Category Archives: libertarianism

Orwell the Libertarian?

In 2011 I committed to work my way through the Orwell corpus, both books by and on him. I’ve read Selden’s biography, Hitch’s Why Orwell Matters, and then a slew of books by the man himself like Nineteen Eighty-Four, Homage to CataloniaThe Clergyman’s Daughter, Coming Up for Air, a pile of collected essays, and more. As one with libertarian leanings, there is a lot that I find congruent in Orwell’s writings. Of course, he was a socialist, so there are areas where I have strong disagreements with him. But his strong anti-totalitarianism makes any libertarian smile; that’s why he tends to be well-received in such circles.

I recently listened to a podcast by the Ludwig von Mises Institute on Orwell by Jeff Riggenbach that gave Orwell a decent placement in the libertarian tradition. Riggenbach claims that Orwell’s posthumously published “Such, Such Were the Joys,” forms the basis for his anti-totalitarian writings like Nineteen Eighty-Four. I tend to disagree. Orwell famously lambasted his teachers from St. Cyprian’s where he attended public school. But recent biographers have indicated that Orwell’s fellow students, like Cyril Connolly didn’t share in Orwell’s distaste. My theory is that Orwell wrote “Such, Such Were the Joys” as a partly fictionalized story of totalitarianism, using the genres of memoir and historical fiction. It’s probably why the essay was never published by Orwell himself–it was likely something he toyed with, but never took seriously. So instead of “Such, Such Were the Joys” forming the basis of later writings, it was his experiences of totalitarianism in places like Burma and Spain that had Orwell re-evaluate his public school days, if only to communicate his fears in a medium that may have interested his society; it is worth remembering that Orwell wrote about the popularity of “boys’ weeklies,” and may have wanted to tap into that market as well.

Just a thought…

Here’s the podcast:

http://mises.org/Services/MediaEmbed.aspx?MediaId=5072

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Ron Paul’s Foreign Policy

Ron Paul - Air Force Veteran

I’ve been fairly attentive to the Republican primaries this year. My interest mainly has to do with Ron Paul, the Texas congressman who espouses a libertarian political philosophy. While in the last primary Ron Paul was looked on as more of a fringe candidate whose views were extreme, this time around the language of the debate shows that he’s had a very positive impact. Now other candidates are talking about auditing the Federal Reserve, which is a big part of Paul’s economic agenda.

If there is one area where Republicans and conservatives continue to think that Ron Paul is extreme is his foreign policy. As a constitutional expert, Ron Paul knows that US foreign policy is non-interventionist (note: not isolationist). This means that the US are not to be the world’s policeman, nor are they to occupy other countries with their military bases, nor are they to intervene in sovereign states. Since the close of the Second World War this non-interventionist policy has not been followed, often to disastrous effects. Take for instance the ongoing situation in the Middle East, specifically with Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq. Ron Paul has taken a lot of heat from within his own party for being staunchly against the Middle East wars and his calling for troop pullouts in Iraq. What people don’t realise is that Ron Paul has history, the CIA, and academics all on his side.

The Ron Paul campaign has produced some excellent videos, but the following dealing with his foreign policy is the best so far. If you want to find out about Paul’s view, and more broadly, if you want to learn about US foreign policy, and consequences like “blowback,” you really should spend the 10 minutes or so and watch this video. There’s a reason why veterans of the recent wars are so supportive of Ron Paul. It’s also a good reason why, if you’re American, that you should vote for Ron Paul both in the GOP primary and for president.

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Filed under libertarianism, politics, republican, ron paul, war

Editing Ron Paul

A friend of mine linked this video on Facebook. In it, Ron Paul is questioned by a badgering Lawrence O’Donnell about a quote Paul gave in Congress about the Civil Rights Act. It is a 4 minute video that makes Paul look unsure of himself and, in an uncharitable interpretation of him, could even leave him looking racist. Check it out:

However, after I watched it, I noticed that YouTube linked a longer clip of the video. When I watched the second video in its entirety, I came away with a very different take on what Paul has to say. If you care about this sort’ve thing, watch the second video about 4 minutes in. You’ll see Paul excoriate O’Donnell for going beyond the topics that Ron Paul and O’Donnell’s producers had agreed on beforehand; hence why Paul appears flustered and unprepared in the beginning of the clip. You’ll also see Paul regain his feet and explain that Martin Luther King Jr. actually used principles of civil disobedience and law repeal–what Paul sees as libertarian principles–to gain civil rights for African Americans. Here’s the second video:

The interview and its posting are unfortunate on a number of levels. First, O’Donnell comes across like a civil rights freedom fighter in the first video, but a jerk in the second one. What is he trying to prove by asking Paul a heated question without allowing him to prepare beforehand? At best, it’s bad journalism, at worst, it’s intentionally devious. Second, that someone would edit the video without the full context of Paul’s last statement is typical of people who have no substantial arguments against his libertarianism. I don’t doubt that certain Ron Paul supporters would do the same thing, but if this is what political debate devolves to, that’s pretty bad.

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Filed under lawrence o'donnell, libertarianism, ron paul, video

Libertarianism – A Question

I really appreciate the writings of those who are labelled libertarian. Although they come from different schools of thought, I’ve been helped by books like The Law by Frederic Bastiat, The Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek, Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman and Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. I believe in small government, the right of an individual to own their property, low taxation, no government intervention in the market and other such libertarian ideals.

But I do so as a Christian.

Paul in Romans 13 gives us an explanation of the purpose of government: it is a minister of God to protect citizens from wrong-doing (v. 3). I am not an anarcho-capitalist (though I have sympathies), because v. 1 tells me to be subject to the authorities God has put in place. However, when it comes to God’s law vs. the law of the state, I echo Peter’s words in Acts 5:29 that it is better to serve God rather than man–hence why the Christian sometimes is called to civil disobedience. In terms of private property, the eighth commandment says, “You shall not steal”; this presupposes the ownership of property that can be stolen. The bible also speaks to charity and the welfare state (1 John 3:13-18) as well as honest financial dealings and inflation (Deut. 25:13-16Prov. 16:11).

Many other libertarian ideas find their support in the bible—I recommend Greg Bahnsen’s lectures Economic Ethics as a great place for more info—but my point here is that my views are not determined by an arbitrary appeal to myself as the ultimate standard of right and wrong. Rather, the scriptures provide for me an unchanging, external, objective, universal, moral standard—something indispensable for a person to avoid being arbitrary or subject to the whims of convention in their ethics, view of reality and knowledge.

So, my question to libertarians who do not believe in God or that his Word is truth is this: by what standard do you determine your economic/political values? Do you determine them by your own autonomous faculties of reason? If so, does this not leave you open to the charge of being arbitrary? Are they determined by societal convention? If so, what of changes in the whims of society? Or what if society chooses to follow a path that you know to be wrong (say, cannibalism)?

The biblical worldview is necessary to make sense of ethical norms (just as it is for reality and knowledge). It makes sense of how markets work (a chance universe, not guided by God makes market predictability absurd), why theft and inflation is wrong (if survival of the fittest, then why not steal?), why no one–including governments–has ownership over another (we are only subject to God, not humans). In my opinion, the great thinkers like Mises or Rothbard, who have much good to teach us, ultimately can’t account for the views that they espouse. And, to be frank, when they do offer up good economic ideas, they do so by breaking with their presuppositions and borrowing from the bible’s. They’ve climbed up on the branch of the Christian worldview and cut if off in the hopes that the branch wouldn’t fall.

If a libertarian can’t account for their own ethical norms, why be a libertarian? Why be a socialist, a communist, a hedonist, a materialist, a Marxist, or a typical-sports-watching-beer-guzzling-North-American for that matter? Without the biblical worldview, everything in this world is meaningless and absurd.

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Filed under economics, ethics, f a hayek, greg bahnsen, libertarianism, ludwig von mises

Gary North: Calling and Career As An Austrian School Scholar

Economist Gary North discusses economics, Mises, the Austrian school, professional calling in life and the power of technology to convey necessary information. This was delivered to students at Mises University, part of the Mises Institute in July 2009. Very enjoyable.

Here is a link to the article by Leonard Read that he references called “I, Pencil
And here is the link to A.J. Nock’s “Isaiah’s Job

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Filed under capitalism, conferences, economics, gary north, libertarianism, ludwig von mises, video

Milton Friedman Discussion in Toronto

By Sharing the Legacy and Ideas
of Milton Friedman

July 31, 2009 would have been Milton Friedman‘s 97th birthday. Now, more than ever, we need his vision. To honor the impact he has had on our society, and to help clarify his moral framework for freedom and free enterprise, we will celebrate the Friedman Legacy for Freedom in partnership with the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

Institute for Liberal Studies
cordially invites you to celebrate
The Friedman Legacy for Freedom

Friday, July 31st, 2009
6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Watermark Irish Pub
207 Queens Quay West
Toronto, Ontario


Please RSVP to Matt Bufton
(519) 819-3037 or matt@liberalstudies.ca


744 Josephine Avenue
Windsor, ON N9B 2L3
(519) 819-3037
www.LiberalStudies.ca

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The Klein Doctrine

Johan Norberg has a review of Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism in the Cato Institute’s Briefing Papers 102 (May 2008). The article is called “The Klein Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Polemics.” I read this review a while ago when my buddy Mark posted it at his old blog. But recent discussions have made me want to post it here.

Naomi Klein drives me bananas. I’ve read a number of her tirades, particularly in NOW (a Toronto rag). Norberg is to be thanked for a) showing how shoddy Klein’s research is; b) defending the good name of economist Milton Friedman and dispelling the myths that Klein has propagated about him; and c) showing that capitalism is not the term to be used for recent American political injustices. Norberg should have called his article “The Schlock Doctrine” because that’s what Klein’s writings amount to: schlock.

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Filed under books, capitalism, economics, libertarianism, liberty, milton friedman, naomi klein, reviews, socialism

Economics In One Lesson – Henry Hazlitt

If you ever read a book on economics in your life, Henry Hazlitt’s classic Economics In One Lesson should be it. Hazlitt goes through all of the basic economic fallacies that everyone committs and dispels them with short concise chapters and easy to understand illustrations.

My buddy Justin found the whole book online, which is thrilling! You can access it here.

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Bureaucrash – Capitalism Heals

This is hilarious. A group of protesters crashed a pharmaceutical convention in Bangkok but didn’t like it when they were crashed back by Bureaucrash. Carrying banners that say “Socialism Kills” and “Capitalism Heals” the Bureaucrash guys kept getting pushed aside by the first group of protesters. But wave their banners they did, much to the guy with the megaphone’s chagrin.

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Filed under capitalism, libertarianism, liberty, socialism, video

Institute for Liberal Studies Seminar

The Windsor Liberty Seminar is fast approaching. On March 21, 2009 the Institute for Liberal Studies is hosting their annual seminar on all things economics and politics. The speakers this year are:

David Beito (University of Alabama) – Black Maverick: T. R. M. Howard’s Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power

Daniel Rothschild (Mercatus Center) – Gulf Coast Recovery After Hurricane Katrina

John Murray (University of Toledo) – Small mutual insurance funds in the history of American and European health insurance

Sadly (again), I can’t make it. I hate missing these things.

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Audit the Federal Reserve

I’m not an American, so this doesn’t really pertain to me. But I think that Ron Paul’s bill to audit the Federal Reserve is important. I hope that like minded folk can generate enough online interest to get people talking about it and eventually get the bill passed.

See the information on Paul’s bill here.

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Gary North on John Robbins

I have long thought there to be an affinity between the late John Robbins and Gary North. Both are Calvinists interested in politics and economics. Both have a somewhat tenacious attitude (to quote Dr. North). I had no idea that the two of them worked together for Ron Paul.
Gary North offers some thoughts on their relationship after the death of Robbins this past summer.

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Filed under economics, gary north, john robbins, libertarianism, ron paul

Walter Block on Free Market Environmentalism

Thanks to Brandon for offering a link in a comment on an earlier post on free market environmentalism. The link is to a YouTube video of Walter Block discussing the relationship between the environment and economics. Check it out:

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Market and the Environment

Two side interests of mine over the past number of years have been economics and environmental issues. In my mind, both fall under the rubrick of Genesis 1:26 and the command to humans to have stewardship over the earth. What’s sad is that often economics, especially the free market variety, and the environment fail to cohere in an amicable way. That’s why I have been excited to read about “free market environmentalism.” This may sould like a contradiction in terms, but I think that if you were to delve deeper into the subject you’ll see that the two fit together quite snugly.
Check out libertarian writer Walter Block’s “Environmentalism and Economic Freedom” hosted at the Mises Institute’s website. It gives you a taste.
Another good resource is the University of Guelph’s Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics group, in particular the writings by Glenn Fox – a self-styled “free market environmentalist.”
See also this interview with Ron Paul who ran for the Republicans in their primary last year:

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Filed under economics, environment, libertarianism, ron paul

Henry Hazlitt on Frederic Bastiat

Bastiat the Great
By Henry Hazlitt

Frédéric Bastiat was born at Bayonne, France, on June 29, 1801. His father was a wholesale merchant, but Frédéric was orphaned at the age of nine and was brought up by his grandfather and his aunt.
He seems to have had a good, though not an extraordinary education, which included languages, music, and literature. He began the study of political economy at nineteen and read principally Adam Smith and Jean-Baptiste Say.
Bastiat’s early life, however, was not primarily that of a scholar. At the age of seventeen he went to work in his uncle’s counting-house and spent about six years there. Then he inherited his grandfather’s farm at Mugron and became a farmer. He was locally active politically, becoming a juge de paix in 1831 and a member of the conseil genéral of the Landes in 1832.
Bastiat lived in a revolutionary period. He was fourteen when Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo and exiled to St. Helena. He lived through the Revolution of 1830. But what first inspired his pamphleteering activity was his interest in the work of Cobden and the English Anti-Corn-Law League against protection. In 1844 he rose to immediate prominence with the publication of his article on “The Influence of French and English Tariffs on the Future of the Two Peoples” in the Journal des économistes.
Then began the outpouring of a brilliant series of articles, pamphlets, and books that did not cease till his premature death in 1850. There came first of all the first series of Sophismes économiques, then the various essays and the second series of Sophismes, and finally, in the last year of his life, the Harmonies économiques.
But the list of Bastiat’s writings in this short span of six years does not begin to measure his activities. He was one of the chief organizers of the first French Free Trade Association at Bordeaux; he became secretary of a similar organization formed in Paris; he collected funds, edited a weekly journal, addressed meetings, gave lecture courses — in brief, he poured out his limited energies unsparingly in all directions. He contracted a lung infection. He could breathe and nourish himself only with difficulty. Finally, too late, his ill-health forced him to Italy, and he died at Rome, at the age of forty-nine, on Christmas Eve, 1850.
It is ironic that the work which Bastiat considered his masterpiece, the Harmonies économiques that cost him so much to write, did far more to hurt his posthumous reputation than to help it. It has even become a fashion for some economists to write about Bastiat patronizingly or derisively. This fashion reaches a high point in an almost contemptuous one-page notice of Bastiat in the late Joseph A. Schumpeter’s History of Economic Analysis. “It is simply the case,” writes the latter, “of the bather who enjoys himself in the shallows and then goes beyond his depth and drowns…. I do not hold that Bastiat was a bad theorist. I hold that he was no theorist.”
It is not my purpose here to discuss the theories of the Economic Harmonies. That is done very competently by Dean Russell in the introduction to the new translation of the Harmonies published simultaneously with this new translation of the Sophisms. But there is a germ of truth in Schumpeter’s comment, and we can acknowledge this candidly and still see the much greater truth about Bastiat that Schumpeter missed. It is true that Bastiat, even in the Sophisms, made no great original contribution to abstract economic theory. His analysis of errors rested in the main on the theory he had acquired from Smith, Say, and Ricardo. The shortcomings of this theory often made his exposures of fallacies less cogent and convincing than they otherwise might have been. The discerning reader of the Sophisms will notice, for example, that Bastiat never shook off the classic cost-of-production theory of value, or even the labor theory of value, though his total argument is often inconsistent with these theories. But, then, no other economist of Bastiat’s time (with the exception of the neglected German, von Thünen) had yet discovered marginal or subjective value theory. That was not to be expounded until some twenty years after Bastiat’s death.
Schumpeter’s judgment of Bastiat is not only ungenerous but unintelligent, and for the same reason that it is unintelligent to deride an apple tree for not bearing bananas. Bastiat was not primarily an original economic theorist. What he was, beyond all other men, was an economic pamphleteer, the greatest exposer of economic fallacies, the most powerful champion of free trade on the European Continent. Even Schumpeter (almost in a slip of the pen) concedes that if Bastiat had not written the Economic Harmonies, “his name might have gone down to posterity as the most brilliant economic journalist who ever lived.” What the “might have” is doing here I do not know. It has so gone down.
And this is no mean achievement, nothing to be treated patronizingly. Economics is pre-eminently a practical science. It does no good for its fundamental principles to be discovered unless they are applied, and they will not be applied unless they are widely understood. In spite of the hundreds of economists who have pointed out the advantages of free markets and free trade, the persistence of protectionist illusions has kept protectionist and price-fixing policies alive and flourishing even today in most countries of the world. But anyone who has ever read and understood Bastiat must be immune to the protectionist disease, or the illusions of the Welfare State, except in a very attenuated form. Bastiat killed protectionism and socialism with ridicule.
His chief method of argument was the method of exaggeration. He was the master of the reductio ad absurdum. Someone suggests that the proposed new railroad from Paris to Madrid should have a break at Bordeaux. The argument is that if goods and passengers are forced to stop at that city, it will be profitable for boatmen, porters, hotelkeepers and others there. Good, says Bastiat. But then why not break it also at Angouléme, Poitiers, Tours, Orleans, and, in fact, at all intermediate points? The more breaks there are, the greater the amount paid for storage, porters, extra cartage. We could have a railroad consisting of nothing but such gaps — a negative railroad!
Are there various other proposals to discourage efficiency, in order to create more jobs? Good, says Bastiat. Let’s petition the king to forbid people from using their right hands, or maybe even have them chopped off. Then it will require more than twice as many people, and twice as many jobs, to get the same work done (assuming consumption is the same).
But Bastiat’s supreme jest was the petition of the candlemakers and their allied industries for protection against the unfair competition of the sun. The Chamber of Deputies is asked to pass a law requiring the closing of all windows, dormers, skylights, outside shutters, inside shutters, and all openings, holes, chinks, and fissures by which the light of the sun can enter houses. The blessings that will result from this, in an increased business for the candlemakers and their associates, are then all solemnly itemized, and the argument conducted according to the recognized principles of all protectionist arguments.
The petition of the candlemakers is devastating. It is a flash of pure genius, a reductio ad absurdum that can never be exceeded, sufficient in itself to assure Bastiat immortal fame among economists.
But Bastiat had more than scintillating wit and felicity of expression. His logic, too, was powerful. Once he had grasped and explained a principle, he could put the argument in so many lights and forms as to leave no one an excuse for missing or evading it. Again and again he shows the fallacies that grow out of exclusive concern with the problems of individual producers. He keeps pointing out that consumption is the end of all economic activity, and production merely the means, and that the sacrifice of the consumer’s interest to that of the producer is “the sacrifice of the end to the means.”
If at least some of us see some of these truths more clearly today, we owe a large part of our clear-sightedness to Frédéric Bastiat. He was one of the earliest economists to attack the fallacies not only of protection but of socialism. He was answering socialist fallacies, in fact, long before most of his contemporaries or successors thought them even worthy of attention. I have not said much here about his refutations of socialist arguments, because these refutations occur rather in the Essays and in the Harmonies than in the Sophisms; but they constitute a very important part of his contribution.
Bastiat is accused of being a propagandist and a pleader, and he was. It was unfortunate that for so long he stood alone, while other “orthodox” economists refrained from criticizing socialism or defending capitalism for fear of losing their reputations for “scientific impartiality,” and so left the field entirely to the socialist and communist agitators who were less timorous in this respect.
We could use more Bastiats today. We have, in fact, desperate need of them. But we have, thank Heaven, Bastiat himself, in a new translation; and the reader of these pages will not only still find them, as Cobden did, “as amusing as a novel,” but astonishingly modern, for the sophisms he answers are still making their appearance, in the same form and almost in the same words, in nearly every issue of today’s newspapers.

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Filed under articles, capitalism, economics, frederic bastiat, henry hazlitt, libertarianism

Free Books

That title ought to get your attention, if you’re like me that is. But no, sadly, Amazon.com is not giving away free books. Rather, there is a helpful website I wanted to bring to your attention. It doesn’t mail you free books (how great would that be?), but allows you to download pdf’s of good books. Of course, your friendly theonomist, Gary North, runs the site. It’s a treasure trove of good stuff (with the odd bad). I was chatting with my friend Scott about it, and thought I’d post, just so he wouldn’t forget.
I personally enjoyed the following books from this site (not that I endorse everything about the site or their books!):
Marx’s Religion of Revolution – Gary North. An excellent, excellent study of the life and thought of Karl Marx. A must read if you’re interested in that kinda thing.
Introduction to Christian Economics – Gary North. I think that North is at his strongest on economic issues, as he is a trained economist. A very helpful book.
Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators – a critique of Ron Sider. This is a classic.
Trial and Error – George Grant. Against the ACLU – you gotta love that.
Killer Angel – George Grant. A biography of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood.
By This Standard – Greg Bahnsen. While I am not a theonomist, I do have sympathies. I don’t agree with everything in this book, but I do find it very helpful in many ways.
Bringin in the Sheaves – George Grant. A book on the Christian response to poverty. Very thought provoking.
An absolutely horrific book (and introduction) on this site, whose spirit I definitely don’t endorse, even though I’m not a Keynesian is Hodge’s Baptised Inflation. They take Doug Vickers to task on his economic theory. It is a disgusting book that drags Vickers through the mud. It should not have been written by Christians. Sad.
Also available are a number of different newsletters and periodicals done by North, et. al.
To be able to view the documents, you have to first download DjVu, a link is provided on the site. In all honesty, it’s been a while since I’ve downloaded anything from here, so I can’t guarantee that all of the links work. It’s a trial and error thing I guess.

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Filed under apologetics, books, capitalism, dispensationalism, economics, gary north, libertarianism, presuppositionalism

Liberty and Economics

For my libertarian friends, and other who may be interested, I thought I would post this documentary on the life of the father of Austrian Economics, Ludwig von Mises. In my opinion, he’s the most important economist of the twentieth century. But I’m an amateur, so what do I know!

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Windsor Liberty Seminar – June 24, 2006

For those of you missed the last session of the Windsor Liberty Seminar this past Spring, don’t worry, you have a second chance! On June 24, 2006 lectures will be held at the Ciaciaro Club in Windsor, ON. The event will run from 10am – 3pm with a lunch buffet included. The cost is $20/person.
The speakers for this Seminar are: 1) Karen de Coster a scholar and writer from the Detroit, MI area. Her topic will be “Good Times, Noodle Salad and the State”; 2) Dr. Richard Ebeling, the President of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) and former Ludwig Von Mises Professor of Economics at Hillsdale College, MI. His topic will be “The First Principles of Liberty” and 3) Linda Schrock Taylor, an educational consultant, homeschool mom and public school teacher. Her lecture will be “Education Before Government Schooling.”
For more information please contact Cameron Fast here.

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Philosophy of Ludwig von Mises

This morning I had a conversation with a friend whom I haven’t seen in years. He asked me how my Greek exam went, I asked him how his PhD was going, etc. He had studied history and sociology in university so his background has always generated good conversation between us. When I was closer friends with him he was a committed evangelical, now he doesn’t even attend church.
We got onto the topic of capitalism. A while ago I had mentioned to him that I was reading Hayek; and somehow that crept into today’s conversation. He doesn’t like Hayek, his writings are “bullcrap.”
It was a good conversation in many ways. He kept assuring me that Christianity and capitalism are not compatible. Jesus Christ did not own private property and told everyone to give to the poor. Marxism (although my friend explained that he’s not a Marxist, per se) is much more compatible. The setting up of a welfare state to help those less fortunate is a better way, it inheres the Christian ethos of “doing good unto others.” If fact, capitalism, through globalisation, is the world’s greatest killer.
Having read of late the writings of Bastiat, Hazlitt, Mises, Hayek, North, Rose, Rothbard, Opitz, etc., I would likely differ with my friend not only on my economic ideals, but also with my understanding of economic history. Surely I’m only a novice when it comes to this plane in the history of thought, but I know what I’ve read.
Does capitalism, by definition, mean that there is no room for caring for others?
I’ve been reading some of
Victor Davis Hanson’s work lately and have been struck by the unique place in history that we find ourselves in. The capitalist machine of the United States has been going in to Middle Eastern “thugocracies” and removing the autocrats in power. Yet, instead of making Afghanistan or Iraq a part of U.S. dominion, the Americans are in fact helping to rebuild their societies, with their own people. We see no looting by American-led forces, as we might have in other countries, in other times. Rather we see Western soldiers seeking to respect the people they are liberating.
Compare this attitude with Mao Tse-Tung and his armies who decimated 70 million of his own people – in peace time. Or Stalin and the Soviet gulag that saw millions more killed than the holocaust. And of course the National Socialism of fascist (and communist, in my opinion) Germany.
I would argue that recent history has shown that capitalism does not by definition call for the destruction of those who find themselves in a lesser estate. Conversely, communism/Marxism/socialism does. At least that’s what history tells me.
But I do agree with my friend on one point (although I don’t think he was making it intentionally). That is that any system, whether it be capitalism, communism, socialism, imperialism, or whatever, will not work if it is not predicated on the Christian Scriptures. Libertarianism, if not held back by common grace, should lead to anarchism (can anyone give me a consistent reason why it shouldn’t?). Communism, if not held back by common grace, should lead to absolute totalitarianism. Only a worldview that is consistently grounded in the Bible can a) make sense of economic order and b) provide the moral grounding to make the system not only work, but work in a way that all in a society will benefit from it.
I’ve linked to an article from The Freeman that outlines the basic economic philosophy of Ludwig von Mises. To my knowledge, Mises was an atheist, albeit a great economist who levelled devestating and lasting critiques of socialism/communism/fascism. Interestingly the article is written by a Christian named Edmund Opitz who has appropriated Misesian thought within a Christian worldview, and I think has displayed that libertarian economics, based upon a Christian worldview, is the only system that will bring true freedom to all peoples. Primarily because it will be based upon the gospel of Christ that is a gospel of freedom – freedom from sin and death.
My friend has stopped going to church because Christians are all a bunch of capitalists who don’t care about social welfare. I pointed him to the historical facts of men like William Wilberforce who have wrought great social change through the gospel, who were capitalists. What about Christians of today, are we really not into social welfare? Do we not care about the underpriveleged? Do the inner-city missions of Tenth Presbyterian, Philadelphia, or Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis mean nothing? What about the work of Capitol Hill Baptist, Washington? Or the Samaritan’s Purse? Or Grace Community Church, Los Angeles? I would argue, based on older and recent history that Christians are the ones who have provided the best social services for the underpriveleged – and they’re the only ones who have reason to – because they have been regenerated by the Spirit and no longer live under the dominion of a sin-nature. Christians are the one’s with a moral point of reference – God’s revelation.
I was recommended to read the works of Giorgio Agamben and Slavoj Zizek to see how a synthesis between socialist political thought and Christianity is possible. I’ll check them out, but I must admit that I am highly skeptical. If the Liberation Theology of Gustavo Gutierrez had anything to say, it was that socialism and Christianity do not mix well together. But I should at least give these writers a chance.
Any thoughts by beloved readers???

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Filed under capitalism, economics, f a hayek, friends, gary north, libertarianism, ludwig von mises, marxism, the freeman

Freedom Project Seminar in Windsor, ON.

This looks interesting. The Freedom Project, is holding their “Windsor Liberty Seminar” on Saturday March 11th, 2006 (9am-5pm) at the University of Windsor. Those who are into libertarian economics of the Austrian stripe might be interested in going, as well as those who appreciate individual freedoms within a democratic country (ala, National Citizens Coalition). The list of speakers are here and the agenda is here. To register go here. The event is sponsored by The Institute for Humane Studies.
Hopefully I can get to Windsor for this, I’d like to go.
And Keith Lozon, if you’re reading this, let me know your thoughts on going. Maybe we can carpool??

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Filed under capitalism, conferences, economics, libertarianism, windsor