Sunday, October 25, 2009

Blog Interview: Bellator Pro Libertas

This week I am on vacation in California visting family, but I will try to post as much as I can. The Liberty Pen had the privilege of interviewing Barry, the purveyor of the blog, "Bellator Pro Libertas," and it proved to be an interesting exchange.

tLP: What does Libertarianism mean to you?

BPL: Libertarianism returns to the political roots of our country to a time when we were “governed by the consent of the governed”. This philosophy allows us to make responsible decisions, morally and otherwise, without a central government legislating behavior. A Libertarian form of government is essentially color blind in that it allows ALL of us to succeed or fail based on decisions we make every day. Unfettered global commerce devoid of restrictions would do nothing but prop up a failing economy. National defense as defined within the party’s platform:

“We support the maintenance of a sufficient military to defend the United States against aggression. The United States should both abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world and avoid entangling alliances. We oppose any form of compulsory national service.”

For me, that is the big one. We should defend our borders and allow the rest of the world to figure it out. Foreign military intervention is utilized as the last resort for national security.

Libertarianism, simply put, just makes sense. It made sense (235) years ago. The original Libertarian, Thomas Jefferson, warned us through his writings, speeches, and letters what would happen if we strayed from the plan. He was a keen student of history and human nature.

tLP: Given our current political and economic problems, do you think Libertarianism will continue to gain influence? If so, why?

BPL: I absolutely believe Libertarianism is receiving more exposure thanks to people like Glenn Beck who has a huge stage from which to promote the philosophy, if not the party. The current group of the (535) sitting in congress are composed of the following: a small far left wing, a small far right wing, and a huge middle. This large group in the middle may be viewed as unable to make decisions. I believe some are just uncomfortable with the leftist entitlement programs and the far right conservative social agenda. The far right conservatives are as far removed from the Libertarian social philosophy as they could possibly be. It will be difficult to change a thought process nearly (80) years in the making, but the time is right for Libertarians to make a push. I am personally acquainted with a number of people who have left the GOP for the Libertarian movement.

tLP: Do you think that the increase in size of the federal government is directly proportionate to the increased intrusion and erosion of our civil liberties?

BLP: Unfortunately, we live in a post 911 world where security is has become more important than liberty. (Dr. Franklin is rolling in his grave). The New Deal was the original seed that began the growth of scope and size of the Federal government. As the government took on the role of “job creation”, and with the advent of “The Great Society”, a welfare state, they assumed a greater power over those they were purported to help. With each new department created, the bureaucracy grows, more and more people are directly or indirectly impacted, and as a result the Feds believe they own another little piece of us. Social Security, healthcare, the Patriot Act, government schools and numerous others all put us in the crosshairs of the Feds. The fact that the10th amendment is losing more and more relevancy is probably the single biggest threat to our civil liberties.

tLP: Will our Republic ever truly embrace a free market system? Do you think our current politicians fully understand free market economics?

BLP: Not likely and it doesn’t matter. As long as the Federal and state governments continue to place artificial prices on goods and services and well as federal subsidies the free market is limited. Protectionist policies, tariffs, excessive regulation, trade barriers (see Cuba) are all roadblocks to a true free market system. The complexities of human nature prohibit a true free market system from functioning in a theoretical fashion. Global trade suffers because of protectionist polices throughout the world. So, no, I think it is very unlikely that a free market system will ever be embraced domestically or globally.

Our politicians aren’t really interested unless there is something in it for them. I know this sounds cynical, but these individuals, for the most part, are there to be reelected, period. If removing trade barriers buys votes, then I say “hurray”. If imposing additional trade barriers helps them get reelected, well...........

tLP: Your statement that we should concentrate our protective efforts on our own borders raises the question of viability. What should our responsibilities be to our (friendly) trade partners if they incur transgressions from another country? Is it true to state that by mere association we would be required to act?

BLP: Political theory is a wonderful thing because theories don’t account for chaos. Marx wrote of a Utopian world where A=B and B=A. There are no absolutes in relationships, and no panacea with regard to global commerce. Washington spoke of “steering clear of permanent alliances”, and Jefferson referred to “commerce with all nations; entangling alliances with none.” The Barbary Coast situation is a good example of limited intervention for the sake of national security. Throw in the Spanish-American War (Monroe Doctrine) and World War II. These are all examples of foreign aggression. Reagan said it best regarding “swift and sure retaliation”. Take action quickly and decisively, and get the hell out. Deployment of troops in Korea and Japan; (50) and (60) plus years later? No. Our borders are still clearly defined, and global commerce doesn’t change that. What defines a “trading partner”? That could and should be any nation that desires free and equal trade. Our responsibilities should be limited to diplomacy unless we are directly attacked. Mere association because of trade should not dictate whether or not we should act militarily. Temporary alliances are necessary at times, but should be avoided.

tLP: As Libertarianism grows and the principles of liberty, free markets, free minds and limited government reconstitute themselves in the minds of responsible people – do you think that battling progressivism will become the next big hurdle?

BLP: Jefferson himself began the battle in 1792 with the birth of partisan politics: Hamilton’s Federalists and Jefferson’s Democratic-Republicans as a response to Hamilton’s efforts to create a national bank. The New Deal was the first real salvo fired in the war of progressive ideals. Once the welfare state was established, the only natural progression was to make it grow into the behemoth that it is today. While The New Deal stifled recovery, at the very least there were some tangible infrastructure improvements that came along with it. The Great Society was the biggest, most expensive, progressive bill ever to be enacted, causing, perhaps, the single most important and destructive piece of legislation ever passed. From the progressive side, how do you argue with the “moral” and “social” positives contained in this bill? From my standpoint, we have to figure a way to return to a point prior to The Great Society, from a purely economic standpoint. We can discuss Jim Crow and Civil Rights at another time. I believe we have been waging war on progressives for decades, but at this critical point in history may have additional soldiers in the Libertarians. It is never a liability to be well armed.

tLP: I think it is hard to explain to people who prefer governmental paternalism that a leviathanistic government causes more problems and creates economic instability. Do you think that our society has grown accustomed to a nannyish mentality which therefore precludes self-actuation and personal responsibility?

BLP: Over the last (75) years, we have experienced the worst and the best of our country. At our best, we liberated, essentially, the entire world, and at our worst, have allowed a philosophy of dependence to permeate an otherwise efficient system. As the number of agencies, programs, and entitlements grew, the ranks of federal employees exploded. When a central government has the mentality that in their possession lays unlimited funds, economic instability is a natural byproduct of this thought process. There really never was a huge homeless problem in our country until the Feds started supplying aid for the homeless. I believe there is a “What about me?” attitude, to some degree. If my neighbor gets something for nothing, I want it too. If you are hungry, you’ll find a way to feed your family. If it’s given to you, why bother? Just consider the 4th generation or so of welfare recipients. There’s your answer.

"Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition." --Thomas Jefferson

tLP: I do believe a government, limited in scope, has its uses. How does one go about explaining to people who have become accustomed to receiving something for nothing that it isn’t actually free?

BLP: “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.” -Thomas Paine

Without government, you have anarchy, which sounds like a great idea to some fringe Libertarians I know. Government is a necessary evil, as history will show. Without it, we would live in medieval Europe, with kingdoms spread around. But with every form of government comes the potential of tyranny and oppression. For those who reap all of what the Feds have to offer in the form of food, housing, education, and healthcare are, generally, not interested in the original source. For this demographic, the bottom rung of the economic ladder, it is, for all intents and purposes, free. They pay no taxes, own no real estate; have no real assets, period. No explanation is good enough. The next group looks at aid as a very temporary situation, where no explanation is necessary. They already know that nothing is free. One more from Mr. Paine:

“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.” -Thomas Paine

tLP: I believe that the government will become increasingly (more than it already has) intrusive under the auspices of protectionism, do you think this can be stopped, and if so, how?

BLP: The Patriot Act is a good example of the government creating an invasive policy that, under the auspice of “protecting” us from the Muslim hoard, had the power and force to pry into any of our lives for essentially any reason deemed connected to international terrorism. Emails, cell phones, US mail, and all forms of communication are fair game if any suspicions are aroused. Church group in Tennessee that housed Iraqi refugees was vigorously investigated by the Feds. This was enacted under the guise of national security to root out terrorists and evildoers. This legislation was passed with virtually no debate, and continues to violate your fundamental freedoms by giving the government the power to access to your medical records, tax records, information about the books you buy or borrow without probable cause, and the power to break into your home and conduct secret searches in direct contradiction to the Fourth Amendment protecting us against illegal search and seizure. The fact that any of us could fall victim to eavesdropping on private conversations on our telephone or computers doesn’t seem to be an issue that is a concern for the populace at large.

Once the horse is out of the barn, it’s very difficult to chase him down. A concerted effort by like-minded people, in large numbers at high levels of government is the only way to stem the tide of government intrusion. It has been said that if you are not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about. The issue is just the ability and availability at the beck and call of the government to harness that level of power to intrude into our lives. I don’t want that kind of protection.

Who is going to remove the 900 pound gorilla sitting in your living room? Who will suggest he leave? With technology accelerating at warp speed, it will be an enormous endeavor to recoup our personal liberties and stem the tide of “Big Brother”. I wrote a piece awhile back about a comparison between the book “1984” and current events. The gist of the post was that the time it takes to change public policy and perceptions is inversely proportional to the time it takes to change it back. Maybe exponentially. Protectionism isn’t just a result of 911, but just one spot in a long line of instrumentalism. The lady or the tiger? The ballot box or the gun?

tLP: I want to throw a conspiratorial type question at you; does the existence of the Taliban and Al Qaeda help the government implement protectionist legislation (with usurpative aspects towards individual liberty) as a means to control and restrict the populace? Or is it a mere byproduct of our present circumstances?

BLP: At the outset of the War on Terror after 911, I believe the intent was pure, that the alarmist policies put into place were to protect us from the Muslim extremists. In fact, procedures were developed in the early 70’s in case of a nuclear attack by the Soviets, but were fine tuned in 2008 by the Bush administration. During that period, the powers that be (FBI, CIA, NSA) discovered how much information that could that could be obtained through surveillance by bypassing the system, legally. I don’t believe all the data was connected to terrorism. I’m fairly confident that internet activity is monitored for activities that may be deemed suspicious. Freedom of expression could be the next shoe to drop. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were bloggers that fell into this category. But, no, I’m not a big believer in conspiracies.

tLP: Is it true to say that it is in the government's best interests to grow and increase its power and influence? If you believe this to be true, can anything be done?

BLP: It absolutely is in the best interest of any government to increase its size and scope. Once you control the finances of an underclass, you ultimately get a hold of their psyche. At the risk of sounding Orwellian, once dependence is established, the government can, indeed, crawl into your mind and create a world that is very difficult to leave. As I have cited before, the welfare state not only begets dependence, but grow the government exponentially by the creation of departments and agencies that manage and control the welfare state. When politicians become deities in the minds of constituents who have grown dependent on the state; this equates to a sort of “thought police”, in that these politicians will be elected again and again because they are a kind of a messiah. Who bites the hand that feeds them? Only through some very tough love can this be controlled, and ultimately stopped. I may add, there will always be those that cannot care for themselves, and we cannot throw them into the street. These individuals constitute a small fraction of total number of Americans on public assistance. Baby steps; take some back, bit by bit until the system is restored to a pre-welfare state. The alternative, once again, is not pretty.

tLP: At this time I would like point out to our readers that you have a blog, “Bellator Pro Libertas,” tell us about it and include why you decided to start blogging.

BLP: After the presidential election of 2008, I awoke on that Wednesday morning, disgusted with the fact I voted AGAINST a candidate. I didn’t like either one of the candidates, but my voting record and conscience would not allow me to vote FOR either one. So I went the GOP route. On the day after the election, I made a conscious decision that I would never cast a vote AGAINST a candidate ever again. The Cincinnati Enquirer has a daily column called “Your Voice” which allows for anyone to write a column, submit it, and if it works, it would appear on the editorial page. I wrote a column about the Libertarian philosophy as I understood it at that time. I had investigated the LP (20) years ago, but lost interest. The newspaper ended up publishing (4) of my columns in a (6) week period, and then stopped abruptly. The content was diverse but leaned pretty heavily Libertarian. The Enquirer never published another of my columns. That is why I started my blog; initially as an outlet for frustration, and eventually as an attempt to reach those who may have interest in the Libertarian philosophy. Thus far I have not had much exposure, but I keep writing. I write because I really enjoy it, and if one or two people enjoy it, that works for me.

I had some friends that didn’t care for the name “Bellator Pro Libertas”. I liked the sound of it, and the translated meaning wasn’t obvious unless you looked it up.

I have always had an interest in history (as you may have noticed). Nearly all currents events can be evaluated and commented on because, usually, it’s history repeating itself, sometimes generically, but oftentimes nearly verbatim. With the exception of my sporadic “Rants and Raves” posting of random thoughts, I enjoy connecting history to contemporary politics. I sincerely believe the Libertarian Party is based on political restoration.

tLP: What types of reactions or comments have to had with regards to your articles?

BLP: Unfortunately, I have not had many comments at all. I’m getting readers, but not many comments. I did have a reader accuse me of fabricating history by referring to The Democratic Socialist Party. The reader thought I was being facetious, but apparently didn’t do his homework. He would have found it was a very real splinter group that formed when the American Communists went underground during the McCarthy era. Other than that I have had few comments, but positive nonetheless.

tLP: Where would you like to see your blog go from here?

BLP: Eventually I would like to reach more people, perhaps through a website of my own. So far, Blogspot has been an easy and cost effective way to get my message out, but, up until now has experienced limited exposure. The more interest I experience would allow me to expand my horizons. To what end, honestly, I’m not sure.

tLP: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about you or your blog?

BLP: I have read many of the blogs available to stay in virtual touch, and I believe "Bellator Pro Libertas” has certain unique qualities that I have not seen on other blogs. I really would like to see more feedback, positive or negative so I can get a feel if the format, style and content of my blog is of real interest to the public domain. What is the significance in the pseudonym “JoyceJunior”? I really thought someone would ask that question. Oh, well........

I would like to thank Barry for giving a very intelligent and thought provoking interview. I have no doubt that his responses will evoke a constructive conversation on the aforementioned material. I take a certain amount of pride in associating myself with interesting and mentally acute individuals. A divergence of opinion will invariably manifest, but our inherent nobility will prove to be our true testament.

In support of other bloggers to share their viewpoints, I would like to offer,
The Conservative Hideout 2.0. Take some time and look at this blog, read
some articles, and post some comments. Thank you.


Dr. Dave said...

Like my often-used tag says: We are all screwed.

Matt said...

Great Interview LP, I'll be visiting that site soon.