Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: “No ‘Sachs Appeal'”

Full piece here.

Epstein strives to clear the air from Jeffrey Sachs mischaracterizations of libertarianism, as the libertarian/liberal debate continues (libertarians may be enjoying a high watermark during such a liberal administration as they push back against modern liberalism on the shared turf of liberty):

‘Since Sachs does not offer a systematic account of what it is to be a libertarian, I shall try here to fill that gap in order to explain why his views are so deeply flawed.’

and to do so he makes a distinction:

‘I refer here to the continuous tension between the hard-line anarcho-capitalists and the adherents to classical liberalism. In the former camp is my friend and sparring partner Walter Block,  perhaps the closest living successor to Murray Rothbard, who took the monochromatic position that the sole duties that individuals have to each other are to refrain from the use or threat of force and to honor their promises. The hard-line libertarian treats these duties as the entire sum of the obligations that one person owes to another.’

Modern American liberalism seems to have so desperately lost sight of old-school liberalism as it wanders down the garden path (following the logic of relativism, often pursuing diversity as the highest good…which is to say the threats that excessive individualism and excessive egalitarianism pose to individual liberty and our institutions):

‘But the classical liberal makes two conscious adaptations from hard-line libertarian thought that render it largely immune to the criticisms that Sachs and others lodge against it. The first deals with moral obligations. The second deals with issues of monopoly, taxation, eminent domain, and regulation.’

Modern liberalism does not have a monopoly on moral concern for others nor compassion (as much as some moral psychologists who dip into politics would like it to be so):

‘Nothing whatsoever in anarcho-libertarian theory makes it illegal for persons to show compassion or render assistance to those who are in need. The only sense in which they take a back seat (to the control of force and fraud) is that these imperfect obligations rely on a more diffuse set of sanctions to keep them in place.’

And as to monopoly, taxation, eminent domain and regulation, you’ll have to click through, as it’s likely worth your time.  Epstein finishes with:

‘These two great systems of thought should be acquitted of all the charges that Jeffrey Sachs makes against them. We have here one of those sad situations in which Sachs’s weak and misconceived attack says more about the intellectual poverty of the author than of the systems that he hopes to undermine with a few deft strokes.’

Related On This Site:  Sachs and Niall Ferguson duke it out: CNN-Fareed Zakaria Via Youtube: ‘Jeff Sachs and Niall Ferguson’

The anarchic tradition:  A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”… Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of KnowledgeLink To Lew Rockwell Via A Reader.

The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.New liberty away from Hobbes?: From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’…Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and trendy leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal:  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

More liberal mischaracterizations of libertarianism:  From Slate: ‘The Liberty Scam-Why Even Robert Nozick, The Philosophical Father Of Libertarianism, Gave Up On The Movement He Inspired.’From The Boston Review: ‘Libertarianism And Liberty: How Not To Argue For Limited Government And Lower Taxes’

Covering the law and economics from a libertarian perspective: Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution Journal: ‘Three Cheers for Income Inequality’Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘Death By Wealth Tax’

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