Saturday, September 2, 2017

Socialism and Militarism Go Hand in Hand

A (hopefully) young Facebook poster just made the claim that America (a) has a free market economy and (b) the free market economy has made America militaristic. Both claims are false. American militarism in the laissez-faire period was limited to westward expansion—manifest destiny—and some creation of overseas outposts to protect trade. Hence, Adams recreated the Navy and Marines to fight the French (and Jefferson used them to stop the Barbary Pirates, who impeded American shipping), and Jefferson established an embargo to curtail British attacks on US ships, and specifically British impressment of US sailors. The Mexican War was also fought for westward expansion. It wasn’t until the age of Progressivism, which arguably began in 1890, that the US became overtly imperialistic. McKinley’s invasion of the Philippines and the Spanish-American War coincided with the beginnings of the Progressive era (as did government-mandated racial or Jim Crow laws).
In the Progressive era America adopted a combination of capitalism and socialism sometimes called "the third way"--neither laissez faire capitalism nor socialism. It was invented in 19th century Germany by the German historical school of economics (led by Knies, Wagner, Schmoller, and Sombart) and then advocated here by academics and wealthy Americans who had studied in Germany, notably Richard T. Ely. It subsequently was popularized by Herbert Croly in his book The Promise of American Life. Progressivism advocated (1) strengthening of the state, (2) government intervention in society, and (3) imperialism.
In its practical applications under Roosevelt and Wilson, it included strengthening of government police powers and the creation of the FBI (in 1908, under Roosevelt). During the Progressive era the failed overt Imperialism of McKinley was carried forward as the (Theodore) Roosevelt corollary to the Monroe doctrine and evolved into dollar diplomacy and soft imperialism. Woodrow Wilson started more wars than any other president, mostly in Latin America.
Progressivism involved a socialistic economic policy that imposed government intervention, which I loosely call socialism, on laissez faire. This was coupled with enhanced federal police power, the Red Scare and deportation of dissidents (under Wilson), and the creation of the FBI (under Theodore Roosevelt) and later the CIA (under Franklin Roosevelt and Truman).
These are not contested pieces of information except by people who don't learn history. What is contested is whether the socialistic interventions associated with police power and militarism were in the interest of capitalistic enterprise or were in the interest of the public. New Left and libertarian historians such as Gabriel Kolko, Allan Appleman Williams, and Murray Rothbard have shown that the socialistic interventions favored big business owners, notably Rockefeller, Morgan, Kuhn Loeb, and other Wall Street interests.
The historian Martin J. Sklar, in his book The Corporate Reconstruction of American Capitalism, 1890-1916, argues that Roosevelt was socialistic, specifically in his (failed) intentions for the Federal Trade Commission and that his conflict with William Howard Taft was over how to enforce the Sherman Anti-trust Act. Taft favored a less interventionist litigation approach to anti-trust enforcement while Roosevelt, advocate of carrying a big stick, favored direct socialization.
Thus, from the days of Theodore Roosevelt, American socialism has been associated with militarism. Ronald Radosh and Murray Rothbard detail the link between socialization of the economy and war in  their book A New History of Leviathan.
The (hopefully) young Facebook poster’s claim that militarism is due to laissez faire capitalism thus lacks both historical and logical foundation. Historically, the growth of state police and military power was advocated by and occurred under the Progressives, opponents of laissez faire. As well, laissez faire capitalism favors limitations on state power, including police and military power. The natural rights doctrine was the foundation of the laissez faire political system, and no socialist country has ever recognized rights to freedom from the state to the degree that laissez faire capitalist countries have. Because laissez faire capitalism advocates limitations on the state, it is illogical to claim that the expansion of the state that militarism and police power require is related to laissez faire capitlism. Only socialists can favor expansive police powers precisely because police powers are associated with state power. Historically, the most extreme applications of state and military power have been in socialist states: National Socialist Germany, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Republic of Cuba, and so on.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Wes Benedict Responds Concerning Racism in the Libertarian Party

I was pleased to receive an email from Wes Benedict, executive director of the Libertarian Party, indicating that the LP has become concerned about infiltration by racists and has issued a formal statement.  I have copied his email, which includes a link to the statement, and part of the statement:

From: Wes Benedict
Sent: Monday, August 21, 2017 7:08 PM
To: Mitchell Langbert
Subject: Re: Anti-Semitism, Racism, and the LP

Hi Mr. Langbert,
Did you see the piece I put out last week?
I think that makes it clear we're aware of some racists and anti-Semitism in and close to the Libertarian Party and we are driving them out.
Thanks for your support.
Wes Benedict, Executive Director

The statement starts as follows:

The Libertarian Party condemns bigotry as irrational and repugnant, and offers its condolences to the family of the woman killed in Charlottesville, Va.
There is no room for racists and bigots in the Libertarian Party. If there are white nationalists who — inappropriately — are members of the Libertarian Party, I ask them to submit their resignations today. We don’t want them to associate with the Libertarian Party, and we don’t want their money. I’m not expecting many resignations, because our membership already knows this well.
The Libertarian Party Platform states, “We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant. Government should neither deny nor abridge any individual’s human right based upon sex, wealth, ethnicity, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference, or sexual orientation.”

The Libertarian Party is tolerant and accepting, supporting civil liberties, gay marriage, and freedom of religion for all, including Jews, Muslims, Christians, and atheists. The Libertarian Party supports open borders, civil liberties, racial diversity, and free trade — things that white nationalists abhor.
I think many people in America are worried about jobs and security, and feel compelled to do something about it. Years of inflammatory messaging from Republican and Democratic leadership have poisoned the well of civil discourse, and unfortunately, much of what the extremists on both the left and right are asking for will make matters worse.

Republican leaders have demonized immigrants and free trade, and have scared people into thinking that free trade and immigration will cost current citizens their jobs and their standard of living. Yet countries with free trade and immigration have the highest standards of living in the world, and those without freedom of movement and exchange have the lowest. If politicians are truly interested in improving American prosperity, they need to brush up on their understanding of “gains from trade” and “comparative advantage,” then stop goading their supporters into supporting counterproductive policies. Protectionist policies are irrational and cowardly, and will make America weaker.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The LP Must Come Clean

 PO Box 130
West Shokan, NY 12494
August 19, 2017

Wes Benedict
Executive Director
Libertarian Party
1444 Duke Street
Alexandria Virginia 22314-3403

Sent via US Mail and Email

Dear Mr. Benedict:

I joined the Libertarian Party in 1977, and I was active in the New York chapter, at that time called the Free Libertarian Party, for several years.  I stopped being active, but I have contributed to the LP and the campaigns of Gary Johnson.  Part of the reason I stopped being active in the 1980s was an apparent anti-Israel tendency in the LP.  As well, I have repeatedly detected anti-Semitism not only in association with the LP but also, and more emphatically, with the Ron Paul movement.  Because of recent events in Charlottesville, this issue has come to a head.  

If I am to be supportive of the LP in the future, I need to have a clear accounting of the degree to which racists and anti-Semites have infiltrated  it.  I also need to have a clear picture of what you and the LP are doing to rid it of the infiltration.  If you wish to reply that it doesn’t exist or that you will do nothing, my support for the LP will end, and I hereby request that you remove me from your mailing list. What I need to know for my support to continue is what the LP is doing to establish a litmus test that excludes anti-Semites and racists.  If the answer is nothing, then please remove me from your mailing list.


Mitchell Langbert

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What the Democrats Have Become

The Democratic Party reduces human nature to demographic categories: race, gender, creed, and class. To the Democratic Party, these categories define and delimit human experience. The Democrats eliminate ambition, persistence, achievement, genius, moral choice, hard work, and vision. In so doing, they attack human essence.  The Democrats are redefining totalitarian ideology into one of dehumanization through categorization.