Mar 1, 1975
An Afterword From Readers, Authors, Reviewers (March 1975)
“I feel that when you promote such views under the banner of libertarianism, you do your readers a disservice.”
“A Note of Disappointment”
I would like to register a note of disappointment. I was quite appalled by some of the things I read in your November 1974 issue.
We were given Kaufmann’s viewpoint that Justice makes sense only in the context of religion, and that the purpose of laws is to “alter people’s behavior.” This totalitarian formula was cited by Masters without objection or qualification. Evidently he approves. Elsewhere Masters seems totally unable to trace the connection between volition and morality.
In another article, Thomas Johnson calls Future Shock “one of the most thought-provoking books to come out in many a year.” So was Das Kapital in its day, but one would hardly commend it to a reader without pointing out some of its grave defects. I have not read Toffler’s book, but I did see an interview with Toffler on TV. Toffler makes many dire predictions which may well come true, for only a free economy could prevent them, but Toffler’s own solution is extensive government intervention. To recommend Toffler’s book in a libertarian publication and not point this out is ridiculous.
I feel that when you promote such views under the banner of libertarianism, you do your readers a disservice. I believe many readers share this feeling, and will not continue to support you if the situation worsens. We get this sort of thing every day in the popular press and on TV. We do not need to turn to LR for this purpose.
Paul D. Christoffers
I would like to express to you my dismay with the review Robert Masters wrote of Kaufmann’s Without Guilt and Justice. This work is Kaufmann’s worst. It has numerous faults and some flagrant philosophical errors. But that is not the crucial point—other offerings of LR have had similar problems. What is disturbing is Mr. Masters’ totally uncritical review of a work that undermines some of the most crucial features of a decent human community. It is disgraceful to produce a review that leaves unexamined so many problems in so weak a book. (Compare his review with Werner J. Dannhauser’s brief but devastating review in a recent issue of Commentary. Dannhauser is a Nitzsche scholar, like Kaufmann, and teaches government at Cornell University.)
Tibor R. Machan
Masters & Johnson Reply
Walter Kaufmann’s ideas are revolutionary, and I am not surprised that they have provoked a violent reaction in some quarters. What does surprise me is the failure of Kaufmann’s critics to address themselves to any of his arguments.
Dr. Machan alleges that Without Guilt and Justice “has numerous faults and some flagrant philosophical errors” and “undermines some of the most crucial features of a decent human community.” It seems to me that when someone makes charges as grave as these, it behooves him to support them with some sort of evidence or reasoning. Machan offers no evidence and no reasoning.
The review in Commentary, in my opinion, is far from “devastating.” Dannhauser’s main objection seems to be that Kaufmann has the audacity to criticize Plato, Kant, Hegel, and Marx.
I have no idea why Mr. Christoffers views as “totalitarian” the idea that the purpose of laws is to alter people’s behavior rather than to give people what they deserve. It seems to me that the world would be considerably less “totalitarian” if governments would stop trying to achieve “justice”—whether distributive justice, as in welfare programs, or retributive justice, as in most wars—and devote themselves, instead, to the simple business of deterring people from committing acts of aggression. (Similar views have been expressed by libertarians far more distinguished than myself. See, for example, Ludwig von Mises,Human Action, third revised edition, pp. 720-22; Theory and History, pp. 51-55, 82-84.) If Christoffers has some reason for considering justice essential to libertarianism, I wish he would state that reason. Instead, like Machan, he offers mere angry pronouncements.
If these letters represent the best the defenders of justice can do, then clearly Kaufmann is right: justice has no future.
New York, N.Y.
In my essay-review of the book, Learning For Tomorrow, I mentioned in passing that Future Shock was one of the most thought-provoking books to come out in many a year, a point criticized by Paul Christoffers. I would make that statement again, without feeling it necessary to warn free-market libertarians, who are the readers of LR, that they must be forewarned concerning Toffler’s statist views. Libertarians are quite capable (most of the time) of recognizing collectivist ideas (with one glaring exception being the lack of recognition by many libertarians—including both Murray Rothbard and Ayn Rand—of the collectivist nature of the philosophy and system of education), and my implied recommendation of Toffler’s book, briefly mentioned in my review of another work, needs no apology or qualification.
If one were to restrict LR to comments on only libertarian books it might well be difficult, at this time, to fill its pages. Fortunately this excellent publication presents discerning and knowledgeable reviews of many works which are thought to be of interest to freedom-oriented individuals. The book which I reviewed, Learning For Tomorrow, is anything but libertarian in regards to the views held by its contributors. But this does not in any way mean that this book is not worth considering (it is!). We can therefore hope that LR will continue to bring to our attention any book or publication that is of value to thinking libertarians.
I subscribe to LR and will continue to do so.
To omit “Swan Lake” from a description of Tchaikowsky’s ballets, as John Hospers does in his “Introduction to Musical Listening” of your November 1974 issue, is to omit the sun from a description of the wonders of nature. If the “Nutcracker” is “filled with enchanting singable melodies,” “Swan Lake” is an abundance of them—enough enchanting singable melodies to last a lifetime. I am more than curious about whether this (in my opinion) disastrous omission was purposeful on Professor Hospers’ part.
The “Nielsen Test”
I am glad to see that the music of Carl Nielsen has at last achieved recognition in a libertarian publication. However, Nielsen deserves more than the five lines that John Hospers allots to him. His 3rd Symphony (“Sinfonia Espansiva”) is perhaps the most exciting and exhilarating musical work that I have ever heard, a work which exudes optimism by virtue of the everpresent forward motion, the way that menacing elements gradually turn into components of that motion and lose their menace, and the exuberant and confident way in which Nielsen flings large masses of sound at his listeners. I’m sure that reactions to this work could be used as an effective test for identifying closet libertarians. (Bernstein’s recording, Columbia MS6769, is superb.) Nielsen’s 4th Symphony, whose subtitle could do service for many of his works, “The Inextinguishable,” also has much of the same appeal, as do the 1st and 5th symphonies and the violin concerto. I also highly recommend Robert Simpson’s book, Carl Nielsen, Symphonist, as a highly perceptive, though of necessity quite technical, analysis of what Nielsen was doing in his major works and how he did it.
James D. McCawley
Having seen “Swan Lake” several times (once in the Bolshoi Theater), and heard it many times more, I can enthusiastically endorse it as one of the great ballet scores. The omission of it from my list of Tchaikovsky’s ballets was quite unintentional.
As to Carl Nielsen, I am indeed most enthusiastic about his symphonies 3, 5, and 6 especially, but would not be willing to describe him as the greatest of twentieth- century composers, as I would unhesitatingly describe his fellow Dane, Carl Dreyer, as the greatest of all film directors.
There are many musical masterpieces of which I can only say “Space does not permit… .” For example, the De Falla Concerto in D for flute, Harpsichord, etc., mentioned by Michael Dunn in a letter in LR a few months back, has long been one of my favorites.
Los Angeles, Calif.
From the Authors—and an Editor…
Thank you for sending me a copy of the October 1974 LR, containing Walter Block’s review of my Guide to Rational Living and Humanistic Psychotherapy. I am delighted to see this review appear, and think that it beautifully and concisely presents some of the main points that I tried to make in both books.
I find practically all your reviews exceptionally well-written and well-informed. There is no other publication that keeps me better in contact with the modern libertarian literature than Libertarian Review. Keep up the good work!
New YorK, N.Y.
Thank you for your kind letter… and the copy of the review of my book. [On the Democratic Idea in America, LR, October 1974.] It is thoughtful and flattering, and I am naturally pleased.
New York, N.Y.
Many thanks to you [for the review of More Joy in the November ’74 LR]. I was always a bit concerned at the return-to-the-womb bit in most California “grok” ideologies, and as a good anarchist, I didn’t want to make like a penile Billy Graham. Also I’m tired of the Marxist idea that revolutionaries need be blue-nosed puritans. The new sort won’t be… . Anyhow, glad you enjoyed it.
Santa Barbara, Calif.
Conservative Vampires & The Middle East
I was somewhat surprised and quite pleased to read Dr. Lilienthal’s book reviews in LR [January 1975].
While libertarians reject use of force, conservatives constantly demand use of force—must force settlement in Mid-East, must force others to sell oil for $1 per barrel, and so on. The only solution for all problems favored by that vampirish, blood-thirsty lot is to go to war and kill.
Economic facts of the matter—our continuing inflation and ability to export inflation—are totally ignored. The U.S. is able to buy without really paying, and it faces strangulation. The main cause is… Nixonomics.
We need a Ludwig Erhard or a Jacques Rueff; what we are more likely to get is a Robespierre and a Napoleon.
You may consider this to be a mash note. I love Libertarian Review without restraint or moderation. The reviews are scholarly, incisive, and as even handed as a philosophy so passionately held will allow.
All my best to all of you.