Friday, July 23, 2004

We need more Jewish libertarians!

Some time ago, Walter Block wrote a (thankfully) emotionless critique of Judaism under a libertarian microscope, gave it a failing grade, and felt he could offer no adequate explanation for this phenomenon, but quite correctly pointed out the irony that we have prospered the most in the exile in places where libertarian (or at least pseudo-libertarian) principles were in place, particularly in the area of economic freedom.

I have come to enjoy Professor Block's writings very much, as he is a clear and consise thinker and writer.

The problem it poses to me is that I agree with just about everything he writes. The Jewish appetite for the use of state power disturbs me some; that the appropriation of money from one person to another through the use of government force is called chesed disturbs me even more.

I once brought up my concerns to a rav in Brooklyn, who dismissed the taxation-as-theft ideology by comparing to a case from the life of Rabbi Akiva Eiger, which, ironically, was a case of pure anarcho-capitalism.

In the times of Rabbi Akiva Eiger, there was a rich man who never paid ma'aser on his earnings, and never contributed to the community's religious needs. When the man died, the chevra kadisha (burial society) refused to bury the man until his family paid up on his dues. To me, this is voluntary association at its finest; to the rav, this was forceful coercion.

Nothing stopped the family from burying the man themselves except their religious beliefs. No gun forced them to pony up. That, in my mind, is the difference between voluntary exchange and government coercion, where resistance is met with a bullet.

"The Jews" as a demographic are a large voter contingent in the tri-state area. Politically, we wield tremendous power -- more power than I think we ought to have because of its inevitable abuse.

Why do I bring this up? I mention this because I think the Jews should be a specific target for the Libertarian Party, or at least liberty-minded people. The Jews have a long history of prosperity with freedom, and destitution with slavery.

Today, the Jews in New York represent a disproportionate amount of the welfare dole. The problem with welfare is that without it, the extra money in the economy would eliminate its need. Effectively, the people who are on welfare only need it because of its existence. Remove one, and you remove both.

Imagine, for a moment, that the Jews in NYC all voted Libertarian in the next mayoral election, or libertarian in the next state election. Sure, we are a minority, but we are such a significant minority that the Republicans and Democrats would look in amazement and realize that they'd need to change in order to retain power, effectively enslaving them to us instead of vice versa.

I'll elaborate on this idea more in the future. Good Shabbos!


At 1:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thet voud end all de hieliger programs fun de govermet . vat voud dey do vit out wic sec. 8 ect.

At 10:20 AM, Blogger Yid said...

Perhaps they could try something as earth shattering as working for it themselves.

At 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have come across the same question by others numerious times. The founders of the libertarian movement were, for the most part, Jewish.

At 4:10 PM, Blogger nicmeg said...

As an Irish libertarian, I am somewhat intrigued by all the brilliant Jewish libertarians -- who really kept the philosophy alive in the 20th century: Rand, Friedman, von Mises, Rothbard, etc. This fact should receive more publicity especially as a counterpoint to the more stereotypical view that links Judaism with socialism (or left wing beliefs in general.)

At 9:26 AM, Anonymous Paul said...

While this is an old post, still, would like to pose the question: Why aren't there more Jewish Libertarians"? Has the once famous sense of independence and self-reliance left us and now we are just as dependent on the government as everyone else? Jews have always been strong proponents of social justice, so what more just than a free and open society with a level economic playing field? The golden chains of government are, after all, still chains.

At 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

why aren't their more muslim libertarians. Why aren't their more christian libertarains...
Duhhhh.... who the hell gives a crap!!
You blasted jews are racist as hell!

At 5:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Stephen, I happen to be a libertarian-minded person, who grew up Christian, who is pro-Israeli and agrees with everything on this post. There is nothing more libertarian than a group of people who benefit from libertarian policies asking why their group shouldn't be more proactive toward their own interest, which in this case would be libertarian. I hope all Jews realize that their best interest is and has always been represented by libertarian ideology. So in the interest of self-definition and autonomy (which is the heart of libertarianism) "go fuck yourself "!


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