Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Focusing on anti-militarism

In recent posts about moving toward a “new left-libertarian synthesis” (agorist, georgist, and mutualist), both Freeman and Upaya agree (correctly, I think) that anti-militarism should be front and center in left-libertarian action and alliance-building. As Freeman writes:

“There is no question that war is the health of the state, and some of the most atrocious acts churned out by the federal government in recent years (like PATRIOT and Real ID) are essentially linked to US militarism in one way or another. The fact that reading the opinions of anti-war libertarians is what helped to pull me away from statist leftie thought and towards libertarianism also goes to show how important this issue is to me.”

I’m astonished that this core tenet of libertarianism has to be restated again and again. But I suppose it is necessary, especially at a time when both the Cato Institute and Libertarian Party have in large part backed the State’s global “war on terrorism.” (See my post from last month, “Are Cato and the LP ‘warmongers’?”)

It always pays for us Libertarian Leftists to return occasionally to The Plumb Line, our granddaddy Murray N. Rothbard. To Murray, the war issue was the focus of his libertarian activism.

From his keynote speech at the Mises Institute’s “Costs of War” conference in 1994:

“During my lifetime, my ideological and political activism has been focused on opposition to America’s wars, first because I have believed our waging them to be unjust, and, second, because war, in the penetrating phrase of the libertarian Randolph Bourne in World War I, has always been ‘the health of the state,’ an instrument of the aggrandizement of state power over the health, the lives, and the property of their subject citizens and social institutions.”

And dipping back further, this from “War, Peace, and the State” (1963):

“The great Randolph Bourne realized that ‘war is the health of the State.’ It is in war that the State really comes into its own: swelling in power, in number, in pride, in absolute dominion over the economy and the society. Society becomes a herd, seeking to kill its alleged enemies, rooting out and suppressing all dissent from the official war effort, happily betraying truth for the supposed public interest. Society becomes an armed camp, with the values and the morale — as Albert Jay Nock once phrased it — of an ‘army on the march.’ ”

And, finally, here’s a bit of libertarian strategy from the December 1969 issue of Murray’s Libertarian Forum newsletter:

“Too many libertarians make various ‘domestic’ questions: the census, taxation, neighborhood control, the central cutting edge of their anti-state concerns. As vitally important as these issues are, they pale into insignificance beside the vital importance of the war and its creator, American imperialism. It is war, losing, perpetual, stalemated war, that will ultimately bring down the American Leviathan.”

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At 8:44 AM, Blogger Vache Folle said...

How can anyone argue that militarism is compatible with libertarianism? I suppose my training in philosophy is deficient. I can see where my neighbors and I would want to protect ourselves from genuine threats, but the so called War on Terror is an abstraction involving a tiny risk of harm to me or my neighbors that can be addressed with some rudimentary precautions and ordinary law enforement capabilities. Yet, this is used to justify massive expenditures, curtailment of liberty and moral outrages that are as anti-libertarian as anything imaginable. I am perplexed that human risk-assessment is so irrational and that the more remote and abstract threats are readily used to justify bigger and more intrusive government.

At 8:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The so-called WAR ON TERRORISM is a misnomer. It is really a war to compel four continuing international political processes:

1] The production of Mideast petroleum at market prices for all.
2] The freedom of innocent maritime passage for all ships through the choke points of the planet.
3] The existence of Israel as a free and independent state.
4] The elimination of the export of Islamic terrorism.

All four objectives, when achieved, will render the inhabitants of the Planet Earth, including the Arabs and the Aryans, better off.

The United States Electorate will repudiate any party that fails to achieve progress toward these goals. And that's the way it is. Accept it and work to keep the execution of the policies as honest
as may be.

At 10:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey "Warm Puss Cunt", is your head inserted in your behind? Go back to Totten, you tosser! It is not about fair oil prices for all, it is about the West getting a fix on other peoples' resources. As for "innocent maritime passage" how innocent are Exxon, Mobile, BP etc? As for the theocratic, fascist State of Israel, who are the heros? Viscious psychopaths with Abrahms tanks and Apache gunships or teenage boys who throw rocks and strap nail bombs to their bodies because they have no other response to a brutal oppression? As for the elimination of terrorism-dude, stop fuckn with the ayrabs and let 'em stew in their own juice. Maybe spend all those tax dollars on promoting small business, trade and entrepenuerial skills. A burgeoning of their middle class will see a mass movement away from extremism. Sigh. As for execution of current policies being "honest"! You ARE joking, are you not? It's execution all right, execution of the USA constitution by a pack of Brown Shirts. Sorry to be so vehement, Wal, but sheesh! Regards Grinna.

At 4:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a pity it is when ill cast invective is called upon to substitute for thoughtful discussion. Islam is a sick civilization endowed with the resources required by a civilization at the high noon of its time on the planet. The Slaves of the Prophet will conform to the Four Requirements or else the Civilization of Science and Decency will accelerate the inevitable decline of the Civilization of Slaves of the Prophet.

At 6:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quoting from our Denationalizing Defense hero, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, from the Independent Review, March 22, 2001:

"Radical libertarians, such as Rothbard, explicitly acknowledge the historical triumph of governments over primitive stateless societies when they embrace the conquest theory of the origins of the state. Yet this acknowledgement boxes them into an apparent paradox. How can they attribute the origins of government to successful conquest and simultaneously maintain that a completely free society, without government, could prevent such a conquest?

In the following pages, I attempt to resolve this paradox. . ."

See complete article in PDF.

Jeff's solution, in a word, is ideology, but I suggest you read the entire article.

This anti-war stuff is a tough issue to sell, and parroting some slogans or complaining about problems your audience doesn't care about won't secure victory (pardon my military language). We libertarians don't want to march in step with the army, but that might not sound too bad to outsiders. And I'm not just talking about social conservatives. I actually found a "back to the land" greenie who recommended youthful military service to get an economic head start on the path to self sufficiency. He's probably not alone on the left. Where else do "gays in the military" come from, the RNC platform?

Bruce Schneier is a voice of rational sanity on security issues, but he recognizes how inescapable the psychological factors are. Although more humans are killed by pigs than sharks, most people are concerned about the shark attack threat. Then there's the mosquito--named for Islamic mosques, no doubt. I knew those Arabs were behind malaria!!! Sorry.

I think terms like "denationalizing defense" and descriptions of possible voluntaryist militias and private security firms will be more productive of converts than simple mindless pacifism.

At 11:33 AM, Blogger freeman said...

I think terms like "denationalizing defense" and descriptions of possible voluntaryist militias and private security firms will be more productive of converts than simple mindless pacifism.

I don't think there are that many libertarians who are truly pacifist. Nonetheless, that's a good point about bringing up alternatives to nationalized militaries.

I thought that waumpuscat's first comment was meant to be sarcastic, although his second comment seems to change things. I guess he's just another neofascist apologist (and that's a seemingly valid claim, not some "ill cast invective").

At 4:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When incantations substitute for thought and gossamer promises are believed by the deluded, gormless, paper-doll intellectuals, there will arise another sociopath who will drown them in the spilt blood of their children. The last sociopath was satisfied with a bit of tawdry slap and tickle in the hideaway, but the one waiting impatiently for America's obeisance will flaunt the gonfalon of the Dread Dominatrix, seething with rage against the fools who decline her worship. Then will you all submit to Social Fascism and learn to love Big Sister.

At 9:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

waumpuscat! I think I met you in a Mervyn Peake novel called "Titus Groan"! Ha! The gonfalon YOU march under is a blood drenched "Old Glory". Under it you and your ilk 'slouch towards Jerursalem'. Rhetoric is not logic. If I seem extreme it is because of tired old Right Wing denial of atrocities committed in the name of "democracy' (my lip curls). It is better to be angry as opposed to apologist. JKH quoted Rothbard, my favourite Rothbard quote is "Gradualism in theory is perpetuity in practice". We have to BREAK THE STATE, promote peace, property & lassiez faire and put public servants back in their box, our servants, NOT our masters! Regards Grinna.

At 4:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"BREAK THE STATE"! Children cutting out paper dolls are not really Mommie and Daddy, just as anarchists traveling on trust funds to provide employment for politicians' Security Detachments are not really engaged in serious politics. THE PORT HURON MANIFESTO has already joined WHAT IS TO BE DONE in the Old Footnotes' Home For Assisted Living. Revert to the study of the Human Being, as Mises suggested all those many years ago. The Electorate are Rent Seekers to a man. And each voter wants to feel secure, as each voter defines security. Mankind, in the aggregate mob, desire the humiliation of their perceived betters. Heaven On Earth is not to be constructed of such ill wrought stones. Strive within the constraint of WHAT IS to enlarge the sphere of LIBERTY, and make a contribution to the Civilization of Science and Human Dignity.

At 11:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

States are toxic to every genuinely productive activity. If "the electorate are rent seekers to a man(and woman)" it is largely because they see no real alternative; they perceive(largely correctly) a "use or be used" situation. This is created by the rulers and their toadys & hangers-on; notwithstanding all their propaganda to the contrary, "they" *like* fairly apathetic sheeple; ones who will vote for one of the name-brand neo-slaveocrats offered, and agitate only in "proper" ways, for the (mostly illusory)promise of gain at others' expense. Yes, this relies on peoples' greed to work, but this must be analysed in the context of statism; to wit, the continual fostering of such greed by those with the power to pass arbitrary laws; to compel education that afflicts developing minds with a ceaseless avalanche of statist propaganda; to restrain the free practice of livelihood, free commerce in goods and services,and free choice in lifestyles, communities, and habits; to set up allegedly "private" subsidiaries to further their twisted agenda, and give us "twice the oppression at (slightly) lower cost"; to carry their oppressions to every corner of the world under the guise of "promoting democracy"; to pass off a near-worthless currency as "legal tender" that we are coerced, bamboozled, and hoodwinked into treating as equivelant to real money, which, together with their other measures, pushes people into dependance on the State and its "programs".
As for "Striv(ing)within the constraint of what is"- well, obviously, our efforts must indeed
fit within reality. But, in context here your advice is clearly, to put it in historical context that we ignore those upstart Sons(&Daughters)of Liberty, grovel before our Tory overseers, beg for a 5% tax cut and other such trivial concessions, and under no circumstances encourage the "licentious, libertine, rebellious"
provinces to revolt. You seek to scare us into submissive docility with threats of "Big Sister" (who, if elected, will most likely differ from the current Retard-in-Thief only in relatively inconsequential degree). You possess the same unalienable rights as everyone else, and you certainly have the option of selling your free soul for whatever mess of pottage the diabolical market will bear; of willingly collaborating in your own and others' vile subjegation at the hands of our Tory-revivalist oppressors. And the rest of us have the option of not taking you the least bit seriously, and of bitch-slapping your defeatist simpering into the dustbin of history where it belongs.


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