October 20, 2017

Why I Started the Austro-Libertarian Site

By In Articles

For those that don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook I recently announced a new project— a website called Austro-Libertarian, which can be found at austrolibertarian.com (if you haven’t yet, please go like the FB page). Inquiring minds are curious, as they should be, about what is going on, why I started a new site, what will happen to the beloved Reformed Libertarian site, and so on.

When I started Reformed Libertarian, my goal was to discover the compatibility between the Reformed theological tradition and liberty-oriented political philosophy. In course of this effort, I discovered an actual system of political thought that I fell in love with. Rothbardian libertarianism overcame my mind like a drug. It was the most stunning and beautiful framework imaginable and I therefore spent every waking moment immersed in the literature, learning it backwards and forwards. Additionally, I discovered the Austrian tradition of economic thought, which opened up an entire world I never knew existed.

The discovery of Mises, Rothbard, and all their heirs, students, disciples, and proponents solidified the compatibility of these ideas with my own theological commitments. Looking back, I consider the effort a smashing success. Not necessarily in the number of people who now label themselves Reformed Libertarians— there are probably a good hundred people who follow the site who have adopted it. In the grand scheme of things, this is nothing. But it provided me, and many others, with an arsenal of arguments to bring liberty-oriented ideas to the online Reformed community.

Over the last several years, however, I have observed within myself the ability to actually explain these economic and political ideas to a great number of people, not just the Reformed Christians. Everyone has their specific areas of interest and knowledge— for fellow RL contributor Brandon Adams, it is Covenant Theology. But my own area of passion has turned out to be the developments of Austrian Economics and Rothbardian Libertarianism— brought together by the phrase “Austro-Libertarianism.” I’m obsessed with this tradition of the defense of liberty.

As I desired to write more on these specific matters for a general audience— not just the Reformed community— I experienced my first wave of real frustration. I could never make my website “stick” in front of those completely uninterested in theological concerns. I am not talking about those hostile to theology and religion— even for those who generally didn’t mind such things, there’s just the modern reality of an ever-present over stimulation of online content. Thus, trying to weed out the excesses, they didn’t have the mental bandwidth to sift through all the types of RL content for what they were really interested in.

On the flip side of the coin, there were those Reformed readers who were genuinely curious about Christian defenses of liberty, who loved the exposition of Scripture, who appreciated a “Christian view” of what was happening in politics. Yet despite these interests, essays and articles that focused specifically and precisely on economic theory, the politics of the libertarian-world, or deductions from libertarian principles, were completely ignored by these readers. I don’t blame them for this. We all have our interests.

At the same time, I felt myself wanting to write for the former audiences sometimes, while always worrying what the latter audience would think. And Brandon Adams would write for the latter audience at times when I was wanting to convince the former audience they should spend more time at my site. This completely stagnated my motivation for growing the site. I had trapped myself.

I wanted to write elsewhere, to contribute essays and content to the Austro-Libertarian cause. To consistently be writing for a bigger audience. But I could never really find the right domain. Domains are hugely important. They carry with them a definite air of legitimacy. They define you as an authority or a knock-off. Lew Rockwell and Hans-Hermann Hoppe always refer to proponents of both Austrian Economics (a value-free science of human action) and Libertarianism (a value-laden framework of political legal-political theory) as “Austro-Libertarians.” Even the phrase anarcho-capitalism, which has been used by many important Austro-Libertarians, doesn’t capture the Austro-centric nature of our economic theory. There was no better domain than AustroLibertarian.com— but it had already been taken.

And yet, in a spirit of desperation and resolution (I was going insane), I decided to contact the current owner and negotiate a deal. After quite a bit of pleading, explaining, and bribing, I was beyond ecstatic to discover my efforts paid off.

The goal of the site will be to advance the framework— the intellectual edifice— handed down to use by Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, and Hans-Hermann Hoppe. I want to dig up their neglected writings, to push their ideas out to larger audience, to defend their contributions against more trendy forms of libertarianism. If all this makes me out to be the leading expositor of their great work, let me clarify that I am to use this site to learn more about our beloved framework, to develop my own thought, to educate myself by helping others along my very same path.

ReformedLibertarian.com, I am happy to say, will continue on as my outlet for exploring the compatibility between the Christian worldview and social freedom in the Austro-Libertarian tradition. I will be able to use this platform, as I have done many times in the past, to provide a Christian-oriented interpretation of political and economic happenings. But, at long last, I have a feeling of relief that I will be able to reach specific types of audiences based on my content. ReformedLibertarian can continue being the #1 resource for the Reformed to learn about the ideas of liberty.

2017 has been the year of transition for me in a variety of different ways. I’m finally learning to take control of my own life, to do whatever it takes, to do what needs to be done to make myself a better man. I’m glad to add this to my list. Here’s to another 5 years of writing.

Written by C.Jay Engel

Editor and creator of The Reformed Libertarian. Living in Northern California with his wife, he writes on everything from politics to theology and from culture to economic theory. You can send an email to reformedlibertarian@gmail.com
  • bionic mosquito

    HOORAY!