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  • Charles Wellman just joined Liberty.me 7 minutes ago

  • Trey Smith‘s article Children’s Rights in a Libertarian Society has a new comment 29 minutes ago

    Children’s Rights in a Libertarian Society One area of libertarian political theory that is seemingly underdeveloped is that of children’s rights. It is the aim of this blog post to answer questions and cla [Read story]
    • Hi Trey,

      There is No Such Thing As Rights.

      There is, therefore, no such thing as “children’s rights.” It’s a silly idea.


    • Randy, sounds like a semantics issue. To say someone has a right of self ownership or private property right is merely to say such person has a valid lawful claim to their body and their possessions. We are talking legal/political theory here and rights are part of the methodology used by every libertarian I’ve ever read. I’m not interested in making libertarianism ambiguous. It is the non-aggression principle based on property rights. I’ve extended it to an application with children. To say it is silly is to call the likes of Rothbard, Hoppe, Kinsella, and Woods silly. That is beyond ridiculous.

    • Fundamentally, if you drill down to the lowest level of existence, beyond political preference and majority rule and human invention, on the edge of existing or not existing in this big beautiful world, there is the recognition of the inherent, individual “natural right” to self survive.

      This so called right can only be derived by a higher intellect and logic and reason (beyond animal intellect), to recognize that each individual has this inherent “natural right”, that requires freedom from another, that manifests and makes self evident a state of human condition, that one individual CAN HAVE NO inherent right or claim over another, to force them to think and act or plunder.

      This is to especially point out, that this so called “right” is not a simple human preference or political invention. It is derived by intellect and logic and reason, with respect for the nature of things outside ourselves, and so, is the intellectual recognition of this fundamental condition of which we observe and act in.

      This is what intellectually defines the “right” to be “free” from another. That is the only right…a natural, inherent right.

      In other words, this so called right is not pulled out of someone’s a$$ one morning on a whim, that became popular and then put into force my majority rule. It is simply “intellectually emulating” the natural order of things…that this natural right is derived then from what is most fundamental and that is “natural law”.

      It’s here where we begin to get literal and specific on what the individual right to be free means/is, and where be begin to create “man made law” and make claim, that one’s body is his own property, that the result of one’s labor as his own, freedom of conscious, freedom to act, freedom or expression, the right of self defense…these are all based on the individual, inherent natural right of survival.

      But more then just the right to exist, all of the above intellectually defines, and if put into practice, intellectually guarantees the right to be most alive.

    • Lee, Thank you for your response. My quibble with a natural law is its empiricism and the is/ought problem. My epistemic axiom is The Bible alone is the Word of God. I base right of self ownership and property rights on Scripture. Man is created in God’s image with a rational mind and certain a priori truths. Natural law potentially is a part of these a priori truths so maybe we can agree there. Here is a concise post in regards to my foundation for the NAP. http://www.primacyoftruth.com/christian-ethics-v-politics-a-look-at-the-non-aggression-principle-as-a-christian-political-ethic-of-peace/

    • Yes I understand and think we can agree with a slight tilt of the head on the subject of creation, in which empiricism, is essentially observing nature, and deriving fundamental logic and reason from it.

      The essential part of deriving natural rights and natural law from nature, by logic and reason from the observation of nature (say which God created), that applies to all of nature universally, is that it is not based on faith, but objective, demonstrable reason by cause and effect.

      That advantage there is, we are operating outside beliefs and feelings, so arguments of force over another is not based on simple majority rule of who believes what.

      Don’t expect you to agree…just my observation.

    • Thank you for your thoughts. I define faith as voluntary assent to understood propositions so I wouldn’t separate it from reason.

    • Hi Trey, Lee,

      “Randy, sounds like a semantics issue.”

      No, its an issue of principle, particularly ethics. I don’t think either of you read the article I linked to, else you would know I understand exactly what you both mean by rights and what your arguments for them are. It’s OK.

      All the reasons you give for the concept of rights are true enough as descriptions of what is required for an individual to live successfully in this world. They need to produce and be free to do so, they need to be able to keep the product of their efforts (property) and to dispose of them as they choose. They need to continue to live without threats to their life and well being which in any way limits their ability to think and choose.

      The problem with saying one has a right to any of these things means they have some kind of claim to them, just because they are alive. Human beings do not have a claim on anything they have not earned.

      I like the way the Bible puts it, “…if any would not work, neither, should he eat.” Productive work is the indisputable requirement of human nature. No human being has a claim on anything he has not earned by his own effort, not food, not clothing, not protection from the dangers and threats of life, not even life itself.

      The “moral obligation” implied by Lee regarding an individual not interfering in the life of another, has nothing to do with rights, it has to do with human nature and the requirements of that nature. A human being is required to produce by his own effort all that his life requires; that necessarily excludes any interference in the life of others, not as some moral obligation to the others, but as a moral necessity of the individual to know that the life he has and enjoys he has earned and deserves. One has only three ways to live in this world, as a self-sufficient producer never interfering in the life of another for the sake of one’s own moral integrity, or as a parasite, mooching off the productive efforts of the moral, or as a thief, simply taking what the moral have produced, always knowing that without the moral productive, they could not survive in the world, that nothing they have or enjoy is deserved, and that their entire life is second-hand.

      Now Trey, I am really surprised by this. “… to call the likes of Rothbard, Hoppe, Kinsella, and Woods silly. That is beyond ridiculous.” Ridiculous or not, its true. The entirety of the Austrian school of “economics” is founded on so-called a priori knowledge one has by means of evolution. I’ll be really surprised if you are an evolutionist. I could be wrong. Just let me know.

      Outside the context of some political system, the whole of so-called economics has no meaning whatsoever. All political systems are immoral and suppress individual freedom.


    • Randy/Trey…

      Very clear reply, thx. Please know that my new favorite word is “half-truth” in the sense that, when I disagree, I am not disagreeing with you totally, and I would not bother disagreeing if the slight adjustment in perspective could have the potential of great impact in the understanding of the relationship between certain things.

      “The “moral obligation” implied by Lee regarding an individual not interfering in the life of another, has nothing to do with rights, it has to do with human nature and the requirements of that nature. ”

      I think this it to argue both sides of the argument of two individuals and is defining the same thing.

      If I could be more precise here, that the last part of this statement is more then a requirement, it is an absolute physical necessity, in order to self sustain oneself not only for basic survival, but to thrive and grow healthy (adapt to environment and circumstance), that is the necessity of all of nature, not just human nature. Call it what you want. But it is inherent in every individual….that cannot be argued away.

      Also, there is one other choice to live in a free world you had not mentioned above, and that is by mutual co-operation, that requires mutually agreed to contracts, built upon an individuals natural right to be free from the force of another.

      Randy….”Outside the context of some political system, the whole of so-called economics has no meaning whatsoever.” and Trey…..”Well economics is just Wertfrei laws based on the purposeful human action axiom.”

      I’ll only say that Economics has been so bastardized and misunderstood. It’s no wonder why economics does not seem to fit this conversation, when it has absolutely everything to do with this conversation…and everything else there is…if Economics were understood for what it really is…but is beyond this conversation.

    • Hi Lee,

      I would love to sit down with you somewhere and discuss these things. Our fundamental premises are a bit different, but I think the exchange would be interesting.

      You said, “it is an absolute physical necessity,” about the necessity to be a productive individual. But I regard it as a psychological necessity, because what distinguishes a human being from all other organisms is the human mind. The physical is important, but for human beings, the psychological is supreme. For human beings, even physical health and well being depend on the correct use of the mind, because it is the mind of a human being that must determine all of a human being’s behavior.


    • Well economics is just Wertfrei laws based on the purposeful human action axiom. I happen to justify the purposeful human action proposition by Scripture. Someone would have some sort of empiricist view of the foundation like Rothbard. It isn’t necessary to be an evolutionist to agree with the human action axiom. Hoppe argues that it is a performative contradiction to argue against it and I agree therefore a pure rationalist could agree to it.

  • Ken Jons-un posted an update in the group Liberty.Meme 36 minutes ago

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  • Nico Metten‘s article The EU is the Wrong Tool to Defeat Nationalism has a new comment 2 hours, 11 minutes ago

    European FlagsI am very much an individualist. As such I have always despised nationalism. I am convinced that we need to overcome this ideology if we want to live in a free world. One could think now that, since I hate [Read story]
    • Problems laid out much better thaan the shallow talking heads. I think you articulated the essence in your statement that the “solution” was merely a bigger state. So few people have any grasp of what nationalism and why it is so dangerous. I am saddened at the usually perceptive people who have many good ideas but have entirely missed the core similarity between the D’s and R’s being a strong nationalistic bent. Thanks for taking the time to get your thoughts out.

    • Thanks Lynn! I am glad you like it.

    • Nationalism is a terrible option, but it is superior to supernationalism or globalism. It would be better to have provincialism, localism, or individualism, but those options are not on the table and no one seems to be willing to do what would be necessary to put them on the table.

    • It seems that in the short run, we will have more liberty with nation states than empires. But I am not opposed to the term globalism. In fact I would very much consider myself a globalist. Markets are global, as well they should be. And of course we will need to move to a global political system, which I think is only possible in the form of a global anarchy. We need international institutions like a global currency and global courts. I am just opposed to a ever bigger state that is an ever bigger monopoly on power. States need to stay as small as possible. However, every political system cannot be too small. In that case it becomes indefensible and therefore would not be independent.

    • My take is that what a few thinking people need to do is keep their eye on the unfolding positive aspects of growing voluntary trade and point these out to others. By simply getting more people to recognize the growing trade and development, an undercurrent of change world wide, more people will hopefully get over the fears they have “others.” When they see them as suppliers and customers and not enemies voluntary exchange can flourish. World wide it is slowly happening, but it is taking place. Strong States are the interference of course, even when they disguise it as assistance or protection.

    • @reece There are some little greenshots, Matthew. Karla Gericke of the Free State Project just founded the organization to make the next step, the secession of NH. And let’s hope on the Brexit, this week-end. If it passes, it could bring around the split of Scotland and Wales from England.

    • This is spot on. A new bigger governing body to fix the behavior of a bunch of smaller ones is only beneficial in the short run. But when the newer bigger governing body starts to need fixing you have an ever bigger problem at your hands.
      I always try to get the point across, that the free trade- and free migration-area in the EU are not the problem, but the only two positive aspects of the EU I can think of right now. But in the long run the central government in Brussel will heavily outweigh those benefits.
      Regarding the “Brexit” You also mentioned that the EU will no negotiate with Britain after they leave and even if they do the deals will certainly be worse than the ones they have right now. And people are using this as an argument to remain in the EU which in my opinion reminds me of the Mafia or Scientology. You are free to join, but if you want to leave you get killed, harassed or stalked. This should be an argument for Brexit if anything since it shows the real interest of the EU and this of course is power.

    • Totalitarian Schemers and Their Open Borders Immigration Policy
      By Thomas DiLorenzo
      –Yes, the oh so evil LewRockwell.com.

      “Those who support multiculturalism . . . realize that if they are to transform Western societies into strictly regulated, racial-feminist bureaucracies they must first undermine those societies.” –Frank Ellis

      At the outset of his administration, President Bill Clinton famously declared that “the era of big government is over.” He then did everything in his power to prove that to be yet another of his slick lies. At the outset of her administration, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a one-time East German “communist youth leader,” famously declared that “multiculturalism has been a failure.” She then did everything in her power to prove what a Big Lie that was, most notoriously by inviting millions of Third World, Muslim immigrants (mostly young men) into her country, lavishly subsidizing them, giving them sex education lessons, and intimidating, censoring, or threatening to punish critics of her policies.

      Barack Obama has followed suit in a somewhat quieter way with non-enforcement of border controls that has allowed millions of Third World peasants to flood the country. The Republican Party has done nothing to interfere with any of this. Residents of small towns all throughout rural America are not always happy when thousands of government-subsidized welfare clients from the Third World are dumped in their neighborhoods accompanied by threats from the federal government should they complain about it.

      All of this is has been given an official blessing by the capitalism-hating, Castro hand-shaking, leftist pope, an ideological soul mate of the Merkels and Obamas of the world and an accomplice in their project to “ fundamentally transform” their societies (which is traditional Marxist rhetoric, by the way).

      This plan to “fundamentally transform society” is also supported by the forces of political correctness in the media, the universities, television, and the popular culture in general, whose new “god” is multiculturalism. Oppose their plans to “fundamentally transform” your society from a Marxist perspective and you will immediately be labeled a racist, sexist, homophobe, etc., etc., and declared persona non-gratis in society.

      It is obvious that Angela Merkel’s purpose, and the purpose of all the other European leftists, is to destroy German (and European) culture in particular and eventually, all the institutions of Western civilization. They do not care what the tenets of Western civilization, which have evolved over the centuries, are replaced with because of their belief that it stands for nothing more than racism, sexism, and capitalist “exploitation.” They are the great-grandsons and granddaughters of Lenin and Marx. As the British intellectual Frank Ellis, once wrote, “Today’s ‘political correctness’ is the direct descendant of Communist terror and brainwashing” with its “rigid requirements of language, thought, and behavior, and violators . . . treated as if they were mentally unbalanced . . .”

      The fondest dream of Barack Obama and his fellow American leftists is to follow suit with the Europeanization of America and its “fundamental transformation” into a totalitarian society where the state controls all aspects of behavior through threats, intimidation, censorship, and propaganda without all the messy violence of past generations of totalitarian control freaks. When this fails, as in most certainly will, they will then resort to imprisoning dissenters – or worse. They will do this by citing past precedents, such as Lincoln’s illegal suspension of Habeas Corpus and his imprisoning without due process of thousands of Northern-state political dissenters during his time. Americans who protest such moves will be labeled by the state as Lincoln-hating racists, for what else can a Lincoln critic be called? The mass imprisonment of Japanese-Americans in concentration camps during World War II will also have an “honored” place in the Official Government Line in order to eradicate all dissenters, as will the World War I Sedition Act that imprisoned people for such “crimes” as reading the Bill of Rights in public and opposing military conscription.

      All of this started with Ted Kennedy’s 1965 immigration legislation that drastically reduced European immigration quotas while increasing Third World immigration quotas. For Ted and the 1960s “liberals,” this was pure pork barrel politics: They wanted a vast expansion of the welfare state (the “Great Society”) combined with the importation of millions of Third World peasants who could be enrolled in welfare to grow the state and assure their own perpetual reelection.

      The environmentalist movement was always on board with this because it strongly opposed economic development and prosperity in the Third World, which it falsely equated with more pollution and environmental degradation. (This despite the obvious fact that the wealthier countries of the world are healthier and cleaner by comparison). Give them “foreign aid” or bring them here and put them on domestic welfare, they say, but don’t let them economically develop their own country. That will only lead to more pollution and more economic “exploitation.” Or so the gurus of environmentalism have preached for decades.

      The socialist Left in general always supported open borders as a means of creating an international redistribution of income. They certainly don’t support open borders because it will encourage the growth of capitalism. If they couldn’t get the U.S. government to send more billions of dollars in welfare (i.e., “foreign aid”) to the Third World, they would bring the Third World to the U.S. and place it on the welfare rolls here. (Their scheme has largely failed so far to the extent that most Third World immigrants do find jobs and become productive members of society instead of the socialists’ ideal of becoming lifelong welfare parasites).

      Another interest group in favor of open borders consists of American corporations who want cheaper labor as opposed to incurring the immense expense of moving their factories to other countries. They favor bringing the cheap labor to them, if possible, rather than brining their factories to the cheap labor.

      But today’s “multiculturalists” are a different breed altogether. They are an especially insidious, totalitarian, Machiavellian breed. They do not view open borders a merely a means of getting more Democrats elected, or stopping economic development in poorer countries, or getting cheaper jeans at Wal-Mart. They view the importation of tens of millions of immigrants from alien cultures and civilizations as a weapon of war against Western civilization itself. This all started some thirty years ago, around the time of the worldwide collapse of socialism. An opening “salvo” in this war was when the odious race hustler Jesse Jackson traveled to Stanford University to lead a mob of students in the chant, “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Western Civ Has Got to Go.” Stanford University dropped Western civilization as a requirement in 1988, and hundreds of other universities followed suit. Stanford students were no longer to be taught about Western literature, culture, or institutions except for politically-correct denunciations of it by uneducated frauds with degrees in “women’s studies” and the like. Instead, they are now bombarded with the alleged virtues of “diversity,” diversity, diversity, diversity, and a relentless promotion of government-enforced “equality” of all types. The most vulgar, f-bomb-laced “rap” lyric chants are said to be of equal cultural value to the Bible and Shakespeare, for example.

      On the other coast around the same time, the Bass family of Texas donated $20 million to their alma mater, Yale University, with the intent of having the university fund a few endowed chairs in Western civilization for Yale students. The Bass family was blindsided when the faculty protested so vehemently that Yale gave the money back.

      The importation of millions of (easy-to-corral politically) Third-World immigrants from alien cultures is best understood as the natural result of this decades-long plan by the Marxist left, the leftovers of communism and their intellectual progeny, to destroy Western civilization. They do not care a whit what it will be replaced with as long as it is accompanied by more and more totalitarian control of society – everything from the banning of privately-owned fire arms, to more pervasive regulation of businesses, a complete government takeover of schooling, government-funded “sex-change” surgery, and state mandates regarding who may and may not pee in the ladies rooms.

      The new hordes of Third World immigrants are meant to be the “soldiers” in this war who are expected to provide all the political support needed because: 1) they will be bought off with welfare; and 2) they will remain ignorant of the importance of a free society and the ideas taken from Western civilization that support it, thanks to the PC-ization of education. That’s the plan, anyway. Will we allow these neo-communists to destroy our country and our civilization? [end]

      So, to answer DiLorenzo’s question, apparently yes, to be accompanied by ignorant, brainwashed people like Nico writing endless drivel as “Rome burns.” Nationalism is the great evil? Must be directly from his experience in the German schools of constant pounding with the German collective guilt club. Look around you, man. Can’t you see what’s happening has nothing to do with nationalism?

    • I have read Lew Rockwell for years, and admired and respected him, his efforts and the writers he features. However their dependence on the anti immigrant crowd are leading them to discard their standards of logical thinking and accurate research. This article is so full of holes in logic I am thoroughly disappointed and saddened. (an emotional reaction one would have seeing an old friend destroy them self with unhealthy habits would be an accurate comparison).
      The root of the restrictionist policies so many of the Lew writers are following was born in hate and fear against every group of immigrants arriving. Later the more lasting “foundation” for the anti “other” restrictionists was laid by the very early eugenicists. This ideology is not just about the right of free association, nor is it really about welfare expenditures or greater crime as careful research shows otherwise. Note that some of the points used are the very arguments the anti immigrant people use to justify their position.

      No sincere libertarian/classical liberal would use such collectivist thinking but rather would recognize that each person is a unique individual capable of improving them self and having the same desires and ambitions as the Western European person.

      I wish I had time today to critically and carefully refute the premise of this essay (by someone with whom I normally would read and largely agree). Perhaps others will see the destructive ideology on which it is based and begin analyzing it point by point.

    • Wondering how you know what the root of their “restrictionist” policies are? Rather than the psittacistic assumption that it’s hate and fear–*eye roll* please, do we have to have the arm chair psychoanalysis?– maybe you could ask them. Or, you could read and understand what DiLorenzo said, because it is right here in black and white:

      “[Merkel] then did everything in her power to prove what a Big Lie that was, most notoriously by inviting millions of Third World, Muslim immigrants (mostly young men) into her country, lavishly subsidizing them, giving them sex education lessons, and intimidating, censoring, or threatening to punish critics of her policies.”

      Clearly, this is a denunciation of deliberate GOVERNMENT POLICIES, both forced immigration which has a political not humanitarian goal, violations of the freedoms of speech and association, and programs designed to change the culture. Opposition to oppressive gov’t policies is sort of a traditional libertarian/classical liberal, position, don’t you think?

      “Nationalism” and “discrimination” and other thought crimes have been the targets of incessant propaganda in the schools and media for the past 50ish years. No sincere libertarian/classical liberal would support such government coercion.

    • rest assured, whatever the issues with supra-nationalist organization–and there are many–the alternative of folk nationalism offered by the right-wing christian fundies/paleos is far worse.

      Right-wing victim identity politics: you know, the type which worships the state, the military, the police, organs of authority, the type which screams bloody murder if some politician speaks without a backdrop of 50 flags, the type which screams bloody murder if a politician doesn’t don the flag lapel correctly(all instances being proof that someone doesn’t love america enough), the type that would go into hypovolemic shock if some poor soul refused to serve the appropriately attired unformed agent of the state, the type that then turns around and claims that national patriotism has been under systematic attack the past 50 years, this despite the obvious fact that the right-wingers’ heads would have long ago collectively self-exploded from outrage overload if such were actually the case.

      Right wing victim identity politics: claim that global elites are conspiring to impose massive 3rd world immigration on good, christian european white folk. This despite the fact that every country on the face of the planet has highly restrictive immigration policies, particularly if you’re poor, particularly if you’re poor and guilty of any one of the various million crimes against the state.

      Right-wing victim identity politics: claims that Syrian refugee migration into Europe is the proof in the pudding of elitist plans of forced integration. In actuality, it is a demonstration of the unintended consequences of American/Nato aggression. Those “backward syrian mooslem thugs and rapists” are actually fleeing forced conscription to fight American/Nato backed opposition forces. The thugs are the americans. The “backward moral trash” are those who support such policies or don’t care about the humanitarian war crimes that result from such policies.

      Right-wing victim identity politics: claim america is under control of a socialist, islamofascist conspiracy. But rest assured, the same will be out on the 4th celebrating the fireworks and complaining about insufficient patriotic display. In short, cons hate socialism but they love the stasi.

    • @dl1337 I am not convinced that smaller nation states are the bigger evil. Big organisations tend to have a bigger rights violation record. Take the US. You yourself say that a lot of the problems we see in the world come from western foreign policy. And the architect of that policy is the US, which is a gigantic state. Take as another example the refugee crisis. The EU actually makes the situation for these refugees worse. While there is free movement within the EU, that comes with the price of having much stronger outer borders. Usually, smaller, poorer countries like Greece would not put a lot of resources into stopping refugees from travelling through. Why would they? They know these people are moving on to places where they have more opportunities. But thanks to the EU, Europe is now a fortress. So however bad nationalism is, and I agree it is a horrible ideology, ever bigger governments are not the right solution for it.

    • “…claim that global elites are conspiring to impose massive 3rd world immigration on good, christian european white folk.”

      You can mischaracterize Di Lorenzo’s position all you want but that doesn’t address the current situation. If you don’t think this deracination is happening, pls explain the situation in Sweden, Germany and France, for example, and the southwestern US. Can you tell me how these dirt-poor people can afford to move, and who is paying for their expenses in their “new homes?” Why is it policy of the US and California gov’t to give voting rights to non-citizens? If you can explain the propaganda in the gov’t schools outside of this context, I’d be most interested to hear it.

    • They are not dirt poor. A lot of them are paying ‘traffickers’ thousands of dollars for a ride to the other side of the border. Compare that to the cheap normal commercial prices of planes, trains and busses. It is not the poorest that are moving. It is usually people with some skills and recourses.

    • @ccuthbert

      (i) i’m not mischaracterizing Thomas Di Lorenzo’s position.

      (ii) I explained the root of the refugee migration in the previous comment. To repeat: American/Nato aggression.

      (iii) The only “moving expenses” the US government “provides” to people crossing the border is the expense of deportation–that is, the expense of detaining them and then moving them back across the border.

      (iv) The US govt doesn’t have a policy of giving voting rights to non-citizens, at least not in federal elections. However, the republicans, working through the state legislatures, do have an intentional policy to deny citizens the right to vote, particularly through the use of onerous post 9-11 ID laws.

      (v) Public school propaganda. Well, the propaganda I’m aware of revolves around War on Drugs, zero tolerance, obedience to authority, etc. I’m not aware of any propaganda to legitimize “illegal immigration.” As far I’m I’m concerned, that would be propaganda of the good kind. More like it…anything that delegitimizes arbitrary state power and bad laws is A OK in my book.

    • There can be little common ground here since we appear to be arguing facts.

      Tell me, where did the refugees from the Lebanon Civil war go? From the Serbian War? From the Iran/Iraq war? From the Gulf Wars? From the Soviet Afghan War? From the Nicaragua War? Why have we never heard of refugees inundating Sweden and Germany in past conflicts?

      When war destroys an area, the people are devastated financially as well as in every other way (if they survive) and in this situation we are talking about already poor people. How can they afford to travel to Europe and the US? Are you suggesting that they got out their American Express Cards and charged air fare? The refugees in these previous wars didn’t go far. There were refugee camps near where they lived. Aren’t you wondering what’s different this time? Did you even notice the difference???

      Obviously, the refugee problem is due to US aggression–this is hardly insightful. And it’s not the issue. The issue is forced migration to Europe and the US. Migration in large numbers is always a gov’t program. We have been through this discussion previously. Forced migration and laws against migration are both illiberal. As libertarians, shouldn’t we be against both types of social engineering?

      About the last two topics, all I can say is there may be more going on than you know about. Clearly, you see no agenda here. I submit there is one. Rather than continue to go back and forth to no end, if you are interested you might want to do some research. I’ll continue with mine. 😉

    • Wars cause different levels of refugees, depending on how devastating they are. But all the wars that you describe have cause refugees to flee. The difference is, that a lot of these wars were relatively local. There were not fightings everywhere in Iraq for example. So people could move to saver areas. At the very least there were a lot of stable countries around the war zone to which people could flee. But currently, the whole middle east is in flames. And the wars there are really total. Staying there is extremely risky. That is why a lot of these people have to flee to Europe.

      In addition to that, thanks to capitalism and technology, the world has moved closer together. It is simply cheaper and easier to move over great distances today than it was only a few decades ago. We should celebrate this as a real improvement.

    • Sorry Nico, but once again, your answer doesn’t hold up. You have avoided the question: where did these dirt-poor people get the MONEY to travel all the way to Germany? Your olfactory capabilities are non existent.

      I will answer the question that you continue to ignore. The money came from NGOs. Now, you probably don’t know where the NGOs get their money, either. Hint: GOVERNMENTS AND THEIR AGENTS.

      Nico, some would give you points for trying, but frankly you are so far out of your league I can’t understand why you write about these things. Maybe you should pay attention to the old adage, “Write what you know about.” You would do well to pick up the Bernay’s book, Propaganda., in the meantime.

    • Again, these countries are not dirt poor. They have GDPs similar to some countries in Europe. And they have traditionally good savings rates, as credit is problematic in Islam.

      It does not make any sense to say that the only reason these people come is because governments pay them to. Governments putting a lot of resources in place to stop them and then they pay them so that traffickers can get them through these borders? And if they get hold of the traffickers they have just paid to bring refugees in they imprison or kill the traffickers and destroy their boats? This conspiracy theory does not make it past the smell test. But I am sure you have a good source for that claim?

      Also we have seen big refugee waves long before there was a welfare state. It just makes a lot of sense to get out of a region where your life is in danger.

    • @ccuthbert

      Hi Cathy,

      Are you and I the only one’s here that know what Antonio Gramsci, Georg Lukacs, Wilhelm Reich, Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, and Max Horkheimer (the cultural Marxists) and post modernists have foisted on the world?

      You’re doing a great job, Kathy, but you’re not going to win the battle. Not trying to discourage you, just pointing out the cultural Marxists have already won, but want you to know you are not alone in recognizing what’s wrong with the world.

      There is a solution, of course, but it is not a political one, which you already know. Every individual must find their own solution. I see you tried the, “Galt’s Gulch,” method (Wendy McElroy got stung by that too). Wendy and Brad have also swallowed the “poor innocent refuge immigrants” sentimental cool aid as well.

      You’re one of the few I really enjoy reading here. Thanks!


    • @saunders
      Thanks, Randy. Igualmente. It’s nice to know someone else out there has some idea of what is going on. 😉

    • @ccuthbert

      Lebanon civil war had roughly 1 million refugees. Happened before the advent of cable/satellite, internet news, so you didn’t hear much about it at the time in the states.

      The Yugoslavia/serbia war had huge refugee crisis at the time. Millions. In the early, 90s it was described as the worst refugee crisis since WW II. It was fairly well publicized.

      Gulf War I resulted in 3 million refugees displaced. Not publicized in the United States. Effectively censored at home.

      Soviet Afghan war an occupation. It actually resulted in a influx of foreign fighters and not so much an outflow of refugees.

      I’m not sure what you are actually claiming. That the various wars the past 30 years resulted in no significant refugee migration and that current syrian refugee flow is a phony crisis secretly financed by the EU? Is that what you are arguing? You claim to be studying the matter, but I’m not sure what your source material is other than guessing it’s the same right wing folk nationalist garbage that that is hyping this most recent refugee crisis as a clash of civilizations.

      You ask: how are the current refugees financing their migration?

      Answer: probably the same way the previous 100 million or so war refugees financed their migration the past century.

    • “probably the same way the previous 100 million or so war refugees financed their migration the past century. ”

      That would be by WALKING. Not this time, though. Yet you don’t think that’s odd????? And funny how few women and children are finding their way out on their AmEx cards.

    • @nico

      well, i’m referring to a folk nationalist nation-state, which is worse. That, however, is not in any sense an endorsement of supernationalist security regimes. Nor is that observation mean I’m opposed to Brexit. What I am opposed to is using something like Brexit to legitimize the right wing folk nonsense here in the states.

    • @ccuthbert

      I’ve stated this a number of times before, but I will repeat myself again. The reason the syrian refugees are oversampled with young males is because they are fleeing mandatory conscription at age 18. At this point in time, syrian conscription is a probable death sentence because they would be fighting US/Nato backed opposition forces. You can call them backwards, evil, whatever because they choose not to die fighting armed agents of the US military, but I view fleeing pointless suicide a bit more charitably than that. And I also tend not cast them too much in negative light if they don’t exactly exhibit “Yakov Smirnoff” like gratitude toward the United States or the West. I wouldn’t either.

    • I know you have, and I don’t buy it. So now you’re saying these young men are using their AmEx cards? Or that the NGOs are purposely favoring evacuating to Sweden young men and choosing to let women and children die? How humanitarian of them. Further, reports from people on the ground in Germany are that many/most of these young men are not from Syria. I can’t confirm, but it fits so I’ll throw it in.

      I want to make this perfectly clear, I have never called anyone backwards or evil for any reason. I am 100% anti draft, anti military, anti warmongering. You are putting those assessments on me, and I resent it. I believe I’m done with this pointless conversation.

    • @ccuthbert

      “…are purposely favoring evacuating to Sweden young men and choosing to let women and children die? ”

      “I have never called anyone backwards or evil for any reason. ..”

      Well, when you make an accusation that they are murdering/raping the women and children, the implication is clear. I mean you really can’t get any lower on the human moral scum totem pole than raping the women and murdering the children.

      “…anti military”

      well, who do you think would be responsible for enforcing the population flows you apparently are so alarmed about? You’re not that anti-military.

      “…pointless conversation.”

      Hmmm, not really. You posed challenges. I answered them. It would become pointless if you insisted with the same challenges or piled on with new ones. Then it would be evident that your arguing from an authoritarian presumption, which in this case would be that the burden is on liberty to demonstrate that immigration/population flow is NOT harmful to someone somewhere. Impossible to falsify a million and one objections to something.

    • dL 1337, Cathy,

      [Do you have a name dL?]

      Swedish Police Investigate Over 40 Reports of Rape and Groping at 2 Music Festivals [It’s a link.]

      This is just 2 music festivals, but it is happening all over Europe–France, Germany, Italy, England–wherever the “poor Islamic refugees” are. Perhaps it’s only a coincidence.

      In an ideal world anyone would be able go anywhere they like, but they would have to pay their own way and be able to support themselves wherever they went.

      Unfortunately, reality is not at all like that. I cannot morally oppose anyone from going wherever they like, but I cannot morally condone taking money from those who earn it to subsidize anyone else’s travel and sustenance. It is wrong for governments to prevent individuals from traveling wherever they like, it is even more wrong for governments to finance the travel of those who are threat to its citizens welfare and safety with money extorted from those same citizens.

      As for the fate of individuals who indulge in primitive superstitions and then discover those same superstitions are threat to them when others practice those same superstitions consistently and then want someone else to save them (someone else without those superstitions, by the way), I’m afraid they ought to be left to stew in their own juices, as my Grandmother wisely said.

      One morally despises all government interference in all things, especially its meddling in what is called, “foreign affairs.” It is, however a fact that it does, and the consequences are necessarily evil. The solution is not additional meddling by government to “save” those attempting escape problems its own meddling is partially responsible for. There is only one correct solution which for is government to cease meddling altogether. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen.

      If one must clamor for, “something to be done,” there seems there is really only one moral position. Ideally it would be for the elimination of all government meddling, but short of that and addressing the issue of immigration, one ought to be for the elimination of government interference in both ways: doing nothing to restrict the free travel of any individuals and doing nothing to support or aid anyone anywhere. So long as no one (immigrant or native) is allowed to harm or threaten any other individual or their property, then it must be hands off. To take a position favoring either government restriction of travel or government sponsoring of travel is immoral. Since governments are at the moment sponsoring immigration at other’s expense, and so-called “open boarders” are being used as a false argument for that government interference, being for “open boarders” is, ironically, being for government interference, and immoral.

    • Thank you, Randy. As you know, this is exactly what I’ve been saying for months now. Yet dl implies that I’m militaristic and racist (?!?) and ignores this sound libertarian argument. You are quite right that the cultural Marxism runs deep, including in the self-described libertarians.

      Btw, have you ever heard of The Last Ditch? Here’s a relevant article from them that you might be interested in:

      Libertarianism and Immigration: “No Problem!” Is Not an Answer by Ron Neff

      Their work is top notch.

    • How George Soros Singlehandedly Created the European Refugee Crisis—and Why by David Galland


      Here’s a snippet:

      His Latest Success: the European Refugee Crisis

      Soros’s agenda is fundamentally about the destruction of national borders. This has recently been shown very clearly with his funding of the European refugee crisis.

      The refugee crisis has been blamed on the civil war currently raging in Syria. But did you ever wonder how all these people suddenly knew Europe would open its gates and let them in?

      The refugee crisis is not a naturally occurring phenomenon. It coincided with OSF donating money to the US-based Migration Policy Institute and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants, both Soros-sponsored organizations. Both groups advocate the resettlement of third-world Muslims into Europe.

      In 2015, a Sky News reporter found “Migrant Handbooks” on the Greek island of Lesbos. It was later revealed that the handbooks, which are written in Arabic, had been given to refugees before crossing the Mediterranean by a group called “Welcome to the EU.”

      Welcome to the EU is funded by—you guessed it—the Open Society Foundations.

      Soros has not only backed groups that advocate the resettlement of third-world migrants into Europe, he in fact is the architect of the “Merkel Plan.”

      The Merkel Plan was created by the European Stability Initiative whose chairman Gerald Knaus is a senior fellow at none other than the Open Society Foundations.

      The plan proposes that Germany should grant asylum to 500,000 Syrian refugees. It also states that Germany, along with other European nations, should agree to help Turkey, a country that’s 98% Muslim, gain visa-free travel within the EU starting in 2016.

    • If everything you write is correct, which I am not sure that it is, than you have shown that Soros, a private individual is trying to get rid of national borders (fine from a libertarian point of view) and that he has funded the publications of a book with his own money. So what is the problem? I cannot see that this is proof of governments funding the whole movements of migrants. Or that we would not have refugees without Soros publishing a book and advocating asylum for people.

    • @nico The term deliberately obtuse comes to mind here. The point isn’t that there would be no refugees without Soros. The point is that the refugees would not be inundating Euorpe without Soros. And if you think Soros acts independently, then I can’t help you–no one can.

      Here’s an excellent post by Jon Rappoport on this topic. I know that Nico won’t understand it and will post some new comment that completely misses the point, but others may benefit.

      Will Europe crumble and disappear?

    • I do not subscribe to a conspiratorial world view according to which everything in the world goes according to some small elite master plan. The world is chaos.

      I particularly do not understand why the internet is full of sides, portraying George Soros as some evil Bond villain. George Soros is not a libertarian for sure. But he has earned his money with his own extraordinary skills. He is using it to support political views that he likes. I would do the same if I had that much money. I cannot see any evidence that he supports political groups to create misery. He believes that this is the correct thing to do. He is wrong, but it is an honest mistake.

      And he is very far from always getting his will. A lot of his speculations end up going against him. He did for example support that the UK would stay in the EU and lost.

      He grew up in Hungary and, being jewish, had to literary fight for his live under the Nazis. That has made him an enemy of racism and nationalism, and he consistently supports political group fighting against that. Despite being a zionist, he is even criticising Israel for becoming a racist and totalitarian state.

      Yes he supports open borders for refugees, so do I, so do many other people. It is simply a fantasy of the anti immigration crowd that without the state, no one would like to see migration taking place. But the fact of the matter is that Soros and the open border advocates have lost their battle. There is no open door immigration policy in the EU. Even the alleged open doors of Germany last year were never reality. The fact of the matter is that it is very difficult to get a visa for an EU state if you are poor. The EU is a fortress. Thousands of people die every year trying to get in this fortress. And many people who success getting in, will be quickly deported afterwards.

      I don’t share a lot of political views with Soros. I agree with his anti-racism and anti-nationalism. But to portray him as an evil villain who deliberately causes chaos is just a far fetched conspiracy theory.

    • @nico

      Do you know who coined the term “conspiracy theory” and why?

  • Jeff Riggenbach‘s article Why I Am a Left Libertarian has a new comment 3 hours, 37 minutes ago

    left libertarianismMany libertarians say the traditional Left/Right political spectrum has become meaningless and useless.  But to the extent that this is true for them, this is only because they have allowed themselves to be [Read story]
    • How is right-libertarianism a contradiction? In its fullest expression, it would simply mean that each private property owner has an absolute dictatorship within the boundaries of his or her private property.

    • To which I would reply is statism on a small scale. I know of no libertarian who believes they are justified in assaulting, molesting, robbing, raping, or killing people that happen to be within their property.

    • Shouldn’t you be able to protect your property within the boundaries of the common law? Dictatorship sounds a bit over the top.

    • The common law is common, because common people accept it. It’s not something you read in a book written by Blackstone centuries ago or derive from axioms asserted by Rothbard.

      You protect your property by earning the respect of common people around you, by respecting the same standards that they respect, not by threatening to shoot these people. People around you may agree that you may use limited force to defend resources that they agree you govern exclusively, but that’s a far cry from being dictator over the resources. You may use this force to defend these resource only because the people around you agree that you may.

    • Common law is not just ‘common’. Common law was created through decades and centuries of legal precedent when there was no legislature but for instance only a monarch. Common law is not determined by the common consensus but pure legal precedent created by rulers using natural law as its foundation. Essentially common law is natural law in practice.

    • Gravity is a natural law. Rules governing the boundaries of a vassal’s fief are artificial rather than natural, precisely because they are the products of judges establishing precedents; however, no judge sets a precedent unilaterally, and legal precedents are not the common law because judges set them. They’re the law because common people respect them.

    • Gravity is not natural law in the context of which we are discussing common law. Natural law is based upon the rational analysis in regard to ‘human nature’. Natural law in this context addresses both social and personal ethics and intuitive morality. While not all common law is the same as natural law, the majority of common law has its precedence in widely accepted judgments which are often based on natural law. The reason why the precedents are ‘commonly’ accepted is because the wider majority recognize such judgments as reasonable and sensible. Therefore we can look to natural law as the foundation of common law. However, common law was not the law because the ‘common people’ respected it, but because it was’commonly’ respected by all people whether they were nobility, common freeman, serf or otherwise.

    • I’m still not convinced that the left/right paradigm is particularity useful. There is so much baggage with those terms. How about propertarian vs non-propertarian?

    • Wow!
      I had a great conversation about this with @srichman a week or two ago, but this is a more thorough treatment.

    • I got to “the left/right spectrum was created during the French revolution” and I already have a question.

      I thought the left/right came from English parliament pre american revolution. Wasn’t it wigs and torries (my spelling is probably wrong) where they were divided left/right during hearings?

    • In Denmark the Classic Liberal Party (which is now in fact Conervative and no longer liberal), is call Venstre (litteraly Left) – which is very very confusing as they are the leaders of the right wing… Just as confusing as the fact that the Democrats in the US are called Liberals, when they are anything but.

    • I don’t know, the more I read into the article, the more I think maybe my conception of the left/right model is too modern and probably distorted

    • You are absolutely right, Jeff, but Tom above is also right about the baggage of these words. If you try to explain to the average individual what you wrote in this article, you would need 5 hours, you might actually get luckier starting to recite straight away the Machinery of freedom.

      Anyway, that period between the Illuminism and the rise of Positivism is really our golden age. It reminds me of what Yourcenar wrote in The memoirs of Hadrien: that short time when the gods were dead but God was yet unborn.

    • I’m not really sure why you still are one. I mean, you gave a long history lesson, appealed to some tradition, but gave no actual propositions.

    • Since he’s only discussing history and etymology here, why would you doubt that he’s still a libertarian? Because you prefer a different side of a room?

    • You’re an idiot.

      I never said I doubt he is a libertarian. I said “I’m still not really sure why you are one.” Now read the title of the article. Then put the two together.

      I’m still not really sure why he is a left libertarian. Learn to comprehend, ffs.

    • The ad hominem adds nothing substantial to your reply and can only appeal to a choir. If you doubt that Jeff is a left libertarian, you doubt his own explicit association of himself with a pair of words in a sense that he defines at length, i.e. he is a left libertarian in the sense that Bastiat was one. What are you doubting exactly? Your ideological tribe’s right to “right” and “left”?

    • @jeffpetersonii I think @riggenbach means that all libertarians really are “left-libertarians.” You and me too!

    • @mikereid Yeah, no, I’m not. If we are all left-libertarians than the adjective is useless and we are just libertarians.

      If he says that libertarianism is traditionally left which makes us leftists too, I call appeal to tradition fallacy, and I am not leftist.

    • Jeff is indisputably right on the history, and I somehow feel more “left” than “right” myself, but the noun is more important to me than the adjective. Libertarians have significant differences, and I enjoy discussing them, but “left” vs. “right” doesn’t describe these differences well. Is a right to life inalienable? Is a liberty right inalienable? Liberty from what? Can an individual have other, inalienable rights? Since property rights are alienable, what constraint on these rights does libertarianism rule out? Aren’t all property rights contractual and thus community standards? How does one obtain an alienable property right in the first place? Do you exclusively govern a resource because you say you do, or because Locke or Rothbard say so, or because other persons excluded from this governance agree that you do? These questions are interesting, but “left” and “right” don’t tell me much about how a person answers them.

    • We cannot forget the elephant in the room, which is the huge actual historical tradition of left-anarchism. I do not know if in the US today when you use the word anarchism (not even left-anarchism) people usually think about us, but I can tell you that in Europe and Latin America, where I grew up, people think of Bakunin, Kropotkin, Malatesta, Makhno, the bombings and assassinations of the XIX and initial XX centuries and today Black bloc. A few weeks ago I was having dinner with an old friend of mine, a very erudite editor of an important publishing house in Italy, and she barely knew the name Rothbard, much less what he wrote. For her, Left, anarchism and by definition left-anarchism imply basic concepts like the refusal of the subjective theory of value, the anti-capitalism, the communal ownership of the means of production, positive rights, the acceptable initiation of violence in redistributing wealth. This is what I mean when I say that the word Left comes with such a huge baggage, especially when associated with the words anarchism and libertarianism. Just like Martin, I like to think of myself as “left”, and I fully understand the article of Jeff R. On the other hand, I can say that only in spaces like this, because if I did with even cultivated people who do not share our ideals, I would create an enormous confusion in the person I am talking too, because very, very few people have an idea of what we everyday take for granted among ourselves, at least outside the US. And, by the way, it is absolutely normal, in the course of the last two centuries tens of millions of people defined themselves as anarchists “in the other way”, and died, killed and participated as protagonists and in many cases almost winners of many of the most important political struggles of those two centuries.

    • Reminds me so much of the confusion over the word, “liberal”. What it once meant it no longer means. Now we have to tag on “classical” to distinguish it from modern forms. The left/right paradigm is truly a bunch of burdensome baggage.

    • Like Massimo, I encountered “anarchism” and adopted the label years before I heard of Rothbard or anarcho-capitalism. I read books on anarchism in the seventies that never mentioned Rothbard or his school of thought, and while some anarcho-capitalists these days accuse left-anarchists of “stealing their words”, the historical truth is much more nearly the opposite. That’s just a fact. No one owns these words, of course, but the historical precedents are clear enough.

      Left anarchism has distasteful historical baggage, like violent “propaganda of the deed”, but I hear more “right libertarians” advocating violence, in defense of “property”, these days, including people at this web site. If “libertarianism” becomes associated with preppers armed to the teeth and shooting trespassers, or “leftist” politicians in some “right libertarian” revolution, the outcome won’t be any prettier.

      Kroptkin’s economics is naive, but I wouldn’t say that he rejects the subjective theory of value, and I still say that “individual ownership” of capital is a misnomer. Property in productive means is fundamentally alienable. Property rights are contractual. Contracts involve more than one person. The idea that individual rights to capital, with hereditary title in perpetuity, can solve all economic problems is ahistorical nonsense. The theory is full of holes, but more importantly, its realization is not what most people want. The idea that “freedom” requires most people’s subjection to rules that they don’t accept is perverse.

      People associating freely will hold all sorts of property in common and follow all sorts of rules. Liberty only requires that people follow rules of their choice, not that everyone follows “libertarian” rules enforced by self-appointed defenders of a particular formulation of “property”.

      I’d like to see more friendly disagreement among libertarians, because civil debate clarifies ideas, but the rhetorical battle over semantic territory doesn’t interest me. The usage of words can change, and political labels are notoriously prone to Orwellian evolution. Get used to it. If common usage of “left” becomes too distasteful to me, I have no problem abandoning it, but “right” certainly doesn’t taste any better. If you want to know the “true left” (or “true right”), look at your hands, not a political treatise.

    • The author is either confused or is trying to confuse other people. One cannot be a Left Libertarian because Left and Libertarianism are opposing concepts. I see the Left, Right and Libertarianism as the tree legs of a tripod, or as three concepts, each opposed to the other two. One cannot belong in two opposing camps at the same time.

      As for the statement “Socialism has never really been on the Left” I cannot find any polite words to describe it [edited].

    • I’m not sure you read Riggenbachs’ article, and I’m sure you didn’t digest it. We’re discussing semantics here. Common usage of “left” in a political context has changed over the years, but the classical liberals were certainly on the “left” when the political sense of “left” and “right” emerged historically. That’s just an historical fact. I wouldn’t say, as Jeff does, that the original usage is the “true” sense of these words today, but your usage isn’t “true” either. The usage of a word is not true or false. It is common or uncommon.

      Calling something “doll shit” or “poppycock” adds nothing substantial to the discussion and can only be an appeal to the emotions.

    • I did read it, twice. I agree with you about semantics, it’s all about what is “Left” and what is “Right”. I cannot see much sense in using the meaning of “Left” as it was a hundred years ago, so I can only refer to its current use. All my friends, acquaintances and colleagues who describe themselves as belonging to the “Left” are either Socialists or Progressive Liberals, with an indefatigable urge to use the power of the state to dictate how people ought to live their lives. Libertarians they ain’t.

      As for the use of emotive language I can only apologize, I grew up under a communist dictatorship, I have a very deep understanding of the concept of “Left”, and the comment that I made was the mildest response I could post to the statement “Socialism has never really been on the Left”.

      I did however take your comment on board and amended my post above.

    • Sorry, double post.

    • I just checked in Wikipedia what the political spectrum means and noticed the following:

      “According to the simplest left–right axis, communism and socialism are usually regarded internationally as being on the left, opposite fascism and conservatism on the right.”

      It seems to me that the classification is based on the type of property rights, namely, more state or more private rights. However the state seems always to be there. No wonder the libertarians are sometimes classified as left and sometimes as right ones. They mostly do not fit within this classification in my opinion.

      The correct classification would be not according to more or less private property rights but according to more or less government involvement in the economy. Just to make my view clearer: In fascism the property is private, but it is the government that controls it. So, it is not important who possesses a certain property on paper but who controls it.

    • As it was a dichotomous labeling born within the paradigm of statism, I cannot really see how referring to the left/right nonsense is anything other than attempting to solve the problem within the context of the problem. To be logically, philosophically, practically and linguistically congruent, AN-archy needs to be clearly defined as an A-political (not political) concept of social organization.
      Also, theirs no such thing as “voluntary communism,” because there’s already a more factually accurate term for people explicitly agreeing to social norms governing usages of property: contract (and no, not the implied tacit “social contract”).
      If we want to learn from the mistakes of history, rather than repeat them, let’s not ourselves get sucked into rehashing labels that were arbitrary in the first place. So Bastiat & Proudhon were sitting on the left (only from the one perspective, at that). Who cares? Why were they sitting in a legislative body at all? Especially when Proudhon declared himself an anarchist? I don’t blame them for not finding every successful approach, but I chalk that one up as incongruent and likely not worth anyone in the modern day repeating.
      I still find the whole left/right distraction as just that: a distraction. There’s individuality, and dis-individuality. Morality; immorality. Consistency; inconsistency. I see the left/right false dichotomy as only ever living in the latter options.
      I am simply an individual, espousing anarchic principles of interaction.

    • “Contract” is a fine word, but a contract governing the exchange or sharing of property is meaningless without pre-existing property rights. A voluntary community (or commune) does not suppose individuals with pre-existing, individual property rights to exchange or share. Rather, a community charter claims specified resources, like land, and further specifies rules governing individual ownership (if any) of these resources by community members.

      Voluntary, individual property rights cannot exist at all outside of a voluntary community, because these rights require the consent of persons respecting them. If you unilaterally declare your individual property in a resource, according to some rule that you unilaterally declare, and force me to respect your declaration, then my respect for your property in this resource is not in any sense “voluntary”.

      Proudhon eventually stopped call himself an anarchist and called himself a federalist instead, so he was aware of the contradiction in terms and was not guilty of it.

      I agree that “left vs. right” is a distraction, but the history is just what Jeff says it is. Bastiat was certainly on the political “left” and might be amused to learn that he’s now revered almost exclusively by persons more identified with the political “right”.

    • Ok, you want to make unilateralism and chicken and egg non-arguments:
      “Voluntary” is meaningless if you are denying individualism in your first principles, so cut out claiming that communalist notions of any stripe give a crap about the idea of volunteering anything. ALL proofs of property rights come as a logical extension of the empirical fact of exclusive ownership of one’s self and one’s ability to act, and therefor any ability to volunteer or refuse any such thing as consent to a societal structure. If you’re claiming that no private property rights exist or will not be acknowledged then you are not, in the slightest, concerned with what is and is not voluntary and, instead, unilaterally presuppose your idea of how people must organize.
      “Rights” are not a thing. A right is an internally consistent logical claim AGAINST other’s actions based upon logic and empirical facts. They do not require anyone’s consent to be rights, otherwise it would be a non-starter to even have the idea of being able to violate a right. The word “duh” is springing very strongly to mind, here. Once again, individual property rights is a logical argument stemming from the empirical fact that no one man can have a nerve impulse in his head that causes another man’s hand to move like it was connected to the first man’s body; from the empirical fact that YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENT ARGUMENT TO MINE, you prove that we are each exclusively acting in control of our individual and respective bodies, with respect to individual and (clearly) very DIFFERENT value systems, chosen by us, individually.
      An even greater and far more egregious distraction than the “left vs. right” historical trivia game is the “communism is a valid logical argument” joke. If your organization of society is presupposed, it’s not and cannot be voluntary. The one and ONLY way in which one can show that something does not and cannot require voluntary consent is to show that it is a condition of physics, because the ONLY REASON any of it matters is because the results of all actions in nature are COMPLETELY NON-NEGOTIABLE.
      You may choose to grasp a stick and apply upward force to it. You cannot choose that gravity will apply downward force to a degree that must be overcome to achieve lift, nor the resources this resistance of forces must cost to create and maintain. Likewise, you cannot choose the results of a loss of the price mechanism and the ability to plan for the allocation of resources which is a long proven impossibility in any system of attempted communal ownership.
      No one’s claim to their own self and the extension of themselves by action into their property requires another’s consent to be valid, because it is non-negotiable empirical fact that only individual’s choose. It’s is only because of this fact that the subjects of rights, morality, organization or otherwise even exist to be utilized by individuals at all. Just because an individual alone has no need to invoke claims of exclusivity while alone does not mean he suddenly discovers that they were a logical fallacy upon the arrival of others. All he may discover is whether or not those others value rationally defined behaviors, or arbitrary and expedient ones they extend only to themselves.

      Now, you may feel I’ve shown less friendliness in my post than you tried to show with your choice of neutral grammar, but while I do appreciate that small bit of courtesy, your utter lack of considerateness with basic internally consistent logic and flagrant abuse of rhetoric far-excede the balance of neutral grammar. Anyone who claims, in adjacent paragraphs, that both voluntary action exists, yet private property rights do not; that one’s declaring of the empirical fact of one’s responsibility for action is somehow an artificial and unilateral violation of another, yet claiming that somehow no one is capable of being in the moral right for using anything without others’ external approval is NOT…
      I see nothing there to suggest you respect others nor reason nearly enough to have a right (<- see how it works, now?) to expect anyone to overlook your sophistry and dehumanizing arguments just because you didn't use inflammatory grammar. So, if you have anything to retort, and if my curtness offended you, I'd actually appreciate an impassioned-but-LOGICAL & EMPIRICAL argument from first principles over anymore artificially-vanilla-flavored sophist shit, thank you very much. Perhaps the first thing you could attempt to prove is why, if there are no such things as private property rights, you bother making any arguments as if there exist distinct entities other than yourself or why this should even be logically possible or necessary…

    • Imposing a unilateral claim by force is hardly “voluntary”, and exploring the meaning of “voluntary” in the context of “property rights” is not a chicken and egg argument. Locke has an argument. Rothbard has a slightly different argument, and Kinsella differs slightly from Rothbard. Since they can’t all be right about your “non-negotiable rights”, you don’t seem to have many of these rights.

      I haven’t denied individualism in my first principles. I accept self-ownership fundamentally without pretending to “prove” anything. Axiomatic principles are accepted, not proven.

      I accept inalienable rights to life and liberty, where “liberty” specifically means the right to resign from an intentional community at will. Conventional property rights, involving land and other resources outside of a person’s body, are fundamentally alienable. Practically every libertarian agrees on this point. If the rights are alienable, then they are not unilateral claims. They exist only within the context of a community of persons agreeing contractually to respect them.

      Property rights are accepted, subjectively, by free persons, not proven. What passes for “proof” in political theory is laughably ridiculous by the standards of a mathematical logician, even by the standards of a careful philosopher.

      I’m claiming that standards of propriety generally, including private property rights, are community standards that can and will vary from one free community to the next, because an individual’s exclusive use of a resource exists only insofar other individuals respect the claim.

      Contractual rights are choices of the contracting individuals, not products of logic applied to some axiomatic system. Of course, they require consent.

      What you say about nerve impulses is trivial and completely irrelevant to conventional property rights. That a man’s nerve impulses affect only his own muscles has nothing to do with another man’s respect for his exclusive right to a resource outside of his body, like a parcel of land or an apple on a tree. Confusing one with the other is facile.

      I haven’t said anything about “communism” or the validity of any nominally “communist” system. You write “your organization of society” with hardly a clue of any social organization that I advocate, even while you imagine yourself a master of rigorous logic.

      The results of all action in nature are hardly non-negotiable. Free persons negotiating a contract are acting in nature.

      Gravity doesn’t refute any argument of mine, and I haven’t denied any price mechanism in the context of a particular property system, so you aren’t addressing me at all.

      Of course, a person’s claim to resources outside of himself requires the consent of others. Property rights are alienable. Practically everything you own, outside of your own body, is the product of countless agreements involving the consent of others.

      Your friendliness is irrelevant. I have a graduate degree in mathematics with a 4.0 GPA, so your critique of my logic rings hollow. Far more qualified logicians than you have certified it by far more rigorous standards, without leaping to all sorts of baseless conclusions about the arguments I pose. This observation is neither friendly nor unfriendly. It’s a fact that I can easily document.

    • For all your flaunting of your credentials, you don’t actually seem to have been able to follow what I was actually saying, either. I would apologize for misunderstanding your use of “property rights” as being a distinct term from “self-ownership,” except you didn’t at all make such a foundational distinction clear in the first reply, so don’t expect me to ooh and aahh at your proclamations of logical prowess, either. I have no way of knowing that you have the degree or GPA you claim or that greater logicians than I have validated your arguments (which you’re determining how..?), but what I can also easily document is that your initial response (to only a small part of my initial comment) was barely even framed or defined before you made your own assertions. Your logical skills being whatever they might be, you might consider pondering on those of your communication ability. Familiar with libertarians and libertarianism as you claim to be, it might have crossed your mind that to many “property rights” is often a term used interchangeably with “self-ownership” because one derives so closely from the other. I agree they’re not the same, but such a strict logician should have taken pains to keep himself from appearing to completely equivocate between the two if his argument rests on such a distinction as did yours.
      I suspect, at the core, we are actually agreeing very loudly on most points, but in very different linguistic styles. I’ve found that to be more common than not, if two people can stop long enough to see it.
      So, please, tell me what it is you think you mean when you say “property rights CAN’T exist outside a voluntary community” where I would say “there’s no need of property rights outside a community/in isolation.” Do you think we are actually getting at the same thing at all, or not?

    • If you don’t want someone citing his credentials, don’t dispute them before you know them. When you accuse people of “sophist shit” and the like, indignation at the rebuttal rings hollow.

      I don’t say that greater logicians than you have validated anything I’ve written here. Highly experienced logicians, who vet other people’s logic for a living, have judged me unusually able to reason rigorously in highly abstract, mathematical terms, but they didn’t expect to judge me after only a few paragraphs in a web forum.

      I can’t describe every detail of my libertarian ideal in every post, but I do refer to a “voluntary community”, not just any community, in the post to which you reply. “Voluntary” in this context suggests consent to a community’s standards and thus a right to exit. These individual rights are what “self-ownership” means to me, so I don’t completely equivocate between the two in the single post you’ve read, and I very often distinguish self-ownership from other ownership at liberty.me, in other posts in this thread in fact.

      If we discuss the subject long enough, I suspect that we’ll find many areas of agreement. You’re the one suggesting (even shouting) a fundamental disagreement, not me. In my way of thinking, self-ownership is a fundamental and inalienable right. Ownership of things outside of oneself is alienable. Asserting universal standards governing the latter robs individuals of their agency.

      What entitles John Locke or Murray Rothbard or Stephan Kinsella to tell me what standards of land ownership I will respect? Am I not free to respect Lockean standards or some variation on his theme or even some standard without a hint of Lockean propriety as long as no one forces me and others respecting the standards to respect them?

      What entitles Locke or anyone else to declare, for everyone everywhere, that a free community exists only after individuals have claimed land and similar resources (by Lockean standards) and agreed, through bilateral contracts, to exchange or to share these resources? This thinking seems thoroughly backward to me.

      Free people agree on standards of ownership before any community exists, and they need not consult Murray Rothbard first. Rothbard is not the Philosopher King of everyone everywhere.

      If Christian monastics claim natural resources and mold these resources to their Christian ends, without ever declaring any individual an owner of anything, then as long as they force no one to submit to their standards and do not claim more than they use freely this way, their community is completely libertarian in my way of thinking.

      Individual ownership of land and similar resources has nothing, necessarily to do with libertarian social organization. Individual ownership is a choice of free people, not a necessary prerequisite of individual freedom. Forcible collectivization is anti-liberty, but so is forcible individualization.

    • Forgive my simplistic reasoning of the given subject but this is my reasoning of it as follows: in the past the left or liberals were rebelling against the status quo in order to break down the old tyrannical goverment systems of our past like monarchy and such. Rights in the past sought to preserve the old ways and therefore were are enemies back then because they essentially supported tyranny. However fast foward to today the sides have switched. The liberals of today seek to rebel against the Constitutional, liberty minded, capitalist status quo and there fore are our enemys where as the right of today seeks to preserver the original order of liberty and freedom and so they are more in line with us today. Point is at the times that the definitions were diffrent it was necessary because when it come down to it the root issues of the day are what decides what side your on. Liberalism was necessary in the age of kings. It is not necessary in the age of liberty else they move toward socialism. Conservatism was bad in the age of kings however it is necessary is the age of liberty which will keep us in our countrys original system of free Republic with libertarian roots. And so modern libertarians in america should lean right politically. Socially is a different issue based on personal preferences of course.

    • Jeff, great insight. I noticed your second reference to Goldberg is “Noah” instead of Jonah though.

    • @restonthewind “If you doubt that Jeff is a left libertarian”

      Ok, maybe you’re not an idiot. You just have a very difficult time reading, comprehending, and have a habit putting words into other people’s mouths. Where did I ever say the words “doubt”? Hint: never. I do indeed know he is one, I still don’t know wjy. If I went over why I was an anarcho-capitalist then I’d give propositions or describe conclusions that I arrived at which made me one, not just an appeal to tradition and give history lessons. If you were to read, for instance, Gary Chartiers “The Distinctiveness of Left Libertarianism” he gave propositions on the “philosophy”. I’m still perplexed as to why Riggenbach is one because he explained no positions.

      Learn to read ffs

    • Your words were “I’m not really sure why you still are one.” “Doubt” comes to my mind when I read “not really sure”, but you know your own words better than I, of course. The point remains. Jeff tells you exactly why he calls himself a “left libertarian”. He doesn’t intend here to develop a philosophy from first principles. As he says, Jeff identifies with “the left”, because Bastiat was on the left, and Jeff identifies with Bastiat. Bastiat’s words from the left are earlier than Gary Chartier’s. Chartier certainly doesn’t have the last word, and Jeff never mentions him. Are you putting words in Jeff’s mouth?

    • I’m not sure what relevance have historical meanings of words, apart from the academic pursuit of etymologies. Words shift meanings all the time and it’s best to accept that as a fact of life rather than try and cling to former meanings that somehow suit you better.

    • I can agree that modern libertarians are neither “left” nor “right” in modern terms, but I would not agree that libertarians are or have ever been more “right” than “left” in any historical context. A faction of libertarians today identifies with “right” or associates “left” with its antithesis, but this faction is no evidence to the contrary, because they are still marginal. I’m not challenging their libertarian bona fides, but they are not as dominant in the movement as they believe themselves. They think they own the word “libertarian” and that others want to steal it from them, but in reality, they don’t own the movement any more than some small denomination of self-described “Christians” owns Christianity.

      Jeff feels compelled to write this article because so many self-described libertarians today insist that libertarianism is on the right and that “left libertarian” is a contradiction in terms regardless of the indisputable history. Because Jeff Tucker has been associated with this faction (Rothbardians and the Mises Institute) in the past, many members of Liberty.me identify with “the right” similarly. Outside of this faction, I don’t actually see any drift of libertarianism toward “the right”. I’ve seen “the left” drift away from libertarianism, but I don’t see “the right” drifting toward it.

    • So you think, and write, that people on the Right are “self-described libertarians”. How condescending! As opposed to what, the true, genuine, honest, well-meaning, progressive libertarians on the left???

      One can see how strongly you feel about “the Left” being superior to “the Right”, however, there is no correlation between the strength of one’s feelings and the validity of their argument.

    • I’m also a self-described libertarian. I explicitly state that I’m not questioning anyone’s libertarian bona fides, and I don’t say anything about “progressives”. I don’t see how you read condescension into that.

      Far from saying that “the Left” is superior to “the Right”, I explicitly state that modern libertarians belong in neither category in modern usage. I don’t feel strongly about “left” or “right” at all, and I routinely say so, but the history is what it is.

    • @restonthewind Yep. You’re an idiot. I never said doubt. You did. And that would be you putting words I to my mouth. Since I know my own words better than you then you can pipe down about what you think I meant since you’re clearly just arguing a strawman.

      I identify with Bastiat in numerous ways but that still doesn’t make me left libertarian, it just means I agree with him on certain things. It’s still just an appeal to tradition to me.

      “Chartier certainly doesn’t have the last word, and Jeff never mentions him”

      You have the worst comprehension. My point was Chartier at least states some left libertarian propositions in the article I mentioned, I never said anything about who came first chronologically. It was all just an appeal to history.

    • I address the ad hominem above.

      I address “doubt” above. If you say that “doubt” misrepresents “not really sure why”, then you have the last word on your own semantics.

      We’re discussing Jeff’s reasons for calling himself a “left libertarian”. What you call yourself is up to you. Jeff’s reasoning in this article is historical. Your suggestion that someone must distinguish himself ideologically from other libertarians, rather than appeal to history, to justify the “left libertarian” label, because Gary Chartier does so, is your straw man argument. Jeff clearly disagrees with you.

    • “I address the ad hominem above.”

      You are proving my claim, so pipe down, idiot. You are having a very hard time comprehending and continue to put words in my mouth, idiot. This to me is the act of an idiot, idiot.

      “If you say that “doubt” misrepresents “not really sure why”, then you have the last word on your own semantics.”

      If they are semantics, it is something you created. I made the distinction numerous times and explicitly that I know and acknowledge he is a libertarian, but I am still not sure why he is a left libertarian. Idiot.

      “Jeff’s reasoning in this article is historical. ”

      The error in this is that his definition makes other libertarians also left libertarians, yet by today’s standards many are not. I definitely am not. Left-libertarians have distinct differences on issues than ones like me when it comes to “social justice”, occupancy and use, unions, etc. If Jeff wants to invoke history as his reasoning to being a left lib then that puts many under the umbrella but at the same time it makes the “left” modifier distinction meaningless. If libertarianism is leftist as he argues, the “left” adjective is pointless.

      “label, because Gary Chartier does so”

      More proof of your idiocy. My point with Chartier (or even Massimino, or Byas, or Carson), is that he at least listed out positions left libertarians have that distinguish them from other libertarians. I’m going to assume you have not read his article or the numerous others by the other names I mentioned but all of the articles by them share that characteristic. Jeff made no claims and stated no propositions that showed what would distinguish him as a left libertarian. He invoked history is all. Fine, you’re a left libertarian because history but that encounters the same problems I mentioned above particularly since he says libertarians are leftists. If that’s the case then the modifier is pointless.

      This was why I am confused as to why he is one. This shouldn’t have been so difficult to understand but you have to be combative like usual you idiot.

    • I love you too, man.

    • @cliftonwknox

      I understand the context and concede your point; however, I don’t think much of “natural rights” theory or “natural law” in this context. I accept inalienable rights to life and liberty, but I don’t call these rights “natural”. They certainly are not natural. Natural creatures, human and otherwise, violate them routinely, more often than not; otherwise, we already live in a libertarian world, and we clearly do not.

      If you threaten to shoot me for crossing some line without your consent, without a systematic defense of this force and without either obtaining my consent to your system or tolerating competing systems reasonably available to me, you may be behaving naturally, but you aren’t behaving like a libertarian.

      Libertarian rights are products of the human intellect reflected in a libertarian tradition, so they are artifacts rather than products of nature, and people respect them only by willfully overcoming a natural impulse to violate them. Calling them “natural” suggests that we don’t need to justify them, that we can simply impose them by force, as though this forcible imposition is equivalent to a force of nature, like Gravity. I categorically reject this equivalence.

      On the distinction between “common people accept” and “people commonly accept”, I also understand this point, but when I write “common people accept”, I am not distinguishing a class of people, without statutory titles, from other people with these titles. As a libertarian (and thus an egalitarian in this sense), I accept no such distinction. A titular nobility accepting common law recognizing its titles and associated privileges are part of the common (or frequently occurring) people accepting this law.

    • Again in the context of what we are discussing I must maintain that references to animals are also out of context. Natural rights are as they apply to Human Beings. When I can discuss Plato, Aristotle, or legal precedent with an animal they can be a considered a part of this discussion. This does not mean that certain ethical concerns are not important in regard to animals. It just means those concerns must be solely a human concern and must be limited to how human beings treat animals and not how they treat each other in their natural environment. You cannot violate a right or have a right violated if you cannot even understand what a right is.
      I agree with you in regard to the act of shooting someone without providing fore knowledge of property lines. However, common law allows for this, and is the application of natural law in practice in regard to property ownership, property easements, and other issues. Let us not make the mistake of believing that a land in which there is no state means that there will be no rules. Again, natural law is itself based upon common sense. If you believe that anarchy will bring about a world in which people will behave as if there is no rules then why would you want a stateless society? However, we must recognize that even in a stateless society there will be rules and judicial decisions. These will most assuredly be based upon intuitive morality and common sense, which is, in any system a form of natural law, Libertarian or otherwise.
      The ‘libertarian tradition’ you mention is itself just another name for the belief in natural and intuitive morality which comes about in the majority of human beings through the application of human reason and common sense. To reject the idea that human beings are naturally rational creatures when considering morality indicates a Hobbesian view of the world which justifies the state.
      Human beings did not develop the ability to follow their own whims as a form of civilization or a function of a government. They were born free, and as such were able to create, build, associate with peers, and transact in a free market outside of governance. It is the state which has developed through history and is subject to a continual refinement and application, and it is this state which impedes on all the activities that man may naturally partake in. Humans did not create the state so they could have property, but some believed by creating the state they could protect already existing property rights. However, rational men do not need the state to make intuitive decisions based on their inherent and intuitive morals and ethics.
      In regard to my distinction on the statement ‘common people accept’. Historically, nobility and royalty made the first judicial decisions. It was not until later that magistrates and judicial appointments were used. As such, regardless of class, common law was accepted as being fair. The majority of common law concerns centered on property disagreements and liability.
      These laws were created through traditional precedent and certain reasonable assumptions about morality and ethics. The term natural is used as one might use when it asked a question such as ‘Would you like to be rich?’, and you would reply ‘Naturally, that goes without saying!’. In other words the precedents were considered to be obviously the natural decision in any particular case, and therefore were commonly accepted by all classes of society. Again, historically it is commonly accepted because the people view the decisions as naturally reasonable. It has nothing to do whatsoever with physics, or animals in their primal settings.

    • I refer to human beings as well as other animals, and again, I see nothing natural about the rights sometimes called “natural”. These rights are artifacts. I’m not diminishing them by calling them artifacts, but since I observe them nowhere outside of human society, I have a hard time calling them “natural”. “Natural” is commonly juxtaposed with “artificial”, and an artifact is a product of humanity.

      I’m not making any sort of point about animal rights, but your point about Plato is precisely why I do not call these rights “natural”. They have no meaning at all outside of the sort of conversation you imagine, because they are products of the human intellect and thus artificial as opposed to natural.

      I propose no Hobbesian justification of the state, but the state is a truce in Hobbes’ war of all against all. As a libertarian, I believe we can avoid this war and thus the necessity of a truce, but we won’t find the path away from Hobbesian Nature in nature.

      Foreknowledge of property is not the issue. Consent to the system of property entitling a property holder to defend his property is the issue. In a land with no state (or a minimal, libertarian state), rules emerge from free association. People associate with one another because they will live by the same rules. People who will not live by particular rules segregate themselves from people who will live by these rules. Individual property rights are among the rules that some people will accept and others will reject, so these rights are not laws of nature but individual choices and thus products of the human intellect.

      The state is also an artifact, but it’s not an artifact that I favor. At most, I advocate an extremely limited state, serving only to secure inalienable human rights.

      States exist to defend monopolies and impose monopoly rents. Whether these monopolies are “property” is a matter of semantics, and people commonly use the word this way. The idea that “property” describes only the fruits of a man’s labor, as Locke essentially asserts, is not the common use of the word, and you’ll even find self-described libertarians, like Stephan Kinsella, rejecting this use. Lockean (and libertarian) “property” is idiosyncratic in reality.

      I might like to live in Saddam Hussein’s castle and relieve myself on his golden toilet seats, and I might even call this impulse “natural”, but I wouldn’t call it “libertarian”. People naturally want to dominate others by force. Libertarians choose an unnatural path instead by accepting principles emerging from the human intellect and evident nowhere outside of human society.

    • For anybody who doesn’t know already, Sheldon Richman (a prominent left-libertarian) and Walter Block (who thinks left-libertarianism is a contradiction in terms) are talking about this issue LIVE tomorrow night:

    • I just finished watching the debate between Richman and Block, and I think I might have understood finally an actual distinctive characteristic in left libertarianism. After a boring half a hour, in which there was basically no disagreement at all, I started to be a bit puzzled by some assertions of Sheldon. First the reference to sweat-shops as kind of inevitably created by the state and crony capitalists that collude to take away from poor people other alternatives. Then the assertion that also advanced economies are completed dominated and distorted by the intervention of the State. Finally Sheldon’s insistence that there is a “good” libertarianism that is based in the long-term objective of improving society into a more “just” one.
      It sounded to me that he knew what was right and wrong, and of course his position was the right one, the natural one. Being Sheldon a real libertarian, he accepted that a bigot and a racist can be a fellow libertarian, provided he follows the Nap. But at the same time, it reminded me of Orwell, kind of “all the libertarians are equal but some are more equal than others”.
      I felt uneasy at this comparison of the personal values of people, as I did by his self-confidence about how the economy works everywhere and anytime. I felt a scent of Positivism in Sheldon reasoning. I preferred the agnosticism of Walter.

      At least this was my personal interpretation. The only thing I am positively sure is that Walter needs a bigger office. 🙂

    • Sheldon did not say that sweatshops are inevitably enabled by the state. He said that “sweatshops are good” is not a great selling point for libertarianism and assumes that poor working conditions inevitably are not enabled by a state, which is an incredibly ridiculous assumption. Why do libertarians want to claim that freer markets deliver poor working conditions? Our story should be the opposite, that freer markets deliver better working conditions. Sure, working conditions may be worse less developed areas (as Sheldon said), but freer markets improve these conditions faster.

      Sheldon did not say that advanced economies are completely dominated and distorted by the intervention of the State, but they certainly are dominated by the State. Would you dispute that?

      As Sheldon noted early in the debate, Walter was debating “thick vs. thin”. We didn’t get a good “left vs. right” debate, focusing on issues that historically have been categorized this way. Homophobia and racism are not “left vs. right” issues in a historical libertarian sense at all. They’re personal preferences and contemporary fads.

      Sheldon made one solid point in this regard that Walter avoided. Self-ownership applies to every individual, regardless of race or sexual preference or whatever. Walter wanted to say that individuals have no right to be respected, but self-ownership is a right to be respected. It’s not a right to be liked, but it is a right to be respected. When I “respect your rights”, I am respecting you, no? I’m not obliged to bake you a cake, but I am obliged not spit in your cake, regardless of your race, because spitting in a black man’s cake, because he’s a black man, is immoral by libertarian standards, Sheldon is right to say that racism is to this extent anti-libertarian. The NAP protects the person, not the cake.

    • Thanks for the answer, Martin, I will watch the debate again, I might have misunderstood some parts.

      Regarding the role of the state in the economy though, especially the US economy, I think we disagree, and it is for me an important point, because of all the (in my opinion) pessimistic talk about fascism or communism growing in America. Of course the issue depends on the exact meaning of “dominance”, but in my experience in most industries the state is not more than a nuisance, with which the animal spirits of capitalism learned to cope. Of course the entrepreneurs, being human, have a tendency of using the state if it gives them some advantage: Musk, for all his libertarian rhetoric, is an example. But the great majority of entrepreneurs, not having the option of becoming crony capitalists, have to use the free market to satisfy their clients. Most of Silicon Valley industries, but also more traditional industries like fast-moving consumer goods, retail, food and service, entertainment, are essentially free of meaningful state interventions. Even in industries heavily regulated, like oil and gas, private innovation circumvents the state, the shale revolution for example is a completely private innovation. In that archetype of a regulated industry, finance, peer-to-peer lending and investing in equities is starting to disrupt the traditional role of merchant banking. Even education, where private initiative has been crowded out by the State during the last 150 years, is becoming private again, at least in emerging markets, and soon, I believe, even in the US. Another important example is the globalization of the last 30 years and the incipient re-shoring or near-shoring of some manufacturing in the US. There are no conspiracies of the States in these macro-trends, it is good old comparative advantage, and in the latter case the changing economics of specific industries and categories (in business sense) due to technological advances in automatization. You might say that, for example, minimum wages still meddle with the economics of each industry and ventures, as taxes and fiat money and other regulations do, and in this sense the presence of the State is pervasive. True, but this pervasive presence in my opinion is hardly “dominating”, in most cases is not more than a nuisance, as I mentioned before. We are in the middle of the greatest disruptive innovation cycle in the history of the world, this could not be possible if actual free capitalism were “dominated” by the state.

      Regarding the “respect”, again I think is a semantic issue. I think we agree that a bigot might be libertarian assuming he respects the rights of not being aggressed of say, a black person, but he can still think (and say to him) that he is a stupid and despicable individual. Is this respect? I guess it depends on definitions. And I do not understand the example of the cake. Of course a libertarian bigot cannot spite in the cake, it would be a break of contract (if he is the baker) or an aggression, I do not see how this has to do with the question of respect.

    • The U.S. has one of the freest economies in the world. It’s not nearly as close to top of the list as it has been in the past, and it’s hardly Walter Block’s idea of an economy governed solely by the NAP either. No other economy on Earth is.

      Yet as Sheldon noted, libertarians routinely discuss state interference in the economy in the U.S. and around the world. Should we stop complaining only when some “leftist” complains about a sweatshop? We can complain about the taxes the sweatshop owner pays, but we can’t complain about barriers to market entry limiting the options of sweatshop workers? Why apologize for the poor working conditions rather than advocating the expanded options available in a freer market? When did libertarians become knee-jerk apologists for capitalists in every dispute between capitalists and the laborers they employ? Are wage laborers the only rent seekers in the political process? Are they even the most influential? I hardly think so.

      A bigot may think anything he likes about black people without violating an obligation that libertarian ethics imposes, but if he hates all black people or thinks that all black people stupid or whatever, then I have a hard time understanding why he’d respect their right to self-ownership. Libertarians respect every person’s self-ownership, because we do not assume, a priori, that some people don’t merit this respect. We believe that all people are born with inalienable rights and that all people are completely equal in this regard.

    • I think we agree on the US economy, Martin.

      Regarding the sweatshops, I do get annoyed by people attacking them. As you probably know, I live in Central America and “sweatshops” are much better than the default option for their employees, which is usually non-cash crops agriculture. What annoys me most is the condescending attitude toward the employees, “the poor people do not know they are exploited, thanks God we illuminated progressivists from rich countries know what is best for them”. And by the way, the sweatshop owners have nothing to do with causing the lack of alternative opportunities, at least where I live.
      Regarding the barriers to entry to alternatives, I side very much with Rothbard in his discussion with Konkin. Few people have the skills or the inclination to work as free-lancers or entrepreneurs, especially in countries with a GDP pro-capita of 2000$ per year. At least in these countries, the great majority is and will be looking for a salaried employment for the foreseeable future. I do not see many statist barriers to entry to be an entrepreneur in Central America (with the exclusion of the dismal state of public schools). Regulations like minimal wages or even taxes do not apply here to small entrepreneurs (companies with less than 20 or 30 employees) they just ignore them and are ignored themselves by the local IRS. At most, they pay the occasional small bribe. I would actually state that there are more barriers to be a formal employee than there are to be a small entrepreneur.
      I have a neutral view on unions. People have of course every right to associate, but I am against the statist protection of organized labor. I think that in labour relations most libertarians usually side with the employers just because in that specific area labour is much more protected by the state than the employers, and it has been generally so for 80-100 years. It is so much so that I believe that most people nowadays do not even conceive the “serrata” (I myself do not know the word in English, I am referring to the employers strike), a theme that is very present in the anarchist or socialist literature of XIX and early XX century.

      Regarding the issue of “respect”, I concede your point that libertarianism is usually associated with a set of beliefs that do not include discrimination for race and gender. But there are a lot of bonafide libertarians that discriminate entire groups of people for other reasons, for example religious reasons (against gays, or divorcees, or people that had abortion, or even against religious people themselves, like Rand), or life-styles reasons (for example addicted or promiscuous people) and another bunch of different and often weird reasons. I do not agree with them (also because I myself fall in a roughly 70% of the discriminated categories I mention above, lol) but I, like Sheldon and you, would not say they are not libertarians provided they follow the NAP. Therefore, yes, I do believe there is a lot of discrimination among libertarians and this is perfectly fine in my view. Although, again, I concede your point that this discrimination is usually not a priori, as you rightly put.

    • Like Lucy, I found the debate between Sheldon and Walter unsatisfying. The two largely agreed on substance and differed on semantics, and each complained that the other argued with a straw man. I sympathized more with Sheldon, but I also disagreed with him on essential points, and I didn’t disagree with Walter as much as I felt that both avoided the debate I hoped to hear.

      I would not call myself a “non-proviso Lockean” for example. I would call myself a “thin left libertarian” to use Sheldon’s moniker. I agree with Walter that voluntary collectivism is completely consistent with the NAP, but I would go further and say that voluntary collectivism is essential to the NAP. In fact, Walter’s libertarianism is too thick for me precisely because he assumes individual property rights, beyond self-ownership, that are not voluntary.

      Like many individualist anarchists, Walter seems to assume Lockean propriety, based on homesteading, with hereditary title or title transfer exclusively through contract with an individual property owner, regardless of anyone’s consent. He defends these rights because they are “natural” rather than voluntary. Stephan Kinsella even rejects Locke’s labor principle, that a homesteader gains exclusive title to a natural resource only by adding value to the resource with his labor, insisting that first possession and hereditary title alone are sufficient.

      I disagree. Individual property in a natural resource is legitimate only within a voluntary community in which members freely accept a particular formulation of individual property rights, be it the Lockean formulation or some variation formulated by Rothbard or Kinsella. Furthermore, a voluntary community need not respect any formulation of individual property rights.

      An egalitarian, income sharing community holding most capital in common is every bit as libertarian as an individualist community in which members hold all resources within the community individually and seek to profit through specialization and trade. Furthermore, no individual must own any resource individually before these communities may exist. In libertarian terms, no individual can meaningfully own any resource, other than himself, before such a community exists. Individual property rights are community standards, reflecting the consensus of a community’s members; therefore, these rights cannot exist prior to such a community.

      We can argue about which sort of community is most productive, but this argument has nothing essentially to do with libertarian principles. Libertarianism doesn’t require people to be optimally productive any more than it requires people to integrate racially or to celebrate gay relationships. Mises’ critique of socialist calculation seems valid to me, but it’s not a libertarian argument. No libertarian principle prevents any number of people from organizing resources through a hierarchical planning bureaucracy without market prices. That these people will be poorer is not a libertarian argument.

      Individual property rights other than self ownership exist only within a voluntary community and only with the consent of community members. This idea seems to me an essential difference between “left” and “right” libertarians, but Sheldon didn’t emphasize the distinction. I wonder if Walter would have agreed that a libertarian must be a non-proviso Lockean if pressed on this point, but because Sheldon conceded the point from the outset, we didn’t hear it debated. Instead, we got a replay of the fashionable debate over “thick” vs. “thin” that has little to do with the historical debate between “left” and “right”.

    • I myself have never been fully satisfied by the Lokean approach to natural resources. On the other hand, I often wonder why all the fuss about this issue from a practical perspective. As David Friedman rightly pointed out 40 years ago in The machinery of freedom, profit from land and yet to be mined resources account for less than 5% of GDP in developed countries, and I would add that there has been no meaningful homesteading for at least a century.
      So, I think my question to you is: what about the fruit of one’s efforts and labor? Do you think that also these property rights are community standards? Do you not believe that there is a natural right of individual property in this case? I feel that your answer will be a no, and I would disagree on this.

    • I don’t say that anyone must accept a Lockean formulation of property rights to be a proper libertarian, only that an individual has a right to join or to establish a community governing resources this way.

      As a matter of personal preference, I’m more of a Lockean than Sheldon, because I accept the Lockean proviso; however, we need to be clear about what constitutes the fruit of a person’s labor. A patent royalty? A state employee’s salary or pension? Interest and principle on a state bond, even if purchased with the proceeds of selling genuine fruits of one’s labor? A dividend from a share of Lockheed-Martin or any other organ of the corporative state a hair’s breadth away from a state agency? These income streams are not fruits of anyone’s labor in my way of thinking, and I haven’t even described the tip of the iceberg. Pushing paper around all day in exchange for a share of the tax collector’s booty, or some other monopoly rent, is not earning the fruit of one’s labor.

      In reality, many of us in the United States, myself included, earn much income that I would not call the fruit of the earner’s labor. The corporative state is so pervasive that it’s hard to say how much of any individual’s income is earned in a Lockean sense. Even someone growing spinach on an off-the-grid permaculture farm in the U.S. probably has subsidized solar panels.

      That’s no rationalization of sweeping redistribution, but it is a fact. If all illiberal money streams dried up tomorrow, hardly anyone would be unaffected, and some very rich people would become very poor overnight. That’s what I call the libertarian redistribution of wealth. When libertarians say that we oppose redistribution of wealth, we’re using words in an incredibly idiosyncratic fashion, and that’s why so few rich people are libertarians.

    • Massimo,
      Hope you do not mind if I answer the questions above.

      “So, I think my question to you is: what about the fruit of one’s efforts and labor? Do you think that also these property rights are community standards? ”

      Yes, they are community standards. The reason: all the people in the community have agreed with these standards or if there is somebody who does not like them then he at least tolerates them and thus has agreed to live under them. In such a community initiated violence does not exist.

      “Do you not believe that there is a natural right of individual property in this case? :”

      If one wishes to have rights one has to live in a society. Otherwise the word “rights” looses its meaning. So, rights, being them “natural” or whatever have no meaning outside a particular society. What rights would you have when you are stranded on an island alone?
      So, if the society you have chosen to live in approves of the private property rights, then you would have them. If not, then you would not have these rights.
      Rights are not god- or nature-given ones. They are created by the interaction between the humans. They however may be more conducive to the personal development (i.e. more private property rights) or less (i.e. less private property).

    • I didn’t answer the questions directly, but you answer them well. I agree.

      I do advocate a few inalienable rights, fundamentally, namely a right to life and a right to liberty, where “liberty” simply means a right to leave a community at will. I don’t call these rights “natural”, but they are axiomatic in the libertarian system that I accept. They are foundations of a political framework, like a right to vote, rather than natural or ethical rights.

      “Axiomatic” means “taken for granted” or tautological, not “obviously true”. All free communities respect these rights, because that’s what “free community” means to me. The rights are not edicts of God or laws of Nature. A political system, existing in nature, can violate these rights or impose more restrictive rights, but I wouldn’t call this system “free” or “libertarian”.

      Other rights that some libertarians call “natural”, like a right exclusively to govern fruits of one’s labor, are community standards. The political system that I advocate does not force anyone to surrender fruits of his labor, but it doesn’t guarantee anyone fruits of his labor either.

      A person desiring a right exclusively to govern fruits of his labor (or natural resources or other things) may join or form a community respecting this right and then trade freely within this community and with persons in other communities, but no one has this right anywhere he finds himself in nature, and the right doesn’t emerge “naturally” either. The right hardly exists anywhere in fact. It’s only an abstraction that libertarians discuss. Such abstractions are not what I call “natural”.

      I want all persons essentially to have a right to vote with their feet, to choose a community governed as they like within a diverse marketplace in which respect for a community’s standards is the price of membership. This federation of intentional communities should be as diverse as the people within it, so any sufficiently large group of people (say a hundred people) should be entitled to establish a community governed as they like, even if no one else on Earth wants to belong to their community, even if everyone else on Earth wants nothing to do with these people.

      How people can be entitled to the natural resources necessary to establish such a community, in a world in which established states already claim practically every acre on Earth, is the distributist question, and I wish we could discuss it more in libertarian circles without the “redistribution” bogeyman rearing its head.

      I sympathize with Lockean mythology, but it’s no more natural than Christian mythology. Both are artifacts, and neither is more obligatory than the other.

    • Thanks Martin,
      I know you position very well!
      The problem with these “natural” rights is the following:
      What if some person or group of people do not want them? They just want another subset of rights (islamic ones for instance). What do we do? Force them to accept these “natural” rights? This would be against NAP. So, the only option is to let them be, “live and let live” approach. The fact that some rights are supposed to be “the best” in some way does not justifiy their imposition.

      From another point of view: Libertarianism supports the right of the people to differentiate/discriminate. So, why am I not supposed to protest against the existense of a drug-dealer in my neighborhood? I am supposed to stay content and let him sell this poison? No, I just move away from this place and join a society where drugs are prohibited. In this way I am sure to live in an environment which conforms to my expectations. Drugs would be banned but no violence would be initiated even when all drug-dealers face death sentence in my new society. I have the right to request and perform the above. What argument can be drawn to force me to live along with drug-dealers?

    • If a community holds people against their will to impose rules upon them, then it’s not a “free” community as I use the word “free”. This community is outside of the libertarian federation. I’m not suggesting that free communities invade other communities to rescue captive individuals, but I can’t call these other communities “free”.

      I am suggesting that each member of a free community has a right to his or her life life and a right to exit the community, and I expect a federation of free communities to reinforce these principles. In sense, the federation does force each member community to respect a few, inalienable rights of individuals. If individuals don’t have these rights, I don’t know what “liberty” means. The NAP applies to individuals, not to communities. Free communities exist only because free individuals choose to constitute them.

      Yes. Moving from a community that prohibits your drug dealing is just what you should do, and furthermore, the community should allow you to move. The community’s other members should not overpower you to prevent you from moving; otherwise, the community is not meaningfully “free”. I advocate free communities, not independent communities. An independent community could be horribly tyrannical and oppressive toward many of its members.

      Maybe free communities should not wage war on an oppressive community, but I would not say that libertarianism permits the oppressive community. The oppressive community is not libertarian. It is not a member of the federation of free communities that I imagine. To earn the adjective “free”, a community must at least respect individual, inalienable rights to life and liberty.

      Individual rights to property subject to a community’s standards (like land within the community’s borders) are alienable rights; therefore, a free community may deprive a member of this property to punish violations of its standards, but this taking is the limit of a free community’s punishment of an individual no longer willing to remain a member.

    • Martin,

      Thanks for the explanation, but I did not intend to get into a discussion on the topic of alienable/inalienable rights, etc. We have already discussed it at lentgh. It is interesting if we could convince Massimo that rights are not nature-given, i.e. that people have and must have a choice what rights to use.

    • The Left and Right of political discourse is purely conventional. There is no etymology that derives libertarianism from the word Left. And besides, even from the beginning, socialists sat on the Left with Bastiat. If anything, nothing has changed since his time, accept that the socialists are in charge now rather than the monarchists. Bastiat didn’t have a liberty section to sit in, so he sat with the socialists because even in his time, liberty was a radical idea. Similarly, we now have no ‘side’ to sit on. Libertarians have always been unwanted on the anti-capitalist and anti-property rights Left. Proudhon was famous for saying “property is theft.”

      The distinction should be either individual rights or collective rights. Either the individual has rights because she is part of a group that has rights, or a group has rights because it is comprised of individuals who have rights.

    • “Libertarian” does not descend from “left” etymologically, but the words are related historically, i.e. people like Bastiat describing themselves as libertarian (or classically liberal) historically identified with “the left” rather than “the right”.

      “Socialism” at the time did not imply productive means owned by a state and organized by a planning bureaucracy without money or prices. Both Tucker and Spooner identified with “socialism” but neither advocated such a powerful state, quite the opposite.

      The left was the libertarian section, but a division of ideological factions into precisely two camps is arbitrary, of course.

      Proudhon is still famous for saying it, and he is also famous for saying, “Property is freedom.” The word “property” means different things in different contexts, so these statements are not contradictory, and Proudhon drew attention to the divergent, seemingly contradictory usage of this single word in political discourse. Is a Treasury security property? Is a share of Lockheed-Martin property? Even Locke, Rothbard and Kinsella can’t agree on a definition.

      I’m essentially a collectivist on property rights beyond self-ownership, i.e. all rights beyond self-ownership, including an individual’s property in a parcel of land for example, are contractual. Defining individual property rights this way permits greater individual liberty. If you want strictly Rothbardian property rights, find others agreeing with you, claim some resources collectively, and organize these resources as Rothbard describes. Your claim on these resources does not preclude other formulations of property in other communities consisting of free associates.

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  • Randall Chester Saunders‘s article A Priori has a new comment 5 hours, 25 minutes ago

    mobius2There is no such thing as a priori knowledge. The term, “a priori,” supposedly refers to knowledge that can be derived by reason alone without reference to any evidence. It is used in contrast to, “a [Read story]
    • You sure write substantial and interesting posts on a wide range of important topics. Thanks!

    • @rogerribuck

      Thank you, Roger. Much appreciated because it comes from you.

    • This should make an excellent target for rebuttal, as it is full of fallacies and misunderstanding.

    • @reece

      “This should make an excellent target for rebuttal, as it is full of fallacies and misunderstanding.”

      Give it a shot, Matthew. If I’ve misunderstood something or used fallacious arguments I want to know what they are, so I can correct them.


    • I only skimmed the second half of the article, but I have one thing to object to. You stated that language is the only way we can know things. This is not true. You can have thought and knowledge without language, you just can’t have long-term memory. In fact it’s impossible to think in a language – when we think, we are really having a thought wordlessly and then saying it to ourselves imaginatorily so that we can remember it. Pay close attention sometime and you’ll realize I’m right.

    • May I give rebutting a shot? Not really me, but no less a genius than Ludwig von Mises as long ago as 1940. Here is how he debunked radical empiricism in his 1948 masterpiece, HUMAN ACTION. The following quotation is taken from pgs. 34ff of the Scholars Edition.

      “A fashionable tendency in contemporary philosophy is to deny the existence of any a priori knowledge. All human knowledge, it is contended, is derived from experience. This attitude can easily be understood as an excessive reaction against the extravagances of theology and a spurious philosophy of history and of nature. Metaphysicians were eager to discover by intuition moral precepts, the meaning of historical evolution, the properties of soul and matter, and the laws governing physical, chemical, and physiological events. Their volatile speculations manifested a blithe disregard for matter-of-fact knowledge. They were convinced that, without reference to experience, reason could explain all things and answer all questions.
      “The modern natural sciences owe their success to the method of observation and experiment. There is no doubt that empiricism and pragmatism are right as far as they merely describe the procedures of the natural sciences. But it is no less certain that they are entirely wrong in their endeavors to reject any kind of a priori knowledge and to characterize logic, mathematics, and praxeology either as empirical and experimental disciplines or as mere tautologies.
      “With regard to praxeology the errors of the philosophers are due to their complete ignorance of economics and very often to their shockingly insufficient knowledge of history. In the eyes of the philosopher the treatment of philosophical issues is a sublime and noble vocation which must not be put upon the low level of other gainful employments. The professor resents the fact that he derives an income from philosophizing; he is offended by the thought that he earns money like the artisan and the farm hand. Monetary matters are mean things, and the philosopher investigating the eminent problems of truth and absolute eternal values should not soil his mind by paying attention to problems of economics.
      The problem of whether there are or whether there are not a priori elements of thought–i.e., necessary and ineluctable intellectual conditions of thinking, anterior to any actual instance of conception and experience–must not be confused with the genetic problem of how man acquired his characteristically human mental ability. Man is descended from nonhuman ancestors who lacked this ability. These ancestors were endowed with some potentiality which in the course of ages of evolution converted them into reasonable beings. This transformation was achieved by the influence of a changing cosmic environment operating upon succeeding generations. Hence the empiricist concludes that the fundamental principles of reasoning are an outcome of experience and represent an adaptation of man to the conditions of his environment.
      “This idea leads, when consistently followed, to the further conclusion that there were between our prehuman ancestors and homo sapiens various intermediate stages. There were beings which, although not yet equipped with the human faculty of reason, were endowed with some rudimentary elements of ratiocination. Theirs was not yet a logical mind, but a prelogical (or rather imperfectly logical) mind. Their desultory and defective logical functions evolved step by step from the prelogical state toward the logical state. Reason, intellect, and logic are historical phenomena. There is a history of logic as there is a history of technology. Nothing suggests that logic as we know it is the last and final stage of intellectual evolution. Human logic is a historical phase between prehuman nonlogic on the one hand and superhuman logic on the other hand. Reason and mind, the human beings’ most efficacious equipment in their struggle for survival, are embedded in the continuous flow of zoological events. They are neither eternal nor unchangeable. They are transitory.
      Furthermore, there is no doubt that every human being repeats in his personal evolution not only the physiological metamorphosis from a simple cell into a highly complicated mammal organism but no less the spiritual metamorphosis from a purely vegetative and animal existence into a reasonable mind. This transformation is not completed in the prenatal life of the embryo, but only later when the newborn child step by step awakens to human consciousness. Thus every man in his early youth, starting from the depths of darkness, proceeds through various states of the mind’s logical structure.
      Then there is the case of the animals. We are fully aware of the unbridgeable gulf separating our reason from the reactive processes of their brains and nerves. But at the same time we divine that forces are desperately struggling in them toward the light of comprehension. They are like prisoners anxious to break out from the doom of eternal darkness and inescapable automatism. We feel with them because we ourselves are in a similar position: pressing in vain against the limitation of our intellectual apparatus, striving unavailingly after unattainable perfect cognition.
      “But the problem of the a priori is of a different character. It does not deal with the problem of how consciousness and reason have emerged. It refers to the essential and necessary character of the logical structure of the human mind.
      “The fundamental logical relations are not subject to proof or disproof. Every attempt to prove them must presuppose their validity. It is impossible to explain them to a being who would not possess them on his own account. Efforts to define them according to the rules of definition must fail. They are primary propositions antecedent to any nominal or real definition. They are ultimate unanalyzable categories. The human mind is utterly incapable of imagining logical categories at variance with them. No matter how they may appear to superhuman beings, they are for man inescapable and absolutely necessary. They are the indispensable prerequisite of perception, apperception, and experience.
      They are no less an indispensable prerequisite of memory. There is a tendency in the natural sciences to describe memory as an instance of a more general phenomenon. Every living organism conserves the effects of earlier stimulation, and the present state of inorganic matter is shaped by the effects of all the influences to which it was exposed in the past. The present state of the universe is the product of its past. We may, therefore, in a loose metaphorical sense, say that the geological structure of our globe conserves the memory of all earlier cosmic changes, and that a man’s body is the sedimentation of his ancestors’ and his own destinies and vicissitudes. But memory is something entirely different from the fact of the structural unity and continuity of cosmic evolution. It is a phenomenon of consciousness and as such conditioned by the logical a priori. Psychologists have been puzzled by the fact that man does not remember anything from the time of his existence as an embryo and as a suckling. Freud tried to explain this absence of recollection as brought about by suppression of undesired reminiscences. The truth is that there is nothing to be remembered of unconscious states. Animal automatism and unconscious response to physiological stimulations are neither for embryos and sucklings nor for adults material for remembrance. Only conscious states can be remembered.
      “The human mind is not a tabula rasa on which the external events write their own history. It is equipped with a set of tools for grasping reality. Man acquired these tools, i.e., the logical structure of his mind, in the course of his evolution from an amoeba to his present state. But these tools are logically prior to any experience.
      “Man is not only an animal totally subject to the stimuli unavoidably determining the circumstances of his life. He is also an acting being. And the category of action is logically antecedent to any concrete act.
      “The fact that man does not have the creative power to imagine categories at variance with the fundamental logical relations and with the principles of causality and teleology enjoins upon us what may be called methodological apriorism.
      “Everybody in his daily behavior again and again bears witness to the immutability and universality of the categories of thought and action. He who addresses fellow men, who wants to inform and convince them, who asks questions and answers other people’s questions, can proceed in this way only because he can appeal to something common to all men–namely, the logical structure of human reason. The idea that A could at the same time be non-A or that to prefer A to B could at the same time be to prefer B to A is simply inconceivable and absurd to a human mind. We are not in the position to comprehend any kind of prelogical or metalogical thinking. We cannot think of a world without causality and teleogy.
      “It does not matter for man whether or not beyond the sphere accessible [p. 36] to the human mind there are other spheres in which there is something categorially different from human thinking and acting. No knowledge from such spheres penetrates to the human mind. It is idle to ask whether things-in-themselves are different from what they appear to us, and whether there are worlds which we cannot divine and ideas which we cannot comprehend. These are problems beyond the scope of human cognition. Human knowledge is conditioned by the structure of the human mind. If it chooses human action as the subject matter of its inquiries, it cannot mean anything else than the categories of action which are proper to the human mind and are its projection into the external world of becoming and change. All the theorems of praxeology refer only to these categories of action and are valid only in the orbit of their operation. They do not pretend to convey any information about never dreamed of and unimaginable worlds and relations.
      “Thus praxeology is human in a double sense. It is human because it claims for its theorems, within the sphere precisely defined in the underlying assumptions, universal validity for all human action. It is human moreover because it deals only with human action and does not aspire to know anything about nonhuman–whether subhuman or superhuman–action.”

      Three other books that may help dissuade you of radical empiricism are these: Epistemological Problems of Economics by Mises; The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science, by Mises, and, Economic Science and the Austrian Method, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe,.

    • “We cannot think of a world without causality and teleogy.”

      We do it all the time in our daily lives…it’s called the Halting problem…that is, for example,before you install or run a computer program or app on your system, can you determine(or write a program that can determine) if that app will cause your device/system to crash/freeze?

      No…there is no program, no logical deductive method to arrive at the answer. So how do humans deal with it? Heuristically…that is, by best practice.

    • dk, it appears to me that heruistics is utterly dependent on causality.

      The following is from Mises’ HUMAN ACTION, scholars’ edition, pp. 22-30, available in PDF and HTML at Mises.org. Evidently he anticipated and resolved your objection back in 1940″

      “Causality as a Requirement of Action

      Man is in a position to act because he has the ability to discover causal relations which determine change and becoming in the universe. Acting requires and presupposes the category of causality. Only a man who sees the world in the light of causality is fitted to act. In this sense we may say that causality is a category of action. The category means and ends presupposes the category cause and effect. In a world without causality and regularity of phenomena there would be no field for human reasoning and human action. Such a world would be a chaos in which man would be at a loss to find any orientation and guidance. Man is not even capable of imagining the conditions of such a chaotic universe.

      Where man does not see any causal relation, he cannot act. This statement is not reversible. Even when he knows the causal relation involved, man cannot act if he is not in a position to influence the cause.

      The archetype of causality research was: where and how must I interfere in order to divert the course of events from the way it would go in the absence of my interference in a direction which better suits my wishes? In this sense man raises the question: who or what is at the bottom of things? He searches for the regularity and the “law,” because he wants to interfere. Only later was this search more extensively interpreted by metaphysics as a search after the ultimate cause of being and existence. Centuries were needed to bring these exaggerated and extravagant ideas back again to the more modest question of where one must interfere or should one be able to interfere in order to attain this or that end.

      The treatment accorded to the problem of causality in the last decades has been, due to a confusion brought about by some eminent physicists, rather unsatisfactory. We may hope that this unpleasant chapter in the history of philosophy will be a warning to future philosophers. [p. 23]

      There are changes whose causes are, at least for the present time, unknown to us. Sometimes we succeed in acquiring a partial knowledge so that we are able to say: in 70 per cent of all cases A results in B, in the remaining cases in C, or even in D, E, F, and so on. In order to substitute for this fragmentary information more precise information it would be necessary to break up A into its elements. As long as this is not achieved, we must acquiesce in what is called a statistical law. But this does not affect the praxeological meaning of causality. Total or partial ignorance in some areas does not demolish the category of causality.

      The philosophical, epistemological, and metaphysical problems of causality and of imperfect induction are beyond the scope of praxeology. We must simply establish the fact that in order to act, man must know the causal relationship between events, processes, or states of affairs. And only as far as he knows this relationship, can his action attain the ends sought. We are fully aware that in asserting this we are moving in a circle. For the evidence that we have correctly perceived a causal relation is provided only by the fact that action guided by this knowledge results in the expected outcome. But we cannot avoid this vicious circular evidence precisely because causality is a category of action. And because it is such a category, praxeology cannot help bestowing some attention on this fundamental problem of philosophy.

      6. The Alter Ego

      If we are prepared to take the term causality in its broadest sense, teleology can be called a variety of causal inquiry. Final causes are first of all causes. The cause of an event is seen as an action or quasi-action aiming at some end.

      Both primitive man and the infant, in a naive anthropomorphic attitude, consider it quite plausible that every change and event is the outcome of the action of a being acting in the same way as they themselves do. They believe that animals, plants, mountains, rivers, and fountains, even stones and celestial bodies, are, like themselves, feeling, willing, and acting beings. Only at a later stage of cultural development does man renounce these animistic ideas and substitute the mechanistic world view for them. Mechanicalism proves to be so satisfactory a principle of conduct that people finally believe it capable of solving all the problems of thought and scientific research. Materialism and panphysicalism proclaim mechanicalism as the essence of all knowledge and the experimental and mathematical methods of the natural sciences as the sole scientific mode of thinking. [p. 24]

      All changes are to be comprehended as motions subject to the laws of mechanics.

      The champions of mechanicalism do not bother about the still unsolved problems of the logical and epistemological basis of the principles of causality and imperfect induction. In their eyes these principles are sound because they work. The fact that experiments in the laboratory bring about the results predicted by the theories and that machines in the factories run in the way predicted by technology proves, they say, the soundness of the methods and findings of modern natural science. Granted that science cannot give us truth–and who knows what truth really means?–at any rate it is certain that it works in leading us to success.

      But it is precisely when we accept this pragmatic point of view that the emptiness of the panphysicalist dogma becomes manifest. Science, as has been pointed out above, has not succeeded in solving the problems of the mind-body relations. The panphysicalists certainly cannot contend that the procedures they recommend have ever worked in the field of interhuman relations and of the social sciences. But it is beyond doubt that the principle according to which an Ego deals with every human being as if the other were a thinking and acting being like himself has evidenced its usefulness both in mundane life and in scientific research. It cannot be denied that it works.

      It is beyond doubt that the practice of considering fellow men as beings who think and act as I, the Ego, do has turned out well; on the other hand the prospect seems hopeless of getting a similar pragmatic verification for the postulate requiring them to be treated in the same manner as the objects of the natural sciences. The epistemological problems raised by the comprehension of other people’s behavior are no less intricate than those of causality and incomplete induction. It may be admitted that it is impossible to provide conclusive evidence for the propositions that my logic is the logic of all other people and by all means absolutely the only human logic and that the categories of my action are the categories of all other people’s action and by all means absolutely the categories of all human action. However, the pragmatist must remember that these propositions work both in practice and in science, and the positivist must not overlook the fact that in addressing his fellow men he presupposes –tacitly and implicitly– the intersubjective validity of logic and thereby the reality of the realm of the alter Ego’s thought and action, of his eminent human character [p. 25] 8.

      Thinking and acting are the specific human features of man. They are peculiar to all human beings. They are, beyond membership in the zoological species homo sapiens, the characteristic mark of man as man. It is not the scope of praxeology to investigate the relation of thinking and acting. For praxeology it is enough to establish the fact that there is only one logic that is intelligible to the human mind, and that there is only one mode of action which is human and comprehensible to the human mind. Whether there are or can be somewhere other beings–superhuman or subhuman–who think and act in a different way, is beyond the reach of the human mind. We must restrict our endeavors to the study of human action.

      This human action which is inextricably linked with human thought is conditioned by logical necessity. It is impossible for the human mind to conceive logical relations at variance with the logical structure of our mind. It is impossible for the human mind to conceive a mode of action whose categories would differ from the categories which determine our own actions.

      There are for man only two principles available for a mental grasp of reality, namely, those of teleology and causality. What cannot be brought under either of these categories is absolutely hidden to the human mind. An event not open to an interpretation by one of these two principles is for man inconceivable and mysterious. Change can be conceived as the outcome either of the operation of mechanistic causality or of purposeful behavior; for the human mind there is no third way available9. It is true, as has already been mentioned, that teleology can be viewed as a variety of causality. But the establishment of this fact does not annul the essential differences between the two categories.

      The panmechanistic world view is committed to a methodological monism; it acknowledges only mechanistic causality because it attributes to it alone any cognitive value or at least a higher cognitive value than teleology. This is a metaphysical superstition. Both principles of cognition–causality and teleology–are, owing to the limitations of human reason, imperfect and do not convey ultimate knowledge. Causality leads to a regressus in infinitum which reason can never exhaust. Teleology is found wanting as soon as the question is raised of what moves the prime mover. Either method stops short at an ultimate given which cannot be analyzed and interpreted. Reasoning and scientific inquiry can never bring full ease of mind, apodictic certainty, and perfect cognition of all things. He who seeks [p. 26] this must apply to faith and try to quiet his conscience by embracing a creed or a metaphysical doctrine.

      If we do not transcend the realm of reason and experience, we cannot help acknowledging that our fellow men act. We are not free to disregard this fact for the sake of a fashionable prepossession and an arbitrary opinion. Daily experience proves not only that the sole suitable method for studying the conditions of our nonhuman environment is provided by the category of causality; it proves no less convincingly that our fellow men are acting beings as we ourselves are. For the comprehension of action there is but one scheme of interpretation and analysis available, namely, that provided by the cognition and analysis of our own purposeful behavior.

      The problem of the study and analysis of other people’s action is in no way connected with the problem of the existence of a soul or of an immortal soul. As far as the objections of empiricism, behaviorism, and positivism are directed against any variety of the soul-theory, they are of no avail for our problem. The question we have to deal with is whether it is possible to grasp human action intellectually if one refuses to comprehend it as meaningful and purposeful behavior aiming at the attainment of definite ends. Behaviorism and positivism want to apply the methods of the empirical natural sciences to the reality of human action. They interpret it as a response to stimuli. But these stimuli themselves are not open to description by the methods of the natural sciences. Every attempt to describe them must refer to the meaning which acting men attach to them. We may call the offering of a commodity for sale a “stimulus.” But what is essential in such an offer and distinguishes it from other offers cannot be described without entering into the meaning which the acting parties attribute to the situation. No dialectical artifice can spirit away the fact that man is driven by the aim to attain certain ends. It is this purposeful behavior–viz., action–that is the subject matter of our science. We cannot approach our subject if we disregard the meaning which acting man attaches to the situation, i.e., the given state of affairs, and to his own behavior with regard to this situation.

      It is not appropriate for the physicist to search for final causes because there is no indication that the events which are the subject matter of physics are to be interpreted as the outcome of actions of a being, aiming at ends in a human way. Nor is it appropriate for the praxeologist to disregard the operation of the acting being’s volition and intention; they are undoubtedly given facts. If he were to disregard it, he would cease to study human action. Very often–but not always–the events concerned can be investigated both [p. 27] from the point of view of praxeology and from that of the natural sciences. But he who deals with the discharging of a firearm from the physical and chemical point of view is not a praxeologist. He neglects the very problems which the science of purposeful human behavior aims to clarify.

      On the Serviceableness of Instincts

      The proof of the fact that only two avenues of approach are available for human research, causality or teleology, is provided by the problems raised in reference to the serviceableness of instincts. There are types of behavior which on the one hand cannot be thoroughly interpreted with the causal methods of the natural sciences, but on the other hand cannot be considered as purposeful human action. In order to grasp such behavior we are forced to resort to a makeshift. We assign to it the character of a quasi-action; we speak of serviceable instincts.

      We observe two things: first the inherent tendency of a living organism to respond to a stimulus according to a regular pattern, and second the favorable effects of this kind of behavior for the strengthening or preservation of the organism’s vital forces. If we were in a position to interpret such behavior as the outcome of purposeful aiming at certain ends, we would call it action and deal with it according to the teleological methods of praxeology. But as we found no trace of a conscious mind behind this behavior, we suppose that an unknown factor–we call it instinct–was instrumental. We say that the instinct directs quasi-purposeful animal behavior and unconscious but nonetheless serviceable responses of human muscles and nerves. Yet, the mere fact that we hypostatize the unexplained element of this behavior as a force and call it instinct does not enlarge our knowledge. We must never forget that this word instinct is nothing but a landmark to indicate a point beyond which we are unable, up to the present at least, to carry our scientific scrutiny.

      Biology has succeeded in discovering a “natural,” i.e., mechanistic, explanation for many processes which in earlier days were attributed to the operation of instincts. Nonetheless many others have remained which cannot be interpreted as mechanical or chemical responses to mechanical or chemical stimuli. Animals display attitudes which cannot be comprehended otherwise than through the assumption that a directing factor was operative.

      The aim of behaviorism to study human action from without with the methods of animal psychology is illusory. As far as animal behavior goes beyond mere physiological processes like breathing and metabolism, it can only be investigated with the aid of the meaning-concepts developed by praxeology. The behaviorist approaches the [p. 28] object of his investigations with the human notions of purpose and success. He unwittingly applies to the subject matter of his studies the human concepts of serviceableness and perniciousness. He deceives himself in excluding all verbal reference to consciousness and aiming at ends. In fact his mind searches everywhere for ends and measures every attitude with the yardstick of a garbled notion of serviceableness. The science of human behavior–as far as it is not physiology–cannot abandon reference to meaning and purpose. It cannot learn anything from animal psychology and the observation of the unconscious reactions of newborn infants. It is, on the contrary, animal psychology and infant psychology which cannot renounce the aid afforded by the science of human action. Without praxeological categories we would be at a loss to conceive and to understand the behavior both of animals and of infants.

      The observation of the instinctive behavior of animals fills man with astonishment and raises questions which nobody can answer satisfactorily. Yet the fact that animals and even plants react in a quasi-purposeful way is neither more nor less miraculous than that man thinks and acts, that in the inorganic universe those functional correspondences prevail which physics describes, and that in the organic universe biological processes occur. All this is miraculous in the sense that it is an ultimate given for our searching mind.

      Such an ultimate given is also what we call animal instinct. Like the concepts of motion, force, life, and consciousness, the concept of instinct too is merely a term to signify an ultimate given. To be sure, it neither “explains” anything nor indicates a cause or an ultimate cause.

      The Absolute End

      In order to avoid any possible misinterpretation of the praxeological categories it seems expedient to emphasize a truism.

      Praxeology, like the historical sciences of human action, deals with purposeful human action. If it mentions ends, what it has in view is the ends at which acting men aim. If it speaks of meaning, it refers to the meaning which acting men attach to their actions.

      Praxeology and history are manifestations of the human mind and as such are conditioned by the intellectual abilities of mortal men. Praxeology and history do not pretend to know anything about the intentions of an absolute and objective mind, about an objective meaning inherent in the course of events and of historical evolution, and about the plans which God or Nature or Weltgeist or Manifest [p. 29] Destiny is trying to realize in directing the universe and human affairs. They have nothing in common with what is called philosophy of history. They do not, like the works of Hegel, Comte, Marx, and a host of other writers, claim to reveal information about the true, objective, and absolute meaning of life and history.11

      Vegetative Man

      Some philosophies advise men to seek as the ultimate end of conduct the complete renunciation of any action. They look upon life as an absolute evil full of pain, suffering, and anguish, and apodictically deny that any purposeful human effort can render it tolerable. Happiness can be attained only by complete extinction of consciousness, volition, and life. The only way toward bliss and salvation is to become perfectly passive, indifferent, and inert like the plants. The sovereign good is the abandonment of thinking and acting.

      Such is the essence of the teachings of various Indian philosophies, especially of Buddhism, and of Schopenhauer. Praxeology does not comment upon them. It is neutral with regard to all judgments of value and the choice of ultimate ends. Its task is not to approve or to disapprove, but to describe what is.

      The subject matter of praxeology is human action. It deals with acting man, not with man transformed into a plant and reduced to a merely vegetative existence. “

    • “May I give rebutting a shot?”


      “Not really me, but no less a genius than Ludwig von Mises as long ago as 1940.”

      I would actually prefer that it was you. I have very little regard for Mises.

      I am not a radical empiricist, by the way. If you want to know what I am my two brief articles on the Mind and Knowledge should explain it.

      Mises, being heavily influenced by Kant did not have a good grasp of philosophy. For example, from what you provided he wrote: “There is no doubt that empiricism and pragmatism are right as far as they merely describe the procedures of the natural sciences.” Empiricism and pragmatism are contradictory views, and science is only empirical in the sense that what it studies is physical existence which can only be identified and known by means of objective reason. Observation only provides the ground in science, all progress is made by means of reason.

      “With regard to praxeology the errors of the philosophers are due to their complete ignorance of economic ….” Economics is not a branch of philosophy. If anything, it is a complete ignorance of philosophy that is the reason for Mises’ absurd views.

      Mises is right about this: “Only conscious states can be remembered.” Human beings can only remember what they have been conscious of. All human knowledge derived consciously by the objective rational identification of reality is stored in memory. Where would knowledge derived some other way (e.g. a prior) be stored? Mises never noticed that contradiction.

      I will not address everything wrong with this, so just a couple more:

      “There were beings which, although not yet equipped with the human faculty of reason, were endowed with some rudimentary elements of ratiocination.” Ratiocination means, “Form judgments by a process of logic; reason.” One either is capable of reason or they are not. There is no intermediate state. A chimera comprised partly of instinct and partly of reason would essentially be insane. There is no evidence for any such “beings” ever existing, except in Mises imagination. See Instinct.

      It is very bad to attempt to resolve philosophical issues on the basis of any science, especially an incomplete one like evolution. “Furthermore, there is no doubt that every human being repeats in his personal evolution not only the physiological metamorphosis from a simple cell into a highly complicated mammal organism but no less the spiritual metamorphosis from a purely vegetative and animal existence into a reasonable mind. This transformation is not completed in the prenatal life of the embryo, but only later when the newborn child step by step awakens to human consciousness. Thus every man in his early youth, starting from the depths of darkness, proceeds through various states of the mind’s logical structure.” This is one of the repudiated ideas of evolution, that embryonic development of an organism repeats the evolutionary development of that same organism. If human beings evolved, they did not evolve from tadpoles. The idea was a bad one which scientist now know, apparently some economists do not.

      “But the problem of the a priori is of a different character. It does not deal with the problem of how consciousness and reason have emerged. It refers to the essential and necessary character of the logical structure of the human mind.” What, “logical structure,” of the mind? The mind has a structure but it has nothing to do with determining how it functions, only with how one must use it.

      “The idea that A could at the same time be non-A or that to prefer A to B could at the same time be to prefer B to A is simply inconceivable and absurd to a human mind. … We cannot think of a world without causality and teleology.”

      The foundations of formal logic, the law of identity (A is A), the law of non-contradiction, (A cannot also be non-A) and the law of the excluded middle (A must either be true or false) were discovered and formulated by philosophers (Aristotle). That they are true seems obvious once one has learned them, but the vast majority of people have always and continue to think in violation of those principles all the time. But Mises seems to think it is impossible for the human mind to work in violation of these principles.

      Since his, “praxeology,” is supposedly based on the impossibility of human thought violating the, “logical structure,” of the mind, how is it possible there are so many views of economics that contradict his own. If his own views are determined by the basic principles of logic, wouldn’t other theories have to violate them? But how could they violate the minds “logical structure?” Certainly he would not grant that all theories are equally logically valid. There is nothing about the human mind that determines how an individual will think. “Man does not have the creative power to imagine categories at variance with the fundamental logical relations and with the principles of causality and teleology …” is just not true. There is a whole school of philosophy that denies the teleological called existentialism, and almost all religions contradict basic logical principles in some of their teachings.

      Now you do not have to agree with me about any of these things, Ned. I’m not trying to convince you, only showing why I find Mises totally unconvincing.

      Feel free to criticize any of my views, but do me one favor. Do it in your own words using your own thinking. I agree with H.L. Mencken:

      “The average man never really thinks from end to end of his life. The mental activity of such people is only a mouthing of cliches. What they mistake for thought is simply a repetition of what they have heard. My guess is that well over 80 percent of the human race goes through life without having a single original thought.”

      I’m not interested in what any expert or authority wrote or thought. If I were, I could read them. I want to know what you think.


    • Randy: “I have very little regard for Mises.”

      I’m sorry to hear that, and it makes me wonder how much you know about him and his accomplishments. There are a lot of people who I deem to be pretty smart folks who hold him in high regard.

      “The average man never really thinks from end to end of his life. The mental activity of such people is only a mouthing of cliches. What they mistake for thought is simply a repetition of what they have heard. My guess is that well over 80 percent of the human race goes through life without having a single original thought.”

      Randy, that’s me Mencken was writing about. With the possible exception of the subject of taxation, to which I’ve given considerable thought and study, enough to believe my perception of it and its ramifications is well beyond the average Joe’s or genius’s and includes some original thinking. So what I do to get along when it comes to other matters is rely on folks like Mencken and Mises for whatever understanding I have. I do believe I can usually differentiate between what is true and what is not.

      Mises was actively writing his many contributions to economics, sociology, philosophy , logic, epistemology and a variety of other topics at a time when many if not most of the European economists, philosophers, academics and other intellectuals had fallen for Karl Marx’s snake oil. As a result, socialism was derigueur. When Mises wrote SOCIALISM in 1920 he was virtually alone and certainly ahead of anyone in debunking it and pointing out that it if ever was implemented anywhere it would result in economic and social regression because of the fatal flaw Mises recognized and pointed out. When he wrote that book there were very few men in academia who had the intellect and the courage to speak out against the socialist tide that swept American and European campuses. Although he was recognized as one of the world’s foremost economists particularly in the area of monetary matters, when he arrived in America in 1940 his deconstruction of socialism kept him from being offered a professorship at any university.

      Randy, you ask, “[H]ow is it possible there are so many views of economics that contradict his own. If his own views are determined by the basic principles of logic, wouldn’t other theories have to violate them?” Logically, not necessarily, but that is beside the point. If Mises is contradicted by many economists at the present, we must consider that from 1920 and along time thereafter he was contradicted by virtually every economist. Today his views are rapidly gaining acceptance throughout the world, perhaps faster than those of any other economist living or dead. If the growing respect for Misian and Austrian economics proves anything, it is that Mises was ahead of his time and the science is just now catching up. But the point is, and based on your two articles, “Mind” and “Knowledge,” I suspect you will agree, that the popularity of one’s theories does not determine whether they are right or wrong.

      I don’t have the time nor the intellectual capacity to try to dispute your several objections to Mises position on the a prior as stated in Human Action beyond saying I found his analysis more persuasive than yours. (He had the advantage of a near 1000 pages.) In other words, I think Mises is right and you are wrong. It took me three readings of Human Action to comprehend it reasonably well, and I still don’t think I grasped his discussion of the analytical tool he describes as “the evenly rotating economy,” so I’m a bit over my ordinary human head in trying to defend or explain Mises, which is why I quoted him rather than express my own objections to your article, which are mainly derived from Mises and Hoppe.) But its been fun and I thank you for your thoughtful response to my comment.

    • @yujiri

      “You can have thought and knowledge without language.”

      Please explain that to me without using language. If you cannot explain it to someone else, how do you explain it to yourself?

      “Pay close attention sometime and you’ll realize I’m right.”

      I’ve been paying attention for over 60 years, and when you have, you’ll discover the only real thoughts you have are verbal. Feelings, imagination, impressions are not thought.

    • “Please explain that to me without using language.”
      I didn’t say I could explain it without using language; explaining to others is what language is for.

      “If you cannot explain it to someone else, how do you explain it to yourself?”
      The real question is, “if you cannot explain it to yourself, how do you explain it to others?” Throughout my daily life I frequently encounter things I can understand myself but not explain to others.

      “Feelings, imagination, impressions are not thought.”
      Exactly. Imagination is what you’re doing when you ‘think’ words to yourself. What you’re experiencing there isn’t the actual thought. The reason it’s so hard to separate the concepts is that you start ‘thinking’ the words at the same time you think the thought itself, which is what leads most people to believe they are the same thing.

    • I would agree Evin…

      A so called “word” is a sophisticated “grunt”, that is attached with a meaning/experience.

      If I’m a caveman, I can learn and know I should not jump a cliff without having a certain grunt to go along with it. I do not need words to understand my world, only to share it with another by me encoding a meaning/experience into a grunt, and another decoding the meaning of the grunt ~ correctly that is.

    • Randy…totally agree with your “logic and reasoning”…and your conclusion if what is “true”.

      A few minor elaborations in (…) on your last comment:

      “Objective reason is not easy (inside a subjective mind…where there are no rules and anything can be), and takes time and tremendously ruthless attention to insure, (by observation of physical nature, its absolute rule, and its demonstration by cause and effect, to “know” what can be, and what cannot) that none of one’s (subjective beliefs) are contradictory, and all conform to the (reality of nature).

      But then, why does it even matter if what you know is true?

      Sweet survival…only to point out, that would be physical survival by the way.

    • Randall,
      You could have knowledge without language. We have already discussed it. An example:

      A person can discern hundreds of nuances of colors. Professionals even more. But we have names only for a few colors. Still, a professional can say that this color is not like the other, which is supposed to be mixed (created). He can not express his knowledge in words because they are missing (do not exist) but it is real and can be proven to exist.

      Another example: Please, describe how you are able to keep balance. Babies can not do it properly. They learn a little by little. But even grown-ups can not describe exactly how they do it. It is some delicate balance of the muscles of the body. Still, they can learn it, although they can not objectively describe it.

      Our views on Mises’s praxeology seem to be very similar however ( still, I do not claim to understand praxeology well).

    • Youilly, just wanted to comment on praxeology. These comments of Mises from the quotes I copied and pasted above may be pertinent:

      “The treatment accorded to the problem of causality in the last decades has been, due to a confusion brought about by some eminent physicists, rather unsatisfactory. We may hope that this unpleasant chapter in the history of philosophy will be a warning to future philosophers.”

      “Mechanicalism proves to be so satisfactory a principle of conduct that people finally believe it capable of solving all the problems of thought and scientific research. Materialism and panphysicalism proclaim mechanicalism as the essence of all knowledge and the experimental and mathematical methods of the natural sciences as the sole scientific mode of thinking.”

      Because, I suppose, the so-called “scientific method” has proven itself so effective in many scientific disciplines, I have noticed that accepting Mises’ praxeology, perhaps because of its reliance on the a priori and objections to that such as those cited here by Randy, comes very hard to those trained as physicists and engineers whose educations and careers have been predicated entirely on the scientific method, which has to be abandoned to practice praxeolgy. Mises, btw, initially referred to what he later came to call praxeology as sociology. If, as Mises insists, praxiology is the science of human action, the best developed branch of which is economics, the scientific method is in apropos to praxeology because human beings won’t hold still and thus their actions cannot be subjected to experimentation, although the Nazis and other brutes have tried–with less than no success. In his book, ECONOMIC SCIENCE AND THE AUSTRIAN METHOD, Hans-Hermann Hoppe wrote:

      “It is this assessment of economics as an a priori science, a science whose propositions can be given a rigorous, logical justification, which distinguishes…Misians from all other current economic schools. All others consider economics as an as an empirical science like physics, which develops hypotheses that require continual empirical testing. And they regard as dogmatic and unscientific Mises’ view that economic theorems…can be given definite proof, such that it can be shown to be plainly contradictory to deny their validity…And what is behind Mises’ explicit reconstruction of this difference as one between an a priori science and an a posteriori science?” It was the recognition that the process of validation…is different in one field of inquiry than the other.”

      Hoppe’s book is essentially an elaboration and somewhat an extension of Mises thinking regarding praxeology. It is also dismissive of the scientific method as the only valid method of obtaining knowledge. On this note Hoppe says, “I would like to challenge the very starting point of the empiricists’ philosophy. There are several conclusive refutations of empiricism. I will show the empiricists’ distinction between empirical and analytical knowledge to be plainly false and self-contradictory.” IMHO, Hoppe’s book is the best resource for acquiring an understanding of praxeology. It is also available from Mises.org in hard copies, pdf or ebook. https://mises.org/library/economic-science-and-austrian-method

    • Ned, sorry, but this thinking is beyond flawed, and is why it just as over-complicated and confusing as when the smartest among us attempted to explain how the sun and stars revolved around earth. It observes “human phenomenon” the same way and attempts to explain them by inventing its own behavioral science. Pulling “value” out of “feelings” as if there are no absolute rules of physical reality in which humans must act.

      But then again I can’t blame them, when you consider even the smartest physicists are doing nothing more then cutting thing in half, and collecting more data, until the halfs that’s left are so small, they seem to comes in and out of existence.

      But, still with all this knowledge, still no wisdom to be found.

      It’s just awful.

    • Hi Youliy,

      I’m not sure I mentioned in this article that knowledge requires language. It does, and it refers only to intellectual knowledge, which I described briefly in the article, “Knowledge.”

      In that article I wrote, “In every day speech the words ‘know’ and ‘knowledge’ are used to identify many different things, such as developed skills and abilities (he knows how to drive, she knows how to type, …)” which would certainly apply to “Babies [learning] little by little,” how to use the sense of balance. Developed physical skills are certainly not intellectual knowledge.

      “A person can discern hundreds of nuances of colors. Professionals even more. But we have names only for a few colors. Still, a professional can say that this color is not like the other, which is supposed to be mixed (created). He can not express his knowledge in words because they are missing (do not exist) but it is real and can be proven to exist.”

      That is simply not true. There is no color which cannot be identified verbally. One who attempts to identify them may be ignorant of how they can be identified, but someone who truly understands color can identify any color, whether they can actually discern them or not, because they can be identified in terms of their wave-length in the entire visual spectrum.

      Why would you want to believe there could be knowledge without language? Here’s a thought experiment. If you know something, how would you go about communicating that knowledge to someone else without language? If you cannot communicate it to someone else without language, how do you communicate it (think it) to yourself?


    • Randall,
      With regard to “intellectual knowledge” you may be right. It depends how you define it.

      About the colors however you are not right. Yes, it is true that there is no color which could not be identified verbally or through wavelength measurement. The problem is that this is not done, i.e. there are no names for all colors. When there are no names then these colors can not be communicated verbally or in text, because language requires words. It has just proven useless to name more colors than are named at present. Not to mention that you can not name all nuances because they are infinite. Still, professionals can work with thousands of colors without naming them. For instance: the people responsible for dyeing of textile.

      ” If you know something, how would you go about communicating that knowledge to someone else without language? ”

      People do it constantly. For instance by watching other people do some particular action and learning, or by discerning their facial expressions. In fact there is a whole body of language which is not communicated by means of language. Part of the culture is transferred in this way. Children learn by observing how their parents behave (actions, body-language, etc.). And yes, they learn by listening what their parents say, but this is not all. Culture is something extremely complex and can not be transferred by language alone.

    • Youliy, believe whatever you want about knowledge. I’m not trying to convince you. But I have to comment on this.

      “For instance: the people responsible for dyeing of textile.”

      You don’t think they have a name for every dye they use and for the colors they produce mixing them? I worked in the paint business for a few years, and I guarantee they have a word or verbal description for every formula. I’ve made an alsmost exhaustive study of color, especially as related to computers. Believe me, there is not a single color for which there is not a verbal description possible. The color spectrum is analog and infinitely divisible, but the human eye is not capable of distinguishing the finest possible differences. There is virtually no point in naming what cannot possibly perceived.

      I wrote and designed all the following pages. I think you’ll find them interesting.

      HTML Colors

      HTML Color Tools

      About Colors

      HTML Color Names


    • @nednetterville

      Ned. You are right to presume that people coming from the exact sciences have a problem with praxeology. I do not claim to understand well what it does and how it functions, but I have noticed that many people here believe fervently that what is supposed to be proven praxeologically must be true irrespective of factual evidence. I definitely have a problem to accept theories that produce results which do not correspond to the realty. And contrary to many Austrian school supporters do not feel obliged to claim that Mises is always right because he is great. What history shows is that people like Mises have some great accomplishments but they typically make some mistake somewhere, which another scholar after them corrects.

      Here is an example: Mises states that only things which have been previously used in exchange can become money. This is supposed to be a theorem and it is supposed to be proven praxeologically. The problem with it is that it does not correspond to realty. I need only one counter-example to invalidate it and this is Bitcoin. It exist and is being used as money. It has never had any prior use and can not have one because it is an abstraction, invented just for the purpose of being money.

      There are many other points in the Austrian economics field which are simply wrong because they contradict the reality. And what do the Austrian supporters say? ” The reality can not invalidate our theory because it is praxeologically proven!”. Why do I need a theory which does not describe the reality? What should I do with it? Theories are supposed to help us understand what happens around us and help us but this one does not.

      My general problem is the following: There are rules of logic and these rules are valid, have always been valid and will be valid. And when I see that a theory violates them for whatever reason I ditch the theory. It does not matter if the theory is supposed to be “praxeologically” proven because praxeology itself must be based on logic in order to function. So, most likely the praxeological proof has been wrong. Just to mention that people who say that something is praxeologically proven typically do not supply the proof itself. They just blindly rely on Mises. I have always wondered why the hell people need idols such as Mises? Can’t they just accept that such great people are fallible, that may be they are not always right?

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    • “There is no such thing as rights. No one has a claim on anything in life that they have not produced, earned, or merited by their own effort.”

      Rights, logically conceived, are precisely those claims on any and everything in life that people have produced, earned, or merited by their own effort. Anytime you are either limiting or liberating your own or others’ behavior, it is done within a rights-based structure. I believe this is unavoidable as I wrote here: https://ovp.liberty.me/rights-dont-exist-bitch-please/

    • “There is no such thing as rights. No one has a claim on anything in life that they have not produced, earned, or merited by their own effort. The pursuit of rights is an immoral pursuit of the unearned and undeserved, as well as a huge waste of one’s resources.”

      Doesn’t this imply “self-ownership” or individual agency as the only right?

    • Skyler, if you want to call what an individual has earned or produced by their own effort “rights” you may. It’s a free country (well, it used to be pretty free) and you can use language any way you choose. For everyone else, however, those things are called property or wealth.

      “Anytime you are either limiting or liberating your own or others’ behavior, it is done within a rights-based structure.”

      I”m not sure what that is supposed to mean. It sounds like academia-speak. What would a “rights-based structure,” be? As for my own behavior, it’s just my behaior. As for other’s behavior, anything anyone does to either limit or liberate it is intereference in the life of another and is immoral.

      I have no interest in changing your mind, Skyler, or anyone else’s. You at least have the comfort of knowing most peole agree with you. Almost everyone believes in rights. I know it will never do you or anyone else any good, and may cost you more time and consternation than necessary, but everybody has to live their life as they see fit. I wish you well.

    • Of course, I’m not interested in convincing anyone of anything either. In fact, I oppose conviction! 🙂

      I just see no reason why “rights” can’t be shorthand for what I’ve described. “Rights” can be shorthand for other things, such as legal privileges, but I see no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water. You claim property and wealth. Those presuppose rights, too, because you consider them *yours*. Again, it’s shorthand, and just because people muddy the water doesn’t mean we should proclaim “water doesn’t exist!”, in my humble opinion.

    • Good Skylar.

      “You claim property and wealth”

      If you read my article I said there is one correct meaning of the word “right.” Not “rights.” One has a right (a moral claim to) whatever he has earned, or purchased, or acquired honestly. It does not mean I have any moral claim on that wealth being protected. That’s up to me. If all you mean by rights is that to which I have a moral claim, and nothing more, fine. But I do not know anyone else who doesn’t believe rights means they have a claim on having what is theirs protected in some way.

      I just do not see how there can be a moral basis for tsuch a claim.

    • @bitvictor

      I doesn’t imply anything other than what it says. If you want to call the fact your life is your own to live as you choose a, “right,” feel free to do so, but why use another word for what is simply stated without it? And if you use it that way, it won’t be what anyone else means by a right, will it?

    • @saunders Yeah, I’m not sure. Perhaps we are quibbling over the idea of rights in a legal context vs the broader social construct. I agree that “Rights” as a concept is as much of a fiction as the State, but how else would I call the ability to live my life as a I deem?

    • Call it rights, if you want to, Kevin. I’m not in the business of telling other people what to call things. There might actually be a use for a term that identifies the fact one’s life is their own to live as they choose. Some people use the word autonomy.

    • God endows us with eyes for seeing, and if we stare into the sun, poker our eye on a stick running through the woods, or a blow from an attacker, then our eye and our sight no longer persist.

      In order to persist, eyes, provided by the Creator, do require some effort to maintain, do they not?

      Forming an organization to protect and maintain eyesight does not mean eyes came from that organization.

      Offering to protect the eyesight of others in exchange for goods and services of equal agreed value, doesn’t take away eyesight does it?

      So one can outsource protection of one’s eyesight, to a certain extent. One can buy safety glasses, but one still cannot fully rely upon another to protect their eyesight.cla

    • @heal

      Benjamin, I recently had cataract surgery, so I agree one must do what they can to preserve and protect what they have. For the life of me, I have no idea what that has to do with “rights?”

      Perhaps my age is catching up with me. There may be nothing wrong with what you said. Can you explain a little better for an old man how what you said pertains to rights?

    • @saunders You make a point that seems to beg the question that “If Rights are God given then why form a government to protect rights?”
      I am pointing out an example of something God-given that God does not 100% actively maintain, eyesight, as a metaphor for rights.

      I completely agree with your criticism, that people use the Term “Rights” not as a plural form of the term “right” where the term “right” means an exclusive claim. But people lump things that they want under the term “Rights.”

      If a “right” is an exclusive claim, then “rights” are simply a set of multiple exclusive claims. For those that agree that each person has a “right” to their body and thus the labor it produces, and thus the good and services resulting from that labor, then everything else logically consistent with that presupposition results from that one “right” and could be called collectively “rights.”

      As you mention many people and organizations use the term “Rights” to include claims on other peoples goods and services, which in turn are claims on their labor, which are in turn claims on their body.

      Those that do not agree that a person has an exclusive claim to their body aka, a “right” to their body essentially self refute their argument. How can they even possess and argument if they do not even possess their body?

    • “I am pointing out an example of something God-given that God does not 100% actively maintain, eyesight, as a metaphor for rights.”

      Yes, I understood your argument. It is a good one. (I think you are misusing the fallacy of “begging the question,” however. You might want to check that out. I did not assume the conclusion in the premise, did I? Please don’t take this seriously, because everyone misuses “begging the question.”)

      Since you obviously understand the issue, and what you like to identify as rights is only what one has a moral claim to, I can see no harm in it. I would not do it, because I do not think anyone else identifies rights that way.

      Just one point. When I say one has a moral claim to something, I do not mean it is some kind of legal claim or something anybody or anything else is required to recognize or protect, I only mean I continue to be a moral individual if and when I am required to protect what is mine. The morality pertains only to me, not to others. Converesley, I do not have a moral claim on anyone else’s person or property, not because I recognize their moral claim, but because I cannot remain moral if I seek or attempt to acquire what I have not produced, earned or merited by my own effort. Again the morality only pertains to me, not to others.

      What do you think?

    • Perhaps “preferences” would be a less wobbly term instead of “rights.”

      The entire world history is an example of how “rights” are never acknowledged. But preferences have been shifting toward a desire for more freedom over the course of millennia.


    • @richardmasta

      Hi Richard,

      I certainly would object to the word, “preferences,” though I don’t think it relfects what most people intend by “rights.” Whatever you call them, so long as every individual earns their own, it would at least be moral.


    • @saunders fair enough on the vocabulary discrepancy.

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