Libertarianism, Current Events

The New Student Libertarian Movement

Perhaps they’re not as salient to those of you who don’t spend your days on college campuses, but Students for Liberty is pretty freakin’ amazing. I’ve been watching small libertarian groups come and go on various college campuses for about the last 15 years now, and I have never seen (or read about?) a student libertarian organization that is this big, this passionate, this well-organized, and this knowledgeable. Their regional and international conferences, their webinar series, the symposia series they run with Liberty Fund, their books, everything they do is just terrific.

What’s really drawn my attention recently, however, is the way in which these students transcend so much of what has been objectionable about the libertarian movement in its past incarnations. Both in terms of its demographics and its substantive political and moral concerns, today’s movement seems broader, more inclusive, and more in keeping with the liberalism of classical liberalism than much of what we’ve seen before. For starters, there seem to be many more women and racial minorities involved than I’ve ever before seen. Not that the libertarian movement of the past set an exceptionally high hurdle. But progress is still good to see – even if it’s purely anecdotal or secondhand on my part. Anyone have any firm numbers?

I’ve been especially proud to see SFL pushing recently for libertarians to take issues associated with feminism and black studies more seriously. Such calls aren’t unprecedented in the libertarian intellectual tradition, of course. But that’s kind of the point. There are a few people like our own Roderick Long who have written about both issues in the past. There are groups like the Association of Libertarian Feminists who have been doing this kind of thing for quite a while.

But these aren’t the issues that jump to mind when you think about what libertarians stand for. And that’s a shame. It’s a shame because the issues are important, and central to the kind of liberalism that libertarians ought to be among the loudest in supporting. And it’s a shame because we still live in a world in which people like Stefan Molyneux dismiss feminism as “socialism with panties,” and people like Justin Raimondo write off attempts to reconcile libertarianism with concern for social justice as young professors sucking up to their “commie” colleagues. Fortunately, today’s libertarians aren’t putting up with such nonsense.

This makes me proud. And hopeful. It makes me think that we here at the Bleeding Heart Libertarian blog didn’t just make that idea up. We caught on to something in the zeitgeist, and the students are picking up on it to. The libertarian movement is evolving, and I for one am thrilled to see what happens.

  • Don’t forget the ‘Liberty League’ that’s started up within the UK.

    • Yes, it all started in the UK when Locke, Jefferson, Madison and Adams gave liberty some legal teeth.

    • The Liberty League is a fantastic org, and it actually works with SFL — in fact one of its Directors is on the SFL Exec Board!

  • Aeon Skoble

    SFL FTW!

  • ” … Students for Liberty is pretty freakin’ amazing … and I have never seen (or read about?) a student libertarian organization that is this big, this passionate, this well-organized, and this knowledgeable. … ” 

    I attended SFL’s morning presentation at Harvard University a few months ago and had the same impression. There’s no stopping this thing. It has deep roots with young people.

  • I am so thrilled to be a part of SFL, and thrilled to see the respect we have earned among our libertarian peers. 

  • Agreed all around.

  • The Woman

    “If business owners shouldn’t have the freedom to shoot themselves in the foot…”

    Matt can speak for himself as to his opinion.  I’ll just point out that nobody has suggested that the grounds for outlawing discrimination were to protect business owners from proverbially shooting themselves in the foot, but rather from shooting other people in the foot.  Regardless of whether or not you think that is a good or bad thing, let us be clear on precisely which thing it is.

    As such, whichever opinion Matt, or you, or anyone has on it is not immediately generalizable to the other cases you mention, which actually can be construed as having to do with protecting people from themselves.

    • The Woman

      No, I am not.  Try reading more carefully.

      • The Woman


        • The Woman

          I didn’t say they weren’t shooting you in the foot, either.

          Nor did I say that business owners shoot other people in the foot by discriminating against them.

          ETA: I know this is hard for you, but it’s worthwhile. Keep whacking at it, and see if you can get it.

    • Damien S.

      I’d yes.  Or rather, a widespread pattern of not hiring people for non-employment related reasons, in a context where people need jobs to live, is shooting them in the foot.

      • Damien S.

        Wow, that’s a total non sequitur.

        Also, calling Professor Keynes to the white courtesy phone…

  • Anonymous

    You obviously missed the point. Anti-discrimination legislation is coercive. Spreading the idea that black people matter or that women matter in a non-coercive way is not incompatible with libertarianism. You are able to spread those ideas to participate in the ‘market’, thereby leading to an actual culture of freedom. Also, unless you want libertarianism to fester as an ideology for white males, you need to do something.

  • Steven Horwitz

    Instead of adding to the growing pile of illiteracy in the comments, let me just say YES to everything Matt says in his post.  No development in the last 10 years or more of libertarianism has more promise for the future than SFL.  I’m thrilled, proud, and just plain happy to see what these young people have accomplished already.

    • Wow, what a snotty comment — “growing pile of illiteracy in the comments”. 

  • I would say that perhaps the author takes a cheap shot at Stefan Molyneaux though. He has even said that the Feminists are used by the state to pander to for extra support for socialist policies, which he says the same thing about environmentalists. Stefan calls for such people to realize the state really doesn’t give a crap about them or their causes but only about their support for policies that increase the power of the state. Therefore, Stefan does not object to either only objects to their complicit alliance with the state, and that the moral path to feminism and environmentalism would be from a libertarian approach.

    • Damien S.

      So, what would Molyneaux’s solution to air pollution be?

    • Anonymous

      How would a sociologist analyze this?  SFL is within the Kock and traditional university guild ambit. Its claims to libertarianism fall short due to its mixing with neoliberalism. SFL would not be successful without this hedging– given where they sit and who is funding it. Molyneaux is an independent, way outside the Establishment’s reach, and an anarchist. The SFL and its proponents must attack Molyneaux; it is an effort to imperialize the libertarian mantle; and a sign of Molyneaux’s and other real game changers’ successes.

      • You gotta be kidding me.

        • Anonymous

          Kidding, not.

      • Anonymous

        Well, I’m an anarchist, nobody’s funding me, and Molyneux’s pathetic women-in-the-home rhetoric seems pretty damn establishment from where I’m sitting. 

        • Anonymous

          That one would consider it anti-feminist to merely advocate that a woman ought to spend time with a newborn is kool-aid thought. Who would doubt that intimate quality time with the giver of life is a bad thing, even for an adult ha ha?  It is not saying that women can’t fly planes and shoot machine guns, or whatever they want to try. It is almost as if you are proving Molyneaux’s panty point.

          Are we sure that we even have Molyneaux’s context appropriate anyway? 

          If you want funding– contact IHS. Serious. The Kochs are willing to fund anarchists at the education level.  They will expect you to drop all that nonsense if you want to join their cherished GOP, however.

          • Anonymous

            That’s a lot to spin out from my comment, there. 😉  Go on, tell me more about how I’m proving Molyneux’s point, which was totally rational, and all about care for newborns. 

          • Anonymous

            Well, when and if I do manage to become a PHD, we shall see about the sinister funding of the Kochtopus.  As it is, I’m not sure there’s really a fat IHS check for a single mom finishing her bachelors… Although, I AM pretty feminist… Hmm… OH KOCHTOPUS, LEAN THY MIGHTY TENTACLE TOWARDS ME, BESTOW THY FUNDING! 

          • Anonymous

            Check your bank at midnight tomorrow.

          • Anonymous

            Do I have to check the balance statement at the crossroads where the John The Conqueror root grows and without looking over my shoulder?  It’s important to know these things. 

          • Anonymous

            Not sure how much the Kochs are up on black folklore.  Especially involving plants with naughty connotations.

          • Anonymous

            I don’t know much about newborns. Oldborns, I could fill volumes. I am not sure of Molyneaux’s context, so gonna hold-off a moment….

          • Anonymous

            So, yeah, you don’t even know what Molyneux said, but assumed that he was talking about spending time with newborns, and further assumed I called that anti-feminist, and thus Kool-aid thought, proving his point (no need to find out what the point was). Uh-huh.  

            If you’re interested in what I think, PERSONALLY –  I’m actually of the opinion that shifting from corporate-state economics to a more decentralized, micromanufacturing economy WILL “strengthen the family,” which I see as a primary good, following my Distributist influence. But what I don’t see as a good is adhering to patriarchal, liberty denying,  definitions of “family.”More time with children for both parents, or all three parents, or the one parent, more access by children to productive work and open-source education.  What I can’t and won’t abide is patriarchal nonsense of the woman = obligate nurturer variety. The family is individuals, and the family cannot be any sort of bulwark of liberty while it adheres to liberty-stifling “principles”See also, Beyond Patriarchy, a Libertarian Model of the Family

            Babies can need cuddlin, and kids can need strong families, and Molyneux can still be fulla sexist shit. Who knew? 

          • Anonymous

            My statements are still true within their own context. If it turns out that Molyneaux did something cycnical, then let him pay for it by all means. But I suspect that there is more to it– since Molyneaux offers the anti-state view and emphatically, charismatically and logically undermines the BHL/Koch fusion, to the extent the latters believe in the state as means to ends. 

            My sister informs me that our family is what they call “blended”.  Interesting neologism. I had no idea– but am 100% for it.

          • Anonymous

            “My statements are still true within their own context.”
            Now, that’s a good one. Bravo. 

  • I didn’t think it took much guessing, and am not sure how my taking your survey would clear things up. 
    No, I am not saying that people should not have the right to discriminate. I do believe, however, that there’s a difference between having a right to do X and X’s being the right thing to do. 
    I don’t know where your questions about the legalization of drugs or risky behavior are coming from. These views are supposed to follow, somehow, from my endorsement of feminism?

    • Well, look, I still don’t see how the OP was anything less than clear. Nobody else here seems to have any difficulty understanding my meaning, even those like Eric who disagree with me. But let me give this one more try and leave it at that.

      When I said that libertarians aren’t putting up with “such nonsense,” that phrase referred to the claims articulated in the sentence immediately prior. Since you’re focusing on the feminism issue, the relevant claim was Molyneux’s that “feminism is socialism with panties.” It is that claim that I was calling nonsense.

      Now then. Yes, I believe that business people have the right to discriminate. Yes, there are probably a substantial number of feminists who disagree with that claim. But I can’t for the life of me see how that fact causes any difficulty for you in seeing what I mean by saying that libertarians aren’t putting up with nonsense like the claim that “feminists are socialists in panties.”

    • Valentine Joseph

      So basically you’re asking him to take a purity test to see how much of a libertarian he is?

  • Which is not to say that I don’t agree on all the other points, I do I agree with everything else. Just that I thought it unfair to take a shot at Stefan when that is a misrepresentation of his stance on Feminism, just on the traditional methods of that movement. I think just the other day he had shared Adam Kokesh’s video about libertarian feminism.

  • “It’s a shame because the issues are important, and central to the kind of liberalism that libertarians ought to be among the loudest in supporting.”
    No. Those things are tangential. The single most important issue for libertarians is abject hatred of the state. Either you hate the state or you don’t. That is what is central. “Do you hate the state?” Everything else comes after that.

    • I actually find that a fairly narrow and unhelpful understanding of libertarianism. Did Milton Friedman hate the state? Did Friedrich Hayek? If not, does that rule them out as libertarians, on your understanding?

      Don’t get me wrong. I find the Rothbardian rhetoric exhilarating too, in the right mood. But I’m not about to join him in, say, cheering the fall of Saigon, just because it was the death of a state.

    • Steven Horwitz

      THIS is EXACTLY the problem with too much of libertarianism.  It should NOT be about “hating the state” but about loving liberty.  That’s an important difference.  When you just “hate the state” you easily overlook private forms of oppression and coercion that are also destructive of human liberty and a free society.  Importantly, solving those problems does NOT require more state intervention, but if we only focus on hating the state, we’ll overlook those problems as well as their voluntary solutions.

      The agenda of modern libertarianism should be a positive one, not one bound up in hatred.  That’s precisely the problem these days.  For me, I love liberty more than I hate the state. 

      You have it backward Michael: first you love liberty, and everything (including one’s rejection of [much of] the state) follows from that.

      • This is an important point. Not hating–i.e., not excessively engaging in the mental “pushing away” process–has important psychological advantages and leaves the mind open to deal with other problems and opportunities that can be easily overlooked. In other words, I think trying not to hate (almost anything, even the state) has little to do with religion. It’s a psychological thing.

      • Well, I disagree, Steven. I find that people who don’t have state hatred as their primary motivation get bogged down in game-playing over “second-best” policy solutions, arguing over trivialities about which compromise with the state is slightly more pro-freedom. 

        • Stephan Kinsella

          Anyone who loves liberty and has a bit of economic literacy of course hates the state.

      • Stephan Kinsella

        ” When you just “hate the state” you easily overlook private forms of
        oppression and coercion that are also destructive of human liberty and a
        free society. ”

        This is a red herring. First, no one “just” hates the state. It is part of any grounded, moral person,  but not all. We are not “just” libertarians, after all.

        And there is no evidence that libertarians “overlook” private forms of “oppression” (whatever this means). In fact most if not all forms of “oppression” that one can reasonably object to are exacerbated if not caused by the state in the first place.

        As for normal liberalism, cosmopolitanism, and tolerance, libertarians are among the best in this regard, so this is a non-problem.

        • Right. I specifically said it was the most important issue, the central issue — not the only issue. It’s certainly far, FAR more crucial to liberty than the battles on the margin that these guys are promoting as the central focus. 

    • I posted this below, but this thread is so long I thought it might get lost. And it seems more appropriate here. Turns out, not even Murray Rothbard shares your view:

      “Alan Milchman, in the days when he was a brilliant young libertarian activist, first pointed out that libertarians had misled themselves by making their main dichotomy “government” vs. “private” with the former bad and the latter good. Government, he pointed out, is after all not a mystical entity but a group of individuals, “private” individuals if you will, acting in the manner of an organized criminal gang. But this means that there may also be “private” criminals as well as people directly affiliated with the government. What we libertarians object to, then, is not government per se but crime, what we object to is unjust or criminal property titles; what we are for is not “private” property per se but just, innocent, non-criminal private property. It is justice vs. injustice, innocence vs. criminality that must be our major libertarian focus.”- Murray Rothbard, “Confiscation and the Homestead Principle” 

  • Anonymous

    When I read articles like this, I regain confidence in the future of America, and more importantly, The American Experiment.

    I had the misfortune of being a college student in the mid-70’s when the concept (much less the mention) of Libertarianism was never uttered on a campus or a classroom.
    I wasn’t introduced to Libertariansim until the ripe old age of 26 in 1981 (Reagan pissed me off), while living in Alaska, when two pioneers of the philosophy (Dick Randolph and Ken Fanning) became the highest elected Libertarian officials (at the time) in the country as they secured seats in the State Legislature.
    It was their actions in crafting legislation that created the Alaska Permanent Fund while eliminating State Income Taxes that made me take a closer look at the philosophy.

    I became hooked and changed my voter registration and joined the party.

    I never looked back.

    Through the years since then, the party has gone through what can best be described as “growling” pains. Always struggling for identity, leadership that swung back and forth between LIBERTARIANISM, Libertarianism and libertarianism, (ie. extremely dogmatic, somewhat dogmatic, and mostly pragmatic), and constantly combating snickering skeptics who believed that our premise of  “Less Government, More Freedom” actually stood for “Zero Government, Complete Freedom (anarchy)”. 

    I supported and worked for Ron Paul in 1988. Thought that Harry Browne was the best thing since any of a number of Founding Fathers.

    But there was always one issue (in my small mind) that constantly gnawed at me.

    I feared that “the party” , indeed the philosophy, was “ageist”. Ageist in that it seemed like if your were over the age of 30… considered libertarianism. If you were over 40….you started to really believe it. If your were under 30? FAHGETTABOUTIT.  And that didn’t sit well with me. I feared for the future of the party and the philosophy. 

    Unless libertarianism (small or large “L”) could be grasped by a younger generation, ANY younger generation, the party and the philosophy would continue to flounder on the edges of mainstream acceptance.

    And then something happened in the last 3-5 years. Maybe it was Ron Paul, maybe it was Barack W. Bush, maybe it’s just a case of the youth rebeling against their flower children parents of the 60’s. (I happen to believe that the “something” is a byproduct of the freedoms and information offered by the internet explosion….but that’s a theory for another rant).

    For the first time in my 30 year+ libertarian existence there is a very noticeable, discernible and vocal youth element in the Libertarian Movement. I see it in the Ron Paul Candidacy, the Gary Johnson Candidacy, the media and of course, the internet. (oh, and on college campuses, of course).

    And it’s a good thing……nay…….it’s a great thing……nay…’s an outstanding thing. It’s long overdue and I apologize to all of you on behalf of my generation for screwing so up so much awaiting your arrival.

    There’s a humorous bumper sticker I see from time to time that reads:
    “Correct Your Parent’s Mistakes, Practice Birth Control”….May I suggest that you take that thought, adapt it and use this idea going forward:
    “Correct Our Parent’s Mistakes, Practice Government Control.”

    With that said …keep the fires burning… warms us old codgers where our ill-conceived social programs can’t and never will.

    Just my opinion.

    • Damien S.

      “It was their actions in crafting legislation that created the Alaska Permanent Fund while eliminating State Income Taxes”

      Government control and taxation of oil converted you to libertarianism?

      • Anonymous

        First of all, upon further review, I should rephrase that statement.
        It is fundamentally incorrect.
        It was not “crafting of legislation that created the Alaska Permanent Fund”. 
        Fanning and Randolph had little to do with that. They were instrumental in getting proceeds from the fund distributed to the owners of the Fund….i.e. every Alaskan, rather than plowing the money back into State Government Operations.
        Whoops, my bad.

        Secondly, I submit that your understanding of the “Alaska Permanent Fund” is somewhat skewed and stereotypical. The APF was funded from royalties received from lease agreements with oil companies for drilling and operating on state land. Not unlike the royalties received from any private landowner in  West Texas or anywhere else in the country. And yes, it amounted to hundreds of billions of dollars over time. But it was neither “taxation” nor “control”. Simply gobs of money realized from rental/lease agreements.
        There was no State Taxation on oil companies until 1989, after the Exxon Valdez ran aground.

        And if you want to debate the legitimacy of “the State” holding title to that land VS. the principles of Libertarianism…..well, that’s a whole different can of worms and a much larger discussion that shouldn’t detract from the efforts of libertarians like Fanning and Randolph who effectively fought a smaller effective battle against big government.

      • It’s about the closest thing to Georgism we’ve got going now. And it’s a good thing.

      • Islander505

        Some view the Alaska Permanent Fund as a “royalty” account and not a “tax and control” account.

  • Ken S

    From the Association of Libertarian Feminists website:

    [This article by founder Tonie Nathan was originally published in the Willamette Valley Observer of Eugene, Oregon (c. 1977) and reprinted in On Libertarianism, copyright Tonie Nathan 1981.]

    The Association of Libertarian Feminists (ALF) was founded on Ayn Rand’s birthday, February 2nd, 1973 in my home in Eugene, Oregon. The first members included men, as well as women. I felt an organization was needed to offer an alternative to other women’s groups. It seemed to me that many women who felt unjustly treated by many of our present inequitable laws were being used by leftists and socialists for political purposes. It seemed important to counter this outside the Libertarian Party.

    It seemed that many women were seeking a political system that could guarantee their complete economic security and it seemed they were looking for a husband-father substitute. But women who have been subjected to authoritarian restrictions by males ought to realize that Marxist Socialism is simply another form of the male-female power struggle. Male domination or state domination–neither should be tolerated. Neither help women to become free and independent. The following statement was released to the press after our first ALF meeting in Eugene.

    Funny stuff, I guess. Poor Molyneux, being thrown under the bus for more mainstream appeal. Maybe society isn’t ready yet for non-hypocritical discussions on gender and race, sigh…

  • Ken S: How dare you use material from the website of the Association of Libertarian Feminists  to defend Molyneux.   Many of the members of ALF, as well as five members of the ALF Board of Directors signed on the Open Letter to Stefan Molyneux and Other Anti-Feminists. Two of the Board helped write that letter.  How dare you talk about “non-hypocritical discussions on gender.”  Molyneux is the one that talks out of both sides of his mouth, not us.  He is the one who uses pandering images like “panties” to cater to the vulgar libertarians that BHL bemoans.  He is the one who claims women should  stay at home  if they have children (in spite of a mountain of research evidence that working moms don’t harm their kids); he is no better than the shrill conservatives who want to set back the clock to a mythical time that never existed.   This point of view on women is antithetical to everything ALF stands for.
    How dare you make the cheap claim that we have “sold out.”  Tonie would find your snide remarks disgusting as would Joan Kennedy Taylor.   The idea that anyone on the Board , including me, would “sell out” would be laughable if it weren’t so pathetic and vile.  Only Molyneux’s supporters could imagine that this argument would be a good one that anyone reasonable would take seriously.

    Sharon Presley
    Executive Director
    Association of Libertarian Feminists

    • Ken S


      I didn’t intend to provide any defense for his actual views on gender norms, and I do not share his views on this topic. The annoyance I am expressing is not with the ALF at all, but with the manner in which he was being responded to. If I have been daring it is due to ignorance of and slight indifference to the political situation on the ground between libertarians. I regret being so combative because I really do like the BHL project in principle and want to see it succeed.

      I did take a cheap shortcut to find an example of what I feel are double standards on this topic sometimes, but I was a little too narrowly focused and didn’t acknowledge the other criticisms of Molyneux. I can see now how this was absolutely inappropriate, since there are only surface similarities between Molyneux’s premise and the ALF quote. It was not a proper response and for this I will say that I’m sorry. The “mainstream” remark was directed mostly to the BHL poster, but it was rude and I never really believed it is my business to say what BHL should or shouldn’t comment on. I could have phrased my discontent in a different way.

      Still, I felt like the Storey open letter was fairly weak and just a rehash of common ideas that can’t possibly address the real issues that are driving these disagreements. Even Molyneux makes a brief attempt to distinguish some feminists from others, mentioning Wendy MacElroy (I am not trying to say any of his praise was sincere). I find it hard to believe that Molyneux and many other conservatives are oblivious to the line in the sand drawn between ‘equity’ and ‘gender’ feminism, even if they don’t know of the terminology. The Storey piece re-blurs these distinctions, and without at least acknowledging them I’m not sure how much you can actually reach the anti-feminist conservative crowd. The Johnson/Long piece at least treats these issues, but it doesn’t seem to offer anything close to a resolution.

      •  Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I appreciate your honesty. However I should point out that I was one of  the writers of the Open Letter that appeared on the Storey Institute (and was signed by an additional 100+ people). You seem to be missing the point. Our major point was NOT to discuss the differences between libertarian and nonlibertarian feminists.  Our point was to show how dishonest Molyneux’s commentary was.  Of course Molyneux knows the difference between lib and nonlib feminists. But he blithely goes on anyway and proceeds to smear feminism in general without ever defining it and doing so in a vulgar, pandering and dishonest way. You allude to the Johnson/Long piece. Let me point out that Charles Johnson was one of the *writers* of this piece you decry. The purpose of the J/L piece was quite different and it is not fair of you to compare or to complain because we did not do something that was never our intention.
        However, you may be interested to know that Johnson and I are currently working on an essay on libertarian feminist theory that will appear in the libertarian feminist anthology that I am editing.

        Sharon Presley

  • Jonas Hedman

    Outstanding. I wish we had something similar here in Sweden but the proportion of libertarian students are really small so I don’t think it would be practicable or even meaningful, but who what what the future has in store. =)

  • Gary Chartier

    Dude, where did Matt suggest that people shouldn’t have the freedom to associate with those with whom they want to associate? It should be pretty clear that you can reject conduct as morally wrong without believing that force should be  used to prevent or end it. Not once did Matt urge or defend or condone state action to deal with the wrong of racial or gender discrimination: instead, he noted that SFL members recognize that this conduct is wrong and are serious about doing something about it. That “something” can be entirely non-aggressive, as Charles Johnson reminds us powerfully here:

  • Justin Raimondo

    “[P]eople like Justin Raimondo write off attempts to reconcile libertarianism with concern for social justice as young professors sucking up to their ‘commie’ colleagues.”

    For the past fifteen years or so, I have been involved with the only libertarian institution that has actually been reaching out to the left and succeeding: If you are concerned with “social justice,” then stopping the mass murder of foreigners by the US  government would seem  to be a major priority. I would say the majority of our readers — and financial contribuors — are those who consider themselves to be on the left. We have working relationships with leftist writers, who regularly contribute content to our site. I have spoken at many anti-war rallies and conferences over the years.

    But that isn’t what you mean by reaching out to the left: what you mean is signing on to the identity politics that has subverted and degraded what  passes for the “left” today. We’re all supposed  to be feminists, “gay rights” advocates, etc.

    Forgive me if I’m not enthralled by your busy little seminars on “Gender Studies and ‘Libertarianism,'” but I have better things to do. And I’ll note that I have yet to see a single post on this site dealing with the issue of anti-imperialism: apparently it’s all “feminism” and “anti-racism,” but apparently you can’t bring yourselves to even mention that we’ve been at war for the past decade or so.

    • Heroic! FY Justin Raimondo!

      • Stephan Kinsella

        yep. Too many of those who decry Raimondo et al. were either silent on the Iraq. etc. wars or actually initially in favor.

    • I am in 100% agreement with you
      that ending militarism ought to be a major priority for anyone concerned with
      social justice. And I admire and respect much of what you have done at, though I sincerely wished it weren’t corrupted with stuff like this.


      I don’t know
      where you’re getting your idea that we haven’t talked about issues of war,
      militarism, and imperialism on our blog. Evidently not from actually reading
      it. Here are just a couple examples off the top of my head:


      Ron Paul: Immorality, Salience, and
      – Matt Zwolinski

      Wars, and States
      – Gary Chartier

      – Fernando Teson

      Important vs. What’s Interesting
      Matt Zwolinski


      So, yes, opposition to militarism is tremendously
      important. But I also happen to believe that fighting against racism, sexism,
      homophobia, and the way these various bigotries have manifested themselves in
      both the pernicious and oppressive actions of states and of various non-state
      actors is important. And important in a way that libertarians ought to be
      especially sensitive too. So I think that it’s a pity that people like you who
      are so good on some issues are so bad on ones like these.

      • You give me a stateless society where the market reigns, and I’ll show you a society where blind prejudice and bigotry are dominated by the systemic incentive-structures of freedom. Eye. On. The. Ball. The state is the problem. 

        • Stephan Kinsella

           Exactly right. And unlike Zwolinski, Long and Chartier are good, pro-market anarchists. If he’s not an anarchist no wonder he doesn’t see the state as the central problem.

        • Michael J. Green

          You won’t get your stateless society any time soon. So why not focus a little bit on the social issues that Zwolinski cites?

        • Anonymous

          So we need to be SHOWING how the interests of people affected by sexism, racism, homophobia, etc are served by seeking the end of State power. We need to bring home that the market means de-institutionalizing these prejudices and setting up a naturally humane, responsive, free system that will swamp the forces of bigotry. 

          Because if we DON’T show that, if we only huffily mention it in response to their concerns, if we dismiss all those who share those concerns as power-seeking statists and/or ivory tower navel-gazers,  if we seem like we’re dismissing the real, present concerns of real people when we say to keep the eye on the ball, then what good are we? 

        • “Alan Milchman, in the days when he was a brilliant young libertarian activist, first pointed out that libertarians had misled themselves by making their main dichotomy “government” vs. “private” with the former bad and the latter good. Government, he pointed out, is after all not a mystical entity but a group of individuals, “private” individuals if you will, acting in the manner of an organized criminal gang. But this means that there may also be “private” criminals as well as people directly affiliated with the government. What we libertarians object to, then, is not government per se but crime, what we object to is unjust or criminal property titles; what we are for is not “private” property per se but just, innocent, non-criminal private property. It is justice vs. injustice, innocence vs. criminality that must be our major libertarian focus.”
          – Murray Rothbard, “Confiscation and the Homestead Principle”

          • Stephan Kinsella

             This is exactly right, but it supports opposition to the state, since it is organized injustice/criminality. I think you must realize the state we currently have is completely unjust and illegitimate and just a criminal gang. How could you not see this? It’s not pleasant to realize or admit this, but its’ obviously true.

      • Justin Raimondo

        I fail to see how one could be “corrupted” by a collection of reporting on a story originally broken  by Carl Cameron of Fox News, in a four-part series, broadcast in 2001 and posted here:

        Cameron reports:

        “Since September 11, more than 60 Israelis have been arrested or detained, either under the new patriot anti-terrorism law, or for immigration violations. A handful of active Israeli military were among those detained, according to investigators, who say some of the detainees also failed polygraph questions when asked about alleged surveillance activities against and in the United States. “There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9-11 attacks, but investigators suspect that they Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it. A highly placed investigator said there are ‘tie-ins.’ But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying, “evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It’s classified information.'” 

        Why is it “corrupting” to follow up on this story? did. Le Monde did. As  did a number of “mainstream” media outlets. I wrote a series of columns  about it. So what?

        Your essay which you point to as evidence of your anti-imperialist credentials isn’t about war, it’s about Ron Paul and why some people on the left — not you — might be attracted to his candidacy in spite of the fact that he’s a horrible racist. We hear just as much about the infamous newsletters as we do about anything else. The other essays are a bit abstract, but I particularly liked the one by Gary Chartier.

        I’m not surprised that someone who spends his time chasing after “homophobes,” “sexists,” and other thought criminals would shy away from bringing up this story in the faculty lounge, but “corrupting”? If you really think that, then identity politics has so thoroughly corrupted your cognitive powers that you’re incapable of rational thought.

        • Well, if it was reported in Salon it must be respectable. I’ll let my readers have a look at the material and judge for themselves whether it’s something they’d want to be associated with. I, for one, do not.

          And, incidentally, if you think being opposed to racism and sexism is (merely) about being concerned with other people’s thoughts, then I suggest that you look a bit more closely into the way in which these attitudes have reflected themselves in the behavior of persons, groups, and states. You can conjure up a fantasy world where racists and homophobes sit in their homes and think hateful thoughts with no other effects on the wider world, and where such thoughts never spill out in individual or institutionalized violence. But it’s just a fantasy.

          • Justin Raimondo

            And, of course, being “respectable” — rather than, say, accurate or truthful —  is your main concern.

            As for your views on “racism” and “sexism,” and all the other little isms that you want to stamp out: I don’t worry about the alleged “violence” committed by these thought criminals so much as I worry about the  “institutionalized violence” committed by the State in trying to stamp them out. But then again, that’s because I’m a libertarian.

          • Let’s say we focus only on state violence. That seems a rather arbitrarily narrow focus, even for a libertarian, but so be it. Even so, in what world do you live in where the violence committed by the state in trying to stamp out racism and sexism is more worrisome than the violence it has exercised in perpetuating them?

          • Justin Raimondo

            Anti-discrimination laws are coercion by the State: affirmative action is, too. Both of these are backed by State coercion: “homophobes” and those perceived as “racists” are powerless minorities, while the anti-“sexists” and antiracists have the full backing not only of the State, but of the cultural and political elites. Where or where is this State-enforced “racism” and “sexism” occuring — on Mars? What  world are *you* living in?

          • You are as familiar as I with the ways in which blacks, Native Americans, homosexuals, Chinese, women, and other minority groups have been treated by the government of the United States throughout that nation’s history. And you are also capable of recognizing, I hope, that this treatment involved a much more serious infringement of liberty than current anti-discrimination laws. So I won’t belabor the point.

            I’m a bit of a loss to understand why these historical facts seem unimportant to you. Perhaps it is because slavery has been abolished? Because women can now own property? Because laws against sodomy have been abolished (or, well, at least they’re not enforced anymore!)?

            But surely you recognize the lingering effects of these policies. Surely as a libertarian you are capable of recognizing that the *current* position of blacks, women, Native Americans, and other minority groups is in many ways due to past injustices committed against them by the state (or with the state’s willing sanction)? And surely you aren’t naive enough to think that just because the most heinous examples of racist policies have been abolished, and just because the most outspoken and vile proponents of racism like Murray Rothbard’s friend David Duke and his Ku Klux Klan constitute a small minority of the population, surely you are nevertheless capable of recognizing that racism continues to work its destruction through the mechanism of the state in other subtler ways? In the zeal with which we continue to prosecute the war on drugs? In the frequency with which blacks are locked up in government run prisons, and the frequency with which they are abused by men and women wearing the badge of the state once there?

            Let’s be clear – if not for your sake then for the sake of others who might be reading this exchange. There is nothing “libertarian” about writing off these injustices as trivial, unimportant, or illusory figments of leftist imagination. You are welcome to hold your own narrow and implausible views on these and whatever other subjects you like. But please do not sully the good name of a respectable political philosophy by identifying them with it.

          • Justin Raimondo

            Far from being persecuted by the govenment, the minorities  you list are now the recipients of government largesse. Their oppression is an “historical fact,” as you say: i.e. in the past. In the present, they are on top and the whip is in the other hand. For example, the Obama administration is currently embarked on a crusade against the Catholic Church, which refuses to sanction birth control in its hospitals. Doctors who refuses to perform abortions are subject to legal and professional sanctions: their actions, it is said, are “discriminatory.” As for homosexuals, a minority group that has always wielded more social and political power than its numbers might warrant, they (we!) never needed the State’s “protection.” And, of course, now that they’re on top, so to speak, they’re insisting that the Boy Scouts admit gay camp councelors — in the name of “equal rights,” of course. How campy can you get?

            You have the whole thing ass-backwards, Zwolly: but that’s to be expected from someone who  lives in an academic bubble.

          • Justin Raimondo

            Oh, and by the way: Murray and David Duke weren’t “friends,” as you write. They never met, or corresponded. Nor was Murray sympathetic to the Ku Klux Klan. For you to write something as low and cheap as that is a good indication of just how vicious and dishonest you are. If you had any sense, you’d apologize to Murray’s many friends and admirers.

          • OK then. Murray and David weren’t friends. Murray was just a fawning, unrequited admirer of Duke, the Klansman. Better?

          • Justin Raimondo

            Murray wrote that Duke’s opposition to affirmative action was an issue that attracted many voters to his banner: libertarians, he thought, should address these issues without the racialism Duke brought to the question. But then again, you know that, and I think it’s clear to anyone who reads this thread just who is resorting to name-calling and who is making straight up arguments.

            Oh, there  I’ve gone and committed a hate crime once again: using the word “straight” as synonymous with honest and good. Somebody call the Thought Police!

          • “why wasn’t the Establishment willing to forgive and forget when a right-wing radical like David Duke stopped advocating violence, took off the Klan robes, and started working within the system? If it was OK to be a Commie, or a Weatherman, or whatever in your wild youth, why isn’t it OK to have been Klansmen?”

            Read more here: 

          • You know, Justin, you’ve got a tell. Whenever you’re feeling weak in your arguments, you resort to name calling and bullying – “Zwolly,” “twerp” and so on. Which perhaps explains why you do it so often.

            I’ve had about enough of this. When my opponent claims that homosexuals are the real wielders of social power in this country, never having stood in need of protection, I don’t know that there’s much more for me to say.

            But please, feel free to continue posting here. You make my case for the need for a new era of libertarianism far better than I could possibly do on my own. Just don’t expect me to continue to roll with you in the pig-sty you’ve created.

          • Justin Raimondo

            Who are you trying to kid? You know as well as I do that homosexuals have more  social weight, more money, and are far better organized as a minority pressure group than the poor backwoods bigots who want to outlaw buggery. Nowadays, if one opposed gay “marriage,” it’s considered a hate crime. To even question the idea that homosexuality is genetic, rather than a learned behavior, is  considered beyond the pale. Gay people are better off financially, and they generally enjoy all the legal protections afforded to Official Victim  Groups,  including “anti-discrimination” laws in housing and employment. It’s only a matter of time before this legal thicket is  federalized.

            This isn’t 1950, and it’s stupid to pretend that it is.

          • It’s almost like we are not in an election cycle where candidates range from poor backwards bigots who want to outlaw buggery to supposed “liberals” who can’t even get behind gay marriage for fear of upsetting the rubes.  With all of these politically powerful homosexuals running amok, it’s startling that not every political candidate is a clone of Barney Frank.

            It appears Raimondo’s political analysis is just as ass-backwards as his moral compass.

        • Anonymous

          The relevant part of the story, that you don’t quote, is this:
          CAMERON: I remember the report, Brit. We did it first internationally right here on your show on the 14th. What investigators are saying is that that warning from the Mossad was nonspecific and general, and they believe that it may have had something to do with the desire to protect what are called sources and methods in the intelligence community. The suspicion being, perhaps those sources and methods were taking place right here in the United States. The question came up in select intelligence committee on Capitol Hill today. They intend to look into what we reported last night, and specifically that possibility – Brit. HUME: So in other words, the problem wasn’t lack of a warning, the problem was lack of useful details? CAMERON: Quantity of information.

          So, Israel did us a favor, and tried to warn us about 9-11, but not as specifically as we liked. Why aren’t we responsible for protecting ourselves?

          In general, the story was built entirely on “unnamed sources” and “off the record” interviews, so it is impossible to judge its credibility. Perhaps the fact that FOX pulled it from its site was an acknowledgement that they are not prepared to stand behind it. 

          • Justin Raimondo

            That exchange between Hume and Cameron comes  in Part II of  the  series of broadcasts, in which the latter analyzes just how the Israelis might have had very specific information as to what the hijackers were up to via electronic eavesdropping. Placed in context what this means is that the “nonspecific warning” was deliberately vague: the Israelis  knew what was up and they didn’t tell us for fear of exposing their extensive covert activities in the US. Fox pulled the report from their web site due to political pressure: Cameron was criticized by prominent pro-Israel groups for having been brought up in the Middle East, and this made him “pro-Arab.”

            As for ‘unnamed sources” — if every story that utilized such sources was scotched, the pages of our newspapers would be largely empty. But I guess any excuse, no matter how transparent, is okay when you’re talking about Israel. Cameron, by the way — and Fox News — stand behind their story. And that this story was first reported by Fox, the most pro-Israel channel on the airwaves, gives it added credibility.

          • Anonymous

            NOTHING in the series indicates that Israel had actual knowledge of 9-11 and failed to pass it on. Nobody’s intelligence is that good. Nobody even said anything on the record tremotely like that, and the inference you are making is based on the purest speculation and conjecture by unnamed sources. If  you think this story actually supports, with asomething remotely resembling something we call “evidence,” your anti-Israel trope, you are an idiot. or worse.

          • Justin Raimondo

            How anyone could watch that entire  four-part series and not come away convinced Israel had foreknowledge of the 9/11 terrorist attacks has got to be willfully blind, Mr. Friedman. “On the record,” indeed: the same report says intelligence officers risked their  careers if they went public or criticized the let-Israel-off-the-hook policy pusued by higher-ups. I don’t know what you think you’re defending by denying the obvious, but one thing for sure: it’s not your own  country.

          • Anonymous

            First, since when are libertarians required to “defend their own country”? I thought we cared about the welfare of all human beings., or did you miss Libertarianism 101.

            Second, you really are an anti-Semite, and I want nothing more to do with you.

          • Justin Raimondo

            First, libertarianism 101 doesn’t require me to sanction or cover up acts of espionage by a foreign power — unless it’s being committed by Bradley Manning. Jonathan Pollard — no.

            Second, your definition of “anti-Semite” is someone who disagrees with you about Israel.  Scratch a “bleeding heart libertarian,” and underneath one finds a neocon. What a surprise.

          • Being anti-war is good and all, but you don’t make yourself (or libertarianism) look good by going on and attaching conspiracy theories to it.

          • Exactly.

        • Oh, and as for the piece of mine on Ron Paul: read it again. In it, I quote extensively, and approvingly, from Glen Greenwald on the atrocities of the Obama administration perpetuated in the name of the War on Terror. And I argue that Ron Paul’s solid anti-war credentials are much more morally important than whatever moral failings may have been involved in the newsletter scandal. This seems to pretty clearly refute your charge that the blog has not even “mentioned” the war(s). But then again, I’m sure most people who’ve read your work expect, anymore, for you to give enough thought or care to frame your attacks in a measured, accurate way.

      • Justin Raimondo

        By the way, you give yourself away with that remark about not cheering the fall of Saigon. I’m  not sure how the cause of  “social justice” would have been served by the survival of the US-supported puppet state and the continuation of a foreign occupation. Perhaps you can explain that to your leftist friends.

        • So, because Saigon wasn’t libertarian paradise, the correct libertarian position was to cheer the victory of the communist North?

        • Anonymous

          Are you really incapable of understanding that living under the rule of a bad state is nevertheless preferable to living under the rule of a truly horrible state? And, that N. Vietnam was an example of the latter? 

          • Justin Raimondo

            This is the classic argument supporters of the Vietnam war made: if we didn’t support some general who was “fighting communism,” then all southeast Asia would go — and soon we’d be fighting them in Harlan, Texas. The same arguments were used in supporting the Iraq war — and the very same tired argument will be used and is being used to support war with Iran. All these governments were and are repressive: the question is do we want to go to war in order to overthrow them? Both you and Zwolinkski appear to be saying yes.

            And you want to “reach out” to the left with this nonsense? Good luck with that.

          • Oh look, Raimondo’s steamrolling over important moral distinctions again. Surprise.

            One would expect someone who writes about war for a living to get this one on his own, but let’s be clear about it. There is a difference between thinking that it would be better for one side of a conflict to win than the other, and thinking that one ought to violently intervene oneself in the conflict. So, one can think that it is a bad think for South Vietnam to fall to the North, without thinking that the US was justified in violently intervening on the South’s behalf.

            Is that clear enough?

          • No.

          • You are making some rather enormous logical leaps here. Against Justin, I was simply pointing out that there is a distinction between rooting for one side in a conflict, and advocating intervention in that conflict, and pointing out that I had only been doing the former. From this you seem to have inferred that I *never* favor intervention in foreign disputes, and from a confirmed one instance where I did not favor such intervention, you inferred that I never favor intervention in cases of interpersonal rights violations. None of this even remotely follows.

            But, to answer your question more directly, yes, I would call the cops.

          • Anonymous

            Yes, exactly. What he said.

          • Justin Raimondo

            Rothbard’s piece, as you well know, was about the death of  state — not the birth of a new one. In your smear campaign against Murray, that’s one important “moral distinction” you failed to make. I too cheered the fall of Saigon, because — at last! — the  American people would cease to be taxed and have their sons conscripted into fighting for a regime that  wasn’t worth two cents. That alone was cause for celebration.

            There is a difference between cheering the death of a state and hailing the arrival of the “new order.”

          • Justin Raimondo

            Is that clear enough, you condescending twerp?

          • And yet, isn’t it rather relevant that the death of this state was brought about only by its conquest by an even more despicable one?
            And I’m still waiting for you to recognize the distinction I pointed out in my last reply. I expect I’ll be waiting a while.

          • Justin Raimondo

            The death of the Vietnamese puppet state was brought about by its own inability to defend itself without foreign interference — interference you say you oppose, or would have opposed. Yet you retroactively justify the US role in the Vietnam war by talking about some alleged “conquest” of South Vietnam by the North. Yet the division into north and south states was not the doing of the Vietnamese people. The  fall of Saigon reunified a previously undivided country: it was the south that refused to hold elections under a UN mandate.

            And, no, I don’t see how the dictatorship of various Army colonels in the south was in any sense less despicable than the Communist north. Whatever one might say about the Viet Cong, no one can accuse them of assisting the invaders and occupiers of their country.

          • Damien S.

            Who killed more people in Vietnam, N. Vietnam or the US?
            Was N. Vietnam really horrible?  How was it worse than the southern state, and was it better in any ways?

          • Anonymous

            First, N. Vietnam was a rigidly communist society, ruled by one uber-despot, Ho-chi Minh. So, yes, I think that is a pretty damn rotten society, like Mao’s China, but maybe you don’t agree. S. Vietnam was just a garden variety military oligarchy, pretending to be a democracy. I would have preferred to live in the South. The first question involves extremely controversial and complex questions about the origins of the Vietnam War, which I don’t wish to hash out here, especially because there are people with much greater expertise.

            But the larger issue, is that when Saigon fell, one state died, but N. Vietnam simply expanded–hardly a cause for celebration, I think.

    • *points* Racist, crypto-fash 🙂

  • Matt, you are doing a great job on this blog and you have my full support.  I do notice that many detractors don’t bother to really investigate those whom they attack. They respond emotionally and without evidence, simply on the basis of their own ideology and prejudices.  This seems to be the case here.  Nothing new, alas. Ego is apparently more important than truth. Whew, like we need more of that.

    Sharon Presley

  • It’s too bad that a post which was _mostly_ about the ever-growing libertarian movement amoung young scholars, and the broad philosophical and social issues that they target and study, evolved into the comments in this section. 
    Hopefully the students that continue to study these issues don’t debate like some of their predecessors do. 
    That’s all. 

  • whouston999

    Hey, thanks for introducing me to the genius that is Stefan Molyneux! I had never really heard of him before. He makes an awful lot of sense, though. From now on I’m going to think of Matt Zwolinski as the guy who led me to Stefan Molyneux. Thanks, chap!

    I’ve read Justin Raimondo for years; he was instrumental (with others from including Scott Horton) in transforming me from a GWB-GOP-loving ignoramous into a semi-educated libertarian-ish kind of guy. Thanks,!

    That being said, I don’t know exactly what this article is trying to say. Past and pioneering libertarians ought to be somehow ashamed while “new” libertarians should be lauded for trying to include fields that have largely trended towards socialistic and non-libertarian goals? Sounds a little shakey there, Zwolinski.

    • “From now on I’m going to think of Matt Zwolinski as the guy who led me to Stefan Molyneux. Thanks, chap!”

      Good luck with that. Drop by and let us know when you take the big step and decide to De-Foo.

      • whouston999


  • “The problem was that your answer was so vague that I was forced to bracket my shot by a wide margin by asking you if you would intervene on my behalf.”

    My answer was not vague and you were not “forced” to do anything. You asked me if I criticized the US for not intervening in Darfur. I said “No.” It is difficult for me to imagine a less vague answer. You did not ask me for my theory of legitimate humanitarian intervention. You asked me about my behavior with respect to a specific historical incident. And I answered you directly.

    Now, if what you actually want is my theory of legitimate humanitarian intervention, I regret to say that I do not have one. This isn’t my area of academic speciality and I simply haven’t thought enough about the issue to have a clear idea of where I would draw the line. I have reasoned opinions about particular cases, but no general theory. In fact, I’m not even sure what I would think now about Darfur, if I gave the matter serious thought. That particular issue was salient during a very busy time of my life, so I didn’t give it much attention while it was occurring, and haven’t since.

    Sorry to disappoint. I was making a more limited point in my conversation with Justin, and I stand by it. The issue you are asking about is important, but distinct, and I do not have a satisfying answer to it.

    • “If you don’t have a theory of legitimate humanitarian intervention…then why would you call the cops if you saw that I was being stabbed?”

      Does it really take a theory? 

      • “In fact, I’m not even sure what I would think now about Darfur, if I gave the matter serious thought. ”

        Does it really take a theory?</blockquote

        For me, yes. The situation in Darfur seems considerably more complex than a situation involving you being more stabbed. One is (for all I know) an isolated incidence of violence, the other is the product of long-standing and deeply rooted violent conflict. One involves a policing authority that is widely regarded as legitimate, the other does not. I have reason to believe that intervention would be relatively effective in one case, not in the other. I could go on, but the differences seem pretty tremendous and wide-ranging, such that I think it is mistake to infer just about anything, a priori, about one case from the other. So I, humbly, suspend judgment.

        • Trick question! What am I doing on skid row with a prostitute and her pimp?

          Seriously, though, I’m afraid I don’t have the time to play this game with you much longer. I’m sure life would be much easier if I just took your survey. But, alas.

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    For additional networking see also: which is specifically focused on Liberal and Libertarian networking …Thanks.

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