Tag Archives: libertarianism

Rothbard and War by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

You can’t have a limited, libertarian government at home if that same government pursues interventionist policies abroad. From Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. at lewrockwell.com:

This talk was delivered at the Ron Paul Institute’s Conference on Breaking Washington’s Addiction to War.

Murray Rothbard was the creator of the modern libertarian movement and a close friend of both Ron Paul and me. His legacy was a great one, and at the Mises Institute I try every day to live up to his hopes for us.

One issue was the most important to him, of all the many issues that concerned him. This was the issue of war and peace. Because of his support for a peaceful, noninterventionist foreign policy for America, the CIA agent William F. Buckley blacklisted him from National Review and tried, fortunately without success, to silence his voice.

During the 1950’s, Murray worked for the Volker Fund, and in a letter to Ken Templeton in 1959, he complained about the situation:  “I can think of no other magazine which might publish this, though I might fix it up a bit and try one of the leftist-pacifist publications. The thing is that I am getting more and more convinced that the war-peace question is the key to the whole libertarian business, and that we will never get anywhere in this great intellectual counterrevolution (or revolution) unless we can end this . . . cold war-a war for which I believe our tough policy is largely responsible.”

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What America Needs Is a Paradigm Shift, by Jacob G. Hornberger

The current paradigm, promoted by both parties, is more government. We need a new paradigm. From Jacob G. Hornberger at fff.org:

From the Democratic Party debates, it’s not difficult to see that there really isn’t any difference in principle between any of the Democratic presidential candidates and, for that matter, between Republicans and Democrats.

Oh, yes, I know how the mainstream media is portraying the “big” differences between the Democrats and President Trump but that’s just because their mindsets are stuck in the statist paradigm. For a person whose mind is stuck in the statist paradigm, the various candidates within the paradigm appear to have monumental differences. But once a person breaks out of the statist paradigm, he realizes that the differences between the various Democratic and Republicans candidates are minor and really go to degree, not principle.

Consider healthcare. The Democrats favor Medicare for All. Trump and his fellow Republicans favor Medicare for Some.

Now, that’s obviously a big difference to the mainstream media because they are operating within the statist paradigm.

From a libertarian perspective, my reaction is, big deal. There is no difference in principle between Medicare for All and Medicare for Some. The only difference is in degree. The point is that they all support government involvement in healthcare because that’s a core feature of the statist paradigm, just like it is in Cuba.

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The Cost of the Enlightenment, by Daniel Ajamian

Does libertarianism need more than the nonagression principle? From Daniel Ajamian at lewrockwell.com:

I would like to thank Joe for the introduction and invitation, Lew for his leadership of and vision for the Institute, the supporters and friends of the Mises Institute for helping to make it the premier source on economics and liberty in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard, and I especially would like to thank The Lou Church Foundation for annually sponsoring this lecture.

It is broadly accepted that out of Enlightenment thinking came many of the “goods” of our society; goods economic, political, and social.  Goods ranging from the material wealth and the technology we enjoy to classical liberalism and libertarianism.  It is on the latter that I will focus.

An exhaustive discussion of the connection of Enlightenment thought to Classical liberalism and libertarianism is not necessary for this audience, so I will summarize: reason, the individual, equality, property rights, the separation of church and state, and science and politics freed from religious dogma.  These pillars underlie the classical liberalism that many point to and exclaim: here, we finally found freedom!  Instead, what if these have cost us our freedom?

What is Enlightenment?  Immanuel Kant gave his answer:

Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is man’s inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another….”Have courage to use your own reason!” That is the motto of enlightenment.

There is Diderot’s Encyclopedia, considered one of the greatest cultural and intellectual achievements of the Enlightenment; a 20 million word man-made blueprint for the creation of a rational, improving and cultivated society.

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A Response to Daniel McCarthy’s “Why Libertarians are Wrong”, by Jeff Deist

Libertarianism is a political philosophy that deals with the proper use of force in a society, by government and everyone else. It can’t be criticized for not dealing with issues outside that essential but not all encompassing question. From Jeff Deist at mises.org:

Daniel McCarthy, editor of Modern Age and editor at large for The American Conservative, recently published an essay on the Spectator USA site titled “Why Libertarians are Wrong.” It merits a response because Mr. McCarthy is friendly and sympathetic toward libertarianism, and despite the infirmities of his article ought to be seen as a fellow traveler.

The title misleads us a bit from the beginning, because McCarthy is sound on the single most important libertarian political issue: war and peace. He objected to George W. Bush’s foray into Iraq, he attacks the permanent-war complex and its funding, and he consistently advocates a reasonably non-interventionist US foreign policy far closer to Ron Paul than John Bolton. He also has read Mises and Hayek, and unlike many intellectual conservatives (a dwindling group) McCarthy is not mired in Burke or Buckley or Reagan. He even blogged for the 2008 Paul presidential campaign and has spoken at the Mises Institute on foreign policy. So unlike a Bill Kristol or Sean Hannity, his conservative critique comes without ignorance or malice.

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No Consent Given, by Joel Bowman

Did you give the government the right to run your life? Do you remember ever being asked? From Joel Bowman at internationalman.com:

“Libertarianism: The radical notion that other people are not your property.”

We don’t know who first authored those words, but we’ve noticed the pithy meme doing the rounds on social media sites again recently.

Could people finally be catching on? Probably only the “radicals”…

It sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? A kind of “do unto others…but not without their consent.”

Of course, there are other ways to express this basic principle: live and let live… to each his own and his own to each… and, our personal favorite, mind your own [insert expletive of choice here] business…

Alas, some people cannot leave well enough alone. They feel the need, the impulsion, the “hand of history,” as a conspicuously invertebrate British politician once described it, to intervene… to “do something.”

Whether or not that something is the moral thing is, to their mind, beside the point. Just so long as it is not nothing…

And therein lies the root problem with every brand of collectivism, be it socialism, republicanism, monarchism et alia. Each and every machination is, in one way or another, inherently coercive. That is, they all rely on the initiation of force against another.

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The People Give the Orders and the Government Obeys, by Jeff Thomas

One town in Mexico is making something that looks suspiciously like libertarianism work. From Jeff Thomas at internationalman.com:

The sign above is located in the state of Chiapas in Mexico. In English, it says, “You are in the territory of Zapatista in Rebellion. Here, the people give the orders and the government obeys.”

Well, of course, what that really means is that the Zapatistas give the orders, not the people as a whole. Still, the people generally regard the Zapatistas as being more representative of their wishes (and less parasitical) than the government.

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The Libertarian Standard, by Eric Peters

The government can do most anything it wants, as long as it proclaims it’s doing it for our safety, but only liberty keeps us safe from the most dangerous and deadly institution ever established: government. From Eric Peters at theburningplatform.com:

The obvious is often the hardest to understand  . . .  and to accept.

For example, the very strange idea that we are “safer” the more our liberties are infringed upon. If so, then inmates in solitary confinement are safest of all.

It’s absurd, obviously. And yet this idea – the fundamental idea – is accepted by what seems to be a working majority of the populace. Which suggests either an incapacity to reason or a general lowering of intelligence.

Possibly both.

The “safety” (and “security”) argument is based on an obvious logical contradiction: How can one be “safe” or “secure” when there is no limit to what government may do to anyone, so long as it is asserted that whatever is done is necessary to keep everyone “safe”?

It amounts to a lettre de chachet, for those up on their French history – the history of the Bourbon absolute monarchy in particular. The lettreempowered its holder with arbitrary power to do whatever to whomever. Just because. No burden of proof, no presentation of evidence subject to cross-examination; most of all, no presumption of innocence – and certainly no restraint of punishment prior to guilt established by due process of law.

Sound familiar?

We find ourselves living in a security state – not a free one. There is literally nothing – in principle and almost in fact – that the government may not do to us, or order us not to do. Always in the name of “keeping us safe.” Or for reasons of “security.” We are subject to punishment for affronting statutes; for what a supposed “someone” might do that could (so it is asserted) result in harm.

There is no end to it. No line in the sand beyond which the government’s boots may not tread.

To continue reading: The Libertarian Standard

Donald Trump and the Libertarian Future, by Nick Gillespie and Veronique de Rugy

Two libertarians from Reason’s take on Donald Trump and the age we live in. From Nick Gillespie and Veronique de Rugy at reason.com:

We need a new, individualized operating system for politics and it will happen on the new president’s watch, whether he wants it or not.

Donald Trump is nobody’s idea of a libertarian but his presidency provides a tremendous opportunity to advance libertarian policies, outcomes, and aspirations in our politics and broader culture. Those of us who believe in reducing the size, scope, and spending of the federal government and expanding the autonomy, opportunities, and ability of people to live however they choose should welcome the Trump era. That’s not because of the new president’s agenda but because he enters office as the man who will inevitably close out a failing 20th-century model of governance.

Liberal, conservative, libertarian: We all understand that whatever the merits of the great political, economic, and cultural institutions of the last 70 years—the welfare state built on unsustainable entitlement spending; a military that spends more and more and succeeds less and less; the giant corporations (ATT, IBM, General Motors) that were “beyond” market forces until they weren’t; rigid social conventions that sorted people into stultifying binaries (black and white, male and female, straight and mentally ill)—these are everywhere in ruins or retreat.

The taxi cab—a paradigmatic blending of private enterprise and state power in a system that increasingly serves no one well—is replaced by ride-sharing services that are endlessly innovative, safer, and self-regulating. Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson’s campaign slogan—Uber everything—was the one self-evident truth uttered throughout the 2016 campaign. All aspects of our lives are being remade according to a new, inherently libertarian operating system that empowers individuals and groups to pursue whatever experiments in living they want. As one of us (Nick Gillespie) wrote with Matt Welch in The Declaration of Independents, the loosening of controls in our commercial, cultural, and personal lives has consistently enriched our world. The sharing economy, 3D printing and instantaneous global communication means businesses grow, flourish, adapt, and die in ways that perfectly fulfill Schumpeterian creative destruction. We live in a world where consuming art, music, video, text, and other forms of creative expression is its own form or production and allows us to connect in lateral rather than hierarchical ways. Pernicious racial and ethnic categories persist but they have been mostly supplanted by a tolerance and a level of lived pluralism that was unimaginable even 20 years ago, when less than [SIC] of Americans approved of interracial marriages. Politics, Welch and Gillespie wrote, is a lagging indicator of where America is already heading and in many cases has already arrived.

To continue reading: Donald Trump and the Libertarian Future

Are You a Libertarian? Is Gary Johnson One? by Eric Peters

A nice summary of a contemporary libertarian philosophy divorced from Ayn Rand’s philosophical underpinnings (she did not call the political aspects of her philosophy libertarianism, but many libertarians claim her as the fountainhead (pardon the pun) of their politics). From Eric Peters on a guest post at theburningplatform.com:

Gary Johnson describes himself as a Libertarian but isn’t one.

A Libertarian is not a “socially liberal/fiscally conservative” Republican – which is what Johnson is, even if he doesn’t realize it.

Republicans, just like Democrats, believe the use of coercion to organize society and direct the actions of individuals contrary to their will is morally legitimate; they just prefer to use less of it – and for different reasons – than Democrats.

It’s like the difference between Coke and Pepsi… 

Johnson supports forcing people to have their children vaccinated (and according to a schedule decreed by government; that is, by people such as himself). He believes it is acceptable to threaten people with violence in order to compel them to hand over their money (taxes) just like a Democrat; the only difference being the use to which these extorted funds are put. Johnson prefers taxes designed to combat “climate change” or to fund the United Nations. But he does not object to taxes in principle.

Johnson, like other Republicans, supports using force to impose his values on others; to deny other people their right to freely associate (or not associate). He is on record defending the use of government force to compel the owner of a privately owned business to do business with people he would prefer not to do business with. Etc.

Whether you agree or disagree with any of the above political points-of-view, there can be no disagreement that Libertarians do not countenance such things.

Johnson may be a libertine (he supports state-sanctioned gay marriage and is ok with the state acceding to the use/possession of some drugs – those Johnson thinks are “ok”) but he isn’t a Libertarian. He doesn’t seem to have any idea what it means to be a Libertarian.

So, what defines a Libertarian?

Fundamentally, a Libertarian is a person who rejects as a moral indecency the use of force in social/political interactions with others. He defends the moral principle of voluntary interactions.

Even when he personally would perhaps act differently or does not approve of what others choose to do.

The Libertarian accepts as his moral-philosophical starting point that just as he is the absolute owner of himself, other people are equally the absolute owners of themselves. Accordingly – logically and morally – no human being has any rightful ownership claims to another human being.

Or their property.

Libertarians hold that what you create or produce (or freely acquire by purchasing it or it being freely given to you by its rightful owner) is yours without qualification – and belongs to no other person. You may choose to share what’s yours with others. But no one has a right to force you to share, much less take your property – or control it any way whatsoever.

To continue reading: Are You a Libertarian? Is Gary Johnson One?


We Can Live With Communists, by Eric Peters

There is one key difference betweeen Libertarians and adherents of every other political philosophy: Libertarians don’t tell anyone else what to do, and ask only that others don’t tell them what to do. From Eric Peters on a guest post at theburningplatform.com:

A Libertarian can live in peace with a communist or a fascist – or even a Republican or a Democrat.

Let ‘em get together, buy a compound, admit like-minded people to their group and do their thing. God bless ’em. The Libertarian will not bother them. He won’t tax ‘em, regulate ‘em or attempt to control them in any way whatsoever. He will respect their right to choose their way of life, even if it means handing over control of their lives to an individual “leader” or “representatives” of the (supposed) will of “the people.”

But none of them are capable of leaving a Libertarian in peace.

All of the political ideologies except Libertarianism are defined by their refusal to take “no, thanks” as an answer. Their unwillingness to leave others alone. Their utter rejection of the principle that government (like any contract) is only legitimate if freely consented to.

If you do not agree with a communist, a fascist, a Republican or a Democrat, he will insist. If you resist, he will use whatever violent means are necessary to compel your obedience. If it comes down to it, he will have you killed.

Chairman Mao – one of history’s greatest mass murderers – was absolutely right when he observed that political power flows from the barrel of a gun.

This goes for Republicans and Democrats, too. They are just less honest with themselves about it than Chairman Mao. They patty-cake talk in euphemisms about the violence that is the foundation of their ideologies. But euphemisms don’t alter the fact that violence is, indeed, the foundation of their ideologies – as much as it was the foundation of Mao’s.

We are talking differences of degree, not kind.

Only Libertarians offer the latter.

You can deride us as “selfish” – a commonly hurled insult – but whatever you may think about us, we aren’t the ones pointing guns at people. We may ask for your cooperation, attempt to persuade you that “x” or “y” is a good idea and worth your support. But we stop there. If you tell us, “no thanks – I’m not interested” we will accept your decision and leave you be. We might be disappointed, but we won’t insist.

That is the nature of our “selfishness.”

We don’t claim you “owe” money for things you never bought and don’t want. We figure it’s up to you to decide what you want and buy it if you want to. We only ask that you use your own money – not ours.

We figure, if you’re not hurting someone by whatever it is you’re doing, we haven’t got any right to interfere with what you’re doing. We may think you’re weird, even foolish. But we will leave you alone unless you aren’t leaving others alone.

Can a Republican or Democrat say the same?


They differ (and bicker) only logistically. Who will get what taken from whom. They both agree (unanimously) on the taking – and the controlling.

And here’s the thing: Inevitably, the taking and controlling wax rather than wane. Attempting to “limit” it is as hopeless as trying to keep a puddle of gasoline from igniting by only putting a match to a corner of the puddle.

To continue reading: We Can Live With Communists