Drafting Libertarians

Print Friendly

Thanks to Mike for his follow-up to my questions. Though enlightened, I am somewhat disappointed; I thought he was making a more radical argument, given his examples such as extending libertarian principles to foreigners wishing to enter this country (see the vigorous discussion on his original piece on immigration). I tried to base my observations solely on Mike’s own discussion, and not on opinions drawn from the vast libertarian conspiracy. I too affirm a “very moderate” libertarianism in one country, involving an “indirect utilitarianism.”

I raise the question of self-defense because I wonder how libertarians can feel they are part of a “self,” a nation, or any other association, without somehow violating their principles. What orders are given and obeyed in a regime of spontaneous order? But if one is a “fusionist,” as Mike says, that ameliorates a lot of difficulties, though he seems to raise them once again by emphasizing a “volunteer army … consistent with classical liberal principles.”

Briefly, one reason a draft may, at least at one time, have been justified is its patriotic egalitarianism in service of a free nation. Consider just an array of distinguished professors we have known who served as lowly privates in the army. Does such service restrict liberty? If it does, it also expands opportunity, elevates the lowly, affirms solidarity of all in service to the nation, and moderates our foreign policy. By giving people familiarity with firearms, the draft also helps reaffirm the central purpose of the Second Amendment, our Declaration of Independence-based duty to rebel against tyranny. (I may be the radical libertarian here!)

“When freedom has prevailed, people see that it is a good thing and they support it.” Yes, we all like our own individual freedom, but what about dying for other people’s freedom? That goes to the whole problem of governing by consent and of teleology.