The new Libertarianism.org, a project of the Cato Institute, is a gorgeous website containing a well-organized set of information about libertarian ideas, history, and people. I am just exploring it but am amazed at how smooth and elegant the site design and organization of material is. It contains introductory material for newcomers and current and more advanced material as well, and it highlights the work of a host of people influential on libertarian ideas. Check it out.
For a good overview of the site’s aims and contents, see the welcoming post from Nov. 3, 2011, by Aaron Ross Powell. (My fellow TLS blogger Wirkman Virkkala blogged about it previously at New Libertarian Website Launched.)
Austrian and libertarian ideas are spreading around the globe, thanks in large part to the work done by the Mises Institute to promote and spread these ideas. A case in point is the Mises Seminar being held November 25 and 26 in Sydney, Australia, and being put on by Aussienomics, an Austrian-Australian group, Liberty Australia, and the Macquare University Libertarian League. As the Aussienomics site notes,
On the 25-26th of November, a watershed moment in the history of Australian liberty will be occurring in Sydney: the Australian Mises Seminar. Over the past year we have collaborated with the best and brightest representatives of Austrian economics and libertarianism in Australia to bring you this incredible weekend.
The lead speaker at the event Hans-Hermann Hoppe. The event looks like it will be fantastic and soundly rooted in principled Rothbardian libertarian and Misesian-Rothbardian Austrian economics.
What really impressed me was the beautiful 108 page programme they produced (yes, 108 pages). It’s full of nice pictures and illustrations of Mises, Rothbard, and others, inspiring quotes, and an overview of the seminar. The main reason for its length, however is that it contains “Pre-Seminar Reading”. I’ve never seen this in a programme before but it’s a great idea (and possibly only because the material they drew from was from sources that do not lock down the content using state copyright law). As the programme explains:
The readings help provide a basic foundation and understanding of the core principles used to analyse the more complex issues that will be under discussion at the seminar. They will help you follow the overall themes and make informed contributions should you choose to do so. As a result, everyone gets more from attending the seminar.
The overview section first contains an article entitled A Primer on Austrian Economics by Jonathan M. Finegold Catalan which gives a brief summary of the school of thought, its history and contributions. The fundamental difference between advocates of the Austrian school and the rest of the economics profession is methodology. The second chapter of Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s book Economic Science and the Austrian Method, is On Praxeology and the Praxeological Foundation of Epistemology. This enthralling exposition highlights Mises insights and makes the case for praxeology as the ultimate foundation of all knowledge. Anatomy of the State by Murray N. Rothbard exemplifies the case as to what the state is, what it is not and why its existence should be lamented. What Libertarianism Is by Stephan Kinsella clarifies what separates libertarianism from other political philosophies.
The programme may be downloaded here. A podcast by some of the organizers discussing the Seminar may be found here.
Cato Institute has launched a new website: libertarianism.org. In a previous incarnation, the domain served as a promotion page for David Boaz’s Libertarianism: A Primer.
Designed to be an introductory and exploratory — if not quite a portal — site, it sports an elegant, stylized dove-wing logo. This is Cato’s version of what the Advocates for Self-Government offer at libertarianism.com. But Cato’s new site offers more links and videos on its front page, so it is bound to get more hits. The site offers a basic banner introduction:
LIBERTY. It’s a simple idea, but it’s also the linchpin of a complex system of values and practices: justice, prosperity, responsibility, toleration, cooperation, and peace. Many people believe that liberty is the core political value of modern civilization itself, the one that gives substance and form to all the other values of social life. THEY’RE CALLED LIBERTARIANS.
Well, that’s one way of putting it.
Just below the banner, a video of an F.A. Hayek lecture on why ethics not arise from our reason. A familiar Hayekian topic, and I just started listening to it. Below that are three other videos, one by Milton Friedman on humility, a short (and terrific) Murray Rothbard lecture on economic recessions, and Joan Kennedy Taylor on feminism. Today’s featured essays are by George H. Smith (“Religious Toleration Versus Religious Freedom”) and Tom G. Palmer (“Myths of Individualism.”) [Keep reading…]
Next month I’ll be teaching a new Mises Academy course,”Libertarian Controversies.” This is my fourth Mises Academy course (the previous three are Libertarian Legal Theory, Rethinking Intellectual Property: History, Theory, and Economics, and The Social Theory of Hoppe), and my fifth time teaching there (I have reprised the IP course once).
From the course page:
Modern libertarianism is a young, developing and vibrant science. Variants includes classical liberalism, minarchism, and, in its most rigorous form, anarcho-Austrian libertarianism. Libertarians of various stripes are influenced by utilitarian, pragmatic and natural law theories, and by thinkers including Ayn Rand, Hayek, Rothbard, Mises, and others. For decades there has been vigorous debate among different camps of libertarians about a host of controversial issues, from the foundation of rights to the nature of government, and about concrete issues such as abortion, strategy and activism, living in an unfree world, anarchy v. minarchy, punishment and restitution, and so on. In this course, libertarian legal theorist Stephan Kinsella will explore a variety of libertarian misconceptions and controversies, from an Austro-libertarian perspective.
In the discussion about misconceptions, Kinsella will identify a number of common libertarian mistakes, confusions, fallacies or flawed reasoning and propose a solution or more consistent approach. Issues to be discussed include: creation as a source of property rights; labor as being owned; unintentional equivocation (harm, authority, hierarchy, etc.); alienability and voluntary slavery; [Keep reading…]
A decade ago Terence Ball wrote a critique of some Frankenstein-like creature meant to represent free market ideology. He robbed the graves of men and women as diverse as Murray Rothbard, Margaret Thatcher, Robert Nozick and Ayn Rand to put it together and came up with something that no libertarian would endorse, I suspect, but which nevertheless is recognizable as libertarian(ish). It may not be the same species, but it is in the same genus. Or at least the same family.
He imagined a country called Marketopia and described how life would be there, with the purpose of showing us that while markets are good for some things, there are areas where they are inappropriate. As he wrote, “why do some (or perhaps all) Marketopian practices make many – perhaps most – of us uneasy or queasy, or worse?” The great problem with his essay is that he never demonstrates to the reader’s satisfaction that he understands what his own argument is. He claims to be interested in three questions: Why do people get queasy at the practices of Marketopia, what distortions of the language would Marketopia produce and are we already headed towards Marketopia.
About the second question I care nothing at all, and about the third… well, watching a statist fretting over how close we are to a Free Market is a bit like listening to a neocon quaking that Iran presents a military threat to the United States. It would be less embarrassing to watch a grown man sleep with a night light to protect him from the Bogey Man in his closet. The first question bears some scrutiny, however, but I wish I could do it knowing what exactly Dr. Ball had in mind.
Is this Marketopia supposed to be what would always happen if libertarianism ever won the day, or is he just demonstrating how market activity is inappropriate for some relationships? If the latter is his point, I would say he came up with a handful of examples where I agree with him, but what does he propose to do about it? If the former, it should be pointed out that many of these activities are legal now but do not occur.