Archive | December 16, 2011

Thickness Gone Strange

Walter Block, who has long resisted the idea of thick libertarianism, now seems to have embraced it. In a recent piece, Walter writes: “I distinguish between being a libertarian, and agreeing with (virtually all) libertarian principles. The former implies that you act so as to promote liberty.”

Now clearly one can abide by the non-aggression principle without acting to promote liberty; the NAP is a purely negative duty, while an obligation to promote liberty would be positive. So Walter now thinks that being a libertarian involves commitments beyond non-aggression! (Indeed, that makes his libertarianism even thicker than mine, as I’ve never made acting on such commitments a condition for being a libertarian.)

Alas, Walter invokes this distinction in order to show that Wendy McElroy is not a libertarian – on the grounds that she does not support the candidacy of Ron Paul. Walter makes this argument despite the fact that Paul supports a number of policies that Walter would agree with Wendy are anti-libertarian (including anti-abortion laws, anti-immigration laws, and most notoriously the existence of the state itself). If we anarchists can lose our libertarian credentials for refusing to support a statist, something’s gone wrong somewhere.

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