Is a Libertarian/Leftist Anti-War Coalition Forming?

Regular Picket Line readers will know that from time to time I indulge a fantasy in which anti-war progressives and their libertarian counterparts come to be less mutually suspicious and more united in opposition.

I think both camps have a lot to learn from each other. The more leftish sorts have a long history and folklore of coordinated protest and activism which could give a lot more punch to the less-activist libertarians. And the libertarians have a more-consistent and well-integrated critique of the government than the progressives, who should know that government is always a tool to take from the people who don’t have power and give it to people who already have more than their share, but who can’t seem to resist the temptation to think they can shake hands with this devil and make it serve the cause of good.

So today I’ll note a couple of encouraging signs of dialogue:

Lew Rockwell, who is well-known in libertarian circles and is the founder of the staunchly free-market Ludwig von Mises Institute, crossed-over and spoke at a peace rally sponsored by the progressive Alabama Peace and Justice Coalition.

This earned him furious denunciation from the right-wing:

With its foam-flecked denunciations of the United States for “the evil of imperialism, the immorality of enslaving a foreign people, the malice of colonialism, and the intolerable brutality of authoritarianism,” its paranoiac allusions to a dissent-crushing “state,” and its unelaborated call for “resistance,” Rockwell’s speech could have been given by any of the more literate ringleaders of the anti-war left.

Libertarian Stephen Gordon was at the rally, and publishes a picture on his blog of two protesters holding signs reading “Libertarians ♥ ☮” and “Make Money Not War”. He writes:

The point of greatest applause may have been when one of the speakers (not Rockwell) spoke about tax resistance. Thoreau was the obvious topic of conversation I had with many leftists attending the rally following this comment. The ensuing conversations certainly opened the door to at least some liberals and progressives reconsidering their devotion to big government.

The blog has been a good source of libertarian anti-war commentary, and they regularly publish dispatches from progressive anti-war celeb (and war tax resister) Cindy Sheehan.

I’m happy to see that Sheehan is going to be helping to build this progressive/libertarian bridge from the other side by speaking at a fundraiser for

Speaking of… they recently put on-line Murray Rothbard’s tale of one of the earliest tax resistance campaigns in the United States, which was more successful than many historians give it credit for — The Whiskey Rebellion.

Here’s another sign that libertarians — even the traditionally Republican-leaning paleocon variety — may be turning their backs on the Republican Party and its Dubya Squad and looking for alliances elsewhere. I never thought I’d hear anything like this from the Cato Institute (and certainly not from the Heritage Foundation):

Economists at an tax reform forum at the National Press Club in Washington said that because GOP leadership in Washington has belied its “smaller government” rhetoric, consideration of fundamental revenue changes necessary to address serious fiscal challenges will likely take place when Democrats are in charge.

At a roundtable discussion on whether the tax reform debate should be broadened to address overall government financing, panelists from the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, two groups with strong conservative ties, criticized Republican leadership for increasing the size of government.…

According to panelist Bill Niskanen, chair of the Cato Institute, the debate over increasing revenues to address long-term fiscal challenges should not take place , “when Democrats control one house of Congress, or , when they’re very likely to be elected president.”…

“I think the current Bush administration is one of the worst administrations in my adult lifetime,” Niskanen said.…

Panelist Dan Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, agreed that GOP leaders have not stuck to their fiscally conservative roots, and he was pessimistic there would be fundamental reform anytime soon.

“Having complete Republican control has not been a good thing,” he said.

The IRS may suck rocks, but at least they don’t try to have a motivational theme song (cue the Chinese):

The national emblem is on my cap
And the motherland is in my heart.
We are glorious tax workers.

A sacred responsibility is on our shoulders:
To struggle for the administration of taxes according to law,
To stand at our post in order to see that policies are strictly followed.
We have a thousand stratagems
For stopping tax evasion;
We have a thousand stratagems
For stopping tax evasion.