The Minerva project [REASON, December 1972] prompts me to make a suggestion. If a few thousand libertarians would like to have their very own country, they could go to the Republic of Nauru (population 6,000) in the South Pacific, and out-vote the natives there. Presumably, the libertarians could land as tourists or as wetbacks. A more feasible project might be to take over Vatican City, an independent country of only 1,000 people. The Israelis made a nation for themselves, so presumably libertarians could do it, too, except for those awful words, The Initiation of Force. If libertarians would like to begin by moving into some lightly populated county, and take over a county government, it would be easy enough. For starters, the following counties merit consideration since a very few libertarians could take them over: Loving County, Texas, population 164; Hinsdale County, Colorado, pop. 202; King County, Texas, pop. 464; and of course Alpine County, California, pop. 484. From the size of the population of Loving County, Texas,
I would assume not much loving goes on there.
Some folks have carried their principles to the logical extreme of advocating "free-market justice." [Rothbard, "Free-Market Police, Courts, and Law, REASON, March 1973.] Such justice would be dished out by something called a "private defense agency," possibly with the help of an arbitration agency.
Speakin for da Chicaga Mafia, we shall be glad to act as a private defense agency. We find that one man can quickly act as judge, jury, cop, and executioner. This considerably cheapens (makes less expensive) justice, and eliminates all dem appeals. This is justice guaranteed to please. To please the client, that is. Of course, we wouldn't do nuttin wrong, since we gotta protect our reputation—we at da Mafia know dat we gotta watch our reputation, or we'd lose customers and couldn't make a profit. So we at da Mafia never do nuttin wrong, becuz it goes against da principles of a free market, and is against good sound business. But supposing we do something wrong—laissez faire we always say, and that is a sacred principle. Laissez faire is a principle as sacred as any sacred cow.
To be a private defense agency, we at da Mafia don't need to wait for the disappearance of the government. Of course, in the absence of a government, we'd be the closest thing to government around—we'd have to exercise governmental functions by default, as it were.
Name and address withheld
Dr. Ozenne in his review of my book, THE MYTHS OF ANTITRUST [REASON, May 1973], admonishes me for not presenting, explicitly, a "new" or "correct" theory of competition to replace the classical theory that I criticize so harshly. I would like to make two points in response. One, I do suggest explicitly that a competitive market for me is a market open to competition, and that economists waste their time trying to cardinally measure "degrees" of competition. It is not competition that we are primarily interested in any way (we could, for example, create "more" competition by raising prices by law, or subsidize weaker firms so that they could better "compete") but rather with the openness of markets (see pp. 277-278).
Secondly, I do state explicitly that business competition "is a process where firms of various sizes attempt to produce and sell various kinds of products and services, expand markets, lower prices if possible, patent inventions, introduce innovations, improve consumer services, and generally attempt to improve consumer satisfaction in a search for greater profits" (p. 48). If Dr. Ozenne has any notion of what a "new" or "correct" theory of competition would be apart from what I have stated explicitly, let him come forth with it in print and expose it to critical debate. I would especially be interested in how, apparently, he would salvage the classical models.
Dr. D.T. Armentano
Associate Professor of Economics
University of Hartford
I have enjoyed your movie reviews, am glad that Charles Barr is doing them, and think that they should continue. Nevertheless, allow me to express my dissent from one (among many) of your reviewer's judgments. To say that Butterflies Are Free is the best movie of 1972, is to give too much credit to a mildly well-done but distinctly vanilla-flavored little production, in no way outstanding for treatment or theme, taken without much change from a rather talky stage-play. Though 1972 was a bad year for movies, there were several dozen that were much better from practically any point of view.
Best of the best was surely The Emigrants. Why it was left for the Swedes to achieve what Americans should have done long before, a picture celebrating the pioneer spirit that created America, is hard to see, but in any event the Swedes have magnificently achieved it. The sense of life of this picture, unlike most American pictures today, is positive and heroic; the total effect immensely moving and ennobling.
That the ennobling effect occurs in the context of a deeply religious view of existence will cause many viewers, especially of objectivist orientation, to be against it for that reason. This, it seems to me, is another example of the same mistake that has led them to ignore the most inspired masterpieces of music, such as Bach's B MINOR MASS and ST. MATTHEW PASSION, Handel's SAUL and MESSIAH, and the REQUIEMS of Verdi, Berlioz, Faure, and Durufle, and to revere instead assorted nineteenth-century works (especially of Rachmaninoff and Tschaikovsky) which, though well constructed and eminently listenable (and whistlable), are as water unto wine compared with the works of towering eminence I have mentioned. "If it's religious it can't be any good," they say, though many of the highest pinnacles of musical art (and the other arts too) have been religious in both inspiration and content.…
The most stunning pro-libertarian film of the year was surely the Peruvian THE GREEN WALL, a telling and suspenseful indictment of government bureaucracy. But this masterly piece of film-making went unmentioned both by the Academy and by libertarians.
Director, School of Philosophy
University of Southern California
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Letters".