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How Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard Took Liberty Down the Wrong Road

Here is a short excerpt from the latest Daily Bell interview with friend and fellow DPer, Nelson Hultberg, Founder and Executive Director of Americans for a Free Republic.

Daily Bell: You have a new book out entitled The Golden Mean: Libertarian Politics, Conservative Values. Can you explain briefly what your book is about?

Nelson Hultberg: When it first began in the early 1940s, the freedom movement in America was not split between libertarians and conservatives. It was one coalition unified in rebellion against FDR's welfare state. By 1970, however, the movement had become tragically bifurcated. Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard took libertarians off into anarchy, while the Burkean philosopher Russell Kirk drove conservatives into the complacency of welfare-statism. This split has created two incomplete visions (contemporary libertarianism and conservatism) that are, in their singularity, incapable of effectively challenging the authoritarian mega-state.

What must be done is to reunite these two divisions as they were in the beginning. This will require a rational theory of politics that can bring together the two philosophical streams of John Locke and Edmund Burke so as to restore the original "republic of states" that Jefferson and the Founders envisioned. It is the purpose of The Golden Mean to bring this about.

Only in this way can the forces of freedom become strong enough to check the relentless advance of modern day statism. This unity between libertarians and conservatives is the crucial missing ingredient in our fight to restore America. The Golden Mean lays the philosophical groundwork for its reinstillation.

This unity means a merging of libertarians with TRUE conservatives who believe in limited government, not with today's NEO conservatives who advocate the relentless expansion of government. Libertarians have a common ground with the "Old Republic" thinking of the 1940s, conservative minds like Richard Weaver, Robert Nisbet, and Frank Meyer.

The Golden Mean is much more, though, than a paean to the history of libertarianism and conservatism. It is a paradigm shifting book that will dramatically change the way one looks at political theory and the idea of a free society. It is meant for both the scholar and the educated layman.

Daily Bell: You have a new book out entitled The Golden Mean: Libertarian Politics, Conservative Values. Can you explain briefly what your book is about?

Nelson Hultberg: When it first began in the early 1940s, the freedom movement in America was not split between libertarians and conservatives. It was one coalition unified in rebellion against FDR's welfare state. By 1970, however, the movement had become tragically bifurcated. Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard took libertarians off into anarchy, while the Burkean philosopher Russell Kirk drove conservatives into the complacency of welfare-statism. This split has created two incomplete visions (contemporary libertarianism and conservatism) that are, in their singularity, incapable of effectively challenging the authoritarian mega-state.

What must be done is to reunite these two divisions as they were in the beginning. This will require a rational theory of politics that can bring together the two philosophical streams of John Locke and Edmund Burke so as to restore the original "republic of states" that Jefferson and the Founders envisioned. It is the purpose of The Golden Mean to bring this about.

Only in this way can the forces of freedom become strong enough to check the relentless advance of modern day statism. This unity between libertarians and conservatives is the crucial missing ingredient in our fight to restore America. The Golden Mean lays the philosophical groundwork for its reinstillation.

This unity means a merging of libertarians with TRUE conservatives who believe in limited government, not with today's NEO conservatives who advocate the relentless expansion of government. Libertarians have a common ground with the "Old Republic" thinking of the 1940s, conservative minds like Richard Weaver, Robert Nisbet, and Frank Meyer.

The Golden Mean is much more, though, than a paean to the history of libertarianism and conservatism. It is a paradigm shifting book that will dramatically change the way one looks at political theory and the idea of a free society. It is meant for both the scholar and the educated layman.

Daily Bell: Tell us about your book's title, The Golden Mean, what it refers to and why it is so important for freedom.

Nelson Hultberg: The Golden Mean is Aristotle's famous "doctrine of the mean" in philosophy discovered over 2300 years ago. It is one of the most powerful natural laws that govern existence, demonstrating what is virtue and what is vice in human affairs. It states that virtue consists of the rational course that lies between two opposite and natural extremes, i.e., the Golden Mean.

For example, Aristotle tells us in his Nicomachean Ethics that if a man is confronted with danger, he meets it in one of three ways. He succumbs to the extreme of cowardice or to the opposite extreme of rashness; or he chooses the middle course of "courage," which is contrary to both. In like fashion, a man can choose "liberality," which is midway between the opposite extremes of stinginess and extravagance, "self-control" between drunkenness and abstemiousness, and "ambition" between sloth and greed.

Aristotle's theory was based upon the fact that in most human action, there is a wide range of intensity, all the way from too little (defect) to too much (excess). In between such defect and excess, there lies an appropriate mean – a golden mean – which would be the good, with the two opposites of defect and excess being evils.

There are, of course, numerous values of life (other than the ones Aristotle put forth) that can also be placed on a spectrum to determine a mean. Human life entails a wide array of desires, actions, and needs, many of which can be portrayed in terms of a vice-virtue-vice relationship. Listed below are a few examples that I have put together:

Thus, midway between the defect of apathy and the excess of zealotry, there lies the rational balance of concern. Between vulgarity and prudery, there is the mean of decency. Between treason and fanaticism, there is loyalty. Between strife and humdrum, there is peace. And between tyranny and anarchy, there is a thing called freedom. Precisely how concern, decency, loyalty, peace and freedom are to be defined is often times in dispute, but what is important is that there is infused in reality a spectrum upon which such values can be placed, a spectrum where at some point men's actions become defective, excessive, or proper.

What is so beautiful about Aristotle's doctrine is that it shows all the noblest and most desired values of our existence – such as loyalty, faith, love, peace, order and freedom – to be means. All of the things we value most in life are "means" between two opposite vices. This is the way reality is constructed. Almost always there is a mean between two evils.

. . .

Daily Bell: How did libertarians come to embrace anarchism so fervently? What is the source of this philosophical misdirection, as you would say?

Read the whole interview to find out

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Michael Nystrom's picture

And your system exists only in your imagination

where it will remain, for the duration of your life.

All art is only done by the individual. The individual is all you ever have, and all schools only serve to classify their members as failures. E.H.

Yeah the fantasizing is a bit

Yeah the fantasizing is a bit much. "You just replace one security service with another" as if the laws of scarcity and supply and demand won't apply. There WILL be legal jurisdictions based on geography even in the most utopian anarchic society, Lime. If that weren't the case then one party who used a different agency (or no agency) could simply wrong a user of another agency with impunity because the second agency would have no jurisdiction to COERCE the opposing party. If you do not want to fall under a geographic jurisdiction you will need to leave, same as today. You need to really think these things through.

Ventura 2012

geography

The competing legal jurisdictions don't have to be based on geography, they can be based on subscriptions to a service (insurance or dispute resolutions organizations, etc.).

In order to "leave" that jurisdiction, you wait until your contract expires and switch over. No need to move.

I just refuted that. There is

I just refuted that. There is nothing to force you into court if you commit a tort against a subscriber of a different agency who's jurisdiction you have not consented to. Your subscription service is nothing more than an illegitimate mafia unless there is an implied consent doctrine like we have today where people in a certain geography are presumed to have consented.

Ventura 2012

Free market in law

Bob Murphy - The Market for Security:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSeYEz67Se4

David Friedman:

The most serious objection to free-market law is that plaintiff and defendant may not be able to agree on a common court. Obviously, a murderer would prefer a lenient judge. If the court were actually chosen by the disputants after the crime occurred, this might be an insuperable difficulty. Under the arrangements I have described, the court is chosen in advance by the protection agencies. There would hardly be enough murderers at any one time to support their own protective agency, one with a policy of patronizing courts that did not regard murder as a crime. Even if there were, no other protective agency would accept such courts. The murderers' agency would either accept a reasonable court or fight a hopeless war against the rest of society.

http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Libertarian/Machinery_of_Freed...

Another good article explaining free market law:

http://faculty.msb.edu/hasnasj/GTWebSite/MythWeb.htm

No disagreement

Those who work to avoid crime as victim, or as criminal, agree to do so, and those who don't: don't.

If there is anyone, anywhere, working against a free market of suppliers supplying the demand for "law," so called, they are, in fact, demonstrating a conflict of interests: yes or no?

1.
The demand, and the supply, is produced according to a willful desire to be a criminal, and to make victims victims in fact.

2.
The demand, and the supply, is produced according to a willful desire to avoid any crime and therefore to avoid any production, any supply, of victims.

That is the conflict of interests.

Yes or no?

Someone claims that a free market supplier is outside of the "law," so called, because that supplier is not up to par?

Which par?

Which is the willful goal?

1.
The stated goal, the goal stated to be the goal, by those who desire a ready supply of victims.

2.
The actual goal, which is opposite the stated goal, because criminals lie so much, is a desire to make a ready supply of victims to be victimized by the criminals who define the meaning of crime by their actions, and by their false words.

3.
The stated goal, which is the actual goal, which is to avoid being criminals, to avoid any production of victims whatsoever, and progress toward the goal is measurable over time as there are less criminals, and therefore less victims, because the desired goal is worked toward in an accurately effective manner.

If there is anyone, anywhere, working against a free market of suppliers supplying the demand for "law," so called, they are, in fact, demonstrating a conflict of interests: yes or no?

Is the answer yes, or is the answer no, when dealing with anyone claiming that a free market of "law," so called, is outside of the so called law, whereby that claimant is confessing a desire to be a criminal?

Yes, as an example, yes, I confess, the confessor confesses, my desire is to make my crimes pay well, for me, and therefore my desire is to outlaw the concept of defense against crime, by anyone, ever.

Is that true or not true in demonstrable fact?

Is it demonstrable, factual, to accurately know that anyone claiming that it is against the law to offer, freely, a competitive method of defending against crime, is a crime, and the confessor making that confession produces inculpatory evidence of that crime, as that criminal perpetrates that crime, in fact.

In other words, if criminals were inspired to tell the truth, then criminals would be less able, less powerful, when criminals were working to create a ready supply of victims.

A potential criminal, telling the truth, would announce their intention to injure their targeted victims without any confusion concerning the true motive of the criminal as the victims are then made aware of the clear and present danger of criminals ready to perpetrate crime upon the victims.

Again, the concept of law, is either/or, a desire for work to be done that effectively minimizes crime, or, on the other hand, the concept of law is, in fact, a desire to make crime pay well for the criminals who produce law so as to reach that goal of crime being legal for those criminals who are effectively working to make all their targeted victims precisely victims according to whatever the criminals want at any given time.

Which is it?

1.
Law is work done by those people who desire avoidance of crime, and their work reaches that goal of making crime pay less, and if possible crime pays nothing to anyone.

2.
Law is work done by those criminals who make their crimes legal for them to perpetrate while those criminals make their targeted victims pay whatever the criminals demand at any time once the criminals take over the power of law.

3.
The person in question has no clue that there are 2 versions of law, one is criminal, one is not criminal, and confusion over their being 2 versions, not 1 version, makes crime pay well, since the victims are the one's who are confused, and the criminals are not at all confused.

4.
The person in question is a criminal, and there won't be any confessions concerning the fact that the criminal version of law (monopoly) is criminal, and the non-criminal version of law (free market) will not be acknowledged by the criminal, since the criminal knows that crime pays well only when the victims are powerless to defend against crime.

Example:

The criminal will not acknowledge the non-criminal (free market) version of law that existed between 1776 and 1788 in America, because doing so, acknowledging the fact of defensive law being a fact, will effectively "kill the goose that lays the golden eggs" as confessions by criminals that their versions of "law," so called, being criminal versions, ends the POWER of that fraud.

Have a nice day.

Joe

David Friedman agrees with

David Friedman agrees with me:

1. Necessary prior implied consent to jurisdiction of courts by defense services.

2. Courts of last resort that must be adhered to coercively "or have war against the rest of society waged against it".

Where we differ is I remove the coercion from my model by having consent required as tied with the land, and Freidman says that the strongest defense forces kill to enforce court jurisdiction.

Ventura 2012

But do you allow for

But do you allow for competition in courts/security/law ?

Yes, but not within a

Yes, but not within a geographic territory(a town/county/city). Besides of course private security and mediation/arbitration. This is the best case scenario for anarcho-capitalists and its something that Rothbard, Hoppe, and Gillory have all accepted at one point or another. Their problem is that they have to enforce TOTAL non-aggression while at the same time making their system not look almost exactly like the state they are replacing, hence some contradictions.

Ventura 2012

The problem with your

The problem with your "refutation" is that "geographic jurisdiction" doesn't exists.

There is jurisdiction over subject matter and there is jurisdiction over "persons" that are created by, or subjects under, the gov't.

The fact that the US military is spread throughout the entire friggin world disproves your "refutation" and the idea of geographic jurisdiction.

Besides, geographic jurisdiction would yield a gov't with unlimited power over everything inside of it's territory, making it the anti-thesis to the very concept of liberty, which is probably why conservatives always wish geographic jurisdiction existed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jurisdiction#United_States

PS, google the phrase "territorial jurisdiction", pick the wikipedia link, and go to the "types". In the list, you'll find "extraterritorial jurisdiction", which totally demolishes the idea that jurisdiction has anything to do with geography, LMFAO!!!

"I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual."

You actually didn't reference

You actually didn't reference my point at all. All you did was refer to EXISTING jurisdictional law. Geographic jurisdiction is subsumed within personal jurisdiction. It is relevant today but far MORE relevant when neighbors cannot sue/press charges on each other because each subscribes to a different court/police agency.

Ventura 2012

I don't see how having

I don't see how having different auto insurance providers suffer from the problem you describe.....

.... Or how a security service would be any different.

Just like a bad insurance provider, a bad(for whatever reason) security service would go bankrupt when people stopped paying, being replaced by the service providers that we DO want to pay for. No waiting 4 years and praying that 51% want the same service as you. You'll get to vote every single day, and your single vote will instantly change YOUR service, and everyone else gets to keep the service THEY like.

The different services will get along for the same reason the auto insurers do: it's in their best intere$t(and good for their client base) to reach a settlement and AVOID warlording.

"I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual."

Because the insurance

Because the insurance providers all fall under the same Court system and their enforcement arms, while under an anarchy there would (allegedly) be competing courts and police. You don't really comprehend how much the civilized world relies on a stable and sweeping court system, particularly individuals.

Ventura 2012

Yeah, yeah, we had better

Yeah, yeah, we had better establish that "stable" system in a hurry then, huh? You know, so opposing states have a daddy to ask permission before going to war with each other.

Why should insurance, police, water, or war service get the privilege of circumventing the profit/loss test of ACTUALLY providing a valuable service. You say that these things are valuable, but how do you know? Gov't, by definition, isn't subjected to any test of value, and proceeds blindly. There simply is no way to compare the value of gov't vs. the value of keeping your tax money.

"I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual."

I would still consider

taking an active role in servicing one's needs (liberties) - such as making choices between security firms - as vigilance. At least, that's how I meant it.

That's where they lose me

That's where they lose me too, and that's where they lost Jefferson as well. They rely on the social contract, (I.e. You're born in this territory, you come of age, you can choose to stay and live by the existing rules or you can leave).

This isn't freedom, it's "freedom to choose to leave", but of course today even that "freedom" comes with a personal cost, and I'm not even referring to the cost of loss of contact with family and friends.

I do believe govt can be legitimate, but only if it can be entered into and exited from voluntarily BY THE LIVING.

Minimal govt libertarians say they believe in competition, why not competition between govts in a territory?

Never trouble trouble til trouble troubles you. Fortune Cookie

http://www.dailypaul.com/2911

http://www.dailypaul.com/291172#comment-3125361

You cant have COMPETING co-equal governments with jurisdiction in the same territory.

Ventura 2012

Not just idealistic and

Not just idealistic and unrealistic: COUNTERPRODUCTIVE. As Hultberg said. An-Caps are the Establishment's greatest ally in discrediting us.

Ventura 2012

An AnCap might say in

An AnCap might say in response that minimal govt libertarians are the big govt defenders best friends, as they legitimize the use of force via govt.

It's a matter of degree, I grant you, and most AnCaps would be satisfied with a truly minimal govt, so the argument really is how best to get there.

Never trouble trouble til trouble troubles you. Fortune Cookie

That would be true in a

That would be true in a vacuum but is not true in the current environment with the current populace. We're trying to convince statists to accept less government, not anarchists to accept more. We are literally trying to convince statists that we are NOT anarchists and that our system will NOT lead to anarchy. So to your next point, how best to get there is to avoid talking about anarchism.

Ventura 2012

eternal vigilance

Vigilance is only required when a violent monopoly exists.

What are you talking about?

What are you talking about? Vigilance is required to ensure enforcement and performance of every contract.

Ventura 2012

The puzzle (assuming one

The puzzle (assuming one accepts the thesis that man is evil by nature) is;

a. governments must be run by men, inherently evil men
b. in order to keep government in check, men, inherently evil men, must be vigilant

I don't see how this puzzle can ever be solved.

We all accept ("all" being all of us working towards greater liberty) that government can become oppressive. Where we differ is as to whether it can be checked. Maybe it can, but not until there is a critical mass of citizens who accept certain foundational principles such as NAP (i.e. until there is a critical mass of "good" people).

Of all the founders, Jefferson, IMO, was by far the greatest thinker. Yet despite his great admiration for Madison's checks and balances design, Jefferson was skeptical of federalism, and even had trouble with the constitution even including the bill of rights because it required the social contract. Jefferson, rightly, struggled with how to achieve a truly voluntary government, because he recognized that the ONLY government that is legitimate is a voluntary one.

That Jefferson never found the answer to how voluntary government is practically achieved does not mean that his instincts were wrong.

Government IS evil. It MAY be necessary now and in the future. It is legitimate ONLY if it is entered into voluntarily BY THE LIVING.

Never trouble trouble til trouble troubles you. Fortune Cookie

voluntary organization = government

people agree to organize into a system to create order and economies of scale. Government is not some abstract behemoth. Before it swells, it is merely a structure created by free men.

How many people signed the Constitution?

Government is only voluntary to those who agree to it. The slaves - African or otherwise - never signed the Constitution. Native Americans never signed the Constitution.

Michael Nystrom's picture

This is a good zinger. In fact - excellent! +1!

But what would you propose instead, that would be better?

Anarchy? There's nothing even there to sign.

All art is only done by the individual. The individual is all you ever have, and all schools only serve to classify their members as failures. E.H.

Feudalism. Glad to see you

Feudalism. Glad to see you jump into the fight.

Ventura 2012

No signers

No signers means no rulers. When there are rulers you have no rules (animal farm).

This is a total non-sequitor.

This is a total non-sequitor. There are no such rulers contemplated in the Republic. No one has absolute power.

Ventura 2012

rulers = no rules

No "one" person has absolute power. But one institution does have a violent monopoly.

The idea is to eliminate violent monopolies on law and courts and replace them with peaceful markets on law and courts.