Answers to the Pro-War Libertarian Quiz


I had intended with last week's Pro-War Libertarian Quiz to start a conversation, and I'm happy to report that plenty of people took me up on the offer. Please click on the links to read the full arguments, and I'll add more to the list as they come in.

These are presented in descending order of how much they agreed with my 10 out of 10 "no" answers, counting "maybe"s and "I don't know"s as a half-yes, half-no; and no doubt I've made some errors in my hasty accounting, for which I apologize. To re-state my previous disclaimer, I don't now and never have considered agreeing with me about this or anything else as some kind of litmus test either of one's judgment or libertarian bonafides. Here goes:

10 out of 10:'s Anthony Gregory.
9 of 10: Bill at So Quoted.
8 of 10: Reason's own Cathy Young, Andres Kupfer.
7.5 of 10: Blar, OneEyedMan.
6.5 of 10: Greg Prince, GaultJ.
6 of 10: Epaminondas.
5 of 10: John Tabin, The Lonely Libertarian.
4 of 10:'s Max Borders; Timothy Sandefur (that's actually a crude enumeration of Sandefur's nuanced answers; he also responds with an interesting 10 questions of his own that I'd encourage everyone to address).
3 of 10: Don Singleton.
2 of 10: Stephen Macklin.

My Question #6 seemed to attract the most head-scratching. It was:

Should anti-terrorism cops be given every single law-enforcement tool available in non-terrorist cases?

While noting that my use of "cops" was on the imprecise side, the question meant what it said—If Officer Barbrady can use X tactic to fight Y crime, should FBI Officer Z be able to use the same tool in fighting terrorism? On the surface, the answer should be "yes"; after all, we probably care more about fighting terrorism than, say, cracking down on joy-riding, or prostitution, or dumping trash. Yet if you're even suspected of the latter three crimes in Los Angeles, your car can and will be seized and sold. So if you answer "yes" to giving the anti-terrorism fight "every single law-enforcement tool available," you are endorsing the proliferation of extremely stupid and illiberal laws. And this isn't just some bizarre hypothetical—similar arguments were used in justifying the PATRIOT Act.

And I'd like to take issue with TCS' Max Borders, who says:

Welch says his belief "crudely summarized, is not only that you do not need to imitate totalitarians to beat them, but that it doesn't actually help." This sentence—like the test itself—assumes that if you do not answer "no" to all of these questions, then you are a totalitarian apologist, which is, to put it charitably, absurd.

Like Ma always said, Max, when you "assume" you make an "ass" out of "u" and "me." The only thing I "assume" is that my views are never remotely mainstream, and that I can and will be wrong. And like it or not, some democratic governments, including America's, do indeed deliberately use tactics adopted by totalitarians.

Borders further wants me to:

debate these issues as they come, on a single agreed-to question, and in the context of something less grandiose than a libertarian quiz. The result will be something that will allow people to take all of us libertarians more seriously.

That's why Allah invented the blog!