the Love of Liberty
Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.: A
People’s Uprising Against the Empire
Egyptian protests first broke out, most Americans celebrated.
Though Mubarak’s military must still be circumvented or overthrown,
the revolt has spread, like a cleansing fire, to Bahrain, Libya,
Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Jordan, and beyond.
What is all
this all about? Thanks to Western rule since WWI, this is a region
of dictators and domination. Regardless of the spark, that is
the issue. This might just be an old story and exactly what it
appears to be: a struggle between the liberty of the people and
the criminal power of the State.
however, this is not obvious to many conservatives. Never mind
that the people are denouncing the dictators, the jails, the political
persecutions, the torturing and brutality, the disappearances
and murders, and demanding the freedom to speak, publish, and
live. Surely there must be some nefarious plot behind it all.
theme was clear enough in Egypt. Here we had multitudes of educated,
young, tech-savvy, pro-freedom activists taking a brave stand
against a national socialist dictator of 30 years – and the bad
guy lost, thereby giving hope to all peoples in the world who
struggle against tyranny. The role of the military in the future
of the country is still up in the air, and who doubts that another
government will have to be overthrown again in the future? Still,
victory is victory.
with 1989 and with 1776 were impossible to miss. Anyone who loves
Jefferson, Bastiat, and Rothbard had to feel a mighty rush, a
sense that the flame of freedom will never, ever be extinguished.
If it can happen there, it can happen anywhere, including in Washington,
A Pew Research
confirmed intense American public interest in this Egyptian
story. It was the biggest foreign policy story in four years –
bigger than any natural disaster or any US war. The story even
overwhelmed domestic news. From an American popular perspective,
there is nothing quite as thrilling as seeing a people stand up
to a brutal dictator – and having it end—though there is much
more to do – the right way.
is embedded deep within our own civic culture, with our own revolt
against empire. The themes of the revolt – liberty, human rights,
justice – are our themes, beautiful evidence of the way the American
experience has been a light to the world, despite 20th-century
deviations. And if you were watching the live coverage, especially
Al Jazeera, it was clear that freedom, in exactly the way we understand
that term, was the theme. The Declaration of Independence was
quoted in placards. Speakers mentioned Patrick Henry. This was
the memory of the American revolution revived in the old world.
Just as commentators
and intellectuals have trouble understanding liberty as a theme
in domestic politics, some people just can’t get it in foreign
policy. I noticed a strange lack of celebration on many conservative
blogs and sites. There is far more hand-wringing about "instability"
than cheers for the people.
If the Egyptian
case is any indication, we can look forward to more fretting and
puzzling and even opposition from the American right. The angst-filled
view on Egypt began with Glenn Beck, the most influential voice
on the tea-party right, a man who last year celebrated Hayek’s
to Serfdom and put it on the bestseller list.
In a YouTube
he warned that these revolts were not what they seemed. They are
really the working out of a conspiracy of Muslim fanatics insufficiently
appreciative of the US-installed and maintained dictator. It was
shockingly clear: he supported the regime over the people, the
US empire over self-determination. From his account, one would
think that a protest for liberty was terrorism. Which may give
us some indication of what terrorism means to him and others like
Beck, there was a rising ethos on the American right that looked
down on the protests, regretting them and even hoping for a full-scale
and murderous crackdown. At the CPAC convention on the very weekend
that Mubarak fell, Ron Paul was the only major speaker to even
address the subject, much less celebrate the freedom movement.
At the bottom
of the heap was Ann Coulter at CPAC, who expressed no love for
the Egyptian people. She was specifically asked about the reality
that the Mubarak regime was jailing journalists. Her response:
"I think there should be more jailed journalists." The audience
of National Review put
it bluntly: "most of us would probably prefer to have
seen a victory of people power in Tehran or Pyongyang than in
Cairo. Mubarak’s Egypt was an ally of the United States."
these opinions, the conservatives are echoing the same absence
of joy found in the regimes of Algeria, Libya, and Morocco – other
governments that are wholly owned by the CIA and worry about what
a freedom uprising would mean for them.
people on the right, Islam is the new communism, the bugaboo that
we must fear above all else. They see its wickedness everywhere.
It’s gone so far that many people cannot recognize the just aspirations
of an Islamic people to be free of dictatorship. The message of
Beck, Coulter, and others, seems to be that the best thing for
these people is US-imposed totalitarianism.
It is true
that freedom is not certain to bloom in the post-protest world.
Sometimes freedom comes in stages. Sometimes a worse regime can
replace a bad one. But it is always an occasion to celebrate when
the tyrant is overthrown. It is always a blow for liberty – no
matter that the brutal State in question is officially supported
by the US government.
some sixty years, there has been a deep fissure in what is called
the American right. There are those who believe in liberty. And
there are those who believe in the American imperial State. They
are not the same. Indeed, they are in opposition. These events
underscore the serious difference, to the point that many spokesmen
among the conservative movement can’t even recognize the legitimate
aspirations of a people not to be ruled by a dictator in power
for decades. The reality highlights the lie that these people
believe in liberty as versus government power.
fissure on a more philosophical level is summed up as the debate
between liberty and order. The right has gone back and forth on
this subject for many decades. But the discussion becomes less
abstract in a case where millions suffer under despotism. To favor
order over liberty here meant to crack skulls and massacre people
to keep an illegitimate regime in power for the Pentagon.
In a world
in which the last superpower is losing control – and the sooner
the better – American conservatives will have to make a choice.
Do they favor freedom? Or do they favor the global military state?
Fess up, fellows. You have to make the choice.
February 18, 2011
H. Rockwell, Jr. [send him
mail], former editorial assistant to Ludwig von Mises and congressional
chief of staff to Ron Paul, is founder and chairman of the Mises
Institute, executor for the estate of Murray N. Rothbard, and
editor of LewRockwell.com.
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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