Becoming more aware of the intricacies of the problems that beset us all with grief can provide an increased utilitarian value. Hopefully, by understanding the 20,000,000,000 details of how it all hangs together, perhaps real solutions can be derived and implemented (or at least field-tested and weeded out). However, preaching to the choir and reinforcing already accepted dogma is not at all productive, and can even lead to the snake eating its own tale, as represented by the Ouroboros.
“[I]t is designed to introduce to the busy individual the essence of libertarianism…[i]f one reads one article, slowly and carefully, per day, by the end of 30 days one should have a very strong grasp of libertarian principles and a basic understanding of Austrian economics.”
Not only was the basic claim of spoon feeding bite-sized portions of data appealing to me in terms of it’s proven utility in persuading individuals to seriously consider becoming libertarians, but this specific list was open to testing by anyone. So, I decided to give it whirl, and here are my findings.
Some of this material seems to be simply reinforcement of libertarian philosophy. Henry Hazlitt wanted libertarian apologists to become dedicated to the intellectual defense of liberty in specific areas, whether they be monetary policy, certain kinds of taxes, or overbearing bureaucratic regulations. Lew Rockwell seems to think that since John Flynts’ “Eight Marks of Fascism” has been satisfied by the current United Socialist States of America, then what we need to do is to encourage an end to nation-states. My favorite Murray Rothbard article was his one on how he would prefer political dissidents to be “radical” rather than anarchistic, even if they were of the minarchist variety.
Most of these articles, however, appear to be cheerleading for the Austrian school. Ludwig von Mises asserts that economics determines all of the events in history. David Gordon ridicules Tim Jackson’s notion that it is better to become less productive. Robert Higgs details his conversion to Austrian economics based largely on its independence from slavishly depending on government data sets regarding alleged economic activity (most of which are phony anyway, like the CPI). Wilheim Ropke postulates that private property ownership provides an automatic order to society. Yuri Maltsev says that socialized medicine is bad, especially because of his own experiences with it; Rothbard agrees with Maltsev on this point.
Speaking of Rothbard, a whole slew of his articles that make up this reading list are, in large part, focused on economics. He explains why the business cycle itself is the cause behind recessions and depressions alike. Next, he shifts the focus away from various typologies of taxes to the actual amounts they siphon away from the free market. Mr. Rothbard lays out the methodology of praxeology in a simple, easy to read format. Agreeing with Lysander Spooner, Rothbard describes why some behaviors that are considered culturally as vices are in fact not criminal in anyway, shape, or form. Given the fraudulent practice of fractional reserve lending, Rothbard wanted the entire national debt repudiated, seeing that it was simply nothing more than a fake debt that is illusorily owed to the international banking cartel. Rothbard denigrates the false notion of a “public sector” in the first place, since it connotes a productive capacity that it just simply does not possess. Rothbard also demonstrates how the increases in the government mandated “minimum wage” causes a concurrent increase in unemployment.
Considering all the positive aspects of these articles, some are hard to swallow. Walter Block asserts that slumlords provide a valuable service to their tenants and in actuality suffer from the effects of government intervention. Rothbard postulates how water can be privately owned. To top it all off, Mr. Rockwell champions popular education of market processes, but then muddies the water with exalting the corporatist Wal-Mart as if it functions on free market principles instead of by government privilege. Maybe I am misunderstanding these claims, but then again, my capitalistic mindset cringes at the notion that oligopolies are somehow “free market,” that an absurdly abundant natural resource is somehow treated as if it were scarce, and that sleazy con men are somehow providing valuable services. As a final caveat, Wenzel screwed up the hyperlink to Mises’ article, “On Equality and Inequality;” his link instead directs you towards Rothbard’s article on the basics of praxeology. Mises’ inequality article is located here at the Mises Institute.
What really grinds my gears is that besides Hazlitt and Rockwell’s suggestions that libertarians need to become more “educated” so they can proselytize to the unconverted mainline public, there is no other recommended methodology that is actually realistic at securing our Liberties. For instance, only the Congress can repudiate the national debt, only your local city council can abolish the government indoctrination centers in your area, and only your state legislature can nullify ObamaCare… NOT YOU! The kickoff for any sort of these kinds of remedies intrinsically relies on some kind of government agent (or batch of them) to actually initiate an action that will then cause a domino effect that the free market can capitalize on (pun intended).
Until that happens, we might as well be flying in circles around the airport of Liberty, wistfully hoping that the pilots will actually land the damn plane already. Metaphorically speaking, responsible adults would recognize that the government pilots are their greatest threat, and thus would take the initiative by attempting to escape the plane themselves, encouraging the rest of the passengers to go with them. Even if no one else wanted to go, there is no reason why you personally shouldn’t try to escape the plane of Statism by grabbing a parachute and skydiving your way to freedom. With any luck, you’ll even survive the entire ordeal with nary a scratch. Of course, the problem with metaphors is that they can’t take into consideration all the relevant multifaceted variables, but I hope you (more or less) get the general idea.
Overall, the best utility of this reading list would be best applied towards the brand new, green-horned, Ricky recruits who are not only predisposed towards libertarian philosophy, but also just ignorant enough to the degree that the material presented here appears to them to be true revelations, as opposed to the same old drudgery of whining about the State that I’ve been accustomed to for some years now. Though Rockwell’s article on moral courage using the turbulent histories of Hazlett and Mises was very enlightening for me, it suffers from the sin of misplaced emphasis in that not all truths need to be spoken regardless of the context (admittedly, this a relatively minor point with regards to the moral of the story). Like most of the alternative media, there was virtually no think-tank styled brainstorming or field-testing of anything that could be used to manifest Liberty of either the laissez-faire minarchist or even anarcho-capitalist variety.