Tag: liberal

The Only “National Emergency” We Face is a Potentially Unchecked Executive

Shiam Kannan | United States

President Donald Trump has never been a steadfast proponent of Constitutional conservatism, but on Friday, February 15th, 2019, he issued a full-fledged assault on American constitutional principles, declaring a National Emergency at the southern border in order to gain access to billions of dollars for the construction of a border barrier. While a strong case can be made on the merits of a border wall, the issue at hand goes further: our nation is at a Constitutional crossroads, and at this moment, we must decide whether the President has the power to spend money without Congressional consent.

The Constitution clearly addresses this issue, and the answer, according to the document, is a firm “no.” Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7 of the Constitution states that “[n]o Money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” In other words, if there is no appropriations bill passed by Congress delegating money for a specific purpose, then money cannot be spent on that purpose. This means that Trump does not have any authority under the Constitution to unilaterally fund his border wall, or anything else, for that matter, using taxpayer dollars, unless Congress passes a funding bill which explicitly authorizes it.

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Iowa Considering Magic Mushrooms & MDMA for Medical Use

Spencer Kellogg | @Spencer_Kellogg

Magic Mushrooms are having their legislative moment. Last month in Denver, a proposal to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms was given the green light for a vote in May. Today, citizens caught in possession of psilocybin are likely to receive lengthy jail sentences and permanent criminal records. The “Mile High City” would become the first in the nation to decriminalize what is now a Schedule 1 drug. Moreover, in Oregon, advocacy groups are organizing to put psilocybin legalization on the ballot in 2020.

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Book Review: The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities by John Mearsheimer

Kevin Doremus | United States

The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities by John Mearsheimer challenges progressive liberalism to its core.  Through his most recent book, Mearsheimer argues that progressivism is the root problem in the United States foreign policymaking.  The ideology encourages a messianic state to spread its values across the world or to remake the world in its image.  This ideology is the foundation of what is known as liberal hegemony, which Mearsheimer and other realist international relations scholars claim has resulted in instability throughout the world and is destined to fail.  He argues that realism and nationalism will overcome liberalism because liberalism does not take into consideration how the world actually operates thus it lends itself to foreign policy failures which the US has experienced since the end of the Cold War.

About the Author and The Great Delusion

John Mearsheimer is a professor of international relations at the University of Chicago.  His literature primarily focuses on international security and politics from a realist perspective.  He has written books like The Tragedy of Great Power Politics and co-authored controversial books such as The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.  He and his co-author Stephen Walt argue that pro-Israeli lobbying firms have influenced the US to serve Israel’s interests instead of its own.  This book sparked numerous accusations of antisemitism from foreign policy establishment.  Robert Merry in his review of The Great Delusion documents the verbal insults between Mearsheimer and Robert Kaplan over policy differences and the role of their universities.  Mearsheimer considers that Kaplan teaches at a “government policy shop” and Kaplan says that the University of Chicago is for “oddballs.”  This outspoken manner allows Mearsheimer to present an indictment of progressivism.

The book structure builds a case for a restrained US foreign policy.  The first chapter defines what liberal hegemony means, then it follows a bottom-up method, starting with the discussion on what human nature is and builds upwards towards the international system.  The book has dedicated four chapters critical of liberal hegemony with the conclusion presenting a case for a foreign policy of restraint.

When Mearsheimer discusses liberalism he acknowledges that there are two variants which are modus vivendi and progressivism.  Mearsheimer argues that it is the progressive variant that goes beyond the negative rights promoted by modus vivendi liberals.  Progressives advocate positive rights that would require government intervention and activism to solve injustice in society.  When it comes to foreign policy, a progressive liberal state would attempt to spread its values across the world.  In international relations, the liberal theory is heavily influenced by progressive ideals.  Progressive foreign policy is known as liberal hegemony or primacy.

Liberal Hegemony

He defines Liberal Hegemony as a grand strategy in which a liberal nation-state attempts to spread liberal values throughout the world.  A liberal “state aims to turn as many countries as possible into liberal democracies like itself while also promoting an open international economy and building international institutions.”  Liberal societies embody universal values like unalienable rights.  If universal rights exist and an illiberal society does not honor those rights, liberals make the case for intervention in the name of justice.

As Mearsheimer points out, this universal logic leads towards advocacy of regime change. Liberal states are “likely to end up fighting endless wars, which will increase rather than reduce the level of conflict in international politics and thus aggravate the problems of proliferation and terrorism.”  Liberal hegemony is a contradiction of liberalism. It is intolerant of differences in societies and cultures.  Social structures that do not embrace liberal values and democracy should be socially engineered out of their backward ways.

On the surface, a liberal hegemonic policy appears good since it promotes protection for open markets, universal human rights, and tolerance.  Advocates for liberal hegemony are known as primacists, who argue that liberal hegemony is the best method for protecting liberal societies from illiberal ones.  Primacists fear that as China rises it will seek to upend the liberal norms of trade.  In their minds, China needs to be counterbalanced.  However, the US attempts to isolate China and also Russia, have both been a colossal failure.  The attempts to spread US influence abroad has resulted in “chaos, bloodshed, an intractable refugee crisis besetting the Middle East and Europe, increased tensions among major powers, [and] curtailment of civil liberties at home…”

Human Nature

The negative results represent liberalism’s underestimation of human nature and nationalism.  Realists have a Hobbesian view of human nature which is considered egoistic and self-interested.  Progressives instead believe that human nature can be perfected through a top-down approach by an activist state.  Mearsheimer notes that elites in Western societies do not speak of communities in a localized context but in a global context.  In a globalized world, societies have become more interconnected.  No longer are societies isolated by geography, technology allows people to travel and communicate at incredible speed.  As Mearsheimer correctly points out, no single global culture has been formed, “There is an abundance of distinct cultures in the world, and they underpin a wide variety of societies. Heterogeneity, not homogeneity, is the prevailing state of the global culture. Thus global society and human society are not useful terms.”  Liberal internationalists are challenged by the diversity of the world.

Mearsheimer presents his assumptions on human nature.  The first is that there are limits to reason.  He notes how enlightened ideas reinforce the thought that humanity is perfectible.  This is a delusion in his mind because there is disagreement on what is universal.  He uses religion as an example to illustrate how universal ideas do not agree with one another.  If the world cannot agree on a true religion, how can one believe that liberalism can encompass the world?

Nationalism

Human beings are not just individuals but also social beings.  When people are brought into this world, they are socialized into particular groups.  Mearsheimer argues that nationalism presents a problem for liberalism.  Liberalism underestimates the power that particular groups have on creating group loyalty.  Through his theory of nationalism, he argues that a nation has six features which are a sense of oneness, a distinct culture, a sense of superiority, a deep history, sacred territory, and sovereignty.  These six features distinguish a particular group of people from another.  He makes references to distinguished nationalist scholars such as Benedict Anderson and Ernest Geller to build his definition.  He contends that liberalism ignores these features instead it is focusing on an abstract idea of universal rights.

In a world of nation-states, liberalism has to operate with nationalism in mind.  In fact, Mearsheimer claims that liberal hegemony is in fact nationalistic.  Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright statement that the US is an “indispensable nation” is an example of US nationalism.  “American exceptionalism” is a similar phrase, both present the United States’ identity as a distinct and superior nation because of its liberal tradition.  American liberalism has become a contradiction of itself.  Liberal hegemony is the exact opposite of what liberalism means.  It is in fact illiberal.

The Liberal Failings

The nationalistic component of the US identity combined with progressive liberalism created the idea that the US was a “city on hill” and “an indispensable nation.”  Mearsheimer argues that the belief in liberal ideals and the American nation has created an unhealthy hubris. This was compounded by the fact that after the Cold War the international system was unipolar.  There was only a single power that reigned supreme over the system.  Unipolar powers have no real opposition to their actions.  The Soviet Union no longer existed to counter-balance against the US.  In Mearsheimer’s speeches, he argues that the US operated the Cold War through a realist worldview.[12]  The US was balancing against the Soviet Union.   Once the threat of the Soviet Union was gone, the US abandoned realism and adopted a liberal foreign policy.

This liberal foreign policy has left havoc and instability across the Middle East and North Africa.  Liberal foreign policy advocates argued that if the US was to bring democracy to Iraq, democracy would spread throughout the region.  In Eastern Europe, the expansion of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization meant to solidify emerging democracies.  The integration of China into the global market was in hopes that with economic liberty, the Chinese Communist Party would transition their government towards liberal democracy.  This liberal dream has not worked as promised due to the fact that liberals ignored human nature and the power of nationalism.

Society can be socially constructed from the top, but it also can be done from the bottom.  In response to the US spread of democracy, local resistance has formed along ethnic lines.  In the Middle East, Islamic nationalism rose to create an environment ripe for the Islamic State.  The Middle East and North Africa are now more unstable and vulnerable to terrorism than before democracy.  In Asia, the Chinese created a historical narrative of “never forget national humiliation” in which China needs to be strong and look out for its national interest.  In Eurasia, Russia, sees its enemy creeping to its borders.  Russia understands that it needs to balance against the US expansion of influence.

Conclusion

Realists argue that the US should be more restrained. Thus, it should not seek to spread liberal values across the world. For a safe and secure world, a realist foreign policy is ideal because it respects that nature of humans which progressives need to learn.  It entails understanding the local context of different societies.  There are limits to human’s understanding of the world.  In attempts to form foreign policy, ideological biases will be at the base of the policy assumptions. It is difficult to assume how one perspective will perceive another nation’s actions.  Unintended consequences will arise.  In the case of the West’s policy towards The Great Middle East, no one expected the rise of the Islamic State and a mass influx of refugees creating instability in Europe. The national interest of the United States should take priority over global dreams.

As the world becomes multipolar the US will have to consider the interests of Russia and China before acting.  This means rejecting liberalism because now great powers can challenge the liberal order.  Nation-states seek power for their security as there is no global police force to protect their interests.  Deterrence is a way to check the power of other states.  Imperialist have to consider the cost of expanding outside their territory if their opponent has similar capabilities.  In addition, expansion into the so-called third world provides little benefit.  Mearsheimer uses the example of Vietnam in which the war was not salient in the global balance of power. This is true for the Middle East as well where there has been no strategic benefit for the United States’ presence in the region.

A progressive-liberal foreign policy hoped to create an ideal world with no threats to democracy.  Instead due to its assumptions of human nature and nationalism, it has left the Middle East and Ukraine in a state of war.  A progressive-liberal state then becomes illiberal.  In the quest for spreading liberal values, the US has slowly become a police state.  Critics to Mearsheimer will argue that the world is becoming safer and that conflict is on its way down.

However, these critics look at the world from a broad perspective.  As a result, they are not willing to look solely at the results of a US progressive-liberal foreign policy.  To do so they would have to admit that an activist state can cause great harm to many in the world.  John Mearsheimer focuses more on the philosophical causes of Liberal Hegemony.  Another realist Stephen Walt wrote a book with a fitting title, The Hell of Good Intentions, which analyzes Liberal Hegemony on policy grounds.  John Mearsheimer’s latest book will help educate readers on why a progressive-liberal foreign policy is dangerous.


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Tulsi Gabbard: The Ideal New Face of the Democratic Party

Ian Brzeski | United States

Both the Democratic and Republican parties need a change in leadership. They both need to break away from the establishment and become the parties they claim to be. There was a point in time where the parties stood for principles they truly believed in; however, this piece has long since passed. Though both parties are guilty of this, The Democratic party has specifically failed to live up to its promoted ideal of being the “anti-war” party.  Through the party leaders’ continual lying and corruption, the Democratic Party needs a fresh face to restore some of the party’s integrity, and that face should be Tulsi Gabbard.

The Democratic Party has failed when it has fallen under the control of those who think in terms of dollars instead of human values – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Tulsi Gabbard and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Once a party that seemed to care for the citizens, the Democratic Party has now become a joke due to deceitful politicians who have succumbed to the evils and temptations of the establishment. Power corrupts and money talks, and these colloquialisms are more relevant now than ever before.

The Democratic Party needs to replace the outdated and corrupt leaders of Pelosi and Schumer with the new. If they want to align with their boasted ideology they claim to have, they have to replace them with the likes of Tulsi Gabbard and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who care for the welfare of the people and maintain consistent values without compromise.

Of course, I am not saying you have to agree with Gabbard or Ocasio-Cortez on political issues. In fact, you could disagree with any one of them on virtually every single point they stand for. However, even feeling that way; you cannot dispute that they care for their constituents and seem to uphold values the Democratic Party claims to prioritize. I have respect for both, but Tulsi Gabbard is better suited to lead the party.

An Ideal Figurehead

Gabbard is a better fit than Ocasio-Cortez for a few reasons. First of all, Gabbard makes more of an effort to stress pulling out of Syria and Afghanistan. She also vehemently advocates for allowing Venezuela to maintain its sovereignty. Ocasio-Cortez does not make as much of an effort to talk about these issues, as she seems to focus her efforts on internal matters.

With people like Gabbard at the forefront, the Democratic Party would start to become more respectable by bringing back their “anti-war” values. Another reason Gabbard is a better fit is that she is more of a moderate Democrat while Ocasio-Cortez states that she is a democratic socialist. As intriguing as radical ideas are, they are not usually politically wise to promote. There would be more tension amongst people in the party. Most importantly, though, Gabbard holds steadfast to her beliefs and doesn’t succumb to pressure from political parties.

Values Over Party Politics

Tulsi Gabbard is not afraid to call Donald Trump out when he does something wrong, but she also is not afraid to praise him when she feels it is right to do so. People like her are next to impossible to come by today, not just in politics but also in everyday life.

Take, for instance, never Trumpers who will cry about every little thing he has ever done. Believe it or not, the man sometimes makes good decisions. You also have the people who worship Donald Trump in the same way that the poor people in Medellin worshipped Pablo Escobar. To them, the man can do no wrong. Famous conservative pundits who sometimes criticize Trump often suffer bitter blowback.

Many people in both groups here may not like Gabbard. She slams Trump often, so the latter group is likely to take issue. But she also applauds Trump sometimes. Thus, the former group also has reason to be wary. Regardless, Tulsi Gabbard is still able to maintain her values with her original thoughts. Without a doubt, we need more people like her representing the people of the United States. Whether you agree or disagree with them, the inherent value that comes from a genuine person who is committed to the betterment of society far outweighs any potential tiffs one may have over party affiliation.

Warranted Criticisms

I support Tulsi Gabbard simply because she is the best option for the DNC. Despite this, many people have claimed she is not who she seems. One common criticism is that Gabbard is not truly anti-war and really is in fact quite hawkishEvidence of certain statements she has made as well as evidence from her voting records supports this notion. Thus, it appears she is not unilaterally opposed to war.

However, she is better than the other democrat representatives. She has some foreign policy opinions that I feel hold weight. Tulsi brings a kind of non-interventionist background with her, unlike most Democratic leaders, and I think that this is what the DNC needs more of.

I am not a Democrat and I don’t agree with Tulsi Gabbard on many of her claims. Certainly, she is not my ideal candidate. Despite those things, because of her passionate emotional and logical appeals to pull troops out of Afghanistan and Syria and her unwillingness to back down when faced with pressure from those in and outside of her party, she has garnered my respect.

She is not afraid to critique people she historically agrees with when she truly believes they are wrong. She is certainly not one to shy away from praising her opponents when they deserve it. We need more of this in politics if we ever hope to diminish the hatred that comes with political polarization. Therefore, Tulsi Gabbard should be the new face of the Democratic Party.


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The Art of Pursuing Knowledge

Ian Brzeski | United States

Imagine a society where people did not strive to obtain knowledge, where people did not try and better themselves and society as a whole due to laziness or negligence. There would be no intellectual debate or discussion amongst peoples; there would not even be the high level of society we live in today. From generation to generation, society has progressed and there is no question about it. Life expectancy has gone up tremendously, and the impoverished are nowhere near the level of terrible poverty that they once endured. All of this progress comes from our desire to learn, our desire to improve, and our desire to make our lives easier and better. Without these desires, nobody would care about anything and we would have never achieved this progress. Without this desire, who knows where we would be at in society today. Would we still be stuck in the Dark Ages? Maybe it would be worse; perhaps we would still be neanderthals who have yet to invent the wheel.

The ability to learn is the most underappreciated and undervalued skill that people possess. Choosing to acquire knowledge in a particular subject is bound to shape who we are as a person. The saying “knowledge is power” holds a tremendous amount of weight. Knowledge opens up worlds of opportunity. It liberates our minds from the thinking of the masses. It allows us to think critically, analyze ideas, and develop our own conclusions from said ideas.  From the eagerness to learn comes knowledge and from knowledge comes wisdom.

The Importance of Reading

The best way to obtain knowledge is through reading. Reading is simply a wonder. Regardless of the subject matter, you can always learn something from a good piece of literature. Fiction, non-fiction, politics, sports, or history, the subject does not matter. Harvest the knowledge that comes from all these readings. There are always going to be facts to learn, concepts to grasp, morals to uncover, and ideas to critique through reading.

Reading a book may motivate you, relax you, give you information to better yourself as a person, or even give you random bits of information that you find interesting. No matter what you are reading, it will always help you. Reading poorly written books or conceptually poor books also have some benefit because you would be able to distinguish and analyze the faults of these books. If none of the prior reasons convinced you to pick up a book and start reading, remember that reading is overall inherently fun. When picking up a book, you never really know what to expect. The stories you read or the facts and opinions portrayed could be just full of surprises. Reading could change your life.

You are What You Read

What you choose to read stem from your interests and beliefs. If you read books and articles about politics and more specifically libertarianism, you are interested in politics and are probably a libertarian. While this claim is a given and is true most of the time, your interests and beliefs also stem from the books you read as long as you go into the book with an open mind. Reading with an open mind will help shape your political ideology and who you are. It will increase your understanding of different positions and mold you into a person who you would want to be.

When reading books about politics or political theory, it is just as important to read opposing views as it is to read the views you agree with or the ones you are most comfortable with. The books we read shape our persona and develop our livelihood and our way of thinking. Think about everything you can learn from reading. Think about the different viewpoints and understanding and knowledge you will obtain from reading your opposition. You will undoubtedly learn a lot and be incomparably more educated than the person who only reads Rothbard or the person who only reads Marx.

Read Differing Opinions

If you only read Marx or Baudrillard, you are still ignorant. If you only read Rothbard or Hoppe, you are still ignorant. This goes for anybody who reads only one side of things. These people will have no understanding of their political counterparts. They will sound stupid, ignorant, and hateful, inevitably leading to an abrupt halt to any political discussion. Civil discourse will be virtually nonexistent.

This is why it is so important to read your opposition. If we want to continue progressing as a society, we must be able to develop an understanding of different views and opinions. People must be prepared to understand and listen to different opinions if we want to maintain any civil discourse. Allowing for civil discourse makes way for a more transparent and more efficient exchange of information and ideas. Civil discourse will undoubtedly lead to a quicker progression in society.

Reading differing opinions is better than reading books with opinions in which you agree with. It will challenge your way of thinking while giving you more of an understanding of different opinions, making you more compassionate and sympathetic to people who think differently from you. Your critical thinking skills and levels of analysis will certainly improve by challenging your opinions and allow you to form your way of thinking in a more articulate manner.

Read Rothbard, read Marx, read Zizek, read Nozick, read Chomsky, read Orwell, and read Konkin. Read from all the brilliant minds who were able to develop and create discussion in politics. Especially read from the people who you disagree with or are maybe disgusted with. It is essential to do this in order to be able to formulate and strengthen your position. Keep on reading for the knowledge and wisdom that you will inevitably gain.


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