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The Greatest Libertarian Accomplishment in History?

in Liberator Online by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 20, No. 8 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

What is the most important libertarian accomplishment in history?

Not long ago David Boaz of the Cato Institute was asked that question.

His response? “The abolition of slavery.”

“The greatest libertarian crusade in history was the effort to abolish chattel slavery, culminating in the nineteenth-century abolitionist movement and the heroic Underground Railroad,” Boaz wrote recently at Huffington Post. “It’s no accident that abolitionism emerged out of the ferment of the Industrial Revolution and the American Revolution.

“How could Americans proclaim that ‘all men are created equal … endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,’ without noticing that they themselves were holding other men and women in bondage? They could not, of course. The ideas of the American Revolution — individualism, natural rights and free markets — led logically to agitation for the extension of civil and political rights to those who had been excluded from liberty, as they were from power — notably slaves, serfs and women. …

“In the United States, the abolitionist movement was naturally led by libertarians. Leading abolitionists called slavery ‘man stealing,’ in that it sought to deny self-ownership and steal a man’s very self. Their arguments paralleled those of John Locke and the libertarian agitators known as the Levellers. William Lloyd Garrison wrote that his goal was not just the abolition of slavery but ‘the emancipation of our whole race from the dominion of man, from the thraldom of self, from the government of brute force.’”

That’s a great answer, just the kind you might expect from the editor of The Libertarian Reader, an The Libertarian Mindessential and delightful anthology of libertarian thought throughout history — 68 choice selections from the Bible and Lao-Tzu to Milton Friedman and Murray Rothbard, including selections from abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglas, Lysander Spooner, Angelina Grimke, Sarah Grimke and William Ellery Channing.

Boaz is also the author of a new book, The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto for Freedom, which has just been released. It’s an updated version of his classic book Libertarianism: A Primer, one of the best examinations of libertarianism available, which gathered worldwide praise. I highly recommend it.

I also highly recommend the rest of Boaz’s article, “Black History Is American History.” Next year, when Black History Month comes around, I expect it will be high on my list of suggested resources for libertarians to read and share.

Libertarian Landslide: Rand Paul Wins Big (Again) at CPAC

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 5 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“CPAC Shifts to the Libertarians” — Daily Beast headline

“A Rand Paul Rout in CPAC Straw Poll” — Politico Magazine headline.

The headlines tell the story — and an exciting story it is.

The Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) is the nation’s largest annual gathering of conservative activists and office holders. A highlight of each convention is a presidential straw poll, closely watched as an indicator of where Republicans and the broadly-defined conservative movement are moving.

This year, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky simply ran away with the Saturday March 8 poll, winning a whopping 31 percent of the 2,459 votes.

No one else was even close. Sen. Ted Cruz came in a distance second with 11 percent of the vote. Trailing behind them in single digits was a host of big-name Republicans, including Chris Christie, Rick Santorum, Paul Ryan, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and more.

It should be noted that the large number of younger activists who attend CPAC give the event a noticeable libertarian flavor. Rand Paul won last year’s poll as well, and his father Ron Paul won in 2010 and 2011.

Ron Paul’s CPAC victories previewed his historic 2012 race, which galvanized and mobilized the liberty movement. So Rand Paul’s sweeping victories last year and this year are widely seen as an indication of the growing political power of libertarian ideas.

On Friday night of the convention, Rand Paul delivered an electrifying speech that called for a liberty movement that would reach beyond the Republican party.

Excerpts:

“Imagine a time when liberty is again spread from coast to coast. Imagine a time when our great country is again governed by the Constitution. Imagine a time when the White House is once again occupied by a friend of liberty. You may think I’m talking about electing Republicans. I’m not. I’m talking about electing lovers of liberty.

“It isn’t good enough to pick the lesser of two evils. We must elect men and women of principle, and conviction and action, who will lead us back to greatness. There is a great and tumultuous battle underway for the future, not of the Republican Party but the future of the entire country.

“The question is, will we be bold and proclaim our message with passion or will we be sunshine patriots retreating under adverse fire?”

Rand Paul’s speech was peppered with quotes from the Founders, anti-slavery activist William Lloyd Garrison, and other great freedom fighters of the past. Paul attacked indefinite detention, NSA data collection, violation of Fourth Amendment rights, and more in a rip-roaring libertarian defense of civil liberties.

You can see the entire speech here.

After the speech and its wildly enthusiastic reception by so many young activists, the Daily Beast wrote:

“The crowd loved [Rand Paul]. These were his people, and they were whooping and hollering and chanting and fist-pumping like it was Saturday night at the roller derby.

“By the time Rand wrapped it all up by calling on the crowd to ‘Stand with me! Stand together for liberty!’ at least half the room would have followed him down to the gates of hell if he’d asked.

“If I were among the conservative movement’s values voters or hawks, I’d be getting mighty nervous right about now.”

UPDATE: New poll finds Rand Paul is GOP presidential race front-runner. It’s not just CPAC attendees who are ready to “Stand for Rand.” A new CNN/ORC International survey finds that Paul now tops the list of potential Republican presidential candidates.