Friday, January 27, 2012

Rothbard: On politics & voting....

"And yet, all this pales before the most important problem: Is a Libertarian Party evil per se?  Is voting evil per se?   My answer is no. The State is a Moloch that surrounds us, and it would be grotesque and literally impossible to function if we refused it our “sanction” across the board. I don’t think I am committing aggression when I walk on a government-owned and government-subsidized street, drive on a government-owned and subsidized highway, or fly on a government regulated airline. It would be participating in aggression if I lobbied for these institutions to continue.  I didn’t ask for these institutions, dammit, and so don’t consider myself responsible if I am forced to use them.  In the same way, if the State, for reasons of its own, allows us a periodic choice between two or more masters, I don’t believe we are aggressors if we participate in order to vote ourselves more kindly masters, or to vote in people who will abolish or repeal the oppression.  In fact, I think that we owe it to our own liberty to use such opportunities to advance the cause. Let’s put it this way: Suppose we were slaves in the Old South, and that for some reason, each plantation had a system where the slaves were allowed to choose every four years between two alternative masters.  Would it be evil, and sanctioning slavery, to participate in such a choice?  Suppose one master was a monster who systematically tortured all the slaves, while the other one was kindly, enforced almost no work rules, freed one slave a year, or whatever.  It would seem to me not only not aggression to vote for the kinder master, but idiotic if we failed to do so.  Of course, there might well be circumstances—say when both masters are similar—where the slaves would be better off not voting in order to make a visible protest—but this is a tactical not a moral consideration.  Voting would not be evil, but in such a case less effective than the protest.

But if it is morally licit and non-aggressive for slaves to vote for a choice of masters, in the same way it is licit for us to vote for what we believe the lesser of two or more evils, and still more beneficial to vote for an avowedly libertarian candidates."


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