Mark Anderson: ‘We’re a Long Way from Liberty’

Mark Anderson at Freedom Gulch:

The current Libertarian Party infighting revolves around the debate over who best represents and markets libertarianism: radicals, minarchists, or moderates/pragmatists.

People, this isn’t the fight.

It may have been bad publicity for Arvin Vohra to publicly criticize certain members of the military, and a watered down libertarian message may do little to differentiate us between other political parties. But that is of little consequence because America today is statist AF.
Go read the comments on online articles; go read your non-libertarian Facebook friend’s posts, and go read the comments on community pages. What you’ll find more often than not are people calling for more laws, stricter enforcement of existing laws, more spending on education, military, economic development, etc. The general feeling of most people is that more government intervention is needed to fix whatever problems they recognize.

This isn’t even a Progressive problem anymore; just as common as the democrats on your friends list calling for more spending on education, healthcare, and the environment to go along with higher taxes, regulation, and oversight are the conservatives desiring more money spent on military intervention, criminal justice, and agricultural subsidies.

What’s more, the lines between republicans and democrats are blurring more every day, and in the direction of more government intervention in the day-to-day lives of average Americans. Which two groups are closer on gun rights, Libertarians and Republicans or Democrats and Republicans? That answer isn’t as tricky as it may seem. Both republicans and democrats concede it is the government’s role to dictate who may own, possess, and carry a firearm.

American’s are growing more statist by the day, favoring a government that encroaches more and more on our lives and setting the terms for us to live by.

On a local Facebook page that offers updates on law enforcement calls and activity, one commenter posted (I assume jokingly) that the government should perform forced sterilization on a group of people setting off fireworks late during a work night. That’s obviously an extreme example, but the average American today fully endorses the government being more active, and especially proactive, in dealing with the issues they deem important.

When someone sees a problem, their first instinct isn’t how to get involved themselves and deal with it, but instead they run to the government to fix it. The government has become a cure-all for whatever ails our communities.

We’re losing, badly. Not just elections and party membership numbers, but in the overall direction the country and our communities are headed. It’s fun to debate the finer points of libertarianism in Facebook groups, but we need to become a part of the conversation with our neighbors on the topic of the role of government.

A good friend of mine, Marc Montoni, who has been a Libertarian Party member, officer, and activist since the stone ages comments daily that if you want to steer the direction of the Libertarian Party and government, then organize or become involved with your local county or city Libertarian Party, walk your district or precinct, or otherwise get involved locally.

That’s great advice. You can complain to and about the LNC, contact your regional rep, and scold those that do not hold your exact views, or you can make a real impact by talking to people in your own community about what you feel are the right answers.

Jason Stapleton, who rarely spares a kind word for the LP, often talks of the Liberty Train, how the train is going down the tracks and maybe at the end of the track is anarchism, but you can get off whenever you want, when you are at the level of government you want. But folks, that train isn’t even moving because we’re all at the station arguing with each other about the damn direction it’s going to go.

Maybe totally eliminating the state is the best answer, or maybe a gradual shift to more constitutionally principled government is right, either way that is the direction we need to be going, and we’re not. Every day lawmakers are sitting down to write new bills or come up with new ways to spend our money, and very rarely are those bills and laws going in a libertarian direction.

I have a certain end goal I believe we should be striving to reach, certain beliefs on what I think the appropriate role of government is, but as long as you’re on the Liberty Train and willing to put in a little work to help that train get moving, I’m on your side no matter where your stop is.

If the ultimate goal of libertarians is a smaller government, it doesn’t matter all that much on how small each individual is looking for right now. If I’m a minarchist and you’re more moderate, we can have a conversation about the direction of the Libertarian Party when we get to your stop. But I don’t think any libertarian is close to their stop right now.

Right now the Liberty Train is going in reverse, downhill, and picking up steam in the wrong direction. Let’s stop wasting so much effort arguing and berating each other over the finer points and start making a difference in our community.

42 thoughts on “Mark Anderson: ‘We’re a Long Way from Liberty’

  1. paulie

    I’ve posted much the same thought, at least in comment form, many times. I’m not sure I ever wrote an article about it though.

  2. Anthony Dlugos

    “Jason Stapleton, who rarely spares a kind word for the LP, often talks of the Liberty Train, how the train is going down the tracks and maybe at the end of the track is anarchism, but you can get off whenever you want, when you are at the level of government you want. But folks, that train isn’t even moving because we’re all at the station arguing with each other about the damn direction it’s going to go.”

    That tells us something is fatally wrong with the train analogy, doesn’t it?

  3. paulie

    Not as far as I can tell. I came up with the same analogy independently years ago before I ever read that it was an idea a lot of other people had already had. Why do you think it isn’t valid?

  4. robert capozzi

    pf, Gene Burns (a radio talk show host) was a candidate for the 84 LP prez nomination in 1983. Backed by the Crane Machine, Burns backed out months prior to the convention. But he used the freedom train analogy during his campaign, suggesting that some might get off along the way.

    It’s a great analogy.

  5. robert capozzi

    ad, my take is the argument is NOT actually about direction.

    Rather, it’s more about rules of behavior on the train. NAPsters have some very strict, non-negotiable rules about what can be advocated while on the train. In their minds, any position that violates the NAP triggers their ire, even if the train is moving in the direction of liberty.

  6. Anthony Dlugos

    “Why do you think it isn’t valid?”

    Doesn’t Mark answer that question himself?

    “…we’re all at the station arguing with each other about the damn direction it’s going to go.”

  7. paulie

    If by we you/he mean libertarians, I don’t think so. We are arguing about how far to go, not in which direction. Therefore I think the analogy stands.

  8. paulie

    NAPsters have some very strict, non-negotiable rules about what can be advocated while on the train. In their minds, any position that violates the NAP triggers their ire, even if the train is moving in the direction of liberty.

    Oft repeated but rarely true. I’ve seen few people that you would call napsters ever condemn anything that moves in the right direction. Rather I have seen many often legitimate arguments that certain moves that are sold as being incremental moves in the correct direction are in fact moves in the wrong direction in reality.

  9. paulie

    Burns backed out months prior to the convention. But he used the freedom train analogy during his campaign, suggesting that some might get off along the way.

    It’s a great analogy.

    I agree with him, and you – I think it describes things well.

  10. Michael

    Instead of a train, I believe we are on a rowboat in the middle of an open ocean.

    And “we” means everyone in the same polity who votes, who activizes, who contributes, who runs for office, who holds office. On *all* sides.

    There’s no track. The boat moves according to the resultant vector of all the rowers.

  11. robert capozzi

    pf: Oft repeated but rarely true. I’ve seen few people that you would call napsters ever condemn anything that moves in the right direction.

    me: One example that comes to mind was GJ’s fiscal plan. Major spending cuts, abolition of many forms of taxation, replaced with the FAIR tax. Now, of course, I was no fan of his choice of the FAIR tax, but on balance I would say that GJ was pointing in the direction of less government, not more, again, on balance. For this he was roundly criticized by many NAPsters.

    pf: Rather I have seen many often legitimate arguments that certain moves that are sold as being incremental moves in the correct direction are in fact moves in the wrong direction in reality.

    me: Definitely. That would be engagement vs. the VERY narrow channel and terms that NAPsters lay down. Most NAPsters will not accept trade-offs…every element of a L’s program MUST enhance liberty even if they MIGHT grant that GJ was pointing in a lessarchistic direction.

    Not only do NAPsters subscribe to No Particular Orderism, they subscribe — often vociferously — to a level of uni-directionalism that almost necessarily means to Ls could never govern, IMO.

  12. paulie

    Now, of course, I was no fan of his choice of the FAIR tax, but on balance I would say that GJ was pointing in the direction of less government, not more, again, on balance.

    I think the fraudulent “fair tax” is a good example of something sold as an incremental move in the direction of freedom which is actually a huge leap in the opposite direction, although I did give Johnson more credit than some for his overall plans to cut spending, debt and regulation.

  13. paulie

    Instead of a train, I believe we are on a rowboat in the middle of an open ocean.

    And “we” means everyone in the same polity who votes, who activizes, who contributes, who runs for office, who holds office. On *all* sides.

    There’s no track. The boat moves according to the resultant vector of all the rowers.

    I think you are correct, as far as overall public policy goes. But it’s more like a train track when we just take the libertarian slice of that population, since we all at a minimum want to move the boat, train or whatever kind of vehicle it is in the same general direction vis a vis where it is now.

  14. George Dance

    Paulie – “I think the fraudulent “fair tax” is a good example of something sold as an incremental move in the direction of freedom which is actually a huge leap in the opposite direction, ”

    A big advantage to a sales tax over an income tax is that it removes all coercion on payers, and potentially on collectors as well.

    “although I did give Johnson more credit than some for his overall plans to cut spending, debt and regulation.”

    Good.

  15. JamesT

    I’m honestly on the Stapleton 2020 train. Many napsters are cultists. Drawn by general nihilistic hatred of all societal institutions and norms. Hence people like Cantwell or Moly go alt right. Then others go full SJW marxist. The language makes sense to less than 1% of the population. It’s just a bad advertising tool. Even Ron Paul (hated here but the most effective salesman to date) doesn’t talk too much NAP. He does at times but he managed to communicate with a lot of people early up the train and on different tracks. I think “issue based principled populism” has proven out of pragmatism or NAPsterism. It’s a third way so to speak. And its clear the LP needs a 3rd way between Johnson\Barr and Harry Browne.

  16. JamesT

    Robert – I agree about the no particular orderism. Again I think it’s the dumbest idea ever. Like “let’s fight a war without any strategy, tactics or logistics.” It’s useless. Anyone can tell the state does something that are worse than others. Some are more disproves of then others. Focus your energy on weak points. But no that’s the same as Hitler. Or whatever NAPster trolls yell at me on twitter about. I think an-caps have a valid point. I tend to side with them but from personal experience they are mostly nuts and scare off normal people. I’ve been to enough end the fed & LP meetings to see it first hand. It’s very frustrating and part of why I stopped being involved.

  17. paulie

    I don’t think of no particular orderism as saying that you can’t focus on some issues more or first. Rather, I see it as saying that freedom issue x can’t be held hostage to freedom issue y, along the lines of

    “we can’t get rid of immigration quotas until we get rid of the welfare state”

    “we can’t get rid of the welfare state until we get rid of occupation licensing laws”

    “we can’t get rid of occupation licensing laws until we get rid of government-subsidized medical care”

    “we can’t get rid of government-subsidized medical care until we end the drug war”

    “we can’t end the drug war until we get rid of the welfare state…”

    I think of that kind of argument as a dead end. But by all means concentrate your efforts where you feel they are most needed and/or effective.

  18. Andy

    You want liberty now? Then stop living around people who don’t want liberty. Live in a place where all of your neighbors are libertarians. Then you will have liberty, or at least as much liberty as possible in your local area.

    There are two libertarian communities in the world of which I am aware. Porcfest, which is held at the Roger’s Campground in Lancaster, New Hampshire, and The Jackalope Freedom Festival, which is held on National Forest Land in Forest Lake Estates, Arizona. There are only temporary libertarian communities, because they only last for a week.

    If libertarians really want the maximum amount of freedom they can get, right now, form year round communities like Porcfest and The Jackalope Freedom Festival.

    If enough libertarians did this in the USA, they could take over the local government by gaining majorities on all of the local government boards, and they could take over the Sheriff’s department by election a libertarian Sheriff, who can then implement the Deputize Em plan, by appointing libertarians as deputies.

    Libertarians are supposed to be free marketeers, so how about starting a libertarian real estate development company? Build a giant libertarian condominium complex/private gated neighborhood/private city. Libertarians sign a contract agreeing at adhere to libertarian principles (if they violate the contract, they can be tossed out of the community), and then start buying up lots and moving into the community.

    Now you have a city where everyone lives there is a libertarian, and everyone is bound by a libertarian contract. You no longer have to worry about whether the Democrats or the Republicans are going to control the local government boards, or increase your taxes, or pass some other stupid law, or if some cop is going to violate somebody’s rights, because there won’t be any Democrats or Republicans around. If a libertarians violates the contract, there’d be a dispute resolution system (as mandated in the terms of the contract), and depending upon the situation, it could result in them getting thrown out of the community.

    How do libertarians expect to be free they live around a super-majority of people who don’t want freedom?

    So if you want freedom now, this is what needs to be done. Let’s form a company, devise a contract, throw in some money, buy some land, develop that land into a private neighborhood/city, and then start moving there.

    This could be done in the USA, or out of the USA. If it is done in the USA, we’d still have to contend with the US government, but at least we could take over the local government. If we got enough libertarians to join the project, we could takeover the local city/town government, and possibly the county government (we’d have to pick an area with a low population). Once we gain control of the local government, we can control the local police and/or Sheriff’s department. Then we hire all of the cops/deputies. We could deputize every libertarian in the county. This would also give us the weapons arsenal of the local police/Sheriff’s department, and access to law enforcement data bases. What if the state government, or the federal government, tries to come in and arrest somebody? Well, they could try this, but the Sheriff is supposed to be the highest law enforcement officer in the county, and they are supposed to get the permission of the Sheriff before they can arrest somebody in the county. What if they do it without getting permission from the Sheriff? They may try this, and maybe they will even be successful, but they certainly won’t be able to get a conviction in any court that is located in this county, at least not for a victimless crime, because they’d have an entire county filled with fully informed jurors. The residents of the libertarians private neighborhood/city may still get coerced into paying some state and federal taxes, but the state and the federal government would have a more difficult time collecting it, especially if all transactions within the private neighborhood/city were done using cryptocurrencies or gold & silver, or even with Federal Reserve Notes, but it was all done in straight cash.

    Taking the private libertarian neighborhood/city concept to another country might be a better option, but then we’d have to deal with whatever government existed in some other country. Perhaps we could form the development company, and then start shopping around for countries in which to build the private neighborhood/city. Paying off the government in some poor country might be the way to go.

    Whether this were done in the USA, or in some other country, I think that this is the only realistic plan to get maximum freedom in your lifetime.

    I call this concept, The Libertarian Zone.

    https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2014/07/andy-jacobs-the-libertarian-zone/

  19. Andy

    “There are only temporary libertarian communities,”

    Should read, “These are only temporary libertarian communities…”

  20. Anthony Dlugos

    “No Particular Orderism” is a noxious, sulfurous belch from the pits of hell. It’s the seemingly nice enough Lilliputian who enters the bar with a smile, gets a little liquor in them, then belts out, “I’ll knock out any motherf*cker in this joint!!”

  21. Andy

    “Anthony Dlugos
    August 18, 2017 at 12:38
    ‘No Particular Orderism’ is a noxious,”

    Anthony may have just said something where I actually agree with him. This does not happen very often.

    Thinking that it does not matter in what order you cut/eliminate government could lead to some very bad consequences, which could end up having the opposite effect that libertarians want. This is like the analogy of trying to disarm a bomb, and pulling the wrong wire out at the wrong time, in which case, the bomb blows up in your face.

  22. paulie

    Anthony may have just said something where I actually agree with him.

    Yes, and you’re both wrong, although I think it may be that Anthony, like James T., may be misinterpreting what some of us mean by no particular orderism.

  23. Andy

    “paulie
    August 18, 2017 at 13:10
    ‘Anthony may have just said something where I actually agree with him.’
    Yes, and you’re both wrong, although I think it may be that Anthony, like James T., may be misinterpreting what some of us mean by no particular orderism.”

    OK, so releasing all of the murders, rapists, child molesters, and other violent thugs who are in prison would reduce government. Does this sound like a good idea to anyone?

  24. Andy

    Hey, how about abolishing the fire department, right while your house is on fire?

    How about abolish elections? Abolishing elections would save a lot of tax money, and not to mention all of the money that gets spent on campaigns, and it would spare everyone those annoying campaign commercials. We could just keep the same people who are in office right now, in office for life, and if they die or retire, they could just appoint somebody to take their place, instead of wasting everyone’s time or money on those pesky elections.

  25. paulie

    So far all the criticisms of no particular orderism that I am seeing don’t seem to understand what the term means.

  26. JamesT

    Paulie clarify what you mean by it then? I don’t mean to misrepresent intentionally. It’s just my description is what I’ve had people argue to me before.

    Also Andy. I’m not moving. My home is my home. People aren’t rational actors we’re emotional ones. Hence why “blood and soil” exists and won’t go away no matter how ugly it gets. If I ever move; wherever I go SE PA is a part of me and always will be. People want to fix their homes not leave them. The FSP is a nice idea but it’s just unrealistic to human nature IMHO. Some people have wanderlust but idk if its enough people to to sustain multiple communities.

  27. Andy

    Funny how people who can’t barely win any elections, who can’t take over any local government boards, who can’t elect one Sheriff and implement the Deputize Em plan, and who can only manage to produce two libertarian communities that only last for one week out of the year, and which are tent/camper “cities” (Porcfest and the Jackalope Freedom Festival), are talking about abolishing any government programs, much less the order they do it.

    The average Libertarian won’t even spread information about jury nullification, yet some people are having serious discussions about what government program we are going to abolish first.

    The average Libertarian is too freaking lazy to go out and door-to-door canvass in their own neighborhood, so they can elect somebody to local office, yet people want to have serious discussions about which government program we are going to eliminate, or who we are going to put in the White House in 2020.

    The only chance we have of putting anyone in the White House in 2020 is if a Libertarian takes a trip to DC and does the White House tour while they are there.

    Most Libertarians are too lazy to even go out and collect any petition signatures so they can get on the ballot, and we are having serious debates about what government program we are going to eliminate first.

    Hahahahahahaha!!!!

    It is no wonder Libertarians don’t get anywhere.

    Hey Libertarians, get a majority on city/town council somewhere. Get a majority on a county commission/board somewhere. Elect a Libertarian as Sheriff and appoint libertarians as deputies. Inform everyone in the area where you live about jury nullification of victimless crimes.

    Go accomplish some realistically achievable goals that would actually make a difference instead of spending all of your time on things that aren’t going to happen anytime soon, and without a monumental effort far larger than anything that the Libertarian Party and movement is capable of at this time.

  28. Andy

    JamesT said: “Also Andy. I’m not moving. My home is my home.”

    Well then you must not really want to be free that badly.

    FYI, you could purchase a second home, and/or a time share, in my proposed libertarian private neighborhood/city, as in you would not have to live there on a full time basis.

  29. Anthony Dlugos

    It’s possible that I am misinterpreting NPOism.

    Jump in the Way Back Machine with me. As I understand it, if, in 2016, Governor Johnson were asked the Bake The Cake question in the midst of the presidential campaign, NPO adherents argue that the Johnson campaign should have ground to a halt, full stop, and explained radical libertarian property rights, no matter how long it took, and how inflammatory the hypothetical discrimination question got, up to and including digging in his heels right up to Election Day on the issue of whether or not a business in Mississippi could put up a “no n**gers allowed” sign, to the exclusion of any other more pressing policy issue.

    Is that wrong?

  30. JamesT

    I’ve done canvassing and other stuff before Andy. I (like most Americans) can’t afford a second home. People aren’t lazy they have lives and more important things to do than hang out at a club that rarely achieves anything. Life is the eternal distraction.

  31. paulie

    I explained what I mean when I say no particular orderism above: that trying to end one government trespass on our rights should not be held hostage to ending another one first.

    That does not mean I am opposed to prioritizing some things above others, or that I am opposed to intermediate steps or short term goals. I am not. I am in favor of doing all those things.

  32. paulie

    Well then you must not really want to be free that badly.

    That’s arrogant and unpersuasive. Most people have spouses or girl/boyfriends, family that they want to be near, jobs that they want to keep, civic engagement within their communities. Not everyone is like you and me and just free to pick up with little or nothing to lose anytime we feel like going to another state. My family has been nomadic for as long as anyone knows but even there, my mother almost stayed back in Russia when my father decided to leave and did stay back in New York with my sister, who was a child at the time, for a year after my dad moved to Alabama.

    Also, a lot of these “libertarians all move somewhere” things turn out to be scams.

  33. paulie

    FYI, you could purchase a second home, and/or a time share, in my proposed libertarian private neighborhood/city

    Because the average person can afford that?

  34. paulie

    For that matter I can’t afford to “move somewhere” either. I may move all around the country frequently but I go where I have work. I can’t just go anywhere I want at any time, at least not for very long.

  35. paulie

    people want to have serious discussions about which government program we are going to eliminate, or who we are going to put in the White House in 2020.

    All or virtually all people here realize that we will not put an LP candidate in the white house in 2020. The debate is on what kind of candidate we should run and what the benefits we hope to derive from running someone for an office we are extremely unlikely to win will be.

    And yes, it’s OK to discuss which government programs we most want to eliminate first even if we are not in a position to eliminate any of them yet. It’s not realistic, however, to expect all libertarians to come to any kind of agreement on those kinds of questions.

  36. Andy

    “Anthony Dlugos
    August 18, 2017 at 14:02
    It’s possible that I am misinterpreting NPOism.

    Jump in the Way Back Machine with me. As I understand it, if, in 2016, Governor Johnson were asked the Bake The Cake question in the midst of the presidential campaign, NPO adherents argue that the Johnson campaign should have ground to a halt, full stop, and explained radical libertarian property rights, no matter how long it took, and how inflammatory the hypothetical discrimination question got, up to and including digging in his heels right up to Election Day on the issue of whether or not a business in Mississippi could put up a “no n**gers allowed” sign, to the exclusion of any other more pressing policy issue.

    Is that wrong?”

    Austin Petersen managed to explain this point without having to go into a long explanation that left lingering questions about it for months after when this incident occurred during that debate on John Stossel’s show.

  37. Anthony Dlugos

    Austin Petersen gave answers worthy of a cheap aluminum siding salesman, and the Stossel debate was generally softball questions.

    Any reasonably good mainstream media member would skewer any Libertarian ready to take the discrimination question to its logical endpoint.

  38. Andy

    “Anthony Dlugos
    August 18, 2017 at 14:53
    Austin Petersen gave answers worthy of a cheap aluminum siding salesman, and the Stossel debate was generally softball questions.”

    I actually encountered a surprising number of people while petitioning who had been impressed by Austin Petersen performance on TV. The same goes with John McAfee.

    “Any reasonably good mainstream media member would skewer any Libertarian ready to take the discrimination question to its logical endpoint.”

    Ron Paul did a good job answering controversial questions like that. See the example I posted in another thread from when he appeared on black comedian DL Hughley’s show, and Hughley asked him about why he said that the Civil War could have been avoided.

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