April 8, 2002

Post-9/11: Who speaks for libertarianism – the Old Right or the Neocon Clones?

A note from the author: I apologize, in advance, for the sheer length of this column, but since it addresses the sell-out of basic libertarian principles by people and institutions who purport to speak in its name, I thought it important to address these questions thoroughly, with extensive quotations from those I name. Too bad, in attacking Antiwar.com, these pathetic losers didn't do the same – but then what can one expect from craven opportunists, like, for example, Virginia Postrel….

Virginia Postrel, guru of the "dynamist" trend in libertarianism, and ex-editor of Reason magazine, has long used her website as a kind of pulpit to correct the old, "static" libertarian movement and encourage a new generation of properly dynamic Bright Young Things. The latest is one Brink Lindsey, whom, she notes, has written

"A long important post on the 'antiwar' libertarians who are fast becoming anti-American, even anti-market, cozying up to people like Gore Vidal and Pat Buchanan ('Fast becoming' makes this seem like a newer phenomenon than it is. Actually, it's decades-old.) Brink explains the phenomenon and its flaws well."

Before we continue with more of Postrel's posturing, please note the sardonic quotation marks adorning "antiwar" – as if the confluence of peace and liberty is almost too absurd to contemplate. Gee, that's strange, since every libertarian theoretician of note, from Ludwig von Mises to Murray Rothbard to the classical liberals has noted that war is inimical to liberty, both personal and economic, and that peace is the essential prerequisite of a free society. What universe does this woman live in?

I should also note that this business about "cozying up to Gore Vidal" refers to an upcoming event put on by the Independent Institute, a free market thinktank headquartered in Oakland, California, featuring Gore Vidal as a guest speaker on the subject of "Understanding America's Terrorist Crisis: What Should be Done?" I strongly suspect that bit about Buchanan was an oblique reference to me, as I spent much of the year 2000 extolling the virtues of his foreign policy views, and even made the opening nominating speech at the Reform Party's infamous Long Beach convention: but apparently I am too lowly for the mighty Postrel to even acknowledge, although she is counting on the fact that everyone will know whom she is talking about.


Postrel continues:

"Fundamentally, these libertarians are less interested in creating, maintaining, and defending free societies than they are in destroying states, any states, never mind what replaces them. Hence, Murray Rothbard, the intellectual source of much of this worldview, notoriously rejoiced at the fall of Saigon, because it represented the end of a state — as if anarchist utopia followed."

To begin with, Postrel is lying about the content of Rothbard's 1975 article, "Death of a State." What she is hoping is that no one will check : after all, how long would it take to ferret out the article? (Not long, if, like me, you happen to have the collected works of Rothbard sitting on your bookshelf). But there are grounds for suspicion: note that she doesn't quote directly from the piece, but merely paraphrases. Here is what Rothbard actually said:

The "sudden and total collapse" of the South Vietnamese government, he wrote, illustrates a point made by David Hume and Ludwig von Mises, namely that

"No matter how bloody or despotic any State may be, it rests for its existence in the long run (and not so long run) on the 'voluntary servitude (as [Etienne] La Boetie first phrased it) of its victims. . . .of course, the process does not now usher in any sort of libertarian Nirvana, since another bloody state is in the process of taking over. But the disintegration remains, and offers us many instructive lessons."

Postrel, in short, is full of it. Rothbard was merely isolating a particular phenomenon, and analyzing its implications, not hailing a Communist victory, as she shamelessly implies. She is, in short, a liar.


Likewise, she is either lying, or deluded, in likening antiwar libertarians to subversive and somewhat sinister nihilists intent on "destroying states," all states everywhere. If we were, indeed, narrowly focused on this creed of destruction, then certainly we would be in the vanguard of the War Party – along with Ms. Postrel – eagerly awaiting the dissolution of the Iraqi state under a rain of American bombs.


What's behind such brazen misrepresentations? There's an agenda at work here, and it has to do with the post-cold war divisions on the Right that have pitted neoconservatives – ex-leftists and liberals turned ostensibly conservative – against those who represent an older tradition, the "paleoconservatives" who harken back to the "isolationist" traditions of conservative anti-imperialism. After the cold war ended, many libertarians (notably Rothbard and Llewellyn H. Rockwell, of the Ludwig von Mises Institute) forged a working alliance with the old-style conservatives and even "reactionaries" grouped around the Rockford Institute and Chronicles magazine. Pat Buchanan – Ms. Postrel's bete noir: a symbol, for her, of all that is "reactionary" and evil – figured prominently among these "paleos," in particular for his principled and very visible opposition to the first Gulf War. In her own words:

"Such anti-state libertarians often slip very quickly into alliances with the anti-trade, anti-immigration, anti-cosmopolitan reactionaries of the left and right. They imagine that at some golden age in the past, their perfect world existed until it was ruined by foreigners, industry, abolitionists, or some other force of change."

Unlimited immigration, Big Business, and Sherman's march through Georgia – were these Forces of Change really the locomotives of economic and personal liberty in America?


This is not a question to ask the author of The Future and its Enemies, who sternly divides the history of ideas into two camps: those doddering obscurantists who are for "stasis" and the hip, fully-wired young know-it-alls like herself, who have made a religion out of modernity.

Replacing the more ascetic, less self-infatuated individualism of an earlier era of the with the narcissism of the nineties, Reason under Postrel's stewardship steered away from the bread-and-butter economic issues that had built and sustained it under the venerable Robert W. Poole, and concentrated much of its attention on social issues: drugs, homosexuality, and wowie-zowie technology worship. Under Postrel's tutelage, Reason gradually became an ideological sideshow – a weird combination of High Times and Astounding Stories, touting drug legalization and the virtues of cloning – yes, cloning! – as the signature issues of the libertarian ethos.


Under Poole's editorship, there had been some debate on specific foreign policy issues, but most of the writers, at least in the early years, maintained the classic libertarian stance: non-intervention in the affairs of other nations, and general opposition to the US military action abroad. This began to change, under Postrel: Reason supported the Gulf war editorially, and, while trenchant pieces critiquing the radical internationalism of the neoconservatives still appeared in its pages, by the time she left, last year, and handed over the reins to Nick Gillespie (an even more self-consciously hip clone of herself), the magazine was running rabidly pro-war tracts indistinguishable in tone and quality from a New York Post editorial – for example, this laughable screed by Jonathan Rauch where the author wrongly (and without a lick of evidence) fingered Saddam Hussein as the perpetrator of the anthrax-by-mail terrorist attacks. How disappointed Rauch and the editors of Reason must have been when it turned out to be one of our own government scientists – who the FBI still refuses to accuse, never mind arrest.


Her "dynamist" creed – change good, "stasis" bad – doesn't offer much guidance on foreign policy issues: a "dynamist consensus," she once averred in a speech, "would not tell us what to do about Bosnia." This incapacity, however, didn't stop her from writing an article calling on the US to arm (and presumably train) the Bosnians – exactly what Osama bin Laden was doing at the time.


In this piece on Bosnia, she expands on a general theory of US hegemony that closely resembles the infamous memorandum of (now deputy defense secretary) Paul Wolfowitz, in which he called on the US to adopt a policy that would preemptively strike against any power that threatened its regional supremacy anywhere on earth: Wolfowitz, eminence grise of the ultra-interventionist faction in the Bush administration, gained attention, in early 1992, when his memo was leaked to the New York Times. In it, he posited a new post-cold war military build-up predicated on the idea that the US must:

"Endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union, and Southwest Asia."

The world would no longer consist of a preminent superpower and several regional powers: instead of being a mere superpower, the US would ascend in rank and aspire to the role of what the French call a "hyperpower," a global hegemon preeminent in every region. Now that Wolfowitz and his neoconservative buddies are in power, ensconced not only in the Defense Department but in the White House, this militant vision is being implemented, first of all, in the Middle East. As the Bushies get ready to ride to the sound of the guns, and the War Party is advocating the military occupation not only of Iraq but also Saudi Arabia and even Syria, Postrel's formulation of a proper US foreign policy sounds positively Wolfowitzian. Here is Postrel:

"In the post-Cold War era, U.S. interests lie in preventing the rise of expansionist despotic powers. This strategic goal distinguishes between countries that threaten their neighbors and those that do not. It recognizes the importance to the world, and to U.S. citizens, not of maintaining the stability of regimes–the road from despotism to liberalism leads through instability – but of containing aggressive oppressors."

And by "aggressive oppressors," you can be sure she doesn't mean the Israelis.


As the Israeli "Defense Force" carries out a bloody and brutal pogrom in Palestine, and George W. Bush sets his sights on Iraq, Postrel and her neocon clones have signed on as the ostensibly "libertarian" platoon of the War Party. Their proclaimed goal is to "save" libertarianism from us "disreputable" types, and convert it into a druggie we-love-cloning subset of neoconservatism with only an inchoate foreign policy stance. As neoconservative warhawk Daniel Pipes once wrote in reply to William Niskanen of the libertarian Cato Institute: "Stick to the economic analyses you do so well and leave foreign policy to others" – those "others" being the ultra-interventionist, fanatically pro-Israel wing of the conservative movement.


Postrel sees the proper role of libertarians in wartime as too important to be left to the likes of people like, uh, me: libertarians have to ask "unpopular questions," like why should John Ashcroft have the right to bust into homes and offices and round up whomever he likes (but not too unpopular, like "what are we fighting for?"):

"Those questions are a lot harder to take seriously from people who hate America — or encourage those who do—and who dream of a static, stateless utopia."

Who hates America? How are these nameless errant souls encouraging "those who do" – and who are they, anyway? That's why they call it a smear. The mudslinger doesn't have to offer any evidence, or even a link, a citation – not anything. They just have to concoct the dirtiest, slimiest mudball, preferably one with a rock at its center, and fling it as hard as they can – the results are guaranteed every time, because at least some of the grime will stick to its target. And, who knows, maybe that rock will knock them out of action for a while. So that the next time someone hears about antiwar libertarians, the politically correct response will be: Oh, you mean those anarcho-nihilist subversives who hate America?


Brink Lindsey, author of Against the Dead Hand, and a fellow at the Cato Institute, unlike the arrogant Postrel, deigns to mention antiwar.com, although he insists on putting the name of our sponsoring organization – the Center for Libertarian Studies (CLS) – in ironic quotes. But the Center has been around for 35 years: its founding preceded that of the Cato Institute by a full decade. CLS was supporting libertarian scholarship and publishing libertarian giants like Murray Rothbard, Roy Childs, Walter Block, and others, when Lindsey was in swaddling clothes – and, barring any unforeseen catastrophe, will continue to do so. Nonetheless, an air of smug self-satisfaction suffuses his critique of the libertarian wing of the antiwar movement. Of course, a real critique is not what we get from Mr. Lindsey. Instead, we get the strange accusation of "America-hating," again, similarly focused on the devil-figure of Gore Vidal:

"Here's a real eye-popper. The Independent Institute is a Bay Area libertarian think tank which claims as members of its Board of Advisors such libertarian luminaries as Nobel laureate James Buchanan, Richard Epstein, Charles Murray, and Walter Williams. On April 18, the institute is sponsoring a forum entitled 'Understanding America's Terrorist Crisis: What Should Be Done?' The moderator is none other than Harper's editor Lewis Lapham, who has condemned the war on terror as an 'American jihad' in the pages of his magazine. And who is the featured speaker? The King of All America Haters, Gore Vidal himself!"

Vidal is among the greatest of our novelists, a writer whose works, gathered together end to end, depict the vast panorama of American history in all its dramatic sweep and grandeur. To call him an "America Hater" is a statement of such extraordinary stupidity that it is hard to fathom what could possibly motivate it but willful ignorance and malice. Unless, of course, one knows that Gore Vidal is the great devil figure of the neocons, a man who has been marked for all time because once scornfully averred that Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter, two prominent neoconservatives, had made "common cause with the lunatic fringe" (i.e. conservatives)

"To scare Americans into spending gargantuan sums for a military buildup against the sclerotic Soviets – and in order to secure an unlimited amount of aid to Israel."

Vidal wrote this way back in 1986, in The Nation, and looking at the public pronouncements of these two since that time, his prognosis seems pretty accurate to me – particularly his remarks that they amount to little more than "fifth columnists," far more interested in Israel than in their own country. One has only to note the Podhoretzian-neocon display of anger at our President's attempt to rein in the rampaging Israeli army to see that Vidal was absolutely right. In any case, Podhoretz pulled his usual act and replied that Vidal's piece was "perhaps the most blatantly anti-Semitic article to have appeared in a respectable American periodical since World War II." The battle was joined, and Mr. Lindsey continues where Podhoretz left off:

"What is going on? What's wrong with these people? One can dismiss particular individuals or groups as disreputable or crankish, but the fact is that anti-war views similar to those held by the loonie left are not uncommon among libertarians these days."

What's "wrong" with "these people" – namely, the heroic David Theroux, a principled and dedicated libertarian and president of the Independent Insitute – is that they don't take dictation from Poddy and his Pod-people, they don't get fat grants from neocon foundations, and they don't consider Israel differently from any other Third World socialist hellhole. That may be shocking to Mr. Lindsey, but then he'll just have to learn to live with it.


Furthermore, to call Vidal part of the "loonie left" is utter crap. Listen to the author of The Golden Age speaking through one of his characters:

"I am anti-war as you may have guessed but not because, as some deep thinkers believe, I am a Quaker born and bred. I'm perfectly willing for us to fight if we have to. But I see something worse than war on the horizon. I am certain that the next war will absolutely transform us. I see more power to the great corporations. More power to the government. Less power to the people. That's what I fear. Because once this starts, it is irreversible. You see, I want to live in a community that governs itself. Well, you can't extend the mastery of the government over the daily life of a people without making government the master of those people's souls and thoughts, the way the fascists and the Bolsheviks have done."

While Vidal may support nationalized health care, is this really a liberal talking? Perhaps only in the classical sense.

We might also ask the same sort of question in regard to Mr. Lindsey, and come up with the opposite answer: what kind of a "libertarian" is so baffled by opposition to this administration's endless "war on terrorism"? Vidal understands what the "libertarian" Lindsey fails to even mention in his contentless critique of libertarian opposition to the policy of perpetual war – that you can't have an empire on which the sun never sets, and our old Republic. With the rise of America as a global hegemon, even a relatively frugal one, the idea of limited government goes right out the window. For how will we pay for the extensive armies, navies, and weapons systems required to maintain and police such an empire without resorting to confiscatory levels of taxation? How will we rein in the power of a President, who, in war, has practically unlimited power?


War is the health of the State, as Randolph Bourne observed, its very lifeblood, and this is a truism the neocons understand even if their tame "libertarians" stupidly evade it. Vidal, too, understands the dynamic of war and statism, and he shows it in a little speech by one of his all-too-real fictional creations, one Billy Thornton, a commie-turned-rightwinger who has gone to work for the Wall Street Journal. The main character, Peter Sanford, a stand-in for Vidal, marvels at how Bill has actually come full circle from communism to capitalism." Vidal then gives the archetypal neoconservative the floor:

"'The scales have fallen from your eyes at last.' Billy blew smoke across the table. 'Taken to their logical conclusion, the two are nearly identical. Where the ideal communist socialist state would use the national wealth for the good of the citizen, strictly regulated, of course, by a centralized money power, we are now, in the interest of defending ourselves against an enemy both Satanic and godless … creating a totally militarized socialist state … '"


Vidal, the alleged "loonie leftist," understands the interplay of war and the growth of State power, while the alleged "libertarian" Lindsey is utterly clueless – or pretends to be. Instead, he critiques arguments that nobody makes, and tries to diagnose the baffling – to him – antiwar sentiments of libertarians as attributable to anarchism, which he calls "delusional." But Lindsey is battling a straw man: for the argument he makes – that libertarians oppose this rotten war because we don't recognize the "legitimacy" of the State and the "paradox" that the defense of liberty requires the use of force – are equally applicable to minimal statism. One can see that some minimal State is a necessary evil, without either granting it "legitimacy" in the reverent sense Lindsey means or giving it a blank check to go on an international rampage.


A government that has the power and resources to project huge armies across vast oceans, and to act with the arrogant impunity of a preening "superpower," is not going to be minimal in any sense of the term: instead, it is necessarily and inevitably going to maximize both its resources and its insufferable hubris. Lindsey, Postrel, and their fellow sell-outs over at the Cato Institute (we'll get to them in a minute) clearly see themselves in the role of house critics: while never challenging the warrior ethic that animates the creators of the Welfare-Warfare State, they are content to nestle in its shadow, pointing out how this or that aspect of the (endless) War Effort might be made more efficient if only it were "privatized."

If only we're allowed to drug ourselves into a stupor and clone our "cosmopolitan" selves in an orgy of frenzied narcissism, what does anything else matter? So what if the savages at the edge of the Empire are bombed into submission – for their own good, of course – and killed in the thousands, even hundreds of thousands? We can always clone a few more.


What strikes me as odd is the complete absence of any moral sense in Lindsey's screed, as well as the complete lack of any real arguments. He simply assumes the total morality of the present course, and pontificates:

"When a set of ideas yields a horribly mistaken response to an absolutely critical question, there's something fundamentally wrong with those ideas. That's the situation, as I see it, with the species of libertarianism that has given rise to anti-war sentiment. The first and most obvious problem is the dogmatically anti-interventionist foreign policy touted by many libertarians. There is a clear conflict between such a vision of foreign policy and the effective prosecution of the present war on terror, and libertarians who oppose the war have recognized that conflict and decided to go down with the anti-interventionist ship."

What about the clear conflict between Lindsey's fulsome support for George W. Bush's endless war and the vision of a much smaller government supposedly embraced by libertarians? Is he really so oblivious to this obvious contradiction – or has he implicitly recognized it, decided libertarianism is doomed because "everything's changed" since 9/11, and, like the rat he is, commenced to jump what he sees as a sinking ship?


According to Lindsey, there no general principles applicable to foreign policy – no, not even, it appears, any moral principles – and, in any case, the non-intervention principle has a number of (unspecified) "shortcomings":

"Nothing could illustrate those shortcomings more vividly than the reality-evading nonsense that anti-war libertarians are putting out in defense of that principle's present applicability. Take a look at those websites I cited if you doubt me."

Okay, Mr. Lindsey, I'm taking a look at them, and what do I see? On antiwar.com I see links to stories describing, in brutal detail, the depredations of the Israeli Army as it slaughters more Palestinians every day – all of it paid for and tacitly approved by Uncle Sam. I see our columnists writing on every aspect of this ever-widening "war on terrorism," pointing out that Bush's drive to conquer Iraq is entirely disconnected from 9/11 – and that Osama bin Laden has been virtually forgotten in the rush to take advantage of the war hysteria. I see comprehensive coverage of what is actually happening in this war, and commentary that is neither pacifist nor leftist but proudly and outspokenly libertarian. You gotta problem with that?


It is indicative of Lindsey's whole method of non-argument that he nowhere quotes a single article or story that appears on this site: instead, he sniffs that we may even be "disreputable." Yeah, that's right, Brink baby, we're just not good enough for the likes of your hifalutin' self: why, we never get invited to any fancy Washington cocktail parties and have no opportunity to rub shoulders with Republican fat-cats. The War Street Journal wouldn't even think of reviewing any book written by us. Gee, being pro-war sure is good for your career, eh, Brink? But that – of course – is just a coincidence, and couldn't possibly be a consideration in determining your views – isn't that right? Like hell it is.


I don't mean to be rude – or, then again, maybe I do – but the dismissive tone of these neocon clones is really beneath contempt. In their transparent attempts to suck up to the War Party, and build up their flimsy little careers, they are imitating the methods of the neocons: don't attack the arguments, attack the people who hold them. Gore Vidal? A "loonie leftist." Antiwar.com? Quite possibly "disreputable." Meanwhile, we are reaching one million visits a month, while Lindsey, declaiming from his dinky little website, pompously asks:

"Who cares what a tiny fringe of libertarians thinks about the war? They're clearly having no impact on public opinion or government policy. And unlike their comrades against arms on the left, they hold no positions of cultural power."

Oh, but he's worried, too, because, as he states at the outset, "Denunciations of the war by people of libertarian views are splashed all over the web." Well, then, which is it: are we just a "fringe" that has "no impact on public opinion" and "no cultural power," or are increasingly large numbers of people coming into contact with our ideas because they are "all over the web"?


Okay, enough of this phony, who promises a debate but then fails to follow through: I have my doubts about his "cultural power," too, and there are other, more deserving targets. Namely, Ted Galen Carpenter of the formerly libertarian Cato Institute, who is now advocating that we invade Pakistan.

Yes, Pakistan, the most loyal and completely cooperative of our Muslim allies. According to Carpenter, it would be "misplaced gratitude," you see, to a government that has cracked down on Islamic militants, whose army has fought Al Qaeda and whose support was instrumental in the Afghan war to refrain from doing so. Why? Because, we are told, there is "overwhelming evidence" that Pakistan is "harboring" Al Qaeda – indeed, it is so overwhelming that Carpenter doesn't even bother citing any of it. Even Donald Rumsfeld, the chief hawk in this administration, shied away from the suggestion that the US might turn on General Pervez Musharraf, the country's ruler, but this is just not acceptable to super-hawk Carpenter. US troops need to "head straight for Pakistan," and Musharraf must give his permission:

"If he declines to do so, the United States should make it clear that from now on we will regard Pakistan as part of the problem in the struggle against terrorism, not part of the solution, and will treat the country accordingly."

If not, then – what? Will we invade Pakistan, perhaps with Indian help, and set off the first fully-nuclearized war? Will we invade and "liberate" Pakistan, as we did Afghanistan, and install an army of occupation? What a wonderful lesson for our Muslim-Arab allies. Fail to cooperate, as in Afghanistan, and we'll crush you; agree to cooperate, and we'll still crush you. Oh, yes, that's the way to build a broad united front against international terrorism….


If we have to depend on the common sense of people like Rumsfeld to fend off the loony warmongering of Carpenter and the Cato Institute, then we are all in deep trouble. What is becoming increasingly clear is that these fake "libertarians" – Postrel, Lindsey, Carpener, Cato, et al – have found a new niche is the post-9/11 era, that of extremists in the camp of the War Party. If you look at the smearmongering style of argument, it is clear that these sell-outs are getting their arguments (if not their marching orders) from the neoconservatives.

The evidence is in a very interesting document, a polemic by the radical Zionist and warhawk Daniel Pipes, in the form of a review of America Entangled, a 1992 Cato book that incorporates papers written for a conference opposing the first Gulf War. William Niskanen, chairman of the Cato board, wrote to Orbis, where the review initially appeared, protesting it as unfair. Pipes replied, at length, with a broadside that focused on the "far left" orientation of Cato's work in the foreign policy area, and particularly homing in on a book-length work by a noted libertarian scholar, Sheldon Richman, "Ancient History," in which the author commits the sin of citing Noam Chomsky – another neocon devil-figure – along with a whole list of proscribed authors, including Edward Said, Christopher Hitchins, Joe Stork, Livia Rokach, Simha Flapan, Gabriel Kolko, and Jonathan Kwitney. But, as far as Pipes is concerned, Richman's real crime is this:

"'Ancient History' is suffused with an animus indistinguishable from common left-wing diatribes against the U.S. government and its foreign allies, whether Iran under the shah or, especially, the state of Israel. Indeed, Richman's footnotes provide a who's who of anti-Zionist polemicists."

The first rule of the neocons – never, ever criticize Israel under any circumstances – has been broken, and Pipes's rage is palpable as he takes out after libertarians for supposedly allying with "Marxist-Leninists," citing the loony ravings of Ayn Rand cultist Peter Schwartz as "evidence." Of course, Schwartz and his crowd, notably Rand's "intellectual heir" Leonard Peikoff, have called for a nuclear first strike against the entire Arab world – but naturally La Postrel and Lindsey seem to have no problem with that. We're the real problem, eh guys?


Cato paid dearly for its opposition to Gulf War I – several large contributors withdrew their support, and they were viciously attacked, as in the Pipes smear – but, this time around, they aren't making that "mistake." A libertarian institution, that once played a great role in generating and sustaining the libertarian movement – one that was founded, by the way, by Murray Rothbard – is now trying to lead the war charge, actually criticizing the chief warmonger in this administration for insufficiently warlike zeal. Pardon me while I go vomit….


The critique of libertarianism advanced by Pipes – that it is really just a conspiracy of "anti-American" "leftists" – has been adopted, whole-heartedly, by the Postrelians, along with the hooligan smearing tactics employed by Pipes and his neocon confreres. The same ripped-out-of context quote from Rothbard used by Postrel is utilized by Pipes, and the same ugly simple-minded tone employed: antiwar libertarians are allying themselves with "anti-market" commies in their critique of "corporate capitalism." But of course libertarians are advocates of laissez-faire capitalism, and insofar as this "corporate" version of capitalism means anything, historically, it is the exact opposite of laissez-faire. It is, in short, a version of capitalism that benefits certain corporations – and this is precisely what is shown by the researches of such "leftist" historians as Gabriel Kolko, for example, who showed how government regulation was initiated and advocated by Big Business precisely because they stood to benefit. In this same way, certain business entities will fill their corporate coffers as a result of this phony "war on terrorism," and certainly it is not "anti-market," as Postrel avers, to ask: Who benefits?

The Pipes polemic is very revealing, in that it shows how far and how fast these ostensible "libertarians" have capitulated to their neocon masters. At its conclusion, Pipes condescends to offer Niskanen some unsolicited advice:

"A final thought: The Cato Institute does creative and valuable work on economic questions; if not yet part of the Washington mainstream, its voice is increasingly respected. Why then does it flaunt this affinity for the fringe Left on foreign policy issues? Why reach out in solidarity with The Nation and boast of intellectual debts to Noam Chomsky? What has this to do with the spirit of free markets and free minds that inspires the best of libertarian thinking? Niskanen has not asked me for advice, but here is some anyway: Stick to the economic analyses you do so well and leave foreign policy to others."

In the post-9/11 era, Cato, Postrel, and the others know their place, and they are keeping to it, lest they be accused of letting "anti-Zionist" references invade their footnotes. They have yielded to the warmongers and the professional apologists for Israel, like Pipes, and decided to jump ship rather than fight (although, in Postrel's case, it is doubtful there was ever anything to fight for). Well, I'll tell you one thing: I'd much rather make an alliance with Marxist-Leninists, with Noam Chomsky, with The Nation, and a good old-fashioned isolationist or two, like Gore Vidal, than with Daniel Pipes, Norman Podhoretzes, and a gaggle of Likudnik neocons who would just as soon nuke Mecca as look at it. I'll take Pat Buchanan, Charlie Reese, Lew Rockwell, and Sheldon Richman over the pretentious Postrel, the sanctimonious Bill Bennett, the insufferable Andrew Sullivan, and all the vast resources and influence of the mighty Cato Institute any day of the week. Postrel and her cyber-sycophants are an example of what happens when people abandon their principles in the pursuit of their pathetic little careers: none of them ever had an inkling as to what libertarianism was all about to begin with. Today, they are just neocons, ersatz "libertarian" clones who jump when Podhoretz and Pipes give the word, and all too happy and eager to do the neocons' dirty work for them. As such, they are beneath contempt, and deserve to be boycotted not only by libertarians, but by all decent people: don't buy their rotten boring books, don't read their neocon-subsidized magazines, and when they come crawling to you for contributions, tell them to take a hike. They deserve nothing less – and nothing more.


Postrel and her cohorts want you to believe that we're "anti-American," that we're plotting with Commies (and, presumaby, Osama bin Laden) to "destroy states" – including the American state. This is unmitigated nonsense, and dangerous nonsense at that. Like the evil David Horowitz, and the intellectual vigilantes who've gone on a crusade to purge the universities and the punditocracy of anyone who dissents from the official neocon-government line, she's trying to line us up as allies of "terrorism" – and then I guess whatever Ashcroft decides to do with us is okay by her. We need to send a strong message to Postrel and her necon friends, and it goes like this:

Virginia, dear, we don't give a hoot what you and your pro-war comrades think has "changed" about libertarianism: as far as we're concerned, libertarianism never changed, it isn't changing now, and it won't change. What's changing is you, and it isn't a change for the better. You're getting older, more concerned about your career than abstract principles, and you've decided to sell-out – well, then, what's stopping you? Go for it, girl – but you aren't dragging the rest of us along with you. You and Ted Galen Carpenter, in going "straight for Pakistan," or Iraq, or wherever, can indeed go straight to hell – but don't keep calling yourselves libertarians. Because we'll challenge you at every turn, and harry you until you stop discrediting an idea that has the power to liberate the world. Go ahead, tell her yourself: you can write her at: virginia@dynamist.com. And tell her Justin Raimondo sent you….

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against US Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard.