Update on the Libertarian Party Radical Caucus

The current incarnation of the LP radical caucus was created in 2006 by Susan Hogarth and other party members unhappy with the outcome of the 2006 party platform vote.

Radical Caucus Key Points

The Radical Caucus believes these four points are key strategic principles in furthering the work of the Libertarian Party toward, as our platform describes it, “a world set free in our lifetime”.

1. Rights Are Utilitarian The central commitment of the Libertarian Party should be to individual liberty. Our goal should be to illustrate convincingly that there is no essential separation between rights and utilitarianism – that is, the morally correct choice will always yield the most benefit for the greatest number of people.

2. Radical Abolitionism As the word radical means “going to the root” of something, radical Libertarians should not merely propose small changes to the status quo and debate the fine points of government policy with the opponents of freedom. Instead, Libertarians must always make clear that the outright removal of the injustice and interference of the State is our ultimate goal. Speaking from our basic principles avoids the quagmire of self-imposed, obligatory gradualism. Rather than offering compromise, we should demand what we really seek — a free society — and let our opponents offer the compromises.

3. Principled Populism The Libertarian Party should be a mass-participation party operating in the electoral arena and elsewhere, devoted to consistent libertarian principle, and committed to liberty and justice for all. The Libertarian Party should trust in and rely on individuals to welcome a program of liberty and justice and should always aim to convince people of the soundness of libertarian principles. Simply repeating our basic principles and not proposing transition measures is ineffective in the short run because only a small part of the populace is interested in liberty in the abstract, and hiding or abandoning our principled positions is ineffective in the long run because it fails to sustain us as a movement and attract and retain new Libertarians.

4. No Particular Order The removal of one harmful government policy should never be held hostage for the removal of another, as this throws self-imposed barriers in the path of liberty and removes potential pressures for change. For example, saying that borders may be opened only after welfare is eliminated is unacceptable; the proper position is to push for both changes. Should we succeed in achieving open borders only to find that welfare burdens are increased, this should be used as an additional argument to abolish welfare.

SHORT VERSION

The LP Radical Caucus Believes

1. The Libertarian Party should support individual liberty because it’s the right thing to do, and because it’s the best way to benefit the greatest number of people.

2. The Libertarian Party is the only political party that traditionally advocates for real freedom from government interference. We should emphasize this revolutionary approach rather than watering it down with such uninspiring language as the current slogan “Smaller Government… Lower Taxes… More Freedom…” which is a de facto endorsement of the status quo.

3. Our language should inspire by reflecting our goals, not the compromises we may have to accept on the way to gaining them. The Libertarian Party should be active in all areas of the political sphere with the expectation that individuals who hear and understand our message of freedom and the steps we can take today to increase liberty will choose to join enthusiastically in our journey.

4. The Libertarian Party should always steadfastly oppose harmful government policies, regardless of any promise that supporting one bad policy will ensure that another is abolished.

The caucus maintains a members-only, moderated yahoo group. Until yesterday, the caucus also had a discussion group, meant to separate the discussion of theoretical issues of libertarian philosophy among radical libertarians away from the main list, which carries the disclaimer “This list is here to facilitate development of strategy and the accomplishing of specific tasks to strengthen the Libertarian Party as a radical political party. This is not a general discussion list about libertarianism or radicalism. If you are looking for a discussion of radical libertarianism, please join the group lpradicals-discuss.”

As of yesterday, the discuss list has been disabled: “This was the open discussion list for the LP Radical Caucus, but has been disabled due to spamming and intolerable behavior.” Less well known is that since January 2008, the radical caucus has also maintained http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LPRadicals-Debate, which is unmoderated except for new members: “This list is for open discussion between radical & reformer LP members. It is intended to be a space where the debate is unmoderated and all ideas from both camps are encouraged.” It has not been used very much, however.

Yesterday, Mike Nelson (AKA disinter) started a new, entirely unmoderated yahoo group for LP radicals (not officially endorsed by the caucus): http://groups.yahoo.com/group/radicalcaucus/, “Un-moderated discussion group for the Libertarian Caucus of the Libertarian Party.” When asked “is this a new caucus (Libertarian Caucus?) or supposed to be an unofficial space for the existing radical caucus?” Nelson replied “It is simply a place for members of the radical caucus, sometimes referred to as the libertarian caucus, and like-minded individuals to discuss issues.”

Disclosure: I am a moderator of the mostly dormant LPradicals-debate, and the only other person besides Mike Nelson to join his new yahoo group so far.

24 thoughts on “Update on the Libertarian Party Radical Caucus

  1. johnlowell

    And here lies the utter poverty of libertarianism, the poisonous notion that morality consists in an absolutisation of individual liberty and that, in turn, as a weakly intuited utilitarianism. What an hopelessly hacknied, college dormroom construct, a kind of sociopathology writ large. Unfortunately, its tentacles have had much of the Western world by the short curlies for some decades now. Nothing terribly new here, just kids refusing to grow up.

  2. Catholic Trotskyist

    I generally agree John. I do admit, however, that some laws which are meant to strengthen morality actually increase the amount of immorality. The prohibition of alcohol, for example, which has to be repealed. I agree that abortion and some economic regulation must occur, but when the government tries to regulate, say, free speech, and it is clear that the government itself is often immoral, there is a problem there.

  3. Catholic Trotskyist

    Sorry, I meant that abortion must be outlawed and some economic regulation must occur.

  4. JimDavidson

    Life, liberty, and property are all facets of the same thing. More liberty is better. Less government is better. These are important facts wherever they are encountered.

    Calling it childish or sophomoric as lowell at 1 above, isn’t an argument. It is just name calling, itself rather childish and sophomoric.

  5. JimDavidson

    For an “entirely unmoderated yahoo group,” it seems odd that when I posted there just now it informed me, “This message must first be approved by the group’s moderators.”

    Obviously, this group is not “entirely unmoderated.” Perhaps it is only “lightly moderated.” I’ll see if it is any better than Hogarth’s mess.

  6. Brian Holtz

    The LP Platform says “Government exists to protect the rights of every individual including life, liberty and property.”

    The Radical Caucus says “Libertarians must always make clear that the outright removal of the injustice and interference of the State is our ultimate goal.”

    Let’s test that clarity standard. Is it the position of the Radical Caucus that the LP should officially advocate abolition of all State authority/power to protect the rights of every individual including life, liberty and property? I.e. should anarcholibertarianism be the official position of the LP?

    Specifically, should the LP platform advocate

    * that individuals have a right to renounce their affiliation with any government, and to be exempt from the obligations imposed by those governments?
    * elimination of all restrictions on immigration?
    * that all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately?
    * repeal of all laws that restrict anyone, including children, from engaging in voluntary exchanges of goods, services or information regarding human sexuality?
    * privatizing national defense?
    * repeal of the Sixth Amendment right of the accused to “have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor”?

  7. hogarth

    I’m glad Mike is giving a voice to those who prefer unmoderated discussion.

    As for Brian’s question(s), that’s a lot to chew on. I am more and more favoring the Dallas Accord, as I understand it, these days. For one thing, I would like to see this sentence “Government exists to protect the rights of every individual including life, liberty and property,” changed to something like “The only legitimate role of government can be to protect the rights of individuals.” This change would allow for the comfort of both anarchist and minarchist libertarians within the Party.

  8. johnlowell

    JimDavidson,

    The argument was here, Jim:

    “And here lies the utter poverty of libertarianism, the poisonous notion that morality consists in an absolutisation of individual liberty and that, in turn, as a weakly intuited utilitarianism. ”

    You had something more substantial than simple assertions to offer us?

    The “name calling” as you characterize it – I’d called it a kind of summing up – just seemed to emerge inexorably from the underlying material in this instance. Some conclusions just scream their way through to recognition, eh? 🙂

  9. VirtualGalt

    “The only legitimate role of government can be to protect the rights of individuals.”

    If a government has been duly/legally created, is it not a legitimate function of that government to defend itself from an outside decapitation attack? (meaning from beyond its borders)

  10. johnlowell

    Cattrot,

    The concern here is less with liberty per se than with its being sliced and packaged as a kind of ideological credit default swap. To posit morality as consisting in an absolutization of the idea of individual liberty cast in the context of an unspecifiable utilitarianism is like trying to dress up a package of sub-prime mortgage loans as an investment grade security. 🙂

  11. Michael H. Wilson

    Brian it may well take some time to get to the point where we do not live in a society where force is a tool.

    The Hammurabi Code was written in 1700 B.C. and the Magna Carta about 1215 A.D. A great deal of time went between those two documents and it may take us a bit longer, but for some of us the effort will continue. If you wish to you may join us, if not that is fine as well.

  12. paulie cannoli Post author

    And here lies the utter poverty of libertarianism, the poisonous notion that morality consists in an absolutisation of individual liberty and that, in turn, as a weakly intuited utilitarianism. What an hopelessly hacknied, college dormroom construct, a kind of sociopathology writ large. Unfortunately, its tentacles have had much of the Western world by the short curlies for some decades now. Nothing terribly new here, just kids refusing to grow up.

    Quite a large bundle of unsupported statements.

    Appears to be nonsense at first glance, although I am open to being convinced if you can become them up and connect them.

  13. paulie cannoli Post author

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/radicalcaucus/message/2

    Also posted immediately; same message awaiting moderation at BAN.

    PS=Phil Sawyer
    ED=E*** D****** R*******
    P=Paulie (moi)
    RW=Richard Winger

    PS) At any rate, both parties [LP and NSGOP] (along with the Constitution Party) are bourgeois conservative parties that are going
    to end up on the trash heap of history.

    P) The libertarians shouldn’t be. See
    http://mises.org/story/2099

    Conclusion is:

    “Genuine libertarianism is very much left wing. It’s revolutionary. The long and tragic alliance of libertarians with the right against the spectre of state socialism is coming to a close, as it served no purpose after the fall of the Soviet Union and so-called “conservatives” have subsequently taken to letting their true
    big-government-on-steroids colors fly…. [I]n the period since the demise of the Soviet Union, both the radicals and moderates among the
    left have been subconsciously seeking a new radical creed to orient themselves upon to replace Marxism…. I believe that radical
    libertarians … will be most effective when they overcome any lingering right wing cultural contamination of their libertarian views and
    embrace their inherent radicalism �” which is most at home on the left. For as the radicals go, so do the moderates grudgingly follow in small
    steps…. It’s time for libertarians to stop fighting the left and take up the challenge of leading the left.”

    Overwhelming supporting evidence in the article.

    Please don’t bother to argue against the thesis without reading the supporting evidence.

    PS) The Proletarian Revolution is now happening in this country and it is probably irreversible at this point.

    P) Entirely doomed, just like it was in the USSR and everywhere else.

    ED) 1. Libertarian Party founded in 1971 by the Colorado State Chairman of the Young Republicans.

    2. 8 of 9 of all past Libertarian Party Presidential candidates came from the Republican Party, or have since returned to the GOP.

    3. The 2008 Libertarian Party Presidential ticket was made up of two Republicans: Bob Barr and Wayne Root.

    4. 10 out of 11 of all Libertarian State Legislators ever elected to office, were either elected as dual-party Republicans, or caucused
    with the Republican Party immediately upon being sworn into office.

    p) Precisely the problem with the Libertarian Party as it currently is. It needs to cut the umbilical cord to the Republicans and
    conservatives completely and irrevocably, to rediscover why liberal and libertarian sound so similar, and why Frederic Bastiat sat on the
    left in the French Parliament (from where we draw the categories of left and right). Then, and only then, can the Libertarian Party become
    effective.

    The idea that the Libertarians belong in the same general grouping with the Constitutionalists and Republicans is what belongs in the sewer of history. The space between the Libertarians, Democrats and
    Greens is the new frontier of politics where the future exists. See http://voteliberalist.org/ for an interesting UK experiment.

    Incidentally, left/libertarian/centrist is the plurality cluster on the Nolan quiz at US colleges (I have tens of thousands of data points
    I personally gathered for this), and studies show that the vast majority of people never change their party after the age of 30.

    If anyone reading is interested in donating $300 or portion thereof so that a new College Libertarian Organizing Committee can file 501c3
    paperwork, please write travellingcircus at gmail dot.com and CC mdh underscore lists at yahoo dot com. We have the chair of the WV LP,
    Matt Harris, who has experience in filing 501c3 paperwork and is willing to do so if we can raise the requisite fee.

    Mission statement:
    ———————————————-
    Steering committee for a proposed new effort to create professional libertarian college field outreach. Once the group is created, we will
    raise funds and hire field organizers to travel, create and expand campus networks.

    Could also work for things like Vans Warped Tour – we could have a libertarian booth crew travel with the tour so we are set up on every
    stop, not just the ones where the local LP is organized enough to take advantage of the opportunity.
    —————————————————
    PS) Imperialist bourgeois capitalism, in this country, has reached and passed its zenith.

    P) Anti-imperialist, anti-corporate free market/free will syndicalist voluntaryist mutualism is the future of third millenium politics. Bureaucratic imperialist socialism, imperialist bourgeois capitalism, and their synthesis of faux-democratic imperialist corporate fascism are all late second-millenium metastasized cancers, or actually strains of the same cancer of anti-free will, force-based politics.

    PS) Conservative bourgeois political parties (such as GOP, LP, and ConP – not ComP) have outlived any purpose that they once had.

    P) ConP, ComP – SSDD. The LP can have a bright future after it is reorganized as a non-conservative party. Otherwise, the movement will succeed outside of outmoded regime politics.

    PS) Down with the bourgeois ruling class! Up with the Proletarian Revolution!

    P) Down with the bureaucrat/corporate ruling class! Up with the agorist countereconomy!

    RW) If Eric regularly makes $300 to $400 per day when he is working, he has a far higher annual income than I do.

    P) That sounds better than what it is. I often make that much or more when I am working. However, I spend more time not working than I do working many years, and living full time on the road costs $500-1000 per week just in food and housing alone, not including luxuries such
    as medical care, clothing, transportation, etc.

    My nomad lifestyle makes any attempt to get an apartment turn into, essentially, overpriced storage. When I am not working, I have to
    either find people willing to let me sleep on their floor, or continue to pay those same costs without knowing how long it will be until the
    next job.

    Donating money to political causes becomes a rather tenuous notion at this point, although I do donate more time and effort than most people.

  14. paulie cannoli Post author

    The LP Platform says “Government exists to protect the rights of every individual including life, liberty and property.”

    The Radical Caucus says “Libertarians must always make clear that the outright removal of the injustice and interference of the State is our ultimate goal.”

    Let’s test that clarity standard. Is it the position of the Radical Caucus that the LP should officially advocate abolition of all State authority/power to protect the rights of every individual including life, liberty and property? I.e. should anarcholibertarianism be the official position of the LP?

    Specifically, should the LP platform advocate

    * that individuals have a right to renounce their affiliation with any government, and to be exempt from the obligations imposed by those governments?

    * elimination of all restrictions on immigration?

    * that all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately?

    * repeal of all laws that restrict anyone, including children, from engaging in voluntary exchanges of goods, services or information regarding human sexuality?

    * privatizing national defense?

    * repeal of the Sixth Amendment right of the accused to “have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor”?

    Good questions. I’m not sure I have all the answers.

    General principle to apply:

    Hard cases make bad law.

    I’m in favor of moving in that direction, e.g., World’s Smallest Political Platform; (“supports reducing the size, scope or power of coercive monopoly government at all levels and on all issues, and opposes increasing the size, scope or power of coercive monopolygovernment at any level, for any purpose.”) and general adherence to the non-initiation of force principle:

    http://isil.org/resources/philosophy-of-liberty-index.html

    However, it is not as clear to me exactly how every detail would be implemented in an ideal world that we are very far from – nor is it clear to me that trying to hash out every possible detail of such a blueprint is in any way, shape or form the best use of our time (I’m inclined to think it isn’t).

    It seems clear to me that a force-based governance model is akin to a disease of some sort – metastasized brain cancer, infectious plague or late stage hard drug addiction, for example.

    In such cases, a cure is imperative, but not always possible. Removing the pathogen completely is necessary, or it will grow again – but removing it can be a very tricky operation, and can kill the patient just as certainly as the disease itself. For instance, chemotherapy can be deadly, as cold turkey withdrawal from some substance addictions can be as well (alcohol is one).

    I don’t want to be too bleak however – recovery is certainly possible, and I think even likely.

    But why spend so much time worrying about whether to disembark in San Ysidro or Tijuana when you are in Boston and headed for Canada?

  15. paulie cannoli Post author

    Brian it may well take some time to get to the point where we do not live in a society where force is a tool.

    It certainly may. On the other hand, it can also happen quickly, as historical changes often do.

  16. paulie cannoli Post author

    If a government has been duly/legally created, is it not a legitimate function of that government to defend itself from an outside decapitation attack? (meaning from beyond its borders)

    For me, the key word in that sentence is if, and the answer to whether it was is no.

  17. paulie cannoli Post author

    The argument was here, Jim:

    “And here lies the utter poverty of libertarianism, the poisonous notion that morality consists in an absolutisation of individual liberty and that, in turn, as a weakly intuited utilitarianism. ”

    The “name calling” as you characterize it – I’d called it a kind of summing up – just seemed to emerge inexorably from the underlying material in this instance.

    That’s probably a mirage.


    Some conclusions just scream their way through to recognition, eh?

    Absolutely. But not those.

  18. TheOriginalAndy

    “Precisely the problem with the Libertarian Party as it currently is. It needs to cut the umbilical cord to the Republicans and
    conservatives completely and irrevocably, to rediscover why liberal and libertarian sound so similar, and why Frederic Bastiat sat on the
    left in the French Parliament (from where we draw the categories of left and right). Then, and only then, can the Libertarian Party become
    effective.

    The idea that the Libertarians belong in the same general grouping with the Constitutionalists and Republicans is what belongs in the sewer of history. The space between the Libertarians, Democrats and
    Greens is the new frontier of politics where the future exists. See http://voteliberalist.org/ for an interesting UK experiment.”

    This is just as much a bunch of bunk as what Eric Dondero is saying. Libertarians have NOTHING to do with the right or the left. Libertarians are something totally different (or at least they are supposed to be).

    The BIGGEST potential constituency for Libertarians are independents and non-voters. The people who’ve said “Fuck the government and fuck the system.” The people who’ve given up on voting. The people who think that both major parties are corrupt. These are the people who the Libertarian Party needs to reach out to the most.

    I do agree that more outreach should be done to the left, but to act like the left is in the same ballpark as Libertarian is nonsense. Welfare statists, union thugs, politically correct Affirmative Action supporters, environmental communists, and gun grabbers don’t have a damn thing to do with libertarianism.

    By all means, try to convert the people on the left who believe in some freedoms (such as anti-war and anti-drug war) and try to get them to shake off their socialist nanny state beliefs, but to act like the left has something to do with libertarianism is just as delusional as Eric Dondero and his right wing fetish.

  19. paulie cannoli Post author

    This is just as much a bunch of bunk as what Eric Dondero is saying.

    I’m going to take a wild guess that you did not read the linked essay or think about it before replying. Of course, I have many more links if you are interested in learning more. But replying without understanding the ideological, philosophical or historical basis for my statements will not lead to productive conversation.

    The BIGGEST potential constituency for Libertarians are independents and non-voters. The people who’ve said “Fuck the government and fuck the system.” The people who’ve given up on voting. The people who think that both major parties are corrupt. These are the people who the Libertarian Party needs to reach out to the most.

    If you study the origins of the terms “left” and “right,” you would understand that those are leftists. The right represents the established order, top-down authority, those it serves and those who serve and support it. The left means the underdog, those left out of the system and screwed over by it.

    I do agree that more outreach should be done to the left, but to act like the left is in the same ballpark as Libertarian is nonsense. Welfare statists, union thugs, politically correct Affirmative Action supporters, environmental communists, and gun grabbers don’t have a damn thing to do with libertarianism.

    That would not be the left. That would be those who seek to pursue leftist goals through rightist tactics. However, to say that they have nothing in common with libertarianism is dooming yourself to failure. Most people have some things in common with libertarianism, and other things which are not. Very few are either completely on board or completely opposed.

    By all means, try to convert the people on the left who believe in some freedoms (such as anti-war and anti-drug war) and try to get them to shake off their socialist nanny state beliefs, but to act like the left has something to do with libertarianism is just as delusional as Eric Dondero and his right wing fetish.

    To have this discussion in earnest it would really help if you understood what I mean by left and right. The terms mean different things to different people, and their meaning has changed over the years. If you read the essay I linked – once again that is

    http://mises.org/story/2099

    That would cut out much unnecessary misdirection in pursuing any conversation here.

    It would be even better if you could follow up on the references provided and linked in that essay, but that would almost certainly be asking too much.

    Just read it and think about it for a few minutes before replying again.

    Also, you may be failing to realize or consider that many people who are motivated by opposition to militarism, the drug war, coercive religious conservatism, etc., may either have no economic position whatsoever – having never really considered economic issues in much detail yet – or, may accept coercive socialist or quasi-socialist beliefs only because they are sold as part of a faux-left “package deal.”

    Since the current (right-oriented) public face of libertarianism never challenges that package deal, it has no hope of breaking it. Yet it can, should and must be broken for libertarianism to get anywhere.

    Don’t forget to read

    http://mises.org/story/2099

    before attempting to reply.

    Once again that is

    http://mises.org/story/2099

    Operators are standing by!

  20. paulie cannoli Post author

    But why spend so much time worrying about whether to disembark in San Ysidro or Tijuana when you are in Boston and headed for Canada?

    Possibly better analogy:

    We are Jews in Poland in 1942, at the train station headed for Birkenau. Our conversation is mostly revolving around what we will do after we get off the plane at LaGuardia Airport, NYC, following the war.

  21. paulie cannoli Post author

    AJ: Welfare statists, union thugs, politically correct Affirmative Action supporters, environmental communists, and gun grabbers don’t have a damn thing to do with libertarianism.

    PF: That would not be the left. That would be those who seek to pursue leftist goals through rightist tactics.

    PF2: Correcting myself slightly – some of those, especially at the top of the food chain, are rightists, professing a false dedication to leftist goals in order to trick leftists into supporting rightist tactics. This has by and large been successful in recent decades.

    Although I am not ruling out the possibility of converting some of those through crisis of conscience – e.g., Saul of Tarsus – they are not our primary target market. Their misled followers – especially tenuous ones just starting on their path – are.

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