My goal, in debating, is, along with my opponent, to get that proverbial one millionth of an inch closer to the Truth. I know this sounds a bit mawkish, and in the heat of the event — I’m only human — I sometimes forget myself, but, at least, this is my goal. In order to do this, I find, it is good to be polite. Not try to hog the podium, not interrupt my debating partner, not engage in ad hominems, etc.
There are two arguments in favor of this. If we Austro libertarians approach debates in this manner, we are perhaps more likely to win over our opponents. And if not them, then, perhaps, members of the audience. Second, it is always easier to escalate than de-escalate. It is very difficult to start off in a hostile impolite manner and later change our tune than to begin on the note I advocate and then if it is not reciprocated, escalate the hostilities.
Below is a nice letter complimenting me on attaining this goal, at least sometimes.
Sent: Fri 8/22/2014 11:37 AM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Fwd: Education
*Below I wrote some nice things about you, Dr. Block. *
*I tried to be polite in my response to Charles Wheelan in the way that you are always polite. I want to interest him in competing Austrian economic reasoning and not be confrontational or even argumentative. *
*Thank you for the lecture. You explain softly what I could not do effectively. *
*If discrimination is objectionable then to be indiscriminate must be
*———- Forwarded message ———-From: Larry Gies*
Date: Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 12:15 PM
To: Charles J. Wheelan
Cc: Ryan Gies , Evan Gies
*Dear Professor Wheelan, I’ve pondered my response to you. I don’t want to critique your book or parts of it. If asked to recommend an introductory text on economic thinking yours would be the one because it is readable. My introductory text was Samuelson’s Economics and it was fascinating — for me. For many, perhaps most, of my classmates it was not. *
*I feel that you didn’t answer my question but your challenge to me is fair. *
*I became aware of competing academic thought when one of my children enrolled at Auburn University. He shared his classroom experiences and books in literature, history, and economics. Something was influencing curriculum at Auburn. That was a couple decades ago. *
*I feel that you write to be read and understood. So I thought about whose lectures and writing on Austrian economics I most enjoy. One man above all the others: Walter Block. *
*Please allow me to answer your question with a reference to one of Dr.
Block’s lectures: An Austrian Critique of Mainstream Economics here .
It is sixty-two minutes in length . . . an hour that slips by. *
*And permit me to add that Walter Block is one of the most courteous and considerate individuals I know while easily being the most thought provoking of all. *
On Fri, Aug 8, 2014 at 4:43 PM, Charles J. Wheelan wrote:
> Hi LG,
> Thanks for your note. To the best of my knowledge, many of these
> distinctions (e.g. Keynesian or Austrian School) have lost their
> meaning as economics has taken some ideas from each and discarded
> some. For example, the most common thinking on monetary policy is
> neither Keynesian nor monetarist, but a blend of thoughts from each of
> those approaches. And the writing of Hayek is implicit in the writing
> of most folks who are skeptics of what government can accomplish (such
> as the chapter in my book to that effect). Is there a particular idea
> or approach from the Austrian School that you would point to as
> needing explicit coverage? It’s definitely not a deliberate omission
> on my part, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an omission.
> All the best,
> *From: LG
> * Sent: Friday, August 08, 2014 1:05 PM To: Charles J. Wheelan Cc: Evan
> Gies; Ryan Gies Subject: Education*
> *Dear Professor Wheelan,*
> * On a recent visit to my son’s home in Ohio, my oldest grandson – a high
> school junior – proudly presented me with his textbook, Naked Economics.
> First of all it is impressive that the study of economics, at least in
> Powell, Ohio, is introduced to high school students. Secondly, I was simply
> impressed by the easy readability of your book. (That it has been
> translated into eighteen languages is a magnificent tribute.)*
> *When I’d finished reading [and re-reading many chapters] I could not
> recall a single reference to the authorities that challenge Keynesian
> school thought and dogma although clearly you are aware of contradictions.*
> *Carefully I read the index at the back of Naked Economics and found not
> one reference to Menger, Mises, Hazlitt (a Nobel laureate), Rothbard (a
> prolific writer and astute student of history, philosophy, and economics),
> the Austrian school of economics or the wealth of resources available to
> students at the Ludwig von Mises Institute.*
> *It seems to me as a reader and observer that you must have made a
> conscious decision to limit exposure of students to all Austrian school
> economic though. Why?*
> *Yours truly*