Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Reconnecting with, er, mature libertarians

I put up this post on the Register's Orange Punch blog the other day. Not much to add to it except that I was immensely gratified at how many people expressed an interest, by showing up, in what I had to say. I've had an e-mail to the effect that the talk was recorded, but it didn't have an attachment. I'll try to obtain it and post it both here and at the Register.

It’s been a long time since Orange County has had a libertarian supper club, but if I do say so the one that started last night with Murray Rothbard and Sam Konkin as inspirations and me as speaker is off to a pretty good start. I saw the e-mails to the Karl Hess Club list from Mike Everling on Thursday noting that there were only 22 reservations and urging those who wanted to attend to make themselves known. By last night there were at least 70-75 people in attendance. I saw people from LA and San Diego whom I haven’t seen in years. Like me, come of our local libertarians are getting a little long in the tooth, but the level of enthusiasm was high.

Of course it’s not a hard sell to convince libertarians that war is not healthy for liberty and other living things. I used Robert Higgs’ book “Crisis and Leviathan” to explain how wars and depressions have led to dramatic growth in government and restrictions on civil and economic liberties through the 20th century, with a “ratchet effect:” at the end of a war or crisis government gives back some of the powers it seized on a supposed emergency basis, but not all. At the end of each war government is a little bigger and a little more intrusive, and people have become accustomed to it, so there’s an ideological shift. I also referenced the late Brown political scientist Eric Nordlinger’s 1996 book, “Isolationism Reconfigured,” which argues that the U.S. would do well to declare North America the U.S. sphere of defense and let the rest of the world take care of itself.

Thanks to Mike Everling and Howard Hinman, who have been willing to do the organizational work to get this supper club — which will meet only when there’s a fifth Monday in a month for now and be focused on geostrategy and economics — going. And thanks to all those who came up and said they get something of value from the Register editorial pages. One doesn’t always hear that — indeed, complaints tend to predominate — and I appreciated it.