Last 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?