Thursday, September 1, 2011

Learning From Those Who Came Before

The feature article in Issue 25 has quite a long title, “Thinkers and Groups of Individuals Who Have Contributed Significant Ideas or Major Written Materials To the Radical Libertarian Tradition.”

This list, prepared by Carl is about, well, the title says what it’s about so I won’t repeat it. :)

I have of course heard of many of these individuals by now, but some of the people mentioned were new to me. And although the names of a few were not new, Carl included information about their contribution that I was unaware of before.

For example, I had heard of Bartolome De Las Casas. I could have told you he lived around the time of Columbus but that’s it. But Carl mentions that he and a fellow I don’t remember every hearing of at all, Francisco De Vitoria “elucidated a proprietary theory of justice by which they denounced the violent invasion and conquest of the New World and supported the rights of the native inhabitants.”

Gee, I don't remember hearing anything about this particular rights argument while I was in a United States government school.

Another person mentioned in Carl’s list was a John Lilburne (1614-1657). In Carl’s remarks, I noticed he was known as “Freeborn John” and this caught my eye because I had just recently come across that same name in a recent article I saw online that was written by Wendy McElroy. I’m glad people like Wendy are out there referring to people from the past who did hard work and/or went through truly trying personal times and helped grow libertarian ideas and philosophy.

Then in a paragraph about John Locke, who I know of already of course, there is the name of William Molyneux. The reason that caught my eye is simply because the last name is the same as that of Stefan Molyneux, a moral philosopher who currently resides in Canada and has been literally pouring out podcasts, videos, books, etc. on his site Freedomain Radio and in my view is one person I would say is currently contributing significantly to the “radical libertarian tradition.” I wonder if they are related. I guess they are.

The reason Carl mentions William Molyneux is because he was a friend of Locke and “insisted on a literal interpretation of Locke’s ideas on consent of the governed and proprietary justice.”

Carl quotes Molyneux, “To tax me without consent, is little better, if at all, than downright robbing me.” Whether they are related or not, I can say that Stefan and William both agree that taxation is theft!

Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912) is a fellow whose name I’ve heard before but I didn’t know prior to reading this article that he was “the first economist (1849) to suggest that all legitimate services provided by the monopolistic State could be performed by competitive protection agencies on the free market.”

I was surprised it’s been that long ago that someone actually started thinking about competitive protection agencies. But then again, I’ve been surprised that a lot of ideas I’ve run into since embarking on my libertarian educational path are actually ideas that have been presented to society a long time ago.

I think we can learn from the past and from those who came before us. But we have to actually be informed that these thinkers, writers and interesting people in the past even existed.

So spread the word.


Paul said...

I'd never heard of Bartolome De Las Casas before. My reading list just keeps getting longer!

Joe said...

"... rights of the native inhabitants"

Yep, that's interesting. Conquistadors, somehow or other, brought missionaries along and they were of course concerned with the welfare of the "natives." The Puritans and other North American settlers didn't come seeking conquest but refuge, possibly from religious persecution at home, whereas those that came after them didn't care much for the welfare of the "natives."