FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Liberals and the Libertarian "Contagion"

by TREVOR HULTNER

It’s impossible to make this stuff up, folks.

Salon.com columnist Tom Watson, in an article on the upcoming “Stop Watching Us” rally in Washington, D.C., has excoriated all of his progressive friends for supporting something that libertarians — surprise! — also support.

He writes, “Some of the biggest names in civil liberties and digital freedom of information will be there, including the ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation, FreePress and FreedomWorks. […] Yet I cannot support this coalition or the rally. It is fatally compromised by the prominent leadership and participation of the Libertarian Party and other libertarian student groups; their hard-core ideology stands in direct opposition to almost everything I believe in as a social democrat.”

This is like a child on the playground refusing to play with the other kids because “cooties.” Also, isn’t FreedomWorks supposed to be a Tea Party organization?

His main ideological disagreement with the “ickier” sponsors of the Stop Watching Us rally? “…[opposition to] all gun control laws and public healthcare, [support of] the government shutdown, [dismissal of] public education, [opposition to] organized labor, [and] favors the end of Social Security as we know it.”

Remember, this is an anti-surveillance rally we’re talking about here. These other issues, while absolutely argument-worthy in a variety of other contexts, really have nothing to do with the focus of the rally at all. Of course …

@onekade: To my libertarian friends: when we win and demolish the surveillance/police/military state, I will fight you on social welfare SO HARD.

Right back at you. 😉

Anyway, Watson continues:

Going ‘all in’ with the libertarian purists is a fatal and unnecessary compromise; reform is clearly needed, but the presence of anti-government laissez-faire wingers at the beating heart of the privacy movement will surely sour the very political actors that movement desperately needs to make actual – and not symbolic, link bait – progress in its fight.

And to whom is he referring?

“I speak of the progressive movement and the Democratic Party, of course.”

Oh.

Perhaps, in other circles, Watson is currently being lauded for taking a fearless and surely unpopular stance against the evilest of evil Bad Guys in the land (yes, even more evil than the Republican Anarchists that definitely exist). Really, though, it just looks like he’s dueling with windmills.

At one point, Watson writes,

“Political change requires choices and compromise, as well as action. If too many young organizers focus entirely on privacy and security and abandon the front lines on crucial economic issues, civil rights and inequality, the rights of workers, criminal justice reform, environmental regulation, and the pursuit social justice, their gains will be too little and society’s loss too great.

“Or libertarianism itself will rise, and our loss of liberty will be greater still. That’s because libertarianism is a form of authoritarianism disguised in a narrow slice of civil liberties. In trumpeting the all-knowing, ever wise wonders of the totally free and unencumbered market, it bestows all the power on those with access to capital. You may say we’re there already, but under a pure libertarian system, things would get much worse.”

What? “Libertarianism is a form of authoritarianism disguised in a narrow slice of civil liberties?” That’s rich coming from a proud member of a party that aims to break our legs so it can provide the crutches.

What’s sad here is that Watson is so misinformed regarding libertarianism in general (we won’t even get into left- or thick libertarianism here) that he has no idea that there are in fact libertarian writers and thinkers and activists talking about the issues he mentions — people like Radley Balko, Stephan Kinsella, Kevin Carson, Cathy Reisenwitz, Anna Morgenstern and Angela Keaton.

And let’s not forget that many people connected to this event that Watson admires — such as Glenn Greenwald — have written for, say, the oft-maligned Cato Unbound, and have been asked to speak at libertarian events before. Needless to say, their standing in the broader progressive community, and even among the radical left, has not been tarnished. His concern, while touching, is probably pretty unfounded.

Watson is right, though, on at least one thing: The “I’ve got mine,” borderline-nihilist attitude he displays at any prospect of working with people he might dislike for six hours has no place in a burgeoning movement that aims — at the very least — to stop the government from using its power to spy on us.

Trevor Hultner is an independent journalist and Internet content creator. He is the host and producer of Smash Walls Radio, a weekly news and politics podcast, as well as the host of a YouTube series aimed at spreading Absurdist philosophy.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
Stansfield Smith
North Koreans in South Korea Face Imprisonment for Wanting to Return Home
Hamid Yazdan Panah
Remembering Native American Civil Rights Pioneer, Lehman Brightman
James Porteous
Seventeen-Year-Old Nabra Hassanen Was Murdered
Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
Gregory Barrett
“Realpolitik” in Berlin: Merkel Fawns Over Kissinger
Louis Yako
The Road to Understanding Syria Goes Through Iraq
Graham Peebles
Grenfell Tower: A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Ezra Rosser
The Poverty State of Mind and the State’s Obligations to the Poor
Ron Jacobs
Andrew Jackson and the American Psyche
Pepe Escobar
Fear and Loathing on the Afghan Silk Road
Andre Vltchek
Why I Reject Western Courts and Justice
Lawrence Davidson
On Hidden Cultural Corruptors
Christopher Brauchli
The Routinization of Mass Shootings in America
Missy Comley Beattie
The Poor Need Not Apply
Martin Billheimer
White Man’s Country and the Iron Room
Joseph Natoli
What to Wonder Now
Tom Clifford
Hong Kong: the Chinese Meant Business
Thomas Knapp
The Castile Doctrine: Cops Without Consequences
Nyla Ali Khan
Borders Versus Memory
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail