If you're late to the party, read this first...then this...then this and you'll be prepared for the "But"...
Many thanks to Lawrence Vance for his comprehensive yet succinct definition of “libertarian”. I couldn’t agree any more – but I can agree a little less.
While “fighting fire with fire” has been amply demonstrated to be an effective strategy in fighting fires, fighting “STATE” with “state” has been amply demonstrated to be ineffective to the point of self-negating. As noted in my previous LRC piece, believing in even minimalist government is tantamount to believing one can be a little bit pregnant or that a “little leaven does not ferment the whole loaf or that Lord Acton was just bloviating about that “absolute power corrupts absolutely” thingy.
To the point:
Libertarianism is a political philosophy concerned with the permissible use of force or violence. It is not a political philosophy that says limited government is the best kind of government…. in the words of Murray Rothbard: “The only proper role of violence is to defend person and property against violence, that any use of violence that goes beyond such just defense is itself aggressive, unjust, and criminal. Libertarianism, therefore, is a theory which states that everyone should be free of violent invasion, should be free to do as he sees fit except invade the person or property of another.”… Our enemy is the state…. And since war is the health of the state, the state’s military, wars, and foreign interventions must be opposed root and branch.
There is no future debating the accuracy above except to pointedly illustrate to the Other Side the vacuity of their “arguments”. At least there may be educational or entertainment values in that exercise should the opportunity ever present itself.
Bottom line: while libertarianism is indeed not the platform for “limited government”, the fact remains – although not specifically stated – Libertarianism, Libertarians and libertarians believe in some government. We agree “our enemy is the State”. It logically and historically follows that the State, operating in accordance with its nature and self-interest to remain “healthy”, starts all sorts of wars. But can “the State” exist without “some government”? If not nearly synonymous, are the two not intractable? If not, therein lies the self-destructive “root and branch”: by supporting some government, running candidates, entering the political ring for elective office could hardly be defined as “oppos[ing] root and branch” the precise entity that, eventually, historically, unavoidably corrupts itself to the extreme detriment of Liberty and Freedom.
Noting the essence of Rothbard’s quote: “…any use of violence that goes beyond such just defense is itself aggressive, unjust, and criminal.” What else does the State/government do in virtually all its transactions? Are taxes collected without the threat or use of force and violence? Put more simply: What actions of the State/government are not undertaken without the implied use of aggressive force for non-compliance? Would anyone argue compliance in the face of State/government force constitute a “voluntary” response?
I am concerned only with the negative consequences of thoughts. I believe that the non-aggression principle extends to government. Libertarians should therefore oppose or otherwise seek to limit the domestic and foreign meddling and intervention of governments, which are the greatest violators of the non-aggression principle.
Adopting principled philosophical opposition is a worthy starting point but is it reasonable to believe Libertarians and/or libertarians can or will successfully oppose limiting Leviathans from their “meddling and intervention”? When has less than 1% of the “popular vote” ever accomplished anything besides a chuckle from the pundits and a “wait till next time” from the losers? As long as Libertarianism or libertarianism or libertarians seek remedies through State/government to the permanent and peaceful establishment of Freedom and Liberty, that philosophy will share in the continuance of the State, government, wars, force and violent aggression, all the things against which Murray Rothbard warned, working in opposition to a permanent, pragmatic solution.