The Great "Libertarian Democrat" Hope Calls it Quits

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Bye Bye, Bill Richardson. (Or, as the Drudge Report cleverly put it for a few minutes, "Adios Amigo." … Get it??) Once again, Tim Cavanaugh's election predictions turn out wrong.

Richardson was far and away my most favored Blue-team candidate when this campaign first started, back there in the 1980s. A western, tax-cutting, gun-liking, bad-bolo-tie-wearing, pro-medical marijuana bon vivant seemed to hold promise in what was shaping up to be a grim Hillaryverse of left-jerking populism. But his libertarianism, as predicted by Dave Weigel, turned out to be skin deep, and for what very very little it's worth, I found him to be deeply disappointing in person, utterly failing to convince me of the very cut-and-run Iraq strategy I myself favor, warbling on about "fair trade," and showing about 1/200th of the intellectual spark of, say, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

A fun bit from Weigel's piece:

All this hype is a bit perplexing to Richardson's predecessor, former Republican Gov. Gary Johnson. A strong supporter of school choice and drug decriminalization, Johnson was, without much debate, America's most libertarian state executive.

"I don't think Bill Richardson has got much to offer libertarians," Johnson says. "He plays up the fact that he cuts taxes when, if you add up all the fees he's approved, there's been a net tax increase. It's an indictment of Cato and the Club for Growth that they'd consider him a tax cutter." How much of an indictment? "It makes me a little less impressed by the good grades Cato gave me."

Also, so as not to invoke Tim Cavanaugh in three separate posts on one day, his take on the Ron Paul newsletter flap is a must-read.

NEXT: Oil Prices: Must They Go Up Because Charlie Gibson Says So?

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  1. You’re right, Cavanaugh was in great form.

    But, I don’t know any Confederate apologist libertarians and I’ve been around this movement my entire life. Maybe that’s because I grew up in Californicate. [shrugs] I do know a lot of libertarians who agree that we should have just let the South go.

    I also concur that Wilson was a bad president, he not only supported Jim Crow, but after taking office he fired every black government employee he could.

    It is actually the left and the dreaded center than hold Wilson in esteem for his League of Nations (Black Africa need not apply) and mishandling of the Big War that Ended All Wars.

  2. It’s unfortunate that Richardson couldn’t get more traction. Out of the whole field of Democrats I think he’s probably the best, especially in terms of real qualification and experience, with Biden being next.

  3. I do think it unfortunate that racism is THE unforgivable sin of American politics, when one can cause the death of a million people and get by without a blemish.

  4. I do think it unfortunate that racism is THE unforgivable sin of American politics, when one can cause the death of a million people and get by without a blemish.

    If you want to add another unforgivable sin to the list, then I agree.

    If you want to remove one from the list (perhaps to be replaced, perhaps not) then I have to disagree.

  5. But, I don’t know any Confederate apologist libertarians and I’ve been around this movement my entire life. Maybe that’s because I grew up in Californicate. [shrugs] I do know a lot of libertarians who agree that we should have just let the South go.

    Oh, they’re out there, I’ve met ’em.

    But here’s your problem – you can argue either side of that issue, Lincoln’s or Davis’, as the “libertarian” position, because libertarianism offers no useful definition of liberty. Without a standard and a metric, you can pretty well take any position in any political argument, and state it as an appeal to liberty (and you can find examples of some of the most cringe-worthy howlers right here on this forum).

  6. “because libertarianism offers no useful definition of liberty”

    WRONG: Ever hear of the Non-Agression principle?

  7. Richardson’s spokesperson is denying that he’s withdrawing, btw.

  8. That was a terrific piece by Tim. Man, I miss him.

    I do think the focus on so many of the Old Right’s hobbyhorses crowds out much of what’s more interesting (and certainly more marketable) in the philosophy. Yes, precisely.

    Everything I know about libertarianism I’ve learned on this this web site, and the neo-confederates are much better-represented here than at, say, the modern National Review.

  9. I’d hope it was true that Richardson is staying the race, except that it wouldn’t accomplish anything.

  10. After rerading the racist, neo-Nazi dreck that Ron Paul published in his newsletter, I hope Tim Cavanaugh means “Go away, Ron Paul!”

  11. joe: Aside from Derbyshire and possibly Goldberg (who should have titled his book American Fascism and included the evangelicals), National Review is a pain in the ass to read these days. They are so enthralled with the Bush doctrine they compile political stories from the Middle East, for fucks sake. They used to have limited government talking points, but now its the GOP cheering squad.

  12. “But his libertarianism, as predicted by Dave Weigel, turned out to be skin deep”

    But hey, that’s a lotta skin! Ba-dump bump!

  13. WRONG: Ever hear of the Non-Agression principle?

    I sure have! But I doubt that most people here who refer to themselves as libertarians have heard of it, and I’d further doubt most of them would agree with it.

    Tell me – how do you apply the NAP to some of the pet issues promoted by Reason? Abortion rights? The right to state recognized gay marriage?

  14. I have to agree with Bingo. Derbyshire is a good read at NR. The rest of NR are establishment morons. Not as bad as Pravda, I mean the Weekly Standard, but bad enough.

  15. Tim Cavanaugh’s editorial sucks. Is there anyone at reason or who used to work at reason who didn’t spend their day trying to paint the libertarian movement as a home for racists and homophobes?

    “But I do think there’s a discussion to be held among libertarians about why this political philosophy seems to draw so many (classically) illiberal figures; and the hubbub over Paul’s newsletters, which are revelatory whether Paul wrote them or not, seems like an opportunity.”

    I guess we need to have this discussion because there’s something about libertarianism that is inherently racist. Because there aren’t racists in other political movements. Nope, none at all. Come on, give me a break!

    Maybe racists aren’t “attracted” to libertarianism because they’re racist, maybe they’re just libertarians with racist views. Just like there are Democrats, Republicans, socialists and conservatives with racist views.

  16. libertarianism offers no useful definition of liberty

    Pig, I believe that is also the Objectivist criticism of libertarianism.

    Maybe my problem is one of definitions.

    I know, though the drinking rules say that raising the flag proclaiming I’m a libertarian and you’re not, means we get to drink, we’re still not allowed to do that. However, there are many who post here that are not libertarian, or who are libertarian leaning, or who are trolls, or who are apologists for this or that. Like the Daily Kos, they may like the way the term libertarian sounds but if it don’t walk like a duck chances are it isn’t one.

  17. I don’t understand Tim’s confusion. Didn’t he ever READ Hit N’ Run?

    “Why does libertarianism attract racists?”

    Isn’t it obvious?

    It is due to the fact that, during the 20th Century at least, the state has grown for “progressive” reasons – some citizens have had their liberty incrementally reduced in order to allow the state to pursue progressive causes. This naturally throws together people who don’t like the reduction in liberty, and people who don’t like the cause purportedly being served.

    It’s almost trivally simple to see how this works when dealing with, for example, laws against employment discrimination. One person might argue that such laws are unjust because they privilege the seller of one commodity [labor] with the ability to question, and litigate, the purchasing decisions of his customers or potential customers – a situation the average consumer would find absolutely unjust and intolerable if it were extended to other commodities. Another person might oppose such laws because they think that African Americans are “scientifically” inferior, and discrimination against them makes sense and should be encouraged. The latter person can quite easily come to believe that he is as on the same team as the former person.

    You can repeat this analysis for any number of libertarian positions. Do so enough times, and it answers all your questions. Actually, just read the comments around here for a while and you won’t even have to actively do any analysis. It’s self-analyzing.

  18. Bill Richardson… Don’t let the door hit your fat ass on the way out you cockfighting-banning SOB. This almost makes up for Hillary winning and Giuliani finishing ahead of Ron Paul last night.

    I hope he can’t get a Federal appointment if the democRAT wins in November.

  19. Can someone please explain to me why the Libertarian Party isn’t going down to New Mexico, and begging Gary Johnson on their hands and knees to run as a Libertarian for President?

    He’s unite the entire libertarian movement.

  20. Richardson / Paul? Paul / Richardson?

  21. I don’t know any Confederate apologist libertarians [but] I do know a lot of libertarians who agree that we should have just let the South go.

    Well, that qualifies you as a “Confederate apologist” in the eyes of today’s media- and academic-class “libertarians.”

    Pretty much anything short of orgasm at the thought of hundreds of thousands of shot-through Southerners does.

    They weren’t “tolerant cosmopolitans,” you know, so they had to die.

    Or at least it’s good that they did.

  22. Bingo,

    So I was out with Cosmo chasing Jacobin squirrels again – isn’t it amazing how that joke is still funny?

    Tangentially, can anyone help me out with the name of Dwight Eisenhower’s Vice-President? Thanks!

  23. Tell me – how do you apply the NAP to some of the pet issues promoted by Reason? Abortion rights? The right to state recognized gay marriage?

    Abortion is a tough nut isn’t it? When does the zygote/fetus/baby become a person? Answer that one to everybody’s satisfaction and the discussion is mostly over for libertarians.

    Gay marriage not so tough. As they say in playground baskeball, paraphrasing libertarian philosophy, no harm, no foul.

  24. Like the Daily Kos, they may like the way the term libertarian sounds but if it don’t walk like a duck chances are it isn’t one.

    Yes – and that’s my problem with libertarianism – it sounds nice, but libertarianism as blueprint for a political order does about as much to ensure liberty as progressivism does to ensure progress.

    On one of the threads earlier, the one about military secrets being sold to Pakistan, I made the wise-crack that libertarians ought to be for it, because they support free trade.

    Well, obviously, allowing a private party to sell nuclear secrets to a hostile country would be idiocy – yes, preventing that might be a constraint to an individual’s liberty, and right to free trade, and all that good stuff, but failure to do that would likely result in your free society getting nuked off the map eventually.

    But based on the NAP PIRS spoke of, no government should have the right to prevent that, since in and of itself nobody is aggressed against in such a transaction.

    What kind of freedom is that? The freedom to cut your own throat, and that of all your neighbors as well?

    It might be nice for the 15 minutes or so it lasted, but it doesn’t bode well for long term survival.

  25. joe:

    Either I’ve had too many drinks already or that joke went wayyyy over my head… lets hear an explanation!

  26. Hey Tim, I’m shocked–shocked!–that a libertarian would be so bigoted against fat people, even if they happen to be politicians. Oh wait, I almost forgot: libertarians are bigots when it comes to politicians.

  27. Fluffy-

    You’re right, I’d say, regarding why certain repugnant types are attracted to libertarianism.

  28. The only thing libertarianism can tell us about the greatest expansion of human freedom in the United States in the 20th century – the end of segregation – is that eliminating Jim Crow laws was good, and banning discrimination was good. It can only tell us about the law.

    The fact that the law was only a small segment of an overarching social, economic, geographic, moral, and legal system demonstrates how inadequate it is as a political, as opposed to merely a governing, philosophy. Libertarianism can’t tell us that discrimination on the basis of race is wrong. On its sunnier days, it tells us that the Market will eliminate all of that bad stuff all by itself, but when it doesn’t, libertarianism is at a loss to tell us what to do next, only that we’d better not try anything that costs tax money or requires mandates.

  29. Bingo,

    I rewrote every Jonah Goldberg post that ever appeared in the corner.

    Hey, everybody! My two year old is cute!

  30. I should add, libertarians can very easily, and often do, denounce racial discrimination and private-sector practices of segregation, and not just on flimsy efficiency grounds, but on moral grounds.

    But they have to go outside of libertarianism to do so, and base their stance on principles of liberalism, or Christianity, or some other philosophy.

    I’m not saying y’all have no opinion on segregation, or support it. Just so I’m being clear.

  31. Oh wait, I almost forgot: libertarians are bigots when it comes to politicians.

    Replace bigots with cynical, skeptical, or furious. It sounds better that way.

  32. Well, the problem with labeling Lincoln as a rat bastard is that everyone assumes that you then approve of lynchings and slavery.

    Our culture requires that you pick one side or the other.

    If you live across the country from the South and have never met the Sons of Confederate Veterans, your stereotype is probably wrong. The guys know their history. If your knowledge of the Civil War consists of what you learned in 10th grade history class, they’ll mop the floor with your ignorance.

    That having been said, I don’t think I’ve met an SCV libertarian. They tend to be culture war conservatives. Because of the tariff issue they sometimes stumble upon a little free market economics.

    But I have met libertarians who recognize Lincoln for what he was and also recognize the value of Federalism.

    So, what does this have to do with Bill Richardson?

  33. “I don’t know any Confederate apologist libertarians”

    Lucky you. There’s lots of ’em. They, along with the Y2K survivalist types, always made me appreciate the merely socially inept libertarians. You know, the ones who thought support of peoples’ right to watch dirty movies meant you really wanted to watch porn with them. Or talk about it with them. In front of attractive women. Loudly. And in detail.

    Yup. About 2 minutes at a cocktail party with one of the Mises Institute people or a gold bug, and I was looking for the porn guy again. Or the rude, premise-checking Objectivist.

    Yeah. Good times.

  34. I think we could all use more Gary Johnson in our lives. Someone get this guy in Congress and start prepping him to be the next, but non-racist newsletter publishing, Ron Paul.

    My grandparents lived in New Mexico for many years up until a couple of years ago, and I heard them once refer to him as the crazy ex-governor that wanted to legalize drugs. I kept it to myself that I liked the guy.

  35. So, what does this have to do with Bill Richardson?

    I was confused for a minute or so. Most comments are in relation to Cavanaugh’s piece– the last hyperlink in the original post.

    I was a bit confused about the reaction to neo-Confederate stuff in Ron Paul’s newsletter as well. Not from Yankee liberals, but from some of the “libertarians”. They seem to be equating “Confederate-apologists”( believe me –they aren’t apologizing for anything) with “slavery apologists”. Must be one of those regional things. Liberal southern newspapers run relatively non-judgemental pieces on The League of the South and are down right respectful of the SCV.

  36. J sub D,

    Replace bigots with cynical, skeptical, or furious. It sounds better that way.

    Bigots are all of the above (and more) by default. It’s all about concision, baby.

  37. I do know a lot of libertarians who agree that we should have just let the South go.

    That is functionally the same position as the “COnfederate apologist” ne c’est-pas?

  38. “I don’t know any Confederate apologist libertarians”

    What about Bumper Hornberger?

  39. Oops, that should have been “…that banning discrimination was BAD.”

  40. Gay marriage not so tough. As they say in playground baskeball, paraphrasing libertarian philosophy, no harm, no foul.

    Yes, but what is the relationship between freedom to act and state-sanctioned?

    That is, how does a right to form relationships of your own choosing morph into a right to demand society at large grants it’s approval and sanction? We’re not talking about a private contract here – marriage in every western nation isn’t a private contract, it’s public law.

  41. Anyone care to comment on the Wendy McElroy post that Cavanaugh linked to?

    http://www.wendymcelroy.com/news.php?item.1297.1

    Gary North? Lew Rockwell?

  42. marriage in every western nation isn’t a private contract, it’s public law.

    Yes, it is. And libertarianism can’t tell us that it is wrong for that law to discriminate against gay people.

    Or black people, for that matter.

  43. i believe the zionist serial killer E Rittberg when he says Rockwell edited the newsletter,. but the “racial terrorism” and “race war” stuff sounds a lot more like Gary North.

  44. Anyone care to comment on the Wendy McElroy post that Cavanaugh linked to?

    Already did.

  45. Must be one of those regional things. Liberal southern newspapers run relatively non-judgemental pieces on The League of the South and are down right respectful of the SCV.

    Must be. In the heart of Motown, Campus Martius, sits the Michigan Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument What the article doesn’t mention is that there are also four plaques containing bas-reliefs of Grant, Lincoln, Farragut and Sherman.

    I point this monument out to southern visitors. They are especially displeased with the Sherman plaque. I politely smile. 😉

  46. If you live across the country from the South and have never met the Sons of Confederate Veterans, your stereotype is probably wrong. The guys know their history. If your knowledge of the Civil War consists of what you learned in 10th grade history class, they’ll mop the floor with your ignorance.

    I grew up in Virginia. Not the DC suburbs/NOVAville, either. The “real world of Virginia” as George Allen would say. Places like Appomattox and Petersburg. I can say that the Sons of Confederate Veterans view of Civil War history is not just wrong. Its demonstrably, totally, irrefutably wrong.

  47. Yes, but what is the relationship between freedom to act and state-sanctioned?

    It’s a contract. Between consenting adults. No? Actually, that’s the libertarian (as I understand it) way it should be treated. Gay doesn’t enter into that interpretation.

  48. The Civil War monument in my city is a wing-ed Nike, holding out a laurel wreath as if to lay it on the downtown area.

  49. Anybody who has delusions about the Confederacy standing for “free association” or “free trade” instead of racism should read Apostles of Disunion. Hell, you don’t even have to read that. Read the speeches made to the secession conventions.

    Theres nothing there about self-determination or free trade in their speeches. There are, however, tirades against “niggers”, “radical abolitionism”, and “racial almagation”.

    The platitudes about “states’ rights” didn’t appear until 1866.

  50. J sub D,

    One day we will rise from the ashes of devastation of the War of Northern Aggression, and rise to equal the economic and industrial powerhouse that is the State of Michigan and the City of Detroit.

    Cesar,

    I hope you have a well-paying assistantship at the re-education camp.

  51. joe, the one here is impressive as can be. If you’re ever in Detroit, swing by. It’d be on your way to somewhere.

  52. We have a whole freaking street of Civil War monuments down here in Richmond. Its called Loser’s Row Monument Avenue. Its pretty impressive.

  53. It’s a contract. Between consenting adults. No? Actually, that’s the libertarian (as I understand it) way it should be treated. Gay doesn’t enter into that interpretation.

    A contract is a private agreement between 2 or more parties, the terms of which are negotiated between them. The state enforces that agreement as a disinterested party.

    Marriage, as it exists, is not a private contract, it’s a state granted privilege, and the terms are not negotiable. The Justice of the Peace doesn’t conclude the ceremony with, “By the power invested in me by the State of ——, I now pronounce you man and wife” for nothing.

  54. One day we will rise from the ashes of devastation of the War of Northern Aggression, and rise to equal the economic and industrial powerhouse that is the State of Michigan and the City of Detroit.

    I agree that we got the last laugh. Places like Atlanta, Charlotte, and Nashville beat Philadelphia, Detroit and Pittsburgh any day of the week.

    I hope you have a well-paying assistantship at the re-education camp.

    “Our federal Union: IT MUST BE PRESERVED!”–Andrew Jackson of Tennessee

  55. Context Cesar

    The prominent abolitionists wanted to end slavery so they could send them all back to Africa as they believed the mere presence of Africans, not just the institution of slavery, corrupted whites. That would have fucked up American music beyond recognition.

  56. I’ll have to check it out, J sub D.

    An Indian brandishing a sword, eh? And some people say the historical record of the Civil War elevates symbolism over accuracy! 😉

  57. The prominent abolitionists wanted to end slavery so they could send them all back to Africa as they believed the mere presence of Africans, not just the institution of slavery, corrupted whites. That would have fucked up American music beyond recognition.

    Certain abolitionists. Not all. I seriously doubt that, say, Frederick Douglass wanted that. But the idea was so impractical even if they had wished to do so they could have never achieved it.

  58. Some did, SIV, and others did not. To the larger point, slavery and racism were indeed American problems, and America paid the price for them.

  59. Also SIV, had the Southern Confederacy won the Civil War, that would have also fucked up American music beyond all recognition. American music as we know it would certainly be “Confederate music”.

  60. Cesar, joe ,J sub D

    Our monument is bigger than yours.

  61. What I miss about Nick Gillespie is that he didn’t used to post that often. I’m starting to miss him.

    In other news, I made a few videos about BillRichardson that show a side to him that hacks like Welch won’t ever discuss:

    youtube.com/watch?v=CifLm6z32eA
    youtube.com/watch?v=MiszkrzoOs0
    youtube.com/watch?v=i0YRHXoygRM
    youtube.com/watch?v=mN2o208PFhg

  62. I’ve been to Stone Mountain, beautiful area.

  63. “Also SIV, had the Southern Confederacy won the Civil War, that would have also fucked up American music beyond all recognition. American music as we know it would certainly be “Confederate music”.”

    Slavery was old and broken by the mid 1850’s. Europe had abandoned slavery as an economic advantage with the mechanization of agriculture which was occurring at the time. The cotton belt was moving west because cotton is very hard on soils and requiring more and more acreage and making mechanization the rule rather than the exception. IMHO slave farming would have died out on it’s own.

    Who knows? If the CSA was successful and somehow brokered a peace rather than a surrender, it could have been more libertarian, and the FSA could have been like an evil authoritarian twin. Just speculating.

  64. The cotton belt was moving west because cotton is very hard on soils and requiring more and more acreage and making mechanization the rule rather than the exception. IMHO slave farming would have died out on it’s own.

    The “founding fathers” of the Confederacy were planning to invade Latin America had the North let them go. There they would have found fertile soil for the expansion of slavery to have a “Cotton Empire”.

  65. But they have to go outside of libertarianism to do so, and base their stance on principles of liberalism, or Christianity, or some other philosophy.

    I also have to go “outside of libertarianism” to tell you why you shouldn’t cheat on your wife.

    A political philosophy SHOULD be a subset of a moral philosophy, Joe, unless you are a complete totalitarian.

    Law should be about justice. And justice, my friend, is only one of the virtues, and is hardly exhaustive in the areas it covers. For example, the virtue of charity/mercy is not only outside of the purview of justice, it is the opposite of justice. For that reason, a political philosophy that concerned itself only with justice would have very little to say about huge swaths of man’s moral life.

  66. I’ve been to Stone Mountain, beautiful area.

    Do you know what road connects downtown ATL and Stone Mountain most directly?

    Cynthia McKinney Parkway !!!

    Everybody still calls it Memorial Drive and that goes on the addresses as well.

  67. Do you know what road connects downtown ATL and Stone Mountain most directly?

    Cynthia McKinney Parkway !!!

    That wins the irony sweepstakes. Thats like re-naming the New York Stock Exchange the Ralph Nader Stock Exchange.

  68. A political philosophy SHOULD be a subset of a moral philosophy, Joe, unless you are a complete totalitarian.

    I think joe would agree. I certainly do.

  69. That’s all well and good, but libertarians then make claims that it is a political and moral philosophy in and of itself, but since it doesn’t actually answer a great many moral questions, they end up with an amoral view of the world.

  70. Well, some libertarians, anyway.

  71. I know of very few people who aren’t libertarian plus something.

    Hell, the Objectivists are such obsessive moralists – with a moral lecture for every situation – that it very nearly undoes their libertarianism altogether.

    Or you have people who are libertarian plus Christian, or libertarian plus humanistic, or libertarian plus “concerned liberal”, in the Amnesty International sense.

    Or, perhaps, all these people are libertarians as one aspect of their broader philosophy, and therefore don’t need libertarianism to answer moral questions for them.

    I think that with non-Christian libertarians you can sometimes be deceived into thinking they’re amoral because they don’t subscribe to residual Christian attitudes about fleshly indulgence. But many times these people can be absolutely strident moralists. Try shorting one of them when splitting a restaurant bill and find out.

  72. Now, Fluffy, you know that last bit is amoral self-interest.

    All I know is that any statement about what actions or situations are good or evil on these threads invariably draws howls along the lines of “And I guess you and your stormtroopers will tell us how to wipe our bums, too.”

  73. joe,

    Individual libertarians need not have an amoral view of the world. However, a libertarian govt absolutely should.

  74. I think the point is, joe, that a libertarian separates their politics from their morality (beyond the non-agression principle). Sort of like a football coach’s defensive philosophy (zone? man-on-man? blitz on 1st down?) doesn’t offer him any moral advice, but that doesn’t mean it’s deficient in any way.

    The advantage of this is that you can have people of vastly different (non-agressive) moral philosophies living in a society without having to overturn the political order every time a new moral focus comes in vogue; just like that coach doesn’t need to revamp his religious beliefs because his cornerbacks are getting burned in man-to-man coverage.

  75. On one of the threads earlier, the one about military secrets being sold to Pakistan, I made the wise-crack that libertarians ought to be for it, because they support free trade.

    Well, obviously, allowing a private party to sell nuclear secrets to a hostile country would be idiocy – yes, preventing that might be a constraint to an individual’s liberty, and right to free trade, and all that good stuff, but failure to do that would likely result in your free society getting nuked off the map eventually.

    But based on the NAP PIRS spoke of, no government should have the right to prevent that, since in and of itself nobody is aggressed against in such a transaction.

    Libertarianism ends at the waters’ edge, so to speak. As a minarchist, I would contend that libertarianism can only “work” in an environment where there is an authority (the state) which enforces the non-aggression principle.

    Thus, if there were some international authority acting effectively to prevent Pakistan from initiating force against us by launching nuclear weapons, libertarianism would require the sharing of nuclear secrets to be allowed (unless there was a contract forbidding this, of course). However, there is no such effective international govt, so libertarianism is not directly applicable in the international arena.

  76. All I know is that any statement about what actions or situations are good or evil on these threads invariably draws howls along the lines of “And I guess you and your stormtroopers will tell us how to wipe our bums, too.”

    Stormtroopers, or Brownshits?

  77. In 2012, the libertarian Dems should urge Oscar Goodman to run.

  78. Libertarianism ends at the waters’ edge, so to speak.

    I’m just dying to see you assert that on the next immigration thread!

    Therein lies the rub – realistically, a libertarian political order can only exist in a society that honors libertarian values.

    Unfortunately, according to some libertarians, acting to preserve a society that honors libertarian values is in itself unlibertarian.

    So there’s my beef – virtually every libertarian premise, followed to it’s logical conclusion, would have the practical consequence of destroying any environment where libertarianism would be possible. You have to wonder what kind of a masochist would want to put themselves out to establish a political order like that. Probably the same kind of people who like to set up dominoes just to knock ’em over.

  79. Hell, the Objectivists are such obsessive moralists – with a moral lecture for every situation – that it very nearly undoes their libertarianism altogether.

    I like to think I don’t lecture all that much, but Objectivists do think that a moral agent should consider the ethical ramifications of a lot of actions before acting.

    Is there something wrong with that? I know that a lot of my fellow Objectivists act like bully-pulpit cardinal of the Atheist Faith, but just because some people can’t parse out what’s right about Rand doesn’t mean the whole system necessarily leads to moralizing, fire and brimstone.

  80. Pig Mannix-

    I would agree that a libertarian society requires a fairly wide acceptance of live and let live values. At some level we just have to get over the fact that the guy next door drives an SUV, serves fatty food in his restaurant (which even features a smoking section at the bar!), speaks Spanish to his family, gets high with his gay lover, and owns a gun.

    However, I think in the context of international relations it’s not so much about values as it is about the enforcement of agreements, and whether it’s the same on the foreign and domestic levels.

    I can get over the fact that my neighbor is weird because there’s an authority whom I can call upon to deal with him if he starts infringing on my rights. Even in anarcho-capitalism there’s still a security company to call, and I can always move to a gated community where the private contract blah blah stipulates that all residents will accept the rules of the private security and arbitration company in accordance with contracts blah blah.

    With a foreign country, OTOH, they have their rules and we have ours, and if that country engages in aggression against us, we can’t just appeal to an outside enforcer. We have to have our own enforcer ready. Those are the issues for libertarian foreign policy.

    FWIW, I don’t think that these are insurmountable obstacles that necessitate an uber-hawkish foreign policy. Still, I think the nature of the domestic-international divide has to do with the fact that on the international level you don’t get to call the cops. Cultural differences are there, but I don’t think they’re as big as we make them out to be. Dumb social experiments that fail in the West tend to fail in the East too, and vice-versa.

  81. I’m just dying to see you assert that on the next immigration thread!

    Why? That would be a stupid point to make; if you make to the water’s edge, welcome to the land of liberty.

    sounds like you’re all kinds of confused.

  82. I sure hope the mystery author’s initials aren’t JP.

  83. “I also have to go “outside of libertarianism” to tell you why you shouldn’t cheat on your wife.”

    Not really. When you get married, you make a promise. I don’t know any libertarian who says you should skate if you break a contract.

    My own basis for Libertarianism is the premise that force must be justified; when one proposes to use the power of the state to infringe on a person’s liberty, the burden of proving the necessity of that force falls on the state.

    In the case of chasing down and locking up a murderer, the justification is obvious. In the case of locking up a kid for smoking a joint, the justification is obviously missing.

    -jcr

  84. “Why does libertarianism attract racists?”

    There’s an easy way to rid libertarianism of this crap: focus more on police brutality and prosecutorial misbehavior. They are both very libertarian issues, and they hit the minority (especially African American) communities hardest.

    Using these issues as an “outreach” to the AA community would also send the message to the Stormfront assholes who think they are libertarian fellow travelers – we don’t want you here.

  85. Can someone please explain to me why the Libertarian Party isn’t going down to New Mexico, and begging Gary Johnson on their hands and knees to run as a Libertarian for President?

    He’s unite the entire libertarian movement.

    I find myself compelled to agree with Eric Dondero here. From what little I know of Gary Johnson, it sounds like he’d make a pretty good candidate for the LP. Though he’s expressed no plans to return to politics, maybe he’d reconsider if there was enough interest.

    Also, he doesn’t appear to be a total nutbag.

  86. Not really. When you get married, you make a promise. I don’t know any libertarian who says you should skate if you break a contract.

    Really? libertarians want to amend our laws so that contracts may never be breached?

  87. Now, Fluffy, you know that last bit is amoral self-interest.

    Actually, I don’t.

    Think about that for a moment: in petty disputes of that kind, you’re usually talking about $0.10 to $10.00 differences. Nobody gets all agitated with a friend, acquaintance, family member or colleague because of the self-interest loss of a dollar. Their agitation is moral indignation: they want the other party to pay their share “because that’s what’s fair”.

    I like to think I don’t lecture all that much, but Objectivists do think that a moral agent should consider the ethical ramifications of a lot of actions before acting.

    Is there something wrong with that?

    Actually, no.

    The approaches are different on an epistemological basis. Non-Randian libertarians say, “I don’t really conclusively know how you should live your life, so I’m not willing to see the police power used to force you to live a certain way, as long as you aren’t hurting anyone.” Objectivists say, “We have absolute knowledge of the moral way to live, and one part of that knowledge tells us that people should be free – and we have to honor the freedom even of people who don’t agree with us.”

    Which of these is a more stable basis for freedom? I think the Objectivist case is a more stable intellectual basis for freedom, if the proofs can be improved. But I think the non-Randian case is a better political basis for freedom, just because it’s easier to convince people to be morally skeptical than it is to convince them that one particular moral philosophy is correct.

  88. Jake – wow, Dondero said that? It must be my bi-annual agree (mostly) with Dondero time. Is Gary Johnson pro-Iraq war?

  89. Fluffy –
    those distinctions are pretty much where I trip up in explaining my libertarianism to people. I usually use the phrasing “I think it will usually lead to long-run greater income equalization, more efficient resource usage, a happier population, etc. However, I do not think that it *must* lead to these things in order for it to be the right choice. Whether it will or not depends on the nature of our neighbors and fellow citizens.”
    Or something like that.

  90. Dondero is right, and it isn’t the first time. Johnson comes off as credible despite the radicalness of his positions. Plus he’s fairly young and a health freak, so there’s plenty of time to groom him.

  91. there’s plenty of time to groom him…

    For his inevitable failure.
    History pop quiz: Who was the last successful 3rd party candidate?

  92. Eric,

    Can someone please explain to me why the Libertarian Party isn’t going down to New Mexico, and begging Gary Johnson on their hands and knees to run as a Libertarian for President?

    Best post Ive seen from you in a long time. Since you are better connected, answer this similar one for me:

    Can you please explain to me why the GOP isnt going down to NM and begging Gary Johnson on their hands and knees to run as a Republican for President?

  93. Good piece by Cavanaugh.

    My personal experiences with libertarian thought had, until a few years ago, lacked broad exposure to fringe elements. I was moved from conservatism to libertarianism by way of Reason magazine in college, and my philosophy of freedom was mostly a private affair that evolved as I continued to read The Big Names. My exposure and conversations with other libertarians was accomplished mostly by way of Hit and Run, which is a pretty moderate crowd.

    Then, a few years ago, I went to a Freedom Fest FEE event in Vegas, where my exposure was considerably broadened. I met Ron Paul, I had a discussion with David Friedman about anarchy, I watched and I listened. I found myself more similar in character to a Tyler Cowen or Virginia Postrel sort of libertarian than a Ron Paul type. I became less radical and more interested in improvements on the margins.

    Mostly, I became unnerved by the more radical elements I met. Conspiracy theorists, racists, sexists, and the other groups Cavanaugh mentions, when their numbers are combined, are not a fringe anymore – they are a substantial percentage of all libertarians I met at these conferences.

    The war radicalized the movement yet further, to the point that q&a was impossible by the second FEE event I attended. Two out of every three “questions” for David Kelley or Ron Paul would be grandstanding expositions about government coverups of free energy devices or something equally embarrassing to hear. You’d hear not about bad policies, but about government committing murder.

    It occurred to me that what I’d come to respect did not represent the bulk of the movement. The public choice types from GMU at my table had very little in common with Ron Paul and his firebreathing support of those elements I was least comfortable with.

    I haven’t been back to any of those events and I doubt I will. I left very uncomfortable with where the reasonable core was in the overall movement – pushed to the sidelines. I’m a libertarian but I’m skeptical of revolution. There has to be a place where policy can be nudged in the right direction without taking on all that baggage.

  94. I get all that crimethink. It isn’t a shortcoming of libertarianism that it has limits, just a definition.

    It’s only when libertarians fail to make that distinction, and attempt to use this theory of governance as a theory of morality, or ever of the non-governmental aspects of politics, that there’s a problem.

  95. “I found myself more similar in character to a Tyler Cowen or Virginia Postrel sort of libertarian”

    I became turned off by Virginia Postrel over her support for Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

  96. I think morals are more essentially aesthetic than people like to admit. What I mean is: they’re derived from a substrate of values that are connected up with peoples’ immediate perceptions of the world, and subjective to peoples’ individual experiences of it. I would even go so far as to contend that the reasons we supply for our moral beliefs are most often constructed after the fact; follow any given belief back to its roots and eventually, you’ll arrive at a subjective, individual judgment that a given thing is “good” or “bad” (see Hume’s is-ought problem).

    That isn’t to say that there aren’t standards of morality that are objective for all practical purposes, but they’re objective because they’re subjects on which a particular agreement predominates culturally. Usually, they’re not the sorts of things that it’s hard to convince someone of (e.g. “killing your family is bad”), and that’s the absolute crux of this argument: that morality is an area where suasion is of more use than science.

    Now, the basis for libertarianism (as I see it) isn’t remotely contingent on amorality (most libertarians would agree that the state must exist to preserve some semblance of order, and order is a moral value like any other), only on the idea that social agreement over moral issues works optimally only within a certain level of fidelity. In other words, in a world where legitimate disagreements do exist (i.e. in the real world), attempts on the part of the state to be complete or comprehensive about morality inevitably create oppression.

  97. Cactus,

    Maybe that is a part of the problem. The war makes and breaks alliances. For some, it trumps every other concern and serves as a barometer of ideological purity. There are a lot of people with little else in common that don’t like the war.

    I personally am more in line with TC and Postrel on the war issue than I am with Paul. At said FEE convention, I was sitting next to Gordon Tullock from GMU while Paul was talking about the war. We both were mumbling that Paul seemed to be oversimplifying the whole mess and he kept arguing by way of counter factual history (i.e. if we’d never been in WWI, we wouldn’t have this problem, was an answer to every geopolitical question). The war leads to a lot of fire and brimstone and marginalizes moderate voices. At least it did in Vegas.

  98. [shrugs] I do know a lot of libertarians who agree that we should have just let the South go.

    Why shrug? This was essentially Thoreau’s position in the Mexican-American War.

  99. “shrugs] I do know a lot of libertarians who agree that we should have just let the South go.”

    “Why shrug? This was essentially Thoreau’s position in the Mexican-American War.”

    Ironically, it was also Lincoln’s position. He was opposed to the Mexican-American War and believed secession was a good weapon of protest.

  100. Ironically, it was also Lincoln’s position.

    Abolitionists had their own internal strife which worked against their common cause. Some felt the result of their cause would be a “negro problem” and thus a need for Jim Crow laws.

    21st century tolerant cosmopolitans like to paint abolitionists as tolerant cosmopolitans when the facts were otherwise.

  101. History pop quiz: Who was the last successful 3rd party candidate?

    Perot got 19% even though he was batshit insane. It’s not hard to imagine a charismatic billionaire with moderately Cato/Reason ideas getting 34% as a third-party candidate.

  102. Jake Boone | January 10, 2008, 8:32am | #

    Can someone please explain to me why the Libertarian Party isn’t going down to New Mexico, and begging Gary Johnson on their hands and knees to run as a Libertarian for President?

    He’s unite the entire libertarian movement.

    I find myself compelled to agree with Eric Dondero here. From what little I know of Gary Johnson, it sounds like he’d make a pretty good candidate for the LP. Though he’s expressed no plans to return to politics, maybe he’d reconsider if there was enough interest.

    Also, he doesn’t appear to be a total nutbag.

    I find that Jake’s words show a level of class and guts that we all should respect and admire.

  103. Daze,

    It’s not hard to imagine a charismatic billionaire with moderately Cato/Reason ideas getting 34% as a third-party candidate.

    Possibly, though I wonder if being a billionaire might hurt his odds. Imagine what The New Republic would print about such a candidate, all year. Not that libertarian voters give a crap about TNR, but they have a lot of power to circulate negative ideas about candidates, and given that they’re a pretty anti-libertarian outlet, I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t reply with some Onion-esque bit of snark: “Billionaire fat-cat runs on platform of not taxing billionaire fat-cats, wants your support.” Like it or not, that sort of thing swings the independents that a third-party candidacy would need to win.

    One of the things that made Ron Paul’s candidacy so strong from a narrative point of view was the idea that he was this Texas doctor who was driven by white-hot commitment to principle – probably not true, but that sort of clarity is one of the most naturally appealing things about libertarianism to the independent voter, and it’d be wise to capitalize on it.

  104. “Pig Mannix | January 9, 2008, 8:32pm | #
    But, I don’t know any Confederate apologist libertarians and I’ve been around this movement my entire life. Maybe that’s because I grew up in Californicate. [shrugs] I do know a lot of libertarians who agree that we should have just let the South go.”

    How about Murray Rothbard. He spoke favorably about the South and Confederacy.

    Then there’s Charles Adams who was a fellow at both Cato and Mises Institute

    And of course, the great Lord Acton

    Even Frank Meyer was very critical of Lincoln and his war.

  105. @Wiliam R

    Actually, I’m aware of that.

    Now, why did you put my name on TWC’s comment?

  106. B-Rich died tryin’.

  107. Sorry, got you confused

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