June 4, 2014

On Radicals

By In Blogs, C.Jay Engel

Libertarians, and all those who dare hold to the unapproved opinion that political power ought to be radically decentralized, are dismissed, especially by those like Harry Reid, as radicals. Dangerous radicals!

Reid isn’t the only hater of those who believe in less government than he does, in fact there are far too many self-described “conservatives” who also despise libertarians and conservative foreign policy non-interventionists.  The “radicals,” who are against the United States’ immoral foreign entanglements and militarism internationally, are slandered as being anti-American.  This is ludicrous. It is astounding that those who want to prevent the expansion of American big-government overseas, and all the loss of freedoms and trillion dollar expenditures that empire requires, are dismissed as against “America.”  Isn’t pro-America to be against a tyrannical State located in DC?  What these pundits are really implying, however, is that the so-called “radicals” are actually against activities of the Federal Government.  And this is a terrible thing because they love the almighty State! But since they equate “America,” not with the private citizens who are forced to fork over their finances and liberties, but rather with the State itself, the brave citizen who stands up to State immorality is said to be “anti-America.”

H.L. Menken recognized this back in the early 20th century:

“The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.”

Indeed, such a distortion of the nature of the radical, the good citizen who does not want to see his country betrayed by its government, began far before Bush and Obama.  This country has been under attack in a propaganda war carried forth by Washington since the Progressive era.

It is not anti-American to be intellectually radically anti-State. It is healthy.  And no, holding to a position of anti-statism in no way implies that we want to overthrow the government, nor does it imply that we should disobey Paul’s advice to submit.  Rather, our attitude is one of submission despite, not because of, the terrible nature of the imperious State.

Written by C.Jay Engel

Editor and creator of The Reformed Libertarian. Living in Northern California with his wife, he writes on everything from politics to theology and from culture to economic theory. You can send an email to reformedlibertarian@gmail.com