To F.A. Harper at FEE, May 22, 1955

[Several typos and grammatical slips have been corrected; otherwise, the letter is exactly as written. Murray maintained a massive correspondence, which meant he wrote letters quickly and errors often occurred. BTW, “Baldy” was an affectionate nickname for Harper.]

May 22, 1955

Dr. F.A. Harper
Foundation for Economic Education
New York

Dear Baldy:

How was the Congress of Freedom meeting at San Francisco? I see that you spoke at the meeting. Some gloomy reports have filtered back here, and I know Thad Ashby resigned, but I don't have any details at all on what took place. Has there been a split between Ashby and LeFevre?

I received the Congress Resolutions. I don't think it was good idea to have each separate panel submit its own report. The result was a lack of consistency, and general confusion. Contrast Ashby's good resolution with the idiot who wanted everyone to send SHAME in black letters to Eisenhower on Memorial Day.

By the way, wasn't it remarkable of R.C. Hoiles to write that article on Anarchy? He is the first to come right out and say, yes, he's an anarchist, in the correct sense of the word. It was enormously heartwarming to read the article. It takes enormous courage for Hoiles to do. The fact that Hoiles is not in jail is a highly encouraging testimony to the current American scene. You know the Hoiles article was right next to the Congress Resolutions; I kept trying to imagine the face of the average flag-waving patriot who has just read the Congress Resolutions, when he starts reading the Hoiles article!

I've been reading Liddell Hart's Strategy on your recommendation. Very interesting. Supplementing the indirect approach, I recently talked with Frank Meyer, a very interesting chap (though unfortunately no purist) who spent years organizing Communists in the universities. He says that Communist strategy is to go mainly by the indirect approach, but also that it is important for a few open Communists to circulate on the campus, so that those who want to become Communists directly know where to go.

I'm sorry, but I can't agree that it is impossible to say that one injustice is worse than another. Would you say that it no more unjust for someone to murder a few thousand people, than to steal an apple from the corner grocery? Both are unjust, but it seems to me clear that the former is worse than the latter, and that this is properly reflected in the different degrees of punishment for different crimes. Therefore, it becomes proper to say that, say, a 99% progressive income tax is worse than a $2 a year poll tax. A poll tax, by the way, would not really be a tax at all, but a price paid for the “privilege” of voting. It would mean that all statists, who want to vote for State rulers, would pay the full expenses of the State.

There is a grave problem, however, of how to get from a statist situation to a pure libertarian situation. The prevailing immorality makes it very difficult to get out of and into a moral situation. For example, what would you do with landed property that someone stole a few hundred years ago, particularly if he declared himself an “owner” of original peasant properties? Would you perpetuate the ownership of the descendants? Or how would you deCommunize now? Suppose the Communists abdicated tomorrow, and we were confronted with the problem of deCommunizing. How? Who would be the owners of the national property?

I do not believe that a tax cut is by itself inflationary. The inflation comes from the government spending end. If I were a Congressman, I would vote for every tax cut conceivable, and then vote against the budget. (Further, of course, a deficit is not inflationary if the borrowing was from the public and not the banks).

Mercer Perks' critique of Read's book was very good. Thanks for having him send it to me.


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