The Liberty Conservative earlier today posted an article about a bizarre Twitter rant Cato Institute vice president Brink Lindsey engaged in on Wednesday. Lindsey was outraged about that there Ron Paul; apparently it’s somehow cosmically socially unjust that Ron Paul is more widely known and respected than Brink Lindsey, and Lindsey wants us all to understand that real libertarianism consists of world wars, government-managed trade "agreements," and presumably also forcing people to bake cakes, though Lindsey himself was rather silent on that important point.
So that’s as may be. I was planning to write up a few hundred sarcastic words and throw it in Last Week in Weird. But then a funny thing happened on the way to the bookmarks: I shared the story on Facebook, which promptly earned me a 24-hour ban. And that’s not just me: apparently anybody who shares this particular story on Facebook is banned from "creating open graph actions" for twenty-four hours. What is an "open graph action?" It is a mystery!
Contra Reason’s Nick Gillespie, the best thing that happened for the liberty movement in 2016 — indeed, arguably the only good thing in what was otherwise a catastrophic year — was the sudden explosion in popularity of the wonderful libertarian mantra "taxation is theft." In addition to being absolutely true and correct, this is also a powerful slogan that portrays libertarianism at its best, as a philosophy that does not waver and does not compromise with evil for political expediency.
It seems like the internet just can’t stop crying embarrassing crocodile tears about how 2016 was allegedly just the worst year ever. In most cases, of course, this is a thinly-veiled whinge about how St. Hillary Clinton became a martyr for the cause of universal perfect justice when the Soviet Union forcibly installed some sort of orange space Hitler as the new dictator of the United States, which bone-brained rubbish you must forgive me for not treating with the gravity it deserves. On the other hand, we also have classic libertarianishes like Reason’s Nick Gillespie, who, amidst all the me-too hand wringing, can point to one thing about 2016 that was just super.
If there was anything good that happened in 2016 — a year filled so much awfulness [sic] that even the Chicago Cubs could win the World Series after a thousand-year drought — it was [Gary Johnson’s] ramshackle campaign to bring a very different way of thinking and talking about national politics to America.
In a just world, we could just assume that Gillespie is congratulating the Cubs for being the best thing in 2016 — in which he would be correct — and then all go have pie. In this fallen world in which we live, however… suffice it to say things are about to become maudlin.
In case you’re unfamiliar with Alicia Dearn, she’s a lawyer and establishment libertarian who worked in the Gary Johnson 2012 campaign, then went on to lobby for his VP slot in 2016 (only to get passed over for the worst possible choice). Last week, she made the following pronouncement:
Libertarians who think that the anti-discrimination laws are against libertarian ethics are wrong and need to re-examine their thinking.
I’m one of those horrible wrong libertarians, as I believe I’ve made clear once or twice recently, so I consider myself fortunate that I have Alicia Dearn to hand to guide me through reëxamining my thinking. Let’s see what she has for us!
To think I was actually worried when Rand Paul suspended his campaign. Who would be there to make laughable, libertarian-lite remarks and to take utterly nonsensical positions in an attempt to compromise every principle with every claimant? Fortunately for me, Gary Johnson was there to take up the mantle, and, so far, he’s done a bang-up job of continuing the Rand Paulian message muddying. I’ve already reported that he declared religious freedom a "black hole" and said that he believes that the federal government should have unlimited authority to police human interaction so the dread bogeyman called "discrimination" wouldn’t force him to be a social conservative. Here’s the quotation most apropos to today:
[T]he objective here is to say that discrimination is not allowed for by business… I just see religious freedom, as a category, as just being a black hole.
So that was your Libertarian Party nominee for president last week. The reason I bring this up again is because the Clinton News Network had one of its laughable "Libertarian Party Town Hall" specials, in which Gary Johnson frustrates the network by sounding like a more feminine Hillary Clinton rather than a more feminine Donald Trump, and thus siphons voters from entirely the wrong side. Among many, many other moments of weirdness, Gary Johnson said this thing:
It’s been pointed out to me that I was perhaps a bit too harsh in last week’s article, What Libertarianism Is and What Libertarianism Is Not. In that article, I lambaste the Libertarian Party and its current comedy revue of a presidential ticket for being terrible exemplars of libertarianism; indeed, my pithy Facebook summary read in part "there is nothing libertarian about the Libertarian Party." I stand by every word I wrote in both article and summary; the Libertarian Party is currently miles afield of what it actually means to be a libertarian. I checked: the phrase "non-aggression principle" appears only twice on the party’s web site, once in a quote from Ron Paul describing the great Mary Ruwart’s book, Healing Our World, and once as the title of a talk to be given at the 2014 Libertarian Party of Oklahoma state convention. The fact that the core principle of the libertarian philosophy goes effectively unmentioned on the Libertarian Party’s web site speaks volumes.
All of which is not to say, however, that the Libertarian Party is completely worthless. It’s terrible at spreading libertarian ideas, to be sure, but it’s effective at attracting people who are beginning to think libertarian thoughts; in a sense, it’s sort of like a big magnet that helps to draw in what Albert Jay Nock called the "Remnant." Many people are drawn to the Libertarian Party because they’ve noticed that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans offer a single alternative to endless war, and many others because they’ve begun to realize what a cruel, inhuman farce the drug war is — at this time, those are the two major issues that push people in the libertarian direction, and the Libertarian Party is there to catch the pushees.
This morning, I opened my inbox to find a press release from the Libertarian Party bearing the headline "Libertarian Party Calls for an End to All Violence." This was promising; an end to all violence is more or less exactly what libertarianism seeks, founded as it is upon the rock of the non-aggression principle. The LP, however, has been at best an inconsistent advocate against violence throughout the years, and, indeed, this particular press release turns out to be entirely about killings of and by police officers, and addresses nothing else whatsoever; certainly a more limited scope than one could expect from a call "for an end to all violence."
The killing needs to stop. All of it. None of these shootings were justified — not the shootings by the police, not the shootings of the police. The Libertarian Party denounces all killing.
That’s not a bad start. Surely, though, it can’t be too much of a stretch to suggest that the LP should consider mentioning the endless wars somewhere in its denunciation of all killing, no? Perhaps the issue here is that the LP’s own presidential ticket doesn’t call for ending the wars, preferring instead the weak-kneed and noncommittal stance of "mov[ing] quickly and decisively to refocus U.S. efforts and resources to attack the real threats we face in a strategic, thoughtful way." Apparently, the Libertarian Party only denounces all killing unless it’s sufficiently "thoughtful."
James E. Miller, writing for Taki’s Magazine, certainly thinks so. While he has some interesting and some worthwhile things to say, it’s interesting to note that he also clearly has no idea what he’s talking about — he doesn’t exhibit any knowledge of what libertarianism is, where it comes from, or what its aims are, nor does he appear to care very much. His article is very much an alt-right victory lap, heavy on the fist-pumping and potty mouth, and rather light on the actual research. Still and all, he’s not entirely wrong, as we see when he opens his piece with:
There is no libertarian moment.
Miller is entirely correct; the libertarian moment does not exist. It never did. What exists in America is perhaps best described as an anti-establishment moment; the great mass of the American people is becoming increasingly dissatisfied with "business as usual" in Washington, and wants a change it can believe in — hence the rise of Obama in 2008, and the popularity of perceived "outsider" candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, not one of whom has the tiniest shred of libertarian leaning. Ron Paul also received the benefit of this "moment," and that misled a lot of people into believing that America was now ripe for a libertarian revolution, in spite of the fact that a greater-than-ever (and still rising) percentage of Americans is presently dependent on government largesse in one form or another. However attractive the idea of liberty may be, most people will take the money instead.
Robert Wenzel is highlighting an interesting Twitter exchange in which Justin Raimondo is taken to task by several other writers for his positive view of Donald Trump, and in particular his belief that Trump is better on war than the usual presidential candidate (it’s hard to imagine anybody being worse on war than Hillary Clinton, but that’s neither here nor there). Raimondo’s response is fairly typical: he accuses his interlocutors of exhibiting "sectarian blindness" and claims that it’s therefore useless to argue with them.
I’ll not be found second to anyone in my admiration for Justin Raimondo, but this all-too-common response of his is unhelpful at best. To begin our analysis, let’s define our terms; according to Merriam-Webster, "sectarian" means:
1: of, relating to, or characteristic of a sect or sectarian
2: limited in character or scope : parochial