Signal Intelligence About The LP

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Why Ruwart Is In Trouble

Let's not pretend that the reason Ruwart's in trouble is for opposing bright lines in state legislation for protecting minors.  She's in trouble for opposing any state legislation that isn't completely age-blind -- i.e., that doesn't make the same default assumptions about 3-year-olds as it does about 30-year-olds.  She further said -- in the context of child pornography, child sex, and children's contractual rights, mind you -- that the readiness of children to enter contracts should be determined not by the judgment of their parents, but by the risk tolerance of the strangers seeking to contract with those children: "In practice, you would decide if a child is old enough to enter into a contract with you. Is the child willing and able to provide the contracted service to you?" The only role she mentioned for parents is that they can decline to drive the child to her chosen workplace.  In Mary's defense, she might not know that pedophiles sometimes have their own cars...
Still, I'm confident this child pornography issue would no more affect a general-election Ruwart candidacy than the various smears on Root would affect his candidacy, or than Badnarik's driver's license affected his 2004 race.  The Ron Paul newsletter episode demonstrated that the MSM just isn't interested in knocking people off of pedestals that are only an inch high.  The scalp of a L/libertarian candidate just isn't a valuable addition to a mainstream journalist's resume.
The real concern here is that the potential attack on Ruwart is not about some aspect of her past from which she's moved on, but rather is about her current(*) position on a fundamental question of libertarian ideology -- the role of the state in protecting unemancipated children from adults such as their own guardians.  The anarchist Ruwart clearly believes there should be no such role whatsoever. Ruwart's supporters are holding up her anarchism as the gold standard of "pure"/"plumbline" ideology, but the LP has grown and evolved beyond such a pinched and narrow vision of libertarianism.  There was heated debate throughout the 1990s regarding the platform's Children's Rights plank, but as I document at, the absolutist Ruwart-style position was eventually (and quite intentionally) taken out. There is a distinct danger that a Ruwart nomination would be used by anarchist revanchists to undo some of the progress made over the last 10-15 years in making the LP more ecumenical after the Rothbardian dark ages of the 1980s.
Consensual child pornography/prostitution is just the tip of the iceberg.  The Ruwarchist positions on personal secession and private WMD are even more extremist.  Indeed, personal secession *includes* the idea of pedophiles exempting themselves from state protections for minors, and condemns every 5-year-old to use only their wits to rally aid against any predatory whims of their guardians.  I'm not saying the LP should condemn as unlibertarian the Ruwarchists who believe such things, but I also don't think these should be the official positions of the LP.
(*) If Ruwart has changed her position since the book was published in 1999, then there goes her claim to decades-long ideological consistency.


Thomas L. Knapp said...


You write:

"Let's not pretend that the reason Ruwart's in trouble is ..."

Better yet, let's not pretend that Ruwart's in trouble. She probably has more support now than she did before the manufactured "scandal," her perceived main opponent (Root) almost certainly has less, and the whole thing probably reduces the likelihood that Barr will throw in.

I don't have anything against hit pieces and cheap shots, but this one was poorly done and backfired on whomever took it.

Brian Holtz said...

I'm not suggesting that Ruwart's candidacy is in anything close to mortal danger. "Probably has more support now" is an interesting claim, that with the next TPW poll may join the ranks of your 95% Ron Paul prediction. :-)