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Where Are Libertarians Going? By Justin Raimondo

2014 and the prospects for peace and liberty

Since 1998, Antiwar.com has been in the forefront of the battle for peace and the restoration of the Constitution: I have personally written thousands of columns commenting on this or that aspect of the struggle, and my co-writers have contributed many tens of thousands of words to that same effort. And so I’m wondering: have we had an effect on the national discourse?

I think the answer to that question is indubitably yes, although it’s hard to measure such things because so many other factors, entirely independent of us, have worked in tandem with our ongoing campaign: Ron Paul’s campaigns for the presidency, public disillusionment with the Iraq and Afghan wars, the rise of a generation less addicted to the "legacy" media, the ongoing disappointment of many progressives with the administration of Barack Obama, and last but certainly not least the Snowden revelations.

What was particularly serendipitous for us libertarians was the order in which these events took place. By 2008, when Ron announced his first bid to secure the Republican presidential nomination, two thirds of the American people thought the Iraq war wasn’t worth fighting, and had never been worth fighting, although they still supported the war on the Afghan front – it would take them five more years to come to the same conclusion about that disaster.

In 2001, when the US government began its decade-long rampage across much of the Middle East and the rest of the world, the Internet was in its infancy. The "legacy" media still exercised its iron grip on public opinion, and Antiwar.com – although our readership was large and growing – was still a blip on the screen. By 2008, as the Ron Paul brigades were upending the Republican Establishment, the Internet was well on the way to displacing the Lost World of Print, our readership had skyrocketed – and the movement to rein in the American Empire was on the rise.

Yet we were still a small if vociferous minority, and the Old Media was stacked against us. It’s amazing to recall the "news" reports that excluded all mention of Ron Paul from accounts of the GOP presidential sweepstakes, and the ill-concealed contempt "news" anchors openly displayed toward the Paul campaign. However, this attempt to blank out the biggest anti-Establishment grassroots movement in many years backfired badly, and soon there was no way the mainstream media could erase the Paulians, who were emerging from the grassroots nationwide.

Ron put libertarianism on the political map: he took what had been a movement pretty much consigned to the margins and gave it a public face that many thousands of mostly young people found very attractive. In short, he gave the movement heft – and a future. Not only that, he united a movement that had been increasingly divided on a number of vital issues, and the most important aspect of this unifying effect was the popularization and generalization of his anti-interventionist foreign policy views. Up until that point, foreign policy was the outlier when it came to discussions of how to apply libertarian theory to concrete issues of the day. Ron settled the question once and for all internally. When Bush first invaded Iraq, there was actually a debate inside the libertarian movement over what stance to take: today, it is inconceivable that such a debate would even take place over, say, the invasion of Iran by the US.

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