This blog is called the Classic Liberal for a reason. Because I view things from a Jeffersonian classical liberal perspective. Natural law is reality, positive law is tyranny, and power corrupts absolutely.
Both conservatives and libertarians find their roots in this tradition, yet today, both seem to be at each others throats!
I hate to break it to you all, but neither libertarian or conservative, is a dirty word.
I ran across a couple articles written by Joseph Farah a few years ago, that just may help dispel many of the common misconceptions experienced today:
I believe a nation's borders are sacrosanct. Without borders, there are no nations ... If anyone and everyone can become an American simply by relocating – and without any pledge to our nation's Constitution and political creed – then we lose everything our founding fathers established in fighting for our independence, our sovereignty and for the rule of law.
What Farah seems to be talking about here is that many libertarians are against "closed-borders," not borders themselves. But hyperbole so often gets the best of us, especially in politics. Doesn't it?
The immigration problem in this country isn't that too many people immigrate here, but it's why they immigrate here - the American welfare state. Because the welfare state attracts so many, central planners create arbitrary immigration levels and then are expected to do the impossible - secure each and every inch of the border.
Because libertarians believe fully in the right to bear arms, immigration would be policed by private property owners. This would make the current method of "open border" immigration not only difficult, but quite dangerous. And while having no arbitrarily set immigration limits, libertarian theory requires immigrants to purchase their way in to the country, exchanging property for property. This means immigration takes place by invitation and consent, rather than today's method of invasion and agitation.
While I agree with libertarians that our national drug laws and the enforcement of those laws are terribly abusive and beyond the scope of our Constitution, I have no problem with states and local governments passing laws prohibiting the sale of narcotics and enforcing such laws ... I'm all for ending the drug war at the ineffective federal level, but condoning drug use is the wrong prescription.
Libertarian does not mean libertine. No matter how many times somebody implies otherwise, this will never be true. No wonder the right is so divided.
The libertarian case against drug prohibition is not based on the bumper sticker slogan of "condoning drug use." Instead, it is based on the moral position that a) virtue comes from within, not from without, and b) no one has the right to use violence, or the threat of violence, to impose one's will upon another.
Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: - Matthew 15:11, 17-19.
From a libertarian perspective, coercion and violations of inalienable rights are greater evils than drug use. Harming oneself does not infringe the rights of another, and certainly doesn't call for the use of violence against him or her.
America needs a strong defense – and this is a reality many libertarians don't accept. True, the concept of defense in America has been distorted and twisted. We spend mega-billions not on defense, but on offense. We deploy tens of thousands of troops in more than 100 countries around the world as if America was the world's policeman. That is wrong. We leave Americans at home virtually defenseless against terror attacks and weapons of massive destruction. That is equally wrong.
It seems Mr. Farah is no more happier about nation-building and policing the world than libertarians, yet he chooses to attack them on this anyways. Most libertarians would be quite satisfied with an America First foreign policy, and this seems to be what he's calling for too. But what he fails to understand about the libertarian critique of our current progressive foreign policy, is how much it distorts freedom and liberty here at home.
Like Sweden, every American home should have a gun. Let's see someone try and invade us then (it would lower domestic crime rates too). Every foiled terrorist attack on American soil has been stopped by individuals, not the State, as well. Fort Hood for example, ended when an individual with a gun ended Hasan's life (and killing spree). In other words, no State scheme helped in any way.
Second, a strong military is fine, but when it has a constant presence all over the world, it builds resentment - blowback. Think about if the French military had a continual presence in your home state. You'd resent it, wouldn't you?
Yeah, I know, I know ... George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower "hate America first!" Sounds stupid when you put it into perspective, doesn't it?
Libertarians, more often than not, fail to understand the moral dimension so critical to self-government. Read the words of the founders. They all got it. They all intuitively understood that even the best form of representative and limited government would be twisted into coercive tyranny if the people did not have the basic morality necessary to govern themselves.
Here we are, back to the myth that libertarian = libertine. Bumper sticker nonsense for people who refuse to think.
Freedom can only be experienced and maximized, though, when it is accompanied by personal responsibility. Personal responsibility cannot be legislated. It cannot be forced. It cannot be coerced. Libertarians generally understand this, but too few of them comprehend a laissez faire society can only be built in a culture of morality, righteousness and compassion.
Libertarians who expect to build such a society through politics alone make a fundamental error. In a sense, they are utopian dreamers like the socialists, ignoring the importance of human nature in shaping communities and nations.
I'd say libertarians understand that humans are flawed better than any other political philosophy. Why? Because they apply this to the the State, as well as to those who make up society. Big government destroys self government. The managerial State destroys the requirement that individuals act morally. But if anyone can explain this best, it's Murray Rothbard:
Far from being immoral, libertarians simply apply a universal human ethic to government in the same way as almost everyone would apply such an ethic to every other person or institution in society. In particular as I have noted earlier, libertarianism as a political philosophy dealing with the proper role of violence takes the universal ethic that most of us hold toward violence and applies it fearlessly to government. Libertarians make no exceptions to the golden rule and provide no moral loophole, no double standard, for government. That is, libertarians believe that murder is murder and does not become sanctified by reasons of State if committed by the government. We believe that theft is theft and does not become legitimated because organized robbers call their theft "taxation." We believe that enslavement is enslavement even if the institution committing that act calls it "conscription." In short, the key to libertarian theory is that it makes no exceptions in its universal ethic for government.
Hence, far from being indifferent or hostile to moral principles, libertarians fulfill them by being the only group willing to extend those principles across the board to government itself.
Libertarianism is strongly opposed to enforcing any moral creed on any person or group by the use of violence – except, of course, the moral prohibition against aggressive violence itself. But we must realize that no action can be considered virtuous unless it is undertaken freely, by a person's voluntary consent. As Frank Meyer pointed out:
Men cannot be forced to be free, nor can they even be forced to be virtuous. To a certain extent, it is true, they can be forced to act as though they were virtuous. But virtue is the fruit of well-used freedom. And no act to the degree that it is coerced can partake of virtue – or of vice.
If a person is forced by violence or the threat thereof to perform a certain action, then it can no longer be a moral choice on his part. The morality of an action can stem only from its being freely adopted; an action can scarcely be called moral if someone is compelled to perform it at gunpoint. Compelling moral actions or outlawing immoral actions, therefore, cannot be said to foster the spread of morality or virtue. On the contrary, coercion atrophies morality for it takes away from the individual the freedom to be either moral or immoral, and therefore forcibly deprives people of the chance to be moral. Paradoxically, then, a compulsory morality robs us of the very opportunity to be moral.
It is furthermore particularly grotesque to place the guardianship of morality in the hands of the State apparatus – that is, none other than the organization of policemen, guards, and soldiers. Placing the State in charge of moral principles is equivalent to putting the proverbial fox in charge of the chicken coop. Whatever else we may say about them, the wielders of organized violence in society have never been distinguished by their high moral tone or by the precision with which they uphold moral principle.
It's time to step out of bumper sticker politics. Study philosophy and theory instead. For any conservative and/or libertarian who does this, will find each other to be the best of allies, instead of the enemy they're treated as today.