Locke and Rothbard

Writes Tom Mullen:

Ok, I finished the book. Incredible. Anarchy = “no archons” = no rulers.

I’m in. When can I expect my membership card? 😀

I have to tell you this — I hope you have a moment to read it.

Before about 5 years ago, I considered myself a libertarian, but had never heard of you or Ron Paul or Murray Rothbard. After college, I was a devoted “liberal,” although I could not accept their condemnation of the market economy. I was anti-war, pro-market, but not necessarily “anti-state.”

In 1992, at the age of 26, I voted for Ross Perot. I did this because I sensed that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats really wanted to change anything and at least Perot said that he wanted to cut down the government and I liked his charts and his personality. His philosophical contradictions didn’t bother me because I didn’t really have a consistent philosophy of my own. However…

A professor in my Jesuit college had taught a course in which we read two philosophers: John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. We debated their philosophies for an entire semester and I became enthralled by Locke — and his influence on Jefferson and the other guys in the white wigs. I had been interested in the American Revolution since I was a kid — even when I played “army,” I wanted to play American revolution “army.” I was delighted to learn that my natural attraction to that struggle was rooted in the greatest ideas the world had ever known.

I frequently responded to people who brought up politics that “every answer to every question about politics can be found in Locke’s Second Treatise of Government. If you read it and still don’t know the answer, read it again.”

I stumbled upon the Libertarian Party in the late 90’s and this was my only exposure to a libertarian movement in America. I recognized in the party principles of the same philosophy that I had been captivated by in the Second Treatise of Government. I did not seek to research and learn about the movement — I just rejoiced that a political party existed that seemed to coincide 100% with my beliefs. I never thought they had a prayer of winning anything, but at least I could vote for what I believed in. In 2004, I voted for Michael Badnarik for president. I still had no idea about modern libertarian history or writing.

In 2007, my wife came home and said, “Did you hear that there is a libertarian running for the Republican nomination for president?” I replied, “Yeah, they always say that, but they don’t turn out to be very libertarian when you actually analyze their positions.” However, I Googled this supposed libertarian, primarily to point out to my wife how unlibertarian this Republican likely was (after all, she had heard about him on NPR!). His name, of course, was Ron Paul. I was very happy to admit how wrong I was — this guy was for real. That he was actually getting on television inspired me to start writing — and it was researching the articles I began to write that I stumbled upon LRC — and discovered that there was a body of literature and philosophy that had gone far beyond Locke and Jefferson in constructing a philosophy of liberty.

That modern libertarians were anarchists was very exciting to me. I accepted the idea that enforcement of the law could be done privately pretty early on, but the last vestige of statism in me was a belief that there had to be “one law” that everyone accepted. Hoppe’s Democracy The God That Failed was exciting, but I wasn’t convinced that he had completely eliminated the need for a minimal state. His advocacy for insurance-like companies to provide protection seemed to depend upon a legal framework that all insurance companies submitted to as the ultimate authority to solve disputes. I did not see at that time that there was no reason that this had to be provided by a “state.”

For a New Liberty has finally resolved that last conflict for me. I have always been someone for whom proof is required — I have never accepted an idea, even if it was attractive to me, until it was proven to my satisfaction. Rothbard’s book has provided me with what I required. And that, in summary, has been my journey. I am glad to be relieved of the last reservations I had regarding abolition of the State.

How many stories like this have you heard?


7:00 pm on January 30, 2011