by Michael Gilson De Lemos
Libertarians say things improve when ordinary people co-operate to replace government functions with an array of voluntary alternatives that respect people’s rights. It’s happening in more and more communities and countries. People are using human rights, not military policy, as the pre-emptive tool of defense. How?
First, by changing the agenda. Groups promoting libertarian voluntary ideals are in over 100 countries. They remind us that people can act in concert, independent of elites, for consistent support of human rights worldwide. Realizing property rights violations disguise civil rights problems and vice versa, they urge nations to adopt libertarian ideals. Since government to libertarians is just a process of resolving conflict, only private individuals or groups dedicated to human rights have any place in these matters. Libertarians regularly expose how government support of “freedom fighters” empowers local dictators, corruption, and terrorists.
Second, there are non-governmental tools. In addition to persuading governments to develop open actions, libertarians groups suggest allowing dissidents to secede, offering to share information, involving citizens, and more importantly encouraging long-term citizen-to-citizen action to prevent conflict, promote harmony, and defuse stage-managed hysteria.
Sound idealistic? It’s happening. In one generation libertarians have changed history:
*Reagan agreed with libertarians to offer the Soviets SDI--which created rebellion in the Kremlin: If the Americans were open, they had to open.
*While American Legion magazine headlined articles entitled “Will Russia Rule the World?” - libertarian quotes, ideals and activists were spreading through Eastern Europe via Samizdat (home-typed underground pamphlets) as keys in crystallizing change. Gorbachev was advised by libertarians. When the Moscow communists attempted a countercoup, their communications plug was literally pulled by a Russian libertarian. Citizen groups seceded from the USSR, quoting the Statement of Principles of the US Libertarian Party challenging “the cult of the omnipotent state.”
*War in Central Europe was averted when pro-libertarian Vaclav Klaus, the Czech leader, explicitly adopted libertarian secession ideas --and negotiated so Slovakia became its own Republic.
*Fujimori in Peru blamed his ouster on local libertarians who exposed his US-backed corruption.
*Libertarians have defused potential terrorist unrest in Guatemala by leading tax and anti-IMF protests.
*Governments have begun to adopt, rhetorically, a peace agenda of neither right nor left, but with libertarian elements.
*In America, libertarians have been key in structural changes so people can change the government action paradigm: the end of the draft, JFK’s Public Law 87-297 which makes abolition of the military (in favor of peace organizations and local militias) a National Goal of the United States, and in conceiving the semi-private “Sister Cities Program” where citizens develop bonds with cities abroad -- praised by President Eisenhower as the true weapon for peace.
Equating national defense to all-powerful militaries and censoring police states is like accepting doctors legally forbidding natural healthy diets so people end up in stomach surgery. The problem is not the illness--it’s the doctors. Libertarians say that it’s a delusion the US Government has ‘interests’ in oil, stable regimes or anything else. Instead, we citizens have one interest--the rights of all citizens everywhere of every country--and should not wait for governments to mess things up further. Take control of the process. Test for yourself these three libertarian tools:
1) Want to end the current crisis and prevent the next one? See if your town has a (http://www.sister-cities.org/) Sister City relationship with a world trouble spot and what you, personally, can do to help.
2) Libertarian groups abroad spearhead and provide tools for stabilizing coalitions without one foreign aid dollar. Libertarians in Afghanistan warned of US AID emboldening the Taliban while politicians turned a blind eye. Discover the work of the Libertarian Peace Institute (http://www.isil.org/peace/) and sponsoring an activist who might prevent the next dictator.
3) Share ideas to change the paradigm. Promote cultural exchange everywhere. Discover non-governmental defense ideas. Work for accountable budgets -- the US Government recently admitted it lost track of $7.3 trillion to corruption, enough for several US Militaries, enough send an entire generation to college or to end world hunger.
Michael Gilson De Lemos, contributing editor to The Free Liberal, co-founder of Libertarian International Organization, is a former management consultant, union member, and journalist whose work has been read worldwide.