Tag Archives | Anarchy

From the Cat to the Crescent

On Wednesday I participated in a Philosophy Club panel on “Politics and Philosophy” at the Coffee Cat; I argued that the anti-authoritarian structure of philosophical inquiry made philosophy into an anarchist enterprise.

Tomorrow morning I speak at the Students for Liberty New Orleans Regional Conference on “Liberty Through the Lens of Virtue.” Longtime readers can guess the general content: virtue ethics, classical eudaimonism, unity of virtue, thick libertarianism.

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Send Molinari/C4SS/ALL to Libertopia!

usendus

Libertopia 2014 is coming up, Nov. 13-16. We – that’s the unholy triumvirate of the Molinari Institute, the Center for a Stateless Society, and the Alliance of the Libertarian Left (specifically the ALL Distro) – are hoping, as in years past, to have a presence at the conference, but we’re a bit tighter for finances than usual.

$400 gets us a booth for literature, outreach, and subversive convo; if you’d like to make a contribution toward this worthy goal, please visit our GoFundMe page.

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Life in a Northern Town

On September 8-10 I was in Manchester for a MANCEPT Workshop on the current state of libertarian political philosophy. Organiser Andreas Wolkenstein put an interesting group together; one of the participants was left-libertarian Billy Christmas, who will also be on the Molinari Society’s panel on privilege in December.

My own MANCEPT talk was essentially an historical introduction to left-libertarianism; I’ve posted the abstract previously, and I now post my powerpoint presentation as well.

In honour of Manchester’s industrial heritage (and also because it was cheap), I stayed at a former warehouse converted into a hotel. (It’s industrial! It’s radical!) I also enjoyed dining on the Curry Mile, a section of Middle Eastern and South Asian restaurants; Mughli was especially good.

William Morris woodcut

Touristic informations – Mancunian edition:

To catch a bus, it is not sufficient to stand by the correct bus stop with an expression of expectation. The bus will whiz right by you. You need to flag it down like a taxi.

Also the price for the same ride will be different every day.

In London, vendors are familiar with American credit cards; but they’re a puzzle for vendors in Manchester. They look for the chip instead of the strip.

The Lebanese version of baklava has halvah in it.

After the conference I squeezed in a couple of days in London: caught a beer at the Harp with Sam Bowman and Ben Southwood; visited the William Morris Museum; visited the graves of Herbert Spencer and Douglas Adams at Highgate Cemetery; walked around on Hampstead Heath; and visited Forbidden Planet and the National Gallery.

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We’re In Ur Computerz, Messing With Ur Anarkeh

Students for Liberty is (are?) offering two upcoming Virtual Reading Groups: one led by Kevin Vallier and myself, on (mostly) Rothbard’s Ethics of Liberty, and one led by Charles Johnson, on (mostly) Markets Not Capitalism.

Each meets online every other week for about 90 minutes – the Rothbard one on alternate Tuesdays starting September 8th, and the Markets Not Capitalism one on alternate Mondays starting September 7th. (I’ll miss the first meeting of Kevin’s and my VRG, since I’ll be MANCEPTing in Manchester; but I’ll be back from then on.)

The deadline for applying is August 31st. Join us! More details here.

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Cordial and Sanguine, Part 63: From the Unthinking Depths

[cross-posted at BHL]

Mike Munger maintains that libertarians should stop being “reflexively opposed to government”; should recognise that “in some instances, it is possible that the State is useful for advancing liberty”; and should give “empirical claims about consequences … a central place in the debate.” But he warns that this will require libertarians to “actually … think about stuff,” a requirement that he suggests will be unwelcome to his “Austrian colleagues.”

As one of his unthinking Austrian colleagues, let me offer three points in rebuttal:

1. The state is anti-liberty (and anti-equality) not just in its consequences but also inherently. After all, the state is by definition a violent monopolist. This isn’t some eccentric definition that libertarians came up with; this definition, or some variant thereof, is the standard mainstream sociological account. If the state claims for itself certain rights of action that it forcibly denies to others, then freedom of competition and equality of legal status are already curtailed in virtue of that fact alone, regardless of what further consequences this institution has.

2. As regards the state’s consequences, however, the Austrian tradition has never opposed empirical research. The traditional Austrian position (not universally accepted even among Austrians, however) is that the principles of economics – what Misesians call the province of praxeology – are a priori rather than empirical. (I defend this position here.) But the application of those principles to particular contingent circumstances – what Misesians call the province of thymology – has never been regarded by any Austrians as a priori. Mises and Rothbard are perfectly clear on this, as is Hayek in The Counter-revolution of Science.
Empirical methods are perfectly in order in determining which principles apply to particular situations, and where and how they do so; admittedly the Austrian conception of empirical method, with its debt to the Verstehen tradition, is somewhat broader than, say, the mere use of statistics, but it does include the latter. And in fact, accordingly, Austrians have been doing empirical work all along, as is obvious from the briefest glance at Austrian publications. (See, e.g., the archives of the QJAE and the RAE.) To suggest that Austrians have simply been sitting on their butts intoning “the state is bad, apodictically bad” and offering no evidence, is to fly in the face of … well, empirical evidence.

3. Mike closes by urging libertarians to “attract people who mistrust concentrations of power in any setting, whether corporate or governmental.” On this point I thoroughly agree with him (hence my enthusiastic support for the work of the Center for a Stateless Society and the Alliance of the Libertarian Left, and for writers like Kevin A. Carson); and this is indeed an area where the Austrian tradition is sometimes (not always) lacking. But surely the way for libertarians, Austrian or otherwise, to win over those who mistrust concentrations of power both corporate and governmental is to increase our critical scrutiny of corporate power, not to relax our critical scrutiny of governmental power. After all, empirical research – including Austrian empirical research – has shown that these two forms of power are mutually reinforcing far more than they are mutually antagonistic.

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