Nov 032011
 

Libertarian UtopiaLast week on Just Right, Bob Metz and I discussed at length the failing of the Libertarian movement, how it treats a limited government as axiomatic rather than the result of a long chain of logical argument in a complete philosophy.  We discussed how the leaders of the movement are primarily anarchists who suck people into the movement on the promise of implanting a capitalist society based on the respect for individual rights when in fact their real goal is the complete abolition of government and sees all government as evil.  We discussed how there are some who call themselves libertarian but are actually like Bob and myself, advocates for capitalism but from a position that it is not axiomatic as I have mentioned.

I posted my part of last week’s show on my blog at www.robertvaughan.ca and put a link to it on Just Right’s public facebook fan page (http://www.facebook.com/justrightradio).

It has received a rather lengthy criticism from Glenn Langton who, as I discovered by clicking on his name, was a candidate for the Ontario Libertarian Party in last month’s general election.

I will post Glenn’s comment in its entirety and follow up with some observations of my own.  Observations which I hope will prove my point of last week, that the libertarian movement and indeed the Ontario Libertarian Party is a party which promotes anarchy.

“LOL what a load of absolute bunk! I read the Article and there is a lot of oft repeated definitions that have been thrust upon the Libertarian movement, alot of preconcieved and rediculous notions tossed about by those who fear individual rights and freedoms, a free market economy, a sound financial system based on hard assets. as in any political party or organisation as well as any religious movement or organization there are to be found radical elements, people who have become disenfranchised in some form or another who find thier way to a place where they can find a degree of acceptance, these are by and large the few, of the many, in any organised movement … such is the case with Libertarians the vast majority of libertarians view government as it stands now in its cleverly disguised leftist socialist form as evil and despotic, because it is leftist, evil and despotic, most libertarians believe ther must be a minimal form of governmemt based on principals held in the magna carta, which was the basis for the earliest forms of British common law ” common” being the important word here where the common people may not be subjugated to government or monarchy, where the rule of law is applied fairly and equally to all regardless of social standing, where people are allowed to persue thier lives without interferance as long as they live by the commonly held rules of lawful existance. This was also the basis of the original U.S. Constitution which over the years has become ammended upon ammendments reducing its power to protect the people to less than nil by actually giving the power to the state, just as in Canada the common law has been disgarded in favour of statism 1 pen stroke at a time culminating in the rise of a communist to prime minister and implementing a charter that destroys personal rights and freedoms and gives all power to the oligarchists… If anyone would care to really know what Libertarians would like to achieve for all people please get past this type of rhetoric and talk to some real Libertarians people like Neil Peart, Drew Cary, Clint Eastwood, or myself or any member of the Libertarian party in your area, I would talk to a few…rather than listen to people outside the movement define what we are ( a common political tactic … “define or be defined” being the rule ) I researched for quite awhile and went to speak to people within the movemenmt for a few months before I joined I am none of the things this article states Libertarians are and that is the crux of my post and the issue I have with this article… this person is absolutely incorrect.”

( The post was copied as is.  The layout, typos and grammatical mistakes are those of the author and not mine)

I grant that this is not what I would call a critical review of my article but instead an emotional reaction.  While this is often the norm for comments posted on facebook I would have expected a little more care be put into the rebuttal considering he is someone who ran to become a member of the Provincial Parliament.

To take his last point first, as I explained on last week’s show I was a member and supporter of the Ontario Libertarian Party in 1985 and was asked by one of its most prominent leaders, Kaye Sargent, to run.  I declined the offer.   So, to infer that I am someone who is not familiar with the local movement (at least historically) is incorrect.  With further study, and it didn’t take long, I realized that the Libertarian Party was fundamentally an anarchist movement and not going to get anywhere advocating its anti-government platform.  I stopped supporting the Party that same year.

I will move beyond the more opinionated criticisms, such as calling my article “bunk” and “rediculous” (sic).  As for containing preconceived notions?  I would have to agree.  Many before me have had the notion that libertarianism is anarchism at its root.  In this sense my notions agree with their preconceived ones.

Glenn suggests that my criticisms must come from a fear of individual rights, freedom, and a free market.  All I can say is I guess he doesn’t know me very well and I would suggest he read some of my other articles or perhaps listen to the archived episodes of Just Right.

Glenn admits that like any organization it has it elements of radicals, and the disenfranchised.  Perhaps, but later on I will demonstrate that in the case of libertarianism these radicals and disenchanted are the leaders and intellectuals of the movement.

Glenn believes that government must be based on the principals held in the Magna Carta, and that the document was the basis for the US Constitution.  While I admit I am not a political historian, to suggest that the the Magna Carta or even the US Constitution in its original form should be the basis for a government only goes to demonstrate my point that libertarians take government as an axiom, as a primary.  These legal documents are the end result of, no doubt, many decades of philosophic discussion on the nature of liberty and rights.  They are not primaries but consequences of a broader philosophy.

It is interesting to note that the US Constitution in its original form resulted from the overthrow of a country which had in its own law…the Magna Carta.

Now I promised to demonstrate that in the libertarian movement if it is the few who are the radicals, the disenfranchised or the anarchists, then these few are its leaders and intellectuals; those at the top.

Consider the Leader of Glenn’s own Ontario Libertarian Party, Sam Apelbaum. I quote from Mr. Apelbaum’s “Leader’s Report” of the Spring of this year (http://libertarian.on.ca/spring-2011-vol-31-no-3/leader%E2%80%99s-report-sam-apelbaum).  In it he compares our current political mainstream culture with the libertarian culture (the emphases are mine).

“Contrast the above with a culture which does not trust the state, does not like it, does not want anything from it, does not respect it, wants to get rid of it in every possible way as quickly as possible and, having done so, wants to get rid of it some more until ultimately the dangerous, unnecessary and chaotic institution completely disappears.  The sooner we experience this sort of thinking in significant numbers, the sooner we will see an end to the obstructions of the state and a concomitant liberation of human potential.”

This is the promotion of anarchy.  It can be taken no other way.

Glenn’s page on Facebook links to the Wikipedia article on the Ontario Libertarian Party which reads in part,

“The Party is influenced by authors and thinkers like Jan Narveson and Murray Rothbard”

The political ideology of Mr. Rothbard we covered on last week’s show.  He described himself as an anarcho-capitalist. In short, an anarchist.

Jan Narveson is also described in Wikipedia as an anarcho-capitalist and contractarian.

And finally, this year’s Annual General Meeting and Liberty Seminar of the Ontario Libertarian Party had as its keynote speaker, Stefan Molyneux.  Mr Molyneux is an anarchist whose blogs, podcasts and videos can be seen on the internet.  His is the author of the book Practical Anarchy.

As I mentioned in my article and on last week’s show libertarianism is an ideology of anarchy.  While I know for a fact that there are many good people who call themselves libertarian I believe that they have been taken in by the movement which promises less government and more freedom but at its root, as I hope I have demonstrated, is anarchistic.  The leaders of the libertarian movement are no friends of liberty but are, rather, simply haters of government.

Glenn ended his comment on my article by saying that:

“I am none of the things this article states Libertarians are.”

I am glad to hear it, Glenn.  But if you are not the kind of anarchists your own party leader and party intellectuals are then the question remains; what kind of libertarian are you?

Oct 272011
 

Libertarian AnarcyIn 1986, Peter Schwartz, of The Intellectual Activist and Chairman of the Board of Advisors of the Ayn Rand Institute, wrote an analysis of Libertarianism called Libertarianism: The Perversion of Liberty.  In it he takes apart the philosophy of Libertarianism and lays it bare. What is left is a failed movement of the left, not unlike the Occupy Wall Street protests in its chaotic makeup and distorted messages.

Just as the Occupy Wall Street movement has attracted people from all political persuasion, but primary from the left, so too the “big tent” of Libertarian movement has attracted a diverse group of people, often from competing philosophical camps.

The term Libertarian was first coined in 1857 by anarcho-communist, Joseph Déjacque.  Its intellectual leaders in more modern times were people like the libertarian-socialist or anarcho-syndicalist, Noam Chomsky, and the anarchist, Murray Rothbard.  Rothbard actually thought of himself as an anarcho-capitalist which is of course an oxymoronic term.

The writings of Ayn Rand, Frédéric Bastiat, and Ludwig von Mises have also influenced the modern development of the Libertarian movement but it has been the method of libertarians to pick and choose what they like in the writings of these people and reject anything that may suggest any moral instruction.

Ayn Rand was not a libertarian.  She was an advocate for capitalism.  Libertarians are anti-state while Rand was pro-freedom.  Rand saw authority, properly defined and constrained, to be a necessary and proper element in any free society while libertarians consider any authority to be a necessary evil, but evil just the same.

To quote Rand:

“…I disapprove of, disagree with, and have no connection with, the latest aberration of some conservatives, the so-called “hippies of the right,” who attempt to snare the younger or more careless ones of my readers by claiming simultaneously to be followers of my philosophy and advocates of anarchism.  Anyone offering such a combination confesses his inability to understand either.  Anarchism is the most irrational, anti-intellectual notion ever spun by the concrete-bound, context-dropping, whim-worshiping fringe of the collectivist movement where it belongs.” (The Ayn Rand Lexicon)

Harry Binswanger, the Objectivist philosopher and associate of Ayn Rand had this to say of Libertarians:

“In the philosophical battle for a free society, the one crucial connection to be upheld is that between capitalism and reason.  The religious conservatives are seeking to tie capitalism to mysticism; the “libertarians” are tying capitalism to the whim-worshiping subjectivism and chaos of anarchy.  To cooperate with either group is to betray capitalism, reason, and one’s own future.” (The Ayn Rand Lexicon)

Libertarians have accepted many tenets of Rand’s political philosophy but have rejected her metaphysics, epistemology, but most of all her ethics.  Anyone who would suggest a system of morality to a libertarian is thought of as being authoritarian and of imposing a subjective set of standards of behaviour on them.  They would ask ‘who are you to decide what is the right or wrong way for a person to act?’  Or, ‘How can you say for certain what is moral?’  The Libertarian would laud Rand for her advocacy of capitalism, her politics, but they accept it only as a concrete; a system of economics and politics devoid of the fundament from which it arose.

This strikes to the heart of the fault with libertarianism.  A libertarian is unable to properly defend capitalism, or even liberty for that matter, except in concrete and pragmatic terms.  Their arguments defending capitalism are economic, such as having ‘sound money based on gold would prevent run-away inflation’ or pragmatic, ‘more people benefit from capitalism than from communism.’

Freedom and capitalism to a libertarian exist outside of any other philosophic context or framework.  Yet it is this framework which precedes and supports the concepts of freedom and capitalism.  If you refuse to understand the necessary philosophic pre-conditions for capitalism then you cannot properly defend it.  Capitalism becomes just another system like any other ‘ism.’  It will be thought of as just as valid as any other political or economic system and will fall – as it is doing – due to ignorance of its moral, epistemological and metaphysical roots.

Rand spent much of her life defending the philosophic foundation of capitalism.  It is an integral part of a complete philosophy which extols man as a heroic being not some hippie living in a commune where ‘anything goes’ as long as you don’t hurt anyone else.  Liberty, to Rand, was a necessary condition if man was, not only to survive, but to rise to a limitless potential.

Liberty is something to be defended vigorously but it must be done properly.  Liberty without a philosophic context will fall to anyone with a pragmatic excuse for abolishing it.  Capitalism stands on a solid ethical foundation and to reject the foundation is to reject capitalism.   Libertarians reject the foundation and therefore reject capitalism and are therefore enemies of liberty not advocates for it.

The tragic result of modern libertarian political parties today is that they attract true advocates of capitalism.  These individuals are reaching out, often in desperation, to any political movement they think will promote freedom and capitalism.  Unfortunately, these kinds of libertarians, the pro-freedom and not simply anti-state libertarians are not actually libertarians at all and their passion for freedom is being swallowed up by a collective of irrational leftists.

Consider the inhabitants of the big tent which is libertarianism:

  • The anarchists promoting a stateless society.
  • The geo-libertarians who believe that land is an asset held in common and anyone claiming any land to be private must pay a rent to the commons for the benefit of restricting entry to others.
  • The left-libertarians or the libertarian-socialists who oppose capitalism and wage labour.
  • And the right-libertarians who claim to support capitalism but only as an economic system not as an integrated political ideal in a greater philosophy.
  • There is also a small faction of angst ridden nihilists, who claim that morality doesn’t exist.  The youth of today might call them ‘emos’.

Such a large group of competing ideologies are held together by one underlying common agreement, hatred of authority.

Such a collective is no place for an advocate of freedom or capitalism.  Those that stay don’t stay for long.  They soon find that while they may share a common belief that we are over-governed that is where the commonality ends.

To these people I would suggest channeling your energy into promoting freedom, not tearing down government for the sake of it.

(Originally aired on Just Right #223, October 27, 2011.)

Jul 012010
 

1 – The Violence

We can learn a lot from the recent G8 and the G20 meetings in Muskoka and Toronto.  Not only did we see the violence we come to expect from the Left but we saw an exceptional amount of violence, deceit, incompetence, and rights violations from the police and the McGuinty government.

To begin with the protesters it was interesting to see the make-up of the rabble and we had a good eyewitness account from John Thompson of the McKenzie Institute.  In an e-mail he sent to us he describes the following…

OPSEU and CUPE passed a lot of their flags out, mostly to students who don’t seem to be union members; Greenpeace hauled in a number of children, but there were aging Hippies a-plenty strewn through the march. Iranian Communists, some honest-to-god Maoists and plenty of other political fossils were shuffling along under banners of Marx and Engels.

He also described a rather disgusting disruption of the ceremonial repatriation of a fallen Afghan soldier in Toronto by OCAP – the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty.

Amongst the thousands of mal-contents were a few hundred “black-bloc”.  The black-bloc are not necessarily a single organization but a mix of like-minded fools who have taken lessons from the violence of past world meetings and employed the tactics of the most effectively violent demonstrations.  A black-bloc is a tactic for protests and marches, whereby individuals wear black clothing, scarves, ski masks, motorcycle helmets with padding or other face-concealing items and often carry some sort of shields and truncheons. The clothing is used to avoid being identified, and to, theoretically, appear as one large mass, promoting solidarity or creating the illusion of a larger group.

Make no mistake, the type of people employing black-bloc tactics are dangerous people and responsible for great property damage and person injury.  They are the reason there is a need for the massive security measures taken during these world meetings.  Such people should be dealt with very severely by the law and the courts.  If caught and convicted they should do considerable jail time.  Unfortunately that is almost never the case.

On the other side we have Dalton McGuinty and Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair.  On a request from Chief Blair McGuinty extended, in secret, the provincial Public Works Protection Act to take in part of the area inside the G-20 security barrier.  In this area police would be given the power to ask for anyone’s identity papers and to search anyone without cause or warrant.  Chief Blair either mistakenly or intentionally announced that the act applied to 5 meters outside the perimeter fence as well.  When it was discovered on Friday before the G-20 meeting that the Act only applied to inside the fence Blair told his officers but nobody else and his officers continued to violate the rights of people outside the fence.  What did McGuinty do?  Nothing. In fact he praised Chief Blair for his actions.  So it would appear that both McGuinty and Chief Blair were complicit in clear violations of people’s rights to a gross degree.

Over 1,000 people were arrested and detained at the G20, and while certainly some of those deserved to be the majority did not.  People who lived in the area were arrested while out walking their dogs, or returning home from work.  One journalist from the Guardian newspaper was beaten up by police even though he identified himself and apparently offered no resistance.  Many personal items, which were in no way a threat to peace, were confiscated by police.

Just as the black-bloc should be held to account for their actions those few over-zealous police should as well.

Currently when a police officer violates your rights it mitigates any charges against you.  I think this is not enough. When an officer of the law knowingly violates your rights, unlawfully detains you, steals your property, and beats you up they should be arrested and brought before a judge and if found guilty they should face appropriate sentencing up to and including time in prison and dismissal from the force.

As for Mr. McGuinty we can only hope the electorate holds him to account for his callous disregard for our rights.

2 – The Anarchists

One of the glaring over-sights by the media in the G20 protests was the incorrect labeling of the demonstrators as “anarchists”.  While it is true that a few like the “Southern Ontario Anarchist Resistance” think themselves as anarchists, descriptions I have found for them clearly indicate that they are not, nor are any of the other protesters. Some call themselves anarcho-communists which means Communist  and while it was the ideological intention of the Communists to have a stateless and classless society they tried to achieve this bizarre goal by creating the biggest, most brutal, and deadly state of all, the Soviet Union.

Anarchy comes from the Greek and means “without ruler”.  Taken to its conclusion it means no state, no authority, lawless.  None of the groups that were identified as taking part in the G20 protests could be described as that.

We have the various unions including OPSEU and CUPE.  The unions advocate a socialist state.  They are anti-capitalist.  Many prefer the mixed-economy of constrained capitalism which in actuality is socialism and in particular, fascism.  They advocate the confiscation of property and the redistribution of wealth by, guess what… the state.  They are not anarchists.  They use the courts and the state’s institutions daily in their efforts to control their employers and to take more from those who earn it and give it to those who don’t.

Members or supporters of Greenpeace and other environmental movements were demonstrating.  Their goal is not anarchy but the use of power of the state over business, capitalism and the regulation of individual behavior.  You cannot achieve these goals without authority, power, police and a state.

The various other brands of Maoists, Communists and Socialists demonstrating are far from anarchists; in fact a powerful, authoritative state is essential for their causes.  They need jack-booted thugs to impose their will on us and while they may be against the police and the courts today they are for the police and the courts when it comes time to enforce their laws and regulations on us.

The anti-poverty groups and anti-homeless groups are advocating robbing Peter to pay Paul.  Once again… socialists.

So why would QMI, The Globe and Mail and even the National Post incorrectly label the protesters as anarchists?  It is because to correctly label them would mean that they would have to try and explain how the goals of the protesters are the same goals of Dalton McGuinty, Jack Layton, Sid Ryan, Stephen Harper, Barack Obama, David Suzuki and a host of millions like them.   It is pure irony that the protesters are protesting the same leaders who are actually implementing their anti-capitalist agenda.

I scanned and read hundreds of news articles on the G20 protests and could not come up with a single one which correctly identified the protesters as left-wing, socialist, or even radical left.  This is by design.  If the skin-head neo-Nazis protest they are labeled as right wing, when in fact Nazi’s are socialists too.  Do we so soon forget what makes up the word NAZI?  National Socialism!

It is always the Left which is protesting.  It is always the Socialists who are violent.  It is always the Anti-Capitalists who break the store-front windows and loot and burn.

How often do we see the thousands of suit and tie business men and women team out of their office towers on Bay street take to the street with balaclavas on their faces and beat people up with bats and smash their favorite Starbucks windows?   Never.  How often do we see shop owners and small businessmen who employ more people in this country than any other sector take to the street in violence to denounce the banks and oil companies?  Never.  Because these people know that the institutions of this country are essential to creating wealth and prosperity and employment.

It is only the Left, the Socialists, and the Anti-Capitalists who are causing the grief we see at these meetings.  And the sooner we identify the root cause of the trouble the quicker we can deal with it.

3 – The Cost

I mentioned before that it was ironic that the left wing protestors are protesting the very leaders and institutions responsible for implementing their anti-capitalist agendas.  Let’s look at some of the conclusions of the G8 and G20 to see this in action.

Regarding wealth redistribution and foreign aid; At the conclusion of the G8 Summit Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that, the total Canadian contribution for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health foreign aid will be $2.85 billion over five years.

For the environmentalists….Harper said

Among environmental issues, climate change remains top of mind.  We recognize the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should not exceed 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.  Achieving this goal requires deep cuts in global emissions.

We strongly support the negotiations underway within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.  We reiterate our support for Copenhagen.

With regards to the economy the socialists should be thrilled that Keynesian economics is alive and well and impoverishing us all.

An article in the Globe and Mail of yesterday by Report on Business Columnists and one-time Libertarian Party of Canada Leader Neil Reynolds correctly points out that not one of the G20 leaders is a free-marketer.  They all subscribe to the Keynesian delusion that governments can invest money more efficiently and more productively than people can.

None of the G20 countries has pledged to end deficits.  None has pledged to reduce its national debt.  All will rely mostly on economic growth and tax increases to do the lifting, however limited, that the Toronto Consensus proposes.

Even though Keynes himself, only weeks before his death, refuted his theories and longed for the invisible hand of Adam Smith to save Britain we still see the world’s nations clinging to the socialist ideal of government involvement in the economy.  A true Capitalist would advocate the complete separation of the economy and the State and would see the G20 summit as a yet another attempt by the socialist elite to redistribute wealth and thereby impoverish the world.

Rather than protesting the G20 every single one of those left wing, socialist, anti-capitalist protesters should have gone to the summit and cheered on their beloved leaders and encourage them to continue their march to the left.

(Originally aired on Just Right show #158 July 1st, 2010.  To download the show visit http://www.justrightmedia.org)