Note to Libertarian Scholars: Here’s How It’s Done

Gary Chartier (Ph.D., Cambridge) has written another important new book, this one exploring the work of John Rawls: Radicalizing Rawls: Global Justice and the Foundations of International Law. He explores a major problem with the Rawlsian framework, as you’ll hear in our conversation, and without doing violence to the Rawlsian approach, argues that market anarchism satisfies the demands Rawls makes of a system of justice.

Chartier’s work is a careful study, not a polemic, and he is generous with his subject rather than dismissive or condescending. As a result, he has a top publisher (Palgrave Macmillan), a slate of admiring blurbs from top scholars, and the satisfaction of having made a significant contribution to political philosophy.

I hope you’ll listen to our conversation — which, if you’d rather hear it as an audio file, you can get by clicking here. Otherwise, the YouTube is below.

And of course, subscribe to the show on iTunes or Stitcher!

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  • David_Rogers_Hunt

    I have always found John Rawl’s ‘Veil of ignorance’ to be highly suspect as to what is considered to be fair to assume lays behind that veil and what is not fair is decided. It is not okay to assume a world of infinite wealth (that’s not realistic) but it is considered perfectly okay and reasonable to assume that truly virtuous and well intentioned bureaucrats will be implementing the rules of this imagined world on the other side of this veil. Infinite wealth; not okay. Perfectly virtuous bureaucrats; perfectly okay?!? I never bought that, and I don’t believe any honest person every did. This whole thought experiment is, and always was a fraud. The ability of academics, politicians, journalists, and much of the public, to believe in rule by philosopher kings is no more realistic than belief in the world of ‘Star Trek’ where there is no more money because there is no more scarcity.

    It reminds me of a similar blind spot that I noticed when my mother was getting a college degree in sociology back in the ’60s. Book after book talked about the causes of poverty, and always as though poverty were the aberrant condition. I NEVER saw a sociology book that talked about the causes of wealth as though wealth were the expectant normative condition. I was a child then, but even then this seemed quite mad to me. Sociology has not changed much since the ’60s.

    “Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.”

    “One of the common failings among honorable people is a failure to appreciate how thoroughly dishonorable some other people can be, and how dangerous it is to trust them.”

    “The next time some academics tell you how important diversity is, ask how many Republicans there are in their sociology department.”

    “Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.”

    “The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”

    “The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive.”

    “Life in general has never been even close to fair, so the pretense that the government can make it fair is a valuable and inexhaustible asset to politicians who want to expand government.”

    “The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling.”

    “You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing.”

    “The most basic question is not what is best, but who shall decide what is best.”

    “Facts do not speak for themselves. They speak for or against competing theories. Facts divorced from theories or visions are mere isolated curiosities.”

    “Even if the government spends itself into bankruptcy and the economy still does not recover, Keynesians can always say that it would have worked if only the government had spent more.”

    There are few modern intellectuals today who will still be considered relevant in a century or so. Thomas Sowell is at the top of that short list.

  • Ivan

    yeah, libertarianism. Here are some articles by the same libertarian author:

    A Progressive Case for a Universal Transaction Tax.” Maine Law Review 58.1 (2006): 1–16.

    “Civil Rights and Economic Democracy.” Washburn Law Journal 40.2 (Winter 2001): 267–87.

    “Pursuing the Millennium Goals at the Grassroots: Selecting Development Projects Serving Rural Women in Sub-Saharan Africa.” UCLA Women’s Law Journal 15.1 (Fall 2006): 71–114.

    Rothbard, Mises and Nozick are universally despised and dismissed by the academics nowadays. They don’t typically receive “a slate of admiring blurbs from top scholars” as Chartier does. I somehow doubt he deserved such a treatment simply by being smarter or ‘better scholar’ than Nozick or Rothbard or Mises.

  • Americans Are As Whipped Dogs

    Gosh, am I glad this book is out! I was up all night week after week in cold sweats trying to decide whether to adopt the Rawlsian or Rothbardian framework as my philosophical guidepost.

    Wake the hell up. Unless we want to wait until the country is completely bankrupt and in a state of hyperinflation, a violent overthrow is the only thing that is going to change the state of affairs; certainly not books that will be pored over largely by cloistered academics. Nobody in America with a public presence whose stated goal is the restoration of liberty has the guts to say that though, for fear of being ostracized. Therefore, the same tired old preaching to the choir in the form of yet another useless book continues on. Meanwhile those in positions of power at the IRS, DOD, other agencies aren’t missing a beat, because they know no real challenge to their livelihood exists.

    What a depressing state of affairs.

  • Tom Woods

    Every envious loser in the world responds to scholarly achievement like this.

  • Luke

    Loved the podcast today! Its great to hear two very well spoken individuals like yourself and Gary discuss the ideas of liberty. My twitter feed is now full of many of the guests you’ve had on your show. I can’t miss a days podcast. Through out the second half of todays podcast all I could think about is the point you brought up to Bob Murphy (always awesome) about his slavery article. That in theory it sounds great but a society that has a preconceived ideas of what a “peoples” want is also the society that would have a rats nest of regulations standing in the way what a person would want. I just wanna be left alone from all forms of government or the state. Im very interested in hearing more from Gary and his free society ideas.

  • Americans Are As Whipped Dogs

    Lucky for me, even if I were consumed by envy as you seem so sure I am, my point still stands. What good are a million books and a million speeches going to do if the government just keeps growing every year? I’m sure if we argue forcefully enough, they’ll just resign and take jobs in the private sector, right?

    I know this stings, since you’d have no livelihood if you weren’t able to spend your time giving speeches and griping about the government. Big government is job security for people like you who make a living off writing books about it. You’d be flipping burgers if we had the sort of society you claim you want to see established.

  • Jesse Jewell

    Because Tom *doesn’t* spend most of every day working to educate people??

    I can’t honestly believe *you* think someone who exhausts so much of himself (as Woods does) trying to reach those goals would be sandbagging for the sake of job security.

  • Tom Woods

    Right — who needs historians in a free society?

    So your view is that we need to overthrow the government violently. Hmm. Now how are you going to get people to do that? By — I don’t know — persuading them to do it? And how do you plan to do that, poindexter, without rational argument, books, videos, etc.? So even from your own standpoint, you recognize the need for intellectual work.

  • Tom Woods

    Thanks a lot. I’m planning to have him back to discuss yet another book.

  • Dr. Weezil

    “a violent overthrow is the only thing that is going to change the state of affairs”

    This should have tipped everyone off. Back away. Slowly.

  • DissidentRight

    Angry white men attempting a coup. That is every liberal’s ultimate fantasy scenario. There are only like, 500 billion books and movies on the subject.

    “Why, yes, we did always want to arrest every member of the GOP for aiding and abetting treason! Excuse us while we deposit another three generations of white guilt and eighty gadzillion good excuses to destroy the 2nd Amendment.”

    Conservative white violence is the Left’s greatest weapon.

  • D Frank Robinson

    I think I’ll read Radicalizing Rawls before I comment. A radical idea itself these days it seems.

  • Tom Woods

    That pushover David Gordon calls him “one of the best political philosophers of our time.”

  • Kelse

    Chartier’s book looks great, but the cheapest copy is around $70 on Amazon. Do you know of any plans to release a more affordable version?

  • Darren McCluster

    Back away off a cliff while you’re at it.

  • Darren McCluster

    Yes, lets make damned sure the liberals don’t think we’re crazy. Tailor our every statement and plan of action in accordance with what leftists deem within the bounds of acceptability. Thats a brilliant strategy.


  • DissidentRight

    If the conservative grassroots, the conservatives in state/local government, and the conservatives in the new media think we’re crazy, they will ally with the Left against the perceived common threat.

  • disqus_spd90y1sui

    Thats already the case. Check the Daily Kos and once in a while and read the threads mentioning libertarians or libertarianism. Conservatives equate libertarianism with libertinism and refer to libertarians as “liberaltarians”. On the other hand, the Daily Kos leftists think libertarians are only acceptable insofar as they agree on matters of civil liberties, but not much else.

  • DissidentRight

    The reason for the success at the Bundy ranch, the reason why all the highest rated comments on almost any political article are hostile to Leftism, the reason why state leaders are talking secession and land recovery and general opposition to the Federal beast…

    …is because, contra your ridiculous claim, the conservative grassroots is NOT already allied with the Left.

    However, since you are so keen on forming such an alliance, an all-white coup on the White House would do the trick. Good luck with that.