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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/12800/a-quote-from-yet-another-hero/

A quote from yet another hero…

May 25, 2010 by

I have a list of intellectual heroes who, while not all pure libertarians, were all courageous thinkers and writers who were willing to buck the tide of society. Ralph Waldo Emerson, for sure, but also Lord Bertrand Russell. He actually went to prison for his opposition to conscription in England in World War I. In recently reading his 1931 book called “Proposed Roads to Freedom,” I came across the following quote which I had not noticed before:

“My own opinion — which I may as well indicate at the outset — is that pure anarchism, though it should be the ultimate ideal to which society should continually approximate, is for the present impossible, and would not survive more than a year or two at most if it were tried.”

Somehow, his “lovable” opinion (as Murray might have put it) that anarchism is the ultimate ideal to which society should continually approximate does not lessen my respect and admiration for him in the least.


newson May 25, 2010 at 8:22 pm
Albert May 26, 2010 at 6:06 am

What does he mean by “pure anarchism”…..anything like Rothbards?

Dick Fox May 26, 2010 at 7:42 am

Bertrand Russell’s philosophy was always utopian, but he often proved that he did see the real world. I have thought at times it is sad that he never developed his philosophy on what he understood as the real world.

As an example from my own live. Early in my life I did not grasp the greatness embodied in Memorial Day. Granted, the United States is not perfect in its times of war, but when our nation enters a war the motivation is different. As Colin Powell said, “Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.”

This speech by Oliver North demonstrates why the United States is the last best hope of man.


This Memorial Day do not let the cynicism of our world block out the greatness of the real American dream, liberty and freedom.

David May 26, 2010 at 11:55 am

@ DickThe Spanish-American War and the Phillipines, Guam and Hawaii? The Mexican-American War and California, New Mexico and Arizona? Constant battles with indigenous peoples and the land they claimed as their own?

Today, the United States has permanent military bases in Iraq. It has the two most powerful land armies in the Middle East (the U.S. Army in Iraq and the U.S. Army in Afghanistan). It has the most powerful navy in the region. On the aircraft carriers of the U.S. Navy sits the world’s second-most powerful air force (after only the U.S. Air Force).

Shall we forget these facts every Memorial Day?

Paul May 26, 2010 at 12:55 pm

I claim no expertise on this matter, but took great comfort from reading these writers during my ‘idealistic’ and anti-capitalist motivated youth (up to 30. Im a very slow learner)

Maybe its from this that, much as there may be to admire in their work, I believe these writers* offer little to the Austrian or libertarian traditions.

Emerson often stated his distaste for commerce and the classes engaged in it (Im thinking his letters mostly). Russell, i believe flirted with a vague anarchism, but held what I would characterise as a pacifist, left-wing libertarian position.

I say this as I came to Austrian perspective from such a stance. But the libertarian aspect of ideology always had primacy over partisan left/right wing political thinking for me.

best regards


(*I hesitate to call either of them Philosophers – especially since one, Russell, was an academic philosopher. But that’s influenced by the ‘shilling shocker’ and a lifetimes reading of Wittgenstein. This has been superseded by study of Mises and Hayek. Aside: what a remarkable culture came from those Viennese coffee houses. Surely one of the greatest periods of intellectual history. Anyone know of a tome on the subject?).

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