I discuss Libertarian centrism, a political position that rejects right-wing Republicanism, anarchism, racism, and scientific know-nothingism. by George Phillies
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Libertarianism is not conservatism. Libertarianism is not anarchism.
Libertarianism stands for small government, low taxes, and the whole Bill of Rights. Libertarianism rejects race hatred, homophobic bigotry, religious persecution, and anti-intellectualism, not to mention the tyranny of the powerful unchecked by obedience to just law.
Real Libertarianism is Libertarian Centrism.
How are we to tell Libertarian Centrism apart from radical anarchism, Republican-lite conservatism, or conspiracy theorism? I offer a few thoughts.
Libertarian centrism is about real politics. We libertarian centrists do not agree about everything. Here are litmus questions. Litmus questions are not questions that define libertarianism. Litmus questions are questions that let you separate the sheep from the goats, the solid libertarians from the hangers-on who are not libertarian at all. An issue can be a good litmus test even though it is not an important issue. An important issue may not be a litmus test.
Warning: Like any other group of libertarians, Libertarian Centrists do not march in lockstep on every issue.
What do Libertarian Centrists on the whole believe?
We are 100% pro-choice, because government has no valid business running women's lives for them. That means we reject government bans on abortion.
We are confident: All Americans are entitled to equality in marriage, adoption, divorce, and access to military service.
We state with certainty: Slavery was the American Holocaust. Confederate apologists are rightly grouped with Holocaust deniers, and are shunned by all decent people. People who claim that the Civil War was not about slavery should be encouraged to read the actual statements by southerners at the time, because they have been hoodwinked by racist filth who sought to build our party by polluting it with supporters of the KKK and the White Citizens Councils.
We observe that Thomas Jefferson for all his flaws correctly wrote: "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men'. It is only through government, limited government, that men and women will stay free. The people who claim non-aggression means that we have agreed to reject all taxes and governments are anarchists, not libertarians.
As supporters of our actual Constitution, however much it may need improvement, we reject the so-called "States-Rights" doctrine. The so-called 'States Rights' doctrine, claiming that states may keep African-Americans from voting and women from having abortions, is un-American. Politicians who say 'leave it up to the states' are an opposite of libertarian.
We firmly proclaim: While there have been conspiracies, conspiracy theorism is not libertarianism. The incoherent mutterings of conspiracy theorists, including 9/11 truthers, central banking foes, and 16th amendment deniers, offer nothing to the Libertarian political movement. They also have nothing to do with libertarianism. When they claim to be libertarians, they should be politely ignored. When they claim to be Republicans, well, cheer them on. The Bush Republican War Party and the not-at-all-conservative-party of torture have earned whatever plagues descend upon them, and the conspiracy theorists are indeed a plague.
We believe in modern science. The opponents of fact-based knowledge including evolution deniers, anti-immunizationists, flat-earthers, global warming deniers, not to mention the people who still claim that the ozone holes could not possibly be caused by chlorofluorocarbons fit in well in the Republican Party, where their explanation that belief in evolution, etc. is due to conspiracies will warm the cockles of the conspiracy theorists.
America needs an effective Libertarian political movement.
Only Libertarian Centrism offers the firm foundation on which a successful libertarian political movement can be built.
The home of that movement remains to be decided.
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Just like that, you've completely written out people who believe that (1) a human fetus, being an incipient person and a member of the human race, should not have its life extinguished on grounds of inconvenience, hence (2) people have no general "right to choose to exterimnate" nascent human life.
And one need not be a "Confederate apologist" or pro-slavery to recognize Lincoln's shredding of the Constitution, or to recognize the Confederacy's higher regard for free trade than the Union's (hence making that war not only one re slavery, but also one re protectionism), or to recognize worthy items in the CSA Constitution such as the single-subject requirement for bills, its prohibition on "any duties on importation from foreign nations be laid to promote or foster any branch of industry," a two-thirds majority for types of budget appropriations, etc.
A contemporary regard for so-called states' rights is a nod to reality to increase the possibilities for freedom. What is more likely to occur -- an entire centralized, unitary nation opting for freedom, or a few states exercising an option to be more free than others? States' rights isn't inherently tied to slavery or segregation; the concept can also extend to medical marijuana, forced participation in federal programs, property rights' matters, and a host of other issues. Again, what is more likely to occur -- the entire USA becoming libertarian utopia , or Montana and Wyoming becoming islands of liberty in a national sea of non-libertarianism?
I do not doubt that George Phillies loves liberty. His notion of centrism is an awfully narrow one, however, and smacks of centralism moreso than centrism.
Why stop there? If we're dismantling a rather diffuse movement, how about the other polluters of Libertarian purity, the Liberventionists and Propertarians? Does a Centrist believe in extending the benefits of "good" - not even minimal - government, at the point of a gun? Of initiating force en masse against those who might aggress against us? Does a Centrist believe that all rights derive from property ownership, and extend the ownership paradigm ad absurdum into every facet of human existence? Finally, does a Centrist believe that democracy can actually extend freedom to a populace that neither understands nor wants it?
Posted By: George Phillies
Date: 2009-05-15 13:04:25
The anti-abortionists and CSA apologists already have one political party, the Republican, where they will fit right in. They do not need another one.
von Mises was a classical Austrian (liberal, in the old sense) economist, not a libertarian; he was certainly not a conspiracy theorist of the sort who was against the Federal Reserve system because he thought it was secretly privately owned by French bankers from Switzerland, let alone the other eccentric beliefs seen in the late Aaron Russo's last movie.
You do not need to test every possible issue to get to the truth; in fact that somewhat misses the point of having litmus tests: The foreign inteventionists for the most part are already identified adequately by their answers to the other questions.
You have several problems with your positions.Women have the right to choose,but not their offspring.You say you believe in modern science,but don't you run the risk of swallowing everything "new" that some scientist cooks up.Man constantly is trying to create a new and better world based upon our sense of justice,like the banking system and "free" credit .But guess what the clock will always go back to twelve.Truth and wisdom always wins.Any country or person that rejects it throws themselves into an abyss.The inevitable destruction of the current Cartel and System of the United States draws near.Take a look at Russia and France and how they turned out after their hate God and anything related to Him revolutions.There are certain laws in the universe that are never to be crossed.
I doubt seriously that anyone who questions the Bush Regime's official version of 9/11 and the Party of Lincoln's neocon approved official version of the War of Northern Aggression will be warmly welcomed in the Republican Party! I suppose one could join the Constitution Party,if one worships the Constitution almost as much as Old Testament law! As an Anti-federalist who thinks the Articles of the Confederation was the true freedom document and believes states should be sovereign,I'm obviously not welcome in your political party! I also believe in the existence of political conspiracies and question agenda driven junk science,so I'm definitely not welcome in your party! Good! I would'nt want to join the party of Bob Barr anyway! I may be a man without a party,but I'm in good company with people like L. Neil Smith,Boston T. Party,Claire Wolfe and Lew Rockwell! Better a radical for liberty than a moderate compromiser! I'd almost embrace anarcho-capitalism before I'd even think of becoming a member of the Libertarian Party! At least An-caps strongly question authority and government lies!
I believe centrism is in the eye of the beholder. For example, in a minarchal system I would argue that state's rights are an inherent requirement of a federal system, as just as a state may make mistakes so too can a nation. For example, you pointed out that many states in the Union legalized the terror inflicted upon a whole racial segment of the populace. However, the USFG did the same thing from 1775-~1866. Still, even I would agree that state's rights are not the end all and be all of governance. However, to reject them without question is only trusting in the mandates of a federal government. To place the states supreme in a federal system is putting to much arbitrary power in each state, but in victimless issues like marijuana legalization or homosexual marriage such arbitration is really unnecessary.
I would also argue against your rejection of pro-life arguments. I am not arguing against you being pro-choice, even though I see abortion as morally wrong. However, it is laughable to be declaring a litmus test like this (one issue of libertarian agreement!) and practically rejecting a large constituency. I think there are far less divisive issues to take your stand on, unless you are only campaigning WITHIN the Libertarian Party.
And science has NOTHING to do with a political party, whether I believe in evolution, global warming, or Newton's law of gravity. Environmentalism or debates do, but to make it a 100% science vs. reactionary behavior is simply making an either-or fallacy of thought for the life of a political party.
Posted By: George Phillies
Date: 2009-05-17 09:36:05
Actually, I think you have two possible choices of political party into which you might be relatively comfortable, namely the Boston Tea Party -- some of them will not agree with you on some matters -- and whatever the Ron Paul movement becomes.
If you are in Massachusetts, you might also look up the Massachusetts Liberty Protection Association.
The Ron Paul people may make a significant effort to take over the Republicans In the Northeast, they have a reasonable shot at succeeding, due to lack of opposition.
So basically you made up an ideology to fit your particular, narrow-minded political views. How cute and "intellectual". I did that when I was a child too--its was a baseball club, we basically accepted who we wanted based on a code that noone could crack. Needless to say it was a very lonely club... Seriosly, I would gladly be an anarchist before I joined a party of Ignorance that you just described.
BTW...There are many pro-life libertarians like me who believe a fetus is a life and should be honored as any human over the inconvenience he/she may be to the mother (ever feel a baby hiccup inside the womb? its really surreal). Or those who are for states rights as a check against the mammoth centralization of fed power and the sheer logic of the fact that those closer to home are in a better position to handle local issues than some bureacrat in DC. And the many that believe that blindly following the global warming crowd that have no science and no facts on their side is about as silly as denying the earth is indeed round.
Murray Rothbard, Friedrich von Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Thomas Woods, Ron Paul, Thomas DiLorenzo, Lew Rockwell, and Robert Murphy all are or were foes of central banking. If they're not libertarians, then nobody is.
Do you really think that any of the above-named is a "conspiracy theorist of the sort who was against the Federal Reserve system because he thought it was secretly privately owned by French bankers from Switzerland"?
You don't seriously pay such credence to your own strawman, do you? If so, that proves only that you really have no idea what you are talking about.
I recommend The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism by Ronald Hamowy. Read the article "Austrian Theory of Banking."
"Libertarianism stands for ...the whole Bill of Rights."
"As supporters of our actual Constitution, however much it may need improvement, we reject the so-called "States-Rights" doctrine."
Does the tenth Amendment not state: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
It seems to me that your statements are in conflict. You say you stand for the WHOLE Bill of Rights but reject the so-called "State Rights" doctrine. Please explain to me how you seperate the two. The tenth amendment to me clearly confirms the state rights doctrine. As polarizing as the many of the views you denounce can be, your rigid stance and strict adherence to a narrow path of "acceptable" libertarianism is equally polarizing. The very helpful and informative material you provide to other libertarians on how to get elected seems futile if truly there is such a confined political dogma. And that to me seems to be the kicker at least, that to be "accepted" and worthy of the "L" "label" you have to fall within the approval guidelines, not waivering from top to bottom, free in theory but not in reality, or else you be cast from the "libertarianism dogma". And it is the concept of, and apparent acceptance of this purist libertarian dogma that seems to be even more at odds with it's own message of freedom and liberty for all.
Concerning another remark made: that was the point, in my opinion, that Barr was trying to make in the interview. He was running for president of the U.S.A., not for governor of a state. His stance should be one of libertarian interpretation on a federal level whereas this issue should not be in the hands of the federal government. I guess the purist dogma allows for no seperation of issues at any level. Perhaps our candidates on the local levels would be more apt to discuss global foreign policy as one of their key issues. Regardless, strict adherence to ANYTHING is a dogma by definition. And ther eis nothing more polarizing than a dogma...in my opinion.
Ironically,some of the people you want to "purge" from libertarianism (anarchists,Christian conservatives) were some of the people Ayn Rand complained were in the party almost 40 years ago! She railed that anarchists were the "scum"of the socialists! I don't know how anarcho-capitalists could be anything resembling socialists though! Or how the founder of Objectivism referring to all anarchists as "scum" was very "objective" of her! As if believing society can function voluntarily without government automatically makes one a lowlife! She rejected the LP, claimed libertarians were ripping off her ideas and that they bashed her! She thought the LP was a bad joke! Or could it really have been because, unlike the non-interventionist libertarians back then, she was a pro-genocide warfare statist? Just like her ideological heirs are today? Or today's liberventionists?
BUT THE CIVIL WAR WASN\'T ABOUT SLAVERY! If it actually was about slavery why would the immigrants in the North ever fight for in the war; they\'d just be giving themselves more competition which would equal a smaller pay check. It was never about slavery until Abe made it about slavery. Abe made it about slavery to keep some countries in Europe out of the war because they would have joined in on the South\'s side. After Abe made it about slavery, a large amount of the White population refused to fight in the war. All of these are valid reasons why The Civil War wasn\'t about slavery.
I\'m sending this not because I am a follower, but because I came to this site to learn. I hope I have also taught something. I also sent this because your lot is against ignorance, which is great and all, but it is always best to have your facts straight.
What we did to the Native Americans was just as bad as what we did to the slaves.
You are welcome to your views, narrow as they are. It appears that you have made libertarianism your own private 'bed of Procrustes.' You certainly don't hesitate to 'saw off' or 'stretch out' those who don't fit your set of 'approved' definitions.
Anyway, whether I qualify 100% as what you would call 'libertarian' doesn't matter, anyway. I'm not philosophically pure like you. I don't care if the guy (or gal) next to me is perfectly libertarian or not. If that person will stand shoulder to shoulder with me and work toward smaller government, lower taxes, non-interventionist foreign policy, etc--I could care less whether or not he or she believes in God, evolution or fairies.
If you are so narrow that you cannot open your heart and mind to accept the differences of others, then you had better get used to being in the ineffectual minority. You might be philosophically pure, but you will never win a political race. You will not turn this nation around. When I read articles like yours, I get a strong sense of why the Libertarian Party is still beating around the periphery of the nation's political life instead of winning its heart.