Edith Efron's column ["Warning to Constitutional Republicans," February] is simply and literally not to be believed: in that farrago of ignorance, misrepresentation, and fantasy there is scarcely a sentence that has any contact with truth or reality. It would be absurd for me to take the article seriously enough to write a point-by-point refutation, but on one matter I must rise to protest. There is not one word of truth in her alleged report of our private conversations. I never tried to "take over" any party of which Eldridge Cleaver was the head; and, in the course of working with leftists against the draft and the Vietnam War, I never once had the absurd idea of converting them to capitalism or the free market, sneakily or in any other way.
Above all, no one has ever pulled a gun on me, in the ribs or in any other way. How she dreamed up that lulu the Lord only knows.
Nor, of course, did I ever tell her any of this stuff. Her story is all preposterous nonsense. I can only conclude that, in her eagerness to use any brush to smear libertarians, Miss Efron is either lying her head off or succumbing to the very "nightmares" she accuses us of entertaining.
From this disgraceful performance, it is clear that any reputation Miss Efron may have as an accurate reporter needs serious reevaluation. Her loathsome article can only leave a deep moral stain on its author.
Murray N. Rothbard
Palo Alto, CA
Ms. Efron replies: Murray Rothbard did indeed tell me that story.
Entering the Arena
It is only because Ms. Efron regards it as "the most important" that I wish to make a critical comment on a point covered in her stirring column. I am certainly someone, though not the only one, who has not been silent about the anarchist/archist issue within the libertarian intellectual arena. Indeed, I have received ample abuse for having kept the matter alive in my own works throughout the last decade. (See, most recently my Viewpoint column in REASON, May 1977.) Two of my books—on Skinner and on human rights—deal with the issue head on. Even my introductory textbook in philosophy discusses it.
This fact, in turn, would seem to require certain modifications of Ms. Efron's explanation of the disarray in libertarian-land. Aside from keeping crucial issues alive, other matters appear to be required to make progress. For example, people such as Ayn Rand, Nathaniel Branden, Robert Bleiberg, and, indeed, Edith Efron, who have the stature or news value within the existing intellectual arena, need to do their best to put the constitutional republican libertarian viewpoint into the respected forums of contemporary debate. These and other thinkers surely have the ability to write for Commentary, Harper's, Atlantic Monthly, National Review, Encounter, and other prominent forums; yet they have not appeared there and thus have not managed to pave the way for others to make an impact. The lack of prominence (or outstanding talent) of many others makes it unlikely that they would be first in line to be admitted to established forums with the reverent revolutionary ideas Ms. Efron and I know to be crucial to a revitalization of political liberty.
Tibor R. Machan
Not a Maoist
Edith Efron's comments on me in her recent article were not true. First, she said that I am an "IPS contributor" to Inquiry magazine. I have not been connected with the Institute for Policy Studies for five years and have not, as a matter of fact, even set foot in the place for about four years (and then only to pick up mail).
When I was conducting seminars at IPS it was as an anarchist and never as a collectivist. My seminars, as a matter of fact, were the very ones in which private property was defended, not repudiated. What I have repudiated is the notion that General Motors (et al) with heavy state subsidy and even capitalization is private. I think of the great corporations as one of the most socialistic parts of the political economy. I have, on the other hand, defended social ownership of property wherever this ownership is by volitional arrangement.
As to capitalism, I have said repeatedly that I would not want to live in a capitalist community if I could choose, instead, to live in a co-operative community. My personal interests, which do not include management and administration, center on art and science, areas in which, as a careful and not cursory study will show, competition has not been a driving force. (Individual inspiration and open discussion, shared knowledge, etc., play key roles.)
Those are trivial distortions, however, compared to what I personally regard as an actual libel. If actionable, I shall certainly take the advantage of Miss Efron's own ethics and seek redress from state law. The statement that so offends me is her declaration that I have called myself a Maoist. I have certainly expressed interest in and support of those developments in China which, during the Maoist period, permitted development of some self-reliant communities, encouraged some decentralization, and made it possible for research in biology to advance as rapidly as research in physics had advanced elsewhere. I am not a Maoist. The only other place beside Miss Efron's article that I have been described as a Maoist, so far as I know, is in the intelligence files of the FBI, parts of which I (and perhaps Miss Efron) have recently obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
I am grateful to Ms. Efron for proving that there is no such thing as unprintable rubbish.
Santa Barbara, CA
While I agree in essence with Edith Efron's column I must take strong exception to some of her other statements, but especially to her smear against anarchists.
As an anarchist, I resent being lumped together with those anarchists who style themselves as libertarians while often seeming to forget the basic philosophy of libertarianism. The anarcho-capitalistic position is not the negative one of opposition to the State, any State, as Efron implies. Indeed, that is simply a derivative of the anarchist's positive statement, that voluntary means of social organization based in property rights is the only moral form of social organization as well as the most practical and most efficient, for all forms of social organization.
I, with Efron, am also sorry that the limited-statist/anarchist debate has been "suspended" within the libertarian movement. It seems that the positive elements of the anarchist position have been forgotten. Efron certainly makes no attempt to rebut the anarchist position. She simply smears all of us while attacking one person, Murray Rothbard, who makes statements she abhors while incidentally perhaps, being an anarchist as well.
Let me disassociate myself and, hopefully many other libertarian anarchists from Rothbard's non-contextual statements and from Efron's smear.
There are a number of other statements in Efron's article which sound distinctly non-libertarian to me. For example, her assertion that the affirmative aspects of the limited statist position include "the value of the nation, the necessity of a national culture.…"
What is a "national culture" and who imposes it? If it is simply the result of the nature of a society, then the concept can apply to any form of society, including the anarchist variety. If it is something that results from freedom, then it is obviously a value of an anarcho-capitalist society as well as the limited statist version.
"The value of the nation" is a similar concept. However, such concepts can be treacherous. They can lead to the idea that a government must support these values by affirmative action, like promoting competition with anti-trust laws. I trust on these and similar points I am seeing something that Ms. Efron did not intend to be there.
Bravo for publishing Edith Efron's article. I don't have the multi-millions of the foundation which supports the other "libertarian" publications, but enclosed is a check to help you keep afloat.
REASON is really a magazine of reason. As you stated, consider the alternatives.
I can see that your latest literary contributors do not: (1) rejoice in the communist takeover in Vietnam because it reduces the number of States in the world; (2) become overly happy with the leftist anti-semitic separatists in Quebec because they would increase the number of States in the world; (3) become indifferent to the plight of Russian intellectuals.
Simply stated, your present contributors do not appear to be happy with events which benefit only the communists and end up in massive blood baths. Nor do your contributors give the communists any sanctions.
Carson City, NE
I was rather shocked by Edith Efron's column in the February issue of REASON magazine. Among the half-truths and distortions in that piece I found the following:
"Libertarians running for office have blindly supported every 'liberation' movement—Gay Lib, Transvestite Lib, Women's Lib, etc.—although each of these movements actually advocates coercive egalitarianism, collectivism and statism."
I have been active in New York's Free Libertarian Party for almost six years, was once a Party candidate for public office and am an active member of the Association of Libertarian Feminists and Libertarians for Gay Rights. As many veteran libertarian activists know, I (and other Libertarian candidates much more prominent) have explicitly and publicly opposed coercive "liberation" measures of any type. The LP Resolution condemning Anita Bryant's crusade (which resolution was publicly endorsed by all four former LP Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates) expressly states its opposition to the Dade County Ordinance because of its coercive intent. And let's not forget the excellent gay rights pamphlet distributed by the MacBride for President Committee and written by the Senior Editor of Inquiry magazine. After listing 10 anti-statist planks for libertarian gay rights activists to support, the author clearly and forthrightly argues against the coercive "gay rights" measures put forward by many nonlibertarians.
And then there is the Association of Libertarian Feminists, ALF literature lists a statement of principles that includes presenting "a libertarian alternative to those aspects of the women's movement that foster dependence and collectivism." For reasons of her own, Ms. Efron apparently decided that these and other facts were not important enough to mention in her article.
There is also the curious statement that movements advocate something although—one shouldn't have to point this out to a libertarian—only individuals advocate things. It is true, of course, that many individuals in the various liberation movements do advocate State coercion, but it is not true that libertarians have embraced their statism. We have joined the "lib" movements to work for genuine liberation—supporting other liberationists when they battle against coercion and opposing them when they clamor for it.
Ms. Efron may choose not to associate with us. That is her right. But her misleading statement about libertarian feminists and libertarian gay rights activists does a disservice to us and to the cause of liberty as well.
New York City
Hats off to Edith Efron for her "Warning to Constitutional Republicans." As a recent (and grateful) refugee from the statist Left (including three years in the Young Socialist Alliance), I have never understood supposedly rational libertarians fawning over that pack of philosophical morons.
As a lesbian feminist, I participated in the various leftist controlled liberation movements mentioned by Ms. Efron, both as a leftist and recently as a libertarian. I must agree with Ms. Efron—the Left is adamantly statist and anti-capitalist. Attempting to work with such a group as a libertarian is to commit ideological hari-kari. These proponents of State-enforced egalitarianism are not above placing a (worker's) boot in the face of an honest libertarian (or a gun in the ribs ala Murray Rothbard) to emphasize they mean business.
California Libertarians for Gay Rights (LGR), attempting to work with a California-based gay coalition to defeat the Briggs initiative, suffered such a fate. (If passed, the Briggs initiative would outlaw the hiring of homosexuals as public school teachers).
LGR's workshop was scuttled, our resolution shelved, and our presence ignored. When the final general session of the coalition degenerated into a plenary session of the workers' state, we packed up our principles and walked out. (Incidentally, when the proletariat finished dictating, over 40 resolutions [excluding LGR's of course], most unread, all undebated, were passed; they ranged from advocacy of federally funded abortions to support of forced busing). The libertarian departure from the "coalition" was accompanied by a tumultuous ovation. Ideological buddies on the Left? Nonsense!
I concluded that the only principled position for libertarians when dealing with the Left, is to unashamedly denounce their immoral premises; refuse to make unholy alliances with them; and concentrate instead on building our own principled, vocal and aggressive counter movement. If a group of pragmatic anarchists is obstructing such a movement, then let the debate begin. I would rather participate in a smaller, but principled organization of only limited government advocates than be suckered into being a flunky for the Left.
Valerie J. Valrejean
Los Angeles, CA
Edith Efron, in saying that libertarians "have absorbed the counter-cuture's notion that nothing has higher priority for lovers of liberty than the right to take dope, to contemplate pornography and to enact the full repertoire of Kraft-Ebing.…By now, there is scarcely a counter-culture crusade or a leftist ideological bastion that libertarians have not embraced" seems to imply that one must not work for causes unless they are socially respectable.
As a libertarian who was involved for several years in a "counter-culture crusade"—the successful movement in 1964-70 for the abolition of the draft—I must disagree with this implication.
As the president of the Metropolitan Young Republican Club of New York City and chairman of its Committee for the Abolition of the Draft, I appeared on many college campuses on panels opposing the draft—panels whose members included, beside Quaker pacifists, members of SNCC, spokeswomen for the Women's Strike for Peace, and members of the New Left. At Princeton, Tom Hayden was so embarrassed to be appearing on the same side as a Young Republican that he successfully avoided speaking to me for an entire weekend. It was very clear that although we all had a political alliance on this specific issue, the alliance did not imply, as Miss Efron puts it, "that the critics share one's values, one's view of the social good, and are moving towards the same political goals."
Miss Efron might respond that working against the draft was socially respectable, to which I can only reply that it would not have been so without the widespread opposition to the war in Vietnam, largely organized by what she calls "the Left." We could not have ended the draft during World War II, and those who opposed it then were ostracized and powerless. I did not oppose the war in Vietnam at the time, but if we had kept silent on the draft because those who were against it also criticized the war effort, the draft might never have been ended. More, since I know that the efforts of our Committee for the Abolition of the Draft came to the attention of those who later advised President Nixon, it might be said that the presence of libertarian constitutional republicans (and Republicans) in the anti-draft movement helped keep that movement respectable in the eyes of a Republican president who had the power to end it.
The Left is good at picking issues. If we want to accomplish any changes, libertarians must be willing to work on single issues with people that they do not fully agree with. I hope to see libertarians at the forefront of every counter-culture crusade that involves individual rights, as well as at the forefront of every call for economic freedom.
David J. Dawson
I'm a little puzzled by Edith Efron's fears of the libertarian movement being publicly besmirched by a "grotesque libertarian-leftist alliance." For the same issue of REASON includes the following articles: an interview with William Simon, who endorses the GOP; attacks on zoning and national health insurance; support for large farms; and a memoir by a founder of Human Events—in short, just the stuff to incite the revolutionary fervor of dangerous leftists like, say, Bill "Che" Buckley and Ron "Mao" Reagan.
Even though I might be categorized as a "slightly to the left" libertarian, REASON's rightwing emphasis bothers me not in the slightest. Why not? Because I'm aware of a tactical principle that Ms. Efron has evidently forgotten in the last few months. As the November Efron put it so eloquently, "A libertarian must…look for fellow travelers.…People who are walking in the direction of liberty should be joined. One should not repudiate fellow travelers because of philosophical similarities.…(L)ibertarianism isn't…a bible; it isn't a spiritual state; it isn't a chastity belt. It is a compass." (Viewpoint: "Secular Fundamentalism," November 1977.)
As I see it, the great practical advantage libertarianism has over other ideologies is the attraction its central principle holds for everyone, left and right: "Everyone should be free to run his own life." This freedom includes taking dope, contemplating pornography, and living as a tribal termite collectivist, as well as building skyscrapers and Rearden-metal rails. Thus no cultural outlook need be aprioristically drummed out of the libertarian movement; both left-oriented journals such as Libertarian Review and Inquiry as well as the right-oriented REASON are valid tools for attracting fellow travelers and building a vital, broad-based movement.
One final comment: the February Efron calls for a reopening of the hoary anarchy-limited State debate preparatory to a purge of the anarchists. As Michael Emerling reminds us, the reason the debate was discontinued in the first place was that the anarchists won! If Ms. Efron would like, I am sure any number of anarchists are willing to refresh her memory on that point.
Edith Efron's February "Viewpoint" shook me up to say the least. I agree with most of what she wrote, but I don't plan on canceling my subscriptions to Libertarian Review and Inquiry because she has proscribed them. If the latter doesn't stop being cute and dishonest, I won't renew my subscription next fall, but not out of a desire to do it in. It's just that its dishonesty negates its intellectual value.
I don't know what will happen to LR. I hope it survives. Hopefully we will end up with more than one major libertarian publication. I don't care too much for Murray Rothbard, but he's feisty and does stir things up. If it weren't for the likes of him and the assault on Miss Efron's sensibilities by these new publications, it is doubtful that she would have written her valuable column, and to me that's what's important in this situation. The anarchists have been with us for years, but only now does she sound the tocsin.
Edith Efron has continually displayed a rare and courageous intelligence and I hope to see much more of her work in REASON.
Park Ridge, NJ
I suppose it had to happen sooner or later. Nonetheless, I think Ms. Efron is somewhat premature in her vilification of Libertarian Review and Inquiry.
One would have hoped that she would have at least waited until that latter magazine had appeared before reading it out of the movement. The first five of its issues that I have received have not had anything as distasteful as, say, an interview with Bill Simon in which he tells us that government policy on gold has nothing to do with inflation or that "obviously" government has a responsibility to help those people who cannot help themselves.
Nor, for that matter, have I seen since the old New Individualist Review a better single issue of a libertarian publication than the October 1977 issue of Libertarian Review.
Of course, the difference is this: While REASON is telling us that non-zoning is great in Houston (at least as long as strict building codes are maintained), Childs is exhorting us to throw the tea into the harbor. I can stand both, but I can not help feeling that some self-styled libertarians would be happier with Reagan's Citizens for the Republic.
Jule R. Herbert, Jr.
Need for Debate
I should like to congratulate Miss Edith Efron and REASON on her perceptive and disturbing "Warning to Constitutional Republicans." Knowing a couple of the people associated with Inquiry and having recently subscribed to that journal and Libertarian Review, I had tended to suppress the worries that kept creeping into my mind about seeking an opening to the New Left; yet Miss Efron is right: those worries should be aired and debated.
Leland B. Yeager
Professor of Economics
University of Virginia
Columnist Edith Efron's outpouring of invective was a rather disappointing show. For someone who prides herself on being a journalist, it was a very poor and shoddy display of professional ethics to lash out at a magazine (Inquiry) she had never seen, much less read. In place of reasoned analysis, we are treated by Ms. Efron to a lengthy distortion of facts, unsupported innuendoes and a knee-jerk reaction to matters she failed to investigate with any of the vigor befitting a journalist.
To begin with, Ms. Efron confuses "movement magazines" like REASON and Libertarian Review with Inquiry. Inquiry seems to be a magazine of analysis, news, and commentary of interest to libertarians. It does not purport to be a libertarian magazine, though libertarians are involved with it in various ways. Rather, it seems that it has the potential to be one of America's finest forums for investigative journalism, maintaining a probing and iconoclastic view of government machinations. But then, Ms. Efron would not know this, even though several issues had come out before her attack was sent to REASON. Had she bothered to read them, she would have found some truly searching and revealing analyses of Soviet and American psychiatry, the bankruptcy of gun control, the Panama Canal Controversy, the need to de-regulate the professions, and the like. Ms. Efron was right in maintaining that Inquiry is far from "reverent" about the CIA, FBI, IRS, Pentagon, et al, but for reasons which should be obvious to anyone who reads the newspapers. As a journalist, Ms. Efron should understand better how a magazine works. To list someone on a brochure as a writer does not imply that he exercises editorial control. Ms. Efron's partially inaccurate and unfair blasts at Marcus Raskin seem to have little relevance to what I have seen of Inquiry so far.
With respect to Libertarian Review, it is true that it has run articles on women's liberation, drug and sex laws, and the like (in addition to other topics), but what's wrong with that? REASON is not attacked for doing so. And, I must add, LR's articles have always pointed out the uniquely free market libertarian alternative, though Ms. Efron's column leaves her position on these issues unclear. I doubt that her position on alcohol prohibition would have been equally ambiguous during the 20's and 30's. But of course, that is a middle class vice and one that Ms. Efron is probably more tolerant of. LR's articles on government and business have always focused on government power as the problem, not on business per se. However, it is hardly socialist to claim that many businessmen approach government for special favors and subsidies. Has Ms. Efron never read Adam Smith and the classical liberals whose praise she rightly sings in her column?
Ms. Efron should stick to TV Guide, where her articles are often informative, entertaining, and accurate.
Tom G. Palmer
I was greatly disturbed to read Edith Efron's article. My disturbance came not from the fact that I disagree with some important points she makes, but rather from the way she wrote the article.
Efron's reasoning errors were easy to take compared to her tone, the name calling, inaccuracies, misrepresentations, unbacked assertions, discussions of other people's discriminatory faculties, motivations and emotions, and her narrowly biased view of what a libertarian is.
Is this serious scholarship, worthy of the pages of REASON? I think not.
By all means do publish articles putting forth Efron's position, but please choose pieces where the author makes an attempt to stick to the cognitive content of the issues.
The Objectivists, I'm convinced, were never taken seriously by most intellectuals because they attacked and condemned people who disagreed with them instead of attempting a genuine dialogue. Let's not, as libertarians, repeat this mistake.
Naive or Malicious?
I cast my vote with Edith Efron; I agree that Libertarian Review is so anti-American and anti-defense that it's pretty difficult for me to believe that they're committed to the long-term survival of liberty. They're either downright naive, or terribly malicious.
Silver Spring, MD
One can only admire the force with which Edith Efron wields the polemic sword, but her aim is so misdirected that she, rather than her target, is made to look pathetic.
Efron's article is basically an attack on Murray Rothbard's influence in the libertarian movement, an influence she depicts as a degeneration of libertarianism into a "hippie movement." For some mysterious reason, the bearers of light and truth—the "reverent revolutionaries" who are still "traumatized" by the Objectivist split—have abandoned the intellectual arena to the forces of Satan and Rothbard.
In fact, the reverent revolutionaries—who still yearn for the good old days, when one or two moral denunciations would save one the trouble of ascertaining the facts—have not abandoned the arena; they have been driven out by a superior force of theory and scholarship. Rothbard is influential because he has brought remarkable integrative powers to bear on libertarian theory. In this sense he is the libertarian Aristotle, who has stressed the need for a well-integrated theory combined with painstaking empirical research. Rothbard and those around him have set a high standard for future generations of libertarian scholars; and they have warned against the crude fallacy of rejecting solid research merely because it may emanate from an "anti-anti-Communist." As for the suggestion that Rothbard wages a hate campaign with no regard for the positive aspects of the American heritage, one need only glance at his magisterial Conceived in Liberty to see the utter ridiculousness of such a claim.
As one who "grew up," intellectually speaking, in the Objectivist movement, I still retain high regard for what I understand to be the basic precepts of Ayn Rand's approach—i.e., unswerving dedication to facts and to reason. Insofar as I agree with Rothbard, I do so because he offers a persuasive defense of his views. But, agree with him or not, even a modicum of respect for fairness must lead one to the conclusion that we are here dealing with a mind of the highest caliber. Efron's treatment of Rothbard and his influence does not speak well for her analytic powers.
George H. Smith
Los Angeles, CA
Thank you, Edith Efron, for risking vilification for publicly naming the truth. You accuse Rothbard and associates of not being open with us about their cooperation with the New Left, whom they intend to take over. But their present power to offer the name of the whole libertarian movement in trade for leftist friendship is the result of an already successful take-over by means of the same tactics.
Fundamental to the New Left is opposition to private property, capitalism, and rights for "reactionaries." Their hatred of the US government is derived from that. Fundamental to libertarianism is the implementation of individual rights in property rights. The question whether it is anarchist opposition to all governments or the advocacy of voluntarist government that is consistent with liberty is a derivative issue. How is the Rothbard anarchist to win the cooperation of the New Left intellectuals and activists? By negotiating on grounds of shared interests: attacking the US government. If he counts on taking the leftist's eyes off their fundamentals, he must not call attention to his own. That is why his success precludes ever persuading the New Left to libertarianism, and why their shared success can only be the destruction of the US government. But since the leftists are not trying to win libertarian favor, they will not be backward about their principles and will insist on writing policy to govern any such successes. Remember Lenin and his anarchists—and their deaths?
My article "On Proper Government" (published in Option magazine) is one evidence that not all of us were demotivated by the Rand-Branden split and gave up analysis of issues such as the government-anarchist dispute. In it, I show that fundamental to voluntarist government theory is the mutual consent of all the governed, while fundamental to Rothbard's defense agency society is each person's contracting with an agency whose every act of force is on third parties who never consented to its form of justice nor jurisdiction over them. (The replies of Roy Childs in Option and Wm. Evers in Journal for Libertarian Studies agreed with my analysis—accusation—by saying that in their version of natural law the consent of the accused to the form of justice he is tried under is not morally required.)
Many of you who call yourself "anarchist" because you oppose the tyranny of statism would be well satisfied by the conception of voluntarist government if you took time to study it. Advocacy of a voluntarist society does not automatically make you an anarchist—not an anarchist at all if my analysis of Rothbard's defense agency society is correct. You must study both with your own mind to find out.
If I were a man of prayer, I might humble myself upon my knees and ask that Edith Efron's Viewpoint of February vanish from the earth. (Un) Fortunately, since I am not a man of prayer and after further introspection, I believe difference of opinion freely expressed is a good thing.
In brief, Ms. Efron asserted that "major figures of the Libertarian Party" and other libertarians had "crawled into bed" with the collectivist, anti-American-Left. This alliance, she says, will be the downfall of the libertarian movement. Further she states that this state of affairs was principally caused because constitutional republicans had erred in striking an agreement with anarchists to suspend their endless quarrel. Since I am a minor figure in the Libertarian Party (Nevada State Chairman), an eventualist anarchist, and I have a burning desire to "crawl into bed" with certain members (attractive females) of the political left, I think I am qualified to say a few words about Ms. Efron's article.
The evidence offered that the LP is moving left is that"a burnt-out derelict of the New Left named Timothy Leary appeared on the platform of the last Libertarian Party Convention to prate about his drug-soaked understanding of liberty." This argument is definitely ad-hominem and implies that Mr. Leary was incoherent and not worthy of being listened to. On the contrary, while it is true that Mr. Leary has isolated inconsistencies (flaws which Ms. Efron justly finds forgivable in Milton Friedman and Irving Kristol), it is not true that Mr. Leary is incoherent or that his understanding of liberty is totally worthless. Alas, dear readers of REASON, must I remind you that Timothy Leary was interviewed by REASON a few months before the LP Convention. Does this mean that REASON has crawled into bed with the New Left? I think not.
Ms. Efron maintains that libertarians should neither ally themselves with the Left nor the Right. I disagree, we should neither accept their philosophy nor endorse their anti-libertarian positions. However, when they are on our side, we need their help and they need ours: Friendliness works better than antagonism.
Ms. Efron's opinion that the United States government is not a mass murderer will not stand up to even minor critical analysis. Does she so quickly forget the 50,000 Americans of Vietnam, not to mention the Vietnamese? I further believe she would be hard pressed to defend her seemingly hawkish foreign policies and the defense of the honorable (sic) FBI and CIA.
I found it amusing that in the same paragraph that Ms. Efron accuses the anarchists of crawling into bed with the collectivists (guilt by association), she expressed the need of the constitutional republicans for an affirmative "value of nation, the necessity of a national culture.…" Now did I miss the boat or is that collectivism? Not that collectivism is necessarily bad so long as it is voluntary but it appears to me that guilt by association is less harmful than guilt by advocacy.
In closing, I would like to point out that different people have different values of liberty. To some, economic freedom is the most important, to others, civil liberty is critical and to still others, peace is of paramount concern. We libertarians know that all are essential to each other and that it is impossible to achieve one and maintain it without the others and that in fact they are all the same thing: liberty. I ask that libertarians show a little understanding of these different values and forgive and, yes, support those who have different priorities than themselves.
James Libertarian Burns
North Las Vegas, NE
Bravo to Edith Efron and REASON magazine! Ms. Efron's article has needed saying by someone with clout, not in the Libertarian Party, for the past three years, if not longer. Limited governmentalists in the Party sure could have used it as added ammunition during the 1977 California Convention. At that time a concerted effort was made to bring the matter to a head, with pamphlets on the anarchy/limited-government argument, written by both John Hospers and William Westmiller, being distributed to all, and ignored by most of the delegations. An amendment, which would have made clear once and for all that the Party was dedicated to a government that is limited to the protection of individual rights, never even got a hearing due to the anarchist majority of delegates. In fact, there were 15 "Objections to Consideration" at that convention, with a clearly defined line between the two factions.
One libertarian leader who has consistently said "Stop, look and listen to what you are advocating" is John Hospers. He has never, to my knowledge, addressed a libertarian gathering without trying to correct the Rothbardian influence in regards to foreign policy and domestic defense. To no avail! Why, limited-governmentalists have had to fight just to get him on the podium at his own state convention, even though he has proven to be one of the largest money makers, and to draw the largest crowds for the Party.
The truly sorry thing about the turn of events in the Libertarian Party is that the leadership is not representing the membership in their anarchistic bent, but are speaking for the anarchist activists only. What is needed is to have that vast majority of silent members demand that their party be returned to them, or that the name be changed to the Anarchist Party, the Party of Flexible Principles, and DROP OUT!
Shirley M. Gottlieb
CORRECTION: In the March 1978 issue two of the departments in the magazine were largely the work of a REASON intern. John Lott, a UCLA economics major, wrote the Spotlight column (on Butch Otter) and much of the Trends column. Our thanks to John and apologies for failing to list his name in the issue. —Ed.