Tag: classical liberal

On Chomsky: Are Libertarians Just Senseless Utopians?

Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

The libertarian tradition has been slowly but steadily growing in the United States since the 1970s. From Rothbard to Gary Johnson and from Ron Paul to John McAfee, the movement has been kept alive. Yet obviously, the libertarian social order doesn’t yet exist. The theoretical foundation is already here. Libertarians know what they want broadly speaking. The pragmatics of libertarianism, though, are in their infantile stage. Chomsky seems to think this is because libertarians believe in a senseless utopia.

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George Mason: The Forgotten Founding Father

Kevin D’Amato | United States

Since the founding of the United States, there has been a strong veneration associated with the founding fathers, the group men who convened to write, discuss and sign documents such as the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. I would say the praise is largely justifiable; the founding fathers played a key role in creating the modern western state. Their genius stemmed from their impeccable knowledge of history and rigorous study of philosophy. Influences for this new, great experiment ranged throughout thousands of years and included:

  • The Roman Republic
  • The Magna Carta
  • Social Contract Theory
  • John Locke’s Natural Rights Theory

With that being said, common knowledge surrounding the early years of our country is rudimentary. Children are brought up idolizing founders like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. However, most simply do not know a majority of those influential men in “The Room Where it Happened”. While I don’t discount the importance of well-known founders, I believe there is something missing in the education of the average student. I wish to take you on a journey through time to learn about the forgotten icons who deserve your attention.

Who is George Mason?

George Mason IV was born as a farm boy in modern Fairfax County, Virginia on December 11th, 1725 to father George Mason III and mother Ann Stevens Thomson. At the age of 10, George Mason’s father died. From then on, his mother and uncle, John Mercer, raised him. Mason thus gained exposure to Mercer’s large library, which had a large impact on his curiosity and intellect.

From an early age, Mason had an interest in public life. He served as a vestryman for his parish and a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. Beyond this, Mason was forming his life alongside his wife Ann Eilbeck (with whom he would have 12 children with). At his home, Gunston Hall, he grew crops such as tobacco and wheat.

As tensions between Great Britain and the colonies began to form, Mason became a leader of the Virginia Patriots and eventually wrote the Virginia Constitution in 1776. George Mason ending up being a Representative for Virginia for the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

On October 7, 1792, after struggling with illness all his life, George Mason IV passed away at the age of 66. He had long lived with gout, but historians believe he died of additional ailments following a chest cold.

Founder or Framer?

At this point, you may be asking an important question. If George Mason attended the Constitutional Convention, why do so many people not know him?

The answer lies in what occurred at the convention itself.

Out of the 55 delegates in attendance, ultimately only 39 signed the Constitution; George Mason did not.

While writing Virginia’s Constitution (1776), George Mason made a point of expressing individuals rights up front and keeping government as localized as possible. This model was used by many other states, but not exemplified to Mason’s wishes in the U.S. Constitution. Along with his gripes over government power, Mason vehemently opposed continuing the Atlantic Slave Trade, calling it “disgraceful to mankind”, despite owning slaves himself.

These grievances began to add up and hold Mason from signing the final version of the Constitution. Because of that decision, he will forever be known as a framer, not a founder.

The Significance of George Mason

George Mason’s principled stances for what he believed in makes him one of the most important figures in American history.

First, his argument against slavery was ahead of its time. To have the courage to speak out against slavery as a beneficiary is bold. If the Constitution had abolished slavery, George Mason would only lose wealth, yet he argued for it.

Second, without his stand against the original Constitution, we may have never gotten the Bill of Rights. The first 10 amendments covered a majority of Mason’s problems with the original document. We live in a better country because of them.

Third, Mason’s statements in regards to the Bill of Rights, specifically the 2nd Amendment, provide a strong backbone to the argument behind the preservation of the document. Mason repeatedly talked about the importance of these rights for all Americans.

I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.

George Mason’s Legacy

Although he does not receive the credit that he deserves, George Mason lives on in one major way. Near his home in Fairfax, Virginia is George Mason University, the largest public research institution in the state.

With the announcement of Amazon’s new headquarters location in Northern Virginia, the school shows no signs to stop its rapid growth. The school’s success definitely does justice to its namesake.

Even though traditional schools won’t give Mason his share of respect, it won’t prevent the intellectual world from continuing to discuss him. By remembering that education truly never ends, we are reminded that the possibility of knowledge is limitless.


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The 7 Most Important Schools of Libertarian Thought

Jack Parkos | United States

When people think of libertarians, they often tend to think “fiscally conservative and socially liberal” or “a Republican who likes weed”. However, neither of these statements are fully true. The libertarian philosophy actually goes very deep; in fact, there are several factions of different libertarian schools of thought. The libertarian ideology is far more intellectually diverse than American conservatives and liberals. Below are some of the different major schools of libertarian thought. Though many more exist, these seven best capture the wide array of beliefs.

Classical Liberalism

Classical liberalism is one of the earliest schools of libertarian thought. Originating in the philosophy of John Locke, classical liberalism holds that all men are born with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property and that the sole purpose of government is to protect those rights. The Declaration of Independence is an echo of classical liberal thought, as many of America’s Founding Father’s were classical liberals. Generally, they place emphasis on natural law, republicanism, and skepticism; many classical liberals are firm believers in the U.S. Constitution.

Key classical liberal figures include:

  • John Locke
  • Thomas Paine
  • Many of America’s Founding Fathers, including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington

Anarcho-capitalism

Anarcho-capitalists base their philosophy on the moral principle called the “Non-aggression Principle” (NAP). The basis of the NAP is that people do not have the right to initiate force against others. On the contrary, the only acceptable use of force is in self-defense. They also believe that the mere existence of the state violates the NAP, as it acquires all its income through coercive means (taxation). Thus, they believe that no government should exist. Instead, they believe that voluntary communities and private entities should fill the government’s role.

Key anarcho-capitalist figures include:

  • Murray Rothbard
  • Hans Hermann Hoppe
  • David Friedman

Minarchism

Minarchism basically falls in between anarcho-capitalism and classical liberalism. It holds many similar beliefs to anarcho-capitalism but criticizes the idea of a lack of government. Minarchists believe that the free market can cover almost all government programs. However, they maintain that a minimalist government is necessary for the protection of rights. Minarchists typically believe, with some variation, that government should be limited to a “Night-watchman State” consisting of police, military, and courts. Robert Nozick, author of “Anarchy, State, and Utopia” argued that out of anarcho-capitalism, minarchism would naturally arise, as monopolized private police and courts would form a “state” of sorts.

Key minarchists include:

  • Robert Nozick
  • Friedrich Hayek
  • Ludvig Von Mises

Objectivism

Objectivism is a philosophy that author Ayn Rand outlines in her books “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead”. To begin with, objectivism is an extreme Laissez-faire capitalist belief with huge emphasis on individualism. Rand believed that man was best off serving his own self interest and should not need to help out the needy. In addition, it describes the pursuit of one’s own happiness as life’s most important goal. Accordingly, she, like many objectivists, rejected selflessness and altruism as an inefficient direction of resources.

Key figures in the Objectivist movement include:

  • Ayn Rand
  • Leonard Peikoff

Bleeding Heart Libertarianism

Bleeding Heart Libertarians can be considered more “moderate” libertarians. In some cases, they are associated with the libertarian left. The official site for bleeding heart libertarians says they believe in “free markets and social justice“. Bleeding Heart Libertarians tend to believe in social equality and egalitarianism. They often still believe in social safety nets and a welfare state, and fall on the progressive side on social issues.

Arguably, the most famous bleeding heart libertarian is Gary Johnson. Much of the moderate side of the Libertarian Party also falls under this category.

Libertarian Socialism

Libertarian socialism is a form of left libertarianism. Typically, it is a form of Marxist theory that believes in social liberties and limited to no government. However, they also support a voluntary sharing of resources in a communal way. They also tend to oppose the power of strong corporations and hierarchies. Libertarian socialists often believe capitalism to be a tyrannical force and compare the “economic” elite to the state. As a result, they believe in ending authoritarianism and bringing in systems of direct democracy (sometimes unanimous) that distribute wealth more evenly.

This mode of thought draws much criticism from most other branches of libertarianism. Conversely, many libertarian socialists firmly believe themselves to be the only true libertarians. This partly dates back to the origin of anarchism and libertarianism in 19th-century Europe as a term to describe the left.

Key libertarian socialists include:

  • Emma Goldman
  • Peter Kropotkin
  • Noam Chomsky

Paleolibertarianism

Paleolibertarians believe that while the state should be limited or abolished, society should still hold culturally conservative views. Paleolibertarians are thus very supportive of Western and American culture and are concerned about threats to it.

The paleolibertarian movement began in the 1990’s as a coalition of paleolibertarians and paleoconservatives that Rothbard (above) and paleoconservative presidential candidate Pat Buchanan formed. Basically, the goal was to stop interventionism, globalism, and social democracy.

Paleolibertarians usually oppose mass immigration and foreign wars. Many more radical paleolibertarians may consider themselves “Hoppeans”, following the anarcho-capitalist philosophy of Hans Hermann Hoppe.

Key paleolibertarians include:

  • Murray Rothbard
  • Lew Rockwell
  • Hans Hermann Hoppe
  • Ron Paul
  • Tom Woods

The movement, of course, is even more diverse than this. Countless versions of libertarian thought exist within it, and it would take ages to explain them all. Without a doubt, the area of thought is rich with diversity and variation. No two libertarians are alike, but all have one thing in common: a desire to live free.


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Deism and Politics: How Deism Helped Libertarianism

By Jack Parkos | United States

Previously I wrote an introduction and history of deism and explained some of it’s belief systems. Deism, throughout its history, has helped the libertarian movement quite a bit.

During the Age of Enlightenment, political, religious, and scientific thought were rapidly changing into new beliefs, in every area from secularism and skepticism to monarchs. The new political ideology taking place was what we now call Classical Liberalism, the first form of libertarianism. Many Classical Liberals (including most of the Founding Fathers) were also deists.  This makes sense, as there are similarities between the two.

Parallels of Deism and Classical Liberalism

Lets look at some parallels between the two. For starters, both deism and classical liberalism used similar lines of thinking, these being skepticism, and reasoning. I wrote before how deism puts a great emphasis on nature and natural law. This also was a huge part of Locke’s Classical Liberal ideology.

Deists also believe in true free will, similar to the Classical Liberal thought. Classical Liberals believed that our rights come from our creator. This creator was the Deist creator, who gave us natural rights, but left us on our own to use them. With this, we created government to protect these rights. However, the religious view at the time was that God gave monarchs the authority to rule over the people. Both the classical liberal and deist thought would reject this.

Divine Right and Reactions

We must remember what helped spawn the first liberty movements: tyrannical monarchs. Pre enlightenment, kings had near, if not complete, absolute rule over the people. Kings would often interfere in the economy to benefit the wealthy. Kings could raise armies and fight wars while driving the country into debt (sound familiar?), and if the people spoke against it they would be brutally punished. Why? Because the king allegedly had God’s ultimate authority.

This was called “Divine Right”: the theory that God gave monarchs the right to rule. The Enlightenment, on the other hand, was a reaction to this concept. People increasingly thought it was absurd to assume that God gave kings the right to rule. The two groups that stood the most fervently against this were deism and classical liberalism. These ideologies were growing rapidly and growing together. Many people who were deists were also classical liberals and vice versa.

Take, for example, Thomas Paine. Thomas Paine wrote both “The Age of Reason” (which I highly recommend reading if you’re interested in deism)  and “Common Sense”, a famous pamphlet that helped start the American Revolution. Paine rejected the theory of “Divine Right”. Paine, arguably the most famous and popular deist, believed the creator did not interfere with the world and logically, would never give a man right to rule over another. This goes hand and hand with Locke’s belief that no man is born with the authority to rule over another man. The deist thought and classical liberal thought are one and the same.

How Deism Helped the Libertarian Movement

It is truly interesting how a religious philosophy helped a political movement. But the Classical Liberal ideology needed deism. It needed the deist theory of natural rights from the creator and the theory of a non intervening god. We must remember how early libertarianism (classical liberalism) was slightly different than modern libertarianism in how it came about. They were criticizing those who gained power, not through elections, but through the Divine Right theory.

These people like Locke and Paine sat and used there reasoning to come to certain conclusions. 1. Human are born with certain unalienable rights that the creator gives them. 2. Government was created for the sole legitimate function of protecting these rights, but monarchs took it to bad ends. 3. People use organized religions to gain power over other people, and thus created “Divine Right”. We must realize how much deism helped them come to these conclusions. Deist philosophy destroys the Divine Right theory, and applying this philosophy to politics gives us Classical Liberalism.

Conclusion

Was deism the only contributor to libertarianism? No. But not many people would know about how much it truly helped. In fact most people don’t know what deism is. In fact, many people assume the Founding Fathers were Christian. However, most of the Founding Fathers were deists who believed in the moral teachings of the Bible, but not the claims of miracles. Deism has been pushed under the table of enlightenment thought, but it should be remembered for what it did to help the world of both religion and politics.


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For America, Not Congress – Interview with Candidate Steve Porter

By John Keller | United States

Steve Porter is the Libertarian candidate for Virginia’s 11th Congressional district and is seeking to be elected for America, not for Congress.

Keller: For the readers who don’t know who you are, would you mind telling them a little bit about yourself?

Porter: I am a native of the Seattle area who moved to DC/NoVA in 1993. I have worked for over 20 years in Information Technology including 17 years at my current employer (a large, international software and hardware company) focusing on customer relationship management software, troubleshooting, security, and proactive support initiatives.

Although I have not run for office before, I have been active in my community in a variety of ways including leadership roles in the Knights of Columbus, various church ministries, and a member of Rotary. My main service, however, has been as a volunteer paramedic with a local volunteer rescue squad for the last 15 years. I have held a variety of offices both on the administrative and operational side. I currently am the assistant chief of the squad.

I married my wonderful wife in 2009. We live in Herndon with our two dogs Biscuit and Crumpet.

Keller: What inspired you to run for office?

Porter: I have been deeply concerned with the direction our country has been going and the increased two-party tribalism for some time. The 2016 presidential campaign was particularly disturbing to me and then to add insult to injury the incumbent in this office ran unopposed. No matter how you feel about a candidate or officeholder, there needs to be competition and differing viewpoints within the democratic process. Otherwise, we lose transparency, accountability, and the connection between our elected officials and the citizens they serve.

Keller: Many citizens are unaware, or have misconceptions, of what Libertarianism is. What, to you, is Libertarianism all about?

Porter: Libertarianism is ultimately about YOU – a firmly held belief that YOU know what is best for YOU, YOUR family, and YOUR community. Government involvement should be kept to a minimum and with a strong focus on the rights of the individuals. Libertarians also oppose the use of force whether at the individual level or the state level except in response to actual aggression. This is commonly referred to as the Non-Aggression Principle or NAP.

Keller: Representative Gerry Connolly has held his seat since January 3, 2009. Why is the time for liberty now?

Porter: I would argue that it has been time for liberty long before the incumbent was initially elected to his office. The two-party system has become increasingly divisive and non-productive. Mr. Connolly is a party machine, establishment politician who has no real interest in changing the current system. If we are to return to the principles of Liberty, we need systemic changes.

Keller: You have been nominated to run as the Libertarian Party’s candidate. What three policies or positions are most important to you?

Porter: A difficult question. There are a number of small government, fiscal responsibility, and personal liberty issues that are important to me. Probably the most important (in no particular order) are:

Re-examination of our countries military mission. Although I support a strong military and the brave men and women who serve in it, we must take a hard look at how we chose to use our armed forces. Their proper role is in defense of our country. It is not to be the police of the world and to be involved in so many fights across the globe.

Spending reform. Neither big party has shown any interest in trying to seriously address the deficit enabled addiction to big government spending. With over 20 trillion in debt now and a deficit that is rapidly approaching a trillion dollars a year, this simply cannot be sustained. Of course, Congress did what they do best when it comes to this topic – passed a bill to push any serious work off to the next Congress and avoid these hard discussions in an election year. Problem is the next Congress will most likely do the same thing and the situation will continue to only get worse until something catastrophic happens.

“Justice” Reforms – In particular rolling back the abuses to surveillance of American citizens and also the disgusting practice of civil asset forfeiture. The Bill of Rights is important and should be honored, not twisted to particular political agendas.

Keller: A recent news story has been the government shutdown. What are your thoughts on the Government shutdown?

Porter: While I believe in downsizing the federal government, there is a responsible way to do it. Uncontrolled, unplanned shutdowns due to political tribalism and an inability to work together is not that way.

Keller: Partisan politics has come to dominate Washington. If elected, how will you change this dialogue in Congress?

Porter: Right now both sides are into extreme tribalism. Ideas are not judged on their value but on the R or D after them. By not joining either caucus I can be a different voice and perspective. I am also more concerned with how things should be done rather than how they are being done.

Keller: There is a lot of crony laws and actions on capitol hill. If you had the power to undo one of them what would it be?

Porter: At the moment I would really like to see the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate repealed. It is a new enough action that we might be able to roll it back before it does irreparable damage to the small and independent truckers. It is a great example of an unnecessary “soundbite” solution to a – at best – questionable problem. Like many of these types of actions, it uses safety/security argument (the other popular choices are children or patriotism) to justify a government action. Really though it is about placing more expense, compliance difficulties, etc. on the “little guy” to the benefit of the big corporate interests and their powerful Washington lobbies.

Keller: Although Libertarians tend to believe fewer laws and less governance is best, what is one law you would want to see passed in Congress?

Porter: Most of the laws I would like to see passed would ultimately roll back other laws and regulations. A balanced budget amendment or similar legislation would be way up there though in terms of things I would want to put on the books.

Keller: If someone was interested, how can they get involved in your campaign?

Porter: Third party campaigns need the same things that the big parties need – volunteers, social media followers, money, and ultimately voters. If people are interested in joining OUR fight to bring liberty, common sense, and fiscal responsibility back to Washington they can visit my website at www.porter4us.com, porter4us on Facebook, or @porter4us on Twitter to learn more and contact my team.

Keller: Do you have any final remarks you would like to give to readers, supporters, and potential voters?

Porter: Our nation’s journey away from our basic principles of personal liberty and small, responsible government has been going on for decades. Some people think that that course cannot be changed. I strongly disagree. People are tired of politics as usual. People are tired of government overreach and the erosion of personal liberties. Rather than simply be tired, now is the time to get energized and take a stand. Challenge government officials, get involved with campaigns that are trying to make a difference (like mine), and most importantly make your voice heard at the ballot box during every election no matter how small the office seems to be. If enough people do that, then we will see a real rebirth of Liberty in our great country!

I would like to thank Steve Porter for his time. Be sure to check out his website www.porter4us.com and get involved!