Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Freedom... refer[s] to a social relationship among people -- namely, the absence of force as a prospective instrument of decision making. Freedom is reduced whenever a decision is made under threat of force, whether or not force actually materializes or is evident in retrospect.”     Thomas Sowell

July 10, 2007

Dinesh D’Souza: Gun Totin’ Libertarian ?

by Doug Mataconis

Dinesh D’Souza, whose has some pretty strange ideas in his career, seems to have a really strange idea of what being a libertarian is all about:

[H]ere is question for Ron Paul: shouldn’t the United States do what it can to promote liberty worldwide? I posed this question and Paul answered that America should be an example of liberty and not try to impose freedom by force. Alas, where freedom has come to countries it has usually come by force. How did we get freedom in this country? We had a revolution. How did African Americans win freedom? It took the invasion of a Northern army to secure for the slaves a freedom they were not in a position to secure for themselves. And let’s remember that America imposed freedom at the point of a bayonet on Japan and Germany after World War II, and the results have been excellent.

It seems that today’s libertarians are divided into two camps: the principled and the unprincpled. The former believe in liberty as a universal aspiration. The latter believe in freedom for us but not for anyone else. Ron Paul isn’t going to become president, but as America’s leading libertarian he would do the group a service by upholding freedom as a universal principle, as the founders did.

There are so many flaws with D’Souza’s argument that it’s hard to address only a few but let’s start from the beginning.

Yes, the Founding Fathers did resort to force and a revolution to protect and guarantee the rights of the citizens of the Thirteen Colonies. They did so, I would add, only as a last resort, and only after George III made it clear that he would not uphold the liberties of Englishmen who happened to live on the eastern seaboard of North America. It’s also important to note, because D’Souza does not seem to recognize it, that the same founders who used force to overthrow British rule, and especially George Washington, warned against the United States becoming involved in wars of “liberation” elsewhere in the world. And the United States remained officially neutral during the French Revolution.

As for D’Souza’s comments about the Civil War, he couldn’t be more plainly wrong. Yes, slavery was a root cause of the dispute that led to the secession of the Southern states, but the war itself was fought because of that secession, not because of the fact that the south held slaves. Lincoln himself made it clear that if he could have preserved the Union while keeping slavery intact, he would have done so.  And the Emancipation Proclamation had no impact on slaves held in territory controlled by the CSA; it was, as every historian has recognized, a purely political move designed to influence public opinion in the North and in Europe in favor of a war that many were becoming tired of.  So, no, the Civil War was not a war of liberation, even if it’s end result was the liberation of the slaves.

Finally,  D’Souza’s argument about post-War policy in Japan and (West) Germany after World War II is irrelevant. Until the rise of the Soviet threat, the primary focus of post-war planning in the United States was to ensure that neither Germany nor Japan could ever again rise to pose a threat to world security. Bringing democracy, of a sort, to both nations was part of that process.

The most interesting thing about D’Souza’s definition of libertarianism, though, is that it says nothing about liberty. It says nothing about individual rights at home, the freedom of American citizens to live their lives without being monitored by the state, or the right of people to make a living in their chosen profession.  All D’Souza seems to believe in when it comes to liberty is using it as a means to spread American hegemony, at the point of a gun.

That’s a pretty daffy definition of liberty when you think about it.

H/T: Lew Rockwell

TrackBack URI: http://www.thelibertypapers.org/2007/07/10/dinesh-dsouza-gun-totin-libertarian/trackback/
Read more posts from
• • •

16 Comments

  1. “Daffy” about sums up Dinesh D’Souza these days. He used to be a relatively mainstream conservative 10-15 years ago, when he wrote “Illiberal Education” and a surprisingly good bio about Ronald Reagan. But ever since 9/11 he’s become about as pure a neo-con as you’re likely to find…buying wholesale into Bush’s manifesto that it’s America’s role to fight wars for liberty around the globe, while not realizing that his positions have much more in common with Marx and Lenin than traditional American foreign policy. 9/11 seemed to have the regrettable effect of turning a lot of otherwise rational pundits into rabid xenophobic war-mongers, and tragically D’Souza was one of them.

    Comment by UCrawford — July 10, 2007 @ 1:41 pm
  2. Not to mention that Dr. Paul points out that slavery was ended elsewhere in the world without war.

    Comment by Alexia — July 10, 2007 @ 1:47 pm
  3. I want to add that if the Northern States had wanted to end slavery, they simply could have refused to enforce the fugitive slave laws, and the system would have collapsed.

    Slavery depends on escape being practically impossible. With the advent of railroads and more modern roads that meant that the slaves owners had to have large buffer zones between them and places where the slaves would be free. The fugitive slave laws turned the northern U.S. into a giant hunting ground for those seeking their freedom.

    Also want to comment that I’m sure Mr Dsouza somehow missed Abraham Lincoln’s support for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution forbidding the Federal Government from interfering with the institution of slavery as an attempt to woo the Confederate states to return to the fold. Which tends to firmly rebut the “War between the states was fought to end slavery” argument. The argument that the war was needed is, of course, definitively rebutted by the lack of wars in countries like England, Brazil that also practiced state directed emancipation of their slave populations.

    Comment by tarran — July 10, 2007 @ 1:58 pm
  4. I found it amusing that many of the commenters on D’Souza’s blog drew the accurate comparison between his views and those of Big Brother in “1984″. Unfortunately that irony seems to be lost on D’Souza and the neoconservatives like him.

    Comment by UCrawford — July 10, 2007 @ 1:58 pm
  5. Lincoln’s goal in the Civil War was not to end slavery. It was to keep the country together. Not until 1862 – nearly seventeen months into the war – did Lincoln have the political mettle to include slavery as a valid issue when issuing the Emancipation Proclomation. However, his primary impetus was on keeping the country whole, not freeing slaves. D’Souza’s attribution is inccorrect.

    Comment by David T — July 10, 2007 @ 2:54 pm
  6. David,

    As you can tell, I agree with you.

    I’d also add that the Emancipation Proclimation was, in its true essence, part of the war effort since it was meant to rally the north and engender the sympathies of the British people in an effort to dissaude Britain and France from backing the CSA.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — July 10, 2007 @ 2:59 pm
  7. My fault, Doug. I completely overlooked the paragraph on your assertion about the E.P.

    Comment by David T — July 10, 2007 @ 3:20 pm
  8. Sounds like nothing more than the deranged thoughts of a neolibertarian to me. i.e. contradictions, the premise of neolibertarianism. Sounds like the warmongering Establishment sycophant Eric Dondero.

    Comment by Chris S — July 10, 2007 @ 4:48 pm
  9. Just pretend that negative liberty only exists if you are an American (it is easier to pretend like it doesn’t exist at all) and it should all make perfect sense, like Moral Relativism.

    Comment by Chris S — July 10, 2007 @ 4:59 pm
  10. “And the Emancipation Proclamation had no impact on slaves held in territory controlled by the CSA”

    Actually, it had no impact on slaves in the CSA or the USA. Slaves in Maryland, Delaware and Kentucky, which never seceded, were still slaves after the proclamation.

    Further, the Proclamation states that slaves in the CSA are free ONLY if that state is still in rebellion on January 1, 1863, four months after the Proclamation was written.

    So, if the states decided they wanted to keep slaves and live under Lincoln’s rule, they could have done so.

    The war was not one of liberation.

    Comment by Garry — July 10, 2007 @ 10:46 pm
  11. Dinesh D’Souza,
    I am not a libertarian and maybe people like you are the reason why I am not. Your definitions of “principled” and “unprincipled” are contrary to the proper moral judgement of any man who lives on this earth as a free man.

    Since you are the libertarian the question should not be “shouldn’t the United States do what it can to promote liberty worldwide?” instead, the proper question is:

    Does the United states have the right to exist if the liberty of other people around the world is being violated?

    YES! Yes we do have the right to exist because the suffering of people around the world does not represent a mortgage on me, or the soldiers who have to make the downpayment with thier life. It is our liberty at stake when sacrificing yourself becomes the highest moral virtue, or “princple”. You are both wrong and a very far cry from a libertarian.

    Comment by DJ — July 11, 2007 @ 12:50 am
  12. You know I glad something happened in 1865. I only would have hope it would have been a slave revolt so there would be no question whether the slaves was legal.

    Comment by VRB — July 11, 2007 @ 4:08 am
  13. …whether freeing the slaves was legal.

    Comment by VRB — July 11, 2007 @ 4:09 am
  14. Actually, VRB, any slave owner at any time was permitted to manumit or free their slaves.

    Of course, if you had dark skin, you had to keep your manumission papers on you at all times or risk arrest as an “escaped slave”.

    So freeing slaves was legal. The state support for slavery…

    Well, I have long had the view that U.S. history has shown the the bulk of white Americans were quite willing to sacrifice a free society to keep injuring non-whites.

    This first instances of marriage laws, gun-control legislation, pro-union laws, prohibition, anti-drug laws all were crafted specifically to harm non-whites.

    The desire for the state to practice racial discrimination has done far more to betray the ideals of the U.S. revolution than almost any other motivation.

    Comment by tarran — July 11, 2007 @ 10:48 am
  15. I should have said, perhaps we would get more respect. I hate having to get a history lesson every time I make a comment. You know, I have only been black for 62 years. You are the most literal folks I have ever encountered. I guess I could not even say the sky was blue without being given a spectrum analysis.

    Comment by VRB — July 11, 2007 @ 7:33 pm
  16. VRB, cut me some slack, I have to go by what you actually write instead of guessing what you meant.

    As to the respect thing, given how effectively the Black Seminole Rebellion has been kept out of the history books, I doubt that another slave rebellion would have changed outcomes. In fact, I think the Federal Govt would quite happily assist in putting down a slave rebellion well into the 1860′s, and scholars would be quite happy to whitewash those fighting for their freedom out of the history books again.

    Comment by tarran — July 11, 2007 @ 8:13 pm

Comments RSS

Subscribe without commenting

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by: WordPress • Template by: Eric • Banner #1, #3, #4 by Stephen Macklin • Banner #2 by Mark RaynerXML