Tag: Draft

Libertarians and Neo-Progressives Aren’t That Different

Francis Folz | United States

For the first time in the last three election cycles, Ron Paul was not the old, white man who had the arcane ability to attract the diverse youth vote. In 2016, the role of Ron Paul was played by Bernie Sanders, and boy did Bernie play Ron Paul’s role well. However, once Mr. Sanders was defeated by Ms. Clinton, former Governor Gary Johnson doubled down on his support from millennial voters, stating that he and Mr. Sanders share similar positions close to 70 percent of the time.

I found it quite intriguing that two competing ideologies that, on the surface, couldn’t seem farther apart from each other actually share a plethora of dogmas in common. History is repeating itself, yet very few identify how civil libertarians and these modern-day progressive socialists have been on the same side of history as one another in the past.

In the 1960 presidential election, Americans elected John F. Kennedy by a narrow margin to be the next commander-in-chief. Kennedy, who had many libertarian inklings such as fiscal conservatism, the desire to abolish the Federal Reserve and the CIA, and his opposition to military conflicts. Unfortunately, JFK served only three years as president before he was assassinated and war hawk Lyndon B. Johnson took his place.

Barry Goldwater is often recognized as a man ahead of his time. In 1964, Mr. Goldwater, or should I say Mr. Conservative, defeated the Rockefeller establishment wing of the Republican Party and was nominated to be the next president of the United States. It’s important to note Mr. Goldwater wasn’t a conservative by present day standards, as his positions would be considered libertarian today.

The former senator from Arizona favored personal responsibility, proposed the idea that one must only be able to shoot straight to be in our armed forces, believed foreign entanglements are unnecessary and detrimental to our nation, and that American prosperity starts with laissez-faire approaches to economics. Regrettably, the War Party successfully convinced Americans that a Goldwater presidency would result in nuclear warfare, and as consequence, the Ron Paul of the ’60’s received only 52 electoral votes.

As Lyndon Johnson kicked the Vietnam War into high gear, the youth of the 1960’s became increasingly wary of America’s hunger for military conflict. Countless students defied their military conscription or celebrated Uncle Lyndon’s call to arms by burning their draft cards. Lamentably, the young minds involved in the anti-war movement were led by American communists like Students for a Democratic Society.

What many fail to consider is that libertarians found themselves on the same sides as the hippies, advocating for the end of the disastrous and unconstitutional Vietnam War. In 1969, libertarians were expelled from the conservative Young Americans for Freedom convention after a libertarian member burned his draft card. Although libertarians were not involved with organizations like SDS, their sentiment towards peace was just as strong.

Libertarians and the New Left most likely found themselves sympathizing or supporting the Free Speech movement of the early 1960’s. According to UC Berkeley campus rules at the time, certain political activity was prohibited or restricted to the Democratic and Republican campus clubs.

Students who desired to solicit money for Civil Rights campaigns or to speak out against the Vietnam War were either disbanded or arrested for violating campus laws. Although the Left is predominately considered the champions of the Free Speech movement, 60’s libertarians assumably supported the precepts of free speech, civil rights, and non-aggression.

In addition, the counterculture movement and libertarians shared a relaxed approach to social issues. Both libertarians and the left-leaning youth of the 60’s favored personal responsibility and decriminalization of non-violent offenses. Lastly, hippies and libertarians shared anti-authoritarian attitudes, which is ironic considering communism requires a large, centralized political authority.

Despite the hippies of the anti-war movement and the libertarians of the 60’s belonging to immensely different ideologies and organizations, both espoused similar positions regarding the most critical issues of their time. The similar views both sides formerly held have once again manifested itself in today’s politics, underscored by akin perspectives and, at times, differing solutions from the Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders coalitions.


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Milton Friedman: One of the Great Libertarians

By Roman Bilan | United States

Murray Rothbard was born in 1926 and died in 1995. Milton Friedman was born in 1912 and died in 2006. Their careers almost entirely overlapped, yet one left a lasting influence on the free world, while the other died in more or less absurdity. Rothbard only influenced his own cult-like following, yet many of his anarcho-capitalists rather “throw out” Friedman’s libertarian legacy.

When it comes to twentieth century figures within the libertarian movement, there may no greater figure when it comes to influencing economics, the public, American public policy and the lives of millions.

Milton the Economist

Milton Friedman’s contributions to the science of economics cannot be understated. He was the figurehead of the Chicago School, a free market oriented school of economic thought based out of the University of Chicago. Alongside him were his prominent colleagues, Frank Knight, Ronald Coase, and Robert Lucas, to name a few.

The entire field owes a huge debt to Friedman and his crew. He overturned many of the prevailing errors brought about by the Keynesian Revolution: most notably with his critique of the Phillips Curve. Even Paul Krugman admits that Friedman did the science a great service with his contributions and critique of former Keynesian orthodoxy:

“Friedman’s critique of Keynes became so influential largely because he correctly identified Keynesianism’s weak points… I regard him as a great economist and a great man.”

-Paul Krugman

Regardless of how you feel about his political inclinations, he believed in them because of his economic thought. And his thought is arguably one of the most profound things to be produced in the 20th century. It is completely unfair to dismiss, much less “throw out,” someone because of minor disagreements on theory. Friedman is one of the greatest intellectuals of his time and libertarians should wholeheartedly embrace him as one of their own.

Milton the Public Intellectual

As was written in his obituary for FEE, “Friedman did more than any single person in our time to teach the public the merits of deregulation, privatization, low taxes, and free trade. His work inspired the economic agendas of President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, as well as the liberalization of economies in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.”

Take Capitalism and Freedom, for example. Read by over half a million in eighteen different languages, it introduced ideas like school vouchers and pushed for lower and flatter taxes.

Similarly, Free to Choose was the best selling nonfiction book in 1980 and was watched by millions. Only F.A. Hayek could boast a similar public reach for a libertarian.

Additionally, Friedman wrote over 300 op-eds for Newsweek, 121 op-eds for the Wall Street Journal and another twenty-two for the New York Times. But maybe he would have been been better off preaching to the libertarian choir instead of engaging with the public at large?

Milton Ends the Draft

In 1940, the United States began its third and final draft. On March 27, 1969 President Richard Nixon formed the Gates Commission to look at the possibility of an All-Volunteer Armed Forces– Friedman was one of its most prominent members. The commision of fifteen members had five members in favor of an all-volunteer armed forces while the other ten were split evenly between being against the idea and neutral towards it. In less than a year, the Commission came to a unanimous 14-0 recommendation (one member was unable to vote on the specifics, although he did support an all-volunteer military) to end the draft.

Three years later, the draft was gone.

Milton Influences Estonia

On August 20, 1991, Estonians left the darkness of the Iron Curtain and joined the free world as the Republic of Estonia replaced the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic. Mart Laar was the first Prime Minister of Estonia after the interim government. He led from 1992 to 1994 and again from 1999 to 2002. As noted in Foreign Policy,

“In barely two years, from 1992 to 1994, the radical reforming Estonian government of Mart Laar introduced a flat tax, privatized most national industry in transparent public tenders, abolished tariffs and subsidies, stabilized the economy, balanced the budget, and perhaps most crucially, restored the prewar kroon and pegged it to the rock-solid deutsche mark. As a result, Estonia became one of the most open and transparent economies in Europe, and with growth came political stability: Russian troops left the Baltic region by 1994, fears of Balkan-style ethnic conflicts receded, and Soviet noncitizens in Estonia and Latvia began to assimilate.”

Before Laar became Prime Minister he read one book: Free to Choose by Milton Friedman. A few years later, he was in D.C., talking with US Representative Dick Armey. Armey asked how the Estonian government was able to be so successful with their free market reforms. Laar’s answer was simple, “We read Milton Friedman and F. A. Hayek”.

Milton Friedman: Common Complaints

No, Milton Friedman was not an Austrian, but Austrian Economics is not synonymous with libertarianism. Libertarians can be non-Austrian and Austrians can be non-libertarian.

No, Milton Friedman did not believe in Praxeology, but Praxeology is also not a necessity for libertarianism, nor is its veracity without question. Even F.A. Hayek, Ludwig Von Mises’s greatest student, broke from Praxeological orthodoxy.

No, Milton Friedman is not an anarcho-capitalist. He believes in a state, but anarcho-capitalism is only one part of the broader libertarian ideology. As Hayek said, “Our general views on what is desired and what is not are almost identical until we get on to money.”

The greatness of a libertarian should not be defined by their purity, but by how much they advance liberty. Libertarians like Murray Rothbard win the purity test but do little to advance libertarianism. As Paul Krugman wrote in 1994, Friedman waged a campaign “Goliath of Big Government” that “eventually bore fruit in radical changes in both economic ideology and real-world economic policy.”

Whether it be his direct or indirect influence on Republican administration, pushing free market policies in other countries, advocating for drug legalization, getting the state out of education, loosening licensing laws, giving less power to central banks or cutting taxes and spending, Milton Friedman’s legacy is one of promoting freedom and liberty. Thus, libertarians should be proud to share an intellectual home with him.


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The Draft is Slavery and That’s That

By Austin Anderholt | USA

If you want to fight a war, you need soldiers. If you don’t have enough people wanting to fight in your war, you have to draft them. A draft is when a government takes men that don’t consent to fight in, nor necessarily agree with the causes of, a war. The statist in you might say “But we need drafts for when very few people want to fight in a war!” I used to think just like that, but I was wrong. Here’s why:

People, both for and against the draft can agree on one main concept: Wars shouldn’t be decided by how many people with guns want a war. For “pro-drafters”, those “people with guns” are potential soldiers. For “anti-drafters” like myself, those “people with guns” are members of the government. Think about this: We are living in a system where your life and death are decided by a group of people, called a congress, that can vote you off to war. In my book, that’s slavery. You own yourself. You’ve never signed any contract that allowed the “government” to do this to you. You’ve never stated you would risk your life for oil or “freedom” or the safety of the group of people that happen to live in an invisible grouping of lines on a map known as a “country”. You own yourself.

You might be thinking “I get the point, but we have to have a draft when there’s a viable cause! We need to have Congress and democracy to decide when we should be in a war!” As I’ve written about before, democracy IS slavery in the sense that other people are voting on what you should personally do, and society would be better off without it. You don’t owe anyone any service. You are an individual, and it is your duty to protect yourself, your children, and no other body of people. In a free society, one might voluntarily donate to a theoretical cause to “keep your neighborhood safe”, but NO ONE should be able to FORCE you to pay for the protection of people that happen to be in the aforementioned lines known as a “country”. When people get things handed to them for free, this creates a dependency. When people are being forced to give up their salary to a warmongering nation, it makes those poor taxpayers less likely to want to live there.

“But what about the European front of World War Two? Should we have just let Jews and other innocent groups be massacred relentlessly because they couldn’t defend themselves?” I’ll remind you that the Nazi GOVERNMENT deemed the holocaust perfectly legal. In an ideal (government free) world, we are ruled by voluntary and consensual agreement. You wouldn’t be massacred just because the people in charge say so. In a truly free society, you own yourself, and no government can rule you. The free market would most likely create private security firms to protect individuals. That means that if Nazis tried to attack you, they’d be going against some major corporations and the corporations paid for by any other private individuals they might have tried to attack. No government would ever be able to torture and murder millions of it’s own citizens anymore.

In conclusion, drafts are not only unnecessary but enslaving, not only to those drafted but those who are unwillingly paying for that draft. A truly free society would never allow for such a monstrosity to exist. Someone forcing you to risk your life for their personal cause is not okay, and would never exist in a free society.