Freedomist vs. Libertarian—A Debate challenge

December 13, 2008

[First published January 16, 2005] When I wore my heart on my sleeve as a youth, I was a democratic socialist, but in the early 1970s I gave up the socialism for democratic libertarianism under the hammer blows of von Mises, Hayek, and Milton Friedman. Libertarian is what I called myself until recently. I remain libertarian in domestic policy, which is to say the more domestic freedom from regulation, government control and taxation, and oppressive laws, the better up to a point. I am not an anarchist, but believe social justice means minimal government consistent with protecting and guaranteeing all have equal civil and political rights.

However, on foreign policy the libertarian, with some exceptions, is an isolationist, fundamentally opposed to foreign involvements and interventions. Let international relations also be free, the libertarians say, which means free trade and commerce, and freedom for other countries to do whatever they want with their people. Not our business.

On this, the libertarians are blinded by their desire for freedom, not realizing that everything, including freedom demands contextual qualification (should those with a dangerous infectious disease remain free, when they could spread it far and wide, killing maybe hundreds with it?). But their isolationism, libertarian are making the world safe for the gangs of thugs (called dictatorships) that murder, torture, and oppress a people, and rule by fear.

Not our business, the libertarian still will say, although his fundamental belief in freedom is being violated in the most horrible ways. By implication, his isolationism is declaring that since it’s some body else that’s suffering, not me, my loved ones, or my friends, it’s okay. But besides this basic human me and mine, it is also a blindness to his own welfare. For in an age of readily transportable biological weapons, such as anthrax, and nuclear weapons, no longer can a country like the U.S. sit back and ignore what goes on elsewhere in the production and derivability of such weapons. In the hands of those who hate the democracies and their libertarian values, democracies are too vulnerable. Now, involvement and intervention in the rapacious affairs of thug regimes is of necessity a protection of democracies, not to mention advancing human rights and the freedom libertarians praise. Quite simply, no thug regimes can be trusted with either the possession or the capability of producing such weapons.

So, then what am I. Why, a freedomist (ist is a suffix meaning a follower or believer in certain beliefs, such as in socialist or feminist). This is a belief in not only freedom at home, but unlike the libertarian, democratic freedom abroad. This is not only for the sake of advancing freedom for others, but also to protect our own freedom.

My libertarian friends have been upset with my defense of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve gone conservative, they claim. One calls me a liberventionist (see link below).

Okay, lets debate it. A challenge. I will turn over a page on this blog to any libertarian who wishes to make a reasoned argument for isolationism, or from a libertarian perspective, an argument against our war in Iraq. I will respond in a page, and then the libertarian will have a page to rebut me.

Freedomist versus Libertarian. Whose up to it?

Link of Note

”War, Democide, and Liberventionism” (1/11/05)

By Anthony Gregory
“HYPERLINK “”Lew [ blog], it is indeed a huge disappointment to see Rummel on the dark side. I would never pretend to have anything on his excellent accomplishments in scholarship, however I have for a while had an intuitive skepticism of the ‘democide’ school of thought, especially as it relates to foreign policy.”

Left Wing, Right Wing! What About Up-Wing?

December 3, 2008

[First published December 26, 2004]In an interview with Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said (link here) that “the Republican Party currently covers only the spectrum from the right wing to the middle, and the Democratic Party covers the spectrum from the left to the middle. I would like the Republican Party to cross this line, move a little further left and place more weight on the center.”

This reference to a left-right spectrum is surprising, coming from Schwarzenegger who is more libertarian than Democrats or Republicans in his political philosophy. Perhaps he felt this was a matter of communication to newsmen who seem to know of no other way of characterizing political differences than left versus right. This is all one ever hears in the news, and even by informed commentators who ought to know better.

The left –right way of understanding political differences has a long history, which some only take back to the seating on one side of the aisle or the other of different factions in the French National Assembly during the time of the French Revolution. Left versus right was used during the American Revolution as well, and even further back at the time the English Revolution of the 1640s. So reporters and commentators can be excused for believing this left-right spectrum of politics is the only one possible.

It is not. There is also up!

Libertarianism is often mentioned in the news, but it seems to hang in the air as a political philosophy without secure footing on the political left-right scale, to use a more appropriate word for what will follow. Some treat libertarian social views emphasizing maximum freedom, including legalizing dope, prostitution, and gambling, and support for abortion, as left wing. Some others treat its belief in a free market and freedom from excessive regulation as right wing. Libertarianism can’t be both left and right wing at the same time, but few seem to recognize this contradiction.

In dealing with politics at its most diverse on the world stage, what we have here is three political scales, rather than just the left-right one. There is one scale from extreme left socialist/communist to the fundamentalist monarchist or theocrat (for religious rule). Another scale is of the latter at one end to the libertarian at the other. And the third scale is from libertarian to the extreme left. These three scale are connected at their ends to form a political triangle, as shown in the figure below.
(use this link if image not shown) 

Political Triangle


Empirical research on political systems and an analysis of the different ideologies confirms this political triangle. Let’s place the libertarian end as up, as I did in the figure. Then we can well ask of a politician, is he left wing (towards socialism), right wing (towards fundamentalist/traditional rule of some kind), or up-wing (towards the greatest freedom in social and economic matters)?

Then again, as crazy as libertarians have become on foreign policy, maybe the triangle should be flipped top to bottom so that we have them as down-wing.