Friday, February 08, 2013

The Ethics of Liberty

Couple years ago someone left a stack of free books in the lobby of my apartment building - looked like a poli-sci student lightening the load. I nabbed a copy of Rothbard's "The Ethics of Liberty," originally published in 1982. This bit stuck out:
It is important to insist, however, that the threat of aggression be palpable, immediate, and direct; in short, that it be embodied in the initiation of an overt act. Any remote or indirect criterion - any "risk" or "threat" - is simply an excuse for invasive action by the supposed "defender" against the alleged "threat." [...] Once we bring in "threats" to person and property that are vague and future - i.e., are not overt and immediate - then all manner of tyranny becomes excusable. The only way to guard against such despotism is to keep the criterion of perceived invasion clear and immediate and overt.
Gosh, wonder what he would've thought about post-9/11 American politics.

As I read through the book I run into a lot of notions and arguments that would need re-thinking in light of new technologies. The libertarian strain that runs through Extropianism begins to make more sense and I have a feeling that if I were to dig deep into the extropian mailing lists I'd find this book referenced right alongside Nozick's "Anarchy, State, and Utopia."

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