The Problem with Libertarians Today

In the years since 9/11, the problems facing those who love liberty have multiplied and intensified- instead of the Sept 10th worries of 'can I smoke my pot legally' and 'are they coming with more restrictions on the 2nd Amendment', we have the far more serious worries of 'can I travel around the country without papers?' and 'are they coming with restrictions on the 1st, 4th, 5th, etc Amendments"... The US government is engaged in war, at home and abroad, and the current administration has increasingly shown that they believe extremism in the defense of statism is no vice. Surely, this is a time when classical liberals of all stripes should be rallying together to combat the rising tide of statist absolutism and excess.

But instead of this, since 9/11 the classical liberal 'movement' (represented in small part and increasingly poorly by the Libertarian Party) has been riven into multiple parts, and beset with sectarian sniping and, more bizarrely, many have allied themselves with the totalitarian/absolutist left in opposition to more philosophically similar or sympathetic liberals. The root cause of this internecine strife is by and large due to differing opinions on The War.

"The War", of course, is the confluence of both the general War on Terror declared after 9/11, the 2001 War on the Taliban (War in, or more literally over Afghanistan), and the 2003 War on Saddam Hussein (War in Iraq). The why and wherefore of all these wars (and rumors of wars) have been hashed out in the past and will be in the future, so I'll breeze past them to get at what I think is a more fundamental problem.

The problem with libertarians today (and exemplified by today's Libertarian Party and its current nominee) is that what once was advocated on the basis of reason is now put forth as a matter of faith. Mises & Hayek, as well as Acton, Mill, Hume, Burke, etc, all put forth their belief in the desirability of the liberal world order by way of reasoned argument- either as appeals to logical first principles or in terms of consequences. The opponents of liberalism in the 19th and 20th centuries have been marked by making emotional exhortations to the rank and file, urging them on 'because we're right, dammit', saying that the followers of traditional statism or 'enlightened/scientific' statism of the national or international sort need not worry about either first principles or consequences, because their betters have done so and if you just do as we say, paradise will follow (either a restoration to a prior Golden Age or to the New Millenia of Heaven on Earth).

However, since the advent of 9/11 and the War(s), the current Libertarian party and large swathes of fellow small-L ideological libertarians have also seemed to abandon reason and have adopted a single-issue litmus test by which to separate the Elect from the Damned. That issue is whether or not you are against The War, in all of its guises, completely and without reservation, exception, or caveat. If you are, you are a True Scotsman Libertarian. If you deviate in the slightest from the orthodoxy / received wisdom on The War, then you are Damned[1].

Nobody Expects a Libertarian Inquisition

This new tendency is illustrated rather well by the recent comment-turned-post by Bill Kelsey. Aside from the numerous problems of fact and analysis of the piece (which have mostly been documented in the comments section of that post), the most illuminating passage is this:

Brothers and sisters in the struggle for liberty: our position on non-intervention is sound. Be proud of it! Stand by it! Even if you can?t marshall all the arguments have faith that when the facts of any war abroad are eventually gathered you will be vindicated. If you ever receive information that convinces you that a particular war deserves your support - know that based on past precedent, you have been lied to. Lie down till you feel better. Go to a holy person for excorcism[sic]. But do not support any war that will ever be waged by the Washington regime. Support all soldiers who refuse to go.

(emphasis added)

What an astonishing abdication of reason! This isn't a rational argument; it isn't an argument at all, but literally a religious exhortation to the faithful. Aside from advocating know-nothing paranoia, it tells us not to fear: the FedGov is bad, and "any war that will ever be waged by the Washington regime" is a priori wrong and no further thought is needed. You need not worry about either understanding an event (and its historical context and antecedents) or coming up with a rationale for saying "yea" or "nay"- just get in line like a True Libertarian[2], and stand athwart the tracks of history and shout "stop!" By the Kelsey Doctrine, even if the United States were invaded from the north and south by the Army of Darkness Socialism, we must not resist but instead fight the Washington regime and refuse to support it when the US military is inevitably deployed to defend US territory[3]. This isn't serious thought, this is willful moral blindness.

I've been over this ground before in detailing why such an absolutist position is inconsistent with liberal principle. Suffice it to say that some of the greatest liberal thinkers would not be considered "true" Libertarians these days, but rather as "infiltrators" (to use Bill's term), all because they did not advocate nonresistance in the face of tyranny.

What have you done for me lately?

The dogmatic litmus test of The War led to some shameful actions recently at the Libertarian Party national convention as well. In 2000, on the way to yet another embarassing electoral finish (well behind the Greens, who aren't even on the ballot in every state), there was one bright spot amongst the electoral carnage- the Georgia state results. In the top 10 vote tallies, Georgia was #1 with Harry Browne recieving 1.41% of the statewide vote. The next highest percentage was less than half that of Georgia's. That result can only be attributed to the presence of Neal Boortz on the radio waves of the Greater Atlanta area. Neal Boortz has been proselytizing for the Libertarian Party for years, exhorting his listeners with the truth and wisdom of the Libertarian platform and policies, praising individualism and the market and telling his listeners to resist the Federal Government's plans to regiment their lives.

And yet, despite all this, Boortz was the subject of a 'boot Boortz!' petition[4], booed at the LP national convention, and labeled "a gutless bag of wind", "war-mongering fool", and a "so-called Libertarian". Why for, you ask? Oh, for the horrific crime of supporting the War on Saddam. Yes, despite being responsible for bringing thousands of people to the LP banner (more than most, or likely any of his detractors can say) and being a tireless advocate for liberty, he's a 'neocon interventionist' no better than the PNAC crowd. Michael Moore, a blood-and-soil totalitarian socialist manque, is spoken of better than Boortz. A guy who believes that there is no such thing as 'your' property (especially if you're on his enemies list) and advocates nationalizing as much of the economy as politicians can get away with, is deemed better than Boortz. Because Moore made a polemic against Bush and the War.

'One Drop' is enough to make you a Neocon, Statist, Bad Guy, etc

While the War on Saddam is somewhat easier to criticize than the War on the Taliban, support for that is also considered being a PNAC-sympathizing "liberventionist". This will no doubt come as a great surprise to Jim Henley[5], one of the foremost and unyielding critics of the War on Saddam, who nevertheless supported the destruction of the Al-Qaeda sheltering Taliban regime. Sorry Jim, the True Libertarians have sniffed you out; you're a neocon, too.

The tendency to apply the dogmatic litmus test on War isn't even limited to the current war; for some it goes all the way back to the civil war, too. Witness the travails of David Beito, of the Liberty and Power group blog. Prof. Beito is a historian who could out-"paleo" most of the DAWLs[10] on the matter of even the Civil War: for example, he believes Lincoln was a racist imperialist tyrant, the South should have been allowed to secede, etc. But when he noted, due to his intellectual integrity, that the Confederacy wasn't great shakes either,[6] he is vilified as some sort of PC multi-culti statist.[7] Step just one centimeter away from dogma, and you're a heretic.

Seeing the Forest and the Trees

To paraphrase the classic question, how is this squabbling good for the libertarians? What good is all this searching for doctrinal purity and heretics to burn? Contrary to what many believe, Libertarianism isn't based solely on one doctrine or another[8], but rather the general belief that society and individuals should be as free as possible from arbitrary power, the state (in its many forms) being the apotheosis of arbitrary power. Libertarians (classical liberals) want individuals to be able to map out individual identities as much as possible, allowing for "secession" in cultural/social terms as well as political ones. Randy Barnett points this out in a blog post touting his new paper, "The Moral Foundations of Modern Libertarianism", by noting that libertarianism is a:

political, not a moral, philosophy; one that can be shown to be compatible with various moral theories, which is one source of its appeal.

[...]

Conservatives, neoconservatives, and those on the left who seek to impose by force their comprehensive conception of "the good" neglect the problem of power - an exacerbated instance of the twin fundamental social problems of knowledge and interest. For a comprehensive moralist of the right or left, using force to impose their morality on others might be their first choice among social arrangements. Having another's comprehensive morality imposed upon them by force is their last choice. The libertarian minimalist approach of enforcing only the natural rights that define justice should be everyone's second choice. A compromise, as it were, that makes civil society possible. And therein lies its imperative.

The sentiment applies to the myriad internecine squabbles and heretic hunters among the classical liberals, too. Our creed is not sectarian and dogmatic, but inclusive. The libertarian movement should be coalitional rather than particularist, and united by the big picture rather than by creed. One can disagree, vigorously, with other liberals about the war question, but one should never lose sight of the fact that when all is said and done, when or if the Revolution ever comes, its not going to be ANSWER, Ted Rall,[9] or Michael Moore that's standing next to you, but your fellow liberals[11]...


fn1. Regardless of your other positions on liberty.

fn2. Reminds me of a line from the song "Its Saturday" by King Missile- "I don't want to blend in, or be indistinguishable. I want to run with the Different crowd, and assert my individuality along with others, who are Different Like Me." Hopefully the irony isn't lost on Bill Kelsey.

fn3. Better Red than Fed?

fn4. Which, surprise surprise, is exclusively because Boortz doesn't toe the LP line on Iraq. Even more telling is this line: "It is not in the best interests of the Libertarian Party to facilitate public misidentification of its positions on foreign policy with Mr. Boortz's divergent views." Suffer not a heretic to speak.

fn5. I consider Henley's position to be the minimum standard for a principled libertarian antiwar position. Ruling out national self-defense a priori (as too many DAWLs do) is immoral.

fn6. Such as forming a government explicitly and formally dedicated to preserving chattel slavery, engaging in conscription and war socialism like the Union, massive monetary inflation, etc.

fn10. Deontologically Anti-War Libertarians- that is, those libertarians who are anti-war due to first principles rather than on consequential grounds.

fn7. This follows from the strain of thought that holds the Federal Government as the root of all evil; if the FedGov is evil, than what is not FedGov is not Evil. Hence one cannot criticize any opponent of the FedGov, either past, present, or future. Thus Beito's heresy in criticizing an enemy of the past FedGov.

fn8. Such as, for example, the "Non Aggression Principle".

fn9. Who is an avowed marxist, by the way.

fn11. If we don't hang together, we'll all hang seperately, as they say.

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John, I mistakenly voted for

John,

I mistakenly voted for a large number of Republicans in my life. They were all lying sacks of shit. "Read my lips", "Contract with America", etc, ad nauseum. No matter who I vote for I get stuck with power mad lying thieves. Why waste the time?

Not to mention that I find the idea of selecting who will spend my neighbor's money morally repugnant.

You're reaching there,

You're reaching there, Titus. I'm not saying that the drug war is piffle, I'm saying that compared to people trying to blow me up in any number of ways for being an American is a bit more pressing (not that we can't do both at once, either).

THe LP, however, has no policy other than "we do'wanna do it" with regards to the WOT, or dealing with the bastards that want to kill us. National Security is THE NUMBER ONE issue in the US today, but the LP is still about Guns and Weed. Priorities, people!

And trying to suggest that

And trying to suggest that there is no way to "really" know what a libertarian is (i.e. "what litmus test is there?") is a cop-out. Its like the old saying "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter"- yeah, if that other man is either evil or a moron.

Advocating government control over your life is not libertarian. Be that in either the social or economic sense. Saying that US civil society ought to be protected (and that the people who claim a monopoly on US territorial defense ought to live up to their claim), is not even remotely incompatible with wanting a more voluntary society, less government intervention in home and abroad, etc.

See, there is a whole debate that is being missed by libertarians for the most part, in that we could be working to come up with a foreign policy that works to end our current threats while eliminating those policies which give succor and support to our enemies in the long run. But antiwar libertarians pre-empt all that by putting their fingers in their ears and saying "la la la, war bad, war bad, leave now, leave now". There is no room to discuss the right way to defend ourselves because the antiwar libs won't even engage the argument.

And THAT, more than an offhand use of "if the revolution comes", puts people off the libertarian party- an inability to be serious about the issues of the day, an unwillingness to think beyond simple nostrums in response to major world events. "Be like switzerland." "Withdraw all troops for Fortress Amerika." "Apologize to the theofascists and tyrants and never cross the Oceans again."

That is what wont fly.

And, titus, you're being deliberately obtuse in picking out "when the revolution comes", since you know as well as I do that THAT phrase is used more often than not by the antiwar libertarians in the cyberghettos, rather than any liberal activists interacting with the public and trying to advance the cause of liberty.

Yes, yes, I agree with you,

Yes, yes, I agree with you, for the most part...

But Please! Don't knock voting for the LP. If voting has any value at all, and I believe it does, it's not in strategy, but as a means of communicating and incentivizing politicial action.

Ever heard of dollar votes? Those things that motivate people (markets & businesses) to do the things that solve problems and meet needs? Yeah, well they're named after *real* votes. A vote is a prize to be won, and if there is a big enough cache hidden away somewhere in some ideological corner, such as libertarianism, then politicians will go after it. None of this happens if you don't vote.

Even if you have to hold your nose to vote for Badnarik (and I see no reason why you should have to hold your nose) I can see of no better way to use the one vote you get every fourth year.

As for all the other problems... well, if you won't try to work within the Republican party (and I certainly won't), then why not affect the Libertarian Party, through your action. The people aren't so bad, and I think it can be an effective way of making political change. If we could run a candidate everyone likes on a platform everyone (even the objectivists) can agree on, it could be the end of libertarian sectarianism.

I don't know of any other organization that has the same potential.

Also, please, lay off the LP, it's only 30 years old (not long, in terms of political parties... the last 8 years we've had just one Presidential candidate) and I do think it's maturing. More than anything, it needs a little *internal* dissent to get it on the right, and we could be the ones to do it. Despite it's problems, it's an imperfect friend in a land of enemies. The people who volunteer for the LP are good people and they're doing quite a bit of work for a thankless cause. Same goes for our Presidential candidate. Don't vote for him because you want him to run the country, vote for him because market action works. We're fools if we follow it in business but not in politics.

Above all, don't get fed up, pick up your toys and go home. Do something. We all hang together, or we all hang seperately, in the end.

"Silence gives consent."
"The thing necessary for the triumph of evil
is for good men to do nothing." -English Proverbs

P.S. So John, are you voting for Bush? The Republicans are wankers in at least as many ways as the LP is.

Doss: "What an astonishing

Doss: "What an astonishing abdication of reason!"

Really? *My* reasoning is thus:

I don't support the actions of robbers and murderers.
FedGov's actions are paid for via money stolen from folks at gunpoint.
That makes FedGov a band of robbers and murderers.
The War is an action of FedGov.
Therefore, I don't support The War.

The inverse of the above is equally obvious: if you support The War, you support robbery and murder. Moreover, since The War is ongoing and quite likely limitless in principle, you support ongoing robbery and murder.

Supporting robbery and murder makes you just a smidgen un-libertarian.

What's so hard to understand here, Brian? If I'm wrong, please correct me.

So long as the GOP is run by

So long as the GOP is run by social conservatives and traditional socialists/nanny statists, I will never vote for them.

I dont like the current makeup of the Libertarian Party, but the only way for classical liberals to impact the Republican party is to not vote for them.

Look at what happened with the Green Party in 2000. Even though Gore ran as a 'populist', he was still trying to hew to the center-left. The Naderites cost Gore the election (strewth guvna'). Or at least, it seemed that way.

In any case, the Democratic Party post 2000 and especially in 2004 is far, FAR to the left of where it was in 2000 (or during Clinton). The reason why is precisely because of Nader and losing to Bush. Similarly so for the Republicans post 1976. Losing to Carter shamed the Nixonians and Reagan's movement took over. Reagan had his problems, but he was far better than Bush Sr, Ford, Nixon, or Eisenhower. And it took losing a close race in '76 to effect the change.

I hope all libertarian GOP-sympathizers actively vote Libertarian despite the embarassment which is the LP candidacy in 2004. Republicans view the LP as the Democrats view the Greens- "their" votes. If Bush loses because of a spoiler action by Badnarik in a swing state, then suddenly libertarian/classical liberal voters are now the "sought after demographic" of the GOP, and you'll see room open up for GOPers who aren't social conservative socialist/statist asshats.

But, as they say, its gotta get worse before it can get better...

Don't get me wrong, I'm a

Don't get me wrong, I'm a card-carrying member of the Libertarian party. But it's a joke. The whole idea of a political party, I mean. It's a group of extremely individualistic people trying to get together as a unified group to promote... individualism?

And who's to say which litmus test accurately defines "Libertarian?" Ann Coulter wanted to run for some Libertarian position, if I remember correctly. The party turned her down - she didn't pass the litmus tests.

Graydon Carter of Vanity Fair calls himself a Libertarian - then in the same breath supports government coercion to solve problems.

I had a co-worker who fancies herself a Libertarian (in the social, not political sense), even though she hates outsourcing, loves PETA, and wants socialized health care. What can I say, people are weird.

Frankly, I don't understand the pro-Iraq war Libertarian argument. Whatever. If Boortz wants to call himself a Libertarian, fine. I always thought he was an ass, but again, whatever.

I don't think the impact Libertarians have and will have is going to be in the public office arena. People want a PUBLIC person in PUBLIC office. Too many Libertarians scare Voting Joe away with phrases like "if the Revolution Comes..."

We are at our best when we act like individuals. We're never going to pull off the "join the Party" thing. It's too, I don't know, statist, or something. And to be a "Party," you have to have some kind of unified vision. A party line. That means telling Boortz, that smarmy yutz, he can't play because of his support of the war in Iraq.

On a side note, and maybe it's related in some way, it really irritates me to hear the fight to end the gazillion dollar, life destroying, excuse for the government to grab as much power as it wants Drug War (which has killed friends) dismissed as "can I smoke my pot legally." Just had to get that in there.

Speaking of people killed because the wanted to "smoke ... pot legally", maybe now is a good time to watch Peter McWilliams speech at a Libertarian convention.

http://www.pot-tv.net/archive/shows/pottvshowse-1182.html

I've voted exclusively

I've voted exclusively Libertarian since I was 18 -- nine years now -- and this is the first election that cannot morally support the party. For a party to take such an immoral, and I do not use the word lightly, stance on the War for Freedom is unconscionable. Essentially, the LP has gone on the record as saying that freedom is an American right, not a human right. At least with George W. Bush, I can say that his mistakes stem from wrongheadedness, rather than a downright immoral stance.

I had been leaning before 9/11 that the way for libertarianism to make an impact is the same way that communism made an impact on America -- by infiltrating a friendly party. The same way communism took over the Democratic party, libertarianism needs to take over the Republican party, and Ronald Reagan should be the banner under which we fight.

John, Have you ever visited

John,

Have you ever visited a doctor in the United States?

I have.

I have.

"And, titus, you?re being

"And, titus, you?re being deliberately obtuse in picking out ?when the revolution comes?, since you know as well as I do that THAT phrase is used more often than not by the antiwar libertarians in the cyberghettos, rather than any liberal activists interacting with the public and trying to advance the cause of liberty."

Wow, you're pissed.

My obtuseness was genuine. You were all worked up in your post, I thought you were being sincere. Anyway, it doesn't really matter if it's an antiwar or prowar lib, or a commie for that matter. "Revolution" talk freaks people out, that's all I'm saying.

"But antiwar libertarians pre-empt all that by putting their fingers in their ears and saying "la la la, war bad, war bad, leave now, leave now"."

Is that what we do? Come on, Brian, don't get all "comment section crazy" on me. Do pro-war libertarians put their fingers in their ears and say "la la la, those bastards want to kill us, must kill 'em all, must kill 'em all?"

Most anti-Iraq war libertarians aren't saying war is never justified. They're saying THIS war isn't justified.

And you rightfully expressed concern when you said:

"we have the far more serious worries of ?can I travel around the country without papers?? and ?are they coming with restrictions on the 1st, 4th, 5th, etc Amendments"

(see? no la la la. I was listening.)

Why are those concerns now? Because of war. That seems to be what happens during war. I'm not much of a war history buff, so I would love to hear an example of a country at war that a libertarian would be happy living in.

"There is no room to discuss the right way to defend ourselves because the antiwar libs won?t even engage the argument."

and

""Be like switzerland." "Withdraw all troops for Fortress Amerika." "Apologize to the theofascists and tyrants and never cross the Oceans again.""

How about a link? Or an actual quote, maybe? I would love to know who suggested we apologize to the theofascists.

We must be reading different blogs; If that's what you're reading, no wonder you're so agitated!

I've read many different ideas of how a libertarian society should defend itself. Some hawkish, some peacenikish, some wacko, some creative.

Personally, my favorites:

Have a WTO meeting in offending country. And tell PETA that they're cruel to chickens. Let protesters do all the damage.

We bomb the shit out of every country in the world. With WalMart, Starbucks, McDonalds, Nike, and, oh, I dunno, IKEA. Radical Islam wouldn't last a day. Who's going to plot an attack while eating a Big n' Tasty, sipping on a Frappocino, taking off their Lance-erific shoes to relax on their new Kl?apen couch, while parusing the WalMart edition of Lucky Magazine?

Just some ideas. If ever I'm elected President, I promise I'll work on them a little.

But seriously, if you're going to preach better communication between different beliefs within the libertarian party, you should make a better effort to follow your own sermon. The anti-war libs offer more to the debate than "Be like switzerland."

"And THAT, more than an offhand use of ?if the revolution comes?, puts people off the libertarian party- an inability to be serious about the issues of the day, an unwillingness to think beyond simple nostrums in response to major world events."

Maybe we just hang out with very different people, because no one has ever said to me "You crazy libertarians. You never think beyond simple nostrums in response to major world events."

It's usually more like "Where's your tinfoil hat? Are you going to bomb a government building? Why do you hate poor people?" and yes, "Oooh, is your scawy warwy Wevolution here yet?"

It sounds like, and I hope I'm wrong, that you're advocating antiwar libertarians support the war in Iraq not on principle, but it will improve our image. Or you just like using the word, "nostrum."

And regarding terrorism being more pressing than the war on drugs, forgive me if I don't see the difference between the two. One religious fanatic bringing heathens to violent justice looks just like the other. Maybe that's because I can't see through the tinfoil. Or because I work with drugsense.org and am bombarded every day with news from around the world about the "not so pressing" drug war - bloated government, botched drug raids, gang wars, corrupt law enforcement, meddling in other countries, incarceration of people suffering from AIDS, children sent to government foster care because their parents didn't turn in a crack-dealing uncle, and even terrorism funded by the black market.

Nah, I must just really like weed. And that Chong, he's hil-AR-ious.

Then chances are nearly 100%

Then chances are nearly 100% that the doctor you saw was AMA-certified. He was part of a cartel that gets its power from the FedGov, backed by the point of a gun.

You say you don?t support the actions of robbers and murderers.
FedGov?s actions are paid for via money stolen from folks at gunpoint.
That makes FedGov a band of robbers and murderers.
The AMA is an entity kept in power by FedGov.
Yet you still support AMA-certified doctors by exchanging your own property with them for service.

I'll go ya one better,

I'll go ya one better, Jonathan: I submit to government enumeration, too.

The fact that we're all trapped in the same cannibal-pot, though, in no way implies that I ought to cheer for the AMA or that Doss ought to cheer for government war.

The fact that we?re all

The fact that we?re all trapped in the same cannibal-pot, though, in no way implies that I ought to cheer for the AMA or that Doss ought to cheer for government war.

Brian sees the market for territorial defense monopolized by FedGov, but for that very reason, he cannot choose another alternative. It is not ethically unjust for him to support War against those he believes are a threat to him by the only means available to him - FedGov. The choice between two evils is not a free choice, and the victim bears little responsibility in making it.

Similarly, I find the market for freeing individuals from totalitarian regimes monopolized, or more accurately, non-existant. Even though I wish to live as a truly free individual one day, even more strongly, I wish to see everyone suffering under truely despotic regimes such as Saddam's, Mugabe's, and Kim's to live at least as freely as I do today. It would not be ethically unjust to hope that one consequence of the imperfect market for Totalitarian Rescue that exists as a monopolized FedGov would be that Iraqis have a chance at a better life. The difference between Brian's view and mine is one of consequences. I believe the consequences of using this imperfect market are much more dangerous than he does.

As a former Lib, now a

As a former Lib, now a libertarian paternalist pro-God conservative, all three votes have merit:

LP - vote FOR smaller gov't, let other voters decide on the lesser evil that will win.
Rep - vote for Iraqi Freedom, and maybe Iranian freedom and Sudan Freedom (interventionist), AND lower taxes [unfortunately, NOT smaller gov't]
Dem - vote for personal freedom [much higher taxes].

But I think that no election in my life has mattered as much. The hope for freedom includes the world, and the Mid East, accepting human rights and women's rights (though not necessarily abortion).

Iraqi Freedom, despite its costs, was good, and pro-liberty. The only hope for reducing big terror, state-sponsored terror, is regime change in the ME. Throwing UNSC resolutions at Saddam didn't change him. Military did. It's great, Great, GREAT he's out of power.

Iran is trying to get nukes, to use them. I believe the world, and the US, will be in great danger, and suffer a nuclear blast (Tel Aviv? Moscow? Miami?) if Iran is allowed to get them, AND through them terrorists.

I guess 10% of a nuke going off in next 4 years under Bush. I guess 40% under Kerry.
Consider writing YOUR guestimates. Before voting.

National Security is THE

National Security is THE NUMBER ONE issue in the US today, but the LP is still about Guns and Weed. Priorities, people!

I disagree. From everything I've seen coming out of the Badnarik campaign, its all about "Pull out of Iraq now!"

I'm an elector for Badnarik, and even I'm not sure I want to vote for him (or me as the case may be). I'm just not sure I can vote for Bush either.

National Security is THE

National Security is THE NUMBER ONE issue in the US today, but the LP is still about Guns and Weed. Priorities, people!

National security - or security of individuals against terrorists perhaps? The Guns part is the best way to provide individual security. People are starting to make that connection. If civilians were armed on flights in 2001, Al Queda would probably not have tried that stunt.

Jonathan, nice try, but I've

Jonathan, nice try, but I've got it covered. You *still* don't have an excuse for not doing the LP thing, unless you just don't want to...

I agree with you about the benefits of incentives in markets, but ... Fighting tyranny against a monopolistic govt by engaging it is a losing proposition. Efforts are much better spent in other ways.

Yeah, I know, it's discouraging, but you kind of hit me with the straw man attack there. I wasn't saying dollar vote for your political ideas, I was saying "Use your votes like you use your dollars. 'Buy' what you want more of." As for the ways I spend my efforts, voting requires very little effort, and has advantages not seen elsewhere; politicians watch vote counts like investors watch profits. In any case, we don't have to put a libertarian President in the White House next year for the LP to count for something. Simply showing people that there are alternative can valuable, and the LP is an institution that can be the focus-point of future efforts, as people wise up. But yes, political activism is a non-productive crapshot, I do it because I don't want me to blame when things get worse. That's not an argument against doing it, as it actually complements my social activism by allowing me to refer people that I affect to some political/social institution. I fail to see how voting for the LP precludes me from using my efforts elsewhere as well.

I think that there are better ways to spend our efforts... Instead of spending time going to conventions and wearing those funny hats and buttons... one could start a business that weakens govt enforced monopolies. If an entrepreneur could start a sub $500/year school that was allowed children to obtain their own individualized educations...instead of pimping the Libertarian Party, why don?t you start a group blog run by the UT libertarians that was updated every day? ... That is something that would have a much greater impact than all of your future votes combined will ever have.

First of all I'm calling straw man on you. ("spending time wearing funny hats and buttons") What the hell? Why act like what I do in the LP is so very different from any other forms of libertarian activism (like your blog, for instance)? I can tell you from experience: it's not. 90% of "LP stuff" that I do, I was doing anyway, before I hooked up with the LP. The rest has been personally beneficial. For instance, I learned how to make a website (the printing press of the 21st century!) and am constantly refining my ideas and positions. Plus I get to spend time with people who I respect. I'm not only spreading the word and propping up the LP as a social institution for myself and others to act through, I'm preparing myself for a future in which I can play the game of politics.

Oh, and did you check my website? It's got a *group* blog, which I just started (in earnest) in May. I'm currently the only contributor, but will pick up some more in the Fall, and will be driving more traffic that-a-way at that time as well. Thanks for the tip.

BTW, the entreprenuerial private school thing is actually a *Dream Life Goal* of mine, but I'm 20 and in college, so it's kind of on the back burner. Like with the politics thing, I've got to be rich and successful first. Well, I'm working on it, directing my efforts toward a sucessful professional career as an engineer and (hopefully) entreprenuer. Money is another way of gaining influence, one I'll need when monied interests won't support my potential campaign, for the reasons you suggested. Even if I don't run, I can use my money to support those who do.

In short: what do you mean I should do something else, instead of the LP thing? I'm doing all the other things I can, and still have time to write long posts for blogs. :-)

?It can also be said that participation in a corrupt system gives consent.?

When you buy something, you are taxed, when you work, you are taxed, when you visit a business, you are affected by the regulations it is subject to. This whole non-participation line leads to a bunch of nonsense and zero positive change. It could be the most retarded argument I've ever heard employed by a libertarian. Like "If you vote, it encourages them...". No silly, the power is enough to encourage them. It takes popular action to beat down the bullies. We didn't create this monster, but we can't destroy it violently. Are you suggesting we ignore it? Voting libertarian is like getting together with your friends to stand up to the bully. Working from within a system that the general population views as valid to change the system into one that actually is. It's a political problem, so we've got to use a political solution (once we adress the political/ideological problem which can be realistically done if we focus our efforts(geographically))

Again, it's a crapshoot, but something's got to be done about it.

Oh by the way, some

Oh by the way, some Objectivist complained about many of the same things you mentioned in the original post. He wrote about it in an essay: "Libertarianism: the Perversion of Liberty". I'm currently reading it, and it's a load of bunk. Particularly the conclustion which is the whole: "I disagree with you so we can't talk or make eye contact" line. The Ayn Rand Institute still hates us because of what this guy wrote 20 years ago.

How ironic that followers of the "live and let live" political philosophy would be so offended that someone else is pursuing mutually beneficial goals in a way they disagree with. Remember folks! We're on the same team here!

That's all I'm saying: "Snap out of it already! We're here to help!" and if you can help us do it better, I for one am willing to listen.

Yeah, I know, it?s

Yeah, I know, it?s discouraging, but you kind of hit me with the straw man attack there. I wasn?t saying dollar vote for your political ideas, I was saying ?Use your votes like you use your dollars. ?Buy? what you want more of.?

I understood you as saying that people should give politicians an incentive to enact libertarian policy by voting for the LP like buying things in the market encourages businessmen to supply those things. I simply point out that they incentives in politics are impossibly stacked against libertarians due to the economics of monopolistic law.

In any case, we don?t have to put a libertarian President in the White House next year for the LP to count for something. Simply showing people that there are alternative can valuable, and the LP is an institution that can be the focus-point of future efforts, as people wise up. But yes, political activism is a non-productive crapshot, I do it because I don?t want me to blame when things get worse.

I am politically inactive because I don't want me to blame when things get worse.

First of all I?m calling straw man on you. (?spending time wearing funny hats and buttons?) What the hell? Why act like what I do in the LP is so very different from any other forms of libertarian activism (like your blog, for instance)? I can tell you from experience: it?s not. 90% of ?LP stuff? that I do, I was doing anyway, before I hooked up with the LP.

This was not an attack against you, though I can see how it might have come across that way. I have no idea that you were involved with the LP other than encouraging people to vote LP (notice the use of the descriptor "one" instead of "you"). I still stand by the funny hats and buttons comment because that's what I see when I watch any political convention on TV. LP politicians and their conventions are little different from those of other parties.

Oh, and did you check my website? It?s got a group blog, which I just started (in earnest) in May. I?m currently the only contributor, but will pick up some more in the Fall, and will be driving more traffic that-a-way at that time as well. Thanks for the tip.

Yes, I did check it before I posted my previous comment, and I found it non-intuitive to navigate. When I clicked "come on in" at the bottom, I had no idea where I was going (or that I was going to a blog), and then a pop-up window came up and I instinctively got worried about viruses but took a chance anyway, and I saw a relatively infrequently updated blog written only by you hosted on someone's c: drive. JMO, but if I were you, I would get a regular Wordpress blog and have it up at the utliberty.org homepage, not through a link. That way, no work is required by the reader other than typing in the url. I would make it the center of UT libertarian life. I would update it every single day. I would try to compete with the school paper.

When you buy something, you are taxed, when you work, you are taxed, when you visit a business, you are affected by the regulations it is subject to. This whole non-participation line leads to a bunch of nonsense and zero positive change.

Agree - see my comment to John Lopez above. We pick and choose our battles based on the consequences that may result in a freer society.

It could be the most retarded argument I?ve ever heard employed by a libertarian. Like ?If you vote, it encourages them??. No silly, the power is enough to encourage them.

The Velvet Revolution was a nearly bloodless rejection of government through mass civil disobedience that overthrew the existing communist govt almost overnight. It didn't happen because people voted in mass numbers, but because people simply refused to accept the legitimacy of the existing govt. The only reason govt stays in power is because most people see it as being vital. Voting does encourage them. The only thing that discourages them is to refuse to accept their power over you. One is not obligated to refuse to accept this power because it is not a free choice, but when the result is that they lose power, it is an action that I pursue. I refuse to vote because I want to delegitimize this govt. Voting would result in my sanctioning the corrupt kleptocracy that exists.

BTW, the entreprenuerial private school thing is actually a Dream Life Goal of mine, but I?m 20 and in college, so it?s kind of on the back burner. Like with the politics thing, I?ve got to be rich and successful first. Well, I?m working on it, directing my efforts toward a sucessful professional career as an engineer and (hopefully) entreprenuer.

I admire your passion and hope you succeed.

I just realized that the

I just realized that the reason your site didn't work for me the first time is because I'm using IE, and that your blog is indeed up at utliberty.org. I still think it would be nice if IE users could load it without going through the extra step.

Below is an extended version

Below is an extended version of my initial comments above that I plan to post on http://dissectleft.blogspot.com later today:

THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY AS AN OBSTACLE TO LIBERTY

Most readers of this blog will be unsurprised to hear that my political sympathies are thoroughly libertarian. I don't care what homosexuals do among themselves (though I'd rather not think about it), I think pornography is in the eye of the beholder, that prostitution is just another form of private enterprise (very private at that), that there is not much difference between taxation and theft and that government is just about the worst way of doing almost anything. But I nonetheless find a lot of the libertarian literature I see -- particularly stuff emanating from supporters of the Libertarian Party -- to be just as crazy as the stuff coming from the Left. I am not alone in that. A couple of other libertarian bloggers have said much the same recently. See here and here.

What I think has happened is that libertarian ideas have gradually had a pervasive influence throughout politics. Perhaps the most striking instance of that is the recent introduction of a "congestion charge" by London mayor "Red Ken" Livingstone as a (very successful) way of solving inner-London's traffic problems. Livingstone is on the far-Left of the British Labor Party but himself admits that he got the idea from Milton Friedman. And that the Democrat's most adored President saw fit to proclaim (falsely) that the era of big government is over is another telling symptom. And who said this over a quarter of a century ago? "If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism". It was Ronald Reagan -- in an interview in which he also revealed himself to be a student of Bastiat, von Mises, Hayek and Hazlitt. And don't forget that Reagan's degree was in economics so it is not surprising that he should know such writers. So the huge American economic success that Reagan launched was not just some folksy accident but a deliberate application of sophisticated libertarian thinking. To see Reagan as merely folksy is to mistake the sales pitch for the product.

So it seems to me that libertarian ideas are now generally respectable and that the challenge is how to implement them in a context where most people are used to turning to government as a solution to all their problems.

And that is where the Libertarian Party fails. They have not got a blind clue about how to win the mass support that they need in order to achieve anything. Their only proposal for winning the influence that they need is the "Free State" project -- the idea that all libertarians should migrate to some small State such as New Hampshire and thus muster enough votes to take over (and presumably abolish) the State government! Hell will freeze over first.

So all the mentally well-balanced libertarians have by now joined one of the major parties where they might do some good (as Reagan did) -- leaving the fruitcakes in the LP.

And there is certainly nothing hypocritical about joining the GOP. Most libertarian-inclined people I know are minimal-statists rather than anarcho-capitalists -- i.e. they do see SOME (very limited) role for governement. And waging defensive war is certainly one of those roles. And how you defend yourself militarily is not something that can be judged according to any set of abstract principles. Reality is too complex and ever-changing for that. And it is a truism that offence can sometimes be the best and safest form of defence -- which is why I and many others support the efforts of GWB in the Middle East.

And one would think that even an anarcho-capitalist (and I was once one myself) could see that half a loaf is better than no loaf at all. So surely even an anarcho-capitalist could work within the GOP on such badly-needed projects as the defence of free-trade. Given the amazing worldwide influence of rural gamblers (farmers) we may never get completely free trade but even some freeing up of trade would be beneficial to everybody. Anarcho-capitalists who cannot see that are just fanatics as far as I can see.

So the damage done by the LP is twofold: 1). The Florida debacle in the last election shows that the tiny number of votes that the LP gets just COULD siphon off enough GOP votes to put the old-Left John Kerry in the White House, and; 2). It deprives the major parties of libertarian ideas, influence and input from among their own ranks. If all the LP supporters came down to earth long enough to join one of the major parties, we might see a little more economic rationality and interest in freedom in the parties concerned. And that is all that I ever plan to say about the LP.

My personal credo as a libertarian conservative: I think all attempts to reform people or tell them how to live their lives are arrogant and tyrannical. THAT'S why I oppose Leftism. I want people to be free to manage their own lives. "Reform" is just authoritarianism. People are not playthings for anybody's theories or obsessions.

I wonder why you bother even

I wonder why you bother even thinking about all that

The LP is an irrelevance

The realistic libertarians are the libertarian conservatives -- like Ronald Reagan. They can and do get a few worthwhile things done.

And most libertarian-inclined people I know are minimal statists rather than anarcho-capitalists and minimal statists have always conceded war as a proper function of the State

Join the GOP and help keep it rational.

Libertarians who don't are just wankers

Ben, Ever heard of dollar

Ben,

Ever heard of dollar votes? Those things that motivate people (markets & businesses) to do the things that solve problems and meet needs? Yeah, well they?re named after real votes. A vote is a prize to be won, and if there is a big enough cache hidden away somewhere in some ideological corner, such as libertarianism, then politicians will go after it. None of this happens if you don?t vote.

I agree with you about the benefits of incentives in markets, but there is a fundamental extra issue that defeats your argument above. If dollars were really counted as votes on a 1:1 basis for the buying and selling of public policy, we would not have a monopolistic government, but rather a polycentric legal system, something that would result in a much freer society. But instead, since we have a monopolistic legal system, in order to get to a libertarian society through politics, voters would have to garner 50% (or at least a sizable plurality) of votes in order to capture the system.

For all intents and purposes, this is impossible. The reason is because aggression becomes cheap whereas resistance against tyranny becomes very expensive under a monopoly. If a businessman has $1 million to spend to effect political outcomes, it is much easier for him to bribe a politician to give his company special privileges that cost 10 million average consumers $1 garnering him $10 million 'profit' than it is to spend that $1 million getting rid of tariffs that aid his competitors and that benefit 10 million American consumer $1 each. Fighting tyranny against a monopolistic govt by engaging it is a losing proposition. Efforts are much better spent in other ways.

?Silence gives consent.?

It can also be said that participation in a corrupt system gives consent.

If you think that participating in Libertarian politics will get libertarian ideas out there and draw attention to those ideas, then by all means, go for it. I think that there are better ways to spend our efforts that are more efficient at potentially bringing about a free society. Instead of spending time going to conventions and wearing those funny hats and buttons, one could spend that time and money spreading libertarian ideas. Or one could start a business that weakens govt enforced monopolies. If an entrepreneur could start a sub $500/year school that was allowed children to obtain their own individualized educations, this would put a big dent in the public school monopoly. If an entrepreneur could find a way to implement and popularize anonymous digital cash, that would put a big dent in income tax receipts. Etc.

?The thing necessary for the triumph of evil
is for good men to do nothing.? -English Proverbs

If not voting is interpreted as "Do nothing" then you're missing the big picture. There are a million ways to "do something" that don't involve politics. For example, instead of pimping the Libertarian Party, why don't you start a group blog run by the UT libertarians that was updated every day? You could advertise it on bulletin boards in the halls, and write letters to the editor with the url in the sig. The size of UT alone makes it ripe for libertarian ideas to spread. That is something that would have a much greater impact than all of your future votes combined will ever have.

Hi Jonathan, If an

Hi Jonathan,

If an entrepreneur could start a sub $500/year school that was allowed children to obtain their own individualized educations...

Check out www.citizenschool.com. Luke (my nearly 14yo son) is planning to do this next year--the long bus ride and lack of flexibility at the county school finally got to him. He also likes the idea of finishing his HS degree in ~18 months--it gives him a couple years to do some community college classes, pursue his tennis, and play around with some business ideas before starting at VT at the same age as the government-educated kids. The advertised price of $340 per (academic) year has gone up by $80 recently, but it still comes in under your $500 benchmark. I'll let you know how it goes.

I refuse to vote because I want to delegitimize this govt. Voting would result in my sanctioning the corrupt kleptocracy that exists.

I went back and reread several times to make sure this was your view--it surprised me a little compared to your pragmatic opinion on using government-sanctioned doctors.

I am dead-set against Democracy as an economic system, where citizens vote to redistribute wealth. I may though, on basic principles, allow voting as a check and balance to make sure that each individual's rights are protected. But in either case, from a practical point of view, the vote we are indulged with in November is a proxy war that shows politicians what positions they can or can't get away with. It is much cheaper for me to participate in this proxy war at the second box, than in a shooting war at the fourth. My cost is a few hour's visit to the local school gym. The benefit, though diffuse, is that politicians are consumed by watching the results of the vote--as Brian and Ben said, this gives us leverage to promote policies of individual liberty within the wider political spectrum. I won't abandon the soapbox, but I also won't miss this opportunity to mess with some politicians' career plans.

Finally, one of the things I like best about your blog is the civil tone you all try to maintain here. I'm glad you can continue to give Ben encouragement even as the arguments sometimes heat up. Although the occasional compliment thrown out here might seem off-topic, it does seem to keep the signal to noise ratio high.

The ceasefire agreement is

The ceasefire agreement is the apotheosis of a contract, in that it was a judgement to settle the grievance started by Saddam. The US government was in its rights to destroy Saddam's regime for his aggression (again, having essentially bought out Kuwait's right of self-defense). The US chose to offer a deal to Saddam to settle for less than his destruction, and Saddam agreed to the terms.

Such an agreement is valid as a form of restitution for initiated aggression; that the aggrieved party managed to get the upper hand on the aggressor and show mercy where none was required is hardly an indictment of the agreement.

It is also highly confused to be invoking common law in one sentence and then denying it in another- libertarian ideals don't work in the realm of interstate action?

If that is so, then the antiwar argument falls to pieces. There is no basis for calling an interstate "initiation of agression" immoral if all that holds is realpolitik. The antiwar argument is incoherent if not based on libertarian principles, since that is the whole point of the libertarian antiwar argument- that war is a priori verboten because it is an initiation of force and a violation of the non-aggression principle, etc etc.

Hiding behind semantics doesn't change anything- you can call states violent gangs of criminals all you want, but the fact remains that if you replace the names of "Iraq" and "the US" with "Tikriti Security" and "North American Global Defense Corp" under an Ancap PDA arrangement, there is no libertarian antiwar argument that stands- because there is no moral argument against PDAs fighting each other, only that "they wouldn't, generally, because it's bad for business."

Which brings us to the real reason for the argument, which is on the method of funding of the state actors, tax vs. market payment. Which is its own valid question, but fundamentally irrelevant to the morality of the action at hand. Original Sin is a theological argument, not a political one. As Randy Barnett pointed out, the fact that the US postal service is funded through coercive taxation does not make the postal worker's act of delivering mail to me immoral. The same is true for the US government's action in Iraq. Guilt-by-association as an argument against Iraq doesn't fly here.

the US certainly did wage war on Iraq for 12 years, but I never did. Robbing me to pay for reconstructing Iraq is immoral because I never did anything to it in the first place.

No, step back one bit. Robbing you, period, is immoral. The goal for which they're robbing you is utterly irrelevant. And further, it is completely distinct from what the US does with the funds that it comes by. The US has funds, gained by various means; the US govt incurred costs, it must therefore pay. The US government did the damage, the US government must pay. Fight to get the US government to stop taxing you if you dont want to be robbed, but your desire not to be robbed has nothing whatsoever to do with the US government's duty to make restitution to the Iraqi people.

I also take issue with your characterisation of Kuwait as the private property of the Kuwaiti royal family.

Oh really? How so? Kuwait was given in law as the personal property of the Al Sabah family by the government of the United Kingdom, which owned/possessed the land beforehand. The truth is that the land was owned by the Al Sabah family beforehand; Britain simply cleaved it from the political unit of Iraq when establishing the successor states from its mandate.

And indeed, the Al Sabah family runs the government in fact if not in law, and has the ultimate say over the disposition of the land and legal status of property inside the borders of Kuwait. This is Hans Herman-Hoppe's dream- elite families controlling the land and making the laws. Kuwait is most certainly the private property of the Kuwaiti royal family.

And as such, they had every right to contract with whomever they pleased to restore their land to them. Or do libertarian principles not apply to private, familial owners when their holdings exceed a certain size?

Just an FYI- In a recent

Just an FYI-

In a recent University of Minnesota voting poll covering a few local states, Michael Badnarik got 1.0% in Minnesota, 1.5% in Wisconsin, and 1.1% in Iowa. I'm curious as to how previous LP candidates have done in these states in the past. The percentages here seem pretty high (relatively-speaking, of course), although I'm guessing Libertarians would generally perform better in these Upper Midwest states compared to some other regions of the country.

The ceasefire agreement is

The ceasefire agreement is hardly a contract. One side signed it under duress. That immediately disqualifies it as a contract under the common law.

Your main mistake is that you're trying to extrapolate libertarian ideals into the realm of interstate actions. But states are violent gangs of criminals: applying libertarian ideals to them is like trying to apply market forces to analyses of the Department of Energy.

As to your restitution argument, the US certainly did wage war on Iraq for 12 years, but I never did. Robbing me to pay for reconstructing Iraq is immoral because I never did anything to it in the first place. The people who ought to be restituting Iraq ought to be the Bushies, their advisors, and their military-industrial complex backers. They're the ones who did the damage.

I also take issue with your characterisation of Kuwait as the private property of the Kuwaiti royal family.

- Josh

In the last election, Brown

In the last election, Brown didn't get above 1% in any state other than Georgia.

However, I believe that right up until the election, Browne was in the multiple %'s in the majority of state polls. Either (a) the people were pulling the pollsters' chains, or more likely (b) the thought of a Gore win spooked would-be LP voters into (again) pulling the Phant lever. Or perhaps (c), the polls were right, but a LOT more people came to the polls than expected (i.e. above and beyond 'likely voters') and so what would have been 3% turned into 0.7%. I think that's unlikely as a sole explanation, but some mixture of A,B, and C probably does fit the bill.

His new rebranding as the Antiwar Candidate is probably shrewd; the disappointed-with-Bush Phant vote isn't going to go to him because he's too far away from fiscal conservatives' positions anyway, so he might as well try and mine the anti-Bush vote which, as we've seen in the Kerry campaign, really is simply "I dont like Bush". If you say you don't like Bush, and that you're against the war, you're more likely to get some of that antibush vote than the traditional Browne method (of appealing to conservative talk-show listeners).

Brian, you're confusing me;

Brian, you're confusing me; probably because I can't think beyond my simple nostrums.

You say the antiwar libertarians alienate voters, then you say being antiwar is shrewd?

I'm not trying to be a prick here. I would just really like to understand what you are saying.

Ben, I think we've met at

Ben, I think we've met at one of the initial Austrian Economics Society of Austin meetings last year at Threadgill's. I remember someone talking about reviving the UT Libertarians though I haven't been checking up on it. Would that be you?

I started out in support of the war in Iraq but have since withdrawn that support, primarily on the grounds that if I consider theft and coercion in the name of public education, universal health care, and fighting drug use...I cannot be consistent and advocate theft and coercion in the name of eradicating terrorism.

I openly cheer for the downfall of tyrannies and that includes Saddam's Iraq. I believe the people there are objectively more free than in the past, but we all know how fast that can change once democracy (in whatever form) is imposed on a population. However, I do think the methods used to arrive at that downfall are just as important as the goal itself. I consider the war a "litmus test" the same way I consider all other forms of state action "litmus tests." Advocation for the war (seperate from the desire to see the liberation of people) is little different in my mind than advocation for wealth taxation, seatbelt laws, or minimum wage laws. All are forms of coercion against private property and should be condemned.

What I think would benefit liberty-minded individuals is a mass return to the choice of principle over pragmatism. Contrary to titus's first comment, I don't consider it a contradiction for people to voluntarily associate in order to promote individualism and liberty. I see no harm in harnessing the power of a division of labor to further a just cause.

I plan on voting for Badnarik as a protest vote with the understanding he won't win. Despite some of his weird policy suggestions (the prisoners' atrophy thing being a good example) and despite some questions I have with planks in his platform, a vote for him counts as a vote for a serious, objective, and profound reduction in the scope and power of the federal government. I count a vote for that as a defensive vote.

Titus, I'll take your word

Titus, I'll take your word for it that you're not trying to be a prick, and say that:

(a) The antiwar position isn't going to win the election, nor will it bring anyone into the LP long term or medium term (or hell, short term either). THe antiwar socialists are antiwar because Bush is in power, and not for any other reason. The antiwar democrats are antiwar for a little bit of principle, but mostly because Bush is in power. The antiwar libertarians are, of course, already libertarian. In all cases of antiwar folk, Badnarik's "me-too" approach isn't going to appeal to anyone who wants to defend the US (which is the vast majority of voters) but wants an alternative to National Greatness Imperialism (or Chickenshit Humanitarian Interventionism, for the left).

(b) That said, in the very short run of just getting votes, he might as well go antiwar since his nominating campaign positions would turn off every possible sympathetic non-left GOPer or independent anyway. Badnarik's platform (even before his new, calculated emphasis on being the antiwar candidate) is anathema to most of the disgruntled GOP members that would be the natural first point of poaching for longer-term votes.

In the end, Badnarik is counterproductive to the long-term goals of the LP, but hey, its all about votes, right? So I say to him go ahead and be antiwar since those are the only votes he *can* hope to peel off for himself.

(tho, of course, it bears noting that he'll lose the votes of pro-freedom/pro-defense libertarians precisely because of the existing litmus test; pro-defense libertarians are explicitly unwelcome in the Badnarik campaign, as they've said both on this blog and their own. Can he gain more lefty/socialist votes than he loses in libertarian ones? Dunno.)

For me, simply being against

For me, simply being against the Iraq War doesn't necessarily turn me off (or on) to a candidate, blogger, columnist, or whoever. It's oftentimes the reasons behind it - and its presentation - that make a difference for me.

There can be an Opinion A that states that while there are obviously positive results that will be realized upon disposing a dictator like Hussein, other undesirable effects leading up to, during, and after the war will ultimately place Americans in more harms way, along with cost of lost lives, taxpayers' money, misplaced attention from Al Qaeda and OBL, and so on.

Then there's Opinion B that states that Bush is merely Hitler Ver. 2.0 who wants to imperialistically devour the Middle East in a lust for oil domination, corporate profit, and a desire to wage a racially-motivated Christian "crusade" on the planet's Muslims.

Those positioning Opinion A would resonate with voters, particularly among the Undecided. Even to someone who supports the war, the details outlining Opinion A could at least be appreciated and discussed (This is particularly true if a candidate does take time to distinguish between his being anti-Iraq War, as opposed to being always-anti-war). Opinion B, on the other hand, is fire-breathing Hate-Bush rhetoric that will certainly hit a grand slam in Seattle coffee shops, rock concert venues, and on Berkeley's campus. In other words, it wins with those who have despised Bush since Day One for being an aw-shucks southern-drawled conservative Republican who says the word 'God' a few too many times in speeches. But this hysteria does little to engage public discourse among persuadable fence-sitters, indies, and grumpy Republicans.

Brian, "Titus, I?ll take

Brian,

"Titus, I?ll take your word for it that you?re not trying to be a prick"

Thanks. Sometimes my efforts to keep a thread from degenerating into name-calling with my snarky humor, backfires. Plus I'm a little sore about getting suckered into a "debate" with those No Treason! folks.

I must confess I haven't been paying much attention to Badnarik. So many hours in a day, etc. I'll check his site out when I have time and see how my reaction compares with yours.
If he's siding with Moore, I'll be paying a visit to the vomitorium.

I wasn't making a distinction between "antiwar" as a political menuever and "antiwar" as an opinion, as you seemed to be.

I am well aware it's easy for me to say from my comfy chair "leave Iraq now!" since there are no consequences. But hey, I'm not a politician. I was not really kidding about the IKEAfication of Iraq...

Anyway, thanks again for the clarification.

(Just in case anyone is

(Just in case anyone is still reading this thread)

John Ray:

"So all the mentally well-balanced libertarians have by now joined one of the major parties"

I'd say all the mentally well-balanced libertarians don't bother with politics.

Charles:

"Contrary to titus?s first comment, I don?t consider it a contradiction for people to voluntarily associate in order to promote individualism and liberty."

I'd say contradiction is a strong word; I'd rather use funny.

"Brian sees the market for

"Brian sees the market for territorial defense monopolized by FedGov, but for that very reason, he cannot choose another alternative."

Right: Brian thinks that the government is actually going to provide him with something resembling "security".

You are no longer making a

You are no longer making a moral argument, but rather, a consequential one.

Mark, Check out

Mark,


Check out www.citizenschool.com. Luke (my nearly 14yo son) is planning to do this next year?the long bus ride and lack of flexibility at the county school finally got to him. He also likes the idea of finishing his HS degree in ~18 months?it gives him a couple years to do some community college classes, pursue his tennis, and play around with some business ideas before starting at VT at the same age as the government-educated kids. The advertised price of $340 per (academic) year has gone up by $80 recently, but it still comes in under your $500 benchmark. I?ll let you know how it goes.

Outstanding! Sounds like a great addition to the hokie nation.

I went back and reread several times to make sure this was your view?it surprised me a little compared to your pragmatic opinion on using government-sanctioned doctors.

My refusal to vote is based on consequences. I don't find it unethical to vote, as I believe a vote can be made in self-defense. Both Rothbard and Spooner held that view.

However, my single vote won't affect any election ever. If I am simply left with voting as a means of self-expression (and that's all it really is for any one individual), then I wish to express my disguist with the kleptocratic system of modern politics. I just don't think we'll reach the fourth box. This is the place in which liberty spread it roots, and those roots run deep, even today. The only way the fire will extinguish is if we lose the accumulated knowledge of the last century - the results of state power unleashed, the positiv-sum ideas of Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, Rand, Hess, both Friedmans, Austrian econ, Chicago econ, public choice econ, etc. It ain't gonna happen. The distributed internet assures that. Like I said before, I'm an optimist.

Finally, one of the things I like best about your blog is the civil tone you all try to maintain here. I?m glad you can continue to give Ben encouragement even as the arguments sometimes heat up. Although the occasional compliment thrown out here might seem off-topic, it does seem to keep the signal to noise ratio high.

Thanks!

Brian - I agree (for the

Brian - I agree (for the most part) wholeheartedly with your initial post.
I'd like to add though, that there are many pro-war libertarians who are just as dogmatic and schismatic. For most of them, it doesn't seem to be coming from ideological rigidity, as much as from emotionalism and territorialism... which is even more irritating, because it is hard to argue with someone who keeps calling you names.
I happen to be deontologically anti-war. However, I also understand that evil has gradations. So in the instance of the "War on Terror" (which is an awful name for anti-terrorism, but it sells to the pro-war types I spoke of above), it could be said that Government self-defense is better than no self-defense at all, though still an evil. (just like I would prefer a minimal state or radical decentralism to what we have right now, though it is far from ideal) This assumes that a real War on Terror(ists) is being fought, which I am not fully convinced of.
I don't consider the war on Iraq to be a case of self-defense. And the "rebuilding"/occupation phase destroys any legitimacy it might have had (IMO) as a war for the self-defense of the Iraqis against their state. In fact it (the occupation phase) has had the effect of undermining the "War on Terror", and the WOT is far more morally defensible than overthrowing a foreign state, while expanding the domestic one to do so.
Even though I don't expect all fellow libertarians to agree with my reasoning on this, I do think that we can unite on so many other fronts that it is ridiculous to undermine each other constantly rather than work together for the goals we do agree on. Which seems to me to be the main point of your post here.

Adem: Thanks for the

Adem:

Thanks for the comments, and I'll agree that the schismatic phenomena is not wholly the domain of the antiwar libertarians.

This assumes that a real War on Terror(ists) is being fought, which I am not fully convinced of.
I don?t consider the war on Iraq to be a case of self-defense. And the ?rebuilding?/occupation phase destroys any legitimacy it might have had (IMO) as a war for the self-defense of the Iraqis against their state. In fact it (the occupation phase) has had the effect of undermining the ?War on Terror?, and the WOT is far more morally defensible than overthrowing a foreign state, while expanding the domestic one to do so.

I'm sure that the government is not persuing the WOT in the most efficient manner (or perhaps not efficiently at all); its the nature of government work, and exacerbated by an intersection with international politics (and other foreign domestic polities). Still, it ought to be done given that we are in a state of war with a global NGO that has several state partners.

The war in Iraq started on January 16th, 1991, and ended sometime in May, 2003 (I forget exactly when major combat ops were over and no Saddamist units held the field or de jure power in a part of the country). Given that we entered that war as the contracted defense agency of the Kuwaiti ruling family, to restore their private property to them (i.e. all of Kuwait), we had the casus belli provided by proxy (Iraq invaded Kuwait, Kuwait sold the right to self-defense to the US in exchange for a promise to restore Kuwait to the al-Sabah family, thus the US is now the aggrieved).

The US and its allies never signed a peace treaty with Iraq, but rather a 'cease fire' agreement, which stipulated that the US would cease trying to blow the crap out of Saddam's regime in exchange for certain concessions, such as disarming his military (WMDs, divisions, etc).

Saddam, within months of the cease fire agreement, began routinely breaking it- firing at coalition forces, rebuilding his military, attacking civilians, etc. Simply the firing on US forces is again an aggressive act and following the chain of causation, as the antiwar side say, that was simply yet another continuance of Saddam's initial aggression. The US, in 1992, 1993, 1994, and really at all times since, had the right as a matter of self-defense to re-engage in hostilities with Iraq, since Saddam broke the contract (cease fire).

Unfortunately, the US govt and its allies chose a "third way" between letting Saddam off the hook for breaking the contract and enforcing the terms of the contract (i.e. 'if you break the terms, we end you') by slapping massive economic sanctions; a trade embargo, and daily bombings in the 'no-fly zones'. Worse, the US let the UN tromp all over and insinuate themselves into the Saddam regime. Saddam made use of the UN's notorious corruption to provide cover for illicit trade in oil to France, Germany, and Russia in exchange for money under the table (as well as military equipment to keep his Special Republican Guard units in top shape to maintain power). So US policy, in failing to punish the initial insult (and breaking of the cease fire) by Saddam, decided to punish the Iraqi people through economic warfare (and the occasional bomb) and let Saddam enrich himself.

This is a case where not going to war cost hundreds of thousands of lives, where simply taking Saddam out in 1991 would not.

I am against policies that deliberately draw out war, and especially those that substitute economic warfare against civilians for actual warfare against military units & state forces.

Thus, WMD arguments and everything else aside, there is no way that the 'current' Iraq war was anything *but* self-defense (or, more precisely, a response to aggression initiated by a foreign power), precisely because of the history and agreements broken prior to 2003. Most antiwar arguments that I have seen want to forget that the war in 1991 never ended, or that there was one in the first place; they all take as an initial given that Iraq is weak and hasn't attacked the US or anyone lately (which isn't true, since Iraq fired at coalition aircraft also on a semi-weekly basis), and that if Iraq has, it was 'iraqi self defense against US aggression', which if you know anything about history you know is complete bollocks.

Given that the US waged war on the Iraqi population for 12 years, I think that principles of justice would demand restitution on our part, which for me justifies what reconstruction has happened (though it does not spare the US govt my ire in (a) accumulating such a debt to the iraqi people through its policies and (b) for fucking up the reconstruction by transferring tax dollars not to Iraqi firms, but to Halliburton et al, to rebuild Iraq at 1000x inflated prices).

But I appreciate your argument against the war, because at least we're both starting from the same point and differing on how we weight probabilities and consequences. And you're right that since it is a state action, it is inherently compromised. The point is whether or not that compromise will eliminate any benefit from a proposed action. At this point, I say it has not (despite all the crap in Iraq, the Iraqi people are better off, the infrasturcture is better, the economy is better, and despite what the media and Antiwar folk say, its a more peaceful place than it was under Saddam, too).

Jonathan, The AMA is an

Jonathan,

The AMA is an entity kept in power by FedGov.

And Lopez doesn't want the AMA to do a thing for him, or anything at all for that matter.

Do you want the US military to do anything?

There is no inherent

There is no inherent contradiction in using the common law to point out how bizarre your conclusion is, then rejecting libertarian ideals in general as unhelpful in analysing interstate deals. I was, in fact, illustrating how bizarre your argument was with a simple reference.

You claim that the ceasefire agreement was a judgment, analogous to a court. Who made the US a judge? And where was this trial held? I hope you're not going to invoke the UN as the court and the US as enforcer, because the idea is prima facie ridiculous: the UN has no controlling legal authority whatsoever. Judgments and trials need jurisdiction. The US has no jurisdiction for resolving international conflicts.

You might say that the US has natural law authority to do so. Yet the US shouldn't even exist under the standards of natural law, so one can hardly give it the PDA Defence. That would be like excusing Haliburton on market grounds.

However, even using your PDA example, if two PDAs are going to war against one another, one can hardly drag the other before dispute resolution if the resolver has no jurisdiction, either contractually before the war or by compact after the war. Again, I don't see where the US has this jurisdiction, and the UN obviously doesn't have it.

As to Kuwait's history, Kuwait's history is far more intricate than the "private property of the royal family" rubbish you're spouting.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Kuwait

Apparently there is a substantial question of whether or not Kuwait is actually a part of Iraq or not. Using your PDA Defence, Iraq might simply be reining in the Kuwaiti thieves who are trying to steal its property. (See how ridiculous this gets when you try to apply libertarian ideals to interstate actions?)

I certainly don't support Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, and I prefer Kuwaiti independence to its subversion to Iraq, but the US was not the proper means to achieve this.

- Josh