With the current situation in Venezuela rapidly deteriorating, the United States is seizing the opportunity to do what it attempted to do in 2002: enact regime change in Venezuela. Joined by over 50 other countries, the United States has recognized Juan Guaido, a Venezuelan politician who is challenging the current dictator of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro, as interim president of Venezuela. It seems inevitable that Maduro will be ousted by Guaido supporters who are currently demonstrating in the streets against the current leader. While it may seem like an obvious decision to support Guaido over the current regime, there is no guarantee Guaido will be any less of a despot than Maduro currently is if history is any indication.
Kenneth Casey | United States
On Sunday, America lost one of their most principled and honorable members of Congress with the passing of Walter Jones, the U.S. Representative of North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District. According to Fox News, Jones had suffered a broken hip at his home on January 14th and underwent surgery at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville the following day, which was just one of a series of ailments that Jones had faced.
The North Carolina politician first entered the cutthroat world of politics in 1983 after being elected as a representative of North Carolina at the state level, serving as a Democrat for the entirety of his tenure. After his father vacated his U.S. Congressional seat as a member of North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District in 1992, Jones decided to run for his father’s seat and did so successfully. While being a Democrat and serving his first term as so, he decided to switch his party affiliation to the Republican Party in 1994 and has remained a member of the party since.
For around a decade, Jones worked like most people in Washington. He flew under the radar, for the most part, not garnering much national attention. He often served as the standard Republican member of Congress by commonly voting in line with his party as most members of Congress do. The practice of rarely breaking party line and staying away from even the slightest hints of contrarianism is popular in Congress as it increases your chances of being re-elected. That’s why, just about every year, 90% or more of Congress gets re-elected. As long as you do your part and vote in line with your party on the most important issues, the party leadership will support your re-election bid and make the threat of a primary challenge extremely unlikely.
It wasn’t until 2003 that Jones did something that garnered widespread mainstream media attention. Unless you know Walter’s path of getting where he is today, what he did may just surprise you.
A Figure Emerges
Walter was one of the biggest supporters of the Invasion of Iraq back in 2003. His passion for the war was so strong that when France announced their opposition to the United States’ involvement in Iraq, Walter, along with fellow House Republican Bob Ney of Ohio, led the charge to alter a couple names of food choices on the House Cafeteria menu. “French Fries” were to be changed to “Freedom Fries”; “French Toast” was changed to “Freedom Toast”. Yes, Jones’ first real moment of prominence after 10 years a Congress was when he became known as one of the Republicans who bootlicked for the Invasion of Iraq so much that he made his disapproval of France’s stance on the issue known by removing the word “French” from the House Cafeteria Menu.
By the end of 2005, the number of American casualties had reached 2,181. It was around this time that Walter Jones drastically changed his views on Foreign Policy. He called on President Bush to withdraw from Iraq, stating he had “come to believe that there had been little reason to go to war, despite his earlier support, which had been based upon selective intelligence supplied to Congress.” Walter did something that we hardly ever see in politicians, and that is admitting that they are wrong. After coming to the realization of his past faults, he became one of the biggest non-interventionists in Congress, supporting peace every single chance he got and opposing war at all costs.
Because of his heroism among anti-war activists, he earned the label “Champion of Peace” by fellow non-interventionist Congressman Ron Paul. In the years following his change of heart towards the Iraq War, Jones has signed over 12,000 letters to families and extended families who have lost loved ones in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and has hung posters displaying the faces of the dead along the hallway leading to his congressional office in Washington D.C. “That was for me asking God to forgive me for my mistake,” Jones told the NPR in 2017.
An Enemy of War Hawks
Of course, whenever Jones defied the Republican and neoconservative establishment by advocating for non-interventionism and going against their mainstream ideology, they did not take kindly to that. In both 2014 and 2016, Jones a faced primary opponent who benefited from having received millions from neoconservatives, most notably Bill Kristol, who despised Walter for his foreign policy and didn’t think that he belonged in the modern day Republican Party. Even though his views didn’t exactly coincide with the majority of the Republican Party’s, he still managed to easily brush off his primary challengers both times from the hawkish right, with his constituents proving they wanted to keep their principled politician. This led to him being awarded another nickname from Ron Paul: The Neocon Slayer.
Later on in his congressional career, following the changes in his foreign policy beliefs, he lived by a mindset that he felt his father had failed to follow. That mindset was doing what he believed was right even if it resulted in his career ending abruptly ending. He noted in a 2005 interview that he remembered the worst day of his father’s career was when he had to vote for a financial bailout of New York City in 1970, something his father personally opposed but had to vote for because of “political reasons”.
A Legacy to Remember
If you asked Jones, prior to his death, how he feels looking back at the time in which he was known as the guy who was the reason for the Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast denominations on the House Cafeteria Menu, he most likely would have reacted by laying his cheek in his left hand. This was a habit he said he would “repeat dozens of times a day when lost in thought or sadness”. He would uncharacteristically say nothing, wishing to erase that point in his political career from his and everybody else’s memory. Sixteen years after his vote to send American troops into Iraq, Jones would still have been furious with himself and shaken that he reacted with the dramatic response to a problem much bigger than that, ashamed and regretful of his past votes and rhetoric. In a 2015 interview, he stated he would “go to his grave regretting that he had helped kill 4,000 American soldiers.”
In his later days, Walter ended up becoming so much more than what I previously described in this article: an unprincipled politician who really doesn’t have a person in Congress other than to be there as a yes-man. Walter ended up becoming something that is such a rare species. Some wonder if principled, honorable politicians are already extinct. The type of morality that Walter Jones displayed earns the amount of respect none of us are capable of giving. For that, he deserves to be recognized, honored, and never forgotten in our memories.
May he rest in peace.
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By James Sweet III | United States
The libertarian movement is one that encompasses a wide variety of ideologies. Whether you believe in communal ownership of property or the virtue of selfishness, you can still advocate for the center of governance to be more local than it currently is. Yet, a select group of libertarians refuses to believe this, seeing libertarianism as an “inherently” right-wing ideology. This group often holds traditionalist values and sees any left-leaning libertarian as a walking contradiction. They may also see these “hypocrites” as degenerate due to not emphasizing morals and values over the will of humans. How can one claim to be a libertarian when their primary goal is not to free the people, but to encase them in a narrow mindset with no respect for opposing cultures and views?
What’s an Ultra-Conservative Libertarian?
An ultra-conservative “libertarian” differs from a libertarian with a conservative lifestyle in the aspect that an ultra-conservative “libertarian” sees their morals and policies as one and the same. A libertarian with a conservative lifestyle believes their lifestyle is preferable to others but does not allow it to get in the way of furthering the movement of letting an individual decide their own life. For example, an ultra-conservative “libertarian” sees drugs and pornography as degenerative and that a libertarian society could not exist without these things being discouraged. A libertarian with a conservative lifestyle would refrain from engaging in this degenerative society but sees a libertarian society possible if some of their fellow individuals still decide to engage in this behavior. This distinction is essential, as I see myself as a libertarian with a traditionalist-leaning lifestyle. In no way do I see morality as a negative thing to hold close. Rather, having a strong set of morals is a good way to define one’s self.
Does Left-Wing Libertarianism Exist?
A prominent criticism of organizations like the Libertarian Party is that they allow libertarian socialists to be a part of the party. Ultra-conservative “libertarians” criticize the existence of this group, seeing them as detrimental to the existence of both the party and the liberty movement as a whole. They criticize the “degenerative” aspects of libertarian socialism, despite these “degenerative” tendencies actually being rooted in immature behavior or the lack of formality. This can exist in any person and is not reserved for libertarian socialists. The stripping of James Weeks on the stage of the Libertarian Party National Convention is often cited as an example of this “degenerative libertarian socialist behavior.”
One can be a libertarian socialist, but to understand how, one must look beyond the ideological label. If one believes in the use of government force as a way to achieve libertarian socialism, then the likelihood of them truly being a libertarian has hit the floor. If one is a disciple of Noam Chomsky or other like-minded individuals and sees the tyranny of both the state and corporations as something that should be thrown away, then it is likely that you are a libertarian socialist. Noam Chomsky sees the views of Adam Smith as more egalitarian than what the typical American libertarian would believe. According to his interpretation of Adam Smith’s works (like The Wealth of Nations), a man should not subjugate himself to unjust authority in the form of the government and the corporations that exploit the value of a human. He argues that equality could exist under completely free markets and absolute liberty, but yet he differs from the typical laissez-faire capitalist. Chomsky argues that modern-day corporations go against libertarian values, as those in charge will hold on to their wealth and power similar to the way corrupt politicians do.
There is much more to libertarian socialism than what I just described, and I will admit that I have not read libertarian socialist literature. Yet, from what Noam Chomsky has said, it is rational to infer that the difference between a libertarian socialist and a right-wing libertarian is the enemy they see in society. A right-wing libertarian sees the state as the most corrupt institution that exists and should be restrained as much as possible in an attempt to minimize its influence in the lives of the individual. A libertarian socialist might agree with this but believes the state is not alone in its faults. A libertarian socialist, for the reason stated previously, believes that the 21st-century corporation is at fault for many problems as well and that they should not be spared from criticism. Yet, both libertarian socialists and right-wing libertarians want to reduce the power of the state, and they split when it comes to what they do once the state is reduced or abolished. Do they rely on corporations, or do they rely on voluntary, communal sharing of goods under a free and equal market that is unobstructed by the corruption of suits and ties?
Libertarian socialists, like Noam Chomsky himself, can still oppose engaging in unnecessary foreign conflicts, as well as call for the end of the Federal Reserve, War on Drugs, and market regulations. They can even call themselves conservative, as Chomsky himself did. So why do ultra-conservative “libertarians” deny the legitimacy of this group despite not having an ideological split with them until far down the road, when the government is heavily reduced or flat out abolished?
The Tyranny of the Mind
The mind of a human is one’s greatest ally but can also serve as the silent, unknown enemy. We think with our mind, and our decisions arise from there. Ultra-conservative “libertarians”, whether knowingly or not, want to control the minds of others. This form of tyranny is worse than both the state and the corporations combined, as they wish to change the course of an individual’s life that was already chosen by themselves. The higher authority, the Big Brother, is not a man or woman, but rather the ideas that the ultra-conservative relies upon. By influencing the morality and attempting to control the actions of a conscious, is one not engaging in tyranny? Can one truly consent to have their beliefs and opinions changed by another man’s personal principles? Listening and deciding to change your ways through civil discussion is not what I am describing here. The constant ridicule and discrediting of opposing ideas by ultra-conservative “libertarians” is what I am arguing against, as breaking down another man’s brain and building it up with your own beliefs is not freedom. It is the most dangerous form of tyranny that has existed on this planet. A libertarian does not enforce their ideas on another person, whether through the state, corporations, or the breakdown of the mind.
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Indri Schaelicke | United States
An original free-verse poem reflecting on the inhumanity of war, which the State often creates, inadvertently or otherwise.
While politicians play in their palace of politics,
Young men are shipped across the seas
Like great wooden crates full of peas.
Each one treated as though they have no value,
A skirmish no more significant than a Tuesday dinner.
Peas roll off the plate without protest
The family’s beast gobbles them up in one swift CHOMP
Soon it is all over for that poor green pebble,
His loss has no effect on the quality of the meal
Except for the filling of the beast’s stomach,
His loss will not be noticed.
Overhead on the dining room table the battle rages on,
The clattering of fork and knife crashing loud as ever
Mashed potatoes plowed here and there
Steak torn apart and shoved into mouth.
The peas dive willingly into the heart of danger,
Believing in their illusively noble cause.
The peas are consumed while the farmer profits.
The laborer works to convince the masses
Of their need to consume peas,
Valuing the crop as no more than a minor expense.
One day the “land of the free” will awake
And stop condemning its boys to die
For self-interested men’s hawkish desires.
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By Manuel Martin | United States
Government is commonly believed necessary to restrain men with conquering ambitions. However, the state is the essential mechanism which men use to execute said ambitions. Think you’re free? Try building a house without paying extortion money first via permit fees. Try keeping your income, for that matter. The state will quickly send men with guns to secure your compliance and your income. Don’t like going to war to kill? Now, you’re a “draft dodger” and will go into a cage for your crime of non-murder.
The discomforting truth is governments don’t keep you safe. On the contrary, one’s obedience to the government directly threatens your safety and security. How many millions of human beings have died because of society’s willingness to follow murderous orders? How many more need to perish before something changes? Individuals must come to realize that governments alone have promoted and funded mass murder, spinning it into the socially acceptable jargon of “war”.
Politicians brand mass murder “war” to hide reality. The state does not keep you safe; it divides the world into lethal, warring tribes. The government has marketed their murders so well that countless young men across the world line up to take part. With the soothing excuse of democracy, these groups have slaughtered, mutilated and starved hundreds of millions. Politicians will always use war to enslave the masses so long as the masses accept their legitimacy.
We live in a terrifying, fantasy-like dichotomy. In order to secure our safety from people with power, we elect people to positions of power. Then, these people use their positions to monopolize violence, plunder resources, and start wars, often to the great disbelief of the nominally peaceful citizen. Finally, the people in power boldly assert they are necessary to prevent war, and people buy it. Is it really surprising that politicians, who we elect to maintain order and safety, create wars? When the wars threaten order and safety, there is a greater demand for the politician to restore order and safety.
Politicians use the money they steal (tax) from you to fund aggressions that put your life in danger. You are supplying the funds for the wars you fear! Humanity directly takes those who desire control and gives them million-man armies and warships. This is painful to think about, and one of the most regressive ideas in human history.
If one person should not have access to instruments of mass destruction, it is the politician. Politicians campaign on the promise of using the state’s gun to control society. One should never give guns and armies to a person who wishes to use them to control humanity.
If you want peace, and I think nearly all do, the first step is to not give guns to politicians; they are the very individuals who promise to use them against you.
Our culture needs to evolve past this regressive idea of electing politicians for protection. Government-created wars and famines purposefully murdered over 262,000,000 in the 20th century alone. How many individuals did free market actors like Walmart, Chevron, Ford or Microsoft kill in that time? I’m going to guess: around 262,000,000 fewer.
To be safe, we must rid our culture of government, taking the power away from those who move men like chess pieces on a board covered in blood and bombs.
Politicians and their hired guns can’t keep you safe. The government simply cannot prevent a person from walking out of their house and committing murder. The state cannot stop someone who suddenly snaps, points their vehicle to the sidewalk and murders innocents.
The best defense you have against another human being is that his or her ethics and culture have taught him or her to act peacefully. A culture that reinforces the use of persuasion over coercion in all aspects of life will be far more peaceful than a culture that uses violence (taxes) to prevent violence.
Without a doubt, we need to end government and usher in a culture of persuasion over coercion. In this new culture, freedom and self-determination unite all in pursuit of happiness and fulfillment. Already, we are halfway there; the overwhelming majority of Americans currently use persuasion in their everyday lives. How many people walk into Starbucks, point a gun at the barista and coerce them for some coffee? Almost no one does, because our culture will not reward this form of violence with happiness and abundance. Unfortunately, it still does reward the same violence when the perpetrator represents the flag.
Free market interactions promote peace and prosperity, as everyone must interact voluntarily to maintain productive and beneficial relationships. The government, on the other hand, is the systematization of mass coercion. They enforce every tax, fee, regulation and law with the implicit threat and ultimate use of violence.
Many state officials use disruptive coercion backed by gun violence as the basis for human interactions. Outside of government, though, the vast majority use peaceful, voluntary interactions as the foundation for relations. Government is a cancer: stagnating mankind’s ability to live in peace and prosperity.
So long as the state exists, humanity will divide into factions and war to exercise power. Forever disturbing peace and prosperity, they will use the power of the state to coerce the masses. I want to end government because I’m a true progressive. It is time, at last, to move our culture towards more voluntary interactions, not fewer. By doing so, we may finally progress as humans and expand the human experience, seeking peace. Attempting to centralize human autonomy away from the individual and into the hand of distant politicians is the most regressive policy imaginable.
Lives and prosperity are going to waste because the ability to control lives is at stake. If you want peace, reality demands that you end coercive societal structures like government. Government is orderly subjugation enforced by violence; safety, harmony and prosperity cannot spring from violence.
Democratic government is that great hypocrisy of history. Attempting to prevent pilferage by organizing plunder, secure justice by monopolizing inequality, and establish peace by promoting division, it thus has no place in a peaceful, just society.
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