Study their behaviors. Observe their territorial boundaries. Leave their habitat as you found it. Report any signs of intelligence.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

CF's New Antiwar Obsession Still Won't Grow the LP

California Freedom editor Tom Sipos writing in the August issue critiques my article therein. The two main points of my article (original here) were 1) empirical data from the 2000 and 2004 elections suggests that antiwar won't grow the LP, and 2) libertarian antiwar dogmatism comes from denial of the public goods argument for the existence of the state. Sipos addresses neither point, and instead writes:
TS) in this issue Brian Holtz defends the war (TS
This is not quite accurate. In the article I defend "the U.S. overthrow of Saddam" and the attempt to achieve the objectives I described as "1) eliminating any WMD capability or international terrorist infrastructure, and 2) deposing Saddam in favor of a democratic framework designed to protect fundamental human rights." However, I describe those objectives as "achieved", and nowhere in the article do I suggest that the war is worth continuing. I instead say "Iraqis (and war critics in America) failed to predict that sectarian strife was to develop into a Sunni-Shia civil war and negate much of the value of achieving objective #2." In the blog posting that my article links to, I explicitly say: "Iraq's thirst for civil war has effectively exhausted the reconstruction and stabilization efforts we owed the Iraqis for having liberated them. It is now time to accept our partial victory and let the Iraqi people take responsibility for their own future."
BH) The crucial question is whether the duty of a liberty-loving polity to defend human liberty vanishes completely at lines drawn on maps by statists. (BH

TS) Holtz’s word choice is intriguing. He doesn’t say that borders are moral, albeit not moral absolutes. Rather, he characterizes borders as “lines drawn on maps by statists.” He surely knows that in libertarian circles to characterize anything as “statist” is to impugn its validity. Holtz thus appeals to libertarian purism to justify the Iraq War. (TS
No, I appeal to libertarian purism to show the self-contradiction involved in a libertarian "purist" letting statists decide for him where human liberty should be defended.
TS) But does he support, or even appreciate, his principle’s logical conclusion? If borders are illegitimate, then tens of millions more Mexicans have an absolute right of entry into the US. (TS
I of course appreciate that anti-statism implies open borders. But anti-statism is not my principle, and I do not support open borders.
TS) Most “pro-defense” libertarians support borders, so it’s curious to see Holtz base an argument on their invalidity. (TS
Libertarian "purists" assert that any moral duty of a liberty-loving polity/community/society to voluntarily defend human liberty vanishes completely at places in the world that correspond precisely to lines drawn on maps by people who are in fact statists. This framing of the issue indeed invokes the anti-statism of libertarian "purists" against them, but my own arguments do not assume that borders are meaningless for purposes of normative political theory.
TS) by imposing a collectivist “duty of a liberty-loving polity to defend human liberty,” Holtz simultaneously contradicts his purism. What is a polity, if not a statist creation? (See how the American Heritage Dictionary defines polity.) (TS
As noted above, I do not share the anti-statist view that borders are meaningless in political ethics. By "polity" here I mean a community or society that observes a common set of principles about political organization or lack thereof. The "Imposing a collectivist ..." phrasing above is clearly meant to invoke the specter of state coercion, but almost every anarcholibertarian would agree that individuals have some kind of moral duty to voluntarily cooperate to protect the liberty of their community against tyrants and invaders. The question then becomes: what are the boundaries of the community? If the anarcholibertarian replies that those boundaries are determined by lines drawn on maps by statists, that's a really embarrassing answer for an anarcholibertarian to give.
TS) he does broach some difficult philosophical areas, however unintentionally. (TS
Heh. There are more things in my philosophy, dear Thomas, than are dreamt of in your part of heaven and earth. :-)
TS) Nations are collectives, antithetical to a purist individualism. (TS
Yes, I'm excruciatingly aware of the anarcholibertarian deontological argument against the morality of the existence of that force-initiating institution known as the state. ("State" is preferred over "nation" in the relevant branch of political theory, as "nation" points more at the geographical region and the people who occupy it than it does at the institution that governs it.) For my counter-arguments, see e.g.
TS) Every nation’s border contains some people who feel oppressed within it. It’s unlibertarian to demand that people “love it or leave it.” (TS
I've never used those words in my life, and I don't understand why they're quoted in something purporting to criticize an essay of mine. I've never argued that the state is legitimized merely by the decisions of its inhabitants not to leave it.
TS) Yet by what right does one nation compel its citizens to “liberate” citizens of another nation (TS
Minarchists don't agree that every possible form of free-riding is a right, by which one may not be compelled by one's neighbors acting together under the auspices of a constitutional democratic republic. I explained this in my article: "The military defense of liberty is the canonical textbook example of what economists call a 'public good' — a good that markets will underproduce due to the Free Rider Problem and thus needs tax financing." The primary purpose of my article was to explain that libertarian antiwar dogmatism comes from denial of the public goods argument for the existence of the state, so for Sipos to ignore this point suggests that my article failed -- or that it succeeded all too well.
TS) —some of whom don’t want to be liberated, either because they like their collective, or because the price in lives and limbs is too high? (TS
Some Germans liked the Nazi regime too. This requirement of universal demand for liberation is nonsensical, since a society by definition doesn't need liberating if every member of it agrees it should be liberated. As for the price in Iraq, my article explicitly cited Iraqi polling data, but Sipos doesn't address that data.
TS) Yes, we have a volunteer force, but if someone enlisted to defend the nation, there was no contractual consent to be used for liberation. (TS
Sipos seems to think that the contract agreed to by members of our all-volunteer armed forces limits their service to defending American soil. He is mistaken, and needs to read .
TS) And by what right does a nation exclude immigrants in order to preserve some of its citizens’ economic advantage, or racial or religious majority? (TS
This is off-topic, but my answer has nothing to do with race or religion. I have no problem with property owners in America allowing unlimited immigration of people who never set foot on the land of any non-consenting owner if those sponsors can guarantee that the immigrants will cause no extra burden on public goods, natural monopolies, and natural resources. Otherwise, I'm prepared to allow immigration only when it can be expected to have as little detrimental effect on public goods, natural monopolies, and natural resources as does the average child of legal residents. For more information, see .
TS) It’s easy for us to disregard the “collateral damage” wreaked by our liberations when we’re in no risk of being similarly liberated by foreigners. (TS
The question is: what constitutes "similarly liberated"? This reminds me of Ron Paul's inane question about how would we like it if China did to us what we did to Iraq. Of the 14 arguments against libervention that I catalog here, this Patriotic argument is the third weakest. If China had America's track record of attempting to promote and defend liberty and democratic sovereignty, and came here to snap the neck of a genocidal tyrannical George Bush who had used chemical weapons to exterminate entire towns of American dissidents, then I would welcome the Chinese Army with open arms, and might even tear down a statue of Bush to smack it with the sole of my shoe.

When I first approached Sipos about answering the Samuels piece that was the object of my essay that I defend above, Sipos replied "the LPC has been silent on the war for the last several years. Bruce ran the paper without mentioning the war." This is simply false. During Bruce Cohen's tenure, CF ran five pieces featuring opposition to intervention, and zero pieces in defense of intervention in general or the Iraq invasion in particular:
  • The August 2005 issue published an antiwar LTE by Jay Eckl. The associated brief editor's note merely reported the objective facts that 1) opinions on the war issue were split at the 2005 LPC convention, and 2) the LP is officially anti-intervention. (Thus the editor's note could count as a sixth anti-intervention piece, but I'll be generous to Sipos and not count it separately.)
  • The same issue contained an article by Mark Selzer that opposed U.S. efforts to build democracy in Iraq.
  • The Sep 2005 issue featured a commentary opposing restrictions on media coverage of the war.
  • The same issue contained an article on the LPCA ExCom resolution against the war. (That issue also featured dueling paid advertisements by antiwar libertarians and their opponents, but these were ads and thus not editorial content.)
  • The Nov 2005 issue promoted the antiwar "Gold, Freedom, and War" conference.
The Oct 2005 issue contained an LTE that criticized ideological litmus-testing by antiwar libertarians, but it did not mention Iraq and did not contain a single sentence defending intervention in general or the Iraq invasion in particular.

Contrast Bruce's record to that of Mr. Sipos in his first three issues. His first issue had three anti-war articles taking up nearly two entire pages, including the page-one headline. There were two anti-war articles in the July 2007 issue. The current issue contains my critique of antiwar dogmatism, but it is accompanied by the full-length editorial rebuttal that this posting answers. It also contains a brief LTE criticizing CF's sudden antiwar focus, but that is rebutted by a rambling personal editorial note that is twice as long as the LTE itself. Finally, it contains an antiwar book review ("Neo-Conned Into War") that is longer than any of these other pieces (and has no direct connection to the LPCA).

In summary, Cohen ran five pieces over two years featuring opposition to intervention, and zero unpaid content defending intervention. Sipos in three months has run six anti-intervention pieces, and the two opposing pieces he has run have been accompanied by two instant rebuttals -- totaling 8 antiwar pieces in 3 issues.

This isn't balance. It's obsession.

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