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Independent Country

Profiles in the Pro-Market, Anti-Bush Movement.

by James Leroy Wilson
February 17, 2005

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I am changing the name of this column to “Independent Country.” The switch has synergistic value, to be sure, but that’s not the only reason. The “Notes from the Swamp” theme was commentary from the “fever swamps of the far right.” Longtime readers may get it by now: real right-wingers despise the Bush Administration. The “Independent Country” theme moves away from that, seeking both new territory to cover, and common ground with all who are politically alienated.

That is not to say I’m giving up my libertarian roots and beliefs, only that “Independent Country” signifies that I will not be beholden to a particular dogma or party. At the same time, “Independent Country” is the theme of independence: the liberation of oppressed individuals, and the secession of oppressed communities, nations, and regions from large, centralized States. Independent Country means that individuals and communities have the right to live with governments of their own choosing.

What might this entail? Potentially, any number of things. Any step in the direction of freedom is, to me, a victory. But there are a variety of perspectives within the freedom movement. Each one provides valuable insights, and may appeal to different people. The common theme, as Ronald Reagan said (but probably didn’t really mean) is that the federal government is the problem, not the solution. Some examples: If corporations are corrupt, government regulation will only make them more corrupt; if drug addiction is bad, government’s attempt to rid society of it will not only fail, but will create other and worse problems; if some other country’s government is evil, waging war against it will not cure the evil, only create new evils.

What follows below are profiles of different pro-freedom or pro-Constitution ideologies. They may be helpful for those who do not really understand what “libertarianism” means, or the ideas and resources I have used and will continue to use. I begin with the “typical” though radical, libertarian position on key issues of the day. For the other ideologies, I do not state their positions on everything, only their significant deviations from the Libertarian line.

LIBERTARIAN

Emphasis: Less government and more personal liberty and economic freedom. “The government is best that governs least.”

Left/Right? “Left on social issues, right on economic issues”

War on Iraq? Against

Abortion? Tolerates, but most disagree with the Constitutional reasoning of Roe v. Wade. Opposes public funding of abortions.

Gay Marriage? Get the State out of marriage entirely

Globalization? Against international agreements, for unilateral drop of tariffs

Immigration? For open borders

War on Drugs? Against

Social Security? Dismantle system as quickly as possible; let people save or not save their own earnings as they wish.

Health care? De-regulate and privatize

Education? De-regulate and privatize

Foreign Affairs? Do not meddle in the foreign affairs of other countries

Domestic anti-terror measures like PATRIOT Act? Opposes as unnecessary, unconstitutional, and immoral invasions of privacy and liberty.

Taxes? Cut wherever and whenever possible. No tax is a good tax.

Favorite Revolutionary Figure/Founding Father: Thomas Jefferson

Favorite President: Usually Jefferson

Favorite economist: Adam Smith, Frederic Bastiat, Ludwig von Mises

Favorite moral/political philosophers: Robert Nozick, Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard

Political Parties: Libertarian, Republican

Natural Base: Entrepreneurs and small business owners

Where to find on the Internet: Advocates for Self-Government, International Society for Individual Liberty (ISIL)
 

ANARCHO-CAPITALIST

Emphasis: Get rid of government entirely, make all land private property. Believes that the State in any and all its forms is evil.

Left/Right? Irrelevant

Immigration? Constrained by the rights of private property

Favorite Revolutionaries/Founding Fathers: May support Revolutionaries, but not the Constitution

Favorite Presidents: None

Economics: Mises, Rothbard

Philosophers: Benjamin Tucker, Rothbard

Political Parties: Don’t vote

Natural Base: Radical intellectuals, counter-culture radicals

Where to find: Strike-the-Root.com
 

PALEO-LIBERTARIAN:

Emphasis: Decentralization of power, hard money (that is, backed by commodities like silver and gold)

Left/Right? Bourgeois culturally, Right economically

Immigration? Against open borders

Abortion? A States’ Rights question

Gay Marriage? States’ Rights again, though preferably marriage would be privatized

Favorite Revolutionary/Founding Father? Probably someone like Richard Henry Lee, who introduced secession (or independence) to the Continental Congress, but later opposed the new Constitution which consolidated too much power in the federal government.

Favorite President? Men like Martin van Buren and Grover Cleveland, who fought the odds to maintain sound money and limited government.

Political Parties: Libertarian, Constitution, or Don’t vote

Economists: Bastiat, Mises, Rothbard

Philosophers: The “Old Right”: Albert Jay Nock, Rose Wilder Lane, Isabel Paterson, Garet Garett, Frank Chodorov, Henry Hazlitt, Felix Morley, and many other anti-State intellectuals of the 1930’s and 40’s.

Natural Base: Those who are libertarian (or anti-State) in the head and conservative in the heart.

Where to find: LewRockwell.com
 

PALEO-CONSERVATIVE

Emphasis: Decentralization of Power, the Constitution, State’s Rights, tradition, religion

Left/Right? Right

Immigration? Against open borders

Abortion? Against

Gay Marriage? Against

Globalization? Against, even to the point of supporting protective tariffs and opposing the “Wal-Martization” of America.

Revolutionary figure/Founding Father: George Washington, Edmund Burke (A British member of Parliament at the time)

Favorite President: Washington, Jefferson

Political Parties: Constitution, Republican

Economists: Not all that interested

Philosophers: Richard Weaver, Russell Kirk

Natural base: Southerners, and conservatives who believe that a strict interpretation of the Constitution is necessary for our survival.

Where to find: Chronicles magazine, American Conservative magazine, League of the South
 

NEO-LIBERTARIAN

Emphasis: Free markets, private morality, technology

Left/Right? Very permissive on social issues, right on economic issues

War on Iraq? For or against, but not opposed in principle to wars to spread freedom and democracy.

Abortion? Pro-choice

Gay Marriage? Yes

Globalization? Yes

Immigration? Yes

Social Security? Private accounts overseen by government

Health care? Private accounts overseen by government

Education? Government distribution of vouchers

Foreign Affairs? We must not shirk our responsibility to advance freedom and democracy

Taxes? Target tax cuts that may spur economic activity and thus produce more tax revenues in the long run

Favorite Revolutionary Figure/Founding Father: The Federalists (Madison, Hamilton, Jay)

Favorite President: Abraham Lincoln

Economics: Milton Friedman

Philosophy: Ayn Rand

Political Parties: Libertarian, Republican

Natural Base: The middle class

Where to find: Reason Magazine, CATO Institute
 

GEO-LIBERTARIAN

Emphasis: Environment, urban renewal/sprawl, economic opportunity

Left/Right? Left

Globalization? Values free trade checked only by environmental concerns

Foreign Affairs? Willing to cooperate on issues of common use (such as the oceans), less willing to open trade with countries guilty of human-rights abuses or slave labor, unwilling to use the U.S. military as the means to liberate the world.

Taxes? The only just tax is the one that pays for one private entity to have exclusive use of a piece of land and the earth’s resources, which are the common birthright of all humanity.

Favorite Revolutionary Figure/Founding Father: Tom Paine

Favorite President: Probably Jefferson

Economics: Henry George

Philosophy: Henry George, Albert Jay Nock, Frank Chodorov

Political Parties: Libertarian, Green, Democrat

Natural Base: Mainstream Christians and others disenchanted with both socialism and what they perceive to be capitalism.

Where to find: The Economic Justice Network
 

Time constraints prevented me from providing links, but of course sites and names can easily be Googled.

With the exception of some neo-libertarians, followers of these pro-market, anti-government ideas find themselves alienated by the Bush Administration, which appears to want more and more control over every aspect of our lives. Republicans ought to be aware that to oppose the Bush Administration does not necessarily make on a “liberal” or a Democrat. Many of us agree, at least to some degree, with what the Republican Party used to stand for, not what it stands for today.

It is my reluctance to cheer-lead for any party that puts me in Independent Country.

Comments (1)


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Michael H. Thomson from Paeonian Springs, VA writes:
February 21, 2005
JLW I see you evolving in a very pleasant direction. Unfortunately, given the times and the direction our country is taking, I also fear for you. But I must exhort you - principled men are hard to find - Keep it up!

I have modified a statement from Paine's Common Sense. My modification is in brackets:

Interested men, who are not to be trusted, weak men who CANNOT see, prejudiced men who will not see, and a certain set of moderate men who think better of the [American Empire] than it deserves - and this last class, by an ill-judged deliberation, will be the cause of more calamities to this Continent than all the other three.



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