A Conversation with Lipton Matthews
Lipton Matthews, whose recent contributions to the Mises Wire offer a libertarian perspective on topics such as empire, colonialism, racism, slavery, capitalism, and riots, was interviewed by Mises Institute associated scholar Jo Ann Cavallo.
JAC: You’ve published several articles since your first one in April of this year, including eight in the past two months. How did you come to learn about the Mises Institute and to publish in this venue?
LM: I have been reading Mises for a long time and decided to share my ideas with the institute.
JAC: How would you describe your economic and political worldview?
LM: I am a libertarian in support of free markets, free trade, limited government, and low taxes. Though personally I am conservative, politically I oppose the efforts of the government to intrude into the private sphere. Contrary to what many believe, Christianity is an exponent of conservative realism. Even theologians like St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas taught that laws cannot make men virtuous. Thomas Woods is also famous for illustrating that Christianity is not inconsistent with libertarianism. Despite the musings of progressives, human laws must fail to create heaven on earth. Man cannot immanentize the eschaton.
JAC: What was your environment like while growing up in Jamaica?
LM: During my formative years, I developed an appetite for reading that was fed by my parents. My mother often said reading maketh you a full man. I started to read books on Great Leaders and Pan-Africanism for children. The latter was chosen because the books of the local library mostly explored issues in the developing world. Since I did not reside in a wealthy country, I wanted to understand the conditions that create wealth. While many academics in the developing world view economics as a zero-sum game, I never entertained the argument that wealth is necessarily due to exploitation. It was evident to me even at a young age that humans possess an ability to innovate and prosper in society. And reading historical pieces geared to children taught me that empires rose and fell. Children’s texts tend to glorify the personalities of leaders, however, even those who oppressed their people. So as a child, it became obvious that great men were not necessarily good men and that conquest was not a substitute for mass-based flourishing. On the other hand, I found texts de
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