Libertarian Party Chair Candidate Hancock Quit LPUS in 2000, Questions LPUS Existence

Libertarian National Committee Chair candidate Ernest Hancock responded to 10 questions posted on IPR for him by saying they will be answered by videos on a DVD he will be mailing to LP national convention delegates.  This is the second in a series of reports that will use Hancock’s archives to anticipate what messaging he might send to LP delegates.

Question 2 asked: If you are not elected Chair, will you continue to question whether the LPUS is worth joining or even should exist?

In 2000, Hancock apparently resigned from the LPUS by signing the Western Libertarian Alliance’s declaration of independence from the party politics of centralization.  It concluded:

The LPUS has abandoned its reason for existence.

Therefore, we, as principled libertarians, must abandon the LPUS. We choose to withdraw from the voluntary association we once had with the LPUS. Our libertarian principles allow us to endure no further outrage as the shadow of the LPUS extends over its state affiliates and members. We are free.

As with all kings, we need not kill the LPUS, we need only stop propping it up.

Having no home in any political party that must conform itself to the statist model and work within the collectivist’s limits, we see no other choice but to work outside of that methodology. Rather, we shall form loose associations of strong principles in hopes of working within the culture to change the hearts of the people. Our freedom will be made complete by being free from the false hope of vote, election, and incremental gain through compromise. We will be free of the burden of centralization’s “voluntary” fee or donation and have the freedom to teach and persuade the people to liberty rather than rely on the force of politics to change them by the very force libertarians should despise.

In the end, LPUS has become the advocate of its own brand of neo-statism. No principled libertarian can associate with them without compromising the libertarian principle. As such, we can no longer associate with those who so easily compromise libertarian principles. We hereby sunder this association and render it null and void.

It’s not clear when, why — or whether — Hancock ever revoked his disassociation from the LPUS.  Below are more comments by Hancock on whether the LPUS should exist.  The first two are from 2003, and the third is from 2009.

126 thoughts on “Libertarian Party Chair Candidate Hancock Quit LPUS in 2000, Questions LPUS Existence

  1. Robert Milnes

    OK, I’ve checked this out. & pondered. I’ve come to a tentative conclusion. Evidently anarchists become alienated from electoral politics. I saw this with the left anarchists also. Rather than abandon politics, advocte dissolution of LPUS etc., they should be among the first to advocate PLAS/FET/FDS. Because what is needed is a social/political revolution of great magnitude which is not-as much as they’d like-going to happen overnight. An electoral solution is so much better than adapting to the reactionary situation OR violent takeover of the government. Which seems to be the only other alternatives. So, Ernie, and Brad et al, join the rest of us frail humans in a long term solution to a huge problem.

  2. Thomas L. Knapp

    “An electoral solution is so much better than adapting to the reactionary situation OR violent takeover of the government. Which seems to be the only other alternatives.”

    Only if you don’t look around you.

    Ever heard of Gandhi’s Satyagraha movement? How about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s civil disobedience movement?

    Both of those guys, by the way, explicitly credited an American anarchist as their inspiration.

  3. Robert Capozzi

    tk, both were political movements, not political parties.

    Both embraced nonviolence. Neither embraced anarchism.

    I applaud Hancock’s efforts, but it’s not obvious why he wants to run a political party, or why we should give him the job.

  4. Robert Milnes

    Tom your logic continues to A. a significant anarchistic movement B. causes the democrats & republicans to enact anarchistic legislation. A & B-highly unlikely/impossible.

  5. Robert Milnes

    Robert Capozzi, thank you for your supportive comment. But was it in support of my comment or just to zing Tom?
    Evidently Hancock’s strategy is to get elected Chair then dissolve the LNC & proclaim victory!

  6. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    You write:

    “tk, both were political movements, not political parties.”

    Only if you constrain the definition of “political party” to “electorally-oriented political party of the style prevalent in the United States at the present time.”

    And really, not even then (the Satyagraha Party was a major party in Pakistan for a time, holding around 1/3 of the seats in both houses of Parliament, later merging with the New Congress Party).

    “Both embraced nonviolence. Neither embraced anarchism.”

    That’s like saying “both owned blue horses. Neither were purple pigs.” It’s completely non-responsive to anything I claimed.

    If I had wanted to claim that they embraced anarchism, that’s precisely what I would have said.

    Instead, I noted, specifically and correctly, that both Gandhi and MLK explicitly credited an American anarchist as their inspiration, which is true (the anarchist in question was Henry David Thoreau).

  7. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    Nowhere are you going to find in “my logic” the proposition that there’s some way to force the major parties to “enact anarchistic legislation.”

  8. Robert Milnes

    Tom, yes, I constrain it to electorally oriented party…I am talking about translating a movement-an inclusive progressive movement-into votes for progressives, Greens & Libertarians.

  9. Robert Capozzi

    tk, yes, I meant an electorally oriented party.

    Gandhi and King may well have cited Thoreau as inspiring, but I’ve never seen evidence that Thoreau’s ANARCHISM was inspiring to them. His ethical approach to nonviolent social change, yes. As an asymptotic anarchist, I wish they had delved into HDT’s views of politics vs. his methods only.

  10. Alexander S. Peak

    (I was unable to watch the videos at my current location.)

    In principle, I don’t think there’s anything wrong in questioning whether we should have a Libertarian Party, or even in coming to the conclusion that we shouldn’t. There are plenty of agorists out there who believe having a political party is actually a detriment to the movement, for example.

    While I appreciate and support their desire to employ counter-economics, my own personal inclination is that the Libertarian Party is useful, even if the party never ends up achieving electoral success, because (A) the presence of an explicitely libertarian party forces the major parties to sway slightly in our direction, and (B) the party introduces people to the broader libertarian movement (agorism included).

    I hasten to add, however, that the party must have a radical edge to it in order to be effective at either of these things. In order to achieve sway the major parties in a libertarian direction, it must offer a radically different perspective from the two establishment parties. Failure to offer an alternative that is different enough from the major parties will lead voters to consider the party a wasted vote, and thus lead people to vote for whomever they consider to be the lesser of two evils instead (or to simply not vote at all).

    In any event, we recognise that people are free (1) to change their minds about the effectiveness of having a party and (2) to advocate other methods of achieving liberty. Harry Browne, for example, argued to the day he died, that people should be free not to vote if they do not want to. For much of Browne’s life, he had stayed out of politics, despite being a pretty hardcore libertarian. In the nineties, however, he chose to run for the presidency, and with his great oratory skill, became arguably the best presidential candidate we ever had.

    Personally, I’m inclined to take this perspective: As long as we have candidates who can really teach people about libertarian ideas and bring them into the movement (like Harry Browne), having an LP is a useful thing. If we have candidates that don’t succeed at doing this, or worse yet, nonlibertarians running as libertarians and thus confusing people about what it actually means to be a libertarian, then the LP is failing to fulfill its role in the movement.

    I’m also inclined to say this: The LP does have a role to play, and should exist. But it will not ultimately be the institution that brings about a libertarian society. If we ever do bring about a libertarian society, it will be the result of nonviolent civil disobedience.

    Best,
    Alex Peak

  11. Party Party

    “A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to attain and maintain political power within government, >>usually by participating in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions.<< Parties often espouse an expressed ideology or vision bolstered by a written platform with specific goals, forming a coalition among disparate interests."

  12. Party Party

    OOPS

    “A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to attain and maintain political power within government, >>usually by participating in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions.<< Parties often espouse an expressed ideology or vision bolstered by a written platform with specific goals, forming a coalition among disparate interests."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_party

  13. Alexander S. Peak

    Mr. Capozzi,

    One could argue that nonviolent civil disobedience is anarchic, because it involves disobeying others while not actively seeking to rule others.

    Likewise, one can also argue that voluntary trade is anarchic.

    Everybody engages in anarchic activity everyday. Engaging in and advocating the use of aggression to achieve goals is a rather small part of most people’s lives. So, we could say everyone already has some anarchistic tendencies, including Gandhi and King. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Alex Peak

  14. LP Observer

    I think one can abandon, or abandon temporarily, the LPUS as a liberty-promoting strategy, but still retain membership in the LPUS.

    Aaron Starr’s been pretty loose with the membership records in the past term … why not ask Mr. Starr if Hancock has been a member since 2000?

    Probably another credibility-undermining overreach by Holtz here.

  15. Thomas L. Knapp

    Party Party,

    Are you having a reading comprehension problem with any or all of the words “typically, “usually” and “often?”

    A political party is an organization which has as its purpose the exercise of political power. That’s its essential definition — all other characteristics are, if not optional, at least highly contextual.

    What I’ve been trying to get across to you and to others is that the context in which the LP exists is a context in which the ability of “third” parties to exercise political power by running candidates for election to public office is severely and systemically limited.

    We can exercise political power at the margins by electing the occasional local official, or by influencing the outcome of higher-level elections which we can’t win.

    To some degree, we can “give voice to the principles embodied in the Statement
    of Principles,” which is half of our purpose, by running candidates for election to public office.

    The other half of our purpose is to implement those principles … and the American political system has evolved (in some ways naturally and in other ways with intentional pushes) in a way that precludes us from achieving that purpose in that way.

    So, we should look at other ways. That doesn’t mean we should stop running candidates for office, but putting all of our eggs in a basket from which it is 100% certain that they will never, ever, ever hatch is a stump-stupid policy.

  16. Robert Capozzi

    asp: One could argue that nonviolent civil disobedience is anarchic, because it involves disobeying others while not actively seeking to rule others.

    me: You know, my feedback is that stretches the meaning of anarchy. If one wants to make a point that A law is unjust doesn’t imply that ALL laws (and a State to enforce them) are unjust.

    There are no laws in our heads, but that doesn’t make our heads into states of anarchy. 😉

  17. Brian Holtz

    Alex, saying that voluntary transactions are anarchic is like saying you’re on a hunger strike whenever you’re between meals. The only transactions that can count as anarchic are the ones where both parties explicitly and truthfully promise that they would never ask the State to enforce the terms of the transaction or police any aggression arising out of it.

    Indeed, can one truly be considered an anarchist if one hasn’t promised to never invoke the authority or protection of the State?

  18. Brian Holtz

    Tom, @20 you seem to buy into the false dichotomy between running to educate and running to win. In my three races for Congress I did not run just to educate, nor did I hope to win. Rather, I ran to show and grow America’s electoral demand for more personal and economic freedom.

  19. Alexander S. Peak

    Mr. Holtz,

    I think you misunderstand my point. My point is simply that most people, for whatever reason, happen to already live their lives in a fairly libertarian manner. Voluntary transactions are anarchic, for what it’s worth.

    If two people engage in a transaction, and both are principled anarchists, neither will need an agency of enforcement because each will fulfill her side of the deal.

    Practically speaking, even though most people are not principled anarchists, they nevertheless still strive to fulfill their sides of the deals, perhaps because they recognise it to be in their self-interest to keep their word, or because they entertain a sense of morality, or because of something else in their lives.

    But, practically speaking, because they are not both likely to be principled anarchists, from time to time you do have one party (or both parties) failing to fulfill its (or their) side of the deal. What ought an anarchist do if she finds herself in such an unfortunate situation?

    Ideally, she would be able to hire a private protection agency or a dispute resolution organisation of some sort to help her work things out. But what if she lives in a communist dictatorship? What if such alternatives are not permitted by the state?

    Indeed, what if the only food she is able to acquire is from the state, since private markets in food are illegal? Should she starve herself?

    Although Kropotkin was unfortunately not a free-market anarchist, I think we can use him as a good example in this case. Kropotkin, toward the end of his life, lived in Soviet Russia. Did he eat the food that was rationed to him? Yes. Did he advocate the existence of the Soviet state? No. Did he advocate statist distribution of food? I believe the answer is no. Did he ask for an increase in his rations? Even though Lenin was a fan of his, and Kropotkin could certainly have gotten an increase had he asked for it, he did not ask for it.

    I’m inclined to say that a principled anarchist, living in such an environment, should not be expected to starve herself, but should be expected never to advocate the existence of statist rationing. In short, I do ot find Kropotkin’s activity vis-a-vis Soviet food unethical or unprincipled.

    So what about a system of government that is not as controlling as the Soviet system, but which is controlling enough to impose what Gustave de Molinari described as the communist form of protection, viz., a system in which private protection agencies are banned or in which one agency of protection funds itself through violent expropriation (taxation) and maintains “legal” superiority over whatever other protection agencies might exist on the otherwise-free market? Can one be a principled anarchist and accept the aid of the monopoly agency? Yes, but only as long as said anarchist does not advocate the existence of the “legal” superiority or the violent expropriation.

    To put this in more direct terms, although I would prefer to have private protection agencies instead of the government-monopoly police system that currently exists, I recognise that the government-monopoly police system is effectively the only game in town, and that we are forced to fund it regardless of my distaste for such force. Since you’re already paying for it, and since the monopoly has pushed would-be competitors out of the market, I would not be upset at you for going to the cops. I would not consider your action a violation of natural law, and I would not say you owe restitution to anyone else for having gone to the cops.

    Let me know if this position seems sound to you.

    Best,
    Alex Peak

  20. Ross Levin

    So Brian, who do you want to be chair?…

    Anyway, my two cents on this. I completely see where Hancock is coming from, although I agree with Howard Zinn more than him:

    Even in the so-called left periodicals, we must admit there is an exorbitant amount of attention given to minutely examining the major candidates. An occasional bone is thrown to the minor candidates, though everyone knows our marvelous democratic political system won’t allow them in.

    No, I’m not taking some ultra-left position that elections are totally insignificant, and that we should refuse to vote to preserve our moral purity. Yes, there are candidates who are somewhat better than others, and at certain times of national crisis (the Thirties, for instance, or right now) where even a slight difference between the two parties may be a matter of life and death.

    I’m talking about a sense of proportion that gets lost in the election madness. Would I support one candidate against another? Yes, for two minutes—the amount of time it takes to pull the lever down in the voting booth.

    But before and after those two minutes, our time, our energy, should be spent in educating, agitating, organizing our fellow citizens in the workplace, in the neighborhood, in the schools. Our objective should be to build, painstakingly, patiently but energetically, a movement that, when it reaches a certain critical mass, would shake whoever is in the White House, in Congress, into changing national policy on matters of war and social justice.

    Let’s remember that even when there is a “better” candidate (yes, better Roosevelt than Hoover, better anyone than George Bush), that difference will not mean anything unless the power of the people asserts itself in ways that the occupant of the White House will find it dangerous to ignore.

    The unprecedented policies of the New Deal—Social Security, unemployment insurance, job creation, minimum wage, subsidized housing—were not simply the result of FDR’s progressivism. The Roosevelt Administration, coming into office, faced a nation in turmoil. The last year of the Hoover Administration had experienced the rebellion of the Bonus Army—thousands of veterans of the First World War descending on Washington to demand help from Congress as their families were going hungry. There were disturbances of the unemployed in Detroit, Chicago, Boston, New York, Seattle.

    Zinn viewed electoral politics in most instances as a way to effectively sap energy out of effective non-electoral movements.

    But if that’s how you feel, why would you run for chair of a political party? But I don’t know much about this – maybe Hancock has since changed his tune. Or maybe he wants to see the LP run less candidates and get involved in movement politics, like many Socialist Parties do. I don’t know.

  21. Jeremy Young

    I hate to say it, because these attacks on Hancock are intended to help Root (though if my theory of the race is correct, they’ll actually help a compromise candidate more than they’ll help Root), but this is solid investigative journalism on Holtz’s part. Hancock’s got to be crazy to go on saying things like this and expect people to vote for him for LP Chair. Holtz is landing solid hits on Hancock — so long as they’re truthful (and these are), I say keep them coming. Good work.

  22. Ross Levin

    Jeremy, I agree that it’s good that Holtz is doing this even if he doesn’t have the best of motives, I was just kind of mocking the fact that clearly Holtz favors another guy.

  23. Party Party

    TK @20
    “Party Party,

    Are you having a reading comprehension problem with any or all of the words “typically, “usually” and “often?”

    A political party is an organization which has as its purpose the exercise of political power. That’s its essential definition — all other characteristics are, if not optional, at least highly contextual.”

    You seem to assert that I made the point that parties are only for running candidates by posting the wikipedia article. The wiki article says that a political party does MORE than run candidates.

    So really I think that we agree. Running candidates to win is NOT all that a party exists for.

  24. Thomas L. Knapp

    Brian,

    You write:

    “Tom, @20 you seem to buy into the false dichotomy between running to educate and running to win.”

    I’ve re-read @20 twice trying unsuccessfully to figure out how you could have gotten that from what I wrote. Feel free to explain if you’d like.

  25. Danny S

    Thoreau appears to have been more of a minarchist than an anarchist, and even then had many exceptions to minarchy. His favorite poltiicians appears to have been Daniel Webster, who is an interesting mix of good and bad in my view.

  26. D. Frank Robinson

    Political parties are, assuming open and honest elections…oh. Never mind.

  27. Jeremy Young

    Actually, if I remember correctly, Holtz is ambivalent between Root and Hinkle. I don’t know how he feels about Myers, but he really dislikes Hancock and Phillies.

  28. Brian Holtz

    LP Observer, if Hancock could have signed the document quoted above “but still retain membership in the LPUS” while doing so, then I don’t see how that could “undermine” my “credibility”. His statement said: “No principled libertarian can associate with [the LPUS] without compromising the libertarian principle.”

    Ross, I posted my thoughts on the Chair’s race at http://libertarianintelligence.com/2010/02/my-two-cents-on-lp-chair-race.html. I oppose Hancock, but at this point I don’t have a clear favorite among the rest.

    Jeremy, I don’t dislike Phillies at all. I’m closer ideologically to him than to any of the other candidates. In the 2008 presidential race I’m sure I cast more first-choice votes for Phillies than did any other Libertarian in the entire Party. I voted for him in the first round in Denver, I voted for him in the LPCA convention’s straw poll, and in the LPCA California primary I mailed in two absentee ballots for him — mine and my wife’s. My concern about George is that he says “the enemy is not in this room”, and then proceeds to declare LP leaders to be enemies of freedom if they disagree with him on strategy — e.g. on federalism, on reaching out to Ron Paul, or on how to run LPHQ. He tempers this behavior somewhat in the months before a NatCon, but I’m not sure he’s got the problem under control. The ironic thing is that if he were Chair or POTUS nominee, this tendency would be less of a problem, because he wouldn’t be on the outside throwing bricks through the LP’s windows.

    Along with Root and Phillies, Hancock should be commended for making a large body of his thoughts available for us to examine. For each candidate, I want to explore how the lesser-known corners of their respective oeuvres might cause delegates some concern. Myers is (to me at least) an unknown quantity. Hinkle has long served in senior LP leadership positions without (as far as I know) seriously embarrassing the LP, so I can forgive his apparent lack of an media record to audit.

  29. Aaron Starr

    Assuming that Hancock signed the following statement back in 2000 (and I have no reason to believe this is not the case):

    In the end, LPUS has become the advocate of its own brand of neo-statism. No principled libertarian can associate with them without compromising the libertarian principle. As such, we can no longer associate with those who so easily compromise libertarian principles. We hereby sunder this association and render it null and void.

    And assuming he has rejoined the party, which one must do under the LP’s bylaws in order to serve as its chairman.

    Then, I suppose one would have to conclude one of only two possibilities:

    A) Hancock is no longer a “principled libertarian”; or

    B) The national party has changed since this point of time, so that it is now worthy to join again?

    I’m not prepared to conclude A), so I’m imagining it must be B) after greater than two-thirds of the delegates re-wrote the platform.

    🙂

  30. Brian Holtz

    Aaron, there is a third possibility you fail to consider — that both (A) and (B) are true. 😉

    Hancock talks often about wanting to “throw the Ring of Power into the Fires of Mordor”. In order to destroy the Ring, you need to first pick it up.

  31. Aaron Starr

    Brian,

    I stand corrected.

    Both conditions can be true. They are not mutually exclusive.

  32. Holtz's Biased Reporting

    “this is solid investigative journalism on Holtz’s part. … so long as they’re truthful (and these are), I say keep them coming.”

    “Truthful” doesn’t mean unbiased. Most mainstream media, “liberal” and “conservative,” is “truthful” yet biased.

    The bias arises from cherry-picking some facts over others, so as to spin the overall story in a certain direction.

    Holtz digs up harsh facts on Hancock, while lobbing softballs at Root.

    Holtz exemplifies biased reporting. Cherry-picking some facts over others, in order to steer reader opinion in a certain direction.

    It’s Holtz’s right to be biased, to focus his “investigative journalism” in only one direction. But he’d be more honest if he admitted his bias, and posted as a Root campaign lackey, rather than as an “investigative journalist.”

  33. Jeremy Young

    Brian, I stand corrected — I did read that earlier piece and forgot that you like Phillies. Silly assumptions on my part.

  34. Tom Blanton

    I think everyone should quit the LP at least several times – especially if they are actual libertarians or anarchists. All others should quit the LP just once.

    If Thoreau were to join the ranks of the undead and become a LP member, I’d be willing to wager that he would quit.

    Of course, I’m just speculating.

    Holtz is unknowingly helping Hancock by contrasting the difference between what an authentic man inspired by freedom looks like and what an ego driven man with a strategic agenda looks like.

    Hancock seems to have heart and soul and makes no promises. His opponents make lots of promises but appear to have no heart or soul.

    I’m betting the undead and the living dead factions of the LP will not support Hancock.

  35. D. Frank Robinson

    The LP seems to be cracking because of a lack of electoral success. We should all know by now the game is rigged in depth. One effect, the intended effect, is to dissipate your energy and cause you to lose your focus. It might not create unity, but at least some LP people should be able to see how they are being manipulated. System barriers on the outside, short-sighted oblivious opportunists on the inside is not a good situation. You’re letting the bastards wear you down. It’s the corrupt electoral system as well as the ‘policy’ stuff like the Fed, etc. Don’t forget the corrupt election system. Attack it!

    Never assume elections are honest. No matter how long its been done that way doesn’t make it just. Isn’t it obvious that Dems and Reps have no moral reluctance to steal votes from LP candidates to make their own deals? Why are you blaming each other when no one in the LP can control the vote thieves on election day?

    It’s not clear to me any of the candidates for chair have a clue about anything except being a petty celebrity. Lesson One: Party Politics 101.

    Never elect a would-be candidate for the presidential nomination to the Chair! DUH!!!

  36. Brian Holtz

    I have never claimed to be an unbiased reporter. I should always be assumed to have an agenda here of promoting 1) libertarianism, 2) the Libertarian Party, and 3) ideological ecumenicism within the LP. (From time to time I might even find an opportunity to promote green/geo-libertarianism, but I don’t recall having had any such opportunities yet.)

    My questions for both Root and Hancock were chosen to address specific concerns that I think many readers would share about their respective candidacies. I of course cherry-picked the material that I asked them about. As a fellow libertarian, I agree with the vast majority of what I’ve read and heard from Root and Hancock in the dozens of hours I’ve spent reviewing their media record. All my questions were aimed at highlighting or correcting their possible deviations from what I think a typical big-tent LP member supports.

  37. Me toooooo ???????! .......... Lake

    LP’s ongoing ‘cracking’ and big deficit is ethics! REAL similar to reform and CP (especially Chuck Baldwin types)!

    Do not doubt that the shadowy Israel First Jewish cabal is working out side of the anti septic light of day! We uncovered it in the reform movement (John Blare, John Dennis Coffey, John Bambey, and Valli Sharpe Giesler) and Zionists Root, Cohen and other pro war, anti peace Libs are getting quite evident as time goes by!

    There are various ‘First Rules of Politics’ and one that is aims at Libs time and time again is: ‘say what you mean and mean what you say!’

  38. Thomas L. Knapp

    Danny S,

    You write:

    “Thoreau appears to have been more of a minarchist than an anarchist”

    He was not an “anarchy next week or nothing” anarchist (“I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government”).

    But here’s the opening paragraph of the essay that defines him as a political writer:

    I heartily accept the motto, “That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe — “That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.

    There’s no way to get from that paragraph to “he was more a [insert any word you like] than an anarchist,” any more than there is to get from:

    A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of Communism. All the Powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.

    … to “Marx was more of a [insert any term here] than he was a communist.”

  39. Robert Capozzi

    asp: Since you’re already paying for it, and since the monopoly has pushed would-be competitors out of the market, I would not be upset at you for going to the cops. I would not consider your action a violation of natural law, and I would not say you owe restitution to anyone else for having gone to the cops.

    me: Your post seems fine to me, but unresponsive to the point at issue. You claimed:

    One could argue that nonviolent civil disobedience is anarchic, because it involves disobeying others while not actively seeking to rule others.

    Holtz and I have both suggested that objecting to ONE law is not “anarchic,” since it says nothing about ALL laws and State enforcement of those laws, which is what anarchy and a stateless society are all about. All Ls want the State to be much smaller, fewer laws, etc. Some Ls are anarchists, with some being abolitionists and others being asymptoticists.

    Pointing out that advocating against a SUBSET of laws is something that Ls of all schools of thought would support, and most would probably admire nonviolent civil disobedience as a means of advocacy. Most Ls choose NOT to engage in civil disobedience as a tactic, given the likely consequences. Sometimes we remain neutral on the form of civil disobedience, concerned with the public perception of the civil disobedient act. For ex., tax protesters who openly refuse to pay their taxes sometimes come across as zealots, and actually may be hurting the cause of liberty by making far-fetched claims about the 16th Amendment’s ratification.

    In my case, I’d certainly like to not pay taxes, I wish no one had to pay them, and to the extent there are taxes, I’d like them to be very low and for them to dissuade injurious behavior, like polluting the environment. I’d also NOT want all taxes to end tomorrow, since some State functions maintain a baseline of domestic tranquility and because such an immediate cessation would likely lead to a more dysfunctional state of affairs than we have presently.

  40. AroundtheblockAFT

    Knapp’s #20 deserves its own thread and thoughtful comments. One sometime wishes The Nolan had called for an activist libertarian organization that worked within other political parties to inspire and educate on individual liberty, rather than actually run its own candidates as outsiders. The pull of the soap box, which is rendered to political candidates, was too strong. But it has largely been ineffective due to the way third party candidates are generally ignored. I wonder what could have been achieved if the same energy for forty years had been poured into political activism inside the two large parties? Maybe Mike Holmes and Cliff Thies were right?

  41. Nate

    Well, that depends. If we’re talking about Groucho then I can certainly state that Marx was more a comedian than a communist.

    🙂

  42. Robert Capozzi

    around, of course they were “right.” Opinions always are!

    I’ve not, however, seen a lot of progress from the RLC or DFC. Given the choice between herding cats and letting a thousand flowers bloom, the latter seems indicated, so I’d suggest we wish them well and do our thing as best we can.

  43. Robert Capozzi

    tk, impossible to prove. It’s my judgment at this time. There MAY come a time when a stateless society could maintain a baseline of domestic tranquility, but I thought we’ve already agreed that today is NOT such a day, based on our mutual assessment of current state of affairs. Otherwise, we go into “silo abandonment” territory…immediate cessation of all State functions, which sounds awfully risky to me…too risky, I’d venture to say.

    More importantly, how can we prove ANY of our opinions and judgments? I’d like to abolish the NEA, and I believe that there will still be arts without it, and I and others sometimes enjoy the arts. I cannot PROVE that NEA abolition will not affect the availability of the arts in any meaningful way, but I’m as sure as I can be that the arts will continue so long as people want them and buy them or charities fund them.

    As a L, I’m open minded to a range of outcomes.

  44. JT

    Tom: “A political party is an organization which has as its purpose the exercise of political power. That’s its essential definition — all other characteristics are, if not optional, at least highly contextual.”

    Here’s what I wrote on a previous Hancock thread (I didn’t get answer, but maybe it just wasn’t seen):

    Look, Tom, what in your view *differentiates* a party from all other groups if not candidates seeking election? What then does it mean to “seek political power in order to implement its agenda” that makes a party fundamentally different from any other political group, including lobbying groups? Thousands of groups can claim to want more “political power” to get something through government; are they all political parties?

    Alexander: “While I appreciate and support their desire to employ counter-economics, my own personal inclination is that the Libertarian Party is useful, even if the party never ends up achieving electoral success, because (A) the presence of an explicitly libertarian party forces the major parties to sway slightly in our direction, and (B) the party introduces people to the broader libertarian movement (agorism included).”

    I’d agree that the LP can be valuable even if its federal candidates don’t achieve election if it at least pushes the major parties in our direction. But that will happen only IF the LP is big and strong enough to push them. Otherwise, the LP will just be ignored by them. Has the LP itself pushed the major parties to move in a libertarian direction over the past decade? I don’t see it.

  45. Robert Capozzi

    jt: I’d agree that the LP can be valuable even if its federal candidates don’t achieve election if it at least pushes the major parties in our direction. But that will happen only IF the LP is big and strong enough to push them. Otherwise, the LP will just be ignored by them. Has the LP itself pushed the major parties to move in a libertarian direction over the past decade? I don’t see it.

    me: Yes, concur. The only way I can imagine that the LP could get “big and strong enough” is to rally the broadest coalition of liberty-lovers and -leaners possible. To date, all but the most ardent anarchoLs and minarchos have been involved in the LP. There’s a VERY large lessarchist contingent that is not — in essence — welcome in the LP, since we have to date been advocating long-term endstates that may or may not be attractive or plausible to this subset of the population.

  46. Glue

    Doesn’t it seem like the more “anarcho” one is, the more freedom groups one should find common ground with?

    The “more pure” radicals in the LP should be in the ultimate position of being able to explain a pot warrior’s philosophic merits to a goldbug or a marriage equality activist’s position to a home schooler.

  47. Robert Capozzi

    glue, dunno. “Being able to explain” strikes me as not a function of one’s philosophical stance, but rather one’s ability to communicate.

  48. Glue

    RC,

    I think that it is the more general “common ground” that I was trying to illustrate.

  49. Robert Capozzi

    glue, OK, there may well be more overlapping “common ground” for liberty among abolitionist anarchists to some very small subgroups that get captured by some of the extreme positions that the abolitionists take. OTOH, for vast portions of the population, I’d say very few can relate to personal secession, no restrictions on arms of any kind, bracing children’s rights views, etc. And even if some may buy some of THOSE views in an abstract theoretical sense, immediate abolition will likely exclude virtually everyone save the most predisposed to extreme views.

    Think diminishing returns.

  50. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    You write:

    “tk, impossible to prove. It’s my judgment at this time.”

    Yes, I know — which is why I call you out every time you state it as fact.

    “There MAY come a time when a stateless society could maintain a baseline of domestic tranquility, but I thought we’ve already agreed that today is NOT such a day, based on our mutual assessment of current state of affairs.”

    I don’t know where you got the idea that we agree on that. What I agree with you on is there’s no magic switch with which the proposition can be tested, not on what the results of what such a test might be.

  51. Thomas L. Knapp

    JT,

    You write:

    “Thousands of groups can claim to want more ‘political power’ to get something through government; are they all political parties?”

    Yes.

  52. Robert Capozzi

    tk: What I agree with you on is there’s no magic switch with which the proposition can be tested, not on what the results of what such a test might be.

    me: Which would be your OPINION, yes?

  53. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    That there’s no magic switch to test the proposition with is a fact, at least as I understand the term (per Gould, a claim “confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent”).

    I certainly have an opinion on what the results might be if there was such a switch and if we threw it. I doubt that opinion has much in common with yours.

  54. JT

    JT: “Thousands of groups can claim to want more ‘political power’ to get something through government; are they all political parties?”

    Tom: “Yes.”

    Okay, so unions, corporate lobbying groups, etc. are actually political parties themselves. I think you’re a smart guy and a good writer, Tom, but that’s an embarrassing statement. At know you’re trying to be consistent, but come on.

  55. Thomas L. Knapp

    JT,

    “Okay, so unions, corporate lobbying groups, etc. are actually political parties themselves.”

    In the broadest sense, yes. And we’ve got to start thinking broadly before we can narrow it back down.

    Here’s why:

    What we’ve been doing hasn’t worked, nor is there any convincing evidence that it’s about to magically start working.

    There are a lot of reasons why it hasn’t worked, but one of them, in my opinion, is that we continue to play by rules which were written by our opponents for the express purpose of making victory impossible.

    We don’t just need a game-changer, we need a different game with rules we write ourselves.

    What is a political party?

    It’s an organization purposed toward the exercise of political power. That’s its essential definition. Its specifics have varied across geography and over history.

    Ever heard of the CNT, or the St. Petersburg Soviet? There’s your “union as political party.”

    How about the East India Company? Corporate lobby not just as political party, but de facto government.

    The idea of a political party as solely an organization which functions through elections to public office is geographically, historically and theoretically specific.

    It’s not a “wrong” idea, any more than the idea that a seedless navel orange is an orange.

    What’s wrong is the idea that a seedless navel orange is the only kind of orange — or the best one if you’re wanting to plant it and sprout a tree, or that the kind of political party you’re insisting is the only political party, or the best one if what we’re wanting to do is change the political landscape.

    I am not proposing the adoption of a specific model yet — I’m just proposing that we stop writing off 99.9% of the available options in order to stick to the 0.1% that we’ve been trying and failing with.

  56. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    I haven’t “rejected” PLAS. I’ve simply noted that the format you propose for it is unworkable, and that it won’t magically make 1+1=34.

  57. Glue

    RC @57

    Your illustration of extremist anarchists and extremists in sub groups helps clarify what I see. It is the dogmatic extremism that gets in the way of finding coalitions.

    It kills me that anarcho-anythings presume to tell people where “they” are wrong above where they are right. It is not the anarchist leanings, it is not the passion, it is not even the extremism that is the problem. It is that people forget the modicum of respect that each of us owe each other that makes incompatibility.

    The principles of freedom that a pot activist seeks are based on the same principles that a home schooler seeks. When I interact with either, I find where we agree and use it to illustrate why respect is important to the other guy.

    It seems to work well for providing the glue that a coalition needs to grow and thrive.

  58. Thomas L. Knapp

    Damn, hit “submit” too soon.

    It’s unworkable at one end because you’re asking the leadership of two parties to reject their fiduciary duties and quite possibly violate their parties’ bylaws.

    It’s unworkable at the other end because if they do what you ask, it will damage the ability of their state affiliates to maintain ballot access.

    Even if you can work through or around those problems (perhaps by getting the parties to amend their bylaws, and by getting state affiliates with hard ballot access to cooperate instead of compete), you’ve yet to offer any evidence that this will magically cause 1% + 1% to add up to 34% instead of 2%.

  59. Robert Milnes

    Tom, it looks like you have considered possibilities about ballot access & party bylaws etc. I think the various problems & complications can be worked out more or less. Maybe in some cases a state party might have to take a hit with ballot access. That would be acceptable if it makes the overall effort workable.
    So that leaves the 1=1=34 part. Basically you are arguing my maximum available vote bloc for the LP 13% & GP 27%. I got the 13 % mostly from The Cato Institute The Libertarian Vote. Also some from other sources like Ron Paul’s 2008 effort. Evidently he got the Libertarian Vote more or less even though he is NOT a libertarian, which I take it you concur with- that about Paul.
    The Green maximum bloc is my estimate. but i base it on several sources most notably the leftist coalition of Allende in Chile 1970.36%.

  60. Robert Milnes

    So, we have a leftist coalition possibility of 36%. A Progressive Party possibilitry of 27%. & Ron Paul got low double digits a couple of time in 2008 I think. 10-25%. Rep/Lib. Come on, Tom. Each is a LOT more than 1%. & we are talking about ADDING e.g. the leftist coalition 36% + the REP/LIB 10-25% .
    If we get the socialists to agree to a caucus in the Green Party. If the socialist vote in 1912 went to progressive TR instead as in 2008 to the democrats, that would have put PRogressive @33%. Take a few percent from dem & add to progressive e.g. have a dem vp on progressive ticket, progressive is close/over dem.

  61. Robert Milnes

    This is why I said if TR had picked a progressive democrat vp (FUSION TICKET) in 1912, he may very well have won.
    This is why I believe the eventual lead third party ticket in 2012 should be Independent. It can mix & match not rely on the GP & LP which may very well nominate a flawed ticket again.
    Nader had all he needed EXCEPT a fusion ticket (libertarian vp) and no downticket slate. A coordinated GP/LP effort would have ALL ballots filled 50/50. He had previous runs like Allende, name recognition, Independent ticket & sufficient ballot access to win.

  62. Robert Milnes

    Yes, because of his several previous runs, Nader may well be objectively the best Independent to run in 2012. But he has to listen to a PLAS strategist & find a libertarian vp(YOU?). Gravel also a possible. But their age is a factor.

  63. Thomas L. Knapp

    “So that leaves the 1=1=34 part. Basically you are arguing my maximum available vote bloc for the LP 13% & GP 27%.”

    Um, no. The HISTORICAL performance of those two parties is less than 1% each.

    Saying that there’s a larger vote bloc “available” in no way explains why those vote blocs will suddenly start voting for a combined ticket when they wouldn’t vote for their own separate tickets, especially since combining the ticket is likely going to introduce deal-breaker policy proposals for both blocs.

    I’ve been asking you to explain what kind of magic pixie dust you have that will act as a hyper-vote-multiplier. You have yet to offer an answer that goes beyond “I have fantasized it, so therefore it must be.”

    My guess is that PLAS will pick up steam — if at all — not through some weird ballot access coordination agreement, but through one of the following:

    – The Libertarian Party becomes more “green” and nominates a presidential candidate who is a green-leaning Libertarian AND who sells the LP on a VP nominee who’s a libertarian-leaning Green (example: Gravel/McKinney); or

    – The Green Party becomes more libertarian and nominates a presidential candidate who is a libertarian-leaning Green AND who sells the GP on a VP nominee who’s a green-leaning libertarian (example: McKinney/Jingozian); AND

    – The party that does the above also features a similar tack down-ticket.

    Instead of proposing that two opposing parties cooperate in ways which they’re structurally unfit to cooperate in, why not instead propose that the parties compete to represent the two blocs instead of one bloc each?

  64. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Nader may well be objectively the best Independent to run in 2012. But he has to listen to a PLAS strategist & find a libertarian vp (YOU?)”

    No, not me. I’m not available, and if I was available I wouldn’t consent to run with a lying corporate whore like Nader.

  65. Robert Capozzi

    tk, please note that my original sentence read:

    I’d also NOT want all taxes to end tomorrow, since some State functions maintain a baseline of domestic tranquility and because such an immediate cessation would likely lead to a more dysfunctional state of affairs than we have presently.

    The prefatory clause — which you clipped — should make it clear that I WAS stating an opinion. Most of us are stating opinions here most of the time IMO, but I’ll strive to throw in more IMOs to help reader comprehension.

  66. Robert Capozzi

    glue 66, yes, concur. Respect works every time. I wouldn’t charge only anarchists with a lack of civility, however. After all, I consider myself a theoretical asymptotic anarchist/applied lessarchist, and while I’m not always respectful in my communications, I am doing my best.

    I admit to not having much patience for “plumbline” Ls, not because of their positions and opinions, but more because I simply don’t see who anointed them keepers of the flame. Any questions about the “flame” are often met with dismissive hand-waving that I could do without.

  67. Glue

    RC@80
    Unlike much of the posting on IPR I did not mean to personalize my observations. On another vein I would also note that I do not try to typify anarcho-anythings.

    I feel that the generalized point is important to a larger understanding of how “what a party is” and how to build one works. I believe that parties are coalition organizations. In the LP it should be the “hard core” that are the glue for that coalition.

    In the precepts that define stateless social interaction I think that you find respect for the rights of others number 2 right after “I own myself”. With that in mind it seems to me that more anarcho-anythings should be a lot more in tune to what respect means in a larger or more general sense.

  68. Alexander S. Peak

    Mr. Capozzi,

    I think you’re interpreting my comment as meaning that anyone who engages in nonviolent civil disobedience is an anarchist. I readily recognise that only opposing a single law does not make one an anarchist. But I would still argue that engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience is anarchic, even if the same person does non-anarchic things like support the many other laws that exist.

    JT,

    We really cannot say just how much the LP has swayed the major parties away from authoritarianism, or swayed public opinion. To truly know, we would have to look at two different universes, one with an LP and the other without one, and compare.

    Sincerely,
    Alex Peak

  69. Tom Blanton

    There are a lot of reasons why it hasn’t worked, but one of them, in my opinion, is that we continue to play by rules which were written by our opponents for the express purpose of making victory impossible.

    Very well stated. There are many more external reasons why third parties have no impact – by design. Tweaking platforms, abandoning principles, and all the contortions people (especially pragmatists who never accomplish anything) twist themselves into will never change anything.

    Those naive opportunists that devise dishonest and manipulative strategies they think will rally the rubes are on a fools errand.

  70. Tom Blanton

    I should add that those who profess to know what the unwashed masses want to hear have demonstrated zero ability to inspire and motivate people is any sort of sustainable way.

    This perhaps is an area in which Hancock seems to excel.

  71. Michael H. Wilson

    Tom we need something like that to be placed in every new members hands. And it made me think about a short piece I just wrote that started out with the right idea. I just hope I finished it that way.

  72. Robert Milnes

    Tom, well thought out. How about if you try it? My problem with it would be it would require a lot of pursuading with both parties. You already have cred with one. I evidently have little with either.
    My way around that would be to assemble the fusion ticket & go from there drawing the 2 parties in one’s draft. But as you know I have failed to find a f vp libertarian for fusion ticket.

  73. Robert Capozzi

    asp, it depends on which def. you’re using.

    1 a : of, relating to, or advocating anarchy b : likely to bring about anarchy
    2 : lacking order, regularity, or definiteness

    If the former, then your point doesn’t make sense. If the latter, it does.

  74. Robert Capozzi

    Tb 86, thanks for the Bumper link. I used to hold his view, but no longer do.

    It strikes me that the challenge of making politics a question of “morality” is that morality is an opinion. I suspect if we did a poll on whether there should be SOME income redistribution to ensure that people don’t starve, most would say Yes. Or if the US should intervene to stop a Holocaust, most would say Yes.

    I prefer a more practical approach. I’m more interested in reducing the size of the State and government coercion than I am in scoring debating points, so my interest is in helping the LP and LM to be a force for reducing the State, not making a grand philosophical statement.

    His statement: “On moral grounds, we have always called for their [government programs] complete and immediate repeal,” I’d ask, How’s that working out for him? I’ve seen no evidence that is working, and cannot imagine that it will work (though I’m open to being pleasantly surprised!). The lessarchist tack may not work, either, but IMO it stands a better chance of doing so.

    It really is all good, though….

  75. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    You write:

    “Tom @75, how is Nader a lying corporate whore?”

    Well, “lying” should be pretty self-explanatory. He lies. As, for example, when he trafficked for decades on the self-created myth that he lived an ascetic lifestyle in a “simple room,” when he was actually living in a luxury townhouse.

    As far as corporate whoredom goes, he’s a multi-millionaire who, when he runs for president, declines to reveal the contents of his portfolio.

    It’s not unreasonable to conclude that this refusal is evidence that he made his money through stock manipulations of the sort that some of his “public interest” organizations have been caught red-handed in (for example, selling a tire company’s stock short, or buying a competitor’s, as they’re preparing to release a report accusing that company of making unsafe products).

  76. Robert Capozzi

    tb 86…more….I’d ask Bumper why he finds his 75 yr old embezzler illustration germane. It seems highly atomistic and therefore not germane. The State is not in the business of taking from one person and giving to another. It takes from many and gives to many, with the mix constantly shifting and largely not discrete and discernable. Most “take” by going to public schools and receiving SS. Most give by paying a range of taxes at a range of rates and provisions. It’s a mess, yes, but untangling the mess is not about one “parasite” and one “producer.” If it were ONLY that simple! Most are tax payers and tax consumers; good luck with figuring out even who is a net payer or consumer!

  77. Robert Capozzi

    glue: In the LP it should be the “hard core” that are the glue for that coalition.

    me: Please expand. Who is “hard core” and who is not? It could be that those with the most social skills, the most collegial, should be the glue.

    Rothbard wrote a (bizarre, IMO) strategy memo in which he laid out his “Leninist cadre” theory for the LM. Have you read it? (It’s available on the web, but make sure to find the unexpurgated version that explicitly cites his Leninist approach.) Is this point more or less what you’re suggesting?

  78. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    What, precisely, is “practical” about your approach?

    Can you offer examples of said approach actually achieving your stated ends (“reducing the size of the State and government coercion”)?

    If so, what are those examples?

    If not, what’s so “practical” about the approach?

  79. Tom Blanton

    What, precisely, is “practical” about your approach?

    I want to know the answer to that question also. I thought pragmatism was all about using practical means to achieve results. Where are the results? A steady decline in LP membership and LP revenue indicate that the tactics being used by the LP for some time now has not been working. It would seem that going down the road of Rootism is contra indicated, in the parlance of political pseudoscience.

  80. George Phillies

    Reinforcing @96.

    In the last ten years, the National Party has lost 60% of membership and three-quarters of its real-dollar income.

    If LNC, Inc were a for profit company, auditors would be seeing it was mortally ill — this actually happened to the LNC once — and there would be a stockholders revolt.

  81. Thomas L. Knapp

    “In the last ten years, the National Party has lost 60% of membership”

    Is it reasonable to assume that by this you mean “dues-paying membership,” as opposed to actual membership (anyone who has ever signed the certification is technically a member of the party)?

  82. George Phillies

    @98

    Correct. I was referring to dues-paying members. I was not referring to people who have signed the pledge and not revoked it, because it is certain that revocations are not being tracked accurately, and the pledge records were destroyed in the mid-90s.

  83. Robert Capozzi

    tk, thanks for asking. My view is that we live in unprecedented times. The nuclear era has changed the calculus of consent, probably permanently. Modern transportation, communications and of course weapons renders pre-1945 history largely irrelevant. Further, we happen to live in a wildly affluent representative republic, also unprecedented, IMO.

    Gone are the days of the American, French or Bolshevik revolutions. My meta-perspective is that changing a prevailing political ideology and political climate is not going to be accomplished by a movement or a cabal. Instead, there will be waves of trends that ascend and decline, driven largely by a wide range of factions and interests. There may sometimes be some coordination, but we live in a time of cats, not sheep. Lockstep herding is no longer possible as it once was.

    While the State controls more of our lives, we ingenious Americans are skilled at “the workaround.” Until very recent years, in the process we are generally more affluent and have WAY more choices than ever before.

    Ls and the LP COULD take advantage of several meta-trends. The Carter years unleashed the notion that deregulation is generally a good thing for consumers. Reagan popularized the until-then-Troglodyte idea that “government is the problem,” and those years saw the glacial growth of government slow as a percentage of GDP. Clinton took advantage of the peace dividend. And Perot showed that a fiscal-conservative, centrist, yet non-major party candidate can gain widespread support.

    So, yes, it seems practical to me to speak about issues in a language and a scope that resonates with a broad cross-section of the population, not just a vanguard. I simply respectfully disagree with Mr. Blanton that this is what the LP has been doing. And, as I’ve pointed out to him on a number of occasions, membership trends in the LP are statistical dust. We’re tiny now and we always have been.

  84. Born Again Non-Voter

    Despite all this fancy talk of “meta-trends,” government keeps growing.

    Furthermore, the people keep screaming for more guarantees (for their health care, housing, education, and security), and demanding more handouts, and bailouts.

    Yes, they also complain of paying more taxes to fund their neighbors’ guarantees, handouts, and bailouts. But wanting a bigger slice of the government pie, while putting a smaller share into the kitty, does not a libertarian meta-trend make.

  85. Tom Blanton

    I could say a lot about the world according to Capozzi, but life is too short. I found this observation to be particularly weird:

    Further, we happen to live in a wildly affluent representative republic, also unprecedented, IMO.

    Wildly affluent? Maybe for some. The reality is that wealth disparity is and has been increasing. For the first time in my life, conservative middle-class people are taking to the streets over what is essentially economic issues – their standard of living is decreasing and they are pissed off.

    Television presents an image of affluence, pundits (who are affluent) speak of the good life, Good Morning America advises us on buying luxury items, second homes, foreign travel and investments, and of course, politicians tell us how great we have it and how things are getting better all the time. These are illusions created by people who have careers in perception management. If things were so wonderful, Joe Six-Pack wouldn’t be motivated to march around carrying signs.

    The representative republic is failing to represent. Whether it is corporate bailouts, tax relief, war, health care or education, it is obvious that politicians are not serving the interests of the general public.

    Lockstep herding is no longer possible as it once was.

    I’m not so sure this is correct. While it may be true that there is no unified population to herd, there is just more than one group to herd. For example, Republicans and Democrats. The core partisans of these groups are well herded and for the most part they march in lockstep. Their masters are fairly adept at making these groups abruptly change direction.

  86. Thomas L. Knapp

    “If things were so wonderful, Joe Six-Pack wouldn’t be motivated to march around carrying signs.”

    At least some scholarship says the opposite.

    One of Crane Brinton’s conclusions in The Anatomy of Revolution (an analysis of the American, French and Russian revolutions) was that popular political uprisings begin not at the bottom of an economic slide, but somewhere above that bottom (on the way down, or on the way back up).

    Street protests are a leisure activity. The people who engage in them aren’t up against the wall; rather they are affluent enough to be able to spend time marching up and down the square instead of working an extra shift at the factory or dumpster diving for dinner.

  87. Robert Capozzi

    born, I was not suggesting that the trend is toward L-ism. I was instead suggesting that the conditions are forming up for L-ism to become greatly influential on both the zeitgeist and public policy.

    Some certainly do want a bigger slice. But I’m suggesting we may be approaching a tipping point in which the unsustainability of the current trajectory become clear to a critical mass of the population and opinion leaders.

  88. Robert Capozzi

    tb, by any empirical standard that I’m aware of, the US is still today wildly affluent by historical standards. I have almost no concern with wealth disparity per se, but I would say that the bottom quintile still live far better than most bottom quintiles in history.

    Still, I agree that the past few years are exposing concerns about the country’s ability to continue to enjoy a rising tide.

  89. Robert Capozzi

    tk, what does Brinton say about Robert Morris?

    “Successful” uprisings require follow-through, and resources.

    As I made clear earlier, however, IMO the revolutionary model likely doesn’t apply in the here and now well at all. The American Revolution was pretty darned capitalism-friendly and, near as I can tell, revolutionary movements have been trending anti-capitalist since then, by and large. It’s not a trend I’d care to continue. We’re moving toward 1984 territory as it is, I’d not want to hasten that trend!

  90. Tom Blanton

    “If things were so wonderful, Joe Six-Pack wouldn’t be motivated to march around carrying signs.”

    At least some scholarship says the opposite.

    One of Crane Brinton’s conclusions in The Anatomy of Revolution (an analysis of the American, French and Russian revolutions) was that popular political uprisings begin not at the bottom of an economic slide, but somewhere above that bottom (on the way down, or on the way back up).

    That scholarship doesn’t say the opposite. It confirms what I wrote just before dragging Joe Six-Pack into it:

    For the first time in my life, conservative middle-class people are taking to the streets over what are essentially economic issues – their standard of living is decreasing and they are pissed off.

    Their standard if living IS decreasing (on the way down). I don’t expect much of a revolution from these folks, but the truth is that a lot of them are worried about being up against the wall. Some of them might be able to find some leisure time to protest because they are not working and collecting unemployment benefits, working part-time, or self-employed with not enough work to do.

    In other words, a lot of tea party protesters aren’t bad off enough to be hitting the dumpsters and the factory isn’t running extra shifts. Jobs are scarce, wages are frozen, and the prices of food, gas, beer and cigarettes is going up.

    Usually, when conservatives are carrying signs, it is a very passionate and emotional time for them. They have to be pretty wound up to go out on the street.

    I was at an anti-war protest collecting signatures on ballot access petitions for Badnarik and there was a small group of men across the street with pro-war signs yelling and screaming. Why did the old long-haired freak dude cross the street? To get their signatures. It turned out a couple of them were Constitution Party people who got pissed when I informed them that Peroutka was against the war, too. They all signed my petitions though. Anyway, several of them were yelling at these college kids to get jobs. When I pointed out that it was Saturday and the kids were students, they looked a little sheepish. But, when I asked them why they weren’t working, they got it and we all had a little laugh. Apparently, they thought if someone was protesting, they must be unemployed.

  91. Michael H. Wilson

    The standard of living may get a bit worse in the next couple of years. There are some who think we are on the edge of an inflationary problem thanks to all the dough the FED created recently. Secondly if this volcano that just popped leaves an ash trail that causes problem in Europe we may see some impact on food prices in the near term, like this summer.

    It might be wise for those of us in the Libertarian circle to be ready should such an event happen.

  92. Tom Blanton

    tb, by any empirical standard that I’m aware of, the US is still today wildly affluent by historical standards. I have almost no concern with wealth disparity per se, but I would say that the bottom quintile still live far better than most bottom quintiles in history.

    Well, all of this goes without saying. But, it takes several hundred dollars a month to live in poverty here in America. Code enforcement people will not allow blighted dwellings and will condemn property if all utilities aren’t on. The days of living in a shanty with a vegetable patch in the yard are gone – it is prohibited.

    Contrary to what you might think, a lot of unemployed people do not collect welfare benefits. People have various reasons for not wanting to deal with the government. This leaves hustling, day labor, working odd jobs under the table and so forth.

    The transition from living under a bridge, in an abandoned building, or in a car to getting a room, apartment, or tenement happens all the time. But for some, it is hard to maintain a normal lifestyle. Several hundred years ago, it would be much easier to maintain a normal lifestyle by the prevailing standards.

    The problem with having a huge disparity of wealth is that it can lead to real social unrest and it is also an indication that there is an absence of a free market. Because it is so difficult for the government to suppress a free market, ordinary behavior is criminalized. We see that now. When people aren’t allowed to work or can’t afford costs imposed by the government to work, there is no entrepreneurial upward mobility.

  93. Marc Montoni

    I was referring to dues-paying members. I was not referring to people who have signed the pledge and not revoked it, because it is certain that revocations are not being tracked accurately…

    Perhaps Phillies has a source for this info. As far as I know, whenever a person requests to be dropped fronm the LP’s list, they’re marked on the database as “dropped”. I would assume a “dropped” tag would cause the system to no longer count that particular member.

    … and the pledge records were destroyed in the mid-90s

    While I acknowledge that they may have been destroyed by now, as staffers who had no idea of what the archive represented would have come across them during a periodic purge of outdated material; my understanding is that they were not destroyed — they were just moved to the storage unit in the Watergate basement.

    When I worked @ LPHQ 89-93, the practice was to save signature forms, sorted by membership ID number, in those large archival file storage boxes. This was done at the end of each day’s processing of memberships. It was actually a pretty good system. With any member’s ID number, you could go in the file and pull their signed form out.

    This was used as “evidence” at least once. A fellow named Alan, who had been an LNC member in the early 80’s but by the end of the decade was rabidly anti-LP and helped form the RLC, began claiming he had never signed the membership pledge. An LNC member asked a staffer whether that was accurate. The staffer then pulled his signed card and sent a copy to the LNC member, and the issue was subsequently raised at the following LNC meeting (although I don’t believe any action was taken by the body).

    Incidentally, it was rather cool to look through the signature archive. For instance, former US Senator Steve Symms had at one time signed (I believe he did so before winning election to the Senate). He didn’t make it any great secret, either — there were letters printed in very early (73? 74?) editions of the national newsletter, of him praising the LP.

    Too bad his voting record in the Senate was just garden-variety nanny-stater.

    Sometime after 1993, staff abandoned the pledge signature archive and just put all sigs in with the daily files. Theoretically one could still find a person’s signed pledge, but it was a lot more work. You first had to go into the database and find out exactly what day that person’s signed pledge was processed; then you’d have to go to the basement storage unit and paw through the daily cash deposit file folder for that precise day and find one person’s signature form in a pile of forms that could be a dozen in number or into the hundreds.

    I don’t know how they’re recorded now.

  94. Glue

    RC @94
    “Rothbard wrote a (bizarre, IMO) strategy memo in which he laid out his “Leninist cadre” theory for the LM. Have you read it? (It’s available on the web, but make sure to find the unexpurgated version that explicitly cites his Leninist approach.) Is this point more or less what you’re suggesting?”

    Got a link?

  95. Robert Capozzi

    tb: The transition from living under a bridge, in an abandoned building, or in a car to getting a room, apartment, or tenement happens all the time. But for some, it is hard to maintain a normal lifestyle. Several hundred years ago, it would be much easier to maintain a normal lifestyle by the prevailing standards.

    Me: I’m certainly not unsympathetic to those who have a tough go. I agree that it was “easier” to live “normally” — that is, relatively — in the past, since the standards of “normalcy” were much lower then.

    tb: The problem with having a huge disparity of wealth is that it can lead to real social unrest and it is also an indication that there is an absence of a free market. Because it is so difficult for the government to suppress a free market, ordinary behavior is criminalized. We see that now. When people aren’t allowed to work or can’t afford costs imposed by the government to work, there is no entrepreneurial upward mobility

    me: This point is impossible to prove since we’ve never had and likely never will have a completely free market. Entrepreneurial upward mobility is a very rare thing, since most are not entrepreneurs. The generalized upward mobility is mostly due to innovation, trade, and more efficient capital markets (bubble notwithstanding).

    As for social unrest, it’s one of the reasons why I’m a gradualist. Wrenching change wrenches, and often wrenches the least well off disproportionately. This is one of the reasons why I prefer to focus on top-down spending cuts, such as inappropriate military spending and corporate welfare. Bumper’s essay you linked to advocated ending the entire welfare state immediately, which seems counter to your point.

  96. Tom Blanton

    me: This point is impossible to prove since we’ve never had and likely never will have a completely free market. Entrepreneurial upward mobility is a very rare thing, since most are not entrepreneurs. The generalized upward mobility is mostly due to innovation, trade, and more efficient capital markets (bubble notwithstanding).

    Capozzi, why is everything either black or white, all or nothing, with you. Your point about free markets is valid, but as a self-described gradualist, you must agree that there are gradations. Did you consider that the reason there are fewer and fewer entrepreneurs is because there are more and more government imposed costs and hoops to jump through?

    You are dead wrong that entrepreneurial upward mobility is a very rare thing and is due to innovation, trade, and more efficient capital markets. I would suggest, although I’m sure can’t prove to your speculative standards, that the vast majority of entrepreneurs (and they are not rare) don’t rely on any of the things you mention.

    Every person working for themselves is an entrepreneur. Every mom and pop shop, plumbers, electricians, mechanics, one-man law firms, doctor/dentist offices, barbers/hair stylists, small retailers – the damn list is endless.

    They all go into business for themselves not in hopes of doing less work, having less responsibility, and/or earning less. They do it for the opposite reasons.

    As for Hornberger’s position of ending the welfare state immediately, he writes 10 paragraphs explaining his position. Apparently, you missed his arguments. Perhaps you disagree with his argument, but he does address your concern.

    It would be interesting to know if you have ever personally known anyone on welfare or anyone living in poverty who chose not to deal with the government.

    Now, the deal with Social Security and Medicare has different dynamics. First, it is mandatory. But, the bottom line is that there is no free lunch. It is not sustainable and at some point it will end. The only real question is which generation will pick up the tab and which generation will be denied benefits. If the system collapses due to the inaction of politicians, there will be no gradual transition. Likewise with any transfer payments made by government. If the government and/or economy collapses, there will be no transitions. At least by ending bad programs, people have some warning and a chance to brace themselves and make some arrangements – a collapse might be very sudden as with the USSR.

  97. Tom Blanton

    I agree that it was “easier” to live “normally” — that is, relatively — in the past, since the standards of “normalcy” were much lower then.

    I guess you didn’t get my point that government no longer allows people to live by a standard accepted as normal in the past. Try living in a self-built shanty with no electricity, no running water, and an outhouse. The code enforcement people will throw you out and you will be living under a bridge. America is becoming a third world country where the government forces people to live a first world lifestyle – primarily because of aesthetics and “concern” about poor people living in substandard situations (substandard by middle class standards).

    Government has essentially criminalized poverty in many cases. I know someone who had no auto insurance for 2 weeks because of the inability to pay for it, they got the money together and got the insurance. Now, DMV wants $500 for uninsured motorist fee – for 2 weeks. This person needs their car to work, so selling the car and not driving is not an option. Nor is simply parking the car in the backyard because you must have any vehicle licensed and insured in Vriginia, plus local ordinances prohibit having unused cars parked in your yard.

    I know someone else that didn’t have drain spouts on their house. They couldn’t afford to have them replaced. City code enforcement officers cited them for it, subjecting them to a $2,500 fine – far more than it would cost to have fixed the problem.

  98. Thomas L. Knapp

    Tom B,

    You write:

    “If the system collapses due to the inaction of politicians, there will be no gradual transition. Likewise with any transfer payments made by government. If the government and/or economy collapses, there will be no transitions. At least by ending bad programs, people have some warning and a chance to brace themselves and make some arrangements – a collapse might be very sudden as with the USSR.”

    Ah, but “the revolutionary model likely doesn’t apply in the here and now well at all.” I suspect Bob is afflicted with Fukuyama Syndrome.

  99. Robert Capozzi

    tb, sure, government hoops dampen entrepreneurialism. I’ve not seen %s of the pop that is self-employed, but last I checked it’s fairly low.

    Yes, I know people who’ve lived in poverty. It’s a tough go, and government generally makes it tougher…we’re on the same page here, methinks.

  100. Tom Blanton

    What Frankie can’t dig is that it may not be history that has ended, it may his ability to imagine anything other than what he already knows has ended. In that case, the Fukuyama Syndrome is far worse than merely buying into a theory coming from a guy who has been so wrong about so many other things.

    I’m not so sure we are actually living in a liberal democracy, anyway. We may be living in a Potemkin democracy or a made-for-TV republic.

  101. Tom Blanton

    The number of businesses with no paid employees grew from 17.6 million in 2002 to more than 18.6 million in 2003, a growth rate of 5.7 percent, according to a report issued today by the U.S. Census Bureau. This represents the biggest rate of increase in self-employment since the Census Bureau began releasing such statistics in 1997.

    http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/business_ownership/005784.html

    Note that number is for businesses with NO paid employees. I would imagine there many more millions of businesses with one or two employees. I think it is kind of hard to say entrepreneurs are rare.

  102. Robert Capozzi

    tk, I may be “afflicted,” but your link doesn’t define what this syndrome actually is.

    What’s the short version so I can cop to it? 😉

  103. Thomas L. Knapp

    “What’s the short version so I can cop to it?”

    The short version is that you seem to think that history has ended — no more great collapses, massive upheavals, etc., just little tweaks in this or that direction without any room for things that make you want to use the word “contra-indicated.”

  104. paulie

    Knapp:

    Bob,

    What, precisely, is “practical” about your approach?

    Capozzi’s approach is theoretically practical, or practically theoretical….take your pick.

  105. Tom Blanton

    TB, looks like way less than 10% of the pop.

    Perhaps, but 10% of the population works out to over 20% of the working population. So, if 1/5 of all workers makes self-employment rare in your book, you make that claim. And we’re talking only about small businesses that have NO employees.

    I’d suggest picking up your Yellow Pages and I think you’d find that most of the entries are for small businesses. I’d guess that a large percentage of those are owned by one or two people, or perhaps a family.

    Now, perhaps you can explain how entrepreneurs can only make it through innovation, trade, and more efficient capital markets.

    The management team (Bubba and Babs, his old lady) of Bubba’s Drywall, Inc. could probably benefit from a more efficient capital market. Their credit card is maxed out and Bubba wants to get a new fishing rod.

  106. Robert Capozzi

    tk, thanks. You misunderstand my view, then. It’s entirely possible that upheavals can still happen. The Soviet Union’s collapse was a pretty big deal, although the aftermath seemed rather tame to me. You? That event could have been extremely wrenching, yet I’d say it wasn’t.

    Among Ls, what I advocate might be called tweaks. In the wider world, the changes I advocate — and more importantly, the rate of change — push the envelope and might even be considered radical.

    Perception is reality.

  107. Robert Capozzi

    tb, Yellow Pages, what’s that? 😉

    Labor Department stats have the self-employment rate over time at about 10%. Higher than I would have guessed, significant, but about in line with my main point. Overall economic activity skews toward larger businesses, which have the scope and scale to own/operate more plant, equipment, and throughput. Yes, your Bubba has his truck and toolbox, but he doesn’t possess the more-high-ticket infrastructure (physical and intellectual) that drives the economy.

    I don’t mean to dismiss what Bubba does. It’s his world, for him, and his customers. If he does $100K in revenues a year, that’s a busy year for him, and he pays his bills and buys the new fishing rod. That sixth credit card he maxed out is IMO a function of too-easy-money policies from the Fed, and is not a function of increasingly efficient (but not perfect or “even rotating”) capital markets. Bubba got bad information, as did the markets.

  108. Robert Capozzi

    tb, more…ExxonMobil’s rev/emp is about $6MM. Microsoft and GE are in the $500K range. WalMart is about $200K. Revenues is a proxy for economic activity, so compares that with Bubba’s Drywall, and we start to see why large businesses have so much economic leverage, and, unfortunately, political leverage.

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