Peter Orvetti: ‘Beyond Libertarianism’

Peter Orvetti writes at the Moderate Voice:

Before coming to realize that mine is a moderate voice, I spent some time in the libertarian movement. Part of that was just the idealism and extremity that often is a part of youth, but part of it was my own innate sense of the importance of freedom and individuality.

My time in the movement, however brief, proved to me that I am not a libertarian. I have great respect for that ideology, but it is just that – an ideology, and as such, is not entirely practical when setting actual policy impacting real lives.

Recent science suggests that our political inclinations may be tied to our basic personality types, and in fact could be chemical. One brain is predisposed to be a libertarian, another is likely to be a socialist. I do know that many of the libertarians I met and worked with were of the same types on personality scales, so there may be something to that.

I do not know precisely what first drew me to libertarianism. My dabbling with that party and that movement go back to before I could even vote, when I found out about the first Ron Paul presidential campaign in 1988, when I was a freshman in high school, and I briefly talked up the Andre Marrou campaign four years later. (I ultimately voted for Bill Clinton in both 1992 and 1996.) Through college I was basically out of that movement, though I still followed it with interest.

My first return was about a decade ago, when I had a brief tenure as an editor at the Cato Institute, a job I misguidedly took because of my interest in doing civil liberties work. (I still have great respect for Cato, but like many cogs in the professional libertarian sphere, its focus is much more on economics.) After that job, and my very brief stint in the press shop of the Libertarian Party national headquarters, I was out of the movement for nearly a decade.

Continue reading….

Orvetti is a former IPR reporter.

63 thoughts on “Peter Orvetti: ‘Beyond Libertarianism’

  1. Don Wills

    Orvetti is no libertarian. Not even close. And he’s not “post libertarian” or “beyond libertarian”. Orvetti wants government to “support” basic research, the arts and humanities, education and to pay for healthcare for all. He believes we should move to a global currency and to eventual replacement of the nation-state with a one-world government. He’s about as far away from libertarianism as one can be; he’s simply another progressive in the mold of Woodrow Wilson and Barrack Obama.

  2. Mik Robertson

    It seems like Orvettin is conflating right-wing neolibertarianism with libertarianism. Granted, you will find a lot of that in the LP and places like Cato, but it sells the ideas of people like John Locke, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Henry George, and Albert Jay Nock short.

  3. Robert Milnes

    Peter Orvetti, very good article.
    This is the problem the radical libertarians face. They must get beyond libertarianism. They are not going to get Anarchy Now. But they can get Inclusive Progressivism Now.
    Slow Revolution(progressivism) is better than No Revolution, in other words.
    A big tell in this article is Orvetti’s stress on internationalism-an enlightened republic.
    Act locally-think globally-is revolutionary. Quite in contrast to Ron Paul, who clearly is a nationalist. A believer in the artificial boundaries notably international nation state borders. Nationalism is counterrevolutionary. Internationalism is revolutionary. Progressivism will work because the people as a whole want rapid revolution but are not capable of it. They are capable of slow revolution.

  4. paulie Post author

    Orvetti is no libertarian. Not even close.

    Well, he says he’s no longer a libertarian himself, so that’s not in dispute. As for whether he’s close, I’d say he’s pretty close.

    He supports civil liberties and, I’m guessing, peace.

    He says ” I am wary of deficits and excessive spending, and fear the role of ever-larger government agencies that seek to regulate personal behavior. I fear the so-called “Nanny State” that seeks to ban things simply because those things may not be “good for you” — rather than letting personal liberty guide these decisions.”

    He also says ” As such, the government should keep intervention in commerce and trade to a minimum, and promote the free exchange of products and ideas between individuals and states.”

    He goes on to say “An enlightened republic is economically free and will thrive, but it risks becoming cold toward those in need. While the flow of capital must be free, an enlightened republic will provide healthcare for its citizens, as well as access to basic, vocational, and advanced education. While the government may provide these services, it should not hinder private and non-governmental cooperative providers.”

    More libertarian leaning quotes: ” Rather than leave decisions on these matters to bureaucrats, the government should encourage the creation of private foundations to support the arts and sciences, and direct funding toward them.”

    “maintain the individual’s right to self-defense.”

    He indicates that he is a home-schooler/advocate.

    And he’s not “post libertarian” or “beyond libertarian”. Orvetti wants government to “support” basic research, the arts and humanities, education and to pay for healthcare for all. He believes we should move to a global currency and to eventual replacement of the nation-state with a one-world government. He’s about as far away from libertarianism as one can be; he’s simply another progressive in the mold of Woodrow Wilson and Barrack Obama.

    Given the above quotes, it seems exceedingly silly to say that Orvetti is as far from libertarian as one can be.

    I would guess he would still score within the libertarian quintile on the Nolan Quiz, although not 100/100.

    It seems that the big tent of some “big tent libertarians” like Mr. Wills only extend to conservative-libertarians?

    I wonder, is the following Libertarian candidate “as far away from libertarianism as one can be”? If not, why is Orvetti?

    (And, before anyone calls it into question, I am a 100/100 libertarian and disagree with Orvetti on the points Wills cites.)

    Hampton said that the Libertarian Party has a wide umbrella that takes in a “lot of folks who don’t always see things the same way.

    “For instance, I am pro-life,” he said, “and the party usually comes down on the side of personal choice, but we understand that there is a wide diversity on this topic.”

    He said that he does not believe that the federal government should necessarily “seal the border,” but the immigration policies of this country are not being enforced and that is one of the main duties of the federal government, to properly secure our borders and manage immigration policy.

    He also said that to him “spending controls” are more important than tax policy. “If we get spending under control, taxes will come down,” he said. “We cannot continue spending and borrowing money the way our politicians do. It will not last and cannot be sustained.”

    He also said that he does not fully support the Libertarian view on legalization of drugs. “There are some hard, addictive drugs that I would ban,” Hampton said. “Although the Libertarians mostly believe in decriminalizing drugs, I am not fully in favor of that policy.”

    “So you can see that the Libertarian Party has room for wide views on the issues, but we generally don’t like big government and pretty much want people to be left alone unless what they do violates the rights and liberties of other citizens,” he said.

    P) It seems to me that both Mr. Hampton and Mr. Orvetti are libertarian leaning, but with significant differences from hardcore libertarianism, albeit in different directions. It seems to me odd that “big tent libertarians” would say one of them is “as far from libertarianism as one can be” while simultaneously embracing those with views like the other one as fellow libertarians.

  5. Robert Milnes

    Off [point-Im watching a tv show out of Philadelphia-NBC10 At Issue. The topic is Pennsylvania’s infrastructure notably roads & bridges-are in poor condition. What to do? How to finance? Suggested-union pension funds. Root is anti-union. Well, Wall St would divert union pension funds. So Wall St becomes a middleman so to speak.
    But my take on this goes back to my proposal to phase in-quickly-hydrogen fueled electric (fuel cell) VTOL passenger vehicles, aircraft & shipping/receiving shuttlecraft (unmanned). The point is that the air itself becomes the most part pof infrastructure for VTOL vehicles. The air needs very little maintenance. The Clean Air Act pretty well covers it.

  6. Mike Theodore

    I remember sharing many of Orvetti’s opinions when he was active in the movement in 2008. Unfortunately, he is correct about the very narrow ideology of Libertarianism. In fact, if a guy like me ever ran for office, I might be forced to run as an independent because of my moderate positions.

    The sad thing is that there’s only one person talking about expanding the tent, and that’s WAR. But he only wants to expand the tent to include the hateful adversaries of Obama that think voting Republican is the only way to save the country.

    The current state of the party:
    Right-wing: Vote Libertarian, but the Republican in the race isn’t that bad anyways.
    Radical: Believe in what we believe, but if you think the government has any role, you’re a socialist. By the way, you might want to boycott elections.

    I never was good at sports, and I never thought I wouldn’t be the one dropping the ball when the opportunity presented itself. Looks like the party is filling that role quite nicely.

  7. Erik G.

    Though Mr. Orvetti has chosen to no longer refer to himself as a ‘libertarian,’ I agree with Paulie (and possibly Mik?) that he’s still largely within/near the libertarian quadrant. If anything, he appears close to the ‘upper-left’ area that Carl Milsted used to always talk about, by which I’d extend my sympathies to some degree.

    Many of the ‘progressive’ agendas Mr. Orvetti speaks of, though likely inefficient if/when implemented, aren’t exactly the end of the world.

    As a geolibertarian minarchist, I actually have a bigger problem with the government treating groups or individuals unequally than I do the government existing. For example, I don’t believe we should have a single-payer health system if it involves progressive taxation, but I don’t have a huge problem with it if we were all taxed for it equally and it only covered basic/emergency care. Though I still wouldn’t favor it, it certainly wouldn’t be an issue I’d see fit to cause a Hellstorm over.

  8. Catholic Trotskyist

    Orvetti is moving a little closer to Catholic Trotskyism. A very good thing. When the world government happens, I will make him the mayor of a major city. Along with Robert Milnes, who will be governor of New Jersey, Tom Knapp, who will be governor of Missouri, and Paulie, who will be President of Russia.

  9. paulie Post author

    Paulie, who will be President of Russia.

    How about if you just choke me with my own intestines? Faster and less painful 😛

  10. Robert Capozzi

    agree with most of the commentary. It’d be interesting to hear why Orvetti supports public funding for the arts and humanities and public health. Even if one REALLY values these things, why would one not prefer to see them privately funded?

    I don’t need to pigeon-hole where PO sits on a chart. I might vote for him or someone who holds his views.

  11. paulie Post author

    It’d be interesting to hear why Orvetti supports public funding for the arts and humanities and public health. Even if one REALLY values these things, why would one not prefer to see them privately funded?

    Actually, he does say he would prefer to see them privately funded:
    ”Rather than leave decisions on these matters to bureaucrats, the government should encourage the creation of private foundations to support the arts and sciences, and direct funding toward them.”

    I may be wrong, I think his point may be that he thinks it is more important that they be funded in some fashion than that such funding always be private/voluntary.

    In fact, I fully share Orvetti’s concern that basic research, the arts and humanities, education and healthcare should be adequately funded and equitably available. The only difference is that I think coercive monopoly government is less capable of that result than a fully private, voluntary system.

  12. paulie Post author

    Oops – just saw the distinction there. He wants the money to be monopoly-collected and then distributed to private agencies, which would handle end-use distribution of funds.

    Still, I think the ultimate values are very similar – making sure such things get funded while not burdening the end user with a great deal of bureaucracy. The difference is only in the emphasis, and in the willingness to employ coercive means when the ends seem to justify them.

  13. Robert Capozzi

    pc, yes, the direct funding is somewhat challenging from where I sit.

    But these are theoretical questions. Tax-financed funding of the arts won’t end tomorrow. Nor will the Iraq War. Strikes me that if we want to be relevant, we need to be thoughtful about WHICH programs, HOW and HOW FAST we advocate there unwinding from a taxpayer obligation.

    Abolish everything (or almost every fed program) is unlikely to have much effect except to rally the most abolitionist-minded Ls. Aside from cadre-building, I question whether such positioning is worth the effort.

  14. paulie Post author

    But these are theoretical questions. Tax-financed funding of the arts won’t end tomorrow. Nor will the Iraq War.

    Which programs do you think will “end tomorrow”?

    Strikes me that if we want to be relevant, we need to be thoughtful about WHICH programs, HOW and HOW FAST we advocate there unwinding from a taxpayer obligation.

    You are not going to get every Libertarian to agree on that. Each has their own priorities. Rather than wasting time on that fruitless internal discussion, what we should say is that we should cut whatever, whenever we can and replace with voluntary alternatives.

    Abolish everything (or almost every fed program) is unlikely to have much effect except to rally the most abolitionist-minded Ls. Aside from cadre-building, I question whether such positioning is worth the effort.

    “Abolish everything” is so far from reality as to not even be relevant in terms of electoral politics. Abolish something, anything. There are already plenty of other voices in the political system calling for preserving this or that government program; there is certainly no need for us to add to those in a misguided quest for non-forthcoming relevance.

    Our role – ecological niche, if you will – in the political ecosystem should be to be the predator going after government programs. Or, if you will, the immune system of the populace against government-program (cancer cells, bacteria, virii, etc).

    Kill whichever ones are weakest and fall behind the pack. Maim the ones we can’t kill. Slow the growth of the ones we can’t bring to a standstill. Show voluntary alternatives in action and defend them in theory when and wherever possible.

    Anything more complicated than that is….too complicated.

    Just because we call for cutting government as much as possible does not mean we are in any hope/danger (depending on your perspective) of “abolishing everything.”

    We are moving in the other direction. Minarchy vs. anarchy is not a discussion relevant to our present situation.

    No one is about to elect us absolute dictators of everything. It strikes me as exceedinly silly to worry that we will cut government too much anytime soon. Don’t worry…there will be plenty of other people to defend each and every other government boondoggle that exists and call for new ones.

  15. Michael H. Wilson

    RC Writes; “Abolish everything (or almost every fed program) is unlikely to have much effect except to rally the most abolitionist-minded Ls. Aside from cadre-building, I question whether such positioning is worth the effort.”

    In thirty years I don’t think I have met anyone who thinks we can realistically abolish anything tomorrow let alone everything.

    There are a few things that can be done to starts us down the path we wish to go.
    1. How about ending our global commitments over the next ten years and start bringing the troops home.
    2. The Drug War could be ended in a short period of time. Making meth legal would probably be a problem. Taking the small step of making cannabis legal and then evaluating the results might be the best way to go.
    3. Abolishing the Fed will probably be a tough sell. Free banking is the way to go but outside of a small circle of Libertarian economists who has ever heard of it in real life? So instead of having the N.Y. Fed run the Open Market Desk, which is a welfare program for Wall Street Banks, we get it spread around to twelve different branches.

    In some cases opening the market would help. After some years of looking at urban transit I am convinced that opening that market will put a dent in poverty and thus lower welfare payments and maybe solve some social problems related to poverty. Lots of low income people have little or no access to urban transit services.

    The last is why I am against using the phrase Fiscal Conservative. We should talk about the value of an open market.

    The smart thing to do is to find a couple of ideas and run with them. Make them successful and gain the confidence of the public and then push ahead with a few more issues.

  16. paulie Post author

    Abolishing the Fed will probably be a tough sell.

    Audit is a good place to start. May well be doable.

  17. Michael H. Wilson

    I’d go with that one. I think one of the biggest problems with the LP is that we can’t agree on five issues that are important and stick with them for ten years or until we are successful.

  18. paulie Post author

    MHW,

    Same thing I told BC….we’re not going to agree on X issues and stick to them.

    Everyone has their own priorities.

    There’s only one issue: self-ownership; everything else is corollary/application/interpretation.

    In other words, we push in the same direction on every issue. How far we get on each, where we gain traction…that depends on a number of things: circumstances, us….

  19. paulie Post author

    Mike T: I’m a radical anarcho-libertarian, yet I agree with your comment. Where does that place me in your categories?

  20. Michael H. Wilson

    paulie I gonna disagree with you. I think we could come to a conclusion on a number of issues, just as we have for the most part on the Drug War, if we gave it a shot.

  21. Erik G.

    I think I’m with MHW on this one.

    Some general points we could/should probably all agree to.

    1.) Decrease the tax burden without creating deficits or debt
    -this leaves plenty of room for individual candidates to say how they’d prefer to do so
    2.) End the War on Drugs
    -this still leaves plenty of room for individual candidates to say to what degree they want things legalized
    3.) No more offensive spending in the ‘defense’ budget (i.e. no more interventionism abroad)
    4.) Full & equal rights for the LGBT community
    5.) End corporate welfare
    6.) Audit/End the Federal Reserve

    We don’t have to all agree on capital punishment, abortion, etc., but I’d like to think we can all agree on those 6 things.

  22. paulie Post author

    MHW: I think one of the biggest problems with the LP is that we can’t agree on five issues that are important and stick with them for ten years or until we are successful.

    Me: Everyone has their own priorities.

    MHW2: I think we could come to a conclusion on a number of issues…

    EG: I think I’m with MHW on this one.

    Some general points we could/should probably all agree to.

    [..]

    We don’t have to all agree on capital punishment, abortion, etc., but I’d like to think we can all agree on those 6 things.

    P2: Notice that MHW2/EG is not the same contention that I originally replied to.

    MHW1, as I understood it, was that we can all agree on five issues that we will make our top priorities above all others.

    My contention is that this can’t and won’t happen. Everyone has their own issues that they feel most strongly about and others they don’t care much about, even if they agree with them on a philosophical level. Everyone has their own ideas about which issues will embarass us and which ones will make us popular. We’re just not going to agree on that, even if we all agreed 100% on all the issues.

    But supposed I misunderstood the original point and the contention was only what MHW2/EG are saying: we may disagree on some issues, but there are a few we will agree on.

    Well, that’s not going to happen either.

    Someone who agrees with 9 of 10 – or 99 of 100 – issues with the LP belongs in the LP, regardless of what their holdout issue is. Well, maybe if it’s something very bizarre, like they support genocide, not so much, but any issue that the general public is split on….yeah, there will be some holdouts.

    So, is there anything we can ALL agree on? Well, I think we should all agree that *as a party* we should never push to make government bigger, more intrusive, more expensive…on any issue…ever. And that if any of us do so in our capacity as individuals – especially candidates or party spokespeople – we should make it clear that we differ from the party on that issue.

  23. Robert Capozzi

    A lot of good ideas here. It surely can be frustrating being a L, being sure that rolling back the State is indicated, and thrashing about trying to come up with a formula that breaks the ice.

    Irvine in OH’s next video is moving in a direction I think could have traction:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fWG1g4BCrg&feature=related

    Painting the Rs and Ds as the same, Ls as different (but not extreme) and not corrupted, seems like a winner to me.

  24. Robert Capozzi

    pc: Well, I think we should all agree that *as a party* we should never push to make government bigger, more intrusive, more expensive…on any issue…ever.

    me: The “on any issue…ever” part is too strict from my perspective. To illustrate, I’ll use the “were I in Congress” test. If I were in Congress, and I participated in negotiations that cut overall taxes and spending but, say, created a citizen’s dividend and raised gas taxes. I’d vote for the package. Some Ls and people like Ron Paul would not. That’s their business, but I’ll hold that position and call myself a L. Other Ls might say I’m a sell-out and “unprincipled.”

    Que sera.

  25. Robert Capozzi

    winning and losing are interesting concepts. Often, “winning” a contest becomes a pyrrhic victory…a playing out of “be careful what you wish for” counsel.

    Without a sense of virtue, simply getting elected can be like a jail sentence. With a clear conscience, outcomes — come what may — are not the issue. Conflicted minds always lose, regardless of outcome.

  26. Robert Capozzi

    …more…

    Where I have a different perspective from our absolutist abolitionist brothers and sisters is that they seem to have a formula for what they believe is “moral,” and they seem less interested in packaging ideas to convince others of their opinions about what a “moral” social order might look like. (When they DO package ideas, they are often bracing ones that likely will shock vast majorities, e.g., debt repudiation, unilateral nuclear disarmament, “childrens rights,” secession, etc.)

    This starts to feel like a detached, quasi-religious approach to politics. Bear witness to the righteousness of anarchy, regardless of how that might sound to the receiver of that (bracing) message.

    Balancing a virtuous perspective with a sense of marketing those ideas is NOT a formula. It’s an art that requires judgment and, perhaps, inspiration and, I’d suggest, humility and tolerance.

    Of course, a balanced, TAAAList approach is not a silver bullet. It is IMO the path of least resistance, however, toward rolling back the State. Until I hear a more helpful approach, that is! 😉

  27. paulie Post author

    The “on any issue…ever” part is too strict from my perspective. To illustrate, I’ll use the “were I in Congress” test. If I were in Congress, and I participated in negotiations that cut overall taxes and spending but, say, created a citizen’s dividend and raised gas taxes. I’d vote for the package. Some Ls and people like Ron Paul would not. That’s their business, but I’ll hold that position and call myself a L. Other Ls might say I’m a sell-out and “unprincipled.”

    Que sera.

    The way that government works is that the pressure is always to compromise in favor of larger government: for example, Reagan wanted more military and drug war spending and the Democrats wanted more social spending, so we get both. It doesn’t work in the other direction.

    If the LP becomes a party that seeks to make government bigger on any issue, we’ll enter into that type of compromise, and the one thing we will get “accomplished” is that issue.

    That’s why it’s important that we be consistent in our direction, even if we disagree on how far we want to go or which issues are most important.

    Which we will, in any reasonably broad enough coalition.

  28. Michael H. Wilson

    paulie if this idea was to take off I would suggest looking at the platform for issues that we are all pretty much in agreement on and build from there. But I doubt this idea has legs.

  29. Robert Capozzi

    pc, ADR, but yours is a false analogy. The Rs and Ds always advocate more government in aggregate. The only difference is the rate of change overall and the relative increases in line items.

    If the Coast Guard budget were to go up as part of a package that included an Iraq/Afghanistan exit, I’d vote for that all day long.

  30. paulie Post author

    false analogy. The Rs and Ds always advocate more government in aggregate. The only difference is the rate of change overall and the relative increases in line items.

    True, but it isn’t a false analogy.

    For any given government program, the relatively small number of people who benefit by getting a job, check or pet cause have a lot more incentive to lobby on behalf of continuing/expanding their program, as opposed to the larger number of people who generally lose only a tiny sliver of money/freedom per person to continue that program. Thus, the incentive to lobby to contract/shut down any government program is very low for any individual — unless the cuts are across the board.

  31. JT

    Robert, I find it hard to believe that you think it’s okay for Libertarians to advocate MORE government on some issue. I mean, that’s beyond what I’ve heard ANY Libertarian say, even the most moderate of moderates. Is it true that you think Libertarians should merely advocate less government in aggregate? If a Libertarian candidate supports expanding the drug war, expanding education socialism, and expanding foreign interventionism, it’s okay if he wants to reduce other welfare programs by more than than those costs? Sounds like a very inspiring message.

  32. Robert Capozzi

    pc (and jt), ya lost me. I understand public choice theory, and agree with it. My point is that Reagan in your example was advocating for an INCREASE in government spending in aggregate. I don’t. I might advocate OR AGREE TO some line items increasing as PART of a package in which aggregate spending were to decline.

    Say, for ex., that the silos were in need of repair. They pose a danger to those who work in them, those around them, and the world generally. Say there was an accident in one of them, and say 1000 were killed. I have no problem as a L to advocate an increase in a silo remediation program. If they are dangerous, fix them, by all means.

    Yet, I support candidates who advocate a net decrease in government spending.

    Perhaps more heretically, if there were no LP, I would likely have voted for Obama in 08, even though he probably advocated more government spending increases than McCain. Why? Because in my judgment McCain lacked the temperment to be entrusted with the nuclear football. Palin made McCain even more frightening!

    In short, in the real world, there are trade-offs. We make them all day long in all areas of life, including politics. If our intent is toward peace, we make choices that lead us in that direction, even when we sometimes take the inevitable setback as the least-bad option.

  33. Robert Capozzi

    jt: If a Libertarian candidate supports expanding the drug war, expanding education socialism, and expanding foreign interventionism, it’s okay if he wants to reduce other welfare programs by more than than those costs?

    me: Wow, am I ever feeling misunderstood. I advocate reducing all those dysfunctional behaviors. I might support boosting silo maintenance; I do support shifting the tax burden toward penalizing pollution (while lowering the overall tax burden).

    I’m curious how you possibly lept to those conclusions?

  34. JT

    Robert: ” Wow, am I ever feeling misunderstood. I advocate reducing all those dysfunctional behaviors. I might support boosting silo maintenance; I do support shifting the tax burden toward penalizing pollution (while lowering the overall tax burden).

    I’m curious how you possibly lept to those conclusions?”

    First, I didn’t leap to any conclusions. I asked you if I understood you correctly or not.

    Second, you keep saying you ” support candidates who advocate a net decrease in government spending.” You just meant within the context of a single bill? I thought you were talking of “aggregate” as total government.

    That’s why I gave an example of a Libertarian candidate who supports expanding government in several areas while still advocating a net reduction in government overall. It’s not that complicated. Evidently, though, you’re not saying that it’s okay for a Libertarian candidate to simply advocate a reduction in total government as per my example; you’re only talking of “aggregate” within the context of a single bill. Is that true?

  35. Robert Capozzi

    jt, fair enough…you did put it in question form…my bad.

    I was mostly referring to the annual congressional budget process. I certainly could imagine a tradeoff happening in that process. Trade-offs could also be part of a narrower piece of legislation.

    I have voted for Ls who held positions I disagreed with…Barr 08 and Paul 88 were both pro-life; I’m not. I overlooked my disagreement with them on that issue, and enthusiastically voted for them.

    Using your example, I would likely be far less enthusiastic if a person sought the L nomination but was for ramping up the drug war or foreign intervention or education socialism while also advocating a net decrease in total spending. I have no hard-and-fast rule on this (or much of anything), but I’d likely support a different would-be candidate. I also might sit on my hands and not vote. I might do my best to convince the nominee of my view that he or she was going in a contra-indicated direction on his or her outlier, anti-liberty view on this one issue.

    I take an “all things considered” approach. There are some single issues that could be a dealbreaker for me. For ex., if a L took a NAMBLA-like position on “children’s rights,” I might actively oppose that candidate, as a high-profile L candidate holding that view could do irreparable harm to the LP and the cause of liberty.

    The world IS rather complicated, so I do my best to make the best decision I can knowing that sometimes I make mistakes.

    Don’t we all?

  36. Robert Milnes

    Mike Theodore @6, good comment.
    Matches up with my rantings about W.A.R. pullimng the party in the wrong direction. & the radicals being self defeating.
    Haven’t seen you commenting much recently.

  37. Robert Milnes

    LP-you have some significant discontented people: Mike Theodore @6, Peter Orvetti, Robert Milnes, Tom K., EVERYBODY at BTP, etc…..
    Might want to check into that….

  38. JT

    Robert: “I was mostly referring to the annual congressional budget process. I certainly could imagine a tradeoff happening in that process. ”

    Okay, that’s what I thought you were referring to initially.

    And as I said, my problem with using the standard of “a net decrease in government spending” for Libertarian candidates is it includes a Libertarian candidate advocating more government on issues such as the ones I mentioned previously, while still advocating a NET reduction in government. If you’re saying there are exceptions that make a Libertarian candidate NOT worth supporting, then it makes no sense to mention a “net reduction in government spending” as a guideline.

    However, the standard of less government on every issue–to any degree, large or small, of course–doesn’t allow for the possibility. It wouldn’t then be okay for a Libertarian candidate to say that government should expand ALL of the examples I gave (the drug war, foreign intervention, education socialism) as long as the budget is smaller overall because most other government agencies have been eliminated. This is the standard I’ve heard very moderate Libertarians support (though I’ll admit I’ve never heard any specifically discuss silos or how they’re funded).

  39. Mik Robertson

    I thought the idea behind the LP was to maximize individual liberty and minimize aggression. To the extent that government can aid in reaching that objective, I don’t see what the problem is.

    Is it better for liberty if there is an absence of or a non-functional government, like in some of the banana republics of the past, where landlord corporations ran roughshod over people? Look at United Fruit. Is it better if our foreign policy enforcement is reduced, but conducted by Halliburton instead of the US military?

    There are some in the LP who have become so focused on severely restricting or eliminating government that the overall goal gets lost. I agree that everyone is going to have different priorities and different ways to pursue those priorities. That should be a strength of the party, not a reason to divide it. The overall goal is the same, and that is what holds the organization together.

    I may disagree about self-ownership. Although that may be a good introductory concept, it implies that I can sell myself. Can I legitimately sell myself into slavery? Are my inalienable rights alienable by my entry into a contract? I do not consider myself owned by anyone, including me. I am a being, not an object created by someone else who can own me.

    Is it not possible to be a libertarian and believe there is a role for a central bank in the economy? How about if we shift taxes so that those who benefit from privilege pay for it? Is that libertarian?

    Happy Birthday Robert Milnes.

  40. Robert Capozzi

    jt: It wouldn’t then be okay for a Libertarian candidate to say that government should expand ALL of the examples I gave (the drug war, foreign intervention, education socialism) as long as the budget is smaller overall because most other government agencies have been eliminated.

    me: Here’s another way to look at it: It’s my default position that not only do I advocate and support people who agitate for less government across the board, I prefer to less government in each specific line item. I’m FAR more interested in rolling the State back in aggregate to fuss about deviations on specific line items. Sometimes, for very practical, short-term reasons, I’m OK with increasing a line item, either as a matter of horsetrading or due to exigent circumstances. In other cases, I’m for shifting dysfunctional government policies to less injurious forms, e.g., funding Social Security with pollution taxes vs payroll taxes.

    There are cases where an INCREASE in government spending in the short term leads to a decrease in the intermediate term. For ex., in Year 1 after making a decision to exit Iraq, it might be MORE onerous for taxpayers to leave then to stay; the logistics of moving people and supplies must be costly!

    Generally, self-identified Ls want government to be reduced across the board. Most of the intra-party disagreement is about the priorities and rate of reductions. In the area of military matters, there is (probably a minority) of Ls who careen into inappropriate (IMO) international meddling for “geopolitical” reasons. I don’t see the point of expending a lot of energy corralling these hawkish Ls; and they are not without their own set of justifications for their positions.

  41. Robert Milnes

    Mik Robertson @ 43, thank you.
    I made it through so it could’ve been a LOT worse!
    Actually I thought that I would publicize my birthday here at IPR to see the response.
    Very interesting.
    My mother used to talk about The Silent Treatment.

  42. Robert Capozzi

    mr: The overall goal is the same, and that is what holds the organization together.

    me: Thinking out loud, but I’m not so sure the overall goal is the same for abolitionists and non-abolitionists in the LP.

    Let’s stipulate that I don’t read minds, but I get the sense that abolitionists enjoy engaging in “macho flash” positioning, and non-abolitionists don’t. Certainly my sense is that virtually everyone in the LP wants more freedom and less coercion, but I’m not sure that many believe that the LP is (or even could be) a vehicle to facilitate a rolling back of the State. It’s more of a hobby, a way to voice their views in a semi-organized way.

    I generally don’t attend conventions for a variety of reasons, but one is that I find parliamentary antics offputting…people passionately screaming: “Divide the question!” and what not. Not my cup of tea.

    In a world where we seem to control so little of our experience, an LP convention allows otherwise ineffectual people to display some control. (Please note that I’m not singling out Ls as “ineffectual”; that describes virtually all of humanity; Ls tend to be more conscious of the human condition in this regard, and conventioneering could represent a kind of psychological palliative.)

    The desire to label others as “less-than L” seems to be a classic example of psychological projection…it’s wrapped up in the desire to feel superior that in the moment feeds the ego’s desire to be separate, distinct, and innocent. We all do this to some extent, building up allies and heroes in our mind, only to find fault with them later, leading to surface disappointment but often an unconscious sense of validation.

    If we all REALLY want peace and liberty, it seems we’d demonstrate it with our colleagues. It’s not to say that we all just hold hands and sing a L kumbayah around the campfire. Sometimes we need to confront and address the dysfunction, openly and candidly. Doing so without a sense of attack is tricky business, as I am learning with Phillies’s FEC-Gate.

    It does seem that things get darkest before the dawn.

  43. paulie Post author

    Sorry, I’ll have to do this piecemeal as this computer shuts off a lot…

    I thought the idea behind the LP was to maximize individual liberty and minimize aggression. To the extent that government can aid in reaching that objective, I don’t see what the problem is.

    Empowering an entity that is non-voluntary and self-perpetuating by nature, and whose overall effect is to minimize liberty and maximize aggression.

  44. paulie Post author

    Is it better for liberty if there is an absence of or a non-functional government, like in some of the banana republics of the past, where landlord corporations ran roughshod over people? Look at United Fruit. Is it better if our foreign policy enforcement is reduced, but conducted by Halliburton instead of the US military?

    I think there is a mistaken premise in that. Landlord corporations were creations of government and functioned in tandem with government. The problem with corporate power can be eliminated by getting rid of corporate welfare, corporate personhood and noncontractual limited liability. The overall problem of accumulations of wealth and power can be solved, if not entirely, to a great extent by getting rid of the effects that government has to artificially cartelize the economy through its effects, both direct and indirect.

    There are some in the LP who have become so focused on severely restricting or eliminating government that the overall goal gets lost. I agree that everyone is going to have different priorities and different ways to pursue those priorities. That should be a strength of the party, not a reason to divide it. The overall goal is the same, and that is what holds the organization together.

    I don’t think the overall goal can be served by maintaining a large and powerful coercion-based institution.

  45. paulie Post author

    I may disagree about self-ownership. Although that may be a good introductory concept, it implies that I can sell myself. Can I legitimately sell myself into slavery? Are my inalienable rights alienable by my entry into a contract? I do not consider myself owned by anyone, including me. I am a being, not an object created by someone else who can own me.

    Self-ownership means that you are not owned by others. As to whether you can sell yourself, of course you can. You do so every time you go to work if you are an employee, or every time you are paid by a client if you are self-employed. The question as to whether you can sell yourself in such a way that you can’t change your mind later is an interesting one. My take is you can’t, which makes military contracts null and void. If you can’t be owned by others, then you agree with self-ownership. But if others can tell you what you may or may not ingest, that you owe a portion of the proceeds of your labor to them whether you like it or not, how and whether you may dispose of your legitimately acquired property (except insofar as it transgresses on others), whether you may end your life, what forms of labor you may or may not perform and what you are and are not allowed to receive in return, etc., then you don’t fully own yourself – that is, others are permitted to excercise at least partial ownership of you, and not by your choice. The idea that this is OK is what we have to overcome.

  46. paulie Post author

    Is it not possible to be a libertarian and believe there is a role for a central bank in the economy? How about if we shift taxes so that those who benefit from privilege pay for it? Is that libertarian?

    I don’t think support for a central bank is a libertarian position, but I’ve also posited that no single position that has significant parts of the population on either side of it, taken by itself, is enough to disqualify someone from being called a libertarian for political purposes.

    Again, my point was not that individual libertarians can’t hold unlibertarian views on specific issues – a standard like that would render us to small to ever change anything. However, it does become a problem if a particular big government oriented position attains a majority hold among libertarians and becomes our official stance.

    How about if we shift taxes so that those who benefit from privilege pay for it? Is that libertarian?

    I’m not sure what that means. Please elaborate.

  47. paulie Post author

    Thinking out loud, but I’m not so sure the overall goal is the same for abolitionists and non-abolitionists in the LP.

    Let’s stipulate that I don’t read minds, but I get the sense that abolitionists enjoy engaging in “macho flash” positioning, and non-abolitionists don’t. Certainly my sense is that virtually everyone in the LP wants more freedom and less coercion, but I’m not sure that many believe that the LP is (or even could be) a vehicle to facilitate a rolling back of the State. It’s more of a hobby, a way to voice their views in a semi-organized way.

    I generally don’t attend conventions for a variety of reasons, but one is that I find parliamentary antics offputting…people passionately screaming: “Divide the question!” and what not. Not my cup of tea.

    In a world where we seem to control so little of our experience, an LP convention allows otherwise ineffectual people to display some control. (Please note that I’m not singling out Ls as “ineffectual”; that describes virtually all of humanity; Ls tend to be more conscious of the human condition in this regard, and conventioneering could represent a kind of psychological palliative.)

    The desire to label others as “less-than L” seems to be a classic example of psychological projection…it’s wrapped up in the desire to feel superior that in the moment feeds the ego’s desire to be separate, distinct, and innocent. We all do this to some extent, building up allies and heroes in our mind, only to find fault with them later, leading to surface disappointment but often an unconscious sense of validation.

    If we all REALLY want peace and liberty, it seems we’d demonstrate it with our colleagues. It’s not to say that we all just hold hands and sing a L kumbayah around the campfire. Sometimes we need to confront and address the dysfunction, openly and candidly. Doing so without a sense of attack is tricky business, as I am learning with Phillies’s FEC-Gate.

    It does seem that things get darkest before the dawn.

    I come down on your side of this – I would like the LP to roll back the state, and I have a low tolerance level for parliamentary wrangling and excessively nasty infighting. Yet I’m an abolitionist. What do you make of that?

  48. JT

    Mik: “Is it better for liberty if there is an absence of or a non-functional government, like in some of the banana republics of the past, where landlord corporations ran roughshod over people? Look at United Fruit. Is it better if our foreign policy enforcement is reduced, but conducted by Halliburton instead of the US military?”

    You don’t understand the difference btw economic power and political power.

    To they extent that they don’t receive government welfare (and most don’t), businesses are voluntary organizations. They profit and expand through contractual relationships and by making and selling goods that many people want to buy. If they engage in fraud or the pollution of other people’s property, they should be forced to provide restitution to those harmed and the executives who made those decisions should be jailed. Of course, the government welfare that any may receive from taxpayers should also be eliminated.

    Governments are NOT purely voluntary organizations. By nature, government is force. The only reason ever to involve government into something is to inject some compulsion or prohibition into that area and restrict individual choices and freedom. See Harry Browne’s great book Why Government Doesn’t Work for elaboration.

    The equation of large businesses and governments is wrong. In and of themselves, businesses give you MORE choices, while governments give you LESS.

    Btw, the Libertarian Party is also an incorporated entity.

  49. Robert Capozzi

    pc: Yet I’m an abolitionist. What do you make of that?

    me: Hmm, I thought you were a TAAAList, not an abolitionist. Regardless, I didn’t mean to imply that all abolitionists are into parliamentary games; some game-players are non-abolitionists, too.

    Everyone’s doin’ the best they can, else they’d not be doing it.

  50. Robert Capozzi

    jt: If they engage in fraud or the pollution of other people’s property, they should be forced to provide restitution to those harmed and the executives who made those decisions should be jailed.

    me: And THIS is where things get circular. Who determines what is fraud (or force) and what is polluting? Who puts perps in jail and who pays for the jail? By what authority? These arguments get highly theoretical and ambiguous rather quickly….

  51. paulie Post author

    Hmm, I thought you were a TAAAList, not an abolitionist.

    I’m both. That is, I think regime abolition in favor of a voluntary social order will eventually happen and will eventually turn out to be a good thing, but I also agree with TAAALism as you have described the concept.

    Is there something about TAAALism that precludes an abolitionist guesstimate?

    I think getting the ball rolling in the correct direction is our primary directive. Beyond that, we’ll see what happens. I think we need to learn and teach the tools of practical politics to our members, and I think we should strive to maintain civility and keep the parliamentary stuff to a minimum.

    I think we should welcome members who agree with us on most but not all issues, regardless of which direction they deviate from us, but not allow our views on any set of issues to get changed in a pro-big government direction.

  52. Robert Capozzi

    pc: I think getting the ball rolling in the correct direction is our primary directive. Beyond that, we’ll see what happens.

    me: Yes, that’s the TAAAList view. The abolitionist view is that very dramatic reductions in the State in the short term are indicated. My rule of thumb for an abolitionist is that one cannot call him- or herself a L unless one advocates at least a 50% reduction in the State in the very near term, a year or 2. Anything less is “namby pamby,” “wimpy” or some equivalent, according to abolitionists, near as I can tell. As far as I’ve been able to discern, abolitionists then would have “transition plans” to retire the rest of the State in 5 years or so.

    Getting the ball rolling would be better than the alternative for the abolitionist, but a true abolitionist L would not get his or her hands dirty getting involved in minor tweaks to the existing social order. That’s for impure wimps, you see, Beltway “libertarians” and other crypto-statists. “Real Ls” openly and proudly hold high the banner of “radical” change and smashing the State.

    You get the idea…. 😉

  53. paulie Post author

    My rule of thumb for an abolitionist is that one cannot call him- or herself a L unless one advocates at least a 50% reduction in the State in the very near term, a year or 2. Anything less is “namby pamby,” “wimpy” or some equivalent, according to abolitionists, near as I can tell.

    If I had the political juice to cut the state into less than half in a year or two, I would. I think it’s far more likely, though, that we would first get the chance to tinker around the edges, and I wouldn’t pass up the chance. It may also be more likely that the state would collapse of its on dead weight, but that would probably not be good in the short term. Given the nature of shared power in our electoral system it seems more likely that we would get to make small changes before we get to make big ones.

  54. JT

    Robert: “And THIS is where things get circular. Who determines what is fraud (or force) and what is polluting? Who puts perps in jail and who pays for the jail? By what authority? These arguments get highly theoretical and ambiguous rather quickly….”

    Sorry, Robert, but there’s no circularity here. These terms have objective dictionary definitions. Look them up if you’re confused.

    As for who puts those found guilty of such (real) violations in jail and who pays for the jail and by what authority, those are separate questions and not ones I raised. My point was only that some kind of punishment is appropriate as applied to those actions as a matter of justice for those harmed. In other words, free enterprise doesn’t mean that a business may do whatever it wants to do to whoever it wants to do it.

    Ambiguity enters the picture when it has to be proved that a violation has occurred, who’s responsible, and what penalty the guilty should incur. Judges and juries have to make these decisions by either a preponderance of the evidence or proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Btw, this isn’t an argument against libertarian gradualism. But epistemic clarity is important.

  55. Robert Capozzi

    jt: …objective dictionary definitions…

    me: Hmm, I’d not realized that words in the dictionary are “objective.” How do you know that they are objective? Which dictionary is the “objective” source, and which one is not?

    And even if one somehow certifies, say, any Webster’s published after 1980 as THE source of “objective” truth, does this still not require a burden of proof judged by perception-bound humans?

    You say: “Judges and juries have to make these decisions by either a preponderance of the evidence or proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

    But is that universally true? I’d submit, no, not really. You appear to be projecting the English common law system as universally applicable, but it ain’t necessarily so.

    jt: But epistemic clarity is important.

    me: It depends on what you mean by “clarity.” 😉 How do you know what is “clear” and what is not? Have you not had the experience of being certain about something only to find later that your perception was incorrect? If you have not, then you are either super-human or ADR incredibly dense! 😉

  56. JT

    Robert, your philosophical subjectivism is astounding. But I won’t have a long discussion about espistemology in a post on this board. I’ll just say that if words don’t have objective meanings, then we couldn’t even have this conversation right now. We wouldn’t even know what we’re each referring to.

    In any event, virtually all libertarians understand what physical force, fraud, and pollution mean, even if they differ in select cases about how to apply libertarian principles. Perhaps you really don’t, but I suspect that’s not the case.

    Regarding, your comment about the English common law system, what difference does this make?? I wasn’t talking about a “universally applicable” legal system! I was saying that it’s in the adjudication process that ambiguity can enter the picture, and I pointed out at which steps that can occur within OUR legal system. You seem to like taking a statement totally out of context and running off with it.

    As to your comment about clarity, you couldn’t even know that you’re wrong about anything, to answer your question, if you can’t know what clearly is and what clearly isn’t.

    The issue I was addressing originally before this nonsense is the essential difference between business and government. In and of itself, a business doesn’t deal in physical compulsion and prohibition. A government does. That’s it.

  57. Robert Capozzi

    jt, astounding, I like that! It might be the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me! 😉

    Epistemology and — I’d suggest — the inevitable subjectivistic conclusions that we arrive at when we radically question all authority.

    I can’t say I completely agree that business doesn’t deal in physical compulsion…LCN (as they said on THE SOPRANOS) does a fair amount of that. I’d agree that it is the government’s stock in trade. Whether peaceful business could survive or thrive without a baseline of government in a complex social order is an interesting question that will likely remain unanswered.

  58. JT

    Robert: “I can’t say I completely agree that business doesn’t deal in physical compulsion…LCN (as they said on THE SOPRANOS) does a fair amount of that.”

    That’s a good point. Of course, I was referring to legal businesses that operate within a certain context, one in which government prohibits physical force and fraud. And those who equate business power with government power are talking about legal businesses that operate within that context.

    Robert: “I’d agree that it is the government’s stock in trade. Whether peaceful business could survive or thrive without a baseline of government in a complex social order is an interesting question that will likely remain unanswered.”

    This might just be a general musing. But just for the record, I’ve personally never stated or implied that there shouldn’t be a “baseline of government.” I did say that government is force, and that’s the essence of government per se. Not so for business per se.

  59. Robert Capozzi

    jt: I’ve personally never stated or implied that there shouldn’t be a “baseline of government.”

    me: Yes, nor did I suggest you said otherwise. The leap from the state of nature to the rule of law might require a tiny bit of public force inorder to maintain a lot of private peace. I’m agnostic on the theoretical question of anarchy vs. minarchy. I’d like to increasingly test for an optimal, sustainable social order through lessarchist experiments.

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