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Libertarians Are Actually Less “Isolationist” Than Other Political Views

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 20, No. 2 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Libertarians who advocate a foreign policy of peaceful non-intervention in the internal affairs of other nations sometimes get labeled by critics as “isolationist.”

The words “isolationist” and “isolationism” are smears. Further, they inaccurately describe what libertarians believe. I’ve written in the past on ways to respond to this charge.

Libertarian InternationalismLast month Simon Lester, a trade policy analyst with Cato Institute, wrote an excellent column entitled “Libertarian Internationalism” at Townhall.com in which he debunks the notion.

“[T]he reality is that libertarianism is among the most internationally minded philosophies,” he writes. “Examining several key areas of international relations makes this clear: International trade, diplomacy and the military, and institutions.”

Here are some of his arguments, which are helpful to anyone in discussing this issue.

1. International trade.

“The most obvious place where libertarians are internationalists is economic relations. True libertarians advocate the free flow of trade and investment, without government restrictions. This is about as international as you can get. For libertarians, the origin of a product or service is irrelevant. People around the world should be able to buy and sell from each other without government interference. …

“Unfortunately, in most countries today, there is a strong sentiment for favoring domestic economic actors over foreign ones. This feeling manifests itself in various forms, such as tariffs and Buy National procurement policies. Libertarians stand almost completely united against this nationalist feeling, believing that trade and other economic interaction with foreign actors benefits us all.”

2. Diplomacy and the military. 

“Diplomacy and the military is a more complicated policy area, involving a number of instances of potential relations between domestic and foreign. Here, though, there is a strong case that libertarians are more internationalist than most others. Of course, in part this depends on what one means by internationalism.

“Libertarians are most frequently accused of isolationism when they object to military intervention in foreign territories. That libertarians usually object to these interventions is not in doubt. However, use of the military cannot always credibly be called internationalist. Colonialism and conquest, although they do require contact with foreigners, are not generally a positive form of international relations. …

“Thus, for libertarians, war and government aid do not reflect true internationalism. To some extent, they are really about government bullying and condescension towards foreigners, the idea that we are superior to them and can use our power to re-make them in our image. In contrast, libertarians believe in treating citizens of other countries with respect and acting with humility.”

3. International institutions. 

“This is the area where libertarians are most likely to reject what is conventionally thought of as the internationalist position, as they worry about the power of these institutions. In reality, libertarians are not rejecting the idea of international institutions, but rather the specific policies pursued by some of these institutions. … If there were international institutions that supported balanced budgets (or protected property rights), for example, libertarians would likely be supportive. There is no fundamental libertarian objection to international cooperation through institutions; the only concern is on specific issues of substance.”

Finally, Lester argues that libertarianism is inherently internationalist, not isolationist.

“At a more conceptual level, the idea of limited government inherently pushes us away from nationalism and towards internationalism. As things stand now, most power is in the hands of national governments, who often use this power in ways that conflict with the interests of other governments. In other words, putting power in the hands of nation-states leads naturally to national conflict. By contrast, devolving power to local governments more closely connected with the people reduces the role of national governments and nationalism. It makes power more disbursed, and allows communities to connect with each other, regardless of the nation in which they are located.”

These are excellent points, and sharing them with critics can help refute and perhaps eventually bury the tiresome “isolationist” smear.

Read Lester’s complete argument at Townhall.com

They Said It… From Eric Garner, Ethan Nadelmann, and More

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It section in Volume 19, No. 23 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

FRUITS OF THE DRUG WAR: “What has the War on Drugs done to the world? Look at the murder and Ethan Nadelmannmayhem in Mexico, Central America, so many other parts of the planet, the global black market estimated at 300 billion dollars a year, prisons packed in the United States and elsewhere, police and military drawn into an unwinnable war that violates basic rights, and ordinary citizens just hope they don’t get caught in the crossfire, and meanwhile, more people using more drugs than ever. It’s my country’s history with alcohol prohibition and Al Capone, times 50.” — renowned anti-Drug War activist Ethan Nadelmann from his October 2014 Ted Talk “Why We Need to end the War on Drugs.” THE FAILURE IN FERGUSON: Judge Andrew Napolitano“The failure in Ferguson is across the board. From a city government whose police force makes its minority populace feel vulnerable and defends an unnecessary public killing by one of its cops, to a county prosecutor afraid to take responsibility for a proper public prosecution, to a governor missing in action, to a president who sounds like he wants to federalize police, we have an out-of-control stewpot boiling over into a wave of destruction. … The militarization of local police — perfected during the past two presidential administrations, which have given local cops military surplus intended to be used on enemy armies in foreign lands — if uncorrected, will lead to a police state. A police state is one in which the government’s paramount concern is for its own safety, and not for the lives, liberties and properties of those it has sworn to protect.” — Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, “Ferguson,” syndicated column, December 4, 2014. I CAN’T BREATHE: “Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today. Why would you…? Everyone standing here will tell you I didn’t do nothing. I did not sell nothing. Because every time you see me, you want to harass me. You want to stop me [garbled] selling cigarettes. I’m minding my business, officer, I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone. I told you the last time, please just leave me alone. Please please, don’t touch me. Do not touch me. [garbled] I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.” — last words of Eric Garner of New York, who died from a police chokehold after police attempted to arrest him for allegedly selling “loosies” — single cigarettes — on the street. Garner was unarmed and nonthreatening. The officer was not indicted, leading to protests in New York and across the country this week. PARDON US, MR. PRESIDENT: “Prior to Thanksgiving, President Obama continued the presidential tradition of pardoning two turkeys. Too bad he didn’t use the occasion to also pardon every single victim of the U.S. government’s decades-long failed and destructive War on Drugs… all the people who have been convicted of violating federal laws against the possession or distribution of drugs, especially those people currently serving time in some federal penitentiary. Those people have no more business being in jail than people who have used, possessed, or distributed beer, liquor, wine, tobacco, fatty foods, or any other substance. … President Obama, who himself, by his own admission, has possessed and consumed illicit drugs, spared the life of those two turkeys prior to Thanksgiving. Too bad his compassion didn’t extend to the thousands of Drug War victims in America’s federal prisons. He still has time to issue a blanket pardon before Christmas.” — Jacob G. Hornberger, President of the Future of Freedom Foundation, “Why Not Pardon Drug War Victims in Addition to Turkeys?”, December 1, 2014.

Libertarian Party Response to 2014 State of the Union Address: “Americans’ Rights Violated Like Never Before”

in Liberator Online, Libertarian Party by James W. Harris Comments are off
(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 3 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)
Perhaps you heard President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address and the GOP responses.The Libertarian Party responded as well, lambasting the Big Government policies of both parties and offering a pro-liberty alternative in a hard-hitting statement from Executive Director Wes Benedict.
Naturally the mass media declined to carry it, but don’t let that stop you State of the Union Responsefrom encountering a genuine libertarian State of the Union address. Some excerpts:
“Thanks to unprecedented levels of government interference and government coercion, Americans’ rights are violated like never before. We are harmed by taxes, regulations, prohibitions, and shocking privacy intrusions. …

“Our Libertarian hope is that we can convince enough Americans to change their minds. We hope voters will come to understand that government is force, and force is unjust.

“Here are some of the problems we see.

* The government debt situation is atrocious. Government debt is a terrible thing, because it forces future generations to pay off debts they never agreed to incur. From 2001 to 2008, George W. Bush doubled the debt, mostly with the support of a Republican Congress. Since 2009, Barack Obama and the Democrats (and Republicans) have nearly doubled it again. It doesn’t matter whether Republicans or Democrats control the government. Libertarians would quickly balance the budget by cutting spending on everything, including entitlements and the military.

* The employment situation is still pretty bad. Why? Because government gets in between employers and employees, and tries to dictate everything. Minimum wage laws, hiring laws, firing laws, subsidies, and business taxes all make it harder to create jobs and find jobs. These laws are supported by both Republicans and Democrats. Libertarians would eliminate the minimum wage, employment red tape, and business subsidies and taxes. …

* If there’s one thing we have learned since 2001, it’s that we can’t trust what government officials say. They lie. Bush and Cheney said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. James Clapper (Director of National Intelligence) said under oath that the NSA does not collect data on Americans. Those are a couple of the most outrageous lies, but there have been many others. The more power government has, the more government officials will have the opportunity and incentive to lie. Libertarians would greatly reduce government power. …

* How about the military? The Libertarian attitude is pretty simple: the U.S. military should leave other countries alone, even if their governments are unstable, and even if there are people living there who hate Americans. We need to cut military spending a whole lot. Try getting Republicans or Democrats to support ANY cuts to military spending. …

“All in all, the state of our union is a big mess created by Republicans and Democrats. Libertarians offer a path forward to peace and prosperity.”

And there’s lots more good stuff. You can read the rest of the statement at the Libertarian Party’s website.

U.S. Taxpayers Pay Billions — to Subsidize the Military of Wealthy Foreign Nations (Video)

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 18, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

It’s just one minute long, but this Cato Institute video offers powerful intellectual ammunition for those wanting to lower taxes and reduce U.S. involvement abroad.

Beleaguered American taxpayers are being forced to pay to subsidize the military in wealthy allied nations that can (and should) defend themselves — while these nations in turn spend the money they save on economic growth and propping up their massive welfare states.

See the staggering amounts the U.S. spends on military matters in comparison to the rest of the world.

As Cato elsewhere says:

“The average American spends $2,300 on the military, based on the latest data available. That is roughly four and a half times more than what the average person in other NATO countries spends. These countries boast a collective GDP of approximately $19 trillion, 25 percent higher than the U.S. They obviously can afford to spend more. So why don’t they? Because Uncle Sucker picks up nearly the entire tab.

“Looked at another way, U.S. alliances constitute a massive wealth transfer from U.S. taxpayers (and their Chinese creditors) to bloated European welfare states and technologically-advanced Asian nations.”

Should struggling American taxpayers be forced to pay for the defense of wealthy developed foreign nations? Should foreign welfare programs be subsidized by your tax dollars?

Share this short informative video with your friends, family and colleagues, and see what they think.

New Libertarian Science Fiction Film Features the Quiz!

in Liberator Online by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 18, No. 13 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

I’m excited to report a new milestone for the World’s Smallest Political Quiz.

As you probably know, the Quiz has been reprinted in books, textbooks, newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and many other places.

Now it’s broken into a new medium: for the first time to my knowledge, the Quiz is appearing in a feature-length movie!

Appropriately enough, it’s a libertarian science fiction film with a hard-hitting libertarian message: Alongside Night.

Alongside Night began life as a novel by J. Neil Schulman. First published in 1979, it is one of the most acclaimed libertarian novels of all time. It’s been praised by the likes of Ron Paul, Milton Friedman, Anthony Burgess, Walter Block, Thomas Szasz, F. Paul Wilson, Poul Anderson, Robert Anton Wilson, Thomas Woods, Publisher’s Weekly, the Los Angeles Times Book Review… and we could go on and on.

Science Fiction Review described it as “Probably the best libertarian novel since Atlas Shrugged.”

A special free anniversary edition of the novel was recently downloaded an incredible 350,000-plus times.

Now Schulman – who has written many other highly-praised books, fiction and non-fiction, and is a leading libertarian activist – has turned his award-winning novel into a feature film, with himself as writer and director.

Starring in Alongside Night is Kevin Sorbo, one of the most popular actors in the world today. Sorbo gained fame playing Hercules in five TV movies in 1994, which led to the continuing series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995-1999) — the #1 rated show worldwide. Sorbo gained additional fame and fans from his starring role of Captain Dylan Hunt on the 2001-2005 series Andromeda. His many films include Meet the Spartans, Kull the Conqueror, and An American Carol.

Here’s a summary of the plot of Alongside Night, courtesy of Schulman: “The American economy is in freefall. Markets are crashing. Inflation is soaring. Bankruptcies, foreclosures and unemployment are up, and even defense contracts are going overseas. The United States military is threatening to go on strike. Foreigners are buying up everything in America at firesale prices while gloating over the fall of a once great nation. Homeless people and gangs own the streets. Smugglers use the latest technology to operate bold enterprises that the government is powerless to stop, even with totalitarian spying on private communications. Anyone declared a terrorist by the administration is being sent to a secret federal prison where constitutional rights don’t exist.

“And caught in the middle of it all are the brilliant teenage son of a missing Nobel-Prize-winning economist, his best friend from prep school whose uncle was once an Israeli commando, and the beautiful but mysterious teenage girl he meets in a secret underground … a girl who carries a pistol with a silencer.”

Exciting stuff!

Sneak previews for Alongside Night have already been held at a few festivals and libertarian events, and as I write this column the film is playing at the huge FreedomFest liberty bash in Las Vegas.

To learn more about Alongside Night, including future showings, visit the movie’s Facebook page and the official movie website.

And now… let’s look at the Quiz in it’s first-ever film appearance!

Above is the trailer for Alongside Night. At about 40 seconds, look to your right.

Yes, there it is: the Quiz chart, on the wall.

How did it get there? What’s happening in that room? What next?

See Alongside Night and find out!