Archive for Libertarianism
Dave Killion — March 17, 2013
The Victoria Libertarian Book Club has been boosted by the membership of Cato Institute Senior Fellow Jim Powell. Jim specializes in the history of liberty, and his most recent book is “The Fight for Liberty: Critical Lessons From Liberty’s Greatest Champions Of The Last 2,000 Years“. I have, of course, purchased the Kindle version, and placed near the top of my queue.
Jim used to keep a website called Liberty Story, and a large part of it is archived here. The site has about 20 brief articles concerning people and events critical to the advance of freedom, as well as a few other items. You will see that Jim’s is a very accessible writing style, and the history is both illuminating and motivating. Additionally, from March 8, there is this – “Remembering Harriet Tubman on the Centennial of Her Death” -
“Few freedom fighters were more tenacious than petite Harriet Tubman, the African-American slave-turned-abolitionist who died March 10, 1913 when she was about 92. She escaped to freedom, then was reported to have gone back into the Confederacy 19 times, risking capture as she “conducted” some 300 slaves to freedom. Although she was illiterate, she came to know the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region so well that she could take confusing, zig-zag routes, making it hard for pursuers to figure out where they might be able to intercept her. She was tough, too, enduring brutal conditions and always packing a pistol.”
Jim and I have exchanged a few emails, and he seems to be a gracious and intelligent person. He has been fighting for the cause a long time, and I am flattered that he would bother to join such a humble group so far from his home. I hope that he might one day make his way up here, and see our own little contribution to the history of liberty.
Dave Killion — March 11, 2013
In a previous post concerning the Free Province Project, I bemoan the comparatively unfavourable political and economic climate. Yet, I have noticed that in every discussion amongst libertarians regarding Colorado, someone points out how much better Colorado was before being ‘invaded’ by progressives fleeing states that had been ruined by the very policies they endorse, and how those same progressives are doing to Colorado what they did to their former homes. The same phenomenon occurs in discussions concerning the Free State Project; Bay Staters are migrating from Massachusetts into New Hampshire faster than are Free Staters. It is feared the progressive wave may swamp the libertarian lifeboat.
Could it be that I am too hasty in declaring the bleak state of affairs in PEI to be a detriment to libertarian ambitions? Perhaps, by selecting a region with such gloomy prospects, libertarians won’t have to battle an onslaught of idiot authoritarians, and can more readily construct a peaceful, market-oriented homeland. Yes, indeed… I do believe that I have mistaken an asset for a liability.
Incidentally, the Free Province Project remains little other than a Facebook page. If you (or someone you know) would like to step up and start administrating, it could one day prove a great blow for liberty. Think about it.
Dave Killion — March 10, 2013
Ann Coulter recently garnered more attention than she deserves by declaring that “people think libertarians are pussies“. Over at The Volunteer, Terrence Watson says that libertarians ARE (mostly) wimps -
“Hiding the real reason you support some policy and allowing others to believe you support it for some other reasons is so close to hypocrisy as to be indistinguishable.
To let politics drive your priorities is to necessarily become more like a politician. And it is exceedingly difficult to object to politicians who do what is popular over what is right when you are, in your own way, doing the same thing. If you are an orthodox libertarian who wants to abolish all anti-discrimination law — even if the result will be a proliferation of “whites only” signs and a culture awash in hate literature – then you should say so.”
Mr. Watson has a pretty simple position: libertarians should recognize that our preferred policies have potentially negative outcomes, and we should be more forthright in declaring that we support those policies, regardless. However, his defence of that position is confused. Consider the above quote. Is there any libertarian who opposes anti-discrimination laws because he desires a ‘culture awash in hate literature’ ? I think not. Unfortunately, the article is sprinkled with such errors. None of them, though, is as serious as the error he makes in listing 10 beliefs he attributes to what he calls ‘orthodox libertarians’. Here are a few -
” 2. White employers should be allowed to hang a “Help Wanted — whites only” signs on their doors. Even if the result is that black people are unable to find employment.
3. Property owners should be permitted to refuse to rent to gay people. Even if the result is that gay people end up homeless.
4. Neo-Nazis should be permitted to publish whatever they want. Even if the result is that Jews and other minorities are attacked in the streets.”
Statements like these concede far too much, in that they confuse ‘should not be punished by the state’ with ‘should be permitted’ or ‘should be allowed’. Left unchallenged, they make it easier for our opponents to portray us as unfeeling and indifferent. Rather than playing into that, choose instead to state the libertarian position correctly – “Property owners who refuse to rent to gay people should be punished by the market and the community, so that gay people do not go homeless.” Leave the ‘even ifs’ with the statists – “People should be forced to support a coercive welfare state, even if it destroys community and creates a cycle of dependency.”
None of this is to say Mr. Watson is entirely wrong. One of the reasons I think the coercive state will fail is because it is being attacked relentlessly on all fronts. Mr. Watson is suggesting one approach to that assault, and I wish him all the luck in the world with it.
Dave Killion — February 26, 2013
The Victoria LBC met at my place last week to share some pizza and screen ‘Atlas Shrugged II’ (Shrug Harder?). I’m sorry to say that it wasn’t very good. And by ‘it’, I don’t mean the pizza. Although some of the lines came across very well, the overall production value of the movie was shockingly low. The special effects, in particular, were so obvious that we felt uncomfortable. As viewers! And yet, according to the most recent numbers at Metacritic, Part II is even better liked by viewers than was Part I. So, there’s no accounting for taste. If you’re libertarian, enjoy it with your friends. Your libertarian friends. Anyone else, and I fear you might damage the cause.
Somewhat better was Christina Heller’s documentary ‘Libertopia‘. Over a 90 minute period, Heller looks at three individuals participating in the Free State Project. Although a little slow, the film effectively captures the earnest determination of people so enthralled by liberty that they elect to build their lives around its preservation and expansion. No matter your political orientation, ‘Libertopia’ is a beautiful, touching insight into human drive, and the power of an idea.
Dave Killion — February 24, 2013
The Cato Institute’s Dan Mitchell shares this amusing information -
“Every so often you get a “teaching moment” in Washington. We now have one excellent example, as President Obama’s nominee for treasury secretary has been caught with his hand in the “tax haven” cookie jar. Mr. Lew not only invested some of his own money in a Cayman-based fund, he also was in charge of a Citi Bank division that had over 100 Cayman-domiciled funds. “
Mitchell has pointed out plenty of this type of conduct before, and he notes that Republicans are tickled to mock left-wing hypocrisy (chiefly, I think, because it distracts from right-wing hypocrisy). But I think this sort of response misses an opportunity. Rather than mocking the opposition for being hypocrites, it might be better to point out that they have, through their actions, revealed that they actually approve of the practice/regulation/what-have-you that they have been speaking against. Afterwards, never miss an opportunity to defend your own position by citing the implicit endorsement of it by your opposition. If we demonstrate to left-wing and right-wing voters that the politicians they support are actually opposed to the values they hold, perhaps we can bring them that much closer to libertarian enlightenment.
Dave Killion — February 20, 2013
Over time, I have discovered a number of Canadian libertarian bloggers, and a number of Canadian blogs that advocate libertarian solutions to specific issues (such as school choice). It has taken a while to find the ones I know of, and I am sure there are others yet to come to my attention. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was one site where all this material could be promoted and discussed!
To that end, I propose an internet forum for Canadian libertarians. There is already a very active conservative forum, which provides an idea of how the new forum could work, but in sum, it would act as an aggregator for Canadian libertarian blog posts, as well as news and topics of interest to Canadian libertarians. Although I am too busy to run the project myself, I am certainly willing to pitch in, particularly in development. If you have the interest and the expertise (but mostly the interest) in making this project a reality, please let me know. I have a sense that libertarianism is on the rise in Canada, and a little effort on the part of just a few people at this stage could have outsized effects over the coming years.
Please, give it some thought, and spread the word.
Dave Killion — February 13, 2013
At his school’s presidential debate, a young man represents the libertarian platform. Democrats to his left, Republicans to his right.
Dave Killion — February 9, 2013
I recently stumbled over a blog post some of you might find interesting. Here’s a taste -
“Various schools within the anarchist movement have adopted their own flags, colours and neckerchiefs. These flags are bisected diagonally with the right half in black for anarchy and the left half in a color representing each school’s ideas. These color templates are also extended to five-pointed stars representing the same schools”….”The black-and-yellow or black-and-gold flag is used by anarcho-capitalists and other market anarchists. The yellow is intended to symbolise gold, a commodity of exchange often used in marketplaces unrestricted by state intervention. The flag was first used in public in Colorado in 1963 at an event organised by Robert LeFevre.”
Antony already presented some of this information back in July, but I think this is a nice supplement.
Dave Killion — February 6, 2013
The Victoria LBC is currently reading ‘A Mencken Chresomathy‘, a title we were very excited to select. Mencken is frequently quoted by libertarian scholars, particularly concerning his contempt for democracy, government, and politicians, and I had come to see him as dependably libertarian. Imagine my horror to read this -
“Few professional criminals are able to withstand a really brisk third degree. They may hold out long enough to be somewhat severely mauled, but by the time the ceiling begins to show bloodstains and their bones begin to crack they are eager to betray their friends and get to hospital. Many a time such a session in camera has yielded enough evidence to fill the death-house. Thus, while the third degree is clearly illegal, it is justified by the national pragmatism, for it undoubtedly works.”
This quote can be found about 1/5 the way into the book, and is so at odds with everything that comes before or goes after that I can scarcely believe it comes from the same man. I suppose I’m all the better for having seen it, though. The shock alone reminds me of the foolishness of hero-worship, against which I aim to be more vigilant.
Dave Killion — February 4, 2013
The Free State Project (FSP) is an effort designed to recruit libertarians to move to New Hampshire. Participants agree to move to the state within five years after a total of 20,000 people have pledged to do so, with the intent of creating an environment in which libertarian practices can flourish. Membership has grown slowly, and at the current rate of growth will not meet its goal until 2020. However, New Hampshire already has over 1,000 Free Staters comprised of existing residents and ‘early movers’, enough of whom are sufficiently active and effective that State Representative Cynthia Chase (D) has already labeled them “…the single biggest threat the state is facing…” . It’s a shame the immigration laws make it difficult for Canadians to participate, but those confined to the Great White North may have a made-in-Canada alternative.
Introducing, the Free Province Project. Currently nothing more than a Facebook community, the FPP seeks to cluster Canadian libertarians in Prince Edward Island. Although there is no pledge system yet in place, I note that PEI has 1/10 the population of New Hampshire, suggesting that a mere 2,000 pledges should be sufficient to trigger the migration. Furthermore, having another libertarian enclave geographically close to New Hampshire could improve the climate for a greater north-east secession movement!
Unfortunately, PEI is a somewhat more hostile environment than New Hampshire in terms of employment opportunities, existing liberties, tax rates, and more. Still, that shouldn’t stop someone from picking up the ball and advancing it down the field. Could this be a job for the Charlottetown Libertarian Book Club? Stay tuned!