Interview with Tejarat-e-Farda, a news weekly with a large circulation in Iran and throughout the Middle East.
Q: What do you think about current alternative social movements in American society? How popular are movements such as anarcho-capitalists, left-wing anarchists, radical liberals and etc. among American people? How do you see future of these movements?
Tucker: Americans have never been a very compliant people. It takes a huge national emergency to inspire Americans toward conformity and obedience, like a war or depression or actual attack of some sort. Politicians and government agents love these events because the population becomes dependent on the state. Even then, it doesn’t last long. The delightful chaos of American culture returns as soon as the emergency is over.
We have to remember that this country had a long history that culminated in revolution long before the Constitution was imposed in 1789. This was a history of alternative social movements, as you describe. The internet has unleashed these as never before, and allowed them to develop regardless of geography. The result is a massive flourishing of micro-civilizations that are deepening and broadening. Some people who long for “national greatness” decry this tendency as dangerous. I see it as the flourishing of freedom.
The more these alternative social movements grow, the more difficult the exercise of the imperial impulse becomes. Empire thrives on unity. Freedom is unleashed by disunity, which in turn is enabled by decentralized sources of knowledge distribution. The communication monopoly has been completely shattered by digital media, so now people can get their news from anywhere and communicate with anyone. So too with the education monopoly. Even the money monopoly of the central state has stopped functioning as it once did, which is inspiring new movements toward alternative banking and payment systems.
Q: How far you see possibility of formation of a robust libertarian movement in Middle Eastern societies like Iran?
Tucker: The longing for freedom is universal because it is built into the fabric of who we are as individuals. So the answer is absolutely yes. No one wants to live in a cage. Every person on the planet is a dissenter in his own mind. The libertarian intellectual project really amounts to raising consciousness concerning the expansion of the state and its direct relationship to the loss of freedom freedom. Another thing: everyone in the world practices freedom at some level in their economic lives. That’s true even under highly controlled systems. We need only reflect on the structures around us that make our lives better and expand those structures to the whole of society. That is true in the U.S., in China, Iran, and everywhere at all times and places.
Q. What are the impacts of Obama’s foreign policies on prestige of USA as a superpower throughout world? As a libertarian, you are opposed with foreign policy of both Democrat and Republican parties. What kind of foreign policy a libertarian activist offers as alternative?
Tucker. The right way forward is maximum engagement of all individuals with the world and the containment of governments within their own borders. The nation state is an anachronism, a dying relic of an analog age when people from all over the world couldn’t communicate as colleagues. Today, thanks to technology, all people in the world are discovering that we have more in common with each other than any of us has with our governments. This raises the possibility of new forms of relationships that grow and deepen to the point that nation states all over the world essentially lack a loyal constituency. War will become less possible under these conditions. Peace is the first condition of progress and development.
Q. How do you think about sanctions USA, UN and EU impose on countries like Iran? Are these sanctions really effective? Who suffers more from these sanctions? Governments or people?
Tucker. There is not a shred of evidence that sanctions accomplish their stated aims. They don’t reform governments. They end up entrenching dictators. Despots love to blame foreigners for their problems. When foreign nations do aggressive things like impose trade sanctions, domestic rulers blame them for the problems that exist at home. In other words, sanctions harm people. There are no exceptions to this rule. The more trade the better. Trade brings peace, protects against conflict, and bolsters the power of the people against government. A government that imposes sanctions is most likely seeking conflict. US sanctions against foreign powers are a prelude to war. We have 100 years of examples to show the truth of that.
Q. What are the impacts of Obama’s economic policies on US and global economy? What are its impacts on different classes of society?
Tucker: I’m pretty much against the policies of every president, including this one. As to whether Obama is worse or better than the alternatives, it is hard to say. I do know that part of his appeal to the American public was the perception that he was more pro-peace than the Republican alternative. That might be true. In fact, it is most certainly true. But that doesn’t mean that Obama is ideal. His drone policy is ghastly and it is starting a global proliferation of drones. His sanctions are terrible. His continued war policies and occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries are not helping anyone. He is not considered to be a warmonger mainly because his fiercest critics are even worse.
As for his economic policies, they have been unusually bad even by standards of US presidents. We had this financial and housing bubble that burst in 2008, and the Obama administration has been using economic witchcraft to deal with it. His spending and monetary policies have only entrenched the stagnation and set us up for a greater crash down the line. The entrenched elites have benefited but not the middle class that he claims to love. Household income is still falling and unemployment is persistent. It’s absolutely incredible that at the start of this year, the Republicans and Democrats, the President and the Congress, all got together and enacted a huge tax increase. In a recession!
Unlike markets, which specialize in improving and learning, governments are deeply ignorant institutions that pride themselves in repeating bad and stupid policies forever, and never ever admitting that they are wrong. Probably every citizen of the world observes that about his or her own government. There is a pattern here! The reform of the world order needs to observe that pattern and act on it.