Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tom Woods Takes On Michael Lind and Defends Liberty

The great Catholic libertarian historian and scholar Thomas E. Woods has come out in defense of libertarianism against the attack by Michael Lind that there is this one question libertarians can't answer.
Woods responded with several questions. Here are the questions:

(1) “If your approach is so great, why doesn’t local law enforcement want to give up the money, supplies, and authority that come from the drug war?”
(2) “If your approach is so great, why don’t big financial firms prefer to stand or fall on their merits, and prefer bailouts instead?”
(3) “If your approach is so great, why do people prefer to earn a living by means of special privilege instead of by honest production?”
(4) “If your approach is so great, why does the military-industrial complex prefer its revolving-door arrangement and its present strategy of fleecing the taxpayers via its dual strategy of front-loading and political engineering?”
(5) “If your approach is so great, why do businessmen often prefer subsidies and special privileges?”
(6) “If your approach is so great, why do some people prefer to achieve their ends through war instead?”
(7) “If your approach is so great, why does the political class prefer to live off the labor of others, and exercise vast power over everyone else?”
(8) “Special interests win special benefits for themselves because those benefits are concentrated and significant. The costs, dispersed among the general public, are so insignificant to any particular person, that the general public has no vested interest in organizing against it. An extra 25 cents per gallon of orange juice is hardly worth devoting one’s life to opposing, but an extra $100 million per year in profits for the companies involved sure is worth the time to lobby for.
“If your approach is so great, why does this happen?”
(9) “If your approach is so great, why don’t people want to try it out, after having been propagandized against it nonstop for 17 years?” (K-12, then four years of college.)
Then, E. J. Dionne came out against libertarianism in attempt to defend Lind. Tom Woods also responded likewise. Woods pointed out that contrary to what Dionne asserted, there was nothing such as "retirement" in the nineteenth century, Herbert Hoover was not the laissez-faire president anti-capitalists make him out to be, and government involvement in the War on Poverty worsened poverty. He brilliantly demolishes these claims made out by those who hate libertarianism. 
Now, Michael Lind is admonishing libertarians to "grow up." He calls our ideology "superficial, juvenile nonsense." Tom Woods has taken on him again, just as he did before when Lind called libertarianism a cult. Woods responds that we can return to the gold standard, we need to abolish the Fed, and secession isn't a bad thing. 
Now, having discussed Woods's take on Michael Lind, I would like to take on Michael Lind myself. In the conclusion to his article on libertarianism and cultism, Lind tells us that libertarianism cannot point to the founding of America for an example on libertarianism working in any country. May I refer him to Murray Rothbard's four-volume history on colonial America and the first chapter to the classic book For a New Liberty. Also, the reason no country has tried libertarianism (the subject of Lind's question) is because most people, even while liberty is their natural state, don't necessarily want to be free. They want security most of all, and this is why many people will succumb to tyranny. Also, in his article on libertarians "growing up", Lind claims that libertarianism is too dogmatic to be experimental. May I add that libertarians are willing to experiment with certain things as long as they are in line with libertarian principles. And libertarians are not perfectionists, though some are. Most of them admire the American Revolution and the Founding Fathers, even though they both had their imperfections. And libertarian orthodoxy isn't bad; in fact, it can sometimes be a good thing. And most genuine libertarians are willing to work together, even while they might have disagreements on certain things (like the issues of limited government vs. anarchy, intellectual property, abortion, immigration, and other things). I remember that many libertarian anarchists showed admiration toward a radical minarchist like Ron Paul. Libertarian anarchists such as Lew Rockwell showed admiration for him. Other examples include when staunch anarchist Walter Block defended him against the criticism of certain libertarian anarchists, Anthony Gregory defended him before anarchists, and the late great Murray Rothbard praised him, defended his libertarian credentials when he was running for the Libertarian Party presidential candidacy in 1989 and was a dear friend of his. These examples I gave you are intended to prove that libertarian purists will be willing to work with radical libertarians who might not agree with their purism but are committed to the goals of liberty and of limiting the government.
For some more resources to answer those who object to libertarianism, see The Humble Libertarian's 100 answers to objections against libertarianism.

UPDATE (6/19/2013): Jacob Hornberger has replied to Michael Lind in a very powerful blog post today. Also, Jordan Bloom at The American Conservative reminds us that Michael Lind is taking on "cartoon libertarians." Also, Reason has a great piece by Ron Bailey. For more on the discussion, see here.

UPDATE (6/26/2013): In response to Michael Lind, Joel Poindexter at Economicharmonies makes the case that "privatization" doesn't always mean "free market."

New Additions to the Links and Resources Page

Kevin Gutzman on Roger Sherman and Calvinism

Kevin Gutzman, acclaimed historian and constitutionalist libertarian/conservative scholar, has written a great piece at The American Conservative (one of the few good conservative resources, may I add) entitled "Constitutional Calvinist." It details the influence of Calvinist thought on Roger Sherman and on the American founding.

Gutzman rightly points out that Lockean thought is not only compatible with Calvinist thought on revolution, it is influenced by it. Here is a quote from the article: "The typical account of the Declaration has Thomas Jefferson producing a Lockean document notably devoid of traditional Christian language. Hall demonstrates that while the Declaration’s reference to “nature’s God,” its claim that government’s function is to protect citizens’ rights, and its assertion of a right to overthrow usurpatious rulers are consistent with Lockean thinking, they also are perfectly in keeping with John Calvin’s teaching on those subjects, which antedated Locke’s Second Treatise—and likely influenced Locke. That Sherman and his fellow Calvinists in the Second Continental Congress should have signed the Declaration is not the mystery that Louis Hartz and other proponents of the idea that American has always been Lockean have wanted to make it.

Read the rest here.