L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 186, August 12, 2002
DOING THE RIGHT THING?
Mark Etanerkist in TLE#185 continues to repeat his error in objection to the Free State Project.
Were the target "state" and its people living in peaceful anarchy, his statement that the FSP seeks to "impose" a minimal state on people who don't want it might have validity. If such a state existed where any government at all would be an imposition, the individuals considering the FSP would have already moved there, and be living better than even the FSP suggests is possible under forseeable conditions.
However, Mr. Etanerkist, the point of the FSP is that no such state exists. The repeal and retreat of government force does not "force" anyone to participate, by definition. Anyone who wishes to continue to live their own lives by the rules of the intrusive state is welcome to do so, exactly the way restrictive religious sects partisipate in rules and "laws" over and above government rules and laws, or that I would build a home to higher standards than the town building code requires.
What I find amazing is that with one hand he objects to peaceful change because he doesn't belive it can work, and with the other hand promotes violent change. I also believe that nothing but blood will roll back Leviathan, but I am not willing to make that my only option. Nor will I berate and insult others for attempting peaceful change no matter how fruitless I may believe it is.
The beauty of freedom of association is that there is the matching freedom not to associate. Don't join the FSP if you don't like it, but don't continue to make up lies about it.
Curt Howland [Howland@Priss.com]
Two weeks ago, TLE ran my article "A Challenge to the Drug Warriors" in which I argued that the government has never proclaimed what success the Drug War was achieving in any 'big picture' kind of way.
Well now they have.
Last week, John Stossel had another of his ABC specials, "War on Drugs: War on Ourselves" in which our current drug czar, Asa Hutchinson, stated there had been a 50% reduction in drug use over the last 20 years. He doesn't explain how he arrives at this conclusion. [Remarkably, this coincides with the first term of the 'Sainted' Ronald Reagan]. He also stated that drug reduction had 'flatlined' over the last 10 years. [Notice how this corresponds with the beginning of the Clinton years. Sheer coincidence? I think not!]
In any case, assuming that his numbers are correct, does this mean the drug users began quaking in their boots the moment Team Reagan "lowered the surrender flag and raised the battle flag over the White House" came to town?
I think not!
In 1981, the Viet Nam War was 6 years over and people took a good, hard look at the hippies and decided that they would rather have jobs, homes and a future. Also, the domestic unrest that characterized '60s [racial tension, no vote for blacks, government lies about Viet Nam, the draft, etc.] was pretty much over.
In other words, with the boys home from Viet Nam and other quarrels resolved, people were no longer as pissed off at the Establishment as they were in the '60s. Therefore, there was not as good a reason to fry your brains. Hell, if I thought I was going to be sent to risk my life in Viet Nam, for no good reason, I might be tempted to spend my days 'stoned' also.
Also, here are some more of the republican arguments for the Drug War:
Dubya: This is a fight for the soul of Americans! [Funny, I thought we had separation of church and state. Besides, the individual is responsible for his own 'soul."
Professor of Mental Masturbation [Philosophy] and former drug czar Bennett: There is right and there is wrong! [Yeah, and you're wrong! Hasn't 80 years of failure taught you anything?]
Hutchinson: If we can save just one child's life, its worth it! [How about the kids dying in drive-by shootings in ghetto areas as an indirect consequence of the drug war? Did you forget about them?]
I grow weary of listening to lectures on morality by the moral hypocrites in politics today. Republicans will not have moral credibility with me as long as they treat the Bill of Rights with contempt, and as long as Clinton escapes being prosecuted as an Accomplice After the Fact to the crime of murder and other charges.
Take care everyone,
James J Odle [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Extreme rhetoric and bombast can be fun, but are hardly effective tools for spreading one's message. Although I enjoy the Libertarian Enterprise, I wonder from time to time what some authors are trying to accomplish. Referring to Bush Jr. as Furher may be satisfying on some level, but ultimately makes the writer look foolish. Were the use of third Reich lingo original or daring, there might be some value to it. The fact is, however, that such language is unoriginal and inaccurate. One thinks not of rational men appealing to peoples' minds, but shrieking lefty fanatics howling about evil capitalists. Bush, despite his myriad offences against freedom, is not the equivalent of Hitler. Even Ashcroft does not merit this title, offensive as he is. The TIPS program is stupid and repugnant, but it is not the equivalent of the STASI. The United States has fallen woefully far from the ideals enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, but we are not East Germany. Failure to recognize the distinction only makes us look silly.
Libertarians already suffer from having a reputation as extremist whackos who want to let your teenagers smoke crack and your redneck neighbors fire machine guns from their roof. We, as libertarians, know that this is unfair. The way to fight this perception is not, however, to fill our publications with name-calling and calls upon libertarians to sugar the gas tank of the local telephone repairman. We are right, and we have reason on our side. Let us, therefore, present ourselves as rational people, and save the silliness for when we are with people who will understand.
Mark Lamoree [email@example.com]
What do I know with absolute certainty?
That I exist, I experience, I think, and I act. That my rational faculties are reliable, (dependent of course, on the accuracy of the information I am working with). Beyond that, I must tolerate varying degrees of uncertainty. With slightly less than absolute certainty, I hold that my senses give me sufficient apprehension of the world to operate within my environment successfully. Based upon the above and upon my philosophical constructions, I allow that you are in a similar position with respect to the reality that we appear to share.
I expect you to allow the same for me.
Here's the point. As long as you hold individual liberty as the highest political and social value, I don't care why you do; whether it has a theological basis or not is of little importance to me. Given that religious arguments are made for and against the state, I consider the religious base for those arguments to be too flexible to be reliable.
Now if you want to discuss religion, I can do that. My father was a Methodist minister, and so, I grew up in the church and I have investigated such matters at length. To date, I have not been made aware of anything that I consider 'evidence' of GOD as portrayed by various religions; that is, a supernatural personality as the first cause of existence.
Now, if you are a 'true believer', you may feel compelled to respond to what I have said here, so I feel obliged to point out that this is "The LIBERTARIAN Enterprise' and, as such, should be restricted to material that is of interest to LIBERTARIANS (regardless of why they are libertarians) and is not an appropriate forum for theological discussions. If you should decide to send email to me, keep it short unless you are one very entertaining writer. I tend to skim through or even pass over the longer articles found in TLE. Being a stay-at-home dad has affected my attention span.
Anyhow, I find my basis for libertarianism in the nature of humans and the goal of a more harmonious social milieu. Is something more required?
At this time, the various peoples of the world seem to be caught up in some form of cultural insanity or another and it all revolves around political power and the struggle to get some or keep others from getting it. The end result is quite possibly doom from catastrophe or stagnation. Whatever it is, I desire to avoid it; for my sake, the sake of friends and family, and for all the others who have something to contribute to the world.
Sam Grove [firstname.lastname@example.org]
What do I know with absolute certainty?
To the Editor:
The libertarian materialist versus revelationist debate is an extension of that debate in general philosophy. And the same arguments are used. One of the most irritating is the strange "who drew more blood historically" body count which at its core is simply the old fallacy of ad hominem. Since the subject is war, perhaps some bullet points would be appropriate:
* Manuel Miles is particularly correct in noting the greater buckets of blood produced by modern political movements predicated on materialism, Naziism being the most conspicuous. (Though Mr. Miles' mild apologia for the Crusades isn't necessary.) Still, really bad religionist stuff existed in the Thirty Years War as well as the little known (in the West) conflict called the Taiping Rebellion, the 19th Century Chinese civil war that was probably the bloodiest human conflict before the 20th Century. It was led by a crusading megalomaniac who was convinced he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ.
* To cite Monty Python, let's not bicker and argue about who killed who. Human beings kill for any reason, good or bad, that they feel necessary for survival and purpose. Nice things like sexual passion, land, food, energy sources are a few such reasons. And you know what other good reason is writ all over our collective homicides? Liberty. And Anarchism too. Yep. Carnage and plunder, not to mention income taxation and conscription have been imposed by professed pursuers of liberty. If we have to disqualify something because it has inspired or been invoked in causing a high reading on the Dead Baby Index, then we might as well hang it up as libertarians.
* What's Darwin got to do with it? One can be an ardent faith-based religionist and an evolutionist. Only Scriptural inerrantists have to attack evolution. That's just one brand of Judeo-Christian-Islamic- Bahaiety (leave anyone out?).
* Libertarianism is a means to an end. It is not utopia. Utopia may be impossible, or it may await the coming of a supernatural Messiah, or it may be obtainable through some scientific social breakthrough. In the meantime, liberty is a social contract based upon the moral predicate that individuals deserve a chance to pursue possessions and happiness (utopian or otherwise) for themselves, and the related utilitarian one that respecting such rights brings greater prosperity, safety, and information.
* Both religionists and materialists are at risk of forsaking liberty. Each can be lured into throwing in the towel. The religionists, as history shows, can be easily tempted to just say, look God wants this, so start up the Inquisition to protect souls. The materialist can be tempted to say, it all is meaningless, so whatever commands my passions is the supreme goal. Power for power's sake, like O'Brien in Orwell's 1984. Open the gulags.
* Averting those temptations is best done by having libertarians in their respective philosophic camps explain to their fellow strugglers for God, or for the material liberation of the working class, why liberty is right and workable.
Matthew Hogan [email@example.com]
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