In his own words for an article at the Libertarian Republic discussing his skepticism of a nonexistent libertarian orthodoxy, the publisher says the following:
I’m a constitutionalist because I believe that individuals have the right to contract with one another via democratic processes in order to decide how best to maintain civil order. I’m not necessarily for the constitution as it lies, but a constitutionalist in general. And I’m a minarchist because I believe whatever government is formed from those processes should be as small as possible, and there are areas where no government is necessary, including roads and even courts and police in many cases. (Emphasis added)
And this, my friends, is why I’m so vigilant to point out whenever someone misuses the word “libertarian.” If statement made above doesn’t bother you as a libertarian, there’s something wrong.
To make this clear immediately, this isn’t about his minarchism or belief in limited constitutions. Simply believing the government should follow the document they allegedly derive their authority from can land you on a terrorist watchlist.
But a self-described minarchist and constitutionalist who believes in the democratic process that H.L. Menken spent his career mocking should not be running a site called “Libertarian Republic.”
Ending the State, One Step At a Time
This may seem hypocritical, as I write for the Tenth Amendment Center, a constitutional think tank, and its projects. My work there is a means, not the end. While I push for the federal government’s powers to be limited to those delegated to it in the constitution, I also support all efforts to abolish the federal government and return the powers to the states. I also promote the reduction of state authority until it’s abolished as well. At the same time, I don’t vote and don’t intend to ever again.
Nor will I ever promote a certain candidate in an election. Having served as a precinct delegate for Ron Paul twice and supported his campaign in 2007 and 2012, I’ve accepted the futility of trying to create change by electing the “right” person. I’m just working with what’s given to us.
If this was the case for the publisher, I wouldn’t be complaining. But he calls himself a constitutionalist and minarchist while running a site called “Libertarian Republic.” As trivial as this may seem to some, it is a significant problem.
Libertarianism and Government Do Not Mix
Why is this important?
Because the word “libertarian” is now associated with something that has nothing to do with the philosophy, which is a stateless society. We’ve gotten to the point where a person can run a site with the word “libertarian” in it while describing themselves as something other than a libertarian, as though libertarianism was merely an offshoot of a political movement or party or fits within the confines of constitutionalism.
Again, I’m not critiquing the publisher’s belief in constitutions, per se, but the use of the word “libertarian” in its masthead when they’re in favor of limited government rather promoting the abolition of the state. Since the site does not have a mission statement, community beliefs, or guiding principals akin to those found at publications like Return of Kings, we’re left to conclude this is the purpose of the site.
To give an analogy, Lincoln was against slavery, but politically favored restricting it to the South. He did not seek to abolish it where it already was, and he supported the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Lysander Spooner and William Llyod Garrison, on the other hand, were abolitionists and advocated the total elimination of the institution. For Lincoln to have run a newspaper called the Abolitionist Republic while promoting his belief in restricting, rather than abolishing the institution of slavery would have given people the impression that abolitionists were only interested in restricting slavery instead of eliminating it altogether.
Likewise, people will visit Libertarian Republic and assume that libertarianism is about limited government, when it’s not. They will not learn about the NAP or how libertarianism forbids the use of coercion and aggression. They will get an impression of libertarianism that looks nothing like that described in Gerard Casey’s Libertarian Anarchy: Against the State.
For those who are concerned about intellectual purity and the preservation of meaning in words, the distinction is fundamental.
Once more, it’s not the content that irks me. It’s the way it is being packaged.
If the intellectual decline of Reason Magazine is any indication, it won’t be long before the Libertarian Republic publishes articles similar to “Libertarianism Is More Than Opposition To Force” or gives a platform for fake libertarians who advocate cultural or social values completely separate from libertarianism. Considering they have already published reviews of American Sniper describing Chris Kyle’s conduct in a positive light, I’m not optimistic.
I’m not one to judge people’s motives without evidence, so one can only speculate as to why the publisher chose to use “Libertarian Republic” as the masthead instead of “Constitutional Republic.”
Either way, to paraphrase a curiously appropriate Irish rebel song, they need to take it down from the masthead; it’s the word we anarchists claim.