Thoughts on extra-national military intervention and geo-libertarianism

The following is a slightly revised version of a message I just posted on the LP-Radicals list which I felt was worth sharing with others.

Love & Liberty,

        ((( starchild )))

       Saying that liberty is the *only* political goal we
  should be seeking may be a bit too strong (I think that
  transparency in elections, where governments may exist and elections
  are held, for instance, is another reasonable goal). I certainly
  agree that liberty is our *main* goal. But whether one sees liberty
  as the main goal or the only goal, it does not follow that
  prioritizing freedom for people living on that part of the earth's
  surface known as the United States over freedom for others,
  regardless of the relative level of government abuse being
  experienced by each should be our goal. That would be a nationalist
  goal, not a libertarian one. Libertarianism is about worldwide
  freedom for all people, irrespective of nationality or geographic

       I further believe that the guiding principle of libertarian
  organizations, including the Libertarian Party, should be
  libertarianism, not the self-interest of their members. I mention
  this because some libertarians have justified nationalism on the
  basis that it is in their self-interest to prioritize freedom in the
  jurisdiction they live in over freedom elsewhere. I am *not* saying here that it is wrong to
  spend more time working on local issues where you live than on issues
  that are local to some other part of the world, or even that it is
  wrong to spend more time working on local issues than global issues.
  I *am* saying that when it comes to matters of triage -- where there
  is going to be some aggression at least in the short term whether we
  like it or not -- it is wrong to use libertarian organizations to
  advance nationalism or self-interest over the Non-Aggression
  Principle. And I believe that the interpretation of the Non-
  Aggression Principle most faithful to the spirit of that principle is
  to minimize aggression where we cannot eliminate it.

         While I appreciate commitment to principle, I don't think it's
   always realistic to avoid supporting some choices that aren't fully
   libertarian, because failing to do so can sometimes produce an even
   less acceptable result. Susan Hogarth recently quoted Solzhenitsyn
   quoting Pushkin that the only available choices in a particular time
   were to be a tyrant, a traitor, or a prisoner. Likewise we may face
   scenarios in which *none* of the choices are acceptable from a
   libertarian perspective, and in which the way to produce the least-
   objectionable of a bad set of alternatives is *not* by doing

         Let's take the classic balcony hypothetical, and give it a little
   twist. Say you and a close friend are discussing libertarian theory
   on a 10th floor balcony when she falls off and would plummet to her
   death, but manages to grab hold of a flagpole on the 9th floor, when
   the owner of the 9th floor balcony comes out and demands she let go
   of his flagpole and get off his property immediately! She calls up to
   you for help, but you have no means to help her, and she says she's
   inclined to trespass by ignoring the guy's demands and climbing onto
   his balcony. Nine floors directly below where your friend is hanging on for dear

   life, there is a busy outdoor cafe packed with people. If she
   falls, as well as dying herself, she is almost certainly going to
   land on and injure or kill one or more additional people. Therefore
   if she chooses to let go of the flagpole rather than climbing onto
   the balcony and trespassing on the balcony-owner's property, she
   would be committing aggression against those people in the cafe.

You know that your friend is highly principled and respects
   your judgment, and believe she might actually let go and fall if you
   don't voice your agreement that it's OK to trespass in this
   instance! Do you endorse her trespassing?

        The point of this example is to illustrate that we will encounter
  circumstances in life, political circumstances among them, where
  *none* of the options we have are acceptable from a libertarian
  perspective, and there is no way to make it otherwise. In some of
  these circumstances, doing nothing (i.e. "keeping our hands clean")
  will result in there being *more aggression in the world* than would
  have been the case had we "gotten our hands dirty" by reluctantly
  tolerating some aggression in order to prevent other aggression.

       If the balcony scenario is too hypothetical for you, consider a case
  in which Congress is debating the hiring of a special prosecutor, and
  funding that office, in order to investigate what members of Congress
  believe is an executive branch cover-up of the secret (and
  unconstitutional) detention of prisoners for indefinite periods of
  time without due process. Obviously the office of the special
  prosecutor would be funded with stolen taxpayer dollars, so voting
  for this expenditure would be committing aggression, just as surely
  as voting to authorize, say, an invasion of Iraq -- the difference is
  only a matter of how many dollars are involved, the fundamental
  nature of the aggression committed against the taxpayers being the
  same in both cases. Yet if the special prosecutor in this scenario is
  not funded, the practical result might be a president continuing to
  get away with far worse aggression, including in terms of money
  stolen from the taxpayers, since the continued expense of
  incarcerating large numbers of people who should not be in prison
  would likely be greater than the expense of the special prosecutor.

       When no aggression is not an immediate option, I believe the
  approach most in keeping with the Non-Aggression Principle is *not*
  the approach which allows us to keep our own hands the cleanest, but
  the approach that results in the least possible amount of aggression
  in the world. Extra-national military actions that involve aggression are
  of course only justified in response to aggression (for instance a
  tyrant violating the life, liberty, and property of people under his

  * * *

  I also believe that guaranteeing the equal rights of each person
  born onto the earth to resources not produced by human labor or
  investment -- e.g. land and air -- is philosophically justified. If
  someone were able to figure out a way to homestead air and regulate
  its usage -- say by "tagging" individual air molecules with their
  property stamp -- so that newly born human beings were unable to
  breathe without breathing air that belonged to someone else, with
  those owning the air adopting the practice of charging people for
  breathing, I say this would be a form of aggression against those
  being charged. They would be denied their birthright of use of the
  common resource of non-human-effort-derived air.

  Now obviously we (fortunately!) do not have that situation with air,
  but we do have something like it with regard to land. People not born
  into the world "owning" land are nevertheless charged for using it by
  those who do "own" it by virtue of having been there first to claim
  it, or (in most cases now) inherit it. As being charged to breathe
  air would be, this is technically a denial of their birthright and an
  aggression against them. It is fundamentally no different from saying
  that some people, by virtue of having been born into a specific
  caste, rank, or nationality, have more basic human rights than others
  born into less fortunate circumstances. Inheriting honestly acquired
  money or material possessions is different, because these things were
  produced by human effort, and no one has the right to have the fruits
  of anyone else's labor redistributed for their benefit.

  The best way I can think of to protect the equal rights of everyone
  to the truly common resource of land is by assessing a land user fee
  -- not a tax! -- to be paid on a proportionate basis by people using/
  occupying more than their equal share of land (determined by dividing
  total market value of land in the jurisdiction employing this system
  by the number of people in the jurisdiction to arrive at a per capita
  dollar figure representing the maximum dollar value of land someone
  can occupy without being assessed a fee) into a fund to be divided
  proportionally among those using/occupying less than their share of

  I believe this is an approach to land use that is more in keeping
  with the Non-Aggression Principle than the land-ownership system that
  exists in most countries at present (obviously the state-socialist
  system of government owning and controlling the land is worse than
  either the traditional libertarian approach or the geo-libertarian
  approach I among others favor, and there is no need to consider that
  failed system here).

  Love & Liberty,
  ((( starchild )))