Power & Market

Laurence Vance on Libertarianism

03/03/2019David Gordon

The Free Society. By Laurence M. Vance. Vance Publications, 2018. Xii + 468 pages.

Laurence Vance is best known for his work as a specialist on the King James translation of the Bible, but he is also an outstanding writer on libertarian issues. In The Free Society, he has collected a large number of his articles for the period 2005-2017, almost all of which first appeared first in LewRockwell.com or the Future of Freedom Foundation. The articles are well worth reading, as they display the author’s sharp mind and consistent outlook.

Vance, who is a conservative Christian, maintains that the Bible supports a libertarian viewpoint. That opinion puts him at odds with those religious believers who wish to use government to enforce personal morals, but Vance is undaunted: “So why do I think that religion---in this case the Christian religion—is compatible with libertarianism? Let me give you two verses of Scripture, one from the Old Testament and one from the New, since Christians accept the authority of both: Proverbs 3:30--- ‘Strive not with a man without cause, if hath done thee no harm.’   1 Peter 4:15----But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.’ These verses, my friends, embody the essence of libertarianism. Don’t kill anyone, don’t take what’s not yours, don’t do anything wrong, don’t stick your nose into someone else’s business, and don’t bother anyone if he hasn’t bothered you.” (p.20)

Libertarianism, Vance, explains, should be taken in a strict way. The welfare state should be rejected, for example, not mainly because it is economically inefficient but because to take from some to give to others violates people’s rights. “Of course, I oppose welfare payments! It is immoral to take from those who work and give it to those who don’t---even when the government does it. All charity should be private and voluntary.” (p.39)

One final illustration of Vance’s uncompromising adherence libertarian principle: “Since no parent in the United States is forced to send his child to a government school, it is a myth that we need ‘school choice’(meaning vouchers) so that children can get out of an unsafe, failing government school.” (p.85)

Vance is a consistently illuminating writer, and I highly recommend his work.

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Livestream of Tonight's Fractional Reserve Banking Debate between Bob Murphy and George Selgin

04/16/2018Mises Institute

Tonight Mises Senior Fellow Bob Murphy is debating George Selgin of Cato's Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives on the topic of fractional reserve banking. The host is Gene Epstein's Soho Forum, an excellent monthly debate series based in New York City. 

You can watch live tonight at 6:30 ET on Reason's Facebook page

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London Homicides Now Matching Those in NYC

04/02/2018Ryan McMaken

Greater London and New York City have similar population sizes at around 8.6 million. And now, for the first time, homicides in London are on a par with those in New York City. 

As reported by the BBC: 

  • In January, the Met investigated eight murders whereas the NYPD looked into 18 killings
  • By February, the NYPD's figures had dropped to 11, while London's rose to 15
  • In March, 22 murders were investigated in London while 21 inquiries were launched in New York

These numbers, notably, exclude London homicides defined as resulting from "terrorism" — although the US does not exclude "terrorism" from its homicide counts. 

Officials in London, in turn have blamed "knife crime" and even blame social media: 

Britain's most senior police officer recently said social media was partially to blame for the soaring rate of knife crime in the UK. 

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said websites and mobile phone applications such as YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram were partially to blame for the bloodshed.

The current orthodoxy around homicides, of course, dictates that this should never happen. The current assumption underlying gun control laws is that gun control brings lower homicide rates. 

And yet, By Western European standards, guns are easy to come by in New York City — although New York is quite restrictive by US standards. 

If homicide rates continue to grow substantially, London could end up subject to the sort of crime problem not seen in the UK in more than a century. We we've discussed in the past, the UK has been a region with low crime going back more than a century. The nation's low homicide rates pre-date the introduction of gun control laws in the 1920s. 

Nevertheless, officials have now been conditioned to think of all crime in terms of being caused by a lack of weapons prohibition. Hence, we hear about "knife crime" and what an epidemic it is. We even occasionally hear about calls for banning kitchen knives in the UK. 

Growing crime in London also has the potential to significantly affect nationwide statistics since a sizable 13 percent of the UK population lives in Greater London. 

Homicides statistics in the US have already been similarly affected since increases in crime in only a handful of cities have been driving increases in homicide rates in recent years. 

As with the US, it is likely that most of the UK outside certain areas of certain cities remains remarkably safe, in spite of recent upward trends in London.  

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Lew Rockwell Awarded the Prestigious Roland Baader Award

02/23/2018Mises Institute

The Institute of Austrian Asset Management has awarded Lew Rockwell with the prestigious 2018 Roland Baader Award, for his contributions to Austrian economics. 

From a translation of the IfAAM press release:

The Institute for Austrian Asset Management (IfAAM) announces that the journalist Llewellyn Harrison (Lew) Rockwell Jr. receives the "ROLAND BAADER Award 2018". The ceremony will take place on 2 June 2018 at the 9th Hamburg Mark Banco Anlegertagung in the Historisches Museum Hamburg.

Without the journalistic and entrepreneurial commitment of Lew Rockwell, the Austrian School of Economics or the Austrian School of Economics would be just a footnote in the history of ideas today. His contribution to the popularization of this tradition of thinking and to the preservation and further development of their approaches can hardly be overestimated. In a hostile academic and journalistic environment marked by statists and fellow travelers in the United States and Europe, Rockwell proved courageous in uncomfortable positions. He personally acted alongside Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard, his most important student in the US, who entrusted Rockwell with their intellectual heritage.

In the name of Ludwig von Mises, with the consent and co-operation of his wife, Rockwell founded the Ludwig von Mises Institute in 1982, which he developed into the world's leading center of the Austrian School. The institute was founded in deliberate contrast to "think tanks", which cut back on principles for the purpose of influencing politics, and universities that are increasingly dominated by careerists and thinkers. The Mises Institute utilized he Internet to address a wide audience, especially young readers. A large part of the scientific writings of the Austrian School are made freely available in a comprehensive digital library worldwide. Without the work of the Mises Institute , the rediscovery of the Austrian School would hardly have happened. All over the world, interested people can find the ideas and approaches of this almost forgotten tradition via the internet.

In 1999, Rockwell launched LewRockwell.com, one of the oldest and most successful weblogs for the Austrian School, and became a model for many publicists. He proved that a journalist can reach a mass audience, even without the mainstream media, thanks to the internet.

In his work, which does not shy away from simple language, popular themes, and sharp words on the zeitgeist, he made for the US, what succeeded Roland Baader in German-speaking countries. This makes Lew Rockwell an obvious and deserving winner of the Roland Baader Award. 

Learn more about the IfAAM here. 

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Leftists Now Rushing to Defend CIA Torture Advocates

02/07/2018Ryan McMaken

In the early 1960s, Ronald Hamowy criticized the American conservative movement for degenerating into a movement defending "the rack, the thumbscrew, the whip, and the firing squad." The movement had become, Hamowy concluded, a party of knee-jerk allegiance to the American state in the name of fighting foreign threats, both real and imagined. 

Whether or not the American right is on the road to rehabilitation on this matter remains an open question. 

Meanwhile, the American left appears to have traveled far down this same road in recent decades. 

Back in 2013, this trend was already being examined by Sean Scallon at The American Conservative who noted the rise of the "nationalist left" which was becoming increasingly militaristic and deferential toward the American security state. 


The trend has only accelerated more recently, and now, thanks to anti-Russian hysteria on the left, even former 60's "counter culture" leftists are coming to the defense of the CIA and the military establishment. 

Caitlin Johnstone writes:

In the hit 1970s sitcom All in the Family, Rob Reiner played Michael Stivic, whose progressive countercultural 1960s sensibilities made him a perfect foil for his bigoted, conservative father-in-law Archie Bunker's struggles to adapt to a rapidly changing world.

Now a celebrated advocate of the Democratic party, Reiner's great artistic achievement in 2017 was collaborating with neoconservatives and intelligence community insiders to produce a jarring propaganda videofeaturing Morgan Freeman warning that "we are at war" with Russia. So far his masterpiece of 2018 is a tweet declaring that if you "libel" Russophobic eugenicist James Clapper and CIA torture facilitator-turned-MSNBC pundit John Brennan you are libeling America.

We never set out to become our parents. A counterculture never sets out to become the thing it rebelled against. An actor never sets out to become a twisted mockery of the character he once played. But it happens.

That video Johnstone mentions, by the way, is a sight to behold. It's right up there with the rightwing propaganda of the immediate post-9/11 world which presented George W. Bush as some sort of savior of Western civilization. But at least that stuff was in line with the American right's openly-stated militaristic tendencies.

While Reiner and friends rush to the defense of America's primary advocates for torture, spying, and endless war, they also claim to be part of "the resistance" and the defenders of the little guy. In truth, the American left has become yet another party of "the rack and the thumbscrew." 

It all just illustrates yet again that American politics is now nearly impossible to parody. 

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