November 22, 2010

Another Reminder that the Extreme Right is Not Libertarian or Constitutionalist

By Dave

Today I received another reminder in my email of why Alex Jones and the John Birch Society and other conspiracy fanatics on the far right who claim to be libertarians or at least paleocons are nothing of the sort. (also available in article form.

This took the form of a lengthy collection of links and brief observations drawn from a variety of websites run by Alex Jones and the John Birch Society and other even more questionable folks, focusing on the “invasion” of American towns by private security companies, which is apparently some sort of diabolical plot to advance the police state and implement the dreaded New World Order.

Apparently this horrific development has taken place in exactly two towns nationwide, though the only one they are able to actually name is Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. And although described as an “invasion” it appears to be nothing more sinister than merely contracting out some police services to properly trained private security in order to save money, all of which is self-evident from information provided in the article.

Bizarrely, almost all of the actual complaints against law enforcement raised in the various links accompanying the article refer to abuse of power by actual police officers who work directly for local government and are not private contractors. The only specific activities ascribed to private security firms are “driving around in police patrol vehicles” and “harassing citizens.” Very vague and pretty much what police are supposed to do, so long as the harassing is confined to suspected criminals.

The article also includes a screed against the use of private security contractors and mercenaries in overseas military operations and a grab-bag of typical Bircher lunacy about the NWO using foreign troops to suppress American dissent, FEMA and ATF stormtroopers, etc. Lots of good supporting links to absolute lunacy at infoward.com and the JBS’s newamerican.com.

The content of the email was another reminder of how far these extremist groups are from the real values of libertarianism, ,a philosophy which they often claim to believe in, but seem not to understand at all. It’s also interesting that they claim to advocate traditional American values, yet they seem to be deeply hostile to the capitalism which is the backbone of American economic liberty and their leaders like Alex Jones and Jerome Corsi regularly appear on Russia Today, the external propaganda arm of Russia’s Federal Security Bureau which has as its specific agenda undermining the security and sovereignty of the United States.

For decades real libertarians have widely supported the introduction of more capitalism into areas currently controlled by government. This includes support for the privatization of many government functions, including law enforcement and national security. As a taxpayer and a libertarian I applaud these communities which have taken the initiative to contract out some police services to properly trained security company personnel. This is a move away from a police state, not towards it.

If anything, you are likely to receive better treatment and more accountability from private security which has to keep the citizens happy if they want to have their contract renewed than you are from police officers protected by unions and by an assumption of authority which is likely to make them arrogant. Private companies also do not enjoy the government’s protection of sovereign immunity so you can sue them in civil court, which provides another avenue of redress if there is abuse.

Remember when airport security was private? Was that better or worse than the current behavior of the TSA? Private contractors who did airport screening were respectful and competent because their jobs depended on it. Government-employed and soon to be unionized TSA personnel are arrogant and act as if they are above any law or accountability.

The attack on the use of mercenaries is also amusing from people who often also claim to be “constitutionalists” with great admiration for a document they have apparently never read. While there’s a good argument to be made that the long term deployment of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan is unconstitutional, what is absolutely clear from Article 1, Section 8 is that it is absolutely legitimate for the government to hire mercenaries for overseas operations. This is specifically what the authorization of “letters of marque and reprisal” refers to. In fact, it was our great civil libertarian President Thomas Jefferson who first used mercenaries under this authority to execute his war with Tripoli.

Sometimes it’s enough to just say that Birchers and Infowarriors are nuts and ignore them, but every once in a while it is important to look at what they preach and what they claim to believe and point out the inconsistencies between the two. Their promotion of conspiracies and hatred of specific groups (jews and foreigners), their hostility to capitalism and their paranoia about government in general are much more characteristic of the early development of totalitarian movements than they are of libertarianism. There are legitimate reasons to fear the growth of government power, but there is nothing government can do to us with private security and mercenaries it can’t already do and do much worse with its existing security apparatus.

The Obama administration is probably going too far when it talks about putting these extremists on terrorist watch lists — there’s already far too much of that going on — but it is quite clear that these purveyors of hate and misinformation are no friends of liberty or the Constitution.

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