Air Date: 12/27/2018

Guest: David Azerrad

On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

Faith And The Culture

Rick:

Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live where we talk about the day’s hottest topics on policy, faith and the culture.

We always do that from a Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. Normally we’re here in studio with David Barton, America’s premier historian and our founder here at WallBuilders, as well as Tim Barton, a national speaker, pastor, and president of WallBuilders and myself Rick Green, former Texas legislator.

But, today we’re going to do that a little different; tomorrow we’ll wrap it up. We’re actually going to take you out to the ProFamily Legislators’ Conference where Tim Barton is going to be speaking, as well as David Azerrad from the Heritage Foundation, on the subject of essentially conservatism versus libertarianism.

The ProFamily Legislators’ Conference

The presentations, I think, are going to be very useful to you as listeners, certainly to myself. Tim and David both to a great job here. And then, just to kind of set the stage for you, these legislators’ conferences consist of state reps and state senators from across the nation who come together for a weekend of speakers and fellowship and an opportunity to sort of rejuvenate and get ready for the next legislative session.

They also come to exchange ideas and look at what works, what doesn’t work, what’s happening in the culture, trends that are occurring, things that they can do to restore the foundations upon which our nation was built. It’s a great opportunity for legislators. We called it the ProFamily Legislators Conference and we do it once a year and encourage you to invite your legislator to attend; it is a phenomenal experience.

We’re going to bring it to you right now through this presentation. Here’s Tim Barton. Following Tim will be David Azerrad of the Heritage Foundation.

This will be part one today. We’ll get the conclusion tomorrow. Here’s Tim Barton at the ProFamily Legislators Conference.

Millennials Lean Libertarian

Tim:

All right I’m going to go in and get started. We are going to get into a little bit of the libertarian ideology, the movement: What do we do with it? How do we handle this, and what are the thoughts behind it?

We know that for the Millennials, this is kind of the biggest segment of their population. It’s not really an unusual idea, notion, or concept. Most young people don’t want somebody else telling them what to do, and libertarianism seems like, “Hey, that’s a good way to embrace it.”

The young people we work with, by and large, are leaning Libertarian, and there are a lot of reasons for that, whether it’s that some of them recognize some inconsistencies on the Democratic side or they’re put out by things on the Republican side. Libertarian, it seems like, We can be whoever we want to be; We can form our own identity.

And, even in the notions of the nature of who we deal with, young people in the summer–we do a lot of training for young people. And, even the Christian kids that are coming in are, by and large, professing to be Libertarians.

Part of the reason again for this is because they think Wait a second; federal government shouldn’t be able to tell us what we can do with our bodies or our lives.  Then on the secular side, it’s Well no; we want to have the freedom of sexuality or the freedom of drugs or whatever; we want to be free, and there should not be an imposition of morals on us from the government is largely how things are viewed.

Inconsistencies in Reasoning

Now, there’s a great inconsistency that’s very easy to point out when the argument is that the government should not impose morals on people. Then why is murder illegal?

This is a fundamental flaw in some of this argument and even some of the logic; because, the idea is I don’t want somebody else telling me what to do.

Yet, all of us would agree that things are right and wrong; it’s only a question of who gets to determine what’s right and wrong. I mean this is where the argument lies is Who determines right and wrong? 

The argument largely that we’re seeing from young people is Well, as long as you do no harm, you should be able to do whatever you want to do. Here’s my question Who determines harm? Right?

Actually, one of the leading atheists today is Sam Harris, who’s considered the spokesman for atheism. Sam Harris had a debate with William Lane Craig, great Christian apologist; and, William Lane Craig is talking about why we need this Biblical, Judeo, Christian value, moral, and ethic; because, it helps us treat our fellow man the way we should treat them.

Sam Harris says, “No, that’s just foolish. We’ve evolved to the place we’re now people know we’re not supposed to do harm to them. We’ve evolved to where all of society, humanity understands Do no harm.”

Now, I feel like William Lane Craig actually lost a great opportunity to have a conversation. You’re saying that all people understand that? Can we just look at other nations of the world?

Is this a thought that is self-evident in the Muslim communities in the Middle East, as we’re throwing homosexuals off rooftops? Who is it self-evident to, this Do no harm?

The Ideology Coming Against Us

So, this is the ideology that largely is coming against us. But, this is even where Libertarians argue, “Why should we legalize drugs? Because, if it’s my body, you shouldn’t be able to tell me what to do with my body.”

Here’s where I ask the question, “Does your life impact anybody else?” I’m not a full believer in this butterfly-effect notion that if a butterfly in China flaps its wings, we get a hurricane over here in America; I’m not really buying into that completely. However, what I tell young people is “The only way you can say that what you do will not impact anybody else would be a different conversation if we said, ‘Hey I’m going to go chain myself to a tree in the woods and then I will do drugs.’”
Maybe that’s the only way you could do drugs and it wouldn’t impact other people around you. However, at some point, somebody is going to have to come get your dead body off a tree. So, at some point, yes, even that will impact somebody else.

The argument is made from a very foolish notion that what we do in society does not impact other people. That what we do is so isolated that I can live my life and it never– my DUIs, my DWIs will not affect anybody else, right? If we legalize cocaine, it won’t impact people negatively.

This is a very foolish decision; and yet, this is what we are seeing in the battle from libertarianism. Why do we think we should legalize any sexual activity? We should legalize prostitution because Why can’t a woman be able to earn a living with her own body; who are you to say she can’t?

A Moment From American History

This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. Too often today history education excludes great black heroes from the American founding. Such as Lemuel Haynes.

Haynes, though abandoned as a baby, pioneered churches across upper New England. He became the first black American to pastor a white congregation, to receive an honorary master’s degree, and to be ordained by a mainstream Christian denomination, The Congregationalist.

He was a soldier during the American Revolution and in his churches on George Washington’s birthday he regularly preached sermons honoring George Washington. Even late in his life he expressed his willingness to go back to battle if necessary to protect America, which he called, “a sacred ark.”

American history is filled with numerous examples of black heroes who are largely ignored by mainstream education today. For more information about Pastor Lemuel Haynes and other colonial Patriots go to WallBuilders.com.

Example: Objectifying Human Bodies

Tim:

It’s interesting that Libertarians would argue that sex trafficking and sex slavery is wrong. Right? And, this is not a convoluted idea; yes, that is certainly wrong.

But let me ask this. What is the basis of sex slavery? It’s the objectification of an individual for sexual purposes of gratification.

What is largely accepted in culture and communities is pornography, okay? What’s the basis of pornography? The objectification of individual for sexual gratification purposes, right?

Let’s talk about prostitution. What’s the basis of prostitution? The objectification of somebody’s body for sexual gratification purposes.

At the core, we have a fundamental connection between all these things, and here’s where it gets interesting. How were we going to argue that we can maintain the value of an individual and we can minimize sexual assaults when we are saying we can promote a body to be nothing more than an object for sexual gratification of pleasure? It’s no coincidence that statistically, some of the highest rates of sexual assaults occur within blocks of strip clubs.

Why? Because we’re objectifying human bodies to be nothing more than objects of sexual pleasure. See, this is where we make disconnects and we don’t understand how things are going to impact society; and, this is where the challenge with reaching the next generation, that is largely embracing libertarianism, is they don’t understand how actions and behavior will impact people around them and impact society around them.

One of the individuals who I’ve actually watched online give many lectures, who actually addresses this better than most people I’ve seen address it, is someone–you have a bio on him, and I’m going to read his last name because otherwise I’d probably mispronounce it, and I still might. I apologize.

But, David Azerrad was–you have a bio on him. He’s somebody connected with the Heritage Foundation. But, I’ve seen him give several lectures online dealing with this very libertarian notion and the impact that it has downstream.

Unintended Consequences Downstream

One of the things, obviously, as legislators we always have to look at What could be the unintended consequences downstream of the legislation we are looking at? Not many people are looking forward to the downstream effects of what Libertarianism or even like some of these marijuana movements could have on culture and society.

Actually, things that some of them, we already can statistically document the impact it’s already having. But, David Azerrad is someone who has done a phenomenal job with that, and we saw his lecture online. We said, “We have to get this guy to come and speak at PFLC.”

He was gracious enough to accept the invitation. If you will, please join me in welcoming, from the Heritage Foundation, Dr. David Azerrad.

David Azerrad:

Thank you very much. Welcome everyone; it’s very nice to be here. I’ve long followed David Barton’s work; it’s a real honor to be here.

Tocquevillian or Randian?

We have a problem on the right in America. Conservatives talk and think in a way that doesn’t align with how we live, which is like Tocquevillians: family, faith, country. Conservatives join, volunteer, donate as true patriots.

But we talk like Randians; Ayn Rand: maximum liberty. The government is the enemy. Politics is reduced to a contest between the individual and the state, and the stakes are liberty.

There is this disconnect between the account we give of our principles and the lives we lead. This is a result of the fact that in the 1950s, conservatives decided to form an alliance with libertarians to defeat communism. I think it made perfect sense back then.

You had this to totalitarian ideology that wanted the state to swallow everything. Both Conservatives and Libertarians saw that there was a problem with that, and they said, “Let’s team up to defeated.” And defeated they did.

But something happened along the way. In this alliance, the Libertarians ended up kind of colonizing the Conservative mind, saying that the goal of conservatism is to oppose big government and to maximize liberty. Then 30 years ago, the Berlin Wall fell and then this alliance wasn’t reconsidered.

Libertarians as a Liability

So, here we are in a world where communism is long gone and we still consider libertarians to be our allies on the right. But, if you look at the central threats confronting the country today, it’s not Statism and central planning; it’s the collapse of the family, the collapsing fertility rates, the unsustainable immigration levels we have, the rise of China, the cancerous spread of identity politics across the country, the loss of a unified idea of We the people.

On all of these fronts, the Libertarians are a liability; and, they’re virulent hatred of the government makes it very hard for us conservatives to think clearly about this. So, what I’d like to do today is to disentangle conservatism from libertarianism and along the way, to show you what is wrong with libertarianism. Here’s an important disclaimer.

I don’t care about labels. This is not an attack on people who call themselves Libertarians. {There is a} problem with the radical individualist ideology of libertarianism.

Some people call themselves conservatives, and they’re not conservatives. I don’t know if you ever have the misfortune of reading Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. I don’t see why she gets the call herself a conservative.

Some people don’t really call themselves conservatives, like President Donald Trump; but, they’re actually quite conservative in certain important regards. Then you have people who get called libertarians who call themselves libertarians, like Charles Morais or Hayek, who are not libertarians. Hayek called himself “an old Whig,” which is what Edmund Burke called himself, and Edmund Burke is the first conservative.

This Precarious Moment Book

David Azerrad:

This is David Barton. I want to let about a brand new book we have called This Precarious Moment: Six Urgent Steps That Will Save You, Your family, and Our Country. Jim Garlow and I have co-authored this book and we take six issues that are hot in the culture right now.

Issues that we’re dealing with, issues such as immigration, race relations, our relationship with Israel, the rising generation Millennials, and the absence of the church in the culture wars, and where American heritage is, our godly heritage. We look at all six of those issues right now that are under attack and we give you both Biblical and historical perspective on those issues that provide solutions on what each of us can do right now to make a difference.

These are all problems that are solvable if we’ll get involved. So you can grab the book This Precarious Moment and find out what you can do to make a difference. This Precarious Moment is available at WallBuilders.com.

Understanding Libertarianism and “Individual Sovereignty”

David Azerrad:

I am not here to attack people who call themselves Libertarians; you can call yourself whatever you want. As far as I’m concerned, my problem lies with libertarianism, and I’m not going to give you an academic presentation of all the ins and outs of libertarianism.

This is not enough for you to write a dissertation on libertarianism. I want to give you enough understanding of libertarianism so that you can sniff it out, so that you can recognize it when you encounter it in your important work as legislators.

Let’s begin at the beginning, and the beginning for libertarianism is always the individual. And, at its core, libertarianism can basically be reduced to a simple axiomatic claim that the individual has a protected realm of individual sovereignty. This is the little gray circle around it.

In that realm, each and every one of us is granted sovereign immunity from any interference. And, this is not just for you, it’s for everyone. In some, contrary to what John Donne said, every man and woman is indeed an island unto himself, every single person.

And then, from this you draw two implications. The first one is that consenting adults are absolutely free to do whatever the heck they want. The only thing they cannot do is, it’s not to harm someone else, it’s to aggress someone else.

So, they can say, “If you like to be harmed by someone, it’s a free country; you can do it. What you cannot do is do something to someone without their consent, is to aggress them.”

The Appeal of Libertarianism

Let me put it to you in blunter, in the simplest possible terms. What is the only limit on your will according to libertarianism? It’s the consent of others; that’s it. Consenting adults are absolutely free to do and say whatever it is they want.

Another corollary implication is that there is no enforceable duty to care for other people. Other people’s problems are never, ever, ever your problems unless you choose to make them your problems.

Libertarians will say, “You can be a Christian Libertarian; you can think that it’s your personal duty to care for the poor. You’re just not allowed to force me to care for the poor. You go ahead and tithe; you leave me alone. I am not obliged to care for anyone else. I can never be obliged to do anything on anyone else’s behalf; because, we are all sovereign islands.”

What does this amount to? More choice, as much choice as possible in all realms. Individuals should be absolutely free to do and say what they want.

If you really want to have it your way, don’t go to Burger King. Go to the Cato Institute. And there, you always get to have it your way.

Now, I hope you can see the undeniable appeal of this worldview. It is, first of all, the most marvelously self-indulgent worldview ever devised. I mean, if you were a 16 year old, you’d kind of like this: Who are you to tell me what to do? I can change my mind whenever I want.

Oh, and here’s the best part. You ready for this? And, if each one of us selfishly does whatever it is we want, order just arises spontaneously; because, you know, markets.

So, each one of us gets to just do what we want; and, somehow through this magic sprinkling, order will emerge. You don’t need to worry about building a civilization, maintaining a civilization. What are you talking about with virtue?

The Non-Aggression Principle

It’s all spontaneous. The other great appeal is Do you need a Ph.D. in economics and philosophy; do you need wisdom prudence to understand any of this? Of course not.

Everything is reduced to one simple principle, the non-aggression principle. And, from the comfort of your dorm room or your desk at the Cato Institute, you can understand all of politics and solve every conceivable problem. It’s always the same answer: less government more liberty.

When I debate David Boaz, who is the vice president of education at the Cato Institute, he tells the audience–and he’s proud of this—“Everything you need to know about libertarianism, you learned in kindergarten.” And, I shake my head in disbelief; I’m like You’re proud of this?

You want to cover a country of 300 million people according to principles that a 5-year-old could understand? No ambiguities, no tradeoffs? You got to be delusional to think that you can understand a country this way.

Part of the reason you get that is, it is very hard to get a country out of this. I mean, there are many problems wrong with this worldview; but, one would be obvious question of If we are all individuals, how do you get a country? One answer is you don’t.

Anarcho-Capitalism  

There is a very prominent strand of libertarianism called “Anarcho-capitalism” that in effect says, “We shouldn’t have countries. Markets can solve absolutely everything; so, here are all of these individuals all across the planet. Leave all of them alone, and they can all voluntarily choose to do whatever they want.”

“You’ll have open borders, open trade, no government. You can have a mercenary army, a mercenary police force. And, consenting adults can do whatever they want.”

Bring A Speaker To Your Area

Tim:

Hey, this is Tim Barton with WallBuilders.  And as you’ve had the opportunity to listen to WallBuilders Live, you’ve probably heard a wealth of information about our nation, about our spiritual heritage, about the religious liberties, and about all the things that make America exceptional.

And you might be thinking, “As incredible as this information is, I wish there was a way that I could get one of the WallBuilders guys to come to my area and share with my group.”

Whether it be a church, whether it be a Christian school, or public school, or some political event, or activity, if you’re interested in having a WallBuilders speaker come to your area, you can get on our website at www.WallBuilders.com and there’s a tab for scheduling. If you’ll click on that tab, you’ll notice there’s a list of information from speakers bio’s, to events that are already going on. And there’s a section where you can request an event, to bring this information about who we are, where we came from, our religious liberties, and freedoms. Go to the WallBuilders website and Bring a speaker to your area.

Moment From American History

This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history.

The Reverend James Caldwell was a famous minister during the American War for Independence. His sermons taught liberty and God’s opposition to tyranny.

The British hated him and tried to kill him. So for his own protection he would actually take loaded pistols with him into the pulpit and lay them beside his Bible as he preached. In the 1780 Battle of Springfield, the Americans ran out of wadding for their guns which was like having no ammunition.

Pastor Caldwell ran inside a nearby church and returned with an armload of Watt Hymnals, the pages of which would provide the much needed wadding. He took this great Bible based hymnal, raised in the air, and shouted to the troops,”Now put to watts into them, boys!”  This pastor’s ingenuity saved the day for the Americans.

For more information or Pastor James Caldwell and other Colonial Patriots go to WallBuilders.com.

David Azerrad:

No government, no country. Now, that is a bit cuckoo; so, you can imagine why some of them recoil from this. And, they say, “Okay, we’ll have a country; but, the government is going to do the absolute bare minimum to protect the rights of individuals.”

Libertarianism: An Economic Theory Masquerading as a Political Theory

So, a defensive army, a police force, a legal system, and that’s about it. Government is a problem; coercion is a problem. The goal here according to them is to maximize individual liberty in all realms.

The fundamental problem with this worldview is that it claims to be a political theory, but it isn’t. This is an economic theory masquerading as a political theory, for the very simple reason that you don’t get a real sense of a country according to these principles. You get atomized, individual people selfishly pursuing their pleasure, consuming, and kind of leaving one another alone.

The appeal though, and Tim touched upon this in his opening remarks, is the self-indulgence nature of it and the simplicity of it. So, how do we counter it?

Rick:

Friends, we are out of time for today. I’m going have to interrupt the presentation here. We’re going to jump right back into it tomorrow.

So, just tune in tomorrow for part two of the “Conservative Case Against Libertarianism.” We’ll be with Tim Barton and David Azerrad at the ProFamily Legislators’ Conference again tomorrow. We sure appreciate you listening today; you’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live!