As libertarians, we’re used to a sort of goofy sectional squabbling between self-styled "purists" and "realists," which often manifests itself as an argument about whether to pursue attainable changes now, or to deride that as "selling out" and remain focused on the long-run goal. Murray Rothbard pretty much had this one dead to rights years ago: the libertarian can, in good conscience, support anything that advances the libertarian cause without deviating even one iota from libertarian principle. So it’s fine for libertarians to go to bat for tax cuts or regulatory relief, so long as they aren’t packaged with something evil also.
So there’s lovely. That’s not really what we’re here to talk about today. I’m here to consider whether or not libertarian involvement in politics has been a fool’s game from the get-go; whether or not it’s all been a massive redirection of energy into a solidly negative direction. To put it as provocatively as possible: was Ron Paul a net negative for the liberty movement?
That nutty old Dr. Walter Block is at it again, being a principled libertarian and rationally evaluating even difficult situations. This time around, his interlocutor has cut right to the chase, and set up an extremely blunt limit situation to challenge him with:
Should the following situations be considered evil?:
– A man who steals food because he has no money to feed his family, assuming that in the place where he lives there is no charitable entity that can provide free food.
– A man who is forced to kill an innocent person because the survival of the entire human species depends on it.
On the other hand, certainly, these are violations of the Non-Aggression Principle, which any libertarian would condemn, but could not previous cases constitute exceptions?
The question of evil is always a vexing one. Dr. Block, rather sensibly, begs off from professing to be some universal moral authority, and evaluates the situations in his capacity as a libertarian theorist, as we’ll see.
I’ll be honest with you: I haven’t read Reason since Radley Balko left. Does anybody still bother with that dilapidated old libertarish rag? Why? Is it for sterling insights like this one?
[T]he courage of [Judge Roy] Moore’s convictions frequently clash with both the plain language and contemporary interpretation of the Constitution. Such as that time, oh, LAST WEEK when Moore suggested that kneeling during the National Anthem is "against the law" (it’s not, and if such a law were passed, it would surely be declared unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds).
ZeroHedge is an occasionally-reliable, often-interesting source for news from a vaguely libertarian perspective, in addition to financial news from a vaguely Austrian perspective and breathless reportage that, any day now, the stock market is going to go either down or up unless of course it stays the same, so you should probably buy futures contracts, gold, and bitcoin all at the same time.
Hey, things could be worse. They could start running openly communist claptrap about how capitalism has failed and needs to be replaced with something more "fair."
It looks like Anthony Weiner — otherwise known as Carlos Danger, and otherwise otherwise known as Hillary Clinton scapegoat #347 — is actually going to do time for having cybersex with a fifteen-year-old girl [n.b.: link is saucy]. Granted, Weiner’s only looking at two years in prison whereas you or I would be locked up forever and a day, but that’s neither here nor there.
That’s not what I came to talk about today anyhow. What I want to talk about is this part here:
Don’t worry; the Trump administration is hard at work protecting America from the truth. By which I mean: they’ve apparently concocted an ambitious network of excuses to
kidnap and torture dispense summary justice upon deliver a charming Uncle-Sam-o-gram to Wikileaks editor Julian Assange, who has, as of the time of this writing, been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for seven years. Of course, the Official Media Gatekeepers — by which I obviously mean: fake news — are only too happy to help sell this atrocity to the American people.
The US view of WikiLeaks and Assange began to change after investigators found what they believe was proof that WikiLeaks played an active role in helping Edward Snowden, a former NSA analyst, disclose a massive cache of classified documents.
This past week saw the death of one of my great comedy heroes, Don Rickles, along with one of my great libertarian heroes, William N. Grigg. As a libertarian humorist, that’s kind of a tough week!
Will Grigg was the great libertarian thinker and writer who is responsible more than anyone else (with the possible exception of Radley Balko) for shedding light on the atrocities committed by the modern American police state. Over the past ten years, Grigg wrote hundreds of articles at his own blog, Pro Libertate, most of them dealing with the American criminal justice system and the wreckage it leaves in its wake. Will Grigg also wrote countless articles and blog posts for lewrockwell.com, and was one of the founding members of the Libertarian Institute. I cannot (and do not) claim to be one of the many people Will Grigg’s work helped to get free from the clutches of the "punitive priesthood," as he called it; I am merely someone who learned from Will Grigg, but that, to my mind, is high praise as it stands.
Don Rickles, of course, scarcely needs an introduction. He was the legendary insult comic dubbed "Mr. Warmth," and was possessed of an inimitable ability to command a stage with his rapid-fire, ceaseless wit. No subject was off limits for Don Rickles, very much including the sacred shibboleths of modern America: race, sex, and handicaps. Rickles had a joke for any occasion, and usually a flood of them; he was callous, he was politicially incorrect, and he was a member of the old school of Jewish comedians who would spontaneously shift into Yiddish just to annoy the audience. He was, in short, the best.
Peace is probably going to be a pretty major theme around here for the near future, what with the recently-begun war in Syria and the upcoming war in North Korea, soon to be followed by World War III and then the nuclear obliteration of everybody. Good thing I don’t live at the closest possible missile target to both Russia and China! Not to mention I don’t even have Don Rickles to take my mind off of it anymore.
Where was I? Oh, right: peace. It’s a bit awkward for me to claim that peace is such a big deal — which claim I do intend to make — without first providing a definition of what, exactly, it is. What does peace consist of? Where does it come from? How can it be maintained, and why does it matter?
As the maniacs in Washington continue to drive us toward a war with Iran, even while the "opposition" has somehow managed to find the hero of the New Red Scare in no less perverse a personage than George W. Bush himself, it is perhaps worthwhile to step back from the madness for a few moments and consider what an alternative to all of this mayhem might actually look like.
My friend Luke Tatum posted on Gab quite some time ago that "peace requires anarchy." I countered him a bit; peace, I said, is anarchy. I wasn’t just being flip or cute, either; no, I maintain that, in a non-trivial sense, peace and anarchy are one and the same. In the wake of weeks of "antifa" violence, this can be a bit tough to understand, so let’s dive into it a bit.
Because, since apparently nobody else is willing to do it, it falls to me to defend Milo Yiannopoulos. After years of gleefully dismantling the shibboleths of political correctness and getting away with it, Milo has finally gone too far; in a podcast appearance recently, he had the audacity to poke at the taboos surrounding pedophilia, which was, to be sure, a very poorly thought out decision. Milo, of course, is used to having the correct identity cards to say outrageous things and get away with it; in this case, he probably should have considered that the homosexuality card is a positive detriment, as homosexuality and pedophilia have been linked in the popular imagination for so long that a prominent homosexual playfully discussing pedophilia pushes all the wrong buttons with the conservative crowd. That is the politically correct line you do not want to cross.
Yet cross it he did, and the reaction was swift and fierce: his CPAC speech was canceled, his book deal was withdrawn, and he was resignated at Breitbart. Milo is sufficiently energetic and sufficiently entrepreneurial that I suspect he’ll survive it, but he’s lost a lot of cachet over this, to the point where even his friends seem to be distancing themselves from him. Since I’m already a pariah, though, I don’t fear the hornets’ nest; I’ll dive right in there!