Thursday, August 18, 2016

Walter Block Responds to Ron Paul Comments on Demagogues

The following exchange took place between Dr. Walter Block and me as a result of this post, Ron Paul on Demagogue A vs. Demagogue B:

Dear Bob:

". . .instead of obsessing over whether demagogue A is less dangerous than demagogue B, we must focus on spreading the ideas of liberty."

Here's my reply: Why can't we do both?

Best regards,



RW reply:

Opportunity cost.


WB response:

subjective. different strokes for different folks. different opportunity costs for different people. if you and Ron want to focus on spreading liberty, and not concern yourself at all with which candidate is a bigger threat to liberty, fine. that's your subjective opportunity costs. but, mine are different. you don't want to objectify opportunity costs, right?



You asked why I preferred focusing on liberty rather than trying to somehow read the tea leaves of the differences between demagogue A and demagogue B, I answered opportunity cost but never suggested you had the same opportunity cost.

But more to the bigger point, would you really, to use your earlier example,rather debate over who whipped harder, a left-handed or right-handed slave driver, or spend the time trying to figure out how to escape?

These discussions over who is the worst between two major evil doers just doesn't seem to bear much fruit to me.


WB response:

 of course, a slave escape is great. but, I'm implicitly assuming our only option is goody versus baddie, and that the difference between them is significant.


RW response:

But, in this  presidential race, trying to determine who is worst is not our only option.

We can spread the word about liberty, which perhaps can help us move toward a more free society in the future.

WB response:

we're both doing both, no?


RW response:

I don't see how discussing who is more insane when it comes to war, Hillary or Trump, does much to advance the cause of liberty. Perhaps a bit tangentially, but discussing the numerous positions, across domestic and foreign policy, they hold which are far from libertarian positions would seem much more fruitful than attempting to promote either of these lunatics.

How is a newbie going to get a grip on libertarianism, when there is an organization "Libertarians for Trump," when Trump wants to battle countries over trade, wants to send U.S. ground troops to the Middle East and there is every indication that he would be an authoritarian on the domestic front? Do we want newbies to think these positions have anything to do with libertarianism.?

From my perch, it makes more sense to intellectually attack Trump, Clinton, Johnson and Stein.


  1. I always thought Libertarian/Anarchist were always against the State period. I am.
    I have always thought that this "goodie vs. baddie" is flat ridiculous.
    We aren't negro slaves in 1830 America.
    We are Libertarians fighting Leviathan, "Against the State". We Hate the State. We don't care if there is someone who will beat us less, we speak out against him/her too.
    Plus, what is the president? Just a tool. Presidents win based on who the Deep State puts in. Seriously. Do we think voting means anything, still?
    And Santa brings presents.

    I maintain, the Ettienne De La Boetie gave the right answer to what we face. Reject the State.
    Remove consent from the State.
    There is no compromise in this. We don't have to dilute our convictions.
    Austrians understand time preference.
    Well, Libertarians have to understand it too.
    We don't fight this fight so we today can get "beat" less from some goodie or baddie today.
    We are fighting this fight so someday, maybe someday, the State will be vanquished.
    I've read so many articles on this election from Libertarians I admire it makes me sick.
    Screw the State.
    Down with the Presidency.
    Death to Leviathan.
    Give me Liberty, not some lessor beating, or give me death.
    Death is NOT the worst of evils.