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So what is a person to do when another wishes to make them ‘do the right thing’ at gunpoint?

Reading the excellent blog The Last Ditch, there was an article about the Liberty League Freedom Forum 2013, written back on April 06th. And in the article, the author describes the views of Sam Bowman, of the Adam Smith Institute (and I am a great fan of the ASI) thus:

The two other sessions I attended also provided much food for thought. Sam Bowman of the Adam Smith Institute suggested that the standard libertarian approach to presenting our ideas appealed only to ourselves.


The most disturbing moment of the day was in Bowman’s session when he mentioned in passing the “standard” justification for welfarism; one that I had never heard before. If, he said, a baby was drowning in a puddle not only would a passing stranger have a moral duty to rescue it, but he would also have a moral right if, perhaps because of disability, he couldn’t do it himself to force someone else to do so at gunpoint.

This utilitarian remark passed without comment or challenge, but left me distinctly chilled. I don’t dispute a moral duty to save the child and I would shun forever someone else who failed to do so. But the idea that I would be justified in pulling a gun on the shunworthy one – or even killing him – if he failed to do his duty struck me as obscene.

Views like Sam Bowman’s are why I am so in favour of the private ownership of firearms.

When he (theoretically) points his (theoretical) gun at me to force me to risk my life to save another, I would say “Yes sir… oh and do you also want me to rescue that burning baby over there?”

And when he turns to look, I would (theoretically) produce my (theoretical) handgun and put two (theoretical) 40 cal rounds in the fucker’s chest and then one in his (theoretical) head.

And then I might actually go rescue the (theoretically) drowning baby and thereby have done two good things in a single day.

54 comments to So what is a person to do when another wishes to make them ‘do the right thing’ at gunpoint?

  • Mr Ed

    I think that I made my point here, at 3.50 pm.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes I think that Bowman was the name.

    However, he was smileing and making little jokes throughout his (hour long) talk – so I am not 100% sure he meant any of it (he went on to brand pro private property people sexists and racists – and on and on, but was any of that serious either).

    Some of his supporters in the crowd were serious though – I know a challenge when I hear and see one. Although when challenge was accepted it melted away.

    There was also someone in the upper row with a (false?) upper class drawl – saying how Mr Cameron was the personfication of “Bleedy Heart” ism (this was meant as paise!)and how this would be win and wipe out dissent.

    As for Mr Bowman – he claimed that “almost everyone in the world” agreed with using violence for income “re” distribution (in a few society income and wealth are NOT “distributed”) not to save babies – he was not really an “Operation Rescue” person, and most of them are not actually violent).

    Actually in my darker moments I AGREE with Mr Bowman – the population of the world as (mostly) a cannibal mob who care only to tear apart and eat (hopefully in that order).

    What to do if Mr Bowman is correct – and most people are actually monsters?

    Fight to the death and hope to die quickly – remembering to save a bullet for one’s self.

    Better to hope it was all a joke.

    After all, I repeat, the person was smileing and making little jokes all through his talk.

    It could be just a few leftists in the crowd. Taking stuff seriously that was not meant seriously.

    And an old man who tend to charge into into every trap set for him.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Threatening someone for letting a baby drown is considerably different from threatening him for, say, failing to pick up a can someone else has thrown away. We are not so all-wise that we can design moral principles that apply in every situation, so the real consequences of our actions sometimes trump their theoretical wickedness.

  • Tedd

    If we take the comment at face value, I guess we also have consider the next level of subtlety: What if the threat’s not genuine? In other words, what if you threaten the person to do what you believe is the moral thing, but you have no actual intent to carry out the threat, you’re just bluffing? From my perspective, that’s probably a justifiable action in a life or death situation. Unfortunately (for the redistributionist argument), there’s no way I can see that being justified on purely economic grounds.

    Now that I think of it, I guess the key distinction between free-marketers and non-free-marketers is that free-marketers believe that free markets are the answer to the moral question of wealth distribution.

  • Mr Ed

    @ Tedd. I’m curious that you see wealth distribution as a moral question, it is simply a historical fact. Wealth has to be earned, or received in some way. It can no more be ‘distributed’ in the sense of being shared than can looks or charisma. Wealth can be taken, and the pretty can be scarred, but ugly stays ugly, and poor stay poor, in the main.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    If I were disabled and I saw a drowning baby, I would consider it my duty to drag my shattered body out of the chair and try with the very last ounce of my strength to save the child. If I die in so doing, it was my life to give.

    However, the abled bodied stranger’s life was not. If he stopped me and said that I needed try because he was more able and had a greater chance of success, then obviously I would accept that. And if he had been shamed into action by my courage, then good.

    But even in this hypothetical, the violence still leads to theft. The stranger’s life is his to lay down or to hold onto. I have no claim on it. The only claim I have is on my own life, even if it is not much of a life – ill suited to the saving of babies. But I can only righteously give of that which is mine.


    As an aside, this is not even close to describing welfarism. The people holding the gun aren’t disabled. And the baby isn’t drowning. And it isn’t a baby. And you’re not able bodied (at least not compared to the gun wielder). In fact, in his metaphor he has the relative power relationship completely backwards.

    The able bodied arsehole is waving the gun at a disabled man, ordering him to carry some random stranger on his back. A stranger who may be disabled, or may be stupid, or may be lazy, or may just be unlucky. The stranger’s complicity aside, none of that is the disabled victim’s fault. And yet carry him he must because he’s not the one with the gun.

  • Mr Ed

    @ JV great post.what gives the guntoter the right to decide, the divine right to decide who lives and dies? ‘The State is God, I am the State’.

    As Tolkien had Gandalf put it. “…Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends…”.

    J.R.R Tolkien v Mr Bowman is a cruel contest.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Thanks, Jaded Voluntaryist. I was actually getting my knickers in a twist thinking, oooh, what would I do? Do I agree with Perry & most of the comments here, or do I, at the risk of losing my libertarian purity badge, actually agree with Mr Bowman? But if so, what about the slippery slope? What about lesser enroachments on the stranger’s rights, such as stealing his 6ft baby-rescuing tongs to get the baby to safety?

    Then came your blast of common sense. Your analogy in the aside is very good indeed.

    Phew, I can keep my badge and relegate the dilemma to the realm of science fiction, alongside Genesis of the Daleks. (“Have I the right?” “Get on with it you fool?)

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)


    That was the missing exclamation mark from the end of my previous post.

    You may keep the surplus question mark to use however you wish.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Ed – I supect that Tolkien (not Bowman) would actually care about babies.

    Do we even know if Mr Bowman is pro life?

  • Mr Ed

    I might be wrong, but a Mr Bowman has an active Twitter account, it is not pretty reading, unless you have a gsoh!


  • And when he turns to look, I would (theoretically) produce my (theoretical) handgun and put two (theoretical) 40 cal rounds in the fucker’s chest and then one in his (theoretical) head.

    Utterly appalled!

    Wasting bullets like that. A double-tap to the head is quite sufficient (theoretically) to remove statist fascists.

  • Mr Ed

    @ JG the Indonesian General who called, c 1965, on his men to show restraint in dealing with Maoists ‘Do not shoot the Communists, bullets are too good for them, use knives!’ clearly did not approve of mercy killings.

  • Saxon

    the punchline (two good things in a day) was unexpected and hilarious! great post.

  • Plamus

    Wasting bullets like that. A double-tap to the head is quite sufficient (theoretically) to remove statist fascists.

    Nay, Mr. Galt, you’re wrong here, and Perry is right, both from a tactical and from economic point of view.

    Tactically, shooting the center of mass has much higher probability to connect, guaranteeing that you win in most (but not all) cases. The second body shot roughly doubles your odds. The head shot is facilitated by the extra aiming time provided by the first two shots. Starting with a head shot is a mistake. Head shots are hard – smaller target that moves more and is relatively well protected by the cranium from kinetic impact. Note that in the encounter that gave birth to the Mozambique drill, Mike Rousseau landed the first two shots in the area of his opponent’s breastbone (which failed to stop them), and then aimed for the head, but missed. Luckily for him, he hit the soldier in the throat, severing the spinal column.

    Economically, the third bullet is not wasted. It’s a solid investment in a better world.

  • Tedd


    I’m curious that you see wealth distribution as a moral question, it is simply a historical fact.

    But that’s a false dichotomy, isn’t it. There’s nothing to prevent it being both. I appreciate what you’re trying to say, but the fact is that there are more moral and less moral ways that wealth can come to be distributed in a society, and reasonable people can disagree to some extent about what they are, and to what extent each is at work in our own society. So, yes, it’s a subject with a moral dimension. I’m sure you’d agree that it would not be very moral for me to rob you at gunpoint, for example.

  • Mr Ed

    @ Tedd. The distribution of wealth is not, and can never be a moral question, many more that can the distribution of good looks.

    The historic facts that have given rise to the distribution of wealth, or its redistribution, may give rise to a moral question about one thing, the non-aggression principle, but nothing more.

  • Tedd

    Mr Ed:

    The historic facts that have given rise to the distribution of wealth, or its redistribution, may give rise to a moral question about one thing, the non-aggression principle, but nothing more.

    Exactly. I strongly suspected that were were saying the same thing, just using different semantics, but that confirms is. So, yes, there is a moral dimension to the distribution of wealth.

  • Tedd

    Sorry, “confirms it.” Even preview doesn’t always help!

  • Mr Ed

    @ Tedd. I have to distinguish, there is a distinction between the distribution of wealth, and the use of aggression (inc. fraud) to obtain wealth or alter its distribution. That a man may be rich is not a moral issue, but if he acquired his wealth, in whole or part, through unlawful force or fraud, such acts give rise to the moral issue. Wealth, and its ‘distribution’ is morally neutral.

    I use the term ‘distribution’ in respect of an analysis of where it is found, as one might look at the distribution of Tree Sparrows, not how it is taken from some and handed to others. Wealth distribution in the sense of a process of transfer is simply theft and immoral.

  • Do we even know if Mr Bowman is pro life?


  • Midwesterner (Wisconsin, USA)

    Attempting to legislate morality and make immorality illegal begs the question “who’s morality?” These arguers always choose the most offensively repugnant cases to claim “there ought to be a law”. How are this aspiring despot’s demands any different than the murderous rampage of the War on Drugs® in the name of “saving lives”? Both of them claim to (and occasionally may actually) save a life. Both of them will leave a body count of innocents (one of them already has) that far exceeds lives they save commandeering human life to achieve their goals.

    I can hear this Bowman with his Barney Fife IQ declaring at some point in the future

    “Today, John Passerby died a hero. He died trying to save what I genuinely thought was a baby. I can’t swim, so I attempted the rescue by directing Mr. Passerby to help. I didn’t realize that it was just a doll and sadly the rescue had an unfortunately outcome but we should all remember what really matters and that is John Passerby died a hero. Yes I would do it again. We can never be too careful in our efforts to save babies from drowning.”

    There is only one proper role for government, and that is to secure the boundaries between individuals. Bowman wants to destroy those boundaries and violently take control of other people. It would be ridiculous to assume he intends “only in this case”.

  • Midwesterner (Wisconsin, USA)

    er, “whose”.

  • Mr Ed

    @ Midwestener, I can hear in my head Mayor Bloomberg, any Bush, any Clinton, Eliot Spitzer making that speech, chilling and brilliant in equal measure.

    I can also hear ‘…Today!,….John PASSER by, DIED…. a…. HER…. o…’

  • Snorri Godhi

    There are a couple of subtleties here that i have not seen dealt with in the comments. Of course i haven’t heard Sam Bowman’s talk so i don’t know whether he dealt with them.

    First: the alternative for the disabled person is not to do nothing, or to pull out the gun right away: a rational disabled person would wait for the able person to act; then prod him/her to act; and only then would consider pulling the gun.
    (Even then, the threat is not credible, as Tedd implied: if the disabled person values life so much, would (s)he kill for it?)

    Second, and more relevant to the welfare analogy, there is the issue of risk: is the able person refusing to act from fear of drowning, or simply because (s)he does not want to get wet? I wouldn’t pull a gun in the first case, unless the fear is blatantly unjustified; but i might in the second.

  • Midwesterner (Wisconsin, USA)

    Well, Snorri, when you pull a gun the implication is that you will use it. All subsequent actions proceed on that basis. When you raise your interactions to that level here in Wisconsin you should bear in mind that Wisconsin is a concealed carry state. You better be prepared to play for the stakes you wager.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Actually the main weakness of the Bowman argument (as reported here) is that the disabled person is not an agent of the government: this is an example of decentralized law enforcement, an army of Davids as Glenn Reynolds would put it.
    You might like what the disabled person does or you might not; if you don’t, then you can take the law into your own hands, just as the disabled person does.

    The real insanity would be if the government were to replace able-bodied lifeguards with wheelchair-bound lifeguards with guns.

  • Midwesterner (Wisconsin, USA)

    When my father had his heart attack, the politically correct ambulance crew was unable to remove a 115 pound man from a first floor dining room and had to call for (male) back up that arrived ten or fifteen minutes later.

    That aside, you have completely missed the point. You keep equating “doing the right thing” with “the law”. You say the disabled person is “taking the law into their own hands”. WTF! What law would that be? It is armed thuggery.

    You qualify your violence with the restriction “unless the fear is blatantly unjustified”. I know a woman who can suffocate from small exposure to shell fish. I knew a man that swelled up in shock from exposure to feathers. I know any number of people who are violently allergic to insect stings. I know several people who are unable to regulate body temperature well enough to survive swimming. People at great risk who look normal, advanced osteoporosis (my rather was turning as he sat when his spine crumbled – he looked healthy to any observer up to that point), serious congestive heart failure, all kinds of things that you are qualifying yourself to access accurately before you threaten to shoot them.

    I’m serious, Snorri. You are a violent person. I encourage you to have a deep rethink about the use of violence as an incentive in interpersonal relationships. It is appropriate to interfere with acts of violence, and to defend against acts of violence, not to commit them. There have been nation-states that used law to compel acts of violence against non-violent resisters. Need I say “Godwin’s Law”. Achieving ‘good’ by committing violence is never okay. “Moral” must never be conflated with “legal”.

  • Mr Ed

    @ Midwesterner. You are a shining star, sir. The desire or urge to ‘play God’ and interfere is what is to be resisted by all decent folk. Either you believe in non-aggression, or you do not.

    As one great but erratic English judge, Lord Denning, said “Be you ever so high, the law is above you”.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Midwesterner: you have a serious problem: either you have not read the Sagas of Icelanders, or you have not understood them.
    In either case, you are utterly unable to understand what i meant.
    That is of course as much my fault as yours: i assumed that we start from a common conceptual framework.
    I’ll stop here because it’s bedtime for me, though not for you.

  • Midwesterner (Wisconsin, USA)

    If I must read and understand the Sagas of Icelanders to avoid getting shot, then indeed, I do have a serious problem. And since you clearly threaten to shoot people who do not follow your instructions to your satisfaction, perhaps you are making the stake for misunderstanding a bit high?

    I look forward to your explanation of how the Icelandic Sagas make a moral case for shooting people who won’t do the good deeds you demand of them. This should be interesting.

  • Mike

    What if the baby wasn’t wanted?

    What if the puddle was a toilet?

    What if the above two questions weren’t hypthetical?

    Now, what if this story wasn’t being reported? Compare a case with dozens of children, multiple confessing defendants vs. the Casey trial for one, with an unclear verdict.

    What moral judgment would you lay on the editors of those outlets?

    — Not Catholic, not Christian, but agnostic…

  • 1. Tell the wanker to put the gun away; you’re going to save the baby anyway, and he doesn’t need to use the threat of violence to make you do the right thing.
    2. Save the baby.
    3. Shoot the guy who was threatening you.
    4. When the rozzers arrive, tell them the dead guy had just tossed a baby into the water, and was about to use it for target practice. So you shot him, and saved the baby.

    At this point, however, the narrative diverges.

    Texas Version:
    5. The cops praise you for being a hero, and tell you not to worry because clearly you were using a gun to protect a minor (which is a defense to prosecution). They offer to buy you a doughnut.

    U.K. Version:
    5. The rozzers arrest you for having a gun and discharging it in a public place, and you end up being prosecuted for murder. You go to jail for ten years.
    6. Then Elf ‘n Safety chimes in, and adds the charge of endangering the baby’s life by not having the prerequisite Baby Saving Licence 2256-0. This charge carries a twenty-year sentence.
    7. Because your crime involved a minor, you are branded a sex criminal and your name is added to the Sexual Predators List, so even when you are released after six months because of prison overcrowding, your life is forever made misery by having yobs chucking bricks through your window and keying your car.

    Sorry; I appear to wander off on a tangent, here. But this is samizdata.net, where there are more tangents than in a geometry text book.

    I think I’ll go to the range and let off a few rounds through my AK-47.

  • P.S. I have no idea what Teh Icelandic Sagas are, but clearly their effect on the Western Canon and Western culture has been miniscule or non-existent; therefore, I shall ignore.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Mid: you are compounding your previous misunderstandings, by failing to understand what the Sagas can teach you. I could distill them into a few abstract principles, but these are principles that i would not have understood before reading the Sagas.
    As an example, i shall quote Bismarck:
    If a compromise cannot be arrived at and a conflict arises, then the conflict becomes a question of power. Whoever has the power then acts according to his opinions.
    (Translation from A History of Western Society by McKay, Hill, and Buckler.)

    I did not understand this before reading the Sagas, and i doubt that you will. In fact, i applied this principle in my 1st comment here, and you misunderstood.
    But this is only one of your misunderstandings.

  • Midwesterner (Wisconsin, USA)

    I already addressed that argument, Snorri. Apparently you ignored it. It is summarized as:

    You better be prepared to play for the stakes you wager.

    To which I’ll add, drawing a gun doesn’t make you powerful. It makes you a target.

  • Midwesterner (Wisconsin, USA)

    BTW, Snorri, I do not disagree with Bismarck’s statement as you present it. All social and legal systems are founded on the power to act. Without it, they cease to exist. This is why we join into cooperative associations with people who share our values. We do it to gain the power to act according to our own dictates. Our US Constitution is a document of reciprocity.

    My values are (using the chosen hypothetical) to save the baby and to shun in every way I can, anybody whose conduct in the situation offends my moral values. But the most important element of my moral code is its foundation on the inviolability of the individual. The baby is a helpless person I have a moral obligation to help. The gun waving thug ordering people about on pain of death is a dangerous threat to be dealt with accordingly.

    At the root, rights are extended, not collected. I choose to associate with people who share my values closely enough to reciprocate the rights I extend to them. It is through the strength of these reciprocal associations that I and my associates gain the power that Bismarck speaks of.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I take a more “fundamentalist” line, which is that a person’s needs, whether real or imagined, are no basis whatsoever to demand that I, on pain of some physical punishment or other consequence, should cater to said needs. The whole edifice of the modern Welfare State is now justified, unthinkingly most of the time, on the argument that group X or Y “needs” this or that and therefore – without any argument – it is said that other people are obliged to provide what is needed. Apart from the likes of Randian ethical egoists, no-one challenges this. Thousands of years of moral philosophy state that we must aid the needy, leaving open the question as to what “needy” consists of. Recourse to consequentialist or utilitarian arguments gets no nearer the crux of the issue, as Perry’s comment on Sam Bowman’s formulation of the argument makes clear.

  • F0ul

    Its a flawed analogy!

    If disabled person has a moral obligation to save the baby, so does the stranger – the gun is not needed.

    The disabled man is going beyond his remit as a member of society in defining the requirements of others. It would therefore be just as relevant to the story for the stranger to pull a gun on the disabled man and force him to save the baby!

    Of course, in my world, I would blame the mother for not looking after the baby!

  • Paul Marks

    On that twitter account Mr Ed.

    One “tweet” attacks the Guardian newspaper (at least I think it does) for attacking Pro Life people.

    So Mr Bowman may actually be Pro Life.

    The world is a complicated place – he may not take the 100% P.C. line (with even the Frankfurt School talk about sexism and racism and…..) that he did in that talk.

  • Or, whoever is behind that tweet may be staging a straw-man diversion, and Mr. Bowman may not be any more ‘pro-life’ than any average Progressive. I guess the jury is out on that, for the time being.

  • Paul Marks


    Still, I repeat, techology (the survival of the baby outside the woman) may make the whole issue moot.

  • Person of Choler

    So, Mr. de Havilland, a disabled person shouldn’t pull a gun on someone to force that someone to save the life of a drowning baby. Fair enough. May said disabled person pull a gun on someone else to keep the someone else from harming said disabled person?

    Virtue of Selfishness and all that?

  • Charlie

    +1. We have conceiled carry here too, and anybody that points a gun at me will soon be approaching room temperature.

  • Seerak

    Apart from the likes of Randian ethical egoists, no-one challenges this.

    And apart from Randian ethical egoists like myself, nobody notices the simple logic here: what starts with the concept of “duty” quickly leads to people seriously proposing using a gun to forcibly override someone else’s choice.

    “Morality ends where a gun begins”, Rand said. The truth of it can hardly be any more stark.

  • Paul Marks

    Person of Choler – of course disabled people should be allowed to defend themselves (by any means they need to use). That is a “no brainer” – Perry does not have to say so.

    As for the baby in the lake – if the person decides to threaten MURDER to save the baby should he or she not ACCEPT THE PUNISHMENT FOR DOING SO?

    Should they not (if they really care so much) turn themselves in for punishment?

    After all the baby will still be safe – if the baby is who they really care about (rather than pleasure of giving orders whilst pointing a gun and threatening murder being what they really care about).


    It was not “just” Ayn Rand that Mr S. Bowman attacked – his other hate figure (who he called a racist and a sexist – in his Frankfurt School P.C. tapdance later in the talk) was Murray Rothbard – who broke with Ayn Rand.

    I point this out as a I recently had a e.mail (from a third party) telling me that Mr Bowman must be a libertarian as he admired Murray Rothbard so much.

    Actually, as those who were at the talk (which I profoundly wish I had NOT been) know, Mr Bowman admires Rothbard’s WRITING STYLE – he hates his CONCLUSIONS.

    Not Rothbard’s 1960s political conclusions (on the contrary Mr Bowman said that “we libertarians” [sic] should ally with the “radical left” – a position which Rothbard repented of), but his basic philosophical position – the non aggression principle, i.e. the traditional view of justice (to-each-their-own) itself.

    “Morality ends where a gun begins” – if that gun is pointing at an unarmed person who has committed (and intends) no crime, so that the person pointing the firearm can give orders (orders backed by the threat of murder).

    Ayn Rand fled from the forces of Social Justice (i.e. those opposed to the traditional principle of justice to-each-their-own and in favour of the enemy principle of Social Justice i.e. to-each-what-the-rulers-believe-they-should-have).

    Yet Ayn Rand found the forces of evil (the forces of Social Justice) growing even in the United States – especially among the intellectuals influenced by the ideas in the UNIVERSITIES (the academics – the spawn of Plato).

    Ludwig Von Mises could not get a paid academic position either in Vienna or the United States, ending up dependent on the voluntary aid (the benevolence) of admirers – just as Murray Rothbard ended up.

    I found it interesting that all the people Mr Bowman praised in his hour long talk (a talk that still pains me even so long afterwards) were academics – and not academics supported by the benevolence of outsiders, but regular members of the “guild” (for want of a better word).

  • So, Mr. de Havilland, a disabled person shouldn’t pull a gun on someone to force that someone to save the life of a drowning baby. Fair enough. May said disabled person pull a gun on someone else to keep the someone else from harming said disabled person?

    Materially different things. The disabled person of course has the right to defend themselves.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Having read Last Ditch posting, here is L.D.’s clarification of Bowman’s position (at least, as L.D. understood him to say) — see link in Perry’s posting (boldface mine):

    ‘Sam Bowman of the Adam Smith Institute suggested that the standard libertarian approach to presenting our ideas appealed only to ourselves. If we wanted to win hearts and minds, we needed to reason from public benefit – even (shock, horror!) “social justice”, in order to justify ourselves. He had no personal problem with this, as he was a libertarian only because he believed it would lead to the greater good of the greatest number and would benefit the poor.

    Given this, I join those who disapprove strongly of Mr. Bowman’s views.

    (Posting this also at the SQOTD:

    http://www.samizdata.net/2013/04/samizdata-quote-of-the-day-281/ )

  • Paul Marks

    Social Justice, and denoucing pro private property people as sexists and racists (and on and on).

    None of that really comes from Mr Bowman’s head – it comes from the universities (and those they influence – such as the media). It comes from the ACADEMICS (the spawn of Plato) who have influenced him.

    It is not one person – it is a legion of people.

    That is why (Paul’s excuse for his own failure alert) people like us never really had a chance to save the West from social and economic bankruptcy (in reality if not in law) – we do not educate the young, the ACADEMICS educate the young.

    And most academics are just like the people who influenced Mr Bowman.

    And, by the way, I firmly believe that many of those academics start out with good intentions (and I firmly believe that Mr Bowman started out with good intentions).

    If they were space monsters I would not be so upset. I am so upset because they are NOT space monsters – they are human beings, who are warped by the system (by having to speak and, in the end, think in certain ways).

    “Do not make your face look like” (mother says) “because the wind may change and you will stuck like it”.

    People who go into the education system (and the “intellectual” world generally) even with the good intention of changing things, tend to ape the langauge and so on of the people already in it.

    And that is dangerious – incredibly danagerious.

    If the only way you can get (for example) an academic job, is to talk (and write and…) like an academic – then it is not worth it, it really is not.

    You end up losing your soul that way.

  • Paul Marks

    Two examples.

    When I first read Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia” my thought was “this man is going to give way – he is going to recant, or close to it”.

    That was because of his polite langauge about John Rawls (a deeply dishonest man), and his harsh langauage about libertarians (how “intolerant” our manner tends to be – and it is, and it SHOULD BE).

    Someone who is concerned about the opinion people have of him in Harvard social events – is always, in the end, going to collapse.

    The other example is Antony Flew.

    Antonry Flew started out as a socialist and never became a full liberttarian – but when I read him on the left my thought was “this man will fight to his last breath” and so he did.

    “But the only job that someone like Antony Flew would get in a mainstream university today is cleaning the toilets”.

    If that is true – then cleaning the toilets is the only job worth having.

  • Paul Marks

    By the way the bit about “being a libertarian because it would lead to the greatest good of the greatest number”.

    There ARE utilitarian libertarians and I have no problem with them – although I am not one myself.

    That is why I formally asked Mr Bowman (even though I suspected I already knew the answer) whether he came to the nonaggression principle via consequences (people being better off and so on). And he formally stated that he DID NOT come to the nonaggression principle – that he DID NOT support it.

    So it is NOT a matter of comming to libertarianism by the route of consequences.

    In the past the “libertarian left” (such as Kevin Carson) claimed to support “NAP” – and then did fancy footwork to justify X, Y, Z.

    Today the new left openly express their contempt for “NAP” (unless someone takes up on their challenge – then, suddenly, they are children again who need someone to protect them). Perhaps by wanting to be “taken seriously” in the “intellectual world” this collapse is made inevitable.

    Want the spawn of Plato to “take you seriously” – then you end up being like them.