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The Libertarian Heritage: The American Revolution and Classical Liberalism
Ludwig von Mises Institute ^ | May 13, 2006 | Murray N. Rothbard

Posted on 05/15/2006 8:40:01 AM PDT by Marxbites

On election day, 1976, the Libertarian party presidential ticket of Roger L. MacBride for President and David P. Bergland for Vice President amassed 174,000 votes in thirty-two states throughout the country. The sober Congressional Quarterly was moved to classify the fledgling Libertarian party as the third major political party in America. The remarkable growth rate of this new party may be seen in the fact that it only began in 1971 with a handful of members gathered in a Colorado living room. The following year it fielded a presidential ticket which managed to get on the ballot in two states. And now it is America's third major party.

Even more remarkably, the Libertarian party achieved this growth while consistently adhering to a new ideological creed — "libertarianism" — thus bringing to the American political scene for the first time in a century a party interested in principle rather than in merely gaining jobs and money at the public trough. We have been told countless times by pundits and political scientists that the genius of America and of our party system is its lack of ideology and its "pragmatism" (a kind word for focusing solely on grabbing money and jobs from the hapless taxpayers). How, then, explain the amazing growth of a new party which is frankly and eagerly devoted to ideology?

One explanation is that Americans were not always pragmatic and nonideological. On the contrary, historians now realize that the American Revolution itself was not only ideological but also the result of devotion to the creed and the institutions of libertarianism. The American revolutionaries were steeped in the creed of libertarianism, an ideology which led them to resist with their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor the invasions of their rights and liberties committed by the imperial British government. Historians have long debated the precise causes of the American Revolution: Were they constitutional, economic, political, or ideological? We now realize that, being libertarians, the revolutionaries saw no conflict between moral and political rights on the one hand and economic freedom on the other. On the contrary, they perceived civil and moral liberty, political independence, and the freedom to trade and produce as all part of one unblemished system, what Adam Smith was to call, in the same year that the Declaration of Independence was written, the "obvious and simple system of natural liberty."

The libertarian creed emerged from the "classical liberal" movements of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the Western world, specifically, from the English Revolution of the seventeenth century. This radical libertarian movement, even though only partially successful in its birthplace, Great Britain, was still able to usher in the Industrial Revolution there by freeing industry and production from the strangling restrictions of State control and urban government-supported guilds. For the classical liberal movement was, throughout the Western world, a mighty libertarian "revolution" against what we might call the Old Order — the ancien régime which had dominated its subjects for centuries. This regime had, in the early modern period beginning in the sixteenth century, imposed an absolute central State and a king ruling by divine right on top of an older, restrictive web of feudal land monopolies and urban guild controls and restrictions. The result was a Europe stagnating under a crippling web of controls, taxes, and monopoly privileges to produce and sell conferred by central (and local) governments upon their favorite producers. This alliance of the new bureaucratic, war-making central State with privileged merchants — an alliance to be called "mercantilism" by later historians — and with a class of ruling feudal landlords constituted the Old Order against which the new movement of classical liberals and radicals arose and rebelled in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The object of the classical liberals was to bring about individual liberty in all of its interrelated aspects. In the economy, taxes were to be drastically reduced, controls and regulations eliminated, and human energy, enterprise, and markets set free to create and produce in exchanges that would benefit everyone and the mass of consumers. Entrepreneurs were to be free at last to compete, to develop, to create. The shackles of control were to be lifted from land, labor, and capital alike. Personal freedom and civil liberty were to be guaranteed against the depredations and tyranny of the king or his minions. Religion, the source of bloody wars for centuries when sects were battling for control of the State, was to be set free from State imposition or interference, so that all religions — or nonreligions — could coexist in peace. Peace, too, was the foreign policy credo of the new classical liberals; the age-old regime of imperial and State aggrandizement for power and pelf was to be replaced by a foreign policy of peace and free trade with all nations. And since war was seen as engendered by standing armies and navies, by military power always seeking expansion, these military establishments were to be replaced by voluntary local militia, by citizen-civilians who would only wish to fight in defense of their own particular homes and neighborhoods.

Thus, the well-known theme of "separation of Church and State" was but one of many interrelated motifs that could be summed up as "separation of the economy from the State," "separation of speech and press from the State," "separation of land from the State," "separation of war and military affairs from the State," indeed, the separation of the State from virtually everything.

The State, in short, was to be kept extremely small, with a very low, nearly negligible budget. The classical liberals never developed a theory of taxation, but every increase in a tax and every new kind of tax was fought bitterly — in America twice becoming the spark that led or almost led to the Revolution (the stamp tax, the tea tax).

"Being libertarians, the revolutionaries saw no conflict between moral and political rights on the one hand and economic freedom on the other."

The earliest theoreticians of libertarian classical liberalism were the Levelers during the English Revolution and the philosopher John Locke in the late seventeenth century, followed by the "True Whig" or radical libertarian opposition to the "Whig Settlement" — the regime of eighteenth-century Britain. John Locke set forth the natural rights of each individual to his person and property; the purpose of government was strictly limited to defending such rights. In the words of the Lockean-inspired Declaration of Independence, "to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…."

While Locke was widely read in the American colonies, his abstract philosophy was scarcely calculated to rouse men to revolution. This task was accomplished by radical Lockeans in the eighteenth century, who wrote in a more popular, hard-hitting, and impassioned manner and applied the basic philosophy to the concrete problems of the government — and especially the British government — of the day. The most important writing in this vein was "Cato's Letters," a series of newspaper articles published in the early 1720s in London by True Whigs John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon. While Locke had written of the revolutionary pressure which could properly be exerted when government became destructive of liberty, Trenchard and Gordon pointed out that government always tended toward such destruction of individual rights. According to "Cato's Letters," human history is a record of irrepressible conflict between Power and Liberty, with Power (government) always standing ready to increase its scope by invading people's rights and encroaching upon their liberties. Therefore, Cato declared, Power must be kept small and faced with eternal vigilance and hostility on the part of the public to make sure that it always stays within its narrow bounds:

We know, by infinite Examples and Experience, that Men possessed of Power, rather than part with it, will do any thing, even the worst and the blackest, to keep it; and scarce ever any Man upon Earth went out of it as long as he could carry every thing his own Way in it…. This seems certain, That the Good of the World, or of their People, was not one of their Motives either for continuing in Power, or for quitting it.

It is the Nature of Power to be ever encroaching, and converting every extraordinary Power, granted at particular Times, and upon particular Occasions, into an ordinary Power, to be used at all Times, and when there is no Occasion, nor does it ever part willingly with any Advantage….

Alas! Power encroaches daily upon Liberty, with a Success too evident; and the Balance between them is almost lost. Tyranny has engrossed almost the whole Earth, and striking at Mankind Root and Branch, makes the World a Slaughterhouse; and will certainly go on to destroy, till it is either destroyed itself, or, which is most likely, has left nothing else to destroy.

Such warnings were eagerly imbibed by the American colonists, who reprinted "Cato's Letters" many times throughout the colonies and down to the time of the Revolution. Such a deep-seated attitude led to what the historian Bernard Bailyn has aptly called the "transforming radical libertarianism" of the American Revolution.

For the revolution was not only the first successful modern attempt to throw off the yoke of Western imperialism — at that time, of the world's mightiest power. More important, for the first time in history, Americans hedged in their new governments with numerous limits and restrictions embodied in constitutions and particularly in bills of rights. Church and State were rigorously separated throughout the new states, and religious freedom enshrined. Remnants of feudalism were eliminated throughout the states by the abolition of the feudal privileges of entail and primogeniture. (In the former, a dead ancestor is able to entail landed estates in his family forever, preventing his heirs from selling any part of the land; in the latter, the government requires sole inheritance of property by the oldest son.)

The new federal government formed by the Articles of Confederation was not permitted to levy any taxes upon the public; and any fundamental extension of its powers required unanimous consent by every state government. Above all, the military and war-making power of the national government was hedged in by restraint and suspicion; for the eighteenth-century libertarians understood that war, standing armies, and militarism had long been the main method for aggrandizing State power.

Bernard Bailyn has summed up the achievement of the American revolutionaries:

The modernization of American Politics and government during and after the Revolution took the form of a sudden, radical realization of the program that had first been fully set forth by the opposition intelligentsia … in the reign of George the First. Where the English opposition, forcing its way against a complacent social and political order, had only striven and dreamed, Americans driven by the same aspirations but living in a society in many ways modern, and now released politically, could suddenly act. Where the English opposition had vainly agitated for partial reforms … American leaders moved swiftly and with little social disruption to implement systematically the outermost possibilities of the whole range of radically liberation ideas.

In the process they … infused into American political culture … the major themes of eighteenth-century radical libertarianism brought to realization here. The first is the belief that power is evil, a necessity perhaps but an evil necessity; that it is infinitely corrupting; and that it must be controlled, limited, restricted in every way compatible with a minimum of civil order. Written constitutions; the separation of powers; bills of rights; limitations on executives, on legislatures, and courts; restrictions on the right to coerce and wage war — all express the profound distrust of power that lies at the ideological heart of the American Revolution and that has remained with us as a permanent legacy ever after.

Thus, while classical liberal thought began in England, it was to reach its most consistent and radical development — and its greatest living embodiment — in America. For the American colonies were free of the feudal land monopoly and aristocratic ruling caste that was entrenched in Europe; in America, the rulers were British colonial officials and a handful of privileged merchants, who were relatively easy to sweep aside when the Revolution came and the British government was overthrown. Classical liberalism, therefore, had more popular support, and met far less entrenched institutional resistance, in the American colonies than it found at home. Furthermore, being geographically isolated, the American rebels did not have to worry about the invading armies of neighboring, counterrevolutionary governments, as, for example, was the case in France.

After the Revolution

Thus, America, above all countries, was born in an explicitly libertarian revolution, a revolution against empire; against taxation, trade monopoly, and regulation; and against militarism and executive power. The revolution resulted in governments unprecedented in restrictions placed on their power. But while there was very little institutional resistance in America to the onrush of liberalism, there did appear, from the very beginning, powerful elite forces, especially among the large merchants and planters, who wished to retain the restrictive British "mercantilist" system of high taxes, controls, and monopoly privileges conferred by the government. These groups wished for a strong central and even imperial government; in short, they wanted the British system without Great Britain. These conservative and reactionary forces first appeared during the Revolution, and later formed the Federalist party and the Federalist administration in the 1790s.

During the nineteenth century, however, the libertarian impetus continued. The Jeffersonian and Jacksonian movements, the Democratic-Republican and then the Democratic parties, explicitly strived for the virtual elimination of government from American life. It was to be a government without a standing army or navy; a government without debt and with no direct federal or excise taxes and virtually no import tariffs — that is, with negligible levels of taxation and expenditure; a government that does not engage in public works or internal improvements; a government that does not control or regulate; a government that leaves money and banking free, hard, and uninflated; in short, in the words of H. L. Mencken's ideal, "a government that barely escapes being no government at all."

"America, above all countries, was born in an explicitly libertarian revolution, a revolution against empire; against taxation, trade monopoly, and regulation; and against militarism and executive power."

The Jeffersonian drive toward virtually no government foundered after Jefferson took office, first, with concessions to the Federalists (possibly the result of a deal for Federalist votes to break a tie in the electoral college), and then with the unconstitutional purchase of the Louisiana Territory. But most particularly it foundered with the imperialist drive toward war with Britain in Jefferson's second term, a drive which led to war and to a one-party system which established virtually the entire statist Federalist program: high military expenditures, a central bank, a protective tariff, direct federal taxes, public works. Horrified at the results, a retired Jefferson brooded at Monticello, and inspired young visiting politicians Martin Van Buren and Thomas Hart Benton to found a new party — the Democratic party — to take back America from the new Federalism, and to recapture the spirit of the old Jeffersonian program. When the two young leaders latched onto Andrew Jackson as their savior, the new Democratic party was born.

The Jacksonian libertarians had a plan: it was to be eight years of Andrew Jackson as president, to be followed by eight years of Van Buren, then eight years of Benton. After twenty-four years of a triumphant Jacksonian Democracy, the Menckenian virtually no-government ideal was to have been achieved. It was by no means an impossible dream, since it was clear that the Democratic party had quickly become the normal majority party in the country. The mass of the people were enlisted in the libertarian cause. Jackson had his eight years, which destroyed the central bank and retired the public debt, and Van Buren had four, which separated the federal government from the banking system. But the 1840 election was an anomaly, as Van Buren was defeated by an unprecedentedly demagogic campaign engineered by the first great modern campaign chairman, Thurlow Weed, who pioneered in all the campaign frills — catchy slogans, buttons, songs, parades, etc. — with which we are now familiar. Weed's tactics put in office the egregious and unknown Whig, General William Henry Harrison, but this was clearly a fluke; in 1844, the Democrats would be prepared to counter with the same campaign tactics, and they were clearly slated to recapture the presidency that year. Van Buren, of course, was supposed to resume the triumphal Jacksonian march. But then a fateful event occurred: the Democratic party was sundered on the critical issue of slavery, or rather the expansion of slavery into a new territory. Van Buren's easy renomination foundered on a split within the ranks of the Democracy over the admission to the Union of the republic of Texas as a slave state; Van Buren was opposed, Jackson in favor, and this split symbolized the wider sectional rift within the Democratic party. Slavery, the grave antilibertarian flaw in the libertarianism of the Democratic program, had arisen to wreck the party and its libertarianism completely.

The Civil War, in addition to its unprecedented bloodshed and devastation, was used by the triumphal and virtually one-party Republican regime to drive through its statist, formerly Whig, program: national governmental power, protective tariff, subsidies to big business, inflationary paper money, resumed control of the federal government over banking, large-scale internal improvements, high excise taxes, and, during the war, conscription and an income tax. Furthermore, the states came to lose their previous right of secession and other states' powers as opposed to federal governmental powers. The Democratic party resumed its libertarian ways after the war, but it now had to face a far longer and more difficult road to arrive at liberty than it had before.

We have seen how America came to have the deepest libertarian tradition, a tradition that still remains in much of our political rhetoric, and is still reflected in a feisty and individualistic attitude toward government by much of the American people. There is far more fertile soil in this country than in any other for a resurgence of libertarianism.

Resistance to Liberty

We can now see that the rapid growth of the libertarian movement and the Libertarian party in the 1970s is firmly rooted in what Bernard Bailyn called this powerful "permanent legacy" of the American Revolution. But if this legacy is so vital to the American tradition, what went wrong? Why the need now for a new libertarian movement to arise to reclaim the American dream?

To begin to answer this question, we must first remember that classical liberalism constituted a profound threat to the political and economic interests — the ruling classes — who benefited from the Old Order: the kings, the nobles and landed aristocrats, the privileged merchants, the military machines, the State bureaucracies. Despite three major violent revolutions precipitated by the liberals — the English of the seventeenth century and the American and French of the eighteenth — victories in Europe were only partial. Resistance was stiff and managed to successfully maintain landed monopolies, religious establishments, and warlike foreign and military policies, and for a time to keep the suffrage restricted to the wealthy elite. The liberals had to concentrate on widening the suffrage, because it was clear to both sides that the objective economic and political interests of the mass of the public lay in individual liberty. It is interesting to note that, by the early nineteenth century, the laissez-faire forces were known as "liberals" and "radicals" (for the purer and more consistent among them), and the opposition that wished to preserve or go back to the Old Order were broadly known as "conservatives."

Indeed, conservatism began, in the early nineteenth century, as a conscious attempt to undo and destroy the hated work of the new classical liberal spirit — of the American, French, and Industrial revolutions. Led by two reactionary French thinkers, de Bonald and de Maistre, conservatism yearned to replace equal rights and equality before the law by the structured and hierarchical rule of privileged elites; individual liberty and minimal government by absolute rule and Big Government; religious freedom by the theocratic rule of a State church; peace and free trade by militarism, mercantilist restrictions, and war for the advantage of the nation-state; and industry and manufacturing by the old feudal and agrarian order. And they wanted to replace the new world of mass consumption and rising standards of living for all by the Old Order of bare subsistence for the masses and luxury consumption for the ruling elite.

"Slavery, the grave antilibertarian flaw in the libertarianism of the Democratic program, had arisen to wreck the party and its libertarianism completely."

By the middle of and certainly by the end of the nineteenth century, conservatives began to realize that their cause was inevitably doomed if they persisted in clinging to the call for outright repeal of the Industrial Revolution and of its enormous rise in the living standards of the mass of the public, and also if they persisted in opposing the widening of the suffrage, thereby frankly setting themselves in opposition to the interests of that public. Hence, the "right wing" (a label based on an accident of geography by which the spokesmen for the Old Order sat on the right of the assembly hall during the French Revolution) decided to shift their gears and to update their statist creed by jettisoning outright opposition to industrialism and democratic suffrage. For the old conservatism's frank hatred and contempt for the mass of the public, the new conservatives substituted duplicity and demagogy. The new conservatives wooed the masses with the following line: "We, too, favor industrialism and a higher standard of living. But, to accomplish such ends, we must regulate industry for the public good; we must substitute organized cooperation for the dog-eat-dog of the free and competitive marketplace; and, above all, we must substitute for the nation-destroying liberal tenets of peace and free trade the nation-glorifying measures of war, protectionism, empire, and military prowess." For all of these changes, of course, Big Government rather than minimal government was required.

And so, in the late nineteenth century, statism and Big Government returned, but this time displaying a proindustrial and pro-general-welfare face. The Old Order returned, but this time the beneficiaries were shuffled a bit; they were not so much the nobility, the feudal landlords, the army, the bureaucracy, and privileged merchants as they were the army, the bureaucracy, the weakened feudal landlords, and especially the privileged manufacturers. Led by Bismarck in Prussia, the New Right fashioned a right-wing collectivism based on war, militarism, protectionism, and the compulsory cartelization of business and industry — a giant network of controls, regulations, subsidies, and privileges which forged a great partnership of Big Government with certain favored elements in big business and industry.

Something had to be done, too, about the new phenomenon of a massive number of industrial wage workers — the "proletariat." During the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, indeed until the late nineteenth century, the mass of workers favored laissez-faire and the free competitive market as best for their wages and working conditions as workers, and for a cheap and widening range of consumer goods as consumers. Even the early trade unions, e.g., in Great Britain, were staunch believers in laissez-faire. New conservatives, spearheaded by Bismarck in Germany and Disraeli in Britain, weakened the libertarian will of the workers by shedding crocodile tears about the condition of the industrial labor force, and cartelizing and regulating industry, not accidentally hobbling efficient competition. Finally, in the early twentieth century, the new conservative "corporate state" — then and now the dominant political system in the Western world — incorporated "responsible" and corporatist trade unions as junior partners to Big Government and favored big businesses in the new statist and corporatist decision-making system.

To establish this new system, to create a New Order which was a modernized, dressed-up version of the ancien régime before the American and French revolutions, the new ruling elites had to perform a gigantic con job on the deluded public, a con job that continues to this day. Whereas the existence of every government from absolute monarchy to military dictatorship rests on the consent of the majority of the public, a democratic government must engineer such consent on a more immediate, day-by-day basis. And to do so, the new conservative ruling elites had to gull the public in many crucial and fundamental ways. For the masses now had to be convinced that tyranny was better than liberty, that a cartelized and privileged industrial feudalism was better for the consumers than a freely competitive market, that a cartelized monopoly was to be imposed in the name of antimonopoly, and that war and military aggrandizement for the benefit of the ruling elites was really in the interests of the conscripted, taxed, and often slaughtered public. How was this to be done?

"Classical liberalism constituted a profound threat to the political and economic interests — the ruling classes…" In all societies, public opinion is determined by the intellectual classes, the opinion moulders of society. For most people neither originate nor disseminate ideas and concepts; on the contrary, they tend to adopt those ideas promulgated by the professional intellectual classes, the professional dealers in ideas. Now, throughout history, as we shall see further below, despots and ruling elites of States have had far more need of the services of intellectuals than have peaceful citizens in a free society. For States have always needed opinion-moulding intellectuals to con the public into believing that its rule is wise, good, and inevitable; into believing that the "emperor has clothes." Until the modern world, such intellectuals were inevitably churchmen (or witch doctors), the guardians of religion. It was a cozy alliance, this age-old partnership between Church and State; the Church informed its deluded charges that the king ruled by divine command and therefore must be obeyed; in return, the king funneled numerous tax revenues into the coffers of the Church. Hence, the great importance for the libertarian classical liberals of their success at separating Church and State. The new liberal world was a world in which intellectuals could be secular — could make a living on their own, in the market, apart from State subvention.

To establish their new statist order, their neomercantilist corporate State, the new conservatives therefore had to forge a new alliance between intellectual and State. In an increasingly secular age, this meant with secular intellectuals rather than with divines: specifically, with the new breed of professors, Ph.D.'s, historians, teachers, and technocratic economists, social workers, sociologists, physicians, and engineers. This reforged alliance came in two parts. In the early nineteenth century, the conservatives, conceding reason to their liberal enemies, relied heavily on the alleged virtues of irrationality, romanticism, tradition, theocracy. By stressing the virtue of tradition and of irrational symbols, the conservatives could gull the public into continuing privileged hierarchical rule, and to continue to worship the nation-state and its war-making machine. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, the new conservatism adopted the trappings of reason and of "science." Now it was science that allegedly required rule of the economy and of society by technocratic "experts." In exchange for spreading this message to the public, the new breed of intellectuals was rewarded with jobs and prestige as apologists for the New Order and as planners and regulators of the newly cartelized economy and society.

To insure the dominance of the new statism over public opinion, to insure that the public's consent would be engineered, the governments of the Western world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries moved to seize control over education, over the minds of men: over the universities, and over general education through compulsory school attendance laws and a network of public schools. The public schools were consciously used to inculcate obedience to the State as well as other civic virtues among their young charges. Furthermore, this statizing of education insured that one of the biggest vested interests in expanding statism would be the nation's teachers and professional educationists.

One of the ways that the new statist intellectuals did their work was to change the meaning of old labels, and therefore to manipulate in the minds of the public the emotional connotations attached to such labels. For example, the laissez-faire libertarians had long been known as "liberals," and the purest and most militant of them as "radicals"; they had also been known as "progressives" because they were the ones in tune with industrial progress, the spread of liberty, and the rise in living standards of consumers. The new breed of statist academics and intellectuals appropriated to themselves the words "liberal" and "progressive," and successfully managed to tar their laissez-faire opponents with the charge of being old-fashioned, "Neanderthal," and "reactionary." Even the name "conservative" was pinned on the classical liberals. And, as we have seen, the new statists were able to appropriate the concept of "reason" as well.

"For the old conservatism's frank hatred and contempt for the mass of the public, the new conservatives substituted duplicity and demagogy." If the laissez-faire liberals were confused by the new recrudescence of statism and mercantilism as "progressive" corporate statism, another reason for the decay of classical liberalism by the end of the nineteenth century was the growth of a peculiar new movement: socialism. Socialism began in the 1830s and expanded greatly after the 1880s. The peculiar thing about socialism was that it was a confused, hybrid movement, influenced by both the two great preexisting polar ideologies, liberalism and conservatism. From the classical liberals the socialists took a frank acceptance of industrialism and the Industrial Revolution, an early glorification of "science" and "reason," and at least a rhetorical devotion to such classical liberal ideals as peace, individual freedom, and a rising standard of living. Indeed, the socialists, long before the much later corporatists, pioneered in a co-opting of science, reason, and industrialism. And the socialists not only adopted the classical liberal adherence to democracy, but topped it by calling for an "expanded democracy," in which "the people" would run the economy — and each other.

On the other hand, from the conservatives the socialists took a devotion to coercion and the statist means for trying to achieve these liberal goals. Industrial harmony and growth were to be achieved by aggrandizing the State into an all-powerful institution, ruling the economy and the society in the name of "science." A vanguard of technocrats was to assume all-powerful rule over everyone's person and property in the name of the "people" and of "democracy." Not content with the liberal achievement of reason and freedom for scientific research, the socialist State would install rule by the scientists of everyone else; not content with liberals setting the workers free to achieve undreamt-of prosperity, the socialist State would install rule by the workers of everyone else — or rather, rule by politicians, bureaucrats, and technocrats in their name. Not content with the liberal creed of equality of rights, of equality before the law, the socialist State would trample on such equality on behalf of the monstrous and impossible goal of equality or uniformity of results — or rather, would erect a new privileged elite, a new class, in the name of bringing about such an impossible equality.

Socialism was a confused and hybrid movement because it tried to achieve the liberal goals of freedom, peace, and industrial harmony and growth — goals which can only be achieved through liberty and the separation of government from virtually everything — by imposing the old conservative means of statism, collectivism, and hierarchical privilege. It was a movement which could only fail, which indeed did fail miserably in those numerous countries where it attained power in the twentieth century, by bringing to the masses only unprecedented despotism, starvation, and grinding impoverishment.

But the worst thing about the rise of the socialist movement was that it was able to outflank the classical liberals "on the Left": that is, as the party of hope, of radicalism, of revolution in the Western World. For, just as the defenders of the ancien régime took their place on the right side of the hall during the French Revolution, so the liberals and radicals sat on the left; from then on until the rise of socialism, the libertarian classical liberals were "the Left," even the "extreme Left," on the ideological spectrum. As late as 1848, such militant laissez-faire French liberals as Frederic Bastiat sat on the left in the national assembly. The classical liberals had begun as the radical, revolutionary party in the West, as the party of hope and of change on behalf of liberty, peace, and progress. To allow themselves to be outflanked, to allow the socialists to pose as the "party of the Left," was a bad strategic error, allowing the liberals to be put falsely into a confused middle-of-the-road position with socialism and conservatism as the polar opposites. Since libertarianism is nothing if not a party of change and of progress toward liberty, abandonment of that role meant the abandonment of much of their reason for existence — either in reality or in the minds of the public.

But none of this could have happened if the classical liberals had not allowed themselves to decay from within. They could have pointed out — as some of them indeed did — that socialism was a confused, self-contradictory, quasi-conservative movement, absolute monarchy and feudalism with a modern face, and that they themselves were still the only true radicals, undaunted people who insisted on nothing less than complete victory for the libertarian ideal.

Decay From Within

But after achieving impressive partial victories against statism, the classical liberals began to lose their radicalism, their dogged insistence on carrying the battle against conservative statism to the point of final victory. Instead of using partial victories as a stepping-stone for evermore pressure, the classical liberals began to lose their fervor for change and for purity of principle. They began to rest content with trying to safeguard their existing victories, and thus turned themselves from a radical into a conservative movement — "conservative" in the sense of being content to preserve the status quo. In short, the liberals left the field wide open for socialism to become the party of hope and of radicalism, and even for the later corporatists to pose as "liberals" and "progressives" as against the "extreme right wing" and "conservative" libertarian classical liberals, since the latter allowed themselves to be boxed into a position of hoping for nothing more than stasis, than absence of change. Such a strategy is foolish and untenable in a changing world.

But the degeneration of liberalism was not merely one of stance and strategy, but one of principle as well. For the liberals became content to leave the war-making power in the hands of the State, to leave the education power in its hands, to leave the power over money and banking, and over roads, in the hands of the State — in short, to concede to State dominion over all the crucial levers of power in society. In contrast to the eighteenth-century liberals' total hostility to the executive and to bureaucracy, the nineteenth-century liberals tolerated and even welcomed the buildup of executive power and of an entrenched oligarchic civil service bureaucracy.

Moreover, principle and strategy merged in the decay of eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century liberal devotion to "abolitionism" — to the view that, whether the institution be slavery or any other aspect of statism, it should be abolished as quickly as possible, since the immediate abolition of statism, while unlikely in practice, was to be sought after as the only possible moral position. For to prefer a gradual whittling away to immediate abolition of an evil and coercive institution is to ratify and sanction such evil, and therefore to violate libertarian principles. As the great abolitionist of slavery and libertarian William Lloyd Garrison explained: "Urge immediate abolition as earnestly as we may, it will, alas! be gradual abolition in the end. We have never said that slavery would be overthrown by a single blow; that it ought to be, we shall always contend."

Socialism was a confused and hybrid movement because it tried to achieve liberal goals by imposing the old conservative means of statism, collectivism, and hierarchical privilege. There were two critically important changes in the philosophy and ideology of classical liberalism which both exemplified and contributed to its decay as a vital, progressive, and radical force in the Western world. The first, and most important, occurring in the early to mid-nineteenth century, was the abandonment of the philosophy of natural rights, and its replacement by technocratic utilitarianism. Instead of liberty grounded on the imperative morality of each individual's right to person and property, that is, instead of liberty being sought primarily on the basis of right and justice, utilitarianism preferred liberty as generally the best way to achieve a vaguely defined general welfare or common good. There were two grave consequences of this shift from natural rights to utilitarianism. First, the purity of the goal, the consistency of the principle, was inevitably shattered. For whereas the natural-rights libertarian seeking morality and justice cleaves militantly to pure principle, the utilitarian only values liberty as an ad hoc expedient. And since expediency can and does shift with the wind, it will become easy for the utilitarian in his cool calculus of cost and benefit to plump for statism in ad hoc case after case, and thus to give principle away. Indeed, this is precisely what happened to the Benthamite utilitarians in England: beginning with ad hoc libertarianism and laissez-faire, they found it ever easier to slide further and further into statism. An example was the drive for an "efficient" and therefore strong civil service and executive power, an efficiency that took precedence, indeed replaced, any concept of justice or right.

Second, and equally important, it is rare indeed ever to find a utilitarian who is also radical, who burns for immediate abolition of evil and coercion. Utilitarians, with their devotion to expediency, almost inevitably oppose any sort of upsetting or radical change. There have been no utilitarian revolutionaries. Hence, utilitarians are never immediate abolitionists. The abolitionist is such because he wishes to eliminate wrong and injustice as rapidly as possible. In choosing this goal, there is no room for cool, ad hoc weighing of cost and benefit. Hence, the classical liberal utilitarians abandoned radicalism and became mere gradualist reformers. But in becoming reformers, they also put themselves inevitably into the position of advisers and efficiency experts to the State. In other words, they inevitably came to abandon libertarian principle as well as a principled libertarian strategy. The utilitarians wound up as apologists for the existing order, for the status quo, and hence were all too open to the charge by socialists and progressive corporatists that they were mere narrow-minded and conservative opponents of any and all change. Thus, starting as radicals and revolutionaries, as the polar opposites of conservatives, the classical liberals wound up as the image of the thing they had fought.

This utilitarian crippling of libertarianism is still with us. Thus, in the early days of economic thought, utilitarianism captured free-market economics with the influence of Bentham and Ricardo, and this influence is today fully as strong as ever. Current free-market economics is all too rife with appeals to gradualism; with scorn for ethics, justice, and consistent principle; and with a willingness to abandon free-market principles at the drop of a cost-benefit hat. Hence, current free-market economics is generally envisioned by intellectuals as merely apologetics for a slightly modified status quo, and all too often such charges are correct.

A second, reinforcing change in the ideology of classical liberals came during the late nineteenth century, when, at least for a few decades, they adopted the doctrines of social evolutionism, often called "social Darwinism." Generally, statist historians have smeared such social Darwinist laissez-faire liberals as Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner as cruel champions of the extermination, or at least of the disappearance, of the socially "unfit." Much of this was simply the dressing up of sound economic and sociological free-market doctrine in the then-fashionable trappings of evolutionism. But the really important and crippling aspect of their social Darwinism was the illegitimate carrying-over to the social sphere of the view that species (or later, genes) change very, very slowly, after millennia of time. The social Darwinist liberal came, then, to abandon the very idea of revolution or radical change in favor of sitting back and waiting for the inevitable tiny evolutionary changes over eons of time. In short, ignoring the fact that liberalism had had to break through the power of ruling elites by a series of radical changes and revolutions, the social Darwinists became conservatives preaching against any radical measures and in favor of only the most minutely gradual of changes.

In fact, the great libertarian Spencer himself is a fascinating illustration of just such a change in classical liberalism (and his case is paralleled in America by William Graham Sumner). In a sense, Herbert Spencer embodies within himself much of the decline of liberalism in the nineteenth century. For Spencer began as a magnificently radical liberal, as virtually a pure libertarian. But, as the virus of sociology and social Darwinism took over in his soul, Spencer abandoned libertarianism as a dynamic, radical historical movement, although without abandoning it in pure theory. While looking forward to an eventual victory of pure liberty, of "contract" as against "status," of industry as against militarism, Spencer began to see that victory as inevitable, but only after millennia of gradual evolution. Hence, Spencer abandoned liberalism as a fighting, radical creed and confined his liberalism in practice to a weary, conservative, rearguard action against the growing collectivism and statism of his day.

"This utilitarian crippling of libertarianism is still with us." But if utilitarianism, bolstered by social Darwinism, was the main agent of philosophical and ideological decay in the liberal movement, the single most important, and even cataclysmic, reason for its demise was its abandonment of formerly stringent principles against war, empire, and militarism. In country after country, it was the siren song of nation-state and empire that destroyed classical liberalism. In England, the liberals, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, abandoned the antiwar, anti-imperialist "Little Englandism" of Cobden, Bright, and the Manchester School. Instead, they adopted the obscenely entitled "Liberal Imperialism" — joining the conservatives in the expansion of empire, and the conservatives and the right-wing socialists in the destructive imperialism and collectivism of World War I. In Germany, Bismarck was able to split the previously almost triumphant liberals by setting up the lure of unification of Germany by blood and iron. In both countries, the result was the destruction of the liberal cause.

In the United States, the classical liberal party had long been the Democratic party, known in the latter nineteenth century as "the party of personal liberty." Basically, it had been the party not only of personal but also of economic liberty; the stalwart opponent of Prohibition, of Sunday blue laws, and of compulsory education; the devoted champion of free trade, hard money (absence of governmental inflation), separation of banking from the State, and the absolute minimum of government. It construed state power to be negligible and federal power to be virtually nonexistent. On foreign policy, the Democratic party, though less rigorously, tended to be the party of peace, antimilitarism, and anti-imperialism. But personal and economic libertarianism were both abandoned with the capture of the Democratic party by the Bryan forces in 1896, and the foreign policy of nonintervention was then rudely abandoned by Woodrow Wilson two decades later. It was an intervention and a war that were to usher in a century of death and devastation, of wars and new despotisms, and also a century in all warring countries of the new corporatist statism — of a welfare-warfare State run by an alliance of Big Government, big business, unions, and intellectuals — that we have mentioned above.

You can listen to this article as a Mises.org podcast. The last gasp, indeed, of the old laissez-faire liberalism in America was the doughty and aging libertarians who banded together to form the Anti-Imperialist League at the turn of the century, to combat the American war against Spain and the subsequent imperialist American war to crush the Filipinos who were striving for national independence from both Spain and the United States. To current eyes, the idea of an anti-imperialist who is not a Marxist may seem strange, but opposition to imperialism began with laissez-faire liberals such as Cobden and Bright in England, and Eugen Richter in Prussia. In fact, the Anti-Imperialist League, headed by Boston industrialist and economist Edward Atkinson (and including Sumner) consisted largely of laissez-faire radicals who had fought the good fight for the abolition of slavery, and had then championed free trade, hard money, and minimal government. To them, their final battle against the new American imperialism was simply part and parcel of their lifelong battle against coercion, statism and injustice — against Big Government in every area of life, both domestic and foreign.

We have traced the rather grisly story of the decline and fall of classical liberalism after its rise and partial triumph in previous centuries. What, then, is the reason for the resurgence, the flowering, of libertarian thought and activity in the last few years, particularly in the United States? How could these formidable forces and coalitions for statism have yielded even that much to a resurrected libertarian movement? Shouldn't the resumed march of statism in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries be a cause for gloom rather than usher in a reawakening of a seemingly moribund libertarianism? Why didn't libertarianism remain dead and buried?

We have seen why libertarianism would naturally arise first and most fully in the United States, a land steeped in libertarian tradition. But we have not yet examined the question: Why the renaissance of libertarianism at all within the last few years? What contemporary conditions have led to this surprising development? We must postpone answering this question until the end of the book, until we first examine what the libertarian creed is, and how that creed can be applied to solve the leading problem areas in our society.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Murray N. Rothbard (1926-1995) was dean of the Austrian School. This article is excerpted from the first chapter of For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto.

An audiobook version of this chapter, read by Jeff Riggenbach, including a new introduction, written and read by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., is available for podcast or download. The full audiobook will be available by the end of the summer.

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I found this an interesting bit of history, hope you do too!
1 posted on 05/15/2006 8:40:08 AM PDT by Marxbites
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To: Marxbites
Much of Libertarian philosophy is worthwhile. It's always an education to re-read Rothbard.

But the Libertarian Party contains some ideas which I cannot accept. Reminding me of the wisdom behind the philosophy just makes me sad that the Party is not something I can support.

2 posted on 05/15/2006 8:46:17 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy (Never question Bruce Dickinson!)
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To: Marxbites

Interesting, but similar to the Bull Moose party in effectiveness, if that.


3 posted on 05/15/2006 8:47:47 AM PDT by pissant
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To: Marxbites
Thus, the well-known theme of "separation of Church and State" was but one of many interrelated motifs that could be summed up as "separation of the economy from the State," "separation of speech and press from the State," "separation of land from the State," "separation of war and military affairs from the State," indeed, the separation of the State from virtually everything.

The State, in short, was to be kept extremely small, with a very low, nearly negligible budget. The classical liberals never developed a theory of taxation, but every increase in a tax and every new kind of tax was fought bitterly — in America twice becoming the spark that led or almost led to the Revolution (the stamp tax, the tea tax).

The concept is pure poetry. Great article, thanks for posting it.

4 posted on 05/15/2006 8:56:41 AM PDT by Mr. Jeeves ("When the government is invasive, the people are wanting." -- Tao Te Ching)
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To: Marxbites

We need to consider a Constitutional amendment allowing the states to secede from the Union. I know, many feel the state's still have that right notwithstanding the Civil War. But an amendment would seal the deal. Once the Feds have to face that possibility, there would be more accountability to the states.


5 posted on 05/15/2006 9:06:11 AM PDT by gjbevil
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To: ClearCase_guy

"But the Libertarian Party contains some ideas which I cannot accept."

Sad that whatever form of propaganda has so warped your mind...

Liberty should be our birthright, not a rapidly vanishing government-supplied commodity.


6 posted on 05/15/2006 9:12:20 AM PDT by PreciousLiberty
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To: ClearCase_guy
But the Libertarian Party contains some ideas which I cannot accept.

Me too, particularly those that include having hard core drugs be legalized and all prisoners convicted of drug offenses be released. I also don't like the party's peacenik leanings, amid the current terrorist threat and the growing threat from China. Otherwise, I'm all for Libertarianism... low taxes, limited government, and all.

7 posted on 05/15/2006 9:15:18 AM PDT by Virginia Ridgerunner ("Si vis pacem para bellum")
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To: PreciousLiberty
Sad that whatever form of propaganda has so warped your mind...

Terrorism -- Would the LP support a pre-emptive strike against Saddam?
Abortion -- Would the LP support government restrictions on abortion?
Immigration -- Would the LP support a national policy to end Illegal Immigration?

Those are my top 3 political issues, and I believe the Libertarian Party fails on every one of them. I also think that drug legalization is stupid, but that’s not such a big issue in terms of the big picture.

8 posted on 05/15/2006 9:18:50 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy (Never question Bruce Dickinson!)
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To: Marxbites

bttt--


9 posted on 05/15/2006 9:39:32 AM PDT by rellimpank (Don't believe anything about firearms or explosives stated by the mass media---NRABenefactor)
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To: Marxbites

Bump for later read.


10 posted on 05/15/2006 9:42:16 AM PDT by Hemingway's Ghost (Spirit of '75)
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To: ClearCase_guy

I know. However, you understandably come at the issue as I used to based on public education.

We learned about the robber barons and child labor, instead of the Rockefeller/Morgan takeover of our Govt; first via the ICC, then the FED & income taxes, then the FDR court's unconstitutional (sans amendment) rewrite of the Constitution giving congress unlimited spending authority it never before had.

Terrorism -- Would the LP support a pre-emptive strike against Saddam?

Probably not since it was the BP & Std Oil traitors of liberty that mucked it all up to begin with.

Abortion -- Would the LP support government restrictions on abortion?

Probably not, but they definitely would support the states deciding for themselves per the constitution.

Immigration -- Would the LP support a national policy to end Illegal Immigration?

Sure, if it's constitutional.

For you see, after growing up left in the 60's, veering to RWR w/his campaign speeches & a just learned Laffer Curve in econ 101, I have since studied the economics and history of America.

My conclusion is that both the socialist left welfare statists, and the corp subsidy elites and military statist right, are neither one the solution to returning us to the Constitution our Founders gave their all to bequeath us.

For all the good things done by W & Congress, the bad ones are nearly untenable.


11 posted on 05/15/2006 9:57:50 AM PDT by Marxbites (Freedom is the negation of Govt to the maximum extent possible. Today, Govt is the economy's virus.)
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To: Virginia Ridgerunner

They're lousy on immigration, too.


12 posted on 05/15/2006 10:05:05 AM PDT by chesley (Republicans don't deserve to win, but America does not deserve the Dhimmicrats.)
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To: Marxbites
I was a member of the Libertarian Party. My knowledge of their policies may be a little out-dated, but are not, I assure you, derived from Public Schooling on the subject.

Terrorism? How many Libertarians believe that the MidEast is a problem because big business ("BP & Std Oil traitors of liberty") mucked it all up? Most Libertarians are reluctant to blame for-profit corporations for the world's problems.

Abortion? How many Libertarians make a distinction on government regulation of abortion between National and State governments? Most Libertarians think that government oppression is government oppression. Conservatives tend to think that local control is better, but Libertarians think government tyranny, whether near or far, is wrong.

Immigration? How many Libertarians think that a national policy blocking free movement of free people is OK -- "if it's in the Constitution"? Most libertarians think that immigration is an issue of trespassing on private property owned by citizens. So long as you're not trespassing, "it's all good".

I don't want to sound like Tom Cruise, but: I don't think you understand the Libertarian party very well. I do.

13 posted on 05/15/2006 10:10:45 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy (Never question Bruce Dickinson!)
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To: PreciousLiberty
The function of any, and all, governments is the maintenance of social order. Ultimately, disagreements and conflicts among the various advocates of differing governmental systems stem from what should be the proper “social order” that is to be maintained. By definition, a “social order” is what makes a “society.” In short, arguments of the proper type of government and proper “social order” are arguments about what should be the proper type of “society.”

Pure libertarians hold that government should be minimized and that government should have only that power necessary to prevent an individual or group of individuals from coercively imposing their will on other individuals or groups. Such a philosophy is, indeed, laudable, but fraught with potential pitfalls. Not the least of the many practical pitfalls is where to draw the limits when valid, individual rights come into conflict.

The classic case of conflict of individual liberties is the individual enjoyment of private property. If a neighbor’s enjoyment of his or her property involves an activity that impairs the enjoyment of my property, whose rights are to be paramount? For example, suppose my neighbor enjoys playing loud music, but I enjoy peace and quiet. Must my neighbor cease enjoying his or her right to do whatever he or she chooses on his or her own property so that I can enjoy whatever I choose on my own property? The foregoing is but one of many potential conflicts in individual liberties and rights that must be balanced.

Even pure libertarians agree that some type of government must be called upon to coercively balance individual rights based upon certain principles. The quarrel then becomes on what principles should this coercive power be founded and exactly how should that coercive force be wielded. With this concession, the pure libertarian is in the same “philosophical boat” with all other advocates of differing forms of government.

A pure libertarian could never philosophically support socialism, Marxism, monarchism, feudalism, fascism, or even unlimited democracy. Each of these systems of government (and, in some cases, economy) can allow, and have allowed in the past, the state to trample the liberty of individual. Therefore, the pure libertarian, it appears, can only support a constitutionally limited, democratically-elected, republican form of government with certain individual rights immutably and irrevocably enshrined in that constitution. Further, a pure libertarian could never support any economic system except capitalism since all others arbitrarily limit the individual’s freedom to engage any commercial enterprise of choice. Unfortunately, another of those pesky, practical, pitfalls appears, again.

Capitalism, unbridled, leads to monopolies which, in turn, strangle capitalism. In other words, this economic system, unregulated, contains the seeds of its own destruction. Consequently, even pure libertarians must concede that some form of coercive regulation has to be emplaced to prevent monopolies from developing and stifling the economic liberties of the individual. However, what type of regulation and how much is appropriate? Once again, with this concession, the pure libertarian is lumped together in the same competition with all other advocates of differing forms of government.

Inevitably, the argument returns to what should be the proper type of “society.” “Societies,” it seems, have some principles of their own that must be observed. For example, a society that discourages, or at least, fails to encourage its citizens to procreate is doomed to collapse from an eventual lack of population. Therefore, a government supporting a society must encourage, or, minimally, not discourage, the production of new potential citizens.

Yet, again, another conundrum arises for a pure libertarian. Gay marriage would seem to be an individual liberty choice on the face of the issue. However, the practice weakens the heterosexual family unit and thus, potentially the “society” in which the libertarian would exist. Does the pure libertarian take the position of saying the government should not be involved in the issue and allow such advocacy to potentially weaken the “society” to the point of collapse, and with it, his or her liberties? Alternately, does the libertarian take the position that limits must be emplaced on individual liberty for the continued existence of a society of limited liberties?

Another problem of “societies” is that a certain percentage of the population must, of necessity, be “productive” or the entire population starves and the “society,” again, collapses. Whether and individual chooses to abuse his or her body with hallucinogenic and narcotic drugs appears, on the surface, to be purely and individual liberty choice. However, if a “society” does not encourage its members to be “productive” by penalizing, or, at least, discouraging, non-productive behavior, it risks collapse from starvation. Consequently, a libertarian is, again, faced with the choice or risking loss of his own liberties due to the collapse of a “society” which would support a government protecting them. Alternately, the libertarian must support limiting the liberties of fellow citizens to engage in destructive behavior.

The modern Libertarian (note the capital letter) Party seems to have ill-defined concepts of how to balance individual liberty with the requirements of a stable “society” that remains capable of supporting and protecting those very liberties IMHO.
14 posted on 05/15/2006 12:08:53 PM PDT by Lucky Dog
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To: Lucky Dog

Nice analysis of the hard choices that have to be made by any party and every individual. I expect the current Libertarian party like any other party has diversity of opinion on many of the issues you bring up. What they have lacked is some specific national issues upon which they can demonstrate some pragmatic approaches that spark enough interest on the part of the other two parties. Like any party, then need to first get their hands dirty by winning elections. And if elected, you know they'll have to really get their hands dirty by administering the very gorvernment they seek to restrain.


15 posted on 05/15/2006 1:43:04 PM PDT by rhombus
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To: ClearCase_guy
libertarianism= Good. Mostly old school Constitutionalists.

Libertarian Party= Over-run with near left-wing anti-war moonbats. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong and they no longer support Cindy Jihad.

16 posted on 05/15/2006 1:55:58 PM PDT by Dead Corpse (I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.)
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To: Marxbites
Rothbard's history lessons contain a great deal of wishful thinking, though his analysis can sometimes be brilliant.

Locke, for instance, didn't endorse religious toleration for either Catholics or Atheists. Hardly the man many libertarians would endorse today.

Likewise, many of the state laws grandfathered in after the creation of the Union would be anathema to libertarians. Read William Blackstone.

Finally, I must object to the depiction of America as an ideological nation with a set creed. If this is so, then I and many others are apostates.

17 posted on 05/15/2006 2:40:00 PM PDT by Dumb_Ox (http://kevinjjones.blogspot.com)
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To: rhombus
What they have lacked is some specific national issues upon which they can demonstrate some pragmatic approaches that spark enough interest on the part of the other two parties.

I think if you check, you will find that the Libertarian Party has taken some positions on some specific national issues and those positions have been less than practical.

For example, the Libertarian Party has advocated legalization of currently illicit drugs. This position is essentially “encouraging” certain members of society to become, and remain, “non-productive.” To be sure, there are some rationales for their position based upon the requirements for practical enforcement, the corruption inevitably bred in some law enforcement circles by the lure of huge illegal sums, etc. However, such a position ignores the impact on society of “encouraging” non-productivity of citizens.

In the past the Libertarian Party has taken stands against nuclear weapons as a national defensive measure. Of course, such a position is attractive if one ignores that there are other nations in the world willing and able to attack and destroy the very society that the Libertarian Party depends on for its survival. The possibility of such attacks increase dramatically if these potential enemy nations have no reason to fear massive, nuclear retaliation. International relations have never been successfully built on positions of military weakness… regardless of how one might wish it to be so.

Until and unless, the Libertarian Party articulates a core philosophy that recognizes the practical requirements of maintaining a “healthy” society capable of surviving and prospering in the “real world,” they will remain a marginal political entity.
18 posted on 05/15/2006 2:50:07 PM PDT by Lucky Dog
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To: Lucky Dog

Agreed the total legalization of all drugs is not pragmatic. However, I also believe that the "productive members of society" argument you use to counter drug use is also unpragmatic in extreme and has been demonstrated as such in history.

I'm not familiar with the libertarian nuclear platform. The way you have described it I assume it is the same old "don't make them mad" argument (walk softly and throw away your big stick). I'd agree such a policy ignores history and human nature. The libertarians need to distinguish themselves from the Democratic party on that one.


19 posted on 05/15/2006 3:55:04 PM PDT by rhombus
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To: Marxbites; ClearCase_guy

Here is the libertarian party platform on Immigration

The Issue: We welcome all refugees to our country and condemn the efforts of U.S. officials to create a new "Berlin Wall" which would keep them captive. We condemn the U.S. government's policy of barring those refugees from our country and preventing Americans from assisting their passage to help them escape tyranny or improve their economic prospects.

The Principle: We hold that human rights should not be denied or abridged on the basis of nationality. Undocumented non-citizens should not be denied the fundamental freedom to labor and to move about unmolested. Furthermore, immigration must not be restricted for reasons of race, religion, political creed, age or sexual preference. We oppose government welfare and resettlement payments to non-citizens just as we oppose government welfare payments to all other persons.

Solutions: We condemn massive roundups of Hispanic Americans and others by the federal government in its hunt for individuals not possessing required government documents. We strongly oppose all measures that punish employers who hire undocumented workers. Such measures repress free enterprise, harass workers, and systematically discourage employers from hiring Hispanics.

Transitional Action: We call for the elimination of all restrictions on immigration, the abolition of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Border Patrol, and a declaration of full amnesty for all people who have entered the country illegally.


20 posted on 05/15/2006 6:08:28 PM PDT by DugwayDuke (Stupidity can be a self-correcting problem.)
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To: Marxbites

bookmark.


21 posted on 05/15/2006 6:16:08 PM PDT by Publius Valerius
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To: rhombus
…the "productive members of society" argument you use to counter drug use is also unpragmatic in extreme and has been demonstrated as such in history.

The “argument” you cited was not intended to be “pragmatic.” Rather, it was a statement of guiding philosophy.

A society can surreptitiously turn the proverbial “blind eye” to some things that are questionable as far as those things may not be appropriate to furthering the long term health of that society. Such a benign neglect may be harmful in the long run, but still allows a society to reinstate sanctions at a later date if the activity’s detrimental consequences become more pronounced. However, “turning the blind” toward a practice or behavior is a far cry from encouraging that behavior. Legalization of a previously illicit activity is “encouraging” that activity.

Additionally, the basic premise of core values is a topic that must be addressed if a society is to survive and prosper. A society without core values has no reason to resist the takeover, either forceful or peaceful, of a competing society. Furthermore, without core values, collapse will occur in a society even without external competition. Therefore, the Libertarian Party must develop realistic core values or cede any hope of achieving political power.
22 posted on 05/15/2006 6:24:47 PM PDT by Lucky Dog
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To: Lucky Dog

History has shown that making something illegal that was once legal can result in many unintended consequences. History has also shown that making something that once was legal, legal again does not necessarily mean something is being encouraged. To conclude otherwise is to give too much damn weight to one man's opinion and that is not a very good start upon which to build a body of core values. Libertarians are not alone in hypocrisy when it comes to living up to grandiose sounding guiding philosophies regarding the definition of "productive members of society".


23 posted on 05/15/2006 6:38:37 PM PDT by rhombus
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To: DugwayDuke
Thanks.

A big reason why I can't support the Libertarian party is right there.

24 posted on 05/15/2006 6:46:14 PM PDT by ClearCase_guy (Never question Bruce Dickinson!)
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To: rhombus
History has shown that making something illegal that was once legal can result in many unintended consequences.

I presume you are referring to the ill-fated movement called “prohibition.” You are, indeed, correct in your observation if that is your basis.

History has also shown that making something that once was legal, legal again does not necessarily mean something is being encouraged.

I must disagree with this assessment if I understand your point correctly. While the degree of “encouragement” may be subject to debate, there can be no doubt, from a purely logical standpoint, that legalization of a previously illegal behavior is, in fact, an “encouragement,” to some degree, of that activity compared to its previous status.

To conclude otherwise is to give too much damn weight to one man's opinion and that is not a very good start upon which to build a body of core values.

Opinion, one man’s, or many men’s, for that matter, is not the issue. It is merely a matter of logic.

Libertarians are not alone in hypocrisy when it comes to living up to grandiose sounding guiding philosophies regarding the definition of "productive members of society".

Sorry, I am unsure of how the topic of hypocrisy came into the conversation. As to the definition of “productive member of society,” the term is intended to apply to those who contribute to the long term maintenance, growth or stability of a society in contrast to those members who make no long term contribution whatsoever or even a “negative contribution,” i.e., cost resources with no appreciable return, long term or otherwise.
25 posted on 05/15/2006 7:08:07 PM PDT by Lucky Dog
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To: Everybody; Dumb_Ox
Rothbard:

"--- historians now realize that the American Revolution itself was not only ideological but also the result of devotion to the creed and the institutions of libertarianism.
The American revolutionaries were steeped in the creed of libertarianism, an ideology which led them to resist with their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor the invasions of their rights and liberties committed by the imperial British government.


Dumb_Ox:
I must object to the depiction of America as an ideological nation with a set creed. If this is so, then I and many others are apostates.

We have a "set creed".. -- What else can our Constitution/Bill of Rights be called?

-- With what in this creed would you dissent?

26 posted on 05/15/2006 7:24:58 PM PDT by tpaine
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To: Lucky Dog
-- there can be no doubt, from a purely logical standpoint, that legalization of a previously illegal behavior is, in fact, an "encouragement," to some degree, of that activity compared to its previous status.

You just agreed that history showed us that prohibition was "ill fated". -- History also shows us that repeal did not lead to any 'encouragement' of drinking.
-- If anything, our society today is discouraging drinking [in its public intoxication/DUI laws] far more than in the decades before prohibition or after repeal.

Flawed logic.

27 posted on 05/15/2006 7:45:55 PM PDT by tpaine
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To: tpaine
We have a "set creed".. -- What else can our Constitution/Bill of Rights be called?

"Articles of peace," rather than "articles of faith." They are imperfect documents, though much better than many other countries' constitutions, written and unwritten. If we elevate these documents to near-scriptural levels, we're conserving mistakes along with successes.

28 posted on 05/15/2006 11:52:29 PM PDT by Dumb_Ox (http://kevinjjones.blogspot.com)
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To: tpaine
You just agreed that history showed us that prohibition was "ill fated". -- History also shows us that repeal did not lead to any 'encouragement' of drinking.

You are incorrect. Facts show that there was more alcohol consumption after the repeal of “prohibition” than during “prohibition.” That is to say, that there were some (although, by no means, all) of the population that reduced alcohol consumption during “prohibition” that resumed, or increased, such consumption afterwards. Such a reduction could have been from a respect for the law or a reduced availability of the substance. Regardless, the increase was definite after repeal of “prohibition” or legalization. Consequently, it is logical to conclude that legalization “encouraged” the behavior.

-- If anything, our society today is discouraging drinking [in its public intoxication/DUI laws] far more than in the decades before prohibition or after repeal.

Your statement is indirect proof of my point. The ill-effects of alcohol consumption are destructive to the “productivity” of our society’s citizens, i.e., avoidable traffic deaths, public intoxication, etc. Consequently, laws of prohibition (not of drinking, per se, but the potential outcome of such consumption) exist to “discourage” the activity.

Flawed logic.

Consider the following statements:

No law against an activity (or that activity’s after-effects) is an encouragement of that activity.

If after repeal of a law against and activity, the activity increases, then that repeal is a de facto encouragement.

Where is the flawed logic?.
29 posted on 05/16/2006 4:24:27 AM PDT by Lucky Dog
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To: traviskicks; freepatriot32

ping


30 posted on 05/16/2006 5:04:01 AM PDT by winston2 (In matters of necessity let there be unity, in matters of doubt liberty, and in all things charity:)
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To: Dumb_Ox
If we elevate these documents to near-scriptural levels, we're conserving mistakes along with successes.

What mistakes do you see conserved in the Constitution and Amendments?

31 posted on 05/16/2006 6:15:17 AM PDT by tpaine
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To: Lucky Dog
If after repeal of a law against and activity, the activity increases, then that repeal is a de facto encouragement.
Where is the flawed logic?.


Alcohol Prohibition Was A Failure
Address:http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-157.html


Why do you see the Prohibition era as a success?

And why do you see our WOD's as a success?
32 posted on 05/16/2006 6:36:52 AM PDT by tpaine
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To: winston2; Abram; albertp; AlexandriaDuke; Allosaurs_r_us; Americanwolf; Americanwolfsbrother; ...
Good read.





Libertarian ping! To be added or removed from my ping list freepmail me or post a message here.
33 posted on 05/16/2006 7:15:33 AM PDT by traviskicks (http://www.neoperspectives.com/gasoline_and_government.htm)
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To: tpaine

With that I agree totally.

I didn't post the article to push Libertarians over Republicans, but to show that Rats & Reps aren't and haven't been towing the line vis defending our constitution ever since the progressives of BOTH parties learned from the euro-dictators how to use Govt as their own taxpayer funded wealth-maker/enhancer with the creation of the ICC, the Fed & income taxes.

Watch this great video re: America's tarrif history, illustrated with the flags used and their meanings.

http://mises.org:88/Sophocleus


34 posted on 05/16/2006 7:19:40 AM PDT by Marxbites (Freedom is the negation of Govt to the maximum extent possible. Today, Govt is the economy's virus.)
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To: tpaine
Why do you see the Prohibition era as a success?

Please note that I have never said that I consider “Prohibition” a success in all of its intended goals. From my previous post:

I presume you are referring to the ill-fated movement called “prohibition.” You are, indeed, correct in your observation if that is your basis.

From your web site (cited in your last post):

According to its proponents, all the proposed benefits of Prohibition depended on, or were a function of, reducing the quantity of alcohol consumed. At first glance, the evidence seems to suggest that the quantity consumed did indeed decrease. That would be no surprise to an economist: making a product more difficult to supply will increase its price, and the quantity consumed will be less than it would have been otherwise.

And why do you see our WOD's as a success?

Again, I have never said that I consider the “war on drugs” (WOD) a success. Rather, what I have said is that a societal value must be established and maintained that discourages non-productive, resource draining citizen activity such as abuse of drugs. Legalization of recreational drug use is a de facto “encouragement,” rather than “discouragement” of non-productive, resource draining citizen activity. Again, please note the paragraph from your referenced web site.
35 posted on 05/16/2006 7:38:16 AM PDT by Lucky Dog
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To: Lucky Dog
And why do you see our WOD's as a success?

Again, I have never said that I consider the "war on drugs" (WOD) a success. Rather, what I have said is that a societal value must be established and maintained that discourages non-productive, resource draining citizen activity such as abuse of drugs.

You think our prohibitive 'war' is a "societal value", -- whatta load.
Sure, the WOD's "discourages non-productive, resource draining citizen activity such as abuse of drugs"; -- at the cost of ~losing~ the "societal value" of our Constitutional rule of law..

Legalization of recreational drug use is a de facto "encouragement," rather than "discouragement" of non-productive, resource draining citizen activity.

The initial criminalization of recreational drug use was a de facto, unconstitutional "discouragement" of productive government activity.

36 posted on 05/16/2006 7:59:26 AM PDT by tpaine
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To: tpaine
You think our prohibitive 'war' is a "societal value", -- whatta load.

You are extremely mistaken in your perception of what I think. Again, please note that I have never said any such thing.

As a matter of clarity for you, let me point out that one can no more make “war” on drugs (inanimate objects) than one can make war on “terror” (the tactic of attacking non-military targets and individuals in an attempt to break an enemy’s will). The so-called “war on drugs” is a misnomer invented as a public relations ploy to refer to a combination of police actions, diplomatic initiatives, publicity campaigns, and other activities intended to reduce citizen use and abuse of substances which make them, not just non-productive, but resource drains on society. This so-called “war on drugs” is not a “societal value.” Rather, it is the embodiment of an action to support an underlying societal value. Has this exposition clarified the issue for you?

Sure, the WOD's "discourages non-productive, resource draining citizen activity such as abuse of drugs"; -- at the cost of ~losing~ the "societal value" of our Constitutional rule of law..

Perhaps, you could cite the portion of the US Constitution that specifically prohibits Congress from restricting/regulating the interstate and intra-country trade in recreational hallucinogens and narcotics. Conceivably, you were thinking of the Tenth Amendment? However, surely you must know that the “Commerce Clause” gives Congress certain regulatory powers that the Tenth Amendment does not abrogate. Additionally, nothing in the US Constitution, of which I am aware, prohibits state governments from regulating and/or restricting such drug use.

Legalization of recreational drug use is a de facto "encouragement," rather than "discouragement" of non-productive, resource draining citizen activity.

The initial criminalization of recreational drug use was a de facto, unconstitutional "discouragement" of productive government activity.

While I certainly agree that the … initial criminalization of recreational drug use… was a de facto… "discouragement", I must disagree that it was either, unconstitutional, or a discouragement of productive government activity. Rather, such criminalization was discouragement of societal resource draining behavior. The relative success of the discouragement is certainly debatable. However, this discouragement’s bases, in both, law and philosophy, is not uncertain at all.
37 posted on 05/16/2006 9:58:24 AM PDT by Lucky Dog
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To: tpaine
The big one in the constitution is that it was formed without a consciousness of political parties. Publius derided parties as "factions" in the Federalist Papers, while arguing that the Constitution would limit factional effects and produce statesmen of independent judgement. I don't think that was successful. For instance, if a president and a congressional majority are from the same party, there's no real limitation on factional capriciousness.

The Constitution itself recognizes its imperfections, leaving open the possibility for amendment.

As for the Declaration, I'm not sure much weight should be placed on its claims. It was written in what, one month's time?

First, it relies on "rights talk," a blunt instrument for any sort of political philosophizing. Second, it seems to change the Tory Divine Right of Kings to the Divine Right of the People. As with any sovereign, its high quality cannot always be presumed. A people, like a king, can become unfit to rule. The Declaration can keep that fearful possibility from even being considered, and so it seems to be a blind spot.

38 posted on 05/16/2006 12:08:20 PM PDT by Dumb_Ox (http://kevinjjones.blogspot.com)
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To: ClearCase_guy

The big reason I can't support the libertarian party is that I've read their platform. I also found their position on 9/11 to be absurd. Harry Browne, who has now passed away, was their party candidate for president in 2000. His position on 9/11 was that we should 'follow the constitution' and 'issue Letters of Marque and Reprisal'. In effect, he wanted to hire bounty hunters to respond to Al Qaeda.


39 posted on 05/16/2006 2:32:16 PM PDT by DugwayDuke (Stupidity can be a self-correcting problem.)
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To: Lucky Dog; Marxbites
"The function of any, and all, governments is the maintenance of social order. Ultimately, disagreements and conflicts among the various advocates of differing governmental systems stem from what should be the proper “social order” that is to be maintained."

Of course, for a libertarian, the desired social order is, as you described, simply one in which a man is free to do anything that does not infringe the freedom of another. My personal twist on it is that the primary, and almost the only, function of the state is to protect liberty, since anything else it does tends to infringe that liberty. That's my personal philosophy, but even I recognize that the definition is broad enough to allow quite a bit of interpretation, as you noted.

Regarding capitalism and monopolies, my belief is that large companies tend to enlist the aid of government in their efforts at becoming monopolies...likely they'd be much less successful at it otherwise. Marxbites posted a couple interesting articles on the subject recently. Otherwise, I'm willing to accept the need for antitrust laws, though they give the state a large a opportunity for abuse.

"Once again, with this concession, the pure libertarian is lumped together in the same competition with all other advocates of differing forms of government."

There may be some truth in that, but it's like saying that the USA is lumped together with differing forms of govenment. We are becoming that as we abandon our tradtions of liberty, but weren't always.

"However, if a “society” does not encourage its members to be “productive” by penalizing, or, at least, discouraging, non-productive behavior, it risks collapse from starvation."

No, I don't think so, people, with some exceptions, will be productive, to varying degrees. The need to accomplish is innate; the need to survive cannot be denied. It's only when the state becomes involved, an example being our welfare state, that entire segments of the population become unproductive and inactive. The same goes for procreation, I've noticed a pretty strong drive for that exists in most of us.

I lean pretty strongly to libertarian views, but prefer to call myself a classical liberal, since I'm generally a believer that the codification of some tradtional rules of conduct are justified. Many of them, like the idea that marriage is between man and woman are there for good reason.

40 posted on 05/16/2006 3:08:26 PM PDT by Sam Cree (Delicacy, precision, force)
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To: Dumb_Ox
I have no argument with the Declaration's rather brilliant assertion that the people have a divine right to be free. That concept is what separates Americans from all others, where the right to be free is considered to be a grant from the government rather than a right that they are born with. When we give up the idea that our freedom is not something we enjoy soley through the generosity of our rulers, we give up much of the basis for our special brand of freedom.

I think all of the founders understood that pure democracy and freedom aren't compatible.

"that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed."

41 posted on 05/16/2006 3:18:19 PM PDT by Sam Cree (Delicacy, precision, force)
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To: Sam Cree
However, if a “society” does not encourage its members to be “productive” by penalizing, or, at least, discouraging, non-productive behavior, it risks collapse from starvation."

No, I don't think so, people, with some exceptions, will be productive, to varying degrees… the need to survive cannot be denied. It's only when the state becomes involved… that entire segments of the population become unproductive and inactive.

I tend to agree, in large part, with your analysis. However, there are certain exceptions, one being the abuse of recreational hallucinogens and narcotic drugs. Those citizens who would indulge in this self-destructive behavior divert productive resources, not even considering the state-run “welfare” system. Typically, absent government intervention, family members divert resources and what would otherwise be productive behavior to supporting the offender even if there is no government hand-out. Of course, this perspective ignores the productivity that is not be contributed by the individual abusing said drugs. A large enough population segment involved in such an activity and the society loses its viability.

However, from a purely libertarian perspective, the government has no business interfering with an individual’s liberty to “self-destruct” or his or her family’s efforts to support such. On a small population percentage basis, the argument holds water, albeit somewhat “heartless” water. (Perhaps, indeed, the government has no business in matters of “heart.”) Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the population percentage would remain so small as to not be a problem to the overall survival of the society. Therefore, one of pesky practical pitfalls potentially requiring government intervention potentially comes into play, again.

The same goes for procreation, I've noticed a pretty strong drive for that exists in most of us.

Let me call to your attention that neither Europe nor the US has a minimum population replacement birth rate of 2.1 births per native female (although the US is close). Consequently, absent immigration, your postulate fails in societal survival terms. Once more, it would seem that those rules of a self-sustaining society would require some sort of government intervention into what pure libertarians would argue is a purely individual liberty sphere.

I lean pretty strongly to libertarian views, but prefer to call myself a classical liberal, since I'm generally a believer that the codification of some traditional rules of conduct are justified. Many of them, like the idea that marriage is between man and woman are there for good reason.

You and I do not seem to far apart in terms of political philosophy. However, I call myself a “practical libertarian” vice a classical liberal. Perhaps, the only major difference, if there is one, would be the degree to which government must be involved in the “traditional rules of conduct.”
42 posted on 05/16/2006 4:05:58 PM PDT by Lucky Dog
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To: Lucky Dog
I have never said that I consider the "war on drugs" (WOD) a success. Rather, what I have said is that a societal value must be established and maintained that discourages non-productive, resource draining citizen activity such as abuse of drugs.

You think our prohibitive 'war' is a "societal value", -- whatta load of empty rhetoric.
Sure, the WOD's "discourages non-productive, resource draining citizen activity such as abuse of drugs"; -- at the cost of ~losing~ the "societal value" of our Constitutional rule of law..

You are extremely mistaken in your perception of what I think. Again, please note that I have never said any such thing.

Please 'note' what you wrote above. You want to play games with rhetoric, - expect it to be interpreted rhetorically.

As a matter of clarity for you, let me point out that one can no more make "war" on drugs (inanimate objects) than one can make war on "terror" (the tactic of attacking non-military targets and individuals in an attempt to break an enemy's will). The so-called "war on drugs" is a misnomer invented as a public relations ploy to refer to a combination of police actions, diplomatic initiatives, publicity campaigns, and other activities intended to reduce citizen use and abuse of substances which make them, not just non-productive, but resource drains on society. This so-called "war on drugs" is not a "societal value." Rather, it is the embodiment of an action to support an underlying societal value. Has this exposition clarified the issue for you?

How weird. Do you really think your BS "exposition" clarified anything?

Admit it, -- the WOD's "discourages non-productive, resource draining citizen activity such as abuse of drugs"; -- at the cost of ~losing~ the "societal value" of our Constitutional rule of law..

Perhaps, you could cite the portion of the US Constitution that specifically prohibits Congress from restricting/regulating the interstate and intra-country trade in recreational hallucinogens and narcotics. Conceivably, you were thinking of the Tenth Amendment?

You got it kiddo. -- No level of government in the USA has ever been delegated a 'power to prohibit'.. Prohibitions deprive us of our rights to life, liberty or property because they violate due process of law. [see the 14th]

However, surely you must know that the "Commerce Clause" gives Congress certain regulatory powers that the Tenth Amendment does not abrogate.

The power to regulate commerce "among the several States" does not include the power to prohibit it..

Additionally, nothing in the US Constitution, of which I am aware, prohibits state governments from regulating and/or restricting such drug use.

The police power to reasonably regulate drugs, booze, guns, etc, -- does not include the power to prohibit them.

Legalization of recreational drug use is a de facto "encouragement," rather than "discouragement" of non-productive, resource draining citizen activity.

The initial criminalization of recreational drug use was a de facto, unconstitutional "discouragement" of productive government activity.

While I certainly agree that the … initial criminalization of recreational drug use… was a de facto… "discouragement", I must disagree that it was either, unconstitutional, or a discouragement of productive government activity. Rather, such criminalization was discouragement of societal resource draining behavior. The relative success of the discouragement is certainly debatable. However, this discouragement's bases, in both, law and philosophy, is not uncertain at all.

There is no constitutional "base" to prohibit 'dangerous' items like booze, guns & drugs, no matter how flowery your rhetoric becomes. Get a grip.

43 posted on 05/16/2006 4:30:09 PM PDT by tpaine
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To: Lucky Dog
"Let me call to your attention that neither Europe nor the US has a minimum population replacement birth rate of 2.1 births per native female (although the US is close)."

I admit that you've got a point there. I'm not sure that means our nation would eventually die without immigration, but I'm interested in your analysis of the reasons for that replacement value. FWIW, my wife and I raised 2 kids. We'd have had more though, had it not been a risk to her health.

OTOH, most of our immigrants these days are Latin, which should mean the birth rate could go up.

A reality that sometimes occurs to me, and also did to our founding fathers, is the possibility that this experiment in liberty may not end up successfully. It is hard to argue that our liberty has not and is not eroding. But my point is more towards such things as you mentioned, self destructive behavior, etc. It's obvious enough that if Americans do not behave "virtuously," as the founding fathers put it, that our freedom will never last. I guess I'm saying that if we get to the point that the state must direct things like productivity and procreation, our freedom is already lost. 'Course there are plenty of other examples.

I'm OK with the tem practical libertarian, I'm just used to the classical liberal one. Also, I truly enjoy driving modern "liberals" crazy with it.

44 posted on 05/16/2006 4:57:36 PM PDT by Sam Cree (Delicacy, precision, force)
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To: tpaine
You want to play games with rhetoric, - expect it to be interpreted rhetorically.

It appears you are not interested in a civilized exchange or informative debate.

…How weird. Do you really think your BS "exposition" clarified anything?

Apparently, your intellectual prowess is exceeded only by your command of vocabulary.

Admit it, -- the WOD's "discourages non-productive, resource draining citizen activity such as abuse of drugs"; -- at the cost of ~losing~ the "societal value" of our Constitutional rule of law..

See the previous comment…

You got it kiddo. -- No level of government in the USA has ever been delegated a 'power to prohibit'.. Prohibitions deprive us of our rights to life, liberty or property because they violate due process of law. [see the 14th]

Either you do not understand that the power to legislate or adjudicate is, by definition, the power to prohibit, or, oh, wait… see the previous comment…

The power to regulate commerce "among the several States" does not include the power to prohibit it..

Either you do not understand that the power to regulate is, by definition, the power to prohibit, or, oh, wait…see the previous comment…

The police power to reasonably regulate drugs, booze, guns, etc, -- does not include the power to prohibit them.

Either you do not understand that the power to regulate is, by definition, the power to prohibit, or, oh, wait…see the previous comment…

There is no constitutional "base" to prohibit 'dangerous' items like booze, guns & drugs, no matter how flowery your rhetoric becomes. Get a grip.

Either you do not understand that the power to regulate, legislate or adjudicate is, by definition, the power to prohibit, or, oh, wait…see the previous comment…

I trust that the previous response has been insulting enough to satisfy your juvenile sensibilities. Consequently, unless you wish to engage in reasoned discourse, I suggest a cessation of this exchange.
45 posted on 05/16/2006 5:06:14 PM PDT by Lucky Dog
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To: Sam Cree
…but I'm interested in your analysis of the reasons for that replacement value.

I presume you mean the lack of replacement… The 2.1 figure instead of 2.0 is an adjustment to compensate for infant mortality and/or later infertility.

My analysis for the failure of native born females to achieve that minimum rate is rooted in two things:

1. The advent of the birth control pill and subsequent rise of modern feminism.

2. The advent of legalized, non-stigmatized, relatively cheap and easily obtainable abortions.

Relative to item 1 above, the birth control pill freed women from the inevitable consequence of promiscuous sex (pregnancy). With that freedom women were no longer bound to the inevitable and potentially unpredictable duties of motherhood. Consequently, women were no longer dependent upon a male for financial support and assistance in caring for the young. Therefore, the logic continued, that women should not longer be restricted by any other social restraint.

Modern feminism challenging many, if not all, social restraints based upon sex, arose on the tide of the sexual revolution stemming from the birth control pill. Since females could, in theory, control their fertility and the timing of children, they could engage in careers that were previously shut to them because of requirements of continuity or cumulative experience, i.e., the requirements that unplanned pregnancy and child bearing/rearing interrupted. For a number of women the lure of career forestalled their biological urge to reproduce until too late for child birth lowering the birth rate.

However, relative to item 2 above, not every woman availed themselves of the pill prior to engaging in sexual activity and, even for those who did, it is not 100% reliable. Consequently, when the Supreme Court invented the right to an abortion the “perfect storm” existed for stifling the native citizen birth rate.

To tie this little dissertation into our discussion on libertarianism and the “required interference” of a government into matters of personal liberty, we must examine the impacts of traditional values and the role that government has in promoting those. However, that is another discussion.

It's obvious enough that if Americans do not behave "virtuously," as the founding fathers put it, that our freedom will never last.

See the quote by John Adams about suitability of the American form of government for a certain type of people and its lack of such for those not possessing certain qualities.
46 posted on 05/16/2006 5:52:37 PM PDT by Lucky Dog
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To: Lucky Dog
unless you wish to engage in reasoned discourse,

What's 'reasoned' about your discourse insisting that our governments have a "power to prohibit"?
-- Or that libertarians must support limiting the liberties of fellow citizens to engage in destructive behavior?

You claimed earlier to be a "practical libertarian". -- Whereas everything you advocate is straight from the communitarian, 'majority rules' playbook.

Feel free to continue posting their rhetoric, -- as I will feel free to point out the flaws in your anti-constitutional position.

47 posted on 05/16/2006 6:28:56 PM PDT by tpaine
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To: Lucky Dog; Everybody
To tie this little dissertation into our discussion on libertarianism and the "required interference" of a government into matters of personal liberty, we must examine the impacts of traditional values and the role that government has in promoting those.

Our various level of governments have no delegated powers to promote socalled "traditional values".

Nothing in the Constitution can be cited to support this communitarian position.

Which branch of government [at what level] would be empowered to decide what are to be "traditional values"? -- The very idea of trusting any elected official/or branch with such power is a ludicrous dream.

48 posted on 05/16/2006 6:50:18 PM PDT by tpaine
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To: tpaine
What's 'reasoned' about your discourse insisting that our governments have a "power to prohibit"?

Ok, we’ll try this one more time.

US Constitution, Article IV

Section 1. Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.

This section of the Constitution “prohibits” states from denying recognition of the judicial proceedings of other states. Congress is charged with prescribing “the manner” of ensuring enforcement and the executive under a different section is charged with enforcement. Does this example sufficiently satisfy you that government has the “power to prohibit?”

-- Or that libertarians must support limiting the liberties of fellow citizens to engage in destructive behavior?

The liberty to engage in treason is certainly a societally destructive behavior. Would you not agree?

US Constitution, Article III

Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.


Do you contend that libertarians should not support limiting the destructive behavior of treason when engaged in by fellow citizens?

Whereas everything you advocate is straight from the communitarian, 'majority rules' playbook.

Sorry, I have never heard of a communitarian play book. Perhaps, you could be specific as to the location of this reference.
49 posted on 05/16/2006 7:13:45 PM PDT by Lucky Dog
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To: tpaine
Our various level of governments have no delegated powers to promote socalled "traditional values".

Nothing in the Constitution can be cited to support this communitarian position.


US Constitution, Preamble

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Are not establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, promoting the general welfare “traditional values?” Is establishing a constitution which specifies executive, legislative and judicial branches to carry out the traditional values, so specified, supporting them?

Which branch of government [at what level] would be empowered to decide what are to be "traditional values"? -- The very idea of trusting any elected official/or branch with such power is a ludicrous dream.

US Constitution, Article I

Section 8. The Congress shall have power to…

To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof


Does this answer your question on which branch of government is empowered to decide what are to be “traditional values?”
50 posted on 05/16/2006 7:30:55 PM PDT by Lucky Dog
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