Charles Johnson, a strong defender of left libertarianism, has posted a response to my “Open Letter to Libertarians on Ron Paul” on his “Rad Geek People’s Daily” site. In my letter, I contended that libertarians who differ with Ron Paul on abortion or immigration should still support him. Even those who differ with Ron Paul’s positions on these issues should acknowledge that there is a libertarian case to be made for his standpoint.
On abortion, I claimed that Roe v. Wade doesn’t have a good constitutional basis and pointed to the dangers of giving power unrestrained by the constitution to the federal government. Johnson responds that anarchists do not believe in constitutional government. Anarchists oppose a monopoly state, but it hardly follows from this that if there is a government, anarchists shouldn’t be concerned with restraining it.
On immigration, Johnson says that anarchists should ignore national boundaries. Why? Once more, anarchism is a view about the justification of government. It is opposed to states, not nations. He points out that some efforts to restrict immigration use violence against people; and he is right that here lies danger. Libertarians who favor immigration restrictions need to specify exactly what measures they think permissible. Ron Paul doesn’t favor beating and jailing people.
I maintained that some left libertarians subordinate libertarianism to their leftist views. He wonders whether my remarks were directed against a paper written by him and Roderick Long and defends himself against the subordination charge. My remarks were not about his paper, which is about the compatibility of libertarianism and feminism and doesn’t discuss support for non-leftist libertarians. Rather, I had in mind a blogger who said he would not support Ron Paul because he was insufficiently cosmopolitan. Johnson correctly claims that the concept of libertarianism doesn’t imply political support for libertarians in elections. I think, though, that if someone who defends political action refuses to support Ron Paul just because he is not a left libertarian, then he is subordinating libertarianism to leftist views.
Johnson apparently accepts this as a good argument: “Johnson believes p; therefore, anarchists believe p.” His post is unfortunately a prime example of the libertarian dogmatism I was most concerned with in my Open Letter.