A friend from the JHU debate team wrote this article for a student-run political magazine on campus. The following was my response.
"Alexander Grable's recent article on libertarianism is a misleading hit piece against straw man arguments that little resemble anything libertarians actually believe. Nazi analogies and cherry-picked quotes from the thousand-page novels of a right-wing author – who, by the way, is as controversial within libertarian circles as she is outside them – amount to alarmist scare tactics unworthy of rebuttal. As for Pinochet, one wonders how easy it would be to discredit the political left if it sufficed to point out that some of its most radical members at one point sympathized with oppressive regimes. Somewhere between 80 and 100 million deaths at the hands of 20th century communism come to mind.
In his few substantive arguments, Grable completely misunderstands what coercion entails. He writes, "[m]any libertarians wish to restrict the state purely to its coercive functions: courts, the military and the police." But all state functions are coercive – that's what distinguishes them from voluntary private transactions. And even within the courts, military and police, libertarians are at the forefront of minimizing that coercion through their opposition to the drug war, police militarization, civil asset forfeiture, mandatory minimums, and lethal adventurism abroad.
Grable is right about one thing, however: we libertarians are hatching a frightening plot. It works in two phases: first, we take over the government! Mwa ha ha ha! And then?
We leave you alone. How scary is that?"