TOWARD A DIALECTICAL LIBERTARIANISM
NICHOLAS DYKES, EURAC (FEBRUARY 2001)
(THIS REVIEW WAS ALSO PUBLISHED IN INSTALLMENTS ON THE PHILOSOPHY OF OBJECTIVISM LIST AS WAS DYKES' REJOINDER TO SCIABARRA'S REPLY]
Dykes applauds Sciabarra as "the true scholars' scholar," who is "immensely well read; never leaving an intellectual stone unturned, and documenting his research with an almost fanatical attention to accuracy and detail." He finds the survey of dialectical thinking "intriguing," "rich in quotation," and "a useful addition to one's library." But the book is "problematic and unpersuasive."
He criticizes its peculiar use of words, its "airing of irrational or long ago refuted opinions" by Marxist critics of libertarianism, its "copious footnotes," and its difficult style. He argues that Sciabarra falls victim to residues of the very dialectical materialism he criticizes, by attempting to synthesize schools of thought that are quite clearly opposed. Indeed, by "[t]aking Marxists seriously, [Sciabarra] grants them a credit they have never deserved." Dykes goes so far as to wonder: "which side of the fence is CMS really on?"
Though Dykes commends Sciabarra "for facing up to his critics," he believes that Sciabarra's replies fail especially with regard to the meaning of dialectics. Finally, he argues that Sciabarra has largely failed to come to grips with Rothbard's work. Ultimately, his "dialectical libertarianism," says Dykes, "rather than being a clearly defined intellectual programme, appears to be a phase in CMS's mental 'grappling.' From the evidence presented in this review, it also seems that his struggles are far from over."
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