This summer I had the honor of speaking on the Laissez-Faire Books panel at FreedomFest, the annual libertarian mega-event put on by Mark Skousen in Las Vegas. Now the audio of the panel — the theme of which was “Live Better, Live Liberty: The Quest to Get Government Out of Our Lives” — is online:
The lineup for the panel includes:
Robert Murphy, speaking on alternative educational institutions
Wendy McElroy, speaking about her new book, The Art of Being Free
Jeffrey Tucker, on “defying the plan through your own digital civilization”
Jacob Huebert, on private forms of security and dispute-management,
Stefan Molyneux, on “redefining communities of peace and learning,” and
Douglas French, as emcee
If you only have time for part of this two-hour event, then at least be sure to listen to Jeffrey Tucker’s talk. I have already heard from people who have said they found this presentation life-changing, and I understand why. Tucker talks about how we can defeat the state by creating better products through the market, rather than by just following the old think-tank model. He’s putting these ideas to work through LFB, but, as he explains, there is so much more to be done by people who aren’t just selling books or ideas.
The other talks were very well-received, too. First, Robert Murphy talks about one of my favorite topics, the importance of education in the advancement of liberty.
Next, Wendy McElroy offers a taste of her latest book, The Art of Being Free, which is available in paperback and as a free e-book for members of the Laissez-Faire Club. (The talk is great, but you may just want to skip directly to the book and start reading, since that’s what you’ll end up doing anyway.)
For my part, I talk about ways that the market already provides security and dispute-resolution through products such as credit cards, smartphones, and Yelp. When people think about how the market would provide these goods in the absence of government, they tend to look back to ancient examples (e.g. Iceland, Ireland) or speculate about insurance companies funding police and armies — but perhaps the most relevant examples already exist today, right in front of our faces (or in our wallets).
Finally, the inimitable Stefan Molyneux offers his usual clarity and enthusiasm in arguing that we must make the moral case for liberty. I don’t agree with his suggestion that we must only make moral arguments — I think consequentialist arguments may often be a good place to start, as I argue in my foreword to LFB’s new edition of Gary Chartier’s Conscience of an Anarchist. Still, Molyneux is compelling and enjoyable, and if you like his approach, there is of course much more at his site, Freedomain Radio, and in his books, two of which are also available from LFB.
Professor Hoppe was previously interviewed on Australian Broadcasting Corp. Radio, on the topic “Anarcho-capitalist libertarianism: What is it?” (approx. 25 minutes). It was aired on Jan. 23, 2012; audio is available here. As described on the ABC site, “What is anarcho-capitalist libertarianism? Hans Herman Hoppe explains the idea behind it and why it’s a very different and quite radical way to think about government, society and the economy.”
Also, the Italian translation of my “What Libertarianism Is” will be included in “Parte Terza: Diritto Naturale e Teoria Politica,” of the forthcoming L’Anarcocapitalismo: Epistemologia, Economia e Teoria Politica [Anarcho-Capitalism: Epistemology, Economics and Political Theory], part of the Nuova Civiltà delle Macchine monograph series edited by Dario Antiseri (one of the major living Italian philosophers). I was asked to prepare an abstract of this piece for the book, which is:
Concepts and ideas such as individual rights, property rights, the free market, capitalism, justice, and the nonaggression principle are not defining characteristics of libertarianism for various reasons–most of them are based on property rights. All political philosophies have some view of property rights; what is distinctive about libertarianism is its particular property assignment rules. This article describes libertarianism’s particular property assignment rules in two cases: for human bodies, the rule is “self-ownership”; in the case of external scarce resources, the property assignment rule is based on Lockean homesteading principles). The article explores how and why these libertarian property assignment rules arise from and are related to the purpose of property rights, which is to permit conflict-free use of scarce resources. The libertarian view is that self-ownership and Lockean homesteading of external resources are the only property assignment rules compatible with more basic grundorms (basic norms of civilized men) such as justice, peace, prosperity, cooperation, and conflict-avoidance, which are adopted in part because of empathy. The article agues that civilized man may be defined as he who seeks justification for the use of interpersonal violence. A consistent application of the basic civilized grundnorms shows that only the libertarian norms, and its non-aggression principle, can be justified. Thus, libertarianism may be said to be the political philosophy that consistently favors social rules aimed at promoting peace, prosperity, and cooperation. It holds that the only rules that satisfy the civilized grundnorms are the self-ownership principle and the Lockean homesteading principle, applied as consistently as possible.
(Other translations of my writings are collected here.)
The Daily Anarchist has posted a nice, short interview of Walter Block by Seth King, touching mostly on Block’s history in the libertarian movement and his thoughts on the prospects for liberty and the tactics and strategy libertarians employ. A few interesting excerpts:
Seth: Would you mind explaining to me exactly what Anarcho-Capitalism means to you?
Walter: The first part of this phrase, Anarcho-Capitalism, means that there shall be no government. Private firms will undertake all supposed government functions, such as protection from foreign and domestic enemies, adjudication, supplying supposed public goods such as light houses (in a by gone era), flood control, education, welfare, health, money, etc. The second part means that the law will support private property rights, money, etc., in contradistinction to left wing or socialist anarchism.