"Libertarianism, as I see it, is an extremely limited philosophy. It’s a political philosophy, not a philosophy of life. As a political philosophy, it states that people have the right to use physical violence only in response to those who break the libertarian code and initiate violence. It’s not a philosophy of life stating how one can live the good life, setting out in fine detail how one may act in every conceivable situation.
Practically the sole concern of libertarianism is that everyone keep his mitts off everyone else, unless, of course, he has that person’s permission. The beauty of this version of libertarianism is that it allows for an amazing diversity.
Only libertarianism gathers together all who believe in this limited philosophy. We’ve all seen businessmen with suits, ties, and vests mingling with flower children. We’ve all seen teetotallers and alcohol drinkers at libertarian functions. We’ve all seen pot smokers, acid heads, drug freaks - together with Murray Rothbard, the straightest of them all.
We’ve seen priests, monogamists, family men, as the fellow libertarians of the gays, the sado-masochists, the leather freaks, and those into what they call “rational bestiality.” As Ralph Raico stated in his keynote address to the FLP state convention, only libertarianism could gather together the homosexual motorcycle gang, the acid dropper fascinated by the price of silver, and the Puerto Rican nationalist immersed in the Austrian School of economics.”
Member of EU parliament Godfrey Bloom quotes Murray Rothbard, spits hot fire*:
"Oh, well, Mr. President, I’m minded actually to quote the great American philosopher Murray Rothbard here that the state — the state is an institution of theft writ large. Tax is just about a system where politicians and bureaucrats steal money from their citizens to squander in the most disgraceful manner. This place is no exception. Fascinatingly, and I really don’t know how you manage to keep a straight face when you’re talking about tax evasion, the whole Commission and the Commission bureaucracy avoid their taxes. You don’t pay taxes like citizens pay taxes; you have all sorts of special deals. Composite tax rates, high tax thresholds, non-contribute pension schemes. You are the biggest tax avoiders in Europe, and here you sit pontificating. Well, the message is getting home to the people of the European Union. You’re going to find that euroskeptics are coming back in June in ever greater numbers — in ever greater numbers. And I can tell you worse, as the people get your number, it won’t be long before they storm this chamber and they hang you, and they’ll be right.”
Regarding the last passage Bloom should have consulted Rothbard further:
- "…Another contradictory means would be to commit aggression (e.g., murder or theft) against persons or just property in order to reach the libertarian goal of nonaggression. But this too would be a self-defeating and impermissible means to pursue. For the employment of such aggression would directly violate the goal of nonaggression itself.”
Of course the politicians are apart of an aggressive institution, and yet that doesn’t throw out the concept of proportionality, causality and due process. As Rothbard elucidates in his Ending Tyranny Without Violence—an introduction to Étienne de La Boétie’s brilliant The Politics of Obedience: Discourse of Voluntary Servitude;
- "…La Boétie concludes his exhortation by assuring the masses that to overthrow the tyrant they need not act, nor shed their blood. They can do so “merely by willing to be free.” In short,
Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces.
I can’t help but think the majority of the public will only remember the parting words of violence, as opposed to the preceding comments regarding the state as an institution of injustice. Tactically to the uninitiated it paints us as the aggressors. As Benjamin Tucker points out in Men Against the State;
- “Violence is the power of darkness. If the revolution comes by violence … the old struggle will have to be begun anew.”
The Ultimate Change in Washington
Featuring the previous modern US Presidents, Barack Obama, John McCain, G.Edward Griffin, Michael Badnarik, W. Cleon Skousen, Dr Leonard Horowitz & none other than Ron Paul! Please grab some popcorn, finish your internet browsing & settle down to watch this at the end of the day. Formerly titled: Victory for Freedom is Inevitable! The video covers:
1:11 - It’s the movement (reject the Status Quo)
2:54 - Can’t stop the movement
3:45 - Is there any good news? Yes!
4:45 - One Party System. Lesser of Two evils is still Evil.
5:57 - Vote your Conscience! Or Not at all!
6:53 - Liberty is a plant of rapid growth
7:25 - The Answer to 1984 is 1776! We’ll win in the End!
Full disclosure: I made this over many months in the lead up to the day of 2008 Presidential Election. During that time I eventually became a pure & logically consistent libertarian. From a political perspective the same old arguments kept coming up so I thought it would be helpful to address them all in one spot. In addition my primary goal was to try instil some hope in that—whatever happened after the campaign—the liberty movement would carry on, as it most certainly did.
This video was locked up in IP chains for several years until I discovered it was available to view again today. On the topics of hope, if you’re interested in the prospects for liberty in our lifetime I was asked by Brian quite awhile ago. Today I would add the following. At any rate, enjoy my second video with only marginally better production values than the first.
Ron Paul on Playing the Game
The essence of this video excerpt is three fold;
- Knockdown the strawmen aimed at Dr. Paul from the “purist deviationists” who deride all political action (incl. a sole educational political strategy as outlined by Rothbard, and successfully employed by Ron Paul)
- Shut-down the “sellout opportunists" who support the Rand Paul "strategy" (i.e not based on principled radicalism, or being primarily educational); and
- Once again highlight that moving forward the appropriate strategy for libertarians is that we are neither “liberal” or “conservative”, “left" or "right" wing). And that no "thick"-ish concerns, and attempts at an alliance with either side — no matter what the current epoch is — will work. It goes without saying as an individual most have preferences for one side (hopefully neither). An individual may come to libertarianism through one of those wings and may feel a continued affinity with it, however it is completely illegitimate to universalize this.
"[W]hat is so great about unintended consequences, and why may no intended consequences be studied as well? And doesn’t the accumulation of knowledge in society change consequences from unintended to intended?
Not only that: the Misesian discipline of praxeology explicitly states that individual men consciously pursue goals, and choose means to try to attain them. And if men pursue goals, surely it is only common sense to conclude that a good deal of the time they will attain them, in others words they will intend, and attain, the consequences of their actions. Mises’s emphasis on conscious choice treats men and women as rational, conscious actors in the market and the world; the other tradition often falls into the trap of treating people as if they were robots or amoebae blindly responding to stimuli.
Arcane matters of methodology often have surprising political consequences. Perhaps, then, it is not an accident that those who believe in unintended and not intended consequences, will also tend to whitewash the growth of government in the 20th century. For if actions are largely always unintended, this means that government just grew like Topsy, and that no person or group ever willed the pernicious consequences of that growth. Stressing theFerguson-Hayek formula cloaks the self-interested actions of the power elite in seeking and obtaining special privileges from government, and thereby impelling its continuing growth.
There are two ways to advance the message of Austrian economics. One is to fearlessly hold high the banner of Misesian theory to which the wise and honest can repair—a banner which requires calling a spade a spade and pointing out the special interests all too consciously at work behind the government’s glittering facade of the “public interest” and the “general welfare.”
The other path is to seek acceptance and respectability by watering down the Misesian message beyond repair, and carefully avoiding anything remotely “controversial” in your offering. Even to the point of taking the “free” out of “free market.” Such a path only entrenches big government.”
“Here again is a profound lesson for us today. 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. We must strip the mystical veil of sanctity from our rulers just as Tom Paine stripped the sanctity from King George III. And in this task we libertarians are not the spokesmen for any ethnic or economic class; we are the spokesmen for all classes, for all of the public; we strive to see all of these groups united, hand-in-hand, in opposition to the plundering and privileged minority that constitutes the rulers of the state.”
"…Hence, a strategy for liberty must not include any means which undercut or contradict the end itself—as gradualism-in-theory clearly does. Are we then saying that “the end justifies the means”? This is a common, but totally fallacious, charge often directed toward any group that advocates fundamental or radical social change. For what else but an end could possibly justify any means? The very concept of “means” implies that this action is merely an instrument toward arriving at an end. If someone is hungry, and eats a sandwich to alleviate his hunger, the act of eating a sandwich is merely a means to an end; its sole justification arises from its use as an end by the consumer. Why else eat the sandwich, or, further down the line, purchase it or its ingredients? Far from being a sinister doctrine, that the end justifies the means is a simple philosophic truth, implicit in the very relationship of “means” and “ends.”
What then, do the critics of the “end justifies the means” truly mean when they say that “bad means” can or will lead to “bad ends”? What they are really saying is that the means in question will violate other ends which the critics deem to be more important or more valuable than the goal of the group being criticized. Thus, suppose that Communists hold that murder is justified if it leads to a dictatorship by the vanguard party of the proletariat. The critics of such murder (or of such advocacy of murder) are really asserting, not that the “ends do not justify the means,” but rather that murder violates a more valuable end (to say the least), namely, the end of “not committing murder,” or nonaggression against persons. And, of course, from the libertarian point of view, the critics would be correct.
Hence, the libertarian goal, the victory of liberty, justifies the speediest possible means towards reaching the goal, but those means cannot be such as to contradict, and thereby undercut, the goal itself. We have already seen that gradualism-in-theory is such a contradictory means. Another contradictory means would be to commit aggression (e.g., murder or theft) against persons or just property in order to reach the libertarian goal of nonaggression. But this too would be a self-defeating and impermissible means to pursue. For the employment of such aggression would directly violate the goal of nonaggression itself.”
"We may test the hypothesis that the State is largely interested in protecting itself rather than its subjects by asking: which category of crimes does the State pursue and punish most intensely—those against private citizens or those against itself?
The gravest crimes in the State’s lexicon are almost invariably not invasions of private person or property, but dangers to its own contentment, for example, treason, desertion of a soldier to the enemy, failure to register for the draft, subversion and subversive conspiracy, assassination of rulers and such economic crimes against the State as counterfeiting its money or evasion of its income tax.
Or compare the degree of zeal devoted to pursuing the man who assaults a policeman, with the attention that the State pays to the assault of an ordinary citizen. Yet, curiously, the State’s openly assigned priority to its own defense against the public strikes few people as inconsistent with its presumed raison d’etre.
A final caveat: the anarchist is always at a disadvantage in attempting to forecast the shape of the future anarchist society. For it is impossible for observers to predict voluntary social arrangements, including the provision of goods and services, on the free market. Suppose, for example, that this were the year 1874 and that someone predicted that eventually there would be a radio-manufacturing industry.
To be able to make such a forecast successfully, does he have to be challenged to state immediately how many radio manufacturers there would be a century hence, how big they would be, where they would be located, what technology and marketing techniques they would use, and so on? Obviously, such a challenge would make no sense, and in a profound sense the same is true of those who demand a precise portrayal of the pattern of protection activities on the market. Anarchism advocates the dissolution of the state into social and market arrangements, and these arrangements are far more flexible and less predictable than political institutions. The most that we can do, then, is to offer broad guidelines and perspectives on the shape of a projected anarchist society.
One important point to make here is that the advance of modern technology makes anarchistic arrangements increasingly feasible. Take, for example, the case of lighthouses, where it is often charged that it is unfeasible for private lighthouse operators to row out to each ship to charge it for use of the light. Apart from the fact that this argument ignores the successful existence of private lighthouses in earlier days, as in England in the eighteenth century, another vital consideration is that modern electronic technology makes charging each ship for the light far more feasible. Thus, the ship would have to have paid for an electronically controlled beam which could then be automatically turned on for those ships which had paid for the service.”
Murray Rothbard, Society Without a State (1974)
Further demonstrating Rothbard’s point regarding advancements in modern technology and forecasting is the introduction of GPS, spotlights and other modern scanning equipment which have essentially made lighthouses obsolete. Such advancements also solve the “problem” of the free-rider.