Politics or Principle

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare

 

 
 

"Politics
or Principle" was the theme of Congressman Ron Paul's farewell
speech
in 1984 and of his two presidential campaigns. Advocating
the principle of Liberty is the theme of those in the libertarian
school of thought, including the American Revolutionaries and Founders,
who advocated individual freedom, private property rights, and freedom
of association and voluntary contract. Throughout history, the State
has been Liberty's most egregious violator.

As sociologist
and economist Franz Oppenheimer noted in his book, The
State
, there are two
forms
of sustenance: first, through one's honest productive
activity and voluntary exchange with others, or the economic
means; and second, through theft and violence, the force and coercion
of the State, or the political means. For that is what politics
is: the aggression of the State, which is why the State's actions
can never be principled.

The Founders'
Declaration
of Independence
is probably one of the most succinct documents
declaring that the rights to life, liberty and property are inherent
among all individuals. The Constitution, however, assigned to a
federal government one monopolistic power after another, and gave
to centralized bureaucrats in Washington the power of compulsion
over their fellow Americans. Such a restrictive monopoly and that
power of compulsion contradicted
the very rights recognized by the Declaration of Independence. The
Declaration declares the principles of Liberty, but the Constitution
is the politics and power of the aggressive, parasitic State.

One thing I
don't understand is how the Tea Party movement, which supposedly
supports limited government and moral values, nevertheless supports
the U.S. government's Leviathan bureaucratic military
socialism
, its foreign interventionism, and wars with indiscriminate
murder of innocent human beings and destruction of whole societies
abroad. Unfortunately, the Tea Party movement includes those military
interventionist conservatives
who partake in the mysticism of the State as a god,
and cannot see that State interventionism into foreign lands is
just as immoral as domestic State interventionism.

But any form
of theft, trespass and murder, is immoral, period.

The Constitutionally
mandated dependence of Americans on the socialist planning of centralized
federal bureaucracy with a monopoly of territorial protection has
turned the principle of self-defense into a parasitic political
phenomenon. Such a monopoly has enabled politicians and bureaucrats
to further a career in bureaucracy and power at the expense of Liberty,
and has caused deterioration in quality of territorial protection.

But there is
something about human nature that causes so many people to abandon
principle when given a position of State power. The State is the
only institution with the power to be above the Rule of Law. Agents
of the State may commit theft and robbery through taxation, and
may trespass and there is nothing any individual can do about it.
It's not what the Founding Fathers had in mind for America.

Two examples
of how people who may have had potential in advancing Liberty and
helping their fellow Americans through voluntary means, but instead
have chosen the path of politics and the coercive apparatus of the
State, are former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Alaska
Gov. Sarah Palin.

During the
earlier
part
of his pre-political career as a capital investment executive,
Romney was extremely frugal with funds and careful not to take big
risks "with other people's money," to such an extent that
his firm Bain Capital hardly made any investments. He would seem
to be the ideal candidate for many Americans, particularly conservatives,
to help solve the nation's financial crises. But not unlike most
politicians, former business executives and otherwise, Romney
seemed to change as shown by his decisions
as governor of Massachusetts.

Perhaps Romney's
worst deed was RomneyCare,
the health care bureaucracy and mandates he installed in his last
year as governor. Given his expertise as an entrepreneur and capital
investor, and his knowledge of how markets work, one would think
that Romney would instinctively know that more government intrusions
are the cause of our medical system's dysfunction and not
the cure.

Or perhaps
he did know. Politicians oftentimes compromise principle for the
sake of political strategy. At the time of his signing RomneyCare
into law, mid-2006, it was widely speculated that then-U.S. Senator
Hillary Clinton would be running for president in 2008, as well
as Romney. Clinton's own 1993 proposals
for nationalized health care would be quite useful to compare to
a Republican's own proposals or policies.

For perhaps
a better explanation of his record of government expansion and apparent
attraction to the power of the State, it needs to be noted that
Mitt Romney grew up in a very political family. His mother
Lenore Romney had been a candidate for public office, and his father
George
Romney
was a lobbyist in Washington for the aluminum industry
and the automobile industry, and, as
governor
of Michigan for 8 years, George was credited (or blamed)
for his instituting the state's first state income tax, and greatly
expanding state government. George Romney bitterly opposed Barry
Goldwater for the Republican nomination for president in 1964. Mitt
Romney seemed to follow in his father's footsteps in advocating
more government interventions
and intrusions, not fewer, into private economic affairs.

During his
last 365 days as governor until January 2007, Romney spent over
200 of those days
traveling outside of Massachusetts, "testing
the waters" for a 2008 presidential bid. During that last year
of Romney's gubernatorial tenure, many of the duties of governor
were taken up by Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, who was running her own
failed campaign for governor. You would think that Romney would
resign as governor to run his presidential campaign, but this is
politics, after all. The political "public sector"
inherently discourages its employees from maintaining a consistent
job attendance.

And what does
it say about someone such as Romney who spends
$40 million of his own wealth on a presidential campaign, only to
lose to the competition? It is doubtful that he or anyone would
spend so much money to be hired as a CEO of even the most prestigious
private firm. But that just shows the extent to which some people
will go to achieve political power.

Sarah Palin
is one of the leaders of the Tea Party movement, but her endorsements
in 2010 have not all been for Tea Party conservatives. Palin, who
supposedly advocates small, less intrusive government, low taxes
and low government spending, and traditional moral values, endorsed
for reelection Big Government Republican Senator John McCain, over
his opponent, conservative J.D. Hayworth, probably more out of personal
loyalty than of loyalty to those conservative principles. Granted,
McCain gave Palin a huge advance in her career by choosing her as
his 2008 presidential campaign running mate. But McCain
is actually one of those inside-the-beltway politicians responsible
for the very problems with the federal government that have been
the stimulus for rebellion by Sarah Palin's own Tea Party movement.

Palin also
endorsed moderate Republican Terry Branstad over 2 conservatives
for governor of Iowa. As conservative pundit Pat Buchanan observed,

The endorsement
of Branstad suggests Palin, a politician of principle, has a pragmatic
streak. She acts not only out of instinct but cold calculation.
How else to explain the Branstad endorsement over a social conservative
than a decision to befriend a future GOP governor in the first
battleground state of 2012?

And Palin is
somewhat similar to Mitt Romney, having grown up in a family with
very
close ties
to the State apparatus.

Palin endorsed
Texas Gov. Rick Perry for reelection over Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison
and the actual Tea Party candidate, Debra
Medina
. Some Texas Tea Partiers were surprised, but understood
that Medina was not well known. But given Sarah Palin's anti-Establishment
agenda in Alaska politics, one would think that Palin would not
endorse a ten-year governor for reelection, and instead would choose
a genuine private citizen and businesswoman such as Medina who was
also challenging Establishment politicians. Medina's single-digit
polling numbers nevertheless rose following the Palin-Perry
endorsement, but Medina's candidacy was derailed by her interview
with Glenn Beck. Some people believe that the interview was a set-up,
and that Beck was in
cahoots
with Gov. Rick Perry.

And that brings
me to the role of journalists, intellectuals and the news media
who, as a group, developed — or
devolved
— from the principled tellers of truth and exposers
of corruption, such as Tom Paine, Lysander Spooner, H.L. Mencken,
Murray Rothbard and Daniel Ellsberg, to the current propagandists
and stenographers for the State.

Salon.com's
Glenn Greenwald has been doing a terrific job covering such a decadence
of the journalism guild and their enthusiasm as State propagandists
here,
here,
here,
and especially here
and here.
And Judge Andrew Napolitano has excelled in his exposing of the
State's deceit and Orwellian newspeak on his FoxNews TV show
Freedom Watch with the
Judge
, and his recent book, Lies
the Government Told You: Myth, Power, and Deception in American
History
.

Both Greenwald
and Napolitano have discussed extensively the principles of civil
liberties and due process, especially in the context of the Bush
Administration's War
on Terrorism
, and have thoroughly covered how the left and right
propagandists disseminate their evangelism promoting the State and
its extended powers.

And Jacob
Hornberger
of the Future
of Freedom Foundation
is another principled and uncompromising
modern day advocate of individual liberty, private property and
civil rights.

The Bush Administration
enacted policies
based on political
considerations that were favorable to expanding State power, rather
than upholding the principles of Liberty and individual rights our
American Founders strongly believed in, and the Obama Administration
has been expanding such unconstitutional powers, all being cheered
on by the left and right mouthpieces for the State. However, now
that the Obama
Administration
is in charge, Sarah Palin and many other conservative
Tea Partiers who have supported the Bush-initiated policies may
eventually
regret
such support.

Unfortunately,
the modern movement to restore Liberty by dismantling the Leviathan
State has been maligned by not only those on both the left and the
right whose parasitic
livelihoods
are dependent on that destructive State, but also
by some libertarians, particularly those "regime
libertarians
," some of whom work with the Cato
Institute
and write for Reason
Magazine
. Some organizations, while having done much to
promote some aspects of Liberty, have tended to advance the libertarian
philosophy more as a "lifestyle" issue rather than the
moral principle of freedom from State intrusions. Too many people
just seem to be attracted to the addictive power of the State, and
tend to join in the popular witch hunts against those who advocate
a society of actual independence under the Rule of Law. As Murray
Rothbard noted,

We have seen
clearly why the State needs the intellectuals; but why do the
intellectuals need the State? Put simply, it is because intellectuals,
whose services are often not very intensively desired by the mass
of consumers, can find a more secure "market" for their
abilities in the arms of the State. The State can provide them
with a power, status, and wealth which they often cannot obtain
in voluntary exchange.

In his 2006
Mises Institute article, Natural
Elites, Intellectuals and the State
, Hans-Hermann Hoppe
notes that the "natural elites" of earlier times achieved
status and success through their own natural abilities and talents,
were characterized by wisdom, bravery and farsightedness, and acted
as "judges and peacemakers" out of a genuine sense of
duty to others, and often without financial compensation. But their
status changed as democracies evolved:

The fortunes
of the great families have dissipated through confiscatory taxes,
during life and at the time of death. These families' tradition
of economic independence, intellectual farsightedness, and moral
and spiritual leadership have been lost and forgotten. Rich men
exist today, but more frequently than not they owe their fortunes
directly or indirectly to the state. Hence, they are often more
dependent on the state's continued favors than many people of
far-lesser wealth. They are typically no longer the heads of long-established
leading families, but "nouveaux riches." Their conduct
is not characterized by virtue, wisdom, dignity, or taste, but
is a reflection of the same proletarian mass-culture of present-orientation,
opportunism, and hedonism that the rich and famous now share with
everyone else.

Because of
the monopolization of law and justice in modern democracies, Hoppe
argues, the role of the "natural elites" was taken over
by the State apparatchiks as the expanding power of the State was
further encouraged by the intellectuals.

On the other
hand, while the natural elites were being destroyed, intellectuals
assumed a more prominent and powerful position in society. Indeed,
to a large extent they have achieved their goal and have become
the ruling class, controlling the state and functioning as monopolistic
judge.

This is not
to say that democratically elected politicians are all intellectuals
(although there are certainly more intellectuals nowadays who
become president than there were intellectuals who became king.)
After all, it requires somewhat different skills and talents to
be an intellectual than it does to have mass-appeal and be a successful
fundraiser. But even the non-intellectuals are the products of
indoctrination by tax-funded schools, universities, and publicly
employed intellectuals, and almost all of their advisors are drawn
from this pool.

Prof. Hoppe
recently wrote about the first
five years
of his Property
and Freedom Society
, which he and others established to promote
Austrian School economics Libertarianism,
and the sound moral principles of justly acquired private property,
freedom of contract and freedom of association:

…The goal
of "limited" — or "constitutional" — government,
which Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, James Buchanan and other
Mont Pelerin Society grandees had tried to promote and that every
"free-market" think-tank today proclaims as its goal,
is an impossible goal, much as it is an impossible goal
to try squaring the circle. You cannot first establish a territorial
monopoly of law and order and then expect that this monopolist
will not make use of this awesome privilege of legislating in
its own favor. Likewise: You cannot establish a territorial monopoly
of paper money production and expect the monopolist not to use
its power of printing up ever more money.

Limiting
the power of the state, once it has been granted a territorial
monopoly of legislation, is impossible, a self-contradictory goal.
To believe that it is possible to limit government power — other
than by subjecting it to competition, i.e., by not allowing monopoly
privileges of any kind to arise in the first place — is to assume
that the nature of Man changes as the result of the establishment
of government (very much like the miraculous transformation of
Man that socialists believe to happen with the onset of socialism)….

… …Thus,
I concluded that the property and freedom society not only had
to exclude all politicians and government agents and propagandists
as objects of ridicule and contempt, as emperors without clothes
and the butt of all jokes rather than objects of admiration and
emulation, but it also had to exclude all economic ignoramuses.

I couldn't
agree more. It is inherent in an institution with the power of compulsion
over others and a territorial monopoly of anything to naturally
usurp the rights of all the inhabitants within that territory. The
Founders' original intent was for the individual states to retain
their independence and sovereignty within the framework of the newly
organized union of the states, the United States of America. But
the skeptical Anti-Federalists knew instinctively that giving any
monopolistic powers to a federal government would spell the end
of freedom for the territory's inhabitants.

The way for
Americans to save our freedom is not through politics,
but through principle — being uncompromising advocates of the sanctity
of private property, freedom of association and individual rights.
In practical terms, it may be necessary to practice secession,
nullification
and, as Hans-Hermann Hoppe has written, particularly in his book,
Democracy:
The God That Failed
, through mass peaceful "passive
non-cooperation
."

Scott
Lazarowitz [send him mail]
is a commentator and cartoonist at Reasonandjest.com.

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare
  • LRC Blog

  • Podcasts