Why Libertarians Are Failing At Politics

Jerry Taylor of the Niskanen Center dropped a truth bomb on the beltway in his recent piece for Fox News about the decline of Rand Paul. Taylor notes that the alleged growth of the libertarian movement in the wake of the Ron Paul campaign was largely illusory. The alienated populists and conspiracy theorists that filled out Paul’s numbers in 2012 easily made the transition to the very un-libertarian Donald Trump in 2015, leaving Rand out in the cold.

The lack of a broad-based movement, despite a number of high profile campaigns and events, is a bitter pill for libertarians who believe in electoral politics. Having libertarians in office may help raise the profile of issues like overcriminalization, tech freedom, and the insanity of the drug war. But those who await a libertarian takeover of the GOP misunderstand the fundamentally radical nature of libertarian ideas and how deeply that radicalism conflicts with the perceptions most Americans have about the role of government.

Trump supporters are a grim reminder that millions of voters view the government as a hammer that can be wielded to smash opposing values or groups and force their beliefs on others. Educating the electorate about libertarian ideas misses the fact that they have no real incentive to learn; most don’t care about the relationship between man and state and likely never will, as long as the state continues to provide the stability they have come to expect. Ron Paul’s success in 2008 and 2012 can largely be credited to the mortgage crisis; once the sting faded, so did support for his radical ideas.

There’s a good reason libertarians remain at the ideological fringe: “Libertarian politics” is a contradiction in terms. Libertarianism is not a third party, like the Know-Nothings or the Whigs or a prescription of policy tweaks to make the government more efficient. It is a distinct value system that abhors political power itself, even if some of its adherents consider power a necessary evil.

Libertarians may disagree whether the state should be abolished or minimized, but the difference matters little to the average American: Both seem frighteningly outside his own experience. Even the most moderate libertarians will wax poetic about ending intellectual property or privatizing the welfare system. Moreover, virtually all voters are deeply invested in government services they have come to depend on, and libertarians have been unable to present hypothesized private-sector alternatives while the state forces dependence upon itself. Conceptually, libertarians are on a page that most people find bizarre.

Libertarianism is best understood as the latest in a long line of radical liberation ideologies, rooted in the principles of natural law and individualism, that have provided the intellectual basis for rebellion since the American Revolution. It is a reaction to the perpetual expansion of government power in the U.S. and its frequent abuses. But radicalism, by definition, is immoderate and cannot compromise its way to reforms. Rather than moving toward the “Overton window” of public opinion by moderating controversial views (as Rand Paul attempted), radicals must pull public opinion towards their own viewpoints. Rand’s straying from libertarian principles means that he likely has little unique appeal even for the tiny libertarian electorate his father created. David Boaz’s research shows that 70% of libertarian-leaning voters went with Mitt Romney over Gary Johnson in 2012, so we know even libertarians who believe in politics are willing to blunt their own sword.

If libertarianism is denied its radical characteristics, it degrades into a flimsy millennial conservatism: Fiscally conservative, socially liberal and completely powerless, a mashup of existing ideas better espoused by other parties and ideologies. Without unyielding commitment to truly radical ideas, libertarians are drowned out by louder voices catering to the will of angry, pitchfork-bearing constituents. They add little of value, and are likely to end up little more than a footnote in the history of conservatism.

To fail to understand this is to remain resigned to swim against the tide of American politics. As Friedrich Hayek pointed out: “Those who have concerned themselves exclusively with what seemed practicable in the existing state of opinion have constantly found that even this has rapidly become politically impossible as the result of changes in a public opinion which they have done nothing to guide.”

Instead, libertarians might be more useful as single-issue activists and innovators. While U.S. politicians fail to shrink government, individualists like Erik Voorhees, Cody Wilson, Peter Thiel and the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto are using technology to forge a new path. Time will tell exactly where that leads. But Rand’s decline underlines the fact that libertarian ethics predicate disruption and revolution, not moderation and compromise. As such, it is unlikely to ever get big votes in American politics.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

A Few Words On Evil Politicians And The Masochists Who Love Them

Many people have great hope that a new political candidate actually will be good and do something good for a change. They hope that their new hero is telling them the truth, is a sincerely good person and is honest. The people believe all that despite all the facts they know about their new guy or gal, all the skeletons now out of the closet, all the incompetence and corruption for all to see. Yet the people still believe in their candidate, because he or she is saying all the right things and eliciting the right emotions.

That said, I can’t believe all the naive and gullible sheeple following the current gang of hoodlums and gangsters who want to be the next Criminal-in-Chief, and that includes some libertarian sheeple as well. Which is fine if you want to live in some fantasy world, in which the candidate in which you have hope and faith is still a sleazebag and a gangster. Let’s play games and pretend that Richard Nixon is really a good guy. They are all Richard Nixons, in case you didn’t know.

For instance, take Donald Trump. Please. He’s not exactly fooling all the people all the time, but he’s getting there. Hmmm, let’s build a Berlin Wall at the border so that eventually our government will use it to keep the people in, as that is what bureaucrats do with a government wall. It is not private property. Private property should have walls, gates, fences, guards, etc. But what kind of people would desperately need to obstruct the rights of others to freedom of movement and pursuit of happiness? A lot of people agree with Trump on that. They cheer him on when it comes to their communistic collectivist exclusionism.

And, oooh, we want a President who wants to order others around, including private businesses, and foreigners in other countries, such as China and Mexico. Yayyy, a Nazi. Heil The Donald! Speaking of private property, Trump loves eminent domain, in which businessmen use the armed power of government to steal private property to pursue their own profits. In his rationalization of government’s armed robbery of private property from its rightful owners, Trump invokes “jobs,” stating that “if you have a road or highway, you gotta do it. If you have a factory where you have thousands of jobs, and you need eminent domain, it’s called economic development.”

So government theft of private property is “economic development.”

Justifying stealing private property away from its rightful owners, Trumps says, “Cities have the right to condemn for the good of the city. Everybody coming into Atlantic City sees this terrible house instead of staring at beautiful fountains and beautiful other things that would be good.” (Did The Donald ever hear the one about the road to Hell being paved with good intentions? I didn’t think so.)

And let’s have a President who wants to restrict his own fellow Americans’ rights to trade freely with others. “We need fair trade. Not free trade.” So that means he’s against free markets and free competition. What’s fair is what some government bureaucrat says is fair. And Trump wants to be that bureaucrat. (Well, good for you! as Elizabeth Warren might say.)

But that’s the kind of people who are drawn to the power of President or other high government offices, with the power to order others around and commit criminal acts against innocents and get away with it. And the general population seems to be drawn to the criminals and reprobates more than they are drawn to those with actual moral character and with knowledge and understanding of liberty, such as Ron Paul.

And now we hear that “Doctor” Ben Carson may not have been the greatest brain surgeon in the world. Six malpractice lawsuits? Six? Leaving sponges in brains? Causing brain damage? A shunt put in upside down, causing severe pain? Perforated eardrums? “Now paralyzed from the waist down”? After my own experiences with “doctors,” I am not at all surprised by this, and I’ll bet all this stuff goes on all the time, with surgeries especially.

Oh, and Carson says that anyone who’s a Muslim can’t be President. Apparently, Carson hasn’t read Article VI, paragraph 3 of the U.S. Constitution he wants to swear an oath to obey as President: “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” But hey, since when has a President obeyed the rules set forth in theConstitution?

And Carly Fiorina with her close relationship with the CIA and NSA. She’d be wonderful for liberty! Just kidding. While Ron Paul would close up all U.S. government foreign military bases and bring all the U.S. troops back home (and, preferably, put them to work in the private sector), Carly Fiorina wants to even further expand the reach of the U.S. government overseas. Talk about covetous. “Eminent Domain” on steroids. And as this article shows, she is just another dishonest, manipulating, power-hungry basketcase with extremely deep and unresolved personal issues. But, aren’t they all?

And that’s just the “private sector,” non-“professional politicians” in this campaign. The others, the actual professional politicians, the life-long parasites (except Rand, though, but only since 2010), are even worse than these schmucks! But the gullible, ignorant sheeple love these tyrants and tyrant-wannabes. They eat it up, and they will vote for their further enslavement. Yay!

This commentary originally appeared at Scott’s blog.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

Who Are The Champions Of The Common Man?

The media’s caricature of libertarians is a pendulum that swings from one extreme to another. One minute we’re grasping plutocrats, championing the privileged, and the next minute we’re losers living in our parents’ basements.

Not long ago, Michael Lind adopted the first of these, professing to find it risible that a libertarian might pose as the champion of the common man. Why, libertarians favor the super rich!

Hence, according to Lind, the idea of “libertarian populism” is absurd. Now I agree with Bob Wenzel that the last thing we need is another term, and that plain old “libertarian” suits us just fine. But it’s worth noting that the idea of libertarian populism – that libertarians are indeed the champions of the ordinary folk, because we are champions of all innocent people against the predatory state – is not ridiculous at all, as the great champion of regular people, Ron Paul, has shown.

Now to be sure, libertarians don’t favor anyone in particular. We don’t single out the poor, the rich, the working class, the industrialists, the conservationists, the farmers, the young, the old, the black, the white, or anyone else for special treatment. We are the champions of everyone against the biggest ripoff of them all.

This was the view of Murray N. Rothbard, Mr. Libertarian himself, who said in 1977:

Too many libertarians have absorbed the negative and elitist conservative worldview to the effect that our enemy today is the poor, who are robbing the rich; the blacks, who are robbing the whites; or the masses, who are robbing heroes and businessmen. In fact, it is the state that is robbing all classes, rich and poor, black and white, worker and businessman alike; it is the state that is ripping us all off; it is the state that is the common enemy of mankind. And who is the state? It is any group who manages to seize control of the state’s coercive machinery of theft and privilege. Of course these ruling groups have differed in composition through history, from kings and nobles to privileged merchants to Communist parties to the Trilateral Commission. But whoever they are, they can only be a small minority of the population, ruling and robbing the rest of us for their power and wealth. And since they are a small minority, the state rulers can only be kept in power by deluding us about the wisdom or necessity of their rule. Hence, it is our major task to oppose and desanctify their entrenched rule, in the same spirit that the first libertarian revolutionaries opposed and desanctified their rulers two hundred years ago. [Emphasis added.]

This is why the Jacksonians (who were, to be sure, far from pure libertarians, but that isn’t the point) in 1830s America adopted “equal rights” as their slogan. We know what “equal rights” means today, of course: expropriation of one group to benefit another, with the state skimming off its usual cut for itself. But in those days, equal rights meant only that no person or group received any state-provided advantage, since state-provided advantages always come at the expense of other people or groups.

This was considered the obvious program for the common man. While the Whigs pined for a national bank and various corporate welfare projects, the Democrats believed themselves to be champions of the workingman’s cause by opposing all forms of state privilege. By and large they did not counter with federal programs of their own.

But hasn’t the state lifted up the poor? The state’s efforts to alleviate poverty have had minuscule effects when they haven’t been counterproductive. The vast bulk of the conquest of poverty that took place in the twentieth century occurred well before the federal government had done much of anything. It occurred because the unhampered market naturally leads to an improvement in the general standard of living.

Meanwhile, as the country at large endures great economic distress, civilian employment has skyrocketed in Washington, DC, where the average federal worker earns more than double the salary of the average worker in the private sector. The parasite-host relationship that exists between the ruling few and the toiling many is rarely so stark.

It’s no coincidence that Murray Rothbard was also a pioneer in power-elite analysis. For instance, Rothbard’s essay “Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy,” published as a small book by the Center for Libertarian Studies, proposes that there might be a teensy bit more to American foreign policy than a disinterested dedication to promoting “democracy.”

Consider just a few paragraphs:

A glance at foreign policy leaders since World War II will reveal the domination of the banker elite. Truman’s first Secretary of Defense was James V. Forrestal, former president of the investment-banking firm of Dillon, Read & Co., closely allied to the Rockefeller financial group. Forrestal had also been a board member of the Chase Securities Corporation, an affiliate of the Chase National Bank.

Another Truman Defense Secretary was Robert A. Lovett, a partner of the powerful New York investment-banking house of Brown Brothers Harriman. At the same time that he was Secretary of Defense, Lovett continued to be a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation. Secretary of the Air Force Thomas K. Finletter was a top Wall Street corporate lawyer and member of the board of the CFR while serving in the cabinet. Ambassador to Soviet Russia, Ambassador to Great Britain, and Secretary of Commerce in the Truman Administration was the powerful multi-millionaire W. Averell Harriman, an often underrated but dominant force within the Democratic Party since the days of FDR. Harriman was a partner of Brown Brothers Harriman.

Also Ambassador to Great Britain under Truman was Lewis W. Douglas, brother-in-law of John J. McCloy, a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, and a board member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Following Douglas as Ambassador to the Court of St. James was Walter S. Gifford, chairman of the board of AT&T, and member of the board of trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation for almost two decades. Ambassador to NATO under Truman was William H. Draper, Jr., vice-president of Dillon, Read & Co.

That’s just half of Rothbard’s analysis of the power elite surrounding just one president’s foreign policy team. Not exactly a cross-section of the downtrodden, in other words.

(Read Rothbard’s essay in its entirety, by the way, where he discusses some of the less glamorous motivations at work in the making of foreign policy.)

Who has benefited from the American warfare state? Who, that is, apart from those with political connections or government jobs? The question answers itself. Everyone else has suffered from the trillions of dollars looted from them so the Pentagon might have the power to obliterate every conceivable enemy city a dozen times over. We have suffered from increased indebtedness, and – because capital formation is undermined by the squandering of resources in war and in massive diversion of resources to the military sector – lower real wages than we would otherwise have enjoyed. We’ve suffered from the civilian research and development that never occurred because the brains behind it were siphoned into military research. The costs go on and on.

We can repeat this analysis over and over again, as we survey important components of American life. Who suffers under the federal government’s drug war? Not the wealthy and powerful. And who benefits? Certainly not the poor. But the tax-funded police forces that are awarded with more powerful weapons, more authority, and a seemingly endless cash cow, seem to do rather well.

Who angled for the Federal Reserve? The American public, or the bankers themselves? Anyone reading Rothbard knows the answer. It is not reasonable to expect us to believe that in just this one case, an interest group coming together to enshrine its preferences in law was doing so entirely for the public welfare.

The Fed, meanwhile, has not “stabilized the economy,” contrary to the usual propaganda, and in recent years gave rise to a housing bubble that wrecked the finances of a great many ordinary Americans. Then, adding insult to injury, it bailed out – on preposterous and indefensible grounds – some of the most reckless and irresponsible institutions.

What has the Fed’s economic planning accomplished for Main Street? The Fed’s planning, according to David Stockman, was based on the “wealth effect”: if the Fed pushed stock prices higher, Americans would feel wealthier and would be likely to spend and borrow more, thereby stimulating economic activity.

The results? Zero net breadwinner jobs created between early 2000 and early 2007. From 2000 to 2012, there have been 18,000 new jobs created each month. That’s about one-eighth of the growth in the labor force over the same period.

This is what the average person is supposed to be so grateful for?

The state, in short, enriches itself at the expense of the public it fleeces, all the while using its influence over education, the media, and culture to persuade the people that all this fleecing is good for them, that taxes are donations, and that bombing foreigners on ludicrous pretexts is “serving your country.” It urges the general public to consider the absence of the state as the most horrifying, inconceivable scenario of all.

The libertarian tears off the mask of the state, revealing it as the wealth-destroying, poverty-enhancing instrument of terror and expropriation it is. The advances that constitute civilization, libertarians argue, have resulted not from the orders of hangmen and other executioners, or the social planning of bureaucrats and academics, but from human beings cooperating voluntarily in ways that will amaze and astonish anyone who opens his eyes to see them.

And that makes libertarianism the most liberating political philosophy of all.

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. [send him mail], former editorial assistant to Ludwig von Mises and congressional chief of staff to Ron Paul, is founder and chairman of the Mises Institute, executor for the estate of Murray N. Rothbard, and editor of LewRockwell.com. His most recent book is Against the State: an Anarcho-Capitalist Manifesto. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

This article was originally published at LewRockwell.com and is reprinted here under a Creative Commons license. 

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson: Using Al-Qaeda To Fight ISIS Is Crazy And Dangerous

College of William & Mary Professor and Ron Paul Institute Academic Board Member Lawrence Wilkerson frankly assesses that former United States General and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director David Petraeus’ proposal that the US support al-Qaeda to fight the Islamic State (ISIS) is a “crazy idea” that creates a blowback danger for Americans. Wilkerson declared this assessment in an interview Thursday with RT host Thom Hartman.

In the interview, Wilkerson, a former US Army colonel and chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell, elaborates on his conclusion by warning:

I would point out that this is just the kind of thing we do that gives us this enormous blowback later. There is a direct line between our support for the mujahideen — the training and arming of al-Qaeda in particular in Afghanistan — and 9-11. And there will be a line, I assure you, between any support we give al-Qaeda or al-Qaeda-like elements in Syria and any future attack on the United States overseas, or here, by them. It’s just something that happens, and it’s extremely dangerous to be playing with this sort of thing.

The wide-ranging interview also contains Wilkerson’s frank insights regarding several other matters, including the paid lobbyists in America for the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) — “one of the most brutal terrorist organizations in the world,” the Saudi Arabia government — or some elements of it — “financing and supporting” ISIS, and former Vice President Dick Cheney, who Wilkerson calls “an obscene blemish on the American reputation” who “ought to be in jail for war crimes.”

Watch the complete 12-minute interview at the beginning of Thom Hartman’s show here:

On June 30, RPI Chairman Ron Paul and Executive Director Daniel McAdams discussed on the Ron Paul Liberty Report some earlier advocacy for the US government to overtly support al-Qaeda in the Middle East. Watch their discussion here:

Copyright © 2015 by RonPaul Institute.

This article originally appeared at RonPaulInstitute.org and is reprinted here with permission. 

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Yes, Ron Paul Is A ‘Libertarian’

On Wendy McElroy‘s website, there was an argument over whether or not Ron Paul is a “libertarian.” Of course he’s a libertarian! Yeah, he has some statist views, such as supporting the feds’ control over immigration. That’s okay.

But Dr. Paul stated during the 2012 campaign for President that if elected, he would pardon all non-violent “offenders” (including drug-related) who hadn’t actually harmed anyone, and he would release them from the prisons. Now, THAT’S a libertarian! He would also legalize all drugs, because he recognizes that the individual has the right to self-ownership, the right of ownership of one’s own body and the right to put into one’s own body what one chooses; and at the same time he advocates that each individual take responsibility for the consequences of one’s decisions and actions.

Dr. Paul also believes that the U.S. government has no moral authority to place its military bases on other peoples’ territories, and that the U.S. government acts criminally when it invades and occupies other lands in which the people there are of no threat to us. As President, he thus would have closed down all foreign U.S. military bases overseas and would have brought all U.S. troops home. And yes, that is a “libertarian” policy.

On the aforementioned Wendy McElroy blog, someone posted the following video (I think it was H. Reardon), in which Dr. Paul says that “anarchists” are okay, as long as they don’t violate the non-aggression principle, as long as they don’t violate others’ persons or property. All “anarchy” means is “no ruler.” It does not mean chaos, lawlessness, destruction and violence, despite such false connotations with that word. You are your own ruler of your own life. Just don’t initiate aggression against others.

And Dr. Paul states that libertarians generally support the right of socialists to have their own little community of socialism if they want it, as long as they don’t force others to take part who don’t want to take part, as long as the socialists don’t go over to others’ communities to “tax” i.e. steal from them, etc. In contrast, however, the socialists probably would not be open to allowing libertarians to have their own little community of liberty, not subject to the will of the socialist outsiders. And I believe he is correct on that, and I would put fascists in the same category as the socialists. That is the big difference between socialists/fascists and libertarians.

(And based on their policies and views, most Democrats and most Republicans are both socialists and fascists, in the accurate sense of those words, by the way!)

And here is that video:

This commentary originally appeared at Scott’s blog and is reprinted here with permission. 

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth