Sunday, July 3, 2016

David Gordon Responds to Ayn Rand Institute Attack On Murray Rothbard

As a follow up to, Vicious Attack This Weekend on Murray Rothbard and the Mises Institue, David Gordon emails:
Why does Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute call the Mises Institute scholars nihilists? I don't even understand where that comes from.
Brook absurdly says that Rothbard was a philosophical relativist and subjectivist. In fact he supported realism and natural law. Incidentally, one wonders how their view of Rothbard is consistent with the claim that Rothbard plagiarized Rand's argument against determinism. Perhaps the contention is that Rothbard added relativism and subjectivism to parts of Rand's philosophy! It would appear that their criticism of Rothbard is, to use a term of which Brook is fond, a "mish-mash,"
Brook also falsely claims that Rothbard believed that communism was desirable for Vietnam, because it reflected the will of the Vietnamese people. Ghate wrongly claims that Rothbard said he was a spokesman for Mises and Hazlitt.


 Raimondo Responds to Vicious Attack on Murray Rothbard


  1. David, don't waste your time on these guys; frankly, some are just nuts. I ran a conference in the mid-1970s and had Rothbard as one of the speakers. Out of the blue, some uninvited Randian notable abruptly came up to me and said: "I dare you having that Communist Rothbard speak at this conference". I said what the hell are you talking about....get lost. But this guy was serious...and a serious nutjob; he is still around btw. So, David, forget these losers.

  2. Didn't Rand want a "government" supported by voluntary contributions? Personally, I do not like the term "state" and I think the term "government" is confusing and mis-used. Can this Randian "government" commit the initiation of force? Is it a voluntary association of people? Why doesn't this amount to voluntary governance which might be called a "government" in the proper context? What exactly is the dispute with Rothbard?

    1. Yes Randians believe initiation of force is fine by the state.

  3. I think Gordon is perhaps confusing subjectivism and solipsism. One can certainly be a subjectivist and a believer in natural law, and I sure hope Rothbard was both. It is true, however, that Rothbard tried, unsuccessfully, to reconcile his belief in the subjective theory of value with his belief that there is some kind of objective moral truth to libertarianism. Alas, there is not. You have to either accept certain deontological axioms as a priori true, or you have to rely on consequentialism to demonstrate the preferability of libertarianism. In the end, you need both. Roderick Long said it best when he wrote:

    "Finally, my understanding of rights is neither purely deontological nor purely consequentialist. Following the Aristotelean principle that the content of any one virtue cannot be specified except through reciprocal determination by all the other virtues, I conclude that the content of a rights-oriented virtue like justice must be shaped in part by considerations appropriate to consequence-oriented virtues like benevolence and prudence; hence pure deontology will not do. But by the same token, what counts as a good consequence will be shaped in part by considerations appropriate to rights-oriented virtues like justice; so pure consequentialism won’t do either. (I also suggest that this approach is implicitly that of most professed deontologists and consequentialists as well, since all but the hardiest deontologists generally try to show that their favoured policies will in fact have good consequences, while all but the hardiest consequentialists generally try to show that they’re not committed to morally outrageous conclusions.)"

    I would add to this a third element, that of emotivism. We have certain inherent feelings about what is moral based on our evolutionary history. Luckily,libertarianism is not in conflict with these.

    As for the Randians, yes, they are crazy.