November 04, 2004

Neo-Libertarian

Some of you might notice the change here. I've changed my name from AngryLibertarian to Neo-libertarian. Why? Because the "angry" threw people off. It was largely meant as a joke, since I'm often accused of being angry even though I'm usually not at all. I get the accusation from typing a lot, which some of the more defensive and inadequate online debate folks mistake for anger. If it's aggressive, it must be angry, right? Nope.

Plus, I am a neolibertarian. What is that, you ask? Simple, it's summarized at the top of the page.

Freedom, democracy, human rights, open markets, international cooperation, vigorous foreign policy, democracy abroad, war against terrorists and tyrants, force when needed.

The Libertarian Party has some good positions, but it's too doctrinaire, too uncompromising, too disinterested in winning. We need to focus on selling the practical benefits of liberty. We need to accept incremental improvements instead of purist obstruction. And we need a foreign policy of principled intervention to defend this country instead of running from obvious threats and hiding behind ideology.


In short, there are three main planks:

1) Utility
Instead of hitting natural rights, morality of freedom or the constitutional obligations involved, libertarians need to sell the real story: Freedom works, folks. It's not like abstinence or teetotaling - it's not something you have to do even though it's bad. It's not like eating your vegetables - it's not just a stupid rule to follow. It very well might be the case that freedom is the law, and certainly it's ethically superior to tyranny

But people should accept freedom because it's in their interest. Freedom, deregulation, open trade, more tolerant social policy, lower taxes, better access to goods and services, these are all in one's interest. Freedom works, it improves your life, it's what got America this far.

That's what you don't hear from the Libertarian Party. They're too interested in dictates from on high. Yes, the platform has some very nice problem-solution sets, but it doesn't offer enough real advantages.

Rather than wade through philosophical discourse, the average voter would rather watch TV or have fun or listen to music. I don't blame them, a lot of philosophy is very boring. I have read quite a bit, and some of it is dense as hell. But political speeches and arguments can be very snappy, concise and easily understood. Libertarians fail to bring the utility of liberty home because they address issues few people care about, like the gold standard, the SEC or the Federal Reserve. Eliminate the UN? Trash NAFTA? These are some pretty severe prescriptions and people intuitively know they can't happen.

An example is public nudity. Why would you waste time with public nudity rights? It won't win and nobody wants it. You'd screw yourself and for what? So that nudists are finally free to do in public what they can already do at home or on private camps? There's next to no utility for anyone there, and it's impossible to achieve. They have no concept of the utility angle, seeking instead to espouse philosophy they fail to see enacted.

You could have a tax cut, though. You could deregulate some Medicaid or reform Social Security. You could decriminalize marijuana or address gay marriage. But abolishing the entire federal economic regulatory team in one fell swoop is as implausible as it is risky. The Libertarians neglect the utility argument and go straight to theory and ideology.

We need to sell plausible policies that emphasize the utility of marginal freedom, not just absolute freedom.

2) Incrementalism

Connected to utility, Libertarians skip short-term solutions and go straight to minarchism, the conditions of a minimal state. Nobody will accept that right now, it's too extreme. We invalidate ourselves from attention in the media and punditry by escaping the comprehension and credibility of both. Journalists, pundits and reporters realize we're so crazy extreme that most people won't risk it all in a single election.

Libertarians as it is too often wait until they can have it all at once. They won;t budge, even if it means most or all of their goals eventually. They would rather wait in place, getting no liberty, than move toward the center to persuade people to their side.

Well, if you were fighting a war, would you never attack until you could win all at once? Hell no. That's a dumbass political strategy just like it's a dumbass military strategy. Such a chance rarely occurs, because you need to weaken the enemy and build your own position in order to make a killing blow like that.

The proper strategy is simple: you achieve all that you can, salvage what's left, and push on for another day.

The Libertarians don't accept the utility argument and so don't believe in incremental freedom - like signing a free trade agreement instead of eliminating all trade barriers and NAFTA and WTO. They hate the regulation of trade and creation of a government agency. But, rather than cut rates through government agreements and agencies, they'd rather have higher tariffs and do nothing for now. You could liberalize trade and reduce tariffs if you accepted an FTA, but they don't accept the incremental value.

Another example is marijuana. Some libertarians refuse to let marijuana be taxed and regulated if it's legalized. They don't want the government to assert the right to regulate it, because that's unfree and advances the regulatory mindset. Whatever. If it's regulated then it becomes more acceptable. Eventually it would be about as acceptable as a private alcohol, do it in your home, in your basement, nobody has to see it, and you don't drive high. Simple. But no, they have to be 100% pure and focus on getting everything all at once. Absurd.

Incrementalism is how the left has been so successful. Reform and compromise are how they advance. If we are unwilling or unable to incrementalize right back, then we lose. Is it really better to bitch and moan but do nothing than to persuade and win? Obviously not.

3) Foreign Policy

The Libertarians by and large abstain from foreign policy. With anti-militarist and even some anarchist influences, they oppose things like the War on Terror and the War in Iraq. Tell you what, though: if we can democratize Afghanistan and Iraq and turn terrorist supporters into enemies of terror, then we've created two new allies - like the Marshall Plan after World War II.

More fundamentally, the terrorist groups are reformist and revolutionary groups that radicalized against their own governments. Their governments now pay them to attack us and leave the Middle East mostly alone. That means that domestic tyranny and closed markets (most are frustrated middle class people with big degrees and no job prospects) caused terrorism. If we can democratize the Middle East and open up their markets, we can stop terrorism at the source.

Libertarians prefer to pretend that Islamists are attacking us for good reason - which is just a degree short of 'we deserved it.' In essence, we fiddled with them, they attacked; we leave and they'll stop. That's wrong on both counts. They attacked us because we threaten them through globalization. Our economies, companies, music, movies and clothing filter in and they hate it. They like technology but they hate our culture. America spreads its culture and buys culture from elsewhere, it's a wonderful process of give and take - the marketplace of cultures, so to speak. Islamists are losing, in short, because their culture is being abandoned in favor of Coke, Elvis and Levi's. Since they can't win in a free decision, they win by violence - stop America and get them out of the Middle East.

That's what it is. They hate our culture overriding theirs, they feel threatened, so they attack. In a wider sense, it's about power. They want land, people, power, prestige - because it secures their culture from invasion and abandonment. So they fight in Kashmir, in Afghanistan, in Chechnya, in the Balkans, in Spain, in France, in the Sudan, in Indonesia, in the Gulf, and in the Philippines. Did Sudanese rape victims do something to get molested by Islamists? Are they in Kashmir and Chechnya because the US invaded in 1991? Of course not. They are attacking everyone.

Since they are attacking every bordering race, nationality and religion, we can obviously assume it's not just a response to us, but the nature of uber-extremist Islamism. Rather than being healthy, educated, normal people like most Muslims and Arabs, they have to be jerks and rape, murder or threaten everybody that's not Muslim. Assholes.

Withdrawing doesn't save us. Falling back only entices them. Even if we completely stopped globalization, they would still attack. They are messianic and missionary - they believe their religion belongs everywhere. They will never forgive and never forget. Only force will stop the current terrorists from doing ill and only reform, freedom and democracy will prevent more from replacing them. That's the only workable solution.

Rather than espousing silly reasons that are false on numerous counts, neolibertarians stand for a foreign policy that's not afraid to use principled intervention, where necessary. It secures our place and defends the liberty of everyone in the world.


There are other points in it, but such is the gist of neolibertarianism. I am not the only one, nor am I the first. I am a strong proponent of it, though. Utility, incrementalism, and real foreign policy. Those are the three main points.

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