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Kucinich and the Politics of Nonviolence

Now all this time I've been unfair to Kucinich, assuming that he wanted to use the coercive power of the State as an advocate of violence in society ?? since laws are, after all, backed up by governmental force.
Kucinich and the Politics of Nonviolence
Roderick T. Long, LewRockwell.com

In Thursday night's Democratic presidential candidates' debate (yes, I watched it ?? masochism, I guess), Rep. Dennis Kucinich suddenly declared himself a libertarian.

No, he didn't use the L-word. But he announced his plan, should he be elected, to create a "Department of Peace" to bring about a "transformation of our society" by "making non-violence an organizing principle."

See, all along I'd been misinterpreting him. Kucinich's campaign website ( http://www.kucinich.us/) gives a fairly thorough rundown of the programs he'd like to enact. These include "massive public works to rebuild our cities, our water systems, our public transportation systems, our schools, our parks, our public energy systems," "ample free television time for candidates," "break-up of the media monopolies," a "regulatory structure which puts a ceiling on drug company profits," restrictions on political advertising, a Federal charter of corporate responsibility ( http://www.mises.org/blogDetail.asp?control=842), and a "financial commitment to providing healthy drinking water to all the world's people." He also wants to "strengthen and enforce air and water regulation," "empower farmers in the marketplace by providing incentives to join a collective bargaining unit," and "bring suit in federal court if an agribusiness doesn't bargain in good faith." He is particularly insistent that "All water shall be considered to be forever in the public domain" (an interesting proposal, given that every human being is 70% water).

Now all this time I've been unfair to the man. I'd been assuming that he wanted to use the coercive power of the State to do all these things. So naturally I'd taken him to be an advocate of massive increases of violence in society ?? since laws are, after all, backed up by governmental force. Now it turns out, however, that Kucinich is a man committed to nonviolence, a man who wants to make nonviolence an "organizing principle" of our society. But just as the State represents violence as an organizing principle of society, so the free market represents nonviolence ?? mutual consent ?? as an organizing principle of society. If Kucinich is the enthusiast for nonviolence that he claims to be, then he can only be a libertarian.

I infer, then, that Kucinich can't really want to enforce that laundry list of pet projects that he advertises on his website. That would be violence, after all. As Ludwig von Mises writes:

It is important to remember that government interference always means either violent action or the threat of such action. The funds that a government spends for whatever purposes are levied by taxation. And taxes are paid because the taxpayers are afraid of offering resistance to the tax gatherers. They know that any disobedience or resistance is hopeless. As long as this is the state of affairs, the government is able to collect the money that it wants to spend. Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen. The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning. Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.
Since nobody with Kucinich's reverence for nonviolence could possibly want to increase "violent action or the threat of such action," he plainly couldn't seriously be calling for his projects to be governmentally enforced. He must instead be trying to persuade people to implement these programs voluntarily.
( http://www.mises.org/humanaction/chap27sec2.asp)

The only alternative would be to assume that Kucinich regards, or expects us to regard, governmental edicts "as though they were incantations, passing directly from decree to result, without the inconvenience of means." ( http://www.mises.org/fullstory.asp?control=804) And what sensible person could be so deluded?

September 27, 2003

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Roderick T. Long is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Auburn University; author of Reason and Value: Aristotle versus Rand; Editor of the Libertarian Nation Foundation periodical Formulations; and an Adjunct Scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell in 1992, and maintains the website Praxeology.net, as well as the web journal In a Blog's Stead.

homepage: homepage: http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig3/long4.html

that's really really sad 27.Sep.2003 11:44

nice try, Mr. Bush

It sounds as if the author is actually in favor of Fascism as the American Way of getting things done... "Or else". And as if it's all well and good to be so critical of that, except when someone gives a hint of doing something else... as if phrases like "incentive" or "mutually beneficial," etc, had never found their way into politics or reality before...

Well, thanks to the author for reminding me that if I vote for someone other than Kuninch- say those candidates in the debates so ethusiastically talking about FORCING other countries to play fair on trade... what will we do if they won't, bomb the crap out of them?- then I'm probably voting for someone Fascist.

Why it's Kuninch that should be made to look bad under those circumstances, I'll never know...

Oh, speaking of the only candidate worth voting for, here's a word from Dennis... I'm going to see if I can squeeze in another small one before the date given... because I'm jolly good and sick of us being "Number One" by seeing how much we think we can push the rest of the world around, not to mention every other incentive I have for voting for Dennis...

-----------------

Dear Friend,

I'm going to be blunt. My presidential campaign needs your
help more than ever. There are only a few days left in this
fundraising quarter (ending Sept. 30) and I need your support.

If you saw last night's nationally-televised debate, you know
that I am speaking out for you...and for your issues.

I spoke out for bringing the troops home from Iraq, and against
the President's request for $87 billion more. I was alone in
discussing how the Iraq occupation hurts our economy.

I was alone in advocating a withdrawal from NAFTA and the WTO
in favor of bilateral trade pacts that protect workers' rights
and the environment.

I spoke clearly about taking our healthcare system out of the
hands of the insurance and pharmaceutical companies -- and
establishing nonprofit national health insurance, Enhanced
Medicare for All. I alone called for returning the Social
Security retirement age to 65.

Our wealthy nation can afford healthcare and retirement security.
But we have to rescind the tax breaks for the wealthy, and as I
pointed out in last night's debate, the wealthiest 1% in our
country will get a majority of the Bush tax cut.

To keep bringing these issues to the American people our campaign
needs an infusion of funds. Please donate at
 https://www.kucinich.us/contribute.php
Your contribution today will be doubled through federal matching
funds arriving in a few months.

I know many of you have donated as much as you can, and I thank
you. But please reach out to three other people who share our
values -- by forwarding this email to them.

If you watched last night's debate, you saw me call for a 15%
cut in Pentagon spending and an end to tax breaks for the wealthy
in order to fund childcare and education and job creation. I
spoke of my efforts to end the death penalty and to establish
a cabinet-level Department of Peace.

These issues reflect our unique and progressive grassroots
campaign that you have helped build. To expand our insurgent
campaign, please donate:  https://www.kucinich.us/contribute.php

Sincerely,

Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich
 http://www.kucinich.us

libertarian is OK 27.Sep.2003 13:28

Gollum

Nothing wrong with being libertarian. However, there's a lot wrong eith the fascist and ill-named Libertarian party. The Libertarian party give social libertarians a bad name. There's no way that true libertarians would suck up to corporate dictatorship.

Ayn Randians preaching to the peace movement? 27.Sep.2003 16:54

Daniesha L

We need a lecture on politics from the Ayn Randians like we need a hole in the head. They rail against Kucinich because they are afraid of democratic socialism. If the Ayn Randians ran this country, they would have us at war in Iran at the drop of a hat.

May 14, 2003
The Road to Victory Goes Through Tehran
To Win the War, the U.S. Must Topple Terrorism's Real Center: Iran
By Robert W. Tracinski


Kucinich 28.Sep.2003 00:00

Dana

Kucinich = Socialist = more government control of our lives.

Kucinich 28.Sep.2003 00:42

Dana

Kucinich = withdrawal from WTO, NAFTA, FTAA = less corporate control over our lives

Gov vs Freemarket 28.Sep.2003 11:39

T

"The freemarket is non violent"?!?!?!?!

The freemarket has created siome of the worst violence the world has ever seen, Kucinich is stating that he will use the power of the government to counter the negative influence of that freemarket, this is why he is vowing to do away with NAFTA and the WTO. Clearly you are mocking him, which is your right, and you did it well. But I have to set out a counter argument.

Of course Kucinich will use power, ultematly corersive power to get things done. Does anybody really think the likes of Halliburton, Enron or World Com would just say "We're sorry for being abusive and ripping off the public and our shareholders, we understand we were wrong here is restitution" and mean it. Political power is what is needed because it is not in the freemarket's interest to change with out threat of negative consiquence.

Government has LOTS of problems and is not the full answer, but if a member of the government is wanting to use the government for positive change, don't critize that in favor of the freemarket. If the freemarket had its way all of the U.S. jobs would be done for pennies a day in central America and Aisa (even more than they already are).

Of course 29.Sep.2003 03:36

James

"The freemarket has created siome of the worst violence the world has ever seen,"

"If the freemarket had its way all of the U.S. jobs would be done for pennies a day in central America and Aisa (even more than they already are)."

Technically, the free market includes not only employers, but employees as well. (Just as it includes consumers as well as producers). But I catch your drift, and it is of course true: given the choice, employers would employ slave labor.

But the employers could never have their way in a free market. Even absent government-imposed labor laws, labor would band-together and collectively bargain for higher wages and improved working conditions. Labor laws did not create unions; the unions created labor laws.

The interests of the wealthy few lead to terrible things, like slavery. But slavery in the United States was sanction by the state -- it could never have existed without the government's support.

The free market is economic freedom. The choice to hire who I want, to work for whom I want, to produce what I want and to consume what I want.

The decentralized nature of the free market is its greatest asset, but it is also the source of its problems. The tragedy of the commons prevails. Corporations will short-sightedly screw their workers, pollute the environment and tend towards monopoly. And so we need the state -- a very small state -- with the ultimate authority to check those threats.

Labor will always be the superior between capital and industry, so we need the state to grant basic rights to labor groups. And the air we breath must be clean, and so we need the state to regulate the emissions from smoke stacks. And monopoly hurts us all, so we need the state to check the growth of corporations.

The free market has created violence -- but those are ultimately failures of the state, not failures of the market. We knew the market would do this to us. There will always be a few corporations born of a bad character, just as there are such people. Which is why we empower the state with the authority to regulate and control it.

There are betters economic models -- democratic, cooperative capitalism for one -- but socialism in all its forms, be it Stalinism, Scandinavian-style democratic socialism, Kucinich-style 'progressivism', or what have you, are not. The author of this article hit the nail on the head, and put it into betters words than I have.