My latest Economics Explored podcast episode contains an introduction to the concept of anarcho-capitalism and a libertarian analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic with Professor Walter Block, Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair in Economics at Loyola University and senior fellow of the Mises Institute. Professor Block achieved renown as an anarcho-capitalist theorist and advocate in the seventies with his thought-provoking book Defending the Undefendable, which received praise from the late great Friedrich von Hayek among other luminaries. Another one of Professor Block’s books is The Privatization of Roads and Highways, an idea I question Professor Block about in this conversation.
On COVID, while Professor Block thinks governments around the world have generally gone too far with lockdown measures, he recognises that libertarianism doesn’t offer a simple answer. As Professor Block explained in a thoughtful paper he wrote last year A Libertarian Analysis of the COVID-19 Pandemic:
The libertarian movement seems divided on this issue [of lockdowns]. There are those who are quarantine “hawks,” who favor heavy government involvement as a solution to the problem. They do so reluctantly, since this initiative amounts to, in effect, kidnapping or the jailing of innocents, albeit under house arrest, not prison. Then there are others who bitterly oppose this practice as a clear and present violation of rights. These are the “doves.” They favor individualism, initiative, decentralization; they are adamant about this position.
The thesis of the present paper is that both sides are wrong. The correct view is one of agnosticism, since the facts from which either policy could be deduced are not known at present with enough certainty.
Thanks to Darren Brady Nelson for having alerted me to Professor Block’s work and for having connected us both so I could record this podcast episode. I encourage you to give it a listen and send any comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.