Against Libertarian Trotskyism
- Only two things can save [libertarians] from falling into the trap of "libertarian Trotskyism," and that is:
1) Rejecting Paine’s Jacobin/Napoleonic slogan, and realizing that, no, my country isn’t the world – it’s the United States of America, homeland of the one libertarian revolution that has managed to survive, and, for a time, even thrive. A revolution, I remind you, that is in mortal danger of being reversed, and which it is our primary obligation to defend. I would go even further than that and venture to say that mounting such a defense is our sole task, given the crisis of liberty in this country. In short; if we are to have libertarianism, it is going to be libertarianism in one country – or not anywhere at all.
2) We must never forget that the political character of a state, whether it is democratic, theocratic, fascist, or communist, says nothing about the foreign policy it will pursue. A democracy can be and often is relentlessly aggressive, while a fascist dictatorship could just as readily be pacific and isolationist. Indeed, a democratic nation with a Messiah complex is far more dangerous to the world and to its own people than a relatively authoritarian state that just wants to reign over its little corner of the globe. A danger to the world because the special arrogance that infuses would-be messiahs allows them to commit the greatest crimes for the noblest of reasons. A danger to their own people because the very act of aggression and empire-building destroys the liberal character of democratic states, eating away their substance from within.
- Libertarian isolationism draws its adherents from both the left and the right. According to the libertarian isolationist interpretation of history, the U.S. changed from a decentralized republic into a militarized, authoritarian empire in the late 19th century, when the Spanish-American War made the U.S. a colonial power and trusts and cartels took over the economy. Every president since McKinley, they believe, has been a tool of a self-aggrandizing crony capitalist oligarchy, which exaggerated the threats of Imperial and Nazi Germany and Japan and the Soviet Union and communist China and now of Islamist terrorism in order to regiment American society and divert resources to the bloated 'military-industrial complex.' If the libertarian isolationists had their way, the U.S. would abandon foreign alliances, dismantle most of its military, and return to a 19th-century pattern of decentralized government and an economy based on small businesses and small farms.