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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/9988/the-humanitarian-face-of-the-state-with-fangs/

The Humanitarian Face of the State, With Fangs

May 20, 2009 by

How is it possible that the great humanitarian universalist reversed himself at all, even against his own promises and even to the point that the ACLU is protesting? Well, it is all about thinking like the state. It took his administration a bit to get the hang of it in international affairs but it was just a matter of applying the logic of his domestic program, which is all-controlling. FULL ARTICLE


Horst Muhlmann May 20, 2009 at 8:36 am

Here is another series of Before and After photos:

Franklin May 20, 2009 at 10:07 am

We find ourselves at an opportunistic moment on the U.S. timeline. It really is quite lovely, when a sitting President, styled as truly different, proceeds with the same fiscal policies of an across-the-aisle predecessor.

On CNBC, like others, you can witness an infinite lineup of “is-too/is-not, na, nah, nana, nah” faux debates between Republican and Democrat strategists. The arrogance and over-confidence of the Obama faithful are larger than life. They are riding high. And why shouldn’t they be? The Republicans are deader than Marley.
Any criticism from the right is an annoying mosquito, swatted away in casual disregard, though I think the little bloodsucker would garner more respect than the right-wing critic.

Dan Mitchell from Cato was on recently, and he offered up a gem. There was a glimmer of hope during his tete-a-tete with the standard bureaucrat-loving statist. The subtlety was poetic, the response enlightening.
Mitchell referred to the current trend as “Bush-Obama” tax and spend behavior….
It was a thing of beauty — the phantom punch that felled Sonny Liston. Mitchell’s debating opponent du jour, well-coached in pseudo-professional talking-head acting, responded with the smirking, smarmy, interruption, attempting to distance his leftist hero(es) from the past eight years, attempting to mock the reference. But it was too late. His facial reprimand added oomph to Mitchell’s adjective.
This was a telling moment, startling me in its causality. The irritation of the left, beneath the heavy TV-makeup, was noticeable. It struck a chord.
The Obama apologist was… well, basically, he was pissed.

This is the opportunity for libertarians, a group who’s consumer packaging usually stinks. The pithy tag line, the “Bush-Obama model,” is a perfect complement to the leftist dinner offering:

“The failure of Bush…”
“Putting behind the last eight years….”
“The rejection of the Republicans….”
“Nearly a decade of corporate greed….”
“…the last eight years… the last eight years… the last eight years…”

These are batting practice meatballs, hanging letter-high, begging to be walloped into the left field stands. Smash them, I tell you. Smash them with glee.

When you hear these throw-away, pall-parrot utterings, never, never let them slide. Grab hold of them there, and strangle them dead in their footsteps. Just as Mitchell did, proactively. Smack the words as soon as the sound waves fade: “No, sorry, there is no shift from the past eight years. None. You are continuing in the same path. Yes, the same, wrong path. Obama is the same as Bush, walking the same line, serving the same stale cake but condescendingly calling it a pie. The policy of tax and spend is just what you’ve had for decades. Especially the last eight years. Bush was YOUR man, but you were too naive to notice, too numb from seeing the “D” by your name in the voting register… All the while, you had trend that you wanted. Look at the welfare budgets, the Medicare budgets, open your eyes to the regulation gone wild. Bush was Obama. And Obama is Bush. You are delusional. For they are the same.”

Certainly many will be too dull to recognize the paradigm of a truly peaceable, small government; so at least it does something else: it riles them up. That may help you sleep better at night; there is nothing more irritating to democrats than calling them first cousins of republicans.

The marketing gurus that stroll about these pages would know better than I, can apply a better tail for the brand adjective, but the adjective is gold — “Bush-Obama…” It is the rallying cry. It is the sound of fingernails on the blackboard to the arrogant leftist.


We yank out Huxley too often, and Orwell too, since he actually never saw the light completely, but at least he stumbled upon the blindness of the crushed individual, the mindset, the outlook. Whether through ignorance or through torture or through habit, there is the singular paradigm — a paradigm that is ultimately shared by the current day leftist and conservative. They argue over whose empty suit is easier on the eyes, whose bullet-proof limousine is the shiniest, which boss speaks for themselves.
In the end, they are the same.
They all love Big Brother.

BT May 20, 2009 at 12:36 pm

A question for all libertarians/classical liberals:

Why is it that libertarians/classical liberals always appear to be opposed to any form of physical force upon ANY group of people at any time? I understand and believe in the notion of not being aggressive or meddling in other nations’ affairs; however, you people seem to paint the rosy picture that everyone can be reasoned with, and that no one ever needs to be dealt a round of violence. Is this really what you believe? Do you really think that everyone can be reasoned with? Am I missing a very serious link/connection in your thought process?

Franklin May 20, 2009 at 1:11 pm

It is precisely because NOT “everyone can be reasoned with” that libertarians prefer a hands-off policy with regard to another dog’s fight. I’m sorry, but I don’t see where any libertarian is painting a rosy picture at all.
Libertarians generally do not object to a round of violence, nor a commitment to return a fist in kind, once a perpetrator initiates the trespass.

Donkey May 20, 2009 at 1:11 pm


I am a libertarian and/or an anarcho-capitalist, depending on which day it is, and I sympathize with what you are getting at, thats why I came over to the blog side, more or less to say the following, and I think it will answer your question.

The brunt of it is in reply to

“How those prisoners are treated is a mere foreshadowing of how we will all be treated under the total state.”

I agree that this is true, but I would point out to Lew and the rest of my friends, that those guys at Gitmo are not angels, they are not saints, they are not good men, they are, more often than not, bad men. We’re not talking about freedom fighters, were talking about men who strap bombs to their 8 year old sons, and blow up shopping centers in Israel.

And to BT, yes. people can be reasoned with, or at least dealt with more skillfully. Think of it, if you are walking through the woods and you hear a rattle come from under a rock, do you go poking your nose under the rock to take a look? When the Rattle snake bites you is it your fault or the snake’s? Nevermind that we can play the blame game all we want, the point is that WE CAN avoid the situation. It isn’t pacifying, it’s just being smart.

I guess to sum it up both for Lew and for BT, The vast majority of these guys in gitmo are bad guys, and I don’t feel one bit sorry for how they are treated. On the other hand I don’t like that the state is the one doing it. I don’t trust their ideas of justice, and I don’t trust them. To put it another way… if some Crips rob a store in Compton, and then some Bloods go and kill the crips, I don’t feel sorry for the crips, and the bloods are still murderers. Just remember, that the state, like the bloods, will not make a distinction between the wicked & the righteous as we do, and that yes, the same fate may befall us as well.

Mac May 20, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Whoever does the Mises Institute graphics is really good. What a perfect illustration of the Presidency.


Mac May 20, 2009 at 4:20 pm

@Donkey, I used to think like you. Those guys at Gitmo were not captured in Israel. False analogy. It turns out, a lot of Gitmo prisoners were captured because of the bounties offered for any terrorist captured. Guess what happened? To get the bounty, people kidnapped anyone they could and handed them over. That including a reporter, who served more than 6 (not a typo) years at Gitmo before being released, like many others before Obama took office (all without charges). Heard about that? Of course not.

BTW the state does treat us like that: http://blog.mises.org/archives/009853.asp

And why not? Keeping people in jail looks like the government is keeping order and justifies itself.

I guess the point is: “being in jail” or a Gitmo should be kept separate from the assumption “they are bad guys,” that is, if you don’t trust the state’s idea of justice.

FTG May 20, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Why is it that libertarians/classical liberals always appear to be opposed to any form of physical force upon ANY group of people at any time?

The moral/philosophical stance of libertarianism is that we oppose the initiation of force against any person or people.

Donkey May 20, 2009 at 5:11 pm

Hey Mac, point is taken, I didn’t mean to say that any Palestinian terrorists are @ gitmo, All I’m saying is that they are of the same cut of cloth. I don’t know about the bounty out for terrorists. And simply shooting at foreign soldiers in one’s homeland hardly makes someone a terrorist.

like my example with the crips and the bloods. There are no doubt, some real monsters there. And for them I have no sympathy, of course if, however, there are innocent men there, yes of course thats bad. Again thats kinda like the bloods doing a drive by on the crips and shooting a 10 yr old kid in the drive by. Basically, the government is a gang! I never forget that.

Mac May 20, 2009 at 5:13 pm

Alright then. We’re in agreement.


thesprot May 20, 2009 at 9:28 pm


What if all of them where innocent? What if they where caught and paraded to the public for propaganda purposes. Would you and I ever know it?
The point is that you are repeating the same lines that one hears on TV daily.

As for the palestinians strapping bombs to their 8 year olds, Israel is doing far worst than that. They send their kids to sign autographs on projectiles that kill children on the other side. At least palestinians have something to fight for and have nothing to fight with, except those homemade bombs, but Israel has nothing to stand for ( except taking more land from the original inhabitants ) and all the weapons in the world to fight with.
The point is we will do a great service to ourselves and to society, not to repeat like a gospel, what we hear on TV from government criminals, with truth.
All i and you know to be true is that these two countries The US and Israel are the biggest warmongers, wars that in terms of devastation surpass even the mongol hoards. It is them that are occupying and terrorizing others and not the other way around.

Ron May 21, 2009 at 8:06 am

I think some of you guys have missed the point, which is that the people held at Gitmo are presumed to be criminals, and this presumption is the state’s justification for detaining them indefinitely. They’re being held because they might have committed or may yet commit a crime. There’s been no proof that any of them committed a crime, and the “trials” they’re receiving are held in a secret, most likely kangaroo, court. This is justice?

So is it justifiable for the state to imprison anyone who might represent a danger to others? Should alcoholics be imprisoned because they might get behind the wheel of a car when they’ve been drinking? Should the guy down the street be imprisoned because he’s loud, and the neighbors think he might be beating his wife? This is a dangerous precedent…where’s the end to the state’s reasoning that incarcerating people on a whim is justifiable as a means of “preserving freedom and our way of live (whatever that means)?”

BT May 21, 2009 at 7:03 pm

I would just like to extend a word of thanks to all those who responded to my comment. It seems like we are all on the same page; however, sometimes the rhetoric I read on this site has me second-guessing the libertarian thought process.
Mr. Franklin, as I suggested in my earlier post, I too believe in keeping out of people’s business, but some of the posts I read on this site sound more like a “BOHICA” approach to life….and that, my friend, will never work.
So, now you have my curiosity – since you say libertarians do not mind returning violence to those who initiate it (eye for an eye), do you believe the United States was ever justified in going after the terrorists after September 11th? Do you think that the Navy Seal sniper(s) killing the pirates was justified? I want to know where libertarians tend to draw the line.

JAC May 21, 2009 at 11:56 pm

BT raises a good point and poses a questions that needs to be answered.

I love this website and see it as advancing ideas that are perhaps the last hope for humanity in these troubled times. However, there seems to be a hole in the bucket when it comes to issues of national defense. Even Mises echoes the basic principles of the US Constitution and has written that the primary role of government should be the protection of life, liberty and property.

If the examples that BT lists at the bottom of his post are not justified, under what circumstances, if any, is military action appropriate?

As Mises points out, we must make our formulations based on the way the world really is (i.e. it seems to me there really are people who wish to kill, enslave and/or steal from us) rather than the way we wish it were. To disregard this point undermines this website and is no better than putting forth socialist ideology.

I look forward to more discussion on this point. Thanks.

Gil May 22, 2009 at 1:37 am

Those prisoners are being held indefinitely because they are enemy combatants not your everyday law&order criminals. There’s no habeas corpus in war. Besides it’s also Constitutional to try American citizens for treason and execute them.

Funny that analogy between the Crips and the Bloods. Let ‘em destroy each other as each side has no moral claim to anything. Let Israel and Palestine fight it out until one is destroyed? Couldn’t there be a case that one side is definitely the aggressor and therefore has no moral right to act whereas one is definitely the defender had every right to repel the aggressor with whatever means are necessary? Isn’t is the same when Libertarians look to seek the blame for, say, Sept. 11 and Pearl Harbor to the U.S. authorities and their interventions abroad? If the U.S. was the aggressor towards Japan then the Japanese had every right to invade Pearl Harbor and the U.S. had no right to defend themselves let alone start a war with Japan. Likewise the U.S. should have accepted Sept. 11 losses and proceeded to apologise to everyone in the Middle East for the violence they initiated and thank them for getting the punishment they deserved.

Franklin May 22, 2009 at 9:23 am

Note to BT.

Since you ask, I will respond, but speak only for myself.
There is healthy debate among libertarians. There is no one libertarian voice, but rather a collaboration of ideas, an insistence on the non-initiation-of-force, and the intellectual jousting on how best to apply a legal framework consistent with this principle.

Libertarians seek the minimization of government as Thoreau dreamed (as mentioned earlier, “that government which governs… not at all”) although we also understand reality. “Not at all” is the elusive end-state; the way human beings are genetically coded convinces me that it could never occur (definitely not in our current state of human evolution), so we do the next best thing — minimize state intrusion.
There is no one uniform position on each specific issue, but rather a healthy debate and collaborative thinking on how best to minimize the state, yet still deal with troubles at hand. From my own perspective, and perhaps my means of earning a living, I seek “roadmaps,” step-by-step methods to improve situations. How do we get from here to there? What is the means to, stepwise, eliminate state intrusion?
Well, I am now questioning that approach. The so-called Reagan revolution was a joke (Remember how he promised to eliminate specific Cabinet positions?) Whaddya know, he added one.
The Treasury, on a per capita basis, has grown since the early days of this nation. I think the roadmap is a non-starter now. I even hoped for a roadmap on our military intervention. Step-by-step bring every troop home. From everywhere. That ain’t gonna happen either.

I think that the best hope, outlandish to be sure, is to create a new country, like the idea of Oceania, a floating city. Sure it’s a little nutty, but so what. Perhaps it will not occur until we can reach other stars. Anyway….

“Do you believe the United States was ever justified in going after the terrorists after September 11th?”
Yes, but not with the bazooka-to-kill-a-fly strategy. The pesky part is how to go after terrorists without participating in (or antagonizing or provoking) another country’s civil war.

“Do you think that the Navy Seal sniper(s) killing the pirates was justified? ”
Completely and utterly.

BT May 22, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Once again, a word of thanks to all who have responded to this topic. It does encourage me to know that the mysterious libertarian is not a complete kook with a “passive, never use violence mentality.”

In continuing this debate, I would like to address “thesprot.”


You have definitely hit your head one too many times if you think signing a missile is WORSE than strapping a bomb to an eight year old child! I hope you typed that drunk or extremely sleepy because that is certainly the most ignorant comment I have EVER read! Furthermore, through a multitude of old world battles, the particular plot of land which Israelis reside on has exchanged hands countless times – who did it belong to originally? The Jews have suffered the worst fates than any other single group in history (at least I can’t think of any other group who has suffered more). As I am sure you know, that glorious governmental institution, the promoter of peace – the United Nations – helped to create the state of Israel in 1948 after the Jews were nearly annihilated during World War II. So, if you want to blame someone, blame the U.N. Maybe if Hitler had not risen to power, there would be no Israeli state. But I guess you libertarians would not have changed any of that because you would have never intervened in Germany to stop a crazy man from nearly annihilating a whole group of people – right? Just face it, most countries/citizens have never liked the Jewish people (maybe you are one of them?). Since no nation has ever particularly liked the Jews, where do you suggest they “be placed?” They deserve to have a country of their own! I guess you are also one of those people who would suggest Israel sit on its haunches and wait for Iran to develop a nuclear warhead so it can annihilate the Jewish state?!? This particular scenario poses an interesting dilemma for the libertarian ideal of “wait until they attack, then we will attack them back.” What if the one attack is so devastating that there is nothing left for retaliation? Is a country/individual justified in preempting the attack? I look forward to hearing an explanation on that.

To Mr. Franklin:

It is enlightening to know that there is no “uniform libertarian voice” – it helps to explain the many inconsistencies I read on this website. I started coming to this website because I love the idea of freedom and exchange of thoughts. However, except for the economic articles, I have generally been disappointed by the anti-American, pacifist attitudes and rhetoric that I read here. For instance, one of Mr. Oliva’s articles stated that he had opposed the use of snipers in the pirate incident. I asked him what he would of done instead – I have yet to receive a reply (which, coincidentally, causes me to believe even less that he has/had a credible solution to the problem). I mean, really…in regard to the pirate quagmire, most nations have pursued what I would call a “perfect libertarian approach.” They have been peaceful and paid the ransoms demanded by the pirates. Where has this gotten anybody? Have the pirates stopped there marauding? Has anything positive changed in their behavior? I think this situation is a prime example of how “libertarian wonderland” does not always work!!

Well, I have definitely learned one thing from this site: Either I am missing an important principle of your thought process, or I need to reconsider what I call myself (maybe I am a reformed libertarian?).

Franklin May 22, 2009 at 4:34 pm

I hope you continue to visit here; I’ve found it’s one of my favorite places to partake of my morning coffee and front porch.

There’s enough emotionalism about, so I respectfully advise to temper every response. Oh, well, would that I could do that. : ) Seeking answers to the world’s troubles, debating complex histories are not necessarily anti-[name your ethnic group of the day].

I have found that libertarians, generally, are among the most patriotic souls in the U.S., and the non-U.S. residents to be the most supportive of the ideals of the Enlightenment, the great Eastern non-agression philosophies, and the “don’t tread on me” foundation.

Most libertarians are not living in wonderland at all. Consider the famous Teddy Roosevelt quote, “Walk softly and carry a big stick.”
We simply believe that we should “carry a big stick, but stop walking where we don’t belong.”

Good luck.

Anti-Psychiatry May 23, 2009 at 6:01 pm


Psychiatry does this everyday. If your family members hate you and you get into an argument with them, you are just one police call away from the psych ward, a psychiatric record and misery for the rest of your life.

You don’t need to have committed any crimes to get incarcerated in a psychiatric ward. Just authoritarian family members calling the police and making up a story and there you go !!!

“So is it justifiable for the state to imprison anyone who might represent a danger to others? Should alcoholics be imprisoned because they might get behind the wheel of a car when they’ve been drinking? Should the guy down the street be imprisoned because he’s loud, and the neighbors think he might be beating his wife? This is a dangerous precedent…”

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