Lifeboat Situations: Freedom in Times of Emergency

From time to time, the fundamental right of each of us to our individual liberty is challenged by the notion that such a right shouldn’t necessarily apply in emergencies. In the regular, fair weather of societal relations, it is easy enough for us to agree that we should, for instance, have no right to physically injure or steal from other people. But what if an emergency could be resolved only by a breach of the non-aggression principle (NAP)? What if that situation was so desperate that the only way to avoid almost certain loss of life (or severe bodily harm) was to violate the property rights of another person?

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One Law for All

One of the obfuscating features of sociological commentary – whether it takes place in academic tomes or in popular magazines – is the tendency to describe the subject matter in terms of vast, overreaching abstractions. For instance, “the market” does X, “the government” does Y, “companies” do Z, and so on. Such categorisations are not, of course, unimportant; the use of shorthand is often needed as a clear identification of particular groups of individuals, each of whom share a common feature relevant to the discussion. However, the fact that every group is, indeed, nothing more than a group of individuals is precisely what is forgotten if the use of these abstractions is taken too far.

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How Land Comes to be Owned

Some years ago, I decided to cease any participation in online discussion forums. While such engagement was far from fruitless, it can very quickly become a net burden if, like me, one lacks the willpower to prevent all of the waking (and many non-waking) hours from being consumed by back-and-forth arguments on every single little detail of Austro-libertarian theory that happens to arise. Far more productive, I tell myself, to spend the time I have available reading and writing original material for outlets such as Free Life.

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The Timeless Yearning for Censorship

Excerpted from Socialism, by Ludwig von Mises:

Sidney and Beatrice Webb (Lord and Lady Passfield) tell us that ‘in any corporate action a loyal unity of thought is so important that, if anything is to be achieved, public discussion must be suspended between the promulgation of the decision and the accomplishment of the task’. Whilst ‘the work is in progress’ any expression of doubt, or even of fear that the plan will not be successful, is ‘an act of disloyalty, or even of treachery’. Now as the process of production never ceases and some work is always in progress and there is always something to be achieved, it follows that a socialist government must never concede any freedom of speech and the press. ‘A loyal unity of thought’, what a high-sounding circumlocution for the ideals of Philip II and the inquisition! In this regard another eminent admirer of the Soviets, Mr. T. G. Crowther, speaks without any reserve. He plainly declares that inquisition is ‘beneficial to science when it protects a rising class’, i.e., when Mr. Crowther’s friends resort to it. Hundreds of similar dicta could be quoted.

In the Victorian age, when John Stuart Mill wrote his essay On Liberty, such views as those held by Professor Laski, Mr. and Mrs. Webb and Mr. Crowther were called reactionary. Today they are called ‘progressive’ and ‘liberal’. On the other hand people who oppose the suspension of parliamentary government and of the freedom of speech and the press and the establishment of inquisition are scorned as ‘reactionaries’, as ‘economic royalists’ and as ‘Fascists’.

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Abortion and Vaccine Mandates

In the wake of the US Supreme Court’s overruling of Roe v. Wade, James Melville, a commenter in the UK, tweeted the following concerning possible stances towards abortion on the one hand and vaccine mandates on the other:

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Gun Control and the Government

In the United States, the story is always the same. Some maniac (examples of whom, we might add, will be always found regardless of gun ownership rights) walks into a public building such as a school or shopping mall, opens fire and kills anything from a handful to tens of individuals. Then comes the usual tirade of arguments from the “gun control” advocates on the one side, crying out for more government control of private gun ownership in response to these heinous crimes, batted back by pro-gun ownership rhetoric from the likes of the NRA and the remainder of the gun lobby.

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In Defence of Decentralisation – Political Unionism after Roe v. Wade

[Originally Published on Free Life]

When asked to account for the inspiration behind his voluminous output, Murray N Rothbard is supposed to have replied “hatred is my muse”. In other words, he could not bear to let the scores of fallacies etched into some statist screed stand unanswered.

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Against Exceptionalism

Fighting the State’s Hypocrisy

The Western condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has once again served to highlight the exceptionalist attitude of the West, and of the United States in particular. Whichever standards other countries and governments are held to, the West believes that it is permitted to deviate from, or even obliterate those standards, labelling its own interventionist feats with some other, innocuous term, while utilising a half-baked moral justification in order to promote its acceptability.

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Myths about Freedom

Shattering the Statist Lies

Freedom enthusiasts usually take pride in their understanding of the ethics of liberty and the evils of statism. It is difficult not to read and be enthralled by the works of distinguished libertarian authors such as Murray Rothbard, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Walter Block, and from earlier generations the likes of H L Mencken, Albert Jay Nock and Frank Chodorov, before we even mention Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich von Hayek.

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