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Anarchy, degradation, and extremism!

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The Journal of Libertarian Studies continues to bring you exciting cutting-edge scholarship in libertarian theory. Here’s what you’ll find in issue 20.3:

  • One of the most popular contemporary arguments for the state comes from game theorists, who tend to model interaction without the state as a coordination problem which can be solved only by centrally imposed governmental force. But in “Fallacies in the Theories of the Emergence of the State,” Bertrand Lemennicier argues that such game-theoretic arguments routinely disregard the variety of ways in which, once the participants of a coordination problem recognize the payoff structure of the situation they are in, they have a clear incentive to take advantage of a number of available means of altering that situation. Lemennicier’s analysis makes the case for a far more optimistic view of the prospects for successful cooperation in the absence of the state.

  • The common assumption that the state is necessary for national defense has been criticized by free-market anarchists, who often point to the possibility of market provision of military protection. But, notes Carl Watner, these anarchist critics have too often neglected the possibility of modes of protection that are not only nonstate but also nonmilitary and nonviolent. In “Without Firing a Shot: Societal Defense and Voluntaryist Resistance,” Watner draws on libertarian theory, civilian defense theory, and historical examples to argue that nonviolent mass disobedience can be far more effective in resisting an invader than is generally recognized, inasmuch as such resistance exploits the fact that governmental power depends crucially on the acquiescence of those it subjugates.

  • Barry D. Simpson sets out to show how the work of nineteenth-century educational theorist Robert Lewis Dabney anticipates and complements, in certain respects, contemporary libertarian economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s critique of democracy. In “The Cultural Degradation of Universal Education: The Educational Views of Robert Lewis Dabney,” Simpson explains Dabney’s arguments that state-mandated universal education tends, not to bring the least educated up to the level of the best educated, but rather the reverse; that by awakening aspirations without providing the means of satisfying them, it tends to an increase in crime and incivility; and that insofar as it is administered by the state, education will inevitably have its content dictated by the power struggles of special interests rather than by the desires of parents or the needs of children.

  • Some nine years ago Walter Block and the late Milton Friedman exchanged a number of letters debating the roles of moderation and gradualism versus radical extremism in making the case for liberty, with Friedman, often a free-market extremist in the eyes of the economic profession generally, playing the moderate relative to Block’s more radical libertarianism. A few months ago Dr. Friedman graciously granted permission for this exchange to be published in the JLS; as this issue went to press, we could not have known that its publication would coincide with Friedman’s death, but the unexpected timing gives the journal a fitting opportunity to pay tribute to a great champion of liberty. “Fanatical, Not Reasonable: A Short Correspondence Between Walter Block and Milton Friedman” may thus be said to represent both, excitingly, Friedman’s first publication in the JLS, and, sadly, his last publication during his lifetime.

  • David Conway has argued that classical liberals should defend nationalism against the claims of supranational entities like the European Union on the one hand, and against the decentralist arguments of secessionists and anarchists on the other. J. C. Lester, in a review of Conway’s book In Defence of the Realm: The Place of Nations in Classical Liberalism, takes issue with Conway’s position from an anarcho-libertarian perspective, discussing issues ranging from immigration and cultural group rights to 9/11 and the Israel-Palestine conflict.

  • Jacob T. Levy has maintained that the primary case for multiculturalist legislation lies in its potential to block the oppression of some cultures by others. In a review of Levy’s book The Multiculturalism of Fear, Marcus Verhaegh worries that Levy’s approach manifests an uneasy tension between suspicion of particularist identities on the one hand and suspicion of attempts to suppress such identities on the other; Verhaegh suggests that a more positive appreciation for particularist identities can be reconciled with the kind of protection from oppression that Levy seeks by embracing a more decentralist, libertarian vision.

  • Andrew P. Napolitano represents a perhaps surprising combination: former Superior Court judge, chief legal analyst for Fox News, and natural-law libertarian theorist. William L. Anderson reviews Napolitano’s book Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When the Government Breaks Its Own Laws, which details the myriad ways in which the U.S. government routinely abuses its power in defiance of the limited-government strictures embodied in the Constitution.

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