The first step to a libertarian world (Part 2)

It could be argued that by holding a post at a prestigious state university you can get the libertarian message to more people – but how true is the message if the messenger denies it by his actions?

Some libertarian scholars seem to think they possess a kind of moral superiority: it lets them advise others to try to bring down the state – simultaneously they themselves avoid the first and simplest step to make it happen: cut their own connections with the state.

In "Toward a Libertarian Theory of Guilt and Punishment for the Crime of Statism" Walter Block laments the fact that in the case of government-employed scholars "no cognizance is taken of the distinction between a Marxist or leftist professor who supports totalitarianism, and those who oppose it."

In Block's opinion the unnoticed difference is that an opponent of totalitarianism is in some way "less guilty" of "the crime of statism". I would say otherwise.

There is a distinction. A supporter of totalitarianism simply follows what he preaches. An opponent, who lambastes government taxation but works for the state and takes money collected in taxes, is a hypocrite.

Block admits that "even the libertarian professor or politician who accepts a salary from government is still guilty of what, by his lights, can only be considered stolen (e.g., taxed) property. And this cannot be denied. However, there are several replies open to the libertarian professor employed by a state school. First, there is the claim that he is only getting some of his own money back from the government, and not that of other people. Second, it is not exactly theft to take from a thief; rather, such an act is best characterized as relieving a criminal of his ill gotten gains. So, even if a post office worker takes a salary from the government, this does not mean he is guilty of a libertarian legal code violation; far better that he, a non thief, now has this money than that the government, which stole it in the first place, gets to keep it."

One question is left unexplained: if a thief steals your property should you have to do him a favour (work for him as a professor, for example) to get back what’s yours?

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