Last Friday I had an opportunity to take part in Todd Andrew Barnett’s show Liberty Cap Talk Live on Blog Talk Radio. It started out as an interesting but not particularly remarkable show with Mary Ruwart as the primary guest and me joining in late. Then about two thirds of the way through we switched topics and things got out of control and perhaps more entertaining — certainly more provocative.
At that point Todd switched the topic to Iran and brought up as his starting point an article either by Eric Dondero or from his site Libertarian Republican which took issue with Ron Paul for opposing a congressional resolution in support of freedom for the Iranian people. Eric is always trying to stir the waters and has a well-known personal beef with Ron Paul, so the article isn’t surprising. My mistake was in trying to explain why a libertarian might support such a resolution or even support foreign intervention on behalf of liberty.
I wasn’t trying to advocate that position, merely explain the reasoning behind it and how it comes from a legitimate strain of classical liberalism and perhaps point out that it was a pretty trivial issue, but that was lost very quickly when Jim Davidson who was one of the other guests on the show, went completely berserk. It seems Davidson is a very emotional and passionate anarcho-socialist who sees all actions of government as treason and believes that anything government does in the name of the people is essentially a crime. That didn’t exactly leave a lot of common ground with my belief that a republican form of government is the greatest safeguard of individual liberty. Though I tried to pursue a reasonable course, in a matter of seconds he was ranting and screaming about murdering babies and genocide and other craziness which was hard to follow, taking the position that supporting a non-binding resolution in favor of liberty in a foreign country was the first step to and essentially equivalent to invading that country and murdering their people. Davidson seemed to have a specific obsession with republicans as the source of all evil, which put me in a difficult position as the Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus and someone who always looks to find common ground with other libertarians — something which was clearly not happening here. And, of course, he immediately jumped from square A to square Z and assumed that I was a warmonger and perhaps even a war ciminal, in response to which I kind of feebly pointed out my decades of opposition to war an involuntary servitude, but the rant went on.
Then the fates, technical glitches or perhaps the host intervened and the whole thing came to a crashing halt and went off air, which was probably just as well. In the aftermath, Todd Barnett apologized to everyone concerned and banned Davidson from future appearances on his show, which is understandable. I feel like I ought to apologize too for provoking Davidson, but I’m not sure that anything more than mentioning the word “republican” was needed to set him off.
I bring it all up here, and offer the recording below for reference, because I think that this is a classic example of the irrationality which lies at the heart of anarchism and much of the libertarian left. Jim Davidson may be an extreme example, but there are many who share the same beliefs and seem to be incapable of looking at issues in any way other than one of emotion, rage and unreason. I find them difficult to understand, because for me the belief in liberty is the natural outcome of reason and I think that liberty can really only be preserved and maintained in an atmosphere of rationality.
Their viewpoint seems to be one of blind and unconsidered faith rather than the product of any kind of rational process, and it makes me wonder how easily that irrationality could be turned to violence or twisted upon itself in service of a demagogue or a totalitarian movement. It is a characteristic of the irrational rage which motivates domestic terrorists — even though they may have very different core beliefs — and which motivated the anarchists who tried to incite riots at the political conventions in 2008. It’s a narcissistic attitude which causes a violent response to disagreement rather than a more rational desire to understand and dispute or disprove opposing viewpoints. Many of the greatest tyrannies in history had their beginnings in movements which espoused liberty and attracted followers who were blind and uncritial fanatics like Jim Davidson. Then they evolved and accepted the idea that the only way to implement their vision of liberty was the force it on others — which is not liberty at all.
I think that’s the essential fallacy in the beliefs of not only left-libertarians and anarcho-socialists, but also the problem with the religious right and nativists and conspiracy fanatics and followers of the John Birch society who have been attracted to the liberty movement and revere Ron Paul as some kind of messiah. All of these groups put certain other issues to which they have a great and irrational emotional attachment ahead of the basic principle of individual liberty. Someone may have convinced them that they are libertarians, but so long as they don’t believe in liberty first, they are something else in my book. This doesn’t mean that we should purge these people from the liberty movement, but they do need to be educated and taught to reason and moved away from fanaticism and towards a rational understanding that liberty has to come first and that maybe hatred of immigrants or republicans or jews doesn’t make much sense and is certainly less important than liberty.