Archives for January 2009
Abstract: In this lecture delivered November 2008 on the occasion of the presentation of the Mises Institute’s Gary G. Schlarbaum Prize for lifetime achievement in the cause of liberty, Professor Salin discusses his discovery of Austrian economics and his involvement in “the world of individual liberty,” and draws various lessons from his intellectual journey. The coherence of Austrian economics appealed to Salin—it is not a patchwork of partial theories, but a logical process of thought founded on realistic assumptions about individual action. Salin also discusses differences between the Chicago and Austrian approaches, and his views about monetary systems.
The financial crisis beginning in late 2008 is not a crisis of capitalism, but of state intervention, caused by the expansionary monetary policy of the Fed. Capitalism is the solution, not the cause. There is no need to create money. There is never any balance of payments problem. What is required is tax systems more friendly to capital accumulation, a decrease in the role of the state, the end of monetary policy and, if possible, the disappearing of central banks and the IMF.
(Audio and video versions of the original speech may be found here. See also Guido Hülsmann’s article about the heroic Professor Salin, Pascal Salin: Gentleman, Economist, Radical.)
Abstract: The long stagflation in the nineteen-seventies broke the Keynesian hold on economic policy. Last year we witnessed the spectacular unraveling of neo-liberal policies of manipulating money and credit. While these episodes might be studied to explain the specific weaknesses and errors of each of the two policy paradigms that have dominated in the West after the Second World War, this lecture highlights the ideas and presuppositions that remained in place throughout the whole period. Despite the alliance that once existed between libertarians and classical liberals, on the one hand, and neo-liberals, on the other hand, the latter did not have sufficiently coherent conceptions of freedom and free markets to produce a true alternative for the Keynesian idea of a scientifically managed economy as a utilitarian and pragmatic approach to the utopian goal of the greatest happiness for the greatest number, i.e., complete well-being for all.
Download Paper: “Dead End Street Blues”
Abstract: In “Why Libertarians Should Reject Positive Rights,” Joshua Katz offers a critical response to the argument developed by Nicolás Maloberti in “Libertarianism and the Possibility of the Legitimate State.” In this rejoinder, Maloberti argues that Katz’s response fails on two accounts. First, it fails to grasp the nature of the problem his article was ultimately concerned with. Second, it fails to present a solid case for the rejection of the type of positive right that it was argued libertarians should endorse as a solution to that problem.
Download Paper: “Libertarianism and Positive Rights: Comments on Katz’s Reply”
Abstract: Maloberti, in “Why Libertarians Should Accept Positive Rights” argues that, as normally presented, libertarianism entails anarchism. He argues that libertarians should, therefore, accept a limited form of positive rights, which will allow for the creation of a libertarian government. In this paper, it is argued that the entailment of anarchism is not a problem for libertarianism, and that the form of positive rights endorsed by Maloberti is unfounded, ill-defined, and inconsistent with libertarian notions of individual freedom. It is further argued that Maloberti’s positive rights, as defined in his paper, cannot withstand the analysis prompted by Austrian value theory.
Download Paper: “Why Libertarians Should Reject Positive Rights”
To Authors, Readers, and Potential Libertarians:
A new libertarian journal—a new type of libertarian journal—is born today. Libertarian Papers is an exclusively online peer-reviewed journal. Its home is this elegant, fast, easy-to-use website. We invite you to browse around.
Publishing online has allowed us to break free of many of the constraints faced by paper-based journals. Scholars working in the libertarian tradition will find dealing with us to be a refreshing change. For instance, we publish articles consecutively, online, as soon as they are peer-reviewed and a final copy is submitted. No waiting for the next issue or printing delays. We have also done away with arbitrary space limits. And we don’t care what citation style you use, as long as it is consistent, professional, and enables the reader to find the work referenced. Neither our time nor the author’s need be wasted converting from one citation style to another, or wondering whether “2nd. ed.” goes here or there, or whether it should be “2d. ed.” instead. In a digital age, old forms must give way to new forms.
And as our publications are online and open, you won’t find our authors furtively posting a scanned copy of their paper articles on their own sites, while their article is trapped in musty paper on a dark shelf—but if they want to, they are free to do so, since to the extent possible everything here is published under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Want to republish your piece in a book? No need to ask us for permission. We want to spread the ideas of liberty, not impose DRM on them.
And of course readers will love the ease of access. Subscription is by RSS feed, and free. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook, or other social media to come. And unlike other academic journals, we allow comments on our articles, via the blog posts announcing them. Libertarian Papers is completely free and open, because readers’ being willing to devote time to studying the ideas of liberty is payment enough for us. It is the profit we seek. And we think having readers who love to use our site and read our articles is what authors want, too.
A few words of thanks are in order. The assistance and support of Jeff Tucker of the Mises Institute, web designer Aristotle Esguerra, and Lew Rockwell and the Ludwig von Mises Institute have been invaluable in getting the website set up and the first non-issue out. Libertarian Papers is also proud to have an outstanding Editorial Board, with world-class scholars working in the libertarian tradition. Their help and commitment was also indispensable in helping this project come to fruition. And various loyal and devoted friends in the libertarian cadre, such as Gil Guillory, Manuel Lora, and Anthony Gregory, helped in various ways behind the scenes. A hearty thanks to them all.
That brings us to our first issue—or non-issue, rather. We’re very proud of our first set of published articles—the seven articles that are being published today, immediately after this post is published (and then rolling them out about one hour apart, consecutively, throughout the day). These pieces include articles by two eminent libertarian thinkers, Jan Narveson (writing on Nozick, justice, and restitution) and Robert Higgs (on depressions and war). Also being published today is a previously unpublished memo from Ludwig von Mises to F.A. Hayek, relaying Mises’s concerns and advice about the then-nascent Mont Pèlerin Society, followed by a previously unpublished memo from Murray Rothbard to the Volker Fund, about libertarian tactics and strategy. The last three articles to be published today—starting about four hours from now—are a fascinating three-part exchange between Nicolás Maloberti and Joshua Katz about libertarianism, positive rights, and the “Possibility of the Legitimate State.”
Several more articles are in the works. We expect to publish throughout the year—and beyond. Stay tuned.
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We welcome submissions of articles and other suitable materials—even in foreign languages, in some cases (more on our About page). And feel free to send feedback, suggestions, or questions to the Editor, via email or through the comments feature on our blog posts. We hope you—authors and readers—also profit from Libertarian Papers.
Abstract: The classical formulation of libertarianism seems to be incompatible with the requirements of political legitimacy. Some libertarians have endorsed this result, denying that the state is legitimate. This paper argues, however, that the particular nature of that incompatibility represents a problem for the classical formulation of libertarianism. It is argued that acknowledging the existence of a particular minimal form of positive rights might overcome the problem in question. It is further argued that acknowledgment of such positive rights would seem to provide a more adequate normative ground for making sense of some central libertarian insights and concerns.
Download Paper: “Libertarianism and the Possibility of the Legitimate State”
Abstract: Interpretation of macroeconomic events in the 1930s and 1940s is complicated by the era’s institutional peculiarities, especially the massive work-relief programs during the Depression and the displacement of market-based pricing and resource allocation during the war. These difficulties can be avoided to some extent by examining hours worked, rather than such standard indicators as estimated real GDP and the rate of unemployment.
From such an examination, we may conclude that (1) the depression had a flat trough in 1932, 1933, and 1934; (2) civilian government hours accounted for three-eighths of the increase in total hours worked between 1932 and 1936; (3) as late as 1939, private nonfarm hours were 16 percent below their 1929 level and 21 percent below the trend high-employment level for 1939; (4) the tremendous mismatch between the increase in private hours worked and the estimated increase in real GDP from 1940 to 1944 calls into serious question the accuracy of the estimated increase in real output; and (5) substitution of lower-productivity workers for the higher-productivity workers being drained into the armed forces from 1940 to 1944 only adds to doubts about the reality of the estimated increase in real output during that period.
Abstract: The libertarian-individualist cause is at a critical crossroads. To have a successful revolution in the minds of men, we must learn from the Leninists what “revolutionaries” can do to advance their principles: nourish and increase the hard core with an “open center” and support specific political actions through auxiliary organizations, while avoiding “left-wing opportunism” and “right-wing sectarianism.” Historically, it was from the post-war libertarian outposts that FEE was able to build and galvanize such a hard core open center, with members even radicalizing one another. But FEE attempted to be more populist than scholarly, driving away scholars once they had “graduated.” The Volker Fund filled this gap to some extent; but has started to go the way of the Earheart foundation’s efforts—since the scholars selected were not radical enough to maintain an open center, the hard core has been weakening and dissolving. The libertarian cause should de-emphasize drastically popular fronts with the conservative right, it should nourish and construct the hardcore libertarian movement with some form or forms of nucleus or center, and it must emphasize libertarian scholars and intellectuals primarily.
Abstract: This memorandum was written at the request of Henry Hazlitt to provide Mises’s comments on and concerns about F.A. Hayek’s initial proposals for what became the Mont Pèlerin Society. Mises stresses that those who favor liberty and freedom and oppose totalitarianism must also oppose interventionism. The memo argues that those who fought and lost against the rising tide of totalitarianism at the turn of the 20th Century lost their battles because they settled for middle-of-the-road policies that conceded considerable ground to the socialists. The weak point in Professor Hayek’s plan is that it relies upon the cooperation of many men who are today’s middle-of-the-roaders. As interventionists, they may not be the hoped-for intellectual pioneers to inspire people to build a freer world.
Download Paper: “Observations on Professor Hayek’s Plan”
Abstract: It is widely thought that Robert Nozick’s views on rectification of past injustices are of critical importance to his theory of distributive justice, even perhaps justifying wholesale redistributive taxes in the present because of the undoubted injustices that have pervaded much past history. This essay undertakes to correct this impression—not mostly by disagreeing with Nozick’s claims, but nevertheless proceeding on basic libertarian theory. Of enormous importance is the role of putative innocents, who are defrauded by miscreants carefully covering their tracks so that these recipients have no reason to think they are buying stolen property. But of equal importance is simply that the duty to rectify past injustices is not comparable to the original duty to respect property rights in the first place.