Hamas and the libertarians

The libertarian movement apparently is divided over Hamas and Israel. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, has made a libertarian case against Hamas. In essence, the case is this: Hamas stands behind an ideology which expressly seeks to deprive individuals of their rights.

As Walter Hudson puts it: “Islamic totalitarianism manifest in the entity of Hamas presents a common enemy to the United States and Israel. Neither nation can suffer a world where the mandates of Islamic totalitarianism are put into practice.”

The case seems self-evident from a libertarian perspective. Yet, says Hudson, many libertarians have responded to his argument by “defend[ing] Islam and Hamas while demonizing Israel.”

What accounts for this? Brook offers the following explanation:

I think that the libertarians who tend to be anti-Israel tend to be in the [Murray Rothbard wing] of the libertarian movement. They tend to be anarchists. They tend to have a deep rooted hatred of government. And it’s interesting [because] they tend to hate free governments more than they hate totalitarian governments. They tend to focus their hatred much more on the American government [and] on the Israeli government than they do on Hamas.

If you’re libertarian, that is if you claim to care about individual liberty, Hamas should be one of the top most hated regimes in the world. You should be celebrating that they are being destroyed and that the Palestinian people might have a chance to be freed from such a totalitarian evil regime like Hamas is.

And yet, libertarians don’t seem to care about the Hamas government, or actually support it, and they focus all their ire [and] all their hatred [and] all their focus on the Israeli government, a government that is in relative terms a rights respecting government, at least as rights respecting as any Western government. Essentially there’s free speech in Israel. There’s freedom of contract. There’s private property, not as much private property as those of us who believe in liberty would like, but much much better than 90% of the countries in the world.

All of what Brook says is true. But as an explanation of libertarian support for Hamas, it begs the question. Why would those who have a deep hatred of government be more supportive of a totalitarian regime than a democratic one?

Hudson offers a plausible, and rather elegant, explanation:

[I]t occurs to me that advocacy of anarchy requires one to minimize the legitimacy of foreign threats while demonizing any action which government takes to protect citizens. After all, if government can be seen acting properly in defense of liberty, that stands as evidence against anarchism. In this way, anarchists masquerading as libertarians have boxed themselves into a philosophical corner which requires them to become apologists for evil.

Probably so. But maybe some of these “anarchists masquerading as libertarians” aren’t boxed in by ideology. Maybe some of them simply hate Jews.

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