THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 158, January 28, 2002
Anarchy, Slaves, and Death
A Letter To Pat Buchanan
by L. Neil Smith
Exclusive to The Libertarian Enterprise
Despite Spider Robinson's heartwrenching advice to the contrary, I once changed the master brake cylinder on my wife's 1969 Volkswagen Beetle.
(Stick with me, here, I'll be making my point directly.)
Although I'm a pretty good gunsmith, I don't know much about cars, so I was very careful to follow each instruction, step-by-step, and make sure I'd done it right, before going on to the next item on the list.
The operation was a success. We drove the old Bug for a long time when our daughter was a baby, before we retired it to the garage -- having bought ourselves a Subaru -- intending to restore it sometime in the 21st century as Baby's First Car. She's 12 now, and can hardly wait.
Now I can't say for certain -- remember I said that I don't know much about cars -- but I suspect that if I'd followed another, very different procedure, none of the three of us would be alive today, and I wouldn't be writing this. What procedure is that? Just follow every _other_ instruction, items 1, 3, 5, 9, and so on, to the letter. But do the exact opposite of whatever is called for by items 2, 4, 6, and 8.
You could pretty much destroy a computer system that way, too, I guess.
Or a nation.
What brought this to mind is an item that a dozen folks "clipped" and e-mailed to me from the Tuesday, January 22 WorldNetDaily. It was written by you, Patrick J. Buchanan, and I've got to tell you, Pat, in a World and on a Net brimming over with Daily stupidity, your piece takes a solid gold medal for clear evidence of evolution in reverse.
In your column, after saying what you probably thought were a bunch of nice things about libertarians and libertarian thought (only in those areas, of course, where we happen to agree with you), you turn suddenly and accuse them -- us -- of being the source of just about every social and political evil since the Paleolithic Era. Why? Because "we" believe in, and advocate, open borders and unrestricted immigration.
The idea (I suppose you'll insist on calling it that) is that by somehow encouraging a massive, uncontrolled influx of vile, unwashed foreigners, we libertarians have caused the welfare rolls, the crime rate, and the "need" for government "services" to expand explosively. By advocating geographical freedom, you charge, we're actually causing government to grow, costing everybody a lot of money and diminishing their liberty. Hence your snappy title "Does Libertarianism Lead to Statism?"
Naturally, a great deal of what you have to say about this rests on a bizarre, and almost certainly bigoted premise, unwarranted by facts or logic, that newcomers to this country are all ineducable, that they can't be reached by those who value individual liberty (or whatever it is you think you're in favor of), and that it's inevitable and immutable that, from now until the end of time, they'll only vote for left-wing collectivists (as opposed to right-wing collectivists like you). I've seen these arguments before, of course, invariably supported by twisted statistics worthy of a Sarah Brady or a Charles Schumer.
What it sounds like to me is a typical Republican excuse for not even going to the effort of trying to reach the immigrant heart and mind. The idea (before one even starts considering the flimsy factoids and specious logic) begs an all-important question Tonto asked the Lone Ranger at a moment when they were surrounded by hostile redskins intent on collecting scalps. Kemo Sabe asked him, "What are we gonna do?"
"What," Tonto replied, "do you mean _we_, paleface?"
You see, Pat, I'm part of that "we". I was there. I remember the Libertarian Party being all over the place on open borders and free immigration, at the national level, where I served on a couple of platform committees during the most formative period in the party's history (a time when it was dominated by one of the think tanks you mention in your piece), and at the state level, where I vividly recall arguments that deteriorated into inadvertent spitting and outright screaming.
What sticks with me most of all is that, influenced by Rothbard and LeFevre, and following the Non-Aggression Principle, I advocated open borders and immigration restricted only in that there should be no welfare of any kind -- including public education -- waiting for newcomers when they arrived on these shores (or river banks, as the case may be). Not that I believed this would reduce the influx. The idea that people come here for handouts is no more than a cryptoracist myth.
Ask the immigrants, yourself.
People come here, Pat, more and more mistakenly, for political and economic freedom, the opportunity to better themselves by seeking work vastly more arduous than most native-born Americans are willing to accept.
But I digress. You're right, some libertarians enthusiastically favor open borders. But others enthusiastically do not. Sadly, the principles for which I fought for were rejected -- vehemently -- by many of the leading libertarian lights of the day. That's just one of a great many reasons that I left the LP to write books about genuine libertarianism.
Failing to make a case against libertarians or the ideas you claim we all share (on a bet, Pat, I could have done better), you then try a Stupid Politician Trick. Having pointed out the ways we agree with the GOP (which makes us Fine and Noble), you then ask why we agree with Democrats on the issue of immigration (which makes us Nasty and Mean). Specifically, you mention "Big Government liberals like Clinton, Gore, Daschle and Kennedy", saying that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder beside them.
Guilt by association, from you, of all people.
Fact is -- and you know it, Pat -- it's irrelevant and accidental that the Party of Government A, the Democrats (as opposed to the Party of Government B, the Republicans) agrees with many libertarians about the issue of open immigration. Even a broken clock -- of the analog kind -- is right twice a day. In any case, your precious Republicans have abandoned the Constitution and scuttled the Bill of Rights. To my point of view, that makes them a lot more like a broken _digital_ clock.
Back to basics. Let's overlook the pathetically obvious fact that libertarians are in charge of none of the areas of national life that you accuse us of having screwed up -- nor have we ever been -- and that nobody ever listens to libertarians where matters of policy are concerned.
If we libertarians were in charge of things, Pat, there would _be_ no welfare state, no social "services" to expand explosively, all of which are blatant violations, not only of the underlying principles of libertarianism, but of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, as well. The crime rate would be lower than that of the 19th century for the same reason it's fallen in double digits in places like Florida, and lowest of all in Vermont. There would be no prohibition -- nor even any regulation -- of the acquisition, ownership, and defensive use of weapons.
Look what we have, instead. Libertarian Instruction Number One -- open immigration -- is followed, albeit by default, because nothing in the world (the Great Wall of China was complete bust, Pat, and so were Hadrian's Wall and the mighty Maginot Line) can stop it from being followed.
But then Libertarian Instruction Number Two -- "Thou Shalt Not Steal Other People's Money and Give It to Third Parties" -- is trashed.
Libertarian Instruction Number Three -- the idea that people should enjoy complete freedom of association, especially in the workplace, where they should be free to work at any job they're qualified for, and employers should be free to hire anyone they like -- gets obeyed for the same reason Libertarian Instruction Number One does.
But then Libertarian Instruction Number Four -- the notion that folks should be free of harassment and violence from jackbooted thugs stalking them because (just as your ancestors did, Pat, having decided that the Auld Sod offered them no more future than my Polish ancestors were offered by remaining some genetically depleted Cossack's serf in the Old Country) they decided to try and improve their lot in life, and the lot of their children, by stepping over some imaginary line created by the mortal enemies of improving one's lot in life -- is violated.
I could go on, Pat, but by now the point should be clear, even to you. These libertarian instructions work in _series_, not in parallel. And, as Robert A. Heinlein informed us, "Bilge one, and you bilge them all". Don't accuse libertarians or libertarian ideas of having screwed things up, Pat, unless you implement each and every one of those ideas correctly -- or better yet, get out of the way and let libertarians do it.
Most instructive, Pat, is the whimpering you do over the damage you say open borders are doing to your poor party. The way you put it -- "Thus does mass immigration not only lead to endless enlargement of state power, it points to permanent minority status for any party of limited government" -- attempts to smuggle in a few ideas you haven't supported logically or factually, or course, but we've gotten used to that.
To begin with, you haven't made the case that immigration leads to an increase in state power, so you simply don't deserve a "Thus" or a "therefore". You also imply that Republicans are a party of limited government, and that libertarians should worry about endangering its hopes.
What hallucinatory concoction gave you the notion that genuine libertarians have any interest whatever in advancing the fortunes of the party of Nixonian wage-price controls, the War on Drugs, the Brady Bill, the adequate magazine ban, and recently the destruction of due process in the name of "antiterrorism", and the insane and murderous slaughter in Afghanistan? The same smoking materials, perhaps, that make you believe the GOP is a party of small government and individual liberty?
Let me make it perfectly clear, Pat, once and for all, that the only interest libertarians have in the Republican Party is seeing it crumble and vanish, so that there'll be one down and only one left to go.
And that, of course, is the point, isn't it? More and more the electoral balance of power lies with the Libertarian Party, whose "losing" candidates have proven themselves capable of handing a race to your adversaries if they wish. 'Fess up, Pat. You'd advocate the abolition of the LP if you had the guts, wouldn't you? Instead, you have to resort to this kind of incompetently devious claptrap over immigration.
There's an easier way, Pat, to remove the "threat" to your party that libertarianism represents. I remember a time when you were a libertarian-leaning conservative. A time when you advocated free trade and maybe even open borders. A time before you decided that the only way to get ahead was by sucking up to xenophobes, bigots, and labor unions.
I remember something else you said, a few years ago when you were deciding to run as ... well, whatever it was you decided to run as. You patronizingly urged Libertarians to abandon our unwonted "purity". Yours was the only train headed in the direction we wanted to go, you said, and we'd damn well better hop aboard because it was leaving the station.
Well your train turned out to Lionel, didn't it, Pat? Going around and around in endless circles and never getting anywhere? I can't honestly say the same isn't true of the LP, but I can say that the 21st century had better be the Century of the Non-Aggression Principle and the Bill of Rights -- or no human being will live to see the 22nd century.
And I can also say we're the only train headed in the direction you claim you want to go, and that you'd damn well better hop aboard. It should be simplicity itself to defend the existence of your poor, precious party, Pat. Just be better than we are on all of the issues that count. Enforce the Bill of Rights stringently, energetically and enthusiastically. Declare "Peace with Honor" in the illegal War on (some) Drugs. Repeal, nullify, or otherwise dispose of the 25,000-plus laws that presently deny Americans their rights under the Second Amendment.
In short, abolish the welfare/warfare state.
Can't do it, can you?
Won't do it, will you?
I've said for many years that the socialists who call themselves liberals habitually break freedom's legs with irrational legislation, and then criticize it because it can't run. They have no interest of any kind in seeing the Bill of Rights enforced, because most of them would wind up on a street corner somewhere selling pencils from a tin cup.
But they are far from alone in their nasty habits, Pat. It isn't libertarianism that leads to statism -- we were already there a long time before the birth of the modern movement -- it's socialists like you, who call themselves conservatives, who have taken us where we are today.