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News Link • Philosophy: Anarchism

The Reluctant Anarchist - Joseph Sobran

• Joseph Sobran
As I grew up, my patriotism began to take another form, which it took me a long time to realize was in tension with the patriotism of power. I became a philosophical conservative, with a strong libertarian streak. I believed in government, but it had to be “limited” government — confined to a few legitimate purposes, such as defense abroad and policing at home. These functions, and hardly any others, I accepted, under the influence of writers like Ayn Rand and Henry Hazlitt, whose books I read in my college years.

Though I disliked Rand’s atheism (at the time, I was irreligious, but not anti-religious), she had an odd appeal to my residual Catholicism. I had read enough Aquinas to respond to her Aristotelian mantras. Everything had to have its own nature and limitations, including the state; the idea of a state continually growing, knowing no boundaries, forever increasing its claims on the citizen, offended and frightened me. It could only end in tyranny.

I was also powerfully drawn to Bill Buckley, an explicit Catholic, who struck the same Aristotelian note. During his 1965 race for mayor of New York, he made a sublime promise to the voter: he offered “the internal composure that comes of knowing there are rational limits to politics.” This may have been the most futile campaign promise of all time, but it would have won my vote! 

2 Comments in Response to

Comment by Powell Gammill
Entered on:

If that is the best you have Mike, then you are confusing anti-Israel or at best, not giving a darned about Israel sentiments  with anti-Semitism (hatred of Jews).  The two ARE NOT synonymous.   Not even close.

Many (for example, the Haredi) , but not a majority of Jews, reject Israel as an offense to God, since it was a creation of the USA and not of God as foretold in the Old Testament.

Joseph Sobran may very well be anti-Semitic, or not.  But you have failed to prove that in the three statements you attribute to his columns that you have shared with us. 

Further, one can be a good libertarian, and be anti-Semitic.  They are not mutually exclusive.  Hating or disliking someone, even castigating someone does not violate the nonaggression principle --- that is, hatred or rejection does not constitute an initiation of force.

Israel on the other hand was born upon the initiation of force, and some 65 years later continues to reap the violence they have sown.

Lastly, I note with disappointment your call for censoring the writings of someone whom you disagree with.  As if the reader's of "Freedom's Phoenix" were not adult enough to makeup their own minds, and in need of your judgment and protection.

Comment by Mike Renzulli
Entered on:

 Joe S.O.B.ran is not a libertarian and is an anti-Semite. I am sure many who are FP subscribers (like myself) couldn't care one whit what Joe Sobran's approach to politics is.

For example, in 1993 he made a comment either in an op-ed for National Review or in passing during a conversation with someone that The New York Times "realy ought to change it's name to 'Holocaust Update.'"

Either that same year or earlier, S.O.B.ran accused William Buckley of having told him to "stop antagonizing the Zionist crowd. In 1991, in an insult directed to to Israel in another NR op-ed, S.O.B.ran complained of "a more or less official national obsession with a tiny, faraway socialist ethnocracy."

After these comments in his columns, S.O.B.ran was dismissed as a columnist with National Review citing his making anti-Semitic arguments. At first William Buckley defended S.O.B.ran but after 3 strikes out of the 6 columns he did, S.O.B.ran was, rightly, fired.

His termination from National Review didn't halt his anti-Semitic rants. In 2002 in a column titled "West meets East" column at his website, S.O.B.ran claimed U.S. foreign policy is formed by the "Jewish-Zionist powers that be in the United States."

I do not think it is wise Freedoms Phoenix should have a link to an article who is a Jew hater in sheeps clothing. I have no doubt that Ernie does not share S.O.B.ran's views. However, it ilbehooves him to give sanction to a hatemonger like Joseph S.O.B.ran.


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