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Are libertarians wolves in sheep’s clothing? Rebutting Ana Kasparian & The Young Turks

Posted by Austin Petersen • 21 Nov 2012

My former debate opponent, Ana Kasparian called libertarians “wolves in sheep’s clothing” on her top rated web show “The Young Turks” this week. She was describing those who believe in social tolerance and free market economics as people who Republicans could sell to attract younger voters. Jacobin leftists made the same argument in a debate with me recently where they claimed that libertarians are “weaponized”, & “tools of the establishment.” Kasparian  and her panelists floated on her show the possibility of a White House run in 2016 by a now Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. On her show, the panelists referred to the rumored candidacy of Sen. Paul as a “disaster”.

Maybe it would be a disaster… for the social democrats.

There has been much speculation that after the shellacking of the Republicans in the 2012 elections, the GOP might be looking for candidates that appeal to Hispanics with positive immigration reform and to youth with issues such as pot legalization. Does she mean that Democrats and socialists are afraid of the appeal of libertarianism to their left? Certainly a libertarian leaning candidate such as Senator Paul would hold wide appeal for Americans interested in accomplishing real goals towards getting the economy back on track and cutting back on excessive militarism. A milder form of libertarianism could be just what America needs in 2016 and liberals who felt betrayed by President Barack Obama’s empty promises to scale back the drug war and his extrajudicial killings. Ronald Reagan was also known as someone who appealed to portions of the social democratic electorate which helped aid in his victories.

Kasparian co-host of “The Young Turks” (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Ana Kasparian and I enjoyed a good-spirited, constructive debate at Arizona State University last month (VIDEO), hosted by the Young Americans for Liberty. Our debate featured discussion on topics such as economics, foreign policy, the war on drugs and a variety of issues relevant to the American public today. One non-issue that Kasparian floated however was: “If we didn’t have the government fire departments and there was only a profit motive, who would put out the fires?” It’s a fairly simple and ridiculous democrat fallacy to believe that only profit motives are what drive people without government intervention. I simply had to remind Kasparian that there are such a thing as volunteer firefighters. In the video below, Kasparian throws her hands in the air, gesturing with exasperation about how libertarians are so crazy they talk about privatizing fire departments. Well Ana, did you know that 71% of firefighters in the United States are volunteers? Yes it’s true! People do act altruistically for our most important civic philanthropic acts without coercion. On her show, Kasparian and her panelists do everything they can to demonize libertarians ideas of privatization but they ignore simple facts that blow their fallacious strawman arguments out of the water.

After the debate between Ana, myself and J.P. Freire, it was clear there were a great many libertarians present and almost an equal number of liberals & social democrats who supported Ana. I noticed that many of those on the left after the debate seemed very swayed by my arguments in favor of private property rights as ways to solve environmental and civil rights issues. At one point a Native American libertarian convinced a green party supporter of the supremacy of the libertarian argument for stronger property rights over land. As a member of a tribe, he knew first hand how the government could destroy land through weak property rights. It was a powerful moment to see a descendent of the Great Tribes defend liberty in such a way.

On her show, Kasparian and her co-hosts cursed libertarian economics as more radical than mainstream Republican economics. In some sense she’s right as the form of economics of mainstream Republicans today is a more watered-down version of the Keynesianism that liberals themselves accept. Libertarians making inroads with the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd is a danger to the left and they know it. That’s why I’m debating Professor Mark Naison next month at Fordham University.

While producing FreedomWatch at Fox Business, I had the pleasure of hosting Professor Mark Naison to discuss gentrification and property rights with fill-in host Charles Payne (VIDEO). Professor Naison, or Notorious Ph.D. as he is sometimes called, is a social democratic activist in the Bronx, New York City. Naison is notorious as a rapping teacher who uses music and culture to reach out to students. While appearing on FreedomWatch, Naison seemed to reach common ground with Payne who is an African-American. It’s an incredibly productive discussion between the two major perspectives of economics today. The professor worries about the gap between the rich and poor and how Bronx citizens are being priced out of their neighborhoods. Naison goes on to lament that the multiculturalism that he enjoyed as a younger man is changing. Payne counters with the fact that New York has always been a transitory place. He states, “You know I grew up in Harlem and people would say ‘White people are gonna come and take over the neighborhood and that’s going to be bad.’ I just got to tell you professor I worry too when the argument is against upward mobility and things getting better, regardless of race. I think when you bring race into it, it sullies the argument.” Naison agreed.

“Notorious Ph.D” Mark Naison

Despite some disagreements on economics, Professor Naison has expressed how impressed he has been with the activism of the libertarian youth. On many occasions this self-proclaimed “Groucho Marxist” stated that it would be better for America if the liberty movement continued to grow and be successful. Naison has encouraged the liberty movement as a backlash against the establishment. So where is the disconnect between sincere, principled leftists such as Naison and the more modernist/mainstream liberals such as Kasparian and The Young Turks?

It’s because whether they believe it or not, liberals such as Kasparian are for the status quo.

Modern day socialists often try to paint themselves as revolutionaries. When some of the Occupy Wall Street crowd chanted “Revolution” at Zuccotti Park, what they really meant was “Give us security!”. These are not the cries of revolutionaries. A true revolutionary is not risk-averse. The act of being revolutionary means you must take great risk and be willing to accept personal responsibility. “Our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor…” Socialism means central planning or control over your life. If social democrats cry for welfare they are being risk-averse, not revolutionary. Thomas Jefferson said that “Timid men … prefer the calm of despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty.

I am excited and optimistic for the upcoming debate with Professor Naison at Fordham on December 6th. Undoubtedly we will be having a discussion that establishment leftists like Kasparian fear. Why do they fear it? Because it will be an honest and open discussion amongst libertarians and liberals where free market economics is not dismissed as ‘kook’ or ‘fringe.’ Where people who identify with the sentiments of both the Tea Party (fiscal liberty) and Occupy Wall Street (civil liberty) can come together to build new coalitions against establishment power. Progressive Ralph Nader and Congressman Ron Paul have already begun laying the intellectual foundations for these types of coalitions across ideological lines with these types of debates. A left/right alliance that culminated in electing a libertarian-style Republican for President in 2016 could be a true revolution in politics if it were to occur.

And perhaps if things go well for libertarians, Kasparian will be proved right. Maybe we will be the wolves in sheeps clothing. A left/right coalition could attract the support of principled youth and democratic activists who want liberty more than a national security state. Maybe libertarians will convince the left that ending the federal reserve means more localism and economic mobility? Maybe a libertarian-progressive alliance that puts a Senator Rand Paul into the White House in 2016 could really change things in America?

Maybe we should discuss this on your show Ana?

I’ll even write your headline banner…

“Wolves at the Door”

Video of the segment with Ana Kasparian below.