Marc Montoni: What hurts the Libertarian Party, extremism or lack of effort?

Marc Montoni from IPR comments in response to Robert Capozzi:


… gun extremism tends to evoke a certain image …

You know, it might be instructive for some people to “embed” in some of the alleged “extremist” groups before dismissing a particular point of view as “extremist”. Take the above use of “gun extremism”, for example. The Virginia Citiizens’ Defense League is probably one of the most extreme pro-gun organizations I know of. Their members often refer to the NRA as a gun-control group, for example. Many of their members have become extremely active in the open-carry movement, and they sponsor heavily-attended rallies at the state capitol to press their agenda.

A few years ago, they were widely referred to as “extreme”; however, they have gotten a heckuva lot of their legislative agenda put into place by constantly calling for what they want, and going back year after year until they’ve gotten it. VCDL is largely responsible for improving Virginia’s concealed carry permit laws, and has educated thousands of law enforcement personnell the right of Virginia citizens to carry openly. If the organization survives and continues to prosper, I have little doubt that in ten years Virginia will have “Vermont carry” (meaning the repeal of laws requiring citizens to have government permission (nee license) in order to carry concealed).

In other words, gun extremism has become mainstream, simply because the gun extremists refused to waver in demanding what they really wanted.

And I know a certain someone is going to yank out that old, tired “private newks” bullshit, so let’s nip that in the bud in advance. Here is a perfectly Libertarian answer to the “private newks” red herring.

As an example, let’s consider the case of Bruce E. Ivins. (and yes, I am aware that even his case may be a concoction.) In any event, as the government fumbled its way through the anthrax case, lo and behold it turned out that the only WMD attack on our nation was a sophisticated product traced to the government’s own biological weapons labs.

Yes, I would say a libertarian case could be made to say that weapons too dangerous for individuals to have can be banned — but only if the government is the first entity that has to comply with the ban. Try thinking about an insurance-based model, both for the government and honest (private) sectors — rather than the current monopoly-on-force model. I’ve said this before, and don’t intend to change my mind.

I have yet to find a VCDL position that wasn’t perfectly compatible with the old, “extremist” LP platform position on guns/self defense/weapons. I have met some folks in the VCDL who have taken their conversion to “gun extremism” and applied it, over time, to other areas of their political philosophy — which means if I’m having a discussion with a few of them, and the subject of repealing drug prohibition comes up, their reaction is likely to be more favorable than that of a random voter in the street.

I think “extremist groups” represent our “best bet” outreach opportunities. These are the groups who have figured out that for “coexistence” to happen in a proto-socialist semi-police-state means that you have to get up off your duff and beat the drums constantly for the reforms you seek.

In my mind, the only real problem facing the LP and libertarianism in general is that there are WAY too many “libertarians” who can’t be bothered to:

– organize their own precict
– pick up a petition form
– run for office
– run an information table (even in their own precinct)
– write letters to the editor, or
– meet with legislators.

However, they just LOVE to waste what must amount to THOUSANDS of hours every month (collectively) sitting behind a computer screen writing breathless screeds about all of the things that are wrong with the LP, and dispensing their own peculiar “wisdom” on how to “fix” the LP. The peculiar wisdom that seems to be “politically correct” within the LP at this moment is that the now-deleted Platform and the consistent Libertarians who were comfortable with it are just a bunch of “extremists”.

Only WORK works. If you are spending more time talking to other libertarians about how flawed their efforts are, then you’re working for the enemy. Stop worrying about the platform, pledge, pragmatism, whatever, and instead do what is really necessary to build a proper political party:

WORK.

It simply never ceases to amaze me how quick some are to participate in online discussions yet can’t be bothered to commit even one real political act a week.

102 thoughts on “Marc Montoni: What hurts the Libertarian Party, extremism or lack of effort?

  1. Carolyn Marbry

    In answer to the question posed by your title, both hurt the LP.

    Extremism, in and of itself, is not a problem as long as it is not malignant. But when extremism becomes bullying, when those who would run for office are told that anyone elected to the government or trying to get elected is a “statist,” when people are being told not only not to vote for the two big parties but for anyone because (somehow) that’s going to change the system, even though the LP is a political PARTY, when people are browbeaten for not adopting the goose-step du jour against cops/soldiers/whatever without question… it’s not surprising that they simply stop doing anything and often end up leaving the party.

    The “lack of effort” you see comes from a few different places. One is from workaday folk who are libertarian in philosophy but don’t have time or money to spend in running for offices they can’t hope to get, but they contribute as they can. That’s worthwhile to promote the philosophy, and while they may not contribute as much as one might like ideally, still, every bit helps.

    But another source of the “lack of effort” is in being beaten down every time you try to do something, caught up in the BS bureaucracy at every level of the party that supposedly hates bureaucracy, attacked as “not libertarian enough,” or receiving just a general apathy from people in the movement because they’re so busy bickering over THIS person or THAT person or THIS bylaw or THAT bylaw that they really don’t have time for anything worthwhile.

    Remember the David F. Nolan scholarship idea I had, the idea being to offer a speaking slot at national and an X thousand dollar scholarship for a Libertarian student who won the essay contest? Went nowhere. I sent emails around, I asked people, and got NOTHING back except your offer to contribute, Marc, which I appreciated. But you see, when people get no interest, not even an email saying “no, not interested, they stop. When they get beaten over the head enough by the bureaucracy within the party that is supposed to oppose bureaucracy, they stop.

    David Nolan’s final legacy was a resolution of inclusiveness, that we would welcome those of libertarian thought from whichever side of the political spectrum they came, but in the wake of his death and even in the face of this resolution, the purists came out in droves, pushing the goose-stepping party line over any attempt at examining all sides of issues, and even now that I’ve left the party, I STILL have people pushing their not-part-of-the-platform notions down my throat as “pure” Libertarianism. They are certainly not the majority, even of the radicals, but they’re loud, they’re obnoxious, and they drive good people away. (I think you’re also losing a lot of people now because the LP is becoming a footnote to the Tea Party, thanks to certain equal and opposite contingents, but that’s another thing altogether.)

    So fundamentalism and insistence on purity is indeed part of the problem, though not the only problem, and it is driving people away.

    Minarchists and anarchists share the path 90% of the way because it’s such a long way from where we are to where ANY of us wants to be. If we don’t work together, we don’t get anywhere.

    Yes, I left the party, and I know that makes me a villain automatically to a lot of people. Whatever. The message, as I’ve been told repeatedly, is more important than the messenger. Those who sincerely want to know why I left, feel free to email me. Hint: It wasn’t any individual or individuals, though I did mention them as examples of why I left, contrary to what was given out by someone who talked to me about it for 2 hours and STILL didn’t manage to grasp the point. Why am I not surprised?

  2. Matt Cholko

    Carolyn, I don’t think that Marc is saying that it is a good idea to badger people who aren’t “extremists” out of the LP. I think he was saying that groups who don’t pussy foot around what they want are able to get it – IF THEY PUT IN THE REQUIRED WORK.

    The problems you are describing seem to stem from extreme assholes, not “extremist” philosophy or “extreme” goals.

  3. Andy

    “Remember the David F. Nolan scholarship idea I had, the idea being to offer a speaking slot at national and an X thousand dollar scholarship for a Libertarian student who won the essay contest?”

    I haven’t heard of this before, but this is a good idea.

  4. Marc Montoni

    You know, I have never witnessed VCDL members “bullying” their opponents. I have watched VCDL members as they observed “die-ins” put on by the anti-gun crowd at the Virginia state capitol. Every one of the VCDL people I saw was respectful during the anti-gunners’ street theatre. Yet…

    Afterwards, local newspapers, various leftist bloggers, and other sources reported the VCDL people were loud, obnoxious, and bullying. I remember a few videos surfacing in response, challenging the antis to identify any instance of VCDL “bullying” of any sort.

    So far, no one has stepped up.

    Sometimes, we hold our views so dear that any challenge at all — even when the other side just shows up — is perceived as “bullying”. I’m reminded of the “Capitol Perp Walk”, where the black congressmen walked through the Tea Party rally. Newspapers, the nightly news, bloggers, and magazines all went ballistic when some P.R. flack hired by the left began circulating stories that the congressmen were called all sorts of racial epithets and were otherwise threatened…

    That is, until the videos came out on YouTube, and just about everyone — including leftists — realized they’d been had.

  5. Marc Montoni

    But another source of the “lack of effort” is in being beaten down every time you try to do something, caught up in the BS bureaucracy at every level of the party that supposedly hates bureaucracy, attacked as “not libertarian enough,”

    Well, you know, Carolyn… I proposed an idea once, but then Mike told me that though I could organize & fund it if I wanted, I wasn’t to get in front of any cameras at any time, and you defended him. Maybe you could consider that you were part and parcel of the very practice you now decry?

    … or receiving just a general apathy from people in the movement because they’re so busy bickering over THIS person or THAT person or THIS bylaw or THAT bylaw that they really don’t have time for anything worthwhile.

    Actually most people are just busy feeding their families and paying the rent. Let’s give them a break.

    Remember the David F. Nolan scholarship idea I had, the idea being to offer a speaking slot at national and an X thousand dollar scholarship for a Libertarian student who won the essay contest? Went nowhere. I sent emails around, I asked people, and got NOTHING back except your offer to contribute, Marc, which I appreciated. But you see, when people get no interest, not even an email saying “no, not interested,” they stop. When they get beaten over the head enough by the bureaucracy within the party that is supposed to oppose bureaucracy, they stop.

    Carolyn I’ve been at this since 1980. If I gave up at repeated failures, I would have given up in 1980. Thirty-one years later, I’m still at it.

    One of the (many) things I have repeatedly tried to convince Libertarians of is that email is a woefully bad way to get real warm-body participation. They’re great for reminders, or for an occassional nudge, but they are NOT a recruiting mechanism. They *can* be used for recruiting and fundraising, but the fact is that real letters — not to mention ringing a doorbell and shaking a hand — work at a MUCH higher rate.

    Establish a project for which you need X dollars. Pick out a list of 100 LP members in your area. Send 33 of them email fundraising messages. Send 33 of them hard-copy letters mailed via USPS. And go visit the other 33.

    I am fully aware that the emails are by far the cheapest method of contacting the members — but you get what you pay for. Email is CHEAP. To many people, emails say we don’t care about them, if that’s all we’re willing to invest. Far too many libertarian “leaders” rely almost exclusively on email for communicating with their fellow members. If we’re serious about building the movement, or the party, we have to actually knock on doors and meet our fellows. If you were to make appointments with a few current members in your state, talk to three or four of them per week, I’d bet before a couple of weeks were out, your scholarship project would have been fully funded.

    David Nolan’s final legacy was a resolution of inclusiveness, that we would welcome those of libertarian thought from whichever side of the political spectrum they came, but in the wake of his death and even in the face of this resolution, the purists came out in droves, pushing the goose-stepping party line over any attempt at examining all sides of issues, and even now that I’ve left the party, I STILL have people pushing their not-part-of-the-platform notions down my throat as “pure” Libertarianism.

    Well, you know, Carolyn, perspective can be a beeatch. From my perspective, what you’re doing right now — even though you say you’ve left the LP — sure seems to me like browbeating me and other radicals/anarchists to accept *your* version of purity. I’m not going to change what I advocate for you. Sorry. If you don’t want me “shoving my article about extremism down your throat”, the reality is: I didn’t force you to read it.

    They are certainly not the majority, even of the radicals, but they’re loud, they’re obnoxious, and they drive good people away.

    I could say the same thing about those who call for only “mainstream” libertarian positions. If I had their permission to identify them, I could actually specifically name several individuals who were LONG-time contributors to the LP — several of them monthly pledgers to both Virginia and national — who informed me that they were leaving the LP due to the changes made in 2006-2008.

    So fundamentalism and insistence on purity is indeed part of the problem, though not the only problem, and it is driving people away.

    If you don’t want purity to be an issue, then don’t insist on *your* version of purity. Be the change you want to see.

  6. Marc Montoni

    Extremists: “I shouldn’t have to register my tank with the DMV or anyone else!”

    No, they shouldn’t. But if that damn turret points in my direction, that’s threatened use of force, and I’m going to jump in my Toyota pickup truck and pull a Chadian flipflop on him.

    Hmmmm…. Now I’m confused. If a $2000 pickup truck with a cheap anti-tank gun beats a $2 million battle tank, ummm… which one *should* be registered?

    (The correct theoretical libertarian answer, of course, is “none”, but what about *now*?

  7. Carolyn Marbry

    Marc, the difference is, I never asked you to change anything, but especially not your personal philosophy, for me. I certainly never threatened your child’s life. And before you jump in and say you never threatened my child’s life either, I KNOW THAT. But these are things I have had to contend with from other hardcore fundamentalists in the movement.

    And you’re about the last person I would decry as not being “libertarian enough.”

    My point was that anything representing the Libertarian Party in any kind of official capacity should represent the platform (not the Radicals nor the Reform, but the platform agreed upon by the delegates in convention), and should do so professionally and well. You later clarified that this was your own personal thing you were doing, not something official in the party, and I withdrew my suggestions as I recall.

    So no, I’m sorry, you can’t accuse me of bullying you about anything. You are still free to do your project as you will. You may recall, we only offered advice, not mandates of any kind. And we were shouted down. But that’s neither here nor there. We’re gone, you’re still there, and mazel tov to you. Seriously.

    ~~ C

  8. Carolyn Marbry

    The only “purity” I insisted on was that official communication by LNC members and designated representatives on behalf of the party should be held to the platform. That’s all. Any other interpretation was a misinterpretation.

    ~~ C

  9. Carolyn Marbry

    Matt Cholko said, “The problems you are describing seem to stem from extreme assholes, not “extremist” philosophy or “extreme” goals.”

    Yep. But I was seeing so many of them, I was starting to feel like the husky at the back of the line…

  10. Robert Capozzi

    A few reflections:

    1) A single issue group – guns in this case – is not the same as a political party. As I live in VA, I would make the case we are not freer today than we were in 1980. This group may have been successful in influencing guns laws, but that’s the only salient takeaway that I see. ADR, but Brother Montoni’s anecdote proves nothing.

    2) Personally, I do not see VCDL’s agenda being especially L. Which weapons and how those weapons are carried on public property is up to the property owners, IMO.

    3) Is anyone surprised that there are people who prefer liberty and would identify with L ideas who might show up to a L gathering, see several people packing, and quietly decide to not come to the next meeting?

    4) This: “it turned out that the only WMD attack on our nation was a sophisticated product traced to the government’s own biological weapons labs….” proves precisely nothing. If Marc is making the case that the government does many irresponsible things, I’m sold. It does not follow that simply because the government does irresponsible things that there should be no laws governing private citizens doing irresponsible things that are inherently dangerous. It is in many ways unfortunate, but governments have WMD, but at this point proliferation of inherently dangerous weapons poses an even bigger risk. Brother Montoni’s argument misses the forest for the trees here, IMO.

    5) When Ls are both extremist and zealously rude as Marbury has experienced, I am as certain as I can be of anything that the LP and LM will be less effective in persuading others that our ideas are virtuous, workable, and peaceful.

    6) Given the choice between working hard or working smart, I choose the latter. Most major cities have de-institutionalized soapbox lunatics who have elaborate theories about what ails society…DC certainly does. I often see “hard working,” well-meaning lunatics who roll their shopping cart each do to a high-profile spot where they display incomprehensible signs alerting all passersby that chem trails, black helicopters, or some other nefarious thing is going to kill us all. I suspect most Ls would agree that this approach is not smart and is unlikely to work. OTOH, I don’t believe that the LP should adopt the Bob Dole approach to politics, either. As a Raffertyite, I’d prefer to be stuck in the middle, between the clowns and the jokers.

    7) ADR, but I don’t agree with Montoni that “Only WORK works.” I’d say it does not work for the soapbox lunatic above. I’d say it is not working for Root, now has two states LPs wanting to purge him for working hard. I’d say it wasn’t working for Marbry, who apparently was viciously harangued for non-plumb-line thought crimes. I’d say it wasn’t working for the WY LPers who’ve decided to leave and start the working-titled “Country Party.” I’m starting to see a pattern here; others may not. Setting the right intention is FAR more important than physical effort, I submit.

  11. paulie Post author

    The problems you are describing seem to stem from extreme assholes, not ?extremist? philosophy or ?extreme? goals.

    From https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2011/01/libertarian-peacenik-blog-on-mark-hinkle-wayne-root-and-the-question-of-libertarian-outreach-to-muslims-christian-and-jews/

    Milnes: George (Phillies), purge & takeover.

    Mary (Ruwart), purge & takeover.

    Country Crammer: Maybe they would if they could, but they can?t so they won?t.

    And in most likelihood their opponents won?t be either, at least not nearly as much as they would like to.

    They?ll have to learn to live with each other, like it or not, or go away mad.

    Milnes: go away mad=Tom K(napp)?

    Country Crammer: And on the other side Don Wills, and many other people over the years ? both extreme and moderate ? who have chosen not to work together with each other, while others have made the opposite choice.

  12. paulie Post author

    “Remember the David F. Nolan scholarship idea I had, the idea being to offer a speaking slot at national and an X thousand dollar scholarship for a Libertarian student who won the essay contest?”

    I haven’t heard of this before, but this is a good idea.

    I have heard of it before and I agree it is a good idea. I hope someone adopts it. If I wasn’t by turn living off the kindness of others and struggling to keep my head above water on the road I’d contribute myself.

  13. paulie Post author

    One of the (many) things I have repeatedly tried to convince Libertarians of is that email is a woefully bad way to get real warm-body participation. They’re great for reminders, or for an occassional nudge, but they are NOT a recruiting mechanism. They *can* be used for recruiting and fundraising, but the fact is that real letters — not to mention ringing a doorbell and shaking a hand — work at a MUCH higher rate.

    Establish a project for which you need X dollars. Pick out a list of 100 LP members in your area. Send 33 of them email fundraising messages. Send 33 of them hard-copy letters mailed via USPS. And go visit the other 33.

    I am fully aware that the emails are by far the cheapest method of contacting the members — but you get what you pay for. Email is CHEAP. To many people, emails say we don’t care about them, if that’s all we’re willing to invest. Far too many libertarian “leaders” rely almost exclusively on email for communicating with their fellow members. If we’re serious about building the movement, or the party, we have to actually knock on doors and meet our fellows.

    That is an excellent point and deserves an article of its own.

  14. paulie Post author

    Extremists: “I shouldn’t have to register my tank with the DMV or anyone else!”

    No, they shouldn’t. But if that damn turret points in my direction, that’s threatened use of force, and I’m going to jump in my Toyota pickup truck and pull a Chadian flipflop on him.

    That is an awesome story!

  15. paulie Post author

    They are certainly not the majority, even of the radicals, but they’re loud, they’re obnoxious, and they drive good people away.

    I could say the same thing about those who call for only “mainstream” libertarian positions. If I had their permission to identify them, I could actually specifically name several individuals who were LONG-time contributors to the LP — several of them monthly pledgers to both Virginia and national — who informed me that they were leaving the LP due to the changes made in 2006-2008.

    We’ve run into the same thing all over the country.

  16. paulie Post author

    Matt Cholko said, “The problems you are describing seem to stem from extreme assholes, not “extremist” philosophy or “extreme” goals.”

    Yep. But I was seeing so many of them, I was starting to feel like the husky at the back of the line…

    That is indeed unfortunately all too common an experience in the LP.

  17. paulie Post author

    2) Personally, I do not see VCDL’s agenda being especially L. Which weapons and how those weapons are carried on public property is up to the property owners, IMO.

    Precisely the problem with having any public property.

  18. paulie Post author

    It does not follow that simply because the government does irresponsible things that there should be no laws governing private citizens doing irresponsible things that are inherently dangerous.

    Who watches the watchers?

  19. paulie Post author

    Most major cities have de-institutionalized soapbox lunatics who have elaborate theories about what ails society…DC certainly does.

    But, enough about Congress…

  20. paulie Post author

    ADR,

    I think you told me what that stands for before, but I forgot. Alternative dispute resolution? Adverse drug reaction?

    I’d say it does not work for the soapbox lunatic above. I’d say it is not working for Root, now has two states LPs wanting to purge him for working hard. I’d say it wasn’t working for Marbry, who apparently was viciously harangued for non-plumb-line thought crimes. I’d say it wasn’t working for the WY LPers who’ve decided to leave and start the working-titled “Country Party.” I’m starting to see a pattern here; others may not. Setting the right intention is FAR more important than physical effort, I submit.

    Ideas are a dime a dozen. Implementation is the key.

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Thomas_Edison:

    * Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.
    o Spoken statement (c. 1903); published in Harper’s Monthly (September 1932)
    o Variants:
    o None of my inventions came by accident. I see a worthwhile need to be met and I make trial after trial until it comes. What it boils down to is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration.
    + Statement in a press conference (1929), as quoted in Uncommon Friends: Life with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Alexis Carrel & Charles Lindbergh (1987) by James D. Newton, p. 24.
    o Variant forms without early citation: “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration. Accordingly, a ‘genius’ is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework.”
    “Genius: one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”

    * Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.
    o As quoted in Thomas Alva Edison : Sixty Years of an Inventor’s Life (1908) by Francis Arthur Jones, p. 14

  21. Robert Capozzi

    ADR = all due respect

    I won’t disagree with Edison’s take when it comes to physical invention, but when it comes to social interaction, I completely disagree. How we relate to others is ALL ABOUT our intention…if I were to put a number to it, I’d say it’s in the 80-90% intention; 10-20% action.

    Many Ls seem to believe that ideas and words are analogous to material matters. My standard response is politics is not physics, and I’m sticking to that story.

  22. Marc Montoni

    And my standard response to the CMs and RCs of this world is that if you guys would stop insisting on *your* version of libertarian “purity” and actually pick up a phone or knock on a door a few times a week — even if the LP had kept it 2000 platform — the LP would at this point be a serious contender to the old parties.

    I’ve had to endure the taunts and insults of my share of a-holes also, and I can name many of them who were “reformers”, “mainstreamers”, not to mention RINO/LINOs’.

    But again: if certain individuals would spend a few hours a week diverting themselves from online “activism” like posting dozens of screeds on IPR and email lists every week, and instead actually go meet a new prospect or visit an expiring member with a renewal form in hand, the LP would be rather much bigger now.

  23. Robert Capozzi

    mm, thanks for your time-management counsel. I’ll take it under advisement.

    I cannot say I agree with you that I’m as effective as you seem to believe. If I spent full time (if I could spare it) making calls or walking my Beltway neighborhood, I suspect the LP would be about where it is today. I can be persuasive, but I’m no Jimmy McMillan!

    My analysis tells me that a L party COULD be more effective and attractive to large numbers, but that the current LP remains trapped by its foundational documents and a vestigial absolutist philosophy that contributes greatly to the current party’s toxicity. This is simply my opinion.

    Contrast that with your opinion…that Capozzi could convert throngs of his government-employee or Beltway-Bandit neighbors to seeing the blessings of liberty (despite losing their phat jobs)…and I still find mine more credible and likely, all things considered.

    Walking the streets of Richmond with a machine gun strapped to one’s back proselytizing about the evils of copywrite laws or licenses for MDs much be more target-rich, but even then, I’m not sure that that would yield major party status. My bet is that it’s doubtful.

  24. Gains

    “What hurts the Libertarian Party, extremism or lack of effort?”

    Neither. Mean people use both extremism and criticism of others good works to hurt the party. There are two types involved in politics: Those who earnestly want to see social change and work toward it, and the sociopaths that view it as a fun arena for hurting people.

    To think that extremism hurts the party is to concentrate on the axe not the axe murderer who is swinging it.

    To think that “lazy people” hurt the party is based the psychotic notion that you somehow own other people’s activity. It is likely that “lazy people” just don’t like your project, in which case to blame them for anything is most likely a manifestation of the axe murderer blaming the victim.

  25. Michael H. Wilson

    Robert what fairy tale land do you live in? You write; “Walking the streets of Richmond with a machine gun strapped to one’s back proselytizing about the evils of copywrite laws or licenses for MDs much be more target-rich, but even then, I’m not sure that that would yield major party status. My bet is that it’s doubtful.”

    Why not try writing your local Representative, or your Congressman and Senators on a couple of issues?

    And btw if you think licensing MDs protects you from incompetence I gotta bridge to sell you.

  26. Robert Capozzi

    mhw: Why not try writing your local Representative, or your Congressman and Senators on a couple of issues?

    me: Having been a lobbyist, I know that MCs don’t generally read their mail. Staff does, and they put it in piles when the issue seems relevant. If there was a specific piece of legislation that I felt that writing was the best use of my time, I might follow your counsel. In my case, though, I prefer to use my limited time conversing with fellow Ls, sharing some of my ideas about a different way to approach advancing the cause of liberty. This may or may not be my highest and best use, but it seems so at the moment.

    mhw: And btw if you think licensing MDs protects you from incompetence I gotta bridge to sell you.

    me: Protecting myself is not something that animates my interest in politics. My interest in politics is to advance peace, and IMO advancing liberty advances peace. While I can imagine having no licenses for MDs, in the short term, I don’t consider advocacy of abolishing MD licensure to be wise. Abolition of MD licensure in short term does seem irresponsible, since the practice of medicine is complex and life-critical. Other licenses seem to be lower-hanging fruit, like nail salons, for ex.

  27. Marc Montoni

    Hmmm… So what we’re saying here, apparently, is that only when the LP reflects Capozzi’s image of purity will the public come roaring to our table.

    What we’re supposed to do is be so eager to disparage abolishing licensure that we fail to to suggest that licensure could be (and sometimes has been) replaced by the ‘regulation’ offered by 1) professional certification and 2) insurance.

    What we’re supposed to do is be so eager to disparage private ownership of machine guns, that we fail to celebrate the fact that armed individuals often stop crimes-in-progress (which is what the Virginia Citizens Defense League celebrates).

    I get it, Bob. Really.

  28. Marc Montoni

    I cannot say I agree with you that I’m as effective as you seem to believe.

    Oh, I don’t know. As things stand now, I’d probably agree about your effectiveness.

    I’ve spent the past four years using the majority of my elective time writing newsletters, recruiting and processing new or renewal memberships, organizing or running information tables, processing new inquiries and trying to make sure they receive information & a phone call or three, and so on. Meanwhile, the only place I see Capozzi’s name is on this blog.

    If I spent full time (if I could spare it)

    No one asked for your “full time”. That’s called a ‘Red Herring’ argument. Even I don’t do that. Five hours a week — you spend more than that reading and posting on IPR — would be plenty.

    … making calls or walking my Beltway neighborhood, I suspect the LP would be about where it is today. I can be persuasive, but I’m no Jimmy McMillan!

    Well Bob… on that, I *know* you’re wrong. I’d suggest studying some videos of Harry Browne speaking to outside groups, or perhaps some of his radio or TV interviews. He was by far the best presenter of libertarian ideas the LP has ever managed to run for president; but the fact is that his rhetoric was gentle, appealing, and didn’t insult anyone’s intelligence — the bedrock of persuasion that anyone can master the basics of.

    Unless of course, your script resembled your proseletyzing: “Oh hi there, Mr Voter neighbor! I just wanted to find out if you’d like some more information about the Libertarian Party. Are you interested in your next-door neighbor being allowed to have a suitcase nuke in his apartment? Or your son being allowed to have sex with a 50 year old man? Well, if so, I think the Libertarian Party is for you! Here’s a printout of an article by LP critic Mike Huben, who systematically lies and exxaggerates about every position the LP takes, just like I did a second ago… Please join us and help me get rid of the radical libertarians…!”

    My analysis tells me that a L party COULD be more effective and attractive to large numbers, but that the current LP remains trapped by its foundational documents and a vestigial absolutist philosophy that contributes greatly to the current party’s toxicity. This is simply my opinion.

    My analysis tells me that the LP is trapped by a portion of its membership who can’t be bothered to go shake a hand like real politicians do, but who are ever eager to criticize the efforts of others who aren’t so constrained.

    Contrast that with your opinion…that Capozzi could convert throngs of his government-employee or Beltway-Bandit neighbors to seeing the blessings of liberty (despite losing their phat jobs)…and I still find mine more credible and likely, all things considered.

    That wasn’t what I said, so it’s not my opinion. Another Red Herring. What *is* my opnion is that those who want to see the LP succeed need to put on their business attire and go and shake some hands. One can start with the inquiries that come in just about daily from the national LP — heck, they’ve already expressed interest, they just need to see there are people behind the website. Your local LP chairman would **love** to hear from you — but only if you’re willing to work. He’s not going to be eager to get harangued by the purity police, so just keep that badge in your pocket.

  29. Ross

    Marc is so right, for all kinds of activists. If you don’t act on your beliefs, it’s just as if you don’t have any beliefs at all.

  30. Marc Montoni

    Psst. Marc, RC has you in the argument trap

    Yeah, I know. I indulge every once in a while, just to see if he’s ever going to change his tactics & obsession.

    Normally I ignore him for 6 months to a year at a time. Guess it’s time to return to that policy.

  31. Robert Capozzi

    mm34: So what we’re saying here, apparently, is that only when the LP reflects Capozzi’s image of purity will the public come roaring to our table.

    me: No, sorry, that’s not my view. I merely suggest that a more-moderate LP would be more likely to attract more people to our cause. I suggest that because a lot of people are already L leaning, that is fiscally conservative, socially liberal. I don’t pretend to be an expert in social change, since I cannot think of one thing I’ve done to effect social change. Then again, I don’t know anyone who HAS done so, since Gandhi and King. History has been all about chattering ever since, more or less, OR steps in the unpeaceful direction.

    MM: What we’re supposed to do is be so eager to disparage abolishing licensure that we fail to to suggest that licensure could be (and sometimes has been) replaced by the ‘regulation’ offered by 1) professional certification and 2) insurance.

    me: Disparage? No. I’m on the certification/insurance train, my brother. Those are my long-term preferences. Shorter term, I don’t see those as viable or especially attractive, which I would think most would agree with that assessment.

    mm: What we’re supposed to do is be so eager to disparage private ownership of machine guns, that we fail to celebrate the fact that armed individuals often stop crimes-in-progress (which is what the Virginia Citizens Defense League celebrates).

    me: Stopping crimes in progress sounds virtuous to me. Toting machine guns in public…not so much.

    mm35: I’ve spent the past four years using the majority of my elective time writing newsletters, recruiting and processing new or renewal memberships, organizing or running information tables, processing new inquiries and trying to make sure they receive information & a phone call or three, and so on. Meanwhile, the only place I see Capozzi’s name is on this blog.

    me: How you spend your time is your business. If these past 4 years have been fulfilling for you, then I am happy for you. If you met the standard you set @28 (“the LP would be rather much bigger now”), all the better! If not, that’s OK, too. My life situation simply doesn’t allow for party activities. When I see the ongoing purges and sanctimonious posing, I admit I get less interested. It’s of course NONE of your business how I spend my time — agreed?! — but at the moment, I spend what little time I have on suggesting that the purges and the sanctimonious posing is counterproductive. I would think that would be obvious, but apparently I am incorrect…again and again. 🙁

  32. Robert Capozzi

    mwh31 to me: And btw if you think licensing MDs protects you from incompetence I gotta bridge to sell you.

    g33 to me: Where did MHW advocate the abolition of licensing? I am adamantly against a monopoly in licensing by the government, and if you think that such a movement is bound to be fringe, you are not remembering recent history well…

    me: Hmm, well, there’s a lot of talking past each other to go around here, including me. I’d never suggested that licensure protects against incompen[ts], yet MHW made his comment 31. Your example of the licensure of osteopathy alongside MDs is also not quite on the mark. They are still state licensed, after all. I would think that others “get” that I use extreme examples as a means to illustrate how extremism in politics is unwise, not as a specific example that is necessarily being used currently by my fellow Ls. I’ll try to come up with a better technique for this crowd….

  33. Gains

    RC @40: “I would think that others “get” that I use extreme examples as a means to illustrate how extremism in politics is unwise, not as a specific example that is necessarily being used currently by my fellow Ls.”

    Sometimes it feels like to belittle the extreme example, is to also belittle the concept it was (albeit poorly) meant to illustrate.

    Extremism may not be your favorite approach, it is not my own. Extremism works for some, and there is definitely a place for it. The only danger I see in extremism isn’t from the extremists, it is from those who use the false onus of liability to manipulate the party in fear.

  34. Robert Capozzi

    g41, I’m curious why you think there is a place for extremism.

    It might seem “polite” to not challenge Ls who employ absolutist and extreme views, even when they cleverly cloak their extremist ideas. By way of analogy, consider the situation when you encounter someone is unkempt, say, a hair is out of place after removing a hat, for ex. Signaling that a hair is out of place strikes me as the kind, caring thing to do.

    The unkempt person may walk around throughout the day not knowing that his hair’s a mess. Is it helpful to say nothing? IMO, no.

    Similarly, when the old platform said there should be no regulation of weapons, even those that are inherently dangerous, that to me is analogous to unkempt hair in the political arena. Make that statement, and lose perhaps 80% of the population instantly. Most won’t even engage us when we’re looking like ridiculous fools.

    If there’s another way to look at those sorts of pronouncements, I’d like to hear it!

    The best answer I’ve heard thus far is that Ls should build a vanguard of (for lack of a better word) extremists as preparation for the inevitable and impending Revolution. Like the Leninists, a tough, disciplined cadre of ideological absolutists would be best positioned to win the Revolution, ushering in era of non-utopian proto-anarchy that would over time evolve into an evenly rotating economy in all things. This Revolution will not be pretty, the Vanguardists seem to (realistically) note.

    I acknowledge that this COULD be in the cards, but I ain’t buying this model on many, many levels. So, I challenge it. At minimum, the Vanguardists could view my challenges as preparation for their Revolution, as they can be sure that the Parasitic Statists will use far stronger rhetoric and agitprop tactics to discredit and weaken the Vanguard. Maybe I’m doing the Vanguard a favor! 😉

  35. paulie Post author

    If there’s another way to look at those sorts of pronouncements, I’d like to hear it!

    Push for as much freedom as we can possibly get. There are already plenty of other people pushing in the opposite direction. Our job should never be to join that push.

    Move the conversation. By introducing a more radical antithesis to the push for more regulations, we make less extreme anti-regulation positions seem more moderate and acceptable by comparison.

    Plant a seed. For example, I know many people that dismissed the idea of ending drug prohibition when they first heard it, but through persistent argument over the idea eventually came to consider it and finally agree. On the other hand, I was already for ending drug prohibition, but underwent a similar process when it came to, say, repealing workplace and environmental bureaucratic regulation.

  36. Gains

    RC @42: “I’m curious why you think there is a place for extremism.”

    Too easy:

    “Anyone who joins us in all sincerity, we welcome. Those who do not care for our cause, we don’t expect to enter our ranks in any case. And—and let our Republicanism, so focused and so dedicated, not be made fuzzy and futile by unthinking and stupid labels.

    I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.

    (Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.)

    And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Extremism_in_the_Defense_of_Liberty_Is_No_Vice

    Extremism has its place because it is there and it is fighting with you. As Goldwater pointed out, just previous to the quote, his party and the groundswell under him was made up of a lot of people, some of them were extreme.

    In that very famous speech, he also quoted Lincoln saying about the same thing. Extremists are not vangard of the revolution, they are vangard period. Front line troops, political marines… some of them akin to Recon.

    Extremism has its place, if for no other reason than it exists, that they are present, they do the activist heavy lifting better than anyone, they are working towards the large set of common goals and…

    …Exclusion in the face of liberty is a sin with catastrophic consequence.

  37. Robert Capozzi

    g, yes, in that sense, extremism has its place. Anything that exists has its place…by definition! And I have never suggested that extremism is a “vice.”

    I do question whether extremism is useful, however. Goldwater was shellacked, and despite his general desire for smaller government, his cause continues to fail — miserably, IMO.

    A true radical might want to question why that is. I would (heretically?) suggest that his ideas were not attractive enough, that his sanctimonious resistance backfired, and that helped to create more statists vs Goldwater-ites by aligning freedom with repellent ideas.

    Could it be that stridency is actually counter-productive?

  38. Gains

    RC @45: “Could it be that stridency is actually counter-productive?”

    Everything I have experienced and pondered indicates that if you have social goals, it takes time, effort, and a LOT of faith to realize them. That for a change in human social behavior simply will not happen by following any one plan either. Social change takes generations to realize and it takes as wide a variety of approaches as there are “types” of people to approach it.

    Stridency is a long game strategy and necessary for longevity. Without it, generational gains are lost. Short term plans and tactics often seem to grate long term ones, the reality is that they almost exist in separate spheres and where they touch is where we need people who can perceive both to be oiling the gears.

  39. paulie Post author

    @ 46 exactly correct.

    @ 45 Goldwater paved the way for Reagan, who transformed American politics. Not all for the good, but he did. Goldwater was also the first Republican to win for prez in the deep south since reconstruction. It wasn’t until Nixon 8 years later that a Southern Strategy was actually articulated, AFAIK, but Goldwater paved the way.

    @ 29 If I spent full time (if I could spare it) making calls or walking my Beltway neighborhood, I suspect the LP would be about where it is today.

    I think you have too low an opinion of your neighbors. I am willing to bet that they are not all government employees. Some must surely be small and medium sized business owners, or employees of non-government contracting businesses. And many government employees and contractors, while they do as you point out make a good living off the existing system for practical reasons, nevertheless are willing to philosophically admit it is wrong and work for long term change. I’ve met more than a few like this in the LP and movement.

    Naturally, Marc’s thesis is not that you alone could change the size of the LP by yourself, but that you would find other people who would find other people, etc. I think his point is a good one.

    This is in no way saying that you are obligated to do anything.

    Still, I think Marc’s overall point in this article makes a lot of sense.

  40. paulie Post author

    He also makes a lot of sense when he says

    My analysis tells me that the LP is trapped by a portion of its membership who can’t be bothered to go shake a hand like real politicians do, but who are ever eager to criticize the efforts of others who aren’t so constrained.

    And

    That wasn’t what I said, so it’s not my opinion. Another Red Herring. What *is* my opnion is that those who want to see the LP succeed need to put on their business attire and go and shake some hands. One can start with the inquiries that come in just about daily from the national LP — heck, they’ve already expressed interest, they just need to see there are people behind the website.

  41. Robert Capozzi

    g46: Stridency is a long game strategy and necessary for longevity. Without it, generational gains are lost.

    me: I’d say so far, progressivism has been making gains by taking the path of least resistance, i.e., by not being strident at all. I would also say that stridency is a prescription for unhappiness, as it is a resistant mindset. I prefer happiness to my political preferences all day long. I would suggest that progress happens (and is lost) one day at a time. As a theoretical asymptotic anarchist/applied lessarchist, I of course recognize that political movements are generally gradual and not immune to setbacks…comes with the territory.

    So, it appears we disagree…stridency is not only not necessary IMO, but actually counterproductive.

    p47: Goldwater paved the way for Reagan, who transformed American politics. Not all for the good, but he did.

    me: I agree, but I would say both would themselves be very disappointed with how their efforts worked out. Personally, I’m interested in positive, peaceful change, not change for change’s sake.

    p: Naturally, Marc’s thesis is not that you alone could change the size of the LP by yourself, but that you would find other people who would find other people, etc. I think his point is a good one. This is in no way saying that you are obligated to do anything.

    me: Thank you…we’re all doing what we can. On the margin, perhaps I could do a bit more, but when I see active purges going on, my enthusiasm is curbed. That so few seem concerned with such shenanigans curbs my enthusiasm all the more.

    And, yes, btw, my next door neighbors are small business folks. They voted Bush in 2000, Kerry in 04, Obama in 08. They are pro-markets, anti-war and VERY green. Hard for me to reach out to even them when the LP generally still seems stuck in “torts solve most everything” thinking.

  42. paulie Post author

    I’d say so far, progressivism has been making gains by taking the path of least resistance, i.e., by not being strident at all.

    Extremely strident progressives have been there all along, as well as moderate ones.

  43. paulie Post author

    And, yes, btw, my next door neighbors are small business folks. They voted Bush in 2000, Kerry in 04, Obama in 08. They are pro-markets, anti-war and VERY green. Hard for me to reach out to even them when the LP generally still seems stuck in “torts solve most everything” thinking.

    I recommend Healing Our World

    http://www.ruwart.com/Pages/Healing/

    if they are willing to read it (either the new edition, or the old edition available online for free). There’s also the CD at

    http://store.theadvocates.org/products/healing-our-world-dr-mary-ruwart

    Another good CD

    http://store.theadvocates.org/products/fire-the-rich-why-the-free-market-is-the-proletarian-revolution-roderick-long

    No one here is saying that they have to agree with us on everything, much less immediately. There are things that they disagreed with Bush, Kerry and Obama on, yet they voted for those people. It sounds like there is a lot of common ground already. Explore it.

    Since, I take it, you don’t agree with the “torts only” approach yourself (actually, for that matter, neither do I – I think carrots are as, or even more, important than sticks, and that public image can be just as much of a stick [and carrot] as either torts or regulations….but my views are not the point here), you don’t have to sell it.

    You can say something like “like you, there are things (such as a and b) I don’t agree with the Libertarians on….but they are better than the Democrats and Republicans on X, Y and Z which we both agree are important. And since electing only Democrats and Republicans is just making X, Y and Z worse and worse, I think I would like to have a bigger and stronger Libertarian Party to put some pressure on them on those vital issues. I wouldn’t worry too much about the Libertarians taking us too far in the other direction… the Democrats and Republicans are not going away any time soon.”

    That is, if you felt like talking to them about it.

  44. Robert Capozzi

    p51, by “progressives,” I’m referring to Wilson to Obama progressives. Yes, they have their more strident element, but my sense is they are less strident (fringy) than our strident Ls; they represent a smaller percentage of conscious “liberals” vs conscious Ls; and strident liberals are less inclined to chastise and purge non-strident progressives/liberals compared with strident Ls, who vehemently and viciously attack Ls who go off the strident-L-defined plumb line.

    Exhibit A: Anti-war progressives in the age of Obama. Now that their guy’s in the WH, they largely sit on their hands.

    Exhibit B: Two state LPs calling for a purge of Root because of non-plumb line quotes in a Vegas magazine.

    Absolutism does not allow for a sense of proportion…by definition!

  45. paulie Post author

    strident liberals are less inclined to chastise and purge non-strident progressives/liberals compared with strident Ls,

    While neither they, nor I, would describe them as liberals, if you spend some time on the left, especially the far left, you’ll find more and more of that the further out you go. It’s all part of a continuum, though, so in a sense I would say all those people are still part of the progressive movement.

  46. paulie Post author

    Exhibit B: Two state LPs calling for a purge of Root because of non-plumb line quotes in a Vegas magazine.

    Purging and extremism are two different things. There are some strident moderates who would like to purge extremists and vice versa.

  47. Robert Capozzi

    p56, I don’t know of any instances where more-moderate Ls attempted to purge an extremist L because the moderate did not consider the extremist to actually BE a L. The 2 instances of actions attempted to purge a strident/extremist L were in one case over uncivil behavior, the other was likely over ideological differences, but not an outright writing off of the absolutist as a L.

    I’ve certainly been told by a strident, absolutist L in a leadership position that I am not L, but a mere fellow traveler. Other moderates — who had NOTHING to do with the attempted purges of absolutist Ls — have reported similar treatment by absolutists.

    Why would I wish this sort of thing on my neighbors?!

  48. Robert Capozzi

    Oh, yes, I once brought a woman to a L gathering who considered herself small-L. At this gathering in northern VA, a prominent big-L was packing heat. I’ve lived in NoVA for nearly 30 years, and aside from L gatherings, I’ve never seen a non-cop packing in public. It’s just not done here.

    Needless to say, this woman (originally from MA) wanted nothing to do with L gatherings after that. She’s still a vaguely L, but she’d rather not be around weapons.

  49. paulie Post author

    @ 58 Bringing people to existing meetings may not be the best way to get them started.

    For some, reading, watching and listening to libertarian educational materials may be a better way to begin. Others might simply vote Libertarian as a “lesser evil”, maybe even sport a libertarian bumper sticker a little later.

    They may get involved in single issue organizations that fit their interests. Maybe more than one.

    Some might jump right into canvassing neighborhoods or holding signs at intersections, bypassing boring meetings.

    Others may even organize Libertarian meetings of their own in their own homes, where they are free to make rules such as no bringing in any guns if they wish.

    Sure, guns can make some people nervous. Warn them ahead of time. Tell them the people carrying guns are not really dangerous, they come to the meetings like that and have never shot anyone at a meeting. If your friends are not comfortable with that, don’t go.

    Some people may also be uncomfortable with any number of things: say, dreadlocks and marijuana leaf symbols. Or flamboyant homosexuals. Or cross wearing Christians. The list is endless.

    There is nothing that says they all have to go to the same meeting, either.

    Consider starting a group of “Libertarian Non Gun Owners.” Really, why not? Defending a freedom does not mean you wish to exercise it, and sometimes a group of people that counteracts the idea that we only want a given freedom for ourselves may be a good idea…like Straight Edgers Against Prohibition, maybe. Be creative with people’s pre/misconceptions.

    Hope that is of some use to someone, even if it is not useful to you…

  50. Robert Capozzi

    p59, thanks, I hadn’t recalled the Randall kerfuffle. Not exactly a purge, in my estimation, as he was making a general statement, not a specific resolution to purge an individual. I don’t agree with Randall, of course.

  51. Gains

    RC @50:

    “Progressives” don’t really have the same stridency nor do they have the same stickiness either. In states that allow it, many new progressives are not registering Dem or Grn but independent of party.

    Stridency has an appeal to even the non-strident. Pure philosophy is often a beacon.

    @58:

    I am going to agree with Paulie @60, there are a lot of ways that you can network libertarians. Business meetings can be BORING and you want them to develop an identity for themselves as a Libertarian before they meet the rest. Coalitions means individuals like yourself or the other guy getting together a circle of people and joining them to a larger collection of circles.

    @62:

    Individuals getting knocked out is a symptom of a purge. Groups being attacked is a purge. But you usually only need to knock out one person to make a whole group go away. Of course there are a lot of other people that go away too because the example you set told them they were likely next whether or not your purge succeeds.

    People are never purged for ideological reasons, they are purged to make for less competition. To use a position of trust for such behavior is highly unseemly.

  52. Michael H. Wilson

    RC @ 50 writes “And, yes, btw, my next door neighbors are small business folks. They voted Bush in 2000, Kerry in 04, Obama in 08. They are pro-markets, anti-war and VERY green. Hard for me to reach out to even them when the LP generally still seems stuck in “torts solve most everything” thinking.”

    In all the years I have been to meetings I have run across only a couple of people who suggest “torts solve most everything”. You accuse “absolutist”, whatever that may mean, of stretching, but you bring that kind of comment to the show everyday. So who be stretchin’ here?

    BTW Paulie posted a piece I have used as a brochure on transportation and in it I try to deal with a couple of issues that we normally don’t deal with such as poverty and pollution, so some effort is being made to work on a broader range of issues without resorting to torts. 😉

  53. Robert Capozzi

    mhw64: In all the years I have been to meetings I have run across only a couple of people who suggest “torts solve most everything”.

    me: I think you’re misunderstanding me. It’s not meetings I was referring to there. I was using my neighbors as an example of people who might be supporters of A LP, but are likely to NOT support THE LP.

    When I used the term “torts solve most everything,” I was specifically talking about the environment (although some Ls think torts solve everything). Near as I can tell, Ruwart is a torts-solves-environmental-challenges advocate. ADR, but I find that view naive at best.

    When pollution comes from many sources, none especially toxic individually but in aggregate detrimental to health, torts fail as an approach. Most absolutist Ls that I point this out to don’t seem to have a very good response. But, when I take it to the next level, proposing a green-tax shift, I am often accused of global-warming alarmism, environmental wacko-ism, statism, and more. These accusations sometimes border on the hysterical…neck veins bulge!

    Next, the bumper-sticker recitations begin…taxation is theft, damages need to be proved, government is the biggest polluter, etc.

    Near as I can tell, many with the absolutist mindset cannot process the idea that the environment is different, that property rights have not been established and likely cannot BE established. The notion of a smaller state funded by taxes on pollution seems unfathomable to the absolutist mindset. This proto-strategy of mine and other green Ls has the benefit of being plausible, potentially popular, and something that what The Keaton calls The Normals could get their heads around.

    Absolutist Ls resist this sort of “heresy,” often viciously. For them, Ls can only advocate either smashing the State or rolling it back rapidly. Talk of shifts is “unprincipled” in their minds, and frankly I see why! That’s how foundations built on sand work!

  54. Robert Capozzi

    g63: “Progressives” don’t really have the same stridency nor do they have the same stickiness either. In states that allow it, many new progressives are not registering Dem or Grn but independent of party. Stridency has an appeal to even the non-strident. Pure philosophy is often a beacon.

    me: don’t disagree. I’m more interested in advancing ideas than diagnosing the health of institutions. One can stand up for what one believes and yet not be strident (i.e., harsh, insistent and discordant) and intransigent. An unwillingness to negotiate is where Ls self-marginalize. Progressivism has been all about negotiation, slowly and steadily getting the progressive agenda enacted.

    “Strong” ideas certainly can be a beacon. LaRouche has been a beacon, too, for a (thankfully) small number of cadre. Rand and Rothbard have been beacons, too, with slightly larger cadres.

    Yet, politics is a numbers game. Small cadres are unlikely to advance an agenda like the Progressives have these past 100 years. IMO.

  55. Gains

    Is it really fair

    I wasn’t around for Rand or Rothbards courting the LP. Their cadres did not seem all that small. The LP could not maintain the relationship. But what do you know… The Republicans could?

    Small circles add up; but we don’t get to add them.

  56. Observer

    Gains @ 63:

    “People are never purged for ideological reasons, they are purged to make for less competition. To use a position of trust for such behavior is highly unseemly.”

    I don’t agree with your statement. The purge you are most likely speaking of did not involve making for less competition. It involved past behavior on someone’s part which indicated true character, and the possibility that it would harm the party. Actually, it did harm the party.

  57. JT

    Gains: “I wasn’t around for Rand or Rothbards courting the LP”

    Rand never courted the LP. She disliked it a lot.

  58. Robert Capozzi

    g68, sorry, I did not intend to imply that Rand and Rothbard did court the LP, although Rothbard did. Some reformed Randians founded/joined the LP, despite Rand’s opinion of the LP. My point simply was that Rand and Rothbard, like LaRouche, did have “strong” ideas, and did/do have cadre.

    All of their cadres are/were small compared with progressives, which have many, many flavors that are not absolutist and generally play well together, even if at times they disagree.

    This point of this particular part of the thread is to point out that when we’re dealing with cadres based on absolutist ideas, I am not surprised that the friction created leads to profound dysfunction. The LP has basically stood still for three decades.

    It seems important and necessary to point out that if elements of the LP are absolutist and unwilling to negotiate and other elements are more flexible, neither element is going to be satisfied.

    I have tried to be part of a move to fix the dysfunction, having served on the Platform Committee and the Reform Caucus. I even tried to start the Rodney King Caucus. I’m beginning to believe that trying to fix this ship is like running around on the boat expecting it to change direction. The LP’s lack of effectiveness is not IMO on an operational level, it’s at a more foundational level. It’s my contention that no amount of organizing can solve a deeper dysfunction. Treating the symptom works to triage, but that’s about it. The disease itself — the imposition of absolutism on the LP by a tiny minority — needs to be treated if significant progress is to be made.

  59. Gains

    RC @71:

    If you thought that serving on a document committee was going to change anything, there in lie what I consider your mistake.

    Similarly, the Reform Caucus positioned itself as a take over group electing to ostracize parts of the coalition. Granted, the RC was operating in the same fashion other factions were, but there is an important understanding here:

    Coalition is not built by redefining documents, positions and by-laws, you will only create animus in people that feel like you are trying to control them much in the same way that it seems from your post like you feel they were trying to control you.

  60. Robert Capozzi

    g72: Similarly, the Reform Caucus positioned itself as a take over group electing to ostracize parts of the coalition.

    me: Hmm, interesting interpretation. We didn’t try to take anything over, and we consistently emphasized the “big tent” theme. So, I wonder how you arrived at your conclusion?

    Given your diagnosis of my mistake (which may be spot on), what do you suggest when one part of a coalition claims to be the “true believers” and refuses to negotiate? The Countrytarian approach? The BTP approach?

  61. Gains

    RC @73: “Given your diagnosis of my mistake (which may be spot on), what do you suggest when one part of a coalition claims to be the “true believers” and refuses to negotiate? The Countrytarian approach? The BTP approach?”

    Absolutely not. Splitting does not create coalition either. Running away is for cowards in my book and encourages the elements that use fear to reduce competition. Splitting is also a symptom of very weak or negative affiliation.

    In politics, the ones that refuse to negotiate are the ones that lose out in the end. The analysis of the Reform Caucus I am about to deliver is not meant to be an insult. I am going to illustrate for example and hope that we can learn from it.

    The very title “Reform Caucus” evokes the image of takeover. You cannot reform others against their will and the insinuation was that it was exactly what was intended. That the Reform Caucus was created to remake the party in one image rather than a coalition of like groups.

    Back then I understood the Reform Caucus’ intentions, and their call for a bigger tent, and I agree with many of their stated goals. Others however, especially in California where the state administrators were holding back dues from counties, losing membership applications in ways that felt like factional filtering, demanding obedience to individual agendas, blocking member participation in convention and using aggressive force, felt like it was meant to forward a narrow factional agenda.

    Here, at least, the Reform Caucus was perceived by many as an ensign for repression. Despite the stated goals, that caucus was used as a tool to shrink the party, and it killed me personally to see it. I am a BIG tent Libertarian, for many it felt like the Reform Caucus was a different tent movement and not a coalition builder.

    If you want reform, reform the people, not the rules. The rules will naturally follow. If you start with changing the rules, the people will revolt and recoil at your perceived attempt to redefine them and their very existence in the coalition. Even your allies will feel the pressure before long.

    Some local organizations that are growing by leaps and bounds have done so by specifically de-accentuating the importance of steering documents and accentuating the value of having friends and allies and by developing an environment of friendly competition/cooperation in members and transparent trust in their officers.

    This creates an environment where in coalition can prosper and the stated goals of the Reform Caucus are realized and embraced by all.

  62. FYI! [More Don Lake]

    Ah, the Democans and the Republicrats are laughing n laughing. And other alternative political types are apprised, often at the speed of gab!

    *ah, them krazy Ls*

    “Carolyn Marbry // Jan 31, 2011:

    Matt Cholko, “The problems you are describing seem to stem from extreme assholes, not “extremist” philosophy or “extreme” goals.”

    Carolyn Marbry, “Yep. But I was seeing so many of them, I was starting to feel like the husky at the back of the [sled pull] line ……..…”

    Don Lake, “and year after year, decade after decade, the view, especially on the west coast, never changes ……..”

    *ignore the message, punish the messenger, ignore the message *

  63. Eric Sundwall

    RC: The LP’s lack of effectiveness is not IMO on an operational level, it’s at a more foundational level.

    I’d like to gestalt this a bit. I find the LP an effective, worthwhile third party because it speaks truth to power. Not because it has a bigger gang that gets my like minded folk elected at the detriment of others.

    No third party in the American system of single plurality districts will win in this day and age. There certainly is evidence of more success on this level in the 19th Century.

    There simply is no incentive for the average person to risk there vote or time for that matter, in ANY third party, no matter how it’s tweaked, perceived or operationally motivated. Accepting that truth is paramount for one’s sanity as an earnest activist.

    Saying that 80 percent of the population runs for the hills after they read the weapon plank of the LP platform is disingenuous. Nobody even worries about the GOP or Dem platforms. It’s about personalities, media and money in that context.

    The foundational problem that RC speaks of, is the electoral law, not the extremism of anarchists or the belly aching of those opposed to them. If a proportional representative system existed and percentages could be reflected in the legislative body, the course of this conversation would be altered drastically.

    I prefer to take stock in the fact that the LP even exists and continues to do so. I’m as ‘radical’ as they get philosophically, I guess, but I have no problem with people who want to run as a ‘moderate’. Pick three issues and be unrelenting is my motto.

    It has to be realized though, that there is a bond in any third party that is based on the idealism of its members, electoral success be damned. That’s a valid proposition in this style system. Yes, work is a valuable proposition in this context, but just being earnest and shaking your finger at slackers isn’t going to work either.

    Reality based activism and candidacies may be all we can expect, accusations of vanguardists waiting for the collapse seems a little strained. My prescription is a tincture of bemusement and hold close the decent folks who exist without the ‘success’ delusion.

  64. Marc Montoni

    …work is a valuable proposition in this context, but just being earnest and shaking your finger at slackers isn’t going to work either.

    Maybe true. But sometimes doing so assuages the frustration of constantly being the target of their derision — especially those of the know-it-all variety.

  65. Gains

    MM @78: ” But sometimes doing so assuages the frustration of constantly being the target of their derision — especially those of the know-it-all variety.”

    Derision should always be met with witty and entertaining ridicule.

  66. Marc Montoni

    There is simply no question as to who has the most available free time here, and who is willing to use any excuse that can be enlisted to rationalize away not helping. I have LP work on my plate for today, and I’m not willing to divert that time to engaging in a debate here that will win little in the way of understanding from he who purposefully chooses to not understand.

    The main thing I hope *some* readers will get from this article is: only WORK works.

    Despite the litany of excuses for not actually lifting a finger to promote the LP; despite the excuses why it’s “too hard” to recruit friends and neighbors, the truth is that only WORK works. Despite the pathetic attempts to convince people that the LP can succeed “if only it’s re-made in a certain person’s own image of perfection”, only WORK works.

    I’m going to leave this debate with three observations:

    1) Theory without any real experience is just that — theory. Or maybe just whole-cloth fiction. Anyone who really wants to find out the veracity of the LP-disparaging and radical-disparaging claims made here will just have to do the homework. Get involved. Really involved. Volunteer, and meet other Libertarians — especially the ones who are too busy trying to change the world that they don’t show up here spending hours of every day composing witty theories and daffy prescriptions on IPR and other lists. After a couple of years of actual activism under your belt, you will have a much better idea of what is truth and what is fiction.

    2) With a modicum of time and effort to fact check (or even do some real-world social experimentation), one can fairly easily refute just about every one of the excuses made above.

    3) Regarding the claim:

    Progressivism has been all about negotiation, slowly and steadily getting the progressive agenda enacted.

    … keep in mind two things:

    a) “progressives” are not “progressive” in any sense. There should be a better descriptive word, as most “progressives” could more accurately be described as reactionary, covetous despots.

    b) Anyone who really believes “Progressivism” has been “all about negotiation” and slowly getting their agenda enacted simply doesn’t know many progressives.

    I grew up in a family of them. I was one. I met hundreds just in my parents’ circle, and while I lived in Richmond after leaving home in the early 80’s, I attended more than a few leftist events (even after I became a Libertarian), and dated a series of leftist women. In my experience, they call for exactly what they want (gun control, state sanction of gay marriage, “Green” taxes, repression of politically-incorrect population groups (such as white males, business owners, capitalists, rich people, etc), state-paid abortion, the “right” to health care, etc). I have stood in the General Assembly with them, and listened to them speak. I have been at parties with them, and listened to their backchatter. I dated some of them.

    For anyone to try to tell *me* of all people that “progressives” are patient and don’t try to get the whole hot dog in one bite, well, that’s just hilarious.

    In all my travels in the leftist community, I met very few who felt they needed to tiptoe around about what they wanted. They don’t. They demand what they want, year after year, and eventually **the politicians** compromise and give them what they want, piece by piece. The left doesn’t compromise — the rest of society does.

    Only Libertarians are afraid of the connotations of their own philosophy. Only Libertarians are worried that they will be disliked by their ideological opponents.

  67. Gains

    MM @80: “There is simply no question as to who has the most available free time here, and who is willing to use any excuse that can be enlisted to rationalize away not helping.”

    I have a question. My posts are long, do I fit in that perceived do-nothing category? If so I take exception.

    Sometimes these lengthy posts sit on my computer for hours before I can get them out between responsibilities… which I hope explains my grammar sloppiness and makes it easier to forgive my sometimes disjointed sentences and non-sequitors.

    I spend a conservative minimum 10 hours a week on political action not including posting in forums or facebook. I attend and bring new people to several local meetings each month, hold social engagements that network Libertarians and work for campaigns and helping with party infrastructure tasks and I never am without a task.

    Last election cycle I spent between 30 and 40 hours a week working for a campaign on top of my full time (60+ hours a week) job and took time off to operate full time (read all waking hours) for hell week.

  68. JT

    Robert: “The disease itself — the imposition of absolutism on the LP by a tiny minority — needs to be treated if significant progress is to be made.”

    What does “impose absolutism” refer to specifically?And how does a “tiny minority” do that?

  69. JT

    Eric: “The foundational problem that RC speaks of, is the electoral law, not the extremism of anarchists or the belly aching of those opposed to them. If a proportional representative system existed and percentages could be reflected in the legislative body, the course of this conversation would be altered drastically.”

    I agree. I also think campaign finance laws and ballot access laws would have to be relaxed to make Libertarian electoral victories far more likely.

    However, if I thought it was IMPOSSIBLE for Libertarian candidates to ever win a federal race in the current system, I wouldn’t be in the Libertarian Party. I’m not interested in being a member of a political party that won’t have a chance of electing any of its candidates to such offices unless the entire electoral system is remade (which I don’t think will happen). If I only wanted to be a libertarian activist, I’d join another libertarian activist organization. They do exist.

  70. Robert Capozzi

    ES76: The foundational problem that RC speaks of, is the electoral law, not the extremism of anarchists or the belly aching of those opposed to them.

    me: Sorry, I must not be making myself clear, so let me try again. I have no problem with anarchists (I sorta am one, kinda, asymptotically), or even extremists. My problem is the attempt to impose the absolutist plumb line on Ls who are not absolutist plumb liners. My take on the gestalt of the LP is that when an element uncompromisingly holds other Ls to their standard, we will get what we’ve been getting…perenial intra-party war.

    mm80: In my experience, they call for exactly what they want (gun control, state sanction of gay marriage, “Green” taxes, repression of politically-incorrect population groups (such as white males, business owners, capitalists, rich people, etc), state-paid abortion, the “right” to health care, etc).

    me: Always happy to brighten your day, Marc, but you miss my point. Progressivism has evolved since, say, 1920. Your list of their points of advocacy was quite different then, and quite different in 1970, too. As they achieve their aims, they add to their list. They don’t have a master construct by which they measure all their advocacy. They instead have a more general sense of a desire for equality and justice, and they push for more incremental steps in that general direction.

    My take is that many Ls are still highly influenced by absolutist thinkers who advocated a rather specific construct against which all political advocacy is measured. While I don’t subscribe to this approach, I’m quite OK with fellow Ls still employing it in their personal politics. Imposing this on us Ls who don’t subscribe to absolutist constructs is what I object to.

  71. paulie Post author

    Progressivism has evolved since, say, 1920. Your list of their points of advocacy was quite different then, and quite different in 1970, too. As they achieve their aims, they add to their list.

    There have been progressives and socialists, inside and outside of smaller and larger political parties, calling for more as well as less radical change that whole time, and longer.

  72. Marc Montoni

    No, Gains @ 82, i wasn’t referring to you. I don’t think you’re even close on the sheer volume of material submitted to this site by the individual to whom I *was* referring.

  73. Gains

    RC@85: “While I don’t subscribe to this approach, I’m quite OK with fellow Ls still employing it in their personal politics. Imposing this on us Ls who don’t subscribe to absolutist constructs is what I object to.”

    So, it is the imposition that you object to… forget the “absolutist” thing for a second, I think in the scheme of what ticks you off, the theme is not that important; it is the behavior. How does imposition manifest itself?

  74. Michael H. Wilson

    RC @ 85 writes; “My problem is the attempt to impose the absolutist plumb line on Ls who are not absolutist plumb liners.”

    Robert you are focusing on a small subset within the group. I am sure that if you did an analysis of the size of that subset compared to the time spent on it you would find it is a loss. Other than that it may be that it is just an excuse to avoid other things.

  75. Robert Capozzi

    Mm80: Only Libertarians are afraid of the connotations of their own philosophy. Only Libertarians are worried that they will be disliked by their ideological opponents.

    Me: If this is true, I trust you are making a general observation here. I assure you I personally am not afraid of the connotations of my philosophy. While there would always be challenges, rolling back the State incrementally seems like something to look forward to, as I believe a more peaceful, civil society is in virtually everyone’s interest. Since I am not a dualistic absolutist, the word “opponent” doesn’t register for me. I have no opponents. I sometimes disagree with others, and I sometimes even disagree with my own opinions, so I change them!

    “Listen son, said the man with the gun,
    There’s room for you inside.”

    “It was only a difference of opinion,
    but really…I mean good manners
    Don’t cost nothing, do they, eh?”

    -Pink Floyd, from Us and Them

    P86: There have been progressives and socialists, inside and outside of smaller and larger political parties, calling for more as well as less radical change that whole time, and longer.

    Me: Yes, of course. There are always ranges of thought. Today’s fringe can become tomorrow’s edge. Today’s edge can become tomorrow’s mainstream. Totally agree. Totally get it. *Emphasis on CAN, though!* However, I’d note that MM80’s list – “gun control, state sanction of gay marriage, “Green” taxes,” – is part of the agenda NOW, but wasn’t in 1920.

    G88: So, it is the imposition that you object to… forget the “absolutist” thing for a second, I think in the scheme of what ticks you off, the theme is not that important; it is the behavior. How does imposition manifest itself?

    Me: Thanks for allowing me to clarify. It’s not the “imposition” as much as the “attempt to impose.” Imposition is not always successful. Examples of imposition include: Procedural traps in the bylaws to protect NAP absolutism as the animating idea for the LP; many examples in the Libertarian Forum in the early to mid 80s; weekly if not daily critiques of moderate Ls as not being “true” Ls on LewRockwell.com; ID and FL’s ongoing attempt to purge Root; Wills and other WY Ls who’ve decided the LP is “too radical” (http://countryparty.org/more.html#lpcp); and – while I don’t have the details – it appears the Marbry has had enough of the absolutist savagery in Comment 1 of this thread: “But when extremism becomes bullying, when those who would run for office are told that anyone elected to the government or trying to get elected is a “statist,” when people are being told not only not to vote for the two big parties but for anyone because (somehow) that’s going to change the system, even though the LP is a political PARTY, when people are browbeaten for not adopting the goose-step du jour against cops/soldiers/whatever without question… it’s not surprising that they simply stop doing anything and often end up leaving the party.”

  76. paulie Post author

    while I don’t have the details – it appears the Marbry has had enough of the absolutist savagery in Comment 1 of this thread

    I don’t have the details either, but from what I’ve gathered, some people have been impolite in their criticism of her son for choosing to become a police officer. I may be wrong, but I believe that is what happened, or a part of what happened.

  77. Gains

    RC @90:

    So, it is bullying, both passive an overt that you take umbrage with?

    I can understand that… now the fun part… how does one manage to bully without breaking the NAP with force or fraud?

  78. Robert Capozzi

    g92, I’m no NAP expert, as I find it useful as a True North only. I suspect that NAP absolutists might say that words and purges don’t involve actual force, not physical violence or even threats. And I can’t say I disagree. Verbal bullying is, however, not acceptable to me. Civil disagreement, OTOH, is acceptable.

  79. Robert Capozzi

    g94, “bullying” was Marbry’s word. I’d call it “haranguing.” At times, another word might be “dilatory tactics,” or “ad hominem attacks.” “Leninism” might work, too, at times.

  80. Gains

    RC @95:

    I think that the behavior you describe as I understand it is aggressive and unfair. The use of fallacy whether it be clever mincing, ad hominem or shouting down, the tactics, and the strategies that employ them for that matter, are applications of fraud.

    The application of abuse causes duress. I contend that even in less overt applications, frequency of abuse has a multiplicative effect.

    To harangue is to engage in a protracted campaign of fraud and abuse. It is clearly against the NAP.

    Taking the understanding further, there are bigger implications of force and fraud when haranguing is used. If there is a campaign of such attacks, a divisive and violent atmosphere is created. The larger danger of haranguing is that it allows others to leverage little acts into a larger threat and everyone that joined in on the “lesser” threats are just as culpable.

    A healthy coalition would actively discourage such behavior. Certainly those who are fervent NAP adherents would recoil at such tactics.

  81. Robert Capozzi

    G96 A healthy coalition would actively discourage such behavior. Certainly those who are fervent NAP adherents would recoil at such tactics.

    Me: Yes. To be fair, though, the haranguing is not IMO a “campaign,” though, near as I can tell. Rather, it is a persistent – probably unconscious – imitation of the two leading absolutist NAP advocates: Rand and Rothbard. If one reads their works, they both engaged in highly judgmental attacks on others. Exhibit A would be the Libertarian Forum from 1980-84. At the root of absolutism lies a desire to perfect and correct those who are closest to the Randian and/or Rothbardian mindset, to bring fellow travelers into submission OR to castigate and distance those close to their worldview for their “impurities.” Dougherty called this the “narcissism of small differences.” I think he nailed it.

    IMO.

  82. paulie Post author

    Moderates, as well as extremists, can be tolerant or intolerant. And either one can be hard working or lazy. It seems to me that all three are independent variables.

  83. FYI! [More Don Lake]

    Robert Capozzi //Feb 3, 2011:

    “I’m no NAP expert ……. Verbal bullying is, however, not acceptable to me ………”

    “bullying” was Marbry’s word. I’d call it “haranguing.” At times, another word might be “dilatory tactics,” or “ad hominem attacks.”

    [Lake: and in the spirit of balance and fair ness I want to personally thank you for ‘shouting out’ on the reprehensible / irreprehensible behavior of Doctor Donald Grundmann and Cody Quirk. And, wait, um, er, never mind ……….]

  84. Gains

    RC @97″: “Exhibit A would be the Libertarian Forum from 1980-84. At the root of absolutism lies a desire to perfect and correct those who are closest to the Randian and/or Rothbardian mindset, to bring fellow travelers into submission OR to castigate and distance those close to their worldview for their “impurities.” Dougherty called this the “narcissism of small differences.” I think he nailed it.”

    I think so too… but that was 30 years ago. We don’t need to hold on to that crap do we?

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