We Didn’t Stop the Fire, Part 2

More libertarians have been weighing in on the firehouse issue; see Gary Chartier, Art Carden, Tom Knapp, Bob Murphy, and Kevin Carson.

(I’ll reply to Tom’s, and others’, criticisms after I get back from Libertopia, where I’m headed tomorrow.)

In other news, Libérale et Libertaire explains what libertarians should say when asked about the Civil Rights Act.

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12 Responses to We Didn’t Stop the Fire, Part 2

  1. Some Guy October 16, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

    I bet that Mises and Rothbard are rolling on their graves everythime you say that is neccessary for being Libertarian to embrace Feminism, Enviromentalism, cooperative factories and all that PC bullshit. Wake up! Those are the banners of the Statism, but you don’t care, right? You are more busy fighting with other Libertarians and making alliances with the Hippies than fighting the State. I’m not a fancy Philosophy teacher, but I know when someone is a phony, and you are a phony Libertarian. I am seeing you becoming a total statist in a few years Dr Long. Hear my words. A spade is a spade.

    • Brandon October 16, 2010 at 6:15 pm #

      At least the above critique isn’t poorly worded, profane, and anonymous.

    • Neil October 17, 2010 at 4:50 pm #

      That was hilarious, sir. Yet an obvious troll is obvious.

      “I am seeing you becoming a total statist in a few years Dr Long. Hear my words. A spade is a spade.”

      My god I almost peed my pants!

  2. dennis October 16, 2010 at 9:08 pm #

    Yeah, damn pro-feminist and pro-labor statists like Herbert Spencer and Benjamin Tucker…. Oh wait, those guys were only two of the most important thinkers in the whole libertarian heritage.

    I’m not someone who has a big problem with Lew Rockwell, despite some disagreements I think he is an important advocate for liberty, but LRC is a much more statist site than this one, and Roderick is more consistently anti-state and pro liberty than Murray Rothbard or Ludwig von Mises, both of whom were giants for freedom.

    • Brandon October 16, 2010 at 9:25 pm #

      Mises was a minarchist, so I agree about that, but how can anyone be more consistently anti-state than Rothbard?

      • dennis October 16, 2010 at 10:38 pm #

        Rothbard’s later paleo stuff, while not overtly statist sure didn’t read like pro-anarchy or pro-individual writing to me. His attempts to reach out to the populist right were bound to be interpreted more as “if we just get those Feds out of the way we can pass all the sodomy laws we want” than “people should be allowed to engage in any victimless action they want” and he was too smart to not realize this. There is nothing wrong with reaching out to people on other parts of the political spectrum, but it needs to be done with a clear statement of one’s principals. I love a lot of what Rothbard wrote and think the movement toward a freer society is better off because of him, but his willingness to change his tone to accommodate whomever the ally of convenience of the moment was unfortunate.

      • Rad Geek October 17, 2010 at 10:05 am #


        … how can anyone be more consistently anti-state than Rothbard?

        1. By not advocating the enforcement of statist immigration restrictions, as Rothbard did later in his career.

        2. By not advocating more stringent government policing, as Rothbard also did later in his career.

        3. By not advocating the enforcement of statist copyright laws, as Rothbard did throughout his career.

        4. By not advocating the forcible suppression of fractional-reserve banking among informed and consenting adults under the excuse of legal prohibitions on fraud.

        5. By not advocating, even tentatively, the nationalization of military-industrial complex firms, as Rothbard did in the middle of his career, during his Left-and-Right phase.

        Note that this is all largely independent of whether Rothbard’s savagely authoritarian cultural politics, during the paleo turn, has conflicts with “thicker” conceptions of anti-statism (like Roderick’s or mine) that include commitments to anti-authoritarian Left social and cultural projects. (1)-(5) all have to do with direct issues about calls for violent action by the state or other institutions of legal enforcement, which are issues even on the most emaciated conceptions of libertarianism.

        I know that Rothbard very assiduously cultivated his reputation as Mr. Libertarian, as a sort of Parisian-meter-stick for what an resolute, absolutist anti-statist would say about any given issue. And he was really remarkable in his willingness to rigorously think through, to seek out and embrace unflinchingly — even gleefully — the logical consequences of his ethical and political principles, no matter how far out they were from the socio-political status quo and no matter how crazy others might call him. Unlike many a political thinker, his failures in consistency were rarely failures of intellectual courage. But there are plenty of times when he was wrong, plain wrong, sometimes even gleefullly wrong, about what those principles really entailed.

        • Brandon October 17, 2010 at 11:00 am #

          I think Rothbard was wrong about 1 and 3. But he was hardly the loudest voice or deepest thinker on either issue. It’s possible he would have changed his mind given sufficient time. I’m not sure you’re characterizing his view on 4 correctly. 5 sounds like he’s just using rhetoric the side he’s leaning towards wants to hear. 2 sounds like I’m coming into the middle of a conversation, because I’m not sure what you mean.

  3. dennis October 16, 2010 at 9:22 pm #

    Also, what’s liberating about sexism or a labor environment skewed by the state interfering with the economy? An anarcho-capitalist society wouldn’t necessarily be libertarian in nature (the sorts of laws and things considered enforceable wouldn’t have to follow the NAA) so there is more to being a libertarian than opposing the state. Supporting the kinds of attitudes most compatible with being free, whether from jackbooted government goons or prudish holy rollers is the most libertarian position one can take. That doesn’t mean I don’t have disagreements with Roderick Long, or Kevin Carson, Sheldon Richman, Charles Johnson and some others, but their conception of libertarianism is more complete than a view that argues that libertarians should only care about bad stuff if the state is doing it.

  4. Anon73 October 17, 2010 at 5:44 pm #

    Brandon: On #4 I think the problem is that Rothbard argued that A) Fractional-Reserve Banking was fraudulent, and therefore B) it should be prohibited. Any transaction ceases to be fraudulent if both parties agree to the supposed “fraudulent” terms. So Rothbard may have just been assuming that FRB would not be the norm in a free society, as opposed to it being outlawed. I have read the Ethics of Liberty and I can’t say for certain either way, but I’d like to think Rothbard would be ok with Smith and Jones practicing FRB if both parties certify they fully understand the risks that FRB entails (just as actions that would ordinarily be illegal like robbery or theft would become legal once the activity becomes consensual).

  5. dennis October 19, 2010 at 4:50 pm #

    Roderick Long, or someone of similar intellect and learning, you are needed at some balkinization or somesuch blog, there is a link at Reason, some misguided wretch is defaming the great Herbert Spencer. Have at them!!!

    • Neil October 20, 2010 at 2:22 pm #

      You can do it!!!

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