Is Anarcho-Libertarianism anti-American?
With the recent passing of Veterans Day, I was reminded of past conversations where it was asserted that support of Anarcho-Libertarianism (AL) was unpatriotic and anti-American; and, especially ungrateful and disrespectful to all those who sacrificed their lives or otherwise suffered for the preservation of American freedom.
Initially, this perspective seems to hold some truth, especially if one equates government to its constituents where government (those employed by or otherwise operating through it) and its citizens are all equal in the “eyes of the law”, being all on the same team so to speak.
However, if we remember that in fact government and its agents are not subject to the same standards, rules and laws as the constituents, then it becomes clear that their interests can and do diverge, often to the point of contradiction! As such, two classes of persons result. Those who directly or indirectly subsist through the force of government and those who directly or indirectly subsist through the mutual consent of market exchange. An injustice by definition.
Mind you, this is not to suggest that all persons working for or through the government are bandits, thieves, etc.; only that the structure of government provides the deepest cover for such personalities and behavior and allows these systemic deficiencies to accumulate without efficient and timely correction, but that is another story so back to our veterans.
This danger of divisiveness inherent to the existence of government was probably best memorialized by an assertion where Benjamin Franklin who upon leaving the Constitutional Convention supposedly responded to a question as to the type of government the delegates had just created. His response: “A republic, if you can keep it.” We may never know exactly why he alluded to potential instability, but by logic and human nature, the fact remains that it was so then and is even more so now.
Similarly, we need not look further than the Declaration of the thirteen united States of America where it is expressly provided:
“…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…” [emphasis added].
At its core, AL recognizes and respects what it actually means to be American, what it means to be really free and personally accountable, what it means to maintain and improve upon these ideals; all of which, promises a better future for humanity. AL is a socioeconomic political structure which is decentralized, organic, scale-able and more efficient in self-correction than any form of governance currently in practice. And, you don’t need a Constitution to enforce the Non-Aggression Principle.
Although very special from a historical and patriotic perspective, what is most special about American culture is not the typical American symbols: Old Glory, the American Bald Eagle, Lady Liberty, the shape of our boundaries, the military might of the U.S. Armed Forces, etc. Yes, these are important and interesting icons and symbols to be sure. But like a map to the terrain, these symbols cannot replace or fully reflect the ideal and importance of a nearly unparalleled early culture of freedom; a sense that anything was possible by anyone – the wellspring of entrepreneurialism. Within generations and over lifetimes, relative to the past, many dreams were indeed fulfilled so much that America became known for that sense of real possibility; hence, how the Great American Experiment realized the American Dream.
Almost laughably, government has co-opted this spirit of all things possible as its sole domain, as the provider of the American Dream – think of its marketing of the Armed Forces and related agencies as global protectors and inventors, NASA’s space race, the justification of the postal service or the political promise of more jobs, higher wages, better education, less war, etc. – in sum, providing a better life. In reality, just the opposite has occurred, and not just over the last few years, but well over the last half century. The list of promises is nearly endless as it is incredulous; and, the trend continues. The good news is: it is not a Republican or Democratic party problem; nor a people problem – it is just a structural problem which unlike human nature is fixable.
Today, that early essence of America – a culture of expanding freedom – has been wholly suffocated by an ever-growing obsession to plan, manage and control literally everyone and everything – seemingly everywhere – a fool’s errand if there ever was one. For generations, we’ve let government and a cadre of special interests grow and increasingly parasitize value created through consensual exchange. Talk about redistribution of wealth.
Although I can never fully empathize with battlefield veterans (not having first hand experience with war), I strongly suspect that the continual expansion of governmental repression of freedom was not what they had in mind when risking their lives. I also would gamble that if more persons were fully apprised of AL, then there would be a better understanding that the earlier ideal of freedom in American culture – that wellspring of entrepreneurialism which can solve any problem – would be best served and protected by AL thus creating the best environment for maximal and sustainable justice, peace and prosperity.
I’d say that’s über-American. Got AL?
Note: The views expressed are solely the opinion of the author.
Conceptual source: Murray N. Rothbard and Hans-Hermann Hoppe.
Media source: Wikipedia – American Battle Monuments Commission.