I have gone back and forth about writing this post. The topic is presidential politics. The topic is libertarian involvement in presidential politics. The topic is libertarian endorsement of particular presidential candidates. The topic inherently cannot avoid Rand Paul.
For all these reasons, I lean against writing the post. But the topic is also war and foreign intervention. This reason has carried the day, as there is not a single issue that offers a more egregious and all-encompassing violation of the NAP than this.
Jaywalking, spying on my mobile phone, immigration, drug laws, etc. None offer a principled libertarian as much fruit for complaint and protest as does the topic of war.
It is due to the topic of war and foreign intervention that Walter Block has endorsed and encouraged others to support Rand Paul. I assume the same underlying reason for Justin Raimondo and his on again, off again (right now off, but am not sure) support for Rand – after all, Raimondo writes at a site call Antiwar.com!
Despite Rand’s significant failing when it comes to taking a non-interventionist position – or even a position noticeably different than that of most of his competitors – I haven’t read anything from Block that suggests his advocacy for Rand has diminished. At least Raimondo has backed off recently.
This post was prompted by a piece by Raimondo, Trump vs. Jeb: I know who I’m rooting for! When I first saw the headline, it registered as “Trump vs. Rand.” I even began reading the post that way. I thought – finally, a libertarian writer was going to openly deal with this issue of Rand Paul’s failings regarding foreign interventionism (relative to other candidates) in this presidential primary season, and thereby perhaps change his support. As Raimondo in the past supported Rand, he would now be obliged to change his support to Trump.
Well, that’s what I thought the post was about, until I read about a third of it, leading me to go back to the title…. Alas, no.
Raimondo offers several comments from Trump, highlighting his non-interventionist (not Ron Paulian, but noticeably more so than Rand) views. Trump even questions a small portion of the orthodox 911 story, something I have not heard from any other “serious” contender.
I have not and will not suggest that anyone support any candidate for president. I have not and will not suggest that anyone even care about who wins the nomination. My interest on this topic is more as a view toward theater – but Lew Rockwell has already captured that angle.
But I do wonder: if Raimondo and Block felt it so important to suggest supporting Rand primarily for his antiwar views, why would they now not suggest supporting Trump? Sure, Trump is a disaster on other issues, but this was not the criteria that Block spelled out; and Raimondo writes at Antiwar.com.
All the evils of a central state are to be found in war; there is no other state action that more completely violates the non-aggression principle. If a libertarian felt it was important to endorse political action and there was a meaningful difference between two politicians on any issue such that one would receive an endorsement – that issue is war.
From Murray Rothbard:
The fundamental axiom of libertarian theory is that no one may threaten or commit violence ("aggress") against another man's person or property. Violence may be employed only against the man who commits such violence; that is, only defensively against the aggressive violence of another.
In short, no violence may be employed against a non-aggressor. Here is the fundamental rule from which can be deduced the entire corpus of libertarian theory.
Is there anything more violent in a more widespread manner than modern war? Is there anything more aggressive than aggression which results in death? Does any other government intervention more completely violate the NAP on every measure?
All State wars, therefore, involve increased aggression against the State's own taxpayers, and almost all State wars (all, in modern warfare) involve the maximum aggression (murder) against the innocent civilians ruled by the enemy State.
No, no, and no.
The libertarian objective, then, should be, regardless of the specific causes of any conflict, to pressure States not to launch wars against other States and, should a war break out, to pressure them to sue for peace and negotiate a cease-fire and peace treaty as quickly as physically possible.
If there is any political objective toward which a libertarian spends his energy in the modern world, the objective is to reduce the likelihood of war. For this reason, I was somewhat sympathetic to Block’s position – because even a difference of one degree between Rand and the others might mean a few thousand lives not lost.
Yet today we have Trump. I won’t suggest that libertarians support him. However, other libertarians – noticeably Block and Raimondo – have suggested supporting Rand when they believed Rand was better on war.
But Rand isn’t better on war; returning to Raimondo:
You may not like Donald Trump, for any one of a number of reasons, but anti-interventionists have to give him some credit for opening up the presidential debate to a critique of US foreign policy that hasn’t been seen or heard since the Ron Paul campaign.
For those libertarians who feel the need to advocate for a politician, it is time to change horses. Unfortunately, Raimondo does not:
No, you don’t have to be a Trump supporter – and I am not – to see the benefits of his campaign for the noninterventionist cause.
What other more important cause is there for a libertarian to concern himself with? Jaywalking? Privatizing garbage collection?
I look forward to hearing from Walter.