I read in your latest issue, in an advertisement for the book EDUCATION, FREE AND COMPULSORY, by Murray Rothbard, the following:
Rothbard asserts that the "key issue is simply this: shall the parent or the state be the overseer of the child?…There is no middle ground on this issue. The one or the other must exercise ultimate control, and no third party with authority to seize the child and rear it has ever been found."
May I suggest that the key issue is not at all as Dr. Rothbard describes it, but this: why should not the child have the right to decide who his "overseer" will be, or whether he should have one at all?
I cannot in any way reconcile with libertarian principles the idea that a young human being, for the first eighteen or however many years of his life, should be the property and slave of another. If a young person wishes to live in the condition of total subserviency and dependency that is modern childhood, he should have a right to do so. But if, at whatever age, he wants to leave it, and live as a responsible and independent citizen, I cannot see why he should not have the right to do so.
I cannot see how any position other than this can be consistent with the beliefs you and Dr. Rothbard profess, and would be most interested to hear any ideas on this subject that you would care to put forward.
DR. ROTHBARD REPLIES: I am surprised that Mr. Holt, an experienced author, believes that he can gauge an author's complete position from a publisher's notation. Actually, I agree with every word of Mr. Holt's letter. Crucial to my view of the rights of children is the absolute right, at any age, to set him or herself up as an independent, self-governing entity. Elsewhere I have called this the right to "runaway freedom". I did not have a chance to develop this in my Education pamphlet, but I did so in an article on "Kid Lib", which will be reprinted in a forthcoming collection of essays, EGALITARIANISM AS A REVOLT AGAINST NATURE, AND OTHER ESSAYS (Books for Libertarians, 1973).
MISES AND HAYEK DEFENDED
In his review of Rothbard's FOR A NEW LIBERTY (September), Mr. R.A. Childs, Jr. asserts that Ludwig von Mises in a review of an earlier book by Rothbard, MAN, ECONOMY AND STATE "criticized (Rothbard's) supposedly crackpotish legal philosophy." For those readers who have no access to the NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW, Autumn, 1962, this is what Mises wrote:
Less successful than his investigations in the fields of general praxeology and of economics are the author's occasional observations concerning the philosophy of law and some problems of the penal code. But disagreement with his opinions concerning these matters cannot prevent me from qualifying Rothbard's work as an epochal contribution to the general science of human action, praxeology and its practically most important and up-to-now best elaborated part, economics. Henceforth all essential studies in these branches of knowledge will have to take full account of the theories and criticisms expounded by Dr. Rothbard.
If disagreement can be put aside more gently I have yet to see it.
Mr. Childs also states that F.A. Hayek is an anti-rationalist whereas Rothbard is a rationalist. Hayek's epistemological point of view is as follows: The proper way to study the social sciences is through the deductive method, the proper way to study the natural sciences is through the inductive method. The positivists who state that there is only one scientific method, applicable in all cases, and this is the inductive method, are mistaken. Because the subject matter of the two areas is basically different, in the social area we study subjective matter and in the natural area we study objective matter, two separate approaches are required.
Hayek then says that the positivists, behaviorists, institutionalists, etc. also tend to be the same people who believe that society should be rationally planned and controlled. Reason dictates that a scheme be set up and applied whereby social life can proceed in an orderly and intelligible fashion. Needless to say, Hayek objects to this by stating that we benefit most by the uncoordinated activities of individuals acting on what they believe is their own best interests.
I apologize for my highly simplified statement of Hayek's position, but believe that Rothbard agrees in every single respect with Hayek on this issue.
Therefore to call one a rationalist and the other an antirationalist is wrong. Hayek and Rothbard are of one school on this subject and Mises is the master.
Martin J. Glasser
SCIENCE FICTION ERROR
The novelty of some conceptions of science fiction, alas, can get the better of those not sufficiently acquainted with the genre—even those editing manuscripts.
Hence a bit of mangling that occurred in my last column ["Stapledon's Epic Histories," November]. When I said "Eighteenth Men on Neptune," that was exactly what I meant—this being a reference to the eighteenth species of man, our own homo sapiens having been the first. Evidently, your editor couldn't make head nor tail of this, and thought I must have meant Eighteenth Century men, and been referring to a non-existent book called MEN ON NEPTUNE. I would hesitate to bring this up, save for the fact that other science fiction readers know better—and they may wrongly suspect that I don't, based on the error as it appeared.
Re: Hospers and his critics. It strikes me that however "objective" criteria may be developed for art, there is always a "normal" range of range of taste, just as in biology there is a "normal" range in, for example, menstrual periods, the size and shape of organs, etc. Or take an even more obvious example: standards of physical "beauty" seem very well-established in our culture—but try to get any general agreement on who "the" most "beautiful" woman or (let's be fair to Women's Lib) man is. As for myself, I find my friends tend to agree with me in general on literary tastes—but I have yet to find anyone who agrees with me on everything, and I don't think I'd want to. Variety is the spice of life. But let me say amen to Hospers on The Green Wall and The Emigrants while I'm at it—I am especially disappointed that the first literally dropped out of sight without getting the attention it deserved. And for those who think Rachmaninoff is the only "fun" composer of this century, let me recommend Francis Poulenc—witty, satirical and sentimental all in one. Those with romantic tastes ought also to give more credit to other modern "national" composers—Zoltan Kodaly, Heitor Villa-Lobos, and Ralph Vaughan-Williams, to name a few.
John J. Pierce
Berkeley Heights, NJ
Poul Anderson (October), in his remarks on the anarchist society of medieval Iceland, seems to have forgotten something he himself wrote—in a slightly different context—on the very last page of THE CORRIDORS OF TIME:
…where else was life so good as in the first land the world ever saw which was both strong and free?
In the end it would go down, before the cruel age of iron. Yet a thousand fortunate years were no small achievement; and the spirit they brought to birth would endure. Through every century to come, the forgotten truth that men had once known generations of gladness must abide and subtly work.
That freedom, like everything else, does not last forever is the reason we must fight for it, not a reason to stop fighting for it.
It was sad to see Dr. Rothbard descend to the logical fallacy of "Many Questions" in his October column: "Query to our 'limited government' friends: after Watergate, do you still revere our rulers? Can you still hold that they have superior knowledge or wisdom to make any decisions whatever?" (His italics.) The classic form of that fallacy is of course: "Do you still beat your wife?" He comes remarkably close. I would hate to be the accused in his court.
Boulder Heights, CO
Re: the last two letters in September's REASON. First of all, Rand has proven nothing as regards music except her own ignorance of the subject. Her "argument" in the article "Art and Cognition" (THE OBJECTIVIST, April thru June, 1971) is enough to make a musician laugh (or cry). Instead of her old, analytical self, that article is full of blathering about "one's feelings." There's a lot more to music than meets the cultural reflex.
Which brings me to my second point—there are ways of objectively analyzing music without being dogmatic. But to understand this, one must learn to speak the musical language. Music is so abstract as to be, like mathematics, irreducible to verbal terms. All I ask is that people like the writers of those letters start thinking about music, and, who knows, maybe they'll find themselves agreeing with Dr. Hospers.
Kenneth La Fave
MOTHER OR BIG BROTHER?
After reading extensively (Rand, Hazlitt, Von Mises, Rothbard, etc.), listening to news broadcasts, viewing with alarm the rising crime rates, F.R.B. ontput of paper, and prices, I have decided that Uncle Sam is an Overprotective Mother, not a Big Brother. A big brother would have more sense.
If anyone would care to use this phrase (as far as I know, it's my own) for bumperstickers, they are welcome to do so.
If anyone cares to read it with a double meaning—they may feel free to do so. I mean it both ways.
MORE EXPOSES, PLEASE
If possible please have Paul Craig Roberts ("Who are the Imperialists?" August 1973) write more articles along the line of his exposure of the Statist policies found in the government of the "underdeveloped" countries.
The dangers of imperialism are not found solely in the U.S. government (as seemingly believed by the left) but are inherent in the very nature of all governments.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Letters".
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