What’s a Secular Heretic to Do?
Secular and religion-based political systems can bear an uncanny resemblance. Observing their respective dogmas, catechisms, and sacraments, we might even wonder, with William Cavanaugh, whether the divide is as sharp as we commonly think. Recent events certainly call the distinction into question. We see that a secularist can be as much a fanatic who is…
Trump, Carrier, and the Corporate State
Should free-market advocates applaud the deal Donald Trump brokered to keep some Carrier jobs from being transferred to Mexico? I believe the right answer is no. A virtue of the market process is precisely its impersonal nature. People are free to engage in exchanges subject only to the freedom of others to refuse offers they…
Libertarianism Without the Magic
I had the pleasure of appearing before the Amherst Political Union (Amherst College) this week to discuss the election of Donald Trump as president and the future of liberty. What perhaps pleased me even more was meeting with a group of young libertarians eager to explore the nature and implications of natural-law free-market anarchism. The…
Richman Interview on Anarchism
Sheldon Richman recently visited Amherst College to speak at the Amherst Political Union. Tommy Raskin caught up with Richman for a brief discussion about anarchism. Here’s the video.
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System!
Donald Trump says the presidential election is “rigged.” Although he provides no evidence for his charge, lots of things can be said about it. For one thing, he equivocates over the word rigged to include voter fraud along with news-media/polling bias — two very different things. The former suggests that the outcome is predetermined, the…
A Conspiracy of Fear-Mongers
Over the weekend CNN breathlessly reported as “Breaking News” — it breathlessly reports everything as “Breaking News” — a new poll indicating that people are increasingly frightened about terrorism. The accompanying web story stated, “Terrorism has eclipsed the economy as voters’ top pick for the biggest issue facing America, a New York Times/CBS News poll…
Don’t Say “Radical” if You Mean “Violent”
It’s about time someone challenged the phrase radical Islamic terrorism. The most objectionable part is the word radical since it is now popularly associated with aggression — violence against innocents — as an acceptable means to politico-religious ends. But nothing about the word radical implies approval of aggression or terrorism. Rather, the word signifies an approach that goes to the…
Of Bumblebees and Competitive Courts
Considering that what liberty we continue to enjoy in the West is a product in large part of competing legal institutions operating within overlapping jurisdictions hundreds of years ago, it’s curious that so many libertarians still believe such an order — an essential feature of free-market, or natural-law, anarchism — would be inimical to liberty. Why wouldn’t…
Why Assad Isn’t “Our Son of a Bitch”
While Franklin Roosevelt may not have said that Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza “may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch,” he probably thought it — just as other presidents have had similar thoughts about myriad brutal rulers. So if the U.S. government has forced the American people to support useful dictators, why is…
Richman in Newsweek
My post about Donald Trump’s immigrant-deportation proposal was picked up by Newsweek. This screen shot is featured in an anti-Trump ad produced by presidential contender John Kasich. The ad, suggesting a comparison between Trump and the Nazis, has been widely discussed by news outlets and other sites. (HT: Joel Schlosberg.)
Foreign Policy Comes Back to Haunt Us
From the start, opponents of the American empire warned that the government could not violate the rights of foreigners without eventually violating the rights of Americans. An excellent example is William Graham Sumner’s post-Spanish-American War classic The Conquest of the United States by Spain. The anti-imperialists were spot-on, and the evidence for their case keeps…
Let the Refugees In
Hysteria over the Islamic State is now focused on the refugees seeking to escape the violence in Syria and Iraq. Predictably, the Republican-controlled House yesterday voted to increase background checks on potential refugees, a demand for omniscience that would amount to exclusion. The bill faces trouble in the Senate, however, and President Obama, who wants…
How to Respond to the Paris Attacks
Look, even authoritarian and totalitarian states can’t prevent domestic terrorism. What hope do relatively open societies have? Open societies abound with “soft targets”; that is, noncombatants going about their everyday lives. They are easy hits for those determined to inflict harm, especially if the assailants seek to die in the process. We also know, as…
The Campaign Needs a Radical, But Sanders Isn’t It
We could use a radical in the presidential race — someone who really challenges the status quo — but Bernie Sanders isn’t it. Sanders of course calls himself a democratic socialist, but that tells us almost nothing. One gets the impression the socialist label was pinned on him and after resisting it, Sanders decided “socialist”…
Who Supports the Troops?
A huge sign outside a local tire store really irritated me a couple of weeks ago. Its large letters blared: “WE SUPPORT THE TROOPS.” I was tempted to get out of the car and demand that the owner tell me what he was actually doing besides displaying the sign, which probably didn’t cost much in…
Is Instability the Goal of U.S. Mideast Policy?
Donald Trump’s indictment of the Bush II administration for failing to prevent the 9/11 attacks presents an opportunity for more of a bird’s eye view of American foreign policy in the Middle East, a policy that has killed many hundreds of thousands, maimed countless more, and laid waste to entire societies. As Peter Beinart reminds…
The Anti-Politician Politician
The good news about the presidential election season is that so many voters seem disgusted with career politicians. The bad news is that these voters are naively opting for “outsiders” who in reality are just politicians in another form. They are anti-politician politicians. This, I submit, is not progress. It is certainly a hopeful sign…
Individualism, Collectivism, and Other Murky Labels
Imagine the following person. He believes all individuals should be free to do anything that’s peaceful and therefore favors private property, free global markets, freedom of contract, civil liberties, and all the related ideas that come under the label libertarianism (or liberalism). Obviously he is not a statist. But is he an individualist and a…
Free-Market Socialism
Libertarians are individualists. But since individualist has many senses, that statement isn’t terribly informative. Does it mean that libertarians are social nonconformists on principle? Not at all. Some few libertarians may aspire to be, but most would see that as undesirable because it would obstruct their most important objectives. Lots of libertarian men have no…
A Follow Up Exchange Between Richman and Block
Following their August 28th debate on left-libertarianism, Sheldon and Walter continued their exchange via a series of emails: __________ Dear Sheldon, Suppose it were proven that racism, prejudice, hatred for homosexuals, etc., was the best way to promote libertarianism. Let us stipulate that this is so, arguendo. Would you then say that libertarians should promote…
Free Markets & Capitalism?
Markets Not Capitalism
Organization Theory
Conscience of an Anarchist