While co-blogger (and friend) Stephen VanDyke is posting entries with titles like “The Anti-War Movement is a Joke”, I’ve been busy promoting certain anti-war rallies — where Lew Rockwell spoke, in particular.
FrontPage Magazine is rendering an opinion on the topic, as well.
In late September, as throngs of placard-wielding protestors were descending on the nation’s capital, Lew Rockwell, the nominally libertarian proprietor of the website LewRockwell.com, was holding forth at an anti-war rally convened by the far-left Alabama Peace and Justice Coalition (APJC).
That the APJC’s rallying cry — “Spend money for human needs, not war!” — was of questionable accordance with principled libertarianism’s aversion to government largesse, didn’t seem to phase Rockwell, who joined a roster of speakers with an altogether different view about the proper role of the federal government. “I was aware that I was a token non-leftist speaking to a largely leftist audience,” Rockwell later explained on his website. Nonetheless, he noted that, despite some political differences with the gathered crowd, his “speech seemed well received.”
Jacob Laskin, who wrote the article, went on to froth at the mouth about Rockwell selling out to the liberal left.
With its foam-flecked denunciations of the United States for “the evil of imperialism, the immorality of enslaving a foreign people, the malice of colonialism, and the intolerable brutality of authoritarianism,” its paranoiac allusions to a dissent-crushing “state,” and its unelaborated call for “resistance,” Rockwell’s speech could have been given by any of the more literate ringleaders of the anti-war left.
Laskin must not have been at the event. If he was, he would have noted some clear distinctions between the libertarians and the leftists attending the rally. The top rally poster in the photograph above should provide a case-in-point. Our profile on the issue was not low key, as the media covered on our position even before the rally.
The point of greatest applause may have been when one of the speakers (not Rockwell) spoke about tax resistance. Thoreau was the obvious topic of conversation I had with many leftists attending the rally following this comment. The ensuing conversations certainly opened the door to at least some liberals and progressives reconsidering their devotion to big government.
While Rockwell did have to keep his intended audience in mind (one will not gain much by attempting to sell ice cubes to Eskimos), he did not sell out libertarian positions. In fact, his speech was well-received, despite the inclusion of lines like this:
Of all forms of collectivist central planning, war is the most egregious. It is generated by the coercive force of taxation and monetary depreciation. Its means are economic regimentation and the violation of the freedom to associate and trade. Its ends are destruction and killing — crime on a mass scale.
While a majority of Americans currently believe that we should withdraw from Iraq, many libertarians are more concerned about the reactions of publications which list names like David Horowitz and Ann Coulter as contributors. I tend to favor the approach suggested in Rockwell’s closing paragraph:
Stand up to the state. Be a dissident. Tell what is true. And do not fear the emperor-pirates. They, after all, fear you. For you help tilt the balance of history against their barbarism, and in favor of peace and freedom