Archive | March, 2008

Peek Beneath the Hood

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

Who (probably) said this, in 1957?

The central question that emerges … is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail numerically? The sobering answer is Yes – the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists. … [T]he South’s premises are correct … It is more important for the community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.

See the answer.

Garden of Forking Spooners

The Mises Institute has re-released a 1972 Rothbard-edited collection of Spooner’s writings titled Let’s Abolish Government. So how does it compare with George Smith’s 1992 collection The Lysander Spooner Reader (now sadly out of print)?

Apart from the Rothbard collection’s containing facsimiles of the originals (greater guarantee of accuracy, but also harder to read), the main difference is in contents – overlapping but distinct:

Lysander Spooner Reader Let’s Abolish Government
Tucker’s Obituary for Spooner  
Natural Law  
Vices Are Not Crimes  
Essay on the Trial by Jury Essay on the Trial by Jury
No Treason No. I  
No Treason No. II  
No Treason No. VI: The Constitution of No Authority No Treason No. VI: The Constitution of No Authority
Letter to Thomas F. Bayard Letter to Thomas F. Bayard
  Letter to Grover Cleveland
  Essay by James J. Martin

So the only piece that Let’s Abolish Government has that the Reader doesn’t have (apart from the Martin essay) is the Letter to Grover Cleveland. On the other hand, the latter is arguably Spooner’s principal manifesto, providing an overview of his whole outlook. 

Rand Together

Interesting article today from Justin Raimondo on his youthful meeting with Ayn Rand. (Conical hat tip to LRC.) I must Randgeekily (not to be confused with Radgeekily) point out, however, that he has confused We the Living’s Andrei Taganov with Leo Kovalensky, and The Fountainhead’s Cortland Homes with the Stoddard Home for Subnormal Children.

(P.S. – Raimondo notes that in his teenage years his “own sense of diplomacy, and basic human interaction, was somewhat retarded as a result” of Rand’s influence. Thank goodness he got over the diplomacy thing!)

Celebrity Death Match: Bastiat vs. Proudhon

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

In 1849, France’s leading spokesman for libertarian “capitalism” (Frédéric Bastiat) and France’s leading spokesman for libertarian “socialism” (Pierre-Joseph Proudhon) exchanged a series of public letters debating the nature and legitimacy of charging interest on loans.

Bastiat and Proudhon In 1879, American individualist anarchist Benjamin Tucker translated most of the letters, which were then published serially in the Irish World and American Industrial Liberator – whereupon, apart from a few excerpts, they vanished henceforth from human sight.

I’ve managed to track down a copy of the Irish World in microform and transcribe Tucker’s translation. Where the microform was too dark to read (it was really a lousy copy) I made educated guesses based on the French original, marking my conjectures in brackets. I’ve also translated two additional letters not included in Tucker’s translation, and thrown in an anonymous public-domain translation of Bastiat’s earlier criticism of Proudhon (which was what sparked off the debate to begin with). As of today, the whole thing is now, finally, online as The Bastiat-Proudhon Debate on Interest.

Most of this debate has not been widely available in English since 1879; and parts of it (including Bastiat’s final reply to Proudhon) have never been translated into English until now.

So who wins? Well, in my view, neither one – the two thinkers persistently talk past each other. I’ve posted a fuller analysis here; I’ll also be presenting this material at the Austrian Scholars Conference later this week.

Roger Lee

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

I’m saddened to learn (from Tibor Machan) that libertarian philosopher J. Roger Lee has died.

Roger was one of the commentators at my very first APA presentation (Pacific Division, Los Angeles, 29 March 1990). More recently Roger contributed an essay to Tibor’s and my Anarchism/Minarchism anthology.

Might As Well Jump

For anybody with even a little bit of comic-book geek in them, this demonstration of what a human body (well, an in-shape human body – sure as hell not my human body) can do when attached to the right equipment is going to seem like a fantasy come to life. Just give this guy a costume and we’ll be all set. (Conical hat tip to William Gillis.)

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