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Can Libertarians be zionists?

PoliticsPosted by Nico Metten Mon, July 14, 2014 17:35:04

Libertarianism is all about maximising interpersonal Liberty. In order to achieve this goal, Libertarians have identified the state as the main obstacle to a free society. Many Libertarians are anarchists for that reason. Some are minimal statists, who support a limited mandate for a monopolists power to secure the rule of law. But even the latter kind of Libertarians does realise that the state is a great danger to liberty. They usually argue that practically states cannot be completely abolished. If they were, a new state would emerge automatically. But this new state would then be at risk of being much more anti liberty then the previous one. Therefore, Libertarians should work towards making the existing state more minimal, rather then advocating to abolish them all together.

This is certainly a perfectly acceptable position to take within Libertarianism. I personally happen to be an anarchist and personally do not subscribe to the idea of minimising the state. I think this is a dangerous strategy with very little prospects of success. Nevertheless, I do see that minimal statists are libertarians, as their goal still is to maximise liberty. We just happen to disagree on the strategy.

In any case, this is of cause a very theoretical view of Libertarianism. Currently, Libertarianism is picking up steam. It is more and more developing into a real political movement. As this happens, more and more people are coming to the party that are not too concerned with details of what it means to be a libertarian. There are now people calling themselves libertarians, who try to introduce all kinds of positive liberty concepts into the Ideology. This ranges from people arguing in favour of certain welfare programs, to people arguing in favour of closed state borders. In principal this is a very good sign. It means that Libertarianism has become so strong that a lot of people, who are not really Libertarians in the purest sense, nevertheless feel that Libertarianism is the place to be. If Libertarianism wants to be successful, it will need to tolerate a number of these people despite the fact that they are not Libertarians in the most strict sense.

However, it is also clear that this tolerance needs to have some limits. Otherwise Libertarianism will become meaningless and will fail. The success of a political movements very much depends on how successfully this line between Libertarians and non-Libertarians can be drawn. That is why one needs to be a bit wary about people coming to this movement with all kinds of positive liberty concepts. If I was the Establishment, trying to get in control of a rising libertarian movement, I would almost certainly try to make the word meaningless, by defining libertarianism in my own way. This happened to the word liberalism, which today in the english speaking world describes someone who does believes the state needs to control capitalism. The classical liberals, which were of cause libertarians in the modern sense, made the mistake to integrate certain welfare ideas, like state education, into their agenda.

Luckily, most people who don't like liberty, so far don't want to call themselves Libertarians. But there are exceptions. One group of people that I am particularly wary about are 'Libertarians' who are also strong zionists. Zionism can mean all kinds of things, but here I am referring to supporters of a jewish state in the middle east. It seems very odd to me that Libertarians should support such a state.

There are two groups of arguments, why people may want liberty. There are moral reasons on the one hand and utilitarian reasons on the other. No matter which one you prefer, the Israeli project looks rather bad from both angles. Why was there a zionist movement? There were two main goals of zionism. At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, Jews were facing two problems. In eastern Europe, where the majority of european jews were living, and of course in Germany as well, Jews were facing an increasingly hostile population. That lead some of them to conclude that they will never we accepted. The other problem was, that there were places in the world in which they were to well accepted. That meant that jews increasingly stopped being jewish and simply adapted to the local culture. The solution for the zionists seemed to be clear. Jews needed their own homeland, a place in which they were the domineering culture and in which they could be safe. So far so good. From here on, the story could still end well from a Libertarian point of view. The problem with zionism is that they decided to create a jewish state on a territory largely owned by Palestinian Arabs.

First let us look to the decision to create a state. One of the problems of statism is that it surprising consistently tents to achieve the opposite of what it wants. If the state fights poverty, you will get more poverty. If it fights gun violence, you will get more gun violence. It it fights terrorism you will get more terrorism etc. This should be a basic inside to every Libertarian. So jews decided to use a state to make them more save and preserve their culture. What would you expect to happen? Exactly, less security and a destruction of the culture. And that is exactly what we are seeing. Does anyone believe that jews are now more save or jewish culture more prosperous since the state of Israel came into existence? So in principal, the strategy of using a state to achieve any goal should be highly suspicious to libertarians.

Unless we are talking about a minimal state, states are of course highly problematic if you want to maximise liberty anyway. States turn always out to be rent seeking organisations. They always produce a class of people that is able to exploit the rest of society. Israel was never intended and therefore never was anything close to a night watchman state. It was planned to be a racist jewish state. One of the earliest supporters of Israel was the Soviet Union. Although it likes to count itself as a western country, Israel till this day has a higher level of bureaucracy and regulations than other western countries. And that although pretty much all western countries at this point are closer to socialism than capitalism. It is a country with a long military draft, state censorship of the media and even legalised torture. Why, in principal would any Libertarian become exited about such a state?

And then of course there is the big problem, the problem that any supporter of Israel would rather not talk about. How come, jews are now in a majority in a territory that when zionism started only had a very small jewish population? The initial jewish population there got along with the local Arabs without any major problems. And yet supporters of Israel will tell you that all the opposition to Israel comes from a vicious irrational anti-semitism. At first zionist, indeed started to settle peacefully in the region. And if that was all they were planning to do, there could be no objections from Libertarians. Libertarians of course ought to support the movement of people, free from government intervention. The problem was that they had already decided and announced that they were planning a jewish state in the region. They had won over the British, who occupied the territory at the time as their ally in it. The British paid lip service to the rights of the Arabs in the region. But the Arab population, totally correctly started to sense that there was a conspiracy being planned to make them second class citizens in their own home. There were a number of Palestinian rebellions against the British in the 1920th and 30th. Being good imperialists, the British every time send over commissions to assess why the Palestinians were rebelling. Every time they concluded that it was obvious that they were rebelling against the prospect of a state in the region that would make them second class citizens. When the state of Israel was then announced, war broke out immediately. A lot of Palestinians got out of the territory of the newly announced state. It is still a bit of a dispute among historians, why they got out. Were they forced out or were they fleeing from a war zone? It was probably a mixture of both. But whatever it was, the fact remains that after the war they were not allowed back onto their rightfully owned property. Israel had to get them out in order to create a jewish majority state. None of this is in any form compatible with Libertarian principles. Zionism is an inherent collectivist and statist ideology. Individual liberty does not play any role in it.

And yet, in these days when the conflicts gets escalated again by Politicians, I see a lot of same proclaimed libertarians, waving enthusiastically Israeli flags to support the government fighting evil Palestinian terrorists. Not that there aren't any terrorists among Palestinians. But what is going on now has very little to do with fighting terrorism. The Israeli government lied the people into war operations. These war operations are pretty much the equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel. The Israeli government with its highly sophisticated military weaponry is bombing the homes of civilians in Gaza. The people there are largely unarmed and literally locked up, they cannot get out. Most of the casualties are women and children so far.

But all of that does not seem to bother zionist Libertarians, because you see, what is happening in gaza is self defence. And self defence is of course perfectly compatible with libertarianism. The Israeli, in their love for humanity are even calling a few minutes before they hit a house. Isn't that nice. No it isn't! Because they certainly do not check whether the people really got out. They sometimes hit the wrong target. And anyway, since when are such acts legal, without even a trial? Calling that self defence is like justifying a rape with the argument that it is her fault, since she was wearing a short skirt. But try to mention to a zionist Libertarian that the Israeli government might not always have the best intensions, yes it may even sometimes outright lie to the public, as it did to justify these airstrikes. You will be immediately accused of being anti-semitic, a crazy conspiracy nutter or both. According to zionist Libertarians, the state is bad, unless it is fighting terrorists or is called Israel.

No sorry, this is not a form a Libertarianism that I can accept. It basically rejects everything that libertarianism is about. The reason why I am finding this particularly annoying is, because our governments are all good allies of Israel. This state seems on a suicide mission with its crazy policies. And because our governments are supporting it, it is dragging us down with it. Every new enemy Israel makes will also be an enemy of the rest of the west. Zionist libertarians are supporting all these crazy policies of our governments, because it is perceived to help Israel. They are damaging the goals of Libertarianism and should therefore not be allowed to get away with it.







  • Comments(1)

Posted by Nico Metten Tue, July 15, 2014 13:53:52

Comment from David McDonagh:

What happened from about 1860 on, gathering force in the 1880s was the rise of neo-liberalism or statist liberalism. This effectively overlooked the fact that the state is bound to be wasteful as all politics are negative sum where, usually, both sides lose out.

But men in government, like Gladstone, will find practical politics increasingly illiberal, no matter how hard they try to bat for the pristine liberal creed. Ron Paul might have found this too, had he got into office in the USA.

Gladstone was forever wishing that there was the old liberal outlook of the 1830s and ‘40s when liberalism was in fashion. A fashion for Statism, or even for socialism [a new word for old Tory ideas] came in by the late 1860s. Chamberlain was the main practical politician by the 1880s, but authors like J.A. Hobson also played a generation game move; Chamberlain against Gladstone and Hobson as an author against Herbert Spencer. We ran out of young pristine liberals. The youth loved the new fashion. I do not think we will repeat this in the future but you are right to hint that what fools call positive or political liberty is actually anti-liberty, Nico; as is the state generally.

Utilitarianism is a big ethical theory, by the bye; maybe the top one!

I agree that Zionism does not fit easy with liberalism.