Wednesday, March 26, 2008

When Theory Meets More Theory

And this is why I will never be a member of the Libertarian Party.
Mike Gravel, a former Alaskan Senator and Democratic candidate for president, has joined the Libertarian Party.
"My libertarian views, as well as my strong stance against war, the military industrial complex and American imperialism, seem not to be tolerated by Democratic Party elites who are out of touch with the average American; elites that reject the empowerment of American citizens I offered to the Democratic Party at the beginning of this presidential campaign with the National Initiative for Democracy."
Categorically against war and two fake concepts! 0 out of 3 is...awful, actually.

Libertarians have a serious image problem, and people like Gravel and Ron Paul have not helped. Besides that, the Randians (oh no a word I just made up!) are in that "big tent" and stink the whole thing up. People who are serious but realistic about small government and civil liberties want nothing to do with the kooks. It's one thing to say, for instance, that the Commerce Clause is a strict limit on congressional power; it's another to formulate a reasonable interpretation of that provision while dealing with and changing the system currently in place. Getting rid of the FDA overnight = kooky; not just kooky, but intellectually immature. Criticism is not the final step in political theory, and if libertarians cannot construct a viable ideological system from the rubble of rejected ideas, then they offer nothing worth overhauling our government for.

Oh, I know, Mike Gravel is hardly the best representative of the party. But still, libertarianism often marginalizes itself, and that's bad, because some of its ideas need to be implemented if we want any hope of surviving China, the collapse of Social Security, and an Islamic Europe.


At 10:45 PM, March 26, 2008 , Blogger TGGP said...

What do you mean 0 out of 3? My impression is that Gravel really does hold those positions and they are libertarian.

At 8:25 AM, March 27, 2008 , Blogger Vernunft said...

I mean that he has adopted three awful positions.

If libertarians are categorically against war, then I retract any earlier claim of inclination toward them I had.

As for the other two, they're made-up critical-theorist post-colonialist gibberish, and I'm not saying that Gravel doesn't honestly believe in them.

At 9:17 AM, March 27, 2008 , Anonymous Phillip Conti said...

Precisely how is it possible that libertarians are intellectually immature, they have nothing worth overhauling our government for AND YET some of its ideas need to be implemented if we want any hope of surviving China, the collapse of Social Security, and an Islamic Europe?

At 10:38 AM, March 27, 2008 , Blogger Vernunft said...

That "its" there has no antecedent in your post. I'll supply one: libertarianism had good ideas, but libertarians are (often) intellectually immature. That's what I said there, chief.

At 10:55 PM, March 27, 2008 , Anonymous Phillip Conti said...

There is nothing intellectually immature about advocating maximum individual liberty and minimal state, other than it is not "politically" fashionable at this particular time in history, in fact most of the domestic problems of this country stem from outright rejection of responsibility by the electorate.

At 9:38 AM, March 28, 2008 , Blogger Vernunft said...

Uh huh. Show me a comprehensive means of balancing competing interests, dealing with the government in place now, addressing federalism concerns, and allowing majorities to pass what laws they want under this ideal libertarian government. That's what maturity takes.

At 12:31 PM, March 29, 2008 , Blogger TGGP said...

War is the health of the state and requires massive government intervention, which often seeps into other aspects of life (World War 1 is a classic example, as much of the New Deal can be traced to it). Murray Rothbard once claimed the only "good wars" in our history were the war of independence from England and the southern war of independence, which would make him technically not "categorically" against war, I don't know of anyone who would dispute a description of him as "anti-war". The term "military-industrial-congressional complex" was introduced by President Eisenhower, hardly a pomo post-colonialist dispenser of gibberish. There are a lot of tax dollars and special interests tied up in there. For the last one, I'll concede that the U.S is more a hegemony rather than empire.

At 8:56 PM, March 29, 2008 , Blogger Vernunft said...

Of course, history includes other people (you may have heard about them), and they've been fighting good and bad wars for millennia. To say, of all these wars, that none of them was justified is to say simply that good people should surrender to aggressors always. What this would have made of liberty and enlightenment is clear - a stillbirth.

Rothbard was...utterly insane. Sorry.

I know that President Eisenhower's use was the most famous, and probably introduced it to the general public. That he himself was not a "dispenser of gibberish" does not mean that the term takes all the credibility of President Eisenhower along with it. His fears were overblown. The military-industrial complex is a rent seeker with a bunch of other rent seekers, itself rather strong but hardly driving foreign and domestic policy along a sinister path. In fact, because the military is one of those few things the federal government has the power to create and maintain, one could argue that the military-industrial complex is inherently less a threat than any of the other "special interests."

I hate the term "special interests," because of course people are going to want their own interests protected by the government and will petition that government for attention. That we have special interests shows that, thankfully, we haven't reduced government to Rousseau's general will - doing what most people agree on and then excecuting the dissenters.

The United States is a hegemony that engages in diplomacy and multilateral trade agreements to pursue its foreign policy interests. It has a plurality of power in the world but does not exercise that power in a coercive manner - so, call it a hegemony, if you want. I call it "Awesome McAmericaland."


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