Against Libertarian Imperialism

Faré on Distributed Republic criticizes the Rothbardians for supporting the enemies of their country.

Many libertarians, after Rothbard, start from the correct assumption that one’s government is one’s first and most direct enemy, to the conclusion that one should always side with the enemies of one’s current oppressor.

Rothbardians are wrong in supporting our enemies and the government is right to do something about them, the trouble is that the government is not very effectual or successful in doing something about them, while at the same time forbidding private citizens from acting.

Imperialism is not libertarian, colonialism can be.

Obviously I want the US to win in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our enemies to lose – which issue Rothbardians seem alarmingly confused about. But we are having problems in Dar al-Islam, and have alway had similar problems for a thousand years, due to diseconomies of scale in the application of force. The Rothbardians are wrong in that we really do need to kill people and break stuff but governments are not in fact very good at killing enough people and breaking enough stuff. Our past successes in this thousand year war have always involved meeting centralized state violence with centralized state violence, and decentralized non state and micro state violence with decentralized privatized and semi privatized violence. Centralized violence against the likes of the Taliban will work no better than centralized violence did against the Barbary pirates or the Saracens.

Imperialism worked and was good for everyone when the East India company was robbing the natives, for the Company was a colonialist. It became a disaster when the British government took over the East India Company and tried to do good to the natives from afar.

A big central government is bad at building local roads, and it is bad at providing law and justice. To the extent that good old fashioned Cecil Rhodes imperialism substituted competent civilized white stationary bandits for ignorant primitive and savage native stationary bandits, it was a huge improvement. Instead of being robbed by vicious cannibal rapists, the natives were robbed by people who mostly upheld private property rights, freedom of trade, and organized the building of roads. To the extent that imperialism substitutes distant do gooder bureaucrats in a foreign capital city for local primitive and savage stationary bandits, it is a disaster. It is better to be ruled by a local illiterate cannibal rapist despot than a Harvard educated bureaucrat located in Washington.

One of the best of the old imperialists, a man who was on the transition from brigand to bureaucrat, was Sir Stamford Raffles, a man who was willing to turn a city into a desert, and who rewarded troops by permitting them to ravage a city, a man who on a clerk’s salary somehow mysteriously had gold enough to buy princes by the dozen and support armies on the march. He a spy who charmed people while arranging their deaths, and a brigand. Everyone loved him, and thought what a kind and gentle ruler he was. When he was replaced by men who were wholly bureaucrats efficiently representing the will of London, men who did not enrich themselves to any extraordinary extent, no one liked his replacements.

Rhodes and Raffles were better for those they ruled than London bureaucrats nor has governmental military action served Christendom sufficiently well in the war with Dar al Islam.  We never got anywhere in the war with the Barbary pirates till the French started settling their lands. Until the colonialists arrived,  the Barbary pirates would just surrender, then promptly unsurrender.

The peace of Vasvár in 1664 depressingly resembled the innumerable “peace” agreements that Israel has made.

Our installation of Karzai depressingly resembles Charlemagne’s assistance to Ibn al Arubi.  When Israel removed the settlers from Gaza, rockets followed.  Therefore, when the settlers were there, they were preventing rockets.

This post has been corrected: The earlier version was overly critical of Faré.

One Response to “Against Libertarian Imperialism”

  1. Jetz says:

    I don’t see any good thing about supporting the enemy of the state. Instead to unite together they are putting down the country. Humans are rational beings and we have different ideology and that’s the fact!

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