Guest Post: Greenbackers Are Not Libertarians by Ben Stone

October 15th, 2012

by Ben Stone

In any discussion worth noting, it’s important to be clear on the terminology being used. This is difficult to do in politics because there are hoards of vermin in modern society who are completely dependant upon the ignorance of the masses to further their careers, therefore they make every effort to distort all political terminology and neutralize its ability to define any position with accuracy. In most cases, the last thing a member of the political class wants to do is accurately and definitively explain what it is he or she actually does for a living. This one admission would shine unwanted light on the nasty truth that, as Franz Oppenheimer explained in his masterful work ‘The State’, there are two ways people can sustain themselves; through the economic means or through the political means. The economic means is defined by such activity as using one’s own efforts to produce a good or a service that can be voluntarily exchanged for some other good or service. Generally this activity produces a net sum gain in wealth as the participants interact. The political means, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. The political means is based on the utilization of aggression upon others in an effort to obtain some portion of the fruit of their labor whether they choose to share it or not. Generally this activity produces a net sum loss in wealth as the one using the political means feeds upon the one using the economic means. So then if the political class spoke in clearly defined terms and refrained from the deceptive practice of distorting those terms, the obvious fact that the political class are actually just thieves would come to light very quickly and their convenient way of life would end. With that in mind, I would like to be as clear as possible in defining the two terms, “libertarian” and “greenbacker”.

In trying to define the word “libertarian” you will always run up against two distinct groups who both vigorously defend their definition of the word. The one tending to lean to some extent or another, towards anarcho-capitalism, and the other group, tending to want to hold on to the last threads of the coercive state, can be referred to as minarchists. But both of these subdivisions of libertarians will mutually agree that however you define libertarianism it must stand as the opposite of socialism. Any definition of libertarianism must include the foundational truth of the right of individual property. Collectivism and the central planning of socialism have no common ground with the concepts of liberty and individual property rights. The two philosophies are like lines traveling through space in opposing directions, into infinity without a single point of intersection.

The word “greenbacker”, on the other hand, is quite easy to define. It’s a derogatory reference to a group of people who once held up the presidency of Abe Lincoln as the example of their greatest political achievement. They embrace fiat money as the answer to both economic down-turns and the burdens of taxation. They believe that central banks and the credit expansion committed by central banks are both unethical and damaging to a nation’s economy. They believe an economy is best served if a core group of elected individuals in government have central control of the money supply. In the case of the US government, greenbackers believe congress should direct the Treasury Department in the creating and issuing of fiat money for the purpose of guiding the economy and for paying the governments expenses. Greenbackers believe most or all taxes would be eliminated under such a system and prosperity would result.

The astute libertarian should spot a problem with this sketch of a greenbacker utopia. It has the look of a drawing by Karl Marx, and for a very good reason. It is as though Karl himself commissioned it and oversaw the project. The political philosophy where the primary means of production (the money supply) is centrally controlled and planned by government, has a name. It’s called socialism.  When the money supply is in the hands of a government supported corporate monopoly like a central bank, you have the kind of socialism Benito Mussolini called fascism. But fascism, as it is defined economically, is simply a variation of socialism where corporate entities work with government entities in controlling the means of production. So the Federal Reserve banking cartel that currently exists in America is an example of economic fascism, and the greenbackers would like to exchange that fascism for a more pure version of Marxist socialism. But you’ll never hear the greenbacker admit that fact. Exposing the true intent of the greenbacker will cause him to scurry away like a cockroach hiding from the light.

The greenbacker faces a huge problem when dealing with libertarians. Many libertarians, at least to some extent, have a foundation in Austrian Economics. And in confronting the follies of socialism Austrian Economists hold a weapon that no socialist has ever been able to stand up against. That would be the writings of Ludwig von Mises. In his magnificent work “Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis” Mises completely disassembles all perceived logical support for a successful socialist system. Mises shows that socialism and its central planning of the money supply, is not only impractical, but it is impossible to make such a system work due to its lack of a price mechanism. And as Mises has shown, only a free market can provide a reliable price mechanism, no matter if the topic at hand is apples, shoe laces, nails, fish heads, or money itself. This places the greenbacker in an awkward position. If he chooses to be honest about his desires he will never gain a foothold in the liberty movement, and yet he must find a way to twist the liberty movement into his control if he is to accomplish his goal.

At this point you may ask; Why do the greenbackers want to control the liberty movement?

Before I get to that let me refresh your memory of the last few years.

As the failure of the political “Right” took place from 2006 through 2008, many people who had previously described themselves as “conservative” became disgruntled with their leadership and sought some other way of expressing their will. Many of them heard such prominent speakers as Ron Paul and Peter Schiff discussing aspects of Austrian Economics and were drawn to these truths. Waves of people began calling themselves “libertarian” and an old ideology became what can almost be described as a Pop Sensation. A very similar thing happened, but on a much smaller scale, as some who once called themselves “liberals” started taking a hard look at the way the political “Left” gleefully  began trampling civil rights and war-mongering from the moment they took control of government and continuing right up to the present. So as the ranks of new libertarians swelled, the old libertarians made a serious mistake. In wide eyed wonder of the success of their efforts, old time libertarians failed to understand how much power the truth of their philosophy possesses and how desirable that power would be to the bottom feeders of society. Old line libertarians were so happy to see new people that they failed in their responsibility to educate those new people on the fundamentals of libertarian thought.

So with crowds of Ron Paul supporters chanting “End the Fed” greenbackers rubbed their mandibles together and chattered with delight. Every con man knows, there is no easier way to convince your victim to trust you than to viciously attack your victim’s enemy. And the Federal Reserve banking cartel is the mutual enemy of the liberty movement and the greenbackers. It’s true, there were a few scattered voices among the old guard that warned of greenbacker infiltration, but the major voices of the movement remained silent on the topic as the campaign donations flowed and web site statistics climbed into the stratosphere.

Bringing the narrative to present day, we’re faced with not one kind of greenbacker, but two. There are those old school greenbackers who first slipped on the costume of the libertarians and crept among us with slick movies and web sites filled with double talk and lies. And there are the deceived and the uneducated Paulian masses who continue to chant “End the Fed” without considering for a moment what Mordor On The Potomac will replace the Federal Reserve with once the economic crisis reaches the point that everyone sees the folly of having a fascist monetary system.

The second type of greenbacker cannot be successfully re-educated on the fundamentals of liberty so long as established libertarian leaders ignore the old school greenbackers who continue to operate within the movement with impunity. As it is, these creatures are invited to speak at prominent libertarian gatherings and go unchallenged by all but a few within the liberty movement. But this shouldn’t shock old time libertarians. We should understand by now that the nature of leadership has built within it the tendency to collect surface grubbers and ignore corruption so long as the crowds continue chanting and the donations are still flowing.

This is a good time to revisit that question from earlier in the article; Why do the greenbackers want to control the liberty movement?

Greenbackers have been out of power for a long time, but this could change with surprising speed once the Federal Reserve system runs its course. The obvious thing for the money elite to do when the Federal Reserve fails is to introduce an international currency controlled by the IMF (the International Monetary Fund). The problem faced by these big money interests is that the American people have an inherent distaste for anything they perceive as “globalization”.  Some Americans can get down right violent at the thought of some international organization controlling the American money system. On the other hand, if greenbackers can wrest control of the liberty movement while continuing to whip the crowds into a froth to End The Fed, then when the time comes that the Federal Reserve system is replaced congress will likely bow to the “will of the people” and instill the very system the greenbackers pine for. Imagine that! Congress giving congress more power under the guise of the will of the people. The whole of the main stream media will announce that Ron Paul’s dream has come true. The fact that Ron Paul is not a greenbacker will mean nothing.

Then when the socialist greenbacker utopia turns sour, and socialism fails as it always does, it will all be the fault of those dirty libertarians and that crazy old Ron Paul. But fear not! The globalists will be here to save the day by restoring “sound money” by using an international monetary unit that will be based on a “basket of commodities” that they control. Of course their definition of “sound money” and “basket of commodities” can mean pretty much whatever they want it to mean. After all, these people exist in society by redefining the words that describe who they are and what they do for a living.

Ben Stone’s daily podcast is called The Bad Quaker Podcast and can be found at on iTunes and on the Liberty Radio Network at www.LRN.FM

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About the Author: Barry Donegan

is a singer for the experimental mathcore band , a writer, a self-described "veteran lifer in the counterculture", a political activist/consultant, and a believer in the non-aggression principle.