Defending the Defendable
Ron Paul for President in 2012: Yes to Ron Paul and Liberty by Walter E. Block. Bronx, New York: ISHI Press International.
Walter Block is well known for his book Defending the Undefendable. In this new work, Walter presents a series of essays to “make the case for his [Ron Paul’s] occupancy of the White House. Each and every last one of these chapters is an attempt on my [Walter’s] part to expand and expound upon his [Congressman Paul’s] views, to publicize them, to promote his candidacy, to defend it against attacks from within and without the libertarian movement” (p. 13).
While the book is written to defend and support Dr. Paul’s run for the highest elected office in this country, the book is important in a broader context. In these essays Professor Block does what he does best, defend the defendable; libertarian principles and Austrian economics. Readers of this book, even those who consider themselves well versed in either or both of the above, will find their understanding clarified, enhanced, or reinforced by Walter’s biting commentary on Paul’s “distinctive views on three issues; foreign policy, personal liberties, and economics” (p. 16). In fact, as I first began reading, I was reminded of a most enlightening dinner at an Austrian Scholars Conference in the late 1990s where I was fortunate enough to be sitting between Walter and Stephan Kinsella as they engaged in a vigorous discussion of various fine points and controversies in libertarian philosophy; extensions and applications of the non-aggression axiom.
As the self appointed Jewish Mother of the libertarian movement, Walter, while promoting Ron Paul, does not shy away from ‘nudging’, not only his readers, but also Ron Paul. One of my favorites:
Gold. Strictly speaking, you [Congressman Paul], do NOT favor a gold standard. Rather you favor free market money: any monetary medium chosen by market participants. The reason you mention gold at all is that whenever people were “free to choose” (title of a book written by an opponent of the gold standard, Milton Friedman), as a historical fact they chose gold (and sometimes, silver). But, if in the future, under the sort of free enterprise system you will promote as president of the United States, if the market settled on copper or platinum, or indeed anything else, you would have no quarrel with that outcome (p. 172). [For an in depth discussion see Jeffrey M. Herbener recent excellent testimony to the Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology, Committee of Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives, “ Production of Money on the Market”)
If I could nit: the book does suffer slightly from repetition, sloppy editing, and sources mentioned in the text but not listed in the references at the end. An index might have been useful as well.
However, Walter effectively explains the importance of Paul’s candidacy for increasing awareness of and acceptance of libertarianism philosophy to a broader public (something I experienced this spring as I returned to the classroom after nearly 7 years in administration). In my view, Block effectively responds to Paul’s critics both from within and outside the libertarian movement. Readers, like me, who have not been as active as supporters as we should have been, will hopefully, stand correctly chastised and nudged to greater efforts in the future. Would that we could all do as much and as effectively for liberty as Dr. Paul (and Professor Block).