Showing posts with label Ron Paul. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ron Paul. Show all posts

2/02/2015

Secession, Slavery and the Civil War: Causation, Correlation or Mass Confusion?


The Ludwig von Mises Institute recently hosted their annual get together in Houston on the heroically controversial theme of secession.  Mises Institute President Jeff Deist opened the morning with a speech advising us to secede in our local capacity, starting at the individual level.  Dr. Brian McClanahan detailed America's rich history of secession, from the 13 colonies' war of secession from Great Britain to Texas' war of secession against Mexico.  Lew Rockwell contrasted the rich libertarian history of secession to the regime libertarians' knee-jerk reaction to such an unapproved opinion.  After lunch, New York Times best-selling author Tom Woods highlighted the absurdity of viewing secession as blasphemous while the decision to kill half a million children is a matter of public policy.  Finally, Dr. Ron Paul closed out the afternoon by speaking of secession as just one tool to be used in the greater contest for liberty.

It was a wonderful opportunity to meet with so many like-minded people from all over the country that chose to travel long distances for a one-day seminar on a topic that is viewed by the mainstream as antiquated and unorthodox at best.  In retrospect, the most amazing part of the event is how we were able to have a rational, thoughtful dialogue on this topic without ever bringing up the elephant in the room: slavery and the civil war.  It's like we all took it for granted that everyone was familiar with the works of authors like DiLorenzo and didn't need to rehash the history taught in public schools that Lincoln heroically fought the civil war to free the slaves and save the Union against the traitorous secessionists of the South.  We didn't need to waste time analyzing that myth; we could immediately jump to more productive and enlightening dialogue.

However, the sad reality many of us faced traveling home was that it is nearly impossible to continue that rational conversation on the merits and challenges of secession with most of our coworkers, friends and family.  Raise the specter of secession and the Pavlovian responses of "racism", "slavery" and even "neo-confederate" predictably follow.  But what else should we expect in a society with 12+ years of government indoctrination and a mainstream media that foams at the mouth and is undeniably dishonest when someone has the gall to question the necessity of the war considering that slavery was peaceably ended in every other country without requiring the loss of 620,000 lives and billions in damages and debt.

The civil war was fought to free the slaves.  The secessionists were traitors.  These are the commonly held myths we must dismantle before the rest of society can join us in a reasonable and common-sense discussion on the right of secession.

Why was the Civil War fought?

The government-approved history of the Civil War goes something like this: the Southern states illegally seceded from the United States to protect their institution of slavery.  This prompted a Civil War, causing a tremendous loss of life and property on both sides, but ultimately ending with Lincoln fulfilling his quest by preserving the Union and freeing the slaves.

This narrative may seem undisputable but it suffers from fatal errors once you scratch the surface.  On the first point concerning the cause of secession there is no major disagreement.  While the Southern states did have grievances against the Federal Government like protective tariffs that unfairly benefited the North at the expense of the South, the major reason cited in the state's secession documents was the issue of slavery.  Thomas Fleming's A Disease in the Public Mind points to the colliding forces of unrelenting abolitionism in the North and the South's fear of a race war which made it impossible to find an agreeable end to the system of slavery.

So while seven of the Southern states seceded over the slavery issue, the reason for the war given by Lincoln himself was not slavery, but to prevent secession.  As Lincoln repeatedly said,
"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery.  If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.  What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union."
Lincoln made this point numerous times such that it cannot be directly challenged by regime historians, but what happens instead is a logical fallacy built under the guise of the familiar mathematical axiom that if a = b and b = c, then a = c.  In other words, "if the cause of secession was slavery, and to prevent secession was the reason for the war, then the reason for the war was slavery".  This may seem a trivial point, but it is imperative that the undisputed good of ending slavery is not used to cloud our judgment when considering the true motivations for the ugly and brutal war that preceded it.  Any fantasy that the North was fighting a war of racial justice must be dismantled so that we can objectively look at the agreed upon reason for the war, secession, in an unbiased light.

First of all, if the Civil War was about slavery, why would there have been 7 slave states that stayed loyal to the Union while the Confederacy was formed?  The fact is, the people of the North were largely no better or even worse than the southerners when it came to racial equality.  The Northerners enforced fugitive slave laws, kept child slaves for 25+ years during manumission, denied free blacks suffrage, and generally did all they could to make their states white only.  Conversely, Fleming noted that only a small minority of Southern men owned slaves or otherwise had a direct financial incentive in the practice - so why would they fight over it and risk their lives and everything they owned?  The simple answer is they wouldn't.  So what would they fight for?  Of the seven slave states that originally stayed in the Union, four of those states only seceded after Lincoln had put out calls to raise an army of invasion and the first shots were fired at Ft. Sumter.  If it war was over slavery, can we imagine that Lincoln would have called it quits if the seceded states had freed their slaves?  Of course not!  It wasn't slavery that drove Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee out; Lincoln made it clear he had no quarrel with that institution in any loyal state.  They joined the confederacy and fought out of disbelief that Lincoln would declare war and invade the southern states which they believed had every right to peaceably withdraw from their government, just as their great-grandfathers had done 90 years earlier from King George III.  It might have been slavery that prompted the first 7 states to leave, but that's not why 11 states fought a long and brutal war - they fought for self-government.

Unbelievably, it is the fine print of the Emancipation Proclamation itself that best shines a light on the dubious claim that Lincoln freed the slaves.  Proving Lincoln to be the master politician, that document only applied to the states in rebellion, specifically exempting the states that had stayed loyal! So the slaves that Lincoln had the power to free were to remain slaves, but he supposedly freed the slaves in states that had already left the Union and formed their own country.  H.L. Mencken said it best,
"Even his handling of the slavery question was that of a politician, not that of a messiah... An Abolitionist would have published the Emancipation Proclamation the day after the first battle of Bull Run.  But Lincoln waited until the time was more favorable - until Lee had been hurled out of Pennsylvania, and more important still, until the political currents were safely running his way.  Even so, he freed the slaves in only a part of the country: all the rest continued to clank their chains until he himself was an angel in Heaven."
Ultimately, there are many contending theories of precisely why the Federal government invaded the Confederacy.  While Thomas Fleming discusses the "diseases in the public mind" that fueled the Civil War, Thomas DiLorenzo unmasks the real Lincoln, showing how his ideology favoring a strong central state led him to launch an unnecessary and illegal war to destroy the doctrine of state's rights.  John Avery Emison takes just about everything we were taught about the Civil War and turns it on its head, first showing us that it would be more accurate to call it America's second war of secession, and from there demonstrating how our first "total war" paved the way for the horrors of the 20th century's world wars and set the precedent for the most egregious violations of federal power today.  As if it couldn't get any worse, John Graham makes the case that it wasn't historical accidents that caused the War for Southern Independence, but "antagonisms… deliberately agitated during the 1850s by great international banking houses with a preconceived motive of provoking secession" to generate unpayable debts and establish the financial empire that still rules this country.  Regardless of these various theories, we should all be able to agree with Walter Williams when he unequivocally states, the Civil War wasn't about slavery.

Were the Secessionists traitors?


With the end of slavery properly understood as a happy by-product of the Civil War, but not at all the reason that 620,000 fought and died, we can examine the legitimacy of the war through fresh eyes.  Was Lincoln justified in waging a war against the Confederacy to preserve the Union, and just what did he preserve?

First, it might be instructive to take a step back and examine the points made by Emison concerning just what we should call this decisive event in American history.  Unlike the civil war in Spain, the American Civil War was not a battle of two competing factions fighting for control over a common central government.  The Southern states had no dictates to the North, no terms other than to be left alone.  Jefferson Davis even sent a peace delegation to promote friendly ties between the two countries, which Lincoln refused to see.  So what do we call a war when one side has formally withdrawn and entered into a state of self-government and the other side invades that country to bring it into submission?  A war of independence or a war for secession certainly fits the historical circumstances better than a civil war.

At this point our government indoctrination might be kicking in - am I possibly making the argument that the traitorous South had the moral high ground in this war, the exact opposite of what the victorious Federal Government has led us to believe?  Indeed, Murray Rothbard concluded that there are only two American wars that have met the criteria for a "just war", that being the first war of secession against Great Britain, and the second war of secession of the Southern states.

But how could this be?  The Southern states seceded for slavery, the act of depriving individuals from exercising their free will, one of the greatest crimes that man can commit.  Doesn't this fact tarnish secession?  But consider the reverse scenario.  If secession is to be judged by the worst vices of those that endorsed it, shouldn’t we also look at the crimes of those that did not believe in secession but instead in an all-powerful central government?  Adolf Hitler himself wrote in Mein Kampf that secession was illegal because "it was the Union which formed a great part of such so-called states."  Similarly, the violence wrecked by omnipotent central governments that were no fans of secession counts some 200 million dead in the 20th century alone.


Rather than only focusing on the worst qualities of those that believed in secession, let's recall that one of our most famous founding fathers was explicitly in favor of secession and nullification to combat the growth of centralized government in the Principles of '98.  Thomas Jefferson postulated that it was "not very important to the happiness of either part" of the country if the United States broke up.  In a live and let live fashion, he said that in separation "God bless them both, and keep them in the union if it be for their good, but separate them, if it be better".

At the time Lincoln invaded the South there were five living ex-presidents, every one of which opposed the war in one way or another.  Some did not agree with the decision to secede and did their best to convince the Southern states to remain in the Union, but they ultimately believed in the right of secession.  After all, Vermont seceded from New York, Texas seceded from Mexico, and West Virginia seceded from Virginia during the Civil War itself.  And as previously mentioned, the United States itself seceded from Great Britain in the Revolutionary War.  You'd think that would count for something.

Historical precedents aside, we can also look at this logically and constitutionally.  An established precedent of law is known as legislative entrenchment, meaning that what one legislative body has the power to do, another can do or undo.  A prior legislative body cannot rule from the grave and if the state legislature of 1787 has the power to ratify the constitution, so then can the state legislature of 1861 choose to repeal that ratification.  Indeed, Virginia's secession document explicitly stated it was a lawful repeal of the ratification of the Constitution.  Can we imagine that the 13 colonies, having just had their full sovereign nature individually acknowledged by Great Britain, really joined a union that they could never leave?  Every historical precedent from the federalist papers to the state ratifying conventions says otherwise.

The Southern states were not traitorous when they seceded; they had every right to do so.  The only traitor was Lincoln, who declared war without congressional approval and violated a hundred other constitutional provisions and laws of human decency in his battle to "preserve the Union".  He may have reclaimed the Southern states as captured provinces, but he certainly didn't preserve our republic.  What we had was a voluntary association of independent states united under the contract of the Constitution.  Lincoln's war of aggression most assuredly killed that system of government for all the states, replacing it with the federal leviathan that knows no boundaries and gives no thought to the consent of the governed.  He won the war and we still suffer the losses.

What is Secession?

Secession - it was the foundation of the American Revolution against King George III.  Even today, it is the most radical concept of the last 500 years.  As stated in Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, when a government is destructive to the ends of the people that created it, it is their duty to institute a new government.  That wasn't an idle threat; secession is the means to do so.  It is the true enforcement mechanism to ensure that we have government by consent.

Just think of what a glorious preventative check the threat of secession is to the limitless goals of our federal masters.  Imagine the contrast with a "marriage union".  Even though it is a document signed "till death do us part", all modern states recognize the right of divorce, the equivalent of secession.  As Emison questioned, would an abusive husband treat his wife better or worse in a society where divorce was legal or illegal?  The question answers itself, and it also explains why the federal government is able to propose increasingly egregious legislation on battered, defenseless states that have nowhere to run and no hope of retaliation.

How bizarre that in a country founded on the principle of secession time has allowed this cornerstone of liberty and bedrock of freedom to be marginalized and disgraced.  After all, as Tom Woods noted in his speech at the Mises Circle, its practical effect is nothing more than to say, "maybe this imaginary line should be drawn up here instead of over there."

Lew Rockwell defined secession in more human terms, reminding us of the moral obligation we have to our fellow men and the responsibility we carry when we endorse our political agents to carry out violence in our name.  He summed up the the libertarian perspective this way:
"It is morally illegitimate to employ state violence against individuals who choose to group themselves differently from how the existing regime chooses to group them. They prefer to live under a different jurisdiction. Libertarians consider it unacceptable to aggress against them for this."
View the right of secession as a moral imperative to not aggress against others that want to go in peace.  Recognize the arbitrary nature of all government boundaries and the absurdity in going into hysterics if one of those lines should change.  Acknowledge secession as the foundation of this very country and think of how it could be a very realistic solution to the issues we face today.  But above all, rescue secession from the dustbin of history that ignorance has placed it.  Secession is a noble, practical and moral idea that deserves our attention and respect.

Conclusion


Around the world people want freedom and if they can't have that, a more representative government will do.  The CIA and military industrial complex provides us with all kinds of "approved" secessions and revolutions around the world from despots who have inexplicably leaped from the ally to the enemy category - but dare suggest that Texas may be better of seceding if the federal government continues its unsustainable path, or that the citizens of California would be better represented if certain counties seceded to create new states - well you must be a closet racist!  This hypocrisy and doublethink can’t go on forever.

As Thomas DiLorenzo recently documented, secession is a global phenomenon that isn't going away:
"There are 32 secessionist movements in Africa; 114 secessionist movements in Europe; 20 secessionist movements in North America; 83 secessionist movements in Asia; 11 secessionist movements in South America; and 26 secessionist movements in Oceania.  Neo-Confederates are everywhere!"
However, the most exciting thing about secession isn't just the prospect of replacing one government with another one, but the larger philosophical impact for the libertarian movement.  Followed to its logical conclusion, when the state can secede from the country, and the county from the state, and the town from the county, we can envision a practical path to our anarcho-capitalist utopia.  But ultimately, if the right of secession is accepted and respected, we could imagine a government that has an actual incentive to stay within its delegated boundaries, a government that actually serves its supposed purpose of contributing to the happiness of the people instead of to their destruction.  It may be impossible to keep the state with its monopoly on violence within the boundaries set by those that consented to its jurisdiction, but if it were to be possible, it is certainly only so in a society where the right of secession is alive and well.  Let us fight to create such a society, not through violence - that is the government’s specialty, but in the war of ideas.

1/06/2015

Punishment Park, U.S.A.


They have been branded enemies of the state: thought criminals, anti-American propagandists, political extremists and even the occasional violent agitator.  Stripped of their rights, hustled through kangaroo courts and abused by indifferent captors; many who considered themselves peaceful dissidents learn to channel their righteous indignation into a brutality equal to what was inflicted upon them.  In this way violence begets violence.  But something else occurs.  The agents of the state were taught to see political protesters as cop killers and nonconformists as lethal threats; now their training is vindicated.  When a brother in blue falls in the line of duty vengeance inevitably takes priority over the rule of law.  The killers and their allies must get what they deserve; after all, they’re criminals.  The cycle of hate, violence and toughness escalates and continues.

This scenario is being played out in cities and states across the country as racial tensions, economic recession and police militarization collide in a snowballing eruption.  For anyone familiar with Peter Watkin's 44-year-old film Punishment Park it may bring about a sense of déjà vu.  Unfortunately, we've seen this movie before.

In Watkin's alternative history President Nixon declares a state of emergency to deal with the growing anti-war movement and other dissenters of the American regime.  These emergency powers give federal authorities the ability to abduct and imprison those deemed "risks to internal security"; people like subversive poets, student group leaders and pacifists fleeing the draft.  After each of the accused is summarily sentenced to 10-30 years in federal prison they are given a perverse choice: serve your sentence or take your chances with three days in Punishment Park.  If you survive a 53 mile hike through the Arizona desert and reach the coveted American flag you are set free.  However, if you are apprehended by the police and National Guard members that hunt you as part of their training then you carry out your sentence as before.  Resist their capture in any way and the full force of the state is ready to meet violence with violence.  Film crews from around the world document America's experimental legal system and the result is the mockumentary Punishment Park.

In 1971 this film was met with shock and anger, with Hollywood studios refusing to distribute it.  Innocent Americans branded communist sympathizers, a citizen tribunal consisting of "America take it or leave it" automatons and police enforcers indifferent to the violence they deliver because "they're just doing their jobs"; perhaps these elements combined with the documentary style of the film hit too close to home.  But if the parallels were ominous then, what can we say in a world with legalized indefinite detention, presidential kill lists of American citizens and CIA torture camps across the globe?  Watched through today's lens it's equally valid to call this film prophetic and passé.  Which is worse, that a film that "couldn't happen here" and was viewed as heretically outrageous has indeed come to pass or that we've already moved beyond Punishment Park's quaint limitations such that it doesn't elicit much of a reaction at all?

Pawns in the Game


44 years ago Punishment Park was called disturbing, unpatriotic and possibly even communist propaganda - whatever it took to see it censored and banned in country after country.  When this forgotten film found a new life on the internet a new generation saw it in a much different light.  Instead of condemning Watkins they asked what he would think of his film in the era of the Patriot Act, the NDAA and the invasion of Iraq.  The question was asked, could this movie even be made today?  Many saw parallels between the behavior and attitudes of Punishment Park's police and civilian tribunal with what you now find in the neo-cons of both parties.  As James Allen Wilkins noted in his review, "You can almost interchange the word "communist" with "terrorist" throughout the film and the movie might as well have been made last week."

However, it's important to remember that no one watches this film in a vacuum; everyone brings their own bias to Punishment Park.  In 1971 54% of the public "almost always" trusted the government but now that number has been cut in half, with the millennial generation showing all-time low levels of trust in government.  Hence, one generation relates to the enforcer class and model Americans of the film while another generation mostly sides with the rebels and victims of the state.  This is where I see the brilliance and timelessness of the film.  All the characters give such an honest portrayal of both perspectives that there is no obvious group of good guys / bad guys but rather viewers will walk away with their own narrative based on which group they instinctively relate to in the story.  It's similar to the "libertarian test" of watching a video of a police beating.  Is your first reaction to defend the cop who is "just doing his job" or to side with the person guilty of some heinous crime like selling untaxed cigarettes?


Recognizing that a shift in perspective can lead one to have a totally different reaction to the film, this is where we have a real opportunity to use it as a lesson for exploring the bigger picture.  Instead of automatically siding with either the protesters or the police, it is more interesting to take a step back and look at the system that was erected around them; look at the chess board instead of the individual pawns in the game.

On one side the police and military are saying "I'm just doing my job", "I wouldn't have killed him if he would have obeyed my orders" and "they attacked us, we were just defending ourselves".  Perhaps if the prisoners of Punishment Park had meekly submitted to their arrest no harm would have come to them, so shouldn't they bear some of the responsibility for what happened?  From the perspective of the prisoners recall that they are running for their freedom; they are desperate, starving, dehydrated and being chased 24/7 by the cops and military.  With that waving American flag within arm’s reach, so delirious with the prospect of freedom that they can taste it, of course some of them will resist going back into bondage.  Hence, a peace-seeking and naïve enforcer or prisoner may enter Punishment Park with the best intention of following the rules, but the system itself is rigged to ensure only one outcome is possible: anger, rage and bloodshed.


When we understand that this game always ends in an escalation of violence so that there are no winners, this prompts us to look outside of our own team's interest.  It's memorable of the mock-interview with one of the members of the citizen tribunal, where she is asked how she'd feel if her own child was brought before the court at Punishment Park.  She gasped in horror at the thought, "well that is impossible, my kids would never do that.  They were trained different."  What she failed to consider was that the same unilateral / dictatorial powers that a right-wing president welds against "leftists", "communist sympathizers" and "revolutionaries" could be used by a future left-wing president against "right-wing extremists", "constitutionalists" and "tax-protesters".  The baton of power goes from the right hand to the left and back again but it keeps getting bigger and bigger, perpetually preparing for the next chance to swing an even deadlier blow.

So why even play this game?  The people certainly don't gain anything when a police officer is murdered; all that does is solidify the cops into a gang mentality and prepares them to use their military training against the protesters who are committed to peaceful civil disobedience.  Ultimately the police will not win either.  The economy will be destroyed in a police state and the enforcer class is traditionally liquidated by its own government when it goes down this path.  When we finally see that our self-interest isn't linked to our enforcer/protester costume but to the system we all share then we finally have the opportunity to transcend this game and create something better.  But first we need to understand the game we're playing so that we don't unintentionally duplicate it.  That begs the question, who created it and why?

The Power of Prediction


This scene is currently unfolding: cops follow orders to enforce malum prohibitum laws like a tax on cigarettes and murder a man on video.  The secret proceedings of the grand jury result in no charges being pressed against the police.  Protests turn violent as someone randomly murders two police officers, not because of their acts but because of their uniform.  Now the state can ratchet things up and it will go back and forth like this across the country.  Will the final escalation result in the logical consequence of the state's monopoly on violence - a complete gun ban? If so, this would be the story of America's second civil war.

This is the scenario that Alex Jones has been warning about for years.  While he's known as the king of conspiracy for seriously investigating the "inside job" angle of events from the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11 to Sandy Hook, this aspect of his work often distracts from his record of accurate predictions.  Credit must be given where credit is due.  Regardless of what someone thinks concerning the origin of these events one cannot deny that Alex Jones has been incredibly accurate on the state's reaction to them.  Whether it is an Illuminati plot using the tried and tested formula of problem-reaction-solution or a more modest criminal enterprise that is prepared to heed Rahm Emanuel's advice to "never let a serious crisis go to waste", Jones has been chillingly prophetic when it comes to how our world would change in response to terrorism, mass-shooting attacks and economic crises.

As someone who has been a listener to his show for 8+ years, his consistent message has warned of an American police state, economic collapse and a resulting civil war.  When it came to 9/11 he always said that the specter of Muslim extremists were always the necessary excuse to pass laws like the Patriot Act and the NDAA, but that the Homeland Security apparatus was always designed for the American people.  For Jones, foreign wars not only made the military industrial complex billions but also hardened our troops for what would be required of them when they'd return to police American streets as if they were in Fallujah, Iraq.  Derivative bubbles, "too big to fail" banks, Wall-Street bail-outs and legislation that is conveniently passed or repealed paves the way for one economic crisis after another, making the average American increasingly desperate and willing to trade liberty for security.  Watch one of Jones' first films from the '90s and recognize with disappointment how right he's been.

But it always goes back to the same question that's harder to answer with satisfaction: Why?  How was Jones able to predict these events and how America would increasingly be turned into a Police State?  Whose master plan is this?  As George H.W. Bush said 10 years to the day before 9/11, "it's a big idea... a New World Order".  You cannot have world government with any sovereign nation, so “order out of chaos" techniques are used to destabilize one nation after the next, with America being the last shining jewel to take down.  As America's wealth is used to run the engine of global police it has the dual effect of discrediting America and destroying it from within.  If we can't wake up to this trap we'll play out the scenario Jones warns of the most: a civil war brought on by economic depression and gun control with the military and police against the American people, all the pawns senselessly killing each other while the globalists laugh in their offshore fortresses.

Austrian Economics meets Conspiracy Theory


The Jonesian picture may be hard to swallow: New World Order, Skull and Bones, and Illuminati secret societies pushing civilization off a cliff to establish world government.  Many libertarians will decry these types of theories as discrediting to their movement.  However, one can ignore this angle of a sinister agenda and still find events like 9/11 completely predictable and even logical using only Austrian business cycle theory and libertarian class analysis.

For just over 100 years, since the beginning of the Federal Reserve, the eventual collapse of the dollar was predictable.  Power corrupts and the power to print money out of thin air is such an awesome force that few could withstand the temptation for abuse.  Like the ring of Sauron it pollutes and defiles all who weld it.  Indeed, the reason Dr. Ron Paul first ran for Congress was because of the end of Bretton Woods, when the dollar lost its last remnant backing to gold.  Dr. Paul was trained in the school of Austrian Economics and he knew that a pure fiat dollar could not last, such that he's been giving the same warning speech for 40+ years.  Some thought he was a prophet, but what's more amazing than clairvoyance was his consistency and integrity to never sell out and never back down from what he knew would be true.

Thus, one can assume that those of us familiar with the Austrian School of Economics are the only ones that understand the inherent problems of fiat currency: how it fuels business cycles and pumps up bubbles that must end in busts.  Under this theory our global government, banking and finance leaders have swallowed their own Kool-aide and actually believe that Keynesianism solutions are solutions, regardless of the logical and historical evidence to the contrary.

But let's explore another option: assume that at least a few people in power are completely aware of the long-run futility of money printing as a panacea.  A few insiders know that the inherent instability of the petro-dollar, the 100+ trillion in unfunded liabilities, etc. will eventually bring economic collapse, with that collapse most likely followed by one last heroic attempt at money printing to result in hyper-inflation.  For those in power, who most certainly want to maintain their power, what should be done with this knowledge?

Knowing that time is running out for the American empire, and perhaps even holding to some bizarre ends-justify-the-means logic of preventing a new uprising of the communist system, those in power would have a very real incentive to institute a police state to ensure that they can maintain their power during a time of economic hysteria.  Dissidents would have to be silenced; revolutionaries would have to be disappeared.  Maybe they got some of their ideas from Punishment Park.  The point is that these police state powers would be unthinkable under the American system of 100 years ago, 50 years ago, or even pre-9/11.  The American people would rebel if these changes were instituted overnight.  But instead, do it slowly, year by year, right-wing administration followed by a left-wing administration, and blame it all on an external threat, the shadowy Muslim extremists in faraway lands.  They will never see it coming.  You can even imagine how a "patriotic American" could be persuaded to assist in such a diabolical plan; after all, the future of "America" depends on it.  A few billion dollars in pay-off and hush-up money wouldn't hurt either.

Conclusion

Whether this was all planned 100 years ago by Cecil Rhodes and Satan or if we're all in the back seat of a car being driven recklessly off a cliff by drunkards who know not what they do, the question remains: what should we do about it?  How do we stop this tragedy of errors where innocent people are murdered by police with official immunity and random cops are in turn murdered by desperate people who see no other way to achieve justice?  Are we destined to stupidly kill each other while the people that put this system in motion, the ones that constructed our Punishment Park, sit back and laugh?

What must be done is education and peaceful non-compliance.  This is not the fast and easy answer, but it is the only chance we have at true success.  We need to reach out to those in uniform and those without state issued costumes.  The nosy neighbor or the parent that calls the cops to deal with an unruly child will certainly learn the folly of their ways when their baby is summarily murdered, but surely this isn't the best or only way to learn this lesson.  Don't call the police unless you absolutely need men with guns - because that's all they are good for.  Similarly, we must reach out to those in uniform and wake them up to the role they are playing in this lose-lose game.

The common thread connecting the 9-1-1-calling-boob and the license-to-kill-carrying meter maid, the root of the problem we face, is the belief in authority.  As demonstrated in Punishment Park, the police and military do not hold themselves accountable for the murders and other crimes they commit while they are in uniform, nor do the member of the citizen tribunal who sentence the innocents to their fate.  As Larkin Rose says, their actions are no longer their own, they have become a part of "authority" such that they are free from the moral responsibility and consequences of their actions.  This myth must be overcome.  It won't be easy, 12-20 years of government school indoctrination has made sure of that, but it is the only possibility of success we have.

The last and most important point that cannot be overstated enough is this: aggressive violence is not the solution.  The state, as defined as the holder of a monopoly on violence, has gotten very good at violence, just as anyone becomes excellent at a particular trade through specialization and practice.  We shouldn't challenge Michael Jordan to a game of basketball or Tiger Woods to a game of golf, not when our lives depend on it.  We cannot win a game of offensive violence with the government, we cannot out-state the state.  The state is the problem; anarcho-capitalism is the answer.

8/13/2013

The Libertarian Debate: Principled or Practical?

The big and powerful political parties must always guard themselves from being taken over by hostile elements.  Decades ago, small "s" socialists had a strategic decision to make: do we work to build the Socialist Party of America, or do we infiltrate the Democratic Party and take it over?  They made their decision.  Similarly, many small "l" libertarians have chosen to work with Dr. Paul on an outright takeover of the Republican Party.  Time will tell whether the Ron Paul Republicans will be as successful as the socialists have been.

Within the Libertarian Party we don't have as much to worry about from coup d'états and power grabs, but rather our infighting is like an honest and good-faith difference of opinion amongst old friends.  We don't like to air our dirty laundry to the public, but within the "big tent" Libertarian Party, where we may agree on 95% of everything worth talking about, that last 5% is a doozy.  Minarchism vs. Anarchism.

As I first found out at the 2012 LP National Convention in Las Vegas, an understanding was reached at the 1974 Libertarian National Convention regarding this divisive issue.  Known as the Dallas Accord, it was a agreement that would satisfy both the minarchist and anarchist factions within the LP by keeping the platform purposefully vague as to whether a state should exist at all.  The thinking behind the truce was that all libertarians can agree our present government needs to get dramatically smaller, so let's join together in that common goal where we have that 95% agreement.  Don't let perfect be the enemy of the good.  With a slogan like "Minimum Government, Maximum Freedom", each libertarian can define that minimum in his own mind, whether it be the minarchist "night watchmen state" or the true minimum of zero, a society that lacks an institution with a monopoly on aggressive violence.  As more conservative and constitutional leaning libertarians have joined the party in the last decade, 2006 and 2008 saw a swing in the LP power structure in favor of the minarchists, where our choice of candidates and changes to our platform disenchanted many an-cap libertarians.

The 2012 national convention saw a partial reversal of this power swing, making it an excellent time for the party to have an honest conversation with itself and revisit the reasons the Dallas Accord was made in the first place.  The Libertarian Party of Texas decided to host such a conversation in the form of a 2 on 2 debate this summer titled "The Ultimate Debate: Low Tax versus No Tax".  Since there are some that don't want libertarians to say the word "anarchism", let alone acknowledge such forces exist within the party, "no taxes" was chosen as a suitable marketing substitute for the "A" word.

One of the participants on the "No Tax" side could not attend due to a family emergency, and I was asked to take his place 2 hours before the debate.  "The show must go on".


Going into the debate I planned to focus on three lines of attack: the moral argument against taxation, the economic argument against taxation, and the naiveté of expecting "low taxes" to stay low in the long run.  My opponents were very clever.  They didn't challenge me that taxation was theft - they agreed.  They didn't challenge me that our ultimate aim should be to get rid of taxes altogether, they agreed that was a worthwhile goal.  One of my opponents didn't even resort to the "what about the roads" argument, he acknowledged that services like roads, defense, and arbitration could be supplied in a free and voluntary market.

So where did they get me?  The real debate came down to this: do we take the principled or the practical route on this journey to freedom?  A "no taxes" / anarcho-capitalist platform is not currently practical.  Can I get elected on this platform?  Could I get any bills passed?  Are the American people ready to entertain these ideas, let alone vote for someone openly advocating them?  I admit the answer is "no".  This is not a question of beliefs, but one of tactics and strategy.  More or less, the debate came down to, "Yes, I agree that "no taxes" is the correct moral choice, and I may even acknowledge it could work economically, but the people just aren't ready for it, so let's be reasonable or they won't take us seriously."

I didn't have a satisfactory answer to that line of attack during the debate, but now I offer a story followed by a few arguments for why libertarians should stick to our principled beliefs rather than water-down our platform or message to what is expedient or currently practical.  In short, why we should live up to the name "The Party of Principle".

The Story of the Practical Abolitionist

It's pre-civil war America, and a small minority of people have come to a radical conclusion: the institution of slavery is wretched, indefensible, and morally wrong.  They call themselves abolitionists, and their common goal is to end slavery.  They have quite an uphill battle.  Most of their countrymen do not agree with the abolitionists, either believing that slavery is a good thing (at least for the non-slaves) or that slavery is a necessary feature of this imperfect life.  Like death and taxes, you may not like it, but there is no escaping it.  The best you can hope for is to be on the right side of the whip.

We have established the abolitionist's common purpose, their goal, the vision that unites them and defines them as "abolitionists": the end of slavery.  Now comes the question of tactics and strategy, which is a topic that divides the abolitionists into different camps.  Some believe that education and persuasion is the right course of action.  Abolitionists should write letters, give speeches, and utilize every non-coercive means available to spread their message and change the hearts of their brethren one at a time.

Other abolitionists are not patient enough for this line of thinking.  Slavery is horrible, and people are suffering every day.  There is simply no time to wait for a slow conversion of hearts and minds.  Direct action must be taken to show these slave masters that we mean business.  Run-away slaves should be protected and transported to free lands.  Slave insurrections should be encouraged and nurtured.  Every law that protects this evil institution should be resisted and openly broken.  Anything less makes you nothing but an "Ivory Tower Abolitionist".

The abolitionists have a wide range of options in pursuit of their common goal.  Everything from peaceful persuasion to violent rebellion is a conceivable option in the fight against slavery.  But what is the right strategy in the short term vs. the long term?  The two may not be the same.

Another group of abolitionists recognize that their government's policy is a major contributor to the institution of slavery.  Fugitive slave laws make it a crime to assist run-away slaves, even when their masters are in far away states.  Since none of the major parties would risk going against the majority of the voters by taking a principled stand against slavery, this group wants to use the political mechanisms available to them to promote their cause.  By creating the "Abolitionist Party" they can not only use this vehicle to educate their countrymen when they go to the polls, but it is conceivable that they could influence other parties as they take away votes, and perhaps even someday win and implement abolitionist policies to end slavery.

Within this politically oriented group there is another question that divides them: how do we craft our message?  The "hardcore" and "radical" elements of the Abolitionist Party want to openly promote the complete end of slavery.  They boldly proclaim, "No man should be owned as the property of another.  The way to interact with each other is through commerce and voluntary association, not with chains and whips."

But another faction thinks otherwise.  The people will never take our party seriously if we advocate completely ending slavery over-night.  Yes, it's a worthwhile goal in the long run, but for the next election it would be disastrous!  Number one, it would destroy the economy that is built upon the institution of slavery.  Second, these slaves are not equipped with the responsibilities that freedom requires; who would take care of them?  Or maybe taking care of them is the last thing to be worried about, maybe some will be angry and we'll have violent riots on our hands!  "Don't get me wrong", says the practical abolitionist, "I'm with you on ending slavery, but let's not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  How about we endorse a measure to decrease slavery by 29%?  Today we have slavery 7 days a week, so if we grant 2 days of freedom a week, say on Saturday and Sunday, then that would certainly be an improvement over current conditions.  Once we have 2 days of freedom, we can work on a 3rd, 4th, etc.  That is certainly a more practical strategy given current conditions, right?"

Lessons from the Practical Abolitionist

How do we respond to the practical abolitionist?  With knowledge of how the past played itself out we can easily point out the error of his ways.  In fact, knowing that the abolitionist cause ultimately succeeds makes this story a little silly.  But the point isn't whether it's silly or not from our vantage point, but whether the parallel is a valid one.  If so, then perhaps the practical elements of our own party will seem silly to our descendants in the utopic libertarian future.

With 20/20 hindsight vision, it's clear that the "practical abolitionist" is his own worst enemy by endorsing a goal of "reducing slavery by 29%".  Given the conditions of that time, it may be more realistic to reduce slavery then to end it, but he is making the mistake of sacrificing the integrity of his long-term goal for a short-term win.  He is playing into the hands of his opponents.  Why should anyone else adopt the long term goal of "ending slavery completely" when even the so-called abolitionists seem to endorse slavery for 5 days a week? If slavery is a moral outrage, a crime against humanity, and a sin under god, then it must be totally wiped out.  But if the group that is most publicly denouncing slavery is satisfied with a mere reduction in this great sin, then there must be some flaw in the arguments.  Now the abolitionist brand has been compromised.  As "purists" in the Libertarian Party have been known to point out, when we water down our message we lose twice, first by not winning the election, and second because we didn't even get our message out.  By focusing too much on short-term wins in the political arena we forget about the long term goal of education and spreading the message.  Without that the big political wins can never be accomplished.

While it might bring charges ranging from rudeness to being a proponent of "abolition purity tests", the impact of the "practical abolitionist" is so disastrous to the Abolitionist Party that it may be prudent to question the sincerity of his beliefs.  After all, the practical abolitionist is confusing the abolitionist message in the minds of the voter, he is giving his opponents an easy line of attack with charges of hypocrisy and insincerity, and in some cases he even gives lip service to his enemy's propaganda rather than combating it when he uses it as the excuse for why people aren't ready for the "hard-core" message.

We should always advocate breaking the chains of slavery, never to make the chains more comfortable.  When we take the practical route we inadvertently advocate the very system we claim to fight.

It gets even worse than this.  If slavery is the evil that the abolitionists claim, why would they support any goal that would make slavery more tolerable to live under?  The more obvious the evil is, the easier it will be to recruit new abolitionists to combat it.  But if they are successful at "reducing slavery" then they will also be taking the wind out of the sails of their movement.  Those that were at the edge of pledging their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor" will now be placated with this bone thrown at them.  From this perspective, the message of the practical abolitionist isn't so different from the deviously clever strategy of "Mr. Smith" in Larken Rose's parable of "The Jones Plantation".

This brings up the next point, what inspires people to join a movement?  When you're up against the odds and looking to change hearts and minds, it's not prudency or the ability to compromise that converts people to your cause.  From my own perspective I can say with confidence it was the opposite; I fell in love with the logical consistency and principled stance of the libertarian message.  Here are people that when they say something, they really mean it.  But beyond my personal anecdote, which may be a fluke, we can look to the man who has undoubtedly turned more people onto the libertarian message than anyone else, Dr. Ron Paul.  When new converts speak of him, they don't get into the details of the libertarian message, they talk about his consistency.  Here is a man that I can trust because he stands for something; he says what he believes and he believes what he says.

Back to the abolitionist analogy, we see the same respect for the man of principle and disgust with the compromisers and hypocrites.  Say anything positive about the constitution or the libertarian beliefs of the founding fathers and the msm talking point is immediately relayed like a dog salivating to the ring of a bell: "The founders were hypocrites!  A bunch of white men that talked about freedom and equality but owned slaves, why should I trust anything they said?"

And the worst part is… they are right.  It was hypocritical to talk about freedom being an unalienable right granted by a creator from one side of your mouth while defending the ownership of slaves with the other.  It is cognitive dissonance, doublethink, and schizophrenic thinking at its worst.  Now the opponents of freedom can denigrate the idea completely.  If these so-called founders didn't even believe in freedom, then surely no one did… well, except for someone named Lysander Spooner.

A tribute to this heroic man deserves its own post, but long story short, here is an abolitionist that walked the walk.  He used every action available to him to further the abolitionist cause.  He wrote pamphlets and books to spread the message, including the very influential "The Unconstitutionality of Slavery."  He promoted plans for guerrilla warfare against slave holders and conspired with the "activist" members of his group to plot insurrections, even participating in one himself to free a fellow abolitionist.  And most obviously, he didn't own any slaves.  Today Lysander is a hero to principled libertarians.  His writings did not debate the petty issues of his day, instead he wrote about broad principles of liberty and justice that transcend space and time; hence his legacy will live on forever.  We want to be the Lysander Spooners of the freedom movement, not the "practical abolitionists".

No one remembers the practical abolitionists, but Lysander's memes will live in the internet forever.

Conclusion

The most compelling part of the practical argument for low taxes is painting the picture of what would happen to the less fortunate if we ended taxation tomorrow.  Most obviously, goods and services that have been monopolized by the government would take time to transition to being run by the private sector.  So think of all of the people dependent on these government services, including welfare, Medicaid, and Social Security.  These programs are paid via taxation, so what happens to them if that revenue stream no longer has a gun to keep it flowing?

Going back to the slavery / abolitionist theme, it reminds me of the following quote from the great British abolitionist Thomas Macaulay:
"There is only one cure for evils which newly acquired freedom produces, and that cure is freedom.  When a prisoner first leaves his cell, he cannot bear the light of day, he is unable to discriminate colors, or recognize faces.  The remedy is to accustom him to the rays of the sun.

The blaze of truth and liberty may at first dazzle and bewilder nations which have become half blind in the house of bondage.  But let them gaze on, and they will soon be able to bear it,…

Many politicians of our time are in the habit of laying it down as a self-evident proposition, that no people out to be free till they are fit to use their freedom.  The maxim is worthy of the fool in the old story, who resolved not to go into the water till he had learned to swim.  If men are to wait for liberty till they become wise and good in slavery, they may indeed wait forever."
This quote is the ultimate answer to the "practical abolitionist" of the 19th century and to his descendants within the Libertarian Party today.  The flip side to freedom is responsibility, and the ability to take responsibility for your actions is a muscle that must be flexed from regular use or it will atrophy and decay to a shadow of its potential.  The "practical abolitionist" says the people aren't ready for freedom, so let's be reasonable and promote practical measures.  History tells us he was wrong.  If Dr. Martin Luther King was correct, and “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”, then we should look to the optimist within and have confidence that in time our message will succeed.  And when that day comes, we want to be standing on the right side of history.  The next viral video shouldn't be "Ron Paul was Right" or "Peter Schiff was Right", but "The Libertarians were Right!"

10/31/2012

Should Libertarians Vote Libertarian?

Should libertarians vote Libertarian?  You will never see a similar question seriously considered for any other political party.  A person who identifies himself as a "republican" is, by definition, someone who is engaged in the political process and will vote for the Republican Party.  Likewise for the self-identified democrat.  Democrats vote for the Democratic Party, and republicans vote for the Republican Party.  That's what they do.

Things aren't so simple for "small l" libertarians.  For a libertarian to join, promote, and vote for the Libertarian Party, both pragmatic and moral objections must be overcome.  A sampling of those objections could be found any day this October on Lewrockwell.com, the best-read libertarian website in the world.  "Vote for Liberty by Not Voting", "Voting, A Fool's Game!", and "Libertarians Should Vote for… No One" are all recent articles by libertarians I admire, and they all make excellent points that every thoughtful libertarian should consider before choosing whether or not to go to the ballot box this November.

Nevertheless, I have chosen to ironically take the characteristically libertarian minority position on this libertarian voting issue.  At the risk of failing a future libertarian purity test, I believe, with a few qualifications, that libertarians should vote for candidates of the Libertarian Party.

As hard as it is to group and categorize libertarians, I will target my message towards two distinct groups: the minarchists who are planning to vote for Mitt Romney or write in Ron Paul, and the anarchists who plan to abstain from voting altogether in order to sleep well at night knowing they did not give their endorsement to the state nor bring it additional legitimacy.

A Message to Ron Paul Revolutionaries and Libertarian Minarchists Working in the Republican Party

Libertarians are split into two camps, anarchists and minarchists.  The minarchists, believing in the legitimacy or expediency of a night-watchmen state, have no objection to engaging in the political process to work for smaller government.  For the minarchist, the biggest decision to make is where to get the most bang for your political activism buck.  Do you work to reform one of the two major parties to make it more liberty-friendly, or do you work to grow the Libertarian Party?

Forget the slogan, "liberty in our lifetime"; there are some that want liberty as soon as possible, preferably this election.  With that kind of goal, building up a no-compromise liberty-oriented party of principle by changing hearts and minds one at a time over years, if not decades, just isn't very attractive.  Ruling out a political party that has not received more than 1% of the presidential vote leaves these libertarian political activists with one real alternative: take over the Republican Party.

There are several appealing reasons that libertarians choose to work within the Republican Party instead of the Libertarian Party.  For many newcomers to libertarianism the reason is simple, the man that woke them up, Dr. Ron Paul, has used the Republican Party machinery very effectively to spread the message of liberty.  Inventing the "money bomb", starting the Tea Party, passing "Audit the Fed", breaking fundraising records and drawing crowds of thousands at college campuses are all praise-worthy accomplishments of Dr. Paul's 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.  However, these quantitative achievements are mere reflections of the real reason to be excited: the thousands of people that have been converted to the libertarian cause or are at least more sympathetic to these ideas as a result of Dr. Paul's engagement in the political process.

So what shall we do after accomplishing so much? After the 2008 election Dr. Paul encouraged his followers to get involved in their local Republican Party, play by the rules, and make a difference in the next election.  In a fair and just world Dr. Paul would have been recognized for having achieved wins in several primary states, but instead, we saw the red team break every rule of their party platform and common decency in order to keep Ron from gaining momentum and causing division in their party.

So what now?  Some Ron Paul revolutionaries have become so wedded to the idea of taking over the red team that they are planning to vote for the red candidate, even if he's barely distinguishable from the dreaded blue candidate.  Maybe those that have begrudgingly joined team Romney don't want to seem like "sore losers", maybe some have endorsed Mitt to strengthen their future political careers, or maybe they really think that Mitt will be slightly better than Obama on some issues.

Whatever "lesser of two evils" logic some have adopted, let's keep in mind that it hasn't worked on Ron.  Dr. Paul has heroically abstained from endorsing his party's candidate, and at the same time has said some very nice things about Gary Johnson's campaign and encouraged his supporters to make their own choice this November.

I'm hoping you consider my message when you make this choice, and for you, my message is harsh but simple: Dr. Paul woke you up by using the Republican Party as a communication platform.  You were intrigued by his unique ideas during the debates, and maybe he turned you on to a few books on libertarianism and Austrian economics.  But do not confuse your admiration of Dr. Paul with allegiance to the Republican Party.  Remember that it is Lincoln's Party: a party of war, corporatism, and big government.

The Republican Party doesn't want your ideas of liberty or small government, and just forget about a non-interventionist foreign policy.  Yes they want your vote, but they don't want you.  They pay lip service to libertarian slogans and then make us all look like fools as they vote in bigger government then democrats could ever get away with.  The republicans are gambling that you fear Obama more than you love integrity.  They are hoping that you'd rather take the long road to serfdom rather than a principled stance that a slick-talking, flip-flopping, big-government republican will never get your vote.

So come home.  Come home to the Libertarian Party.  It's an uphill battle, but it will be a fun ride.  You'll be amongst like-minded people and won't have to rub shoulders with neo-cons and war-mongers.  Join a party that actually believes what you believe.  Don't get suckered into the empty promises of the red team.  They are playing you all for fools.

Now, for those minarchists who are planning on writing in 'Ron Paul'... What are you thinking?  If we had only the two major parties on the ballot then yes, I'd write in "Ron Paul", "Donald Duck", or "Lysander Spooner".  In that scenario I have no problem siding with H.L. Mencken and "vot[ing] on Artemus Ward's principle that if we can't have a live man who amounts to anything, by all means let's have a first-class corpse."

But we don't have only two choices.  We do have a sincere libertarian who will be on the ballot in all 50 states.  You don't need to throw your vote away in order to protest a corrupt and blatantly unfair election process.  If you want to cast a protest vote, by all means, cast that vote by voting against both sides of the big-government party, against the two wings of the same bird of prey, against the left and right boots stomping your face into the mud... vote for Gary Johnson.

Damn right we did.

A Message to Principled Anarchists

A friend who volunteers for the Libertarian Party once asked me, "if libertarians make up 5 - 10% of the United States population, then why can we never get more than 1% of the vote for the presidential election?".  I can answer his question with a joke, "What is the difference between a minarchist and an anarchist?"  "About 6 months."

In other words, just as fast as we gain new libertarians, those new converts become stricken with a disease of logical consistency.  At some point along the libertarian journey one comes to the realization that if private voluntary transactions on the free-market can bring us cell-phones, vegetables, and health-care better than theft, coercion, and organized violence, then perhaps security and arbitration services are additional candidates for privatization.  Now the last excuses for the night-watchmen state fall apart, and a man must make a choice between intellectual integrity and the risk of being labeled a Molotov-cocktail-throwing, v-for-vendetta-mask-wearing social delinquent.

Once you accept that the government that governs least governs best, and the least amount of governing is zero, then you have practical and moral considerations to make when it comes to engaging in the political process.  The moral question asks if one can be a principled and consistent libertarian anarchist while engaging in the political process.  The practical question is one of tactics: does my political activism support, endorse, legitimize, or provide a mandate for the very system that I would like to see eventually dismantled?  If I support a bill that will lower taxes, am I acknowledging that the state has a right to steal from me?  If I vote for a candidate who pledges to lower taxes, is my vote for a lower amount of theft endorsing theft nonetheless?

Many prominent libertarians certainly think so.  Consider this passage from "Vote for Liberty by Not Voting" by Daniel J Sanchez:
"...your vote helps provide a mandate for all of the elected officer’s policies, whether you support those policies or not.  As one author has said, voting "just encourages the bastards."

Furthermore, every vote for a federal office is a vote for the hyper-state known as the U.S. federal government, and for hyper-states in general.  It is effectively an endorsement of centralized power and a vote of no confidence in localism.  And yes, this would be true of a vote for a middling libertarian like Gary Johnson, or even an exceptionally heroic individual like Ron Paul.  True progress toward liberty cannot be achieved through the offices of a gargantuan state."

In "Voting: A Fool's Game!", Gary Barnett flips the conventional wisdom on its head, and argues that not only does voting legitimize the state, but it also forces you to accept the results and invalidates your grounds for complaining.
"Many libertarians think that voting is acceptable only if one votes for someone other than those in the two major parties, or someone who is a Democrat or Republican that is accepted by a majority of "libertarian type" individuals.  I disagree with this thinking entirely.  I disagree because even if a good man might run for high office, regardless of who wins, every single vote cast legitimizes not only the outcome, but also the very flawed political system itself.  This is not an option to my way of thinking, because libertarianism is based upon individual rights, and when voting is evident, the individual is abandoned.

Because voting supports the system, those who vote are obligated to accept the results.  To accept the results means to accept the system, and to accept the system, means to accept what that system produces.  What is produced in the governing system in the U.S. is based upon theft, coercion, police state force, and imprisonment, all for political gain.  The laws of the land written by those elected officials in this same system support this criminal activity, so by voting, one’s ability to complain is eliminated.  I do realize that this is the reverse of how many think, but it is the only logical position to take.

In my mind, not voting is the only way to denounce entirely the current political system, and to not give consent, implied or otherwise, to its evil ways."

Joel Poindexter's article "Libertarians Should Vote for… No One" mainly argues against voting for either of the two major candidates, which I am in perfect agreement with.  However, he seems to believe that voting for the Libertarian Party candidate won't accomplish as much as abstaining from voting entirely.
"... it should be noted that voting for another candidate – even one nominated by the Libertarian party – does little to stall, rollback, or smash the state, as should be every libertarian's goal.  Libertarians should instead avoid the polls, and convince as many others to do likewise."

While these are all thoughtful reason to abstain from voting, the best arguments against engaging in the sacrament of the political religion that I've read were in Larken Rose's excellent book The Most Dangerous Superstition.

On page 144 Mr. Rose gives us "The Libertarian Contradiction":
" trying to make it [the non-aggression principle] a reality via any political process is completely self-contradictory, because "government" and non-aggression are utterly incompatible.
...
Trying to convert libertarianism into a political movement requires a mangled, perverted hybrid of the two options: the idea that a system of domination ("government") can be used to achieve individual freedom.  Whenever a "libertarian" lobbies for legislation or runs for office, he is, by his own actions, conceding that "authority" and man-made "law" is legitimate.
...
There is a fundamental difference between arguing about what the master should do - which is what all "politics" consists of - and declaring that the master has no right to rule at all.  To be a libertarian candidate is to try to do both of these conflicting things.  It obviously legitimizes the office the candidate seeks to hold, even while the candidate is claiming to believe in the principles of non-aggression and self-ownership, which completely rule out the possibility of any legitimate "public office."  In short, if the goal is individual freedom, "political action" is not only worthless, it is hugely counter-productive, because the main thing it accomplishes is to legitimize the ruling class's power.
...
If enough people recognize and let go of the "authority" myth, there is no need for any election, any political action, or any revolution."

Answering the common objections in these passages in order from easiest to hardest, I'll first respond to the challenge that abstaining from voting is a more effective means of resistance to the state than voting for the Libertarian Candidate.

While it may make one feel warm and fuzzy to stay home on election day, the reality is this decision only hampers our ability to reach the masses.  Remember that the news cycle will not report that of the 36% of eligible voters that stayed at home, 8% of them were principled anarchists that have rejected the state and refuse to endorse it.  Instead they will report only the percentages of those that choose to vote, and the collective decision of libertarian non-voters to remain silent means that instead of getting 5%-10% and becoming a force to be reckoned with, we may never pass that embarrassing 1% barrier and our ideas will never be considered by the common man because of that stigma.

Next we have the argument of providing aid and comfort to the enemy.  The act of voting for anyone, even a libertarian, provides a mandate for all government officials, legitimizes their illegitimate power, provides endorsement of their crimes against humanity, and obligates you to accept the state in all of its horror.

If the choice were between the lesser of two evils, then I would absolutely agree.  But remember, we have a Libertarian Party candidate on the ballot in all 50 states!  Is Gary Johnson the reincarnation of Murray Rothbard?  He's far from it.  In fact, when I went to Las Vegas as a delegate I supported R. Lee Wrights because I felt he was a more principled candidate.  But that being admitted, it is grossly unfair to lump the LP in the same group as the blue and red wings of the big government party.  How better can you denounce the system then by voting for a candidate who has the polar opposite beliefs of that system's front men?  Everything they want to promote and expand, be it war, taxes, or the power of government itself, we want to decrease, eliminate, and roll back.

Agreed.  So vote for a candidate who wants to get rid of the masters, break the chains, and set the slaves free!

And if the objection is that Gary Johnson isn't a pure enough libertarian to earn the anarchist vote, you frankly have no one to blame but yourself.  Just as there has been an ideological battle in the Republican Party, there has been a similar struggle in the Libertarian Party.  The forces aligned with Wayne Alan Root fought for a "big-tent" libertarian party, which was code for watering down our beautifully radical platform to become the Republican-lite party.  Those forces succeeded in 2008, but in 2012 I am proud to say that the libertarian wing of the Libertarian Party heroically fought them off and succeeded in defeating their attempt to completely take over the party and disenfranchise the anarchists.  We were able to fill the Libertarian Party Executive Committee completely with radicals, and that setback is a big reason we were finally able to run off Wayne Alan Root himself, as he has formally left the LP, endorsed Romney, and announced his intention to run for office as a Republican.

So can we answer the hardest objection of them all?  Do I have an answer for Mr. Rose's libertarian contradiction?  Having run for office on the LP ticket myself, I was taken aback by his challenge. Did my campaign do more harm than good?  Ask the question another way, is it possible to be a libertarian candidate and not bring legitimacy to the state?

I think it is possible, and while I can't speak for the minarchist candidates of the LP, you can definitely imagine an anarchist campaign that would not violate Mr. Rose's objections.  Imagine a campaign where every voter questionnaire, every interview, and every chance to speak centered around an educational message denouncing the system of government itself and encouraging people to free themselves from their masters.  If every campaign message was about not only dismantling the state, but encouraging people to actively resist the state to help bring that about, then Mr. Rose's objections wouldn't hold water.

And now I am left in an awkward position.  If a principled anarchist could only vote for a principled anarchist candidate, then am I not admitting that some should not vote for the LP because Gary Johnson's campaign does not meet the criteria that I just laid out?

Thankfully, I have at least one prominent libertarian hero on my side, Dr. Walter Block, who has provided me with the perfect reductio ad absurdum rebuttal.  Yes, Gary Johnson's campaign does not meet the qualifications necessary to earn the vote of a principled anarchist...  Luckily, I am not a principled anarchist.

I accept federal reserve notes for payment, which legitimizes the government's theft and fraud through a fractional reserve fiat money system enforced through violence.  I use government roads and other public services, even though I know they were paid for with blood money stolen at the point of a gun.  I have abandoned my unalienable and natural right to self-defense, and instead I have sheepishly applied for a concealed carry permit.  And long before I traded that right for a privilege, I acknowledged that I have no right to travel without the state's permission, as I possess a driver's license.

My list of transgressions against my anarchist principles could go on forever.  The point being, don't throw stones if you live in a glass house.  One of the most hardcore libertarians I know, Michael Badnarik, really walks the walk.  He drives without a driver's license and he will never get a permit to exercise his natural right to bear arms.  The guy is hard-core principled.  And considering that he was the LP's 2004 presidential candidate, I think we can deduce where he falls on the voting issue.  If he can make the sacrifice, what is your excuse?

Conclusion

The Libertarian Party is not perfect.  Our pathetic choice for our presidential candidate in 2008 is testament to that.  However, our party platform is still something a radical libertarian can be proud of, and our recent reversal of the Wayne Alan Root forces is also a great victory for every hardcore libertarian.

Every time I hear "this is the election cycle that can change everything" I shake my head.  It is counter-productive to have delusions of grandeur and set yourself up for failure.  But that being said... this is the year that can change everything.  Not to win, but to finally pass that dreaded 1% mark.  We are not only in a position to break 1%, but we have a real chance of passing the 5% mark.  This means that all of the time, money, and energy that is spent every election in every state to qualify or re-qualify the Libertarian Party for ballot access will no longer be necessary.

With 5%, we get automatic ballot access.  All of the lawsuits, all of the petition gathering, the tens of thousands of dollars… all of it can finally go towards promoting our candidates and more importantly, promoting our message.

One of Gary Johnson's campaign slogans is "Be libertarian with me for one election".  My slogan is "libertarians, vote libertarian with me for one election!"

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