Sent: Fri 7/21/2017 8:48 PM
Subject: Re: 4 questions blog entry 20 July 2017
Dear Dr. Block,
In yesterday’s blog entry
theory-responses/) the answer to question 3 regarding nuclear weapons was blank. I don’t believe that was intentional, was it? Defending the Undefendable, and your other articles, are great resources when debating my socialist-leaning colleagues. It’s amazing the level of shock and disbelief when I mention something as simple as competition among gas stations. This in relation to their statements that government regulation is necessary to keep gas stations from charging whatever they want, since we HAVE to buy gas at any price, among other examples. Thanks for your work, D
Dear D: Thanks for your kind comments. Sorry, it was inadvertent. Here ‘tis:
Block, Walter E. and Matthew A. Block. 2000. “Toward a Universal Libertarian Theory of Gun (Weapon) Control,” Ethics, Place and Environment, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 289-298; http://www.walterblock.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/theory_gun_control.pdf; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228127780_Toward_a_Universal_Libertarian_Theory_of_Gun_(Weapon)_Control_A_Spatial_and_Georgraphical_Analysis?ev=prf_pub; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228127780_Toward_a_Universal_Libertarian_Theory_of_Gun_Weapon_Control_A_Spatial_and_Georgraphical_Analysis; http://www.walterblock.com/publications/toward-a-universal-libertarian-theory-of-gun-weapon-control-a-spatial-and-geographical-analysis/
Sent: Wed 7/19/2017 5:46 PM
To: Walter Block
Dear Walter, Here are a series of nine questions I and my friends would like to ask you.
Dear H: See your questions below, interspersed with my responses. Thanks for all of them. Some are very challenging.
1. What are the rights of a dead body immediately upon death if nobody is established as an inheritor of the person’s estate? Assume the deceased has no family and no will.
Dead people, of course, no longer have any rights, as they no longer exist. Given that this person dies intestate, in the free society a (private) court would then determine what is to be done with this person’s estate.
2. What should a libertarian member of a jury do if the crime is aggressive (and guilt is proved beyond reasonable doubt), is there any reason to vote not-guilty based on the belief that the state is illegitimate and the punishment necessitates further aggression (taxes to pay for imprisonment, not restitution for the victim)? (more…)
Then don’t forget to feel sorry for his victims: the Vietnamese he killed for absolutely no good reason on 23 combat missions during the Vietnam War. Is he a war hero or a war criminal? I answered that question here.
The Hill reports that “Fox News’s Sean Hannity will no longer receive the conservative Media Research Center’s (MRC) William F. Buckley Award for Media Excellence after Buckley’s son expressed disapproval, CNN reported on Friday.
“Christopher Buckley reportedly called the MRC expressing “great dismay” at the announcement that the award would go to Hannity, who regularly insults conservatives who don’t support President Trump.”
The Media Research Center (MRC) is a politically conservative content analysis organization based in Reston, Virginia, founded in 1987 by activist L. Brent Bozell III. Bozell was among ten children of L. Brent Bozell Jr. and Patricia Buckley Bozell. He is a nephew of the late conservative writer and National Review founder, William F. Buckley Jr. and former United States Senator James L. Buckley, through Buckley’s sister, Patricia, and is the grandson of William Frank Buckley Sr.
This latest “tempest in a teapot” imbroglio is very characteristic of that inbred lumbering dinosaur called the conservative movement, which is stumbling pitifully on its last legs vainly trying to prove its relevance and self-importance.
The GOP has always been more concerned about scoring political victories, and thus wants only to repeal some Obama-specific laws. The much larger issue of the state’s destruction of health markets means nothing to the GOP.
And why are these rulers suddenly so keen on “states rights”? Because they wish “to [maintain] control over marijuana in our states.” Indeed, it’s all about control and which set of officials will exercise it, as they make clear later in the same paragraph: the existing framework, they say, “strike[s] a reasonable balance between allowing the states to enact reasonable regulations and the federal government’s interest** in controllingsome of the collateral consequences of legalization.” [Emphasis added.]
If we wish to regain our liberty, why waste our time on “legalization”? It leaves politicians and bureaucrats firmly empowered over our bodies (and our wallets, since taxation is integral to legalization). Rather, we must prohibit these despicable leeches from dictating what we may or may not ingest.
**By the way, any time rulers mention the government’s “interest” in something, it’s an admission that the Constitution never so empowers them. “Interests” are legal fictions that courts or sometimes politicians or bureaucrats dream up out of whole cloth to grab authority. For example, in the late 19th century, the Supreme Court invented an “interest” for the Feds in controlling immigration; no Constitutional mandate allows them to do so. Likewise, the Court decreed in the 20th century that the Feds have an “interest” in “safe” aviation—and that resulted in the anti-Constitutional, Fourth-Amendment-destroying TSA.
In 1968, the political philosopher Eric Voegelin published a little book called Science, Politics and Gnosticism. In a section of that book entitled “Ersatz Religion,” he argued that modern ideologies are very much like ancient Gnostic movements. Certain fundamental assumptions, Voegelin wrote, characterize both ancient and modern Gnosticism.
The gnostic, Voegelin observed, is fundamentally dissatisfied with his situation and believes that the world is “intrinsically poorly organized” and that salvation from the world’s evils is possible. The gnostic further thinks that “the order of being will have to be changed in an historical process” and that this is possible through human effort. Finally, the gnostic looks for a prophet who shares saving knowledge about how to make the transformation happen. It turns out that the intersectional project accords in every detail with Voegelin’s description.
Intersectional scholars are, by definition, unhappy with their situations in life. From an outsider’s perspective, this seems more reasonable for some than for others, though it’s apparent that everyone feels it to a greater or lesser extent. Most affectingly, at the Notre Dame conference, several black feminist scholars from South Africa described the explicitly repressive measures they had endured at their universities, where the prejudice against them is overt and sometimes results in violence. As one scholar put it, “It’s not like I’m full of despair.” Then she paused and thought for a moment. “But, of course, I am full of despair.”
I would put the modern source of this elitist scientism back to the Enlightenment. There is a dark side of the Enlightenment and its social engineering progeny that many libertarians (particularly those enamored by Ayn Rand’s militant atheism) do not acknowledge. (more…)
According to the talking heads of NPR, algebra is the biggest barrier that sits between “people of color” and low-income folks getting good jobs. So algebra is, apparently, racist, as well as discriminatory based on social class. Even civil rights activist Bob Moses understood the teaching of math in the public schools – cramming and regurgitating on state tests – was seriously flawed. But that discussion wouldn’t make for a good victim piece for NPR.
In the last decades of Murray N. Rothbard’s life, he developed an important interpretative framework in understanding this American history. This was prodded on by his careful study of the emerging “new political history” which was reinterpreting the dynamics of the ebb and flow of ethnocultural and ethnoreligious groups. This bold synthesis became the central focus of some of his greatest scholarly endeavors, particularly when it came to understanding progressivism as a secularized version of this postmillennial religious zeal.
I believe Rothbard provided the Rosetta Stone to understanding the orgins of the welfare state in America: the role of postmillennial Protestant pietistic intellectuals and activists born in the crucial decade surrounding the Civil War who, because of the seductive influence of the evolutionary naturalism of Darwinism, came of age increasingly secularized, but who did not forsake their faith in statism and elitist social control.
An excellent book which takes the reader on the panoramic journey in understanding how this central idea arose and its continuing impact on shaping our civilization today is The Puritan Origins of American Patriotism, by George McKenna, professor emeritus, City College of the City University of New York.
In her pathetic smearbook,Democracy in Chains, Duke University historian Nancy MacLean attempts to libel and smear not only Nobel laureate economist James M. Buchanan, but also the Austrian School and classical liberalism in general. This has generated some questions about Buchanan: Was he really a libertarian? Was he a fellow traveler of the Austrian School?
After Buchanan won the Nobel Prize I was asked to write an article for the Review of Austrian Economics, edited by Murray Rothbard, about Buchanan’s relation to the Austrian School of Economics. I was asked because I was a student of Buchanan’s; I had been a colleague of his for a few years at George Mason University; I had published widely in both public choice and Austrian economics; and Buchanan had also published some important work in Austrian economics, although his main reputation was in public finance and public choice.
Here is my article, published in 1990. Here is Murray Rothbard’s devastating critique of Buchanan’s Magnum Opus, The Calculus of Consent (with Gordon Tullock).
Sent: Mon 7/17/2017 10:52 AM
Subject: Some Questions
Hello Dr. Block, My name is LF, and I’m a graduate student studying math at the University of ZZZ. I came across your positions while listening to Sam Seder’s podcast. I usually align myself with the left when it comes to American politics, but I have to say that I found many of your arguments very interesting. I still have some questions though, and I would really appreciate it if you answer them, or direct me to materials that will answer them.
1) As a more general point, who is deserving of property rights? For this, I’m less concerned with rights to exterior property like land, a car, etc., and more concerned with the right to one’s own body. Are brain dead individuals deserving? What about mentally handicapped people? Babies? Animals? The way I see it, one tenable position might base property rights off free will. I think even this requires some caveats though. First, if I own a pet, is it ethically allowable under deontological libertarianism for me to torture this animal? What about small children, who can exercise some amount of free will? I would conclude that many entities are deserving of property rights to their own bodies, but there may be rankings to such rights.
As a thought exercise, let’s assume there is a super intelligent alien species, and this species possesses some form of higher consciousness as compared to humans (one that we cannot fathom just as cows cannot fathom the concept of free will). Would the aliens be ethically justified in using human beings as human beings use animals?
2) How would you address the problem of climate change? Let’s assume for the sake of argument that the basic principles of anthropogenic global warming are true (something that I think most reasonable people would accept). Would you be open to the idea of using force to limit the emission of greenhouse gasses? Based on your answer to the vaccine question raised by Sam, I would assume that you think in some cases this would be justified. As a concrete justification, if you own beachfront property in Miami, and you can prove to your court that my factory is emitting greenhouse gasses which contribute to sea level rise that harm your beachfront property, I think you would have justification in forcing me to stop. Do you agree with what I’ve concluded? (more…)
Sent: Sun 7/16/2017 2:36 PM
Subject: Are Creeps Defendable?
Dear Dr. Block, I have been a fan of your work since I was in high school 8 years ago. Particularly, I am a fan of your *Defending the Undefendable* series to which the theme of this email relates. I am writing to you because I am trying to parse out whether it is deontologically libertarian to support private sting operations that publicly expose potential child sex predators (i.e. Creep Catchers, POP Squad, Internet Interceptors) and if so, to what degree? If you are not familiar with the trend, it is when a group of private citizens pretend to be a child, known as a “decoy”, online and wait for a potential predator to initiate the first chat and subsequently inform the potential predator within the first 3 messages that they are an underage child. If the potential predator continues the chat knowing that they are speaking to a child, the vigilante then sets up a usually public meeting place, films, and publishes the interaction which usually leads to a public or private shaming and/or police arrest if they so choose to contact the police. I assume you agree with me that, per libertarian ethics, an individual cannot be punished, by the state or otherwise, if he or she has not aggressed against anyone. This includes one who has merely typed some messages to an imaginary person. Would I be acting within libertarian principals if I complete the sting and publish the video/chat log while maintaining to never contact the police or hurt the potential predator for the duration of the meet? If yes, one can argue that by publishing the materials, the police will inevitably get involved and subpoena all parties to court anyway, which would then increase the likelihood that the potential predator, who has not committed aggression against anyone, would go to prison thus violating libertarian ethics. So, I ask you, would “creep catching” be a pointless endeavor to ruin the lives of innocent people or a courageous way to use the private sector to raise awareness? (more…)
If cops aren’t shooting us dead, they’re planting evidence to “find” at crime-scenes. Fortunately, Officer Genius seems not to have understood how body-cameras work, so he inadvertently taped his assistance to the prosecution: “Police cameras have a feature that saves the 30 seconds of video before activation, but without audio.”
Ergo, the device was silently recording when, “during a drug arrest in January,” Genius “plac[ed] a soup can, which holds a plastic bag, into a trash-strewn lot. … the officer [then] walks to the street, and flips his camera on. ‘I’m gonna go check here,’ the officer says. He returns to the lot and picks up the soup can, removing the plastic bag, which is filled with white capsules.”
Imagine the damage these cretins would do us if they could walk and chew donuts at the same time! (And thanks to Bill Martin for the link.)
Second, in “The Cops Strike Again,” I argued that calling the cops is suicidal. A reader reminded me, “You don’t HAVE to call the cops! Sometimes, some other fiend calls them on you.” He’s suffered that problem twice, when “concerned citizens” reported him for “alleged crimes THAT DID NOT TAKE PLACE.”
Indeed, the woman in our story had done exactly that: she called the cops because she heard a rape in the alley behind her home. And she died, in her pajamas no less, when the cops shot her, not the assailant. (As Mark, another reader, wrote, “If armed government agents in any South American country acted in such a manner they’d be called what they really are, Death Squads.”)