The FLDS and the Iraq War

While it is not yet entirely clearly if systematic, institutional violent coercion took place at FLDS (e.g. if the group legitimized child molestation and/or forcibly prevented exit), it is in fact entirely clear that systematic, institutional violent coercion took place in Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

And yet many of us nevertheless opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq, not because we thought Saddam was a good person or because we denied that he committed crimes against his own people, but because using the U.S. government to intervene for humanitarian reasons (to replace a cruel dictator with “democracy”) is unwise in the extreme, for a variety of reasons. First, it would be naive to expect a government rife with massive failure in the domestic arena to achieve success with nation building. Second, the justification knows no limits; if it is proper to invade, occupy, and rebuild Iraq in our own image, why not also Iran, North Korea, or Zimbabwe? Feel free to to add in the many other reasons why you believed intervention was a bad idea.

Now, what is true in a clear-cut case like Iraq is a fortiori true in a less clear-cut case like the FLDS. As much as we may dislike the internal practices of these regimes, violent intervention is unlikely to improve things. Better to persuade peacefully with things like Radio Free Europe or pamphleteering than calling in the jackbooted government goon squads.

Chandran Kukathas has written on this inherent tension within libertarianism: “Two Constructions of Libertarianism," an article I reference frequently.

This post was inspired by Mona's FLDS post over at AotP. While you're over there, be sure to read Jim Henley's spot-on ode to Stealers Wheel:

I think libertarians are, rather, the court jesters of politics. I mean that in a good way. We whisper to Caesar that he is mortal. We caper about, turning ourselves blue if necessary, reminding everyone that government power is inescapably violent and inescapably self-interested. You’re probably not going to care, but we’re going to make you actively decide not to care. And sometimes, maybe you’ll care after all. As a class, we can be stupendously silly people, believing and saying the most absurd things. But our rulers are silly people too, in different and more malignant ways. And as fools, we have the freedom to say so.

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Like with charity, as the

Like with charity, as the saying goes, libertarianism starts at home. You can't expect libertarians to come to the help of oppressed people of various countries without having first developped the necessary security industries and established the legitimacy of discriminate selling of guns, warjets, tanks and the associated defensive services. Seriously, how else could we have it, assuming this country were finally free ? I can't think of another way for Anarcapia to come to the rescue of victims of statism, than by selling punctual interventions at a premium to them, securing their assets and offering them telecommuting jobs.

In the meantime, the question itself seems pointless, because there is nothing we can ethically do given the current situation, except start solving our more immediate problems.

"We caper about, turning ourselves blue if necessary, reminding everyone that government power is inescapably violent and inescapably self-interested. You’re probably not going to care, but we’re going to make you actively decide not to care."

That's a rather positive thing, because it may hint that we can coexist as a free group aside the unfree world where most people have chosen to live.