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.
Ron was unique in politics. Maybe the key to getting an office from which to speak so clearly is to deliver into the world a large portion of the babies in your district. I don't think this scales well, though.ReplyDelete
The political system is only useful for the purposes of providing a place to speak the message. If you don't present a clear message you're harming the cause. This is my gripe with Rand. His message is so muddled it harms more than it helps. And he's Ron's son so he does more harm than someone else would
As a senator, Rand has much more power than Ron ever did. He would have gained his father's national support and more if he just stuck to a message anywhere close to Ron's.Delete
Imagine the good he could do - a lifetime of teaching from the platform of a US senator.
That's what I feel as well. It's what the entire grassroots and ordinary people in this country felt after his NSA filibuster. Even though it wasn't perfectly libertarian, it was pretty damn good, and overnight, he became the country's favorite senator, a 'Mr. Smith goes to Washington.' If he had continued that sort of thing, attacking the establishment at every front, as a U.S. senator, he would have continued to capture headlines and people would have responded and respected him, whether they agreed or disagreed. He has far more power than Ron ever did. I have no idea how to measure political power, but if it can be measured, it's got to be atleast 50 times the power Ron had, probably more. I hope he turns back to taking principled stands on liberty, is able to not lose his KY Senate seat in the election, and becomes a Ron Jr. Otherwise there is so much wasted potential.Delete
In defense of Rand, it was a mistake for us non-interventionists to assume that because Rand Paul is the son of Ron Paul, that Rand would be another Ron.ReplyDelete
As Rand repeatedly let us down, (endorsing Mitch, signing the Iran letter, opposing a pardon for Ed Snowden, reflexively opposing the nuclear deal with Iran, proposing a declaration of war in the Middle East, proposing an increase in the defense budget and excusing it by saying the dollars should come from other budget reductions), we gradually came to realize he never was a libertarian.
A fairer approach would have been to wait and see if he was any different from any other candidate. Now we know.
It isn't clear that Trump is the most anti-interventionist candidate in the race. It is possible that Martin O'Malley or Bernie Sanders is more anti-interventionist with regards to foreign policy. And since Trump's fascism is roughly equivalent to Sanders' communism in terms of the level of domestic intervention, it might be best to support Martin O'Malley, who while extremely interventionist, is not quite to the level of 1930s ideologues like Trump and Sanders. Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb were also somewhat less interventionist than Sanders, but have both dropped out. When it comes down to Hillary vs Trump, it is clear Trump is going to be less of a warmonger than Hillary, so he is definitely the preferable outcome for a libertarian. As for Robert Wenzel's concern that Trump can get people energized for the state, yes, but so can Hillary. Just for different groups of people. There will be groups of people opposed to the regime in the case of the election of either candidate, and we should try to both win over the supporters and the opponents to libertarianism.ReplyDelete
Funny to see you deride Trump as "fascist". For what - suggesting that U.S. law be followed? That illegal aliens not be allowed to break the law? Fascist! And of course you ignore their victims, those raped and killed by gangs formed by mass immigration. You hope no one will show the statistics or show the names of the victims. You want the victims, those that still live, to shut up, or you'll hope they are shouted down as "racists" if they speak up.Delete
Here is a problem with many so-called libertarians, who do everything to pave the way for socialism and never-ending crime. You want the country to become majority non-White, which means permanent socialist election victories. You justify that goal by saying any critic is "fascist". Anyone who listens to you should know that he is supporting permanent socialism - worse than we have ever seen so far.
A little secret. Many Latins, maybe even most, say the same things in private that Trump let loose in that debate, about Mexicans.Delete
Central Americans passing northward through Mexico are frequently brutalized by Mexicans on the way. Jorge Ramos was the guy whom Trump graciously allowed back in after being expelled for doing what would get a White House press reporter banned forever.
He trumpets victimization in the U.S. of Latins (he means Mexicans) but is mum about this abuse.
I fully agree. Rand has shown himself to be WORSE than your typical GOP'er because while he supports many things 'Libertarians' and all other 'Free Society' people demand, his stances on other things which would make any typical 'Neocon' smile creates a hypocritical mockery of all freedom-loving people's desires. He's the typical wolf in sheep's clothing. He would suck in those who support his famous father, Ron, with a few actions which are right out of Ron's playbook, then turn around and act in ways only a 'Neocon' would act (like imprisoning Edward Snowden, or continuing foreign intervention, regime change, et al). To vote for Rand would be to engage in the indefensible "least of two evils" mindset. Either way, you still get 'Evil' in the White House.ReplyDelete
"What other more important cause is there for a libertarian to concern himself with?"ReplyDelete
Trump is connected though marriage to the Zionist State of Israel.
No, his daughter is. He doesn't control what his daughter does. Trump has done business with the globalists, yes, but that's the only way to get to the position he is in today. Now he betrays everything they want - mass immigration to make Whites a minority all over the West, and wars against Israel's critics in the Middle East. That's why they hate him.Delete
As a Rothbardian type radical libertarian, I was always suspicious of Ron Paul since he was part of the gang of thieves writ large. He did the libertarian movement good by running for the nomination for president and I even broke with my non-voting habit and voted for the man to help get the message out there.ReplyDelete
When Rand came along I knew that he was not Ron Paul and that he was not going to be anything special. He is perhaps "libertarian leaning" if that really means anything, but he does not respect the non-intervention principle. He may be more of a burden to libertarians than anything else. I could see him start a war given half a chance.
I don't know why you were suspicious of Ron to begin with. Just because he joined congress doesn't mean he's part of the gang of thieves. He clearly joined to try and reduce the system from the inside. That's just a difference in strategy, nothing else.Delete
To paraphrase Mark Twain... Take a thief, for example. Then take a Congressman.. But I repeat myself.Delete
Trump leans away from our involvement in foreign wars. So does Rand. There's no way to judge who would resist more staunchly calls to intervention other than making estimates about character.ReplyDelete
Rand's anti-interventionism is supported by his respect for individual rights. I've heard him make brave intelligent comments, about both foreign and domestic issues. Moreover, Rand is opposed to Nanny State oppression, including NSA spying on Americans and defending the 4th Amendment. He is a remarkably truthful and insightful candidate.
Trump supports socialized medicine, the theft of private property by government for his own account, building a wall along the length of the Mexican border to keep them out (or later, keep us all in?). He is an ardent protectionist who believes that the sole benefit of trade is selling American products abroad, rather than the benefits of free enterprise across borders.
There is no contest here. Rand Paul is the only rational alternative. Trump is a collectivist who gives good theater.
I do agree. I agree with the points made in the article, that Rand is muddying up the libertarian waters, and that he isn't taking strong stances on almost anything. However, I would say out of all the candidates, Rand is probably by far the best. He does have the best record, and I have to believe that as Ron's son, atleast some of that liberty and non aggression stuff had to have rubbed off on him.Delete
Mark: "Trump leans away from our involvement in foreign wars. So does Rand."Delete
I take my cue from Raymond the antiwar expert, who offers: "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."
Note, he said "Ron," not "Rand."
See John Nichols' article:ReplyDelete
1. A no-fly zone risks WWIII.
2. Talk to the Russians & Chinese.
3. The Iran War backfired, I was always opposed to it.
4.”If you want boots on the ground, and you want them to be our sons and daughters, you’ve got 14 other choices. There will always be a Bush or Clinton for you if you want to go back to war in Iraq."
These points seem sufficiently libertarian and anti-war to me, if Rand sticks to them.
No Way for randy the back stabber lowlifeReplyDelete
True. You're the man Mr. Mosquito.ReplyDelete
Background –I see the present US as essentially classic fascist in that property rights are titularly privately owned but effectively “socially” controlled by the government in response to wars and emergencies. Non-fascist governance would be by the people through their representatives in congress with the president some sort of dufus administrating laws so passed by the legislature. Also, during the campaign the candidates are rather like the proverbial box of chocolates in that –come the election- you will never know what you’ll get (do you feel “brought together”?).ReplyDelete
Thus, if Trump would/could end our aggression, and should the citizens shoulder responsibility for the country, there would be little need for a president to hold our individual hands and suppress our freedoms.
A bit farfetched but my take on the most likely route to NAP.
It is insane to say Trump is more non-interventionist than Rand Paul on foreign policy. It is not even worth debating. Anyone who thinks Trump is better choice for libertarians than Rand Paul does not have an opinion worth considering. Trump looks up to John Bolton.ReplyDelete
Not to mention, war is one issue. A more interesting debate is Trump more libertarian than any GOP candidate? Given his positions on trade, immigration, and entitlements, I think the answer is a very clear no.
War is one issue, you are correct. Of course, I was clear that this was the issue I was using - for the reasons stated.Delete
As to Trump being more non-interventionist than Rand - take it up with Raymondo