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Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Battle for the Soul of Libertarianism is the Battle for the Soul of America

America is unwittingly engaged in a Second Civil War.

It doesn't have borders or battle lines or jumpy ol' minstrel tunes but this evening, as papers are shuffled and keyboards are clicked in the dimly-lit corridors of the Federal Government, the country that you and I and nearly everyone you know grew up in is no less at risk of being eliminated than it was the day that South Carolina voted to secede.

The government is being changed, not just in policy but in its very structure, in culture, in personnel and in purpose, in such a significant way that, unless some base of opposition coalesces via the 2018 midterm elections, be it from the left or the right (I'm looking at you, John Kasich), the United States of America will make a significantly dark shift toward a radically different, fundamentally totalitarian government structure, form, and existence.

Wait, I Thought Libertarians Were On The Trump Mega Cruise Travelling At Unsafe Speeds Through Icy Waters Of The North Atlantic!?!

Reason Magazine declared 2008 was the libertarian moment. Right-leaning libertarians more similar to the Tea Partiers really entered the public view around that time, at the tail end of the Bush Administration. Rand Paul and Jeff Flake and a few other vaguely libertarianish mainstream candidates were rising and it looked like a more radical, un-Bush, young, conservative-but-cool movement was rising to prominence.

But the free movement of people across borders and free trade and free association and free expression are libertarian foundations as well. They're also American values. The America that both welcomed and compelled countless immigrants and slaves to its shores. The America that offered refuge from, say, the pogroms of Imperial Russia that still exist in living memory. 

I began calling myself a libertarian when I learned the term because, by its simple definition, libertarian seems to be the spirit and inspiration behind the founding principles that guided our Constitution.* The term itself is only a few decades old, and has been completely bent out of shape since Reason's announcement of mainstream acceptance, yet I don't feel its meaning has been lost.

Libertarianism, simply stated, is a surprisingly uneasy marriage of conservative economic beliefs and liberal social or civil rights positions. Libertarians generally believe the government has a specifically limited, not anarchic, but limited and vital role to play in our society; such as enforcement of contracts, maintaining a military loyal to the state rather than any particular elected official, upholding the rule of law (including the prosecution of fraud, which at times can appear to be at odds with some looser definitions of Laissez-faire capitalism, like rent-seeking and corporatism and emolument clause violations endemic of the Trump Administration).

But why? What is the point of all that? Why is a government of the people not above the people so vital? Why do we require the rule of law to apply equally, to hold no person, no prince, no separate class higher than any other? What is the ultimate point of libertarians' belief in self government and self reliance and self responsibility?

The reason all of those freedoms are important, why these things matter in our everyday lives, is that they are required to safeguard liberty against the ever-present and malicious threat of outright tyranny.

And I'm here to tell you, my fellow libertarians and conservatives and liberals and friends and countrymen: those safeguards, those rights, those freedoms that every American patriot that picked up a gun and fought for American causes and for the Constitution and for every fucking beautiful red white and blue thing that countless millions sacrificed their lives and their limbs and their blood for, every single one of them is under attack, right now, at this late, late hour.

It's not fake news. Everything going on is very easy to verify and publicly available.

It's not just some partisan attempt to undercut the President. Prominent members of all political persuasions have had the courage to speak up and speak against, especially in the recent weeks following Trump's cowtow in Helinski.

It's no shadowy conspiracy. They are acting completely out in the open, which is why so many continue to be caught off guard.

Make no mistake, our Republic is under serious and grievous attack in the most unconventional way this Republic has ever seen.  It's a war for minds and emotions and our very contact with reality. It's the way wars are now fought in the 21st Century. Why kill millions when you can enslave hundreds of millions? Weaponized nonsense is the new normal.

It is the prevention of this mental mass-incarceration that libertarianism was made for: as a defense for a free people from slipping back under the yoke of slavery and despotism and thuggery that they had only just escaped from a few short centuries ago. All the tax cuts in the world don't mean anything if you no longer live in a free country in which to enjoy the bittersweet fruits of those modern breads and circuses.

Will this be our generation's enduring legacy? That we were the ones who let tyranny take hold of mankind once again; after a brief, imperfect, yet real and living and wonderful experiment in liberty that was able to sustain and constantly improve for 226 years; only to be snuffed out by a puffed-up salesman in an oversized suit?

This website will not go so gently into being voted off of the proverbial island. Since the site's founding in 2010, and since the moment I understood what it means to be an American, growing up in this great nation, the United States of America, the son of a United States Marine, Metafederalism has and always will stand by the United States of America, and look to defend it from all foes, both foreign and domestic.

And to that end, to ensure the survival of a free country in which I hope to exercise my libertarian principles, this site unequivocally stands in opposition to the continuing deconstruction and decimation of the United States of America being perpetrated at the behest of a hostile foreign power by Donald J. Trump.

I beg everyone that reads this, please, sacrifice just a little time to your country before November, put away Facebook and Twitter for just an afternoon, and ignore the reality television circus, shut off Fox News, and please, tune in to whatever the opposing side is and just listen for a little while with open minds.

Because I swear to you, with every ounce of honesty and hope and love in my heart, that if you don't wise up to the fact that Vladimir Putin, and the Russian state he dictatorially controls, poses a very dangerous and immediate threat to the very existence of our country, to the very existence of free people around the world, and that November 6th, 2018 may very well be the free world's last practical chance to halt the looming march of despotism, well, as Albert Finney put it in his 2002 portrayal of Winston Churchill:

"History may well cast its verdict with those terrible, chilling words:"


*(The same principles that cruelly averted their eyes from slavery for far too long. It was too interwoven into American history not to merit being addressed here, but I intend to argue in future posts that slavery had always been at odds with what are considered libertarian principles, and had only been allowed to exist for foul political reasons, tragic institutional inertia, and because of the relative and dire ignorance of the time.)


  1. Three things define the successes of Western culture more than whiteness or Christianity. Property rights, predictability/stability of government, and high-trust society.

    Trump is pretty sketchy on the first, hostile to the second, and if not actively hostile, at least destructive to the third.

    And lot devolves from that stuff. High-trust society includes both reliability of contracts, and Trump's been pretty sketchy on that personally but hasn't yet eroded that nationally, but also generally holding each other as trustworthy. That includes assuming that there is a common frame of reality, meaning that news and science are basically trustworthy. Sure there might be some sketchy things once in a while, but nothing too crazy.

    His embrace of Alex Jones, derision towards the mainstream media, casual lies and utter unconcern about self-contradiction, the whole 'literally-but-not-seriously vs seriously-but-not-literally' thing, casual factless assertions of things like 'millions of illegals voting', etc, these all undermine our trust in each other. When we don't trust each other, we don't feel obligated to be trustworthy to each other. If the other guy's lying to you, why shouldn't you lie to him. If the other guy isn't going to honor his commitments to you, why should you honor your commitments to him?

    This more than anything else defines the difference between a strong, stable, 'first world' society and the more haphazard societies of the third world. Not trusting people means you have to devote resources to protecting yourself and your business and your property. Are you going to build a state-of-the-art factory in a country where people won't trust you to pay on time, so they don't feel the need to show up on time or deliver on time?

    People in a high-trust society are self-disciplined and can trust that those around them are self-disciplined.

    The societies that Trump sees as shit-holes are lower-trust societies. The ones that he thinks are great are high-trust societies. But he and his band of alt-right nutjobs and MAGAs don't understand this. They want to believe whatever they want, ignore whatever inconvenient facts they want, call everyone who disagrees a liar or a traitor or an idiot.

    It takes self-discipline to accept that someone disagrees with you but is a good person. It takes self-discipline to accept that people who have worked hard to understand something can tell you something you don't want to hear.

    A libertarian values the right of someone to be an un-self-disciplined slob, but still expects them to take responsibility for being a self-disciplined person. We have to assume that most science is more-or-less correct to within the strengths of the institutions. That most people aren't lying about whatever, and that in return we can't lie or ignore facts. People are fallible, but a successful society depends on most people trying hard not to be fallible in important ways.

    Trump and the alt-right and Breitbart and even Fox News claim to think that Western Civilization is the greatest civilization that ever was. And there's a lot to support that. But they need to accept that that comes with some requirements, and conspiracy bullshit and calling scientists liars is how you turn the US into a tinpot second-world nation with no influence beyond its borders and subject to the economic whims of greater societies.

    1. All of the above applies to Russia right now. Russia has the resources to be competitive with any Western country, but they've never gotten there. It's because they have never truly developed a high-trust society.

      Putin knows this, and knows that Western democracy is a threat to Russian 'greatness' because of it, but rather than work to enforce and construct higher-trust institutions in Russian society to make Russia more competitive, he wants to weaken those institutions in the West. He states outright that Western democracy is a threat to Russia. So he's undermining it. His support for Trump is just part of that.