Butler Shaffer

Sunday, June 27, 2010
Posted in category Heroes of Liberty

I came home from vacation to find something in my mailbox from a dear friend, great mentor, and proficient author/lecturer/scholar/popular writer, Butler Shaffer, one of the most solid (and admired) thinkers in libertarianism today.

A conversation came up between us wherein I mentioned I had not read his book Calculated Chaos, which was written in 1985. He and his wife, Jane, promptly sent me a copy. In breezing through it, I bet it will be his best book. Some quick highlights:

The Dedication reads: “To Dorothy’s dog, Toto, whose natural irreverence and skepticism exposed to the awestruck the human purpose at work behind the screen.”

Chapter titles = “Rallying Our Egos ‘Round the Flag” and “The Care and Feeding of the Cookie Cutter People.”

He told me the story of how he came to write it, which I found fascinating. I plan to be out in California in September, and I am planning to spend some time in Southern Cali with the Shaffers before I head up to NAPA. I’d like to do some video interviews with Butler to post to the web, and I’d especially like to talk about his writing and publishing of this book. Butler also has a fascinating view of leprechauns as being anarchists (!) that I’d like to capture in an interview. (Really.)

Here’s my copy:


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3 Responses to Butler Shaffer

  1. Iluvatar says:

    June 27th, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    OK; 3 new posts & 3 new replies – my time is up!

    This is off topic, BUT:

    The last post on LRC that Shaffie wrote that you co-authored with him? Think I have an answer (had to do w/ poopie dog HOA group in Baltimore)?

    We only ask that the Fed Gov “secure” the rights of liberty (private property & contract rights).

    But what does that mean really?

    In the first case, “securing” should be defined as: “allowing & also guaranteeing” the private property rights. No one can take away your property – period. It is guaranteed AND enforceable.

    In the latter case, “securing” should be defined as “allowing”. The Fed Gov will ensure & protect that contracts can be MADE. However, here, a distinction should be made – enforcement.

    I don’t believe the Fed Gov should be in the business of “enforcing”. The Fed Gov allows & protects this right to contract but does not necessarily have an enforcement right.

    For small party issues at least. Other private sector avenues are available. For large party issues (corporation to corporation), perhaps the Fed Gov does step in via Judicial means (the courts).

    I meant to expand this significantly but then the Mike List posts showed up and then I wrote that short position piece on how I would fix the Constitution (“If I Were King for a Day”) that involved the census (and other things like the Commerce Clause) which I sent you. The final copy is a bit different than what you have & I sure appreciated your graciousness in saying no – so polite! After I heard what you normatively do, I thought the baseball bat was gonna get wrapped around my head (thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!).

    The colleagues in my office thought it was too technical when I thought exactly the opposite – the work of an absolute tyro (lol!).

    But anyway, theory is one thing, practicality is another. In the case of an HOA situation, I think those contracts have to be rewritten much more specifically – or – and this is the only thing I remember from contract law in undergrad (that we EE’s had to take), if your understanding of the “spirit” of the contract differs severely from the actual evoking of the contract – said contract is NULL & VOID. And maybe that’s where we take rapacious HOAs, huh?

    I’d much rather prefer the former – just as I would like a better written Constitution! (I am gonna make some enemies on this one, but:) I just can’t share Judge A. Napolitano’s adulation of the Constitution.

    This Ol’ Gal is in severe disrepair…

  2. Beth says:

    June 30th, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    I love your blog! I, too, think Butler Shaffer is one of the greatest voices for liberty out there (and so are you). I am just finishing “Boundaries of Order.” I’m really looking forward to reading “Calculated Chaos” next.

  3. Karen De Coster says:

    June 30th, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    Beth – I admire anyone who admires Butler. He’s such a great person and an amazing thinker.

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