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Walter Block and Vladimir Putin: When Reactionary Aversion Blinds Common Sense

October 9, 2013

In politics, Americans have a penchant for domestic cynicism and foreign naivete. Conservatives write, earnestly and unironically, that Barack Obama wants to destroy America, and liberals warn that the specter of the Koch Brothers threaten democracy in the United States. Such cynical attitudes feed conspiracy theories or comprehend different political views as sin.

When foreign heads of state criticize the United States, however, Americans trip over one another to blindly praise stalwart authoritarians such as Hugo Chavez, Viktor Orban, and, now, thanks to a piece by Walter Block on LewRockwell.com, Vladimir Putin. Conservatives have had a strange Putin attachment for a while—as well as hipsters—but the unreserved praise from Block adds the idiotic thought into libertarian circles. Ignoring that he expands on an article LewRockwell.com reposted from Pravda.ru, a pro-Kremlin media outlet (but not that Pravda), Block should know better. Blocking American foreign policy doesn’t show concern for freedom. Sometimes, it’s just anti-Americanism. Granting Edward Snowden asylum does not a civil-liberties advocate make. Putin knows political opportunity and knows how to take advantage of it. In the case of Edward Snowden and avoiding foreign intervention in Syria, Putin’s antagonism foiled American foreign policy that happened to align with some libertarian goals.

Putin cares little for individual liberty or peace. His past actions should frighten those who write hyperbole such as:

It is not that Putin doesn’t deserve a Peace Prize. It is that the Nobel Peace Prize is unworthy of Putin.

For a group that throws around “fascist” like a baker makes pastries, I find it strange that the self-styled “anti-state, anti-war, pro-market” site would promote Vladimir Putin with awe, yet call Obamacare fascism.

Were it not for their popularity, the Lew Rockwell crowd would better be ignored. However, given their high traffic and strong position to influence popular understanding of libertarianism, they should be scrutinized. Block’s reactionary response illustrates an aversion to Obama, not a fealty to liberty.

Binaries limit thought. We don’t have to choose pro-Obama or anti-Putin. Shockingly, you can oppose (or support) both! As bad as a country that elects Barack Obama may be, I prefer that country over one that elects Vladimir Putin for a postmodern dictatorship.

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