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An IPR Political Analysis

Over the past two years, the Libertarian Party’s Mises Caucus has launched a systematic campaign to take over the Libertarian Party. In many states, they organized groups of supporters to appear at state conventions and elect their supporters as state committee members, state party officers, and delegates to the Libertarian National Convention. In other states, they were joined by Libertarians who were dissatisfied with their own current state organization.

The effort succeeded. The Mises effort gave them control of perhaps three dozen states and an overwhelming majority of the delegates at the National Convention. The Mises Caucus elected more or less every member of the LNC and filled the Judicial Committee with its supporters.

Some states did not fall before the Mises effort.

Now the Mises effort is turning to the states that they do not yet control. Their approach is to exploit alleged features of state and national party bylaws and Roberts Rules of Order, coupled with the presence in each state of a Mises faction.

In Massachusetts and Delaware, the LNC claimed that it had the right to interpret state party bylaws and to determine which faction — to no one’s surprise, the Mises faction — was the state party recognized by the national party.

In New Mexico, where the Mises takeover effort is less advanced, the LNC claims it can determine which New Mexico state conventions were invalid and which state party bylaws are in effect. Indeed, the National Treasurer appeared to claim, during the 7/31 LNC meeting, that the LNC could determine who the New Mexico officers are. The position of the LP of New Mexico has been to ignore the LNC efforts.

Coming up next is Idaho, where there are two factions within the state, and the LNC is preparing to intervene. Readers should not be surprised if they try to install the Mises faction as the Idaho state party.

Several additional tools are being advanced to eliminate the autonomy of state parties.  First, we have already heard the claim from a senior LNC member that a state party cannot choose to disaffiliate from the national party. Instead, the state party needs the permission of the national party before it can disaffiliate.

Second, under the pretext of reinforcing institutional memory and maintaining affiliate quality, states are being encouraged to convert to CiviCRM for their records and to house their membership records and web pages in national party servers, effectively putting them under national party control.

Third, the LNC intends to intervene in legal disputes within a state party, by advising the courts that they are the national party and they recognize their faction as the valid state party; they believe that this will influence some courts.

Libertarians who support the Mises Caucus should cheer the LNC on as they carry out these plans. You may well be happy to realize that at least at the moment you are backing the winning side.

Libertarians who oppose these efforts should realize that they need a proactive rather than a reaction-based response.  If you sit back and do not act, you should not be surprised when the LNC overthrows your state party governance in favor of the Mises faction.

Alternatively, the time to disaffiliate your state party from the LNC is before the LNC comes after your state party. LNC claims made to state courts that you are not the valid state party can be countered. You need a new national organization, one that includes disaffiliating state parties and surviving anti-Mises factions in states under Mises control. Your membership records, financial data, and web pages should be kept safe from LNC control or influence. And then you need to start doing real politics and run candidates for office.

Readers are encouraged to circulate this analysis, including the location where the original may be read, to wherever there are Libertarians likely to read it.  Addendum: Indeed, we are advised that at least one party state chair saw this column and immediately circulated it to the state committee, giving it “Must Read!” priority.

13 Comments

  1. Starchild Starchild August 3, 2022

    My understanding is that the Mises Caucus stands, among other things, for decentralization and secession. That speaks well of them, because these are important values. However some of what George Phillies reports here appears to be at odds with those values:

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    “Several additional tools are being advanced to eliminate the autonomy of state parties. First, we have already heard the claim from a senior LNC member that a state party cannot choose to disaffiliate from the national party. Instead, the state party needs the permission of the national party before it can disaffiliate.

    Second, under the pretext of reinforcing institutional memory and maintaining affiliate quality, states are being encouraged to convert to CiviCRM for their records and to house their membership records and web pages in national party servers, effectively putting them under national party control.

    Third, the LNC intends to intervene in legal disputes within a state party, by advising the courts that they are the national party and they recognize their faction as the valid state party; they believe that this will influence some courts.”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Many of the issues we face in the LP are microcosms of issues we face in the larger political scheme of things, e.g. at the national level in the United States. Expanding the power of national party headquarters at the expense of state affiliate parties can be equated with the historical trend of the federal government’s power expanding at the expense of state governments.

    We should model the change we want to see in “real world”, in our own organization. Voters and the public need to see that we are running our party in a manner that reflects our philosophy and goals, and is not hypocritical. For instance, we want more transparency in government – we should demand it in our own governance. We want states to be able to secede from the U.S. without seeking Washington’s permission – we should demand the right of state affiliate parties to disaffiliate from the national LP without the latter group’s permission.

    Whether you belong to or support the Mises Caucus or not, maintaining the Libertarian Party as a bottom-up, grassroots political movement that reflects our beliefs in accord with the Non-Aggression Principle and is sustainably libertarian should be a goal we all share. Like federalism in the U.S. (which has been largely undermined over the past two centuries), the autonomy of state parties is crucial to avoiding unhealthy centralization and top-down control in our party. As the potential(?) changes quoted above from George’s article are clearly at odds with this healthy libertarian decentralism, I encourage readers to let state and national party leaders know that you oppose any such changes.

  2. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman August 2, 2022

    I have received a confirmation from Richard Winger of Ballot Access News that in fact Harry Browne was on the ballot in 50 states and DC.

    That does make The Libertarian Party the only party other than the Democrats and Republicans to be on all 50 state ballots more than once – 5 times if you don’t count 2000, when the AZ LP put L Neil Smith on the ballot. (Perot was on all 50 ballots plus DC twice, but only as the Reform Party nominee in 1996.

  3. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman August 2, 2022

    Got a warrant? is correct about 1992 – The Libertarian Party put Andre Marrou on the ballot in all 50 states & DC. That year had a parellel with 1980. In 1980 there were 4 candidates on the ballot everywhere – John Anderson being the third, Clark the fourth. In 1992 there were again 4 candidates on the ballot everywhere – Ross Perot being third, Andre Marrou being fourth.

    I honestly don’t remember if we made 50 states in 1996 for Harry Browne. I will contact Richard Winger to find out.

    Thank you for correcting me, Got a warant?. It does make me feel better about the Libertarian Party.

  4. Your guess is as good as mine Your guess is as good as mine August 2, 2022

    It’s some alt right schmo named David Smith. No one outside the so called “libertarian movement” ever heard of him, but right wing “movement” libertarians and MiCucks think he is super famous, wise and funny, and would make a great presidential candidate. This is because they spend a lot of time listening to “movement” podcasts, reading/posting on “movement” social media, watching “movement” videos on youtube and other such video platforms, and otherwise existing in a bubble where this David Smith guy is somebody great and famous.

    The Libertarian Party is, probably, at this point in a death spiral. When the MiCucks pick apart the bones and move on to trying to take over the Republican Party (good luck), formenting the next Trump J6 style insurrection, trying to start a secessionist war in New Hampshire or wherever, buying or building some semi-uninhabitable island or taking over some small town or county in the middle of nowhere, or whatever stupid scheme they think up next, there won’t be much of anything for any real libertarians to pick back up, and the term libertarian will be too toxic from too many years of close association with the bigot alt right to be worth trying to redefine in the public discourse. A new political party is more trouble than it’s worth to start from scratch, and no existing third party is worth the effort to take over.

    If there is a political solution to our problems, which is questionable in itself, it’s highly unlikely at this point that it lies in taking over any political party or starting a new one. There are all sorts of social/fraternal, political lobbying/pressure, single issue, candidate endorsement, fundraising, campaign management, etc groups out there, and new ones being created all the time. All sorts of online and offline public forums. More and more voters are registering nonpartisan/independent. Why do some people still think a political party needs to be the answer?

    Maybe the real answer is to get as far away from politics as you can make yourself, pay as little attention to it as you can manage, turn off the toxic mass media and the even more toxic social media, and try to enjoy life in the real world. Maybe try to make a positive impact on real life people you see face to face right around where you live. Or maybe not.

  5. NewFederalist NewFederalist August 2, 2022

    “Since the Libertarian Party was taken far more seriously in 2016 than it was in 1980, the decline from 2016 to 2024, or even 2020 to 2024 will be far more precipitate if the Mises Caucus is able to foist their comedian on the Libertarian Party.” – Gene Berkman

    Dave Chappell would be great! 😉

  6. George Phillies George Phillies Post author | August 2, 2022

    In setting up a new national organization, it is not necessarily necessary to create an entire new party. Picking off state parties and donors so that the Mises-controlled National Committee is seen to be imploding may be perfectly adequate. When they leave, the old apparatus can be restored.

  7. Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp August 2, 2022

    “You need a new national organization, one that includes disaffiliating state parties and surviving anti-Mises factions in states under Mises control.”

    The first step toward that would be for one state Libertarian Party to pass a resolution in favor of constituting a new national committee and authorizing its state committee to schedule an organizational convention and invite such other state parties (or non-Vichy factions in occupied state parties) as might be interested to send representatives to that convention.

    I’d suggest that the resolution/invitation take place immediately after the midterm congressional elections, for a date certain very early in 2023.

    It would definitely be an “up by our own bootstraps” kind of thing.

  8. Got a warrant? Got a warrant? August 2, 2022

    2016 was the first time since 1980 that the Libertarian ticket achieved ballot status in all 50 states and DC. 2020 was the first time the Libertarian ticket achieved nation-wide ballot status twice in a row. <—Incorrect. There was also 1992 and 1996, and 2000 arguably, Browne was not on in Arizona but a different LP ticket was.

  9. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman August 2, 2022

    In case anyone is interested, the “Central Committee” of the LPRC had 5 members. 3 Members voted to back Ravenal because Dave Koch promised to pay for the petition drives to get on the ballot nation-wide, as
    the Ed Clark campaign had done in 1980. Rothbard had personal grudges against the Koch brothers and would not cooperate with them on anything. Bill Evers joined with Rothbard in backing Bergland.

    The Bergland campaign was on the ballot in 32 states, down from 50 states and DC in 1980. David Bergland received 232, 000 votes, down from 921,000 cast for Ed Clark 4 years earlier.

    2016 was the first time since 1980 that the Libertarian ticket achieved ballot status in all 50 states and DC. 2020 was the first time the Libertarian ticket achieved nation-wide ballot status twice in a row.
    Apparently that is the unearned wealth that the Mises Caucus wants to loot.

    Since the Libertarian Party was taken far more seriously in 2016 than it was in 1980, the decline from 2016 to 2024, or even 2020 to 2024 will be far more precipitate if the Mises Caucus is able to foist their comedian on the Libertarian Party.

  10. ATBAFT ATBAFT August 2, 2022

    As Gene states, Rothbard refused, in 1983, to go along with the RC’s support of Ravenal. Rothbard prevailed, when the convention nominated David Bergland, precipitating the walk out of the Crane faction. Rothbard became an almost beloved figure in the LP for the next six years, even serving for a time on the National Committee. In 1989, Rothbard quit the party – almost in disgrace – when his candidate for National Chair failed to win. Why in disgrace? Because he was caught in a bald face lie speaking before the convention when he accused the sponsors of not inviting his important self to speak, and then being exposed when Rothbard’s own letter was read wherein he thanked the sponsors for inviting him but regretted he could not attend due to other commitments. While walkouts have been fairly common in the LP, they generally did not involve disaffiliating state parties (but perhaps a kerfluffle in Washington State was an exception?)

  11. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman August 1, 2022

    NF – the Crane faction never attempted to purge the leadership of a state Libertarian Central Committee. I have been involved in The Libertarian Party since attending the founding convention @ the Radisson Hotel in Denver, in June of 1972. This kind of national meddling in statewide parties has never occurred before. What the Crane faction did was send petition circulators to various states to aid the party’s attempts at ballot status.

    Let us be clear. The Mises Caucus is a false flag operation. They are not followers or disciples of Ludwig von Mises; they are inspired by Murray Rothbard. Rothbard long advocated for a national Libertarian organization based on Democratic Centralism – the Leninist doctrine that helped bring about a totalitarian state in Russia.

    When Rothbard and others organized the Libertarian Party Radical Caucus in 1979, it adopted Democratic Centralism as its organizing principle. The LPRC broke up at the 1983 LP National Convention, when a majority of the LPRC Central Committee voted to back Earl Ravenal for the nomination for President, and Rothbard refused to go along, despite his commitment to Democratic Centralism.

    Anyone who would be interested in more information on the real Ludwig von Mises can take a look at my essay https://antiwar.com/berkman/mises.html

  12. Joe Evans Joe Evans August 1, 2022

    Interesting that Idaho be brought up as soon as they finished the “NM Issue”.
    Apparently power isn’t enough, nothing less than “absolute power” will satisfy the new vanguard party.

  13. NewFederalist NewFederalist August 1, 2022

    Hasn’t this sort of thing happened before? I’ve been an LP member since December 1974 and it seems that one faction or another has taken control of the party machinery before. The Crane faction/Cato crowd and many since then. It always seems to work itself out. Am I missing something?

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