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Markos Moulitsas has written a very powerful and very moving piece on the sad subject of resurgent mindless violence in Central America.

Violence Begets Violence
by Kos

This story is a departure from this site's standard fare, but has hit me pretty hard.

El Salvador and Guatemala are currently gripped by the murder of three Salvadoran parliament members. They were en route to Guatemala City for a monthly session of the Central American parliament when their vehicle disappeared. Their bodies were found a day later, shot execution-style and burned nearly beyond recognition...

He goes on to describe the horrific history from the 1980s.

Here is the problem: this bloody truth flies in the face of the big myth of so-called Libertarian Republicanism which Kos, himself, indulged only last Fall.  

On the eve of the 2006 election, Kos created quite a stir with an article posted on the blog for the Cato Institute:

The Case for the Libertarian Democrat
by Markos Moulitas
Posted on Cato UnBound
October 2, 2006.

It was my fealty to the notion of personal liberty that made me a Republican when I came of age in the 1980s. It is my continued fealty to personal liberty that makes me a Democrat today.

. . .

We can fondly look back to a time when Republicans spoke a good game on libertarian issues. They professed fealty to state rights, spoke of shrinking the government, preserving individual liberty, and embracing fiscal responsibility.

I am a little older than Mr. Moulitas and I grew up in the South during the civil rights revolution.  The awful truth is there has never been a time in the last fifty years when conservative talk about "shrinking the government" and "individual liberty" was anything more than hypocritical campaign oratory.  George Orwell once wrote that most political speech is "the defense of the indefensible."  As the brutal, dysfunctional, idiotic practices of the "Southern way of life" became increasingly indefensible after World War II, certain clever politicians and intellectuals seized upon this argument that "of course" they agreed with the goals of the civil rights revolution, they just didn't think "big government" should force change "down our throats."  

When I went to graduate school in the mid-1970s, I did not go to the University of California or any of those famously "liberal" universities in the Northeast.  Instead, I went to the then very "conservative" University of Virginia at Charlottesville where the most militant student groups on campus were the College Republicans and William F. Buckley's Young Americans for Freedom (note the abuse of the word "freedom" in the title of an organization whose members gut-level, knee-jerk reaction to just about every issue was 100% authoritarian).  

Remember, this was the mid-1970s.  The social and cultural upheavals of the 1960s were over.  Long hair, funky blue jeans, hard rock, casual "soft" drug use, and casual recreational sex were chic.  Republican President Richard Nixon and his bribe-taking "conservative" vice-president, Spiro Agnew had resigned in disgrace.  By 1974-1975, you couldn't find 10 members of the UVa faculty who would even admit to having voted for Nixon in 1972 (how Mr. Nixon managed to beat McGovern by landslide in the state is unclear).  

Problem: How to Be an Old-Fashioned Southern White Guy and Chic?
Solution: Libertarian Conservatism

The libertarian rap allowed a guy to:

  • Assert the "Right" to post a "Whites Only" sign on a public business
    and resist the military draft.

  • Assert the "Right" to criminalize women's reproductive freedom and same-sex love
    get laid by "easy" feminist babes.

  • Declare "Individual Liberty" the highest value

    as moral justification for war crimes.

Sounds crazy?  It is crazy!  Unfortunately this became the dominant political ideology in the United States during Ronald Reagan's years in the White House.

Here is how Kos describes the murderous goings-on in El Salvador in the 1980s:

In recent Central American history, the elder D'Aubuisson was one of the most violent, ruthless people in a region wracked by violence. He was the organizer of the infamous Salvadoran death squads who killed thousands of suspected communists, including labor leaders, educators, and students. Most famously, D'Aubuisson planned the muder that essentially pushed El Salvador from "civil unrest" to "civil war" in 1980 -- that of my personal hero Archbishop Arnulfo Romero.


But doesn't anybody remember that Ronald Reagan was president?  Doesn't anybody remember Romero's fate was sealed when he wrote a letter to President Carter asking that U.S. aid to El Salvador be cut and that one of the first things Reagan did was increase U.S. aid?  And doesn't anybody remember that it wasn't just Reagan but also George H. W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, James Baker, John Negroponte, and Elliot Abrams were all implicated?

Conclusion: How About Being as Nice to Dissident Progressives as "Libertarian" Conservatives?

This diary is not intended to be a criticism of Kos.  We all know why he posted that article at the rightwing Republican Cato Institute -- for once, to sow confusion and disunity in the ranks of the other guys.

All I am saying is let's be fair and consistent.

Originally posted to Alex Walker on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 07:54 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hmmm (8+ / 0-)

    Well, I wasn't around for most of the seventies, but it is cool to know I'm a myth.  Hell, I'll be driving my manticore around town and using my own hydra for home defense if that's the case.

    Meanwhile, me and my mythical buddies (like Hannah Arendt, who supported states' rights and property rights during the civil rights era) will stop worrying about our freedom.  After all, we can simply have our pixie buddies whisk us out of prison for selling donuts in New York City.

    The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

    by Jay Elias on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 07:58:41 PM PST

    •  Selling Donuts in New York City (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      metal prophet, hhex65, rmx2630

      I do not understand your reference to "prison for selling donuts in New York City."

      If this is a reference to New York City's allegedly "authoritarian" rules about selling unhealthy food, then you have made my point even better than I could have made it.

      You consider getting hassled for selling donuts a major threat to "freedom."  

      How come you didn't mention the supposedly 'Great" Rudy Giuliani's brutal, top-down authoritarian project to build fascism in one city?  

      Oh, so Abner Louima was "just" tortured in a Brooklyn police station while handcuffed and in custody.

      That's no big deal.

      And Amadou Diallo, an unarmed, totally innocent man was gunned down in 41 shots by Rudy Giuliani's plains-clothes cops standing in his own doorway.

      That's no big deal.

      What are these "trivial" things compared to really important stuff like "politically correct" people meddling with my donuts!

      Thank you, my young mythical clueless person.  

      You helped make my case.  

      •  Uh... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ray Radlein, DigDug, revbludge, debedb

        ...I hated Giuliani.  Voted against him when he ran for reelection.  I'm not a Republican, and I have never been one.

        What are you talking about in this diary?  CATO?  CATO institute fellows were among many of the ardent supporters of Jim Webb in Virginia last year.  You want to talk police brutality?  CATO published the most far-reaching study of police brutality of the last decade last year.

        What is foolish is the idea that because I'm concerned about trans-fat bans, I'm not far more concerned about much bigger issues.  Or that other libertarians aren't either.  

        I seriously doubt that attacking me is going to help your case with many posters here.  But have at it.  I'm not the one too dumb to understand Markos' essay.

        The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

        by Jay Elias on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 08:25:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  states rights during the civil rights era... (5+ / 0-)

      was a joke, because it was used by the racists to justify their racism. That is the reality that the libertarians have to live with.  

      absolute freedom for one individual undoubtedly limits the freedom of another.

      by jbou on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 08:31:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yes, but (7+ / 0-)

        that doesn't mean that all libertarians are racists.

      •  The case that Arendt made... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        highacidity, jlynne, mcfly, Nulwee

        ...was that despite their use as a shield for racists, they were still essential rights that needed to be respected.  That ignoring them to deal with badly intentioned people was expedient did not make it right.

        That is of course, her case, and not mine.

        The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

        by Jay Elias on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 08:45:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  well (4+ / 0-)

          states rights and property rights are NOT more important than human rights, and anyone defending them in 1964-5 was simply wrong, and it was right and necessary for the federal government to pass federal civil rights and voting rights acts that directly abrogated states rights.  Note I am adressing the arguments of Arendt, Goldwater and others at the time, I don't know what your opinion is on that.

          I do think it is right for libertarians and social democrats to form a "popular front" to defeat the current depraved "unitary executive" faith-based conservatism that we all hope is in its last throes.  I think this site benefits greatly from the interplay between the two, however, that doesn't mean we don't have rather fundamental differences.

          •  Well... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mcfly, revbludge

            ...I can agree with most of that.  I would say that I believe property rights are human rights, but states' rights are governed by the Constitution, which directly guarantees due process for all citizens from the government, be that the federal, state or local government.

            Which is where those "fundamental differences" come in.  Which I'll fully acknowledge.

            The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

            by Jay Elias on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 10:18:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I mostly agree with that, too (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Jay Elias

              although I think of the Constitution more as a series of limitation on what states can do to individual citizens, and that its guarantees of individual liberty in that sense did not begin to be fully realized until the 1960s.

              More generally, I think a problem that always comes up in these discussions is that the term "libertarian" has come to mean everyone from Glenn Reynolds to Sen. Tester.  As such, it's not surprising that many on this site think of pot-smoking college Republican jerks when they think of libertarians, whereas others think of themselves.  This diary's incoherence serves as quite the metaphor for the general confusion on this topic, IMO.

              •  Fair enough.... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                .....and if Glenn Reynolds is a libertarian, then Sen. Clinton is an anarchist.

                But as fun as this is, I need sleep.  Cheers mate.

                The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

                by Jay Elias on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 10:50:30 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  How does the middle dichotomy in your (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    narrative go? The one about abortion.

    I do think that a lot of Republican talk about freedom is a cover for hypocracy and I also think that a lot of libertarian book keeping about freedom either double counts or otherwise rigs the books (Why is it not an infringement of my freedom for you to tell me I can't oragnize in your shopping mall, while it is an infringement of your freedom to tell you you can't use your money to  . . . fill this in as you like.)

    But I really don't see how the middle position is genuinely even right wing libertarian. Most right wing libertarians tend to be OK with reproductive freedom and gay sex.  It's on the economic stuff and the use of property rights to limit the freedoms of those without that their views hit the rocks.

    •  btw... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ray Radlein, highacidity, Nulwee, jessical

      ...former Libertarian Party Presidential candidate Ron Paul said at the CPAC conference today that he can't do anything about the legality of abortion under Roe.  So much for the theory that libertarians are for the "right" to criminalize abortion.

      The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

      by Jay Elias on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 08:08:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  My Point-There Are No "Libertarian Republicans" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DaleA, Mike Erwin, mvr

      You guys are missing my point and helping to make my point at the same time.

      In this diary I'm not knocking libertarianism, per se (though I, myself, DO NOT AGREE with their stuff).  

      I am saying there is no such thing as a "Libertarian Republican."  

      You said:

      "I do think that a lot of Republican talk about freedom is a cover for hypocrisy"

      I am saying that Republican talk about "freedom" is always a cover for hypocrisy.

      Here again, the Daily Kos is an extremely partisan blog.  If I written in my diary that I voted for Ralph Nader here in California in 2000, which I did, it would generate about fifty posts calling me a scumbag who ought to engage in an anatomically impossible sex act.  

      But I am supposed to be "cool" about people saying nice things about "Libertarian Republicans" who has used and abused the power of government to reward their friends and punish their "enemies" consistently for fifty years.  

      If they were libertarians and really believed that clever bullshit that libertarians say they believe in, they could simply never be Republicans.  

      It's like saying: "I dig capitalism, so I think I'll join the Communist Party!"

      It's like saying: "I'm a Christian, so I think I'll join this cult of atheists!"  

      There are no "Libertarian Republicans" in America.

  •  Libertarianism is a stalking horse for ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, doinaheckuvanutjob

    the hard right.  Many proto-fascists, wanting a cloak of respectability,  adapt the libertarian mantle, under which to proclaim their non-partisanship.  It's just an attempt to give intellectual cover for their standard wingnut prejudicies; and they are all, in any case, reliable Rethuglican voters.  

    A good example would be the SF Chronicle's poisonous Op Ed columnist, Debra Saunders, who, thankfully, doesn't get much national exposure, although sometimes I think the beams of Olbermann's flashlight would provide a useful  antidote.

    The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang, that jurymen may dine.

    by magnetics on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 08:37:46 PM PST

    •  Libertarianism (7+ / 0-)

      is fertile ground for the Left right now.  A true Libertarian, as the diarist attempts to show, has more in common with the Democrats than the Republicans these days - which is a actually a very good measure of just exactly how toxic the Bush Administration has been for the GOP.  

    •  Debra Saunders, et al (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Saunders is a comparatively civilized case.  

      I can thing of so many examples of this phenomenon I could fill up this whole web site.

      Obviously, this is a big subject that could never be covered in one page.  The insidious thing about so-called "Libertarian Conservative" is they way they play this little game of occupying two contradictory positions at once:

      They play the "libertarian" card when they want the freedom to do something without "interference" from government.

      But they also play the "Conservative" care when they want to use the power of government to get their way.  

      William F. Buckley, Jr. pioneered this technique when he founded National Review back around 1955.

      The so-called neoconservatives have simply cared this to the ultimate level -- in the name of spreading "freedom" around the world the neocons openly advocate a dictatorship of "conservatives" in the United States to rule the world.  

      As a few commentators have pointed out, this is one of the reasons why they did such a piss-poor job in Iraq.  They said they wanted to bring freedom to the Middle East -- a worthy goal -- but for them it was "My Way or the Highway" and no criticism was tolerated even from sympathetic members of Congress.  

      I personally lost what teeny, tiny respect I had for John McCain after he turned out to be such a craven suck-up to Bush.  

      As for Ron Paul, a man like Ron Paul has no more business being in the Republican than Joe Lieberman has in being in the Democratic Party.  He's a congressman from Texas, so the truth just picked the GOP label out of convenience (like some people choose to be Democrats in New York City even though they really hate most of what the Demos stand for).

      One of the good things about the 2006 election, in my opinion, is that we finally purged some of these jive-ass Republicans like Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island who made a whole career out of confusing the issues.

      •  Goes back to before the Civil War, (0+ / 0-)

        when the slave power (Democrats) would assert states' rights to maintain the right to own and sell slaves, to oppose the tariff, etc., and then demand the Federal government assert power to protect their interests (i.e. the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 which overturned the rights of other, non-slave states).

        Impeach Bush and Cheney because it's the right thing to do.

        by revbludge on Fri Mar 02, 2007 at 05:15:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  yeah, and all liberals are crypto-Stalinists (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Nice bit of Nazi-baiting "analysis" there.

      "See a world of tanks, ruled by a world of banks." —Sol Invictus

      by Delirium on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 09:10:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not Entirely Accurate (0+ / 0-)

      Yes there are some neocons (like Bob Barr and Eric Dondero) trying to disguise kleptocracy, repression, and warfare as "libertarianism."

      But that doesn't describe either intellectual tradition (there are two with some overlap) or the gut instincts which can drive voters.

      No returns for privilege; full returns for labor! Labor has a right to all that it creates.

      by Mike Erwin on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 09:24:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The diary fails to distinguish (5+ / 0-)

    the Campus/Beltway political operative types, from the largely rural libertarian/consevative voter. Breaks in turn to 2 subgroups. Small businesses, whose problem is regulation that makes good sense for big businesses, but where the cost of compliance doesn't scale downward, and the firearms crowd, who run more populist on economics.

    Democratic Candidate for US Senator, Wisconsin, in 2012

    by ben masel on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 09:10:08 PM PST

  •  seems not enough libertarianism was the problem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    A libertarian President wouldn't have screwed up Central America in the way the decidedly non-libertarian Reagan did.

    "See a world of tanks, ruled by a world of banks." —Sol Invictus

    by Delirium on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 09:11:24 PM PST

  •  US Really is in Greatest Crisis Since 1860s (8+ / 0-)

    One last thing and I'll drop this thread.

    I'm a history buff.  Maybe some of you are, too.

    And like i said, I grew up in the South where, as Faulkner once said:  

    The past isn't over.  It isn't even past.

    I really do believe that slowly but surely, our country -- the U.S.A. -- has stumbled into its greatest political crisis since the 1860s.  

    One of the reasons I am "soft" on the Greens is because I know, historically, third parties have always appeared -- and must appear -- when the major political party system becomes dysfunctional.  We should be glad that the Libertarians, the Greens, and the Reform Party boys still believe enough in the system to stay inside the game.  In a lot of places around the world, armed militias would be patrolling the streets.  

    The quicker the Republican Party boils down to what it essentially is -- a little club for weird rich guys, and the sooner the Democrats rediscover what it's like to be a serious, grown-up governing coalition, the better off we'll be.  

    This is the main reason why I think the blogs are good because the professional "experts" who write what passes for "analysis and commentary" in the MSM are totally clueless.  They just cannot think beyond the cliches they've lived by in Washington and New York for decades.  

    I lived through the 1960s.  To be sure we don't have the mass civil disobedience and the riots and the political assasinations (yet).  But the crisis of the system, I swear, is greater now than it was then.  Most of the fussing and fighting in the '60s was between people, who truth to tell, actually believed in the system.  Today, huge numbers of Americans are just totally turned off.  They don't know what's going -- and they don't want to know.  Their attitude is like: "A president? A king? whatever."

    That's scary.

  •  Simple answers to simple questions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    How About Being as Nice to Dissident Progressives

    Kos shits on progressive Democrats for the same reason Republicans do -- because he figures he can get away with it.

  •  Straw Men everywhere and nary a pitchfork (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I could focus on the fact that this diary isn't very coherent and doesn't really make a point, other than that Reagan supported the D'Abuisson government. Reagan wasn't particularly libertarian, though he opposed gun control and taxes. In fact, I'd disagree with the whole premise that the positions you ascribe to a group of libertarian conservatives reflects anything that would fairly be called libertarian priciples. I'm not even sure it really reflected anyone's belief system in the late 70s-early 80s. Who the hell still thought it was OK to put up Whites Only signs? How many draft resisters were for criminalizing abortions? And what does any of that have to with supporting Salvadoran death squads, which was fervently anti-Communist, but hardly libertarian?

    I'm not entirely sure what the point of the dairy is, so I'm a little hesitant to say I disagree with it. On the other hand, I disagree with the basic premise and discussion which is littered with straw men.

    "America! F*%# Yeah! Coming again to save the mother-f*%#ing day!" -- Team America

    by FischFry on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 09:47:44 PM PST

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