Critical Review founder and editor Jeffrey Friedman has written a short piece on Richard Cornuelle, famous for his book Reclaiming the American Dream, and a devout civil societarian. Cornuelle died on April 26th. He and Friedman share(d) a distrust of Rand-Rothbard style libertarianism:

Early on, Dick had been a doctrinaire free-marketeer and a member of all three of the early libertarian “circles” in New York in the late 1940s and 1950s: those of Ludwig von Mises, Ayn Rand, and Murray Rothbard. But he came to think that “there was a screw loose” in libertarianism, as he put it in a 1993 Afterword to his most famous book, Reclaiming the American Dream (1965). Dick first stumbled on the loose screw when he wrote an article attacking a three-day work week decreed by the coal miners’ union. The aim of the three-day week was to preserve jobs in a declining industry. Dick took the standard economists’ line: If an industry were on the wane, it would and should be liquidated so its unneeded workers could “disappear.” His editor suggested that he actually meet some disappearing coal miners, and Dick went to Kentucky and found people who, through no fault of their own, desperately needed help.

Rand and Rothbard had created versions of libertarianism for which any humane consequences of capitalism were secondary. In these libertarianisms, the inviolate right to private property reigned supreme—regardless of the consequences. As Dick wrote in 1993, libertarianism  constantly forced him to make “haunting, morally intolerable midnight choices between liberty and community.”

“Midnight choices”? I like that, whatever it means.

Read the rest here.

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