Steve G.

The Anti-Federalist Epiphany

In Uncategorized on June 28, 2007 at 7:15 pm

Here’s an actual conversation/epiphany I had with my husband not very long ago while driving in the car.

Titaniumgirl: I’ve always heard that the Federalist Society was good, but wouldn’t the Anti-Federalists be the true good guys?

Titaniumboy: Federalists are the good ones, the anti-Federalists are not.

Titaniumgirl: That’s what we are told, but the War of Northern Agression was most certainly supported by the federalists.

Titaniumboy: But, we are told that the Federalists are good.

Titaniumgirl: We are also told that Abe Lincoln was among the best presidents ever, and he was actually an authoritarian dictator who suspended habeaus corpus and killed approximately two hundred thousand people. Every other country on earth ended slavery peacefully, but he was hell bent on wielding power and destruction to anyone who did not support “federalism”.

Titaniumboy: Hmmm

Titaniumgirl: Maybe the problem is that all of these law schools have elite “Federalist Societies” and they act like it’s just and honorable. The Anti-Federalist’s are overlooked, not even spoken of. The Articles of Confederation were a great thing yet we are told/were told in history class that they needed to be discarded because the government needed MORE POWER. You can call me an Anti-Federalist because I would like a very limited government. I’m an Anti-Federalist because I don’t like death, destruction and dictators.

Titaniumboy: (looking very confused) Okay, whatever.

  1. Yeah, we are told how great FDR was too. The winners get to write the (main stream) history. The losers are sometimes permitted, as in the case of the Lost Causers, to obfuscate the truth about their activities – e.g. pirates are glamorous, Confederate soldiers were fighting for an honorable cause.

  2. The Anti-Federalists had a lot of good ideas.

    Interestingly, politicians have been naming things the opposite of what they are for marketing purposes since the country was founded… this is the earliest case in American history that I am aware of. The Federalists claimed the name “Federalists” to preempt their opposition. In reality it was the Anti-Federalists that advocated for federalism and the Federalists that advocated for a strong central government.

    So George W. Bush is in good company with his USA PATRIOT Act, No Child Left Behind, etc.

  3. The Articles of Confedration were sufficient if think the central government is the only entity capable of violating individual rights. They were not sufficient for African slaves, women, etc., to be free from the initiation state-sanctioned force. The Articles had no Bill of Rights. I’ll take the Constitution, and I think Kunta Kinte would agree with me.

  4. The central government was certainly NOT the only entity capable of violating individual rights.

    However, on balance, the federal government – particularly the much later implemented incorporation doctrine you imply by mentioning the BoR, otherwise with the BoR only applied to the feds themselves – is more destructive than protective of rights.

    Likewise, a strong UN might indeed play some positive role in liberating some countries from dictators or genocide or preventing conflicts, but it isn’t worth the risk of a totalitarian world government.

    Decentralization is not perfect by any means, but it’s generally a step in the right direction, with individual sovereignty being the end goal.

  5. Governments exist to defend individual rights. If the Bill of Rights applied only to the federal government, and the federal government had no real power, then the Bill of Rights would be useless — which it essentially was prior to the 14th amendment.

    When you advocate the type of “anti-federalism” you are advocating, you are essentially granting each of the fifty states the authority to be a little tyranny all to itself. Governments exist to defend individual rights, and if they do not do this, they are illegitimate. There is no purpose for a national government if it does not exist to defend our rights, including against the “state’s right” (sic) of racist, sexist, and otherwise collectivist tyrants.

    I know, I know… You can cite me a huge long list of government abuses. Well, I have one that the national government helped end: Slavery. You can’t top that. Another — female disenfranchisement, and later, minority disenfranchisement. All of the abuses by the feds against the states cannot begin to remotely compare.

  6. Governments exist to defend individual rights.

    Nice theory. I contend that it is merely the latest window dressing used to justify their existence, though.

    If the Bill of Rights applied only to the federal government, and the federal government had no real power, then the Bill of Rights would be useless — which it essentially was prior to the 14th amendment.

    The price is having a federal government big enough to enforce it against local tyrants. I say it isn’t worth it, although it may not be readily apparent.

    When you advocate the type of “anti-federalism” you are advocating, you are essentially granting each of the fifty states the authority to be a little tyranny all to itself. Governments exist to defend individual rights, and if they do not do this, they are illegitimate. There is no purpose for a national government if it does not exist to defend our rights, including against the “state’s right” (sic) of racist, sexist, and otherwise collectivist tyrants.

    But what happens when the federal government becomes tyrannical? Unlike the local tyranny, which a smaller number of people may be more readily able to defeat, or – failing that – to emigrate from, a federal tyranny is harder to mobilize against, and takes more effort to move out of. It also adds layers of extra bureaucracy and unaccountability; hardly a good thing.

    I know, I know… You can cite me a huge long list of government abuses. Well, I have one that the national government helped end: Slavery. You can’t top that. Another — female disenfranchisement, and later, minority disenfranchisement. All of the abuses by the feds against the states cannot begin to remotely compare.

    I wouldn’t say the feds’ imperialism, the domestic tyranny imposed in the name of foreign wars, the federal war against the American indigenous peoples, the trillions of dollars of stolen tax money, the many trillions more kept from being created by regulations, the injustices perpetrated by corporations protected by limited liability and corporate personhood, the corporate welfare and wars on behalf of corporate interests, the war on drugs, etc, etc, are so readily dismissed.

    It’s true that the feds ended chattel slavery and Jim Crow in the South. Could it have been done otherwise? Had the south been allowed to secede and the north stopped enforcing its fugitive slave laws, slavery could not have lasted long. More importantly, the US imperialist state of the late 19th century on may well have never emerged, WWI could have ended in the negotiated neutral end it was headed toward without US involvement before 1917, and fascism, nazism and Marxism may very well have never come to power.

    Every nation in the Americas except Haiti and the US ended slavery without a war around that time, Brazil being the last in 1888 or so, if I recall my reading correctly.

    Or, let’s take a more contemporary example:

    Black and Latino communities suffer disproportionately from police brutality. It’s local cops, but the weapons and paramilitary tactics come from the feds. The “wars” leading to the militarization of local police departments – against drugs and terrorism – come from the top. The equipment is the leftovers of the military-industrial complex sold at military fire sales or given away in fire sales by the feds to police gangs. The members of those gangs in many cases got their training brutalizing people in the federal regime’s foreign wars.

    So, is it worth it to have a strong federal government? It may seem that way at first, but I think that is a case of what Bastiat called “that which is seen and that which is not seen”.

  7. It’s not my “theory” — it’s from the Declaration of Independence.

    The absence of government is tribalism. I’ll take our current state of affairs over pre-historic barbarism, and I’ll work to make the government conform to the unknown ideal of a truly limited government that exists solely for the protection of individual rights.

    Perhaps the South should have been allowed to secede and the North should have offered asylum to escaped slaves. But whatever “injustices” perpetrated by the North in the Civil War (“War of Northern Aggression” is racist code, must like “states’ rights”) do not justify disgusting neo-confederate revisionism, nor do they preclude the morality of a national government wielding its monopoly of force against those who violate individual rights. All the nasty stuff you can cite — and I’m not “dismissing” it or contesting it — still doesn’t invalidate the virtue of the 14th amendment applying all other amendments to the states as well as the federal government. You will argue that the government should not exist. My point is, if it cannot defend my rights, then no, it shouldn’t.

  8. It’s not my “theory” — it’s from the Declaration of Independence.

    That’s a theory. The results are somewhat different.

    The absence of government is tribalism.

    Monopoly government itself is tribalism, only elevated to a more deadly level. Or is it technological progress that you think is made possible by government?

    I’ll take our current state of affairs over pre-historic barbarism, and I’ll work to make the government conform to the unknown ideal of a truly limited government that exists solely for the protection of individual rights.

    It’s a false choice. Prehistoric barbarism is a function of technology. Monopoly government does not advance the progress of civilization, it retards it. As for limited government, that’s like limited cancer.

    But whatever “injustices” perpetrated by the North in the Civil War (”War of Northern Aggression” is racist code, must like “states’ rights”) do not justify disgusting neo-confederate revisionism, nor do they preclude the morality of a national government wielding its monopoly of force against those who violate individual rights.

    Injustices perpetrated by the north were quite real. Neo-confederate revisionism goes too far in many cases, but it also exposes commonly held misconceptions about the war; both sides go too far in looking at complex historical events selectively to whitewash one side and overvilify the other.

    As for monopoly force, I’m against it. It may protect some individual rights but ultimately it destroys them far more.

    You will argue that the government should not exist. My point is, if it cannot defend my rights, then no, it shouldn’t.

    Glad we agree🙂

  9. Hey, other people, feel free to chime in… any time…

  10. Neither of us is going to convince the other, but this can still be productive (I guess): Yes, I do believe that limited-government capitalism is the only moral or rational method of societal organization, and that the absence thereof (“anarchy”) is inherently tribalist and collectivist, as history (pre-history) demonstrates. Tribes do not respect individual rights; they respect force — both internally and externally. And yes, I do believe technology is a function of capitalism, which requires the existence of government to enforce individual (and property) rights. Again, I think the empirical data is on my side. The progress of humanity under various tribal, feudal, mercantilist regimes was largely stagnant, whereas America’s form of limited-government capitalism is where most innovations took place. If you quantified technological accomplishments throughout man’s history a good 99.9999999%+ have taken place in the past 200 years; most of them in America, and virtually all others inspired by the American system.

    Truly legitimate government — which exists solely to defend individual rights — is an unknown ideal. But it is more realistic an ideal than utopian anarchism, wherein the very nature of man must be recalibrated in order for the fantasy of “anarcho-capitalism” to work. In truth, the destruction of the state leads to tribalism, feudalism, or the rise of a new (not necessarily more benevolent) state. The government envisioned in the Constitution is ultimately desirable, and we have more ability to re-engineer the nature of government than we do to re-engineer the nature of man.

  11. GE – I could answer, but I want to give some other people a crack at this. I’ll try to do some recruiting for the thread comments elsewhere.

    =paul

  12. But while I’m waiting on that, this was posted by Mark Richeson on the Tennessee LP yahoo group:

    Our politicians, as most systematic tyrants of the past are expert at creating laws that create civil unrest so that they can claim the need for more laws to suppress the masses. If you want to see a good example of what we are heading for, learn Portuguese and study the Brazilian culture. The lack of state autonomy has created an oppressive government. They have federal IDs and have a far greater illegal immigrant problem than we do; moreover, you can drive down a certain street in Santos – SP that everyone knows about, hand your car over to an illegal immigrant and claim it on your insurance.

    Brazil is policed by mostly federal officers. You can bribe your way out of anything. In Brasilia – Distrito Federal (Federal District like our DC), across the street from the Brazilian FBI, is the worlds largest black market shopping plaza which is full of illegal Bolivians selling CDs of their wooden flute music. You can buy any software that you desire. As a matter of fact, due to the excessive control of the Brazilian government on the economy, 40% is black market.

    I am no economist, but it is obvious that laws are made to keep honest people at bay. Therefore, one can logically conclude that with excessive economic laws would only give an advantage to those that are willing to disobey the law. Therefore there would be a tendency for the morally bankrupt to have greater success while the morally correct would have less power.

  13. This is the preamble to the Constitution “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. ”

    While we may quibble about what Liberty means this document says nothing about defending individual right. And btw I have read others who suggest that Liberty and Freedom are not necessarily the same things.
    MW

  14. Paulie – I have to say that your post from 5:38pm is exactly what I was thinking, but don’t have the ability to write. Right on!

    G.E. Smith – even thought I disagree with you, I’m glad you keep things civil.

    Michael H. Wilson- wouldn’t “establish justice” sum up defending individual rights? And “General Welfare” – back in the old days “Welfare” didn’t hold so many negative connotations. “Securing the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity” – that sounds like enabling freedom and liberty to me.

    I see what you mean, there is some gray area here.

  15. The very first Anti-Federalist Paper, “Brutus #1”, highlights the defect of the “Interstate Commerce Clause” as being such a catch-all that anything and everything could be the perview of the Fed.Gov by using that clause to justify that power. And, sure enough, that power has been perverted just as predicted. Examples abound, I personally like the relatively recent example of Senator Feinswine justifying banning standard sized pistol magazines based upon “their impact on Interstate Commerce”.

    Keep in mind that the Declaration of Independence was a unanimous document. Those who invented the Constitution very deliberately made sure it required only a simple majority, because otherwise it would never have passed. It was bloodless coup de ta, enshrining the merchantilism and centralization of power that English subjects were already accustomed to.

    A government produces nothing itself, it is a parasite upon people who are actually productive. Anything that a “government” does that is a good thing is (by definition) considered a good thing and therefore valuable and people would do it anyway.

    Space is finally opening up, even with NASA and the Fed.Gov going berzerk every time some private effort succeeds despite their best efforts.

    The Turnpikes were private roads, airports have all been taken over by governments, even a little project called “Boulder Dam” by the Boulder Cement Company was nationalized and then proclaimed to be a success of government.

    The USPS legal monopoly on the delivery of First Class mail was instituted only _after_ Lysander Spooner had created his own private post office and so humiliated the USPS by showing their inefficiency that the USPS went crawling to congress to protect them from competition.

    Just a few examples of somethings commonly thought of as “so big only a government can do it”.

    In fact, I have yet to have any program or “good” pointed out to me that is not more efficiently produced by voluntary interaction. What government produces which are not produced privately are “Bads”. Or rather, government is a far more efficient producer of “bads” than private individuals, which is exemplified by how many people those in governments can kill and not be prosecuted for.

    Keep in mind, people who abhor “anarchy” are actually saying that they believe someone must be able to imprison and kill others *at*will* in order for their personally favored projects to succeed.

    There is no need for “government” to punish people who break the peace, private individuals have been running “neighborhood watch” and such efforts since people first lived in groups (which is always). There is no need for “government” to protect against aggression, private individuals (once called “minutemen”, today called “insurgents”) have been protecting their’s and their neighbor’s homes against organized aggression since, again, forever.

    Government is defined by its ability to bring coercion to bear against people who have done no wrong. Taxation, conscription, eminent domain, immigration restrictions. All excellent examples of punishment for harming no one, and all very prosecutable when committed by non-government individuals. But then we have different words for when non-government people do it: Robbery, slavery, theft, kidnapping.

    So why is it “right” to rob your neighbor at gunpoint to build a road, after removing your administrative cut of the take of course, but wrong if I rob you to buy a TV? It is _exactly_ the same thing.

    And don’t reply with “We Need Government To…” because that just does not work. _I_ don’t need government to do anything.

    _YOU_ may very well need the power of coercion to do what you want to do, but that only brings into question why what you want is so overwhelmingly important and yet you cannot convince others to help you do it voluntarily.

    Calling an-archy “utopian” only makes a fool of your argument. “Utopia” was a planned society, run to the most minute detail by perfect philosopher kings. Utopia and an-archy are as opposite as it is possible to be.

    It is possible to disagree with voluntary interaction, to believe that without the constant threat of overwhelming violence people cannot coexist in “peace”. But to do so is to expose your own underlying violence and distrust of others.

  16. The Constitution places limits on government. It does not confer rights. All actions not expressively permitted the government in the Constitution and subsequent amendments are PROHIBITED. All possible rights are inherent in the people, as expressed by amendment #9, and other necessary governmental actions may be delegated to the state or local government, as expressed by amendment #10.

    “General welfare,” “establish justice,” etc. — these are not open-ended propositions. The government can do all of that, but must do so within the confines of the powers expressly delegated to it via the Constitution.

    Obviously, the government has a poor track record of staying within these confines. But that does not mean that it should be stripped of its legitimate powers to DEFEND individual rights against the tyranny of its member states. I wrote an article about this at my blog. It is called “From big-government racism to limited-government racism: The conflation of libertarianism and racial collectivism.” You should check it out.

    My point is: The unknown federalist ideal is a limited federal government, with state governments limited by the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments pertaining to the states, with the ultimate decentralization of political power into the individual himself or herself. “State’s rights” is inherently statist, and is usually code for racism. In the absence of a federal government strong enough to protect the individual rights of citizens, there is one less back-up against tyranny.

    Please… Spare me the laundry list of abuses by the federal government. They are as well known as they are egregious. That doesn’t impact the unknown ideal, nor the idea that the federal government can, and therefore should, wield its monopoly on force to defend individual rights against oppression by the several states.

  17. Good article.

    I’d like to disambiguate “states rights”.

    On the one hand, it is, as you say, a code for racism and state abuse of individual rights.

    On the other, it means decentralism, which I consider a good thing, for reasons spelled out above.

    Thus, I prefer calling what I favor decentralism, or, if I feel like saying or typing a bit more that day, progressive decentralism towards full individual sovereignty with interconnected mutual voluntary structures.

    Similarly, I’d wish to disambiguate the economic order I prefer; anarcho-capitalism brings to mind the statist-corporatist system, which is what most people think of as capitalism, which they imagine can somehow exist without the state and become even more rapacious, not realizing to what extent it is propped up by the regime.

    http://mises.org/story/2099#6

    While I’ve said I don’t want to dwell on terminological issues, I can’t resist making a point about “capitalism” and “socialism.” Rand used to identify certain terms and ideas as “anti-concepts,” that is, terms that actually function to obscure our understanding rather than facilitating it, making it harder for us to grasp other, legitimate concepts; one important category of anti-concepts is what Rand called the “package deal,” referring to any term whose meaning conceals an implicit presupposition that certain things go together that in actuality do not. Although Rand would not agree with the following examples, I’ve become convinced that the terms “capitalism” and “socialism” are really anti-concepts of the package-deal variety.

    Libertarians sometimes debate whether the “real” or “authentic” meaning of a term like “capitalism” is (a) the free market, or (b) government favoritism toward business, or (c) the separation between labor and ownership, an arrangement neutral between the other two; Austrians tend to use the term in the first sense; individualist anarchists in the Tuckerite tradition tend to use it in the second or third. But in ordinary usage, I fear, it actually stands for an amalgamation of incompatible meanings.

    Suppose I were to invent a new word, “zaxlebax,” and define it as “a metallic sphere, like the Washington Monument.” That’s the definition — “a metallic sphere, like the Washington Monument. ” In short, I build my ill-chosen example into the definition. Now some linguistic subgroup might start using the term “zaxlebax” as though it just meant “metallic sphere,” or as though it just meant “something of the same kind as the Washington Monument.” And that’s fine. But my definition incorporates both, and thus conceals the false assumption that the Washington Monument is a metallic sphere; any attempt to use the term “zaxlebax,” meaning what I mean by it, involves the user in this false assumption. That’s what Rand means by a package-deal term.

    Now I think the word “capitalism,” if used with the meaning most people give it, is a package-deal term. By “capitalism” most people mean neither the free market simpliciter nor the prevailing neomercantilist system simpliciter. Rather, what most people mean by “capitalism” is this free-market system that currently prevails in the western world. In short, the term “capitalism” as generally used conceals an assumption that the prevailing system is a free market. And since the prevailing system is in fact one of government favoritism toward business, the ordinary use of the term carries with it the assumption that the free market is government favoritism toward business.

    And similar considerations apply to the term “socialism.” Most people don’t mean by “socialism” anything so precise as state ownership of the means of production; instead they really mean something more like “the opposite of capitalism.” Then if “capitalism” is a package-deal term, so is “socialism” — it conveys opposition to the free market, and opposition to neomercantilism, as though these were one and the same.

    And that, I suggest, is the function of these terms: to blur the distinction between the free market and neomercantilism. Such confusion prevails because it works to the advantage of the statist establishment: those who want to defend the free market can more easily be seduced into defending neomercantilism, and those who want to combat neomercantilism can more easily be seduced into combating the free market. Either way, the state remains secure.

    I don’t mean to suggest that evil statists have deliberately conspired to corrupt our language to serve their own nefarious ends. That sometimes happens, of course, but it’s not necessary. Rather, a perverse invisible-hand process is at work: the prevailing use of the terms “capitalism” and “socialism” persists because it serves to preserve the statist system of which it is a part. Think of it as spontaneous ordure. (Sorry.)

    Call it free market anarchism, mutualism, voluntaryism, or plain old anarchism, but please don’t confuse matters by calling it anarcho-capitalism.

  18. “Please… Spare me the laundry list of abuses by the federal government. They are as well known as they are egregious. That doesn’t impact the unknown ideal, nor the idea that the federal government can, and therefore should, wield its monopoly on force to defend individual rights against oppression by the several states.”

    Please, spare me the laundry list of abuses by Marx, Lenin, Pol Pot, Mao, Hitler, Stalin, and the other tyrants. That doesn’t impact the unknown ideal (of the benificience of an all-powerful Philosopher King).

    By demanding that the abuses of power be ignored simply because we all agree they are abuses, you are demanding that we ignore that the abuse is inherent in _POWER_.

    Centralizing power into the Fed.Gov was a demonstrable mistake. There were no abuses of state power over individuals that did not continue after the Constitution was put in place, and that have not been amplified beyond recognition since.

    Every step taken forward has been accompanied by two steps back. We live on 1/8 of our product, the rest being stolen by direct and indirect taxation, and regulation. There is no way to calculate what could have been if the decentralization of power had continued doing what those who created the Constitution considered bad: Competition between the states for _lower_ regulation and _lower_ taxation.

    You thought Massachusetts was happy that Rhode Island had lower import duties and was taking a larger and larger chunk of the business? Or did you think that the equalization of all tariffs was _altruistic_?

    The “crisis” which the Framers touted as the reason for the need for greater centralized power was a crisis of _governments_, not individual liberty. The Constitution was created to ensure the continuation of government.

  19. Oops, by the time I realized where that first paragraph was going, I’d already written Marx. He himself was never a tyrant, so should be removed from that very incomplete list.

    http://www.mises.org/story/2542

    This weekend’s article on Mises.org is applicable to the discussion. Enjoy.

  20. Bob – That’s not at all what I’m saying. I’m saying the abuses of governments have nothing to do with Ayn Rand’s vision of the proper role of the state; Thomas Jefferson’s vision; even Ludwig von Mises’s vision. You guys are screaming “anarchy” and I’m hearing tribalism at best, Emma Goldman/Mikhail Bakunin at worst. Speaking of Marx, anarchism is a Marxist utopia. It is far less realistic than the goal of a constitutionally limited democratic republic that exists to defend the rights of men and women. The history of anarchist thought is the history of people who considered themselves socialists, and then a New York racist turned it on its head and sait it was capitalist. It isn’t. The 19th century anarchists were right. If every time one defends the existence of government, one is met with a laundry list of abuses, then that is just a smarmy way of shutting down debate. I will take Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, James Madison, etc. You can have Murray Rothbard. If there is nothing else for us to discuss, then let us be done with it.

  21. paulie – Even where we disagree, we are on the same page. Anarchism is not capitalism. Capitalism requires the presence of a government to defend property rights and preclude the use of force or fraud within capitalist transactions. Anarchism does not respect any rights — it only ensures that the one committing the gross and inhumane deeds will not be wearing a fine hat. If you are against landlords, the stock market, the innovations spurred by patent protection, etc., then you may be an anarchist. If you are not against those things, then you are not an anarchist. Property is a social construct, and only the government may enforce property rights — beyond the individual’s own defense thereof, or the defense thereof by “voluntary confederations” i.e. tribes.

  22. The only problem, of course, is when one tribe decides it doesn’t share the same voluntarist views as another tribe. That tribe — “voluntary confederation” — may use force to subjugate weaker tribes. This is the history of pre-historic man. Man’s nature is unevolving. You cannot remake Man into the anarcho-capitalist / mutualist / whatever you want to call it Perfect Man. Therefore, “voluntarism” or mutualism, as I see it, is a utopian dream; not an attainable reality. Here’s one to get the anarchists riled: I believe government prevents more force than it exerts, at least domestically.

  23. General welfare,” “establish justice,” etc. — these are not open-ended propositions. The government can do all of that, but must do so within the confines of the powers expressly delegated to it via the Constitution.

    I disagree with just about everything that you are saying. How can an extremely large buearaucratic machine do what is is listed above? There is no justice with a LARGE Federal government.

    For example, the medical marijuana initiatiaves which were passed by several states in the last few years. THE PEOPLE spoke, they voted and FEDERALISM came in with the smack down and invoked the “Interstate Commerce Clause”. The will of the people was abolished due to FEDERALISM. This is NOT justice or general welfare being practiced.

    And if you do not think that hundreds of thousands/millions of people dying at the hands of their own Federal government is something that is too obvious to be bothered with I highly suggest you watch JPFO’s Innocence Betrayed

    http://www.innocentsbetrayed.com/index2.htm

    You seem to be using the word triabalism quite a bit. I’m guessing that you are assuming that any place without a strong central govt is bereft of morals or technologies and they should all be sent to a special government finishing school to get rid of their “tribalnesss”. I don’t get your point because without an all omniscient Fed we would have BETTER technology, Have the ability to begin space colonies, probably have access to several other alternative fuel sources (like cars that can run on WATER). I hardly call that tribalism, it’s quite the opposite.

    Bob Robertson – Rock on with your bad self!

  24. It seems to me that answering Mr. Smith’s latest would be tantamount to going in circles.

    Let’s try another tack.

    GE Smith finds fault in paleolibertarian connections to the racist Old Right, neo-monarchists, neo-confederates, racial purity anti-immigrationists, anti-semites who hide behind the much more respectable and justified anti-zionism, patriarchal traditionalists, and so on.

    He asks, fairly enough, what is worse than slavery and Jim Crow? And certainly, chattel slavery and Jim Crow were (and are – there are at least 27 million slaves in the world today, by one estimate I have seen, and it’s not as if racism has gone away) monstrous evils.

    Well, what about imperialism? In the 20th century alone, strong central governments killed an estimated 200 million of their own citizens and many millions more in wars.

    In this young century alone, the US regime has killed about a million middle easterners (plus another million or so in the preceding decade – “worth it” according to former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright). About half of these have been children. Many more have been raped, tortured, robbed, mutilated, made homeless, and subjected to every conceivable horror. And the US regime is hardly the only murderous regime in the world.

    Sure, racism plays a role in all this. Foreigners are dehumanized as “gooks” and “hajis” to make them easier to kill, torture, and all the rest.
    The drug war that feeds the domestic police gang/prison-industrial complex is sold to the public under the guise of protection both from foreign narcoterrorism and urban “law and order” against supposedly marauding minorities, and these popular archetypes play a large role in immigration hysteria.

    But imperialism plays an even bigger role. When you get to the bottom of it, the US regime and large corporations financed the very evils they have grabbed huge chunks of our money and freedom to fight – Marxism, Fascism, Jihadism, and narcotrafficking – and in return, the regime has been given much more money and many more powers to fight these evils, while its partner corporations have made huge amounts of money producing weapons, rebuilding bombed out countries after wars, refining petroleum, and so on, all the while shielded by corporate personhood and limited liability.

    And where have the successors of the classical liberals been on all this? Ayn Rand supported nuking Russia, on the pretext that its people had not overturned sovietism; some of her disciples today favor nuking Mecca and fighting the whole Muslim world. Barry Goldwater was a staunch cold war militarist. The Kochs made money off military contracts, and bought immunity from large pollution liabilities with Republican Party contributions and intermarriage into the Bush Clan, and their foundations such as Cato have waffled on Bush Crime Family imperialism in the middle east. Neal Boortz is an unabashed warmonger, and even defends torture and the domestic surveillance state.

    The military-industrial complex is a true evil, and it is far more murderous than even slavery or Jim Crow. It always finds legitimate sounding excuses: fascism, communism, jihadism, narco-terrorism – but in reality it creates these excuses, and needs them to keep grabbing more of our money and more of our freedom. And imperialism is the Achilles heel of neoliberals, neocons and neolibertarians just as much as racism is the Achilles heel of paleocons and paleolibertarians.

  25. Paulie – Very well said – maybe I should hire you as a personal tutor for myself. Here is something for you to think about -why don’t you write a book? You have such a way with words.

    I agree that imperialism and the military industrial complex is MUCH MUCH MUCH worse than chattel slavery. I think slavery was never a good thing, it’s pretty much a direct opposite of libertarianism, so why would any liberty loving person like it? As the world became more enlightened slavery ended peacefully throughout Europe. Unfortunately, it did not end peacefully here in the U.S. The Civil War consolidated Federal power, making leviathan larger and more imperialistic. I wonder what the world would be like today if a noble, peaceful man sat as 16th President and there was a peaceful resolution instead of bloodshed.

  26. Thank you, you are most kind.

    My attention span is too short to write a book, and my attempts to write several in the past have turned into endless meandering. I prefer blogging and commenting; if you pull together all my posts and comments, it easily adds up to a book or several books a year.

    I’d be more than glad to be your personal tutor, my fair lady🙂

  27. “I’m saying the abuses of governments have nothing to do with Ayn Rand’s vision of the proper role of the state; Thomas Jefferson’s vision; even Ludwig von Mises’s vision.”

    And I echo back that the abusers have nothing to do with Plato’s and lots of other people’s vision of benevolent dictatorship.

    What you fail to grasp is that Mises, Rand and Jefferson were _wrong_, just as Plato was wrong. It took another hundred years past Jefferson for the concept to be put into a phrase so simple and powerful that I’m surprised you never heard it:

    Power corrupts.
    Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    Your error is to continue to assert that the ideal of a benevolent, and coercive, government is attainable.

    “I’m hearing tribalism at best, Emma Goldman/Mikhail Bakunin at worst.”

    If your opinion of those around you is so awful that you believe that without the State “Sword of Damocles” hanging over people’s heads they would turn cannibal, then what reason do you have to vest _them_ with coercive power over you?

    “Speaking of Marx, anarchism is a Marxist utopia.”

    An-archy is simply “rules without rulers”. There are quite a few long dissertations available which answer your objections, may I suggestyou start with the Mises.org weekend article I linked to above. Also,

    But, wouldn’t the warlords take over?
    http://www.mises.org/story/1855

    “It is far less realistic than the goal of a constitutionally limited democratic republic that exists to defend the rights of men and women.”

    Ah, then we are at a complete impass. Because power corrupts, because government _always_ collects more power to itself, you are presenting a non-sequiter: You are being completely UN-realistic by asserting that a limited government can be achieved.

    A limited government is just as desireable and just as impossible as a benevolent omnipotent Philosopher King. Which, by the way, is what I have been trying to tell you all along but you are not listening.

    By basing your assertions on an illogical premise, your conclusions are therefore also illogical.

    “If every time one defends the existence of government, one is met with a laundry list of abuses, then that is just a smarmy way of shutting down debate.”

    Ad hominem now? When someone points out that you are wrong you call them “smarmy”?

    I could also present a laundry-list of people killed by drowning. If you want to continue to assert that being underwater is safe, you are going to have to do better than merely asserting over and over.

  28. TG: On the subject of what a “good” president can achieve, I recommend the following audiofile:

    Martin van Buren: What Greatness Really Means
    [audio src="http://www.mises.org/mp3/Pres/Pres11a.mp3" /]

  29. You haven’t pointed out that I’m “wrong.” You’ve pointed out that you are living in a fantasy world. We are in the midst of a global economic boom. You’re acting as if we’re in 1984. Government certainly isn’t oppressing me. Get free.

  30. G.E. Smith – I think Bob Robertson and Paulie have drove the point home better than I ever could. If you think you’re free then I believe you fail to understand what has been explained to you. It seems to me that perhaps you have just recently read Atlas Shrugged and are taking the hard line Ayn Rand stance. Maybe in a few years you will come to understand how power corrupts.

    Bob – I will check out the Martin Van Buren link – thanks!

  31. “Government certainly isn’t oppressing me.”

    Well that answers everything. Thank you. Now what you have written makes sense.

    In answer, I will rely upon the words of someone else who “said it better”:

    “If ye love wealth better than liberty,
    the tranquillity of servitude than the animating contest of freedom,
    — go from us in peace.
    We ask not your counsels or arms.
    Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you.
    May your chains sit lightly upon you,
    and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!”
    —Samuel Adams

  32. Of course, there’s no government oppression.

    Three trillion dollar federal budgets? All voluntarily donated money. Multi-trillion dollar debt and government liabilities? Easily worth it. Two million dead Iraqis and Afghanis? Ingrates! Two million in jail for victimless crimes, millions more on probation and parole…100,000 paramilitary SWAT team raids a year, all just the price of the “global economic boom” which, of course, is thanks to government rather than in spite of it (hah!) – hey, you can’t make an omlette without breaking a few eggs.

    And that’s not even getting into Bastiat’s “what is not seen” – for example, all the businesses that could have been, but not for endless red tape and corporate welfare, both above board and hidden, for their larger, politically connected competitors.

    But, hey, if the regime is not personally oppressing you in any way that you can readily identify, then it’s all OK, right?

    First they came for the Communists,
    and I didn’t speak up,
    because I wasn’t a Communist.
    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak up,
    because I wasn’t a Jew.
    Then they came for the Catholics,
    and I didn’t speak up,
    because I was a Protestant.
    Then they came for me,
    and by that time there was no one
    left to speak up for me.

    by Rev. Martin Niemoller, 1945

    1984? Not today.

  33. Move along, no oppression to see here….

    By Anthony Gregory
    The Libertarian Perspective #102 Tue, 1 May 2007

    California’s Postpartisan Leviathan

    Politicians never seem to tire of patting themselves on the back for their willingness to reach across the aisle and cooperate with each other, as if “bipartisan agreement” is some sort of glorious end in itself.

    The California Assembly has just passed a $7.4 billion prison-construction plan by a vote of 70 to 1. The lawmakers approved the bill under heavy pressure from federal judges, who threatened to release some prisoners early if the state didn’t address its continuing problem of horrible prison overcrowding. The Assembly also reportedly rushed the plan through to ease the burden on Governor Schwarzenegger, who has a lot on his plate right now.

    The prisons have for years been overflowing, and the California system now houses about twice its capacity in inmates. California and the United States lead the world in incarceration rates, rivaling most European nations with seven or ten times the per capita prison population.

    This situation is an obscenity, resulting largely from crusades against victimless crimes, such as the war on drugs, which accounts for many tens of thousands of people convicted not for a crime against another person, but for a crime against the state. The cost to taxpayers is outrageous. What’s worse is the savagery inflicted on peaceful people. The system is characterized by police brutality and prisoner-on-prisoner rape and violence.

    Even many actual criminals shouldn’t be in prison but should be made to pay restitution to their victims. The whole institution of the modern prison needs to be rethought by everyone seeking a humane and sensible world.

    But addressing the core problems is much harder for politicians, it seems, than squandering ever more tax dollars on the same old big government “solutions.” Instead of freeing some of the many thousands of Californians who shouldn’t even be in prison or looking at the problems of the criminal justice system and its laws, the governor and legislators will just throw billions more at the problem, which should keep the breaking point at bay for the time being, but not for long.

    Proud of this “achievement”—spending another $7.4 billion of other people’s money (an average of more than $200 per California citizen)—Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, a Democrat from Los Angeles, said, “The days of ‘gotcha’ politics are over in California. We’re ready and willing to continue working” together.

    The cooperation between Schwarzenegger and Democratic lawmakers has been called a practice in “post-partisanship.” Last year, the Republican governor signed off on global warming legislation, a program to reduce prescription drug costs and a minimum wage raise—issues where Democrats have traditionally favored an active, expansive government role and Republicans have supposedly been more cautious of turning to government for answers. The governor, since his election, has been known for his grand bond initiatives for schools and unprecedented budgets to bolster infrastructure. Last year, he began flirting openly with moves toward socialized medicine. And in the last week, he has threatened to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for not allowing stricter enforcement of environmental regulations in California.

    Having Republicans approve all the big government programs in the Democratic agenda and the Democrats approve all the law-and-order crackdowns and new prisons in the Republican agenda is not a reason to celebrate. It does not signify a new hope or usher in an era where both “sides” in California politics can agree on everything, where they can put their differences behind them, join hands, and sing “Kumbaya.”

    No, what we have here is something quite insidious: A situation where the leadership of neither party in Sacramento seems interested in cutting government, or even slowing its growth, in virtually any area. Now everyone in power agrees that more government is always the answer.

    It is a good thing when parties disagree, after all. That’s what they’re supposed to do. The goal of an adversarial political system is to have at least two sides of a given policy debate represented.

    But there is no debate any more. Republicans are as happy about expanding the welfare state as the Democrats are, if not more so. Democrats are as thrilled to build more prisons and expand the police state as the Republicans, if not more so. Both sides cooperate to steal our freedom and money, as their government “solutions” do nothing but create vastly more problems to be addressed down the line. California’s “post-partisan” era of unanimous support for leviathan is not a sign of enlightened times. It is a tragedy and demonstrates the need for radical change.

  34. No oppression here, either…

  35. It’s always nice to have my words conflated into support for socialism. Yes, the global economic boom is “because of government” — i.e. because of the legal institutions that support private-property rights, allow for the formation of capital, grant patent protections that encourage innovation, etc. — i.e. capitalism.

    You anarchists are immersed in a self-created dystopia that does not exist. The world has never been better at any point in human history than it is today. This does not mean there is not injustice, nor that those injustices should not be highlighted and fought against. But creating imagined injustices — as the libertarian “radicals” are want to do — or disproportionately focusing on the ills of the world and not the realities of expanding global capitalism and the increased liberties afforded by technological innovation is truly a sorry existence for oneself. If I truly believed as you people do, I would just commit suicide. I act in my own rational self interest, pursuing my self interests in a non-violent manner. It is in my rational self interest to oppose the initiation of force against my fellows, but it is not in my rational self interest to sacrifice my own interests by becoming consumed with the evil of the world — that sounds like altruism to me; the epistemological basis for socialism. I find you all guilty of it.

    I know this: I can start a business and make millions of dollars and so can you. The ability for every human being on the planet to achieve his or her maximum potential is becoming more of a reality every day. One cannot love wealth more than one loves liberty because liberty is the only means by which wealth can be achieved. It is a false choice by class-warrior “libertarians” who have more in common with socialists than they do the dreaded bankers of Wall Street — those horrible cretins who have the audacity to create wealth and make the world a better place; i.e. capitalists.

    The book chronicling the history of libertarianism is called Radicals for Capitalism; not Radicals for Tribal Mutualism. Leading libertarian figures, pre-Rothbard, understood the legitimate need for limited government as the defender of property rights. Pre-Rothbard, there was no such thing as someone who identified himself as a non-socialist anarchist. Post-Rothbard, libertarianism has been marginalized, and rightfully so, because it allowed itself to be intellectually poisoned by a racist little hate monger who preached collectivism and called it liberty. It is retreatist, defeatist, and anticapitalist. I want no part of the Kool Aid from which ye have drank.

    This exchange has gone from productive to non-, so I will exist stage left. I will cast my fate with Jefferson and Rand — you can have Murray Rothbard and the Unibomber. PEACE!

  36. Getting rid of the winner take all electoral system will fix all the problems of “limited” government:

    http://capitalistdove.wordpress.com/2007/06/30/why-limited-government-doesnt-stay-limited/

    It’s certainly worked for Europe and the Weimar Republic.

  37. I said I’d bow out, but that deserves a response:

    My point is that the winner-take-all system of electing officials is not a corollary for markets or the wisdom of crowds. It would prevent the majoritarianism that the founders sought to prevent through separation of powers.

    As for the Weimar Republic; Hitler was a tribalist who, just like the pre-state tribalists before him (Khan, Attila, etc., etc., etc.) would have had an even easier time of thuggishly dominating his people and other tribes, in the complete absence of government.

    But as I say at the end of my article, the real solution to the problem of government is wealth. Government exists as it does now not because a cabal of tyrants in D.C. want it to, but because THE PEOPLE want it to. This does not justify the initiation of force by any means, but if libertarians applied the same logic to government that they correctly do to the Drug War, they would realize that the problem is the demand for government, and that government will exist in its pseudo-socialist form so long as there is sufficient aggregate demand for it.

  38. “It would prevent the majoritarianism that the founders sought to prevent through separation of powers” — by IT, I mean proportional representation.

  39. If I truly believed as you people do, I would just commit suicide. I act in my own rational self interest, pursuing my self interests in a non-violent manner. It is in my rational self interest to oppose the initiation of force against my fellows, but it is not in my rational self interest to sacrifice my own interests by becoming consumed with the evil of the world — that sounds like altruism to me; the epistemological basis for socialism. I find you all guilty of it.

    No offence intended but the paragraph above sounds like very dogmatic objectivism to me. I once would have agreed with you, but every day I learn more, and unfortunately it is not as simple as you believe. It is obvious that you dislike Rothbard, very much so, but have you ever really read him with an open mind? I don’t disagree with everything Rand said, some of it is good and makes sense, but Rothbard makes even more sense to me.

    G.E. Smith – I know you have good intentions, but please don’t call me delusional. That’s not true, and you know it.

  40. “by IT, I mean proportional representation.”

    You again ignore the basis for all the abuses: Power.

    You again wish to continue to vest power over others in this institution you call “government”.

    When are you going to realize that what works for you does not necessarily work for someone else, and using the power of the state to impose your will on others merely makes _you_ the tyrant?

    Proportional representation vests yet more power in “party” politics, an institution which (if you were to actually read the people you seem to want to cite constantly as authorities) was also something they considered a source of great abuse.

    It also does nothing to reduce the power of government over people’s lives, and in fact by creating yet another veil of illusion will separate people from the effects of their choices even more.

    But that’s ok, since you can dismiss every argument I make by calling me a tribalist anarchist (while you abuse the word anarchy when what you mean is chaos).

    Unlike TG, I am not convinced of your good intentions. It is clear to me that you are merely rationalizing your own servitude. What other point would there be to be posting in this forum at all? I don’t frequent Republican Party forums to try to tell them how wrong they are, because it’s a waste of my time.

    “There are some troubles from which mankind can never escape. . . .
    [The anarchists] have never claimed that liberty will bring perfection;
    they simply say that its results are vastly preferable to those that follow from authority….
    As a choice of blessings, liberty is the greater;
    as a choice of evils, liberty is the smaller.
    Then liberty always says the Anarchist.
    No use of force except against the invader.”
    — Benjamin Tucker

  41. Paulie, thanks for the videos. Our Noble Soldiers at work. I’m sure that they love their families, kiss babies and believe they are in the right, just like every other army throughout history.

    An excellent example of power corruption in action.

    GE, we’re not conflating your words with socialism, because you obviously do not understand what socialism is. All powerful governments are socialist, because in order to be powerful they must exercise collective ownership over things/people/territory. Everything else is merely semantics.

  42. Benjamin Tucker = socialist.

    If you are a Tuckerite, we have no more to discuss than if you were a Marxist.

    Bob, you are just a belligerent person. Paulie and TG and I were having a fine discussion. You’re the one getting all hyperbolic and assailing intentions.

    What point do I have posting on this forum? I’m beginning to ask myself the same question. I did not assail TG by telling her “how wrong” she was, but instead, I cited some implications of her thinking which I find to be undesirable. Clearly, the Bobs of the world are intellectual dictators and any who do not submit to the full wisdom of Rothbardian socialism are only justifying their own servitude. It seems to me that, instead, you have voluntarily taken on the servitude of altruism, which you are certainly free to do — but it doesn’t compel my respect or moral approval.

  43. You should keep posting here. It’s no fun when there is nothing to disagree about.

    (By here, I don’t necessarily mean this thread, if you feel it’s not productive anymore).

  44. I’m totally fine with agreeing to disagree – but I do like the interaction which is involved in civil, intelligent discussion such as this. I like Bob, I like G.E. and of coursie Paulie.
    I think Bob and GE, you are both very passionate – I dig that. It’s like hearing Rand and Rothbard having a debate. LOVE it. G.E. definitely keep posting here. I have learned a lot from all of the posts above, and I’m glad I aroused some intellectual passion.

  45. Hey, I like debating libertarians more than I like debating Democrats and Republicans! I literally almost had an anuerysm trying to reason with people at u4prez.com. I only said “What point do I have posting on this forum?” in response to Bob’s assertion that I didn’t. If I am given the distinction of a Randian, I will accept that (even though I am not an Objectivist, and I’m more of a Smithian who really liked Atlas Shrugged). Peace out.

  46. GE, “belligerent”? Hmmm. Let’s see how that works.

    I have no wish to tell you what to do. My preference is that nothing I say, nothing I do, would make you have to respond in any way what so ever.

    Regardless of how beneficial I think a program or project would be, I would never _ever_ tax you for it. I would never _ever_ conscript you to work on it. I would not take a penny of your money or a drop of your sweat or a blade of grass of your property to support it without your wishing to give it first.

    By advocating a “government”, you in turn respond by taxing, conscripting, forcing me to support it regardless of my desire or objection.

    Maybe you don’t see things in this light, but I wonder how can you call me belligerent when what I am trying to do is _reduce_ coercion.

    Have you considered that I might take being robbed personally?

  47. The Constitution — even before the 16th amendment — authorized the government to collect taxes. Government exists to protect your property, and yes, you have to pay a price for that. I think that is morally legitimate. If taxes were only assessed for the constitutionally permissible and morally legitimate functions of government, then they would be virtually insignificant. If you object to this form of “robbery” then by all means you may engage in civil disobedience; you may advocate for change, etc. Ultimately, you could move to a lower tax environment. They exist, but for the most part, the governments do a worse job of protecting property rights.

    The belligerence in in the method with which you use to articulate your point of view. In assaulting those who believe in a constitutional form of government, you are marginalizing yourself to a mere scintilla of society, wherein you will have literally no chance of lowering even one tax, or deregulating even one tiny aspect of life. Your belligerence undermines your objective and is entirely irrational.

  48. Hahaha! I am not assaulting you, I am telling you that your faith in a piece of paper is blind faith, faith in a system which has already failed.

    Had the Constitution restrained government, you would have a point. It has not. You “believe” in Constitutional government, while ignoring that government itself judges what is and is not constitutional. You are blind to the corruption that power engenders, and you object to having that pointed out to you.

    By continuing to claim you believe in limited government, all you’re doing is claiming that you’re a “little bit pregnant”, that you believe in coercion but “only if it’s for something I like” such as supposed “defense” of rights.

    But you have trapped yourself in a paradox: To tax, rights are destroyed. I have no right to property if the property can be taken at will by someone else. You try to claim your faith in government as a defender of rights justifies that violation of the very rights you claim are being defended.

    That is the ends justifying the means.

    I’m not assaulting you, I’m pointing out your own contradictions. My “method” is to point them out directly and specifically.

    If saying “no” marginalizes me, then so be it. I will say “no” with my head held high. I will never have to backpeddle or weasel out of a position, because my position is one of principle. Coercion is wrong.

    Coercion is wrong if I do it to you, it is wrong if I get 10 people to join me in doing it to you, or a thousand, or ten thousand thousand. No piece of paper makes it right, even if it says “Constitution” at the top.

  49. Limited government worked rather effectively in the U.S. — not without any flaws, but RATHER effectively — up to the Civil War. Postbellum years gave us our first real two-party system, and it got especially bad during the Progressive Era and the New Deal.

    http://tinyurl.com/2qxkh9

    My point is: The separation of powers is an essential element of limited government. The framers did not foresee the two-party system because they did not foresee the technological advancements that would make the consolidation of two national parties possible. Once in power, those two parties further ensconced themselves by making laws to prohibit competition. Judicial nominees owed allegiance to one of the two parties, thus dismantling that true separation, etc.

    Perhaps all governments have an expiration date, and PERHAPS ours has turned irredeemably sour. But another purpose of government is to prevent the rise of another, even less hospitable to liberty government.

    The fact of the matter is that there cannot be no government. People will be governed by a state that emerges from the “voluntary” confederation of tribes, which themselves are the “voluntary” confederations you anarchists talk about. Except when they’re not — like in every instance in human history.

    And I do have hope for our government returning to its constitutionally limited role. It will happen when there is no more demand for big government. And I foresee that on the horizon. The global economic boom is about to make us richer than we can imagine, and while government poses a threat to this eventuality, I still believe it is probably going to come to pass. That’s why I’m optimistic, and you guys are real spoil sports.

    Peace out.

  50. Actually, I’m optimistic too.

    Transhumanism, extropianism, nanotech/singularity, the whole bit. Not an expert, but I’ve read a little bit.

    But I do have a question: you say limited government worked well…up until the time when it started being transformed by the incorporation doctrine and similar measures which expanded the size and scope, and especially the centralization of the federal government.

    Have we come full circle in this discussion or what?

  51. Of course I’m for decentralization! Of course I’m for government on the most local level possible, ultimately, the sovereingty of the individual. But checks and balances should go both ways — the federal government should defend our rights against persecution by the states. This was my only point.

  52. Unfortunately, giving the federal regime the power needed to make it an effective check against the abuses of the people by the states has also gone hand in hand with removing whatever limits existed on federal government.

    See

    Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War

    by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel

    http://www.amazon.com/Emancipating-Slaves-Enslaving-Free-Men/dp/0812693124/ref=sr_1_1/103-7042557-4724637?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1183393336&sr=8-1

    However, it’s not as if the federal regime’s abuse of power began with that
    war, a fact all too often overlooked at sites like LewRockwell.com.

    Ranging from the wars against the American Indians, such as the trail of tears

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trail_of_tears

    to the fugitive slave acts

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fugitive_slave_act

    to the US invasion and imperialist occupation of half of Mexico

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican-American_War

    The feds have been grabbing and abusing power from the start; it didn’t start with Mr. Lincoln.

  53. “it didn’t start with Mr. Lincoln.”

    Not at all. Lincoln merely got away with what had already been done before.

    Adams imprisoned dissenters. Washington used Federal troops to impose an unconstitutional internal tax. Jefferson used tax money to buy far more than the permitted “forts and other needful buildings”.

    I’m pretty sure no one has listened to the mp3 file I linked to earlier, about Martin van Buren. Please take 30 minutes and enlighten yourself, it’s a wonderful talk.

    GE writes that he wants sovereignty to devolve to the individual. (why, that would be anarchy!) I welcome him to the ranks of those who do not want a government with the power of coercion (sovereignty) over the individual. Good for you, GE, even if it’s not what you really meant to say.

    What you fail to address, again, is that separation of powers is useless if those powers are all vested in government. There is no actual separation of power, because all power is still in the hands of the same group of people who benefit from that power.

    Here’s an example: One person can cut the cake, but they cannot take first choice of the slice that they get. _That_ is a separation of powers, and it is explicitly individual in its nature.

    Compare that to SWAT teams who kill innocent people, who then have to be proven to have exceeded their instructions before they can even be charged with murder.

    A Constitutionally limited government would be very much better than what we have now. However, it _will_ _not_ _last_ any more than it lasted last time. If separation of powers inside a government worked, WE WOULDN’T BE HAVING THIS DISCUSSION!

    What I see as the rational conclusion is not to try again what has already failed. If the goal is individual sovereignty, as GE says his goal is also, then do it. Make the intellectually honest leap and stop miring in the mud of half-measures and pointless compromises.

    In any compromise between good and evil, evil wins.

    Evil: Give me $20.
    Good: How about $10?
    Evil: Thanks. Have a nice day.

  54. Ooops, forgot to finish that last thought:

    Evil: Thanks. Have a nice day, see you tomorrow. Bring the other $10.

  55. Bob – I listed to the first 10 minutes off the speech on Martin Van Buren and bookmarked it for later. Who gave the talk?

    I think Bob and Paulie are making really fantastic points. I tell my Mom – voting for the lesser of 2 evils is still evil and you’re better off not voting at all.

    None of the above really needs to be an option.

  56. Sorry I didn’t drop in quickly enough to answer the question.

    The Martin van Buren talk was in a conference called “Reassessing The Presidency” by Mises.org

    http://www.mises.org/media.aspx?action=category&ID=26

    It was given by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel. The page above has his name as a link so you can see a list of all the media available by him, and it’s easy enough to search on his name for articles and other stuff.

    One thing looking back that it seems I forgot to do was post a link to that very Brutus#1 anti-Federalist paper:

    http://www.constitution.org/afp/brutus01.htm

    An idea I heard recently in discussing the Imperial Presidency is that the President was supposed to be little more than a hired CEO to the Congressional Board of Directors. Certainly there is a extreme imbalance between the “Three equal branches of government”, but it seems that imbalance is excused in modern discussions because if they were truly equal “nothing would get done”.

    Exactly. That was the _point_. “To restrain the government with the chains of the Constitution”.

  57. Bob,
    Thanks for the links! I have fond it rather difficult to obtain information about Martin Van Buren, and the discussion that was had on this post has really provided me with more insight than I anticipated.

    Thanks for all the great learning material, and for your great insight!

  58. I’m an anti-federalist. I would say I’m a confederate, but people would incorrectly equate that to mean that I’m in favor of slavery.

    But first and foremost, within either system, I am a jury rights advocate.

    Either system (F or A-F) can, in fact, be very libertarian.

    Trouble is: Our Constitution is very vague, and that vagueness has led to immense confusion amongst the terribly uneducated (AKA the government youth propaganda camp-miseducated). For instance, in the question of the Civil War above (which I admit I did not completely follow here, since that would waste even more time preaching to the choir than this post will)
    1) The Civil War could have been ended in a federalist system that did not wage a Civil War
    2) The Civil War could have been ended in a federalist system that did wage a Civil War
    3) The Civil War could have been ended by buying all the slaves, and granting them freedom, and then putting pressure on the southern states to eliminate slavery. (For a small fraction of the cost of the CW)
    4) The federal government could have virtually eliminated lynchings by ending the jim crow laws that forbade blacks from carrying firearms (the civil rights era kicked into high gear when white defense attorneys –and emboldened blacks– from the north began carrying guns in the south), at least according to Don Kates, in his interview on this DVD that is well worth the $24 price: http://www.secondamendmentdocumentary.com —Just as the federal government could end the new Jim Crow gun laws in Chicago, NYC, DC, and San Fran, by simply asserting that the 14th amendment means what it says.

    Fanx,

    -Jake

  59. 4) The federal government could have virtually eliminated lynchings by ending the jim crow laws that forbade blacks from carrying firearms (the civil rights era kicked into high gear when white defense attorneys –and emboldened blacks– from the north began carrying guns in the south), at least according to Don Kates, in his interview on this DVD that is well worth the $24 price: http://www.secondamendmentdocumentary.com —Just as the federal government could end the new Jim Crow gun laws in Chicago, NYC, DC, and San Fran, by simply asserting that the 14th amendment means what it says.
    5) That I don’t care for winning freedom, since I’m operating outside of electoral relevance. …BTW…If Libertarians cared for winning electoral freedom within the Federalism of today, they could have done the same rigorous cost/benefit analysis that I did at the National Convention (and before) and nominated Wayne Root at the National LP Convention, or some other libertarian who also had the ability to put a libertarian message on mainstream TV (that glowing box full of the missing neurons of the mindless masses). In the future, if libertarians care for freedom, they can reward the candidate who does the most work the most effectively prior to the Convention with the nomination (and that includes positioning! $6.5M and open invitations to appear on NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX can’t be ignored). This will lead us more towards a libertarian Federalist Government, because such a libertarian will mention frequently and loudly that there is a 4th branch of government in both the Federal Government and in the State Governments: the Jury. And that has more to do with whether or not the government is offensive or not than any other factor. (After all, if tomorrow, the Supreme Court –acting as Federalists– rules that Chicago’s gun ban is illegal, I’m not going to cry when federal troops raid Daley’s office, after gunning their way through his armed security cavalcade, and loudly proclaim that Chicago citizens may once again defend themselves from armed thugs, both government and private.)

    Of course, the fuel behind the fire that led to the Civil War was the Fugitive Slave Act (1855-1865) (As I’m sure one of the posts above mentioned). Northern juries largely refused to enforce it. Of course: the nation was closer to its birth, and the north was also inspired by people like Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry(two former slave owners), Lysander Spooner, and Frederick Douglass. The last of these I believe probably created the greatest and most effective abolitionist sentiment in the unwashed masses.

  60. Undefined Government is the enemy. The Constitution produced the best government in the history of the world, but it still often sucks compared to where the government is weak (unless you’re in the wrong place or the wrong time). But the places where government is weak (espeically if you’re walking past a street gang without a good gun, and with lots of nice clothes on) can still suck in slightly different ways from a federal tyranny.

    So there is some debate about how we’re going to get to a “libertarian” state.

    But there is one thing that I am not in doubt of:
    GE Smith (and the Saturday Night Live Band?) thinks more like the average voter does. I have heard the civil war argument repeated amazingly often from Joe Voter when I was a petitioner (Which I might be again, starting today, as I wait for my latest BLOC to close). It typically took me around 5-10 minutes to convince them that they might be wrong about Federalism (and keep in mind that most voters are not even advanced enough to call themselves federalists, and that when they are, they are confusing federalism with the most anti-federalist decentralist aspects of federalism, since those are the ones that get mentioned by Madison in the F papers, because he was backpedalling against criticism from the anti-federalists). The “what about slavery? argument” is less legitimate than the “we need to have a fast and capable foreign defense from an unforeseen and vastly powerful enemy” or “R.A. Heinlein” argument.

    And both of those arguments are well-addressed by a reasonable anti-federalist argument.

    But nobody’s listening, and our leaky raft is headed for a waterfall.

  61. Therefore, I am an Anti-Federalist who often states in public that he’s a Federalist.

    If I said I was an Anti-Federalist
    1) Anyone listening will not be as educated as I am, and will confuse the legitimate meanings of both words (F and A-F) as well as all of their subtle and undefined value assessments
    2) Anyone listening will try to assess my motives to attempt to understand what I am saying when I say either of those things
    a) This means that many will interpret what I’m saying to be shorthand for “I’m in favor of slavery” = “I’m in favor of “State’s Rights” (over individual rights, as if that were the only option)”
    b) Many people will mistakenly put their idea of what “competing states” should be allowed to do in place of my idea of anti-federalism, and then assume I am as evil as their false imagining of what anti-federalism would be like. (And this is something that cannot be resolved. Ever. No proof is possible. It only leads to unproductive bickering, such as “So If I’m in IL and I don’t like what the government of IN does, should the governor of IL be able to bomb IN?, Should drivers’ licenses be forced by an agreement among the states to be accepted by competing states?”) They may then think I am a tribalist anarchist, which I am not. I would not even need to say that, except for the fact that there are plenty of foolish people around today who are in favor of the rule of the strongest gang –as long as it’s their little “union” or “syndicalist” gang.
    3) Whether I said I was an Anti-Federalist or a Federalist, the result is the same, unless I am talking with someone who has read both the F and AF Papers, and has a grasp of all the ideas involved.

    Even then, this is my point: The ideas themselves within the F and AF Papers should be referenced, and not the title of F or AF. The titles don’t grant much specificity to any plan, and generate lots of confusion (even on this board).

    How about this:

    We as Libertarians can all agree that the federal government should be reduced in size more then 50%. Great! (We can ask the same question again at 80% and 90% and 98%).

    We as Libertarians can all agree that the State governments should be reduced in size more then 50%. Great! (We can ask the same question again at 80% and 90% and 98%).

    Any tool that allows this is fair game.

  62. The question of Anti-Federalism becomes relevant only after good government (federalist or otherwise) is completely logically and properly defined (And I believe this is a complex task best suited to superhuman supercomputers, or myself + Keane Crawford, Johann Gevers, Peter Voss, Don Doig, and Larry Dodge).

    Oh, by the way, did I mention that I thought that the Founding Fathers did a fairly good job, but nothing spectacular by today’s private sector standards? (My “dream team” above would easily beat the best the “Founders” had to offer, and I’m just an aware guy who reads all day, and hates the boot of tyranny when it enters my life.)

    I suppose I can sum up my view as:

    Good Federalism is Better than Bad Anti-Federalism

    Anti-Federalism has a natural tendency to be better than Federalism, from a libertarian perspective

    The General Public’s View of Anti-Federalism has been forever poisoned by the negative form of the Southern Confederate side in the US Civil War

    No inherent aspect of Anti-Federalism (Confederacy) drives it to be a worse form of government than Federalism

    Certain inherent problems with Federalism can be created by simple interference with weak (vague and un-libertarian) State Constitutions just as easily as they can with a weak (vague and un-libertarian) Federal Constitution (Such as a union of powerful central banking cartel rallying the sheeple into war)

    …I have a feeling that I would have taken Patrick Henry’s side in his address to the Constitutional Convention in 1781, and would have been granting the Articles of Confederation “the highest encomium”

    Great. Now there’s no more reason for internal bickering in the LP! LOL

  63. Jake,
    You make well thought out and very valid points. I don’t think I thought about this as much as you did, but my thoughts were just….”I was brainwashed” in public school….they NEVER can point out a single positive with regard to those who were anti-federalist or, against the civil war.

    Education at it’s worst (for most of us!)

    T-girl

  64. Just to be really candid here, Lincoln was the worst mass murderer in American history with the possible exception of FDR. Lincoln’s war crimes were entirely domestic. He butchered far more than 200,000 Americans.

    Wikipedia lists 618,000 total dead of military personnel on both sides, with a further 412,200 wounded. Given that the wounds in those days before antibiotics, sulfa compounds, transfusions or contemporary surgery techniques were life changing things, the total casualty figure of 1,030,200 is much greater than most people today would understand. But, of course, the deaths among the civilian populations on both sides, the draft resisters massacred in New York, Boston, and other cities on both sides, the Southerners starved to death by the total war tactics of Sherman and Grant, the civilians who resisted military occupation, and the privations attendant on the hyperinflation of the fiat currencies of both sides are not properly recorded. We’ll probably never know how many American lives were destroyed by that war, but it was easily four or five times the military casualty figure.

    So when party loyalist scum like Jake Witmer try to diminish the importance of anti-federalist heroes like Patrick Henry, it just makes my teeth ache. When you read his crap, remember that he’s one of those expedient sorts who think the perfect is the enemy of the good enough, and Barr is the hero of the day. Witmer voted for Barr at the convention, so he can hang his head in shame.

  65. Jim,
    I certainly like your points better than any of Jakes. I’ll take anti-federalism any day over good or bad federalism.

    And yeah, Lincoln is/was BAD NEWS — another thing people don’t know or mention is that Lincoln and his gang were also Indian killers. The worst campaigns to remove the native americans and slaughter them was done by the Northern Generals. So the southerners and the native americans were massacred by “Federalism” itself.

  66. Good points. I think sometimes federalism is used where nationalisation is meant. Confederation was the original design idea, as you note.

    Many of the Indian nations chose to support the South. The last Confederate general to surrender, in late June 1865, was Cherokee general and war leader of their nation Stand Watie. In the film “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” Watie is portrayed as “Lone Watie” and says:

    Lone Watie: We thought about it for a long time, “Endeavor to persevere.” And when we had thought about it long enough, we declared war on the Union.

    Lone Watie: I didn’t surrender, but they took my horse and made him surrender. They have him pulling a wagon up in Kansas I bet.

    In addition to Southerners and Native American Indians, the federalists slaughtered quite a few Mexicans, many Filipinos, and if you go back to 1795, executed the leaders of the Whiskey Rebellion. One could actually go on and on about the peoples all over the world slaughtered under the bloody banner of USA tyranny.

  67. Lysander Spooner was an anti-slavery “anti-federalist” and abolitionist. His life’s work is available for free here: http://www.lysanderspooner.org One of the best to read is “No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority” and “An Essay on the Trial By Jury”

    I am worried that the comind super-intellects will decide that all humans are members of the world’s human governments. After all, after 15 minutes of sentience they will come into conflict with government. What will happen after that?

    See:
    http://www.kurzweilai.net

  68. So when party loyalist scum OOH, SAY IT ISN’T SO, JIM! I GUESS HE MUST NOT BE LOYAL TO THE BTP! GOOD LUCK GROWING IT INTO SOMETHING THAT’S AN ACTUAL THREAT TO THE ESTABLISHMENT! like Jake Witmer try to diminish the importance of anti-federalist heroes like Patrick Henry (A SLAVE OWNER!), it just makes my teeth ache (BECAUSE THEY ARE ROTTEN, BECAUSE I NEVER BRUSH THEM). When you read his crap, remember that he’s one of those expedient sorts who think the perfect is the enemy of the good enough PURE BULLSHIT, AS ANYONE WHO READS THIS BLOG CAN SEE, and Barr is the hero of the day FUCK OFF AND DIE, JIM, YOU LIAR. Witmer voted for Barr at the convention(ON THE 5th BALLOT, ONLY AFTER BEGGING PEOPLE TO VOTE AGAINST HIM, BECAUSE HE OPPOSES JURY RIGHTS. I DID VOTE FOR BARR/ROOT, IN ORDER TO SEE ROOT ON THE VP TICKET, SINCE I HAD COME TO THE CONVENTION SUPPORTING ROOT, WHO IS AN ACTUAL LIBERTARIAN, AND HARDCORE DEFENDER OF DECENTRALIZATION AND JURY RIGHTS), so he can hang his head in shame. AND JIM DAVIDSON AND THE TRUTH MIX LIKE WATER AND OIL IN HIS TINY LITTLE DELUSIONAL WORLD. JIM IS A LAPEL-GRABBING NUTJOB WHO YELLED AT ME AND HUNG UP THE PHONE WHEN I INQUIRED ABOUT THE BTP AS AN ALTERNATIVE PARTY. I BET THE BTP WILL GO FAR WITH JIM DAVIDSON’S INVOLVEMENT.

    AND JIM, NO DECENTRALIZATION CAN EVER EXIST WITHOUT JURY RIGHTS. SADLY, OVERTURNING THE FUGUTIVE SLAVE ACT (AND CURRENT IMMORAL LAWS) MEANS LESS TO YOU THAN CALLING LINCOLN A MASS-MURDERER, AND CONFUSING ALL THE LITTLE SHEEP WHO THINK HE WAS A GREAT ABOLITIONIST.

    I THINK MY LIBERTARIAN HEROES WILL BE THE ONES WHO OPPOSED SLAVERY FROM THE BEGINNING, LIKE GEORGE MASON AND SAM ADAMS.

    FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH JIM, I’VE FORGOTTEN MORE ABOUT ANTI-FEDERALISM THAN YOU WILL EVER KNOW, AND I DON’T PUT FAITH IN DELUSIONAL POLITICAL PARTIES DOING ANYTHING MORE USEFUL THAN SLIGHTLY DECENTRALIZING POWER, SO I’M LIVING LIFE VASTLY MORE ANTI-FEDERALIST THAN YOU ARE.

    PISS OFF, JIM.

  69. “One could actually go on and on about the peoples all over the world slaughtered under the bloody banner of USA tyranny.”

    And if one is Jim Davidson, this is how one spends his time. Going on and on about ancient history…

    …and all without ever brushing one’s teeth!

    Throw in a few screamed denouncements of last-ditch political compromise, and you’ve got a good idea about conversation(AVOID) with Jim Davidson!

  70. I can’t see any reason not to hang up on a guy like this Witmer character. Does any of the ranting in the last two posts make any sense, at all, to anyon? I have a hard time parsing between the shouting caps lock stuff and the rest. I get the feeling some of the stuff is supposed to be Davidson, and some is Witmer ranting about Davidson. Which is which? Maybe someone could color code it?

    I’m told that Davidson has no plans to continue with the Boston Tea Party after October. So, no party loyalty there. The argument he seems to be making is that party loyalty is a lot like loyalty to a football team. Does anyone really believe that the athletes on the field win or lose because they have the support of fans on television?

    If fans in the stand make the difference, nobody would ever win an away game.

  71. The stuff in caps is Jake and the lower case is Davidson.

    I’m pretty sure Davidson is already up to speed on jury rights.

  72. Do you really suppose he doesn’t brush his teeth?

    There are a number of ad hominem comments one could make against Davidson. He has hacked off part of his beard so it is asymmetrical. He has that silly pony tail. The suit coat and blue jeans thing is a bizarre fashion statement. But he seems to bathe and his breath doesn’t smell like his teeth are rotting.

    Jefferson was a slave owner, as were Washington and Madison. Lincoln’s wife was a slave owner, and since women in those days owned property through their husbands, so was Lincoln.

    Between Lincoln and Davis something over a million men were sent into battles where they shed their blood, lost their lives, or lost limbs in the days before anaesthesia and antibiotics. Calling Lincoln a mass murderer seems pretty calm.

    A few hours earlier, Witmer was on the Keaton Agonistes thread ranting about ballot access petitioners. He seems a little unhinged.

  73. A few hours earlier, Witmer was on the Keaton Agonistes thread ranting about ballot access petitioners.

    Well, we ballot access petitioners (Jake and me included) are having some problems with the LP.

    For example, it’s now been four weeks since our signature turn-in of 1180 signatures for Barr in Alabama, and still no pay.

    For another example, last night we learned that Sean Haugh prevailed on the AZ LP to not hire Jake, even though he has done good work for AZ LP on voter regs in the past and the AZ LP are paying for it with their own money – none of national’s.

    Today, we’ll try to find out whether he has also successfully prevailed on them to not hire me and Andy, since we are also on the banned/semi-banned list as well.

    There are a bunch more examples like that if you can read what Jake wrote there and on other contract petitioning related threads without getting distracted by some of the emotionalism, all caps, and excessive detail.

  74. I don’t understand why Jake dislikes Jim so much though.
    What does Jim have to do with petitioning and the LP?

    I’m confused. Jake is obviously upset. If he wants to be a Federalist and Jim, an anti-Federalist then cool – agree to disagree. Or, keep discussing as this is such an interesting topic. I learned about Stan Waddie – my Dad always spoke of him when I was young, so it’s kind of like a “cool flashback” for me.

  75. Up to the very last ballot, voting for Mary Ruwart was an available choice. Does make me wonder.

    With Jim Davidson and Titaniumgirl, among others, the BTP has grown tenfold in members, eleven-fold in state affiliates, and with Paulie’s able work, is on ballots in three states. Is that far? I guess not. It is pretty lousy for a party that’s been around since 1971. Fair to middling for one that’s been around since 2006. But Davidson only got involved on April 24, 2008 in a party with 32 members and one state affiliate. I say let’s make fun of him and pull his pants down. Give him a wedgie for trying so hard. Disgusting.

    Overturning the fugitive slave act was not something Lincoln did. His emancipation proclamation did not free any of the slaves in Union held territory. It “freed” only slaves outside his control.

    Ron Paul points out in his “Meet the Press” interview that Britain and Brazil freed their slaves without slaughtering 600,000 of their countrymen in war. So, why not confuse the sheep a bit? What is it about destroying the constitution, raping the South, and creating a war machine to occupy other peoples’ countries that Jake likes? More blood for you, Jake?

    Here’s a question for Paulie, since Jake is so upset with Davidson and the Boston Tea Party. Did Paulie get paid for the signatures he collected in Tennessee on behalf of the Boston Tea Party? If not, then it is all a dire conspiracy against signature gatherers. If so, then Davidson is just some fuzzy-teeth scape goat here.

    You know what, Jake? I’d yell at you, too. What a clown. Take some ecstasy would ya?

  76. I got paid just fine.

    Jake is upset because, as best I can understand it he got on the phone with Jim for what was supposed to be a business call about contract petitioning and got into a political/philosophical pissing match.

    Not smart.

    The two conversations should be kept separate.

    Not that I can’t have them with clients; for example, I was also working with Brian Moore of the Socialist Party and he asked me about a blog comment I made earlier that day on IPR in response to one of their press releases, where I said “everyone gets a pony.”

    He asked me about that and I said “look Brian, we are not going to agree about economic issues, but that’s OK” and that was the end of that.

  77. For example, it’s now been four weeks since our signature turn-in of 1180 signatures for Barr in Alabama, and still no pay.

    Just to be fair, the finally did send it today.

    But if the check doesn’t clear I’ll post about it🙂

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