Walter Block Interviewed by Institut Coppet
Walter Block is interviewed by Grégoire Canlorbe of Institut Coppet on a variety of topics including modern Catholic social teaching, consumer sovereignty, and more:
Grégoire Canlorbe: It is often argued (especially among Catholic circles and even more broadly, conservative ones) that the mistake of the libertarian thought is to overlook the “communautary” dimension of the human being and to thus reduce man to an economic actor, in turn reducing interpersonal relationships to mere market relationships. The anthropological model of libertarians does not take into account the natural membership of human beings to many circles, from the family to the city, circles which assign man rights and duties. The model reduces the human being to a mere dealing animal and forgets that he is also a “political” animal.
Is this reasoning sound, at least in part, in your opinion?
Walter Block: Not sound. It misunderstands libertarianism. That philosophy is, solely, a theory of the just use of violence. It says that violence may be used, only, in defense, or retaliation, but never initiated against innocent persons or their legitimately held property. If anything, this objection is better launched at Austrian economics, not libertarianism. But even there, it fails, abysmally. For Austrian economics is a theory of cause and effect, and claims that human purposes are the fountainhead of economic activity. Where this criticism makes the most sense is when launched not against Austrianism, or libertarianism but mainstream economics. The neoclassicals buy into this crazy notion of economic man, or homo economicus, and perfect competition. But even here, most of the mainstream economists are not quite as bad as depicted above; particularly the ones involved in political economy. They know, pretty much, that man, is a political animal. Certainly, the Public Choicers in particular cannot reasonably be accused of this fallacy.