The Libertarian Forum, Vol. 2, No. 21, November 1, 1970
Part of the complete
Libertarian Forum archives. This issue is also available as a PDF format
A Semi-Monthly Newsletter
|Joseph R. Peden, Publisher
||Murray N. Rothbard, Editor
|VOLUME II, NO. 21
||NOVEMBER 1, 1970
The press, as usual, has it all backward; as usual,
it strains at a gnat while cheerfully swallowing a camel.
The wave of horror at the kidnapping of two government
officials by the Front de Liberation du Quebec has hardly
been matched by any indignation at the wave of White
Terror that Prime Minister Trudeau has imposed on that
long-suffering province. Quite the contrary. Thus, the
good grey New York Times (October 19) denounces the
"atrocity" of the "cold-blooded murder" of Quebec's Labor
Minister, but hails the "vigorous and necessary"
measures of despotic repression that Mr. Trudeau has
brought to the province. These measures include the
decree outlawing all members of the FLQ, and the rounding
up, without search warrant or indictment, of hundreds
of separatist leaders and placing them in jail without trial.
One man's "atrocity" is another man's "vigor".
Even more ominous is the reaction of U. S. officials
to this shining example north of the border. While Attorney-General
Mitchell made the headlines in assuring
us that this can never happen here, the Times reports
that unnamed State Department officials take great comfort
in Mr. Trudeau's "gutsy" actions, and see them as
a model for dealing with our own dissidents and revolutionaries.
Total fascism may well come to America in
the name of "guts."
The deeper problem in Canada is also studiously ignored.
For Canada is really not a nation at all, but rather
a geographical expression. In our October 15 issue, Professor
Peden showed that this is true even for Canada's
beleaguered Maritime Provinces; how much more is this
true of the French nation of Quebec, which has groaned
under the Anglo heel for over two centuries! In the mid-eighteenth
century, Canada was French; it was then conquered,
in a naked act of aggression by Great Britain,
and the French of Quebec have lived under Anglo tyranny,
discrimination, and exploitation ever since. Now
that Quebec is becoming increasingly urban and educated,
its people are increasingly anxious to end this carefully
fostered myth of a Canadian "nation", and to achieve
independence for their own French nation once more.
Here, again, our purely educationist Libertarians are
caught in an impossible bind. What is their prescription
for freeing Quebec, with its French language, culture,
and nationality, from the Canadian yoke? Education will
not do the job here, because no amount of "education"
will persuade Canada simply to give up the prestige and
perquisites of its imperial rule over Quebec. Any attempt
by Quebec to secede peacefully would be met in the same
brutal and violent way that the "free" United States met
the attempt by the South to secede a century ago. A peaceful
solution, therefore, will unfortunately not work, simply
because Anglo Canada will not permit it. Hence, the going
over by the FLQ into guerrilla warfare and armed insurrection.
The FLQ are not the northern equivalent of our
crazed Weathermen, simply because the mass of the
Quebeckers endorse its goals, though not yet its current
tactics. The only chance of a peaceful secession lies in
the separtist political party, the Parti Quebecois, which,
while newly formed, had great successes in the last
provincial elections. But then again, I don't see any great
huzzahs among our libertarians for the PQ either, presumably
because it indulges in the impurity of running
for electoral office. But again we must put the question
to our educationists: what advice would you give the
1. Chairman Mao and the Church.
National Review-niks had better take a second look at
the "martyred" Bishop James Walsh, recently released
from twelve years in a Chinese Communist prison. For
the 79-year-old bishop, now safe in Rome, praised the
Chinese regime for three great advances it is supposed to
have made: equality of women, equality of races, and, in
particular, "an absolute ban and prohibition on all manifestations
of immorality and indecency in regard to theatrical
displays, or publicity, or action." (New York Times,
August 27). And, come to think of it, this item might also
give pause to those libertarians who have embraced Chairman
Mao as the "greatest libertarian of the twentieth
2. Most Persecuted Minority-Department
Contrary to Ayn Rand, big businessmen scarcely consider
themselves as "America's most persecuted minority."
Thus, in mid-October a group of the nation's leading and
most powerful corporation executives, assembled as the
Business Council advising the Nixon Administration, hinted
strongly in the direction of new government policies
that would hold down wage increases. The businessmen
claimed that they certainly were not thinking of wage or
price controls, but this danger looms increasingly large
as the Administration loses its timid and fitful battle
against inflation. Austrian theory shows that in the later
stages of a boom wages tend to catch up with prices,
squeezing profits, and it is then that businessmen are
tempted to turn to the totalitarian (and ineffective) coercion
of price-wage controls. (New York Times,
||The Libertarian Forum
||November 1, 1970
Free Enterprise And Free Education
Higher education in the United States, as everyone knows,
is a field in which private institutions are engaged in a
desperate struggle to hold their own against the competition
of the heavily subsidized state run multiversities. In this
business, just keeping your head above water is a tough
assignment. After all, how long do you think a private barber
shop or restaurant could stay in business faced with state
financed competitors, where the customers did not have to
pay for their purchases, the producers did not have to sell
their products, and the owners (taxpayers) exercised only
nominal and sporadic control?
The system under which higher education is organized
and financed in this country has had widespread and
deleterious effects on the quality of the services rendered.
The first effect is the most widely publicized. The low cost
of matriculation has meant that our colleges and universities
have been filled with a flood of "students" who value the
education relatively little by comparison with alternative
pursuits, but are willing to drop in and see the show given
a sufficient subsidy. If they take it into their heads that
they don't like what they see, they lose next to nothing by
shutting the school down or tearing it up. Faculty members,
whose paychecks keep rolling in strike or no strike (and
think of all that extra time to devote to publications!)
hardly have an interest in standing up to the students, and
the result is chaos.
The second effect is perhaps less widely known, but even
though less spectacular is equally disturbing. According to a
study reported in the New York Times of July 19, our institutions
of higher education are year by year becoming
more uniform, more like one another. Anyone in academic
life is familiar with the pressures in any college which tend
to work against diversity of political views, teaching
methods, life styles, etc. within a given institution. The
chief redeeming feature of the system heretofore has been
the great range and diversity existing among institutions.
Now, it seems, this diversity is gradually being nibbled
away by the pressures of the system.
The third effect of the organizational and financial
peculiarities of American higher education is, however, the
most serious of all. It has, in fact, contributed substantially
to the other problems just mentioned. Faced with the
overwhelming financial pressures generated by the competition
of state subsidized institutions, almost all of what
we nominally call "private" institutions have swallowed
hard once or twice, and then put their hands out too. Building
grants, research grants, development planning grants,
matching grants, travel grants, and above all, the half-hidden
grants implicit in the tax deductibility of alumni
contributions have flooded in, each with its attached earmark,
restriction, provision, loyalty oath, reporting procedure
or other string by some other name. A lucky few
have become rich, powerful clients of the state and are
able to throw their weight around a bit in Washington, but
most, like the welfare poor, have been given just enough
to stay alive in a state of abject, impoverished dependence.
Against this bleak background, Royalton College of South
Royalton, Vermont stands out in startling contrast, incorporated
in 1965 as a proprietary, stock corporation,
with its President and Director the principal stock holder
by virtue of ownership of all but two of 2000 shares, Royalton
College has never accepted aid from the state in any
form (although it has from time to time accepted students
who in turn have, as individuals, accepted government
assistance in the form of veterans' benefits and the like).
Royalton College has not even accepted the indirect subsidy
of tax-deductible contributions since, although it has
never in fact made a profit (for reasons which will become
clear below, not by intention) and has amended its
articles of association so that any potential profits would
automatically be plowed back into improvement in its educational
facilities, it has refused to reorganize as a non-profit
In 1967, the College received a visiting committee from
the board of higher education. On the basis of the enthusiastic
report that committee concerning the high academic achievements
of the infant institution, the board voted to give the
college the power to grant four year degrees. This privilege
was accomplished by a list of 17 conditions to which the college
must adhere, but since these conditions related only
to the type of academic qualifications which would be
the concern of any certifying agency public or private,
the college agreed to them.
It was too much to hope, however, that the state would
permit a wholly free and independent institution to exist
peacefully and grant degrees within the realm of its authority.
In 1968, less than a year later, some reports appeared
in the local yellow press questioning the advisability
of permitting education to be conducted by an institution
with Royalton's unique (unique in the educational world,
that is) financial organization. The board of education
panicked, sent another visiting team, and, on the basis
of the college's financial structure, suspended its degree
At this point, the school filed suit to nullify the suspension.
The argument was made that the degree granting
powers were essential to continued operation of the college,
and especially that suspension of the powers once granted
was much more damaging than would have been a delay
or refusal of the original grant of certification. It was
contended that the action of the board was unreasonable,
arbitrary and capricious, constituted a breach of contract,
and violated the college's rights to equal protection
and due process as guaranteed by the federal and state
constitutions. The petition of the college was sustained
by the Vermont Supreme Court, and the order of the
board was vacated. The grounds of the decision, however,
were relatively narrow. The court based its action on the
fact that nothing had been said about the school's finances
that in the future, the board might decide to refuse
certification of some other institution solely on the basis
of its proprietary status.
Meanwhile, in the District of Columbia, another case
was making its way through the courts that was to provide
a direct test of this important principle. The school
involved in this case was Marjorie Webster Junior College.
This institution had asked the Middle States Association of
Colleges and Secondary Schools to accept an application
for accreditation, and had been refused on the grounds
that in order to be considered for evaluation, an institution
must be a non-profit organization with a governing board
representing the "public interest." The Marjorie Webster
case was brought under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, on
the grounds that the Middle States Association exercised
a monopoly in the field of granting accreditation. Middle
States argued, on the other hand, that education was not a
"trade," and that a combining to restrain the conduct of
education thus did not constitute a restraint of trade. The
U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia found in
favor of Marjorie Webster, writing that "Higher education
in America today possesses many of the attributes of
business. To hold otherwise would ignore the obvious
and challenge reality."
Thus the important principle appeared to be established
that an accrediting association could look only at the genuine
academic credentials of an institution, and could not arbitrarily
refuse even to consider a proprietary institution.
The way seemed open for Royalton to make an application
to the New England Association of Colleges for the full
(Continued on page 4)
|November 1, 1970
||The Libertarian Forum
Congratulations to Dana Rohrabacher for having been
chosen Libertarian Pinup Boy of the Month by the editors
of Rap, the apparent successor to Pine Tree magazine.
Rap is real groovy, man, with all sorts of penetrating
insights into contemporary hippie jargon. The next issue
will feature a pullout centerfold in living color of Robert
LeFerve being transmogrified to a mountaintop while he
contemplates whether or not to slash the chains that
bind him. Private property you know.
* * * *
Which brings us to the subject of anarcho-land grabbism
and anarcho-shopping centerism.
Free market anarchists base their theories of private
property rights on the homestead principle: a person has
the right to a private piece of real estate provided he
mixes his labor with it and alters it in some way. Anarcho-land
grabbers recognize no such restrictions. Simply
climb to the highest mountain peak and claim all you can
see. It then becomes morally and sacredly your own and
no one else can so much as step on it.
But, you might contend. Suppose fifty people claimed
all the land in the United States? In an age of rocket
ships it is even possible for one rather self-centered
propertarian to go into orbit around the earth and claim
the entire globe as his personal backyard. What would
the other unfortunate three billion do if our space-age
propertarian ordered them all off the planet?
Have no fear, counter the land-grabbers. Such a state
of affairs would be so inconvenient, not only to the three
billion trespassers, but to the landlord (earthlord?) as
well that reason would induce him to sell off large chunks
of land to the highest bidders, and rent out the rest. So
you see, nobody would actually have to leave the earth,
although the least Galt-like among us would no doubt
find themselves confined to the cheapest plots on Antarctica.
Anarcho-shopping centerism is better known by its
official name, the proprietary community idea. Its chief
proponent is Spencer H. MacCallum, grandson of Spencer
Heath, who outlines his philosophy in a recently published
book, The Art of Community. On one level the book is a
very interesting history of the development of real estate
interests and the organization of commercial properties.
MacCallum describes the trend leading away from the
neighborhood structure of small village shops and community
meeting-places toward large shopping centers and
industrial parks servicing the needs of larger and larger
segments of the community. He records this development
over the last two centuries and shows how, today, shopping
and industrial centers offer, not only supermarkets and
other shopping services to the public, but movie houses
and theaters, restaurants, health and recreational facilities,
nightclubs and taverns, and even centers of
No one who has grown up in the United States in the
years following World War II will argue with MacCallum
over this point. Social chroniclers from John Updike to
Norman Mailer have been satirizing the suburban sprawl
in fiction and in articles since the early 1950's. The
ugliness of plasticized suburbia complete with its manicured
lawns, jack-in-the-box houses, cocktail-shaker morality and
creeping-horror shopping centers is a well-documented
fact by now. It is only when MacCallum the Historian becomes
MacCallum the Advocate that one turns back to his book
with a kind of fascinated horror.
As the story unfolds one becomes aware of the fact
that the "proprietary community people" are actually in love
with shopping centers. They are mad about those enormous
parking lots with their giant-sized Korvette's and Grant's
knick-knack stores and Hills supermarkets and Cinema
Artsy I and II and penny bubble gum machines and psychedelic
pizza parlors and Tony-the-lover barbershops
and bouffant beauty salons and Fred Astaire dance emporiums
and Jerome Mackey judo schools. The Heathians
are so crazy about them, in fact, that they want to make
them bigger and more complex and move people into them.
Yes, they want to erect high-rise apartment buildings on
the premises, the ones with orange and lavender walls
and spotted goldfish swimming in imitation-marble fountains
in the lobbies. They see no point in making people drive
on public roads to get to this real-life Disneyland; they
want them to move in and be a real part of this mind-blowing
They want America to become one big shopping center,
one great big Lefrak City.
This way, you see, with Heath-MacCallum Real Estate
Enterprises providing all the essential services one can
hope for in life—housing, schools, police and fire protection,
garbage removal, judo lessons, roads and parking areas,
pizza parlors, bubble gum machines, art theaters featuring
the latest Rock Hudson movie—there won't be any need
for Uncle Sam anymore.
The government will just wither and die away.
Now you know why Right Wing businessmen are so partial
to this brand of "libertarianism." Why they like to keep
the idea up on a "flagpole" where more people can see it.
Why they like to slap it against the wall and see if it will
* * * *
There is nothing radical or even political about the
schemes of "retreatist" or "escapist" libertarians. Their
pipedreams are only entrepreneurial fantasies—rather
hideous ones at that—designed to "maximize profits."
They have nothing whatsoever to do with the world of
conscription, military imperialism, federal curtailment of
civil liberties and institutionalized racism. Libertarianism
is meaningless unless it tells us what we can do in terms
of political reality to liberate our society.
As long as the apparatus of power remains in the
hands of the power-elite, it is still for the present authorities
to use and misuse that power in any manner they choose.
It is for them to snuff out the "alternatives" any time they
decide to do so. While one is creating his voluntary institutions
it is mandatory that he encourage tax and draft
resistance, and engage in radical politics at the same
time to keep the pressure on the authorities while the
new society is being built. Or else he may find it smashed
before the foundation has begun to set.
(If shopping centers are the alternative, that may not
be such a bad idea.)
By Butler Shaffer
The following definitions comprise a part of my view of
reality, in all its humorous—and often frustrating—manner.
GOVERNMENT: an institution of war, theft, murder, rape
and predation, . . . the absence of which,
it is said, would lead to disorder.
TAXATION: a practice employed by governments in looting
all of its citizens in order to obtain the necessary
funds to chase down and punish looters.
WAR: the price men are forced to pay in order to keep
peace among the politicians.
||The Libertarian Forum
||November 1, 1970
FREE ENTERPRISE — (Continued from page 2)
accreditation which, unlike the not nationally recognized
certification of the Vermont State Board, would enable
the college to be a full-fledged member of the educational
Once again, however, it proved too much to hope that
all would be smooth sailing for proprietary education, for
recently the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
reversed the lower court's ruling in Marjorie Webster
vs. Middle States. This court, in addition to ruling that
education was not part of the business world and hence
outside the scope of the Sherman Act, wrote that "it is
not unreasonable for Middle States to conclude that the
desire for personal profit might influence educational
goals in subtle ways difficult to detect but destructive,
in the long run, of that atmosphere of academic inquiry
which, perhaps even more than any quantitative measure
of educational quality, appellant's standards for accreditation
seek to foster."
Did it never occur to Middle States or to the Learned
Judges that financial dependence on the civilian and military
agencies of the state might also influence educational goals
"in subtle ways" (!) and destroy academic freedom? Did
they never learn in their principles of economics courses
that it is not upon the charity of the butcher and the
baker that we depend for our meat and bread, but upon
their profit-seeking self interest? The decision of the
court represents the kind of thinking that is turning all
of American higher education into one giant academic
soup line—the meat and bread is free, yes, but the quality???
The Middle States and New England Associations are, of
course, private, voluntary, non-profit organizations, and the
courts were wise in recognizing this as a factor in the case
which should make them reluctant to intervene hastily or
casually in their affairs. However, two aspects of the
nature and activities of these associations are objectionable,
I think, on strict libertarian grounds. First, the
associations in question seem to exercise an effective
monopoly in the area of certification. Whether or not this
is a benign, "natural" monopoly, or one aided and abetted
by the state is, at least, open to question. Second, and much
more important, various governmental agencies concerned
with education base certain actions of their own on the
decisions of the associations to accredit or not to accredit.
For Royalton, the most directly harmful of these decisions
have not been any refusals to hand out unwanted grants or
aid, but actions which have made it virtually impossible,
in certain areas, for the college to help itself! For example,
it turns out that foreign students cannot get permission
from the State Department to study at schools which are
not on the list, a matter of critical importance to a school
like Royalton which specializes in international affairs.
In short, the future of free, independent, proprietary
higher education in the United States looks to be trouble.
The ultimate answer may be to establish a competing accreditation
agency which will not suffer from the delusion
that quality education must be socialized education, but
this will, to say the least, take time. Meanwhile, you
can do something now to help proprietary education by
patronizing it. We do not need handouts; we need just a
few, serious, qualified, paying students. For a catalog
and a bonus copy of the details of the court cases described
above, write to the Director of Admissions, Royalton College,
South Royalton, Vermont 05068.
—Edwin G. Dolan
Jacques Barzun, "The Conflict of Action and Liberty",
The Humanist (September-October, 75¢), pp. 14-18. For
years there has been no wiser critic of our educational
system than Barzun, who now in a brilliant and bitterly
pessimistic article declares that the American university
is dead. Murdered by two groups: first by the scientistic
behaviorists and vocationalists, and finally by barbarian
youth. The only hope is to form new small "lay monasteries"
to ride out the dark ages ahead.
Statism in America
I never thought that I would agree with J. K. Galbraith
on anything, but his witty "Richard Nixon and the Great
Socialist Revival", New York (September 21, 40¢) correctly
zeros in on the acceleration of pro-Big Business
"socialism" under the Nixon regime. Galbraith particularly
discusses the Lockheed affair and the business
drive (seconded, incidentally, by National Review) for
the nationalization of the bankrupt Penn Central railroad.
HTML formatting and proofreading by Joel Schlosberg.