Today, we're excited to announce award-winning journalist, lawyer, author, and Edward Snowden confidant Glenn Greenwald is confirmed to address and answer questions at the 6th Annual YAL National Convention!
That's right, this is a rare opportunity to send us your questions for Mr. Greenwald on Facebook and Twitter by using the hashtag #YALcon14 or posting a comment at the bottom of this page.
The best questions will be selected for a private message recorded by Mr. Greenwald and broadcast exclusively at the big event.
A large chunk of our leadership team was lucky enough to attend ISFLC 2014 in February and do some serious networking and training! We met some key players in the liberty movement and mingled with other young activists like ourselves.
We also attended a panel on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies featuring Jeffrey Tucker, Marianne Copenhaver and the Leadership Institute's own Jackie Silseth.
On April 9, 2014, Jacob Hornberger and Sheldon Richman, the President and Vice-President of the Future of Freedom Foundation, made the third stop of their Northeast Libertarian Angle tour here at Binghamton University.
The event started with Hornberger and Richman discussing libertarian philosophy with each other for about half an hour, offering an insightful conversation for the audience to enjoy and learn from.
For the next hour, our many participants joined in the lively discussion. Our participants involved many
Libertarians are often met with an ideological resistance from those on the left offering questions like, “But who will protect the environment?” or “What about those who can’t help themselves?”
Of course we can concoct a rebuttal with conventional political strategy by framing the issue, creating a scapegoat, or changing the subject altogether, but what some of the greatest pro-libertarian apologists have done is refer to a time of great humanity: when friends, family, churches, and community were (voluntarily) relied upon in times of need. The problem with this argument is that it is only lip-service to what many would describe as a context of long-abandoned social antiquity.
I am a volunteer at the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor, New Jersey.
For me, though, volunteerism is very much part of the present day. I volunteer at the Wetlands Institute for two big reasons: First, I love the creatures of this world. And second, it's my response to the question “What have we done to exemplify that our ideology is the opposite of uncaring?” I’ve always believed in leading by example, and I think that political and ideological change of the minds and hearts of those around us can best be achieved through action.
How does the old saying go? “Actions speak louder than words…”
This is my way of internally screaming, “YES I’m a libertarian and I care about the environment and the welfare of other living beings.” “YES I’m pro-capitalism and I’m volunteering my time & money at my own free will to
Being “pro-choice” is seen by many as being an open minded and progressive stance, and is one of the most popular single-issue voting topics in the country. It is a common sight on college campuses to see individuals flaunting a dozen pieces of "pro-choice" flair on their backpack or bumper. But often this label is proudly worn by someone who interprets it in the narrowest way possible, refusing to apply the same basic dignity of choice to any individual outside the abortion clinic.
Let’s have a little thought experiment on what it really means to be “pro-choice”:
Would most self-described pro-choicers support abolishing the compulsory school system? Buy drugs not approved by the FDA? Would they support allowing individuals to choose to take jobs below the minimum wage?
Doesn’t seem too likely. And yet this is one of the premiere talking points that American progressives love to hold over their opposition: they are the party of social freedom and choice. This right to choose, they often claim, arises from the concept of self-ownership — that a woman must be able to do as she pleases with her body — a vital pillar of liberty that must be protected at all costs.
But just how consistent are "pro-choicers" in fighting for this sacred principle of self-ownership? I don't see them lobbying for the right of private business owners to choose who they serve. I don't see them campaigning for the right to choose to put whatever you want in your body — ranging from raw milk to heroin. And, of course, you can’t choose to peacefully opt out of the political system itself. Ironically, this radical but logically legitimate extension of choice would certainly be met with scoffs by most "pro-choicers."
Even though Planned Parenthood dropped the label last year, the fact that many progressives still proudly masquerade under the “pro-choice” label is a reflection of the political process itself. Political figures love to remind us that this “choice” is the greatest triumph of democracy — the right of each and every person (over 18 and non-felon) to have an equal vote in choosing their leaders. Many regard this right to vote as one of our most sacred rights. But if this qualifies as choice, then next time you’re hungry, first try taking a poll of 300 million Americans to mandate whether you have to eat at Pizza Hut or Domino’s. And if you so happen to not like cheese pizza, then tough luck. Maybe in another eight years you can throw on a couple pepperonis.
Not only does this process naturally cater to the lowest common denominator of political appeal, but it completely stifles any sort of meaningful individual choice. And this is the system that supposedly represents the pinnacle of human freedom.
However, there is still a resilient beacon of freedom shining through the stifling smog of the state. Although the government may stifle any sort of meaningful choice, the market allows choice to flourish on an individual level. This means that you can choose to go to a healthy vegan restaurant for dinner, eat a mock-sandwich at Subway, or simply to fast for the night. Not only do you have the choice of what you want, but you can choose to not support certain establishments at all. This allows consumers to have ultimate control over everything that exists in the marketplace. It is no coincidence that it is so much easier to return something to Wal-Mart than to get your license renewed at the DMV. And, unlike the state, men with guns will not break down your door if you abstain from doing business with them.
You don’t need to look further than gay marriage as an example. If the state had not long ago hijacked the religious contract of marriage, it would be incredibly easy to find someone to conduct a gay marriage virtually anywhere. The market quickly adapts to niche markets without any bureaucracy or voting referendums. But when the state forces itself into anything, you can be sure that vital choices will be smothered.
Real choice implies that a decision is voluntarily made on an individual level. Like everything that becomes politicized, the canard of the “pro-choice” label is almost always a cherry-picked bastardization of the truth. Next time you see someone who calls themselves “pro-choice,” remember that forcing your choice on others is not choice at all.
Content published on the Young Americans for Liberty blog is only representative of the opinions and research of the individual authors. It does not necessarily reflect the views, goals, or membership of YAL.
It was a cold, yet snowless, winter night in California (yes, be jealous), as the stars drew at a slow moving pace around the clear mountain skies as I lied on my bed at the inter-YAL chapter Winter Retreat I helped organize.
Here, I had a light bulb moment to start a new blog series called, “Consider the Otherwise” where I play devil’s advocate for the sake of keeping an open mind on things and to gain empathy for the other side. But let me give you some back story first!
So a couple weeks ago on Facebook, while idly browsing and procrastinating my time away from assignments, I was invited to like a satire page named “The Libertarian Purist.” There, emblazoned with a high-nosed, self-righteous looking, pompous, collared gentleman as the page’s mascot with a cover picture laying out, “I am elitist” loudly and proudly. The page surely does fit the description of “So you think you're a libertarian, huh? Not without my blessing. I am the decider, I am the anointed one, I am...The Libertarian Purist!" The whole thing satirically pokes fun at the stereotypical libertarian purist.
I liked the page because I know too well actual purists, some of whom are not helpful to the liberty movement, to be blunt, when they refuse to work with others. Then, it dawned on me: Why is it that we must delineate ourselves back to obscurity? As fellow YALer Elijah O’Kelley noted previously his blog post, "The Road to Obscurity," throwing potential allies and friends under the bus as some purists have done makes us an easy target for our political enemies and dooms us to
Lately there has been a lot of discussion about whether libertarians should focus more on “privilege checking.” I recently wrote an article that said, although there’s nothing wrong with using “privilege” as an exercise in perspective, attempting to ram it into the heart of libertarian philosophy is highly problematic. I was rewarded a couple days later with a shout out by Gina Luttrell at ThoughtsOnLiberty.com, in an article called In Order to Achieve Individualism, We Must Acknowledge Privilege Exists.
Gina writes that “If we want a world where everyone is truly valued for their individuality and the particular aspects that they bring to the table, then we must first start by dismantling privilege.” Completely ignoring the vagueness of what is meant by an individual being “truly valued,” let’s jump right into the part that matters: the “let’s do something” part.
“Dismantle” is a strong word that implies action. So, if we are going to “dismantle” privilege, we better figure out what exactly it is. In another article Gina describes “privilege” as a social power system propagated by society. She writes, “When a system is created in which people with certain characteristics are valued above others, a cycle is created.” This assertion necessarily begs another question: What is this “system” that makes people value certain qualities over others and how was it “created”?
If she’s talking about the state, fine—I agree that the state is the single biggest perpetrator of inequality and injustice to ever exist. But since
There is an ongoing debate within the libertarian community on whether libertarians focus enough on “privilege.” Telling an individual to "check their privilege” urges them to look at the overarching power structures that disproportionately affect different groups, and to appreciate the fact that, statistically, they are more or less likely to have certain advantages over other groups. Although this is an ultimately well-intended exercise of perspective, the concept of “privilege” is wholly irrelevant and misleading from a libertarian perspective.
The problem is, telling people to look at their “privilege” is like trying to make a sociological mosaic out of human beings: Someone already knows what they want the larger picture to look like — whether it reflects hardships, advantages, predispositions — and so they carelessly muddle together the individual pieces to fit their conclusion. If you tell a white male to check their privilege, what are you really saying to them?
Although this may be a great exercise for a sociology class, it has no constructive place in the meat and potatoes of libertarianism. People — which is merely an abstract term for real, individual actors — are far too intricate and nuanced to be filed away like paperwork according to the surface of their skin or their sexual orientation. Invariably, this (literally) black and white way of looking at the world substitutes the infinitely complex nature of the individual for a rhetorically convenient collective.
And for what? While it’s certainly true that cops target black people more than they target people with fairer complexions, what is to be gained by segregating this overlying issue from the brutal murder of Kelly Thomas? The solution, like so many others in our society, is not to merely look at the symptom itself, but the disease that causes it: The drug war, the ongoing welfare programs, government schools, wage controls, zoning laws — all of these and more are factors that keep black people disproportionately stuck in poverty traps and rotting in the bellies of the penal system. But the magnitude of these problems stem not from the racist whims of society, but from
Without diversity and competition of ideas, any philosophy is doomed to underdevelopment and stagnation. Libertarianism is no different, and it surely has a plethora of variations. Every libertarian one comes across probably subscribes to some unique flavor of the broad philosophy. There are anarchists, minarchists, constitutionalists, anarcho capitalists, paleo conservatives, and countless more. Hell, there are even libertarian socialists.
But let’s face it, libertarians are a minority — growing, but still a minority — and without a concerted effort to bring more people into the movement, we’ll never come to prominence. Unfortunately, it is all too often that instead of inclusion, libertarian activists are guilty of a tendency to exclude those who fail to share the same or all libertarian beliefs. As a minority, such infighting and exclusivity could prove more detrimental to the movement than any statist opposition ever could.
This isn’t to suggest that libertarians as philosophers should abstain from constant debate on every intricacy of the philosophy. In regards to philosophy, purism is absolutely vital. Nor is this to suggest that libertarian activists should sell out the philosophy at any point that it gains them a small victory. Activism without sound philosophy is a human with an empty soul. However, it is to suggest that libertarians working as activists should have different goals than libertarians working as philosophers.
The goal of the libertarian activist should always be to bring more people into the movement. A typical situation to consider is the case of handling Reagan and his supporters. Was Reagan a libertarian? I hardly think so. But what favors do we do the movement by bashing all of his supporters, who are likely prime prospects for a libertarian conversion, making them think we’re “extremist” and turning them off from us? A much wiser approach would be focusing on his hints of libertarianism, especially his way of branding it, and using this to bring his fans to a true limited government mindset.
We do ourselves no favors by shunning those deemed not quite libertarian enough.
As activists we must constantly seek inclusion, especially strategic inclusion. Should we bar Ted Cruz from our events because he’s not
Well, there you have it. “Put down those Ayn Rand books for a minute and take a look at the real world.”
Whenever Ayn Rand’s name is mentioned on the Senate or House floor, prepare to cringe. It’s hard to say which is more disgusting — statist Democrats depicting her as the devil incarnate or statist Republicans citing her as an inspiration. This quip by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin is an artful combination of both. Statements such as this always demonstrate a horrendous misunderstanding of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, morality, economics, and of the real world that Durbin implores us to observe.
Rand’s stance is that government entitlement programs necessarily entail the forcible confiscation of one’s property to be appropriated to others, all under the threat of imprisonment or death for non-compliance. Any such acquisition by compulsion rather than by consent is akin to armed robbery and is