My speech last year here in Bodrum on Germany’s role in the ongoing war between Russia and the Ukraine, or better and more accurately: between Russia on the one hand and the US, as the boss of NATO, its various European vassals and in particular Germany, and the Ukraine and the Ukrainians as their proxy: as their dispensable tools, useful idiots and sacrificeable lambs on the other hand, has not gone over too well with many supposedly libertarian folks from the former so-called East-bloc countries.
While there had been always participants from Eastern Europe coming to our conference, in fact, often quite a few of them, there are very few here this time. I find this disappointing of course, but I do not regret what I said last year on this subject or find any serious fault with my analysis. To the contrary, if anything, later events such as the destruction of the North-Stream pipeline by, according to all indicators and indications, the US or in close cooperation with the US, and the frank and captivating admission of Merkel, Holland, Macron and Selenskij that the Minsk agreements had never been meant seriously by them but solely served the purpose of buying more time for the Ukraine to get armed for a military confrontation with Russia, further strengthened my arguments.
The indignant rejection by the typical Eastern-European (but also many a Western European) “libertarian” of my speech on the topic presented here last year has little if anything to do with erroneous explanations or faulty analyses of the horrifying events still going on before our very eyes in the Ukraine, then, but it is owed instead to their very own superficial or fake understanding of libertarianism and the requirements of libertarian – and more generally: revisionist – historical research, judgement and evaluation. In fact, it is the result of nationalist, collectivist and statist sentiments overtaking and trumping all calm and sober libertarian thought and analysis in the face of war.
(But maybe states resort to war precisely for this reason: that people tend to “lose their mind” in wartimes?!)
The claims made by my various critics, that I just don’t sufficiently know Putin, the Russians, the Ukrainians, the Poles, the Lithuanians, etc. even the Germans and the Americans and their various particular histories, typically appear little more than regurgitations of some official, national or nationalistic, and invariably statist, school-book history and historical narrative as it is taught and promoted everywhere, at all times and in all countries. Some even accused me of insufficient understanding of the Soviet system and the history of the former Soviet-Union, notwithstanding the fact that I have actually extensively written on this very subject and the horrors of socialism. And on a more personal note: my motherly grandparents were expropriated by the Soviets in 1946 and my grandfather was killed by them in a forced labor camp.
That being said, what, then, was the central thesis of my speech of last year? And why, and in what regard, does its rejection by many supposed or presumed libertarians, especially from Eastern Europe, indicate a deficient understanding of libertarian principles on their part?
First and foremost: States are not productive enterprises. Rather, states are criminal gangs, protection rackets, or Mafias writ large, taxing or otherwise ripping off productive people to their own advantage and that of their members, friends and supporters – and they must be recognized as that. With this fundamental and sobering insight under the belt much mental fog and confusion is cleared up immediately.
Gang wars, then, typically involving some territorial issues, are always wars conducted by rival gang leaders with other people’s money, machines and manpower (just think of taxation and compulsory conscription!). The cost of war, whether conducted in an offensive or in defensive mode, then, is socialized (while prospective gains are privatized), thus making war more likely and lengthy.
In a nutshell, the scenario currently unfolding in the Ukraine is this: The Selenskiy gang has deliberately and continually provoked the much bigger next-door Putin gang, and it has been actively encouraged and supported in its provocations by the leaders of the world’s biggest, if far-away gang of all, the US-Biden gang (assisted by its NATO-vassals and associate gang leaders in Europe), that views (and pressures its allied gangs to likewise view) the Putin gang as “the enemy:” as one of only two remaining stumbling blocks on the way toward global hegemony and world domination, as its very own explicitly and repeatedly stated ultimate goal.
At some point, in February 2022, the Putin gang did what it had repeatedly warned it would do if Selenskij and his gang were to continue with certain explicitly stated provocations. The Selenskij gang, propped up by the mighty but far-away Biden gang, defied such warnings, and the Putin gang consequently invaded and occupied territories previously controlled and claimed as its own turf by the Selenskij gang.
Standing alone, based solely on their own relative powers and resources in terms of population size, military strength and economic wherewithal, the Putin gang would have quickly, long-ago, defeated the Selenskij gang and installed another, Putin-gang-friendly associate gang leadership. That the war still drags on instead and has in the meantime cost hundreds of thousands of lives, millions of refugees and mass destruction is solely the result of the massive financial, logistic and military aid continuing to flow to Selenskij and his gang from the Biden gang and its subordinate, minor league gangs and gang leaders in Germany, France, Britain, etc.. The Selenskij gang would be long broke, if it had not been bailed out, and is still being kept on life-support, by the US-NATO gangster-association. The US-NATO gang does the funding, and the Selenskij gang does the actual fighting, the shooting and the killing, in a joint war against the Putin gang. The US-NATO gang pays for the war against the Putin gang essentially in the form of money (that it can ultimately just print up), and Selenskij and his gang do the nasty and dirty job, i.e. they pay for the war in the form of conscripted lives (from the outset of the war, males from age 18 to age 60 were prohibited from leaving the gang territory…except, of course, for special gang-leadership friends and family), of human suffering, of sacrifice, death and destruction.
How, in view of this constellation, is a libertarian to position himself? The answer I gave last year still holds today. Faced with inter-state wars, i.e. wars between rival gangs sustained by taxation, confiscation and conscription, a libertarian should stay “neutral.”
For a libertarian living outside the actual war-zone, from the perspective of a German or an American, for instance, neutrality means that you do not give active support to either one of the warring gangs. You do not financially or otherwise aid the Selenskij gang (or the Putin gang), and you strictly oppose that your own “national” ruling gang, whether in Germany or in the US, uses “its,” German or American taxes, confiscations, public goods and funds to prop up the Selenskij (or the Putin) gang. Moreover, a libertarian would also oppose the use of any and all so-called “public” goods or funds for the “free” accommodation of refugees from the war-zone.
To do all this would be a positive contribution toward the cessation of the mass shooting and killing, and the ultimate goal of peace.
In distinct contrast, to do otherwise: to donate personal funds to the Selenskij gang (or Putin’s gang), or to encourage your own, domestic gang leadership to send “public” funds to one of the warring parties, or else to help the Selenskij (or Putin) gang reduce its own costs of war by providing “free” accommodation for all of the gang’s run-away-refugees in other countries, ruled by other protection racketeers, and with other people’s “public” funds – all of this is unbecoming of a libertarian and would rather qualify you as some variant of warmonger, whether knowingly or unknowingly.
The number of Ukrainian refugees in Western Europe is about 5 million. Having them fed and housed with public funds in the West, the Selenskij gang has successfully externalized a significant part of the cost of its war onto some other, non-combatant population, and the war accordingly will be lengthened. On the other hand, the public accommodation of Ukrainian refugees in Russia, ca. 3 million, is to increase the cost of war for the Putin gang and hence tends to shorten the war.
To wit: These strictures, the libertarian neutrality vis-à-vis rival gangs warring somewhere away from home does not exclude various private initiatives and interventions. A libertarian, with his own means, may engage in humanitarian and charitable efforts in support of Ukrainian (or Russian) refugees, for instance. He is allowed, with his own means, to help people escape the country so as to evade conscription and war. Qua private party, and on his own account, he is allowed to transfer funds and materials to private parties residing in the war zone. Indeed, at the urging of a private owner in the war-territory, and at his own risk, a libertarian may even relocate there and help such owner directly in the safeguarding and protection of his private property from confiscation, depredation and destruction in the ongoing gang-war, whether from the “defensive” or the “offensive” side.
I did not consider the matter from the other, inside perspective before: but for a libertarian residing within the war zone, the position vis-à-vis two fighting – “domestic” and “foreign” – gangs should be likewise a neutral one.
Staying neutral under war conditions, however, is a more difficult thing to do.
During war, your life and property is threatened from two sides. The Selenskij gang may conscript you or have you killed, it may requisition or confiscate your property or even have it destroyed, and it may freeze your accounts – all in the name of “national” defense; or else the Putin gang may come and capture you or kill you and conquer your property or destroy it – all in the name of “national” liberation. As a libertarian, what are you to do (and what not) in this horrible/unenviable situation?
Put briefly: You should stay away from both warring parties as far and as long as the circumstances allow. As a libertarian you do not volunteer your resources, manpower or ingenuity to either one of these dangerous warring gangs, and gang-mandates to the contrary (think of conscription!) are evaded, if at all possible. Your personal interest in the protection of your own life, property and well-being, and that of your family and friends, is something very different from the interest of the domestic (or foreign) gang-leadership in the protection (or liberation) of its “national” turf. Indeed, both interests may be contrary and bound to clash. The protection by the Selenskij gang of “its” territory against the Putin gang’s invasion, for instance, may – and indeed does – involve the confiscation, depredation, depreciation, devaluation or even the destruction of people’s life and property. “Collective security” and “national defense,” that is, are actually incompatible with and indeed contrary to private security and private defense.
As a libertarian living and locked up in Selenskij-gang land, then, and faced with an invading Putin gang that has in store for you another collective security deal, you try to stay equidistant from both parties, you avoid provoking either side and you listen and are always open to talks with both sides. Moreover, wherever you happen to reside, at your homebase, you concentrate on the provision of your own personal, private and local – rather than any “national” or “collective” – security, protection and defense. And, insofar as possible, you promote the decentralization of decision-making. That is: you advocate making the decision of when and how to conduct war an increasingly local and ultimately private matter, so as to delimit and to reduce the costs of war.
As a matter of fact, the population of the Ukraine is anything but homogeneous. A large part in the East and the South, all the way to Odessa, are culturally Russian, for instance. With local or regional decision-making, many places in these regions would have peacefully surrendered to Putin’s gang, and thus been spared the ravages of war, rather than being defended by Selenskij and his gang. One gang-rule would have been replaced by another. Both gangs rank similarly high in the corruption department, but everyone around there is used to corruption anyhow. Yet Putin-Russia, since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the disintegration of the Soviet Empire in 1991, has actually far outperformed the Ukraine economically. So why not go with Russia? Other regions or localities may have negotiated a truce or worked out some sort of neutral position in-between the rival gangs and so avoided the bloodshed and destruction. Still others may have fought the invading Putin gang with other weapons and by different means (e.g. peaceful resistance). That none of this has happened or is happening, i.e. that there is no decentralization in the command structure and that there are accordingly no regional or local peace initiatives, compromises or arrangements that would bring about a progressing, piecemeal delimitation of the territorial size of the actual combat-zone, is entirely due to the ongoing financial and material support that the US-NATO gang leadership is sending directly to Selenskij and his gang.
Before this background, then: Where, from a libertarian point of view, lie the errors, and the deviations from a methodological individualism (and the retreat to a methodological holism or collectivism), that alleged libertarians, in particular from Eastern Europe, commit with their various criticisms and complaints?
For one: It would be a fundamental error for a libertarian living in the Ukraine, for instance, to ask for more support for the Ukraine from Germany, America, Britain, etc. Because, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as Ukraine, Germany or America. Rather there are gangs, protection rackets, running the Ukraine, Germany and America, and there are Ukrainian, German and American people residing in territories run by these gangs. To ask for the gangs running America or Germany, for instance, to send money or material to the Ukraine is un-libertarian from the get-go, because neither of these gangs is the legitimate owner of whatever they are sending to the Ukraine; and it would be an even greater error if any such help went directly to the gang running the Ukraine (rather than the Ukrainian people).
In fact, a Ukrainian libertarian should not criticize the lack of German or American support, but ask for less and of a different sort than what the Ukraine has actually been getting. Because much “public” support for the Ukraine comes in the form of propaganda, spread uniformly and continuously all throughout Germany, America, etc., by the US-NATO gang alliance in close cooperation with its subservient, paid or subsidized associates and friends in the mainstream media.
Their propaganda message: The events in the Ukraine are not a regional gang war that is of no concern to us, but they are the titanic clash of “good” versus “evil.” The good Ukraine (all Ukrainians) is raped by evil Russia (all Russians). Hence, any German or American support given to the Ukraine is support for the “good” and any slacking of such support is support of “evil.” Collectivism grounded in ideological righteousness is substituted for and presented as sober analysis. Any libertarian should see through this charade.
The Ukraine, as much as Germany or America, is made up of a gang running and controlling some territory on the one hand and the people residing in this territory on the other. The Selenskij gang is not the same thing as the Ukrainian people. A Ukrainian libertarian cannot possibly support handing his domestic gang leadership even more power than it already has. But that is precisely what he is getting as the result of the US-NATO gang propaganda and the elevation of the Ukraine to the world-historic battle ground of the fight between good and evil. As a result of this “moral uplifting,” the Selenskij gang is to become increasingly aggressive and oppressive vis-à-vis “its” own people, and so are the various US-NATO gangs on their own turf, vis-à-vis “their” people. A regional conflict is construed and portrayed as a global crusade, necessitating a universal call to increased militancy, belligerence, arms and armament,
To prevent this progressing slide toward totalitarian gang rule, a Ukrainian libertarian should counter the US-NATO propaganda with the truth. Rather than stay silent, he should, to the extent that such a thing is still possible, let it be known to the outside world that the Selenskij gang is by no means good and noble, but through and through corrupt and increasingly totalitarian and as such does not deserve any support whatsoever. (In the very same way and for the very same reason that the Putin gang does not deserve – and does in fact not receive – any support.)
Moreover, he should recognize, and let it be known, that the greatest harm done to the Ukrainian people, in terms of death and destruction, is the result of the all-inclusive support coming from the US-American gang, the world’s most powerful gang of all. Without this support, the Selenskij gang and the rival neighboring Putin gang would have long ago reached an armistice or come to some compromise-peace, which could have saved many lives and much real estate. But the US-gang is in this endeavor not for the sake of the Ukraine or the promotion of the “good,” of course. Rather, it is in it in the pursuit of its own ultimate goal of global hegemony and the supremacy of the US-paper-dollar as global reserve currency; and the war in the Ukraine, then, is actually a war between the US-gang and the Putin-gang, with the Ukraine and the Selenskij gang filling merely an instrumental role, i.e. as a means – a maneuverable man-mass – toward the end of defeating the evil Putin gang.
The Putin gang is one of only two major stumbling blocks remaining on the way toward global hegemony. However, the Putin gang is heavily armed and, as the US-gang, also an atomic power. It cannot be brought down by military means without the risk of self-destruction. It can only be defeated economically, by driving it into bankruptcy and economic ruin. The Ukraine war and the various economic sanctions directed against Putin-Russia are supposed to do precisely this: to weaken and ultimately bankrupt the Putin gang, economically and financially. If this requires mass-killings and the mass-destruction of Ukrainians and the Ukraine, so be it. The ultimate goal of defeating the evil Putin gang justifies such means. For the US-gang, bankrupting the Putin gang is worth sacrificing all of the Ukraine, if necessary, and raising the specter of a World War III.
Importantly, then, a libertarian in the Ukraine would have to warn about and advise against any support coming in particular from the US-gang and to expose such support as the poisoned pill it is. And more generally, he would strictly oppose the simplistic world-view espoused by many “liberals” from territories formerly (until only 30 years ago) part of the Soviet Union or the Soviet Empire and the Warsaw Pact, such as the Baltic countries or Poland, for instance. In their view, Russia and the Russians are the collective enemy, plain and simple, and America and the Americans are seen as the collective savior. For a libertarian, any such simplistic – and collectivistic – world-view is out of the question. Because he recognizes the fundamental distinction between “the people” on the one hand and the “ruling gang” or “state” on the other, and he recognizes that this distinction holds and should be made and applied everywhere, in America (with the Biden-gang) no less so than in Russia (with the Putin-gang).
But what about private support, then, or more precisely of private to private support? Is there any reason for a Ukrainian libertarian to complain about a lack of such support from Germans, Americans, etc.?
First off: Such support surely exists. Quite a few Germans, for instance, accepted Ukrainian refugees into their private homes and maintained them there at their own expense. Some such private support might even have been “crowded out” by the lavish public support offered by Germany’s ruling gang. That is: there would have been private help forthcoming, if the ruling gang had not essentially preempted and arrogated the role and function of primary “giver” and charitable “giving” to itself. Yet in any case, without public support from the ruling gang, i.e., based solely on the level of private charitable activity, the number of Ukrainians currently accommodated in Germany or Poland, for instance, would certainly be far smaller; and this number would have dwindled still further the longer the war dragged on and the higher accordingly the costs of hospitality for a German, Polish, etc., host. (Recall that less Ukrainians housed and fed by other people means that the cost of war for the Selenskij gang is increased and the prospects of peace negotiations are correspondingly advanced.)
Yet it appears quite normal that people are more charitable when confronted with the immediate results of an “emergency,” such as a war, an earthquake or a tornado (especially if such emergency happens close by); and it also appears quite normal that a donor’s willingness to do charity wears increasingly thin the longer the duration and on-lingering of the emergency (with no back-to-normal in sight). So nothing to complain here.
Apart from this, why should a German or an American, etc. care about the Ukraine or even actively support the Ukraine with his own, private funds – unless, of course, he had family, friends or business relations or associates there? In which case everyone, whether in Germany or America, was free to give whatever support he wanted to give to his Ukrainian connections. Any lack in private support here is solely the result of the war, which renders all of Ukrainian business more risky and depresses the over-all level of production, trade and investment. To increase such support flowing into Ukraine, the war must be ended, because business requires peace. Nothing wrong or unusual here either.
And what to expect of Germans, Americans, etc., without any Ukrainian (or Russian) ties? – which is the overwhelming majority of all Germans, Americans, etc.. They do not know any Ukrainians, and they are not personally invested in the Ukraine. If they care about the events in the Ukraine at all (and many do not care one way or another), then, the best of outcomes a Ukrainian libertarian could hope for is a widespread public call for peace and a return to normal, to business as usual.
Unfortunately, however, that is not the support a Ukrainian libertarian is getting (and in this regard he would have a valid point of complaint). The support he actually receives is in the form of foreign, German or American, etc., “public opinion.” Even Germans, Americans, etc., without any personal or commercial investment in the Ukraine may still have an opinion about what is going on there and they may give public expression to this opinion and their preferred outcome of current events. And while this is nothing but words, the public opinion, whether in Germany or America, can still have profound effects not just at home but also abroad, in the Ukraine.
Public opinion in Germany or America regarding the Ukraine is by no means uniform, of course. There are many opinions floating around. But throughout all lands controlled by the US-NATO gang alliance, one opinion dominates and overshadows all others. The already mentioned opinion about the fight between good and evil taking place in the Ukraine. This interpretation allows Ukrainians to claim victimhood (and to relish in the role of victim), while at the same time clamoring for – even demanding – help and assistance from everyone and everywhere. Selenskij and his gang champion this interpretation, of course, and they act accordingly impertinent. A libertarian must oppose this interpretation and resist the temptation that it entails.
However, although small in numbers and relegated to the fringes of public discourse, there are also voices in German and American public opinion, for instance, that a Ukrainian libertarian could find inspiring and supportive of his own pursuits, voices with which to align and to which to lend additional strength.
He should draw inspiration from and align himself to voices that call for immediate peace-talks with the Putin-gang (and in particular also with Putin himself), and that insist on distinguishing strictly between Putin and his gang on the one hand and Russia and the Russian people on the other.
He should seriously consider voices that advocate regional secession as a way to bring about peace. This would reduce the territorial size of the Ukraine and as such naturally be opposed by the Selenskij gang. But why defend a territory whose residents do not wish to be defended? Why carry war to places that prefer to stay out of it? (Only a collectivist or nationalist could oppose secession!)
Moreover, he should seriously consider even the possibility of regional surrender as a viable path to peace. There may be regions whose inhabitants do not care whether they are ruled by the Putin or the Selenskij gang, or who even prefer the Putin gang, and who are willing to peacefully surrender in order to be spared the ravages of war. Why not? Must we wage war against such people, as traitors or Russian collaborators? As a libertarian, I fail to see why.
Indeed, if Germany were invaded today by anyone of its (nine) neighboring countries and any of the gangs presently running Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, or France, for instance, was trying to oust and replace the German government, I for one couldn’t care less. Given the intellectual and moral caliber of the present German government, or rather: given its breathtaking lack of intellectual and moral competence or qualification, it is difficult to imagine how matters could possibly get worse under foreign rule. An invasion may even bring some benefits or improvements. Who knows? Yet in any case, as for myself, any such invasion would be no reason to get out the gun and go to war. Faced by superior force and centrally concerned with the protection of everything mine and dear to me, I would peacefully surrender to any Austrian, Danish, Dutch, etc. invaders rather than fight them in a collective war of Germany against Austria, Denmark, etc.. And in doing so I would not become a traitor to my country or a collaborator of a foreign power. Rather, with my surrender, it is German lives and German property which otherwise might have been destroyed or expropriated that are actually saved and preserved.
Last but not least, a libertarian, whether in the Ukraine or elsewhere in the former East-bloc countries, should take account and draw advice from various dissident western voices on matters of “geopolitics.”
They point out that the US-interests and the European (EU) interests in the Ukraine conflict (and elsewhere) are by no means identical. The various ruling gangs in Europe still submit to the supreme command of the US-gang, but it becomes increasingly obvious that Europe must pay a much higher price for the war than the US. That is, the war strengthens US economic power vis-à-vis and relative to European (and in particular German) economic powers. This does not make for a stable alliance. Especially not, if it is discovered that the deliberate destruction of the North-Stream pipeline that was a terrorist attack on the energy supply of all of Europe was planned and executed by the US-gang or in close cooperation with it. The alliance may well break up as a result of such evidence, and the erstwhile European vassals may dare to pursue their various own interests.
Moreover, this tendency is further strengthened by the fact that the role of the US-dollar as global reserve currency has come under increasing attack as the result of the US-NATO gang alliance’s sanctions against Putin-Russia. The international trust in the safety of US-dollars and dollar deposits has been severely shattered, and in reaction Putin-Russia and Xi-China are in preparations to establish an alternative currency, backed by a basket of commodities (including gold, but not, unfortunately, as would immediately instill trust, backed by gold alone), and an alternative international payment system. With the role of the dollar as international reserve currency diminishing, much of the economic power that the US-gang seemingly had before now turns out illusionary and simply evaporates. There is less if any money left for the US-gang to throw its economic weight around in foreign places.
Finally, libertarians (especially from Eastern Europe) are reminded to recognize some elementary facts about world geography and the geographical distribution of manpower and economic resources. Based on this data, a close cooperation between Europe, and especially of Germany, and Russia is – and has been for a long time – eminently sensible from an economic point of view (for the various ruling gangs as well as their subjects). And regardless of the final outcome of the current violent conflagration in the Ukraine, this geo-economic constellation and incentive-structure will not have significantly changed. Hence, notwithstanding US opposition, it can be expected that the economic relationship between Europe, the EU and Germany in particular on the one hand and Putin or post-Putin Russia on the other hand will eventually, in the not too-distant future, be normalized again.
A Ukrainian (or Polish) libertarian, then, is called upon to develop a vision regarding the role of a post-war Ukraine (or Poland) within this largely intractable constellation of geographic and economic data and incentives.
And this vision, I venture to say, should be that of a neutral Ukraine (or Poland), i.e., of an Eastern European Switzerland, independent, outside of both NATO and the EU, and yet wealthier than any and all of its neighbors.