Monday, December 03, 2007

The new revisionism

Noninterventionism -- the doctrine of peace and free trade -- has been the mainstream position of libertarianism for decades. It's the foreign policy position that's always been advocated by the main libertarian political party, the main libertarian think-tank and every Libertarian Party presidential candidate who comes to mind, such as Harry Browne, Ron Paul, etc.

It's easy to see why. At the end of the day, libertarianism (or classic liberalism) is the "mind your own business" doctrine. You can't really say, "I believe in minding my own business, but I support invading countries halfway around the world such as Iraq that represent no threat to the U.S., so that I can kill thousands of people who have never done me any harm."

Lately, there's been a revisionist line that insists that libertarianism is somehow inherently militaristic. That's the position taken by Eric Dondero, chairman of the "Libertarian Defense Caucus," who posted a comment to my Nov. 30 posting.

What do real libertarians believe? Here is a typical posting on the Cato Institute's blog. Here's another, by a different author.

Here is the Libertarian Party's current position on the war in Iraq, which criticizes Democrats for not moving decisively enough to get us out of the war: "The Democrats don't seem poised to do anything which will substantially change our presence in Iraq. It is time for U.S. forces to withdraw from Iraq as quickly as possible in a manner consistent with the with the safety of our troops."


Eric Dondero said...

Sorry, but you are completely wrong. It is the isolationist/non-interventionist line that is the usurper position or revionist position in our movement.

The original libertarian movement from the 1960s, with Goldwater, Dana Rohrabacher, and John Hospers was stridently Pro-Defense.

It was only in the middle 1970s with the invasion of our movement from the Anarchist leftwingers like Rothbard and Justin Raimondo, that the anti-American isolationist line came to the fore.

I'd advise you to correct the record, and stop trying to engage in a whitewashing of libertarian movement history.

I'd advise this to you in the strongest terms possible. Or else you will risk being labeled as a complete and utter liar.

Eric Dondero, Chairman
Libertarian Defense Caucus

Fmr. Libertarian National Committeeman

Fmr. Senior Aide, US Congressman Ron Paul

Founder, Republican Liberty Caucus

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

I guess you have to expect posts such as this if you try to discuss politics on the Internet.

I am not an expert on libertarian intellectual history, but Mr. Dondero clearly is not, either. A couple of months ago, I finished reading a wonderful book by Brian Doherty called RADICALS FOR CAPITALISM which traces the history of modern libertarianism. I'll keep this short by pointing out that libertarian history does not begin and end with Mr. Dondero's pet politicians. Figures such as Randolph Bourne and Frank Chodorov cannot be excluded from the history of anarchism and libertarianism simply because Mr. Dondero insists.