Rand Paul Making Sense On Civil Liberties–But Where Libertarians Go Wrong

Sometimes Rand Paul makes a lot of sense, such as when saying that the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing should be tried in civilian as opposed to military courts (which many other Republicans have been advocating):

“You know, I want to congratulate law enforcement for getting and capturing these terrorists, first of all, but what we do with them, I think we can still preserve the Bill of Rights, I see no reason why our Constitution is not strong enough to convict this young man with a jury trial, with the Bill of Rights,” Paul (R-Ky.) said on “Cavuto” on Fox Business Network. “We do it to horrible people all of the time: Rapists and murderers, they get lawyers, they get trials with juries. We seem to do a pretty good job of justice. So I think we can do it with our court system.”

If only Rand Paul and other libertarians would stick more to civil liberties issues. Then they would sound much more rational and we would have more in common with them.

I think that one reason Rand Paul and many other libertarians come across as crackpots is the company they keep. The close affiliation between libertarianism and the conservative movement has been disastrous for libertarianism. You can’t mix a pro-freedom philosophy with the views of the authoritarian right and remain consistently pro-freedom (or make much sense).

The Rand (and Ron) Paul form of libertarianism has many of the negative attributes of the far right. In the case of Ron Paul this has included racism, but this isn’t universal to all libertarians who became influenced by conservative views. This also includes support for states’ rights, which opposes excessive government power at the national level but often allows for far more restrictions on liberty at the state level (frequently at the expense of minorities.)

Many libertarians ignore religious liberty while promoting what they would describe as economic liberty. In some cases they are right to oppose unfair restrictions on business and counter-productive regulations. Far too often this really translates into opposing the types of regulation which are necessary for a free economy to work. They believe that markets are something arising from nature which must be left without restrictions, failing to realize that markets are creations of man which only work with a certain amount of regulation. This must come from government, not always Adam Smith’s invisible hand. In the worst cases, libertarianism is used to justify lack of activity against powerful business interests who exploit the pubic or harm the environment. They universally support business over government. While government is not always right in such disputes, when the system is working government provides a means for the public to work in unison against special interests which are too powerful for individuals to take on.

Many libertarians aligned with the conservative movement  have adopted views of the religious right, failing to realize that mixing religion with government is one of the greatest threats to freedom we face.

Libertarians would be much more consistent supporters of individual liberty (as opposed to being opponents of government action on a national level) if they continued their support of civil liberties but also  recognized the importance of separation of church and state, while giving up racism, state’s rights, and a knee-jerk opposition to economic regulation where it is needed. Of course those who hold this viewpoint are better known as liberals.

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  1. 1
    Giovanni says:

    “I think that one reason Rand Paul and many other libertarians come across as crackpots is the company they keep. The close affiliation between libertarianism and the conservative movement has been disastrous for libertarianism. You can’t mix a pro-freedom philosophy with the views of the authoritarian right and remain consistently pro-freedom (or make much sense).”

    There is a negative side-effect of being of libertarian philosophy and infiltrating the Republican party that houses the conservative philosophy (the continuous misinterpretations for mainstream voters to understand the difference) but this is a direct result of the criminal behavior of the Democratic and Republican parties rigging the electoral process, namely, the exclusion of alternative choices in national debates. Libertarians have no choice but to choose a major party and take it over.

    You can’t mix ideologies that contradict each other, but you can remove one of the ideologies and replace it with a new one. Parties are just vehicles, you can be a libertarian, conservative or liberal in either party. What libertarians are doing to the Republican party is what the social and neoconservatives did.

    “The Rand (and Ron) Paul form of libertarianism has many of the negative attributes of the far right. In the case of Ron Paul this has included racism, but this isn’t universal to all libertarians who became influenced by conservative views.”

    Ron Paul isn’t racist – this has been debunked and explained for decades ad nauseam, ad infinitum. There were about 9 sentences that could be deemed racist in the newsletters, and they were not written by him. Ron Paul’s policies benefit minorities (ending the drug war, corporatism, overseas adventurism, inflation, etc.) more than Obama’s NDAA, Patriot Act, nonstop interventionist foreign policy, trillion dollar deficits and TARP bailouts.

    Libertarianism is the belief in individualism, while racism is a collectivist belief – they are philosophically antithetical to each other. The racist card has been paraded by the left to attack the right and the right uses the racist card against Paul in order to destroy him so that he doesn’t threaten the establishment.

    “This also includes support for states’ rights, which opposes excessive government power at the national level but often allows for far more restrictions on liberty at the state level (frequently at the expense of minorities.)”

    It’s a double edged sword – a support for state’s rights doesn’t mean that states literally have rights and the Paul’s don’t believe that – they believe that power is best left decentralized or else corruption becomes much worse. Take for example the marijuana legalization in OR, WA and CO. Would you like SWAT teams to break into people’s home, shoot their dogs, terrify their families and ruin their lives as they rot in a cage for smoking marijuana? You can’t trust people with power, that is why we have states to begin with. At least with State sovereignty the government is more accountable to the people.

    “…In the worst cases, libertarianism is used to justify lack of activity against powerful business interests who exploit the pubic or harm the environment. They universally support business over government. While government is not always right in such disputes, when the system is working government provides a means for the public to work in unison against special interests which are too powerful for individuals to take on.”

    This is a common misconception about free markets and regulatory powers. The regulations always end up serving the goals of the corporations, this is called ‘Regulatory capture’ and is a feature of a large intrusive state – without a large intervening state, there is no apparatus for corporations to use the state as a club to destroy the free market, get away with crime, etc.

    Another misconception is that pollution or any other violation of property rights is allowed in a free market – it is not. If you poison someone’s land, water or air, you get arrested because you are violating the sovereign property of another human being – again, your body is also your property.

    In a free market, the government has a legitimate role to protect your rights – your life, liberty and property – not through regulations but through property rights. This is called limited government – and it prevents there being a ring of power for big business to control and control the market. Without a large state that liberals favor, there would be no grant of person hood to corporations, no limited liability, immunity, subsidies, charters and no bid contracts.

    A good example of how a large regulatory state results in more corporatism is Obama appointing ex Monsanto exec to head the FDA and signing a bill that had legislation attached to it nicknamed ‘The Monsanto Protection Act’, which is arguably created for giving Monsanto immunity in court if they ever get sued.

    “Many libertarians aligned with the conservative movement  have adopted views of the religious right, failing to realize that mixing religion with government is one of the greatest threats to freedom we face.”

    This is not true at all – there is no ‘mixing’ of ideologies, libertarians have no choice but to infiltrate one of the major parties because of the criminal behavior of the Democratic and Republican parties. Even if Ron and Rand Paul were somehow ‘mixed’ that is still only them, and worst case scenario they are at least 90% libertarian.

    Rand Paul for example, is playing the Art of War – he’s bridging the gap between conservatives and libertarians so that he can bring about meaningful change. So he will sounds like a conservative sometimes, but he doesn’t have much choice, since most partisan voters will never admit when they are wrong or change their minds. This is why my neoconservative uncle likes Rand Paul but doesn’t like Ron Paul – Rand Paul is a genius. It’s sad, but he has no choice. It’s the same reason why he endorsed Romney – he has to make inroads into the party so that libertarians can take it over.

    “Libertarians would be much more consistent supporters of individual liberty (as opposed to being opponents of government action on a national level) …”

    Libertarians aren’t for state governments infringing on rights, they just think that it’s safer if the corruption stops there.

    “…if they continued their support of civil liberties but also  recognized the importance of separation of church and state, while giving up racism, state’s rights, and a knee-jerk opposition to economic regulation where it is needed. Of course those who hold this viewpoint are better known as liberals.”

    Libertarians are for the separation of church and state and are not racist, what you’re saying is utterly false. I’ve never heard this before and it sounds like you might have jumped to conclusions.

    This will help clear up misconceptions about capitalism:
     
    Austrians vs. Keynesian economics, a case study:
    http://www.swifteconomics.com/.....ase-study/

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Sorry I don’t have much time for this–I’ll put a brief response to each of the points. I’d suggest going thru the Ron Paul tag for posts which deal with these items in more detail:

    1) The problem is that the libertarians aren’t just trying to replace conservatives as the ones which control the party. They have merged philosophies to the point where many libertarians are really practicing a conservative, anti-freedom philosophy.

    2) Ron Paul’s denials were eventually debunked and even many libertarians have distanced themselves from Paul due to racism. Now that he has left Congress he has chosen to associate with a band of racists and anti-Semites. This is Paul’s true philosophy. The libertarians who have disassociated themselves from Ron Paul and argue he is not a libertarian have a far better argument than the Paul apologists. The neo-Nazis who have long supported Paul are the ones who really understand the ramifications of his philosophy. While Paul personally is probably sincere in supporting freedom (in the limited manner in which he understands freedom), his opposition to the checks and balances in government which preserve liberty would make it much easier for fascists to turn red states leaning towards their viewpoint to become even more racist and authoritarian (while calling it freedom and possibly even libertarian).

    3) States’ rights is often used as a means to get around the Bill of Rights by conservatives such as Paul who deny the application of these rights to the states under the 14th Amendment. On multiple occasions when asked if it is ok for a state government (as opposed to the federal government) to infringe on liberties in certain ways and Paul has gone along.

    4) The libertarian belief here is pure fantasy. Here libertarianism shows itself to be more a religion than a political view based upon reality.

    5) It certainly is true that many Republicans who are called libertarians but support conservative social positions. Ron and Rand Paul are two of the most prominent examples. To call them 90% libertarian is evidence of how the libertarian movement today has drifted from its roots, becoming more conservative (and anti-freedom) than libertarian.

    6) I am well aware of the difference between Austrian and Keynesian economics. Austrian economics is appealing when read about. The problem is that its followers are essentially religious followers, following a view which sounds desirable but doesn’t work in the real world.

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