February 3, 2002
Ronald N. Neff, senior editor of The Last Ditch, is one of the country's preeminent libertarian critics of electoral activism, and TLD in both its print and electronic incarnations has published many of his observations and analyses on the subject, most notably "Fifty Ron Pauls and the government with Only One Law" (December 2001) and "Why I am not a Libertarian" (November 2000).
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation and a Libertarian candidate for the U.S. Senate from Virginia.
An addendum by Mr. Neff,
to Ronald N. Neff
by JACOB G. HORNBERGER
with MR. NEFF's reply
1. Suppose the Congress were to become filled with 70 percent Ron Pauls (either as LP members, which Mr. Paul still is, or as Republicans or Democrats that is, people infused with the libertarian philosophy, as many of our nation's Founding Fathers were). Assume that one day those 70 percent brought to the floor of Congress bills that would repeal the federal income tax, end all welfare, including Social Security, and end the drug war. Does Mr. Neff believe that the "principled" course of action would be for those in the 70 percent to resign from Congress before casting a vote in favor of such repeals?
2. Pursuant to the amendment process provided by the Constitution, if those same 70 percent intended to submit the following four constitutional amendments to the states for ratification, would Mr. Neff's position be, again, that the "principled" course of action was that the 70 percent should resign from Congress before casting such a vote?
(1) "The Sixteenth Amendment (income tax) is hereby repealed."
(2) "No law shall be enacted, by either Congress or the states, respecting the regulation of commerce or abridging the free exercise thereof."
(3) "No law shall be enacted, by either Congress or the states, that provides welfare of any kind to the citizenry, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid."
(4) "No law shall be enacted respecting the establishment of education or abridging the free exercise thereof."
3. Suppose the Constitution were amended to provide for initiative and referendum, and the following initiative were put on the ballot in an election in which ordinary registered voters could vote: "The federal government of the United States is hereby abolished." Assume also that on election eve, the polls were reflecting that the outcome would be neck and neck. The pollsters were saying that if anarcho-libertarians boycotted the election, the referendum would fail. Would the "principled" position be to boycott the election? Would Mr. Neff himself boycott the election, even if he were morally certain that his vote would make the difference between overarching tyranny and anarcho-capitalism?
4. If the Congress of today, which is 99 percent composed of 99 percent statists, decided to end the drug war solely because of budget constraints, would the "principled" course of action be to support such a vote, oppose such a vote, or take an indifferent position to such a vote?
5. If 70 percent of the American people began subscribing to libertarian principles but refused to either vote or run for elective office while the other 30 percent remained died-in-the-wool socialists, why wouldn't the result be permanent, perpetual socialism for that society, organized and run by the 30 percent who voted and ran for office? Could Mr. Neff foresee the achievement of a libertarian society under these conditions and, if so, how would he foresee it being accomplished?
Ronn Neff replies
In addressing these questions, once again I shall use Libertarian (with a capital "L") to mean a member of the Libertarian Party. By libertarian (with a lower-case "l") I shall mean one who adheres to the central tents of libertarianism, and the rejection of force and the threat of force as means for achieving social ends. Normally, I shall use it adjectivally, and when I use it as noun, I will use it in the plural. I think it proper to stipulate that Mr. Hornberger is both a libertarian and a Libertarian.
I am not saying that the Libertarian Party cannot win elections. I am not even saying that it is unlikely to win elections. My point all along has been that the Libertarian Party cannot win elections and wield power on the one hand and be true to the libertarian principles it purports to champion on the other.
If Mr. Hornberger wishes to argue that it can do that, then it is incumbent on him to make that argument, to demonstrate that it is possible by the winning and wielding of political power to create a free society. Neither Mr. Hornberger nor anyone else has accepted that challenge, and until someone does I could theoretically be perfectly happy to say that I had made my case. The burden of proof is on the Libertarian to show that electoral activity, party politics, and holding government power are appropriate tools for winning a libertarian society. I go further: even if they are consistent with the principles of libertarianism, the burden of proof is on the Libertarian to show that they are capable of building a libertarian society. In other words it is the Libertarian's burden of proof to show both that his proposed methods are consistent with his stated goals and that they are capable of doing what they are supposed to do.
Perhaps an example will help. The Libertarian Chess League might insist that playing in chess tournaments is consistent with the principles of libertarianism. They might even insist that playing in government-organized tournaments was consistent with those principles. Moreover, they might have many champion players who manage to win lots of tournaments. It does not follow that winning lots of chess games is the sort of activity that produces a libertarian society, even when it is done by libertarians. I am asking the Libertarian after he has argued that electoral politics is consistent with libertarian principles to show that the political means, when wielded by libertarians, is the sort of activity that produces a libertarian society.
None of Mr. Hornberger's questions attempts to shoulder that burden. Even so, because the questions so clearly exhibit the flaws of thinking in electoral terms I have already described, I will not wait for him to meet it.
In "Fifty Ron Pauls and the Government with Only One Law" (hereafter "Fifty Ron Pauls"), I said that the Libertarian Party committed a major error: "It imagines a state of affairs, asserts that that state of affairs would be a Good Thing, and then calls for efforts to achieve it," without ever showing us that it is the proper vehicle for bringing about that state of affairs.
The case of the Libertarian Chess League above was given so that the reader would have an idea of just what this error is. Now consider the error in greater depth:
Let us suppose that there is a group that not only advocates a violent libertarian revolution, but has set about fomenting one. Let us call it the Libertarian Resistance. Mr. Hornberger is not an advocate of violent revolution. Neither am I. But let us suppose that a member of of the Libertarian Resistance has put out a broadside calling for us to join the Resistance or at least to endorse it. The broadside reads in part:
"We control 70 percent of the radio and TV stations in the United States, and 70 percent of the police and military have joined us with their weapons. The governors of 35 states are in hiding, and we have imprisoned a large number of members of the regulatory commissions. A few have been tried by revolutionary courts and have been hanged. At the last election, neither party was able to find enough candidates to field for the national offices. Now will you join us? Now will you endorse us?"
I suspect that at this point, Mr. Hornberger would want to say, "Hold on there. How did you get those radio and TV stations? And what's this about revolutionary courts? Before I go endorsing any so-called Libertarian Resistance, I want to know just how closely you adhere to libertarian principles." I know I would. And that wouldn't even begin to scratch the surface of questions I would want answered.
Quite simply, our Libertarian Resistance member has not given us enough information to answer his question, even though on the face of it, it appears to be a pretty straightforward question. And quite simply, Mr. Hornberger has not given me enough information to answer his questions, though they appear to be straightforward. And the information lacking in Mr. Hornberger's questions is the same kind of information lacking in the case of the Libertarian Resistance: I want to know just how closely these members of Congress have adhered to libertarian principles. In "Fifty Ron Pauls" I was at pains to show that they must depart from them at innumerable junctures, that they must as a matter of logic be collaborators with the state, and that any government they succeed in creating would be a kind of Vichy libertarianism.
The ball on which we must keep our eye is authority. When one acts without authority, he perforce does that which he has no right to do. If one is to govern his choices by reference to principles, and his principles eschew doing that which he has no right to do, then he will not act without authority. And as I have argued, no one has the authority to do what any of these congressmen are claiming to do. As a matter of principle they are usurpers, not champions of liberty.
"Screw all that," says our Resistance member. "If we have achieved what we say we have achieved, will you join us? Don't let's bother with all this philosophical doubletalk. I want an answer to my question."
I do not for a moment think that Mr. Hornberger would say, "Don't let's bother with all this philosophical doubletalk." But he does want an answer to his questions. I apologize to the reader in advance if he tires of the number of counterexamples I shall employ to show what is wrong with these questions.
4. If the Congress of today, which is 99 percent composed of 99 percent statists, decided to end the drug war solely because of budget constraints, would the "principled" course of action be to support such a vote, oppose such a vote, or take an indifferent position to such a vote?
I begin with #4, because I think answering it best illustrates the importance of the philosophical doubletalk.
Mr. Hornberger is an opponent of the many usurpations of the federal government, including the many intrusions and usurpations of the so-called Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act of 2001, which provides, inter alia, for law-enforcement officers to "search for and seize any property or material that constitutes evidence of a criminal offense in violation of the laws of the United States" without giving notice to the owner of the property if "the court finds reasonable cause to believe that providing immediate notification of the execution of the warrant may have an adverse result." (Section 213; I am using a version of H.R. 3162 dated October 24, posted at http://www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/hr3162.html. It is entirely possible that this is not the language of the actual bill as it was voted on, but it will do for purposes of this illustration.)
Let us suppose that a terrorist is planning to blow up the building in which The Future of Freedom Foundation has its offices. It is while conducting a search of that terrorist's home under the provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act that partial plans are discovered. The terrorist is apprehended and taken to the police station where he is beaten within an inch of his life until he spills his guts and tells everything he knows about the plan. The building is not blown up and Mr. Hornberger and his staff have been saved from death because of the usurpations and violations permitted by the USA PATRIOT Act and various violations of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.
Will he be glad to have been spared? will he be indifferent to his brush with death? will he publish an article denouncing the criminal violations of the Constitution that led to his being saved from the plot?
It doesn't matter. No matter what his feelings about the matter, he still would be in favor of close adherence to the principles of limited government and the due process of law guaranteed by some constitution that he has already articulated. He would be in favor of them because the principles to which he adheres imply them; the fact that he has personally profited from their violation would not change his adherence to his principles one iota.
I am glad when individual men crooks, terrorists, and congressmen change their ways and begin to do the right thing. I am glad when a criminal decides, "I shall not rob anyone tonight." If I ever hear a criminal (public or private) say it, I shall not try to dissuade him. But I am not going to spend my time trying to get criminals to take the night off or even six nights off. We should all rather be trying to get them into some socially useful and productive line of work. That I am glad a brigand has decided to do the right thing on one occasion does not mean that I must be glad either that he is still a criminal or that he will engage in criminal behavior tomorrow.
#1 and #2: "Suppose the Congress were to become filled with 70 percent Ron Pauls (either as LP members, which Ron still is, or as Republicans or Democrats that is, people infused with the libertarian philosophy, as many of our nation's Founding Fathers were). Assume that one day those 70 percent brought to the floor of Congress bills that would repeal the federal income tax, end all welfare, including Social Security, and end the drug war. Does Mr. Neff believe that the 'principled' course of action would be for those in the 70 percent to resign from Congress before casting a vote in favor of such repeals?"
"Pursuant to the amendment process provided by the Constitution, if those same 70 percent intended to submit the following four constitutional amendments to the states for ratification, would Mr. Neff's position be, again, that the 'principled' course of action was that the 70 percent should resign from Congress before casting such a vote?" There follow the amendments.
Ross Perot has come by his fabulous wealth almost entirely by supplying services to the U.S. government to carry out various programs that Mr. Hornberger has written are violations of our natural liberties and of the Constitution. That is, his wealth is the result of theft, expropriation, and political chicanery.
The Future of Freedom Foundation does not solicit or accept government monies. But if Ross Perot repents and offers a few billion dollars to FFF, and states his intention to become the Libertarian Party's candidate for president, will Mr. Hornberger accept his check?
Perhaps this situation is not parallel to the two Mr. Hornberger has put before me. But I think I have shown that merely to say that such-and-such a state of affairs is a Good Thing and to ask me whether I am willing to support it is to lose sight of the role that principles must play in making decisions.
It is also to lose sight of cause and effect. After all, the states of affairs Mr. Hornberger has described must have a history, and I am at liberty to make certain assumptions about that history and to ask certain questions that may highlight the further absurdity of his questions:
In the world imagined by Questions #1 and 2, society has so changed that one wonders why anyone is waiting for Congress to take any action whatever. And it is not Congress that has made the changes; Congress merely reflects those changes; it is not a creator of ideas. So I must wonder: Why haven't people just stopped paying their taxes? Why has not the government gone broke so that it is not able to pay out anything for welfare? A society that can elect a Congress that is so anti-state has virtually no need for the Congress at all, in order to achieve its ends.
After all, let's recall that if 70 percent of Congress are Ron Pauls, someone had to vote for them. And those someones came from all walks of life. Therefore, the military and the police force have been unable to recruit for some time. Judges and juries are refusing to convict anyone of tax evasion. Moreover, by this time so many citizens are opposed to the state that there should be pockets all over the country in which the opposition is strong enough that virtual secession should have taken place.
And we are not just looking at the federal government. With this kind of opposition, would the states still have their income taxes, their welfare programs, their regulation of commerce? It's hard to see how. If the U.S. Congress can take on such measures with the kind of certainty of passing that Mr. Hornberger has postulated, the states have undergone similar transformations. It is even possible that certain state legislatures have been so poorly attended that they may as well not even exist. Such is said to have happened under the Articles of Confederation. At all levels such measures as Mr. Hornberger has described are simply irrelevant. State governments have become irrelevant, Congress has become irrelevant, the amendment process is irrelevant, the Constitution has become irrelevant. In fact, one might wonder why these people are engaged in passing laws or amendments at all. Why don't they all just go home?
If there is such support for real liberty, one might even be suspicious of those Libertarians in government (party members and officials) who are still clinging to their power, their positions, their salaries and perquisites. Perhaps we should refer them to our imaginary Libertarian Resistance friends for lamp-post adornment.
#3: "Suppose the Constitution were amended to provide for initiative and referendum, and the following initiative were put on the ballot in an election in which ordinary registered voters could vote: 'The federal government of the United States is hereby abolished.' Assume also that on election eve, the polls were reflecting that the outcome would be neck and neck. The pollsters were saying that if anarcho-libertarians boycotted the election, the referendum would fail. Would the "principled" position be to boycott the election? Would Mr. Neff himself boycott the election, even if he were morally certain that his vote would make the difference between overarching tyranny and anarcho-capitalism?"
Let me begin by suggesting that the referendum read: "The federal government of the United States is hereby renewed."
Why is it assumed that governments should continue from one day to the next? If one really believes in government by consent, shouldn't it be necessary for the government to renew that consent every so often? Indeed, very often? It is the government and its existence that must be justified. Governments do not exist in nature; men create them. There is no reason to treat them as though they were the default setting of society. There is no reason especially for libertarians to treat them as though they were the default setting of society. There is no reason for anyone to assume that a government created by one set of libertarians is acceptable to the next generation of libertarians.
The question should also say something about those who refrain from voting. Will their abstinence be counted as "no"? Why not? What reason can be given that people who will not vote for the continuance of a government should be subject to it?
Of all these questions, one can reply that of course it would be nice if government would reduce its power. Of course it would be nice if government were to give up some of its usurpations. But that is all mere reform. And I am willing to concede that it is logically possible that the Libertarian Party should be an agent of superficial reform. But for the attainment of worthy goals the end of the state, the realization of a laissez-faire society, and the honoring of individual liberty such reforms are a distraction. And is it not self-evident that the more distracted one is, the less likely he is to achieve his goals?
At this point I wish to quote one of the most moving statements against mere reform I have read in recent years:
I confess that the reformist slogans do absolutely nothing for me. They don't get my heart pounding. They don't get my blood boiling. Quite honestly, I find them all quite boring. And given a choice between going cycling or devoting the years I have left on this good Earth to their achievement, well, you'll find me on my bike. If on my deathbed, someone says to me, "We reduced income taxes by 30%," my response is going to be "Big deal. I wanted to be free." (Jacob G. Hornberger, "Compromise and Concealment The Road to Defeat," [Fairfax, Virginia: The Future of Freedom Foundation, 1997], page 4.)
The reason I say that the changes envisioned in Mr. Hornberger's questions are superficial reforms is that all of them would have been achieved at the price of violating libertarian principles, at the price of collaborating with statist premises.
What confidence can we have that the reforms would "take" under such conditions? In fact, isn't it almost absurd to suppose that violating libertarian principles at every juncture on the road to power could even get us as far as the imaginary states of affairs presupposed by Mr. Hornberger's questions?
The error of the first three of Mr. Hornberger's questions is that they all assume the legitimacy of government and ask us to collaborate with its procedures. They assume that men can collaborate with them and remain true to libertarian principles. They further assume that there is nothing wrong with collaborating with those procedures, and then they in effect ask me why I don't like them.
I don't like them because they presuppose that which was to have been demonstrated. I don't like them because I don't like collaborating with statist procedures. And I don't like them because I do not believe that you can collaborate with statist procedures without collaborating with statist premises.
Some may ask me, however, to please answer the questions more directly. I am of the opinion that I have done so, but I am always happy to oblige my readers.
#1: Do I believe that the principled (I will omit Mr. Hornberger's quotation marks) course of action would be for those in the 70 percent to resign from Congress before casting a vote in favor of such repeals?
No. I think the principled course of action would be for them all to have resigned the day after taking their oaths of office. No, I take it back. The principled course would be for them to have refused to take oaths of office. Wait, I take that back. The principled course would be for them not to have run at all, but rather to have put their minds, talents, and fortunes to devising some other means, some moral means, some means consistent with libertarian principles, of building a free society.
#2: Would my position be, again, that the 70 percent should resign from Congress before casting such a vote?
Yes. Years before casting it. I believe that the principled course would be for them all to recognize that they have no authority even to presume that they can tell the rest of us under what laws we are to live or who is to pass them even if the laws are relatively harmless. And then to act on that recognition.
(My answers to #1, #2, and #3 illustrate the problem I have already mentioned that afflicts questions of this sort they lack a past. In the society Mr. Hornberger has imagined, I must be imagined to have been voicing my opinion on the matter of electoral politics all along. Why, after urging that libertarians not run for office for the many years it took to get the 70 percent, should I suddenly change my mind when they go to vote on something? The fundamentals of the situation have not changed at all. And if my arguments are powerful enough to make a difference at this moment of decision, why were they not powerful enough the week before to have the desired effect? or the month before? or today? The fact is that Libertarian congressmen may enact certain reforms, but just like the statists they have replaced, they will never, ever, give up their usurped power. No matter what I say. So why is there any question about what I will say to them, anyway?)
#3: Would I boycott the election, even if I were morally certain that my vote would make the difference between overarching tyranny and anarcho-capitalism?
My abstinence should be counted against renewing the government's contract. If the imaginary Libertarian members of Congress didn't provide for that, that's one more reason to refer them to the imaginary Libertarian Resistance group.
And that brings us to #5. There are two questions here:
(5a) "If 70 percent of the American people began subscribing to libertarian principles but refused to either vote or run for elective office while the other 30 percent remained died-in-the-wool socialists, why wouldn't the result be permanent, perpetual socialism for that society, organized and run by the 30 percent who voted and ran for office?"
Well, no doubt it might well be socialists who run the state. But again, if 70 percent of Americans have embraced libertarian principles, it is difficult to see just what relevance the actions of the other 30 percent have. Let them have their congresses, their cabinet posts, their judgeships. How are they going to enforce anything? Seventy percent of the military personnel and so-called law-enforcement personnel just quit their jobs and went home and (as I said) with their weapons.
Seventy percent of the print media don't cover their debates and reproduce the Federal Register on the comics page.
At this stage of society, the actions of people who take oaths and pass laws and make declarations and issue orders can be reported alongside stories of pitiable Alzheimer's patients who wander shopping malls not knowing where they are. Which is how everyone in politics including LP operatives and candidates should be regarded now.
(5b) "Could Mr. Neff foresee the achievement of a libertarian society under these conditions and, if so, how would he foresee it being accomplished?"
Now we get to the heart of the matter. And implicit in this question is this suggestion: that as long as statists want to have elections, libertarians must participate in them.
Let me repeat that: Mr. Hornberger's questions imply that as long as statists want to have elections, libertarians must participate in them. Statists get to set the agenda. Statists get to determine what tactics libertarians must embrace. As long as statists make the rules and run things, libertarians must act "within the system."
Excuse me, but that's nuts. And letting your enemy determine what manner of opposition you are permitted to engage in guarantees his victory.
The democratic process has one purpose: to put people in office. Which is to say, to put people in a position where they can claim authority they do not have. They can say that they will do good with their fake authority, but they have to act as criminals while they are doing all this good. And that is the statists' victory, a victory guaranteed by the Libertarian's participation in a state-defined process.
What I can foresee is that no libertarian society will be achieved by joining the defenders of the state and collaborating with its life of the lie. I guarantee for the reasons I gave in "Fifty Ron Pauls" that as long as there is a government at all, there will be permanent, perpetual central planning. There will never be a laissez-faire society. There will necessarily be arbitrary laws passed. There will necessarily be intrusions into the free market. Some men will necessarily have to obey and "support" others whom they did not choose but who presume to speak for them, make decisions for them, and enact policies that may spell financial ruin for their families or death for their sons.
We know that in economics there is really no Third Way between socialism and laissez-faire. Every Third Way must lead to socialism, and every Third Way makes the same errors that socialism makes and is based on those same errors. Errors and lies.
The case is the same for politics. There is no way between true liberty and tyranny. Limited government so-called is a misguided attempt to steer between the two, and the modern state normally masquerades as the fulfillment of the dream of liberty. But even the most limited, Randian, night-watchman government is built on the same underpinning as the worst statist tyranny: the usurpation of authority. Every member of government participates in that usurpation. Every candidate for office aspires to commit acts of usurpation. Every one of them must live a lie, the lie that he possesses authority to do what he does.
Every proposal that we vote on something in a political context is a proposal that the will of some be imposed on others. As soon as someone says, "Let's vote on it," he has announced that in his opinion the desires of some should be imposed on others. What is the proper response to the person who says, "Not me. I'm not going to vote on it"? Typically, the response is, "Then your opinion will not be counted. You will have no say in the matter." What's libertarian about that?
"Let's vote on it" becomes a proposition from which one cannot dissent, a proposition that one cannot oppose. The statist says "Let's vote on it," and the lover of liberty has to go along with the statist, according to Mr. Hornberger.
Anyone who is satisfied with the existence of a government any government and who endorses the electoral process to determine the personnel of that government has given up permanently on the idea of a laissez-faire society. He has declared himself satisfied with a halfway measure. The true liberty-lover may as well go bike-riding, if the 70 percent LP members in Congress will let him.
So much for what I can foresee.
It is better to desire true liberty and to speak out for it, to defend it, to explain it, and to argue for it even if it is highly unlikely that you will ever live to see it than to settle for this political Third Way. It is better to hold the vision of true liberty and to be true to it than to settle for the folly of endorsing the one institution that has been liberty's most implacable foe for all of history.
I have often said in my writings for The Last Ditch that I do not know how to fight the state, that I do not know how liberty can ever be realized. I appreciate the compliment that I ought to, and that until Ronn Neff shows everyone the way, they're all just going to keep spending their time in ballot-access campaigns and struggling with all their might to become the nominee for a party that can barely get 1 percent of the vote in a gubernatorial campaign; they are all going to keep collaborating with the state and its premises and lies.
But you all mustn't wait for me. I need the help of dozens and dozens of other men who will think about this subject; who will debate various methods, strategies, and tactics that none of us has yet thought of and try them; whose genius, insights, and talents will not be squandered in the defense of the state and its civil rights. There are plenty of people to serve that false liberty, that Vichy liberty. It is real liberty that stands in need of hearts and minds and hands. No libertarian who reads my words is needed to carry out the work of the chimerical limited state and its political parties and false liberty. Your work for it, your talent, and above all your vote are superfluous. They can all get along without you. They have been getting along without you for centuries.
The real work in the service of true liberty stands in need of you, and I keep calling out to you to join the most basic political struggle.
I can foresee that true liberty can never be won as long as countless libertarians fall for the lies of Vichy libertarianism.
But I can also foresee that men can be sane. And that by speaking the truth and defending it in spite of the desperate odds, there can still be sane men and there will probably always be sane men. It is those sane men who will achieve liberty if ever the time and conditions are right. If I can add to their number, it may be that I will have to be satisfied with that: "At present nothing is possible except to extend the area of sanity little by little. We cannot act collectively. We can only spread our knowledge outwards from individual to individual." (1984) But one does not extend the area of sanity, one does not add to the number of sane men by voting them into a position where they must live the life of a lie.
Again, voting is a civil right, not a natural right. It is defined by the state. Its exercise is limited by the state. The purposes to which it can be put are limited by the state. It is the state's tool. Every one of Mr. Hornberger's questions has as its subtext that voting is truly the most precious right, that it is the only right we can depend on for winning our liberty. If we do not exercise it, we are doomed never to see true liberty.
The truth is the opposite: if ever true liberty is seen on this earth, it will not come from men who exercise their civil right to beg the state to let them be free. It will come because of men who take actions consistent with their natural rights as men, who do not beg a temporarily meek or limited state to give it to them, but who reach out and take what was theirs by right. May God bless them and fortify them.
Postscript and a question of my own: The Libertarian Party has spent untold millions of dollars and benefited from billions of hours of work. It has had at its service incalculable wealth in human ability and talent. To what level of failure would it have to sink before Mr. Hornberger would agree that the entire electoral project had failed and begin looking for some other method for building a free society? Or would he continue to argue for participation in the electoral system no matter how dismal the performance of Libertarian parties and candidates?
October 10, 2007
Jacob Hornberger has made a major issue of immigration and open borders. I recommend that the reader consult "A Message from FFF's President" or any number of essays by Mr. Hornberger or his colleagues at The Future of Freedom Foundation. FFF advocates fully open borders and has no truck even with the concept "illegal alien." (See the "Immigration Archives" at www.fff.org/issues/immigration.asp.) Their position has been unchanged since 1995, when the foundation published one of its first books (The Case for Free Trade and Open Immigration).
Comes now Ron Paul, who recently cast a vote against an immigration "reform" bill. His statement concerning that vote ("Immigration 'Compromise' Sells Out Our Sovereignty") appears on his Website, which is paid for and maintained with tax monies collected by the U.S. government.
In that statement, he says, "Immigration reform should start with improving our border protection" and "I will continue to oppose any immigration bill that grants amnesty to illegals or undermines our liberty and sovereignty."
Nicholas Strakon has often lamented that so many libertarians seem to have their favorite government programs. Congressman Paul has now identified candidates for his favorites: Preventing illegal immigrants from entering the United States and applying whatever statutes exist against them.
So I have to wonder just what Mr. Hornberger expects his many Ron Pauls
I answered, in my original treatment of Mr. Hornberger's questions, "The
democratic process has one purpose: to put people in office. Which is to say,
to put people in a position where they can claim authority they do not have."
And Dr. Paul is just one of those people, claiming an authority he does not and
cannot have. As I predicted in my discussion above, a Congress
I'm not going to let Mr. Hornberger completely off the hook here. After all, he ran for the office of U.S. senator in 2002. His favorite government program is to attempt to enforce justice by means of an intrinsically unjust organization that is, to attempt to use that organization to defend a people against whom it must necessarily wage ceaseless war. But whereas I suspect that Dr. Paul, had he been a Virginia resident, would have been willing to vote for Mr. Hornberger, I must doubt now that Mr. Hornberger, if he were still a Texas resident, would be so sanguine about returning Dr. Paul to his seat in Congress. After all, the slogan of Mr. Hornberger's foundation is "We don't compromise." And a vote for Ron Paul (whether for president or Congress) is a compromise for Mr. Hornberger on the issue of immigration.
You just never know exactly what you are going to get when you give someone a job in which he claims an authority that does not exist. You cannot count on him to exercise it in a way that you foresaw. And if you cannot count on a Ron Paul, whom can you count on?
Editor's note. When we attempted to raise these issues with Mr. Hornberger, he was unavailable for comment.
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