Sheldon Richman's TGIF

TGIF: The Antimilitarist Libertarian Heritage

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With the United States on the verge of another war in the Middle East — or is it merely the continuation of a decades-long war? — we libertarians need to reacquaint ourselves with our intellectual heritage of peace, antimilitarism, and anti-imperialism. This rich heritage is too often overlooked and frequently not appreciated at all. That is tragic. Libertarianism, to ... [click for more]

TGIF: Ownership and Ideas

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Like many libertarians, I’ve learned a lot from Murray Rothbard on a wide variety of subjects. Of course, no one gets everything right, especially someone as intellectually ambitious, multidisciplinary, and prolific as Rothbard. Nevertheless, reading the work of the man who left such a mark on the modern libertarian movement is as profitable as it is pleasurable. While rereading [click for more]

TGIF: Does Freedom Require Empire?

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In a startling article, Daniel McCarthy, the admirable editor of The American Conservative magazine (TAC), writes, “Successive British and American empires created and upheld the world order in which liberalism could flourish.” In other words, as he writes in “Why Liberalism Means Empire,” “Liberalism and ... [click for more]

TGIF: “The Police Force Is Watching the People”

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Political philosophy — the libertarian philosophy included — can take you only so far. The libertarian philosophy provides grounds for condemning aggression, that is, the initiation of force, and along with some supplemental considerations, it identifies in the abstract what constitutes aggression, victimhood, and self-defense. But the philosophy can’t identify the aggressor and victim in particular cases; relevant empirical ... [click for more]

TGIF: Liberty in America during the Great War

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There’s always plenty for libertarians to complain about in our troubled world, but in many respects, things could be much worse. I’m thinking particularly of how the U.S. government punished dissent before, during, and even after America’s participation in World War I. Although it will be a few years before we observe the centenary of Woodrow Wilson’s idiotic decision ... [click for more]

TGIF: The 100th Anniversary of the Great State Crime

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This week marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, the four-year bloody nightmare that claimed 16 million lives — 7 million of them noncombatants — and wounded over 20 million people. That would have been bad enough, but the conflict was merely Act One in a much bigger war. The “peace” settlement vindictively branded Germany uniquely ... [click for more]

TGIF: I Can’t Help That I’m a Libertarian

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It’s not easy being a libertarian. I am not looking for sympathy when I say that. I just mean to point out that rejecting the conventional wisdom on virtually (do I really need this adverb?) every political question, current and historical, can be wearying. Life could be so much simpler if it were otherwise. No doubt about that. I ... [click for more]

TGIF: Jane Cobden: Carrying on Her Father’s Good Work

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Among libertarians and classical liberals, the name Richard Cobden (1804–1865) evokes admiration and applause. His activities -- and successes -- on behalf of freedom, free markets, and government retrenchment are legendary. Most famously, he cofounded — with John Bright — the Anti–Corn Law League, which successfully campaigned for repeal of the import tariffs on grain. ... [click for more]

TGIF: War, Peace, and Murray Rothbard

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With wars raging in the Middle East, it seems like a good time to revisit a classic work by Murray Rothbard (1926–1995), the economist, historian, and political philosopher who had a lot to do with the birth and evolution of the modern libertarian movement. His “War, Peace, and the State” is something that all peace advocates — ... [click for more]

TGIF: Speaking to Nonlibertarians

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If libertarians want to change how nonlibertarians’ think about government, they will need to understand how nonlibertarians think about government. By “nonlibertarians,” I mean the majority of people who spend little if any time pondering political theory, or what Murray Rothbard called political ethics. They may focus at times on particular government programs and actions, or on proposals for ... [click for more]

TGIF: Smedley Butler and the Racket That Is War

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From 1898 to 1931, Smedley Darlington Butler was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps. By the time he retired he had achieved what was then the corps’s highest rank, major general, and by the time he died in 1940, at 58, he had more decorations, including two medals of honor, than any other Marine. During his years in ... [click for more]

TGIF: The Middle East Harvests Bitter Imperialist Fruit

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The wall-to-wall coverage of the disintegration of Iraq ought to carry this credit: This bloodshed was made possible by the generosity of British and French imperialists. The stomach-wrenching violence in Iraq — not to mention the horrendous civil war in Syria, the chronic unrest in Palestine/Israel, and problems elsewhere in the Middle East — are direct consequences of the imperialist ... [click for more]
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