lib•er•tar•ian: Two roads diverged in a wood…


By Joe Campbell
November 25th, 2007

Alaska
© kruggg6 @ flickr

lib•er•tar•ian

n. 1. a person who believes in the doctrine of the freedom of the will;
2. a person who believes in full individual freedom of thought, expression and action;
 

3. a freewheeling rebel who hates wiretaps, loves Ron Paul and is redirecting politics.

From the Washington Post, an ideologically-muddled piece by Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch (of Reason magazine) about Ron Paul and the libertarian phenomenon. I would guess the “muddle” is because Gillespie and Welch are still somewhat wedded to the idea of a conservative-libertarian political axis. The idea behind the piece was to explore the growing support for the libertarian philosophy in American politics – especially as demonstrated in the strength of Ron Paul’s campaign. Unfortunately, the idea wasn’t fully explored – and it ended up distorting Ron Paul’s positions significantly and mainly ignoring the left-libertarian movement. But the article did bring up an important topic – and one that I haven’t seen covered by the mainstream press.

Even as consensus on base libertarian ideas is growing, the movement is diverging into two camps. Or, more apt, libertarian ideas are taking root in two different political movements. In broad terms, I’m going to call them Ron Paul Libertarians and Kos Libertarians.

Ron Paul Libertarians

Favorite films
Enemy of the State
, V for Vendetta, The Firm, The Conversation

Favorite websites
Reason.com, reddit.com, digg.com, mises.org, lewrockwell.com (see footnote 1)

Favorite TV show
The X-Files, Family Guy

Favorite Conspiracy Theory
“9/11 was an inside job!” (See footnote 2); Honorable mentions: “Global warming is a hoax!” and “The Fed is evil.” (See footnote 3)

Geographic center
The Internet

Top proponents
Ron Paul, phenomenon

Number 1 boogeymen

Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, CIA, The Media, The Federal Reserve (See footnote 3)

Signature issues

  • opposition to Iraq war and most of American foreign policy since 1990;
  • opposition to wiretapping and increased national security measures;
  • support of marijuana decriminalization and ending the War on Drugs;
  • reducing taxes;
  • support of gun rights;
  • eliminating the social support network of Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, etcetera.

Ron Paul supporters tend to fall into two categories: the old guard – the Barry Goldwater wing of the Republican party – and a large contingent of newer members – who are suspicious of government, especially the military-intelligence-industrial complex that seems to be gaining more and more power. To speak in broad strokes: the older members are pretty old – and the main reason to include them is that Ron Paul himself is one of them. They have strong feelings about economic and social issues; and on these, they tend to be reactionary. The older guard want to reverse the New Deal and go back to simpler times.

The newer members care less about restoring the social and economic structures of pre-World War II America, and more about restoring – in their words – the Constitution. They want a new America where the government leaves them alone – with their guns, their hacking, their anarchist beliefs, their marijuana, their prostitution – whatever. (See footnote 2.) They are scared about the growing power of the government and feel we are approaching a police state, if we are not there already.

Ron Paul supporters, both old and new, tend to be contrarians, which makes them a cantakerous lot. But in a society, in a political debate, their views need airing.

Kos Libertarians

Favorite films
The Insider, An Inconvenient Truth, Fahrenheit 9/11, Thank You For Smoking

Favorite website
DailyKos.com

Favorite TV shows
The Wire, The Daily Show

Favorite Conspiracy Theory
“The Iraq war is part of an intricate plot to help Bush, Cheney, and the rich get hold of key resource before the coming near-apocalyptic events brought on by global warming.” Honorable mention: “9/11 was an inside job!”

Geographic center
The Mountain West/The Internet

Top proponents
Jon Tester, Markos Moulitsas

Number 1 boogeymen

George W. Bush, Oil companies, Wal-Mart, Halliburton, Blackwater, Hillary Clinton

Signature issues

  • opposition to Iraq war;
  • opposition to illegal wiretapping and the aggressive pursuit of unchecked executive power;
  • support openness and transparency in every portion of the government;
  • support of marijuana decriminalization and ending the War on Drugs;
  • support of net neutrality;
  • support of gun rights;
  • support of using government as a check against corporate power;
  • support of a strong barrier between religion and the state;
  • support of social security programs such as Social Security, aid to the poor, and health care programs.

The era of Libertarian Democrats was inaugurated with a post on the Daily Kos by its founder, Markos Moulitsas. From Markos’s piece:

Traditional “libertarianism” holds that government is evil and thus must be minimized. Any and all government intrusion is bad….

The problem with this form of libertarianism is that it assumes that only two forces can infringe on liberty – the government and other individuals.

The Libertarian Democrat understands that there is a third danger to personal liberty – the corporation. The Libertarian Dem understands that corporations, left unchecked, can be huge dangers to our personal liberties.

Libertarian Dems are not hostile to government like traditional libertarians. But unlike the liberal Democrats of old times (now all but extinct), the Libertarian Dem doesn’t believe government is the solution for everything. But it sure as heck is effective in checking the power of corporations.

Markos cites Jon Tester, Paul Hackett, and Jim Webb as models for this type of liberal libertarian politician, but the movement has yet to “take off”, even though 2006 proved a banner year. What is clear though is that this movement is growing in power and influence, and is likely to grow more. As the Republican party has become more authoritarian and the executive branch has become more powerful under Democratic and Republican stewardship, and as corporations have come to infringe more and more upon the rights of employees and customers, support for this point of view is growing.

Kos Libertarians believe do not need a government small enough to drown in a bathtub as Grover Norquist famously said. Rather, we need a government that is as small as possible, while still allowing it to act as a check against corporate power. In other words, Kos Libertarians believe we need a government that not only butts out of our life, but that protects our rights against others.

footnote:

1. Edit to the page. Added mises.org and lewrockwell.com.

2. I forgot to add the Fed. But of course they are important here.

3. As with most conspiracy theories, these positions are held by a vocal minority of supporters. And just because I label them conspiracy theories does not mean I consider them false – only that they involve an elaborate conspiracy, disinformation, the hiding of vast amounts of information from the public, and are not accepted by the mainstream press.

4. I don’t mean to imply here that all of these Ron Paul libertarians are gun-toting, pot-smoking, anarchist, pimp hackers – but that gun-owners, pot-smokers, anarchists, pimps, and prostitutes, and hackers all have something to gain from libertarian values as they have minority views that the government opposes. Also, based on my non-scientific discussions with Ron Paul supporters, I have come across, repeatedly, people who feel strongly about the first four issues. The last one, I read an article about.

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[The above image is used under Creative Commons license.]

32 Responses to “lib•er•tar•ian: Two roads diverged in a wood…”

  1. Shii Says:

    good job, you made a whole argument out of an ad hominem attack… for the record, I am a “Kos Libertarian” supporting ron paul

  2. joe@2parse Says:

    what ad hominem attack are you referring to?

    personally, I am a Kos libertarian supporting Barack Obama.

  3. nakedmaninthetree Says:

    The issue that’s coming about here, and I’ve seen it plainly for some time, is that while Ron Paul supports old-school libertarianism the ex-democrats who fell out with the party when they refused to stop the fascism of the Bush administration liked the idea of libertarianism too but were soon disappointed to realize that this included social programs such as universal health care and is removing the idea of political correctness that has been a heavy democrat ideology.

    The “Kos” camp allows this to influence them to a point where they want to fall out with someone with as much to gain as Ron Paul. Even though Paul has been a consistent voter in giving power back to the people his own personal beliefs weren’t sterilized enough for the ex-democrats. The “Kos” camp would rather ignore that it is completely within their best interest to back Ron Paul considering every other Republican candidate is actually fascist in some way but because Paul does look towards Christianity, feels strongly about life, and agrees with some other usually friction-creating Conservative beliefs he also understands it is not his duty to implement them on a federal level and use federal money to support them. Ron Paul has stood strong on his voting record to always make the federal government smaller but the “Kos” camp is having a hard time looking past his own beliefs even though he has no serious desire in implementing them with taxpayer money.

    Ron Paul is the only excellent candidate attempting to get the Republican nomination but he is already being looked down upon as if he’d create worse or similar mistakes as 9/11-screaming Giuliani. Similarly the “Kos” camp is not focusing on their own problem – the fact that their type of candidate (a Gravel or Kucinich for example) is not gaining any serious momentum whatsoever with primaries on the doorstep with Hillary, Obama, and Edwards all with commanding leads. The “Kos” camp is still dealing with a majority of democrats who see all the failings during the Bush Administration as Republican while the truth is Democrats have failed us greatly as well. This is a topic not really brought up in the “Kos” camp and if it is it doesn’t garner the heavy support someone like Paul is.

    So the “Kos” camp needs to remember that they probably are still registered as democrats an a “health care president” like Clinton who also wants “security before liberty” is going to be far worse than Bush considering she not only wants to stay entangled in foreign affairs but wants to spend EVEN MORE federal money for universal health care. The “Kos” camp needs to stop focusing on the petty differences with Paul and focus on whether they seriously can choose between Gravel and Kucinich and if they can do that they need to decide if either of them can get enough points in the polls to beat Hillary or Obama… or they need to look at Obama and see that he wants presidential transparency and believes that liberty and security go hand in hand and see if he is the best candidate to back.

    This petty arguing over what kind of “libertarianism” is the best needs to be focused. By far we NEED Paul on the republican side – whatever your differences with him. He does not show even the slightest desire the control from his position, he desires to disseminate. Now would this be a proper candidate to put up against Obama? Definitely. Obama having to appeal to the Libertarians of this country will give us a healthy president. And we don’t have much time to do it.

  4. joe@2parse Says:

    nakedmaninthetree:
    I almost agree with everyone you say – but I think the Kos libertarianism is a bit more profound than you give it credit for. Conservatives made the argument – from the late 1960s to the present that, in Reagan’s words, “Government is not the solution – it is the problem.” And they won elections based on this because they had a point. Government power oppresses, and it can have significant negative effects. But even as liberals acknowledged this, they did not embrace whole-heartedly the idea of a government “small enough to drown in a bathtub”. And they saw the growth of corporate power as an additional threat to their liberty.

    Taking into account the truth in this critique of government yet also seeing the usefulness of government, the liberal libertarian is born.

  5. Suicidal Writer Says:

    Nice article. Thumbs up.

  6. Libertas Says:

    Umm.. how exactly does ‘Kos Libertarian’ differ from the standard Democrat, other than opposing the various lobbies?

    Seems to me that you are trying to connect the standard social programs into Libertarianism, which is completely misleading. Even those calling themselves Left-Libertarians are concentrated on eliminating private ownership as a means for further freedom, which is the main goal of Libertarianism. What you are describing is not Libertarianism; it is the noble, but slippery slope to government expansion and to the loss of freedom.

  7. nakedmaninthetree Says:

    Joe:
    I agree that the government can be used in progressive ways. Everybody does to an extent, but when it comes down to it – we have to cover it issue by issue. I enjoy public roads, public education, corporate limitations and obligations because of their sheer power, public protection of the environment, and those things… but on what level needs to be reworked when we have the finances to see what bureaucracies are unnecessary and too expensive (Department of Homeland Security for example) and which ones are needed to help our country run effectively and freely. Paul is questioning them all and accounting for them to give a reason that the public can back strong enough to keep existing.

    Our country should focus on the perilous things that our nation is facing such as ever-rising gas prices. Bringing all the money home from foreign spending and focusing a strong part of it on alternative energy sources that are safe would be a bureaucratic entity that would be useful for the American people especially putting American funds behind it, America could even profit off of any significant findings. With the money Paul would bring home from foreign spending we could lobby for things like that.

    Paul is not perfect but he is the libertarians only shot right now (no matter what you support) and if you want a serious candidate that would be more liberal then there needs to be a massive movement for unified backing of Kucinich of Gravel (neither of which I personally believe have enough supporters) or they can go for Obama forcing Obama to feed in to more libertarian ideas, Obama seems to be a generally acceptable person and both Paul and Obama could bring out each others weak points better. It just pains me to see discrepancies within libertarianism before it is strong enough to even take root. Clinton or Giuliani promise no change from high bureaucratic spending and ignoring transparency requests so it’s best to focus on who libertarians in general should agree to back on the democratic side and stop worrying about the Republican side until the primaries are over. Republican libertarians are doing their job.

  8. Jay Says:

    “The problem with this form of libertarianism is that it assumes that only two forces can infringe on liberty – the government and other individuals.

    The Libertarian Democrat understands that there is a third danger to personal liberty – the corporation. The Libertarian Dem understands that corporations, left unchecked, can be huge dangers to our personal liberties.”

    It appears then that ‘Libertarian Democrats’ need to go look up the definition of ‘corporation’. If you would have done that first you might not have made an ass out of yourself and completely discredited yourself with such an absurd quote.

  9. joe@2parse Says:

    I think you mean the legal definition of the corporation, rather than the actual definition. And despite the legal definition of a corporation as an individual, they quite obviously are more than that.

    If considering a corporation something other than an individual in a philosophical and practical sense “completely discredits” anyone to you, then you are welcome to your opinion.

    Personally, it has always seemed absurd to me that I can spend a few hundred dollars and create another individual completely owned by myself, or even the fact that a corporation is considered an individual. It is one of those legal absurdities that one is forced to deal with.

  10. SusanG Says:

    One clarification you might want to correct, from the FAQ’s of Daily Kos:

    Controversial 9/11 Diaries

    DailyKos accepts that the 9/11 attacks were perpetrated by agents of Al-Qaeda. It is forbidden to write diaries that:

    1. refer to claims that American, British, Israeli, or any government assisted in the attacks
    2. refer to claims that the airplanes that crashed into the WTC and Pentagon were not the cause of the damage to those buildings or their subsequent collapse.

    Authoring or recommending these diaries may result in banning from Daily Kos.

  11. joe@2parse Says:

    From the article: “As with most conspiracy theories, these positions are held by a vocal minority of supporters.”

    I never said that the DailyKos supports conspiracy theories, and I certainly didn’t say that all, or even most, libertarians of any stripe believe any of the conspiracy theories listed. If they did, both movements would be much farther to the fringe than they are.

    I consider myself a Daily Kos libertarian in waiting (waiting for a candidate I can vote for).. But I know that the distrust of the government that is inherent in libertarianism lends itself more easily to conspiracy theories. And these theories of the fringe of each libertarian movement reveal something significant about the movement – even if a major news source and community chooses to censor such theories.

  12. Matt Moore Says:

    The main difference between right libertarians and Kos libertarians: the former actually exist. Seriously, this left libertarian thing is just old-style, big government progressives who glommed onto the libertarian trend because it was obviously on the upswing. They invented a term (left libertarian) without coming up with a new (or even a revised) philosophy.

    There’s really only one issue on which progressives and libertarians agree… they both hate the war in Iraq. As the war continues to fade as a campaign issue I expect that there will be a lot less talk about libertarian democrats.

    In a sentence: A libertarian that isn’t hostile to government isn’t a libertarian.

  13. Web 2.0 Announcer Says:

    lib?er?tar?ian: Two roads diverged in a wood? – 2parse/blog…

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  14. Mike Says:

    This is one of the stupidest articles I’ve ever read. There is only one kind of Libertarian: the one that believes that government intervention is only justifiable when someone’s rights are violated by someone else. You can’t say “kos libertarians” support using government to protect individuals from having their rights violated by corporations while “conservative libertarians” don’t, that’s absolutely ridiculous. A real libertarian, that means a Ron Paul libertarian, believes that the government, through the police and court system, gets involved ANYTIME someone’s rights are violated, including on those occasions when a corporation is the perpetrator of the act of violence/coercion/fraud.

  15. symphonyofdissent Says:

    Ideologically, I consider myself to be a “kos Libertarian” to large degree, but I disagree when it comes to Gun control which I strongly support. I feel that just as the government has an obligation to ensure that corporations regulate their environmental emissions or properly dispose of waste that companies can be mandated to put safe guards on their guns ( tirgger locks, guns that only fire for a particular finger print register etc) and that just as car salesmen are required to check that someone does not have a poor driving record before selling them a car, that checks on gun ownership are needed…

    These do not contradict the basic premises highlighted above, but stem strongly from them.

  16. symphonyofdissent Says:

    I want also to argue that there is a real distinction between a progressive and a left-libertarian.

    Many of the progressive policies in the early 20th century in particular are exactly the sort of things that left libertarians most strongly oppose. As an example, prohibition was a largly progressive campaign that outlawed the avalability of a product viewed as a social evil. A left libertarian would believe that the only role government should have in the regulation of alcohol is to ensure that poisoned products are not put on the market, or that false advertising is not tricking, coercing or taking the power of rational choice away from the consumer.

    Another good example would be the Eugenics movement. Despite what we think when we look back now tainted by memories of right wing fascist nazism, much of the Eugenics Push was exceptionally progressive in America. The notion that government should lock up those that are unintelligable for the benefit of the rest of society is progressive.

    Progressivism does not view the individual as the critical unit, but instead views society as a whole. The sacrifice of individual liberty is justified if it benefits society on the whole Libertarianism views individuals as the primary unit of interest. Government is vital in matters which concern public health on an individual level.

  17. erw Says:

    i think checking corporate power is seen as a non-issue for libertarians, since they believe:

    1) the place to check corporate power is in the courts, if and when they harm you or your property.
    2) corporate lobbies and special treatment are all by-products of a large federal government. reduce the money at hand in washington drastically and you will see the lobbyists disappear… forcing large corporations to compete like anyone else. they would only survive if they serve customers well.

    i think these points are valid. but i also appreciate the democrats fear that under a system with a minimum of economic rules, you may experience an unacceptable (to some) widening of the wealth/power gap between rich and poor. not to mention there are some functions the free market just never seems to get around to tackling. should people have to wait decades until some entrepreneur figures out how building a dam can generate profit? or is it fair for citizens to pool their money for projects of general benefit?

    generally i agree with Mike on this. the phrase “libertarian democrat” is pretty stupid. i think it just shows how much influence ron paul has. he is pulling democrats into his camp with fearless stances they agree with on the individual liberty issues, and some may even be crawling in his direction on economic philosophy.

  18. GlenO Says:

    What I like best about Ron Paul and Libertarianism in general is the fact that they attempt to define and defend their beliefs using rational arguments. I often disagree with them, but it is refreshing to see political discourse raised out of the sewer in which it has been found so often in recent years. I think the core question, which Libertarianism brings into sharp relief, is this: what are our rights and responsibilities as individuals, and what are our rights and responsibilities as members of collectives? In particular, how should these two roles best be balanced? It seems to me Libertarians would like to forget that we have a role in collectives, and they usually ignore the fact that the federal government is only one of many types of collective. State and local governments are also collectives. So are corporations. So are political parties. Humans are social, not solitary creatures, and it is foolish to pretend otherwise. As bad as the federal government is, it is a distraction to make it into a bogeyman. Much can only be accomplished through joint effort, and that always entails compromises. I think it would be better to focus on ways to empower individuals so they can force accountability on the government (and other collectives) than it is to give up on the idea of a central government entirely. And it doesn’t make sense to me to treat the central government to a major downsizing while giving giant corporations free rein.

  19. TanGeng Says:

    I think we have to recognize that there are more collectives than just government, corporations, and political parties. If it was that simple then middle class America will always be on the short end of the stick – constantly being taxed or robbed for the benefit of corporations. The domination of corporate money in politics is what we can continue to expect.

    But luckily for the middle class, there are more collectives. There are churches. There are charities. There are consumer advocacy groups. There is the ACLU. There are environment protection groups. There are property rights associations. There are gun right associations. However, unlike politicians, these collectives have narrow objectives and their leaders rarely owe anything to the corporations. Kos is rather dismissive of these types of associations. Yet they are powerful, and could be even more powerful if government didn’t occupy a part of their niche or impose its power over these associations.

    Government is special in that it is the only collective that can use force to back up its decrees. And so all these collectives go to government to get their will imposed on the other collectives. Instead of negotiation and bargaining between worker unions and corporations, the two groups go to government to try gain an advantage. Each group attempts to buy politicians and convince voters. Usually money wins and of course the corporations often have more money.

  20. blank Says:

    Like many Paul Libertarians, I question how Kos Liberatarians and liberals/progressives (like myself) disagree.

    Kos claimed: “But unlike the liberal Democrats of old times (now all but extinct), the Libertarian Dem doesn’t believe government is the solution for everything.” That sounds like a stawman to me; no one I know of any political stripe believes that government is the solution for everything. Gun control seems to be an obvious difference, but an alternative ideology on one major sounds silly. symphonyofdissent mentioned prohibition and Eugenics, which are soundly rejected by all liberals that I know, nor are they really current issues.

    So, what are the major current issues (other than gun control) on which Kos Liberatarians and liberals/progressives disagree?

  21. Matt Moore Says:

    blank: You’re right, Eugenics was a big strawman. But prohibition isn’t…. we’re currently ensconced in the war on drugs, and that’s just prohibition of different substances. We’re also well down the road towards a new prohibition of alcohol, what with MADD and other groups moving away from being anti drunk driving and into being anti drinking. Plus: cigarettes will probably be illegal sooner or later.

    The problem? I don’t think the Kos libertarians are on the right side of this issue. Most progressives are all for freedom, until you want the freedom to hurt yourself with tobacco, alcohol, drugs, or guns. Then it’s just more lust for big government control of the people, with lots of rationalization about the negative effect smokers have on the cost of health care or other collectivist blather.

    Kos libertarians are NOT libertarians unless it’s convenient, or if they think it will get them a few votes from anti-war libertarians who are sick of the republicans.

  22. mario Says:

    and if you would be curious to learn about radical-left libertarian politics, check out this union in Sweden:
    http://www.sac.se/en/princip.html . They are very similar to the IWW (iww.org) in the English speaking world.

    The main difference with right-libertarian and center-left kos libertarianism is that corporate capitalism is seen as authoritarian , governments whether elected or not end up being owned by these corporations. Organized labor using solidarity, direct democracy and the general strike is the only force that can brake this system up.

    Socialism does not need big government. If workers could elect a majority to the board of directors of their companies, that in itself would move the country farther to the left than even Venezuela.

  23. Fred Fnord Says:

    Quite a lot of silliness here:
    First off, to the two people who were saying that Kos was just jumping on the bandwagon of Libertarianism now that Paul has made it ‘cool’, 15 seconds of reading would have showed you that he wrote about that stuff years before Paul was anything other than a Congressman who was generally regarded as a nutcase.

    As for prohibition and drug laws, nobody has any good answers to any of those questions. If you’re a Democrat/Libertarian type, you want to say ‘legalize everything and tax it.’ And then you realize that if you legalize everything, then the FDA pretty much goes away… how do you allow stores to sell PCP and not the latest experimental drug from Merck? I mean, really, how likely is it that it’ll be MORE dangerous than the stuff that’s already legal? And if they want to say that it cures baldness and impotence and PMS, well, they have a first amendment right to do so, don’t they? And the only recourse is to sue them, if instead it makes your fingers fall off, or your brains leak out your ears. I will be the first to admit that the FDA isn’t perfect, but anyone who wants to go back to the early 1800s, where people were selling ‘miracle cures’ made with lead, mercury, or whatever else they found under the sink, is a lunatic.

    As for the claim that Kos libertarians are somehow not self-consistent, what you don’t understand is that as I understand it, Kos libertarianism is about two things. The first one is civil libertarianism, which is the freedom to do what you like free of social constraints SO LONG AS YOU DON’T HARM OTHER PEOPLE. I worked for a couple of years in a store, and I was getting bronchial infections about once a month, and pneumonia twice a year, and once had to be hospitalized for it. Why? Turns out I was working with two smokers and, unbeknownst to me, I was allergic to cigarette smoke. Due to my skills, I would have had to have taken at least a 25% pay cut if I’d worked anywhere else around there.

    This also meant that for many, many years I was unable to go into a bar, ANY bar. Smokers were physically harming me and preventing me from visiting places that I had just as much right to visit as they did. So before you talk about ‘lust for government control of the people’ maybe you ought to think that they are in fact harming other people besides themselves. Or maybe you simply don’t care about people like me because we’re just too small a minority to matter? Or, to turn things around a bit, should I be able to spread anthrax spores around in a crowded bar? After all, I like the smell of them, and I’ve been inoculated against anthrax, so they won’t be causing ME any problems…

    Kos’s other libertarian instinct is that, as long as people are protected against corporations, he thinks they’re great and that the government should offload more stuff onto them, and should ‘let the private sector’ fix problems rather than ‘expanding the government bureaucracy’. These are direct quotes, by the way. Basically, he thinks that the government shouldn’t be doing things that the private sector could take money from the government to do.

    So I don’t see why libertarians don’t like him. He’s a libertarian, he just defines harm a little more broadly than you do. (As in, he cares about things that don’t harm HIM but do harm OTHER PEOPLE. Which admittedly isn’t typically a libertarian strength.)

    I think he’s extremely dangerous to the Democratic party. Which is another reason I’m surprised that libertarians don’t like him more than they do.

    -fred

  24. Matt Moore Says:

    Fred – If you read my comment, you’ll notice that I didn’t mention Ron Paul in my comments about Kos and the libertarian bandwagon. I’m well aware that Kos made his inane comments about libertarian democrats before the current Presidential race started. I think everyone can agree that Kos is a talented reader of political trends… he saw the libertarian tide turning before most other people, and he realized it would be a powerful force he should try to harness. Still doesn’t make him a libertarian.

    With one of your first statements you give the whole game away… “If you’re a Democrat/Libertarian type, you want to say ‘legalize everything and tax it.’” There is no actual libertarian who would ever say add the “tax it” onto the end of that statement. Ron Paul wouldn’t legalize it to raise tax revenues. He deplores sin taxes.

    Then you go off on a tangent about your right to be free from smoke and the government’s responsibility to make sure you don’t have an asthma attack. This is what drives me crazy about the left libertarians… you use the statement “Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins” too broadly. All of the sudden someone else not wearing their seatbelt that gets hurt in a car wreck is causing the rest of society economic harm by straining the health-care system. This isn’t the kind of freedom that libertarians are for.

    My answer to you about second-hand smoke: If you don’t like cigarette smoke, don’t patronize businesses (either as a consumer or an employee) that allow smoking. They’ve existed for a long time, it didn’t take the smoking ban to find a bar that didn’t allow smoking. I’m sorry you would have earned less at a job without cigarette smoke, but you don’t have an inalienable right to make 25% more. You do, however, have an inalienable right to make the choice between more money or avoiding smoke.

    “Libertarian Democrat” is an oxymoron, and it’s one based on ignorance of what libertarians actually believe. You can’t just declare that you like freedom except when you harm other people, but then define harm so broadly that any action can be shown to cause another person harm. I’m sorry if you don’t like that, but that’s the way it is, and that’s why libertarians don’t like Kos.

    Well, that, and you progressives already stole the word liberal from us, we’re not going to let you have our new word without a fight.

  25. Adam Ricketson Says:

    First, you guys might be interested in the discussion of Kos vs. Paul at the Freedom Democrats website (http://freedomdemocrats.org/node/2151).

    Otherwise, I just want to comment that there is a core libertarian movement in the USA that is older than this “Kos/Paul” phenomenon, and it has it’s own splits among the “left” and “right”. These Kos/Paul movements are basically just fads (temporary popular manifestations) with respect to libertarianism…they will fade with time, but the core will remain. The Paul movement has many connections to the libertarian core, but Kos libertarians are almost separate from that intellectual framework. I think the Freedom Democrats website can provide a good introduction to the “left-libertarian” community.

    Also, I don’t know how you could exclude “Reason” from the libertarian reading list, since it is probably the most popular libertarian publication in existence. It even seems to have emphasized its “leftist” side over the past few years, so maybe Kos libertarians would appreciate it. Also, many libertarians like the Economist, for their neo-classical liberalism.

    Finally, I think it’s odd that you connect libertarianism with conspiracy theories (unless you link every movement with a conspiracy theory) because libertarians are particularly immune to conspiracy theories due to the fact that their ideas are based on institutional analysis. Basically, libertarians believe that the state will behave badly no matter who is in charge. It’s non-libertarians who cling to the idea that bad behavior needs to be explained by hidden conspiracies.

  26. Nathanael Nerode Says:

    Someone wrote: “private ownership as a means for further freedom, which is the main goal of Libertarianism”

    Nonsense, that is far from the goal of Libertarianism. Look up Bakunin. Do some reading about anarchism and libertarianism in Wikipedia. Libertarianism originally arose as a non-authoritarian form of *socialism*. The person who wrote “property is theft” also considered himself a “libertarian”, long before all of you johnny-come-lately property-worshippers who call yourselves libertarians.

    Learn some history. Libertarian is a word which is a lot broader than some of y’all are giving it credit for.

  27. Nathanael Nerode Says:

    Another ignorant person wrote:
    “it didn’t take the smoking ban to find a bar that didn’t allow smoking. ”

    Yes. It did. I don’t know what part of the country you were living in, but around here it would have taken at *least* a two-hour drive, probably four hours or more (I chose to stay away from bars entirely instead).

    People are stupid. In particular, bar owners are stupid. In this area, patronage went up after the smoking ban went in, because so many people had stopped going to bars entirely.

    While I don’t really think the smoking ban is the greatest idea, your facts are simply wrong.

    You also haven’t considered the public air. Why exactly is smoking allowed on *public roads and sidewalks*, which we really aren’t able to avoid?

    Incidentally, I was disgusted when the smokeless cigarette was killed by the FDA back in the 1980s, because it would have pretty much solved this entire secondhand smoke problem technologically.

  28. Nathanael Nerode Says:

    “A real libertarian, that means a Ron Paul libertarian, believes that the government, through the police and court system, gets involved ANYTIME someone’s rights are violated,”

    Explain why Ron Paul’s environmental record is so crummy, then.

    According to the hardcore interpretation you provide, I should be able to sue every single car driver and every single coal-burning power plant in the country and get an injunction preventing them from polluting my fraction of the public air.

    I can’t, can I? What has Ron Paul done to help me be able to do this?

  29. Nathanael Nerode Says:

    Someone else wrote:

    “And then you realize that if you legalize everything, then the FDA pretty much goes away… ”

    Not true at all.

    What you *don’t* legalize is *fraud*. If you’re selling PCP, it has to be real PCP, not PCP cut with rat poison (unless you advertise that it’s cut with rat poison). If you’re selling snake oil, you can’t claim that it cures cancer unless you have evidence that it does.

    This is the concept behind the earliest FDA law, the Pure Food and Drug Act.

    From a left-libertarian point of view, the FDA should be responsible for ensuring *truth in advertising*. Not for prohibiting the sales of anything.

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