Why Libertarians Must Embrace Peace

An Archive of Material on the Pro-War Libertarian Folly


Articles by Anthony Gregory on War and Libertarianism

Libertarianism Is Antiwar

Period. LewRockwell.com, August 7, 2007.

Warmongering Is the Health of Statism

You can’t oppose the state and favor liberty while supporting war. Period. My talk at the LRC conference. LewRockwell.com, November 23, 2005.

An Olive Branch for the Libertarian Hawks

My proposed compromise over one point of contention. LewRockwell.com,
September 30, 2005.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of World War
The pro-war libertarian credo.
LewRockwell.com, January 26, 2005.

Liberventionists: The Nationalist Internationalists
One of the contradictions of neo-libertarian imperialism. LewRockwell.com, December 23, 2004.

Libertarians and the Warfare State
Why the first might stand up against the second. LewRockwell.com, December 21, 2004.

Radicalism in an Era of War and Terrorism
And why it’s so important.   Strike the Root, September 16, 2004.

Only War Will Prevent War
Or so say the neo-libertarians. LewRockwell.com, August 3, 2004.

Anarchist theory and warmongering libertarians. Strike the Root, July 14, 2004.

Would Pro-War ‘Libertarians’ Have Supported the New Deal?
It’s hard to see why not. LewRockwell.com, April 26, 2004.


Other Relevant Articles by Anthony

The Shifting Rationales for Empire
My FFF talk about how the arguments for imperialism will change, but principles don’t.  Future of Freedom Foundation  July 14, 2007.

Real-World Politics and Radical Libertarianism
Sticking to principle is the only sensible long-term strategy for success. This is my talk at the Libertarian Party of CaliforinaConvention, April 22. LewRockwell.com, April 22, 2007.

In Defense of Libertarian Purity
It’s only practical. LewRockwell.com, July 6, 2006.

‘Collateral Damage as Euphemism For Mass Murder’
The term belongs only in the collectivist’s vocabulary. LewRockwell.com, April 30, 2005.

The Libertarian Obligation to Oppose War


"War, Peace and the State" by Murray Rothbard is perhaps his magnum opus on the topic. It is a must-read that pretty much sums up the mandate for libertarians to oppose war, whenever and wherever they begin. For more on Rothbard's views on war, peace and the state, I recommend "Murray N. Rothbard: Against War and the State" by Stephen W. Carson and "Murray N. Rothbard on States, War and Peace, Part I" and "Part II" by Joseph Stromberg.


Walter Block has a couple of great pieces on why pro-war libertarianism is a contradiction in terms, "Bloodthirsty 'Libertarians'" and "Libertarian Warmongers."


Hans-Hermann Hoppe explains why libertarian principles mean the rejection of aggressive war and why libertarian class theory should lead one to distrust the warfare state in an interview, "Hans-Hermann Hoppe on War, Terrorism and the World State."


Laurence M. Vance contrasts war with the founding principles of America in his wonderful essay, "Jefferson on the Evils of War."


Wendy McElroy explains why virtually every war fails the libertarian test in "Libertarian Just War Theory."


Liberventionism in the Post-9/11 World


September 11th was a testing point for principled libertarian opposition to the warfare state. Joseph Stromberg contributed a series of pieces, reflecting on the returning trend of pro-war libertarianism, which had declined a bit after the end of the Cold War. Coining the term "liberventionist," Stromberg analyzed the unfortunate reemergence in "Liberventionism Rides Again," critiqued general liberventionist intellectual error in "Liberventionism II: The Flight from Theory," and discussed the liberventionist tendency to whitewash the history of U.S. intervention and even advocate total war on civilians in "Liberventionism III: The Flight from History."


A fair number of libertarians spoke out early for the need to oppose war and its inevitable accompaniment of government expansion. Lew Rockwell and his writers did, as well as Antiwar.com, a few publications such as The Libertarian Enterprise and Strike the Root, and a few organizations such as the Mises Institute, The Independent Institute, and the Future of Freedom Foundation.


Many libertarians went along with the war on Afghanistan, including, at least tacitly, the Libertarian Party establishment. Lew Rockwell pulled apart the ambiguous LP press release in "Does the LP Support THIS War?"


Reflecting on the sad divide in the libertarian movement over the war, Jacob Hornberger explained in "Libertarian Splits in the War on Terrorism" why we can't expect to ever have a free society as long as we have a perpetual War on Terrorism.


David J. Theroux and Karen DeCoster warned about the assaults on American liberty that would come with the burgeoning warfare state, and the impossibility of using aggression and central planning to bring about security, in "The New U.S. War on Liberty."


Standing against the criticism of the libertarian opposition to the war, early after 9/11, Justin Raimondo defended the antiwar libertarians in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Postrel?" and L. Neil Smith did so as well, while expounding on the non-aggression principle as it relates to war, in "War of the Weenies."


Justin Raimondo explained how there was more hope for libertarians than many might think in his article, "Long Live Libertarianism!" – an inspiration for anyone at the time who was worrying about the death of rationality and principle in this movement of ours. In his speech "War and Freedom," Lew Rockwell reflected on the disappointing performance of mainstream libertarians, and the horrible bloodthirstiness of conservatives and the Bush administration.


Iraq and the Continuing Delusion of Liberventionism


When some libertarians went beyond supporting the Afghanistan War to advocating war on Iraq, it became clear that liberventionism was not going away and was not only an understandable, if disappointing, visceral reaction in the immediate wake of 9/11.


After Justin Raimondo challenged the Libertarian Party to take a firm antiwar position in his speech, "Libertarianism in the Age of Empire," activist and writer Thomas Knapp chimed in, with "The Party and War," explaining why the Libertarian Party could not afford to be soft on the issue. Shortly after Gulf War II began, Robert Higgs addressed the demented mindset of liberventionism in "Are Pro-War Libertarians Right?" Harry Browne reflected on the many ways libertarians had to violate their own principles in "Libertarians and War."


Liberventionism vs. Libertarianism: The Prospects for Liberty


After the Iraq war came to turn into a quagmire, Gary North, in "The Self-Castration of Libertarian Hawks," expressed optimism that liberventionism was on its way out. More recently, Daniel McCarthy reiterated the major reasons why we must oppose warfare aggression in "Liberventionism for Fun and Profit."


Justin Raimondo explained how the element of Objectivism is a strong reason for warmongering within the libertarian movement in his speech, "The Objectivist Death Cult." To be fair, there have been efforts within Objectivism to make Objectivists realize the follies of at least components of the war, including a wonderful article by Chris Matthew Sciabarra, “Understanding the Global Crisis: Reclaiming Rand’s Radical Legacy,” as well as a thoughtful piece by Chip Gibbons, "Ayn Rand: The Roots of War."


An Open Letter to Libertarians Who Support the War on Terror” by Marc Joffe is a nice, conciliatory article. Justin Raimondo addressed the issue again in “Libertarianism and the War,” inspired by the release of Brian Doherty’s Radicals for Capitalism. Jacob Hornberger, in early 2007, addressed “The Critical Dilemma Facing Pro-War Libertarians.”


Also see Matt Welch’s interesting pro-war libertarian quiz.


 Randy Barnett vs. Libertarianism


In response to Ron Paul’s heroic statements against the Iraq war during his presidential campaign, Randy Barnett, anarcho-statist, wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal asserting that one could be a libertarian and support the aggressive war in Iraq. This has been met by an avalanche of responses, many of which are included by Stephan Kinsella’s “An Overview of Criticisms of Randy Barnett on Iraq and War.” In addition, Robert Higgs wrote a letter to the editor, part of which was published in the WSJ, which added his expertise to the issue.


* Bibliographical essay first adapted from an excerpt in “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of World War” Copyright LewRockwell.com, January 26, 2005.