Monday, September 25, 2017

Book Review: 'Building Blocks for Liberty' by Walter Block


A San Francisco Review of Books original

Libertarian - an advocate of the doctrine of free will

Before condemning or praising this book most of us need to remind ourselves of the definition of ‘Libertarian’. According the often used reference, Wikipedia, ‘Libertarianism (Latin: libertas, "freedom") is a collection of political philosophies and movements that uphold liberty as a core principle. Libertarians seek to maximize political freedom and autonomy, emphasizing freedom of choice, voluntary association, individual judgment, and self-ownership. Libertarians share a skepticism of authority and state power. However, they diverge on the scope of their opposition to existing political and economic systems. Various schools of libertarian thought offer a range of views regarding the legitimate functions of state and private power, often calling to restrict or to dissolve coercive social institutions.’

Most of us are familiar with the concept of Right and Left wing schism in politics – conservative and liberal are interchangeable terms. 

Block’s twenty-three essays are divided into ECONOMICS (On Property and Exploitation, Toward a Universal Libertarian Theory of Gun (Weapon) Control: A Spatial and Geographical Analysis, Environmentalism and Economic Freedom: The Case for Private Property Rights, Enterprising Education: Doing Away with the Public School System, Labor Relations, Unions and Collective Bargaining: A Political Economic Analysis, Is There a Right to Unionize?, Free Market Transportation: Denationalizing theRoads, Public Goods and Externalities: The Case of Roads, The Gold Standard: A Critique of Friedman, Mundell, Hayek and Greenspan), HUMAN RIGHTS(The Nonaggression Axiom of Libertarianism, Libertarianism, Positive Obligations and Property Abandonment: Children’s Rights, Social Justice, Discrimination: An Interdisciplinary Analysis, A Libertarian Case for Free Immigration, Secession, Legalize Drugs Now! An Analysis of the Benefits of Legalized Drugs, Libertarianism and Libertinism), and LANGUAGE (Watch Your Language, Taking Back the Language, WordWatch, Continuing to Watch Our Language, Voluntary Taxes: Abusive Language and Politicians, and. Language, Once Again: Civil War, Inclusive Language, Economic Warfare, National Wealth). 

As Block tersely presents his viewpoint in the Introduction, ‘According to the view of most people, conservatism, or the right-wing philosophy champions economic liberty, but not personal freedom. And, similarly, socialism, or the left-wing perspective, favors personal liberty, but not that pertaining to buying and selling, trading, and other commercial endeavors. Neither of these claims is exactly true. The adherence to the principles of free enterprise of Republicans on the right is easy to exaggerate. Many of them favor free trade, except when an industry they favor is facing foreign competition. At the time of this writing, President Bush is snarling at the oil industry for of all things price gouging; it is difficult to reconcile this with any adherence to a free economy. Similarly, Democrats on the left supposedly favor keeping the state out of the bedroom and the bathroom, but when they are in power, drugs, prostitution and pornography are virtually always illegal. However, there is enough of a grain of truth in the standard view to make its inversion even more ludicrous. That is, it is just plain silly to assert that leftists favor economic freedom and rightists defend personal liberties. If anything is clear, it is that neither at all defends the freedom popularly ascribed to the opposite perspective. A socialist favoring free markets is as much of a contradiction in terms as a conservative who looks with favor upon liberties of the individual to ingest into his body what he pleases, or to do with his body anything other adults will permit him to do.’

The book is likely to be read by those who agree with Block’s stand, but that is not the case for writing  (or collecting in this case) these essays. Here are varying subjects, wellexplained, that may broaden the perspective of both the Left and the Right. Block has the constitutional right to speak his beliefs. We all should allow his right and read to understand his vantage. Grady Harp, September 17

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.







Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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