Tuesday, October 01, 2002

InstaPundit has a post referring to a National Review article about libertarians and the war. The split in libertarian ranks was obvious on the very day of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.

Glenn Reynolds of InstaPundit is quoted in the article as saying: "I think there's a split among libertarians between those who view government as the enemy and those who view individual self-defense as the most important right. There's a lot of overlap in political positions between people who take those views. To a lot of libertarians, the war looks like self-defense writ large. Whereas to another class of libertarians, anything that strengthens the state is wrong, even in self-defense."

I disagree that this is the crux of the split. I think the split between the big-L Libertarian Party anti-war group and the little-l libertarians who back military force in the Middle East has to do with fundamental principles of each group. I think big-L Libertarians believe in minimizing coercion, which includes minimizing not only the coercive power of government in Americans' everyday lives, but also minimizing the coercive power of American foreign policy and the American military on other peoples and nations. Small-l libertarians believe in maximizing individual liberty, which includes the freedom to trade and do business with people from other countries, and the expectation that property rights and freedoms will be protected. An American foreign policy that proactively encourages democracy and capitalism in foreign countries leads not only to greater individual liberty in America and the world, but ultimately it leads to peace.

I never seriously considered joining the Libertarian Party, because it has always had what I consider an incorrect and even naive anti-military stance even before 9/11. Plus all evidence shows supporting third parties in single-representative, winner-take-all districts is a wasted vote, because a coalition will almost always be built to attract a majority or plurality of the voters in the district. I've been so put off by the anti-war rhetoric of big-L Libertarians since the attacks that I prefer to call myself a "free marketer," as opposed to a "small-l libertarian."