Mr. Stolyarov has written his response and I aim to respond to it here. All appropriate links for catching up with the debate can be found on his blog.
Let’s not waste any time and dive right into it:
First, I’d like to counter (if possible) Mr. Stolarov’s main similarities:
(1) The repeal of unjustified interventions was achieved by working through the extant political process.
Well the repeal should be noted as it was historically…that is temporarily. Clearly the British empire is still around and the government has not gotten much smaller. So for whatever good this change did it was not long lasting or at least as long lasting as needed to influenced the empire further. Contrary to this however more direct action type movements like the women’s rights movements, the civil libeteries movements, the anti-slavery movement (via hiding slaves and the Underground Railroad, etc.) have been much more long lasting and effective.
Now I want to make it clear that I do not hold in any dogmatic fashion that political change is simply impossible to happen to the benefit of libertarians. I wish to make this clear as to assure Mr. Stolarov that I don’t lack complete faith in the political system doing some benefit for us as libertarians. But the overall feeling I get from history and my own knowledge of the system as it is is that we’d be far better off at the least diminishing political action in most cases and focusing on outside the system things.
(2) The individuals spearheading the Anti-Corn Law League – Cobden and Bright – pursued political office in Parliament in order to achieve the repeal of the unjustified interventions.
Sure, but the political office was nothing of the sort like Ron Paul is currently seeking. Furthermore, the empires are of completely different countries and times as you have admitted not to mention cultures and histories. Ron Paul is seeking to demolish many different oppressive laws (I’ll discuss this more in depth later on) while Coben and Bright merely wanted to do away with one. While they have the much more practical idea of only dealing with one oppressive law and only doing it through one political channel that isn’t too hard to get to with some public support what Ron Paul needs to get to the political office to begin with is huge. Bright and Cobden used up most of their lives to accomplish their goals and I’m afaid that Paul’s chances of replicating this same thing is not likely to me. Not only because he’s already in his late 70s and this being his last run at office but also because he’s never succeeded before (which doesn’t necessarily preclude him from winning but just make it less likely in my eyes).
(3) At the beginning of its efforts, the Anti-Corn Law League was out of favor with the political and economic elites. Yet, through persistence and rational argumentation over the course of nearly a decade, it was able to sway both elite and public opinion.
Ron Paul doesn’t have that time nor has he swayed many of the elites (to my knowledge) and he’s only swayed some of public opinion and not nearly enough to be elected (again to my knowledge).
(4) A well-coordinated political organization, aiming at mass enrollment, was essential to the success of the Anti-Corn Law League’s efforts. This organized effort used the most sophisticated technology and tactics of its time in innovative ways.
Using the internate to coordinate events is not inventive or new nor is using Twitter or anything else that RP has used for his campaigns. This stuff has been going on for years in different contexts and has proven its worth each time. This isn’t to say that Ron Paul can’t make use of it just that I think it’s insufficent in of itself to make me convinced he’ll be able to become president. And the people who have used it in non-political ways have seemed to have gotten the biggest boost in things. Such people like those in Egypt and other countries got fed up with their system of government and instead of participating in the system they took to the streets. Granted, of course the US and these other places are certainly not similar in any way but I suppose just like you hold there’s enough similarities to help you believe in the validity of political action this is one reason for my belief in direct action.
(5) The Anti-Corn Law League focused on stepwise liberalization by identifying the most ruinous intervention and targeting it first. (I shall discuss laterhow this approach is similar to both the effects of Ron Paul’s campaign and what Ron Paul would do if he were elected President.)
Well since you’re gonna discuss it later there’s not much I feel that is necessary to comment on but I do want to say that Ron Paul isn’t taking steps he’s just trying to bring a bunch of oppressive laws down probably as fast and quickly as possible. Why? Well because public and governmental perception is key and if he has it even for a few months he’ll need to capitalize on that and he can’t wait decades or even years to do that like Cobden and Bright could in their position. Paul has got to use his leverage when he has got it and if he gets elected he better have a pretty good plan.
Now some of those things (like ending the wars, etc.) he may have the power to do immediately but I doubt the process is as easy as “bring them all home now”. I mean I hope it is but it may not be that simple due to all of the corporate and lobbyist interest invested in these wars. And the backlash of the Middle Eastern community, etc. etc. could prove problematic and so on. But I hope it’s that simple for sure…I just doubt it actually is.
Anyways, more on this later.
(6) The Anti-Corn Law League was an ecumenical movement that welcomed individuals from a variety of backgrounds and worldviews, as long as those individuals shared the League’s essential objective. It has also been widely observed that Ron Paul’s campaign has drawn an incredibly diverse following from numerous subcultures and areas of the conventional “political spectrum”.
Sure, this is more of a fair analogy, but again this does not mean RP will be successful or that I should vote for him because of the many other multiple problems at play that I as an anarchist see and will discuss as I go along in this response.
(7) The Anti-Corn Law League, like Ron Paul, maintained impeccable civility in the face of vitriol and foul play by its opponents.
No argument here.
(8) The Anti-Corn Law League, like Ron Paul, remained steadfast to its principles even when compromising those principles would have been politically easier.
As I pointed out in my response to you if RP is supporting voluntaryism as his ultimately favored system then immigration is definitely something that is not being “steadfast” to his principles, to say the least.
Also, even if all of these similarities are true (and I don’t think they are by and large to begin with) none of that is enough to convince me that RP could be president just because one short term success (that ended not long after due to the nature of government that I see as an anarchist) has historically come from political action. So keep this in mind.
Now on to your first response:
“I do not find this argument persuasive, as both movements have actually worked simultaneously within and outside the political process. While heading the Anti-Corn Law League, both Cobden and Bright were members of Parliament and attempted to exert influence over the governance of the British Empire by affecting how Parliament voted on the issue of trade. Ron Paul, during his tenure as a United States Representative, also led the Campaign for Liberty – a nonprofit organization aimed at pro-freedom political and economic reforms, but not itself a part of any government.”
But it’s not enough to simply state that they have both done this. What were the results? I’ve seen Campaign for Liberty before (was never impressed to be honest but then I’m an anarchist so what do you expect?) and I’m unsure of what they have accomplished as an outside entity so please inform me.
“So both Paul and Cobden worked simultaneously within and outside governmental positions.”
That’s nice I suppose but it doesn’t mean that either one was as successful as you’d want it to be or even successful to the point where more successes could happen afterwards.
“It is true that Cobden never wanted to be Prime Minister (the closest position in terms of executive power to what the US President would have today) – but in 19th-century Britain, the power of the Legislative branch was much stronger than it is in the United States today; indeed, the Prime Minister was of Parliament and did Parliament’s bidding. In the 21st-century, it is unfortunately the case that astonishing amounts of power have become concentrated in the person of the President – so, to roll back unfreedom in a significant way, Presidential cooperation and even initiative are needed in many situations.”
This doesn’t necessarily follow at all. When racial segregation, slavery, the lack of freedom for women, the lack of rights for workers and so on were big deals what happened when government stepped in? The segregation of blacks and whites was mostly government enforced, as was the system of property relations between men and women.
The lack of rights for workers was beneficial for both big corporations and governments so that the corporate bosses could more easily extract profits from a more broken working man.
But how were these things earned back?
For segregation there were the protests, the boycotts, the sitins and what political legislation exactly happened or the black man asked for? I don’t recall too much of that being the focus. I’m not denying it happened of course but you never so MLK or Malcolm X (especially the latter) calling for political action. For slavery there was the Underground Railroad as well as hoarding slaves, slaves banding together and trying to escape and so on that heavily led to slavery becoming impractical if not the least bit terribly more difficult.
What did Lincoln do for the slaves? Oh right, he forced them back into the nation whether they liked it or not and then said “slavery was abolished” except it never really was due to the KKK then emerging, racial segregation and blacks being treated as sub-human to the whites. There’s not much that political actions did here. None of this is to defend the South of course, as Lysander Spooner was trying to say, if people can secede from their governments and establish new ones then not only was the South legitimate in doing so (even if it did it for the wrong reasons, namely to uphold slavery) but the slaves could secede from the masters and so on.
So too for the workers rights. One of the leading groups that helped out weren’t The Knights of Labor or any other politically orientated union but the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) which relied on direct action.
As Voltairine de Cleyre said in her essay, “Direct Action”:
“These workers have, in one form or another, mutually joined their forces to see what betterment of their condition they could get; primarily by direct action, secondarily by political action. We have had the Grange, the Farmer’s Alliance, Co-operative Associations, Colonization Experiments, Knights of Labor, Trade Unions, and Industrial Workers of the World. All of them have been organized for the purpose of wringing from the masters in the economic field a little better price, a little better conditions, a little shorter hours; or on the other hand to resist a reduction in price, worse conditions, or longer hours. None of them has attempted a final solution of the social war. None of them, except the Industrial Workers, has recognized that there is a social war, inevitable so long as present legal- social conditions endure. They accepted property institutions as they found them. They were made up of average men, with average desires, and they undertook to do what appeared to them possible and very reasonable things. They were not committed to any particular political policy when they were organized, but were associated for direct action of their own initiation, either positive or defensive.”
de Cleyre was alive at the time and was able to witness what good the IWW was doing for the workers. Especially in so far as their wages, living conditions, bargaining power with the boss and their overall livelihood in their lives were concerned. They didn’t care about political action, or at least not nearly as much as the ones did and it shows. The IWW is still around and The Knights of Labor, et. al. are not. I don’t think makes it necessarily follow that political action is necessarily less advantageous for the worker or for us as libertarians but it’s certainly indicative of a trend that *may* point us that way.
I don’t know how interested in worker rights, unions, etc. you are but rest assured I’m not calling for government intervention in industry and by and large neither did de Clyere or the IWW (which was at the time mostly made up of anarchists and still is).
Also my point is in line with de Cleyre when she says in “Direct Action”:
“Well, I have already stated that some good is occasionally accomplished by political action — not necessarily working-class party action either. But I am abundantly convinced that the occasional good accomplished is more than counterbalanced by the evil; just as I am convinced that though there are occasional evils resulting through direct action, they are more than counterbalanced by the good.”
So take all of that for whatever it’s worth to you I suppose.
I would also like to illustrate that the strategy of direct action is something I’ve discussed before and it’s been discussed elsewhere besides de Cleyre such as here and shown it’s efficiency there as well.
“Politically, the Britain of Cobden’s day was much freer than the United States today – in terms of the sheer number of interventions in existence – though, perhaps, it can be argued that the effects of individual interventions like the Corn Laws on human suffering might have been greater in a time when many more people lived on the edge of subsistence. When the major infringements on liberty can be readily enumerated – and each infringement can be attributed to just a few laws, as opposed to a vast, interrelated network of them – it is more feasible to achieve major gains for freedom by just targeting one law or group of laws. In this sense, it is true that Ron Paul would have much more to repeal than Cobden and Bright did, since our political system is much farther gone down the road to serfdom than theirs had been. In that respect, it could be said that his agenda is more ambitious than that of Cobden and Bright – but it still does not mean that there would be no selective focus on the worst interventions.”
Alright this is all fair enough and that’s a good point about him focusing on this…but this assumes he’ll be elected to begin with, a prospect I do not find too likely due to his previous records, the way the system works (especially in so far as we’re talking special interests) and the historical failure (for the most part) of political action.
“For instance, Ron Paul’s emphasis on the economic wreckage created by the Federal Reserve is on par in terms of focus to Cobden and Bright’s emphasis on the harms of the Corn Laws. Certainly, the phrases “Audit the Fed” and “End the Fed” have become inextricably identified with the Ron Paul movement.”
Sure, that’s true but that doesn’t mean that ending the Fed or likewise ending the wars solves the problem that the system creates itself. Ron Paul is focusing on the most oppressive branches and that’s an admirable thing but he’s not going to the root of the problem which for me is the government itself. If he can cut the branches and make it easier to get to the root I’m all for that I suppose but not through political action or at least not to the degree he pursues it. And if he does that and makes my job as an anarchist more power to him but I don’t think this will happen.
And I don’t think there’s much proof that my vote matters to begin with or that voters are largely rational either. That’s a lot of things against me voting. Plus there’s no duty for me to vote and most people probably shouldn’t either way not only because they’re largely ignorant of things but because there are better options for change out there.
“Ron Paul also has a clear understanding of the need to focus on specific areas of US federal interventions – namely, monetary policy and foreign policy – first. As President, Ron Paul would have the authority to unilaterally, immediately withdraw the US military from tens of foreign occupations, greatly reducing the waste of lives and taxpayer money.”
But this is a narrow looking at things and you’re missing the fact that many corporate interests have a great deal of well…interest in whether these wars continue or not. By not trying to convince big wartime industries Ron Paul (and you) are failing to notice that simply calling back the troops doesn’t fix the problems of wars happening. It’s still very much in the favor of the upper class and to much of the chagrin of the lower class if wars are still to happen because of all of the increase in governmental power, corporate power, increased taxation based on things like patriotism and so on. It’s a win-win for the government and a lose-lose for the ruled class and until we start focusing on the upper class itself and the ideas they hold instead of the physical institutions through highly outdated tactics such as political action then I’m afraid it’s not going to do much.
Ending the wars and the Fed are wonderful things…but only if they can be followed up on and only if more progress is to come after that. You’ve yet to show me a case where such an event actually happened. Where the political action didn’t seem to just take whatever was left for the person to do in a liberty orientated way and settle for that. And after that the system just eventually picks up where some lone person in the political system said no.
“At the same time, he would pursue a thorough audit of the Federal Reserve and would thereby galvanize public opinion to take more radical steps to limit the power of that secretive institution. (In this respect, he would be similar to another political figure, US President Andrew Jackson, whose determined actions successfully put an end to the Second Bank of the United States in 1836 and left the US without a central bank for the next 77 years. Jackson’s battle against the central bank of his time is another excellent example of successful pro-liberty political action.)”
Again, short term benefit is great…but only if you can follow up on it. Jackson could not and unsurprisingly it was reestablished eventually because of the root of the problem itself which is government…so I guess it’s just always gonna come down to a minarchist vs. anarchist debate huh? 😛
“It is clear from the above that, as President, Ron Paul would need to pursue some simultaneous action in multiple areas – even if such basic areas as domestic economic policy and foreign military policy are considered. And while his movement is not limited to targeting just one set of laws, it nonetheless can target strong public opposition at highly specific interventions in a variety of areas. Today, it is necessary to do this, because unfreedom currently advances on multiple fronts as well – and the best defense against such encroachments is a good offense in the form of rolling back and repealing harmful interventions wherever this is feasible.”
1. “Unfreedom” is *definitely not a word. 😛
2. A lot of oppressive laws and other harmful social environments and cultural ones have been changed from the bottom up much to the chagrin of the ruling class via direct action and education and not political change. In fact these events are generally much more longer lasting than political ones. I think de Cleyre’s essay on direct action bears me out on this historical fact.
3. We can attack a lack of freedom many different ways without putting such a huge amount of emphasis on politics. My preferred strategies have already been outlined elsewhere and if you care to read them I invite you to. They are agorism, direct action, dual power and education
Onwards and upwards! (Or something)
“Mr. Ford’s words here seem strongly to imply that the differences in culture, historical development, politics, economic development and so on” between 19th-century Britain and the 21st-century United States somehow preclude the ability to amass great amounts of political change by influencing public and elite opinion. If this is so, Mr. Ford has not yet provided any concrete evidence to show that doing this is more difficult today than it would have been in Cobden’s Britain.”
Well I thought it was pretty explanatory that you just can’t use one method and expect it to accomplish the same results in the same way in a very different environment. Do I need to provide evidence for such a basic fact that the mere idea that thinking about similar actions in different contexts would provide? You seem pretty smart Mr. Stolaryov and I don’t mean to demean you but I think you should know that there’s no one method that works for all scenarios or equally applies as much as it does in one scenario as one that is in many ways very different from the other.
Now if you still think I’m giving you the short end of the stick on “concrete evidence” then please explain why this explanation is not good enough for you. It’s not enough to just say I haven’t given “concrete” reasons when you haven’t given me a standard of what concrete is to you to begin with or why that definition makes sense.
“Indeed, much evidence would point the other way. Technologies such as the Internet and mobile devices enable information to be spread much more efficiently and cheaply than even Cobden’s penny postage could manage.”
Where has that gotten RP over the years? To my knowledge it’s only gotten him a senate house and a lot of money that he spent on political campaigns that didn’t get him elected. It may have spread the word about libertarianism and that’s definitely good thing but it hasn’t gotten him to be president yet and I don’t see it happening now. And furthermore nor have you explained why it will make a difference now. If the paper you link does then please quote the relevant passages because I already took the time to read most of your paper on the Anti-Corn Law League and I’m not about to respond to another paper of yours when we’re trying to focus on the previous one as is and still getting into big side issues like minarchism vs. anarchism as it is.
Really the question is, how will RP beat the rest of the GOP and more importantly how would he beat Obama? I’m interested to hear that because I’ve yet to hear *any* case for how he would.
“Furthermore, today’s technologies allow anyone who wants it the unprecedented opportunity to attain a self-education in politics, economics, and philosophy – as well as to cross-check the validity of information that emanates from “mainstream” or other sources. My 2008 essay “Liberation by Internet: How Technology Destroys Tyranny” discussed this empowering effect of the Internet even before some of its greatest manifestations occurred. If, even in the face of recent developments such as the Arab Spring, Mr. Ford does not believe that today’s technological proliferation increases the chances of a mass political movement succeeding in removing deleterious top-down interventions, I would like to know the reasons behind his skepticism.”
That’s ridiculous to say because I never once said that today’s technology would never do anything for anyone or even mentioned technology to begin with in my original passage that you quoted. If you want to bring it up Mr. Stolyarov I advise you to say, “You missed this thing, what do you think about it?” Not draw strawmans from assertions that never implied what were you stating.
And furthermore I think technology has certainly helped his campaign and gives him and all of us better chances to help liberate ourselves. I just do not think that it’s gonna happen through political action. But instead of relying on political action I think instead we should rely on the tactics that has helped us as libertarian and help people in general. Those tactics that do so I’ve already linked above and you’re more than welcome to read them and give me your thoughts.
As for your words on partisanship that was my mistake on definitions and I concede that there is certainly some fair analogies to be made there.
To the discussion of gradualism and immidiatism:
“Immediate repeal of numerous bad laws is compatible with maintaining the existing system of government (while, of course, reducing what it can do to its citizens).”
Well again I think on your part this is just being naive. There are many more factors at play for these things to come into effect and the whole of congress is not very much in favor of many of Ron Pauls’ ideas…so how is he going to get past that? Or all of the lobbyists and corporate interests? And other special interests? None of this has been explained to me or if it’s been discussed it’s just been brushed off and for me this is something that highly damages the credibility of this strategy for me.
If you can’t explain how he’s going to get past a very non-libertarian congress and mostly non-libertarian public and non-libertarian private sector then I don’t see the chances of him getting elected in the first place. And even if by some miracle he did I question what good he could do if the world is still largely in that way.
“More generally, I do not see anything morally problematic with becoming an officeholder or even the leader of a government, provided that one’s purpose is to remove deleterious impositions on people’s lives. Why is it un-libertarian in any way to get rid of an un-libertarian policy?”
Well for one because not *everyone* is a libertarian or thinks in such ways. And it just seems wrong for me to ask someone to force my own opinion on others instead of being convinced by it and supporting it. Taking down the laws while they may do more good than harm and that’s certainly a good thing seem questionable in the way they are enacted for me as an anarchist. It seems to put the position of power over what people’s lives will be in other people’s hands. And whether that’s through putting up new and better policies or taking them down unless people have agreed to the decision it seems like it’s being done against their will or at best it shouldn’t be forced on them.
I’m willing to be persuaded another way, but taking power over other people and especially through political office just doesn’t sit right with me either way.
“So why should it be seen as productive to discourage libertarians from seeking the most direct way in which they could actually repeal un-libertarian policies in the real world?”
Because the choice isn’t between either political supporters or non-supporters but people in of themselves and how they want things to be. The most direct path is enacting this change *without* the permission of the politicians which many people already do through things like direct action and agorism and the current rising informal economy reflects that fact.
“Libertarians of all stripes would do well to also recognize that, as President, Ron Paul would be a placeholder of an office that could be used for great evil if occupied by a person who does not adhere to the principles of liberty. If Ron Paul is President, it means that, for four to eight years, nobody else can be. The “somebody else” – be he Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, or any other establishment politician – would most likely greatly increase the scope of unfreedom. At least Ron Paul would not have that kind of effect.”
You’ve yet to prove he *can* be elected and I’ve yet to be convinced that any of the gains he makes will be much more than the short term ones that have been done before in history. Again to repeat myself, the historical examples you have given have only had short term benefits and any of these short term benefits are then taken away by the same entity that produced them. So why should I have any faith in Ron Paul whether he gets elected or not?
“Lastly on this point, I am curious as to why Mr. Ford appears to have no particular reservations toward liberty-minded people like Cobden, Bright, and Ron Paul serving as legislators, but he finds it particularly problematic for them to be heads of state. What, if any, ethical difference is there between those functions in his mind, when both by definition influence the political process? “
Oh no, there’s none for me. But I wasn’t trying to make that distinction and furthermore wasn’t paying attention to the fact that they were in the legislation office. I actually forgot that they took those spots to take down the laws to begin with. But I certainly support the education part of it and the overall good it did it’s just that I question the tactics of legislation, etc.
“(Of course, my stance on this matter is that there is nothing morally wrong with being either a libertarian legislator or a libertarian executive, and I hope that this where further consideration of this question will also lead Mr. Ford.)”
For me there’s nothing in line with libertarian principles with becoming artificially higher up than others on the basis of wealth, connections, corporate buddies, etc. I’m not saying this is all the case for Cobden, Paul, et. al. but it doesn’t seem in line with the respect of property rights, the NAP and so on that libertarians are well known for defending if we see government as a territorial monopoly on violence that has had a history of getting it’s way through violence to begin with. Rothbard’s [http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard62.html] and Franz Oppenheimer’s [http://www.franz-oppenheimer.de/state0.htm] are particularly relavant here.
Again, it goes back to me being an anarchist and you bring a minarchist.
On to the media:
“With decentralized technology, it is likelier than ever that the general public will be able to bypass the influence of special interests in deciding how to cast its votes – since the special interests (such as the large, politically connected media corporations) no longer hold a near-monopoly on the dissemination of information.”
Sure but they still hold a stranglehold on what people think to a large extent, or so it seems to me. The mainstream media is still the media that is most often heard, watched and so on. I’m not saying that these are insurmountable problems just that people haven’t shown me viable solutions yet. I implore you to show me yours.
“Furthermore, the influence of certain concentrated economic interests on the political process is nothing new. Recall that Cobden and Bright had to contend with the support for the Corn Laws of the immensely wealthy and powerful British aristocratic landowners, who tended to align themselves with the Tory Party. By diligent activism, persuasion, and economic education, they managed to greatly weaken the political power of that economic bloc and to convince many wealthy landowners to switch sides in the debate.”
Again, the economic elite in the US is not the same elite that Cobden and company had to deal with back in Britain. Nor is it an entirely analogous for the simple reason that to my knowledge not many corporations or big businesses seem to like Ron Paul or support his campaign or sponser him. Nor has he seemed to convince many of them. If I am incorrect on any of these things though please let me know.
“If lobbyists and donations from economically powerful interests were truly an insurmountable obstacle to achieving pro-liberty political change, then there would never be any such change at any time in history.”
Well sure, but then I never said it was insurmountable you again just assumed that’s what I was implying. This assumption is incorrect and I feel mostly unfounded though I suppose I don’t fault you entirely because it could’ve been bad phrasing or wording on my part. Or perhaps it’s the fact of me being an anarchist that contributed to this assumption. In any case the assumption is incorrect.
“It is true that it takes persistence, principle, and tactical cleverness to overcome a system that invites such influence. But there is nothing to suggest that Ron Paul is not up to this task.”
Well see this for why RP seems to lack some tactics on some issues and why it points to me that he may not be up to the task on some things. Also the booing about him bringing about the basic fact of blowback during the GOP debates to me suggests that some of the public may not be willing to hear those things or vote for someone who is. Neither of these things point towards an RP win at any rate. I’m not suggesting they alone disprove you or prove my case but just that they don’t aid your case and for me at best help prove the opposite could be more likely.
On to some questions of morality:
“While, again, I find these positions to be at least partially problematic, I do not think that killing people will ever be a part of the approach a Paul administration uses.”
Skipping to this part, it doesn’t matter what you think it matters how government operates by and that’s by force. And nothing you “think” is going to change that basic fact. Ron Paul said it himself, “There’s no nation without borders” and if he wants those borders to exist he’s going to have to hire people to defend them with the use of deadly force if necessary. But of course in my opinion there’s no legitimacy to the borders to begin with. And even if we don’t agree on this there’s certainly ideas that point to the fact that it makes economic sense at the least.
“If one takes even the least charitable interpretation of what Ron Paul would do as President – there could be some forcible deportations, which have already been happening in mass under Obama. Deportation (requiring a person to leave the country – perhaps even escorting a person to the border) is wrong to inflict, in my view, on those who did not commit violent crime. But it is a far cry from killing.”
But it doesn’t matter. You’re still using force on people who have done nothing wrong by my moral standards. They just want a better life, a better job, they want to be able to freely move! No one, not even Ron Paul, should have the right to say otherwise. If he wishes to do so then that’s something that should be considered when asking an anarchist (or anyone) to vote for him.
“I hope that this reductio ad absurdum exercise has shown the need to recognize the merits of approaches that take us unambiguously in the right direction, even if they do not entirely get us to the condition of freedom we would desire.”
Your reductio (sounds like a Harry Potter spell when I say think about it…) is actually in of itself absurd. I was never suggesting,
“…there should be no moral issue with reducing the scope of certain problematic laws and interventions.”
I don’t support political action in general really and at best wish to just deemphasize it and use it where it must be used and it seems actually attainable to me. But this,
“Failing to bring about a perfect libertarian society does not by itself qualify one for moral condemnation – for, if it did, we would all be guilty.”
Has absolutely nothing to do with my arguments. I’m not morally condemning politicians because they don’t do total reforms towards the way I’d like to see people go or people in general and I’m confused where you got this from. But rather, I’m more upset that they’re forcing their own opinion on others through the use of government instead of direct action, education, agorism, etc.
“To remove the ability of certain other people to coerce still other people does not involve “forcing” anyone – except perhaps in retaliation for aggression.”There is a clear difference, for instance, between a criminal pointing a gun to someone’s head and a passer-by knocking that gun out of the criminal’s hand. To remove the impact of a harmful, liberty-violating program does not by itself impose harm or violate the rights of anyone.”
Hmm…this is a good point. The coercion going on through the law (for example the drug laws that are part of the war on drugs) would be abolished by abolishing the law itself and could possibly be called some sort of defense. Well I told you I was willing to be persuaded I’ve just never heard anyone present the case like this. Regardless, I think it’s a certainly much more defendable reason than what I’ve heard (or not been hearing) so far.
“It is important to remember that rights and wishes are not the same. Another person’s wish to draft you into the military or force you to provide free health care to strangers would not, for instance, give him the right to do so. A regime that rigorously adheres to individual rights is surely going to displease some people, who will consider the prohibitions against violations of rights to be “imposition” or “force” by their incorrect understanding. But, if there are indeed objective, universal natural rights that exist by virtue of what human beings are rather than by whatever happen to be people’s subjective opinions – then it is those objective rights, not the wishes of anyone and everyone, that governments ought to respect and enforce. If rights were subjective and defined by opinion instead of natural law, then government-provided health care, protectionist tariffs, and agricultural subsidies could be seen as “rights”. Some quite vocal constituencies do want them, after all.”
This goes into way too many side issues that I won’t even bother touching. Suffice it to say even if government *was* better at doing it (and I deny that as an anarchist still) this does not follow that it should be able to claim a monopoly on said services or abilities. Nor have you proven how government is special. And why it should be able to have the abilities it does. These are important questions to think about.
Also, I’m only throwing all of these links at you because within the context of the debate I don’t consider it worth my time to thoroughly debate with you the merits of government. Instead, I’d rather give you thought provoking writings that can probably do a better job than I can anyways. And if they can’t convince you then I don’t see the point in me trying right now anyways.
“In practice there is no gun involved in much of the political process, and the agencies that enforce many laws have no guns among their staff. (This is, unfortunately, becoming less common at the federal level.)”
I’m almost afraid to ask lest this conversation be bogged down more but…how? How is there no guns backing the the say so of the laws? Are they just there? Do the police not come to your house if you refuse to pay taxes? Am I to believe that jury orders are now not backed with fines or putting people in cages (jail cells) if they don’t comply? Am I missing something? For the anarchist our foe is, “Our Enemy, The State” and I don’t think that Ron Paul is really recognizing that to any significant degree (or not enough of one) and neither are you as a minarchist.
“Furthermore, to the extent that laws are enforced through voluntary compliance (without any reliance on punishment), “the gun” is not necessary; this is one reason why respect for the rule of law is so important in a free society.”
Well you’re begging the question of how you exactly now laws are enforced through “voluntary compliance”. Suffice it to say Lysander Spooner has already demolished any such arguments.
Not only that but the whole idea of the rule of law is a myth that has no credibility.
“But, beyond that, if one accepts the minarchist premise (I know that Mr. Ford does not) that a legitimate function of governments is to protect individuals against physical aggression, then it may be entirely appropriate for a government to use guns in defense of its subjects, within a rigorously defined sphere. I see this as a highly limited power that should be aimed primarily at preventing violence – and, if that fails, at retribution and restitution against the violent offender. (Unlike many minarchists, I do not think that war can be legitimate – so the power I describe is much more limited and would be targeted against individual criminals rather than entire peoples.) But the government that can do this best would never need to fire a gun at all – even though guns (or their future equivalents) would most likely need to be kept around as deterrents to any random thug who happens to come by and who would otherwise easily overpower a society of peaceful, unarmed individuals.”
Well we’re certainly not on the same train in the end but I certainly favor this over what we have. But again it’s a matter of striking the root and not merely the branches. The reason why I don’t think RP’s reforms or Cobden’s or Jackson’s reforms lasted is based on the root of the problem…government. But we disagree and perhaps we should leave it at that for now?
I’m just afraid that we will get bogged down into countless side-arguments that, while certainly relevant aren’t necessarily conducive to our limits of time and patience with this debate. Is this understandable?
On the points about education I admit to being mistaken what you were saying.
“I hope that this discussion has illustrated in greater detail the relevance of the Anti-Corn Law League’s success as at least a partial model for how liberty might be achieved in our time. I would welcome a further response from Mr. Ford on any of the matters addressed here.”
A little here and there but you’ve yet to address:
1. Why or how Ron Paul would get elected
2. How he would bypass the other candidates or the special interests
3. How Cobden, et. al. bypassing the special interests towards one law means that somehow RP can do it on a much bigger scale in a very different enviornment.
4. Why I should be (as an anarchist) investing my time in an entity I don’t have much faith in to begin with and do not think is legitimate?
And there’s probably other things to but those are some of the big things.
Some other important things that should be pointed out is that Ron Paul has never been elected before and even if he is winning in some good ways it’s not enough.
Is there hope for liberty in our lifetime? I’m unsure at best, I don’t think it will happen but I definitely don’t think voting is the right option for us as libertarians right now and I’m sticking to that until someone else can give me good reasons to think otherwise. You’ve made decent points but definitely not enough to convince me that Ron Paul is going to win, be enough or even be helpful if he got elected.
But for the record Mr. Stolyarov I still maintain that political action is for the most part ridiculous for a libertarian of any stripe to get involved with and that Ron Paul will not win let alone enact these changes. However, I doubt my words here have done much to convince you of that but I hope it will at least make you think twice about some of your positions as you have done for me. I thank you for your response and if you should decide to make another one I shall do my best to make another response to that if I find that this discussion is still worth my time. By the point of you making another response however the chances of us going off on to other topics (which seems to be the tendency here) may grow larger and the main issues may change.
Now that’s fine for a regular conversation but as my title suggests the area that this discussion falls under is much broader than just Cobden and Ron Paul and I don’t think I have the time or want to spend the time necessary to keep going back and forth on that when it hides the original purpose of this back and forth.
Regardless this doesn’t necessarily preclude me from responding to you I just want you to keep that in mind that we are slowly drifting away from the original main topic to deal with side issues without necessarily resolving the original main topic itself. If this conversation is to be more fruitful we may want to find a way to resolve that before we discuss the ideas of minarchsim vs. anarchism and such.
If you choose not to respond at all this is also fine and I’ve enjoyed this debate thus far, I thank you for your time either way.