Liberty & Power: Group Blog
David T. Beito
As I mentioned earlier, my wife, Linda Royster Beito, and I had some recent brushes with greatness. We had a chance to spent some time with actress Ruby Dee, wife of the late Ossie Davis and Myrna Colley-Lee ,who is Morgan Freeman’s wife.
Our host was Ifa Bayeza , who invited us to attend a panel discussion at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson her upcoming play Till, based on the life of Emmett Till. National outrage over Till’s murder in 1955 and the acquittal of his killers gave an important spur to the modern civil rights movement.
We are writing a biography of T.R.M. Howard, a black surgeon, entrepreneur, fraternal leader, and civil rights organizers who played a key role in finding witnesses and evidence in the hope of convicting Till‘s killers. We have also have written here about our views on the case.
Colley-Lee will be the costume designer for the play.
On the following day, Linda and I were guides on a tour of sites related to the case. These included the store at Money where the initial incident in the case took place, Sumner, the location of the trial, and Mound Bayou, where Till’s mother stayed during the trial at the home of T.R.M. Howard. From there, it was to dinner at Madidi, Morgan Freeman’s restaurant in Clarksdale. Finally, we went to Freeman’s juke joint, Ground Zero.
The first picture shows Myrna Colley-Lee and me, The second is of Linda Royster Beito (my wife), Ruby Dee, and me. The third picture is of our tour group standing in front of the ruins of Bryant’s grocery store in Money. Right to left: yours truly, Linda, Karen Allen Baxter, the producer of the upcoming play on Till, Ruby Dee, Myrna Colley-Lee, Ifa Bayeza, the playwright, and Donald King, the producer.
The final picture shows all of us (I took the picture) in Morgan Freeman’s juke joint in Clarksdale. After that, we went to Freeman’s mansion (yes, mansion) which is in Charleston, where he spent his childhood. Charleston is in the same county where Till’s killers were tried.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to meet the Morgan Freeman, who was shooting a film…..though we did a get a chance to wander around the house.
Someone much closer to the day-to-day reality of the restaurant business has written a letter to the editor of the Washington Examiner, which they printed in their 7/11 edition. “According to the recently released U.S. Surgeon General’s Report, ‘Evidence from peer-reviewed studies shows that smoke-free policies and regulations do not have an adverse economic impact on the hospitality industry.’ What I want to know is: When did Dr. Richard Carmona become an expert on the economic impact of smoking bans?
As executive director of the American Beverage Licensees —the nation’s largest trade association representing nearly 20,000 bars, restaurants, taverns and liquor stores — I have firsthand experience that tells me he’s wrong, peer-reviewed studies or not. Many of our members are small family businesses whose owners are hard-working, taxpaying Americans operating in a very competitive environment. We don’t claim to be scientists or epidemiologists, but we are experts on the business environment in the hospitality industry.
Across the country, alcohol beverage retailers have experienced revenue losses, job cuts and business closings due to smoking bans. Often these are businesses that have been passed down in the same family for generations. The science and the controversy all boil down to two simple questions: 1. Should adults be allowed to have a cigarette in an age-restricted venue? 2. Are adults capable of making a decision on whether or not they want to frequent a place where smoking is permitted? If Dr. Carmona or anyone else answers “No,” then secondhand smoke is the very least of America’s problems.
Harry Wiles Executive director, American Beverage Licensees”
Well, the anti-tobacco crowd will say that Mr. Wiles is a self interested liar but if these smoking bans are not in reality hurting business why would the laws be an issue for him and his clients. They are paying him to protect their interests and if the anti-smoking legislation has no bad impact then why even bring up the subject. I see no real motivation on the part of the restaurant business to falsify on this matter.
The other side, however, has a big incentive to fudge once again. They need to portray their activates as having no costs because if the public starts to think about the consequences, both monetary and otherwise, of the anti-smoking legislation it might notice that these baseless laws protect no one and harm our entire society, if only for their precedent.
Hat Tip to Dave Varney
Indeed, I would defend people without vital provisions taking them from deserted shops provided that they subsequently offer to make reparations. According to the Times-Picayune, it seems that the police assisted people to take such provisions:
> At the Wal-Mart on Tchoupitoulas Street, an initial effort to hand out provisions to stranded citizens quickly disintegrated into mass looting.
There is also the question of long-term incentives. A neoclassical economist would not wish to encourage looting in the future so there would seem to be a strong case for the police to stop people looting consumer durables although not perishable foodstuffs.
However, it appears that the police and firefighters were looting alongside private citizens. The Times-Picayune reports:
> Throughout the store and parking lot, looters pushed carts and loaded trucks and vans alongside officers. One man said police directed him to Wal-Mart from Robert’s Grocery, where a similar scene was taking place. A crowd in the electronics section said one officer broke the glass DVD case so people wouldn’t cut themselves.
> “The police got all the best stuff. They’re crookeder than us,” one man said.
> Inside the store, one woman was stocking up on make-up. She said she took comfort in watching police load up their own carts.
> “It must be legal,” she said. “The police are here taking stuff, too.”
Which, of course, poses a problem for your typical neoclassical economist who supports a"limited" role for the state to provide"public goods". I’m grateful that I’m not your typical neoclassical economist.
The Times-Picayune continues:
> The scene turned so chaotic at times that entrances were blocked by the press of people and shopping carts and traffic jams sprouted on surrounding streets.
> Some groups organized themselves into assembly lines to more efficiently cart off goods.
This is clearly rationally cooperative behavior (among thieves). I guess even Austrian economists may take a certain professional satisfaction in such conduct!
David T. Beito
Meanwhile, the Libertarian Party, in the name of pragmatic reform, has dumped the antiwar plank from the platform. The result, of course, is to cut the LP off from this growing American antiwar majority.
It is hard to imagine how such an isolating decision can be justified as a practical reform to reach more potential voters. Even so, that is what the Portland reformers claim they are doing.
It is natural to wonder to what extent the justification of"pragmatism" is a pretext by pro-war elements to advance a purely ideological position that fewer Americans than ever now hold. If this is the case, why are antiwar libertarians so quick to concede their opponents' claims to be non-ideological? Shouldn't they instead insist that it is they, not the Portland reformers, who are doing the most to hold aloft the flags not only of principle but also of pragmatism?
Like most libertarians, I agree with the first statement in that I believe that governments tend to be incompetent at their theoretical purpose of protecting life and property. But I think that this valid point can lead people to let specific governments off the hook. If all governments stink, why single out, for instance, the Bush administration? I see a lot of generally pro-government commentators taking this line (such as David Brooks the other day on NPR) to deflect fire directed toward big-government Bush.
This would be a mistake. In the case of the federal government and Katrina, I think it has done an *exceptionally* bad job (as it has in Iraq), and it ought to be held accountable. Some governments are worse than others. Some Presidents are worse than others. And Uncurious George may be among the worst ever.
We shouldn’t be surprised that President George W. Bush’s Svengali, Karl Rove, is an admirer of Theodore Roosevelt. TR is hot these days. He made the cover of Time magazine, heralding a series of hagiographic articles, including Rove’s, that make him out to be the first modern American president. In Time’s view, that means he saw the country’s potential for big intrusive government at home and abroad — the first Imperial New Dealer.Read the rest at The Future of Freedom Foundation website.
Cross-posted at Free Association.
Amy H. Sturgis
Why Are Indigenous (American Indian) Soldiers Serving in Iraq?
Dr. Michael Yellow Bird, Ph.D.
Open Letter to all Indigenous Peoples:
As the United States prepares for its annual Independence Day celebrations, I strongly urge all of our nations to hold critical and independent discussions on why we are committing our young people to serve the U.S. military in its occupation of Iraq.
The recent reporting (including revelations of a cover-up) of the murders, executions, and massacres of innocent Iraqi citizens by United States troops prompts me to ask, "Why are Indigenous (American Indian) soldiers serving in Iraq?" I wonder why our tribal communities have not had critical debates on the immorality of this war, on the lies of the present Bush Administration that got us into this war, and on the spiritual, economic, social, and psychological costs that both our people and the Iraqi people will pay for this war. It is clear from the history of many of our tribes that our people understood the grave costs of war and so took this act very seriously. Before engaging in war, many of our tribes initiated peace councils and sent emissaries to negotiate goodwill and friendship with the "enemy" in order to avoid war. As sovereign Indigenous nations, we did not do this before or during the invasion of Iraq. We instead let the United States make the decision for us as to whether we should or should not enter into this war. I wonder when was the last time that the United States asked our people for our opinion about war and its costs.
Our history tells us that because war was so destructive on many different levels, many of our tribal nations—before committing to war against another tribe—consulted our elders, peacemakers, women, youth, philosophers, intellectuals, spiritual leaders, children, warriors, and veterans to weigh the costs of war. This is something that many of our nations have not done for some time. Many of us have “outsourced-our-thinking” to the United States with respect to when and why we should or should not go to war. We are sovereign nations with very intelligent and moral people who do not need to rely on this country to interpret for us the meaning and the costs that war will bring to our communities. Most of us already know the answer to this. And we know that we should decide for ourselves, after careful, deliberate, and intelligent discussions, whether we must commit our people and resources to the wars of the United States.
Along with the U.S. invasion of the lands of our respective nations, the last two major conflicts of the United States, Vietnam and now Iraq, were based on lies created by the U.S. government. Their track record makes it even more imperative that we rely upon our own thinking, experiences, and morality when we enter into discussions on why our tribal nations should compel our people to go to war. The Vietnam lie was very expensive and horrific; it was responsible for the deaths of 58,191 American soldiers and 153,303 wounded. One million Vietnamese combatants and four million civilians were killed for this American lie. The missing in this war includes approximately 2,300 American soldiers and 200,000 Vietnamese. In Iraq, over 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since 2003. After so many lies told to our people by the United States, do we trust this nation to be honest with us? Do we trust it to care about life as much as we do?
If we are to have discussions about this war, topics must include:
* Our belief that all people and beings are related to us so what does it mean to make war on our relatives;
* The fact that we value all life so, therefore, war truly must be a last resort;
* The fact that we value Mother Earth as a living being and the fact that the United States military is contaminating the lands, waters, trees, plants and people in Iraq through the use of biowarfare, landmines, and depleted uranium which will kill innocent people and will poison much of their territory for many years;
* The fact that we believe in the great circle of life (e.g., what goes around comes around and what we are doing to the Iraqi people is what the U.S. did to our ancestors);
* What are the effects that all of the killing, maiming, poisoning, and torturing will have upon our people, especially on the psychic and cosmological levels;
* How the U.S. has treated us in the past and the present, and how it has conscripted our minds and hearts so that we are participating in their same oppressive behavior of another group/race of humans;
* What other nations has the United States overthrown for its own interests? How many innocent non-U.S. peoples have been killed by this country’s covert operations, and who is it planning to attack in the future? Why?
* Who benefits most from war and who are the biggest losers?
* Finally, there are many other reasons that we can discuss and analyze.
It seems that we cannot rely on corporate media or the U.S. government to tell us the truth or to give us the facts about why we should go to war or who we should consider our enemy. John Stockwell, the highest-ranking CIA official to leave the agency and go public with information about CIA-sponsored activities, once said that the U.S. neither does “bloody, gory operations” in Europe nor does it spend its time attacking these countries. Rather it performs such operations in countries that are filled with people of color who do not have the military strength and resources to protect themselves from U.S. invasions. I am convinced that Stockwell is suggesting that the U.S. government has a clear racist war ideology and readily employs it against people or races that are not white. So, we must use all the available evidence to independently decide for ourselves if and when we should go to war and who is our enemy. An enemy should not be invented because of the color of its skin or religious beliefs.
I believe that it is time for us to demand that our tribal governments call for critical and independent discussions, and we need to tell the United States to immediately call for withdrawal of its military forces from Iraq. Most importantly—and independently of their decision or indecision—we must immediately pull our people out of this quagmire. Countries such as Japan, Honduras, Tonga, Nicaragua, Spain, Dominican Republic, Philippines, Thailand, New Zealand, Portugal, and Moldova already have pulled out their troops and many other nations are planning to reduce their troop commitment in the near future. So why are we still in Iraq fighting the U.S.’s illegal war? It also is time for our tribal leaders and communities to impose a moratorium upon any further enlistments of our young men and women into the U.S. military. The United States has abused our trust and has coerced us to fight its illegal, immoral wars long enough.
Many things about this war trouble me to the very core. One of the most disturbing questions is why does it seem that of all the countries that have been, or continue to be, in this war, it is only U.S. soldiers who are committing the murders of, and atrocities against, innocent Iraqi citizens (the unarmed, the disabled, the defenseless elders, the women, and the children)? Is it because the U.S. is serving in larger numbers? Is it because the U.S. is serving in more hazardous situations? Is it because the U.S. is more trigger happy? Is it because of poor oversight and supervision by the upper ranks of the military? Is it because U.S. troops are a more violent group and enjoy killing more than do other soldiers? Is it because the architects of this war, including President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, care more about profit than "just war" principles? Is it all of the above?
As I write this, two national guardsmen are being investigated for killing an innocent Iraqi man earlier this year; seven Marines and one Navy corpsman were charged with the shooting death of an Iraqi man, whom they had kidnapped from his home, forced into a hole, and shot to death—they then left a stolen AK-47 near his body to make it look like he was firing at them; three soldiers and one non-commissioned officer were charged with killing (in May 2006) three unarmed Iraqis who were in military custody. And many more Iraqi people have been abused and tortured to death in U.S. custody (especially in the military prisons). Many of these atrocities have been covered up or are “under investigation.”
The story currently receiving the most press is the November 2005 massacre of the twenty-four innocent civilians (including women and children) in Haditha by U.S. Marines. This mass killing is being compared to the 1968 My Lai massacre in Vietnam. A “Washington Post” article reported that "Aws Fahmi, a Haditha resident […] said he watched and listened from his home as Marines went from house to house killing members of three families, recalled hearing his neighbor across the street, Younis Salim Khafif, plead in English for his life and the lives of his family members. ‘I heard Younis speaking to the Americans, saying: “I am a friend. I am good,”’ Fahmi said. ‘But they killed him, and his wife and daughters.’ The girls killed inside Khafif's house were ages 14, 10, 5, 3 and 1” (Saturday, May 17, 2006).
Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), a former Marine who maintains close ties with senior Marine officers despite his opposition to the war stated, "Marines overreacted . . . and killed innocent civilians in cold blood." Murtha already has called for the withdrawal of the U.S. military from Iraq and has called the war "a flawed policy wrapped in illusion" (Larry Downing, Reuters, Nov 18, 2005).
There are many reasons why we must immediately get our people out of this war:
1. War is not a moral act. The occupation, torture, mutilation, killing, and murder of innocent Iraqi people are acts of immorality. Our people should not be complicit in atrocities.
2. The invasion of Iraq was based on lies. Iraq was accused of having weapons of mass destruction by the Bush administration; it did not. Iraq was accused of having ties with Osama Bin Laden; it did not. Our people should not be complicit in lies.
3. The war against Iraq does not meet the standards of a "Just War" that evolved among "civilized" societies. Our people have enough struggles and battles, and should not be complicit in unjust global activities on behalf of the United States.
4. The war on Iraq was for "regime change" which is not legal under international law, Article 2(4) of the UN Charter. Our people should not be complicit in lawlessness.
5. After two decades of wars, invasions, and sanctions, Iraq did not have the military power to pose a clear and present danger to the U.S. before or after being invaded in 2003. Our people should not be complicit in oppressing and occupying a nation that never attacked us.
6. Many people in the U.S. and throughout the world oppose this war. Our nations should exercise their right to voice their opposition to U.S. military operations, conflicts, wars, and occupations.
7. The U.S. soldiers who have murdered Iraqi civilians must now stand trial. Several of them could receive the death penalty. Will more death and life sentences follow or will the deaths of innocent Iraqis be ignored or covered up? Do we want our men and women involved in situations that might conclude in such trials or cover ups? Our people should mentor their young into just and moral activities that benefit their nations, while encouraging conflict-resolution when possible.
8. This war is creating new "terrorism" and retribution that will be directed at the U.S. for its invasion of Iraq and its torturing and killing of innocent people. Our people should not contribute to U.S. creation of hatred.
9. There is no end in sight for a U.S. military exit out of Iraq. Many sources report that the U.S. is establishing permanent military bases in Iraq which would keep troops in Iraq for many years. Our people should not contribute to the expansion and maintenance of U.S. militarization, colonization, and occupation.
10. Invading Iraq is extremely financially costly and takes resources away from many badly needed priorities at home. At present, it costs nearly one billion dollars a week to wage this “War on Terrorism.” Our people should not be complicit in U.S. activities that waste money.
11. Billions of dollars have been authorized by the U.S. congress to be used for occupation and reconstruction. There is evidence that billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars have been lost through waste, abuse, and fraudulent billing. In a June 8, 2006, article published in “The Baltimore Chronicle,” Dave Lindorff reported that twenty-one billion dollars "has gone missing without a trace in Iraq." Who is responsible for this? I am reminded that our people are fighting for, in part, accountability of billions of lost dollars in the Eloise Pepion Cobell, et al. v. Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior lawsuit in the United States. Our people should never be complicit in U.S. theft, fraud, and dishonesty.
12. The U.S. is supposed to be rebuilding Afghanistan but it is not; rather, it is targeting most of its focus and resources on Iraq. Our people should not contribute to unilateral U.S. policy and doctrines.
13. Despite billions of U.S. dollars spent in Iraq after its invasion, very little promised rebuilding of the Iraqi infrastructure has been accomplished. Our people—who are familiar with broken promises and treaties—should never be complicit in the lies of the United States.
14. The rebuilding of Iraq is not happening. Many U.S. firms that went to Iraq to perform reconstruction services have been accused of "bilking" funds intended for reconstruction. In an April 16, 2006 news story, the “Boston Globe” reported that "American contractors swindled hundreds of millions of dollars in Iraqi funds." For instance, in March 2006, a Rhode Island-based company called, The Custer Battles, was found "liable for $3 million in fraudulent billings in Iraq." Stories such as this are outrageous and numerous. Many of these companies had/have ties to the current Bush administration, especially Dick Cheney, the current Vice President of the United States. Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000. Halliburton has made hundreds of millions of dollars from this war and occupation. Our people should not be complicit in helping the rich, like Cheney, get richer.
We must no longer allow our nations to remain in the fog of war, participating in the U.S. continued colonization and destruction of the world. What this country has done—and continues to do—to the Iraqi people is unconscionable and must stop. The U.S.-led war in Iraq is wrong, immoral, illegal, unjust, a lie; it is about profiteering for a very small, corrupt, elite sector of the U.S. population. Our people, many of whom occupy some of the lowest levels of decision-making in the U.S. military, are considered expendable and are being used for cannon fodder so that the rich, especially in the United States, can become richer.
We must realize that many of the people in the highest levels of the United States government suffer from an addiction to war, power, and colonization. Many, but not all, Indigenous Peoples have become co-dependent in this addiction as demonstrated by not holding public meetings and councils that question the U.S. invasion, and by allowing our people to participate in this unjust, illegal war that is creating suffering for untold numbers of innocent Iraqi people. In the Fall of 2004, the academic journal Wicazo Sa Review published a paper I wrote entitled “Cowboys and Indians: Toys of Genocide, Icons of American Colonialism.” In that article, I stated that "it took me some years to understand that colonialism is a sickness, an addiction to greed, power, and exploitation....Colonialism has taught many Indigenous Peoples to be silent, passive, compliant victims who participate in, excuse, enable, or ignore the colonizer's addictive behaviors. Left unchecked, colonialism has continued to flourish, devastate, and suppress Indigenous Peoples, keeping them in a the perpetual role of 'the Indian,' causing many to say, do and think things they never would if their minds and hearts were free from American colonial rule." Today this addictive behavior or the drug of choice of this country is its illegal, dishonest, and brutal invasion of Iraq. I urgently ask each and every Indigenous Person to quit enabling the addictive behavior of the U.S.
In this same article, I also wrote that there are "antidotes to colonialism that Indigenous Peoples can and must employ: courage, intelligent resistance, development of a counterconsciousness and discourse, and a fierce critical interrogation of American colonial ideology." It is incumbent upon our peoples to employ these antidotes in order to condemn and get our people out of this war. We must commit all of our intellectual and truth-seeking energies to this objective and not let any one, Indigenous or non-Indigenous, hijack our need for such critical and independent discussions. A key democratic principle of our peoples was our willingness to allow our people dissent from popular opinion so that we might consider all of our options. We must not let accusations that our "honor and courage as warriors is on the line" prevent us from deciding to leave Iraq—and the U.S. military. After generations of service in the U.S. military—and its numerous wars—our people have repeatedly proven that we are brave and courageous beyond compare. However, our ability to think morally, critically, and independently about our participation in this war is another matter that we now must undertake ever so seriously.
Maybe, just maybe, if we act using our traditional Indigenous forms of morality that value truth, intelligence, honesty, life, and dignity—and refuse to be a enabler to the U.S. addiction to greed, war, power, and colonization—we can help it overcome its unhealthy, destructive obsession for war, conquest, and killing of others. And, as it recovers from this addiction, maybe we also can help it overcome its two greatest phobias: dikephobia (the fear of justice) and hypegiaphobia (the fear of responsibility). I pray that that you will take this open letter (or a statement of your own) to your tribal leaders and communities and immediately begin the important critical and independent discussions that will promote and act upon the well-being of all of our people.
All the best, Michael
Dr. Michael Yellow Bird, Ph.D.
Founder and Director, Center for
Indigenous Peoples' Critical and Intuitive Thinking (CIPCIT) and
Associate Professor, Indigenous Nations Studies
Indigenous Nations Studies Program
1410 Jayhawk Blvd, Room 105
The University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS 66045
Amy H. Sturgis
Thanks to all for the encouragement and support!
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Just a few related and relevant articles
"Tolkien v. Power" by Alberto Mingardi
"Tolkien on Power and Market" by Alberto Mingardi and Carlo Stagnaro
"His Noblest Fantasy Had Little To Do With Elves and Wizards" by Vin Suprynowicz
"Tolkien's Ring: An Allegory for the Modern State" by Perry de Havilland
"Libertarian Novels" by Bob Wallace
By John Kifner
Recruiting shortfalls caused by the war in Iraq have allowed "large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists" to join the military, a watchdog group said.
Roderick T. Long
Meeting in Portland over (ironically enough) Independence Day weekend, the Libertarian Party convention ended up gutting the LP Platform, removing nearly all of the more radical planks (including the antiwar one). The new watered-down platform hasnt been made available online yet, but preliminary details, and some reactions, are available here, here, here, and here.
The outfit behind this move calls itself the Libertarian Reform Caucus. Their theory is a simple one: most voters are not libertarians, so if the Libertarian Party wants to win elections, it must stop being libertarian.
Thats not quite how the Caucus words it, of course. Instead they accuse the Platform of sacrificing practicality and political appeal in favor of philosophical consistency; and they call instead for a Platform that sets out a realistic vision for the next few years, as opposed to an idealistic vision of a libertarian future.
To this sort of thing I can make no better reply than Hayeks in his 1949 essay The Intellectuals and Socialism:
We must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage. What we lack is a liberal Utopia, a program which seems neither a mere defense of things as they are nor a diluted kind of socialism, but a truly liberal radicalism ... which is not too severely practical, and which does not confine itself to what appears today as politically possible. We need intellectual leaders who are willing to work for an ideal, however small may be the prospects of its early realization. They must be men who are willing to stick to principles and to fight for their full realization, however remote. ... Free trade and freedom of opportunity are ideals which still may arouse the imaginations of large numbers, but a mere reasonable freedom of trade or a mere relaxation of controls is neither intellectually respectable nor likely to inspire any enthusiasm. The main lesson which the true liberal must learn from the success of the socialists is that it was their courage to be Utopian which gained them the support of the intellectuals and therefore an influence on public opinion which is daily making possible what only recently seemed utterly remote. Those who have concerned themselves exclusively with what seemed practicable in the existing state of opinion have constantly found that even this had rapidly become politically impossible as the result of changes in a public opinion which they have done nothing to guide. Unless we can make the philosophic foundations of a free society once more a living intellectual issue, and its implementation a task which challenges the ingenuity and imagination of our liveliest minds, the prospects of freedom are indeed dark. But if we can regain that belief in the power of ideas which was the mark of liberalism at its best, the battle is not lost.Or in Garrisons words: Gradualism in theory is perpetuity in practice. (See also Rothbard here and Anthony Gregory here.)
Well, does it matter? If I regarded having a libertarian political party as the essential core of libertarian strategy, I would regard the Portland debacle as a major disaster. If instead I agreed with the Konkinites and Voluntaryists that political parties have no place in libertarian strategy, I would shrug my shoulders and say what do you expect? good riddance. But (for reasons I explain toward the end of my recent anarchism lecture) Im actually somewhere in between: I think libertarian strategy should focus primarily on education and building alternative institutions, but I think a political party has a significant albeit secondary role to play in the process. (I guess that makes me a Moderate Agorist a rara avis indeed?) So from my point of view, the reformist takeover of the LP Convention, while it isnt the end of the world, is still an evil worth fighting.
The success of the reformists isnt inevitable. They did a lot of hard work to push their victory through. We who prefer a consistent defense of liberty need to do a lot of hard work to roll that victory back.
The strategic question is, should reformism be fought from within the Party or from without, by starting a new and more consistent party? At this point its probably too soon to say. Accordingly, I favour exploring both strategies in parallel. Specifically, I currently support and recommend both the Grassroots Libertarian Caucus and the Boston Tea Party. (About the latter see here.)
As always, Fight the Power.
Jeffrey Rogers Hummel
P.S. In my excitement, I neglected to report that Tierney's column also mentions Liberty & Power's own John Majewski of UC, Santa Barbara.
Aeon J. Skoble
David T. Beito
That was then. Over at the libertarian/conservative Volokh Conspiracy, a blog that generally skirts the Iraq issue, David Post puts forward a revised version of the same concept:
A hundred million dollars to build up Iraq's soccer team would do more for nation-building than any other damned thing we could possibly do -- why nobody sees this is totally beyond me.
David T. Beito
The recent results of the Mexican presidential election show a more nuanced picture. In Mexico, voters were evenly split. By contrast, 57 percent of Mexican nationals in the U.S. voted for the more pro free-market candidate, Felipe Calderon and only 34 percent chose the leftist.
The show's default attitude towards politics - and the presidency in particular - is one of unabashed naivete, which most certainly is not a good thing to foster in American life. One of the greatest flaws in American politics is that we're not nearly skeptical enough of our leaders, that we're willing to see reelection of incumbents as the default instead of firing them for their incompetence and corruption, that most of us see the president as the whole world's commander-in-chief instead of as the whole country's public servant. The West Wing reveled in the power and ceremony of the executive branch, in the kind of stateliness and pageantry that built up George Bush's image over his first four years in office. For the most part I'd say the show was mostly harmless - it was a symptom, not a cause, but it wasn't a symptom of anything good.
I am now in the process of reading The New Dealers’ War: FDR and the War Within World War II by Thomas J. Fleming. This book is doing something I would have thought impossible, it is lowering my opinion of FDR even further.
While Craig Bolton may or may not be correct about there being only two overt incidents of opposition to the Nazis there certainly was a great deal of high level covert support for internal regime change including a very famous assassination attempt in East Prussia. According to Fleming Admiral Wilheim Canaris head of the German Military intelligence organization, the Abwehr, met secretly in Spain, during the summer of 1943, with the heads of American and British intelligence. They hammered out a peace plan which included a cease fire and the elimination of Hitler. Roosevelt rejected this offer refusing to negotiate with “these East German Junkers” and all other overtures from Germans yearning for the Nazis’ downfall.
In fact, when Roosevelt unexpectedly announced, against the opposition of Churchill and his own military commanders, that unconditional surrender was the only acceptable end to the war, he created a great obstacle for those Germans who wished Hitler gone and the carnage over. The policy proved to be a big unifier of the Hitler’s people. We can never know if some Allied encouragement and a different set of demands might have been enough for the success of Admiral Canaris and like minded Germans in their goal of ending the war sooner. However it is not unreasonable to say that FDR’s hatred and determination to punish may very well have cost tens of thousands of Americans their lives.
Roderick T. Long
(Im going to be away from my computer on the Fourth, so Im posting my Independence Day observations a day early.)
How should we think about the American Revolution? I suggest we should think of it as an uncompleted project. The Revolution, after all, wasnt just about separation from Britain; it was about the right of the people to alter or abolish any political arrangements destructive of the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness or not resting on the consent of the governed.
Those were the principles on which the Revolution was based. But the political system the founders established never fully embodied those principles in practice; and its present-day successor no longer respects them even in theory. (Slogans, need I add? are not theory.)
Over the years since 1776, the fortunes of American liberty, and indeed of liberty worldwide, have risen and fallen; most often some aspects have risen while others have fallen. But every increase in liberty has involved the logical carrying-out of the principles of 76, while every decrease has involved their de facto repudiation. (And if the average American is on balance more free than his or her 18th-century counterpart, this is small reason for complacency when one views the matter counterfactually. To paraphrase my comments in an L&P discussion last year: For me the point of comparison is not USA 2006 vs. USA 1776, but USA 2006 vs. the USA 2006 we would have had if the USA had stuck consistently to those principles.)
From an establishment perspective, the Fourth of July is a day to celebrate the existing American system. But that approach to the Fourth is, I suggest, profoundly counter-revolutionary. Far better to regard Independence Day as a day to rededicate ourselves to forwarding the ongoing Revolution whose true completion, as Voltairine de Cleyre and Rose Wilder Lane argued here and here, will be libertarian anarchy.
In other news, recordings of my Mises seminar are now all online.
Also, dont miss two excellent recent posts about the relation between poverty and statism by Sheldon Richman and Ben Kilpatrick.
Have a surly and rebellious Fourth!!
David T. Beito
Readers of Liberty and Power will recall the disturbing antics of Glenn Singleton, a self-described diversity expert. Singleton typically gets six figures for his services from school districts, such as Cherry Creek, Colorado and Chapel Hill, North Carolina and (courtesy of a blowback from a conservative campaign led by Michelle Malkin) from Bellevue Community College.
Singleton describes his thought reform sessions as “Courageous Conversations About Race.” The reality of what goes on has little, if anything, to do with either courage or genuine conversation. The main talent of Singleton and his associates is to find creative ways to humiliate and degrade others. As during the Cultural Revolution in China, standard operating procedure is to have hapless educators and staff line up with individual signs, each showing numerical scores of their alleged unconscious racism.
I shudder to think that they might also have to listen to Singleton's theories on American literature. Haven't they suffered enough?
He has the following to say, for example, about Mark Twain, Huck Finn, and Jim: "I remember sitting back in middle school and saying to myself, 'I don't think Twain is a satirist, I think he's a racist. I don't think Huck and Jim are having this great relationship. I can't really understand why Jim keeps talking to Huck. I would think if I just got out of this period of slavery-with no freedom-I wouldn't want to spend all my time on a raft with a white boy answering questions.'"
I’ll lay odds that most of us, given a choice, would prefer Huck to Singleton as our raft mate. Luckily for Jim, he could choose his company. Unfortunately, this is not always the case for participants in Singleton’s “Courageous Conversations.”