It was announced yesterday that world renowned economist Walter Block was endorsing Austin Petersen for President of the United States. But during the course of the evening, word broke that Walter was rescinding his endorsement of Austin because he “learned that Mr. Peterson rejects the non aggression principle.” I was disappointed by Walter’s rescission and sent the following email to him in hopes that he will reconsider his position. Austin is not against the non-aggression principle, and is our greatest ally in the liberty movement.
Hello Professor Block,
It’s been a few months since we chatted on the Liberty Hangout Podcast. I hope all is well!
I was excited when I logged onto Facebook this morning and saw that you had endorsed Austin Petersen for President, but quickly became disappointed when I saw you later rescinded your endorsement. As an anarcho-capitalist that used to revile Austin, I was hoping to spread light on some of his views, and hope you may reconsider your position.
Like many other anarcho-capitalists, my co-founder James and I were originally at odds with Austin because we were led to believe that he was a strict opponent of the NAP. But after many talks with Austin, he clarified his views to us. He does not reject the non-aggression principle, but rather sees it as incomplete and unable to hold its weight as the golden calf of society.
Austin has very legitimate concerns about how the NAP can be universally accepted and enforced, especially considering every libertarian seemingly has a different absolute definition of the NAP. Some subscribe to Rothbard’s definition and say that you have a right to starve your child, and others like myself say that starving your child is an act of aggression. Who’s definition is to be enforced? Who is correct? These are where Austin’s concerns of the NAP arise from.
He still prides himself as a steadfast defender of individual rights and is as close to an anarcho-capitalist as a viable Libertarian Party candidate may get. In my conversations with him, Austin has informed me that he is comfortable with privatizing just about all of government’s functions. Our only real area of disagreement is that he believes there should be a monopoly on the service of law.
Nonetheless, even if it were true that Austin did wholly reject the NAP, would this really have much of an effect over his policy positions, or his abilities to shrink the state as president? Must a man wholly subscribe to the NAP to be able to stop a thief from stealing a woman’s purse? Gary Johnson has signed the Libertarian Party’s NAP pledge, but his policies (forcing Christian bakers to make gay wedding cakes, gun control, mandating equal pay for women, supporting humanitarian wars, etc) are clearly not in line with either the NAP or any libertarian philosophy. But Austin’s positions are most in line with the NAP and he seeks to reduce government as much as possible.
In fact, I would contend that Austin’s policy positions are more libertarian than Ron Paul’s were, since Ron Paul as we know was in favor of securing the border and having our troops defend it. Austin, on the other hand, is for streamlining immigration and opening up the borders. Austin also talks extensively about privatizing the roads, and much like Ron Paul wishes to abolish the Federal Reserve, open the market to competing currencies, and abolish as many federal agencies as he can. Austin is also big on spreading the message that taxation is theft.
Though it is true that Austin has used colorful language to describe anarcho-capitalists and our philosophy in the past, it is having these intellectual disagreements that make our movement that much stronger. His criticisms of our philosophy are as legitimate as the concerns we have of his, but I don’t believe these small disagreements on what the end goal of society should look like should prevent us from allying with him in the here and now. We know this much: the government is way too big, and its powers need to be reined in. We also know from Ron Paul’s 2012 campaign that the political process is the best way of reaching the masses and spreading libertarian philosophy.
We all know how the natural progression goes. Everyone starts off as a statist Republican or Democrat, then realizes that the two major parties are corrupt, then they start conducting research and learn about libertarianism. From there they start looking at the Ron Pauls, Judge Napolitanos, and Austin Petersens. And the next step in their progression is to take their logic to its rational conclusion and start looking into the Rothbards and the Blocks and become anarcho-capitalists.
If he wins the Libertarian Party nomination next weekend in Orlando, I truly believe that Austin is going to lead one of the largest 3rd party campaigns in the history of the United States. If we thought Ron Paul 2012 was big, this has the potential to be bigger. A lot of freedom minded Americans are fed up with the options presented to us in a Clinton v. Trump matchup, and will be looking to vote for a 3rd party. Gary Johnson has done nothing to show that he would be much different than Trump or Clinton, but Austin Petersen has distinguished himself as the Ron Paul of 2016, and is already leading an extraordinary grassroots movement and bringing in thousands of new conservatives to the libertarian movement. This is why Austin needs our support. Gary Johnson doesn’t present us with the same opportunities Austin does.
If Austin wins the nomination, this movement will grow tenfold from its current size. The millions of voters that Austin will reach are more eager minds that will eventually read the works of Murray Rothbard and Walter Block. I am confident that Austin’s voters will be future followers of yours. Ron Paul is the reason the anarcho-capitalist movement is as large as it is today. How much larger will it be one or two years from now after small government conservatives and moderate Democrats are introduced to Austin Petersen?
Anyway, since this email was rather lengthy, I’ll start to wrap it up. When I first heard of Austin Petersen, I was in the same shoes as yourself and repulsed to what the other anarcho-capitalists told me about him. But once I started to talk to him myself and learn more about his philosophical views, as well as policy proposals, the more I learned that both my life and the libertarian movement would greatly benefit from an Austin Petersen presidency.
A vote for Austin Petersen is a vote to end the foreign wars. A vote for Austin Petersen is a vote to end the War on Drugs. A vote for Austin Petersen is a vote to end the Federal Reserve. A vote for Austin Petersen is a vote to restore economic prosperity. A vote for Austin Petersen is a vote to restore our gun rights. A vote for Austin Petersen is a vote to further the discussion of libertarian philosophy and grow our ranks. And a vote for Austin Petersen is a vote to steer more Americans towards the works of Walter Block.
I plead with you to please reconsider your position on Austin. You have much more in common with him than you think, and he is the our best shot at bringing libertarian philosophy to prominence.
Founder of LibertyHangout.org