UNIVERSIDAD FRANCISCO MARROQUIN
Here and there around the world are small outposts of libertarian activity. One thriving institution is to be found in Central America, the Universidad Francisco Marroquin, 6A Avenida 0-28, Zona 10, Guatemala City. In the main lobby of the university stands a bust of Ludwig von Mises, and the library contains one of the finest collections of libertarian literature in the world. In 1975, Mrs. von Mises was invited to present the diplomas to the graduating class.
The university was founded in 1972 by Mr. Manuel Ayau, its present Rector. An industrial engineer by training, he began to study economics to understand why his country was underdeveloped, in spite of good soil, plenty of natural resources, and a favorable climate. In 1957 he read a pamphlet by Mises and in 1959 founded the Centro de Estudios Economico-Sociales. The university was established after the realization that the State-supported academic community was the root cause of the widespread belief in statism.
The study of economics is required of all students, regardless of the career choices of each. Curricula are offered leading to degrees in economics, business administration, law, and architecture, as well as graduate schools of business administration and psychology.
Applications for admission have risen at the rate of 32 percent per year since 1972, and each year new buildings have been added to the campus. The policy of the university, however, is to keep admissions down to a total student body of about 600 to maintain the student/faculty ratio and academic standards. About 10 percent of the students are from countries other than Guatemala.
As with every private institution, funds are always in short supply. Books of any kind are solicited by the University, including leftist literature.
LIBERTARIANS AND THE ACLU
This writer has a habit of saying complimentary things about the American Civil Liberties Union, and more than once we have received letters from annoyed readers. A recent letter from Mr. William H. McIlhany has referred me to his book, A.C.L.U. on Trial (New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1976) for research material on the anti-libertarian side of the organization. We are pleased to recommend the book, since we know that the ACLU is not consistently libertarian—it was founded by socialists, after all, and the only people over the past 50 years who have taken much interest in the libertarian social issues (as opposed to the libertarian economic issues) have been the democratic socialists. As a consequence of the confusion of those who are active in its councils, the ACLU is almost never consistent in identifying both the problem and the solution in a libertarian manner.
We intend, however, to continue to say favorable things about organizations such as the ACLU which are solidly in the statist camp every time we think they are doing something which has some pro-libertarian impact. It is important to remember that "democratic socialism" has been an intellectually active movement for over 100 years and it has appealed to many of the same values which the modern libertarian movement appeals—antipathy to established institutions of state and corporate power. In the analysis of inconsistencies, and very few persons or organizations are ever consistent in their policies and values, it is useful to look for the accidental historical context in which some group of intellectuals has formed their goals and made their public statements. Every organization and political party experiences a constant flow of personnel, new recruits—old retirees, and inconsistencies vacillate between the poles of hard contradiction. If consistent libertarians were working toward some of the same goals as the ACLU, we would prefer to report on them—and they might make more effective progress. Yet, except for a few of the tax resisters, no true libertarians are fighting the government in exactly the same ways as some of the democratic socialists. We think all who fight the government are on the frontlines of the battle of political principles—on our side of the barricades.
PRIVATE POLICE FORCES
When the Libertarian Party meets in San Francisco next July for its sixth annual convention, it will be coming home to the city which introduced the idea of private police forces into practical municipal reality. Many nonlibertarians draw back at the private police issue and dismiss it as nutty, but San Francisco has incorporated it into the city charter.
According to Officer Wassil Rolovich, the liaison officer with the San Francisco Police Department who is in charge of the "patrol special" program, there are 63 beats in the city which are owned by private individuals. One such individual is Roger Levit, who paid $100,000 for his beat and employs 15 patrolmen to maintain 24 hour service in a four-square-mile, high-crime section of downtown San Francisco. Levit derives all of his income from the merchants in the area, who pay him for his services.
Levit buys all of his men's equipment, including patrol cars, although he is required to purchase items which meet city police specifications. "I don't get a penny from the city—my income is derived from the merchants who want my services. If none of the merchants in my area felt they needed protection, the beat would be worthless," according to Levit.
The idea of private police in San Francisco goes back to the wild and wooly days of the 1800's, when the business community felt it needed more police protection than the county sheriff could provide, so they got together and hired their own police forces. The arrangement was one of privately hiring official deputy sheriffs, who would be able to exercise all constabulary powers under the common law system. The system was later incorporated into the San Francisco city charter, and today the city sells franchise rights. During December, 1976, two of Levit's men arrested a rape suspect the regular police force had been hunting for more than a year.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Frontlines".