Profiles in the Pro-Market, Anti-Bush Movement.
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.
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)
Emphasis: Get rid of government entirely, make all land private property. Believes that the State in any and all its forms is evil.
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
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
Emphasis: Decentralization of Power, the Constitution, State’s Rights, tradition, religion
Immigration? Against open borders
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
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.
Gay Marriage? 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
Emphasis: Environment, urban renewal/sprawl, economic opportunity
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.