Friday, January 4, 2008

Justifying Means

Noted anti-fascist Jonah Goldberg mentioned on the Corner that Native American activist Russell Means led the Lakota nation in declaring its independence from the U.S. this week, inviting people to live on their land (sprawling across five Western states) tax-free if they too renounce U.S. citizenship.

A few weird connections that Goldberg didn’t mention:

•Means, in addition to being an understandably bitter Native American activist, is also a longtime libertarian activist, rightly seeing federal government treaty violations and compensatory welfare schemes (including all manner of reservation fiscal mismanagement) as the one-two punch leading to Native Americans’ serious social problems. He was narrowly defeated in a hotly contested bid for the 1988 Libertarian Party presidential nomination.

•He was defeated by none other than…my favorite presidential candidate, Ron Paul, who appears in a pivotal debate tomorrow with the other remaining Republican candidates (aside from Duncan Hunter) in advance of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary (and in the unlikely event Paul becomes president and Means leads a recognized new North American country, we will just have to hope that the two libertarian presidents can learn to get along instead of starting a war).

•Weirder still, Means’ nominating speech for his Libertarian bid was given by…Ward Churchill, the leftist scholar known not only for pro-Native American arguments but for losing his teaching job after grotesquely calling the 9/11 victims “little Eichmanns.”

•Means was repeatedly put on trial for his actions as a member of the sometimes-violent late-60s group called AIM (the American Indian Movement, not to be confused with the fictional group Advanced Idea Mechanics, which was led by MODOK and fissioned off of the terrorist organization Hydra around the same time).

•Both Means and Paul, in essentially unrelated segments, appeared in the prophetic early-2001 ABC News broadcast John Stossel Goes to Washington, perhaps the single most libertarian and most sweepingly anti-government hour ever broadcast on network television…for which I was an associate producer (the second-to-last hour I worked on for Stossel).

As a general rule, I think secession is a good thing, all else being equal (it keeps government closer to and more responsive to its subjects, as does decentralization). I wish the Lakota luck, especially with their libertarian-leaning leadership, however odd some of its connections. North America could use at least one libertarian nation to set an example of tolerance, laissez-faire, and limited government for the others.


Adam said...

Unfortunately, there are a few problems. Means is not an official (elected or otherwise) representative of the Lakota, so his declaration of independence is rather pointless. Even if he were, or the tribal leadership of the Lakota got on board, they can’t secede/declare independence without consent of at least the majority of the residents of the territory they want (at least not without a war, and they’re not going to win a real war), and I don’t think that Lakota country has a majority Lakota population. It’s too bad, because in a sense it’s really not fair to the Lakota, and I would maybe be interested in moving to an independent Lakota country (if it were really libertarian), but that’s how it goes.

Yehudit said...

I saw Means and Paul deliver campaign speeches at the Libertarian Party in Philadelphia. I liked Means better.