reference to The Tribune editorial, “Stemming the Porno Tide,” which discusses the recent Supreme Court obscenity decision, I find myself in conflict on a number of points.

First, the statement: “What the libertarians really want is to force on all America anything that Las Vegas can stomach.” This is absolutely false. One of the fundamental axioms of libertarianism is: No individual, group or government may initiate the use of force against any other individual, group or government . . .

Secondly: In the majority opinion, Chief Justice Burger said: “It does not follow that no regulation of patently offensive ‘hard core’ materials is needed. Civilized people do not allow unregulated access to heroin because it is a derivative of medicinal morphine.”

In response I quote the following:

“. . . If it is true that government derives its authority from God and is entrusted by Providence to act as the guardian of the ignorant and stupid populace then it is certainly its task to regiment every aspect of the subject’s conduct. The God-sent ruler knows better what is good for his wards then they do themselves. It is his duty to guard them against the harm they would inflict upon themselves if left alone . . .

“These fears are not merely imaginary specters terrifying secluded doctrinaires. It is a fact that no paternal government, whether ancient or modern, ever shrank from regimenting its subjects’ minds, beliefs, and opinions. If one abolishes man’s freedom to determine his own consumption, one takes all freedom away. The naive advocates of government interference with consumption delude themselves when they neglect what they disdainfully call the philosophical aspect of the problem. They unwittingly support the censorship, inquisition, religious intolerance and persecution of dissenters.”

Who would dare pen such blasphemous drivel? Jane Fonda? Ramsey Clark? Gus Hall? Nay! Ludwig von Mises, distinguished free market economist, darling of the National Review-Human Events set.

Without choice morality (any morality, objectivist, theist or statist) can not exist.

I was using the old Mises one/two prohibition punch, attacking both censorship and the War on Drugs, something I have continued to do over the course of the next thirty-nine years.

Tuccille’s book also introduced me to Murray N. Rothbard, who became the most decisive intellectual influence upon me over the next forty one years.

I discovered the pleasures of reading Robert Nisbet when visiting one of my professors at the University of Tulsa, Dr. Bernard Davis. He mentioned that “one of your guys,” economist F. A. Hayek, had just won the Nobel Prize that day. We discussed Hayek, Mises, and Rothbard and their intellectual contributions. I noticed on the books shelves behind his office desk a copy of Nisbet’s The Quest for Community and mentioned that I was familiar with the title but had not read the book. He loaned me his copy and I was hooked. Nisbet became one of my favorite authors for exactly the reasons Gary North outlined. On September 6, 1989 I received a gracious note from Nisbet in reference to an earlier communication I had sent him concerning the great impact his books had upon me (“I can’t imagine any author’s heart being more gladdened than mine by your kind letter”) and praising my Tulsa Tribune “Point of View” Op-Ed editorial, “The Libertarian Temperament,” I had sent him which he described as “your splendid little essay on libertarianism. True and eloquent.”

As to economist Ben Rogge, I have only his Can Capitalism Survive? and various articles from The Freeman upon which to draw upon as intellectual ammunition. But as Gary North notes, Rogge’s intimate connections with establishing Liberty Fund/Liberty Press has proven invaluable over the past four decades in amassing my personal library of thousands of titles.

Truly the people Dr. North discussed have been lighthouses in a dark and foggy world of ideas.

11:35 am on July 15, 2012