Tag Archives | Molinari/C4SS

Plenty of Room to Swing a Rope

Last weekend I was at the SFL Oklahoma Regional. This was, I believe, the first SFL Regional to be specifically focused on anarchism. I spoke about the “final arbiter” objection; here are my powerpoints.

This was also, I think, the largest concentration of left-libertarians at any conference I’ve been to – so it was great to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. Here’s the main group photo from the conference:


And here’s the photo of just the left-libertarians:

We are everywhere, we are Hydra.

Oh, in other news, I’ve got two more columns up in my Libertarianism.org series on ancient Greece: one on public-choice aspects of Athenian law and one on political ideas in Greek tragedy.
Greek Tragedy

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Rocky Mountain, Hi

I’m back from the Denver Regional, which was fun; here are the powerpoints from my prison- abolition talk.

denver-horizonIt was nice seeing a western skyline again – mountains on the horizon, different kinds of weather visible in different directions. Eastern skylines are generally so claustrophobic.

Tomorrow at 9 Eastern, C4SS comrade Cory Massimino is interviewing me; catch it live.

This coming weekend: the Oklahoma Regional, with an anarchy focus and a large Molinari/C4SS presence.

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What I’m Doing This Month

1. I’m giving another virtual reading group for SFL this month, this one on different approaches (utilitarian, natural-law, eudaimonist, etc.) to libertarian ethical foundations. The first session is this Thursday, Nov. 5th, at 9pm Eastern, 8 Central.

2. This coming weekend I’ll be speaking at the Nov. 7th SFL Denver Regional.

3. The weekend after that I’ll be speaking at the (rather Molinari/C4SS-intensive) Nov. 14th SFL Oklahoma Regional.

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What I Did Last Month

I’ve been incommunibloggo for over a month now – partly because of a more-hectic-than-usual schedule and partly because, thanks to a mandatory “upgrade” to AT&T U-verse (may the gods curse it forever), my home internet connection is now much less reliable than before. So here’s what I’ve been doing.

1. At the beginning of the month I headed to Reykavík (by way of an interminable layover in Toronto) for the October 3rd ESFL Regional, where I gave a talk on left-libertarianism. Unfortunately, my luggage didn’t make it out of Toronto, so I had to spend the entire weekend without a change of clothes. But it was great to finally get to Iceland! I also got to meet some members of the Icelandic Pirate Party.

My hosts gave me a tour that included Thingvellir (the spot where two continental plates meet in a craggy ravine, as well as where the medieval Althing or open-air parliament met during the stateless period – and the spot where criminals were ceremonially drowned in the post-stateless period), Geysir (the granddaddy after which all other geysers are named), and the beautiful Gullfoss waterfall. I’ll post pics later (the ones below aren’t mine).





There are few trees in Iceland, but the ground, though strewn with volcanic rock, is also covered with low-lying foliage in brilliant fall colours. They also took me to Eftsi-Dalur II, a farmhouse-turned-restaurant near Geysir where the large picture window in the ice cream parlour offers a view directly into the barn with the cows.

Other restaurants I can recommend, in downtown Reykavík, include the Grey Cat Café (for breakfast) and Sjávargrillidh (for dinner). On my own I also went to the top of Hallgrímskirkja, a church whose columns are modeled on the natural basalt columns of the Icelandic coast.


The road leading up to the church is painted in rainbow stripes – half gay pride celebration and half Bifröst reference.


Travel note: the hot water in Iceland is drawn from the thermal springs, which means that hot water from the tap smells of sulphur – rather disconcerting when taking a shower. The cold water, though, is pure and delicious.

2. Two weeks later I drove down to Gainesville for the October 17th SFL Florida Regional. I gave a talk on anarchism (powerpoints here). There were three other Molinari/C4SS comrades there: Cory Massimino, Kelly Vee, and Tom Knapp (the last two I met for the first time in realspace).

Tom, me, Cory, Kelly

Tom, me, Cory, Kelly

It was my first visit to Gainesville. Their downtown area is cool, while the vibe in the Bagels and Noodles restaurant feels like an actual college town in a way that Auburn seldom does.

3. I’ve had a C4SS op-ed on racial bias in juror selection, and three more installments of my series for Libertarianism.org on ancient Greece: one on economic freedom in Athens, one on the role of women, slaves, and immigrants in the Athenian banking system, and one on the private provision of public services in Athens.

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The Coming Anarchy

Today’s the 13th anniversary of the Molinari Institute. Coming up in the next few months from our fledgling publishing program: my Foundations of Ethics lectures, some 19th-century libertarian classics, and the first issue of the Molinari Review.

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Have Republicans Learned to Love the Berlin Wall?

[cross-posted at C4SS]

Anderson Cooper recently complained, on his July 22nd CNN show, that presidential candidate Donald Trump has thus far offered “not one shred of proof” for his repeated claim that “the Mexican government is behind the illegal immigration” and are “the ones pushing … these people over the border.” At which point Cooper’s guest Jeffrey Lord, a former White House political director under Ronald Reagan, and currently a Trump supporter, offered a fairly astonishing reply:

“You know, we talked about a wall on the American side in terms of keeping people out of the United States; but we all remember the Berlin Wall. And in the Berlin Wall situation, that was built to keep people in. Now, are we being told here that the Mexican government can’t somehow find a way to keep their own people from leaving the country illegally? I mean, it defies common sense. So I think what he’s saying makes a great deal of common sense, that this is happening repeatedly. The Mexican government is clearly doing nothing to stop it. … I mean, to do it intentionally can mean a lot of things. It’s not like they need to give them information, a slip to leave; it’s that they just don’t guard the border … and know that they’re going to escape, and … so they go.”

Yes, you read that right. A former White House official and Reagan aide is demanding that Mexico maintain a Berlin Wall to keep its own citizens from escaping.


While restrictions on the right to enter a country are widely accepted, restrictions on the right to exit a country are usually regarded as a tool of dictatorship. Lord’s own former boss, Ronald Reagan, famously gave a speech in front of the Berlin Wall in 1987, condemning the structure as “a gash of barbed wire,” “a restriction on the right to travel,” and “an instrument to impose upon ordinary men and women the will of a totalitarian state” – and concluding with a rousing cry to “tear down this wall!” But apparently some Republicans are learning to make their peace with the idea of an Iron Curtain.

Oddly enough, though, Jeffrey Lord is actually right on the central point, though he draws the wrong conclusion from it. The assumption of a deep moral difference between restrictions on entry and restrictions on exit is indeed unjustified.

Those who try to distinguish the two often point to the analogy of private property: I have no right to keep you prisoner by forbidding you to exit my property, but I have every right to forbid you to enter.

But the analogy is a bad one. The government of a country, dictatorships aside, is not the owner of all the land within its borders. That land, or most of it, is divided into privately owned parcels. So when the government restricts entry, it is acting as a third party to forbid immigrant A to enter the property of citizen B, even if citizen B wishes to welcome immigrant A as a guest, a customer, an employee, or a tenant. What difference does it make whether this restriction on travel is being imposed by A’s government or by B’s? In either case the restriction is an invasion of the liberty of both A and B.

So Lord is right: immigration restrictions and emigration restrictions are morally on a par. But the right conclusion to draw is not that both are justified, but rather that both are unjustified. A Berlin Wall does not become civilized or tolerable merely because it is run by the government on one side of the wall instead of on the other. National borders are a perpetual human rights violation, and every restriction on migration is one more Berlin Wall.

Mr. Lord, Mr. Trump, tear down this border.

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