Yes, we know, the government’s too big. But this only begins to explain how we should live, what ails our country, and what to think about something like the Trayvon Martin case. Simply shrinking the government won’t fix the rot brought about by a combination of government subsidies and loosening of mores. Shrinking the government’s necessary law enforcement apparatus certainly won’t sort out the problem of crime and disorder.
Historically, law enforcement was a minimal imposition upon American lives. Even now, very few crimes are thwarted in progress. Self-help mattered a lot on the frontier, whether in 19th Century England or the American West, and it still matters. Libertarians, once upon a time, rested their belief system on a great deal of respect for rugged individualism and concern about the dangers of the lower classes. They knew in the era of Ron Paul’s newsletters that “big government” had an obvious constituency: it has historically bribed the poor with promises of wealth transfers from the middle and upper classes.
Guns and self defense figured prominently in this libertarian narrative, as did annoyance at the various social engineering programs whereby we’re forced to associate with low class people we’d rather avoid. In any case, people shooting bad people in self defense is at the heart and soul of a real free society. It’s a a “feature not a bug.” We’re not Europe. We don’t think the government has a “monopoly on force.” It’s use of force is something shared with the people, who can do everything from detain shoplifters to expel trespassers under the Anglo-American common law. And we can also blow away bad people that mean them harm, who assault without justification, and who engage in every other malfeasance that appears to be true (or at least not obviously untrue) in the Trayvon Martin case.
Oh well, I’m glad today we’re relieved of evildoers like Ron Paul and Lew Rockwell in favor of the Agitator, who has never found a puppy or a drug dealer he doesn’t like, and who is now showing his high regard for liberty, federalism, and common sense by weighing in on the side of the “unarmed black teenager,” and, implicitly, the federal government’s all-too-typical intrusiveness in local law enforcement in the name of “civil rights.” In this curious argument from a libertarian, he is asking for more arrests by a local law enforcement agency, even though he is always accusing them in nearly every other situation of being overbearing and incompetent.
Radley’s problem–and the problem with many of the official libertarians outlets like IJ and CATO–is that they have yet to learn the old truth that liberty and equality, other than minimal equality before the law, are fundamentally incompatible principles. Being as much liberal as libertarian, they can’t help but show off their egalitarian bona fides in cases like the Trayvon’s through omission, silence, and grandstanding about their outrage. How admirable!
Let’s not forget the older truths: liberty has little to do with and much to fear from equality and democracy. Or, as John Randolph of Roanoke said, “I am an aristocrat. I love liberty, I hate equality.”