Posted by: L | May 16, 2007

Ideas Against Empire

Murray Rothbard, cited by Joe Stromberg:

“And this is how even a mighty and despotic State gets toppled. This is how ideas effect social and political change – through movements, through alternative visions, through struggle. And this is a change that should gladden the hearts of libertarians, for it shows that a Leviathan State, even a particularly brutal and dictatorial one, can be vanquished….”

What are some of those ideas? One, is to see through the facade of liberal warmaking states:

“…liberal states, by allowing considerable economic freedom, sit atop more productive economies than do backward states. With lower taxes, they can still raise great revenues and assemble superior armed force. They then wield this armed force in projects that interest them as state apparatchiks, while the busy commercial classes pay little enough attention.

Accordingly, liberal states such as Britain and the United States are likely to succeed in imperialist competition, while clunky feudal-mercantilist or dirigiste states are not. This is the key to the much-mooted “democratic peace” imposture. Liberal democratic states get more revenue and win most of their wars. This tells us nothing about the merits of those wars, and little enough about reasons for those states’ foreign policies. (Hint: doing good may not top the list.)

Long ago, John Locke saw the point: “that Prince who shall be so wise and godlike as by established laws of liberty to secure protection and encouragement to the honest industry of Mankind against the oppression of power and narrowness of Party will quickly be too hard for his neighbours.” Thomas Paine, too, saw it, when he wrote that, “the portion of liberty enjoyed in England, is just enough to enslave a country by, more productively than by despotism; and that as the real object of all despotism is revenue, a government so formed obtains more than it could do either by direct despotism, or in a full state of freedom; and is therefore, on the ground of interest, opposed to both.” And Hans-Hermann Hoppe has made the same point at greater length. [48]

It would be interesting to look at the ambiguities of Locke as an early semistatist modernizer, [49] mercantilist, participant in the slave trade, etc., but there is no room here, and anyway, Locke has plenty of latter-day followers in providing a liberal façade for state activities. They are legion who stand for “free-market” Social Bonapartism – the imposing of “freedom” and “spontaneous order” by US weaponry. That so many Chicagoites are on board the imperial train suggests that the Chicago School always functioned as the right wing of Cold War liberalism. [50]

This is heady brew and one can easily see why enlistments are up in John Stuart Mill’s Own Lancers and the Bentham Berets. Instead of cultivating our own garden – dull work at best – liberventionists have enlisted to “Smash Someone Else’s State,” or to repudiate someone else’s national debt. This creates a bit of a problem.”

More ideas to end an empire:

“What can someone do, who sincerely believes that markets work better than states, that liberty is better than statism, or that life is better than death? Well, he or she can learn to separate America from the state, justifications from good intentions, morality from utility, American political realities from vanished 18th-century essences, freemen from Founders, defense from empire, and so on.”

Read more at “How Murray Rothbard Singlehandedly Brought Down the Saigon Government with Malice Aforethought,” Joseph Stromberg, Lew Rockwell, April 4, 2005.


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