Sent: Friday, April 20, 2018 6:55 PM
Subject: Enoch Powell
Dear Dr. Block:
It has been 50 years since Enoch Powell’s infamous “rivers of blood” speech. Given the state of Western Civilization today, one can’t say his fears were unfounded. How would an anarcho-capitalist react to this portion of that speech? Is there a place for statesmanship?
“The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils. In seeking to do so, it encounters obstacles which are deeply rooted in human nature. One is that by the very order of things such evils are not demonstrable until they have occurred: At each stage in their onset there is room for doubt and for dispute whether they be real or imaginary. By the same token, they attract little attention in comparison with current troubles, which are both indisputable and pressing: whence the besetting temptation of all politics to concern itself with the immediate present at the expense of the future. Above all, people are disposed to mistake predicting troubles for causing troubles and even for desiring troubles: “if only”, they love to think, “if only people wouldn’t talk about it, it probably wouldn’t happen.” Sincerely, J
Dear J: It is justified to take preemptive action against clear and present dangers.
I must again resort to this article of mine on continuums: Block, Walter E. and William Barnett II. 2008. “Continuums” Journal Etica e Politica / Ethics & Politics, Vol. 1, pp. 151-166, June; http://www2.units.it/~etica/; http://www2.units.it/~etica/2008_1/BLOCKBARNETT.pdf
One cannot deduce, from the non-aggression principle (NAP) alone, whether a threat is so great that immediate, violent, defensive action is justified. One must add to the NAP prudential judgement, a “reasonable man” standard, etc. All I can say is that the devil is in the details.
The US has troops in some 130 countries. Are we in danger of being attacked, soon, by any or even all of them? No. Of course not. So, we do not really have a department of defense. Rather, it is a department of offense. US foreign policy cannot be justified on libertarian grounds. Best regards, Walter2:41 pm on November 19, 2018 Email Walter E. Block