Scott Horton Interviews Mike Gravel

Scott Horton, April 07, 2008

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Former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel, now running for the Libertarian Party nomination for president, explains how he helped to force the expiration of America’s conscription program, the many views he holds in common with libertarians (eg: the war, the draft, the military industrial complex, empire, habeus corpus, renditions, the Patriot Act, Alaskan Oil and fair debates), democracy versus limited government, America’s belligerence toward Iran, his desire for an unlimited majoritarian world state under a reformed United Nations and his position on trade and trade agreements. (Edited for phone troubles with as much content spared as possible.)

MP3 here. (35:07)

Mike Gravel is a former senator from Alaska now running for the Libertarian Party nomination for president of the United States.

35 Responses to “Mike Gravel”

  1. I was disappointed that he couldn’t answer a critical question against his style of global governance. I know he couldn’t answer it because he got angry and attacked.

    I’d like to hear his views on natural rights. What happens when a bunch of theocons/zionist/wahhabist decide that we must pray, fast, and live as they choose? It seems like he says, “you know what buddy. You have no rights except what your neighbors allow you to have!”

    Direct Democracy is a good idea on the local level but there must be checks and balances defending peoples right to live as they choose as long as they don’t harm anyone.

    How does he expect to keep the voting system honest? I can imagine all sorts of mischief without proper checks and balances. With this power I’d create a bill so everyone gets a billion dollars worth of gold. ;) Then I’d strip the elite of privilege, leaving them destitute and imprisoned. The Neo-cons and Liberal Interventionist belong in a rat infested hole in rags, eating moldy bread, being tortured for the rest of their days. ;) I think the majority of the world would agree with me and vote accordingly! Then we could free Tibet!

  2. Wow, just wow. This interview was comedy gold in so many ways. Scott, the moment in which you just throw up your hands and say ‘shit’ was priceless.

    You can’t find hilarity like this, thank you Antiwar Radio.

  3. This interview was painful to listen to. Scott, you held up quite well. My favorite part was when Scott asked him a pretty critical question regarding the UN and Mr. Gravel just acted like he couldn’t hear. “Can you hear me? Scott, can you hear me?” “I can hear you fine. Can you hear me?” “I think I missed your question”.

    I wished you would have brought up Gravel’s quote when he declared his candidacy for the LP nomination. “The Democratic Party has lost its way. It is no longer the Party of FDR.” Wasn’t the New Deal based on Fascist Italy’s cartelization of the economy?

  4. He obviously knows little about Libertarianism and he’s obviously not used to fielding real question anymore- he’s been ignored for too long lol.

    It would be interesting to hear him flesh out his direct democracy ideas, also if you invite him on for a longer interview you could teach him a thing or two about actual libertarian ideas.

  5. Mike Gravel seems to think avoiding governments going to war is just a matter of organizational structure which seems quit foolish but on the other hand a direct democracy somewhat like Switzerland has successfully avoided war whereas our very indirect form of representative government is no barrier to war whatsoever.

    Let’s face it if Scott didn’t see global anarchy as too utopian he wouldn’t be much different Gravel’s global direct democracy utopianism.

    Gravel might be right on the short term effects of global government but the problem with global government is Murphy’s law i.e. if it can go bad it will go bad and then heaven help us.

  6. I second Matt’s comments. You handled the situation brilliantly, Scott. — I would be interested to hear more from Gravel. Maybe after you’ve paid your money and found out his secrets in Chapter 3 of his book, you’ll have him back on. Your audience can only take so much Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish minutiae before it needs a comedic break!

  7. It’s pretty easy to argue from a consistent doctrine and attack someone who tries to face real problems. As far as I know Gravel doesn’t intend to let the people of China vote on what the people of the U.S. need to do in many areas and to put it that way shows an unhealthy interest in winning a debate for the sake of it.

    Cases in question are what? Did Scott even ask? No, Gravel had to bring that forth himself and didn’t do it very well. But that is of course the deciding question. What is a global government supposed to do? It’s to no avail to start bashing people without clarifying that first.

    Now, Gravel might well be too idealistic about human nature, but you cannot debate that if you only go after him somewhat like: “Globalist! Globalist! You are a filthy globalist!”

    Btw., an overdose of cynicism isn’t wisdom, but a way of hurting yourself. A total cynic could literally achieve nothing, because he could never tell anyone to do anything with honest commitment to the cause. So, if you want to do something about your situation, don’t wrap yourself in an armor of black prophesies.

    Most of the people who say “Direct democracy does not work.” are shameful specimens of humans who know very well just how shameful they are and seek refuge in that statement so as to say that you couldn’t do possibly better than they did. Some people complain about it because of their conditioning and in Scott’s case it’s pure frustration and cowardice.

  8. Small scale, voluntary direct democracy is cool, but a global one? Bah. The principal agent problems would be enormous. Never forget the Iron Law of Oligarchy.

  9. Wow. Mike Gravel obviously has no idea what libertarianism is. I really hope the LP is principled enough to reject his bid for nomination.

    He also has no idea what government is (monopoly on “legal”, coercive force), regardless of the form. As Scott pointed out, each person should be free to run their own life, not the lives of others. But Gravel is confused in his thinking that without a majority-rules system of coercive force (pure democratic government), people cannot interface in a peaceful society. He has no concept of natural rights and his blind faith in the will of the majority is historically, logically, and morally without support.

    His idea that a republican form of government is synonymous with democracy (i.e., rule by the people) shows his ignorance. Democracy is the rule of the people. Republicanism is rule by law (which is based on natural rights). In a democracy, there is no protection of the minority. In a republic, majority will is thwarted by moral absolutes that recognize the rights of the individual (in theory, yes, I know, since the mob can always just force its way, but that’s when a republic devolves into a democracy/mobocracy).

    He may be great about ending American empire and the warfare state, but he’s obviously not qualified to hold public office since he has a political worldview that is inconsistent with individual liberty (and is as naive as it is incoherent).

    As a former Senator that took an oath to the Constitution, he is further disqualified from public office since unless his name is Ron Paul, he has not faithfully obeyed his oath and therefore was an agent of tyranny (lawless government – i.e., any act that usurps power not enumerated in the Constitution).

    And Tim, it is pretty easy to argue from a consistent doctrine. The “real problems” are always caused by a pragmatic, compromising deviation from consistent doctrine in the first place. The only way to end those problems is to return to the consistent doctrine. For example, though it wouldn’t be perfect, the federal US government would be immensely more tolerable if the Constitution was strictly adhered to as Ron Paul has done. It is the “dealing with real problems” mindset that has allowed power to be usurped and limits on government power to be continually eroded.

  10. No, the problems of a real society are neither caused by a “dealing with real problems” mindset nor by following pure doctrine. Look, pure doctrine has never ever anywhere been followed in a real society and hence it cannot be responsible for the problems of a real society. The problems that a real society faces stem from the fact that life is a very complex game with a multitude of moves that nobody fully understands and once some party in this game has achieved a position of considerable power it usually finds ways how to profit on the misery of others. That’s what has been happening for the last 10 000 years. And it will go on. The only question is whether you really want to be fooled by the same moves that have been played against you during the last 95 years, for instance.

  11. I just finished listening to the nutcase interview with Mike Gravel. I wonder if was a total boob before he got into congress, or if the foul environment on the Patomac drove him into the loony bin. Sheesh.

  12. [...] Mike Gravel was interviewed by Scott Horton at KAOS Radio Austin. Check it out here. [...]

  13. Gravel was quite instrumental in helping to stop the Vietnam war, dont forget that.

  14. Thanks for sharing this interview, Scott. It was great hearing two competent men thinking on their feet. Good debate and hearty dialogue are what was this country has been missing. For me this was exciting. I am now wondering about the kinds of differences our founding fathers battled over. Long time listener, Paul

  15. Mike Gravel expresses some very good and logical ideas. And that is impressive for someone who spent as many years in the Congress that he did. Forget this purity of Libertarian ideas crap. Like the LP or its leaders ever had any purity anyway. THis is a brutal world of sinful, brutal leaders and any control on them is better than no control and Mike Gravel would exert some control and has tried to do so in his political career.

  16. You people commenting are a bunch of idiots. The only way to avoid ‘majority rule’ is tyranny – enlightened tyranny is what you are suggesting (the left are explicit about this). The fact that the Constitution came into being at all is a result of majority rule – the framers had the consent of the majority. Do you seriously think you can go against the will of a majority of the people when they want or don’t want something? You can if you rule like Saddam Hussein, otherwise of course not. So why try? If ‘the people’ want a war, they will get it. If you try to arrange the system so that they don’t get what they want, you have basically just become tyrannical. Or the rules won’t be enforced or they will be bent (three-fifths of a person). Or they will just change the rules. So an income tax is unconstitutional, well, it will go when a majority of people want it gone or start feeling they want to live according to the Constitution. Gravel isn’t demonstrating ‘blind faith’ in majority rule, he is stating a fact. He is talking about power and how it works politically.

    The answer is to educate and PERSUADE – like antiwar.com does.

  17. Gravel is the embodiment of the term ‘irascible’.

    But let’s not forget that he is a tireless anti-war activist, and was one of the key players in bringing an end to the Vietnam debacle.

    The ‘bed side manner’ of both Gravel and Horton sure need some massaging, though. I could have suggested any number of ways in which the two interlocutors could have found common ground. But they never got there by themselves. For instance, it seemed to me Gravel is not advocating any kind of real ‘world government’, simply an international body to mediate international disputes and avoid war. Isn’t that what you libertarians want on a national scale?

    It was entertaining, anyway.

    Now, what about those Sunni/Shia/Kurds/Pashtun/etc/etc/etc

  18. Mike Gravel is called a libertarian socialist…at least that is what I call them. Some think that libertarian socialism is contradictory, and it is when you understand libertarian the way Americans have made that term mean. Libertarian in Europe and from the enlightenment period is essentially synonymous with libertarian socialism. So in my opinion Gravel is the right kind of libertarian ;-)

  19. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/libertarian

    Says nothing about hating democracy to me

  20. From the American Heritage Dictionary. Libertarian: “One who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state.”

  21. It was pretty strange that Gravel had apparently never pondered the question “what if 51% of the population votes to enslave the other 49%?” It’s not just an idle question, because that really was close to the situation for good portions of American history.

    Are “majority rule” and “minority rule” really the only options? I think not. First of all, I don’t rule over anyone else posting here, and it’s certainly possible for you to choose to not try to rule over me. Abolishing slavery or establishing legal rights is basically society fencing of ways and areas where nobody will rule over anybody. Nobody will rule over anybody to the point that they enslave the other person, nobody will use the power of the state to tap people’s phones without an independent court’s approval, etc etc.

    The alternative to “majority” vs. “minority” rule is agreeing to unite behind individual liberty and unite against it being acceptable for everyone to rule over each other.

  22. Ben Says:

    “It was pretty strange that Gravel had apparently never pondered the question “what if 51% of the population votes to enslave the other 49%?” It’s not just an idle question…”

    But to Gravel, it is an idle question. His pedantic lecturing of Horton makes it plain that in his mind, “…“majority rule” and “minority rule” really the only options…”

    Gravel’s unquestionably sincere advocacy of unbridled gobal majoritarianism shows him to be a statist of the ultimate extreme.

    “Shame” Cory, of course, regards him as a “libertarian” in good standing.

    Meanwhile, at the so-called “libertarian” party’s website, don’t look for any commentary from me or my blogmate, Greg Dirasian.

    Our comments are blocked. I wonder why…

    http://www.smallgov.org/?p=226

    http://www.smallgov.org/?p=405

    —The Bikemessenger

  23. Libertarian socialist, maybe I’ve found a term for where I currently float.

    Gravel came off poorly. Scott, you didn’t fare too much better. You really get some amazing guests on here, by you should enlist some editorial listeners to help your delivery and even the type of questions you ask.

    I was taught that the point of all the arguing when we started into governing Americans was the whole trying to prevent the tyranny of the majority while also attempting to prevent the tyranny of the minority.

    There’s a book called Direct Democracy or Representative Gov’t that explains some of the inherent faults of DD pretty clearly.

  24. “Scott, you didn’t fare too much better.”

    True. I’m used to interviewing people who’ve written something I’m interested in. I’m not so good at contentious arguments like that.

    Practice, practice.

  25. I disagree. Scott, you were absolutley right to challenge Gravel on the issues raised. I think it is just hard for you to accept that someone could call themselves ‘Libertarian’ while also advocating ‘global government’ (I know it was for me). I knew we were in for a donnybrook when Gravel said a Democracy means the same thing as a Republic(?!)
    We are blessed to have a Constitution that provides enumerated powers and responsibilities to the Fed gov’t, and allows the ‘several states’ to handle the rest. While allowing citizen influence, it tries to mitigate mob rule through representation. Hopefully, we can get back to that concept and practice…but based on this interview, I don’t think Gravel would be the one to get us there.

    Peace be with you.

  26. “I’m used to interviewing people who’ve written something I’m interested in.”

    True, but that’s actually something that rubs me wrong about the show. Most of the interviewees are expecting and receiving leading questions to promote/explain the things they’ve delved deeper into than you or I. Sometimes the “we’re on the same side” mentality causes too much agreement. There’s a whole bunch of not actually hearing what the other said leading to pleasurable back-rubs for all.
    I’d love you hear more contention and critique in these discussions.
    Just a thought. I only recently started listening and do love the show.

  27. Who would have thought that the descendants of the people who fled Europe in hopes of better living conditions – and especially more autonomy for the common man – would worry most about the dangers of mob rule emanating from their fellow citizens and take cover under a representative system that makes sure that politicians do not lose contact with big enterprises?

    Mr. Root is completely agreeable when he says that the middle class has to be restored. Indeed. Every person that has some basic overview of what is happening to society over the decades will see that the “mob” is in the making. How dare you denunciate your fellow citizens as “mob”? But if you do not give them the means to protect their own autonomy they’ll soon enough be a true mob, guided by the word of the demagogue and the law of conformity.

    I wonder how many Libertarians are aware of their own nature as a political group. The purpose of Libertarians as a political group is to split the gullible portion of society. Whereas the gullible portion of society organizes itself in recent history almost exclusively by compromise along the lines of the perceived ethical behavior, which thus becomes the means to its control, the Libertarians organize themselves along the lines of being in accord with the doctrine. Neither the one nor the other form of organization needs any form of judgment, which is of course the crucial point, keeping in mind that these are forms of organization for the gullible.

    Now, why would anybody want to split the gullible portion of society? Of course, Libertarians are only a tiny minority, so their value seems to be on first glance not very substantial. But if I may invoke the political insight of a great German statesman here: The masses are so dumb that they will stray from their course by the slightest opposition, by the slightest doubt that their course is correct. Hence the Libertarians, as tiny as they might be, do fulfill their purpose which is to stall political processes amongst those who cannot judge.

    Which is a good thing of course. But, as I said, the “mob” is in the making, the ability to judge is almost willfully eroded amongst the general population and the Libertarians as a political group are just a result of this increase, a necessary measure of control, because the gullible mass has become too big to anticipate any intrinsic process which might occur in it so that it is not any longer enough to just guide it by ethics but instead it is put into halt mode by confusion and inner conflict.

    The most likely explanation for this increase is of course that such a group of people makes excellent slaves. Anger over this enslavement then is comfortably vented against the political power of the slaves which is quite cunningly held responsible for the enslavement by Libertarian doctrine.

    It’s a joke. The U.S. have been going straight down from the 50′s on, I’d say. The reason why people don’t see this is because of professional progress. As long as a profession isn’t exterminated it will progress, there is not one case in history where a profession would have regressed. That is because of the nature of knowledge which knows no such thing as anti-knowledge (not to be confused with information, you know only what you know.) But if you take that professional progress away and look at the creativity of a society as such, its ability to evolve as a culture, you’ll see that since the 50′s the U.S. are losing common ground, are losing culture. Liberals confuse individual liberties with progress in this regard, but individual liberties have only in so far to do with this as their presence or absence constitutes an obstacle to the functioning of the society. Differently put, there is no doubt that the American Dream was bigger in the 50′s than ever since.

  28. international bodies do not and have not prevented war.

    End war? do what was done in Japan just make it part of the constitution that you got to be attacked first.

    want to drastically reduce war? strip power away form religion. Take away the tax exemption. Make threatening little kids with being burned forever, considered a form of psychological terrorism. Seriously its these weirdos that grow up and become Bush supporters, Osama supporters, Olmert supporters etc.

    if you want the US to stop war, and stop being hated so much then just end all aid to Israel, and stop threatening and attacking countries physically and economically. You don’t need an international body to tell you to do that. You just need more libertarians in office. Best way to do that is for all of us to focus a war on the mass media because without that controlled the neocons couldn’t get away with anything.

  29. Majority rule would lead us into a Christian theocracy. No Thanks.
    But I like Gravel and the things he is against but I am not for what he is for. Mob rule no thanks. Plutocratic rule (which Gravel calls the minority) no thank. There is no THE minority it is the minorities.

    We have referendums which do let people make laws perse. We can’t let people make laws so long as the government controls the media. And congress is no good either.

    Key focus should be on building alternative media and breaking the corporate and media relationships. Its a meta issue. We can’t change shite until we change the press.

    Just look and think about how much the internet has changed information and politics for the people who use it. Think about all the things you would not know about without it. That is the power of media.

    The argument does not have to be about the UN or the congress bla bla bla it needs to be about the media. Everyday there should be a story destroying mass media.

  30. It’s interesting how Gravel avoided (or didn’t hear) Scott’s question – if the UN should have the power to stop wars, doesn’t it require the war power – one strong enough to defeat any warring nations.

    Nonetheless old Mike is a respectable man, even though he is a little cranky and set in his ways. It’s also funny how he pronounces libertarian: “lib-uh-tarian.”

  31. Mike Gravel is a good candidate you shouldnt have jumped on him like you did. Remember he is the one who made it possible for all you argumentative libertarians who cant agree on anything to sit at home and eat fast food instead of being more meat for the grinder in iraq. You should have a little more respect for an elder statesman like Gravel. Gravel is one of the few and I mean “Few” meaning handful of politicians that are not corrupted. He is a good man and attacking him like children in a playground is disgusting. Im happy I dont listen to this radio.

    Gravel / Paul 2008

  32. We don’t need the U.N. sorry mike you are all wet…

  33. This interview really did crack me up. I decided to come back and relisten to it after debating a Gravelite. I do not think that they understand the idea behind public polling and how accurate it actually can be. I commend Scott for attempting to interview Mr. Gravel… but his philosophy is no more clear or attractive after listening to him for approximately half an hour.

  34. I thought about the problem of Gravel’s proposal and my response. The main obstacle is that we have a compulsory educational system that is designed to churn out obedient authority worshiping consumers with skills, behavior, and knowledge for a specific economic class. You can force people into indoctrination night and day but they still wouldn’t have enough understanding and skills to make good decisions. People are purposely denied the full development of their minds. An uneducated population isn’t capable of self-government or direct democracy.

  35. [...] “Thank you for welcoming me as a libertarian candidate” Mike Gravel says to Scott Horton at the beginning of this radio interview: [...]

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