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Saturday, March 29, 2014

A "bad" libertarian explains why you should read Justin Raimondo

Like many of my other favorite libertarians, Justin Raimondo understands there is a close connection between being against war and being in favor of civil liberties. "Leave me alone" cannot be separated from "leave everyone else alone, too."

This is not to say that Mr. Raimondo cannot be a little annoying, even to other libertarians. In his guise as "Pope Justin," he sometimes dispenses advice on who is and who isn't a good libertarian, guidance that isn't always welcomed by the heretics. (As Art Carden has joked, "Every movement contains two kinds of people: those who have betrayed it, and me.") Personally, I prefer the ecumenical Bryan Caplan approach. Perhaps that's because I'm a "bad" libertarian, pretty good on civil liberties and peace but a little weak on some of the other stuff. I'm fine with public libraries, for example. (Quick! Find a stake and gather some dry wood!)

Anyway, Justin Raimondo has done wonderful, yeoman work at, a site that I've given money to and tried to promote any way that I can. His editorials, which one highlight of a very useful and newsy site, argue relentlessly for the need to fight for civil liberties and against war, forming alliances with any willing partner. You can learn a lot by simply following his links.

He's just written a particularly good piece, "Libertarianism in One Country." Here are two highlights from it, aimed at a particular group, American libertarians, although he also is addressing any other American willing to listen:

When we started this web site we did so not only as peace activists but also as explicitly libertarian activists, and we did it in part because we wanted to educate libertarians as well as the general public in a field where confusion reigned. This confusion has always been particularly acute among libertarians because people the world over yearn for liberty – and the US government poses as their champion. And while history is indeed full of little ironies, this is a huge one – because it is Washington, and no other actor on the world stage, that poses the main danger to the peace and freedom of the world.

Inside the imperial metropolis, of course, we are afforded the protections of the Constitution – at least on the surface – as well as enjoying the fruits of an economic system that has produced unprecedented wealth. The irony factor comes into play when we note that our foreign policy of unrelenting aggression has produced only misery and endless bloodshed for the world’s peoples. This is the great American paradox, made all the more acute when we further realize that this policy has undermined our liberty and prosperity at home – perhaps fatally. The bigger and more bloated our empire gets, the less free and poorer we become.


We must never forget that the political character of a state, whether it is democratic, theocratic, fascist, or communist, says nothing about the foreign policy it will pursue. A democracy can be and often is relentlessly aggressive, while a fascist dictatorship could just as readily be pacific and isolationist. Indeed, a democratic nation with a Messiah complex is far more dangerous to the world and to its own people than a relatively authoritarian state that just wants to reign over its little corner of the globe. A danger to the world because the special arrogance that infuses would-be messiahs allows them to commit the greatest crimes for the noblest of reasons. A danger to their own people because the very act of aggression and empire-building destroys the liberal character of democratic states, eating away their substance from within.

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