"[T]here are, at bottom, basically two ways to order social affairs, Coercively, through the mechanisms of the state -- what we can call political society. And voluntarily, through the private interaction of individuals and associations -- what we can call civil society. ... In a civil society, you make the decision. In a political society, someone else does. ... Civil society is based on reason, eloquence, and persuasion, which is to say voluntarism. Political society, on the other hand, is based on force." ~ Ed Crane
Requiem for the Republican Right
Column by Alex R. Knight III.
Exclusive to STR
The 2012 elections, while of limited interest to Voluntaryists, can still provide us, I believe, with something both instructive and profoundly useful.
Not only did Obama win a second term in the Oval Office, but Democrats in general made gains in both the Senate and House (even if Republicans held a slim majority in the latter). Now after you’re done yawning, you might ask yourself whether or not this actually means anything other than another long stretch of statism we’re all forced to endure. I think it does.
The lackluster performance of Republicans in terms of numbers this time around can be chalked up to a few things well outside of the current economy and mood du jour that most typically accompanies any election. Things more systemic. Things that aren’t just going to go away. Au contraire.
When the GOP tried selling themselves to the American voting public this time around, the most noticeable thing they lacked was one shred of integrity in terms of any serious track record -- much less genuine intention -- to radically slash government spending, growth, and taxes. While very good at whining that an increasingly welfare-dependent public will not allow them the practical political latitude to take such a truthful small-government stance, they have simultaneously grown blind to the fact that this is one of the only raison d’etres they have left. There are really no other cards to play, no remaining even pretended reasons why any typical mainstream voter should cast a ballot in favor of them any longer.
Indeed, everything in the Republican leadership’s power was done to shut Ron Paul and his supporters out of the party and process. Primary results were skewed and falsified – or just outright ignored. The mainstream press dutifully cooperated, and either downplayed or outright vilified the Paul campaign at every opportunity. Meanwhile, GOP neocons tried simultaneously promoting a policy of heightened warmongering overseas, with a kind of exclusionary 1950s-era Moral Majority attitude. Be damned to your thoughts about individual freedom: What we need is to keep kicking Arab ass, and telling you how to live your life. Then, by Jesus, there’ll be order, and that’s just what America needs. Now salute the flag, stay away from pot, thank the troops, and realize how much better the world is because of us.
This is sure as hell no broadside for Democrats, of course, who are generally unabashed in their vocalization of love for government and a perception that there is no ill it can’t cure, so long as it is ever of the Marxist variety. True, Obama has slapped the socialist Left in the face also, with everything from continuing wars and drone strikes, to continued detention of Gitmo inmates, to a continuing War on Drugs, to support of indefinite detention of Americans without charges or trial. The list goes on, but Obama and his Party still deliver more of what they claim to stand for than their Republican counterparts: More government, more welfare, and more collectivism.
This is why I maintain a fundamental shift has occurred this time around. The voting, statist segment of American society who lean towards – to one degree or another – individualism and sovereignty, minarchism to quasi-libertarianism, low taxes and fewer regulations, have been, perhaps irreparably, alienated from the Party that has traditionally promised these things. The Republicans now hold appeal for only a small segment of modern American society: The old religious right and militaristic Neocons. In other words, a dying breed who gave up on if not renounced any serious ambitions to reign in government back around the Goldwater era.
Of what possible interest is this to Voluntaryists? After all, we’d love to see the implosion of the GOP right alongside the Democrats, full steam ahead, and we’re not such big fans of voting in any case.
The significance is that this seems to be the fulfillment of a certain amount of libertarian prophecy: Back at the end of June last year, Anthony Gregory published an essay both here, and here, predicting this very development. I, for one, did not expect it to occur so soon, but roughly 17 months later, here we apparently are.
The conservative right, other than being in a minority in today’s America, have also now been correspondingly discredited as a viable political force. Of course, we Voluntaryists know that all government of all kinds is inherently and at its very foundations nothing but aggressive, compulsory force – which is why we unilaterally oppose its very existence. But what this means for the immediate time being is that the philosophical battleground has profoundly shifted. There’s no longer any pretending that the “serious” debate is Left vs. Right. It’s now where it most naturally ought to be: It’s Left vs. Libertarian, i.e., Control vs. Freedom, Government vs. The Individual, Tyranny vs. Liberty.
In other words, we needed this shift to occur in order to get down to reality. To brass tacks. To where the bear evacuated his proverbial bowels in the buckwheat. The real debate and intellectual sparring can now begin. In short, it’s on.
Voluntaryists, anarchists, libertarians: There’s no stopping us now, no remaining excuses. We have the truth on our side. History is our proof.
Let’s get out there and win this thing.