Signal Intelligence About The LP

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

On Rick Randall's comments

Prof. Long, note that this comment about "ousting" anarchists "interested in promoting infighting" was followed by a clarification: "I'm not talking about ousting people within the Libertarian quadrant of the Quiz".  (I prefer this higher-precision libertarian "IQ test" over the Advocates' quiz.) Whether or not it's accurate for Mr. Randall to report that "the membership of the Colorado LP see very little difference between anarchists and communists", several of us on PlatCom have already voiced disagreement with that perspective.  I replied:
BH) A libertarian is somebody whose highest political value is to minimize the role and incidence of force initiation in society.  Anarcholibertarians are libertarians. Communists and socialists and totalitarians are not libertarians.

There are many kinds of libertarians (see lists here or on Wikipedia).  The LP should welcome all of them who are trying to unite voters who want more personal liberty and more economic liberty behind the electoral choices that will most effectively move public policy in a libertarian direction.

The LP would be crippled, and nearly lobotomized, if we lost all of our members who question whether America needs a state monopoly on any service (even justice and defense).  The important thing is to keep anarchists from hijacking the LP into being a vehicle dedicated to promoting anarchism.  The platform's job is to describe our shared libertarian principles that define what a "libertarian direction" is. (BH
I don't see an urgent need to demand apologies from PlatCom members for expressing narrow definitions of what constitutes libertarianism.  We have another member who has said that one is not a libertarian but rather merely a "fellow traveler" if one embraces any state exercise of authority that she would call force-initiating.  We have still a third member who has used phrases like "eco-fascist" and "brown shirts" and "Pol Pot" to characterize proposals that pollution aggression be policed with a state-imposed schedule of non-zero court-contestable fines.

We can't indulge in this sort of divisiveness as long as we still have a nanny state to dismantle. I urge all big-tent Libertarians to renounce using the platform as bludgeon for LP infighting (cf. the Denver Accord), and to endorse a balanced LP mission of using electoral politics to move public policy in a libertarian direction.

[P.S. Prof. Long, please forward this message to lpradicals@ where I am denied posting privileges.]

1 comment:

mdh said...

I tend to agree with your comments. The problem is this: those who believe that a state ought to exist have moved things so far towards their direction that the LP is slowly becoming inhospitable towards anarchists. Certain words in the platform are explicitly endorsing the existence of government, and people like Mr. Randall make hostile comments such as the one which started this debacle.

While my goal is moderation - a state-neutral platform, and a big-tent LP that welcomes as many libertarians as we can get - I think the only way to do this at this point may be to push back as hard as the anti-anarchist faction has pushed over the past 5 to 10 years. This means advocating an explicitly anarchist platform, explicitly anarchist position statements, etc. Equal and opposite feedback is often the most effective way to force everyone to get towards the middle. ;)

By the way, this discussion initially arose on the lpanarchists yahoo group, not lpradicals. You're more than welcome on lpanarchists.

I'd like to see a new Dallas Accord type situation, really. The reason that we took such offense to Mr. Randall's comments is two-fold. The obvious one is that he was attacking us - the anarchists. The second, and the one that we should all be concerned about no matter who we are - is that he was advocating ousting people from the LP. That's a dangerous sentiment and one that he needs to be corrected on in much the same way that we'd correct a dog that pooped the couch.

Take care, Matt