Molinari and the anti-statist liberal tradition

6 01 2007

This article first appeared as an Honours thesis presented as part of an Honours degree at Macquarie University in 1979. It was subsequently published in three parts in the Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 5, nos. 3 and 4 and Vol. 6, no. 1. Thanks are extended above all to Leonard Liggio, then at the Institute for Humane Studies, Menlo Park; Murray Rothbard, editor of the JLS; and Mark Weinburg, Senior Research Associate, H. C. Wainwright & Co., Economics, for his assistance in the translation of quoted passages from their original French. The author would also like to thank the Cato Institute for a grant which enabled him to research this essay.

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Market Socialism

3 01 2007

Can a suitably designed market economy satisfy the moral aspirations of a socialist? The motivation behind this proposal is the conviction that planned economies have not succeeded on economic grounds alone, even if one ignores their obvious failures to achieve the democratic ideal. Planned economies failing to coordinate production with demand thus result in surpluses of unwanted goods and black markets; nor have these economies produced the quality of goods attained in market economies. In addition to these obvious failings of planned economies, the works of contemporary political philosophers (Robert Nozick and John Rawls) compel us to reexamine the supposed incompatibility of socialist aspirations and a market economy.

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State vs Society

3 01 2007

In his Politics, Aristotle confuses and shifts equivocal meanings of polis or city-state. Failing to discriminate the distinct concepts of polis1 (the state as a coercive political agency monopolizing law and force over a given territory) and polis2 (the larger community which includes both the coercive state and the various voluntary social institutions such as family, religion, schools, friendship, and commercial associations) misleads him into conflating both notions of polis. This semantic error results in the Stagirite’s faulty argument that polis1 (the coercive state) should not merely protect individual rights from force or fraud but also, confusedly assuming the functions of polis2, should make men good, moral, and virtuous—by force. Aristotle’s confusion about polis as state and polis as community blinds him to the valuable contributions to political justice and the proper limits of state activity offered by an ancient Greek version of libertarianism.
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The Case Against Government

2 01 2007

Robert Nozick’s attempt to refute anarchism in Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974) is invalid and fails to justify the state’s coercive monopoly of force in a given territory. Nozick creates bogus “rights” when he invokes “procedural rights” (each person’s right to resist, in self-defense, if others try to apply to him an unreliable, unfair, or risky procedure of justice). But even if such “rights” were valid, they would not justify the state monopolizing the protection of these “rights.” In fact, individuals could claim “procedural rights” and apply them to judge the state’s “risky” procedures. This would seem to bolster the anarchist case.

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