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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5454/who-was-gottfried-dietze/

Who Was Gottfried Dietze?

August 11, 2006 by

Gottfried Dietze, a scholar in the Misesian tradition and a great defender of freedom, died a few weeks ago after teaching for 50 years at Johns Hopkins University. Riccardo Pelizzo writes that most of his work was focused on the rule of law, separation of power, judicial review, and property rights. He is the author of a classic study of the Federalist papers. He was not a conservative; he was rather an old liberal, or — to use the expression that Montanelli had coined for Prezzolini — an anarcho-conservative. FULL ARTICLE


Evans Munyemesha August 12, 2006 at 3:58 pm

“…what makes laws just is the fact that laws are laws, and that whatever law the state makes is a state law and should, as such, be obeyed…”

All (government)laws are enacted to serve the specific interests of a certain group at the expense of another, and to the exclusion of other, group or groups,and as such, the position quoted above is without any moral merit

Kenneth R. Gregg August 13, 2006 at 6:47 pm

Dietze was a great teacher of classical liberal ideas. I remember in the 1960′s reading his book on federalism and the one in defense of property and coming away with a much greater understanding of freedom. He will be missed.
Just a thought.
Just Ken

Paul Marks August 15, 2006 at 3:46 pm

Evans M. has failed to notice that the words he cites were a description of legal positivism (the doctrine of Hans Kelson and others) NOT the position of Dietze.

Also I never thought I would come to the defense of governments, but the rest of what Evans M. writes is not true either. Not all government statutes are for the benefit of one group at the expense of another.

I supose one could claim that a statute explaining that murder is to be punished by such-and-such is for “the benefit of the group of victims at the expense of the group of murderers” but such talk is silly.

Even for someone who does indeed believe in “natural law” (i.e. that there is a principle of justice, of nonaggression, that exists regardless of the statutes of government) there is still the matter of applying that principle of justice in the circumstances of time and place – i.e. the problem of translating the natural law into positive law.

Now one can argue that the State is a bad way of doing that (that we would be better off with anarchocapitalism or whatever), but to imply that everyone (either government Judges in Judge made Common Law or legislators in the making of statutes) is corrupt or that all governments are equally bad is just not true.

Sorry, but there is a difference between (for example) Gladstones’s Britain and Hitler’s Germany.

I thought the article was good, however I would point to one problem.

It is true that Hayek (like many people) points at the contrast between conceptions of “positive” and “negative” liberty, but he is even more concerned between what he considers a wrong headed interest in formal principles.

To Hayek an effort to draw hard and vast lines is part of the European tradition of liberalism (one that he rejects).

This is part of his coded attack on Von Mises – but it is also (of couse) an attack on all of us libertarians.

Hayek liked what he considered the British tradition of liberty for the very reason that we would dislike this tradition (at least dislike the tradition as he describes it) – i.e. its vagueness.

Hayek always wanted to leave the door open for some government intervention if wise and experienced people (i.e. him and people like him) thought it might be beneficial. Not to create a “new society” like a socialist of course, but to help things along here and there.

He failed to see that without clear hard and fast limits statism grows without limit. The Sword of State is not something that can be used to help things along in some pragmatic way – that is not its nature.

riccardo pelizzo August 15, 2006 at 9:59 pm

Paul M. is right in saying that without hard and fast limits statism grows without limit. but Dietze was very aware of the problem and always underlined the role that just laws should playing in preventing statism and anarchy. the concept of the rule of law and of the just law are crucial in understanding Dietze’s contribution to liberal-conservative doctrines.

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