Skip to comments.Defense of Liberty
Posted on 09/23/2001 6:57:38 PM PDT by annalex
This is not the article I intended to post this week. Instead, I decided to put together some thoughts on the essence of libertarianism as applied to this war. I believe that the theoretical foundation of libertarianism: individual rights and freedoms, primacy of the individual over the collective and distrust of democratic government unrestrained by strict constitutionalism, -- will continue to animate American conservatism through this crisis and for years to come. In fact, when the President speaks of America as a force of good, hated because of her freedom, -- he speaks of libertarian values.
Defense of Liberty
I also believe that the future of libertarianism in American political thought is in danger. There is a distinct possibility that the libertarians as a group of thinkers will blunder into irrelevance, --not because of their principles, but because of a cultural bias that has rendered them blind to the reality of the war that just started.
What is the bias and what is the reality?
Among all nations, America is uniquely dedicated to the proposition of individual freedom. It also has a powerful government, that is, as is its nature, intrusive and often violative of individual freedoms. There is no paradox here: it is the normal tension between the individual and the collective. Libertarianism is one-directional: no matter what is the present condition of individual freedoms vis-à-vis the collective coercion, libertarianism will pull for the individual just because the government will always pull for the collective. In absence of a recognized theoretical foundation and an analytical attitude, the pulling becomes a cultural bias: if the government does something, it must be wrong. If the individual wants something, it must be his right.
Thus a review of the recent offerings from the usual sources of libertarian thinking: Harry Browne, Lew Rockwell, Future of Freedom Foundation, -- reveal an amazingly myopic view of the conflict. It boils down to the assertions that the government has created the crisis with its imperial foreign policy; that punishing the terrorists is a matter of law, not war; that a rapid retreat from America's global positions is the road to victory; that any wartime measure that the government may adopt is a further assault on our freedoms.
The government exists to protect individual rights. I cannot think of a greater violation of individual rights than having an airliner explode over you as you reach for your morning coffee. Our country has been invaded. The individuals that make up this country have their lives in danger. Thousands already lost theirs. We don't know how many future victims we'll mourn before it's over. The perpetrators of this atrocity are organized: they are a country in all but geography. From September 11 on, our government is waging a just, defensive war. It is doing precisely what a government should be doing. Every libertarian should be out on the street with an American flag and a lit candle. Any assistance should be given the government in prosecuting the war. Any impeding of the government's warmaking function is an assault on individual rights.
So, isn't the criticism of American foreign policy prior to September 11 valid? Some of it is. But it now belongs to the past. The important thing is that nothing in our foreign policy was aggressive in nature. The worst, the cruelest blunders of the Clinton's administration were reactions, -- often, misguided or self-serving reactions, -- to someone else's greater cruelty. This war is between civilizations. In that it is similar to the Cold War. It is not between nations, -- it is between ideologies. Our libertarian ideology of individual freedom is at war. Note that the enemy didn't strike Europe, where freedoms and individual rights are handouts form the state; it didn't strike Israel where the actual fighting for territory takes place; it didn't, in all likelihood, come from Iraq, which is our enemy as a nation. Its bloodiest attack was against peaceful traders of property. Of all political colors and stripes we, libertarians should be in the front, and we haven't been.
This is a war and not a police action. Those who perpetrated the atrocity are already dead. At the root of this is an ideology that will breed new atrocities just as fast as we punish for the old ones. This is a war. Call it a war. Fight it like a war. Go on the offensive: invade countries, topple regimes, install friendly governments. For every mullah out there, afraid of his own women, we have a General MacArthur. Godspeed.
We can be certain that the forces of statism will exploit this tragedy to their nefarious ends. War surtaxes are likely; a citizen database is a virtual certainty; a taxpayer bailout of the airline industry has already happened; a thorough bashing of political opponents of strong central government or imperial foreign policy as unpatriotic and outright treasonous should be expected. It is our duty to fight such encroachments of freedom, not only because of what they are, but because they do not make America stronger, and we need strength.
At the same time, we should remember what rights really are. No libertarian can seriously say that a private transaction that happens between the airline and the passenger is a matter of rights. There is no right to a steak knife or a gun in a carryon luggage - unless you put it in the trunk and drive. Anyone can rightfully refuse service to a customer without identification. It is not clear to me, and I think of individual rights a lot, what "right to privacy" precisely is. At most we can say that a national ID and a citizen database are dangerous tools in the hands of a hostile government. But they are not necessarily violations of individual rights per se; their misuse is.
The libertarians like to think in proximate causes. Thus we have an aversion to foreign policy, because it is all about preemptive actions, choosing sides early, and making prognoses based on cultural proclivities rather than concrete deeds. For the same reason we have a difficulty understanding nationhood and war. We need to learn very fast.
I changed the tag of our series from "Pursuit of Liberty" to "Defense of Liberty". I will continue the topics that we have started: individual rights, nature of property, moral defense of capitalism, just taxation, proper role of government, liberty and God's law. I will post as much as I can on nationhood, civilization, civil society and culture. I will have to slow down from a weekly publication to, perhaps, monthly, unless someone is willing to be my partner in this. That is because, sadly, I don't anticipate much help from the libertarian publications any more, and doing my own writing or researching sources that are not on the surface of the Internet takes time.
All rights reserved. Reproduction in full is authorized with attribution to the Free Republic and Annalex.
Please drop me a note if you want off the list, or if you are presently off and want on (the limit is ten volley bumps). The previous posts are on my Freeper profile.
The previous thread, and the last thread under the Pursuit of Liberty label, is Pursuit of Liberty: Right to Roam or Licence to Trespass?. The topic of property rights in the context of natural rights will be resumed.
The bumps are from The Song of Roland in the translation of Charles Scott Moncrief.
This lies at the feet of the professional politicians who have made us an Imperial nation rather than a republic. Our policy has been wrong and only gets worse.
As a Christian I know that my response would not be accepted. I say that we ask for forgiveness and offer forgiveness. My son on the other hand is eager to use his training to kill people and break things. I cry for my country and mankind.
From their comments, I can only hope that their ideas regarding foreign policy never get the chance to be implemented.
I can believe that we've supported quite a bit of aggression, especially sincerely perceived aggression, mostly by paying for others doing the dirty work.Not that injustice motivates Bin Laden & Co, but perhaps their recruits.
As an individual, you are certainly within your right to give forgiveness. But you cannot offer forgivness in the name of this country or the names of those injured or dead. It is up to them to offer the forgiveness and up to the terrorists to offer an appology. (But you live in a dream world if you expect either to occur.) Your son, and soon mine may have to defend our way of life, and our ability to worship in the religion of our choice. (I would not expect a choice if Osama is the victor.)
Go on the offensive: invade countries, topple regimes, install friendly governments. For every mullah out there, afraid of his own women, we have a General MacArthur. Godspeed.
As does the "Song of Roland" analogy. Get the terrorists who did this by all means, but Holy War isn't a good prescription. It will alienate allies, provoke the hatred we seek to dispel and leave us isolated. I can understand your anger and feel angry myself, but if we can achieve our goals without a thirty or hundred years war to subjugate other countries I would count that a victory. McArthur was an admirable man and leader with commendable virtues, but I'd want to avoid another savage racial, religious or ideological war. I don't think we need a war of cultures, a Stalingrad or an Iwo Jima to get the killers. It would only complicate and compromise the necessary military operations.
Total war ends up overshooting the mark. Total war for Christianity or America may end up benefiting World Government, or Multinational corporations, secular humanism or other powers which exploit it to achieve their ends. What triumphs in long wars aren't the values of the boys who fight them or the folks back home, but the managerial apparatus that's formed to organize the war -- or those who stay out entirely and pick up the spoils afterwards.
During the Gulf War, the Wall Street Journal advocated the course you support here. It might have been the right course, but I'm not sure that all their reasons and expectations for this plan would be shared by all of us. Kill the murders, but don't throw away young Americans on a plan to remake the world as a monoculture.
...a citizen database is a virtual certainty...
At most we can say that a national ID and a citizen database are dangerous tools in the hands of a hostile government. But they are not necessarily violations of individual rights per se; their misuse is.
And that's the problem with the entire idea.
We will overcome and you will be our slaves. We will be your masters. You will do our bidding. You will bow before us. You will kiss our feet. You will suck our fort dix at our command!
And if that ain't enough, your mothers and your daughters will suck our fort dix til we are satisfied!
That would certainly not be either morally justified, nor would the results be happy. However, that's not the issue.
The issue is the fact that terrorists will be able to acquire and deploy nerve gas, biological weapons and perhaps even nuclear bombs. Those who are willing and able to acquire and use such devices in order to commit mass murder must not be allowed to live. It's them or us. It's that simple.
Watching 60 Minutes, tonight, we came with the name, "April." Searched Saddam, Kuwait, April*
Dubya is the spittin' "image" of his old man.
Wonder why nobody in media has gotten the reaction of the Rockefellers to having their WTC destroyed? They were once quite proud of it.
Oracle boss urges national ID cards, offers free software</font size>
Idea driven by security concerns
BY PAUL ROGERS AND ELISE ACKERMAN
Broaching a controversial subject that has gained visibility since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Oracle Chairman and CEO Larry Ellison is calling for the United States to create a national identification card system -- and offering to donate the software to make it possible.
Under Ellison's proposal, millions of Americans would be fingerprinted and the information would be placed on a database used by airport security officials to verify identities of travelers at airplane gates.
``We need a national ID card with our photograph and thumbprint digitized and embedded in the ID card,'' Ellison said in an interview Friday night on the evening news of KPIX-TV in San Francisco.
``We need a database behind that, so when you're walking into an airport and you say that you are Larry Ellison, you take that card and put it in a reader and you put your thumb down and that system confirms that this is Larry Ellison,'' he said.
Ellison's company, Oracle, based in Redwood Shores, is the world's leading maker of database software. Ellison, worth $15 billion, is among the world's richest people. ``We're quite willing to provide the software for this absolutely free,'' he said.
Calls for national ID cards traditionally have been met with fierce resistance from civil liberties groups, who say the cards would intrude on the privacy of Americans and allow the government to track people's movements.
But Ellison said in the electronic age, little privacy is left anyway. ``Well, this privacy you're concerned about is largely an illusion,'' he said. ``All you have to give up is your illusions, not any of your privacy. Right now, you can go onto the Internet and get a credit report about your neighbor and find out where your neighbor works, how much they earn and if they had a late mortgage payment and tons of other information.''
Attempts by the Mercury News to reach Ellison for further comment Saturday were unsuccessful. Many questions about the proposal remain unanswered, such as whether foreign nationals would be required to have a card to enter the country. The hijackers in the Sept. 11 attacks are not believed to have been U.S. citizens.
In the TV interview with anchorman Hank Plante, Ellison said shoppers have to disclose more information at malls to buy a watch than they do to get on an airplane. ``Let me ask you. There are two different airlines. Airline A says before you board that airplane you prove you are who you say you are. Airline B, no problem. Anyone who wants the price of a ticket, they can go on that airline. Which airplane do you get on?''
Oracle has a longstanding relationship with the federal government. Indeed, the CIA was Ellison's first customer, and the company's name stems from a CIA-funded project launched in the mid-1970s that sought better ways of storing and retrieving digital data.
Civil libertarians said caution is needed.
``It strikes me as a form of overreaction to the events that we have experienced,'' said Robert Post, a constitutional law professor at the University of California-Berkeley. ``If we allow a terrorist attack to destroy forms of freedom that we have enjoyed, we will have given the victory to them. This kind of recommendation does just that.'' Post said while such a system may catch some criminals, it could be hacked or faked or evaded by capable terrorists. Nor is it clear that such a system would have foiled the Sept. 11 attacks, he said.
But polls last week show many Americans support a national ID card. In a survey released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, seven of 10 Americans favored a requirement that citizens carry a national identity card at all times to show to a police officer upon request. The proposal had particularly strong support from women. There was less support for government monitoring of telephone calls, e-mails and credit card purchases.
The FBI already has an electronic fingerprint system for criminals. In July 1999, the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System became operational. That system keeps an electronic database of 41 million fingerprints, with prints from all 10 fingers of people who have been convicted of crimes.
The system has reduced the FBI's criminal fingerprint processing time from 45 days to less than two hours.
Paul Bresson, an FBI spokesman in Washington, said Saturday that he is unaware of the details of Ellison's proposal and declined comment.
Howard Gantman, a spokesman for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said that she would be interested in discussing the idea with Ellison.
``She does feel that we do need to make some important advances in terms of increasing our security,'' Gantman said. ``A lot of people have brought up ideas about how to create more security and she's interested in exploring them. She'd like to find out more.''
One group certain to fight the proposal is the American Civil Liberties Union.
A statement about ID cards posted on the ACLU's national Web site says: ``A national ID card would essentially serve as an internal passport. It would create an easy new tool for government surveillance and could be used to target critics of the government, as has happened periodically throughout our nation's history.''
Was it Benjamin Franklin who said something to the effect of:
"A people who will sacrifice their freedom for safety deserve neither"?
No libertarian can seriously say that a private transaction that happens between the airline and the passenger is a matter of rights.
You are right except their policies are driven by law (atually regulation, but that is another story). The airlines should also have the right to allow armed passengers, and place any restrictions on them they see fit. Instead, the government puts the restrictions on them and they have to go along.
Your disavowal of the ostrich mentality of the Lew Rockwells and Harry Brownes
among us libertarians is indeed on target.
Well done, Annalex.
The word for tulip -you know, the flower-- was a confusion with the word for the turban. Confusions like that happen. We are too easily led by premature conjectures. God help us all.
I saw the film Ghandi three times, in the theatre. Was Gahandi libertarian? Maybe an ostrich libertarian?
A not insignificant correction:
America used to be uniquely dedicated to the proposition of individual freedom.
Any impeding of the government's warmaking function is an assault on individual rights.
That may be the case today. Time will tell if abuses of liberty, in the name of liberty, will be forthcoming.
If Airline B also allowed competent citizens to travel armed; Airline B.
That's because he knows he'll make millions more from the support and services end of the deal.
The firest line is too absurd to even make a comment about. The second assertion is bogus inasmuch as Clinton is as much a stooge to the NWO as Bush is. His "blunders" were cold, calculated acts meant to demoralize and demonize, no different than Bush's actions against Saddam.
The cold war was an invention of the money power to ensure a raison d'etre for high taxes, inflation and the continued participation of the USG in "foreign entanglements".
Set aside the patriotic emotions sweeping the country and you are left with a lingering suspicion that not all is as seems. if those of us who listen to subtle undertones of glabalism that underscored Bush's speech with reservations and suspicion are silenced then the only tune playing is that of the NWO piper.
America was NOT invaded, it was attacked. The invasion has been in progress for a long time, and it can be directly attributed to INS policies that have been in place for years. The WTC suicide attack marks the absolute failure of the federal government's first and foremost obligation to defend our shores and our people. The hubris of action and financial handouts following in it's wake is the actions of guilty men, covering up their "incompetence". Or was it?
Flame away war-mongers.
That is true. The level of government has always been the sticking point. They should have as much power as necessary to defend our rights and curtailed in their ability to usurp them.
Well done, Annalex.
I second these thoughts.
Rights do not come from government but exist. I would still have a choice-- and the responsibility that comes with my choice.
If he gets his way, he will become richer (despite his claim to give away the software) and all the rest of us will be in a more dangerous position then we already are. The terrorists will have won even if we kill every last one of them.
There is no excuse for Clinton's shenanigans in the Balkans, but this one is of different cloth. However wrong our policy was, it did not cause this attack, and this time we are justified to strike back, hard.
I say that we ask for forgiveness and offer forgiveness.
.. to the Serbs, perhaps. Forgiveness is a personal act; if you can forgive the mad bombers, you are a better man than I am, but I pray for them. War, on the other hand, is a collective act. A soldier who decides to forgive the enemy on the battlefield betrays his comrades and his country, and he is a bad Christian.
Derbyshire has a fine piece about the Republic vs. Empire controversy in the National Review. The imperial policy can be curtailed through political means; Britain did it. The outcome was more terrorism, welfare state and dependence on the US for defense.
That's the nature of the game. One can't have a functioning defensive policy without aggression. That is why the proper yardstick for foreign policy is national interest, and not non-aggression.
Holy War is an old metaphor, I didn't offer it and I don't know what a better one would be. This is a war between civilizations, but it is not a national or religious war. Although led by Christians, it is joined by Jews and westernized Muslims. It is not a war between ideologies or cultures either, because the Western civilization consists of many ideologies and cultures, with individual dignity and rule by consensus as a common trait.
I believe that tactically, many methods seems effective, and war by proxy looks particularly attractive, but ultimately, this war will be won when a Westernized regime controlls the territory and a police force mops up the resistance. The Westernized regime will have the task of winning the hearts of the population with rule of law and a clear path to prosperity. The model of that is General MacArthur and post-WWII Japan.
No wolf nor swine nor dog shall gnaw our bones.
>The word for tulip -you know, the flower-- was a confusion >with the word for the turban.
Tulips, you say.
>God help us all.
If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him--and promptly forget His teachings.