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T H E   G I V E N   O R D E R
January 2002                                                                

Silly Rabbit, the Constitution is for Us

In the war on terrorism, the government has arrested many foreign nationals living in the US who are believed responsible for terrorist attacks or likely to have information related to terrorism. In many cases, they have been held without trial, denied habeas corpus, or denied due process in some form or another. Many advocates of civil liberties have said that if we fundamentally sacrifice these human rights for the sake of fighting terror, the terrorists will already have won. They argue that what our enemies hate most is freedom, and that our shredding of the Constitution to fight them is one of their primary goals. But it is far from clear that the steps we have taken to jail foreigners are unconstitutional. 

The Constitution was designed for Americans, and is binding only for us.  Why ought a foreigner be accorded the right to due process when his own country might not have such a right?  When a foreign nation or entity declares war on America its citizens or members are not guaranteed the protection of America’s freedom.  If foreigners living in America must be given the rights of the American Constitution, then why not grant them to all foreigners everywhere?  It is this kind of thinking that leads to our crusading around the globe to enforce American values, above and beyond human rights.  And this confusion of values with rights justifies other regimes in their reciprocal quests to enforce their moralities on us.

Marching for Markets

December 2nd 2001 marked the advent of the first Walk for Capitalism, a worldwide celebration of laissez-faire governments and economics. Marchers in more than a hundred cities spent the day promoting life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness while demonstrating and hanging up ribbons. Started in Australia by an Objectivist named Prodos, the movement managed to engage people in cities as diverse and distant as New York, Johannesburg, Seoul and Tirana. Passers-by were often surprised or amused to see free-market activists in the streets instead of the usual leftist crowds who decry capitalism as the greatest evil since Caligula. During the New Haven Walk, one of the many marches deliberately ignored by a left-biased media, people stopped to ask the marchers if they did not already have the political system they wanted anyway.

This attitude shows a profound misunderstanding of what it is that made America as successful as it is. Some use buzzwords like “democracy” to explain how the quite consistent economic well-being of our country came about, but democracy in and of itself does not necessarily lead to positive results unless the right principles are guiding it. By looking at the examples of European countries that are just as democratic as the United States, one can see that the results are not the same. It is the amount of freedom people have in our country that has allowed them and thus the nation as a whole to prosper. Thus, defenders of capitalism do not want the status quo in the form of a mixed economy, but they are instead working toward the gradual abolition of governmental trespassing on people’s rights that we see today. 

Unsurprisingly, the city that attracted most marchers was Stockholm (Sweden being one of the greatest socialist bastions in Europe). Despite the cold and the rain, about 500 people showed up to demonstrate their solidarity with local businessmen and to decry the level of taxation and lack of freedom in their country. In Belgium, a politician issued a statement asking people not to attend the Walk. Nevertheless, 600 flyers were distributed in Brussels and a lot of spectators praised the marchers for finally providing a defense of capitalism.
Some passers-by in New Haven angrily called the marchers “rich kids”, but in fact the supporters of the Walk for Capitalism included people from a great variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, middle  class and financial aid students. These demographics probably did not fit in with the stereotypical greedy, cigar-smoking businessman the counter-protesters of the Walk may have been hoping to find.

In the attempt to reinforce that picture to the general public, anti-capitalist groups did not mind using dishonest techniques in several cities in the world. They blended in with the marchers of the Walk, pretending to be part of it while holding up posters like “Child Labor Is Best For America: Smaller Hands Mean Tighter Stitches” in Seattle, or “Profits Before People” and “Get-A-Job” (showing the image of a man lying in the street) in New York. As reported in the New York Times, one of the counter-protesters admitted: “We’re trying to represent a hyper-capitalist stance that would give the whole march a bad name” (New York Times, December 4, 2001). In New Haven, a few leftist students hung posters with such slogans as “Go U$A, kill more children in Afghanistan” in the spot where the pro-capitalism marchers had stood before, making it look like the marchers had left them there. 

The fact that these leftist groups were unable to use rational arguments to make a case against capitalism and preferred more incendiary methods should lead one not only to question their motives, but also the actual content of their political ideas. They were unwilling to let pro-capitalists do what big government already prevents them from doing on a daily basis: to go about their own business.

 

 
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