Peter Orvetti: Can the libertarian movement welcome “moderates”?

Former IPR writer Peter Orvetti posted this article at LibertyForAll.net. Although the article discusses the larger libertarian movement, which encompasses independents, members of a variety of large and small political parties and non-voters, the issues he discusses here are directly applicable to the Libertarian Party – and by more general implication, to all alternative parties and alternative political movements. Reposted by Paulie with permission of the author.

Is there room inside the libertarian movement for a moderate? Is there such a thing as a libertarian moderate?

Any small but passionate cause runs the risk of creating an echo chamber. The libertarian movement is experiencing remarkable growth online — a happy by-product of the simultaneous rise of Ron Paul and social networking — which means activists can communicate and organize across great distances with ease. But it also means the members of the small group can come to interact entirely with others in that same small group, creating the misimpression that all the world shares its views.

The American far left has long used the echo chamber effect as a salve against its own irrelevance, with members of scads of indistinguishably didactic communist parties fighting one another for domination of the red hearts and minds of a few hundred adherents. Though the libertarian movement is much broader, the echo chamber is there. Many libertarians would sooner be accused of doing lewd things with their own mothers than be called “statists” — yet most people do not even know what that word means, let alone know why it is supposedly so awful. The echo chamber produces cult-like reverence for names obscure to the masses, like Mises and Rothbard and Browne: all great men indeed, but of little interest to folks outside the movement looking for solutions to the nation’s ever-worsening woes.

A “moderate” libertarian could easily feel like a reactionary in such a closed circle. But in the harsh light of the non-libertarian political arena, that “moderate” will quickly be reminded how out of the mainstream even vaguely libertarian notions like drug legalization, the abolition of victimless crimes, and a non-aggressive foreign policy really are.

This breed of libertarian does not seek the abolition of government, but believes that local government is best, as it is closest to the people impacted, and carries the fewest layers of bureaucracy. He believes there is a difference between the notion that a goal is a good one, and the insistence that the government must assert responsibility for achieving that goal. He concedes that government can and has been a positive factor in the lives of many, but insists on examining whether a non-governmental solution could work better. He believes any government effort, no matter how well-intended, must be considered in light of the unwilling person forced to fund it.

But while this libertarian is a republican, she is no Republican. She believes in the absolute right of the individual to do with his life and his body whatever he pleases, so long as he does not expect to compel others to aid him should his choices turn out to be bad ones. If a man wants to spend his life shooting up heroin, he has every right to do so — so long as he does not expect the rest of us to pay for his rehab. If a woman wants to cut through the hypocrisy of sexual politics that permit 89-year-old billionaires to marry 26-year-old aspiring models, but that toss people in jail for more directly exchanging funds for fun, she has that right as well.

This libertarian is not an isolationist but is a peaceful internationalist, believing that the best way to stop wars is to break down the economic and social barriers between nations. He knows that the best way to end wars is to keep them from starting, by declining to meddle in the affairs of other sovereign nations. He knows the next generation of terrorists is being created by today’s wars, just as those who strike against America today were created by America in the proxy wars against the Soviet Union.

But this libertarian differs from her purist peers. She accepts that government, like the poor, we will always have with us. She has no practical objection to things like government roads and parks, and is concerned by what would happen to the desperate if the “safety net” should completely disappear. It is her goal to make libertarian ideals achievable within the realities of the present day, by working to keep government as uninvasive and as local as possible, and prefers to focus on the expansion of freedoms rather than the contraction of the state — while bearing in mind that the two go hand-in-hand.

Do you see room for this breed of libertarian in your movement?

Peter Orvetti was an early political blogger in the United States, running his Orvetti.com political news report from 1997 through 2002. He is a past editorial writer for the Cato Institute, served as Deputy Director of Communications for the Libertarian Party in the lead-up to the 2000 party convention, and has published commentaries in several major newspapers. Contact Mr. Orvetti at peterjorvetti@gmail.com.

120 thoughts on “Peter Orvetti: Can the libertarian movement welcome “moderates”?

  1. Kevin

    It is not a question of being welcomed, it is a matter of dominance.

    The “moderates” centering around the LRC, Libertarian Reform Caucus, have been steadily taking over the Libertarian Party.

    Most of Watergate is under LRC dominance, now the central committees of the affiliates is the next beachhead. In a few years these moderates will control the high ground which is the political party dedicated to libertarianism. Once they establish dominance their presence will define the libertarian “movement” no matter how those that oppose them complain.

    Such is the way of things.

    Mos tof Watergate is under LRC dominace, now the central commitees of the affialte is the next beachead.

  2. Chris

    I whole heartedly agree with the notion of an echo chamber. For some in the freedom movement, they parrot the message of Lew Rockwell, Peter Schiff, and Ron Paul with little understanding. This is not a reflection of those men, just some of their followers.

    Also, libertarians are sometimes lacking the patience and tolerance to truly convert Republican and Democratic followers to libertarianism. We need to learn that not everyone was born as brilliant as we are. 🙂

  3. Robert Capozzi

    Not only is there “room,” but non-“purists” probably make up a silent majority of the LP.

    I suspect Peter didn’t mean to suggest that all moderates hold all the views he ascribes to them. Just as “radicals” disagree over private nukes, baby selling, and even abortion, moderates disagree on specific (though generally more mainstream) issues, too.

  4. Erik Geib

    I still feel like most of this in-fighting wouldn’t be so severe if the party simply weren’t named after a philosophy.

  5. Robert Capozzi

    eg, bingo! For those who want to take NAP to the streets, anything short of advocating full-blown “non-aggression” often bristle and judge those who advocate lessarchy and accept some State functions for the foreseeable future.

    If I had a blank sheet of paper, the LP would be the “Liberty Party,” open to all lessarchists. But we don’t. So Plan B is the Rodney King Caucus.

  6. Kevin

    Those comments that followed my initial comment fail to understand the circumstance though I bet LRC leaders do.

    I wrote that for the moderates it was a matter of dominance. Not only must they take control of the elected and appointed inside party positions, they must denounce and chase out all the old anarchist Libertarians.

    The situation is dictated by the “Stealth Platform” effort led or championed by such individuals as Steve Givot.

    The Stealth Platform was an effort to rewrite the Platform in such a vague way that opponents could not quote it to counter Libertarian candidates for public office.

    It is not enough that the LRC leads they way, successfully so far, to changing the LP Platform. They must publicly renounce the old anarchist platform. Then they must drive the anarchists out of the LP. They must defeat them for election of party positions and begin refusing their appointment to party positions. Finally they must drive them out.

    The anarchists cannot stand the moderates while if the moderates are to survive at all as a viable political party they must crush the anarchists.

    No more Libertarian Debating Society, welcome to real politics.

  7. Thomas L. Knapp

    “For those who want to take NAP to the streets, anything short of advocating full-blown ‘non-aggression’ often bristle and judge those who advocate lessarchy and accept some State functions for the foreseeable future.”

    Bullshit. We “bristle and judge” those who insist that “some State functions” must be written into the platform as doctrine.

    A true “lessarchist” would want a platform that can accommodate all strains of lessarchy, not agitate for a platform floor to be put under a certain level of archy, excluding all levels below it from consideration.

  8. Thomas L. Knapp

    To put it a different way, the following language in the new platform:

    Government exists to protect the rights of every individual including life, liberty and property.

    … aside from being counterfactual and historically inaccurate, is the LP equivalent of the scene from the film American History X where Derek (the reformer) pulls down his shirt to show his swastika tattoo, and tells his Jewish guest (the anarchist) “you know what this means? It means NOT WELCOME.”

  9. Michael H. Wilson

    Some peole will get off the traim once marijuana is made legal and some will get off once the troops are home from abroad. But the train will keep going until we live in a non coersive society as it has for centuries.

    BTW I just saw a buck deer walk by my window about twenty feet away.

  10. Eric Dondero

    Christy Mihos is a Republican candidate for Governor of Massachusetts. He is the quintensencial “Moderate Libertarian.”

    Moderate Libertarians could be and should be a strategy for the New England states, and other hotbeds of statism, like Michigan, New York, and other similar states.

    We cannot win with “Western-style hardcore individualism,” in these States, even sadly New Hampshire.

    Let’s go LIBERTARIAN MODERATE!

  11. Justin Case

    I sure hope Libertarians don’t start welcoming moderates. There are already two parties full of people who have no idea what they stand for.

  12. Eric Sundwall

    Even if one were to identify the hundreds or dozens of these moderate types, what are they doing ? They’re either skulking around as advocates in an already full field of pluralistic interests (ie. CFL, MPP etc.) or they make a b-line for a faction within the GOP . . . thus any notion that they can realistically achieve something in a third party arena based on their strained political aesthetic is pure bunk.

    Lessarchy will not be seen as a noble objective however impractical the latter is perceived by this mythical moderate. So the quirky genius or charisma that Rothbard and Browne might be in historical reflection, won’t even sprout into anything meaninfful by the time the moderate takes a stage and proclaims ” A carbon tax is not theft !” Hardly the stuff of political legend or heady intellectualism the old school can still conjure however desperate the situation . . . of course I got hit the head with a foot yesterday so thinking may be spotty on this one.

  13. Gene Berkman

    The classic dilemma for an alternative party is that it must have a radical appeal to get people who are committed enough to do the work when it is unpopular.

    But it must somehow appeal to more moderate voters if it is to become politically successful.

    Of course here, the issue of making the Libertarian Party attractive to more moderate supporters has been replaced by arguments over existing factional disputes.

    Really, there are limited government libertarians who are radical in their opposition to statism and international interventionism. These are the moderates the party must attract.

    Others, who actually support Bush’s war or favor some form of new statist initiatives are not really prime material for the LP or any alternative party.

  14. Michael H. Wilson

    gene I am going to politely disagree with you. The LP’s problem is that it has been inconsistent with its message.

  15. Bryan

    As a “leftie” that joined the LP…I have to say that PO’s article left me feeling like the example he made, but at the same time a 180 degree opposite.

    I joined the LP, as I assume other former lefties have, because of the LP’s belief in personal liberty. I only appreciated the economic aspects after much personal deliberation.

    I am aware that people like Bob Barr came because of the economic liberty, and had to “acclimate” themselves to some of the more extreme personal liberties of the LP.

    Either way, I can bring personal liberty, Barr, and his supporters can bring economic liberty,
    and we can all get along. BUT…there are a number of people who are self-described anarchists (with or without prefixes or suffixes) who claim that neither moderates or “paleo-conservatives” are correct. NOBODY is a libertarian that doesn’t subscribe to their view.

    The funny thing is that many of these “anarcho” lpers want NO PART of local or state “party” business. What the F^@K do they expect? People like me (on the left) and those who come from the right are going to guide the Party.

    Outside of soil and water commission or some comparable non-partisan office, you don’t have a lot of “clout”. I know that as a candidate, I am NOT going to knowingly spend time or money seeking your vote…because you don’t vote.

    As a candidate I am not going to consider your opinions with the same weight…because you don’t vote…

    And if you do vote, my platform would have to be so over the edge, that yours may be the only votes I receive….meaning…whom ever is elected…will want you to take the tin-foil hat off your head before recognizing you as a constituent.

  16. Susan Hogarth

    Bryan,

    It’s easy to make generalizations, but it might be better to tread lightly when doing so.

    I also came from the left, put a lot of thought into economics and natural rights, and wound up as one of your “self-described anarchists”.

    The funny thing is that many of these “anarcho” lpers want NO PART of local or state “party” business.

    It has been my experience in my local and state party (NC) that the more radical (anarchist or near-anarchist) party members are the most active within the local LPs. Perhaps things are different in your state.

    Yes, some anarchists are not particularly active, as are some non-anarchists. It’s fairly meaningless to bother pointing this out, unless you’re trying to insinuate that anarchists are less likely to be active within the LP than non-anarchists, and I do not believe you have data to back that up.

  17. Mik Robertson

    @11 “To put it a different way, the following language in the new platform:

    Government exists to protect the rights of every individual including life, liberty and property.

    … aside from being counterfactual and historically inaccurate, is the LP equivalent of the scene from the film American History X…”

    What does the Declaration of Independence say?

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…”

    What did the original Statement of Principles/Platform of the LP adopted in 1972 say?

    “[T]he sole function of government is the protection of the rights of each individual” and “government has only one legitimate function, the protection of individual rights”.

    I think Mr. Knapp vastly misrepresents the situation. Prior to 2006, the LP platform was a very wordy monument to anarchism. Much of the text of the current platform was in the 2004 version of the platform.

    Why would anyone believe acknowledging one way to maximize liberty would necessarily invalidate other ways to maximize liberty, unless one believed that only the one way was correct and all others should be eliminated.

    If anarchy is the best way to maximize liberty, then it should be pursued by the LP. I have yet to see anyone make a good case that it is a reasonable approach to maximizing liberty in the United States.

  18. Catholic Trotskyist

    None of this really matters, because, with Obama and the Pope meeting today, Catholic trotskyism is on the march, and the entire political paradigm is switching.

    Please pray for the pope, please pray for Barack Obama, please pray for Ted Kennedy, and please pray for the impending church-state New World Order, amen.

  19. Thomas L. Knapp

    Mik,

    You write:

    “What does the Declaration of Independence say?”

    … and then you quote it. Which is a nice way of saying that Thomas Jefferson, et. al. made the same fatally erroneous assumption about the nature of government 234 years ago — an assumption which drove the revolution but which was disproven in spades before the ink was dry on the Constitution — that the delegates to the LP’s 2008 national convention made 233 years later.

    “To secure these rights” was a nice after-the-fact justification for the existence of the state, but no state has ever resembled the description.

    States before the US were never founded on that justification (Hobbes drummed it up for use by the state, but it was never more than a fairy tale), and while the US may have been founded on it, it abandoned it in the framing of both declaration and constitution (by evading confrontation with the issue of slavery), and immediately abandoned it in action with the suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion.

    The fact remains that anarchists in the LP have never demanded that the platform call for abolition of the state. We’ve only demanded that the platform not preclude abolition of the state.

    A plank stating as fact that the state exists “to do” something that it has never existed to do, does not exist to do, and in all likelihood will never exist to do is an attempt to use the platform to legitimize the state’s existence, or, rather — and intentionally so — to delegitimize anarchist participation in the LP.

  20. libertariangirl

    TK__… aside from being counterfactual and historically inaccurate, is the LP equivalent of the scene from the film American History X where Derek (the reformer) pulls down his shirt to show his swastika tattoo, and tells his Jewish guest (the anarchist) “you know what this means? It means NOT WELCOME.”

    ME__Hyberbole much TK?

    the statement you refer to IS NOTHING like a flippin Nazi skinhead racist telling a Jew he’s not welcome .
    thats a gross exaggeration and its offensive.

  21. libertariangirl

    you just pretty much called reformers nazi skinhead racists .
    TK , winning friends and influencing people.
    seriously im sitting here shocked that i actually read that.
    wow , just wow

  22. Erik Geib

    Let’s not get too PC now. I was (once again) more offended by Dondero’s description of himself as a libertarian than anything Mr. Knapp has said.

    Being told I’m a “moderate” libertarian, I see no problem with the platform language suggested by Thomas or Susan.

    In actuality, I’m an incrementalist who thinks anarchy is plausible in the end, but I think the ‘end’ is past my time on Earth and I don’t see the point in arguing either way. Who cares what the penultimate answer to liberty is when we’re currently so surrounded by statists? I just want to see more liberty in my lifetime, and in the lifetime of future generations. The final answer isn’t as important as ensuring we’re all trying to move in the proper direction.

  23. Independent Lurker

    Ok, CT, I’ve about had it now. Why do you keep inserting Catholic Trotskyism into every fucking topic? Can’t you just let them have their discussions about third parties and focus on your own blog, which I see hasn’t been updated since January?

  24. tErik Geib

    In the American system elections have tended to be more about individual candidates than they have party platforms. I doubt most Republicans or Democrats even know the finer points of their own party platforms – especially on the state level (where their is much variation). Last time I checked both major parties run candidates who don’t fully fit their platform. Platforms are more about appeasing constituencies within a party (for example, eco activists want a plank about global warming with Dems, or social cons the right to ‘protect life’ with Republicans). That being said, there’s certainly no need to piss off one of the more dedicated, longest-lasting constituencies the LP has had (particulalry given their influence in the party’s founding and early years of legwork). Neutral platform language will *NOT* cost us elections.

  25. Thomas L. Knapp

    LG,

    You write:

    “Hyberbole much TK?”

    Some. Not nearly as much as Wayne, but I’m working on it.

    “the statement you refer to IS NOTHING like a flippin Nazi skinhead racist telling a Jew he’s not welcome .”

    Make up your mind. If it wasn’t something like it, it wouldn’t be hyperbole that you’re accusing me of, would it? Hyperbole isn’t falsehood — it’s exaggeration of truth. And it got your damn attention, didn’t it?

  26. Erik Geib

    In my experience, people generally shy away from voting for the LP because they either A.) Have no idea what libertarianism is or B.) Think we have no shot at winning, and they prefer the ‘lesser evil’

    Rarely have I ever heard an actual critique of libertarianism, and when I do, it’s usually from someone so distant ideologically it doesn’t matter much anyway.

  27. Robert Capozzi

    tk: A true “lessarchist” would want a platform that can accommodate all strains of lessarchy, not agitate for a platform floor to be put under a certain level of archy, excluding all levels below it from consideration.

    me: I’d be more than OK with this. It would probably be short, perhaps something like the BTP platform that you wrote, as I recall. Perhaps that could be done as part of the St. Louis Accord effort…

    One thing to keep in mind: Despite some Ls claim to being “radical,” the LP is a VERY conservative organization in the sense that it’s resistant to change. When I participated in the 08 Platcom, it became clear just how resistant. The ByLaws make sweeping change VERY challenging. That’s why we took the Greatest Hits approach, recycling old, pre-approved language.

  28. Robert Capozzi

    es 16: Even if one were to identify the hundreds or dozens of these moderate types…

    me: sorry to hear about your injury. My premise is that there are millions of L leaners.

    I’d agree that Rothbard and Browne were charismatic for a tiny slice of the L movement. I’m impressed how Rothbard especially holds sway over some Ls to this day. His thought system is impressive in its internal consistency. But I don’t believe he was asking the right questions and his premises were porous and obscure.

  29. Thomas L. Knapp

    “I’d agree that Rothbard and Browne were charismatic for a tiny slice of the L movement.”

    In terms of charisma for the general population, Browne gained the electoral support of a larger percentage of that population than “mainstream” Bob Barr did.

  30. mdh

    Can government exist without violating the citizens it supposedly exists to protect? I would posit that it cannot. Government requires two things which violate the rights of the citizenry. These two things are, in fact, the defining characteristics of a government.

    1> Involuntary funding. A government can only exist by forcing, at the barrel of a gun, the citizenry to pay for its existence.

    2> Involuntary provision of goods and services. The primary role of government is to provide goods and services which it cannot allow anyone else to provide, under penalty of force.

    So ask yourself this: is it acceptable to provide goods and services by force, backed by violence?

    If you answered no, that it is not, then you are an anarchist. Your belief that that is not OK means you fundamentally oppose that which defines the existence of government. If services that the government provides are provided to individuals on a voluntary basis, and paid for by users, and anyone can opt out, then it isn’t a government at all. It’s a voluntary association.

    If you answered yes, then you are a statist. You believe that government should exist, and you want to force me and others to pay for things that we don’t want, provided by an organization we would never want to support. How am I to react to someone who wishes to see such force initiated against me and my friends?

  31. mdh

    A lot of narcissistic people would say “well, I don’t think that anyone else could provide roads as well as government!” That’s fine, for them. The fact is, however, that I disagree. I don’t want to be forced to pay for government roads, I’d rather use a competitor’s roads – preferably a competitor that isn’t also in the mass murder business in the middle east, for example.

    They can pay for roads from their desired competitor without having to force me to do so.

    Remember people, this isn’t about what you want – it’s about living in a greater society where other people may not want what you do, and whether or not you want to force them to receive goods and services, backed by violence, from your chosen provider.

  32. Michael H. Wilson

    Peter here’s something of a reply to your question what’s a libertarian? Some years ago I read some of what Baruch Spinoza had written. Some how through my own thinking and the writings of others, especially Spinoza, I came to the conclusion that because we exist we have the right to sustain that existence. That is my first principle. If we wish to have that right respected for ourselves then we have to respect it for others.

    I am in agreement with one of the comments Erik made above, but that peaceful, non coercive society is a long time off and we have a lot to do to get there.

    That’s my explanation and I’m stickin’ to it.

    BTW the writings of Spinoza were in both Locke’s and Jefferson libraries, or so I have read.

  33. paulie Post author

    It is not a question of being welcomed, it is a matter of dominance.

    The “moderates” centering around the LRC, Libertarian Reform Caucus, have been steadily taking over the Libertarian Party.

    Most of Watergate is under LRC dominance, now the central committees of the affiliates is the next beachhead. In a few years these moderates will control the high ground which is the political party dedicated to libertarianism. Once they establish dominance their presence will define the libertarian “movement” no matter how those that oppose them complain.

    Such is the way of things.

    Mos tof Watergate is under LRC dominace, now the central commitees of the affialte is the next beachead.

    Your fight for domination has now reached its apex, with Wes Benedict coming in as the new Executive Director at LPHQ. See http://knappster.blogspot.com/2009/07/tickled-pink.html

    Knapp also reports that LPHQ is already sending out more hardcore, non-conservative leaning mailers even before Wes comes in.

    The hardcore libertarians are finally starting to get organized. For the first time that we know of, there is a formal attempt to organize Anarchists as a caucus in the LP. Other people are now thinking along the lines I was in 2006-7 about organizing cheap housing and rideshares for the next convention.

    Some hardcore libertarians are now also emerging from years of hibernation to join state committees as well.

    The way of things is that anarchy will prevail. With our help!

  34. paulie Post author

    If I had a blank sheet of paper, the LP would be the “Liberty Party,” open to all lessarchists. But we don’t.

    You do. If you want to start a new party, there’s no one in the LP to stop you.

    So Plan B is the Rodney King Caucus.

    Start it on yahoo, facebook, wordpress, or whatever, and I’ll join.

  35. paulie Post author

    Those comments that followed my initial comment fail to understand the circumstance though I bet LRC leaders do.

    Capozzi is a Reform Caucus leader. Which Reform Caucus leaders do you mean?

    I wrote that for the moderates it was a matter of dominance. Not only must they take control of the elected and appointed inside party positions, they must denounce and chase out all the old anarchist Libertarians.

    The situation is dictated by the “Stealth Platform” effort led or championed by such individuals as Steve Givot.

    The Stealth Platform was an effort to rewrite the Platform in such a vague way that opponents could not quote it to counter Libertarian candidates for public office.

    It is not enough that the LRC leads they way, successfully so far, to changing the LP Platform. They must publicly renounce the old anarchist platform. Then they must drive the anarchists out of the LP. They must defeat them for election of party positions and begin refusing their appointment to party positions. Finally they must drive them out.

    The anarchists cannot stand the moderates while if the moderates are to survive at all as a viable political party they must crush the anarchists.

    No more Libertarian Debating Society, welcome to real politics.

    I don’t think that translated very well from the original German. Which anarchists can’t stand moderates? What is your evidence that if your proposed purge were to succeed you would be a “viable political party”? Is the Reform Party a viable political party?

    The closest I have ever seen the LP to being a viable party doing real politics was 10 years ago, when we were also more radical. Why is that?

  36. paulie Post author

    I’m a moderate, for lack of a better term, but many of my favorite people in the party are radicals/anarchists.

    I’m an anarchist, but many of my favorite people are moderates.

  37. paulie Post author

    There’s “a faction within the GOP” that openly backs legalization of drugs and prostitution and the end of all foreign non-defensive wars?

    Ron Paul supporters mostly.

  38. paulie Post author

    As a “leftie” that joined the LP…I have to say that PO’s article left me feeling like the example he made, but at the same time a 180 degree opposite.

    I joined the LP, as I assume other former lefties have, because of the LP’s belief in personal liberty. I only appreciated the economic aspects after much personal deliberation.

    Me too. But I’m an anarchist now.

  39. paulie Post author

    you just pretty much called reformers nazi skinhead racists .
    TK , winning friends and influencing people.
    seriously im sitting here shocked that i actually read that.
    wow , just wow

    I didn’t really take it that way at all.

    Kevin (above) really does propose a Final Solution to the Anarchist Problem, but I think Tom was merely saying that language which presumes that monopoly government has a positive purpose makes anarchists feel unwelcome.

  40. Morgan Brykein

    I consider myself moderately libertarian. I’m for personal liberty, but against drug legalization except for pot. I am a mix of libertarian and socialistic or center-left on economic issues.

  41. paulie Post author

    Being told I’m a “moderate” libertarian, I see no problem with the platform language suggested by Thomas or Susan.

    In actuality, I’m an incrementalist who thinks anarchy is plausible in the end, but I think the ‘end’ is past my time on Earth and I don’t see the point in arguing either way.

    I don’t think that is what people here mean by moderate. Tom Knapp, IIRC, has said that he does not believe he will live to see an anarchist society. I do think I am likely to live to see one, but I don’t believe it is anywhere near the most important thing to argue about right now. As you say: Who cares what the penultimate answer to liberty is when we’re currently so surrounded by statists? I just want to see more liberty in my lifetime, and in the lifetime of future generations. The final answer isn’t as important as ensuring we’re all trying to move in the proper direction.

  42. paulie Post author

    My premise is that there are millions of L leaners.

    Indeed there are. There are are also millions of small g greens (including me) and small c constitutionalists. However, most of each of these – much like most small l – either vote for whoever they think is the “lesser of two evils” or don’t vote at all.

    I’m impressed how Rothbard especially holds sway over some Ls to this day. His thought system is impressive in its internal consistency.

    Internal consistency? From what I have read, Rothbard’s alliances in politics ranged from Strom Thurmond, Richard Nixon and Pat Buchanan to the Peace and Freedom Party, Black Panthers and the New Left; his views on immigration rights and abortion rights changed; and so on.

  43. Gene Berkman

    Paulie’s comments on Rothbard are all too true, but not detailed enough.

    While advocating anarcho-capitalism for Americans, he spoke favorably of Red China until they adopted an anti-Soviet foreign policy. He favored the PLO and the Vietnam NLF, and then later wrote favorabley of Zhironovsky in Russia and Milosevic of Serbia.

    Rothbard’s evolution suggests the formation of a new faction – left Paleolibs – our slogan will be “Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh, Pat Buchanan’s gonna win!”

  44. Donald Raymond Lake

    Once again, Saint Louis County’s Thomas Knapp is showing wisdom beyond his years [19 last April ???? —— just kidding] and Justin is being a head Case.

    It is not ‘big tent verses small tent’ bickering that is so injurious to the [so called] Lib movement. It is the unethical, Reform Party like, Constitution Party like unethical ‘bait and switch’ that beats good hearted patriots over the head until they say TO EVERY ONE THEY KNOW ‘never again’ and ‘a pox on your house’!

    The hook [in the post WWII era of run away government]: ‘smaller government’ and then assaulted by the Anarchy Squads! [Folks that bicker among them selves turn around to tell newbies ‘the [fascist] one and only truth —- as I see it’!]

    Could it be that the real shame is that the voice of Liberty is drowned out by nearly mindless and grossly deceitful partisans? Micheal H. Wilson speaks of ‘inconsistent message’. From experience [ever hear of a small government Libertarian complain of lethal official veterans programs?] I have constantly seen ‘inconsistent ethics’………

    And childish immaturity!

    Some of you talk of ‘coercive interior echos’ I have personally seen ‘coercive loyalists’! If you do not want to be a popular party quit hanging out big idea banners! Let the Dems and GOP continue to be known corruption. We alternative types need not [and I know that the (so called) reform movement is sooooooo bad on this account] mimic them and do so at our own peril.

    I take no pleasure in saying these things.

  45. Mik Robertson

    @25 “States before the US were never founded on that justification (Hobbes drummed it up for use by the state, but it was never more than a fairy tale), and while the US may have been founded on it, it abandoned it in the framing of both declaration and constitution (by evading confrontation with the issue of slavery), and immediately abandoned it in action with the suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion.

    The fact remains that anarchists in the LP have never demanded that the platform call for abolition of the state. We’ve only demanded that the platform not preclude abolition of the state.”

    The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was founded on the principle that government exists “to enable the individuals who compose it to enjoy their natural rights and the other blessings which the Author of existence has bestowed upon man”. Its constitution was adopted September 28, 1776.

    On March 1, 1781, the Articles of Confederation went into effect, stating: “The said States hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense whatever.”

    States were in fact founded on the justification of securing the rights of the individual. What hasn’t happened is that a society has ever been able to function under a condition of anarchy.

    It is true that the United States quickly abandoned its original reason for being. The financiers of the revolution were not being repaid quickly enough, as states were focusing on their own debts. So Hamilton and his buddies started agitating for a new constitution, which he got in 1788, and things went downhill from there.

    I don’t see how acknowledging that governments can have authority delegated by the people means that governments would be precluded from not using that authority or that the authority couldn’t be rescinded. Simply saying government exists to secure human rights doesn’t eliminate the possibility that if rights can be secured otherwise, government doesn’t need to exist.

  46. Erik Geib

    Paulie @ 49,

    I’m told I’m a “moderate” libertarian because I tend to take political positions that are more ‘moderate’ compared to anarchy. If/when I run for office, I won’t be campaigning on a platform that calls for the dissolution of the state. Seeing as I don’t know the ‘end’ answer myself, I don’t see a point in calling for more anarchist positions as a matter of policy. Rather, I only swear to never increase one’s tax burden while always trying to turn as many government functions over to the free market as possible (as well as trying to make the market actually ‘free’). I’m in no hurry to call for an end to courts, local roads, etc. partially because it’s not the wises policy position and partly because I haven’t fully committed to the idea of a stateless society. I think a stateless society is fully plausible in the future, however, as I’m not one to ever rule much of anything out.

    That being said, given that the LP is a party within the ‘system,’ I think anarchy should only be a platform of education or personal conviction. It makes little sense (to me) to run on an anarchist platform with the expectation of winning [not that I’m here to stop one who tries – I simply tend to side with the ‘moderates’ (though I hated Barr)], but I’m more than okay with the LP platform being anarcho-friendly, as (currently) most of our campaigns are a matter of education anyway. Hell, I think an anarcho-unfriendly platform is counter-productive to moving people increasingly in the libertarian direction, as otherwise they’ll eventually hit a wall of statism.

    As I’ve stated before, I believe de-rigging the system should be our greatest concern, as it doesn’t matter what our platform is when DNC and RNC won’t let us play ball. Arguing past success in the current system between ‘moderates’ or others seems futile when the system is so corrupt the data is hard to analyze with any dose of scientific conviction.

    To the degree that we’re ‘moderate’ or radical, a party of education or one trying to game the system… this is all irrelevant if we don’t start smashing the two-party border fence.

  47. Bryan

    SH @21.. After re-reading my comment, I apologize to you and others for the somewhat rude and hostile wording. I admit that (although not correct) I see radical=anarchist and frankly “blow a fuse”.

    I don’t have data supporting my assessment, however, my opinion at the national level is based on our current platform, and last presidential candidate. My opinions of the state and local level are based on personal observation.

  48. Erik Geib

    Donald @ 52:

    From my experience with the LP thus far (and it’s certainly been interesting, particularly since I started volunteering in the national office), I’d say it’s hard to analyze LP in-fighting in such a manner. I’ve been jotting down thoughts in my phone for months now concerning inter-party criticisms, and have reached a few conclusions on why we fight:

    1.) Most come from one of the two traditional ‘sides’ of the aisle
    -Since virtually all of us are raised within the system, we grow up as children rarely questioning the state, and are taught in a manner of seeking ‘reforms’ rather than analyzing the evil of the state itself. As such, we develop particular ‘leanings’ towards one side or the other (‘left’ or ‘right’ to be over-generalizing), usually based upon a certain set of issues we hold strong opinions on. This can be a source of initial conflict with possible long-term holdover effects, as people (like it or not) are prone to retreating to their old prejudices when they encounter conflict.

    2.) Too many people at any given time are ‘new’ (in the grand scheme of things)
    -Very few people who join the LP know anything about the history of the movement (again, over-generalizing). I’m daily appalled at the lack of knowledge by party activists and staff concerning the many figures, ideas, debates, etc. pertinent to LP history, as well as general libertarian theory overall. As such, these ‘newcomers’ often don’t realize why/how what they say and do can be construed as offensive and/or counter-productive. This isn’t by any means malicious. Most ‘new’ people are eager and excited to be a part of something, and they think their ideas are original or ‘better’ not because they don’t appreciate others, but because they attribute a lack of past success to their theory [I believe that was a run-on]. Older party members are thus sometimes hesitant towards what I’d refer to as the ‘non-actualized.’ Sometimes this is a result of a genuine fear of ‘them’ taking over (which would erase much of their hard work), as…

    3.) [continuing] most ‘new’ people to the party are issue-driven and don’t embrace (yet) the full libertarian philosophy
    -It takes a while to ‘actualize’ into libertarianism. Most long-time party members have seen this time and time again, as ‘newcomers’ slowly begin to ‘catch on’ to the rest of the philosophy. Given that our party is based on a philosophy, and less reliant upon a tragic smattering of coalitions, inconsistencies as a libertarian are more obvious (and frustrating, particularly to long-time members). Sometimes newcomers don’t ‘catch on,’ in which case they usually wind up going back to the spectrum from which they came (though not always, as we’re not forever locked into our initial inclinations by any means). Since most newcomers are issue-driven, they’ll sometimes seek an answer to their issue and form coalitions without ever really becoming much of a libertarian, which is okay because we need alliances, but it’s not so good when these people try to run the party. A good example of this is any ‘rightist’ who becomes a libertarian to set up a better system to make money or a ‘leftist’ who is driven towards a social issue or opposition to war (but has trouble with gun rights or capitalism, for example). Most of these people (the non-actualized, issue-driven newcomers) eventually tend to fade away so I’ve never been too concerned with them. There’s really no need to worry, as they often ‘give up’ before they can ‘take over.’ Our party is fairly difficult to take over in my opinion, no matter how poorly run the office has been at times by one ideologue or another.

    4.) We (obviously) bicker over the ‘end result’ of libertarianism, which tends to include a debate over exactly what the libertarian philosophy ‘is.’
    -This is fairly obvious, as it entails most of our debates.
    Personally, I think the platform should stay neutral since we must move in a libertarian direction before we argue its conclusion. Like it or not, to win votes in the ‘system’ we have to be able to pick up moderates or issue-driven voters. At the same time, we have to have a backbone of libertarianism (i.e. be inviting to the anarchists), or else what is the point? Only correcting a few issues is likely more obtainable as a goal within the Democratic or Republican parties – the point of the LP is to work towards our *many* issues while remaining the backbone of libertarian advocacy and education in the process.

    Just my thoughts, feel free to refute them, but I get to work/debate/argue with a lot of different people within the party (including here at IPR), and this is just what I have personally observed. By no means does this make these conclusions absolute.

  49. Mik Robertson

    @38 “1> Involuntary funding. A government can only exist by forcing, at the barrel of a gun, the citizenry to pay for its existence.

    2> Involuntary provision of goods and services. The primary role of government is to provide goods and services which it cannot allow anyone else to provide, under penalty of force.”

    For #1, Why couldn’t a government be funded though voluntary contributions? Lotteries seem to raise a lot of revenue. Maybe they could also be funded by those who get monopoly privileges, like the ability to exclude others from certain areas of land, for example.

    For #2, I don’t know where anyone has established a government where the “primary role of government is to provide goods and services which it cannot allow anyone else to provide, under penalty of force.” That may be an effect of overgrown government, however.

    Markets are not always good providers of goods and services either, although they are quite often more efficient. One problem is that there is never perfect information available, either to producers or consumers.

    There are also problems with markets when it comes to things like public goods, natural resources, or natural monopolies. Factors of excludability and rivalry must be taken into account, and negative externalities like air or water pollution must be addressed.

    It may be that an external regulator or common provider would increase liberty. If that were the case, should the objective of the LP still be to pursue anarchy?

  50. Bryan

    The article under discussion really didn’t clearly define (at least in my opinion) what constituted a moderate. It seemed to suggest that it equated to a “reformer” LP’er, and most of the comments seem to have cemented this definition.

    Are there no moderates “in the middle”? I feel it is unwise to divide the LP into a radical camp and a reformer camp, and expect everyone to “choose a side”. This creates a climate that every two years, one “side” wins, and the other “side” loses. The “reformers” won in “08, and judging from earlier comments, the “radicals” are getting ready to “man-up” for ’10. These battles will not end well. Is the BTP the only…or only the first splinter???

    Also, what about me and those like me? I believe it was Paulie who “tagged” me a Constitutionalist, and I guess that makes me a “statist”. I agree with the reformers that progress is a process, but I feel some progress and success will breed success. At the same time, I agree with the “radical” side on many issues. I believe in LGBT equality, I have attended rallies calling for the end of the Iraq war and occupation, I want an end to the “war on drugs”, and I support a woman’s right to control her reproductive rights.

    I think a “moderate” would like a platform that would contain radical thought and ideas, without using radical language and/or calling for only the most extreme actions as the only acceptable way to deal with immediate problems. At the same time a “moderate” would want libertarian ideas and wording put back in the platform on social issues, bucking the trend of the conservative rightward movement.

    If the division and infighting continue, I can easily see both “hardcore radicals” and “hardcore reformers” splintering off. That fraction that remains…That will be the definition of moderate…

  51. Erik Geib

    As an addendum, most of our bickering comes down to our presidential nominee (other offices are generally not contested within the party, as we’re generally begging people to run for office). As such, I’d like to clarify something I said about ‘moderation’ and electability.

    I think we should definitely pick an ‘electable’ presidential candidate, but we certainly shouldn’t fall prey to choosing the ‘most electable.’ It’s never worked out for us (i.e. Barr, Paul, etc.), and it’s never worked out for others either (think Kerry in ’04 or McCain in ’08). Nevertheless, someone from the far reaches of party ideology doesn’t tend to work too well either, otherwise you’d see more McGoverns in this world (which didn’t work out too well either).

  52. Mik Robertson

    @58 “At the same time, I agree with the “radical” side on many issues. I believe in LGBT equality, I have attended rallies calling for the end of the Iraq war and occupation, I want an end to the “war on drugs”, and I support a woman’s right to control her reproductive rights.”

    Libertarianism, like socialism, is a process, it is not an end. The issues you cite are issues common to all in the LP, not just “radical”, “anarchist” or “reformer”. In all cases in the LP, the goal is to maximize liberty for individuals.

    Often the questions are whether it will be more effective to reach the goals by, for example, piecemeal reformation of drug laws or by claiming the government has no authority to regulate drugs (or shouldn’t exist at all).

    Feuding among various factions in the LP has been more the rule than the exception. In some cases people leave, in other cases they don’t, sometimes they come back, sometimes they don’t. Ob la di ob la da Life goes on…

  53. Robert Capozzi

    tk: Browne gained the electoral support of a larger percentage of that population than “mainstream” Bob Barr did.

    me: Seems we’ve discussed this before, Tom. Help us understand how we can draw any conclusions from 2 observations that generated TENTHS of percentage point differences, nowhere near statistically significant differences.

  54. Robert Capozzi

    pc: Internal consistency? From what I have read, Rothbard’s alliances in politics ranged from Strom Thurmond, Richard Nixon and Pat Buchanan to the Peace and Freedom Party, Black Panthers and the New Left; his views on immigration rights and abortion rights changed; and so on

    me: Good point. I was referring to Rothbard the theorist, not Rothbard the political strategist. His political theories seemed consistent to me, although wanting, as I believe he missed the forest for the trees.

    As a political operative and strategist, he had some really loopy ideas. His Leninism and grandiose perspectives seemed to lead him to some strange, incongruous places.

  55. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Help us understand how we can draw any conclusions from 2 observations that generated TENTHS of percentage point differences, nowhere near statistically significant differences.”

    Simple:

    By noting the lack of statistically significant performance differences between those observations, when one of the observations was of a candidate whose manager publicly proclaimed from the stage of the LP’s national convention that his campaign would raise $40 million and win the election.

    The evidence, so far as I can tell, is that all this gobbling about “pragmatism” and “credibility” and “electability” and “moderation” bears no relation whatsoever to reality.

    A complete survey of candidate performance might be in order. Anecdotally, “radical” candidates seem to perform better, perhaps to the point of statistical significance, than “moderate” candidates at the lower levels.

    I can even think of at least one “radical” candidate who WON an election running on a platform of abolition not only of the office he was running for, but of the jurisdiction to which that office pertained. And he proceeded to implement that platform. His name is Alan Weiss. He ran for a commission seat in a utility district in Texas, and his occupancy of that office ended with the dissolution of said district.

  56. Robert Capozzi

    tk, yes, it might be interesting to attempt to quantify the correlation between how “radical” a candidate is and how well he or she performs in vote percentages.

    If someone stated that Barr WOULD (vs. could) raise $40MM, that was a foolish statement.

    It would also be interesting to see how much free media coverage he got vs. other candidates…my back-o-the-envelope is it was more than all previous candidates combined. I’d suggest that such a metric is more important than vote totals at this stage.

  57. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    You write:

    “It would also be interesting to see how much free media coverage he got vs. other candidates…my back-o-the-envelope is it was more than all previous candidates combined.”

    I suspect you’re incorrect, but of course that depends on what sub-metrics you’re using. My own guess is that Browne’s numbers were at the very least very competitive with Barr’s in terms of total net new personal exposures to the LP.

    “I’d suggest that such a metric is more important than vote totals at this stage.”

    “Important” and “positive” aren’t the same thing. Remember, much of Barr’s media was expressly dedicated to conveying messages completely contrary to the LP’s actual positions (for example, DOMA as “libertarian,” “states rights” as “the essence of libertarianism,” and libertarianism as “true conservatism”).

    We could get shitloads of free media by hiring Raul Castro as the party’s spokesperson, too, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that that free media would serve the party’s purposes or promote its agenda.

  58. paulie Post author

    I’m told I’m a “moderate” libertarian because I tend to take political positions that are more ‘moderate’ compared to anarchy. If/when I run for office, I won’t be campaigning on a platform that calls for the dissolution of the state.

    To be fair, if I was to run for office I would not stress state abolitionism either, although I would attack the state at every opportunity – my main targets would be relatively reachable targets.

    Rather, I only swear to never increase one’s tax burden while always trying to turn as many government functions over to the free market as possible (as well as trying to make the market actually ‘free’).

    That would be my preferred course as well.

    I think the “moderates” in question are folks who would substitute one tax for another, or seek to increase a few parts of government (typically, immigration enforcement and/or military, but the issues depend on the individual moderates) albeit they have more that they seek to cut than what they seek to increase.

    By that standard, I think you would be a radical or extremist like me.

    I think a stateless society is fully plausible in the future, however, as I’m not one to ever rule much of anything out.

    And that puts you even further in the immoderate category. Our remaining differences are irrelevant to electoral politics right now.

    That being said, given that the LP is a party within the ’system,’ I think anarchy should only be a platform of education or personal conviction. It makes little sense (to me) to run on an anarchist platform

    Even anarchist libertarians don’t generally run on anarchy as a platform. I only know of one exception. Not that he did unusually poorly for an LP candidate or anything.

    I’m more than okay with the LP platform being anarcho-friendly

    You are in no meaningful sense a moderate.

    Hell, I think an anarcho-unfriendly platform is counter-productive to moving people increasingly in the libertarian direction, as otherwise they’ll eventually hit a wall of statism.

    Yeah. Not a moderate.

    As I’ve stated before, I believe de-rigging the system should be our greatest concern, as it doesn’t matter what our platform is when DNC and RNC won’t let us play ball.

    Exactly!

  59. Steven R Linnabary

    Any Libertarian presidential candidate who expects to actually win the election should be disqualified by reason of insanity.

    And yet, at every nominating convention the delegates are told this…AND they WANT to believe it!

    If someone stated that Barr WOULD (vs. could) raise $40MM, that was a foolish statement.

    Russ Verney DID say it…and the delegates WANTED to believe it!

    It would also be interesting to see how much free media coverage he got vs. other candidates…my back-o-the-envelope is it was more than all previous candidates combined

    IIRC, Harry Browne got significantly more “free media” than Barr did, albeit with smaller radio audiences. Browne was on an incredible number of radio shows, but back in those days there were a lot more “talk radio” shows to choose from.

    Browne also was on MSNBC several times, but that network was hardly “mainstream” back then (recall Soledad O’Brien co-anchoring the news with a cartoon character!). Barr was able to get on the Jon Stewart Show, but I’m not too sure of how mainstream most people think that is.

    PEACE

  60. paulie Post author

    Are there no moderates “in the middle”? I feel it is unwise to divide the LP into a radical camp and a reformer camp, and expect everyone to “choose a side”.

    I didn’t understand Peter’s use of moderate to mean moderate between LP factions, but more like those leaning libertarian but not fully libertarian on all issues.

    For your meaning, as I understand it here, yes – I would say most of the LP falls in the middle. For example, here’s an exchange from Kn@ppster comments:

    Starchild

    As I understood Tom’s point, he was simply saying — in an admittedly graphic manner — that Libertarians shouldn’t avoid talking about issues like Iraq or defense spending at events like the Tea Parties where we are working with conservatives.

    I agree with that. When I communicate with people on the left, which is most of the non-libertarian folks I work with in San Francisco, I often bring up issues like coercive taxation and the right to keep and bear arms. It’s important for people we work with in coalition to hear the half of the freedom spectrum toward which they are less sympathetic (whether it be civil liberties or economic freedom) argued for by people who take their side on issues that matter to them.

    If they only ever hear the neglected side of the freedom spectrum defended by folks with whom they disagree on almost everything, they are much less likely to ever learn the value of those freedoms. One of our key tasks is to show leftists the value of economic freedom and the harmfulness of central planning, and right-wingers the value of civil liberties and the harmfulness of nationalism/militarism.

    If libertarians don’t engage in this vital education, who will? If we engage with them long enough for our single-issue coalition partners to see that we are not just left-wingers/right-wingers trying to infiltrate their events, but are principled and consistent and committed to their views in the areas where we agree, most of them will learn to respect the areas where we disagree. Those who don’t will make themselves look unreasonable to their fellow travelers.

    If on the other hand we hide our disagreements in order to “get along” with allies, we start to look to Democrats just like the Republicans we sometimes work with, and vice-versa. In the long run it will make us less effective and less respected.

    I agree Steve Gordon is a hard-working activist who cares about liberty. After working with him to support Aaron Russo, it pained me to see him backing Bob Barr. I sincerely hope he does not intend to support Wayne Allyn Root. Steve, despite your personal work in reaching out to the left as well as to the right, our party’s ability to maintain that balance and appeal to the left is in serious jeopardy, as is the party’s commitment to libertarianism. Please don’t help sink us by backing a guy like Root.
    Starchild |

    Chris Bennett

    Starchild,

    I don’t think I could have said it better myself.
    […]

    Paulie

    Funny how Starchild just sad almost identically what I got called an ass kisser for saying, yet Chris agrees with him. What’s up with that?

    From talking to Steve, I don’t get the impression that he is backing Root.

    On the other hand, who else can we effectively back?

    While there are a number of announced as well as prospective candidates who are better than Root on the fine points of libertarianism, and better at selling the LP to non-conservatives, none of them seem willing to promote themselves to outside media or even LP state meetings nearly as much as Root. If they ever start to, it may be too late.

    The biggest faction in the LP is not necessarily radical or moderate, left or right leaning – it’s people who value outreach, competence and success. Sometimes, as with Barr, they may fall for promises of breakthrough that can not be delivered. Right now, these folks are seeing a lot of mass media from Root, as well as concerted internal party work (we get lots of his press releases at IPR, he goes to state conventions, may be running for LNC chair, etc).

    They are not seeing any such effort from our side (more radical and left-friendly). They may not reject us for being radical and left-friendly, but their votes will go to Root if he remains the one who does the most work. Yet we could win their votes if we had anyone who matched the shoe leather work Root is putting in.

    Jim Davidson

    “What’s up with that” you ask, Paulie? Some people don’t like you. Life’s like that.

    Who can we support? I support Angela Keaton and Tom Knapp. I don’t know if Angela’s campaign is for the long haul, but if she and Miche strip their way across Texas to raise money, I’m there, like a Dead Head.

    I think Tom’s campaign is for the long haul. He seems quite able to promote himself to outside media. I would encourage you to ask him to show up at more state LP events.

    me again

    I didn’t say you had to like me.

    I’m just pointing out that what Starchild said is basically exactly what I said.

    How Chris wants to respond to that, if at all, is up to him. If he wants to agree with one person and call another person an ass kisser for saying the same thing, it’s on him.

    I don’t support Keaton for anything, and I don’t think she intends to actually run. Last I heard, she was happy to be out of the party. And I’m happy for her.

    I would support Tom, but so far he hasn’t shown any interest in getting mass media and pressing the LP for internal support the way Root has. Last time he responded to me he said “I heard you the last 574 times” or something like that, but nothing has happened.

    So one of two things needs to happen: either Tom starts campaigning hard the way Root is, or someone else whose ideas are more like Tom’s should start doing so. Otherwise, we lose a lot of votes that are in play, and Root gets the nomination.

    Yes, there is a lot of time left, but Root is already running hard, so later can be too late.

    Read the rest: http://www.haloscan.com/comments/thomaslknapp/2703521585505131047/

  61. paulie Post author

    Also, what about me and those like me? I believe it was Paulie who “tagged” me a Constitutionalist, and I guess that makes me a “statist”.

    When and where did I say that? As far as I can remember my impression of you has always been as a hardcore libertarian.

    I agree with the reformers that progress is a process, but I feel some progress and success will breed success.

    So do I. That’s not a radical/reform dividing line.

    I think a “moderate” would like a platform that would contain radical thought and ideas, without using radical language and/or calling for only the most extreme actions as the only acceptable way to deal with immediate problems. At the same time a “moderate” would want libertarian ideas and wording put back in the platform on social issues, bucking the trend of the conservative rightward movement.

    OK, by that definition, I’m a moderate, I guess…

  62. paulie Post author

    I supported Mary Ruwart last year because she speaks pure libertarian ideas, but does so in a reasonable and unthreatening way. Plus, Milnes be damned, running a female presidential candidate would just be good strategery. I remember a fairly non-extreme friend who voted for Fulani in ‘92 because she wanted to vote for a black woman for president.

    So, presumably last year she would have voted for McKinney – unless she voted for Obama for being black, or Palin on the expectation that McCain would die upon assuming office if not before.

  63. paulie Post author

    bc: Good point. I was referring to Rothbard the theorist, not Rothbard the political strategist. His political theories seemed consistent to me, although wanting, as I believe he missed the forest for the trees.

    I don’t think Rothbard’s positions on immigration and abortion remained consistent. There may be other issues, but those two spring to mind.

  64. Gene Berkman

    Tom @ 64 – abolishing a utility district is quite a bit easier than abolishing the federal government. Many people who believe in government think that many of these local districts are useless, so abolishing a utility district is not evidence of popular support for radical libertarianism, let alone anarchism.

    As for Harry Browne vs Bob Barr – yes, Harry Browne was a better libertarian. But his campaign made the same promises about raising tens of millions of dollars and making a breakthrough for the Libertarian Party that Bob Barr did. Neither was realistic, but pointing that out at a libertarian convention just got you labeled a defeatist.

    Actually, Harry Browne said he had a good chance to win the 1996 election – I don’t think Bob Barr ever went that far.

  65. Thomas L. Knapp

    Gene,

    “Tom @ 64 – abolishing a utility district is quite a bit easier than abolishing the federal government. Many people who believe in government think that many of these local districts are useless, so abolishing a utility district is not evidence of popular support for radical libertarianism, let alone anarchism.”

    I didn’t say it was “support” for either. I simply cited it as anecdotal evidence that being “radicals” don’t necessarily have a worse electoral track record than “moderates.”

    “As for Harry Browne vs Bob Barr – yes, Harry Browne was a better libertarian. But his campaign made the same promises about raising tens of millions of dollars and making a breakthrough for the Libertarian Party that Bob Barr did.”

    If that’s the case, I’m sure you can cite an actual incident. Browne’s campaign was very slick — they prefaced all such moonshine with “imagine — what if?” precisely so that they could not be accused of making the kind of claim you’re saying they made.

    “Actually, Harry Browne said he had a good chance to win the 1996 election – I don’t think Bob Barr ever went that far.”

    I don’t recall Harry saying any such thing at the point of nomination. By the 1996 convention, I recall that he was talking up the benefits of hitting 10%.

    I don’t think Barr ever said any such thing either. He had Russ Verney say it for him, and it was not “imagine if we could …” or “we’ll really try …” or “it will be an uphill fight, but we hope we can …” it was “we will raise $40 million and win the election.”

  66. Gene Berkman

    Tom,

    At the Libertarian Party of California convention in 1996 Harry Browne referred to his chances of being elected by mentioning that the London odds makers had him @ 200-1.

    Obviously a slim chance indeed,but he followed up by talking about everything he would do after being elected. And he said he was “running to win.”

    Clearly only the very naive would believe he had a chance. But I ran into such people at local Libertarian meetings in Southern California on a number of occasions.

  67. libertariangirl

    P__I think Tom was merely saying that language which presumes that monopoly government has a positive purpose makes anarchists feel unwelcome.

    yeah , but unwelcome like ‘ your liking a little government offends my wanting none , and i dont feel valued” and unwelcome like ‘ I am a superior white person and I am better than you , im wearing a symbol of untold rage and you are the thing i hate’ are two different types of unwelcome , so vastly different to compare the two is inflammatory and rude.

  68. Thomas L. Knapp

    LG,

    “unwelcome like ‘ your liking a little government offends my wanting none , and i dont feel valued and unwelcome like ‘ I am a superior white person and I am better than you , im wearing a symbol of untold rage and you are the thing i hate’ are two different types of unwelcome .”

    Indeed they are, and if that was an accurate comparison then you’d have a point.

    It is not an accurate comparison.

    The problem is not that the reformers “liking a little government offends our wanting none.”

    The problem is that if the platform is going to address “some government or none,” it’s going to have to be one or the other. It can’t be both. By insisting that it be the former, the reformers most manifestly are telling the anarchists “not welcome.” If the film analogy offends your delicate sensibilities, too bad.

  69. Michael H. Wilson

    Been out playin’ Libertarian most of the day and come home to find the same ol’ discussion goin’ on. The bein’ the case let me ask a question.

    We have a law in this country that reads “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. ” What does that law mean? And how would it impact American society if it was broadly unheld?

  70. Mik Robertson

    @80 “What does that law mean? And how would it impact American society if it was broadly unheld?”

    It means not all rights are enumerated in the constitution, and there are other rights people can exercise. I think the law is broadly unheld, which is one of the problems we face.

  71. Andy

    “As for Harry Browne vs Bob Barr – yes, Harry Browne was a better libertarian. But his campaign made the same promises about raising tens of millions of dollars and making a breakthrough for the Libertarian Party that Bob Barr did.”

    The Harry Browne campaigns were both much better than the Barr campaign.

  72. Michael Seebeck

    Mik @81 beat me to the punch. I was about to say the same thing.

    The analysis of it means that people have virtually unlimited rights (except for not violating those same rights of other, of course).

    Of course, the 0ther piece of that equation is the 10th Amendment, which deals with limiting powers of government and reserving the rest of them to the People (not rights–governments have NO rights, only powers delegated by the People!)…

    If the Ninth and Tenth were properly enforced, we’d be in a much different and much more free nation…

  73. Robert Capozzi

    tk: I suspect you’re incorrect, but of course that depends on what sub-metrics you’re using. My own guess is that Browne’s numbers were at the very least very competitive with Barr’s in terms of total net new personal exposures to the LP.

    me: The metric I was referring to was “gross impressions,” that is, the number of people who see the message. Barr got a lot of major media that has broad viewership.

    Of course, we’ve been over this already. The LP took a shot with Barr. It had some positive effects and some not.

    I make the point again that most of the field got into the nominating process late, as many in the LP were hoping that Ron Paul would bolt. The organizational challenges were higher for Barr; his staff was top-heavy; he’d not worked out some contentious issues like DOMA; etc.

    Barr’s not Castro. We can go back to the Bergland/Marrou/Badnarik model, too, though I’d suggest that’s contra-indicated.

  74. paulie Post author

    If that’s the case, I’m sure you can cite an actual incident. Browne’s campaign was very slick — they prefaced all such moonshine with “imagine — what if?” precisely so that they could not be accused of making the kind of claim you’re saying they made.

    I seem to recall a point in between the two Browne campaigns where they said he would only run again if the LP got something like 200,000 or 250,000 dues paying members.

    I don’t think Barr ever said any such thing either. He had Russ Verney say it for him, and it was not “imagine if we could …” or “we’ll really try …” or “it will be an uphill fight, but we hope we can …” it was “we will raise $40 million and win the election.”

    Do you know offhand where that is transcribed and/or youtubed?

  75. Ed Mills

    This idea of a “moderate” libertarian movement sounds like the new modern Whig Party that is catching on in some circles. They seem to have the idea of tearing down the traditional third party method and starting over with a moderate form of libertarianism, with some exceptions, that may be easier for some to swallow. I do like how they were founded by recent vets and seem to know what’s going on. Am interested to follow their progress as a moderate alternative.

  76. George Phillies

    Capozzi writes: “The LP took a shot with Barr.”

    Yes, right.

    Dead center between the eyes.

    We have been taken for a ride.

    The Barr 2008 Campaign raised nearly one and a half million dollars.

    It spent barely 4% of its income on anything that resembles classical public outreach. That includes $12,618.88 to its book publisher.

    It spent under 1% of its income on actual press advertising, counting google.com.

    1% is a tenth of what it spent on rent of real estate and office furniture.

    1% is a tenth of what it spent (or still owes) on a web page.

    1% is considerably less than it spent on limousines and town cars.

    To add injury to injury, unlike all past Libertarian Presidential campaigns* the Barr campaign is refusing to share its list of donors with the Libertarian National Committee.

    In my opinion, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Barr campaign was nothing except a scheme for transferring money from Libertarian donors to Barr’s Republican cronies and a few libertarian hangers-on.

    That’s the campaign our party’s establishment gave us.

    For full numbers, see my article on TheDailyLiberty.com. You may forward these remarks or my full article to your Libertarian friends.

    *except with considerable likelihood the other Republican Congressman to run as our candidate, as there is a strongly substantiated belief that he never gave us his contact and donor lists.

    Mind you (see my comments page on Facebook) it is Party Founder David Nolan who wrote in response to the above

    “David F. Nolan at 1:26pm July 11
    I forwarded this to my FB friends list. And I am proud to say that I did not contribute one cent to the Barf Campaign!”

  77. Erik Geib

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but bý these terms, wouldn’t the legislators we elected to the Alaska House back in the day be considered ‘radicals’? They were certainly anarcho-friendly from my understanding (though, again, I could be wrong).

    I’d consider those libertarians among our best success stories.

  78. Robert Capozzi

    gp, hmm, the LP seems to be surviving, so perhaps you overstate.

    I am curious how much the Barr campaign had to spend on dealing with making his campaign a national one, including MA and NH, states where you were on the ballot.

    I guess I fail to see how it’s productive to Monday morning quarterback and speculate about other’s motives. I note that some on this comment thread speak highly of the Browne campaigns. As I recall, you had similar critiques about Browne campaign as you do about the Barr campaign, and spent a LOT of energy in promoting those critiques.

    Maybe it’s time to turn the page…

  79. Pingback: Steve Kubby: ‘The Curse of Moderates’ | Independent Political Report

  80. paulie Post author

    The metric I was referring to was “gross impressions,” that is, the number of people who see the message. Barr got a lot of major media that has broad viewership.

    I’ve yet to see any statistics that show that Barr was making more impressions than Browne. If you have those available, please post them.

  81. Robert Capozzi

    eg, no, my recollection is that Dick Randolph was a moderate and close to the Crane Machine. The second L AK state legislator was (I think) Ken Fannon and close to Randolph.

  82. Robert Capozzi

    pc, I don’t have stats, and I doubt anyone compiled them. I’m taking my best guess, candidly. Barr had a LOT of major media. Ed Clark was once on 60 Minutes and got a covered by Tom Wicker in the NYT. Those in between got coverage now and then.

  83. paulie Post author

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but bý these terms, wouldn’t the legislators we elected to the Alaska House back in the day be considered ‘radicals’? They were certainly anarcho-friendly from my understanding (though, again, I could be wrong).

    Honestly, I don’t know enough about their record in office or public statements to answer that.

  84. paulie Post author

    I am curious how much the Barr campaign had to spend on dealing with making his campaign a national one, including MA and NH, states where you were on the ballot.

    Phillies was not on the ballot in MA. Substitution was allowed by the state, and he fully cooperated with it.

    As for NH, it was known ahead of time that substitution was not allowed by state law, and that the lawsuit had little or no chance of injunctive relief.

    Massachusetts ballot access was financed by LPHQ as well as the state committee – the latter, if I understand correctly, being in large part Phillies’ own donations.

    I’m not sure about NH, but I think that was LPHQ, not Barr campaign. Also in NH, I understand it that Phillies and LPNH took care of their own separate ballot access.

  85. paulie Post author

    eg, no, my recollection is that Dick Randolph was a moderate and close to the Crane Machine. The second L AK state legislator was (I think) Ken Fannon and close to Randolph.

    How about Marrou?

  86. Michael H. Wilson

    re 81 & 83 I’ve always thought that the LP would be in a better position if it took the ninth and ran with it. Unfortunately while the second is a big one with us we ignore the ninth to our own detriment. Gonna have to do some bumperstickers on the ninth.

  87. Michael H. Wilson

    Ah paulie I are writing a letter to the ed of the local bird cage liner and hit a dull spot so I come back here for the humor and whadda I get? Sarcasm! No the ninth inning of last night’s Red Sox game.

  88. George Phillies

    @92

    Mr. Capozza, like many people in your faction, your position is lacking in truthiness.

    In Massachusetts, I was the name on the ballot, because we needed a name on the ballot, and the LNC agreed that I was a reasonable choice. We had written agreement form the Secretary of State that this was possible, and the Secretary of State did not in later litigation dispute the written agreement–they later asserted that governments are not subject to estoppal, and that is the current litigation.

    In New Hampshire the State Party chose who its volunteers should carry on its petitions, and that is what they did. Their action had essentially no effect on whether or not Barr would be on the ballot; he had to petition, which was done at LNC expense.

    With respect to Harry Browne, Browne was another candidate of the LNC, Inc establishment whose major effort was to transfer money from Libertarian donors to his cronies. There is a pattern here, and until we root out the party establishment — whether they happen to be anarchists or Republicans is not terribly significant — we will keep getting fake campaigns.

  89. Robert Capozzi

    pc, I seem to recall more drama around MA and NH, and WV, too, but perhaps things were as cooperative as you suggest.

    My larger point is that all the forensics seems to me a waste of time and energy.

  90. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    You write:

    “I seem to recall more drama around MA and NH, and WV”

    You recall correctly. What you’re missing is that that drama was 100% generated by the Barr campaign for the purpose of shifting blame for its failures.

  91. Robert Capozzi

    gp: Browne was another candidate of the LNC, Inc establishment whose major effort was to transfer money from Libertarian donors to his cronies.

    me: Could be. It seems like the LNC members have turned over quite a bit since 96 and 00, so I’m not sure who this “establishment” is and what their nefarious schemes are to fund personally either “anarchists” or “Republicans.” Who are they, and what’s their agenda? Personal gain? Seems like there are more remunerative scams available to charlatans, no?

    If there is a persistent institutional cancer that needs to be corrected, we’re all ears (or at least I am).

    It seems that IF you are correct, there’s either a failure of character or an inherent flaw in the ByLaws (or both). I generally give people the benefit of the doubt, but I also recognize that none of us are perfect, including me! So, what would you do to change the rules to avoid conflicts of interest?

    I’d also note that politics will always have some “cronyism.” Strikes me that we tend to put more trust in those closest to us, and political action often requires quick decisions in the heat of a campaign. Is your experience different?

    My only real faction is the Rodney King Caucus, btw. The Reform Caucus is largely dormant, as it has largely done what we set out to do: Reform the platform, taking out much of the extremism, and making it more palatable to more Ls and the general public. We failed in our efforts to revise or delete the pledge. Adults recognize that we don’t always get our way.

  92. Robert Capozzi

    pc, as for Marrou, I don’t recall him being especially “radical” by L standards while serving one term in the AK legislature or as Ron Paul’s running mate in 1988. I didn’t follow his 92 campaign much.

  93. Michael Seebeck

    “We failed in our efforts to revise or delete the pledge.”

    Thank goodness for that. You chowderheads in the Reform caucus don’t get that the Pledge is the only thing keeping the LP from becoming labeled terrorists these days, and it also comes up on counterintelligence polygraph tests, too.

    Not that you care about that anyway…

    And the answer to the Rodney King Caucus is still NO. Always has been, and always will be, too.

  94. Robert Capozzi

    ms, hmm, you think the Patriot Act-emboldened FBI and Homeland Security apparatus looks at the LP and says, “Oh, look, they have a pledge of non-aggression, they aren’t terrorists.” Really?

    And, yes, I get that you’re not interested in getting along. We Kingsters take what we can get! 😉

  95. Erik Geib

    The definition by which I was deeming the Alaskans ‘radical’ is in the sense that they didn’t oppose anarcho-friendly language. Apparently, you can be a ‘moderate’ while still allowing room for the anarchists, which by every indication they seemed to do, especially Marrou. I’ve never seen anything where he wasted energy damning the anarchists or trying to squeeze them out in order to be ‘mainstream.’ Instead, he ran a ‘mainstream’ campaign without alienating his constituencies.

  96. paulie Post author

    bc

    My larger point is that all the forensics seems to me a waste of time and energy.

    To some extent, absolutely, but to some extent those who don’t learn the lessons of history are bound to repeat them. It’s a balance.

  97. Robert Capozzi

    pc, yes, baking in accountability, checks and balances seems sensible for the Party and campaigns. OTOH, too many checks and balances leads to VERY tentative action. Why ever take a chance when the checks and balances are severe and slow moving?

    So far, no takers on the RKC. I thought Knapp was nibbling, but perhaps he can’t due to his campaign. Seebeck seems more inclined to join with Dondero than we Kingsters. I’d say LG might come out to play our game of love, peace and mutual respect.

  98. Robert Capozzi

    pc, my non-violent communication training suggests we don’t “oppose” Randall, but that we not support him in his desire to exclude and divide.

  99. Robert Capozzi

    po, let a thousand flowers bloom. While Dangerfield was hilarious, the sentiment that King evoked with his “can we all just get along?” press conference is exactly what’s needed at this point in time. We need to break the cycle of infighting and really begin to promote a more peaceful civil order, sooner rather than later.

  100. Bryan

    Paulie @72…

    Your actual phrase was something like…seem to be a constituionalist rather than a small l libertarian.

    Without posting all kinds of crap up here, it was 3/23 at post #99 (OK I admit it… I am seriously bored with writers block, so yeah…I looked it up…shoot me.)

    To be honest though, I kind of like the label…It lets me “keep it real” 😉

  101. Paulie

    Bryan, actually you are right, I did say that. It was not meant as an insult in any way. The reason why I did not think I had said that was that in #72 I thought I was responding to Erik Geib. My mistake.

  102. Paulie

    Fave Dangerfield from the one where he joins his son in college. Dangerfield asks his professor on a date. She says no, she has class. RD: “call me some time when you have no class”. Awesome!

  103. Skip Robinson

    It is an illusion to contend that limited government is possible without negatively affecting a portion of society. That portion is generally the middle and lower socio-economic levels of society who are affected most negatively by the redistribution of wealth. Even with impressive care and concern over the protection of inalienable rights within the U.S. Constitution, it has been slowly usurped year after year to a point where now we have so much government with so few rights that it will be impossible to ever pay for it and therefore the majority is now essentially bankrupt under fascist rule. What has been shown is that it is most likely impossible to limit police power when control is placed in the hands of political oligarchs whom will always collude for power. Even a small level of the redistribution of wealth granted by political means appears to have been utilized to further expand those powers. The Citizens have never been able to diminish or stop the further increases of the redistribution of wealth and in this author’s opinion, it is impossible without significantly harming a vast number of people and l will not condone or advance such actions or its philosophy.

  104. Michael H. Wilson

    @ 90 George I just finshed reading your article.

    Question # 1. What the hell do all these consultants do for their money?

    Question # 2. How the hell do I get in on the scam?

    Disclaimer # 1. I know one of those “consultants” and the person has never done an honest days work in his life.

  105. Michael Seebeck

    Me, who despises the GOP and all it stands for, join with Dondero?

    Carpozzi, you really are insane if you think that. That’s so pathetic it’d be funny if it weren’t so sadly indicative of your mental breakdown.

    I wouldn’t join Dondero for anything, even if my life depended on it.

    But what to expect from a “Reform” caucus member who doesn’t have any clue what’s going on?

  106. Melty

    Rodney Dangerfield’s Grandmother Caucus –
    “The only normal people are folks you don’t know very well.”

  107. Melty

    Capozzi! cannoli!
    Rox. Melty Rox.
    …been knockin on da Rodney King Caucus door since you guys put da sign up.

  108. robert capozzi

    ms, I said what should have been taken in jest that you’d be more inclined to join with Dondero than the increasingly popular R King Caucus. That means you’d do neither, since you seem to have contempt for both.

    Sorry that wasn’t clear.

  109. libertariangirl

    RC_I’d say LG might come out to play our game of love, peace and mutual respect.

    me_ I love all those things , and in fact id be honored to join the rodney king caucus:)

  110. Donald Raymond Lake

    Robert Capozzi: just more proof that loads of IPR ‘contributors’ are not serious ’bout taking on the Establishment after they screwed over our parents and grand parents and are setting up our grand children and their children! Where’s the out rage? Where’s the serious thought?

    Real Politics, not Kindergarten antics. Screw ‘sense of humor’ [save it for an appropriate setting] ………..

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