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Luker on 10 Most Harmful Books

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I repeat my reply on the hnn list here, in case it is deleted:

Luker is being disingenuous. First stirring up attention by including Rand along with Hitler; then feigning innocence by asking “why in the world would you think that equates them? lists are silly anyway.” On the other hand, it’s clear that Luker’s attempts at expression are just his way of grunting, “me think free markets bad. me think they just as bad as hitler. urrgghh.”

So, so what? We are used to living with anti-liberals. This is nothing new. The essence of leftists is that they equate peaceful, productive people with criminals; thus they are willing to use the power of the state to wield force against both. Again, this is nothing new.

I think it’s really silly to talk about harmful books. No one can really trace out the causal connections. What we can do is judge individual, concrete human actions–whoever they were “influenced” by. And we can judge the relative substantive merit of competing ideas. So this is really just a complicated, fancy way of expressing our disagreement. Luker, whether he admits it or not, adheres to one brand of socialism, or criminality. But he tries to dress it up to make it seem all fancy and stuff.

It does not offend me that he compares Rand to Hitler. This is only natural for the leftist mentality. What is offensive is that he believes that peaceful human interaction may be punished by the force of the state’s army. All the rest–comparison of Rand to Hitler–is just a stark illustration or consequence of this fundamentally illiberal mindset.

And my follow up reply to Luker’s asinine response:

Luker, “This kind of johnny-come-lately response to a conversation he hasn’t bothered to read seems characteristic of Stephan (not Stephen) Kinsella.”

Sigh. Why you people always want to make it “about me” is mystifying. I am really not that special, not worth making into some kind of big target. Better to just focus on substance.

“It is, finally, nauseating to be told yet one more time that in putting Rand on the List I “compared” or “equated” Rand with Hitler. If I made a list of things to do tomorrow and it included “get dressed”, “deposit a $1,000,000 check from Objectivists at L & P for my brilliant List”, “take a shower” and “kill myself for pandering to the Objectivists at L & P” — I do not think that I would have compared or equated the four things.”

You are pettifogging. You clearly are classifying Rand’s books along with Hitler’s as both being “bad”. Sure, you probalby think Hitler is way worse than Rand. So what? As I said above, your “comparison” does not bother me at all; it is just an outcome of the fact that you are illiberal (I take it you are, which is why you have Rand on your list). (BTW, I am not an Objectivist nor, I believe, are most people on this list.)

The truth is that anyone who believes that a principled advocacy of individual liberty, property rights, economic liberties, etc. (like Rand or other libertarians) is “bad” is simply an opponent of human freedom. But we live among these type of people; most people are illiberal to some extent. This is no surprise. Most people are therefore criminality-advocates to some extent. Again, no surprise.

Anyone that believes untrammeled human liberty is “bad” is necessarily going to be making the mistake of categorizing Hitler along with libertarians–since he views them as bad. This is not especially offensive; it’s just an outcome or symptom of the underlying error of opposing libertarianism–human rights and liberty.

What is wrong is the opposition to Rand’s and other libertarians’ advocacy of individual rights. It is substantively wrong; it is an error on Luker’s part. But he shares this error with most of the human race. Quibbling over whether he is really “comparing” Rand to Hitler is just a waste of time. He clearly believes (a) Hitler’s evil actions were bad; and (b) putting in place a system of principled individual rights and liberty is bad. To this extent he has necessarily to classify them as similar. The problem is that while he is right about (a), his position (b) is simply mistaken.

And

Luker: “You are correct in guessing that I am not a libertarian. You are incorrect in thinking that libertarians are the only people committed to human freedom. I’ll put my record of deeds up against yours any day.”

Libertarians are those who oppose all forms of aggression–the initiation of violent force against innocent victims. If you are also opposed to aggression, you are a libertarian. If you are not opposed, then you are in support of some forms of aggression. Those who are in favor of aggression are what some people might call “criminals,” but in any event, it’s hard to see how advocates of violence and aggression can be good advocates of “human freedom.” You see, human freedom requires the absence of violent aggression.

It always amazes me that advocates of varying degrees of institutionalized aggression try to squirm and deny what they are really in favor of. Look, I’m in favor of free markets even if some people would be unemployed or whatever; I admit it. Why don’t you people just admit: you are in favor of aggression–sometimes. You are willing to break an egg to make an omelet. At least it’s honest.

For more discussion of this issue, see my What It Means To Be an Anarcho-Capitalist; The Trouble with Feser (On Libertarianism); On Jonah Goldberg’s Youthful Phase; see also these threads, which show some conservative types trying to wriggle out of being labeled advocates of aggression despite clearly endorsing it: e.g., my debate with Ed Feser et al. about the nature of criminality and aggression in this thread; the Chronicles thread I participated in with Scott Richert about the non-aggression principle (see his The Limits of Economics; Economics, Catholic Social Teaching, and Dissent); see also recent post on LewRockwell blog lately about this and Thomas Woods versus Thomas Fleming, Storck, et al.; and a Chronicles blog thread I participated in with Fleming et al.

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