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The Libertarian Case for Freedom

I’ve heard a little bit of Libertarian Party Presidential candidates Austin Petersen and John McAfee on with Glenn Beck, and I’ve heard Steve Deace discussing Petersen just this week. Apparently Beck has actually endorsed Petersen. One of the candidates (and I can’t remember which one) stated when asked what is libertarianism that libertarianism is “limited government,” when no, government has nothing to do with libertarianism.

When it comes to government, libertarianism is the advocacy for freedom, for the people to be liberated from the intrusions, restrictions, shackles, and criminality of the State. That is why when there’s a candidate such as Darryl Perry who says that if he’s President he will pardon and release from the jails and prisons any prisoner who hadn’t harmed anyone, who hadn’t violated anyone else’s person or property, that is the actual libertarian candidate. As long as you don’t violate someone else’s person or property then you are not a criminal, and the rest of the world especially the government should leave you the hell alone.

In contrast, Austin Petersen said on the Glenn Beck Show, according to PJ Media, that as President he would enforce all the laws on the books, even those he personally disagrees with. That’s no libertarian, that’s a statist!

There are thousands and thousands of unjust and immoral laws on the books, the enforcement of which is the actual criminality against innocent people. The real criminals are those enforcers who immorally stop and detain, throw in a cage or worse, others who have not committed any actual crime, who have not harmed anyone, who have not violated the person or property of anyone else.

The freedom that real libertarians advocate is the freedom to live your life and go about your business without the aggressions or intrusions of others, as long as you don’t violate the persons or property of others. Live and let live.

Speaking of government law enforcement, which is a socialist way of dealing with community security, with government law enforcers enforcing unjust or immoral laws, Anthony Gregory wrote about why this form of socialism is just as bad as any other form of socialism. Now, I’m sure there are police-lovers out there scoffing at the notion that government law enforcement is “socialist,” but that is exactly what it is. Gregory writes:

Just as when the means of production of any good or service are monopolized by the state, the result is havoc, we see similar problems when the state owns the means of production of the service of protecting the innocent and going after the guilty.

The socialization of the cost of law enforcement, just as with any other industry, has led to shortages and shoddy products. In this case, it is justice that is shoddy and in short supply. We get a war on drugs that has imprisoned millions and squandered billions and encouraged homicide and corruption. We get a policy of disarming the civilian population of private weapons, which deter crime far more effectively than government police do. We get a prison system in which innocent and guilty are locked together to be beaten, raped, tortured, shot, and ruled by sadistic prison guards and the worst of the  inmates.

There are many libertarians who advocate for more freedom by repealing laws and policies which violate the rights of the individual, but keeping the State intact, especially its monopoly in “security” provision. And there are other libertarians who believe that the State’s monopoly of any endeavor is itself inherently destructive and needs to be entirely dismantled.

Conservatives, especially, love the State’s monopoly in security provision, because conservatives are generally authoritarian-minded and they love the State’s armed authority, police and military and all that. Conservatives show their true statist-authoritarian colors when it comes to gun rights and the Second Amendment. They say the individual has a right to keep and bear arms, but ultimately for the authoritarian conservatives it’s the State who has the final say as far as who gets to have what arms, not the other way around.

In contrast, libertarians believe that the “right to keep and bear arms” really is a right and not a State-granted privilege, and that the individual has the right to keep and possess whatever weaponry one wants to have, including military-style weapons or whatever. As Judge Andrew Napolitano pointed out,

The principal reason the colonists won the American Revolution is that they possessed weapons equivalent in power and precision to those of the British government. If the colonists had been limited to crossbows that they had registered with the king’s government in London, while the British troops used gunpowder when they fought us here, George Washington and Jefferson would have been captured and hanged.

However, as I have mentioned before, Murray Rothbard noted that an exception could or should be made in the case of nuclear weapons.

But to conservatives, ultimately, the State may prohibit private ownership of certain armaments if the State wants to. Given that most of the conservatives are just authoritarians and collectivists, the State comes first, then the community, and the individual last, despite what they might tell you.

Another example is licensing and gun background checks. Conservatives generally support them. The courageous Judge Napolitano continues:

We also defeated the king’s soldiers because they didn’t know who among us was armed, because there was no requirement of a permission slip from the government in order to exercise the right to self-defense. (Imagine the howls of protest if permission were required as a precondition to exercising the freedom of speech.) Today, the limitations on the power and precision of the guns we can lawfully own not only violate our natural right to self-defense and our personal sovereignties; they assure that a tyrant can more easily disarm and overcome us.

But the required background checks are government background checks. Just how many cases have we seen now when a psychopath has gone postal even though he passed all the government background checks? Libertarians don’t support government databases into which private people’s personal information is placed and could be at the hands of who knows what ghastly creatures could be lurking about wanting to wreak havoc on innocents.

Now, I am not advocating that anyone violate any laws regarding firearms, or any other matters, in which they could get in trouble. Don’t take any stupid risks.

But libertarianism really does advocate that innocent individuals are free to live and to be left alone by others including government bureaucrats and their enforcers, unless someone is actually suspected of some specific act of criminality against the person or property of others.

Returning to the issue of the State’s monopoly vs. private, free competition in security provision, the 19th Century economist Gustave de Molinari makes a thorough and convincing case against government-monopolized security provision, and promotes the free market.

Now, in that article Molinari was referring more to national security provision than to local community security. But the concepts are the same as far as the practicality and morality of free market vs. State-monopolized security. We have had generations now of advocates of ever-expanding U.S. federal government military powers reaching their tentacles all over the world. “Founding Father” James Madison passionately opposed a standing government army. He believed it should be the other way around, with an armed people in watch over the government. In Federalist No. 46, Madison wrote,

Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.

But with the institutionalized government military monopoly in America, its territorial expansion in other countries has caused chaos and death and an expanded police state domestically, costing trillions. But the military and security corporatists have been raking in the dough, so they continue to be pleased.

But, let’s be honest. If there were no centralized monopoly in national security, would President Lincoln have been able to stop the seceding states from peacefully seceding from the U.S.? Of course not. What, you think that people should be forcibly compelled to belong to a union they don’t want to belong to? (But isn’t that a form of slavery?) And also, chances are that efforts in nullifying Fugitive Slave Laws would have expanded greatly were there not an armed monopoly for Lincoln to use to enforce that kind of tyranny.

And if there were no centralized monopoly in national security, would President Wilson have entered the U.S. into World War I thus extending the war? Some people have argued that there wouldn’t have been a subsequent Hitler in power and a World War II had Wilson not done that.

And if there were no centralized monopoly in national security, would President Eisenhower and U.S. government bureaucrats have imposed a coup on Iran’s leadership in 1953 in the name of helping the British steal Iranian oil? If there were no coup thus setting up the Shah’s regime and his notorious Savak police state that the U.S. government supported, there probably wouldn’t have been a 1979 Revolution and American hostages taken.

And if there were no centralized monopoly in national security, President George H.W. Bush couldn’t have used such an apparatus to invade and bomb and cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq in his 1990-91 war of aggression on Iraq and evil sanctions. The blowback of that government criminality included the 9/11 attacks, although many true believers in American Exceptionalism think that such an assertion is absurd, and “blaming America,” when no, the bureaucrats of the U.S. government are the ones to be blamed.

A lot of people, generations and millions of Americans now, have a mystical view of the nationalized security monopoly currently in place, and they see nothing wrong with our government starting wars and invading other countries. Their problem is that they obediently believe the lies and propaganda that government bureaucrats give them, as repeated over and over by the government’s sycophants and stenographers in the mainstream media. Well, they sure do need to be deprogrammed, in my view.

Generally speaking regarding security provision, the economist philosopher Hans-Hermann Hoppe has written about the absurdity of submitting the protection of one’s life to a monopolist with the absence of a contract. Hoppe notes,

The state, as ultimate decision maker and judge, operates in a contractless legal vacuum. There exists no contract between the state and its citizens. It is not contractually fixed, what is actually owned by whom, and what, accordingly, is to be protected. It is not fixed, what service the state is to provide, what is to happen if the state fails in its duty, nor what the price is that the ‘customer’ of such ‘service’ must pay.

Rather, the state unilaterally fixes the rules of the game and can change them, per legislation, during the game.

Back to government-monopolized law enforcement and security, Murray Rothbard wrote about the free enterprise alternative to government policing and law enforcement in Chapter 12 of his For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto. Economist Bryan Caplan summarizes the main points in an article on EconLog, and comments:

This chapter that has literally converted thousands of highly intelligent, economically informed people to anarcho-capitalism.  The first time I read it, I thought it was crazy.  By the tenth time I’d read it, Rothbard had made a believer out of me.

What’s the appeal?   In all honesty, its sheer eloquence is hard to resist.  I still get chills from passages like:

“And, indeed, what is the State anyway but organized banditry? What is taxation but theft on a gigantic, unchecked, scale? What is war but mass murder on a scale impossible by private police forces? What is conscription but mass enslavement? Can anyone envision a private police force getting away with a tiny fraction of what States get away with, and do habitually, year after year, century after century?”

While Rothbard and others who have advocated the security provision free market alternative to the State’s monopoly have mentioned insurance and private security agencies, it is worth noting that the primary means of security is the armed status of the people. Real freedom, which should be advocated by libertarians, includes the right of the individual to be armed, and the right of private individual groups to organize themselves to provide their own community or neighborhood security, or territorial security, or provide it to others — for profit, or voluntarily. There would be far fewer murders, assaults, rapes, thefts, burglaries, if no one knew exactly who might be armed and who might not be armed. And even the threat of a foreign invasion would be much less, given that the ownership of any and every kind of military-grade weaponry would not be in the hands of power-driven monopolist government bureaucrats. The society would not only be a safer one but a more moral one if there were no official authority and no officially armed enforcers by compulsion over the people.

Finally, I think that economic historian Robert Higgs makes the best case for freedom here:

Although I admit that the outcome in a stateless society will be bad, because not only are people not angels, but many of them are irredeemably vicious in the extreme, I conjecture that the outcome in a society under a state will be worse, indeed much worse, because, first, the most vicious people in society will tend to gain control of the state and, second, by virtue of this control over the state’s powerful engines of death and destruction, they will wreak vastly more harm than they ever could have caused outside the state. It is unfortunate that some individuals commit crimes, but it is stunningly worse when such criminally inclined individuals wield state powers.

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