Block, the Gadfly of Libertaria
by Allan Stevo: Unquantifiable
to me after hearing the various sides of the story from Walter
Blockís Tampa speech dealing with the virtues of evictionism
that Walter Block is a misunderstood seeker of the truth. He was
booed by fellow Ron Paul supporters for presenting an alternative
to the present political status quo. How painful it must be for
a misunderstood seeker of the truth to be so quickly judged by the
small percentage of people who one would think would be quickest
to give him the benefit of the doubt. To the contrary, it seems
to me that Walter Block is not bothered by this. He offers encouraging
advice for those who would like to aspire to the same Ė for those
who aspire to speak the truth as honestly and as audibly as they
can. I had the opportunity recently to ask Dr. Block a few questions
about the importance of speaking the truth even when those around
you donít seem to want to hear it.
Professor Block, you write books, author articles, and give lectures
that allow people to characterize you as a gadfly. Youíve told me
in the past that you consider the word gadfly to be a compliment.
How would you define that term?
A gadfly is someone who questions received opinion.
By your definition of gadfly, it sounds like essentially anyone
can be a gadfly by simply asking a few tough questions now and then.
Well asking is important. But so is answering.
Why do you think it is important for members of society to aspire
to be gadflies, to question those received opinions?
Questioning the status quo is a necessary condition for improving
Should a gadfly want to speak the truth even when it feels like
no one wants to hear what he has to say?
The truth shall set you free. So, yes. Although, I suppose, there
are exceptions. For example, when asked by a burglar where the jewels
are or making someone miserable by telling them theyíll soon die.
Can a gadfly inspire change in society?
Socrates. Gandhi. Mises. Ron Paul. Ayn Rand. Murray Rothbard.
Why do you think it is more natural for some people to unquestioningly
receive opinions rather than to develop their own?
Human diversity. People are not homogeneous.
How does it feel being in the tenuous position of speaking to the
10% of the population that youíd expect to be open-minded about
some of your perspective Ė an evictionist perspective for example
Ė and instead of being heard, you were booed?
It felt like a challenge. I wish I had met it better. I should
have said, is libertarianism 100% perfect? Of course not. Therefore,
it needs improvement. How can it ever improve, if challenges to
it cannot be even articulated?
How do you find your moral compass? How do you know when you are
speaking the truth? Whose opinions do you value? Under what circumstances,
and based on whose opinion, would you say to yourself "I have
made a mistake in my writing"?
Murray Rothbard is my guiding light. I certainly value his opinion
(although there is not a 100% congruity between our two views).
If I think Iím wrong, Iíll publicly admit it. There are several
of my scholarly publications where I have admitted error in a previous
publication. It only hurts for a little while. If we want to seek
the truth, we have to not allow our ego to get in the way. I donít
always have to be right. Iíve made errors. The best thing to do
is to acknowledge them, apologize for them, and move on.
Popularity can be weak and can be waning. Do you ever find yourself
compelled by the desire to be popular? Does it hurt whenever any
of your views are considered unpopular?
Yes, Iíd like to be popular, but not if it means compromising
with libertarianism, or Austrianism, or the truth. Of course it
hurts when my views are denigrated; but it is a "good"
hurt. I feel that I am carrying the message of Murray Rothbard,
and it is an honor to do so.
What role do you think marketing should play to someone who seeks
to tell the truth?
Iím pro-marketing. I only wish I could do it better, more eloquently,
give better examples. But, all I can do is my best. I always try
hard, real hard.
If evictionism had a different name, would it be more widely accepted
instead of quickly misunderstood?
Iím open to better names. Any suggestions. I just donít want
to call it "golf," or "apple pie" or something
like that which is a bit fraudulent. A suggestion Iím thinking about
is "pre birth adoption." But I still think evictionism
is more accurate.
Should a seeker of the truth such as yourself care that any of his
ideas might be quickly misunderstood by some?
Yes, I care. I donít want to be misunderstood. In my lectures,
my teaching, my writings, I try to be as clear as possible, so as
to obviate misunderstanding. But, people misunderstand. They think
that in extolling the virtues of the free enterprise system, you
are pushing greed, that you hate the poor, etc.
What advice do you have for someone who is timid about writing about
what he considers true out of a fear that someone might dislike
what he has to say?
Read Michael Edelsteinís book Three
Minute Therapy; available on Amazon.
Should it matter to a challenging scholar, to a gadfly, that he
is booed? Should he want to be booed?
No one really wants to be booed, I think, unless he is a masochist,
which I am not. Iíd prefer not to be booed, and shouted down. Iíd
prefer that people calmly, politely, stated why they disagreed with
me. How else are we going to get that proverbial one millionth of
an inch closer to the Truth?
You seem to be referencing Kierkegaard with this one millionth of
an inch language. As Kierkegaard wrote of the search for God as
insatiable by nature, do you consider the search for the truth to
be insatiable? Will the seeker of truth never feel satisfied?
There will always be scarcity. Thatís the precondition for economics.
Weíll always want more than what we have. Of everything. Including
Thank you, Professor Block.
September 29, 2012
Stevo [send him mail]
a writer from Chicago. He is the author of Somewhere
Between Bratislava and DC and How
to Win America for Ron Paul and the Cause of Freedom in 2012.
He writes about Central European Culture at 52inSk.com.
During his day, Stevo helps investors locate promising Manhattan
real estate Ė one of the most aggressive investment environments
in the world.
© 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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