The Hill reports that “President Obama … defiantly said he does not need to discuss the constitutionality of the War Powers Resolution because U.S. military involvement in Libya has not come to that point.” The President evidently regards the “fuss” over whether or not the newest in a long string of wars is legal as merely “politics,” calling American participation a “limited operation.”
In a transparent attempt to put his critics on the defensive, the President added that Qaddafi is “somebody who nobody should want to defend,” implying that if you oppose his military adventurism, then you’re supporting a tyrant. You know, the whole “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery” thing.
Those who care about justice and human life must stop asking whether something is legal, whether it violates this or that congressional act or even the Constitution itself. The laws of the political class, hardly enacted as high-minded buttresses against tyranny, are tailored to serve its interests, and — wherever they seem to challenge those interests — they are about as constant as the wind.
Faith in the state’s legal configurations is hopelessly misplaced, leading conscientious, liberty-loving people into a unwinnable reformism that gives the state’s “proper channels” the moral high ground. We don’t have to play by their rules, and we don’t have to pretend that the Constitution or the War Powers Act are somehow inherently libertarian in orientation.
From a structural, legal perspective, the ratification of the Constitution arguably represented an endorsement of some of the least libertarian ideas that were on the table at the time. Assume, for a moment, that United States military action against Libya is perfectly legal. Then what? Are we as anti-imperialists who want to see an end to murder and occupation to simply throw up our hands and concede that if it’s legal, it’s permissible?
The constitutional or more broadly legalistic arguments for true liberty confuse and obscure the weightier and ultimately more persuasive reasons for the market anarchist position. What so many libertarians seem not to realize or accept is that both the legality and constitutionality of the full sweep of policies that they object to are well-settled and unlikely to be questioned in any serious way within the debates of the ruling class.
I find our overbearing posture regarding Libya to be a moral disgrace, an affront not against some arbitrary legal standard but against my own sense of right and wrong. Because of that, I oppose it — the law be damned. If we start engaging in debates about what’s legal, or even what’s politically feasible, we’re preordained to lose right out of the gate.
Those are their games, their system that’s rigged to ensure there’s never a stoppage to what George Orwell defined as “the same economy existing by and for continuous warfare.” Market anarchism is based on the principle that each individual deserves to be treated with dignity and therefore to be addressed nonviolently, through trade and cooperation; these are reasons enough to oppose the neocolonial endeavor whereby the United States and its allies use the armed forces to prepare the ground for a statist, corporatist economic model.
What we see today, wrote Lloyd Price, is indeed a product of the law, “an unbridled plutocracy, caused, created and cemented in no slight degree by legislative, aldermanic, and congressional action.” The example of Libya once again proves that if we want to replace the state with consensual social activities, we have to criticize not just the state itself, but its arbitrary laws.
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