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48


L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 48, June 15, 1999

The Anti-War Movement, An Anti-Statist Model

by Michael R. Allen
mrallen@spintechmag.com

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

          Many libertarians and their fellow travelers are tired with organized politics. The Libertarian Party has not won any federal elections, and its leadership is not trusted by the hard-line contingent. Think-tanks dedicated to the free market have not been very forceful on unpopular issues, and have appeared to approve the careless half-steps and misfires of the Republican party.
          Is it time those who still vote start fresh, with a new political organization?
          One looking for an example of a successful ideological venture that goes against statism without creating a new formal political organization need only turn to the contemporary anti-war movement. This movement has galvanized as the war, er peace-keeping mission, in Serbia continues, and has attracted not only non-interventionist libertarians. Notably, leftists of the sort who read the Nation and many grassroots conservatives have also included themselves in this movement -- some even opposed the 1991 Gulf War.
          This is not the anti-war movement of the 1960's. Vietnam War protesters do comprise some portion of this new movement; Antiwar.com's webmaster Eric Garris resisted the draft then. And left-wingers who still distrust "New Democrat" politics are on board to some extent. However, many of the draft-dodging, card-burning radicals of the past are now fully in support of US involvement in Serbia.
          The anti-war movement isn't crankily anti-Clinton (at least not without good reason), nor is it united behind a single organization. It is simply a collection of people who agree that bombing a nation's innocent citizens is immoral. No one has to sign a pledge card to join this movement, or pay dues, or even tell anyone about their views.
          In brief, the new anti-war movement comprises individuals who agree on one major issue.
          On June 5, rallies against the US-NATO bombings of Serbia were held around the world. In Washington, DC, thousands of protesters arrived to march from the Vietnam Memorial to the Pentagon. This was the largest, most diverse rally against the military state in over twenty-five years. Speaking to the crowd was the old radical Tom Hayden, as well as the paleo-conservative editor of Chronicles, Tom Fleming. Catholic social justice advocates, libertarian anti-statists, left-wingers, hard-line conservatives, and other groups were represented there, all united to oppose the war.
          Might such a coalition be impressively broad but dangerously shallow? Of course. This anti-war coalition has only grown rapidly in the last few months, and has not yet proven its durability. In San Francisco, the International Action Center socialists are openly hostile to right-wing partnership. Z Magazine's Michael Alpert is downright surly in its attitude: "I don't think left opponents of the bombing have any reason to spend much time ... trying to organize [the right]."
          However, the noninterventionist right has been open to working with anyone who will reciprocate. Without the support of mainstream conservative outlets like National Review, noninterventionist right-wingers have utilized talk radio, the internet, and rallies to disseminate their message. Help from the left on these projects is more than welcome, at least to right-oriented outlets with which I am familiar. Where the IAC and Z disappear, others have stepped in.
          The coalition has a strong alternative media presence. It has organized great rallies. It has even had some of its spirit read into the Congressional Record by firebrand Representatives Ron Paul (R-TX), Tom Campbell (R-CA) and Barbara Lee (D-CA). To accomplish these worthy goals, no political party was needed -- but more importantly, strong beliefs were.
          As Justin Raimondo wrote in his essay "Defenders of the Republic," (featured in The Costs of War), noticeable is "the primacy of foreign-policy views in determining the ultimate political stance of a given individual or movement." Allies libertarians win working on the anti-war front have already questioned the most puissant part of the federal State: the military empire. Such opponents of empire may never become pure anti-statists, but will be more radical than those who merely join political organizations to effect change.
          Radicalism is a highly desirable trait in the fight against American foreign policy; the stakes are high, and restoring the Republic is an urgent matter. For decades, the American military complex has built itself up. Presidents have gradually taken all of the legislative abilities to wage war. Military conscription, though not currently active, has been used to steal citizens to fight war. Reversing all of these trends is not something that can be done lightly.
          Leftists and cultural conservatives join libertarian anti-statists in emphatically declaring opposition to the military complex. Their domestic stands are assorted, but their resolve on military matters displays an eagerness to at least end the worst aspect of the current federal State.
          The anti-war movement is not a formal organization -- and that is why it succeeds. It is charged with the importance of its mission, not the sustenance of its own organization. While the movement is far from perfect, and has not ended the present war, it has accomplished more for liberty than any formal political organization.


Michael R. Allen spends too much time editing SpinTech Magazine (http://www.spintechmag.com)


Rosie says: "Self-defense is icky! Guns make noise, secondhand smoke, and require more intelligence and self-discipline than I'll ever have! Do what works for me: whenever I hear a burglar, I hide my tiny little Cretaceous head, with its primitive ganglionic cluster, under the sofa, and let him think my big fat ass is a bean-bag chair!"
-- L. Neil Smith


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