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Brad Birzer reviews a new book about major figures in the libertarian tradition. Needless to say, I now want to buy it, but I'm holding back.

I had a drink with one of Birzer's friends a few weeks ago. I think he's probably less libertarian-leaning than Birzer, but definitely a libertarian sympathizer.

I told him that libertarians frustrate me. A summary of my mini-monologue/rant: "They're like the Latin Mass folk. I want to say, 'Look, I agree with most of what you say, but why do you have to be such dicks about it?'"

I then told him I think libertarians (and Latin Mass folk) are left-hemispheric. They're confident in their opinions; don't leave much room for ambiguity, much less paradox; and, at least at the surface, act like they have all the answers and seem ignorant that they (like everyone else) are largely ignorant.

Birzer's friend replied that I seemed to be painting the difference between von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. I nodded, having long ago concluded that there was something fundamentally different between von Mises and Hayek, just as there's something fundamentally different between Ayn Rand and non-Satanists. I was already pretty convinced von Mises was a left hemispheric guy, but I hadn't considered the possibility that Hayek was von Mises with right hemispheric leavening.

Maybe this new book about libertarians will shed some light, but in the meantime, I'm going to dive back into Hayek's The Constitution of Liberty.

Addendum I

Marie gave me The Individualists for Father's Day. Birzer is right: it's a wonderful book.

Though I'm only about 10% of the way through it, I've already ran across corroboration that the stricter libertarians like von Mises are, indeed, left-hemispheric. From page 14:

As a general rule, strict libertarians are rationalistic and monistic in their approach to moral and political questions . . . (emphasis original).

Writers and thinkers sometimes don't use the terms "reason" and "rationality" the same, but I think McGilchrist's definitions are pretty established (and match the description of the rationalistic "strict" libertarians described in The Individualists). From page 330 of The Master:

Reason is "flexible, resisting fixed formulation, shaped by experience, and involving the whole living being . . .". It is allied with common sense. It is "congenial to the operations of hte right hemisphere."

Rationality is "more rigid, rarified, mechanical governed by explicit laws" and is more congenial to the operations of the left hemisphere.

McGilchrist goes on to explain that reason is prior to rationality because there must first be an intuited ground from which the rationalistic edifice can be constructed.

Michael Polanyi’s Personal Knowledge Anticipated Iain McGilchrist’s Hemisphere Hypothesis
A few notes (a half-baked short essay) about the Hungarian chemist/philosopher and the English psychiatrist/philosopher
Trying to Figure Out How We Got Into These Rationalist Cocoons
No one can reason us out of our [rationalist] pods because we didn’t reason ourselves into them. We mentally evolved into these cocoon-like systems. We were raised in them or adapted ourselves into them or were indoctrinated into them. No one, quite frankly, quite understands how each of us

Addendum II

If you want an engaging podcast series about libertarian thinkers, I highly recommend Jeff Riggenbach's The Libertarian Tradition. If you prefer reading, the podcast series has been collected into two (volume one, volume two) inexpensive Kindle editions. It's mostly a series of miniature biographies, which is probably my favorite literary format (and probably why I find myself quickly absorbed in Joseph Epstein's (now classic) three volumes of literary mini-biographies: Life Sentences, Pertinent Players, and Partial Payments).