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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/16100/the-tea-partys-revolution-and-the-battle-over-american-history/

The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle over American History

March 18, 2011 by

The tea partiers are asking that our current government be run according to the principles that underlay the American Revolution. FULL ARTICLE by Jeff Riggenbach

{ 55 comments }

Shirley Knott March 18, 2011 at 8:35 am

You would do better to rephrase the opening as “The best of the tea partiers…” as such exemplars as Palin or Bachman are hardly champions of liberty or the underlying principles of the American Revolution.

no hugs for thugs,
Shirley Knott

Ashraf March 18, 2011 at 9:24 am

Thumbs up for that!

If you don’t mind I’d like to use that phrase, ‘no hugs for thugs’. Lol

Don’t fluctuate, disassociate!

Stephen McElroy April 8, 2011 at 6:49 pm

“Jill Lepore believes, and I agree with her, that it would be better if the tea partiers got their facts right, so that their understanding of the meaning of the American Revolution was more nuanced and closer to the actual truth.” Those ignorant hillbillies must have been educated in the public school system.

The grassroots movement, commonly referred to as the “Tea Party” is made up of people, who for decades, trusted their elected officials to do what was best for the People and the Nation. When Government policy, regulation, and oversight ALLOWED for the bursting of the housing bubble many of this silent majority began to slowly wake up. More woke up as realization set in that, over decades, the Career Politicians KNOWINGLY allowed the guest worker and immigration laws to be abused or just out right ignored by the government. It became very obvious that, too many workers, allowed for the situation of depressed wages, 20 million guest workers and illegal aliens and 10 million Legal Americans out of work. Go figure.

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
Thomas Jefferson

On the far left, there is total government control as in communism or a dictator, called tyranny. On the far right there is no government called anarchy. The Founding Fathers established the Constitution right in the middle. Not too much government, not too little government. For the left to call a return to the Constitution a far right movement, shows just how far left they truly are.

“When all government, domestic [states] and foreign [federal]… shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.”
Thomas Jefferson – 1821

The 20 million plus grassroots participants, as a whole, do not hold the Phd knowledge they are so sanctimoniously criticized for lacking. Both here and in the media. But the one thing I had observed about the vilification of the grassroots movement, is the constant fall back, by the detractors, to mudslinging and name calling because they know they lose on the issues.

Issues and principles make up agendas. The Career Politicians all admit that they are friends when the cameras are off. They all have basically the same agendas which, thru compromise, they help each other to achieve. Reelection and growing their political power. “I need this for reelection, what do you need? Thank you very much. Here you go.” “We can’t cut that spending, that is part of my fiefdom, and this is part of yours. Well you know as well as I do that all we have to do is blackmail/threaten them with cuts to senior services, child services, you know, like we used to do back in the state government with cut teachers, policemen, firemen, meals on wheels, etc and they will come crying: “Oh Please don’t do that! Take more of our money PLEASE.” Hysteria followed by nice sounding bigger government like “The Food Safety And Modernization Act.” and its Grow the fiefdom and spend for the special interests, and boy does that campaign money come rolling in.”

Career politicians. The 87 freshmen don’t really fit that mold do they. They were vetted as likely to follow the People’s Agenda. Like the Founding Fathers. Actually wanting to do what is best for the people and the nation.

The typical detractor hysteria creation exhibited above, of the 1800′s and slavery and women not voting, is done knowing they lose on the real issues of what is best for the people and returning to the constitution, so they create hysteria to avoid them.

There are differing end result agendas among liberals, progressives, socialists, Union bosses, communists, the UN, the George Soros associates, and the owners of the central banks. But they all share the same left moving agendas.

The growing centralized power in Washington, from the creation of the federal reserve and social security, thru the departments of Energy, Education, and the EPA, to Homeland Security, Obamacare, and the Food Safety Modernization Act is now perilously close to Jefferson’s warning: “will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.”

Fortunately they woke us up. We will no longer be silent. We will hold them accountable.

When we look at politics, we are not so dumb as to think that we need a third party with leaders to show us how to fix things. We understand the folly of a third party. We have no leaders. Those that the media and detractors would call our leaders ARE NOT. They are the same as us. Members of the grassroots movement. Like them, any average member interviewed, like those Ms Lepore referred to, become part of the mud slinging and name calling.

I actually am starting to enjoy all this vilification of the Tea Party. Little do the detractor realize the number of citizens that identify with this movement and are taking offense at being called all these names. The redoubling of commitment is astounding.

There is an attribute of leaderless grassroots movements that sets them apart from all other organizations. They have no leader. No head to cut off for the sake to wither and die. The anti nuke power plant movement was such an organization. They did not go away until their issue was delta with. The Tea Party is such a movement. Our issues and principles are embodied in the Tea Party Patriots Mission Statement and the “Contract FROM America” found here: http://www.thecontract.org/

The Tea Party Movement has no leaders. It is a bottom up organization. Where those at the bottom have the power and control to decide what needs to be done. Bottom up. Where have we heard of that before… oh ya. That Constitution thing where those at the bottom have the power of the vote. There are still a lot of career politicians that just don’t get it.

We don’t work for them. They work for us.

P.M.Lawrence April 9, 2011 at 12:48 am

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
Thomas Jefferson

You should not misquote Burke and then attribute it to Jefferson, particularly when you are presuming to instruct people about errors.

J. Murray March 18, 2011 at 10:39 am

There really were not guiding principles of the Revolution beyond breaking away from England. Those who fought the war, both on the ground and in the political realm, waged the war for a variety of motivations ranging from full on communism to anarchism and just about everything in between. People like Alexander Hamilton and Henry Clay were less upset about big government and more upset that they weren’t the ones running the big government.

Saying there were guiding principles behind the revolution is the same mistake as saying there are a unified group called Founding Fathers.

Joe March 18, 2011 at 1:54 pm

@J. Murray,
I know you have probably read Rose Wilder Lanes beautiful book “The Discovery Freedom.”
This is a small excerpt from that book. If there was a central theme and principle of the revolution was the desire to have property rights. As Rose describes below:

THE RIGHTS OF PROPERTY
WHEN Madison wrote, “the rights of property,” everyone
knew what he meant. The right of property was the essence of
the Revolution; it was a right that Americans were fighting
to establish.
The fantastic notion that property rights can be opposed to
human rights had never entered anyone’s head. That notion
today is part of the confusion of American vocabulary and
American thinking.
Of course, property can not possibly have any rights. Property
is a legal human right.
An undiscovered island is not property. It is land and timber
and metals, but it is not property. It becomes property only
when someone owns it. That is, when someone has a legal
ownership of it.
When Eric the Red landed on this continent, not an acre of
it was property. The American Indians were communists; they
owned no property.
When Spaniards were exploring this continent, every acre of
it and all its resources were the property of the Spanish Crown,
by legal right which the Pope conferred.
Later, by legal right of conquest and by legal transfer, the
Kings of France and Spain and England owned this continent.
In 1776, George the Third owned every tree that grew in
British property here. The Pine Tree flag meant that Americans
asserted a right to own private property.
This right had never existed.
No individual owns property in communism. No one owned
property under the ancient absolute monarchs. No one owned
property in Athenian democracy, where everyone’s property
and life were at the mercy of the majority’s whim.

Of course not everyone agreed with this. It took Jefferson, Franklin, Madison and Hamilton to work to convince the American populace to finally sign the new constitution. The people distrusted government and they had good reason. Yes, the constitution was not a perfect document as we can see by the socialist thiefs that have mis-interpreted the document. The founding fathers knew it wasn’t perfect. But they did have a central theme and I believe it was represented in the orginal document.

scineram March 18, 2011 at 3:30 pm

“In 1776, George the Third owned every tree that grew in
British property here. The Pine Tree flag meant that Americans
asserted a right to own private property.
This right had never existed.”

Ugh. It is hard to take her seriously.

J. Murray March 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm

No kidding. The Magna Carta, which was still very much in effect, had explicit protections for property rights. Buying into some fictitious myth about not being able to own a tree when Englishmen were able to own property for 500 years is amazing.

Joe March 18, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Magna Carta’s King-granted Rights

Magna Carta was signed at Runnymede in 1215 by King John under the extreme coercion of the threat of death by the sword, upon demand by the assemblage of armed noblemen that he immediately sign this document. As stated in The Federalist number 84 by Hamilton, Magna Carta was “obtained by the Barons, sword in hand, from king John.” This document was designed chiefly to clarify and make more formal and definite certain pre-existing, king-granted rights, of the noblemen themselves primarily; and it is a chief example of the application of the principle of king-granted rights–originally based upon the Old World concept of the divine right of kings. Magna Carta is, therefore, in keeping with–was an early expression of–Britain’s traditional philosophy and system of Government-over-Man exemplified in modern times, as noted above, by the absolute supremacy of Parliament–now of the House of Commons alone.

Magna Carta’s philosophy of king-granted rights stands, therefore, for the antithesis of the traditional American philosophy of Man-over-Government, based upon the uniquely American concept of God-given, unalienable rights safeguarded by a system of constitutionally limited government created by the sovereign people, under a written Constitution adopted by them, primarily to make and keep these rights secure.

The conflict between the philosophy underlying Magna Carta and the traditional American philosophy was noted in the address by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams in celebration of the Fourth of July, 1821, in these words:

“The people of Britain, through long ages of civil war, had extorted from their tyrants not acknowledgements, but grants, of right. With this concession they had been content to stop in the progress of human improvement. They received their freedom as a donation from their sovereigns; they appealed for their privileges to a sign manual and a seal; they held their title to liberty, like their title to lands, from the bounty of a man; and in their moral and political chronology, the great charter of Runny Mead was the beginning of the world . . . the fabric of their institutions . . . had been founded in conquest; it had been cemented in servitude . . . instead of solving civil society into its first elements in search of their rights, they looked back only to conquest as the origin of their liberties, and claimed their rights but as donations from their kings. This faltering assertion of freedom is not chargeable indeed upon the whole nation. There were spirits capable of tracing civil government to its foundation in the moral and physical nature of man; but conquest and servitude were so mingled up in every particle of the social existence of the nation, that they had become vitally necessary to them . . .” (Runny Mead is also spelled Runnymede; emphasis per original.)

To repeat, the traditional American philosophy of Man-over-Govern-ment based upon the concept of God-given, unalienable rights is utterly antithetical to the philosophy of Magna Carta’s Government-Over-Man, with its king-granted rights.

Joe March 19, 2011 at 12:37 am

@scineram,
Read the Treaty of Paris 1783 and see what England signed over to the 13 colonies. I think it was property. Why did they do that? You think the king was a little upset? It really is hard to take you serious. You probably have never read any of her works and are quick to judge.

Troy Doering March 19, 2011 at 12:46 am

King George a impotent monarch. It was really the parliament that made the laws and set the tariffs.

Joe March 19, 2011 at 6:14 pm

The Parliament was arbitrary in their duties. Big deal you either are owned by the King or Parliament. Take your pick. Europe has always had a tribal collective mentality. To say that the Magna Carta gave common folk the right to property is a stretch. It was one of those little fights between the barons and the king.

Carl March 18, 2011 at 8:37 am

Isn’t this the same author who once wrote that it didn’t make sense for libertarians to be on the right side of the political spectrum?

Anthony March 18, 2011 at 10:25 am

your point?

JoshINHB March 18, 2011 at 10:11 am

Intellectual libertarian criticism of the tea party movement misses the mark by a mile.

The TP is a populist reaction to government over reach. As such it is the natural ally of libertarians. It is not an intellectual movement, but no mass movement in history ever was. The tendency of intellectual libertarians to dismiss the movement as phony or just an attempt to get republicans in office says more about the people pushing the theory than it does about the TP people. It comes across as nothing more than sour grapes that the new comers are getting all of the attention.

This is a pivotal time in American history, the nation is on the verge of rejecting the paradigm of governmental involvement in society that has been dominant since the 30s. The response of nit picking and disdain casts the libertarian movement as masturbatory intellectualism, interested in purity tests and self importance, rather than effecting real change in society.

Carl March 18, 2011 at 10:18 am

I don’t understand all the downplaying Libertarians tend to do to the Tea Party. This is a movement that is looking for a party, or a centralized moral code. This movement was created because the GOP is failing. My father is on the board of TP in our county, and instead of sneering at them in some pseudo-intellectual way like Mr. Riggenbach does, I try and talk with them, and show them the Libertarian belief system. Tea Partiers have an incomplete set of beliefs. They realize the errors of Government. They know the financial trouble the US is in. So as Libertarians, we should help point them in our direction. I hear Libertarians always fret about how they are a small cliche and no one listens to them, but than a large populist movement comes along that shares many things in common, and instead of conversing and spreading their message to open ears, they hiss at them and denounce them as GOP puppets.

Faithkills March 18, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I should have refreshed before I posted. You guys beat me to it. And hang in there and keep educating tea partiers. I’ve had a lot of success myself.

Joe March 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm

@JoshINHB.
I couldn’t have said it any better than you. Having attended a few tea party events I found that the central theme was that government needs to be downsized. It is involved to much into citizens everyday affairs. I would think that any libertarian would welcome this turn of events.
Cannot stand purists. It is like false pride. It will get you no where.

Iain March 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Thank you so much. These intellectual circle jerkers really get it wrong on this topic. It’s really frustrating.

Ken March 19, 2011 at 8:37 am

Well, you gotta remember: The one who disagrees with you on everything is just a garden-variety enemy. The one who disagrees with you XX% (pick yer own number) of the time is a heretic, and therefore a much worse sort of person.

@Faithkills: Spot on, and well said. Every field is a mission field.

Faithkills March 18, 2011 at 11:36 am

I think a lot of Libertarians are so used to bitching that they have come to enjoy it more than actually attempting to accomplish anything.

I’ve had great luck educating people in the Tea Party from inside the movement by using Constitutional principles. (EG “If outlawing alcohol required an Amendment how can it be Constitutional for drugs to be outlawed?”, etc)

This is the best chance we’ve had in decades. We can spit on the teabaggers to make ourselves feel superior and our hip cosmotarians admire our smug elitism.. or we can instead roll up our sleeves and get to work in the group that is the most fertile ground for sowing the seeds of liberty than has been, arguably, in generations.

Teabaggers aren’t all libertarian quantitatively or qualitatively, but they do have a tropism to something they vaguely glimpse through the mist of statist propaganda we all received. There are a number of us in there guiding them through and doing the work to bend the trajectory of the tea party. People have to write what they feel is important but it doesn’t help us in this task when libertarian articles shit on teabaggers.

One thing(of the many) that I love about Tom Woods is he’s a true libertarian that doesn’t see fit to do this. He sees the Tea Party as the opportunity for education that is is.

Ben Ranson March 18, 2011 at 2:42 pm

I share Mr. Riggenbach’s suspicion that the Tea Party’s main purpose is to elect Republicans. I think that the likelihood is that it will be co-opted by a Palin, a Gingrich, or a Buchanan.

Most Tea Party-ers learned what they know about history as children in public schools. To me, they resemble the youth movement of the 1960′s. The people involved are idealistic and well-intentioned. But the historical ignorance, religious zeal, and lack of general principles that liberals attribute to Tea Party-ers is real.

It will probably be easier to persuade them to support militarism, closed borders, anti-same-sex marriage amendments and tariffs than to educate them in “Constitutional principles.” For every libertarian trying to convert the tea party, many traditional Republicans are busy propagandizing the same group. And libertarians have very little to promise, whereas the Republicans expect to divvy up spoils after the next election.

Some posters here seem surprised and disappointed that other libertarians are not keen on the Tea Party. But many or most people who post here are not the sort of people who join political parties or have any real desire to achieve political power. As such, they look at all groups trying to achieve anything at the ballot box or in the Congress with suspicion.

Carl March 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Don’t you realize the GOP is the reason the Tea Party exists in the first place? These people are attempting to fix the GOP by sending in new politicians. GOP can’t just buy them back. Most Tea Party members are looking very closely at what the GOP does in response now. They are holding them accountable. The GOP lost them in the first place.

“Most Tea Party-ers learned what they know about history as children in public schools.”

How do you know this? I’ve talked to many Tea Party members who understand how crappy the public schools are and read alternative history now, as opposed to the history learned in schools, where the Governments pats its own back.

“To me, they resemble the youth movement of the 1960′s. The people involved are idealistic and well-intentioned. But the historical ignorance, religious zeal, and lack of general principles that liberals attribute to Tea Party-ers is real.”

You really need to go out and actually talk to people you are judging, because you are very offbase on a lot of this. How in the world can you think they resemble the 60′s youth movement? Just because loud-mouth people like Palin and Beck say they “represent” the Tea Party doesn’t mean every TP member is exactly like them. Lack of general principles? What?

Ben, you need to do much more research on what the Tea Party stands for. Liberals brandish them as ignorant red-necks for a reason, because they have different beliefs.

I don’t understand how so called Libertarians can so try to put down a group whose main goal is not only to shrink government, but push for more government accountability and an end to coercive and unethical government practices. Maybe they don’t see everything like a Libertarian, but how about you stop whining and DO something so this country can hopefully get back on track.

Ben Ranson March 18, 2011 at 4:23 pm

The strongest similarity between the Tea Party and the youth movement of the sixties is that everybody is sure that they are for something, but nobody agrees on what it is that they are for.

I don’t deny that there is a lot of opposition and anger towards the government in the Tea Party-ers. But I see them differently than you do, Carl.

To me, they resemble the Democratic Party. There are many Democratic goals and ideals that are libertarian. There is a lot of opposition and anger towards the government among members of the Democratic party; many members of the Democratic party are adamantly against the war, and in support of free speech. Many Democrats are angry that the government is intimately tied to crony capitalists. Most Democrats favor legal abortion and oppose government promotion of religion. Despite it all, I don’t see Democratic party meetings as fertile ground in which to plant the seeds of libertarian thought.

I am exaggerating to make my point. I very much agree with you that, “the GOP is the reason the Tea Party exists in the first place.” However, I am pessimistic about the possibility that the Tea Party will “fix the GOP by sending in new politicians.”

I think that the GOP will fix the Tea Party by sending in new politicians.

To answer your question, “How do you know this?” I read it in the New York Times and heard it on NPR. (Kidding)

Andrew Cain March 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm

“I don’t deny that there is a lot of opposition and anger towards the government in the Tea Party-ers. But I see them differently than you do, Carl.”

I don’t think it is opposition to government…just opposition to what they perceive as improper fields of government. Places in which the government should not go. Again, what Mr. Riggenbach pointed out:

“In other words, “I oppose large, intrusive government, except when I don’t.” Where could you find a better definition of conservatism?”

Where indeed.

JoshINHB March 18, 2011 at 8:34 pm

You know why the socialists have been so successful over the last hundred years?

Because they take what they can get policy wise and come back for more later.
The position of the libertarian intellectuals is one of rejecting a half loaf today because it is not ideal, never mind the kind of long march of ratcheting incremental changes that enacted socialist policies and twisted society.

The TP is an inchoate movement. The one unifying theme amongst tea partyers so far is a distrust of government and a desire to roll back it’s power. Maybe they will be swayed by neo cons, but maybe they won’t. Libertarian insults, however will not persuade those people to libertarian positions but may cause them align with the neo-cons. Ridicule is not an effective tool of persuasion.

Andrew Cain March 18, 2011 at 8:59 pm

“You know why the socialists have been so successful over the last hundred years?

Because they take what they can get policy wise and come back for more later.
The position of the libertarian intellectuals is one of rejecting a half loaf today because it is not ideal, never mind the kind of long march of ratcheting incremental changes that enacted socialist policies and twisted society.”

Well libertarians are rejecting it, or at least they should rightfully object to it according to my opinion, because it violates one of the most basic tenets of the libertarian creedo–non-aggression– My impression is that being a libertarian takes some intellectual capacity because you must validate and defend what you believe as opposed to just validation in the mainstream. I therefore consider libertarians, on average, a smarter class or at least a more fervent class of individuals meaning they are not so easily swayed into “easy outs” or “quick fixes.” There is something fundamentally wrong with the government according to most. So to present libertarians with an opportunistic agenda is to invite skepticism if not outright denial especially if that agenda does not fix what is perceived as fundamentally wrong.

Socialism isn’t a phenomena that has just happened over the last 100 years. It is something inherent in government itself because government will always seek to increase its power in order to sustain its self-interest. To paraphrase William Graham Sumner our founding fathers, if they are to be called such, had a noble dream of devising a government based on liberal principles. That is what it was and is now though, a dream. A fantasy. Perhaps this is what libertarians realize. Perhaps it is something else that motions them toward distrust in the words of the Tea party.

If this pushes people away then I personally am somewhat ambivalent toward it. We should not become the used car salesman of political philosophy. Willing to give grand promises to all those who will give us their ear. Libertarians have always been the remnant, the minority. This is not an ideal condition but if the end is to become a majority or a influential political philosophy then one cannot lose the meaning of what it means to be who we are along that path. For what is the point of all this if we are willing to take 30 pieces of silver?

JoshINHB March 18, 2011 at 10:49 pm

@ Andrew Cain
That is what it was and is now though, a dream. A fantasy. Perhaps this is what libertarians realize. Perhaps it is something else that motions them toward distrust in the words of the Tea party.

If this pushes people away then I personally am somewhat ambivalent toward it. We should not become the used car salesman of political philosophy. Willing to give grand promises to all those who will give us their ear. Libertarians have always been the remnant, the minority. This is not an ideal condition but if the end is to become a majority or a influential political philosophy then one cannot lose the meaning of what it means to be who we are along that path.

Some of us actual care about making government smaller and leaving our children with more liberty than we enjoy ourselves.

To paraphrase Burke.

Socialism triumphs when men of liberty do nothing.

Andrew Cain March 19, 2011 at 12:51 am

“Some of us actual care about making government smaller and leaving our children with more liberty than we enjoy ourselves.

To paraphrase Burke.

Socialism triumphs when men of liberty do nothing.”

Well what in the history of human events has shown you that you that an individual can decrease the size of government while still retaining the institution? May I ask what end goal you pursue in your political philosophy? Is it abolition of government or mere limitation? If it is the former then I see no honor (for lack of a better word) in utilizing others under a false pretense–Instead of using the ideas of the Tea Party which are to limit government they are used to abolish government. It makes us seem little more then parasites who latch onto something bigger then ourselves. Also a sustainable libertarian environment is impossible if a revolution to abolish government is not based solely on libertarian ideals. It would be like abolishing the state in an environment in which the majority is conservative or progressive. It must be like praxeology. It must be built block by block and the foundation cannot be skimmed on or else it all comes crashing down. If you’re following the latter path, the path of just limiting government while still retaining the institution then you have already succumbed to socialism for that is what government is in its most base form. Accept the principle of government and you have accepted the theory of socialism. If I were to assume though, I feel you are a man of the former. The abolition camp. For you seem passionate about liberty and also you portray the type of individual who is not so easily hoodwinked into something so obvious as that latter (the limitation camp).

P.M.Lawrence March 23, 2011 at 5:41 am

In other words, “I oppose large, intrusive government, except when I don’t.” Where could you find a better definition of conservatism?

Try Viscount Falkland’s “when it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change”.

Troy Doering March 19, 2011 at 12:53 am

The secret of Political success.
It doesn’t matter if they know what they want, as long as they vote for you.

Andrew Cain March 19, 2011 at 1:10 am

‘The secret of Political success.
It doesn’t matter if they know what they want, as long as they vote for you.’

Yes well, this may work in the short term but it won’t work in the long term. Do we wish to live in an environment of libertarianism because our selfish impulses or because it is a just environment? An environment that is morally superior to our current one?

Libertarianism is not grand because of what we alone can do in it. It is grand because of what everyone can do in it. It is the voluntary society. The society of peace and commerce. It is the world in which we revert to our natural state. A state of cooperation and harmony.

Stephen McElroy April 8, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Andrew
“Libertarianism is not grand because of what we alone can do in it. It is grand because of what everyone can do in it. It is the voluntary society. The society of peace and commerce. It is the world in which we revert to our natural state. A state of cooperation and harmony.”

Talk about LaLa Land.
The Founding Fathers noted that a society required a moral and just basis for self governance by the people to work. They reasoned that the society based in the religious precepts of the time was sufficient to fulfill that need. They did, however see fit to require certain governance as might be needed should there be anyone lacking in such morality.

The description of Libertarian principles given above is anarchy that would revert to barbarism of those less intellectually and morally enlightened. AH utopia. Give me another hit.

A Liberal in Lakeview March 20, 2011 at 11:05 am

Carl, you wrote, “I don’t understand how so called Libertarians can so try to put down a group whose main goal is not only to shrink government, but push for more government accountability and an end to coercive and unethical government practices.”

Without coercion and the threats of government violence that one should take seriously, there would be no government, at least not the statist kind anyway. Furthermore, the teabaggers are not anarchists, but statists. Thus, they are not, not, not striving “to end coercive and unethical government practices”. Far from it. In fact, most, or all, of them are satisfied with the double standard according to which extortion is moral when you call it taxation.

So your theory about tea party aversion to “unethical government practices” doesn’t hold water.

Joe March 18, 2011 at 6:57 pm

@Ben Ranson,
Some posters here seem surprised and disappointed that other libertarians are not keen on the Tea Party.
How did you determine that. Some posters here are not surprised and disappointed but we understand the elitist libertarian that will sit back and do nothing because it does not “perfectly” fit their recipe for success.
Most Tea Party-ers learned what they know about history as children in public schools. To me, they resemble the youth movement of the 1960′s. The people involved are idealistic and well-intentioned. But the historical ignorance, religious zeal, and lack of general principles that liberals attribute to Tea Party-ers is real.
I would like for you to elaborate on the historical ignorance, religious zeal, and lack of general principles. You make these sweeping remarks and then go back into your little secure elitist hole.
What youth movement are you referring to of the 1960′s? It sounds like you have the recipe but you don’t want to give up the secret. Become the pied piper and lead us to the promise land? Don’t just sit back and make observations when there are people out in the trenches trying make it a better world. Please re-read what Josh, Carl and Faithkills has to say.
Hopefully you will quit trying to achieve perfection and get your hands dirty.

Ben Ranson March 19, 2011 at 9:02 am

Joe, Josh, Carl, Faithkills… I’m with you guys, really. I don’t doubt that you are all sincere libertarians. The basic point that I have been making, and a point of the Riggenbach essay that got this whole thing started is that people disagree on who and what the Tea Party is, and on what the Tea Party represents.

In my home state of Minnesota, Michelle Bachmann is the most prominent Tea Party politician. Her website can be found here: http://bachmann.house.gov/ Her views do not strike me as being very libertarian. Under the heading “Minnesota Values” I found:

“I… believe the right to life extends to all people – including the born and unborn. I am a member of the… Congressional Prayer Caucus and believe that our nation must never be ashamed of its Judeo-Christian roots and faith.”

Under “Immigration” I found:

“(W)e must ensure U.S. immigration laws are respected and enforced to preserve our national security… and curb unfair strain on our country’s job markets… Congress must work to secure our nation’s borders and enforce the immigration laws already in place… (A)ny proposal for reform must not reward those who choose to break our laws by entering the country illegally.”

Under “Veteran’s Affairs” I found:

“It is imperative that America’s military men and women receive the support they deserve… (M)embers of the Armed Forces have fought to preserve the freedoms we cherish and… Congress must… (honor)… our commitment to them. Last year, I supported the largest increase in funding for veterans programs in theVA’s history: over $37 billion for veterans programs.”

There is plenty more, including some nice things about cutting taxes, rolling back regulations, and some trivial nonsense about “Our Founding Fathers”.

The stuff above is what you are asking me to support in return for vague promises about cutting spending etc… To get back to my point, I expect that one of you will respond by saying, “Well, Bachmann doesn’t really represent the Tea Party.” But this would only prove that we disagree about who the Tea Party is and what they believe.

On the youth movement, some libertarians, including Rothbard, had high hopes for the New Left, Students for a Democratic Society, the anti-war protesters, etc. They were sorely disappointed. An excellent article titled, “Rothbard’s Time on the Left,” by John Payne can be found here: http://mises.org/journals/jls/19_1/19_1_2.pdf

Joe March 19, 2011 at 5:52 pm

@Ben,
Thanks for you answer above. I think you need to understand a few things about the people that attend TP rallies.
Let’s take your example of Michelle Bachmann. She is not the consummate libertarian but she also isn’t Barney Frank. When we say that you are not going to find a perfect libertarian ideaology your not. You have to start somewhere and proceed to your goal. Would you rather work with the socialists in the liberal party? Would you rather start with an Obama or a Bachmann? This is the point. I agree with you and we probably see eye to eye but you have to start somewhere.
I also would say don’t try and pigeonhole the TP. You would be surprised at the broad and diverse people that attend these rallies. When we attend we are not talking about a party but we are talking about issues. One thing I did notice is the revival of Ayn Rand. A lot of people mentioned they read her and loved Atlas Shrugged. They are tired of government intrustion in their lives. This is probably why they read about the founding fathers and the less intrusive government that was established.
So let us accept this spark of hope coming from the people. I would rather support them and help them grow stronger in the libertarian philosophy than shun them and say they are not true libertarians. Who knows maybe somewhere in the future we will all become ANCAPs and live happily ever after. LOL

Faithkills March 22, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Bachman isn’t a libertarian of course. But also she does have some correct ideas.

Seriously if it weren’t for the Becks, where would Judge Napolitanos or Woodss be? Would they have gotten air time?

The problem with right progressivism is the problem with progressivism in general. It’s morally, economically, and logically incoherent and self contradictory. People DO sense that and once they have part of the argument many naturally want to know more. That’s where we can help.

The bad guys have been at it for a long time miseducating people. I’m not sure why we think we can expect most people to fall out of the womb knowing freedom philosophy.

And I try to educate left progressives too, it’s just there’s no current movement that even has a partial tropism to liberty.

You guys see lumps of coal, we (politically active libertarians) see potential fuel for the fire of liberty. They just need the right lighter fluid, (libertarian philosophy and economics) but we are the ones who have been stockpiling that for a while.

We have the tools. Now what are we going to do with them? Leave them in the shed? Show our guests? “My what fine tools I have!” “Ever make anything with them?” “Oh no, but look how shiny!”

I don’t see Ron Paul or Tom Woods sitting on his ass leaving the tools in the shed.

Faithkills March 22, 2011 at 12:39 pm

“I share Mr. Riggenbach’s suspicion that the Tea Party’s main purpose is to elect Republicans”

You know you can just go out and TALK to some. Ask them what they think about speaker Boehner. Ask them what they think about Scott Brown.

Then ask them what they think about Rand Paul. Now Ron Paul you might get mixed responses but that’s to be expected considering how well he’s been savaged by the entire media. Still you will find some fans.

The point is you don’t need to have a “suspicion”. We’re not speculating on the mineral resources that might be available on Alpha Centauri-2. This isn’t undeterminable data.

Seriously, what do you want? To ACTUALLY promote liberty? Or bitch about anyone who doesn’t fall out of Zeus’ head with the entire libertarian philosophy fully developed?

But this posit is absurd on it’s face. The TP is even more pissed at the GoP than they are at the dems. Check out how popular Boehner is with teabaggers these days, for example. (He’s NOT)

Yeah they may not understand the entire economic implications of some policies they support by habit, but then neither did I five years ago. Maybe a lot of us are auto-didacts.. but not everyone is. If we depend on auto-didacts we’re NEVER going to get anywhere.

THIS is our chance.

Iain March 18, 2011 at 1:21 pm

The real battle over American history is what the Revolutionary War meant and means now. It doesn’t matter what it meant then or what people thought it meant since people all have differing opinions, but what matters it what it represents. Was it just a bunch of rich, white guys not wanting to pay taxes? Maybe partially. But, does that really mean that it wasn’t about something bigger?

elwood p. dowd March 18, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Elwood P. Dowd
Did anyone bother to read the article to the end? Mr. Riggenbach makes a very
important point. But alas, the response he gets demonstrates his point so well,
there is a decided lack of thirsty horses.
Sy Akhplart

Charlie Virgo March 18, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Not really. His “thirsty horse” example completely leaves out the main reason that people, eve in the Tea Party, don’t understand history: public education. How much time does a HS econ class devote to the depression/recovery of 1920-1921? NONE. So until we either get rid of public education or begin teaching true, objective history there will always be a lack of thirsty horses because they don’t know what else is out there.

Adam March 18, 2011 at 1:29 pm

But not all libertarians believe that the Constitution is something we should support, seeing as it is a proven failure.

As far as I, a market anarchist, am concerned, the Tea Party has already proven itself to be a bust. Those “Tea Party Republicans” have made no attempt to actually cut spending, many of them voted to renew pivotal parts of the Patriot Act, and we’ve heard no uproar from this group. Tea Parties, in the conservative sense, were reactions to President Obama, not to big government. We’ll have a Republican president, and we won’t hear a peep.

Andrew Cain March 18, 2011 at 5:17 pm

The Tea Party may have some libertarian adherents but it largely a revitalized neoconservative movement. Do they support the ending of the “War on Terror”? Will they not utilize the 10th amendment to legislate THEIR morality in their home state? I somewhat agree with the author of this book in the sense that they wish to return to a time–The Founding– and try to make it some kind of idyllic state which never changes. To these Tea-Partyers government should never remain larger then the 1790′s levels but in order to retain such an environment every individual must have the same conception of the purpose of government through all ages or else government will again grow to where it is now. The political philosophy of the people must remain uniform and static in order for this to transpire. Could anything be more utopian?

I would also agree with Mr. Riggenbach’s assessment of the historical knowledge of these individuals. It is infantile at best. It is like the bellowing of frat boys on Friday nights. What do they know of American history beyond the musings of people like Glenn Beck? They seem to know little more then the talking points as the explain of Sarah Palin shows. It is no wonder that they wish to return to the Founding era because they know nothing of it. It is an unknown era that holds possibilities that the present does not.

Are the Tea-Partyers concerned with liberty? Perhaps now because they are in the minority. The true test will come if they are ever in the majority and I think at that time they will be found wanting. In the end, it is a party that is out of power and must find a unifying belief in order to get back into power.

BoB March 18, 2011 at 10:09 pm

I believe Frank Chodorov said it best…..”You can vote yourself into socialism, but you can’t vote yourself out of it.”

So really the “Tea Party” is a moot point, because partly we must ask ourselves is the so-called “Conatainment Mechanism” of Representative Republic a real guard or at all effective in holding back the tsunami of govt. expansion.

And the so-called Libertariain Elitists have every reason to be critical of the “New Wave” of Vigilant Patriots who by their own self-restraint…”Will get right this time”!

And if the Tea Party, don’t do their homework and seek the truth…then prescribing the same failed medicine to cure the disease is pointless.

BTW, I’m not trying to minimize common folks disgust, but it’s a little harder than holding up a sign. Not that I have the perfect solution either, but that is a debateable issue at this point anyway.

RFN March 18, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Funny. The hardcore libertarians will always find themselves on the outside looking in, bitching about their lot in the political theater. I consider myself very libertarian, but reading sites like this I am just absolutely amazed. The tea party is the ONLY shot you guys have at hoping that free market small government principles are actually enacted. You all have seen the last 100 years of progressive policy march on unabated with both democrats (of course) and republicans (compassionate conservatism?) leading the charge. The tea party is your ONLY hope. Is every tea party member a true lover of liberty? Of course not. Much of it is typical “my party is not in power” but the whole of it is what you “Libertarians” claim to be all about. The shrinking of the federal government. Some of you love being lost in the wilderness because it means you don’t really have to govern. Bitching from the sidelines is pretty freaking easy, ain’t it? I sometimes think some of you don’t REALLY want to win. Like others have said, educate the tea party and coopt it. But that might mean actual success. It’s easier to snipe from the cheap seats, isn’t it?

Andrew Cain March 19, 2011 at 1:02 am

‘The tea party is the ONLY shot you guys have at hoping that free market small government principles are actually enacted. You all have seen the last 100 years of progressive policy march on unabated with both democrats (of course) and republicans (compassionate conservatism?) leading the charge. The tea party is your ONLY hope. Is every tea party member a true lover of liberty? Of course not. Much of it is typical “my party is not in power” but the whole of it is what you “Libertarians” claim to be all about.’

How short-sided a comment. It is not a true lover of liberty. It is a movement concerned with “my party is not in power.” Then by all means, explain why libertarians should put them in power. It is not a true lover of liberty and is just seeking to get reelected into power so it can carry out its own agenda. If there is some grand scheme I am missing then by all means inform me. Teach me how these individuals who are just seeking reelection and do not love liberty are going to bring about the liberty I envision especially when they retain power. This talk is much akin to the Reagan Revolution. How idyllic Reagan’s voice is when he is out of power, seeking election and yet how odious he is when he gets what he seeks. Wise libertarians like Jeff Riggenbach have enough scorch marks from the fiery tongues of politicians who have made many promises of small and limited government. It has hardened them to being skeptical and rightfully so.

Gil March 19, 2011 at 11:47 pm

On the other hand, if the country is turning into the U.S.S.A., what do you have to lose? To get angry yet have no power behind it is mere impotent rage, e.g. nerd rage.

Franklin March 19, 2011 at 9:28 am

“Some of you love being lost in the wilderness because it means you don’t really have to govern.”
Oh, my. Always the implied “Who’s gonna govern us?” mantra.

I’m very sympathetic of the movement, RFN. When the Tea Party gained traction, the vitriolic disgust from hard leftists was my catharsis. Those statist loonies (the far left, that is) exposed their brain-dead paranoia and hate. The characterization of Tea Partiers being racists, redneck, gun-toting, bible thumpers (yes, I’ve heard all those) is despicable; many a leftist unleashed their paranoia and showed their own true colors – hateful, intolerant, economically-ignorant, arrogant and sophomoric, witch hunters. The irony is astounding, isn’t it. But no surprise there. Statists cannot think in terms of individual action and liberty, only groupthink and collective generalizations.
Anyway, I think the net of the Tea Party emergence was a positive, and did shine the spotlight on a government completely mismanaged and out of control.

Alas, I too am…. too skeptical; hell, more than skeptical, I’m 99% sure of myself that nothing shall change. Embarrassingly, I’ve not done my homework — I will try to investigate the hard record of the Tea Party candidates who won office in the last election. It’s only been a couple of months, admittedly, and some have sponsored bills to repeal the Obama-care abomination. But I will review the balance sheet, in black and white, hard metrics, and see how they are voting, sponsoring, leading any and all efforts to roll-back the size of government, as well as leave the Middle East. I have a sense what I will find.

The size and scope of government expanded under Reagan’s ridiculous tenure. But most citizens were rocking and rolling in the mid-80’s and didn’t care.
So as a start, I’ll be thrilled to reduce the level of spending (local, state, fed) to 1988 levels, even adjusted for inflation. What are the odds for that?
The Tea Party movement actually reminds me somewhat of the Perot movement. Overall, a call for more accountability. And how did that turn out?

Ralph Fucetola JD March 19, 2011 at 9:15 pm

You can’t assess the significance of the Tea Party for the pursuit of Freedom without seeing it in context. The context I see it in is informed by my own political background (Youth for Goldwater; YAF Expellee in ’69; taxpayer, health/food freedom advocate thereafter).

So I notice when the people I’ve seen at Tea Party events in the past couple years are not different from (and sometimes the children of) the people I worked with in the legalize-gold and taxpayers movements of the ’70s and the alt. health, vitamin people I’ve worked with thereafter.

Posting on both Campaign for Liberty and Tea Party Patriots, I see lots of libertarian-oriented people resisting neocon arguments and exhibiting a fairly sophisticate knowledge of US history, including Legal Tender laws, the 16th and 17th “progressive era” amendments, etc.

To me the Tea Party started in 1973 when a group of us, then young Rothbarian and/or Randian libertarians, led by the Society for Individual Liberty showed up for the 200th Anniversary of the original Tea Party, with a boat in Boston Harbor. Hundreds of thousands of people were there for fireworks and the official reenactment, with many able to see our boat and “tea crates” (all tethered to the boat) bearing the initials of various Federal agencies, being tossed overboard. As I said, the same people… The more recent use of the Tea Party theme was picked up by Ron Paul’s supporters for a money bomb on I think the 235th anniversary of the Boston event.

The point is that we need to see the Tea Party in context. Libertarians have interacted with the right and the left in American politics since probably before the days of the Abolitionists and Lysandor Spooner. We need to be nimble in doing so, and most important of all, libertarians need to engage with these mass movements.

Here’s an example we’ve started where we seek to bring together issues of personal liberty with Tea Party fiscal responsibility concerns. http://tinyurl.com/NoDebtIncrease

I urge you all to jump into the Tea Party online forums and engage with this mass movement. You can find one of the most active and hospitable to libertarian ideas here: http://teapartypatriots.ning.com

pyncheon March 20, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Revisionist history is just another tiresome and offensive liberal invention. The author doesn’t think she would like the 18th century, so she thinks that invalidates all of their many achievements. Very shallow. After all, she would have enjoyed the 17th century a lot less, Salem witch trials and all. The reviewer is only a little less clueless, and also makes some offensive comments about his betters.
In any event, the Tea Party, while lacking a formal platform, stands (in the minds of most sympathizers) for responsible government, an end to deficit spending, economic freedom, and implicitly a sharp reduction in the pillaging of taxpayers by highly paid, and very arrogant, civil “servants”. The author can’t admit or confront that reality because that would impair her liberal statist credentials. End of story.

Peter March 20, 2011 at 5:31 pm

As for the American public not really wanting to know the truth about history, they need to suspect they have been sold a bill of goods before they experience the desire to trade it in on something better. Without nationalised education which subverts truth in the interests of political expediency, it is unlikely that a revised standard version of American history would even exist. This is not to say that those who financed the schools in such a case would not plug their own agenda, but at least there would be a choice of agendas, and when given a level playing field, truth usually wins.

AG March 21, 2011 at 4:39 pm

A refreshing read Jeff. I appreciate and agree with your analysis and Lepore’s opinions.

Joe March 23, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Professor Lepore may be largely correct about Tea Partiers’ knowledge of US history, but it’s probably no worse than the average Harvard student’s. While it’s true the founders lacked agreement on many details (witness the debate between the federalists and anti-federalists), there was a general agreement that government must be mistrusted and therefore limited, that for the most part men acting in the private sphere should be left largely alone, and that men acting in the public sphere were likely to do anything to increase their political power, and that factions given power would destroy the rights of their fellow citizens. Therefore the mechanisms to slow factions down, such as separation of powers, the electoral college, appointment of senators by state legislatures, etc.

Iain March 23, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Exactly, not only that, but the “left” or “liberal” understanding of American history is far more skewed.

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