Liberty & Power: Group Blog
"Balkan experts at the US state department are drafting Kosovo's declaration of independence, to be proclaimed by the ethnic Albanian leaders of Kosovo in early February after Serbia elects a new president, the sources said."
I seem to remember the Declaration of Independence was written by American patriots on their own in 1776. Please correct me if I'm mistaken.
"Many EU states want to entice Serbia into a deal by signing an agreement on preliminary EU membership talks with Belgrade on January 28. That would fall between two rounds of presidential elections in Serbia and would be designed to boost the chances of the pro-western president, Boris Tadic, defeating Tomislav Nikolic, an extreme nationalist."
You can imagine the outcry were Putin to attempt to influence the Serbian elections.
These three paragraphs are taken from a news story in Saturday's Guardian entitled EU summit gambles on huge Kosovo mission.
For some sensible thinking about these issues, I strongly recommend Phil Cunliffe's Kosovo: Plaything of the Great Powers and Diana Johnstone's The Next Kosovo War.
Amy H. Sturgis
His recent article is "The Politics of Foreign Aid":
What, I have been asked by many readers, does an Oklahoma Choctaw do when effectively barred from running for office? What do tribal citizens do when disenrolled, whether the purpose is to grow the per caps for those remaining or to rid the administration of a voting bloc based on race?
Amy H. Sturgis
Westerman is best known as a musician and as an actor who appeared in over 50 films and televison productions, including Dances with Wolves, Hidalgo, DreamKeeper, and multiple episodes of The X-Files. In 2006, he won a NAMMY Award for his third album.
Beyond being an entertainer, the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Westerman was an activist, a member of the American Indian Movement and a spokesman for the International Indian Treaty Council. His first album, Custer Died for Your Sins, provided a theme and slogan for the Red Power Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Read his obituary here at Native American Times.
Amy H. Sturgis
Read the LockeSmith Blog here.
Hate-crime talk is"ridiculous," says one of accused Chanukah Q train attackers.
Jirovec, who is white, admitted to beating two black men but insists the attack was not racially motivated because he is a member of the predominantly black Bloods gang. He denies the subway attack was anti-Semitic because his mother was half-Jewish.
I suggest the perpetrators of"hate crimes" should not receive additional penalties, but you can be sure that under libertarian justice, these thugs would be busy paying restitution to their victims for quite some time. Or, if they want to clear their debts fast, how about kidney transplants to raise money?
"Sources close to Blair, who left Downing Street last June, say he is delivering up to five speeches a month, with a typical fee of between £100,000 and £200,000."
"If he manages to maintain his high profile, the Blairs should easily be able to service and pay off the mortgages of almost £4m on their properties in Connaught Square, in London, Bristol and Sedgefield, Co Durham."
Neither did I enjoy reading this:
"The running costs of Blair’s peace mission [in the Middle East] are considerable. Accommodation at the Colony exceeds $1m a year, and the travel budget adds a similar amount. He has a UN fleet of vast silver SUVs and three Mercedes. Locals resent his road convoys, which are blamed for traffic snarl-ups."
But this brought a smile to my face:
"Blair’s attempt to embrace the social networking phenomenon has been poorly received. Nearly two months after its launch, his channel on YouTube had attracted little more than 300 viewers and 16 subscribers."
Now how many minutes does it take for Ron Paul's website to receive 300 hits?
David T. Beito
These are not the words of Ron Paul or some other advocate of the gold standard. They are the words with which Martin Wolf, associate editor and chief economics commentator at the Financial Times, begins his article describing the concerted action by the Fed, the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, and the central banks of Canada and Switzerland to extend loans to banks, a move that was announced Wednesday.
Wolf concludes:"So does the action by the central banks give us good reason to stop worrying? Only if you like huge rescue operations of incompetent bankers, would be my answer. They may well get the markets back into order. They may, in this way, rescue economies from the threat of recessions. But that is not the end of the story. The bigger the rescue has to be today, the more stringent regulation of financial institutons will have to be in future."
Is Federal Reserve Governor Randall S. Kroszner listening?
David T. Beito
Libertarians and other advocates of the right to bear arms have long argued that the presence of law-abiding but gun-toting citizens might well reduce the number of large-scale shooting incidents, both by discouraging them in the first place and stopping them before they get out of control.The second of the church shootings yesterday provides another example to bolster this point:
A New Life parishioner acting as a security guard shot and killed the gunman who entered the church Sunday afternoon after he had gotten no more than 50 feet inside the building, Boyd said.
Boyd said the female security guard was a hero in preventing further bloodshed, rushing to confront the gunman just inside the church.
"She probably saved over a hundred lives," Boyd said of the guard, whom he said is not a law enforcement officer and used her personal weapon.
I hope there's nine Supreme Court Justices about to hear a case on the DC gun ban who read the paper carefully. Respecting the right to bear arms is more often than not a way to reduce violence.
UPDATE: she was a former Minneapolis police officer, but was in attendance as a private citizen on Sunday.
LATER UPDATE: the shot that killed the gunman was self-inflicted, but only after multiple shots from the woman had put him down.
David T. Beito
If Huckabee ever follows Fred Thompson into an acting career, he would be ideal for role of Buzz Windrip in a film version of Sinclair Lewis' novel It Can't Happen Here.
Like Huckabee, Windrip is a folksy and affable populist presidential candidate from a poor and socially conservative state:
Usually he was known as “Buzz.” He had worked his way through a Southern Baptist college, of approximately the same academic standing as a Jersey City business college, and through a Chicago law school, and settled down to practice in his native state and to enliven local politics. He was a tireless traveler, a boisterous and humorous speaker, an inspired guesser at what political doctrines the people would like, a warm handshaker, and willing to lend money. …..
He had a luminous, ungrudging smile which (declared the Washington correspondents) he turned on and off deliberately, like an electric light, but which could make his ugliness more attractive than the simpers of any pretty man.
…But he was the Common Man twenty-times-magnified by his oratory, so that while the other Commoners could understand his every purpose, which was exactly the same as their own, they saw him towering among them, and they raised hands to him in worship.
Here we have a candidate whose whole platform is limiting the size of government and cutting out the moneyed special interests that are supposed to be the problem with a project, independent of the official campaign, funded by regular Americans contributing as little as $25 dollars, getting no corporate largess, and what is the almost universal response from the campaign finance reform crowd, it is wrong shut it down. They continually rail against the evil influence of the big money boys but their real purpose is to tell ordinary people to shut up and take it. There are thousands upon thousands of reasons to hope Ron Paul wins and one of them is for Trevor Lyman’s sake because I am very much afraid that if anyone else does they will try to put this patriot in jail for daring to speak up.
Ultimately, the campaign finance reform hypocrites want public financing of elections which will entrench the status quo even more thereby benefiting the special interests presently in charge enormously. They want the people who love Ron Paul to be forced at the point of a gun to contribute to the likes of Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton. Ask yourself this question if we had publicly paid for contests right now would there be any Ron Paul revolution?
First let me say that I admire your work in film especially the movie Bob Roberts. I am writing to you because the moral imperative of our time is to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, prevent war with Iran and change the philosophy behind the bipartisan foreign policy that has led to these disasters, which are killing and maiming innocent people, diminishing our capacity for defense, crushing our civil liberties, and bankrupting this country. It is my belief that you agree with me on this point, so the question is what are we going to do about it?
I want you and everyone else reading this letter to clear their minds for a second and think about an American soldier, maybe your younger brother or a good friend’s son, who is walking down a road in Iraq during the year 2010. Suddenly, a sniper’s bullet, fired by a man whose seven year old sister was ravaged by an American bomb and died in his arms, comes out of nowhere and smashes into the GI’s face, killing him on the spot. When we ask ourselves the most important question of our time, how can we save this man’s life and really concentrate it becomes clear that we only have one viable option.
We must elect the peace candidate, Ron Paul, president or that soldier and a lot of other people are going to die needlessly. He is the only one running in either party, with a chance to win, who has the inclination and the integrity to save those lives. So, I am asking you to, as publicly as you can, register Republican, contribute the maximum to his campaign on December 16th, and vote in your state’s primary for Paul.
Now, I suspect that the idea of becoming a Republican may be repugnant to you. As I have, on Bill Maher’s program, seen and agreed with your righteous anger towards the neocons who now control the GOP. But, I ask you what better way to get even, for all of the misery that they have inflicted on the world, with those prideful misguided destructive people than to take their party away from them and give it to Ron Paul. You see here is the fatal flaw in their system, yes, as you well know, the two parties control power in America but those who have led us down the present path do not now control both of the parties. Anyone can become a Republican, it does not cost a dime, it does not take very much effort, it does not change who you are as a person, and it does not diminish your integrity. At this moment in history, because of Ron Paul, all it does is give you access to power. And, of what importance are party labels compared to that soldier’s life?
You may object that there are Democratic candidates that will act on the moral imperative described and I agree that Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, and possibly Bill Richardson would immediately end the war. If I thought Congressman Kucinich had a chance to win and Ron Paul did not then I would be writing to Pat Buchanan asking him to register Democratic but both he and Senator Gravel are treated like pariahs in their own party and Richardson has a very small following too. None of those three have over 76,000 Members in 1,300 Meetup Groups and none of them have raised over 10,800,000 dollars from ordinary citizens so far this quarter, including $4.2 million in one day. Also, they have not inspired the passion among college students, video artists, workers and people from all walks of life, that Ron Paul has. They do not even have their own blimps.
Kucinich, Gravel and Richardson do, however, present a strong contrast to the three front running Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, and John Edwards, on matters of war and foreign policy. None of these leading candidates would commit to having our troops out of Iraq by 2013 or take the option of a nuclear first strike against Iran off the table. Not too long ago Barak Obama was talking about an additional 100,000 soldiers in Iraq and an incursion into Pakistan. Hillary Clinton voted for legislation that many analysts see as a defacto authorization for Bush to go to war with Iran. She also receives more money from the defense industry than any other candidate of either party. This begs the question what are those corporations buying with that money, that soldier’s death perhaps. The Democrats are offering the same choice they did in 2004, not a peace candidate but an I can run the war and the empire better candidate.
Maybe you are thinking that the policy differences in areas other than peace and civil liberties that you have with Ron Paul prohibit you from supporting him. Therefore I urge you with every fiber of my being to understand that areas where you agree with him are by far more consequential than the areas where you disagree. First and foremost, if Naomi Wolf is correct and we are on the brink of losing our democracy then any divergences you have with Paul over public policy will not matter because you will both be told what to do and what to think. Secondly, if Dr. Paul is right and our overseas empire is bankrupting us making the dollar worthless then there will be no money for government to meet its obligations let alone take on new projects to do good.
I have no doubt that you and Ron Paul have profoundly different visions of what government should be doing, however, when you closely analyze the disagreements realistically they are not so much about the role of government but rather what level of government should fulfill that role. My area of expertise is the history of drug prohibition and I have been active in the drug law reform movement for quite some time. It is axiomatic within this lobbying group that the removal of the federal presence from the issue would be a huge step forward, which is precisely what Ron Paul wants to do. Anyone concerned with social justice should welcome a devolution of government because the lower the level of government the more influence you have as an individual.
Though you may disagree with Paul as to method I believe that on issues such as health care and the environment you both have the same basic goals. Do not believe the people who would have you think he is an evil man. Surely, you can cut through their ridiculous smears such as calling him a racist because he voted against using public money for a medal honoring Rosa Parks. He offered to contribute his own funds and just wanted make the point that such legislation goes hand in hand with using taxes to honor those like Richard Nixon as well.
If abortion is a particular sticking point please keep in mind that every president since Roe v. Wade, with the exception of Bill Clinton, has been pro-life yet the law has not changed. The practical effect of electing Paul would be the slight possibility that the issue would revert to the states in a time when the overwhelming majority of the population is pro-choice. I do not believe that there is even one state legislature in this country that would return us to the back alley coat hanger days.
Ron Paul by himself can order the military to withdraw from Iraq, reverse the course of our foreign policy promoting empire, stop the erosion of our civil liberties, and end federal involvement in the war on people who use certain kinds of drugs. He can not by himself outlaw abortion, dismantle the social safety net, or change any state laws.
When the founding fathers talked about the need for a virtuous citizenry they were not talking about people who declined to cheat on their wives or drink or gamble. They spoke of citizens who kept themselves aware of what was really going on around them and acted to preserve liberty for everyone. I am asking you, Tim Robbins, to be virtuous and to do everything you can to get Ron Paul elected. The pollsters and most of the main stream media are lying to us he can win but not without effort and he needs your help.
David Gordon and Stephan Kinsella raised questions in the comments to my last post that require a long enough reply to be a post of their own. After this reply, I'm going to try to restrain myself from further replies for awhile, at least long ones, as I do have "real" work to do. For those just jumping in, my previous posts can be found here and here. And for those who didn't see it, there was a piece in The Nation on the Paul campaign in the last few days that explores the internal libertarian debates over the campaign. Worth a look.
David Gordon writes:
In my article,I didn't mention by name Steve Horwitz, or any other critic of Ron Paul, because I was trying to avoid exchanges like this one. I'm sorry if Horwitz took this to indicate lack of regard for him; I didn't intend this.
No problem then David. To be honest, I’m getting tired of exchanges like this myself, especially since I have my “real” work to attend to.
I said in my article that some people subordinate libertarianism to cosmopolitan values. Horwitz denies that he does this, but he has a different view of libertarianism from mine. He thinks cosmopolitanism "is part and parcel of a rightly understood commitment to liberty". On this view, clearly, someone who refuses to support Ron Paul because he doesn't accept cosmopolitanism is not subordinating libertarianism to cosmopolitanism. I don't share this view of libertarianism: I think that the tie between libertarianism and feminism, e.g.,is no stronger than what Charles Johnson in his very useful and careful comment on Narveson calls "conjunction thickness." On my view of libertarianism, my remarks about subordination still seem to me valid. ( But see below.)
I can certainly accept that we have two different views of libertarianism and that, if one accepts mine, I wouldn’t be seen as subordinating my libertarianism to some other value.
Horwitz also says that Johnson's point that "libertarianism, rightly understood, is both compatible with and mutually reinforcing with the cultural values of radical feminism" was "my point as well." Johnson's claim, though, is weaker than the claim by Horwitz just discussed. A position can be "compatible with and mutually reinforcing with" some other view without being "part and parcel" of it. I think that Horwitz should clarify whether he not only accepts Johnson's claim but goes beyond him as well.
Fair enough. Blame it on my being too quick when I write for blogs. I shouldn’t have grabbed on to radical feminism as an example for making my point. I don’t think the inclusion of it, for example, is a necessary condition for being a libertarian. I do think, though, that a broader and weaker “commitment to cosmopolitanism,” which need not go far as radical feminism, is part of libertarianism as I understand it (and would prefer it). Something like radical feminism may well be “compatible with and mutually reinforcing” but not a necessary part.
I guess my point is ultimately this: when the Paul campaign, for all of its other libertarian strengths, takes up an immigration position that strikes me as both unlibertarian (in its implicit call for stronger state enforcement – see Sheldon Richman’s earlier post) and as against the cosmopolitan spirit of the liberalism that animated Mises, Hayek and others, and takes up other positions that are couched in ways that appeal to nationalism and nativism, I simply find myself very uncomfortable supporting it. I think on a few substantive positions, the Paul campaign is not libertarian and I also think in the way it has presented itself, it appeals to a constituency that does not share the cosmopolitan outlook that is, and has been, part of the libertarianism that I wish to be associated with. The Mises of “Liberalism” and “Nation, State, and Economy” is a good example such a libertarianism.
There is a way, though, that Horwitz can counter my claim of subordination, even on my narrow view of libertarianism. He might hold that Ron Paul's lack of commitment to cosmopolitan values is harmful to libertarianism narrowly conceived, not just harmful to libertarianism defined so that it includes cosmopolitanism. If he thinks this, refusal to support Ron Paul because he isn't a cosmopolitan would not show that he subordinates libertarianism to other views. Of course, my response here would be that lack of commitment to cosmopolitanism is not harmful to libertarianism.
Yes, that would be both my response and yours. I do think the elements of RP’s campaign that either reject or decline to support those cosmopolitan values are potentially damaging to libertarianism (narrowly conceived), at least in the long term, and I said so in my original post. Part of that claim is a claim about what I think libertarianism “should be” but it’s also an empirical claim about what sort of libertarian movement is likely to command the broadest public support. So I do think we’re just going to have to disagree about the the question of harm here, which is fine by me. I may well be wrong on both counts. What has bristled me the most in all of the back and forth the last 10 days is the “subordination” claim. As someone who has committed a life and career to liberty, my pique was perhaps understandable.
One other point on this issue: the claim of “subordination” would be valid if I were supporting another candidate and one who was less libertarian and more “cosmopolitan.” But I’m not. The age-old libertarian option of “sitting this one out” is where I am right now. Call it “conscientious abstention” if you wish, but given my luck with buzzwords, maybe that’s not a good idea. I would agree that libertarians who actually vote for candidates who are notably less libertarian than RP in the name of some other value, including "electability," deserve serious criticism and perhaps the charge of "subordination" of their libertarianism. I would also agree that there are some, to use a term I don't particularly like, "beltway libertarians" who seem to be contorting themselves to great lengths to find libertarian reasons to support other GOP candidates who I believe are deeply hostile to liberty. They deserve criticism. "Socially liberal and fiscally conservative" is not enough, especially if he or she is a hawk. My skepticism about Ron Paul is not in any way an endorsement of any other, far less libertarian, candidate.
In any case, it is precisely because my commitment to libertarianism, at least as I understand it, is so strong, that I cannot get on the Ron Paul bandwagon. If all we are doing is disagreeing over what libertarianism is or should be, then I hope we (and I mean that “we” in as “all libertarians”) can conduct the ensuing conversation without assuming that the other side’s libertarianism is in question. I need to remember this as well.
Stephan Kinsella writes:
What do you mean, "and not just by accident"? I am really not clear what you are trying to say here. You seem to want to exonerate Paul of being "like" these people, or of being "responsible for" their liking him, while at the same time blaming him for their liking him.
See my comments above. On a couple of issues, I think his substantive positions, though not argued for in the way that such groups would, line up with theirs in ways that explain their support. In other words, their support is not unrelated to his positions. I think in other cases, it’s a matter of how the campaign has framed issues and who Paul has been associated over the years that have opened him up to being seen by such groups as someone they could support. Neither requires that I believe that Paul is a racist, etc., only that he has, perhaps shrewdly from one perspective, created a campaign that can appeal to such groups as well as more “mainstream” libertarians.
What I do not blame Paul for is holding substantive views akin to said groups and thus getting their support for that reason, because I have no evidence he does. What I do blame Paul for is running a campaign that takes positions and discusses issues in ways that allow, if not encourage, such groups to believe he is worthy of their support. I wish he were running a campaign that left much less doubt that such groups could see him as an agent of their goals. And I wish he would clearly, forcefully, and publicly distance himself from them because I believe, as Sudha Shenoy put it in an earlier comment on the second post, they have "anti-libertarian aims."
One need not be a racist to take up positions or frame issues in ways that would appeal to racists. That’s the line between blaming and not blaming that I’m trying, perhaps unsuccessfully, to walk.
Here's what pops out at me. Surely you, as most here, as libertarians, have (say) pro-gun right views; and oppose (say) laws penalizing private racist or sexual discrimination in the workplace. No?
You are correct, even as I am repulsed by, and would say so publicly, those who engage in private discrimination on the basis of race, gender, etc.. To paraphrase Mark Twain on free speech, I believe in freedom of association even if I think lots of people use it in really noxious ways.
Now, it is my impression that our general libertarian movement draws a clearly disproportionate share of loonies--conspiracy nuts, "Common Law Court" types, militia and gun nuts (who for some reason seem to have a diproportionate number of conspiracy theorists, and maybe even skinhead and anti-semite types, in their ranks), racists (who agree with us that racism and prejudice in the workplace should not be penalized legally).
I.e., Steve, surely you, and even Cato, etc.--not just "Dr. Ron Paul"--all attract a disproportionate number of anti-semites, gun-nuts, and racists. So what? Socialists attract disproportionate numbers of, well, outright *socialists*, and liberals of other ilk.
What mystifies me is why you can single out Paul as attracting undesirables, when the libertarian movement as a whole--of which you and Cato are part--does too. Why blame Paul?
Because David Beito asked the Ron Paul skeptics to step up, so that’s who I posted about. He didn't ask for an analysis of libertarians everywhere. I find it interesting, by the way, that you put the “gun nuts” in with the racists and anti-semites. I don’t believe I’ve ever said a word about the “gun nuts.” I have much less of a problem, if any, with them than the other groups you mentioned.
If the conversation were about where libertarianism in general should go, I would be first in line to say that we should aspire, as a movement, to do as much as we can to articulate our positions (and, in some cases, adopt substantive positions consistent with liberty) in ways that minimize their possible appeal to racists, anti-semites, nativists, etc.. Ron Paul is hardly the only libertarian who could do better on this score. Can we ever reduce that appeal to zero? Probably not. But if, like me, one thinks libertarianism is and should be cosmopolitan in the way I've argued, one has an obligation to do all one can to reduce one's appeal to groups who reject that cosmopolitanism. In my view, the Paul campaign has not only not tried to reduce that appeal, it has not rejected their support and in some cases made choices that seem willing to accept it.
As I said at the outset, I hope this is my last long post on this topic. Thanks to everyone who commented here and elsewhere and who emailed me privately. I think this discussion is an important one for libertarians to have, and I hope that we continue to have it and can do so respectfully and civilly.
So writes Kevin Yuill in a new essay against gun control and gun-control culture.
"Historically, gun controls have been aimed at any group considered a threat to elite rule. The 1968 Gun Control Act was very much helped in its passage by fears of the Black Panther Party, the members of which exercised their constitutional right to form a militia. If there is any symbolic meaning to guns, it is as a symbol of power because an armed citizenry has a strong association with democracy, freedom, and equality. It is the literal meaning of 'empowerment', that term so meaninglessly repeated in a thousand European quangos. It is the medium through which the powerless become the equal to the powerful throughout history. As the American proverb went: 'God made men. Sam Colt made them equal.'"