James Leroy Wilson's blog

Friday, April 29, 2005

Radicals Against the State, or Radicals for Liberty

Wally Conger, citing Murray Rothbard, distinguishes between radicals who hate the State from conservative libertarians who are generally at peace with the established order.

What they say is true, and in many ways I consider myself a radical of that ilk, but I'm thinking that hatreds, by themselves, are not creative forces for the cultural transformation required before liberty is restored. Think of the moderate and neo-llibertarians who support Bush. They accept the Police State and the Warfare State - they may even praise the Warfare State. Why? Because they hate Democrats and anything they think resembles socialism, more than they love liberty. Believing themselves to love liberty, they end up working against it because their hatreds get the best of them.

Destroying the State , or even just shrinking or limiting it, will not bring about liberty. It may just mean moving from communism to kleptocracy. The oft-repeated scenarios of tyranny rising out of anarchy may become true, unless destroying the State is only the means of restoring liberty, and not the end in itself. The only real limits on the State, and any form of coercion and domination, are ethical and cultural. Only a society that values peace, privacy, and economic liberty will get them, regardless of the structure of government (or lack thereof).

Of course, the greater love of liberty is the implicit assumption behind what Conger and Rothbard wrote. And if the question is hypothetical - if I could, would I abolish the State tomorrow even if the people do not prize liberty? Like Conger and Rothbard, I would say yes. But in the real world, destroying the State root and branch will only come by with the general consent of the people, and that requires not a focus on destroying the State but by instilling a greater love of liberty. Which takes time.

I would rather be thought of as a radical for liberty, as opposed to a radical against the state. I think it better defines the true purpose and end.

out of step: Reclaiming our radicalism

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