Open Letter to Canadian Libertarians from Walter Block

Dear Canadian libertarians:

I begin this essay of mine, which is an attempt to promote the libertarian philosophy in Canada, with a quote from this editorial:  “Why Canada needs more election debates from the April 23, 2015 edition of Maclean’s Magazine; Editorial: It’s time for civic-minded organizations to start proposing all kinds of debates. Maclean’’s would be happy to host the first one.”

“Scarcity causes conflict. The October federal election is half a year away and already the feuding over televised leaders’ debates has begun. Should Green Party Leader Elizabeth May be invited? The Conservatives don’t want her there, claiming she is a Liberal in disguise. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, on the other hand, is eager to have May show up. There’’s precedent both ways: The Greens had an incumbent MP in 2008, so May took part in the leaders’ debates. They didn’t in 2011, so she didn’t. But what about the Bloc Québécois, whose leader isn’t an MP? What about Forces et Démocratie, whose two MPs are almost the only evidence of the group’s existence?  … If we’’re stuck, as a nation, with a four-month campaign, we might as well benefit from it. It’s time for civic-minded organizations to start proposing all kinds of election debates. Some could be free-for-alls, with the leaders of all six (!) parties currently represented in the House.”

Notice anything strange about this quote? What sticks in my craw is that this supposedly knowledgeable political analyst mentions only six political parties in Canada (Conservatives, Liberals, NDP, Green, Bloc Québécois and Forces et Démocratie). But is there any such organization that he overlooks? Go to the head of the class if you note the absence of the only political party in Canada that actually supports limited government, private property rights, legalization of victimless “crimes,” economic freedom and a non-interventionistic foreign policy. That is, of course, the Canadian Libertarian Party.

Why this insulting oversight? Of course the main reason is that the powers that be (Macleans, other major media) are not exactly in sympathy with the libertarian philosophy. But another cause is that high profile libertarians in Canada, and yes, yes, there are many, simply do not run for office on the Libertarian Party ticket. So I ask you, I plead with you, please contact the Canadian Libertarian Party and offer to run for Parliament in the next election (If you are an untenured assistant professor, and reasonably expect doing so will reduce your chances for an academic career, of course do not do this! Ditto for those who would lose their jobs in any of Canada’s supposedly free market think tanks).  [Editor’s Note: You can apply to become a candidate for the party in just a few minutes here and no action beyond that is needed from you until September]

This insult, and insult it was, simply could not occur in the U.S. There, of course, the Libertarian Party is much stronger than in Canada, and cannot as easily be totally ignored. True, libertarianism in the U.S. has been fueled by the Ron Paul phenomenon. (Rand Paul, too, is keeping the flame alive.)  Yes, Ron Paul garnered most of his popularity by running for president on the Republican ticket, but he did so for the Libertarian Party as well, in 1984. There is no such phenomenon in Canada at present, unfortunately. But, there wasn’t always one in the U.S. either. It always has to start somewhere. If not right now, when is better?

Running for office need not be an arduous task. A paper candidacy, where you do absolutely nothing but lend your name for this purpose, is better than leaving any ridings completely uncovered.  Of course, the more you do in this regard the better for promoting liberty, and running for MP will give you a megaphone otherwise unavailable to you. Murray N. Rothbard, Mr. Libertarian, used to say that the average guy was mainly interested in beer, pizza and bowling (substitution for Canada: hockey) most of the time. But, whenever there was a national election, this man in the street could sometimes become interested in politics at least for a brief moment, and that we could best acquaint him with our philosophy on these occasions. No truer words were ever uttered.

Of course, of course, politics is far from the only way to promote our beloved libertarian philosophy. There are many other roads to this end. But, the political system is surely one of them. Ron Paul, Ron Paul, Ron Paul. He has brought more people to our camp than any other person now living, and he did it all though the ballot box; I rest my case if anyone really doubts that political action, too, can promote liberty; hey, the first step, surely, is to announce that we’re here and not going away.

There are some highly credentialed libertarians who believe voting, let alone running for office, is incompatible with our perspective.  They are entirely wrong, if libertarianism is defined as adherence to the non-aggression principle (NAP). Is voting a per se violation of the NAP? Of course not. Is running for office and losing, necessarily an uninvited border crossing onto someone else’s person or property? Of course not. Is winning and actually taking office incompatible, if the MP becomes a Dr. No like Ron Paul and votes against every bill incompatible with our philosophy? It is really difficult to see how this can be the case.

But, do we not give “sanction” to the state when we enter the dirty realm of politics? No more so than when we use a government road, its post office, carry its currency in our wallets, visit a public park or museum, go to a public school, etc. This applies even to those of us who eat food, wear clothing, live in housing, etc., since the omnipresent state is involved in all of those things.  My book on Ron Paul is almost entirely devoted to making the case that politics and libertarianism, correctly understood, are not logically incompatible.

So, please, Canadians, if you value liberty at all, seriously consider running for office on the Libertarian Party ticket.

Speaking of other roads to liberty in Canada, I am myself involved in several libertarian gatherings, conferences, seminars, etc., in the next few weeks and months. I would dearly love for you to join me in any of them you can.

May 28, 2015. Vancouver, BC; Railway Club. Mises Canada. Caleb McMillan

July 16-18, 2015. Toronto, Canada.  Rothbard University.  (this event is mainly aimed at students, but non-students are also welcome).  Contact: Redmond Weissenberger

August 1, 2015. Vancouver B.C.. “Capitalism & Morality 2015.” “Living a life of promoting liberty and how I affect change in my students”. Contact: Jayant Bandhari

August 2, 2015. Vancouver B.C. Sons of Anarchy. Walter E. Block, Victor Pross and Marc Emery. Contact: Victor Pross

And, here’s one in the U.S., but not too far from Canada:

May 30, 2015. Vancouver, WA. Libertarian Party of Washington State Convention in Vancouver, WA at the Red Lion.  Contact: Zack Banks, Director, Libertarian Party of Washington Region 5

As you can see, I’m a pretty busy boy, trying to promote liberty and good (Austrian) economics hither, thither and elsewhere. I use as a launching pad for these efforts the fact that I have a Ph.D. and am a college professor. Most libertarians cannot rely on such a background. BUT ANY CITIZEN OF CANADA CAN RUN FOR POLITICAL OFFICE IN THAT COUNTRY. Please do so.

Best regards,

Walter

Walter E. Block, Ph.D.
Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics
Joseph A. Butt, S.J. College of Business
Loyola University New Orleans
6363 St. Charles Avenue, Box 5, Miller Hall 318
New Orleans, LA 70118
tel: (504) 864-7934
fax: (504) 864-7970
[email protected]

[Editor’s Note: Here is an interview Jeff Berwick had with Walter Block which goes deeper into these topics and where Walter and Jeff came up with the idea to run for the Libertarian Party of Canada and to encourage others to do so too]:

Walter Block

Walter Edward Block, is an American Austrian School economist and anarcho-capitalist theorist. He currently holds the Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair in Economics at the J. A. Butt School of Business at Loyola University New Orleans. He is a senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama.

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