Blogs > Liberty and Power > Can Justin Raimondo Understand English?

Jan 8, 2005 8:14 am

Can Justin Raimondo Understand English?

In a series of replies to my recent Blog here, the heroic Internet journalist at, Justin Raimondo, labeled me an “idiot.” If he meant the way in which Doestoyevsky used that term in a book, then I especially thank him.

If not, I still thank him, for this may be a case of “it takes one to know one,” and without his splendid insight, I might never have become aware of my condition.

Despite his rather intemperate tone, what concerns me is his seeming inability to read and understand English. ¡Si queres, Justin, nos podemos comunicar en español! I have for years read his columns with interest, but now the question arises, can I trust his research any longer?

For example, he writes that “in a long, rambling piece …[Bill Marina] complains about libertarians ‘getting into bed’ with the Left”

What I wrote was “I just don’t think I want to climb into bed with True Believers with the goal of some kind of misguided, military, FGW [Fourth Generation War], Futile Crusade to make the world safe for American ideas of Liberty.”

I said nothing about anybody else climbing into bed, referring only to myself not doing so, and nothing about anyone doing so “with the Left.” The two people I mentioned, with whom I was dissenting, were William Lind and Lew Rockwell, both, as Raimondo acknowledges, clearly from the Right.

I spent some time describing Puritans as True Believers before relating that to today’s versions. Is that “rambling,” and too hard to follow?

Here’s another Menckenism on the Puritans: “A Puritan is someone who’s afraid that somewhere, somehow, somebody might be happy.” Justin sounds to me, not only very angry, but perhaps unhappy as well, and not just about me. Are you also a Puritan, Justin?

As I have observed over the years, what happens to libertarians who dissent, from within that dwindling group, I have increasingly defined myself primarily as a Taoist, as I first did over 40 years ago.

One theme that came through in the comments was that “we” are such a small group, “we” need to stick together and not quarrel. I have never placed that need over open dissent.

As a Taoist, I have valued the view that one can be “ a majority of one,” and especially Dr. Stockmann’s observation in Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People,” that “a man is strongest when he stands most alone.”

Justin complains that I am so negative, that I mentioned no one whose work appears to satisfy me: “is anybody good enough for you?” Again, it appears he cannot read very well. I mentioned HL Mencken, Murray Rothbard, William Appleman Williams, Carroll Quigley, Adam Smith and the Tao. If it will help to make you happy, Justin, I can give you the names of many other writers whose works I have found enlightening.

Justin goes on at me: “I am sick unto death of ‘libertarians’ who sit on the sidelines carping, kvetching, and coughing up all sorts of ‘objections’ to what we do at” As a reader and supporter, my only comment, Justin, was that you might reconsider running Lind’s writings as a regular column, doing some of them as you might Paul Wolfowitz’s writings, in telling us about the aims of the Empire. As it is, you have institutionalized the work of someone whose goal is to improve the technology of warfare. Is that antiwar?

I am again saddened that you are so unhappy about all of those “carping” libertarians who have complained to you. I guess you can understand why I define myself primarily as a Taoist.

Justin says I nowhere cite or quote Lind. That is true, I thought a reader might go to among the links on the right side of the L&P site, and read for themselves. That’s what they are for. Justin also says I have “lied” about Lind’s position.

So, Justin, here’s a quotation from Lind at the end of his article in the Archives for October 7, 2004, which I believe says it all:

“The Fourth Generation seminar met Friday for the first time since last spring, and we have decided to write our own field manual on Fourth Generation war. It will be modeled on the excellent field manuals the U.S. Marine Corps issued when General Al Gray was Commandant. We plan to have it out in the first half of next year; LRC will offer the whole FMFM.”

I am opposed to war as a means of solving human problems or as means of enhancing State Systems.

Military strategists have been attempting to figure out ways to suppress “people’s war” for well over two millennia. While I doubt he will, if Mr. Lind now succeeds in developing more “humane” counter-insurgency tactics, he will certainly be a hero with the Marines, and all of the thuggish dictators around the world, who will adopt these tactics in putting down their own people.

And at least two libertarian, anti-state, anti-war web sites will be helping to disseminate that information. Now, maybe that will make you happy, Justin!

I haven’t totally sat “on the sidelines,” Justin. Interested readers can consult some of my writings on Peoples War, Marine Handbooks, weapons technology, etc, among the several articles under my name at independent .org. Here are two, that relate to the above, and that will link to many others:

What really disturbs me, however, is not your calling me an idiot, or seeming to misread my words, but rather your own:

“Lind is working from the assumption that we are indeed at war, and that there is a rational way to fight it: not in Iraq, not against states whether in the Middle East or elsewhere, but against what Michael Scheuer calls the "worldwide Islamist insurgency" represented by Osama bin Laden and the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks.”

If I understand you correctly, Lind’s manual will help the Marines find bin Ladin, something we have not yet been able to do.

A “rational way to fight” war; and, I mistakenly thought you were antiwar. Apparently an erroneous “assumption.” “Rational War” — pronounced with a slight Russian accent, sounds like something out of Ayn Rand, as when she used to tell her husband, Frank, to go out for a “rational walk” so that she could have sex with Nathaniel Branden. I hope Osama will listen to your reason.

Scheuer, dear Justin, appears to be writing about a war of ideas somewhat different from a new Handbook modeled along lines of that of the Marines.

Are you the official spokesperson for If the aims of are as you state them, to develop new means of “rational” war, rather than to oppose war per se, then you really ought to get rid of that “negativism” you accuse me of, and perhaps change the name of your web site to “,” along with proclaiming that the aim is really to fight the "worldwide Islamist insurgency." Given your aims, that is certainly more logical, straight forward and honest, for a group that is really not fundamentally antiwar, but rather seeking ways to wage rational war. For openers that should attract a number of Randians!

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William Marina - 1/10/2005

But, Justin, you said his work was not really related to Iraq, but waging FGW Rational War against bin Ladin and Terror everywhere. Which is it?

Geoffrey Allan Plauche - 1/9/2005

But is that the only use to which the US can put Lind's research?

Justin Raimondo - 1/9/2005

If the U.S. government adopts Lind's strategy, we'll be withdrawing from Iraq very shortly. But I wouldn't hold my breath.

Geoffrey Allan Plauche - 1/9/2005

See my comment in the above comment-thread. I would only like to add here that I find the idea of giving any State military better strategies and tactics for squashing insurgencies very disturbing. Such strategies and tactics will only make State warfare more effective. And don't be surprised when the State turns these strategies and tactics on freedom loving individuals at home and abroad! It's not pacifism to be worried about that.

Geoffrey Allan Plauche - 1/9/2005

I'm not saying Mr. Marina is right here, though it seems he is, but it seems to me that his critics are missing his main point on Lind. It seems to me that he sees Lind as writings handbooks for the US military that they will be able to use in <em>war</em> to more effectively defeat insurgents (not just terrorists but any and all insurgents). I've read some of Lind's stuff, so I can't say definitively if this is true, but from what I have read it seems at least plausible. Might Lind's research be used effectively by freedom fighters? Most certainly. But is his work primarily <em>for</em> freedom fighters or for the US military? That is the question.

William Marina - 1/8/2005

No, Justin, and neither is Lind's supposed solution.
I have been working for some time now, in spite of my problems from my auto accident on a short monograph, "Three Counterproductive Counterinsurgncies: the US in The Philippines, Vietnam and Iraq."
As I recenctly noted to Tex Mac, I will do as Lind tells people, and go back to the 14th century to begin to assess his proposals.
I have never evaded the Empire issue; my dissertation dealt with it, and as early as 1959, starting grad. school, I had concluded it would be the issue of my lifetime.
I don't pretend to be a great military strategist, but the issue far transcends a military solution.
I did do an Index to the Phil. Insurgent Records in the Nat. Arch. when I was working in them -- pity, Max Boot never did -- and which Ken Munden, the Head of the Military Affairs Section wanted to publish with my doing an Introduction. I was busy, and then he passed away.
I am not a pacifist but will defend myself as when I played football ( a modest kind of war) and had scholarship offers from 12 universities, but accepted academic ones instead.
I will also defend myself against nasty tempered intellectuals, especially those who deliberately distort what I have written!
Bill Marina

Justin Raimondo - 1/8/2005

For most Americans -- including libertarians -- the 9/11 attacks demanded some sort of response. The neocons took 9/11 as an opportunity to push for the invasion of several states, including but not limited to Afghanistan and Iraq. Lind, on the other hand, sees this is worse than wrong: it is, according to him, playing into bin Laden's hands.

It seems to me that this is a valuable vein to mine -- and I fail to see how it is controversial. Unless one equates libertarianism with pacifism. Self-defense is not the same as imperialism, yet Mr. Marina seems to want to make it so. It isn't necessary to agree with all of Lind's prescriptions in order to take an interest in his concept of "fourth generation" warfare.

Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of sitting in a ivory tower and simply ignoring the very real threat posed by crazed terrorists: 9/11 happened. The question now is how do we formulate a rational response. Lind's work at least at least recognizes the problem: Marina simply evades it.

Do we invade the Middle East and impose "democracy" at gunpoint -- or do we isolate bin Laden, politically and militarily, and destroy him or minimize his influence? Pacifism is not an option.

William Marina - 1/8/2005

Dear Tex Mac,
If I am missing the point its not deliberate.
I have read Lind for quite a while now, and have now begun to go back through his stuff, which he suggests is best understood by going back with Barbara Tuchman into "A Distant Mirror."
I have several other commitments but will very soon be offering a full critique of Lind.
See, I'm coming back to Earth, but starting in an earlier century.
Pax & Cheers to you guys at Rational War!
Bill Marina

tex mac - 1/8/2005

You're missing the point. I'm beginning to suspect it is deliberate.

William Marina - 1/8/2005

Dear Tex Mac
And Lind believes this worderful citizen force will be directed by by a Marine type Handbook?
Get a grip on reality,, Tex!
If I''m not on Earth, it may be Venus, but the great warriors are, perhaps on Mars, named in conjunction with the Roman God of War.
Right now, bin Ladin has no State just as the republicans had none in Europe after the Napoleonic era, but he certainly seeks one, a kind of super Caliph. Bush is busy building that kind of Statism here.
That is the reality!
I have read Lind's stuff, I just don't agree with it.
Bill Marina

tex mac - 1/8/2005

Oh, for pete's sake, Bill. The whole point of Lind's 4th generation warfare theory is that 4GW forces are non-state. An example you may have heard of is al Qaeda. That's to what "receding in importance" refers. These are the characteristics of 4GW war, according to Lind:

  • The loss of the state’s monopoly on war and on the first loyalty of its citizens and the rise of non-state entities that command people’s primary loyalty and that wage war. These entities may be gangs, religions, races and ethnic groups within races, localities, tribes, business enterprises, ideologies—the variety is almost limitless;

  • A return to a world of cultures, not merely states, in conflict; and

  • The manifestation of both developments—the decline of the state and the rise of alternate, often cultural, primary loyalties—not only “over there,” but in America itself.

This, "If you believe that the idea of the State and of State Power has declined, especially since 9/11 then I believe you are out of touch with reality, even if you are on planet Earth, as you accuse me of not being," is simply ridiculous and based on a misreading of Justin's post. I think he must have assumed you, as such an outspoken critic of Lind, had read his articles.

William Marina - 1/8/2005

Farce is not a defense before the Tribunal, your critique of Gonzalez is, however.

William Marina - 1/8/2005

Dear Justin,

In my reply to you above, I neglected to take up your point that William Lind has a great insight of interest to libertarians; namely that the State is receding in importance.

I imagine that assumption was behind the reason the Mises Institute gave a conference in March, 2001, around the theme of Martin Van Crevald's, Rise and Decline of the State. I offered a paper taking up a number of his methodoloical points, and especially that proposition.

If you believe that the idea of the State and of State Power has declined, especially since 9/11 then I believe you are out of touch with reality, even if you are on planet Earth, as you accuse me of not being.

The psychologist Fritz Perls used to say there were three kinds of shit;
chicken, bull, and elephant, relating to the degree of rationalization.
The arguments of those such as MVC & Lind who build arguments along the line of the Decline of the State, are, in my view, building mountains of "elephant shit!"

One reason I take comfort in Taoism, see my article on "Surviving in the Interstices," Reason, 1975, and available at, is that I don't believe even a Rise of the State will ever snuff out human freedom.

When compared with the distinguished number of Americans in the anti-imperialist movement in 1898, today's opposition to Empire appears almost impotent. That is the reality, unfortunately, but which I hope can be changed.

That will not happen chasing the false assumptions of Lind, or of the military advisor, Van Crevald.

In my mind, it does help to realize that may instead be simply pro-Rational War, whatever that is!

Regards, and may a Rational War Pax be with you,
Bill Marina

Justin Raimondo - 1/8/2005

Yes, well it is a relief to note that you consider me slightly less objectionable than Donald Rumsfeld. When I'm hauled up before a war crimes tribunal, I must remember to cite you as evidence in my favor as I beg for mercy.

William Marina - 1/8/2005

Dear Justin,
In talking about several writers from the Left, I nowhere advocated joining up with that persuasion, dead writers or otherwise.
I would not have taken up replying to you, but your responses reveal a nasty personality, which I would have thought beneath an intellectual of your quality. I was wrong to have assumed that.
The "deal" is that you institutionalized a "war" columnist, as I noted to begin with.
I note in your reply above, that you skip over my observations about "your" definition of the "Rational War" aims of
I also have written in opposition to the war in Iraq, so what?
I am not any more responsible for libertarians who are for that war, than I am for "Rational War," so-called libertarians like yourself.
As I noted in one of my first articles, the new battle over Empire is just beginning, and I intend to continue to criticize supposedly antiwar people like you and Lew, but certainly not commensurate with the Monsters in and around the Bush Imperial Presidency.
Bill Marina

Justin Raimondo - 1/8/2005

Bill Marina claims that he wasn't complaining about the Left, but only about my alleged heresy in climbing into bed with the supposedly pro-war Lind. Perhaps he writes so much nonsense that he forgets writing the following:

"I note today at lew that Anthony Gregory, of the Independent Institute, has taken up the Rockwellian notion that libertarians ought to build bridges with those on the Left, citing, among other things, a Maoist friend who admires Congressman Ron Paul.

"I recall, based on a common opposition to the war in Vietnam, Murray Rothbard and William Appleman Williams editing a book together on the subject. But what came of that, other than perhaps David Horowitz moving over to become a hard-core Conservative?"

So, we shouldn't run Lind, because he is not a pacifist. And we shouldn't align with the Left, albeit temporarily and in a limited way, because ... "what came of that" aside from giving birth to the second monstrous incarnation of David Horowitz? Oh, but you aren't a complete sectarian, you assure us, since you admire Mencken, William Appleman Williams, Quigley, and Rothbard, (oh yes, the "the Tao"). Your plan, I gather, is to assemble a Coalition of the Departed against the "Coalition of the Willing."

As for Lind: his view that states are receding in importance, and that warfare must take this into account, seems to me obviously of interest to libertarians. You may not see it that way. But it is strange indeed to have one of's alleged supporters recommend to others that they withdraw their support because we run Lind's columns. It is, to say the least, an over-reaction.

Lind calls for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq -- which is a heck of a lot more than some alleged "libertarians." His most recent column, on the murderous orgy of destruction that occurred in Fallujah, was a good analysis, and I fail to see how it could have failed to live up to even Mr. Marina's high standards. I don't always agree with everything he writes -- but then I could say that about virtually any of the dozens of pieces we run every day at

I'm sorry, Bill, but I don't see what the big deal is. My advice to you: get over it.

William Marina - 1/8/2005

Dear Chris,
Thanks for the comment. I also was taken aback by Justin's revelation that in his mind the aim of is to promote "Rational War," whatever that is!
Bill Marina

chris l pettit - 1/8/2005

Am totally with you on this one...anti-war is anti-war...respecting human rights, including the right to peace, and dealing with thing from iside the international human rights and humanitarian law framework.

Good a reader of Raimando, and a frequent admirer of what he wortes, I was rather disappointed in his position. I guess he is only human and makes mistakes and takes bad positions just like the rest of us. What proves to be seen is if he can see the illogic and non-sensical nature of his position as it compares to what he supposedly stands for and acknowledge his mistake accordingly.