Saturday, December 22, 2018

How Do We Get To a Free Society?: Libertarians Need to Think Deep, Not Shallow

By Robert Wenzel

I find no use for government, zero.

In fact, I am probably the most anti-government libertarian around.

In my book, Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person, I believe I have advanced the most radical non-government framework--which even rejects the non-aggression principle as the foundational bedrock of a non-government society.

That said, I recognize that we do not live in a libertarian or private property society at present. And while I am all for heading there pronto, I do recognize that it would not happen with a snap of fingers.

This brings me to comments that were made at my post, The Remarkable Adventures of Donald John Trump: What is a Libertarian To Do? 

Napster writes:
I am surprised by your suggestion that the US government should help the Kurds retreat. First, this principle could be abused to justify an endless presence there, and other consequential foreign interventions, until the Kurds' safety can be "guaranteed." Second, the Kurds have repeatedly and stupidly trusted the US government before, and been burned. If you lie down with dogs, you get fleas. There are lots of folks who take action assuming that the US government will be there for them, but I don't see that as a justification for continued global policing by the US government.
Sui-Juris writes:
I agree. The U.S. citizens are forced to be sureties or guarantors of the government's reckless behavior, and forced to underwrite and bail-out the reckless decisions of the Kurds or any other group or party that enters into a foolhardy agreement or relationship with our government. 
Maybe R.W. would likewise advocate forestalling U.S. government bankruptcy at the expense of the American taxpayer, and in bailing-out holders of government debt, in order to "honor our prior commitments" to those who detrimentally-relied on government promises.
Then Rob  came in with this doozy:
 You heard it here first, folks. Libertarian Robert Wenzel wants to keep US Troops abroad because of past commitments. As a principled man, I assume that also means you support keeping troops in Korea, Japan, Germany........ I am absolutely astonished that you actually wrote that US troops should STAY in Syria. Wow.
As I state in the essay, we can cheer the removal of the troops but that is as much as we can do. We do not know what it means in its entirety. It is a very limited step, being led by an unpredictable, ill-informed leader.

As to moving towards a libertarian society,  it is extremely limited thinking that it, indeed, can be done with the snap of fingers.


Suppose for a moment that government could be ended with a snap of the fingers and that therefore all government air traffic controller jobs are immediately ended with planes in the air. Is it at all reasonable to use Napster's argument in this situation: "People have repeatedly and stupidly trusted the US government before, and been burned. If you lie down with dogs, you get fleas. There are lots of folks who take action assuming that the US government will be there for them, but I don't see that as a justification for continued air traffic control by the US government."

Of course, to argue this way is nuts.

Winding down a government that is as intertwined in society, as the US government is, should not mean an instant halt to all government activities. Should we advocate, for example, that all government employees including guards immediately walk away from nuclear missile posts?

Now, of course, many government agencies can be instantly shutdown such as the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Education. The minimum wage can be instantly abolished. The list goes on and on.

But instant shut-down of all activities that could result in deaths is nuts. To claim that allowing an adjustment period "could be abused to justify an endless presence" doesn't fit. "Let the planes crash, to halt potential abuse" is going to be a big non-starter.

Suri-juris makes essentially the same argument as Napster but also adds:
Maybe R.W. would likewise advocate forestalling U.S. government bankruptcy at the expense of the American taxpayer, and in bailing-out holders of government debt, in order to "honor our prior commitments" to those who detrimentally-relied on government promises.
This is really twisted. Government debt holders have been financing the government. By doing this, they have injured Americans on a daily basis. Why would we want to pay them a penny more ever?

This is in no way comparable to Kurds left in open fields at the urging of the US military, thinking they have a savior in the US military. The Kurds haven't injured any of us back here in the US, or propped up the US government, the way bondholders have. It is remarkable confusion to fail to understand the difference.

Finally, we get to, as Trump might call him, "Dishonest Rob."

Nowhere in my essay do I say that I want troops, as he puts it, to "STAY in Syria." I simply wrote that as part of the exit strategy, we should provide cover to the Kurds as they head back to more fortified areas.

Nowhere does my commentary lead to the conclusion that on principle I believe we should keep an open-ended commitment to troops in Japan, Germany and Korea. In Germany, we could pull out troops instantly. In Korea and Japan with notice, since they do face potential threats.

This is not, however, about anything beyond sound exits.

This is about common decency and for strategic reasons. In particular with the Kurds, I am thinking providing cover means little more than driving alongside them while they get to more fortified areas. Then they are on their own. Turkey is not going to attack the United States.  It is very possible it would attack unaccompanied Kurds.

This becomes strategic because, as I put in the original essay, a slaughter of Kurds could take place after US exit in the exposed Kurd positions. It would play on mainstream media day and night. It would be the end to bringing anymore US troops home from anywhere. The argument, to the wire-crossed emotional masses, by the Deep State, the warhawks, the neocons and the establishment media would then forever be to any US withdrawal anywhere, "If we leave those we have protected, they will get slaughtered." All because we failed to ride alongside the Kurds as they move to a more protected area. To not do this is nuts.

I mean the establishment, all of it, is coming after Trump because he ordered the pullout.

From The New York Times:
[H]is most reliable allies refused to defend him on his decision to pull back troops from the Middle East.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a reliable lieutenant in partisan battle, is now one of the president’s most vocal critics on Syria. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, issued a rare statement that he was “distressed” by the departure of the defense secretary, Jim Mattis. Even Fox News, the mirror Mr. Trump has used to reflect the story of a presidency reshaped in his own image, has broadcast segments critical of his abrupt decision to pull troops.
Do we really want to hand a Kurd slaughter on a silver platter to the establishment propaganda machine as an item that could stop US pullouts from anywhere for decades?

By providing cover to the Kurds, we take away a very serious potential argument by advocates of the Empire. We have to think realpolitik here not some half thought out libertarian argument.

For if we really believe we should introduce an immediate total libertarian society, shouldn't my confused purist commenters be calling for the end to paychecks to the US soldiers in Syria, and, hell, let them find their own damn way home?

They are not arguing this way because unbeknownst to them they are really thinking realpolitik and they know they would look insane if they started to advocate for this.

My call for an exit strategy that includes providing cover as the Kurds retreat is just another point of realpolitik to head off a potential massacre that would be blamed on the US pullout and make future pullouts more difficult.

I make clear in my closing paragraph that the troops should come home immediately:
So when we discuss the pullout, we must make clear that we are not advocating the open slaughter of Kurds and that the withdrawal should include US help in getting Kurds back to well-fortified positions. But US troops must come home immediately with this one limited proviso.
For "Dishonest Rob" to twist this into a view that I want troops to "STAY in Syria" or anywhere in the world, is totally, well, dishonest. All US troops should be brought home from everywhere around the world but we should act like decent human beings and devise exit plans that don't leave our friends exposed to immediate slaughter because of US actions.

And then we can take the next step and go on to executing Chapter 13: "'National Security' In A Private Property Society" of  Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of


  1. Robert Wenzel makes the inevitable mistake of most Libertarians .... the vast majority of people DO NOT want liberty nor freedom, no, the herd wants the illusion of safety, security and belonging to the political tribe in power. This is a societal reality of being civilized and living amongst hordes of strangers in a hostile and polluted environment. The mob is collectivist by its very nature and opposes individualism instinctively. The reasons for this situation are complicated but in hyper-brief, it's due to the hierarchy of privilege, influence, wealth and power of every civilization past and present.

  2. RW's reductio ad absurdum silliness about air traffic controllers and abandoned soldiers notwithstanding, his additional arguments and detailed reasoning do certainly resonate, and are convincing as to the needed incrementalism vis a vis disengagement in foreign aggression---moral hazard or not.
    But I'm still interested in knowing whether RW would extend that sort of incrementalist "soft winding-down" to the U.S.Government honoring its debt commitments (especially to American creditors), i.e. whether the government should continue taxing the American citizens in order to avoid stiffing the holders of U.S. Government debt---? I'm guessing he would not advocate this, inasmuch as it involves future, ongoing immoral and unjust acts (robbery and theft, via taxation) upon innocent third-parties (other American citizens who are not debt-holders); His advocacy of a slow wind-down of troop withdrawal from places like Syria may be considered different in his view, in that the money for continued military occupation has already been forcefully wrested from the American citizens. Hmmmm.

  3. Strategically a good call for troops to come home from all countries. Tactically how it gets accomplished resulting in the least number of deaths is unfortunately up to the same people who want to spend lives and money in these places for eternity.

  4. The State has evolved boobytraps to make itself tamper-resistant. It's like the face-hugger in Alien: try to pull it off, it squezes your throats, try to to cut it, it bleeds acid etc.
    We have to treat it like a tumor. If you just reach into someone's chest and just rip it out, the patient will bleed on and die.

    We have to shrink it as much as we can, then go for surgery. Premature surgery will produce the same outcome as inaction: a dead patient.

    I suggest starting with the War on Drugs, then the War on Terror. If you we can shut those two things down without the sky falling, that will buy us some breathing room to talk about everything else. Economics is a subtle science and reasonable people can reach different conclusions, but bombing kids is bombing kids and locking peaceful people in cages is locking peaceful people in cages. Millions of Americans who cant understand that minimum wage laws hurt poor people can understand peace.

    1. Good policy moves, to be sure.
      Leviathan must be starved, i.e. we deprive it of funding: Abolish the Income Tax and the Federal Reserve. And for the long game, we simply MUST prevent The State from creating its own religious faithful and supporters, i.e. abolish government schooling, and thus privatize education.

  5. I think that one can distinguish continued military activities in Syria from domestic air-traffic control in several ways. First, such military action would not be a legitimate activity in a libertarian society, whereas some form of air-traffic control would be. Second, if one believes that the US government is supposed to use taxpayer money for the benefit of US taxpayers, then one could justify transitional air-traffic control, but this would still not justify transitional military activities in favor of the Kurds.

    Practically speaking, the US government could announce that, as of a certain date, it will end both military activity in Syria and domestic air-traffic control, and then the Kurds and airlines, respectively, could arrange their future activities on the basis of this advanced knowledge.

    1. There wouldn't be police protection in a PPS?

      I am talking about providing defensive cover, riding next to the Kurds.

      This wouldn't be legitimate?

    2. I imagine that there would be police protection in a PPS, but the correct application of that concept to this situation is that the Kurds would pay a private force to protect them. Here, the US taxpayer is footing the bill and, worse, if the US military were to engage in atrocities, then the US civilian population would be conflated with the US military, increasing the danger of "blowback" in the homeland.

      On a practical level, is it really as simple as "providing defensive cover, riding next to the Kurds"? What if someone attacks the retreating convoy and kills or injures American soldiers? Is it likely that the US government would not regard that as an unprovoked attack, and go after the "aggressors"? What if Kurds are killed or injured; wouldn't they pressure the US military to help them seek retribution, or chase off the aggressors over who-knows-what territory? No military action ever seems to go according to plan, particularly in that region.