More monstrosities

In yesterday’s blog post I quoted Gary North calling Joseph Schumpeter a “moral monster”. Not that it makes Schumpeter any better, but I have found out that North himself is a moral monster, too.

You may have read a blog post by George Reisman, If Abortion Really Were Murder, where he reduces this idea to absurdity by showing that if abortion is murder, it has to be premeditated murder and thus has to carry the death penalty in states that have the death penalty and imprisonment for life in states that don’t have it. One might think that nobody would actually advocate the death penalty for abortion – but Gary North does. This is from  an article in the libertarian magazine Reason, An Invitation to a Stoning by Walter Olson[1]:

Almost any anti-abortion stance seems nuanced when compared with Gary North’s advocacy of public execution not just for women who undergo abortions but for those who advised them to do so.

Not only abortion should carry the death penalty; so should cursing one’s parents; and so should blasphemy against the Lord:

So when Exodus 21:15-17 prescribes that cursing or striking a parent is to be punished by execution, that’s fine with Gary North. “When people curse their parents, it unquestionably is a capital crime,” he writes. “The integrity of the family must be maintained by the threat of death.” Likewise with blasphemy, dealt with summarily in Leviticus 24:16: “And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him.”


“Why stoning?” asks North. “There are many reasons. First, the implements of execution are available to everyone at virtually no cost.” Thrift and ubiquity aside, “executions are community projects–not with spectators who watch a professional executioner do ‘his’ duty, but rather with actual participants.” […] “That modern Christians never consider the possibility of the reintroduction of stoning for capital crimes,” North continues, “indicates how thoroughly humanistic concepts of punishment have influenced the thinking of Christians.”

And finally:

“So let us be blunt about it,” says Gary North. “We must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.”

So we should have religious liberty for a while – until we are back to the dark ages, where everybody shares the Christian faith and dissenters will be severely punished.

(By the way, he also advocates the death penalty for pre-marital sex. This means that I and my lady-friend should be executed, since we have not bothered to marry.)

How those views are compatible with “Austrian” economics is an enigma to me. (Ron Paul – with whom I agree on economic matters – is also an anti-abortionist; but I don’t think he goes so far as to advocating the death penalty. But then, of course – as George Reisman argues in the blog post I referred to above – this is the logical consequence of regarding abortion as murder.) And however this may be, this is truly monstrous.

(Thanks to Henrik Sundholm for alerting me to this article.)

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Late update, September 12, 2014: As if this were not enough, Gary North is also a Holocaust denier.

In February 1976 the Libertarian magazine Reason published a “Special Revisionism Issue”, dealing with all kinds of “revisionist” history, including revisionist ideas about World War Two. Journalist Mark Ames has written an article about this (and the issue itself is available on the web as a pdf file). I quote from Ames:

Perhaps the most shocking article in Reason’s “special issue” was penned by Gary North, who was also Ron Paul’s congressional aide that same year, and has been one of the most influential figures in the Christian radical-right since the 1970s. North’s article in Reason mocked the Holocaust as “the Establishment’s favorite horror story” and questioned “the supposed execution of 6 million Jews by Hitler.” North also painted other rabidly anti-Semitic Holocaust deniers in a positive, “contrarian-cool” light, praising the works of David Hoggan, author of “The Myth of the Six Million,” French neo-fascist Paul Rassinier, and American historian Harry Elmer Barnes, considered the godfather of American Holocaust denial literature.[2]

And here is an extract from North’s article:

Probably the most far-out materials on World War II revisionism have been the seemingly endless scholarly studies of the supposed execution of 6 million Jews by Hitler. The anonymous author [Hoggan] of ”The Myth of the Six Million” has presented a solid case against the Establishment’s favorite horror story—the supposed moral justification for our entry into the war.

And, in a rebuttal to a critic:

The second point, that about 6 million Jews really did die in the concentration camps, is one that will be open until the records of the period become fully available. I am not convinced yet, one way or the other.

I shall continue to recommend that those interested in revisionist questions read ”The Myth of the Six Million” and ”Did Six Million Really Die?” as reasonable (though not necessarily irrefutable) pieces of historical revisionism.

The “logic” of this reasoning is quite staggering. Anti-Semitism is integral to Nazism; and from the Machtübernahme in 1933, the Nazis had a policy of making life hell for the Jews; but the program to actually exterminate them did not take its beginning until 1941. So how could the Holocaust be an excuse for waging war against Nazi Germany already in 1939?

Or is North merely referring to the US entry into the war? But the “excuse” for this entry was not the Holocaust (few details about it were known at that time) but the attack on Pearl Harbor. (Well – there is a “revisionist” theory of that, too: that the attack was somehow manufactured by FDR to get public opinion for entering the war on his side.)

So what is North actually trying to say here? That the Holocaust never happened? That we cannot be sure whether it happened or not? Or that we cannot be sure about the figure 6 million? That it might as well have been just 5,9 million or (as some Holocaust deniers claim) merely a few hundred thousand? Or does he go whole hog trying to say that the whole story of the Holocaust is a mere invention, invented at the end of the war just to give a justification or “excuse” for having gone to war against Nazi Germany in the first place? Your guess is as good as mine here.

There is something very disheartening about this story (and similar stories). Those “Rothbardian” Libertarians seldom, if ever, go wrong when it comes to economics. They understand Mises; they understand the “Austrian” Business Cycle Theory and the virtues of a 100% gold standard. But their views on politics and history are not merely wrong: they verge on madness.[3]

And a movement of “madmen for freedom” is hardly conducive to the cause of liberty.

(A “hat tip” to Tim Starr, who linked to Ames’ article on Facebook.)

[1]) Walter Olson, too, is a new name to me; but here is a short presentation.

[2]) Those names are new to me, but here are some Wikipedia links: David Hoggan, Paul Rassinier, Harry Elmer Barnes.

[3]) See my earlier blog posts The Perverse Logic of Anarcho-Capitalism, Murray Rothbard on Organized Crime and Murray Rothbard on the Soviet Union.


Horror Quote from Joseph Schumpeter

Joseph A. Schumpeter was one of Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk’s star pupils; another one was Ludwig von Mises. A couple of years ago I wrote a piece called Stray Observations on Joseph A. Schumpeter, where I tried to sort the wheat from the chaff in his book Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. I also read his The Great Economists (in a Swedish translation), a series of monographs on some economists, from Marx to Keynes. One thing that struck me was that he lavishes as much praise on Marx and Keynes as he does on Menger and Böhm-Bawerk. This should be enough to establish that I regard Schumpeter as a “mixed bag”.

But there is some real poison in the mixture. From a article by Gary North[1]:

Felix Somary records in his autobiography a discussion he had with the economist Joseph Schumpeter and the sociologist Max Weber in 1918. Schumpeter was an Austrian economist who was not an Austrian School economist. He later wrote the most influential monograph on the history of economic thought. Weber was the most prestigious academic social scientist in the world until he died in 1920.

Schumpeter expressed happiness regarding the Russian Revolution. The USSR would be a test case for socialism. Weber warned that this would cause untold misery. Schumpeter replied, “That may well be, but it would be a good laboratory.” Weber responded, “A laboratory heaped with human corpses!” Schumpeter retorted, “Every anatomy classroom is the same thing.” [Felix Somary, The Raven of Zurich (New York: St. Martin’s, 1986), p. 121.]

Schumpeter was a moral monster. Let us not mince words. He was a highly sophisticated man, but he was at bottom a moral monster. Anyone who could dismiss the deaths of millions like this is a moral monster. Weber stormed out of the room. I don’t blame him.

I don’t blame him either.

[1]) Gary North is a new acquaintance to me, but Wikipedia informs that he tries to combine “Austrian” economics with Christian beliefs.