I established the journal Libertarian Papers three years ago, in Jan. 2009.1 Over this time we published 127 articles and kept improving, expanding our editorial board and innovating–from volunteer narrations to print-on-demand and ebook versions.2 As I noted recently, Matthew McCaffrey, previously the Managing Editor, has agreed to serve as the journal’s Editor starting with Vol. 4 (2012). I’ll serve as Executive Editor.3
Matt has announced a few changes:
There have been some recent alterations to the Libertarian Papers website which may be of interest to readers and authors. Below are listed some of the most significant changes:
1) Although articles will continue to be published as soon as they complete the peer-review process, issue numbers and continuous page references are being added for each new volume, starting with volume 4. Consequently, the citation style for volumes 4 onward conforms to standard journal format. Information on old and new citations is available on the web pages of the different volumes, as well as those of individual articles.
2) The guidelines for manuscript submission have been updated and clarified.
3) The “About” page has been revised to include an “Aims and Scope” section.
And the first four articles for 2012 have just been published:
1. “The Role of Work: A Eudaimonistic Perspective”, by Michael F. Reber
2. “The Internal Contradictions of Recognition Theory”, by Nahshon Perez
3. “Norms and the NAP”, by Kris Borer
4. “Recompense for Fear: Is Forced Russian Roulette Just?”, by David B. Robins
Pretty much everyone knows–or should know–that many, and maybe most, of the points made by most politicians are of little value, amounting to little more than equine feces at best. A commercial I saw the other day illustrated that the same is true of TV commercials. (Yes, I realize that’s no discovery. But still…) The advertisement I saw featured a clean-cut young man making a pitch to “buy American-made gasoline at Kwik Fill” because doing so “strengthens our economy.” Do people believe that type of thing? The short answer is: Yes. How do I know? Because presidents–and presidential candidates–have been saying pretty much the same thing for close to 4 decades, beginning with Nixon and continuing right up through Obama.
Here’s a somewhat funny article from Gizmodo that points out Newt’s misplaced fear of a EMP attack from Iran, North Korea or some other member of the Axis of Evil. (Saudi Arabia, the brutal Islamist dictatorship, which recently began talking about getting nukes, doesn’t count since the dictators are BFFs with the Bush family.)
The theoretical possibility of an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) attack will be familiar to people who keep a 1955 Chevy and a Faraday cage in the back yard “just in case”, although few people sit up nights about it since the actual threat is virtually non-existent. Except in the mind of Newt Gingrich.
Newt’s paranoia reminds me of a portion of Errol Flynn’s interview with Robert McNamara in The Fog of War. McNamara points out that the US in the early 1960s began to call for nuclear arms limitation deals. The US had a huge advantage in nuclear arms at the time (and still does), and the US figured it could keep that advantage by putting in place a limit or ban on the testing of nuclear arms. McNamara noted that the hawks in the administration were dead-set against any limitations because the Soviets would cheat by secretly testing nuclear bombs. Hiding nuclear explosions is somewhat difficult to do, so the hawks were asked just exactly HOW the Soviets would cheat.
Their response: “They’ll test nukes behind the moon.”
Even the warmonger McNamara found such a contention to be beyond the pale of Cutis LeMay-style nuclear paranoia. Newt, on the other hand, makes people like McNamara seem reasonable.
Another full chapter of Libertarianism Today is now online for free — this one on why libertarianism is antiwar. This is my favorite chapter of the book, so I’m especially glad I could make it available through Antiwar.com.
Other parts of the book you can read for free online:
And if you want to read the whole thing, it’s on sale at a special low price for a limited time.
Not long ago when we had friends and family over it came up that I was a political “atheist,” someone who opposed the existence of the state and wished for political power and authority to disappear so that the prosperity of the market can bring us ever higher standards of living. “I don’t agree with his theories” a family member said. Fine. This is to be expected. After all, the radical libertarian anarchist view is an extreme minority opinion. Yet the vast majority of people with whom we interact are clueless and wobbly on their own views.
At first the statist position seems to be coherent: the power of the many to benefit the few, the respect for the government, the love for law and order, the supremacy of democracy–essentially a rehash of the status quo becomes mainstream reply. Still, one must ask: what, then, dear vulgar citizen, is your hopefully coherent theory? It would necessarily have to be one that allows more or less the same things that exist now because the vast majority of folks though they complain about the details of the political establishment they don’t oppose the basics. For example, in my encounter with left-liberals I find it particularly interesting that often the primacy of democracy is seen as a goal but other times it is a means. Or when the same folks complain when people vote “the wrong way.” Over the last few years the issue of homosexual marriage has come up for vote. If the vote fails, does this mean that democracy has failed? Rarely (or, at worst, barely–there is still support for that institution). What if the courts fail to recognize that issue as a right? Should courts be abolished? Nah, they will say–more political action and education is needed, or reform the court. Most of the remedial proposals have to do with changing not the underlying system (the one that nonetheless perpetually frustrates everyone) but to change everyone and everything else.
Legislative matters like gay marriage is just one issue. Going deeper, things become even messier. How does one measure the value of the good that a piece of legislation imparts on society? What if that good is a bad for some? What if the good is not as good for everyone to the same extent? What if people change their minds? What if they change their minds right after an election? Were it subject to quantification, what if one person has 100 units of displeasure and 99 people have one unit of pleasure each? How can we measure the greater good? What is “the” good? These might seem contrived questions, and yet they are the core of it all. Not only is the mainstreamer advocating and justifying the existing system in a vulgar, offhanded, manner but also insisting that the social and economic calculations necessary to bring about general prosperity can be performed. And regardless of whether such a calculation is possible, the fact that the advocate of the existing system so vehemently opposes the libertarian view while barely offering a sensible grounding shows intellectual laziness. It is the equivalent of saying “this is what exists, therefore it is what should exist.” As the saying goes, LOLWUT!?
I am reminded of what Murray Rothbard once said: “It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.” In my opinion Rothbard’s sentiment applies to politics as well.