With Libertarians Like This, Who Needs Neoconservatives?



A simple response to Reason Contributor Cathy Young’s piece arguing the necessity of true libertarians to support American interventionism would be to link to this article published the same day that details the inevitable fruits of this interventionism applied here at home. The conclusion is obvious: if you support American interventionism abroad then you support the same here at home. To think or suggest otherwise is either disingenious or inexcusably naive.

The byline to Young’s article, “Ron Paul’s foreign policy should worry true libertarians,” is yet another exhibit of the worthlessness of “libertarianism” as a political value. But I will nonetheless assuage the apparent fears of our “true libertarians” of every stripe: don’t worry, Paul’s foreign policy ain’t happening. But this obvious fact doesn’t stop Young from the need to reiterate the boiler plate talking points lifted directly from the likes of The Weekly Standard and The New Republic. Indeed, she manages to reproduce the entire checklist.

A global force for good…Check
Defeated Nazi Germany…Check
Defeated the Soviet Union…Check
Plenty of Enemies remain…Check
Prevent Genocide…Check
Humanitarian Intervention…Check
Prevent Future Holocausts…Check
Retreat would create a power vacuum filled by Russia or China…Check
American Global Military power is necessary for free trade…Check
Counter Iranian Nuclear Threat…Check
Our enemies only respect force; retreat would invite contempt…Check

The only differentiation between Young and the Neocon rhetoric is a brief, token consideration of the dangers of a militarisitic state. But I would suggest that if Young doesn’t consider the US to yet satisy the conditions of a militaristic state, then her criteria would objectively have to exclude any state in the history of the world from satsifying them as well. When she writes “prudence in choosing a course of action is one thing; a principled commitment to inaction is another,” it is clear that her criteria ultimately rests on what end of the gun you happen to be at.

Libertarian naivete is a frequent accusation. But my definition of the “true libertarianism,” as a political critique, is a vigilant assault against naivete and self-interest masquerading as moral necessity. Any libertarian skilled in this art should be able to deconstruct Young’s argument as a matter of course. We would start with
(1) what part of liberal social contract theory normatively legitimizes agents to contract consensual self-government as means to secure property rights for foreign agents in foreign lands who are outside the sphere of consent?
(2) liberty is means not ends. To promote it as ends is to actually conflate it with justice. To use the argument of promoting liberty/freedom really means enforcing justice. (1) and (2) obviously is not liberalism. It is exactly what is sounds like: a band of invaders contracted to enforce “justice.” In the abstract, Justice is a simply a moral end. The particulars of any given moral end may be deeply offensive. The need of an invader to enforce the moral end likely indicates the moral end lacks consent.
(3) libertarianism, as a political critique, addresses the liberal violations of (1) and (2). Classically, it roots this failure in a political economy of a military/security industrial complex that arises from a monopoly provision of security
(4) Young, in a complete 180 from the classic libertarianism position, employs a “libertarian” rationale for security to legitimize the liberal violations. Young may or may not be aware that she is in fact legitimizing fundamental liberal violations.
(5) Contextual historical and intelligence analysis is employed to critically examine “invader justice” claims. For example, the rationale for invader justice because “Egypt’s authorities seek to prosecute staffers of American nongovernment organizations for financing pro-democracy efforts in their country” omits the fact that the current Egyptian military government is deeply aligned/connected to the US military.

An empirical test of the “true libertarian” position vis a vis fundamental liberal violations can be had by observing the invader patterns into our own civil society. Do we see a military industrial complex dominance of civil society and a political economy of security turned against us? If the greatest security threat is now internal, then the results of the empirical test are clear. Cathy Young’s moral end of liberty is the Orwellian boot on our own necks.

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