Spend A Day With Professor Bernardo de la Paz

I gather that Heinlein’s character Professor Bernardo de la Paz in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress was based on Robert LeFevre. The Mises Institute has made available more than twenty-four hours of recordings of LeFevre speaking on liberty. Worth a listen.

I think LeFevre would have approved of Heinlein’s characterization of him:

“But–Professor, what are your political beliefs?”

“I’m a rational anarchist.”

“I don’t know that brand. Anarchist individualist, anarchist Communist, Christian anarchist, philosophical anarchist, syndicalist, libertarian–those I know. But what’s this? Randite?”

“I can get along with a Randite. A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as ‘state’ and ‘society’ and ‘government’ have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame. . . as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else. But being rational, he knows that not all individuals hold his evaluations, so he tries to live perfectly in an imperfect world. . . aware that his effort will be less than perfect yet undismayed by self-knowledge of self-failure.”

“Hear, hear!” I said. “‘Less than perfect.’ What I’ve been aiming for all my life.”

“You’ve achieved it,” said Wyoh. “Professor, your words sound good but there is something slippery about them. Too much power in the hands of individuals–surely you would not want. . . well, H-missiles for example–to be controlled by one irresponsible person?”

“My point is that one person is responsible. Always. If H-bombs exist–and they do–some man controls them. In terms of morals there is no such thing as ‘state.’ Just men. Individuals. Each responsible for his own acts.”

“Anybody need a refill?” I asked.

2 thoughts on “Spend A Day With Professor Bernardo de la Paz”

  1. Bob rather liked RAH’s characterization, although was somewhat embarrassed about it. I always thought it was pretty much on the mark. I knew Bob after Rampart College moved to Santa Ana, California in 1970. At the time Heinlein’s not-so-subtle plug no doubt brought a number of people (in SF circles) into libertarian thinking and drew them to Bob’s syndicated column in the Freedom Newpapers and the Santa Ana Register.

    Bob’s books, pamphlets, periodicals and tapes are mostly at the Mises Institute now. He was a powerful speaker and one of the best teachers that the libertarian movement has ever had.

    His philosophy, which at times he would refer to as “Autarchy” (he often preferred libertarian or individualist, then later on, he was fairly comfortable with free market anarchist or anarchocapitalist, although he didn’t particularly care for these terms), was one of integrity, self-ownership, respect for private property, and honest, socratic debate.

    I miss his presence and it is a pleasure to hear his voice on the mises.org recordings.

    Just a thought.
    Just Ken

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