Libertarians Want to Make a Fool Out of You Again…
On Sunday, the Libertarian Party selected former New Mexico Republican Governor Gary Johnson to run for president with former Republican Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld as his running mate.
Just a day later, families spent the day gathering for picnics, visiting cemeteries, and posting social media tributes to our veterans and the servicemen who have died serving our country since the Revolutionary War.
What do the military and libertarians have in common?
In fact, the mentality of dog-eat-dog survival-of-the-richest Libertarianism stands in direct conflict with the fundamental idea of group sacrifice that defines service in the U.S. Military.
In Sebastian Junger's recent book "Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging", Junger draws on his experiences as a war reporter and the intense feeling of belonging that he's noticed that soldiers feel at the platoon level.
What he describes leads to the startling conclusion that PTSD might have less to do with the trauma that soldiers experience in the military and in combat, and more to do with trauma they experience coming back to an increasingly Libertarian (my phrase, not his), individualistic, civilian society.
A recent analysis from the New York Times provides strong evidence that Junger is onto something.
According to Benedict Carey, for the approximately 90,000 Army veterans who have served multiple tours of duty, their "risk of committing suicide actually drops when they are deployed and soars after they return home. […] The idea that these elite fighters can adapt solely by addressing emotional trauma, some experts said, is badly misplaced. Their primary difficulty is not necessarily one of healing emotional wounds; they thrived in combat."
Proving this is the statistic that it's not just combat veterans who experience PTSD, in fact, nearly half of the military has applied for some form of disability based on PTSD, even though only 10 percent of the military was actually engaged in combat.
But what Junger points out, and what the two of us discussed at length on The Big Picture recently, is that the human need for tribalism goes far beyond the military.
Noting the importance and benefits of tribal-based tight communities, like existed among American Indians in his time, Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1753 that, "When an Indian Child has been brought up among us, taught our language and habituated to our Customs, yet if he goes to see his relations and make one Indian Ramble with them, there is no perswading him ever to return, and that this is not natural [to them] merely as Indians, but as men."
On the other hand, even when white settlers were taken prisoner and ransomed for their freedom, Franklin noted that "in a Short time they become disgusted with our manner of life, and the care and pains that are necessary to support it, and take the first good Opportunity of escaping again into the Woods, from whence there is no reclaiming them."
So, what was so appealing about the native's society that white Europeans were constantly fleeing to live with the Native Americans?
French immigrant Hector St. Jean de Crevecoeur speculated in "Letters from an American Farmer" that, "[T]here must be in their social bond something singularly captivating, and far superior to anything to be boasted of among us; for thousands of Europeans [have become] Indians, and we have no examples of even one of those Aborigines having from choice become Europeans! There must be something more congenial to our native dispositions, than the fictitious society in which we live; or else why should children, and even grown persons, become in a short time so invincibly attached to it?"
What Sebastian Junger's book and these examples of modern day veterans and colonial era settlers show, is that tribalism is ingrained in our humanity.
But Libertarians reject this aspect of human nature.
Ayn Rand laid out the Libertarian fantasy of "Going Galt", when all the wealthiest people in the country go on strike and refuse to produce anything, so that all the so-called "parasites" and "takers" in the country, you and I would call them "working people", learn how helpless they are without the ultra-rich "makers".
But it's an ideal that goes completely against our biological and psychological nature, and in our military, such an action would be considered treason in a combat situation.
When Bowe Bergdahl abandoned his platoon, got captured, and arguably cost several soldiers their lives while they searched for him, commentators and politicians from both sides of the aisle joined together to call for his head.
No one pointed out that Bergdahl had simply fulfilled the Libertarian ideal of abandoning the protections and obligations of his tribe to pursue his own personal goals outside the fence of the platoon's outpost.
Banksters on Wall Street did the same thing in 2008 when they robbed the American people and cost the American economy as much as 14 trillion dollars, about 45,000 dollars per American citizen.
Oil companies are doing the same thing right now by lying to the American people and refusing to take any meaningful climate action that might cost the industry a few bucks.
They put their corporate profits, executive pay, and shareholder dividends ahead of the well-being of the American economy and the well-being of future generations on this planet.
It's clear why this mentality is destructive in combat and why it needs to be punished, and it's safe to say that there are no practicing Libertarians in foxholes.
But we also must point out that the Libertarian greed of Wall Street Banksters and fossil fuel executives is guided by the same destructive Ayn Rand sociopathic philosophy of placing the individual above the tribe or community.
"We the people" wasn't just a slogan that our Founders and Framers used to open the Constitution, it was a rejection of them British aristocracy's notion that only the rich and well-born should own anything of consequence and that all must serve them.
We've been a nation of communitarians and barn-builders since the start of this nation.
So, even if the news media won't expose the bizarre and fundamentally anti-American positions of the Libertarians, I will.
America is waking up, as we can see in the Sanders movement, and the Reaganesque Libertarian theory of, "I got mine, and screw everybody else" is finally being exposed for the fraud it is.