Why Libertarians Should Read Mises – Part Two


Why Libertarians Should Read Mises

Part Two

By Duncan Whitmore

Introduction

In Part One of this series of three essays exploring the significance of Ludwig von Mises for libertarian thought, we examined the specific place that Mises holds in our tradition, and outlined the unique sophistication of his utilitarian theory in favour of freedom compared to that of other theories that can be grouped into this bracket.

In this part we will turn our attention to a detailed analysis of the action axiom – the keystone of Misesian economic theory – and its implications for concepts that we readily encounter in libertarianism.

Somewhat ironically, it was largely as a result of his influence that the wertfreiheit of Mises’ praxeology was regarded as a separate discipline from the search for an ultimate, ethical justification of liberty – a belief that was sustained by Murray N Rothbard.1 In more recent years, Hans-Hermann Hoppe has probably come closest to providing a link between the two through his derivation of “argumentation ethics” within the praxeological framework, and his identification of the pervasive problem of scarcity – a key praxeological concept – as underpinning any system of ethics.

Nevertheless, one may conclude that a full reconciliation, or synthesis, between the two is still wanting and that there remain other important commonalities to which this essay will seek to provide an introduction. Some of what we will learn below will have implications for a general understanding of right, and that the truths we reveal are inescapable for any political philosophy. Others will be specifically pertinent to libertarianism and will provide us with insights as to how we can further the libertarian goal. Continue reading

The Danger of “Presumed Consent”


On August 5th of this year it was reported in the news that Parliament is close to passing an overhaul of the organ donation scheme in England through the so-called “Max’s Law”, under which “adults will be presumed to be organ donors unless they have specifically recorded their decision not to be.1” This is in contrast to the current system where potential donors have to explicitly record their consent on the NHS Organ Donation Register.

One should always be particularly wary of laws that are named after specific individuals or events – almost certainly the story of some child or tragedy has been deployed in order to tug at our heart strings so that we wave through a state intervention while struggling to hold back our tears. In this case, the tragedies are, according to the BBC, the 411 people who, in 2017, died before a donor organ became available to them, and of the plight of approximately 5,000 people currently on the waiting list for such an organ in England.2

We might start by pointing out that the real cause of a shortage of donor organs is, of course, the fact that they are forcibly prevented by the state from trading at a market price. The supply of something that is in high demand can rarely be met by altruism alone and so it is always likely to be the case that either under-pricing a good or removing any benefit, cash or otherwise, from those who could be prepared to supply it will lead to its shortage. That may be an uncomfortable fact for those who cannot bear to imagine people “profiting” from the sale of organs. They might, however, wish to consider whether transmuting a monetary cost into the cost of forcing 5,000 people to wait in limbo for a voluntary donor under the shadow of death is sufficient to justify their moral scruples. Further, they may wish to ponder whether it is worth pushing the trade in organs out of the light of legitimacy and into the shadows of the black market – a highly lucrative underground industry worth between $600m and $1bn in profits per year, and where organs are often sourced from kidnapping and murder specifically for the purpose.3 Continue reading

Is Libertarianism Utopian?


Libertarianism – and any political position that leans towards a greater degree of freedom from the state – is opposed both ethically and economically on a number of substantive grounds. The proposition that without the state we would have inequality, destitution for the masses, rampant greed, and so on is a familiar charge which attempts to point out that libertarianism is undesirable and/or unjustifiable.

A further point of opposition is that libertarianism and the drive towards it is simply utopian or idealistic, and that libertarians are hopeless day dreamers, lacking any awareness of how the world “really” works. In other words, that, regardless of whether it may be desirable, some combination of one or more of impossibility, improbability or the simple unwillingness of anyone to embrace the libertarian ideal renders libertarianism either wholly or primarily unachievable. It is this specific objection that we will address in this essay.

Let us first of all recount the libertarian ethic of non-aggression, which states that no one may initiate any physical incursion against your body or your property without your consent. From this we can state that the goal of the libertarian project, broadly, is a world of minimised violence and aggression. Consequently, the questions we have to answer is whether a world of minimised violence and aggression is unachievable and, hence, utopian. Continue reading

The interesting thing about the British “Labour” “Party”.


David Davis

The British Labouring-Party wants socialism: its credentials are fine in that regard, for they scoop money from poor-people via “tax-ation”, to be used by themselves. It is after all what socialists are for, and what they have always been for. Just look at the murdering pig Castro, and the other modern murderer Saddam Hussein. Hitler and Stalin were no different. No were the pigs Pol Pot and some robot called “ho chi Mhinh”, nor Mao and Brzhezhniev.

But now it’s faced with a real “di”-“lemma”. (Two problems at once.) It wants to stay in power, so it must get rid of Gordon Brown, or esle its Gauleiters in Westmonster will be out of their jobs at the next election, with nowhere to go since they are institutionally-unemployable. Or, if they wait till then, they’ll go down as a crowd who put in two (or more?) PMs without an election.

Their problem is their lack of Terror-Police. Now, I grant you, they’ve tried hard to instil the terror-factor in the present lot of Fuzz, but in a still-functioning liberal democracy it’s hard to make the Met look quite like the Gestapo or the KGB, even when their squads get to shoot blameless Brazilian electricians and be paid for it.

Labour can’t get out of this jam, for they have not got round, early enough as Lenin and Mao and Castro their friends did, to fixing the opposition via police terror early enough after 1997. They did try but it was too little and too late. Perhaps they thought we were all asleep and it would not be necessary (mostly true I’m afraid.)

They either have to dump an (admittedly inadequate) unlected PM and put in another (unelcted one), which ought to trigger an election which they will lose, or else they have to go on with ths one, who will lose the next election anyway (barring serious accidents.)

What a sad, sad pass for poor socialists, so right as they are, so moral and caring as they are, so correct and so messianically-driven for the common good as they are – to come to.

They are going to get thrown out, again, in a fair fight – as always is the case when one is offered. It’s tru: when people are offered socialism in a free and fair set of choices, they always reject it. So there’s hope, but the big battalions of PR firepower are still on the enemy’s side. 

ITEM:

I can’t blog as much in future. Never mind, for others will take my place, I am working on that matter. Libertarian blogging sadly comes between me and my family, not just in time matters but opinion ones also. It’s called “saving the f*****g world.”

I shall continue to blog when people are not looking. Posts may not be every day.