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Thread: Hoppe vs. Block: The Moral Duty to Destroy Hamas

  1. #1

    Hoppe vs. Block: The Moral Duty to Destroy Hamas

    Hans-Hermann Hoppe's rebuttal to and renunciation (excommunication ?) of Block is in the post after this one.

    The Moral Duty to Destroy Hamas
    Israel is entitled to do whatever it takes to uproot this evil, depraved culture that resides next to it.
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-mor...hamas-ba626a41
    [archive: https://archive.is/RzTM5]
    {Walter Block & Alan G. Futerman | 11 October 2023}

    A mob of Islamist Arabs incited by Jew-hatred entered the town and killed as many Jews as they could find. They went door to door, broke into the homes of their victims, and slaughtered innocent men, women and children. These gangs raped, mutilated and tortured them while screaming “Kill the Jews!”

    That was 94 years ago, on Saturday, Aug. 24, 1929, in Hebron. The picture is essentially the same, only that then the Arab riots that included this massacre ended with 133 Jews murdered. This time, it is several times as many, and we don’t know the final figure.

    Given that the events are virtually the same, the question is: Why? There was no state of Israel in 1929. There were no “occupied” territories, no “settlers.” There was no “blockade.” No security fence, no checkpoints, nothing. If the excuses of today’s murderers did not exist at that time, what did exist? A deep, maniacal, murderous and utterly destructive hatred of Jews—the same essential factor operating today, to which all other excuses are subservient.

    It has been the policy of the state of Israel not to show what its enemies do to its citizens. That both kept the victims’ dignity and prevented the demoralization of Israelis. But it also avoided letting the world see clearly what kind of threat Israelis were dealing with. What kind of true evil they are fighting against. Now that is clear. The videos showing mass murder; the kidnapping of children, elderly and women; the storming of a music festival to shoot and kill whatever person they could find; and the stories of rape, execution and utter destruction are there for the world to see.

    These images and videos were propagated by the assassins themselves. They use them to show their strength and prove Israeli weakness. To demonstrate to the Palestinian Arab population that the Jews can be killed like flies. What does it say of a society that these monsters think this type of “propaganda” is a “good” way to mobilize the population? It screams of a deeply perverse and murderous culture, in love with death and destruction. It is the same culture that teaches toddlers to hate. The same society that pays wages to mass murderers and celebrates on the streets with sweets and shootings when Jews get killed. It is the culture that creates the types of monsters capable of the evil they themselves proudly show to the world through social media.

    “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” chant the useful idiots at elite institutions and parades in the West. Who are these people? Atheists who support theocratic lunatics, democrats who endorse medieval tyrants, feminists who defend misogynists who parade with the desecrated corpses of women, gays who defend maniacs who would joyfully hang them or toss them off the roof of a tall building. They talk of a secular, democratic and socialist Palestine. As George Orwell observed: “One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.” But the world has now seen what “from the river to the sea” actually means. It is nothing less than a remake of the Nazi Einsatzgruppen.

    Israel expelled its own population from Gaza in 2005 so that Palestinian Arabs could begin building their own state. They instead chose Hamas. The enemies of Israel aren’t in favor of a Palestinian state. They aren’t in favor of anything positive, but only of a negative: the denial of life, especially of Jewish life. The goal is genocide. The method is mass murder of the type Jews haven’t experienced since the Holocaust.

    Hence, the West needs to understand that to defend human life and dignity, it isn’t enough to claim to side with Israel. It needs to understand what this means: total, unrestrictive support. That is nothing less than allowing this beleaguered country to defend itself fully. To recognize that Hamas needs to be destroyed for the same reason and by the same method that the Nazis were. Israel is entitled to do whatever it takes to uproot this evil residing next to it. And, more important, that once it begins to proceed in that direction, it won’t be demonized for defending that which is the core of Western civilization and which its enemies hate the most: the love of everyone’s right to human life, dignity and happiness.

    In other words, it needs to support a complete, total and decisive Israeli victory. If this implies an overwhelming, unprecedented use of military force, so be it. Hamas is and will be responsible for any civilian casualties. Cause and effect. They created their own destruction, and its consequences.

    Mere victory isn’t enough. Israel has won every war it has ever fought. This time, the triumph must be so thorough and conclusive that there will never be any other war for this country. Israel has a moral right to finish the job, and the West has a moral duty to support it. Let Israel do what it must to finish this war in the fastest way possible, with the minimum civilian and military casualties on its side. The consequences of this lie on the group that initiated the causal sequence—the one that must be completely destroyed, Hamas.
    Last edited by Occam's Banana; 01-31-2024 at 07:22 PM.
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    Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850)

    • "When law and morality are in contradiction to each other, the citizen finds himself in the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense, or of losing his respect for the law."
      -- The Law (p. 54)
    • "Government is that great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else."
      -- Government (p. 99)
    • "[W]ar is always begun in the interest of the few, and at the expense of the many."
      -- Economic Sophisms - Second Series (p. 312)
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      -- Harmonies of Political Economy - Book One (p. 447)

    · tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito ·



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  3. #2
    An Open Letter to Walter E. Block
    https://www.lewrockwell.com/2024/01/...mes-necessary/
    {Hans-Hermann Hoppe | 31 January 2024}

    Breaking up with a person you have known for more than thirty years, with whom you have participated in countless conferences and co-authored a couple of articles, even if only in the somewhat distant past, is nothing done lightly. It is even harder, if one shares with this person a common standing as a public intellectual and both our names are mentioned frequently in one breath as prominent students of the same teacher, Murray N. Rothbard, and as leading intellectual lights of the modern libertarian movement founded by Rothbard.

    But then: in this position, it becomes near-imperative to always stay on guard and take notice if a person closely associated with your own name goes astray and falls into serious error, and you may be compelled to publicly distance and dis-associate yourself from this person in order to protect your own personal and intellectual reputation (along with Rothbard’s and that of the entire libertarian intellectual edifice). Such is the case with Walter Block.

    Block, to his credit, has published countless articles that pass muster by libertarian standards and there are likely many more to come, he has effusively praised Rothbard over and over again and he likes to refer to himself as the “sweet and kind Walter.” However, he has also published materials that clearly disqualify him as a libertarian and Rothbardian and that reveal him instead as an unhinged collectivist taken in by genocidal impulses, very much like Rand and the Randians recently taken to task by Fernando Chiocca, rather than a sweet and kind person

    I will offer three exhibits to substantiate this claim.

    [additional matter hidden to save space]
     
    Exhibit one: Block’s writings (together with Alan Futerman and Rafi Faber) on the classical liberal respectively libertarian case for Israel, endorsed (surprise, surprise!) by Benjamin Netanyahu.

    The cornerstone of the libertarian doctrine is the idea and institution of private property. Property, whether in land or anything else, is lawfully (and justly) acquired either by means of original appropriation of previously unowned resources (homesteading) or else by means of voluntary property transfer from a prior to some later owner. All property is always and invariably the property of some specific, identifiable individual(s), and all property transfers and exchanges take place between specified individuals and concern specified, identifiable objects. In reverse: all claims to property by a person who had neither homesteaded or previously produced such property, nor acquired it through voluntary transfer from some previous owner are unlawful (unjust).

    For the potential problem of restitution or compensation this implies: In every case of conflicting property claims brought to trial for judgment, the presumption is always in favor of the current possessor of the resource under consideration, and the burden of a proof-to-the-contrary is always on the opponent of the current state of affairs and current possessions. The opponent must demonstrate that he, contrary to prima facie appearance, has a better claim because he has an older title to some specified piece of property than its current owner and whose ownership is hence unlawful. If and only if an opponent can successfully demonstrate this must the questionable possession be restored as property to him. On the other hand, if the opponent fails to make this case matters stay the way they are.

    It is not in question that a considerable number of cases exists, where lawful compensation or restitution is owed: where person A can demonstrate that he is the lawful owner of some specified piece of property currently in possession and wrongfully claimed as his own by another person B. It is also not in question that there exist some cases, in which a current property owner can trace back the title to some of his present holdings for many generations. But it should also be obvious that for most people and most present holdings any such back-tracing from present to past ends up lost in history very quickly and, in any case, gets increasingly more difficult and murky with time, leaving little if any room for any present-day reparation-demands for “ancient” crimes.

    How about 2000 year old crimes? Is there any one living person to be found today, who can claim lawful ownership of some specific piece of property (land, jewelry) that is and has been for a couple of thousand years in the possession of others, by demonstrating his own prior claim to these possessions through proof of an uninterrupted chain of property title transfers going from him and today back all the way to some specific ancestor living at Biblical times and unlawfully victimized at that time? This is not inconceivable, of course, but I very much doubt that any such case can be found. I would want to see it, before I believe it.

    And yet, Block et. al., in their attempt of presenting the liberal respectively libertarian case for Israel, maintain that they can justify the claim of present-day Jews to a homeland in Palestine based on their status as “heirs” of Jews having lived two millennia ago in the region then called Judea. Not surprisingly, however, except for the single and in itself highly questionable case of the Kohanim (Jews of priestly descent) and their specific connection to the Temple Mount, they do not provide a shred of evidence how in the world any one specific present-day Jew, through a time-span of more than two thousand years, can be connected to any one specific ancient Jew and be established as legitimate heir of some specific piece of property stolen or otherwise taken from him two thousand years ago.

    The claim of present-day Jews to a homeland in Palestine, then, can only be made if you abandon the methodological individualism underlying and characteristic of all libertarian thought: the notion of individual personhood, of private property, private product and accomplishment, private crime and private guilt. Instead, you must adopt some form of collectivism that allows for such notions as group or tribal property and property rights, collective responsibility and collective guilt.

    This turn from an individualistic to a collectivistic perspective is on clear display in Block’s et. al. summary conclusion (p.537):

    “Rothbard supports homesteading as the legitimate means of ownership (the first homesteader gets the land, not any subsequent one)….Libertarians deduce from this fact that stolen property must be returned to its original owners, or their heirs. This is the case for reparations. Well, the Romans stole the land from the Jews around two millennia ago; the Jews never gave this land to the Arabs or anyone else. Thus according to libertarian theory it should be returned to the Jews.”

    Bingo. But homesteading is done by some specific Ben or Nate, not by “the Jews,” and likewise reparations for crimes committed against Ben or Nate are owed to some specific David or Moshe as their heir, not to “the Jews,” and they concern specific pieces of property, not all of “Israel.” Unable to find any present David or Moshe that can be identified as ancient Ben’s or Nate’s heir to some specified piece of property, however, all reparation claims directed against any current owner are without any base.

    Another property theory is needed to still make the case for a Jewish homeland. And Block and his coauthors offer such a theory: property rights and reparation claims can allegedly also be justified by genetic and cultural similarity. Ancient Jews and present-day Jews are genetically and culturally related and hence present-day Jews are entitled to the property stolen from ancient Jews; and the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs immediately before and in the aftermath of the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, then, is not a crime but simply the re-possession of what legitimately belongs and has belonged for two millennia to the Jews.

    Yet this theory is not only obviously incompatible with libertarianism. It is also plain absurd.

    Just consider: Jews lived for hundreds of years in Egypt and when they finally reached their “promised land” this was by no means empty. According to Deuteronomy and Joshua quite a bit of killing, pillaging and raping had to be done before taking over the land. Ancient Jews were not just homesteaders, they were also perpetrators, and there had been already plenty of ethnic mixing with other people of other tribes, with Egyptians, Greeks and all sorts of other people around the Mediterranean, long before the Romans arrived and took over, and this genetic admixture, later also with Arabs, continued up to the present day. Any genetic linking of present-day Jews to ancient Jews, then, becomes an impossible task. There are contemporary Jews that show no genetic traces to ancient Jews, and there are plenty of Gentiles who do show such traces; and in any case, the genetic similarities to be found between the ancient and the present Jews will be one of countless variations and degrees. How to decide then who of the contemporaries is entitled to what part or portion of the holy land? (Interestingly, it appears that the closest genetic similarity to ancient Jews could be found among indigenous Christian Palestinians.)

    Moreover: what if this fanciful new theory of property acquisition and inheritance via genetic similarity were generalized to all tribes and ethnicities? There are countless cases of expropriations and expulsions of one group or tribe by another in human history, of victims and of perpetrators, involving non-Jews as well as latter day Jews. How about every group of present descendants of some historical victim group demanding the restitution of assets currently held by the members of another group or tribe on account of the fact that such assets had been stolen from one’s ethnic forebears some time way back in history (whether by the group of present owners or any other group)? The result would be legal chaos, interminable strife, conflict and war.

    If this collectivistic nonsense is not enough to disqualify Block as a libertarian, the following exhibit, demonstrating its monstrous consequences, should remove even the slightest remaining doubt that he is anything but a libertarian, a Rothbardian or a sweet and nice person.

    Exhibit two: This is a recent editorial by Block (again co-authored with Futerman), originally most prominently published (although behind a paywall) by one of the most establishment papers, the WSJ, (what a surprise!) and subsequently easily accessibly reprinted on Block’s own newsletter on October 12, 2023. It is titled “The Moral Duty to Destroy Hamas. Israel is entitled to do whatever it takes to uproot this evil, depraved culture that resides next to it,” and as the title already indicates, it is this screed of his, then, that reveals Block as an unhinged, bloodthirsty monster, rather than a libertarian committed to the non-aggression-principle as the second, complementary foundational pillar of the libertarian doctrine.

    Subject here are the events of October 7th, 2023, its aftermath and consequences. On that day, members of the so-called Hamas, running the Gaza strip, attacked, maimed, killed and kidnapped a large number of Israeli soldiers and civilians. (As is to be expected in any type of war, both warring parties are presenting widely different stories concerning the actual events and numbers. What has become clear so far is only that the number of casualties runs in the several hundreds to low one thousands, and that a considerable portion of such casualties were actually the result of “friendly fire,” per helicopter, by the Israeli Defense Forces.)

    What is a libertarian supposed to make of this event? First, he must recognize that both, Hamas and the State of Israel, are gangs financed and funded not by voluntary membership contributions but by extortion, taxation, confiscation and expropriation. Hamas does so in Gaza, with the people living in Gaza, and the State of Israel does it with the people living in Israel as well as the Palestinians living in the West Bank. Gaza is a tiny, poor and densely populated territory, and Hamas is accordingly a small, low-budget gang, with only some rag-tag army and little and mostly low-grade weaponry. Israel is a much larger, significantly more prosperous and less densely populated territory, and the State of Israel, subsidized long-lastingly and heavily by the world’s mightiest and wealthiest of all gangs, the USA, is a big and high-budget gang, with some large, well-trained professional army, equipped with the most sophisticated and destructive weaponry available, including atomic bombs.

    The older one of these two fighting gangs is the State of Israel, itself established only recently, in 1948, by mostly European Jews of Zionist persuasion, and by means of intimidation, terrorism, war and conquest directed against the then-present, and for many centuries before, mostly Arab residents of the region of Palestine. And it was also by means of intimidation, terrorism, war and conquest, then, that the explicitly Jewish State of Israel was successively expanded to its present size. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs were uprooted, expropriated and expelled from their homes and turned into refugees as a result; and large numbers of these victims or their direct heirs are still in possession of valid title to land or other properties now in possession of the State of Israel (the Israeli Land Authority) and its Jewish citizens. (At best, only a meager 7 percent of the present Israeli territory was regularly acquired or purchased by Jews before 1948, and could thus be claimed as legitimate Jewish property.)

    Hamas, on the other hand, is one of several Arab resistance movements, parties and gangs formed in reaction to the Israeli-Jewish take-over and occupation of Palestine. Founded originally in 1987, and since 2006 in control of the Gaza Strip, which was and still is subject to a rigorous land, air and sea blockade by Israel and hence frequently referred to by knowledgeable observers as an open-air concentration camp, Hamas is committed to the reconquest of the lost territories, including by means of violence and acts of terror such as on October 7th. Explicitly directed not against Jews qua Jews but specifically against Zionists, it actually received funding also from Israel in its beginnings, in order to build it up as a counterweight to the growing influence of the larger, more moderate and better funded secular underground resistance group Fatah, and its PLO leadership in exile in Tunisia. As Fatah and the PLO were put in charge of some parts of the West Bank and Gaza as part of the Peace Process that started in 1993, the more militant and islamic fundamentalist Hamas’ relative intransigence became a useful tool for the increasingly influential extremist Israeli factions which sought to derail the peace process, and succeeded in doing so by increasing their building of Jewish settlements that split up the West Bank into non-contiguous open-air prisons controlled by Israel, rendering a Palestinian state essentially impossible. (There has been speculation as to the motive for this seemingly strange Israeli decision of lending support to Hamas. Quite plausibly: because events such as those of October 7th, can and are indeed currently being used by Israel as a dramatic proof and public demonstration of its long-held contention that there can never be any two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem, and Israel, for the sake of regional peace, must be still further expanded and restored as one single State to its alleged original, biblical size.)

    In any case, then, before this background, how is a libertarian to react and evaluate the 10/7 events? First off, he would want to wish the pox on the leadership of both gangs and on all gang-leaders of foreign states that have lent and continue to lend support to either one of the two warring gangs with funds stolen from their own subject population. As well, he would acknowledge that the Hamas attack on Israel was no more “totally unprovoked” than the Russian attack a little while ago on the Ukraine. The attack on Israel was definitely provoked by the conduct of its own political leadership, much like the Russian attack on the Ukraine had been provoked by the leadership of the Ukraine. And he would not fail to note also that in both cases, that of Israel as well as that of the Ukraine, their provocations had been encouraged, backed up and supported big time by the predominantly Jewish neo-con gang-leadership in charge of the US government.

    Apart from this, there is little a libertarian can do except raise his voice in favor of peace, talks, negotiations and diplomacy. The Hamas leadership should be accused for having brought about through its terrorist actions the danger of some massive retaliation by a militarily far superior and more powerful enemy gang, the State of Israel. And the Israeli leadership should be blamed for having failed blatantly in protecting its own population owing to its apparently severely deficient surveillance agencies. The leadership of both gangs should be encouraged – and indeed pressured through public opinion – to agree to an immediate truce, and at once negotiations concerning the return of the hostages held by Hamas should be started. And as for the identification, capture and punishment of the various individual perpetrators and their superior commanders (including incidentally also those responsible for the Israeli victims of “friendly fire”), this should be left to regular police-work, to detectives, headhunters and possibly also assassins.

    What must be avoided, however, in any case and at all costs, is an escalation of the armed conflict through a massive retaliatory strike by the Israeli military against the Hamas housing and hiding out in Gaza. This even more so, because Israel, with some 10 million inhabitants, incuding a minority of some 2 million Arabs, is surrounded exclusively by some less-than-friendly or even openly hostile neighboring states with a total population counting in the hundreds of millions, and any escalation of the conflict between Israel and Hamas may well expand and degenerate into an all-out war, engulfing the entire region of the Near- and Middle-East.

    But this is precisely what Block et.al. are demanding. Based on their collectivistic theory of inheritance presented in exhibit one and the alleged “historical right” of “the Jews” to a homeland in Palestine derived from this theory, Block, in response to the events of October 7th, advocates an all-out attack by Israel on the Hamas hiding out in Gaza (and while we do not know if Netanyahu has read Block’s piece in the WSJ, Israel, under his leadership, has exactly done what Block has been asking for).

    Leaving Block’s sketchy, characteristically one-sided remarks on the history of modern Israel and the region aside, which could have come directly from the Israeli ministry of propaganda, and that show himself completely oblivious to the genocidal impulses openly expressed by several leading members of the mighty Israeli military and government, all the while making much hey out of the reciprocal sentiments on the side of the (comparatively speaking) almost powerless Hamas leadership, this, in this own words, are Block’s demands (with my italicized comments interspersed in parentheses):

    “The West needs to understand that to defend human life and dignity, it isn’t enough to claim to side with Israel. It needs to understand what this means: total, unrestricted support. (Does such support also include taxes forcibly taken by the various gangleaders in charge of Western States from their own population?) That is nothing less than allowing this beleaguered country to defend itself fully. To recognize that Hamas needs to be destroyed for the same reason and by the same method that the Nazis were. (Does ‘Nazis’ refer to all Germans living in Germany at the time, including all non-Nazis, Nazi-opponents, and all German babies and children; and does the method of their destruction include also the carpet bombing of entire cities such as Dresden, filled with mostly innocent civilians?) Israel is entitled to do whatever it takes to uproot this evil residing next to it. (How about Israeli Jews opposed to war? Silence them, too, whatever it takes?) And, more important, that once it begins to proceed in that direction, it won’t be demonized for defending that which is the core of Western civilization (does this core also include the sort of apartheid practiced in Israel?) and which its enemies hate the most: the love of everyone’s right to human life, dignity and happiness.”

    “In other words, it needs to support a complete, total and decisive Israeli victory. If this implies an overwhelming, unprecedented use of military force, so be it. Hamas is and will be responsible for any civilian casualties. Cause and effect. They created their own destruction, and its consequences.” (So, there is no need whatsoever to distinguish between members of Hamas and inhabitants of Gaza generally? They all, including all babies and children, are indiscriminately guilty, part of a depraved culture and a collective evil that must be rooted out once and for all? How about dropping an atomic bomb on Gaza, then, as the US did about eighty years ago on the civilian population of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as collective punishment for the crimes committed by the Japanese government-gang?)

    “Mere victory isn’t enough. Israel has won every war it ever fought. This time, the triumph must be so thorough and conclusive that there will never be any other war for this country. (Haven’t we heard this before: the war to end all wars?!) Israel has a moral right to finish the job, and the West has a moral duty to support it. Let Israel do whatever it must to finish this war in the fastest way possible, with the minimum civilian and military casualties on its side. (How considerate, and totally meaningless, even shameful, after everything said to the contrary before about the irrelevance of civilian casualties!) The consequences of this lie on the group that initiated the causal sequence – the one that must be completely destroyed, Hamas.”

    Whatever these outpourings of Block’s are, they have nothing whatsoever to do with libertarianism. In fact, to advocate the indiscriminate slaughter of innocents is the total and complete negation of libertarianism and the non-aggression principle. The Murray Rothbard I knew would have immediately called them out as unhinged, monstrous, unconscionable and sickening and publicly ridiculed, denounced, “unfriended” and excommunicated Block as a Rothbardian.

    Indeed, unforgivably, with his WSJ piece Block has made a contribution to the horrors actually following the events of October 7th and still unfolding: the near complete destruction of Gaza and its reduction to little more than some huge pile of rubble and a vast field of ruins, the slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent civilians by the Israeli military, and the continuous widening of the armed conflict, including by now also the Lebanon and Yemen, and of the Israeli leadership itching (egged on in this endeavor by its neo-con compatriots in the US) to further include as a target for destruction also the Iran, as Israel’s alleged deadly arch-enemy.

    Incidentally, Block’s supplementary reason given for his categorical “We Must All Stand with Israel” position (Israeli government leadership and all), is also faulty and implies a betrayal of the non-aggression principle. Essentially, it boils down to this: The Jews in Israel have made more and better use of the territory under their control than the Arabs made or are currently making with the territories controlled by them; and hence, the Jews have a better claim to some territory-in-dispute than the Arabs do. This reasoning is actually quite popular. However, even if the first part of this statement is accepted as true, the second part does not follow from it. Otherwise, every man-of-proven-success would be permitted to take the property of any long-proven-loser, which can hardly be reconciled with the libertarian non-aggression principle. Even “losers” have a right to life, property, and the pursuit of happiness.

    If that is not already more than enough to forever disqualify and discredit Block as a libertarian, he manages to top it off in some short final exhibit that reveals him as a man without sense of measure and proportion.

    Exhibit three: This concerns Block’s reply to a short piece by Kevin Duffy, contrasting a passage taken from Rothbard’s For A New Liberty: A Libertarian Manifesto with a passage from the just quoted screed of Block’s in the WSJ, and concluding that both are obviously incompatible and impossible to reconcile. Block’s response can be found here. Remarkably, in his reply, he does not even try to provide further reason for his advocacy of total, unrestricted war (not surprisingly, as that would mean trying to defend what is absolutely, truly and genuinely indefensible!). Instead, he evades the direct challenge and then quickly digresses into some entirely different and unrelated subject matter.

    Libertarians are not pacifists, and indeed, Rothbard, as Block excusingly notes, was not opposed to all war. But conspicuously, Block then fails to say that the wars Rothbard considered possibly or potentially justified had nothing whatsoever in common with the sort of war actually proposed by him. What Rothbard had in mind was defensive violence used by secessionist movements against some central occupying powers trying to prevent them by means of war from leaving, i.e., something obviously a world apart from the total war advocated by Block.

    Yet in stating that Rothbard “does not at all oppose war, period,” Block tries to create the deceptive impression that his deviation from Rothbard, then, is merely a minor one, only a matter of degree. Various deviations from Rothbard, he then continues, have been suggested or proposed before by other authors. And he cites (and links) to this effect several contributions of his own, of Joseph Salerno, of Peter Klein and also of myself, and notes that none of these has led to the exclusion of anyone of them as Austro-libertarians, nor would Rothbard himself have excluded them as such on account of these writings. Indeed, Rothbard embraced some of these deviations (such as mine, for instance), and he may well have seriously considered the others. Such then, Block claims, should also be the appropriate reaction to his deviationist position on the ”war question,” and such also, he believes, would have been Rothbard’s personal reaction upon reading his WSJ piece.

    Grotesque. If anything, this assessment of Block’s only indicates that he has lost any sense of measure and proportion. None of the other “deviationist” writings mentioned by him in comparison to and as an excuse and justification for his own deviationist position on the war question is, or can be interpreted by any stretch of the imagination as a break with or renunciation of the fundamental principles of the Austro-libertarian intellectual edifice. But his call for total and unrestricted war and the indiscriminate slaughter of innocent civilians is actually the complete and uninhibited rejection and renunciation of the non-aggression principle that constitutes one of the very cornerstones of the Rothbardian system. To believe that Rothbard would have given serious consideration to his WSJ piece is simply ridiculous and only indicates that Block’s understanding of Rothbard is not nearly as good as he himself fancies it to be. The Rothbard I knew would have denounced the piece in no uncertain terms as monstrous and considered it an unforgivable aberration and disgrace.
    Last edited by Occam's Banana; 01-31-2024 at 07:20 PM.

  4. #3
    Murray Rothbard on "Just War":

    Just War
    https://mises.org/library/just-war
    {Murray N. Rothbard | 12 March 2012}

    Much of "classical international law" theory, developed by the Catholic Scholastics, notably the 16th-century Spanish Scholastics such as Vitoria and Suarez, and then the Dutch Protestant Scholastic Grotius and by 18th- and 19th-century jurists, was an explanation of the criteria for a just war. For war, as a grave act of killing, needs to be justified.

    My own view of war can be put simply: a just war exists when a people tries to ward off the threat of coercive domination by another people, or to overthrow an already-existing domination. A war is unjust, on the other hand, when a people try to impose domination on another people, or try to retain an already existing coercive rule over them.

    [additional matter hidden to save space]
     
    During my lifetime, my ideological and political activism has focused on opposition to America's wars, first because I have believed our waging them to be unjust, and, second, because war, in the penetrating phrase of the libertarian Randolph Bourne in World War I, has always been "the health of the State," an instrument for the aggrandizement of State power over the health, the lives, and the prosperity, of their subject citizens and social institutions. Even a just war cannot be entered into lightly; an unjust one must therefore be anathema.

    There have been only two wars in American history that were, in my view, assuredly and unquestionably proper and just; not only that, the opposing side waged a war that was clearly and notably unjust. Why? Because we did not have to question whether a threat against our liberty and property was clear or present; in both of these wars, Americans were trying to rid themselves of an unwanted domination by another people. And in both cases, the other side ferociously tried to maintain their coercive rule over Americans. In each case, one side — "our side" if you will — was notably just, the other side — "their side" — unjust.

    To be specific, the two just wars in American history were the American Revolution and the War for Southern Independence.

    I would like to mention a few vital features of the treatment of war by the classical international natural lawyers, and to contrast this great tradition with the very different "international law" that has been dominant since 1914, by the dominant partisans of the League of Nations and the United Nations.

    The classical international lawyers from the 16th through the 19th centuries were trying to cope with the implications of the rise and dominance of the modern nation-state. They did not seek to "abolish war," the very notion of which they would have considered absurd and utopian. Wars will always exist among groups, peoples, nations; the desideratum, in addition to trying to persuade them to stay within the compass of "just wars," was to curb and limit the impact of existing wars as much as possible. Not to try to "abolish war," but to constrain war with limitations imposed by civilization.

    Specifically, the classical international lawyers developed two ideas, which they were broadly successful in getting nations to adopt:

    1. Above all, don't target civilians. If you must fight, let the rulers and their loyal or hired retainers slug it out, but keep civilians on both sides out of it, as much as possible. The growth of democracy, the identification of citizens with the State, conscription, and the idea of a "nation in arms," all whittled away this excellent tenet of international law.
    2. Preserve the rights of neutral states and nations. In the modern corruption of international law that has prevailed since 1914, "neutrality" has been treated as somehow deeply immoral. Nowadays, if countries A and B get into a fight, it becomes every nation's moral obligation to figure out, quickly, which country is the "bad guy," and then if, say, A is condemned as the bad guy, to rush in and pummel A in defense of the alleged good guy B.

    Classical international law, which should be brought back as quickly as possible, was virtually the opposite. In a theory which tried to limit war, neutrality was considered not only justifiable but a positive virtue. In the old days, "he kept us out of war" was high tribute to a president or political leader; but now, all the pundits and professors condemn any president who "stands idly by" while "people are being killed" in Bosnia, Somalia, Rwanda, or the hot spot of the day. In the old days, "standing idly by" was considered a mark of high statesmanship. Not only that: neutral states had "rights" which were mainly upheld, since every warring country knew that someday it too would be neutral. A warring state could not interfere with neutral shipping to an enemy state; neutrals could ship to such an enemy with impunity all goods except "contraband," which was strictly defined as arms and ammunition, period. Wars were kept limited in those days, and neutrality was extolled.

    In modern international law, where "bad-guy" nations must be identified quickly and then fought by all, there are two rationales for such worldwide action, both developed by Woodrow Wilson, whose foreign policy and vision of international affairs has been adopted by every president since. The first is "collective security against aggression." The notion is that every war, no matter what, must have one "aggressor" and one or more "victims," so that naming the aggressor becomes a prelude to a defense of "heroic little" victims. The analogy is with the cop-on-the-corner. A policeman sees A mugging B; he rushes after the aggressor, and the rest of the citizens join in the pursuit. In the same way, supposedly, nations, as they band together in "collective security" arrangements, whether they be the League, the United Nations, or NATO, identify the "aggressor" nation and then join together as an "international police force," like the cop-on-the-corner, to zap the criminal.

    In real life, however, it's not so easy to identify one warring "aggressor." Causes become tangled, and history intervenes. Above all, a nation's current border cannot be considered as evidently just as a person's life and property. Therein lies the problem. How about the very different borders 10 years, 20 years, or even centuries ago? How about wars where claims of all sides are plausible? But any complication of this sort messes up the plans of our professional war crowd. To get Americans stirred up about intervening in a war thousands of miles away about which they know nothing and care less, one side must be depicted as the clear-cut bad guy, and the other side pure and good; otherwise, Americans will not be moved to intervene in a war that is really none of their business. Thus, feverish attempts by American pundits and alleged foreign-policy "experts" to get us to intervene against the demonized Serbs ran aground when the public began to realize that all three sides in the Bosnian war were engaging in "ethnic cleansing" whenever they got the chance. This is even forgetting the fatuity of the propaganda about the "territorial integrity" of a so-called Bosnian state which has never existed even formally until a year or two ago, and of course in actuality does not exist at all.

    If classical international law limited and checked warfare, and kept it from spreading, modern international law, in an attempt to stamp out "aggression" and to abolish war, only insures, as the great historian Charles Beard put it, a futile policy of "perpetual war for perpetual peace."

    The second Wilsonian excuse for perpetual war, particularly relevant to the "Civil War," is even more utopian: the idea that it is the moral obligation of America and of all other nations to impose "democracy" and "human rights" throughout the globe. In short, in a world where "democracy" is generally meaningless, and "human rights" of any genuine sort virtually nonexistent, that we are obligated to take up the sword and wage a perpetual war to force utopia on the entire world by guns, tanks, and bombs.

    The Somalian intervention was a perfect case study in the workings of this Wilsonian dream. We began the intervention by extolling a "new kind of army" (a new model army if you will) engaged in a new kind of high moral intervention: the US soldier with a CARE package in one hand, and a gun in the other. The new "humanitarian" army, bringing food, peace, democracy, and human rights to the benighted peoples of Somalia, and doing it all the more nobly and altruistically because there was not a scrap of national interest in it for Americans. It was this prospect of a purely altruistic intervention — of universal love imposed by the bayonet — that swung almost the entire "antiwar" Left into the military intervention camp. Well, it did not take long for our actions to have consequences, and the end of the brief Somalian intervention provided a great lesson if we only heed it: the objects of our "humanitarianism" being shot down by American guns, and striking back by highly effective guerrilla war against American troops, culminating in savaging the bodies of American soldiers. So much for "humanitarianism," for a war to impose democracy and human rights; so much for the new model army.

    In both of these cases, the modern interventionists have won by seizing the moral high ground; theirs is the cosmic "humanitarian" path of moral principle; those of us who favor American neutrality are now derided as "selfish," "narrow," and "immoral." In the old days, however, interventionists were more correctly considered propagandists for despotism, mass murder, and perpetual war, if not spokesmen for special interest groups, or agents of the "merchants of death." Scarcely a high ground.

    The cause of "human rights" is precisely the critical argument by which, in retrospect, Abraham Lincoln's War of Northern Aggression against the South is justified and even glorified. The "humanitarian" goes forth and rights the wrong of slavery, doing so through mass murder, the destruction of institutions and property, and the wreaking of havoc which has still not disappeared.

    Isabel Paterson, in The God of the Machine, one of the great books on political philosophy of this century, zeroed in on what she aptly called "the humanitarian with the guillotine." "The humanitarian," Mrs. Paterson wrote, "wishes to be a prime mover in the lives of others. He cannot admit either the divine or the natural order, by which men have the power to help themselves. The humanitarian puts himself in the place of God." But Mrs. Paterson notes, the humanitarian is "confronted by two awkward facts: first that the competent do not need his assistance; and second, that the majority of people, if unperverted, positively do not want to be 'done good' by the humanitarian." Having considered what the "good" of others might be, and who is to decide on the good and on what to do about it, Mrs. Paterson points out, "Of course what the humanitarian actually proposes is that he shall do what he thinks is good for everybody. It is at this point that the humanitarian sets up the guillotine." Hence, she concludes, "the humanitarian in theory is the terrorist in action."

    There is an important point about old-fashioned, or classical, international law which applies to any sort of war, even a just one:

    Even if country A is waging a clearly just war against country B, and B's cause is unjust, this fact by no means imposes any sort of moral obligation on any other nation, including those who wish to abide by just policies, to intervene in that war. On the contrary, in the old days neutrality was always considered a more noble course, if a nation had no overriding interest of its own in the fray, there was no moral obligation whatever to intervene. A nation's highest and most moral course was to remain neutral; its citizens might cheer in their heart for A's just cause, or, if someone were overcome by passion for A's cause he could rush off on his own to the front to fight, but generally citizens of nation C were expected to cleave to their own nation's interests over the cause of a more abstract justice. Certainly, they were expected not to form a propaganda pressure group to try to bulldoze their nation into intervening; if champions of country A were sufficiently ardent, they could go off on their own to fight, but they could not commit their fellow countrymen to do the same.

    Many of my friends and colleagues are hesitant to concede the existence of universal natural rights, lest they find themselves forced to support American, or worldwide intervention, to try to enforce them. But for classical natural-law international jurists, that consequence did not follow at all. If, for example, Tutsis are slaughtering Hutus in Rwanda or Burundi, or vice versa, these natural lawyers would indeed consider such acts as violations of the natural rights of the slaughtered; but that fact in no way implies any moral or natural-law obligation for any other people in the world to rush in to try to enforce such rights. We might encapsulate this position into a slogan: "Rights may be universal, but their enforcement must be local," or, to adopt the motto of the Irish rebels: Sinn Fein, "ourselves alone." A group of people may have rights, but it is their responsibility, and theirs alone, to defend or safeguard such rights.

    To put it another way, I have always believed that when the Left claims that all sorts of entities — animals, alligators, trees, plants, rocks, beaches, the earth, or "the ecology" — have "rights," the proper response is this: when those entities act like the Americans who set forth their declaration of rights, when they speak for themselves and take up arms to enforce them, then and only then can we take such claims seriously.

    I want to now return to America's two just wars. It is plainly evident that the American Revolution, using my definition, was a just war, a war of peoples forming an independent nation and casting off the bonds of another people insisting on perpetuating their rule over them. Obviously, the Americans, while welcoming French or other support, were prepared to take on the daunting task of overthrowing the rule of the most powerful empire on earth, and to do it alone if necessary.

    What I want to focus on here is not the grievances that led the American rebels to the view that it had become "necessary for One People to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another." What I want to stress here is the ground on which the Americans stood for this solemn and fateful act of separation. The Americans were steeped in the natural-law philosophy of John Locke and the Scholastics, and in the classical republicanism of Greece and Rome. There were two major political theories in Britain and in Europe during this time. One was the older, but by this time obsolete, absolutist view: the king was the father of his nation, and absolute obedience was owed to the king by the lesser orders; any rebellion against the king was equivalent to Satan's rebellion against God.

    The other, natural-law, view countered that sovereignty originated not in the king but in the people, but that the people had delegated their powers and rights to the king. Hugo Grotius and conservative natural lawyers believed that the delegation of sovereignty, once transferred, was irrevocable, so that sovereignty must reside permanently in the king. The more radical libertarian theorists, such as Father Mariana, and John Locke and his followers, believed, quite sensibly, that since the original delegation was voluntary and contractual, the people had the right to take back that sovereignty should the king grossly violate his trust.

    The American revolutionaries, in separating themselves from Great Britain and forming their new nation, adopted the Lockean doctrine. In fact, if they hadn't done so, they would not have been able to form their new nation. It is well known that the biggest moral and psychological problem the Americans had, and could only bring themselves to overcome after a full year of bloody war, was to violate their oaths of allegiance to the British king. Breaking with the British Parliament, their de facto ruler, posed no problem; Parliament they didn't care about. But the king was their inherited sovereign lord, the person to whom they had all sworn fealty. It was the king to whom they owed allegiance; thus, the list of grievances in the Declaration of Independence mentioned only the king, even though Parliament was in reality the major culprit.

    Hence, the crucial psychological importance, to the American revolutionaries, of Thomas Paine's Common Sense, which not only adopted the Lockean view of a justified reclaiming of sovereignty by the American people but also particularly zeroed in on the office of the king. In the words of the New Left, Paine delegitimized and desanctified the king in American eyes. The king of Great Britain, Paine wrote, is only the descendent of "nothing better than the principal ruffian of some restless gang; whose savage manner or preeminence in subtlety obtained him the title of chief among plunderers." And now the kings, including the "Royal Brute of Great Britain," are but "crowned ruffians."

    In making their revolution, then, the Americans cast their lot, permanently, with a contractual theory or justification for government. Government is not something imposed from above, by some divine act of conferring sovereignty; but contractual, from below, by "consent of the governed." That means that American polities inevitably become republics, not monarchies. What happened, in fact, is that the American Revolution resulted in something new on earth. The people of each of the 13 colonies formed new, separate, contractual, republican governments. Based on libertarian doctrines and on republican models, the people of the 13 colonies each set up independent sovereign states: with powers of each government strictly limited, with most rights and powers reserved to the people, and with checks, balances, and written constitutions severely limiting state power.

    These 13 separate republics, in order to wage their common war against the British Empire, each sent representatives to the Continental Congress, and then later formed a Confederation, again with severely limited central powers, to help fight the British. The hotly contested decision to scrap the Articles of Confederation and to craft a new Constitution demonstrates conclusively that the central government was not supposed to be perpetual, not to be the sort of permanent one-way trap that Grotius had claimed turned popular sovereignty over to the king forevermore. In fact, it would be very peculiar to hold that the American Revolutionaries had repudiated the idea that a pledge of allegiance to the king was contractual and revocable, and break their vows to the king, only to turn around a few short years later to enter a compact that turned out to be an irrevocable one-way ticket for a permanent central government power. Revocable and contractual to a king, but irrevocable to some piece of paper!

    And finally, does anyone seriously believe for one minute that any of the 13 states would have ratified the Constitution had they believed that it was a perpetual one-way Venus fly trap — a one-way ticket to sovereign suicide? The Constitution was barely ratified as it is!

    So, if the Articles of Confederation could be treated as a scrap of paper, if delegation to the confederate government in the 1780s was revocable, how could the central government set up under the Constitution, less than a decade later, claim that its powers were permanent and irrevocable? Sheer logic insists that: if a state could enter a confederation it could later withdraw from it; the same must be true for a state adopting the Constitution.

    And yet of course, that monstrous illogic is precisely the doctrine proclaimed by the North, by the Union, during the War Between the States.

    In 1861, the Southern states, believing correctly that their cherished institutions were under grave threat and assault from the federal government, decided to exercise their natural, contractual, and constitutional right to withdraw, to "secede" from that Union. The separate Southern states then exercised their contractual right as sovereign republics to come together in another confederation, the Confederate States of America. If the American Revolutionary War was just, then it follows as the night the day that the Southern cause, the War for Southern Independence, was just, and for the same reason: casting off the "political bonds" that connected the two peoples. In neither case was this decision made for "light or transient causes." And in both cases, the courageous seceders pledged to each other "their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor."

    What of the grievances of the two sets of seceders? Were they comparable? The central grievance of the American rebels was the taxing power: the systematic plunder of their property by the British government. Whether it was the tax on stamps, or the tax on imports, or finally the tax on imported tea, taxation was central. The slogan "no taxation without representation" was misleading; in the last analysis, we didn't want "representation" in Parliament; we wanted not to be taxed by Great Britain. The other grievances, such as opposition to general search warrants, or to overriding of the ancient Anglo-Saxon principle of trial by jury, were critical because they involved the power to search merchants' properties for goods that had avoided payment of the customs taxes, that is for "smuggled" goods, and trial by jury was vital because no American jury would ever convict such smugglers.

    One of the central grievances of the South, too, was the tariff that Northerners imposed on Southerners whose major income came from exporting cotton abroad. The tariff at one and the same time drove up prices of manufactured goods, forced Southerners and other Americans to pay more for such goods, and threatened to cut down Southern exports. The first great constitutional crisis with the South came when South Carolina battled against the well named Tariff of Abomination of 1828. As a result of South Carolina's resistance, the North was forced to reduce the tariff, and finally, the Polk administration adopted a two-decade long policy of virtual free trade.

    John C. Calhoun, the great intellectual leader of South Carolina, and indeed of the entire South, pointed out the importance of a very low level of taxation. All taxes, by their very nature, are paid, on net, by one set of people, the "taxpayers," and the proceeds go to another set of people, what Calhoun justly called the "tax-consumers." Among the net tax-consumers, of course, are the politicians and bureaucrats who live full-time off the proceeds. The higher the level of taxation, the higher the percentage which the country's producers have to give the parasitic ruling class that enforces and lives off of taxes. In zeroing in on the tariff, Calhoun pointed out that "the North has adopted a system of revenue and disbursements, in which an undue proportion of the burden of taxation has been imposed on the South, and an undue proportion appropriated to the North, and for the monopolization of Northern industry."

    What of the opposition to these two just wars? Both were unjust since in both the case of the British and of the North, they were waging fierce war to maintain their coercive and unwanted rule over another people. But if the British wanted to hold on and expand their empire, what were the motivations of the North? Why, in the famous words of the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, at least early in the struggle, didn't the North "let their erring sisters go in peace?"

    The North, in particular the North's driving force, the "Yankees" — that ethnocultural group who either lived in New England or migrated from there to upstate New York, northern and eastern Ohio, northern Indiana, and northern Illinois — had been swept by a new form of Protestantism. This was a fanatical and emotional neo-Puritanism driven by a fervent "postmillenialism" which held that as a precondition for the Second Advent of Jesus Christ, man must set up a thousand-year Kingdom of God on Earth.

    The Kingdom is to be a perfect society. In order to be perfect, of course, this Kingdom must be free of sin; sin, therefore, must be stamped out, and as quickly as possible. Moreover, if you didn't try your darndest to stamp out sin by force you yourself would not be saved. It was very clear to these neo-Puritans that in order to stamp out sin, government, in the service of the saints, is the essential coercive instrument to perform this purgative task. As historians have summed up the views of all the most prominent of these millennialists, "government is God's major instrument of salvation."

    Sin was very broadly defined by the Yankee neo-Puritans as anything which might interfere with a person's free will to embrace salvation, anything which, in the words of the old Shadow radio serial, could "cloud men's minds." The particular cloud-forming occasions of sin, for these millennialists, were liquor ("demon rum"), any activity on the Sabbath except reading the Bible and going to church, slavery, and the Roman Catholic Church.

    If antislavery, prohibitionism, and anti-Catholicism were grounded in fanatical postmillennial Protestantism, the paternalistic big government required for this social program on the state and local levels led logically to a big-government paternalism in national economic affairs. Whereas the Democratic Party in the 19th century was known as the "party of personal liberty," of states' rights, of minimal government, of free markets and free trade, the Republican Party was known as the "party of great moral ideas," which amounted to the stamping-out of sin. On the economic level, the Republicans adopted the Whig program of statism and big government: protective tariffs, subsidies to big business, strong central government, large-scale public works, and cheap credit spurred by government.

    The Northern war against slavery partook of fanatical millennialist fervor, of a cheerful willingness to uproot institutions, to commit mayhem and mass murder, to plunder and loot and destroy, all in the name of high moral principle and the birth of a perfect world. The Yankee fanatics were veritable Patersonian humanitarians with the guillotine: the Anabaptists, the Jacobins, the Bolsheviks of their era. This fanatical spirit of Northern aggression for an allegedly redeeming cause is summed up in the pseudo-Biblical and truly blasphemous verses of that quintessential Yankee Julia Ward Howe, in her so-called "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

    Modern left-liberal historians of course put this case in a slightly different way. Take for example, the eminent abolitionist historian of the Civil War James McPherson. Here's the way McPherson revealingly puts it: "Negative liberty [he means "liberty"] was the dominant theme in early American history — freedom from constraints on individual rights imposed by a powerful state." "The Bill of Rights," McPherson goes on, "is the classic expression of negative liberty, or Jeffersonian humanistic liberalism. These first ten amendments to the Constitution protect individual liberties by placing a straitjacket of 'shall not' on the federal government." "In 1861," McPherson continues, "Southern states invoked the negative liberties of state sovereignty and individual rights of property [i.e., slaves] to break up the United States."

    What was McPherson's hero Abraham Lincoln's response? Lincoln, he writes, "thereby gained an opportunity to invoke the positive liberty [he means "statist tyranny"] of reform liberalism, exercised through the power of the army and the state, to overthrow the negative liberties of disunion and ownership of slaves." Another New Model Army at work! McPherson calls for a "blend" of positive and negative liberties, but as we have seen, any such "blend" is nonsense, for statism and liberty are always at odds. The more that "reform liberalism" "empowers" one set of people, the less "negative liberty" there is for everyone else. It should be mentioned that the southern United States was the only place in the 19th century where slavery was abolished by fire and by "terrible swift sword." In every other part of the New World, slavery was peacefully bought out by agreement with the slaveholders. But in these other countries, in the West Indies or Brazil, for example, there were no Puritan millennialists to do their bloody work, armed with gun in one hand and hymn book in the other.

    In the Republican Party, the "party of great moral ideas," different men and different factions emphasized different aspects of this integrated despotic world-outlook. In the fateful Republican convention of 1860, the major candidates for president were two veteran abolitionists: William Seward, of New York, and Salmon P. Chase of Ohio. Seward, however, was distrusted by the anti-Catholic hotheads because he somehow did not care about the alleged Catholic menace; on the other hand, while Chase was happy to play along with the former Know-Nothings, who stressed the anti-Catholic pant of the coalition, he was distrusted by Sewardites and others who were indifferent to the Catholic question. Abraham Lincoln of Illinois was a dark horse who was able to successfully finesse the Catholic question. His major emphasis was on Whig economic statism: high tariffs, huge subsidies to railroads, public works. As one of the nation's leading lawyers for Illinois Central and other big railroads, indeed, Lincoln was virtually the candidate from Illinois Central and the other large railroads.

    One reason for Lincoln's victory at the convention was that Iowa railroad entrepreneur Grenville M. Dodge helped swing the Iowa delegation to Lincoln. In return, early in the Civil War, Lincoln appointed Dodge to army general. Dodge's task was to clear the Indians from the designated path of the country's first heavily subsidized federally chartered transcontinental railroad, the Union Pacific. In this way, conscripted Union troops and hapless taxpayers were coerced into socializing the costs on constructing and operating the Union Pacific. This sort of action is now called euphemistically "the cooperation of government and industry."

    But Lincoln's major focus was on raising taxes, in particular raising and enforcing the tariff. His convention victory was particularly made possible by support from the Pennsylvania delegation. Pennsylvania had long been the home and the political focus of the nation's iron and steel industry which, ever since its inception during the War of 1812, had been chronically inefficient, and had therefore constantly been bawling for high tariffs and, later, import quotas. Virtually the first act of the Lincoln administration was to pass the Morrill protective tariff act, doubling existing tariff rates, and creating the highest tariff rates in American history.

    In his first inaugural address, Lincoln was conciliatory about maintaining slavery; what he was hard-line about toward the South was insistence on collecting all the customs tariffs in that region. As Lincoln put it, the federal government would "collect the duties and imposts, but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against … people anywhere." The significance of the federal forts is that they provided the soldiers to enforce the customs tariffs; thus, Fort Sumter was at the entrance to Charleston Harbor, the major port, apart from New Orleans, in the entire South. The federal troops at Sumter were needed to enforce the tariffs that were supposed to be levied at Charleston Harbor.

    Of course, Abraham Lincoln's conciliatory words on slavery cannot be taken at face value. Lincoln was a master politician, which means that he was a consummate conniver, manipulator, and liar. The federal forts were the key to his successful prosecution of the war. Lying to South Carolina, Abraham Lincoln managed to do what Franklin D. Roosevelt and Henry Stimson did at Pearl Harbor 80 years later — maneuvered the Southerners into firing the first shot. In this way, by manipulating the South into firing first against a federal fort, Lincoln made the South appear to be "aggressors" in the eyes of the numerous waverers and moderates in the North.

    Outside of New England and territories populated by transplanted New Englanders, the idea of forcing the South to stay in the Union was highly unpopular. In many middle-tier states, including Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, there was a considerable sentiment to mimic the South by forming a middle Confederacy to isolate the pesky and fanatical Yankees. Even after the war began, the mayor of New York City and many other dignitaries of the city proposed that the city secede from the Union and make peace and engage in free trade with the South. Indeed, Jefferson Davis's lawyer after the war was what we would now call the "paleo-libertarian" leader of the New York City bar, Irish-Catholic Charles O'Conor, who ran for president in 1878 on the Straight Democrat ticket, in protest that his beloved Democratic Party's nominee for president was the abolitionist, protectionist, socialist, and fool Horace Greeley.

    The Lincoln administration and the Republican Party took advantage of the overwhelmingly Republican Congress after the secession of the South to push through almost the entire Whig economic program. Lincoln signed no less than ten tariff-raising bills during his administration. Heavy "sin" taxes were levied on alcohol and tobacco, the income tax was levied for the first time in American history, huge land grants and monetary subsidies were handed out to transcontinental railroads (accompanied by a vast amount of attendant corruption), and the government went off the gold standard and virtually nationalized the banking system to establish a machine for printing new money and to provide cheap credit for the business elite. And furthermore, the New Model Army and the war effort rested on a vast and unprecedented amount of federal coercion against Northerners as well as the South; a huge army was conscripted, dissenters and advocates of a negotiated peace with the South were jailed, and the precious Anglo-Saxon right of habeas corpus was abolished for the duration.

    While it is true that Lincoln himself was not particularly religious, that did not really matter because he adopted all the attitudes and temperament of his evangelical allies. He was stern and sober, he was personally opposed to alcohol and tobacco, and he was opposed to the private carrying of guns. An ambitious seeker of the main chance from early adulthood, Lincoln acted viciously toward his own humble frontier family in Kentucky. He abandoned his fiancée in order to marry a wealthier Mary Todd, whose family were friends of the eminent Henry Clay, he repudiated his brother, and he refused to attend his dying father or his father's funeral, monstrously declaring that such an experience "would be more painful than pleasant." No doubt!

    Lincoln, too, was a typical example of a humanitarian with the guillotine in another dimension: a familiar modern "reform liberal" type whose heart bleeds for and yearns to "uplift" remote mankind, while he lies to and treats abominably actual people whom he knew. And so Abraham Lincoln, in a phrase prefiguring our own beloved Mario Cuomo, declared that the Union was really "a family, bound indissolubly together by the most intimate organic bonds." Kick your own family, and then transmute familial spiritual feelings toward a hypostatized and mythical entity, "The Union," which then must be kept intact regardless of concrete human cost or sacrifice.

    Indeed, there is a vital critical difference between the two unjust causes we have described: the British and the North. The British, at least, were fighting on behalf of a cause which, even if wrong and unjust, was coherent and intelligible: that is, the sovereignty of a hereditary monarch. What was the North's excuse for their monstrous war of plunder and mass murder against their fellow Americans? Not allegiance to an actual, real person, the king, but allegiance to a nonexistent, mystical, quasi-divine alleged entity, "the Union." The King was at least a real person, and the merits or demerits of a particular king or the monarchy in general can be argued. But where is "the Union" located? How are we to gauge the Union's deeds? To whom is this Union accountable?

    The Union was taken, by its Northern worshipers, from a contractual institution that can either be cleaved to or scrapped, and turned into a divinized entity, which must be worshipped, and which must be permanent, unquestioned, all-powerful. There is no heresy greater, nor political theory more pernicious, than sacralizing the secular. But this monstrous process is precisely what happened when Abraham Lincoln and his northern colleagues made a god out of the Union. If the British forces fought for bad King George, the Union armies pillaged and murdered on behalf of this pagan idol, this "Union," this Moloch that demanded terrible human sacrifice to sustain its power and its glory.

    For in this War Between the States, the South may have fought for its sacred honor, but the Northern war was the very opposite of honorable. We remember the care with which the civilized nations had developed classical international law. Above all, civilians must not be targeted; wars must be limited. But the North insisted on creating a conscript army, a nation in arms, and broke the 19th-century rules of war by specifically plundering and slaughtering civilians, by destroying civilian life and institutions so as to reduce the South to submission. Sherman's infamous March through Georgia was one of the great war crimes, and crimes against humanity, of the past century-and-a-half. Because by targeting and butchering civilians, Lincoln and Grant and Sherman paved the way for all the genocidal honors of the monstrous 20th century. There has been a lot of talk in recent years about memory, about never forgetting about history as retroactive punishment for crimes of war and mass murder. As Lord Acton, the great libertarian historian, put it, the historian, in the last analysis, must be a moral judge. The muse of the historian, he wrote, is not Clio, but Rhadamanthus, the legendary avenger of innocent blood. In that spirit, we must always remember, we must never forget, we must put in the dock and hang higher than Haman, those who, in modern times, opened the Pandora's Box of genocide and the extermination of civilians: Sherman, Grant, and Lincoln.

    Perhaps, some day, their statues, like Lenin's in Russia, will be toppled and melted down; their insignias and battle flags will be desecrated, their war songs tossed into the fire. And then Davis and Lee and Jackson and Forrest, and all the heroes of the South, "Dixie" and the Stars and Bars, will once again be truly honored and remembered. The classic comment on that meretricious TV series The Civil War was made by that marvelous and feisty Southern writer Florence King. Asked her views on the series, she replied, "I didn't have time to watch The Civil War. I'm too busy getting ready for the next one." In that spirit, I am sure that one day, aided and abetted by Northerners like myself in the glorious "copperhead" tradition, the South shall rise again.


    This article is based on the talk given at the Mises Institute's Costs of War conference in Atlanta, May 1994. It was published in the book of the same name, edited by John V. Denson.

  5. #4
    Some other fallout:

    https://twitter.com/scotthortonshow/...17090123514032


    https://twitter.com/scotthortonshow/...16493060558859


    https://twitter.com/NSKinsella/statu...00398511231302
    & https://twitter.com/NSKinsella/statu...48660623347918
    {Stephan Kinsella @NSKinsella | 17-18 December 2023}

    Walter Block's pro-Israel WSJ article from October [see this post - OB] upset lots of libertarians, e.g. @scotthortonshow who says, at about 1:08:00 here, that Walter is now kicked out of libertarianism b/c of his Israel-Gaza views[:] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajuyCix3rG4&t=4074s

    Kevin Duffy also criticized him; Walter responded here: "Have I Gone AWOL?" He argued that his views on Gaza are fine since it's okay to disagree with Rothbard and still be a libertarian[:] https://walterblock.substack.com/p/have-i-gone-awol

    Walter has another pro-Israel piece up in the WSJ today[:] https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-jew...ution-479544f2 [archive: https://archive.is/Fmyby]

    @saifedean and Walter had debated this topic previously (https://twitter.com/NSKinsella/statu...72694044565536) and after the October editorial, Walter asked Saif to co-author something with him to show that even libertarians who disagree can collaborate on issues they agree on.

    This is Saif's response to Walter (he gave me permission to post it):

    "Walter,

    Our debate made it very clear that you refuse to accept the legitimacy of private property rights for Palestinians, and you support the continued monopolization of Palestine's land by a socialist government agency, the Israeli Land Authority, which means you are a socialist. Also, your recent unhinged bloodthirsty WSJ editorial made it clear to me you think carpet bombing innocent civilians is acceptable if they do not belong to your tribe, which means you do not view me as a human being. Both of these facts mean there is no room for any sort of constructive dialogue between a civilized human being like me who accepts property rights as the basis of human interaction, and renounces the initiation of aggression, and a barbaric socialist monster like you who supports violence and theft. There is absolutely nothing anyone can offer me to sully my name by associating with anyone who thinks like you.

    Rather than trying to assuage your guilty conscience over supporting a genocide by writing an irrelevant paper with me, I would encourage you to read Ludwig von Mises' Human Action to understand the inextricable importance of property rights to civilization, and to read Professor Hoppe's argumentation ethics to understand why it's meaningless for me to engage with socialists who reject property rights. I also discuss these points in detail in my latest book, Principles of Economics, attached here. I realize these authors write at a level far more intellectually advanced than your moronic brand of shock-jock shallow libertarianism dedicated to defending prostitution, political Zionism, and other types of detestable degeneracy, but I have hope that if you persist and push yourself, you may yet come to understand how human society can function peacefully and redeem yourself in your latter years.

    If you read these books and come to your senses, and are willing to publicly support the privatization of the land of historic Palestine, and to denounce the bombing of civilians, I would be happy to consider working with you. Until then, I will continue to only cooperate with civilized human beings, while you and your work continue to fade to hypocritical irrelevance.

    Saif"

    yet another criticism of ole Walter[:] Dynamiting the Temple of Ayn Rand

  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Occam's Banana View Post
    @saifedean and Walter had debated this topic previously [...]
    https://twitter.com/NSKinsella/statu...72694044565536


    160. Palestine/Israel Debate with Professor Walter Block
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBFvMv0F26I
    {Saifedean Ammous | 21 March 2023}

    Can a libertarian or anarchist support the state of Israel? In this debate, Austrian economist Walter Block argues the affirmative and makes the case for why Israel is a force for liberty, while Saifedean argues political Zionism is the socialist central planning of land ownership, and is not possible without the violation of the property of Palestinians.

    References:


    Last edited by Occam's Banana; 01-31-2024 at 01:04 PM.

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Occam's Banana View Post
    ...
    This time, the triumph must be so thorough and conclusive that there will never be any other war for this country.
    ...
    This is not a serious person. Along with Block's support of vaccine passports, and open immigration into the US (while simultaneously supporting extreme borders for Israel), he long ago went off the rails.

    It's time to evict Walter Block.
    "Foreign aid is taking money from the poor people of a rich country, and giving it to the rich people of a poor country." - Ron Paul
    "Beware the Military-Industrial-Financial-Pharma-Corporate-Internet-Media-Government Complex." - B4L update of General Dwight D. Eisenhower
    "Debt is the drug, Wall St. Banksters are the dealers, and politicians are the addicts." - B4L
    "Totally free immigration? I've never taken that position. I believe in national sovereignty." - Ron Paul

    Proponent of real science.
    The views and opinions expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent this forum or any other entities or persons.

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian4Liberty View Post
    This time, the triumph must be so thorough and conclusive that there will never be any other war for this country.
    This is not a serious person. Along with Block's support of vaccine passports, and open immigration into the US (while simultaneously supporting extreme borders for Israel), he long ago went off the rails.
    Holy War-to-End-All-Wars, Batman!

    (Or should that be: Holy-War To-End-All-Wars?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian4Liberty View Post
    It's time to evict Walter Block.
    I see what you did there.

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Occam's Banana View Post
    I see what you did there.
    "Foreign aid is taking money from the poor people of a rich country, and giving it to the rich people of a poor country." - Ron Paul
    "Beware the Military-Industrial-Financial-Pharma-Corporate-Internet-Media-Government Complex." - B4L update of General Dwight D. Eisenhower
    "Debt is the drug, Wall St. Banksters are the dealers, and politicians are the addicts." - B4L
    "Totally free immigration? I've never taken that position. I believe in national sovereignty." - Ron Paul

    Proponent of real science.
    The views and opinions expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent this forum or any other entities or persons.



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  11. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian4Liberty View Post
    This is not a serious person. Along with Block's support of vaccine passports, and open immigration into the US (while simultaneously supporting extreme borders for Israel), he long ago went off the rails.

    It's time to evict Walter Block.
    Seconded. He has written some good articles. But libertarianism doesn't lack good article-writers, it lacks people with conviction who will stand on their principles even when it is inconvenient due to current-affairs and how those may place their other social standings in jeopardy. Many of your friends will disapprove when you take a stand for principles, especially the principles of liberty. Among the literati, Liberty is everywhere opposed because it means the end of State subsidy of the literati themselves, a point they themselves well understand. The king's court well understands on which side its bread is buttered. Block has clearly demonstrated here and elsewhere that he is switching sides to stand with the yesmen, the king's pet-intellectuals. So be it. But his former association does not give him any right to mix his present, radically anti-Liberty views in with the doctrines of Liberty-as-such, to which he formerly held. He's entitled to his own views, but he is not entitled to falsely associate the name of Liberty with them...
    Jer. 11:18-20. "The Kingdom of God has come upon you." -- Matthew 12:28

  12. #10
    @OB beat me to posting the OP article.


    Quote Originally Posted by ClaytonB View Post
    Seconded. He has written some good articles. But libertarianism doesn't lack good article-writers, it lacks people with conviction who will stand on their principles even when it is inconvenient due to current-affairs and how those may place their other social standings in jeopardy. Many of your friends will disapprove when you take a stand for principles, especially the principles of liberty. Among the literati, Liberty is everywhere opposed because it means the end of State subsidy of the literati themselves, a point they themselves well understand. The king's court well understands on which side its bread is buttered. Block has clearly demonstrated here and elsewhere that he is switching sides to stand with the yesmen, the king's pet-intellectuals. So be it. But his former association does not give him any right to mix his present, radically anti-Liberty views in with the doctrines of Liberty-as-such, to which he formerly held. He's entitled to his own views, but he is not entitled to falsely associate the name of Liberty with them...
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian4Liberty View Post
    This is not a serious person. Along with Block's support of vaccine passports, and open immigration into the US (while simultaneously supporting extreme borders for Israel), he long ago went off the rails.

    It's time to evict Walter Block.

    While I agree that WB went off the rails regarding a couple of topics, vaccine passports being one, it always baffles me how some folks demand 100% consistency in libertarian views/writings from others, but they themselves promote solutions which do not 100% respect the individual's rights, and yet call for somebody's eviction. In other words, I would have thought that you of all people would have agreed with Block's Martian analogy at the end of the debate with Saifedean.
    ____________

    An Agorist Primer ~ Samuel Edward Konkin III (free PDF download)

    The End of All Evil ~ Jeremy Locke (free PDF download)

  13. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by PAF View Post
    While I agree that WB went off the rails regarding a couple of topics, vaccine passports being one, it always baffles me how some folks demand 100% consistency in libertarian views/writings from others, but they themselves promote solutions which do not 100% respect the individual's rights, and yet call for somebody's eviction.
    In the case of politicians like Trump or Milei, I do not expect complete logical consistency, because that is not their occupation -- they are not academics (well, Milei was, but his job now is to be President). However, Block is an intellectual academic -- his self-assigned job just is to be logically consistent. When an intellectual departs from their former views -- a perfectly allowable course-of-action -- he is repudiating them. He does not get to go on identifying as the thing he is repudiating. The reason for this is simple -- if being a member of our club entails showering daily and wearing deodorant, you can't go on tarnishing the club's public reputation by hanging around us while refusing to shower and giving the public the impression that we're the Body Odor Club. If you want to rock your BO, that's your choice, but you're going to have to go do that somewhere else, and we will clearly delineate ourselves from you. We're the non-BO Club, and you are no longer part of that club -- you alone are proud of your BO!
    Jer. 11:18-20. "The Kingdom of God has come upon you." -- Matthew 12:28

  14. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by ClaytonB View Post
    In the case of politicians like Trump or Milei, I do not expect complete logical consistency, because that is not their occupation -- they are not academics (well, Milei was, but his job now is to be President). However, Block is an intellectual academic -- his self-assigned job just is to be logically consistent. When an intellectual departs from their former views -- a perfectly allowable course-of-action -- he is repudiating them. He does not get to go on identifying as the thing he is repudiating. The reason for this is simple -- if being a member of our club entails showering daily and wearing deodorant, you can't go on tarnishing the club's public reputation by hanging around us while refusing to shower and giving the public the impression that we're the Body Odor Club. If you want to rock your BO, that's your choice, but you're going to have to go do that somewhere else, and we will clearly delineate ourselves from you. We're the non-BO Club, and you are no longer part of that club -- you alone are proud of your BO!
    Trump or Milei, or any politician never entered my mind while reading this thread, but I understand your point. I was questioning the other poster's response, due to his calling for an eviction, yet he himself does not stand firm on the very principles of liberty that he alludes he is advocating. Like being/not being only a little bit pregnant, not all are actual libertarian, in its strictest definition.
    ____________

    An Agorist Primer ~ Samuel Edward Konkin III (free PDF download)

    The End of All Evil ~ Jeremy Locke (free PDF download)

  15. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by PAF View Post
    Trump or Milei, or any politician never entered my mind while reading this thread, but I understand your point. I was questioning the other poster's response, due to his calling for an eviction, yet he himself does not stand firm on the very principles of liberty that he alludes he is advocating. Like being/not being only a little bit pregnant, not all are actual libertarian, in its strictest definition.


    Only Brian can answer for himself, but I agree with his assessment. Block has always been a bit of a black-sheep among Austrian-orbit intellectuals, and that's fine, every school of thought will have its black-sheep. But there is cantankerously Defending the Undefendable, on the one hand, and then there is outright repudiation of libertarian principles in favor of taking up a convenient politico-social position, on the other. Block walked away from Austrian libertarianism, nobody left him. Again, it doesn't have to be a point of hatred, anger or conflict, but facts are facts. Block is simply not a libertarian, even if he were to persist in applying that label to himself (which, if he does, would appear to be an actively hostile stance against the libertarian movement).
    Jer. 11:18-20. "The Kingdom of God has come upon you." -- Matthew 12:28

  16. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by ClaytonB View Post


    Only Brian can answer for himself, but I agree with his assessment.
    I agree with his assessment as well.


    Block has always been a bit of a black-sheep among Austrian-orbit intellectuals, and that's fine, every school of thought will have its black-sheep. But there is cantankerously Defending the Undefendable, on the one hand, and then there is outright repudiation of libertarian principles in favor of taking up a convenient politico-social position, on the other.
    I await Brian's response.


    Block walked away from Austrian libertarianism, nobody left him. Again, it doesn't have to be a point of hatred, anger or conflict, but facts are facts. Block is simply not a libertarian, even if he were to persist in applying that label to himself (which, if he does, would appear to be an actively hostile stance against the libertarian movement).
    ____________

    An Agorist Primer ~ Samuel Edward Konkin III (free PDF download)

    The End of All Evil ~ Jeremy Locke (free PDF download)

  17. #15
    I'm surprised anyone has paid attention to Block since he penned that ridiculous evictionism argument in the abortion debate. And that was like 15 years ago.
    There are no crimes against people.
    There are only crimes against the state.
    And the state will never, ever choose to hold accountable its agents, because a thing can not commit a crime against itself.

  18. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by fisharmor View Post
    I'm surprised anyone has paid attention to Block since he penned that ridiculous evictionism argument in the abortion debate. And that was like 15 years ago.
    There are positions that I disagree with Walter (you stated yet another one ^), but he makes a fantastic case on the open border issue, one that I and many AnCap/libertarians agree with. My position is different than most everybody else's - if you can't have open borders and a welfare state, get rid of the welfare state!

    I read/listen to Walter similarly to Common-Core which my off-spring was subjected to; rather than get upset at the curriculum, I used that material to discuss and explain why it was wrong - I never let anything go to waste ;-)
    ____________

    An Agorist Primer ~ Samuel Edward Konkin III (free PDF download)

    The End of All Evil ~ Jeremy Locke (free PDF download)



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  20. #17
    Walter Block has defended the murder of babies, child abuse and vaccine passports and just now people are drawing the line?

  21. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by PAF View Post
    There are positions that I disagree with Walter (you stated yet another one ^), but he makes a fantastic case on the open border issue, one that I and many AnCap/libertarians agree with. My position is different than most everybody else's - if you can't have open borders and a welfare state, get rid of the welfare state!
    Well you're not alone there. I didn't need a economics professor to get me to that position, though. I mean it's basically the "Doc it hurts when I do this" gag.
    There are no crimes against people.
    There are only crimes against the state.
    And the state will never, ever choose to hold accountable its agents, because a thing can not commit a crime against itself.

  22. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by PAF View Post
    if you can't have open borders and a welfare state, get rid of the welfare state!
    In fact, if you can't have open borders and a welfare state, then eliminate the welfare state by way of opening the borders.
    There is nothing to fear from globalism, free trade and a single worldwide currency, but a globalism where free trade is competitively subsidized by each nation, a continuous trade war is dictated by the WTO, and the single currency is pure fiat, fear is justified. That type of globalism is destined to collapse into economic despair, inflationism and protectionism and managed by resurgent militant nationalism.
    Ron Paul
    Congressional Record (March 13, 2001)

  23. #20

  24. #21
    The Classical Liberal Case For Israel
    By David Gordon And Wanjiru Njoya

    February 2, 2024

    In War Guilt in the Middle East (1967) Murray Rothbard observes that libertarians are very clear on the principles of liberty, but less so on the details of specific events:

    “Now this kind of insight into the root cause of war and aggression, and into the nature of the State itself, is all well and good … But the trouble is that the libertarian tends to stop there, and evading the responsibility of knowing what is going on in any specific war or international conflict, he tends to leap unjustifiably to the conclusion that, in any war, all States are equally guilty, and then to go about his business without giving the matter a second thought” (p. 21).

    Informing oneself of what is going on in specific conflicts requires a great deal of time and effort, as well as a sound grasp of the relevant history. This is the task to which Walter Block and Alan Futerman apply themselves in the Classical Liberal Case for Israel. The authors’ aim is to defend Israel by reference to classical liberal principles of justice based on self-ownership and private property.

    -The authors set out not only to defend Israel, but specifically to offer a defense consistent with classical liberal and libertarian principles of justice. Drawing upon Mises, they ask “What is, then, the bedrock of a free society? Private property.” Further, they take a Lockean view of self-ownership in asking “But what is the fundamental principle behind private property, and therefore, that sustaining a free society? It is Justice.” They trace land titles in the land of Israel to the original acquisition thousands of years ago aiming to show “an unbroken line of succession” since 135 C.E. which they present as proof of Israel’s claim to just possession of the land. They argue that “It was stolen from them some 2000 years ago, and the Hebrews are merely repossessing what would have come down to them in ordinary inheritance practices, from parents to children” (p 300).

    “Well, the Romans stole the land from the Jews around two millenia ago; the Jews never gave this land to the Arabs or anyone else. Thus according to libertarian theory it should be returned to the Jews.” (p. 308) …

    In his acknowledgements Walter speaks of his “great love and respect” for Murray Rothbard but adds that “He and I do not agree on the issues covered in this book.” Although much of the Classical Liberal Case for Israel is devoted to setting out the historical claim to land title in Israel, upon closer analysis it soon becomes clear that the authors’ most serious disagreement with Rothbard is not centered on questions related to “what is going on in any specific war”, for example their disagreement on whether Jews paid a fair price for the lands they purchased (p. 39 – 40) or whether the State of Israel is a lesser or greater violator of the non-aggression principle than other states (chapter 3), what really happened at Deir Yassin (p. 268, 269), the degree to which the British are culpable in this dispute (from p. 254) and similar issues. These are all issues on which people can and do disagree on the correct view of the facts. We argue that although the authors depict their disagreement with Rothbard as one concerning the application of libertarian principles of private property, creating the impression that the matter may be settled by “correcting” Rothbard on his understanding of these events, in fact the main thrust of the disagreement between them is one concerning the nature of Zionism. That is not to say that Zionism is the only issue on which the authors disagree with Rothbard (they also disagree, for example, on what is entailed in strike action: p 299), but it is the issue which is most essential in understanding the authors’ critique of Rothbard.

    Classical Liberalism, Property Rights and Zionism

    The authors argue that a proper understanding of property rights can lead to only one correct view of Zionism. Further, they argue that to oppose the state of Israel is to oppose property rights:

    “The right of the Jewish People to inherit and develop the land of their ancestors is so deeply rooted in historical and cultural evidence that to dispute it is simply a farce. It is tantamount to denying the basic rights of private property in a broad sense. That is what the attack against Israel’s legitimacy essentially is—an attack against private property rights generally, for anybody at all.” (p. xxv)

    On that basis they argue that Rothbard is wrong about Zionism and thus in their view it follows that Rothbard is also wrong in his application of libertarian principles to the situation in the Middle East. In their view a correct view of Zionism would lead to a correct interpretation of property rights and vice versa. Thus the authors assert that “to be anti-Zionist is to be against the entire concept of private property” (p. xxvi).

    Given that Rothbard is clearly not against the entire concept of private property, the authors conclude that Rothbard is “misapplying his own libertarian principles in the course of his invective against this one particular state” (p. 201 n. 15). This brings their argument round full circle – Rothbard’s view of Israel is incorrect, which has caused him to be incorrect in his understanding of the property rights foundations of Israel. But this merely begs the precise question which is in issue between them, as Rothbard does not see Zionism as being in any way conceptually linked to Lockean homesteading principles.

    The book is dedicated to Ze’ev Jabotinsky, whose classical liberal views are highlighted by the authors: “Among the different perspectives of Zionism, we find that of Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky and the movement he founded, the Zionist Revisionist, as the best and most compatible with our classical liberal and libertarian approach. Jabotinsky was a classical liberal and thus a champion of individual liberty” (p. 44-46). They discuss in some detail Jabotinsky’s defense of free markets, private property and the minimal state.

    Rothbard, by contrast, views Zionism as “committed to the blood-and-soil mystique of Palestine” (1967, p. 23). He regards Jabotinsky and the Zionist Revisionists as militaristic and fanatical, which is almost as far from Lockean homesteading principles as one could conceive.

    It is fair to say that Jabotinsky is known less for championing Lockean principles of private property and free markets than for championing the right of Jewish people to a homeland and to defend that homeland by force if necessary. For example, Jabotinsky is quoted by Jake Wallis Simons in his comment on the recent case brought before the ICJ by South Africa as follows:

    “We do not have to account to anybody. We are not to sit for anybody’s examination and nobody is old enough to call on us to answer. We came before them and will leave after them. We are what we are, we are good for ourselves, we will not change, nor do we want to.”

    A similar sentiment is reflected in Ted Belman’s review of Block and Futerman’s book:

    “Israel can be whatever it wants to be and need not be what others want it to be. Too often demands are made on Israel to behave in a certain way that no one else manages to do. Even the liberal west isn’t liberal. We need not justify ourselves to anyone. Unfortunately for Israel, it is ruled by an extremely liberal court which constantly is at odds with the Knesset. In other words, it is too liberal for the people. Having said that, it is important for Israel to stress her historical and legal claims to the land which this book does admirably. But her existence doesn’t depend on such claims. It depends on the strength of her army and her economy.”

    Indeed so. Wars between nations depend on the strength of their armies and their economies, not on a correct application of homesteading principles. This is reflected in Jabotinsky’s defiant words quoted by the authors:

    “How much longer will this go on? Tell me, my friends, are you not tired by now of this rigmarole? Isn’t it high time, in response to all of these accusations, rebukes, suspicions, smears, and denunciations—both present and future—to fold our arms over our chests and loudly, clearly, coldly, and calmly put forth the only argument which this public can understand: why don’t you all go to hell? “What kind of people are we that we have to justify ourselves before them? And who are they to demand it of us? What is the point of this whole comedy of putting an entire people on trial when the verdict is known in advance? How does it benefit us to participate voluntarily in this comedy, to brighten up these villainous and humiliating proceedings with our speeches for the defense? “Our defense is useless and hopeless, our enemies will not believe it, and apathetic people will pay no attention to it. The time for apologies is over” (p. 238)

    It is scarcely credible argue that the key issue here concerns Lockean theories of mixing labor with the land. Jabotinsky’s words may tangentially evoke the Lockean notions of original acquisition which the authors wish to emphasize – “we came before them” – but the overall message of Zionism is not simply or even largely one of property rights and the right of an owner to defend himself and his property – it also reflects the determination to stake a claim to these particular lands under the banner of Zionism, which is why Rothbard refers to it as a kind of “blood and soil mystique”. Indeed as Block and Futerman observe, the case they make is essentially a Zionist case in this broader sense and not merely a case based on Lockean homesteading:

    “However, against all of its enemies, the Zionist project and the will of the Jewish people have prevailed. Israel is a strong nation, and the Jews are free in their own land. Zionism has succeeded. Theodore Herzl and Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s dreams of a vibrant Jewish State in its own historical homeland are now a reality. And it will continue to succeed, as the Jewish People always have.” (p. xxvi)

    They also make the point that “if everyone else may form a state, why, then, so may the Jews” and “While Israel as a State is, according to anarcho capitalist libertarian theory, certainly vicious to a degree, it is certainly not “uniquely” pernicious insofar as states go.” Such arguments are not conceptually related to principles of homesteading but are more in the nature of a claim that the legitimacy of the only Jewish state should not be questioned if the legitimacy of all other states is accepted.

    The authors are however keen to emphasize that although their book discusses these more general Zionist arguments their goal is not simply to address matters concerning sovereignty or national security but specifically to ground their defense of Israel in libertarian property rights theory. Therefore although the book covers classical liberal arguments about freedom, free markets, individual liberty, Israel’s right to exist and related issues it is primarily on this point, on the concept of private property, that they clash with Rothbard. They do not simply wish to defend Zionism, but to argue that opposing Zionism amounts to opposing private property rights in general.

    The case against Rothbard

    In attempting to defend Israel by reference to libertarian theory the authors found it necessary to declare Rothbard to be wrong, a matter which they address in detail in chapter 6. Much attention in this chapter is devoted to whether Israel is more or less aggressive than any other state, but comparing Israel to other states has no necessary conceptual connection to a Rothbardian theory of property rights. The Ethics of Liberty is not a war manual and indeed Rothbard’s concern in War Guilt is not with Lockean homesteading but with the NAP and identification of who is the true aggressor in the Middle East. By contrast, the authors’ view is that in any war the only way to ascertain who the aggressor is by reference to principles of original acquisition. The authors consider that principles of property law are the only relevant benchmark by which a libertarian may ascertain war guilt.

    The authors therefore argue that Rothbard’s approach is wrong, and that the relevant principle in this context is whether the person launching the attack is trying to steal property or trying to get his own property back. This is the point discussed by Rothbard in the Ethics of Liberty (1998) using the example of a stolen watch:

    “Suppose we are walking down the street and we see a man, A, seizing B by the wrist and grabbing B’s wristwatch … we don’t know simply from our observation whether A is indeed a thief, or whether A is merely repossessing his own watch from B who had previously stolen it from him. In short, while the watch had undoubtedly been B’s property until the moment of A’s attack, we don’t know whether or not A had been the legitimate owner at some earlier time, and had been robbed ·by B. Therefore, we do not yet know which one of the two men is the legitimate or just property owner. We can only find the answer through investigating the concrete data of the particular case, i.e., through “historical” inquiry.” (1998 p. 51)

    In War Guilt Rothbard does not regard the Middle East question as analogous to deciding who stole whose watch. In War Guilt Rothbard is concerned with the propensity of all states to aggress against their citizens and he argues that “in virtually every war, one side is far more guilty than the other, and on one side must be pinned the basic responsibility for aggression, for a drive for conquest, etc” (p. 21).

    Block and Futerman argue that in War Guilt Rothbard is addressing the wrong issue. Their view is that rather than questioning whether Israel is more guilty than her Arab neighbors (to which their answer is no), Rothbard should instead ask who homesteaded the land of Israel 3,000 years ago. This would lead him to the correct conclusion: that Israel is the true owner and is thus justified in using force to seize back and defend her land.

    The authors’ charge against Rothbard is therefore that he does not delve deep enough into the annals of history to ascertain the first owner of the land of Israel:

    In the end, Rothbard offers us a stark choice: libertarianism, or support for Israel. Our answer is, both. We think we can have our cake and eat it too, and maintain that we have offered above sufficient reason for this conclusion. Our claim is that Rothbard did not start his analysis as far back into the past as he should have, neither did he analyze the situation before and after the founding of Israel correctly. Had he started about more than two millennia ago as we did, we expect he would have written a very different essay on Israel’s right to exist, and the claim of the Jewish people over the land in contention.” (p. 309)

    The authors argue that their evidence of original acquisition by Israel is conclusive proof of the just entitlement to the land, from which it would follow that there is an entitlement if necessary to seize it and defend it. They argue that “Their goal was not to target or conquer civilian Arab lands, though conquering some areas was a defensive outcome of the War of Independence” (p. 266).

    But Rothbard does not regard Zionism as a quest for libertarian justice rooted in private property and Lockean principles, so the authors’ argument that Rothbard erred in failing to trace Lockean acquisition of title back to its origins 3000 years ago merely sidesteps the very issue in dispute: a dispute on the nature of Zionism and whether Zionism is really an ideology rooted in libertarian theories of private property.

    Who is the aggressor?

    Ultimately, a libertarian case for Israel can only be one that depends, as Rothbard says, on ascertaining which side in a conflict has “the basic responsibility for aggression”. The disagreement between Rothbard and the authors cannot be decided by theoretical analysis of property rights. It can only be decided by ascertaining who is correct on the historical facts. As Rothbard said:

    “But in order to find out which side to any war is the more guilty, we have to inform ourselves in depth about the history of that conflict, and that takes time and thought – and it also takes the ultimate willingness to become relevant by taking sides through pinning a greater degree of guilt on one side or the other.” (1967, p. 21).

    The authors assert that “Rothbard begins his analysis on the wrong foot” in attributing blame to Israel, and they regard Rothbard’s views on Zionism as “problematic” (p. 261). They attempt to show that Rothbard failed to understand the historical events he discusses in War Guilt. For example they argue that Rothbard failed to ascertain which specific lands were or were not “occupied” by Palestinians (p. 262) and failed to mention attacks against Jews (from p. 269). But ultimately this is nothing more than a dispute on the accurate interpretation of contested historical facts. It is not a dispute concerning principles of private property. The authors concede as much when they say “[Rothbard] thinks the Jews stole land from the Arabs, and [the Arabs] are justifiably trying to get it back. We, as fellow libertarians, would join him, if we thought his analysis correct … We part company from him, only, because we believe the very opposite: the Jews were the victims of land theft, not the Arabs” (p. 294).

    That being the case, the authors have misfired in their claim that Rothbard’s views of Zionism reflect a mistaken application of libertarian principles. They argue that “The point we are making is that Rothbard’s attack on Israel, even if correct (which as we try to show, is not), is irrelevant”. The reasons the Arab nations invaded Israel in 1948 were absolutely unrelated to libertarian theories concerning justice in land titles.” (p. 298). But the authors fail to appreciate that the same is true of Zionism. The beliefs and goals of Zionism are, at best, only tangentially related to libertarian theories concerning just land titles.

    Neither of the protagonists fighting over disputed land in the Middle East can credibly claim to be fighting for libertarian principles. As the authors observe “We readily admit that there is no individual Jew who can trace his ownership rights over any specific piece of land from 2000 years ago. And this, indeed, would be the criterion for transfer of land titles if we were discussing individual rights. On the other hand, we can identify specific Jewish groups that have a right to certain areas, such as the Kohanim with the Temple Mount.” (p. 304, 305). In cases where the Jews were dispossessed by the Romans they argue that “The status of legal heir would be determined by the nearest of kin that could be determined genetically as well as culturally. If a plot cannot be attributed to a single heir, it would theoretically go to a group that could apply for equal shares in said land” (p 20). There being little likelihood of a single heir being able to trace his title back to135 C.E it follows that such claims to title would rest on genetic studies of paternal lineage to whom the land would be given (p 21). They suggest that “this could be done by dividing the territory via shares, and giving them to all who test positive for the same genetic markers that indicate shared paternal descent.” (p 22). Any Muslims who claim entitlement to the land would similarly be subjected to genetic testing: “wherever there is evidence of previous Muslim homesteading of land in the State of Israel that is currently occupied by Jews, title should be transferred to Muslims provided that cultural and genetic descent can be similarly proven by the other side” (p 22).

    Whatever that theory of justice is, property rights based on ethnicity, DNA and genetic entitlement to ancestral lands corroborated by religious texts and cultural inheritance is not a libertarian theory of private property rights. As such it is the authors’ claims about Lockean homesteading that are irrelevant to Rothbard’s analysis of war guilt.

    It is true, as Ayn Rand argued in her own defense of Israel, that liberty is likely to be advanced more by Israel than by the Arab states but that does not in itself mean that a defense of Israel is an application of libertarian principles. Rather, that point merely asserts that libertarian principles are more likely to flourish in Israel than in neighboring states. As Ayn Rand (cited in Rothbard, 1971):

    “When you have civilized men fighting savages, you support the civilized men, no matter who they are. Israel is a mixed economy inclined toward socialism. But when it comes to the power of the mind—the development of industry in that wasted desert continent—versus savages who don’t want to use their minds, then if one cares about the future of civilization, don’t wait for the government to do something. Give whatever you can. This is the first time I’ve contributed to a public cause: helping Israel in an emergency.”

    But quite clearly her argument is not predicated upon libertarian principles of justice. Rothbard’s (1971) answer to this was that no reason has been given to justify violation of the non-aggression principle:

    “Why? What is the overriding cause for which we must set aside libertarian principle, isolationist principle, and opposition to altruism; why is Israel’s “emergency” to be a claim on our hearts and pockets? Given Miss Rand’s militant atheism, it surely could not be the necessity for the reestablishment of the Temple, or the fulfillment of the old prayer, “next year in Jerusalem”; given her professed individualism, it surely could not be (one hopes) the Zionist call to blood, race, and soil. So what is it? Russia is of course dragged in, but even Miss Rand concedes that the Russian Threat is not the real issue here.”

    The real issue? Because “civilized men” are “fighting against savages”, and when that happens, says Rand, “then you have to be on the side of that civilized man no matter what he is.”

    Deciding these types of questions, who is more or less to blame for a particular war and who is the true aggressor falls within the purview of historical analysis, foreign policy and the specific details of particular events rather than a theory of just acquisition of property.

    The authors clearly disagree with Rothbard on how historical events unfolded but it does not follow that in a disagreement over who aggressed against whom, one party is defending private property while the other is “against the entire concept of private property.” It is merely a debate over contested facts, or at any rate the significance of contested facts, rather than a debate over the concept of private property.

    The question of whether Israel has committed acts of aggression is not reduceable to Lockean homesteading principles, nor can the Ethics of Liberty be construed as a manual capable of settling wars between nations. Ultimately, in claiming that the dispute in the Middle East can be resolved through libertarian principles of private property Block and Futerman have lost sight of the complexity of the philosophical issues. They devote attention to showing, for example, the hatred that has historically been shown towards Jews (p. 252-253) but they are wrong to suppose that this is in any way related to a theory of private property and naive to hope that inter-racial hatred can be resolved by reference to property rights.



    References

    Murray N. Rothbard (1967). War Guilt in the Middle East. Left and Right, 3 (3, Spring–Autumn): 20–30.

    Murray N. Rothbard (1971) Rand on the Middle East The Libertarian Forum, December. Republished in Lew Rockwell, August 1, 2014. Available at https://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/08/...e-middle-east/

    https://www.lewrockwell.com/2024/02/...se-for-israel/
    ____________

    An Agorist Primer ~ Samuel Edward Konkin III (free PDF download)

    The End of All Evil ~ Jeremy Locke (free PDF download)

  25. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by PAF View Post
    As the authors observe “We readily admit that there is no individual Jew who can trace his ownership rights over any specific piece of land from 2000 years ago. And this, indeed, would be the criterion for transfer of land titles if we were discussing individual rights. On the other hand, we can identify specific Jewish groups that have a right to certain areas, such as the Kohanim with the Temple Mount.” (p. 304, 305).
    That line, as I see it, gets to the crux of the argument.

    But let's just suppose for the sake of argument that they are factually right, that certain modern Jews can be recognized as Kohanim descended from ancient Israelite priests, and that no one else, especially not anyone who today identifies as an Arab, can similarly trace any of their ancestry to the Levitical priests of old.

    Never mind how the level of complexity of intermixing of genealogies over the course of 2 millennia would reveal that supposition to be a gross oversimplification.

    And never mind how even in antiquity the Temple mount was not the property of the priests.

    The authors use the words, "such as." This implies that their example of the Kahanim and the Temple Mount is only one out of a larger group of similar examples.

    I suspect this is a lie on their part. They don't have other examples. This is it. There is no way to extrapolate out from saying the Kohanim should own the Temple Mount to saying that modern Jews as a group should own all the land that the Bible says God promised to the ancient twelve tribes of Israel.
    Last edited by Invisible Man; 02-09-2024 at 08:08 AM.
    There is nothing to fear from globalism, free trade and a single worldwide currency, but a globalism where free trade is competitively subsidized by each nation, a continuous trade war is dictated by the WTO, and the single currency is pure fiat, fear is justified. That type of globalism is destined to collapse into economic despair, inflationism and protectionism and managed by resurgent militant nationalism.
    Ron Paul
    Congressional Record (March 13, 2001)

  26. #23
    "An idea whose time has come cannot be stopped by any army or any government" - Ron Paul.

    "To learn who rules over you simply find out who you arent allowed to criticize."



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