Reading a number of anti-war libertarian blogs such as that of the estimable Jim Henley, it occurred to me that among the various errors in their positions over what to do about Saddam, etc, is a tendency to dismiss or downplay any threat that such countries may pose to us.
Now, I am not going to engage in some long ramble about why I think the case for war is correct (though I think it is). However, what I do want to do is briefly reflect on what I think is an aspect of the anti-war libertarian position which could prove damaging to libertarianism more generally. It is the problem of evasion.
In recent years, libertarians have been aware of a growing threat to our free society, namely, the Green movement. And much time is spent, rightly, dismissing or pulling apart the scare stories (such as the Greenhouse Effect, population explosion, etc) that are offered to justify wholesale government controls over our lives. But a nagging question is – what would libertarians do if the Green case is partly, or even wholly, correct? What if global warming is as bad as they claim? What would we fans of free-wheeling capitalism do about that? It is simply not good enough for us to trash the Green case without at least working out how we would cope with such issues.
It seems to me that the isolationist libertarians who rubbish most government attempts to crack down on terrorists and their state sponsors need to answer a similar sort of question. How can free, minimal state societies deal with serious threats to liberty and life? What sort of measures should such societies take?
I think we owe it to ourselves to pose such questions and come up with a few ideas. Attacking governments for trashing civil liberties and ramping up defence spending is of course a good thing for libertarians to do, and we must continue to do so. But not offering any positive suggestions on how we defend ourselves is not just unwise. It threatens also to make the libertarian movement irrelevant.
And frankly, I don’t give a toss whether such worries make me a ‘neo-libertarian’ or whatever. I am not interested in going to my grave knowing that I died like a good disciple of Murray Rothbard. I want to stay alive with as much freedom as possible. It is about time that we worked on a few ways to achieve that.
Consider the gauntlet thrown on the floor.