Liberty and Power

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  • Alexander Cockburn: The Anti-Statist

    by Sheldon Richman

    This is my contribution to the CounterPunch memorial issue for Alexander Cockburn, the left iconoclast who died recently. 

    A libertarian--a radical, decentralist, pro-market, but anti-capitalist left-libertarian, at any rate--could tell that Alex Cockburn was exceptional when even his eulogy for a departed Marxist compelled interest.

    After the Marxist economist Paul Sweezy died, Alex wrote that Sweezy "trenchantly detected and explained: the reasons for the New Deal's failure, until World War II bailed out the system; military Keynesianism and the Korean war as the factors in US recovery after that war; underdevelopment in the Third World, consequence of dependency that was created by imperialism . . . ; the increasing role of finance in the operations of capitalism. . . ."

  • Tom Szasz: Dialectical Libertarian

    by Sheldon Richman


    Tom Szasz was what Chris Sciabarra would call a dialectical libertarian. Here's an example. Many years ago the city of Berkeley, California, (if I remember correctly) had a public referendum on whether to outlaw all electroshock, or "electro-convulsive therapy [sic]." Tom endorsed the ban. But he was a libertarian, so how could he possibly support a ban on even voluntary electroshock?

    Simple. He knew that electroshock was far more likely to be used on people against their will. In the unlikely case that someone wanted it, he or she could go to a neighboring community. The net result of a ban would be that no one could be subjected to that barbaric procedure against his or her will within the borders of Berkeley. Hence it was a clear-cut victory for freedom.

  • Thomas Szasz, RIP

    by Sheldon Richman

      As if we haven't had enough bad news recently, I just learned that Thomas Szasz, my friend and mentor, died the other day. He was 92. I will have more to say in coming days. I am truly devastated by this news.

    For now, see my "Szasz in One Lesson."

    Also see Jacob Sullum's Reason interview.  

  • Quote of the Week

    by David T. Beito

    Fellow L and P blogger Anthony Gregory writes "You'd think between the antiwar radicalism of Obama and the laissez faire anarchism of Bush, we'd have a libertarian paradise by now."

  • George Takei on Big Government, Democrats, and Republicans

    by David T. Beito

    George Takei at the 2011 Phoenix Comicon. Credit: Gage Skidmore

    It’s no surprise that I’m a Democrat. I’m a gay man, I got married to my husband Brad, and I don’t particularly like being told my marriage should be invalidated because I don’t have the same rights as other people. But mind you, I don’t forget that it was a Democratic President (FDR) who abused his power 70 years ago and put my family and me in an internment camp without charge, trial or cause. Now that was Big Government at its very worst. So I am leery of excessive government power or control of any kind.

    That’s why I want to take a moment here to talk about the 800 pound gorilla in the room: To ask why the GOP has allowed itself to be hijacked by extremists who aren’t Republican at all.

  • The Gig Is Up

    by Sheldon Richman

    My 15-year gig editing The Freeman will end September 30. I'm looking for a full-time editorial position with an online or paper publication.

  • Vote for Gary Johnson

    by Keith Halderman

    Gary Johnson announcing his bid for the presidency as the candidate of the Libertarian Party, December 28, 2011. Credit: Flickr

    “And the man under the influence of hasseesh catches up his knife and runs through the streets hacking and killing everyone he meets.”

    DOPE: The Story of the Living Dead by Winfred Black, William Randolph Hearst employee, 1932.

  • U.S. Encourages Israel's War Aims

    by Sheldon Richman

    While Israel—cheered on by its American boosters led by AIPAC and Mitt Romney—beats the drums ever louder for a war of aggression against Iran, President Obama in late July signed the United States-Israel Enhanced Cooperation Act. This was hardly a signal that Obama would like to defuse the explosive situation building in the Middle East. The Rose Garden signing, attended by AIPCA representatives, came on top of the latest in a series of harsh economic sanctions approved by AIPAC-dominated Congress and Obama against the Iranian people. This intensifying economic warfare is predictably creating hardship for average Iranians, including shortages of life-saving medicines. (Sanctions come on top of covert warfare and assassination of Iranian scientists by Israel and cyber warfare by the United States, and an increasing U.S. presence in the Persian Gulf and surrounding area. Iran is nearly ringed by U.S. military installations.)
    Signing the Act, Obama said:

  • The Three Rs

    by Roderick T. Long

    ff on the Ryan/Rand connection, from the usually insufferable Lawrence O’Donnell:

    How disappointed would Ayn Rand be in her formerly devoted public disciple Paul Ryan? Well, she wouldn’t miss his devotion very much. Because his recent betrayal just wouldn’t surprise her. Because Paul Ryan was never true to Rand’s philosophy. Right-wing hero Ayn Rand couldn’t stand Ronald Reagan. She urged people not to vote for Ronald Reagan and insisted that Reagan clearly did not believe in freedom and respect for the rights of the individual, because, among many other reasons, Reagan opposed the right to choose abortion.

    That’s right, Paul Ryan, a Republican anti-abortion fanatic, has until very recently been publicly proclaiming his philosophical hero to be a woman who was a relentless champion of a woman’s right to choose. And Ryan’s pro-war stance in the Congress on every issue and every funding issue involving the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War would have disappointed Rand too. …

  • John T. Flynn Opposes Internment Camps

    by David T. Beito

    Very few Americans opposed Japanese internment but prominent among those who did were conservatives, libertarians, and classical liberals, such as George Schuyler and R.C. Hoiles. Here is what Old-Right activist John T. Flynn had to say:

    "Many of you have forgotten, I am sure, an incident which occurred just after that war [World War II] started. We were at war with Japan, and on our West Coast there lived thousands of Japanese-Americans - many of them born in this country - American citizens. President Roosevelt called in the War Relocation Authority, uprooted these American citizens, routed them out of their homes and farms and businesses and moved them lock, stock and barrel into the interior of the country. They were put in concentration camps - that's what they are called in Europe. But of course we called them relocation centers. This was because we were at war with Japan. But whatever the reason, it was and remains one of the greatest assaults on civil liberties in our history."

    John T. Flynn, Behind the Headlines, Script No. M159, February 8, 1957, John T. Flynn Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries.

  • John T. Flynn on Japanese Internment Camps

    by David T. Beito

    Very few Americans opposed Japanese internment but prominent among those who did were conservatives, libertarians, and classical liberals, such as George Schuyler and R.C. Hoiles. Here is what Old-Right activist John T. Flynn had to say:

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