Category Archives: libertarianism

UPDATED: Called On The Carpet By The Cops (Backs To De Blasio)

Government, Law, libertarianism, Multiculturalism, Paleolibertarianism, The State

Once again, members of the grieving New York Police force, who turned out to mourn the two cops murdered, turned their collective backs on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. (See why.)

Understandable. And commendable. De Blasio is a crappy human being.

Libertarians fall into grave error when they condemn all policemen as an arm of the state. Structurally, this is indeed so. However, on the individual level, there are very many men who love their work, want nothing more than to serve their communities, and know nothing of the libertarian political philosophy. They simply want to fight the bad guys.

In as much as libertarians must be able to apply a cool head to police brutality and denounce it; they have to be able to comprehend the reverse.

Community policing is well-nigh impossible in a multicultural, fragmented, deeply divided empire, where a cop has little affinity with a community that is no longer his community, but an alien hodgepodge of humanity of DC’s design.

UPDATE (12/28): Backs To De Blasio. Awesome. A well-choreographed shaming of a shameful human being, as tens of thousands of “blue-uniformed police officers, state troopers, corrections officers and firefighters from across the country” turn their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio, in Queens, for maligning them collectively.

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Backfires: Blah, Blah, Blah De Blasio & His Racism Bugaboo

Barack Obama, Crime, Justice, Law, libertarianism, Race, Racism

From the point of view of the state-hating libertarian, it is better than marvelous to see politicians and their hangers-on having a really hard time of it. And Bill de blah, blah, blah de Blasio is squirming.

When they attacked and killed policemen, the “monkey see monkey do” protesters and cop-killers got their cues directly from leaders like de Blasio. For it is one thing to examine police action, case-by-case to determine wrongdoing; quite another to accuse law enforcement of harboring (and acting upon) endemic racism, as De Blasio, Al Sharpton and Barack Obama have been habitually doing.

Police brutality? Yes! Militarization of the police force? You bet! “A Government of Wolves”? Yes again! “The Rise of the Warrior Cop”? No doubt! But racism? Nonsense on stilts!

(From “Rand Paul Opportunistic—And Wrong—On Race.”)

“Among other grievances,” admitted the New York Times, “the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the city’s largest police union, has in recent weeks criticized the mayor for invoking his biracial son, Dante, after the Garner decision. At the time, the mayor described his experience instructing Dante to ‘take special care’ during any police encounters. Some union leaders suggested that Mr. de Blasio was conveying that police officers were to be feared.”

The sinner and his sin eater, Obama and AG Eric Holder, are as complicit in inciting violence against their own police force, by implicating it, en masse, in the racism bugaboo. Ditto Sharpton, the civil rights industry and the protestor rabble.

Meanwhile, another police officer, Charles Kondek, 45, was shot and killed in Florida. The culprit is suspected to be one Marco Antonio Parilla Jr., 23.

You already know who the accessories to the commission of the crime are.

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Garner: Innocent Actor In Sovereign’s Snuff Film

Founding Fathers, Free Markets, Law, libertarianism, Morality, Natural Law

“Garner: Innocent Actor In Sovereign’s Snuff Film” is the current column, now on WND. An excerpt:

Despite its elegant simplicity, the libertarian law is difficult to grasp. This I realized pursuant to the publication of “Eric Garner: 100% Innocent under Libertarian Law.” Some of the smartest, polymathic readers a writer could hope for were easily bullied into believing that by failing, first, to submit to the sovereign and question Him later—Eric Garner had undermined some sacred social compact.

A small-time peddler is killed-by-cop for selling single smokes on a New York street corner. Yet so befuddled were readers over the application of libertarian natural law to the Garner case, that they insisted against all evidence that Garner’s was an understandable death by “civil disobedience.”

“I certainly would applaud those who resist truly immoral laws (like ordering someone to commit torture),” equivocated one writer, “but I am leery to suggest massive civil disobedience of petty regulations which may, in fact, just give rise to more oppressive government to ‘restore law and order.’”

Yes, the poor sod who dared to purchase and dispose of a couple of loose smokes had committed “massive civil disobedience.” Fearing the Sovereign’s vengeance, some of his fellow citizens felt obliged to calibrate just how daringly Garner should have deviated. Did he raise his voice excessively? Did he wave his arms too energetically? All utilitarian, not principled, considerations.

Other readers beat on breast. Hopelessly “torn” were they between my verdict—Garner was an innocent actor in the sovereign’s snuff film—and the proposition that Garner had an obligation to prostate himself before the law to his overlord’s exacting specifications. By failing to do so, Garner had somehow invited his fate.

“Torn” is a word that better comports with images of Gloria Swanson or Marlene Dietrich mid-swoon. What in bloody blue blazes is there to be “torn” over? The right of a man to stand on the curb with a few “loosies” in-hand, and stay alive?

In claiming that Garner was innocent in natural law, I was—or so I was informed—guilty of implying that he had no moral obligation to obey state-enacted positive law. Woe is me—and woe betides that rascal who counseled that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” …

… The complete column is “Garner: Innocent Actor In Sovereign’s Snuff Film,” now on WND.

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Republicans, As Always, Reject George Washington’s Vision For A Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy, Free Markets, libertarianism, Republicans

Conservatives are huffing and puffing because the US has inched slightly closer in its official relationship with Cuba to George Washington’s vision of a foreign policy for the future—one which Ron Paul has always articulated. In his Farewell Address, George Washington counseled that “amicable feelings toward all should be cultivated” through trade and without special favor.

… The nation which indulges toward another an habitual hatred or an habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. … Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand, neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences;

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The Civil Disobedience Ruse

Founding Fathers, Law, libertarianism, Morality, Natural Law, Regulation, Taxation

Despite polite efforts to resist, I was pulled, last week, into a most unpleasant, unscholarly, uncivilized, almost Kafkaesque exchange, in the wake of the publication of “Eric Garner: 100% Innocent under Libertarian Law.” Polite disagreement is second nature when one has been writing controversially and stridently for close on 20 years. However, one is also obliged to swat down any attempts on the part of an interlocutor to score points by sleight-of-hand—by obfuscation. Suffice it to say that ego-bound writing is a bad thing. When the mere prospect of being perceived as wrong is so devastating to a writer; when he becomes maniacal when challenged, digs in and digs up any and all justification for his position, however tangential—that writing ceases to edify.

Another shock to the system was realizing just how difficult the libertarian law is for most mortals to grasp. They say we libertarians make up only 10 percent of the politically conscious public. No wonder. Some of my smartest readers were bullied into believing that to not submit to the sovereign is to undermine some sacred trust or covenant.

So confused were these readers over “Eric Garner: 100% Innocent under Libertarian Law,” that they took off after the pied piper, muttering mad incantations about the understandable death by “civil disobedience” of Mr. Garner.

“Among other things,” wrote one such reader, “there are no real libertarian states and ‘common property’ exists. Thus, while I might have the right to urinate on my driveway, I do not have the right to urinate on (government-owned) Broadway and the cops can arrest me, etc.”

The issue with taxes is also problematic – one who ignores taxes is engaging in civil disobedience and suffers the consequences (this does not make the taxes good but it is not surprising for governments to enforce their own rules). I certainly would applaud those who resist truly immoral laws (like ordering someone to commit torture) but I am leery to suggest massive civil disobedience of petty regulations which may, in fact, just give rise to more oppressive government to “restore law and order”.

Eric Garner did not urinate on public property. Neither did he expose himself to kids. He waved his hands and walked away. Woe is me! As to the comment about “taxation”: yet another WTF moment. Possessing a few loose cigarettes is not a tax offense. Besides, since when do my readers stand up for the “civilizing” influence of the tax collector; a thief by any other name?

Indeed, a few of my readers took off after the rat catcher, wagging fingers at the poor sod who dared to own and dispose of some loose smokes—-committing “massive civil disobedience”—and lived to tell the tale. Scrap that. Civilization is safe. Garner did not live to tell the tale.

Some good news. The natural law has prevailed among the people:

Americans by nearly 3-1 say the white police officer responsible for the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man being arrested for selling cigarettes, should have faced charges from a Staten Island grand jury, a nationwide USA TODAY/Pew Research Center poll finds.

Who was it who counseled that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants”?

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UPDATE II: The Exquisite, Consistent Minimalism of Libertarian Law (Just WTF??)

Justice, Law, libertarianism, Natural Law, Paleolibertarianism

“Eric Garner 100% Innocent Under Libertarian Law” does not meet with the approval of Jack Kerwick. He writes:

Coming soon: My article on NATURAL LAW and POSITIVE LAW and the relationship between the two. This article was inspired by Ilana Mercer’s contention that since Eric Garner was “innocent” as far as the natural law is concerned, he had no obligation whatsoever to “obey” the unjust positive law under which he was arrested. I will show that even accepting Ilana’s premise, the conclusion does NOT follow. From Cicero and Socrates to Augustine and Aquinas to William Blackstone, Thomas Hobbes, and John Locke, no natural lawyer, as far as I have been able to determine, has ever contended that the injustice of a SINGLE law is sufficient grounds for disobeying it. And when disobedience is called for, respect for the larger system of law of which the unjust law in question is a part demands a WILLINGNESS to be arrested. Breaking the law openly, in public, and then submitting to arrest affirms the law while drawing attention to the injustice in question. Such an act distinguishes the civil disobedient from criminals (think MLK and the “civil rights” protests of the 50’s and 60’s). Garner was a criminal.

Ilana Mercer replies:

Before publishing said article, Jack, you want to correct what appears to be a misrepresentation of my words. Where in the article do I venture that “Garner had no obligation whatsoever to ‘obey’ the unjust positive law under which he was arrested.” Nowhere! This is not the purview of libertarian law (which deals only in the axiom of non-aggression), thus I would not have dignified it. Before publishing a column, make sure it is based on my exact words, and not an inference therefrom. I do not have to reread what I wrote to know I would not have addressed compliance at all, for it is not within the ambit of libertarian law.

Jack Kerwick:

Ilana Mercer: I’m not sure, then, what the point was in claiming that Garner was “100% innocent under libertarian [natural] law.” Maybe he was and maybe he wasn’t. But even if he was, so what? I presumed (how could I not?) that your point was that Garner was not acting immorally–i.e. unlawfully–in illegally selling cigarettes. Thus, he never should have been stopped, much less arrested, for doing so. Now, if you think that he DID have an obligation to obey the law, even if it was unjust, then you think that HE DID ACT IMMORALLY (UNLAWFULLY) in not obeying it. I drew a legitimate inference from your claims: if he was acting both illegally and unlawfully (immorally) in selling “loosies,” then the police acted morally and justly in stopping him. I don’t mean to misrepresent anyone: I just don’t know what other conclusions can be drawn from your argument.

Ilana Mercer:

Jack Kerwick, you wrote: “Now, if you think that he DID have an obligation to obey the law, even if it was unjust, then you think that HE DID ACT IMMORALLY (UNLAWFULLY) in not obeying it. I drew a legitimate inference from your claims.”
I did not anywhere assert that Garner had an obligation to obey (or disobey) the law, and that by not so doing he had acted immorally (or morally). Thus, there is no reason whatsoever for you to impute to me, 1. a thing I had not said. 2. to draw an inference from something I had not said. Any line of reasoning built on this edifice is simply wrong and should not be pursued as a line of reasoning. I can understand that you are unclear as to what I meant by “100% innocent in libertarian law.” That sentence could be seen to constitute a bit of insider talk. That I can certainly address, my friend.

Twice does Jack pair “immoral,” in the above paragraph, with “unlawful.” But that’s the entire point of “Eric Garner 100% Innocent Under Libertarian Law.” First, what is immoral is not necessary illegal and vice versa. It is, arguably, immoral to legislate preferences in employment for certain workers because of the concentration of melanin in their skin. Yet it is perfectly legal in some precincts around the country. Conversely, it is utterly moral to sell an item that belongs to you, as Garner did. However, it was illegal for Garner to sell said items, despite the fact that he was in his moral right to trade.

We all have ideas about what is moral and immoral. Oddly enough to some, libertarianism has nothing whatsoever to say about morality per se. When we say this or the other thing is wrong in libertarian law, we mean the following and the following only:

Unprovoked, A initiated aggression against B or his “legitimately owned” property.

That’s it! Libertarianism is, then, concerned with the ethics of the use of force.

The foundation of libertarianism is the non-aggression axiom. Walter Block explains:

The non-aggression axiom is the lynchpin of the philosophy of libertarianism. It states, simply, that it shall be legal for anyone to do anything he wants, provided only that he not initiate (or threaten) violence against the person or legitimately owned property of another. That is, in the free society, one has the right to manufacture, buy or sell any good or service at any mutually agreeable terms. Thus, there would be no victimless crime prohibitions, price controls, government regulation of the economy, etc.

… the non-aggression axiom is a very powerful tool in the war of ideas. For most individuals believe, and fervently so, that it is wrong to invade other people or their property. Who, after all, favors theft, murder or rape? With this as an entering wedge, libertarians are free to apply this axiom to all of human action, including, radically, to unions, taxes, and even government itself.

Which is exactly the analysis applied in “Eric Garner 100% Innocent Under Libertarian Law.”

Of course, there are many very difficult issues over which natural-rights libertarians—as opposed to Benthamite, utilitarian libertarians—will argue. Abortion, for example.

Based on the non-aggression law, some libertarians hold that abortion at whatever stage is OK, because a woman owns herself and may evict anything from her body. To punish her because of what she does to her own body, they claim, would be wrong—even if we think abortion immoral. Other natural-rights libertarians disagree with this position. They say that abortion is aggression against a living, non-aggressive being. The debate, however, while wading heavily into issues of morality, always comes back to what should be legal or illegal in libertarian law. In other words, based on the non-aggression law, should we or should we not proceed with force—for that is what the law is—against a woman for what she does to her body.

This and this alone is the ambit of libertarian law.

The same dynamic debates are conducted by libertarians with respect to immigration law.

Law is force. Like most 19th Century classical liberals, libertarians believe that force is justified under very few circumstances. Each time our overlords in DC legislate (unconstitutionally, by the way), they give their foot-soldiers permission to initiate force against a sovereign, innocent citizen. Every new law and regulation grants permission to law enforcement to proceed with unjust, unprovoked force against an innocent, sovereign individual and/or his lawful property—a citizen whose actions did not harm anyone. (And competition is not aggression. “Eric Garner was not violating anyone’s rights or harming anyone by standing on a street corner and peddling his wares – that is unless the malevolent competition that sicced the cops on him has a property right in their prior profits. They don’t.” A shopkeeper has the right to pursue profits. He has no right to the profits he had before the competition arrived on the scene. Not in a free-market.)

This is what was addressed in “Eric Garner 100% Innocent Under Libertarian Law.”

Now, the fact that libertarian law is so minimalist—skeletal, if you will—does not obviate against its complexity and subtlety. The debates we have—and are having now—are complex and hence often hard to grasp. In essence, libertarians debate the laws about the the law; the legality of law. That’s a meta-debate.

Ultimately, libertarianism’s elegant minimalism about what is legal and what’s illegal is perfectly compatible with the idea of individual sovereignty and limited, legitimate authority.

UPDATE I (12/15): Everybody is “torn” on Facebook thread. Some are starting to sound like Gloria Swanson mid-swoon (or was it Marlene Dietrich?). “I am torn, my dear, so torn. Fetch my smelling salts.” WTF is there to be “torn” about? The right of a person to stand on a street corner with a few loosies in-hand and not be killed??????????? There was no “civil disobedience.” WTF is wrong with y’all?

UPDATE II (12/17):

Hastings Ragnarsson deserves credit for his clarity, having admonished against the penchant for “dragging morality into a discussion of legality.”

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