My Unanswered Letter to Prof. Gerald Gaus

Here is my letter to Gerald Gaus, an eminent philosopher. He did not condescend to respond to it. I get a lot of that sort of thing. What happened to dialogue? Who knows. Maybe, I’m not worthy of correspondence with renowned scholars. Boo hoo. The occasion of this event was the retirement of my friend Eric Mack from the philosophy department of Tulane University. Prof. Gaus spoke at that event.

4/14/18

Prof. Gerald Gaus
James E. Rogers Professor of Philosophy
Philosophy Department
University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona 85721-0027

Dear Prof. Gaus:

I confess. I was a bit taken aback when you said yesterday at the Eric Mack seminar that Ayn Rand was to the body politic akin to a cancer cell in the human body. Your argument if I understand it was that her political economic philosophy is very far removed from the mainstream weltaungshaung and therefore undermines it. My comment to you then was that Murray Rothbard’s viewpoint was even further removed, in that he was an anarchist, while she favored a very limited government (armies, courts, police). You said you’d have to think about this. I’ve been thinking about it too, and have come up with an attempted reductio against your claim: you’re a fan of Robert Nozick’s. His political economic views are very similar to Rand’s, e.g., very limited government. So, is it also true in your view that Nozick to the body politic also as is a cancer cell to the human body?

There is one sense, however, in which I agree with you that Rand is a cancer, while Rothbard, Nozick, Hayek, are not: she was a cultist, none of these others can be fairly characterized in that manner. But my reason is thus very different than yours.

We also tangled on Hayek, who you said (your point 9 in the handout you gave out at that seminar) wouldn’t compromise on the basis of “perceived expediency.” I mentioned that he did precisely that in his Road to Serfdom; he gave away practically the entire free enterprise store. I back up this claim of mine here:

Block, Walter E. 1996. “Hayek’s Road to Serfdom,” Journal of Libertarian Studies: An Interdisciplinary Review, Vol. 12, No. 2, Fall, pp. 327-350, http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/12_2/12_2_6.pdf; reprinted in Ama-gi: Journal of the Hayek Society at the London School of Economics, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 22-25

Block, Walter E. 2006. “Fanatical, Not Reasonable: A Short Correspondence Between Walter E. Block and Milton Friedman (on Friedrich Hayek ’s Road to Serfdom).” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 20, No. 3, Summer, pp. 61-80; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/20_3/20_3_4.pdf; https://mises.org/system/tdf/20_3_4.pdf?file=1&type=document

Block, Walter E. 1999. “The Gold Standard: A Critique of Friedman, Mundell, Hayek, Greenspan from the free enterprise perspective,” Managerial Finance, Vol. 25, No. 5, pp. 15-33, http://giorgio.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContainer.do?containerType=Issue&containerId=13529; http://www.mises.org/etexts/goldcritique.pdf

In my assessment, Hayek was a great economist, but a sort of pinko compromiser on political economy.

Best regards,

Walter

Walter E. Block, Ph.D.
Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics
Loyola University New Orleans
6363 St. Charles Avenue, Box 15, Miller Hall 318
New Orleans, LA 70118
wblock@loyno.edu

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4:10 pm on April 19, 2018