When Do Libertarians Support Military Invasions? Apparently When Russia Does It.
A British Expat who lives in Lithuania set up a Facebook page recently to call out libertarians who are taking the side of Russia in the conflict over Crimea. Calling it “Confused Pro-Putin Libertarians,” Mark Splinter is using his platform to educate people on why Putin’s military invasion and sham election are illegitimate and unworthy of defense by people such as Congressman Ron Paul and others.
We interviewed Splinter on his project to find out more about his worldview and why he believes so many libertarians are confused about what’s happening in Ukraine.
The Libertarian Republic (TLR): First off how about a short bio? Where you’re from, what you do and your degree?
I am a Brit who emigrated to Lithuania in 2004, the day before they joined the EU. I didn’t know I was emigrating, I was only supposed to visit for a week, but I soon fell in love with the place. It’s crazy and beautiful and fascinating and challenging.
I love the idea of personally using all four EU freedoms (free movement of people, capital, goods and services). And I am still sore I missed that magical time when the Berlin Wall fell and everyone had a massive party. I guess part of me was fascinated with the Cold War as a child, and I enjoy being in a part of the world where there is still a struggle for freedom (but not too much struggle, we have high speed internet and bananas are readily available). I also visited Afghanistan, but I think I find the interface between east and west much more interesting than either the east or the west itself.
My background is in internet and music, I now run a company in Lithuania producing software and other projects for the music industry. No doubt your readers will be ecstatic to hear that I am strongly pro-copyright. But don’t worry, I am basically minarchist, having been converted by Lithuanians, who have a mainstream classical liberal’ish party which I can mostly agree with. Putin can try to come and annex my flat if he wants, I know how to swear at him fluently in his mother tongue. And also shoot him in the balls with a handgun.
TLR: Why did you start the “Confused Libertarians” page?
It was an impulsive thing. Facebook is good for impulses, knee jerks, drivebys. I am quite well known in local politics, because I have been active for years on human rights issues, the music business, stuff that interests and affects me locally. But this was the first time I went international.
The reason I started it was because I was sad, seeing Lithuanian libertarians disillusioned with some libertarians’ take on the Ukraine crisis. It seemed like some people are so obsessed with hating supranational organisations that they would even join Putin’s soft power army against the EU. Wow really? Did not see that coming. Putin’s not anti-liberty enough for you people, but the EU is? This was hard for us to understand.
We were already out in force, proudly shouting “Freedom for Ukraine” in the streets, thinking that’s what libertarians are supposed to do. That’s what made sense. Stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers in Ukraine fighting to … shall we say “secede” from Putin’s Plan. We weren’t paid by the CIA to feel like this, we’re not neonazis (they all hate the EU anyway, because it’s gay), and the Lithuanians who visited Kiev, including libertarian parliamentarians, brought back reports of amazing self-organisation of the people, creating a city within a city, providing food and medical services. What’s not to like? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be borderless neighbours and trading partners with these people in a free market? Maybe there are some neo-nazis there and people who like the death penalty and hate gays and stuff, but we have them in Lithuania too, and you have plenty of them in America. We can handle that, because freedom.
Whatever Americans say about the ridiculous statist EU social programs and subsidies, the EU provides an umbrella where I am free to go from London to Lithuania and start a business, with courts that defend my rights, the cheapest, fastest Internet in the universe thanks to intense competition, F-15s overhead, borderless travel for thousands of kilometers west, and a shooting range with a nice range of 9mm pistols just down the road. Imagine you are a libertarian going from living in the Soviet Union, to living in THAT. You would think you had died and gone to heaven.
Sure, there’s a lot of work to be done to reduce the interference of the state in everything, and the state pension here is a total joke, but in Lithuania you have the freedom to write about that, say that in parliament, parade in the street.
The reason Lithuanians love being in the EU isn’t because they are lazy idiots hooked on welfare, and it’s not because they are sheep under illuminati mind control, and it’s not because they can’t be bothered to defend themselves, and it’s not because the EU is a paradise of perfection.It’s because the EU is absolutely fantastic compared to Putin, and that’s the very real alternative.
So, these freedom-loving Lithuanian libertarians were kinda assuming that libertarians everywhere would understand all this, and understand that Ukrainians want the same thing, because freedom, not because NATO New World Order hegemony. There was no question in their mind that libertarians would be against Putin’s constant interference with all his satellites, and especially against annexing part of a country after a fake referendum.
Logically, the free markets brought to eastern Europe should be spread further, because freedom, right? We want to trade with Ukrainians and Belarusians and Russians without stupid barriers and dairy-product wars. We want to travel there, have student exchanges there, and get drunk there, without worrying about being imprisoned without trial. We want to buy their gas at the same price as neighbouring Latvia, not at the specially increased price Putin sets for Lithuania just to be an asshole. We want freedom of movement of people, capital, goods and services all around us. We want everybody to respect international treaties which were signed by democratic governments (not just de jure but also de facto democratic). Is this the spread of an evil western empire? Or the spread of freedom and rule of law and the pursuit of happiness?
Then along comes Ron Paul, telling everybody he “doesn’t want to intervene”, but he does find time to spread Putin’s propaganda about how fascists run the universe, because Russia is taking the last stand against tyranny and should be allowed to absorb any territory which “chooses” to be absorbed at gunpoint by Russia, with promises of huge increases in social welfare for people already impoverished by Russian domination, but fed lies that it was all their own government’s fault and Putin can rescue them.
All this seems obvious to us because we know this region well, but when all your western libertarian heroes start getting the wrong end of the stick and gleefully trumpeting Putin’s lies, it’s sad. These people are confused, I thought. They are confused, pro-Putin (indirectly), libertarians (so-called).
It got so crazy, I just couldn’t take any more absurdity, so I decided to make a parody page and just throw even more absurdity in there, partly to try to cheer up my libertarian friends, and partly to let off steam and make myself feel better. I made some jpegs and posted some articles. After I trolled Lew Rockwell it kinda took off. Hundreds of people understood the joke, and they were also feeling bewildered that their freedom-loving friends were so ignorant of Putin’s aims and methods. So the page is now like a medical tent in the middle of the info war, giving light relief and morale boosts to those who need them. We won’t win the war but we’ll make sure some people are properly hydrated.
TLR: Who else have you seen specifically that is a libertarian and supports Putin?
Well, anyone who is a libertarian would never support Putin, so the answer is NOBODY. I mean, is Abby Martin a libertarian even though she shills for the Kremlin? No. These things are mutually exclusive. Her boss is the most statist statist on the planet, and his human rights record is deservedly in the toilet.
But let me make it clear, that “supporting Putin” doesn’t necessarily mean writing articles about how Putin is a great leader and deserves to have all of Eastern Europe back. Nobody is gonna write articles like that. The support is indirect. What’s happening is many people are writing about “non-intervention” (Putin loves that) and then adding ten paragraphs about how the NWO is encroaching on Putin’s “traditional lands” (read: lebensraum) and forcing him to defend himself “legitimately”. Always this word “legitimate”. Well – Russia was founded by military coup and Putin is illegitimate, if you wanna go there. Hell, I even did a ridiculous jpeg about how America was founded by racist tax-evaders who staged a military coup funded by a European empire.
Putin just uses words like “legitimate” and “fascism” to screw with you. He knows which libtard buttons to push, and he has completed extensive research into the libtardosphere via his propaganda channel Russia Today, where you can get the latest news on “things they are not saying in the mainstream media” (i.e. lies aiding Putin’s soft-power campaign). And no, Abby, Russia Today is not “the same thing as France 24 and the BBC” in any way except that they all use electricity to send pictures.
TLR: What are some of the arguments you have heard and how have you combatted them?
Well, first of all, I didn’t start the page to have a logical debate with rational people. This interview is the only chance I have had to discuss anything. Everything else is trolling or being trolled. I started the page as reckless trollbait, I admit, making it so double-sarcastic that hardly anyone can figure out what I am saying, just throwing sh*t out there and waving two British fingers at the world via comedy jpegs. I didn’t really plan for it to have more than 25 followers, it was just a flippant stunt. Blowing off steam. Preaching to the choir. If anyone tries to argue back, I just ask them ridiculous rhetorical questions or tell them to f*ck off. That’s all they deserve, those pieces of sh*t making excuses for the most fascist fascist in the world right now, aka Vladimir Putin.
I mean I live here for ten years, sleep with an ethnic Russian, speak Russian and Lithuanian, I have contacts in Ukraine explaining the situation to me, and then some d*ckhead from Arizona tries to give me a lecture on my region’s history, which he has “researched” for ten minutes on YouTube, I just think it’s best to throw nonsense in his face. I don’t wish he would get cancer or anything, I just think there’s no point arguing with people who have no basic grip on logic or humility. It becomes a red herring war, which is very tedious and not fun at all. I want to have fun, and my readers want to let off steam too, so I make jpegs and tell the retards they’re retarded.
If I change one floating-voter’s mind, that’s pretty cool. Otherwise it’s just satire for people who like satire and hate Putin.
The main arguments are the same nonsense I heard back in 2003 when I opposed the invasion of Iraq, basically, international bankers (why not just say Jewry like your hero Hitler said in his awesome book?) collaborating with some kind of shadowy all-knowing superforce oil-hungry elite that wants to make the world under one single president and put a chip in everybody’s brain.
Well, you know what, I live in a “NATO puppet state” in the “federalist EU”, and I am much more free here than I would be in Russia. Maybe 10000 times more free. This kinda bursts the bubble of the rabid “anti-neocons” because they seem to be a bit annoyed to find out that actually, America isn’t the most evil country in the world, it’s pretty good, and the EU is OK too, and most people in the world would rather live there than in Russia, for bloody good reasons (such as AIDS epidemics, alcoholism, homophobia, disappearing journalists, gulags, a five-term President who is openly against democracy and convinced his population to submit to his absolute power, etc).
TLR: Are sanctions from the west a necessary and effective response in your mind?