Lessons in Liberty Podcast Episode 11, I talk about the Libertarian Party and the strategy of the liberty movement as a whole.
- Episode #8 | Lessons in Liberty Podcast | Mises Institute and Radical Capitalist Controversy
- 5 Must-have Libertarian Books
- I, Pencil: a Lesson in Liberty
- Video: Hoppe on a Populist Strategy for Libertarian Change
- Bake the Cake, Bigot!
- Thoughts on Charlottesville and the Alt-Right
- Tom Woods | Robber Barons and the Progressive Era
Welcome to episode 11 of the Lessons in Liberty Podcast, a show where we talk about matters relating to Austrian Economics, libertarian philosophy, and right-wing politics. The show notes are available at lessonsinliberty.net/episode11. You can listen to the show through the audio player in each blog post as well as iTunes, Stitcher, and YouTube. This episode is titled “rebels without a strategy” and yes, I’m talking about libertarians. Congratulations to the Eagles on their super bowl win. I didn’t watch the super bowl this year. I didn’t not watch out of protest, but rather just because I don’t enjoy watching sports as much as I have in the past. The more I’ve paid attention to politics and such, the less I’ve cared about sports. I always enjoyed playing and watching sports growing up, but as I get older, I’m losing interest. Paying attention to the crazy things that happen in politics and such is quite entertaining. I’m too busy rooting for the right-wing and the future of Western Civilization to be rooting for professional sports teams.
I’m not saying that sports aren’t something to enjoy. But, sports can be a distraction. I don’t mean a temporary distraction like turning on a football game for an hour… I mean a lifelong distraction where we identify with these sports teams. People are tribalistic. Some people identify by their ethnicity, others by their religion, and so on. It strikes me as a bit of a waste of energy and time to be emotionally invested in the successes and failures of professional athletes. I wonder if the men who have been consumed by sports most of their lives could have paid more attention to things going on in the government all these years and if they could have prevented the growth of the state that is so apparent today. It’s not much better to allow politics to consume your life, but at least by paying attention to politics and current issues, you can be informed to help us move in the direction of reducing the size of the state.
I want to give a little insight into how and why I became interested in politics before I talk about the Libertarian Party and the overall strategy and trajectory of the liberty movement. I had no interest in politics until fairly recently. The 2016 Presidential election was the first election I really paid attention to and is what got me interested in politics. In short, I came to realize something was horribly wrong with the current system of government. I started a pro-liberty organization chapter at my college. Inside the package the organization delivered to me to use for recruitment and such was a few very important books that would have a big impact on my life.
At this point, I’m 20 or 21. My understanding of economics and politics was not so great, though I had been learning about libertarian philosophy and free markets because of the election. My only knowledge of economics at this point was from an entrepreneurship class I had in high school. The first book I read that the organization sent me was “I, Pencil” by Leonard E. Read. I’ll link to an article I wrote that goes through the lessons in that book on the show notes page. This short book, more like a pamphlet, really, is an incredible introduction to the idea of spontaneous order and the awe-inspiring processes of production that go into making a good. I started to realize that maybe businesses and corporations have been a scapegoat and that capitalism wasn’t so bad after all. This was a long way from thinking in high school that all profits should be redistributed to all the people. Profits are just extra money, right?
I read “The Road to Serfdom” by F.A. Hayek and was convinced that socialism was a bad idea and that central planning in general was a detriment to society. “The Law” by Bastiat taught me the only legitimate role of government is to defend property rights and that the rights of men are natural and not granted by the state. “Economics in One Lesson” by Henry Hazlitt taught me the truth about various government policies that were supposed to help people. A talk by Tom Woods convinced me that the narrative I got in public school about free markets and the industrial revolution and the so-called “robber barons” was oversimplified at best, and flat out anti-capitalist propaganda at worst. At this point, I had gone head first down the libertarian rabbit-hole and spent a lot of free time reading about Austrian economics and libertarian philosophy.
So, during the 2016 election, I had become convinced that Democrats and Republicans were both wrong. I saw hypocrites on both sides. The Democrats who were anti-war when George W. Bush was in office had become silent throughout Obama’s presidency. The Republicans who were supposed to favor limited government had spent trillions of dollars going to war as well as expanding the police state and government invasion of privacy. I figured the Libertarian Party was the only party that would be able to reduce the size of the state. And what an opportunity they had with Trump and Clinton running. It was the perfect opportunity to give the American people a third option. Something different from politics as usual. And then the Libertarian Party ran Gary Johnson and Bill Weld as the presidential and vice presidential nominees.
Johnson, Weld, and the Libertarian Party failed spectacularly. They failed to reach the masses and show them that something is wrong with the government and the current system. They failed to even promote the ideas of libertarianism. Gary Johnson actually suggested in a debate that a Jewish baker should be forced to bake a Nazi cake. After the 2016 election, my faith in the future of the libertarian party was diminishing drastically. I could talk about various scandals and bad messaging from people in the Libertarian Party, but the thing I started to realize was that the party was essentially a racket for the people in the party. The party just isn’t effective at recruiting liberty-minded people who can actually move the needle in the direction of liberty. Instead, the party is full of people who seem more concerned with promoting themselves or making money in political campaigns than actually taking steps to limit the state.
It’s clear to me that there needs to be a strong focus on localization and secession, rather than national politics if we want to see the reduction of the state apparatus. I’ve pretty much abandoned the possibility that a majority of Americans will become sympathetic to libertarianism and vote in libertarians at the national level. We have to come to the realization that people tend to make decisions emotionally and attempt to justify them rationally. In other words, it seems that some people will vote for politicians who promote universal healthcare, free education, and other government programs regardless of how much we try to explain the economics inefficiencies of the state and the philosophical arguments against the state. The harsh reality is that not all Americans are even capable of understanding more complex arguments regarding economics, politics, and philosophy. It’s always easier for politicians to suggest programs meant to help the poor or single mothers, for example, than it is for us to explain the secondary consequences of government intervention. Children who go through government education are pretty much guaranteed to come out thinking the government is extremely beneficial and necessary.
So, I would encourage libertarians to rethink this strategy of trying to educate the masses until the Libertarian Party can win a national election. We certainly don’t have the time, but more importantly, we are missing out on opportunities to take over local governments and promote secession movements. Libertarians have become rebels without a strategy. The mainstream of libertarians even rejected Hoppe’s strategy that he outlined in a talk last year. The 10 points of his strategy are in the introduction to this podcast. Hoppe suggested, “don’t put your trust in politics and political parties” and “to promote a radical agenda of decentralization, of nullification, and peaceful separation, segregation, and secession.” It seems that the libertarian movement for a lot of people is totally self-gratifying and has become an excuse to lose, while deluding ourselves into thinking we are accomplishing something, just because we have a better understanding of politics and economics than most people. I, for one, am tired of losing. I refuse to nihilistically purity-spiral and reject involvement in the broader political process. I refuse to allow libertarian philosophy, which I believe to be perfectly sound, to prevent me from engaging in political discourse that can move the country in the right direction.
One trend has been libertarians counter-signaling the Alt-right. The Alt-right is a broad term that’s pretty carelessly thrown around and we could delve into that in another episode, but the majority of the Alt-right seem to be white nationalists. A lot of people on the Alt-right actually came from the liberty movement. One notable figure is Chris Cantwell who has had his reputation smeared by anyone and everyone it seems. Chris has pointed out that a vast majority of libertarians are white people. I mentioned this in episode 8 where I talked about the controversy over Chase Rachel’s forthcoming book titled, “White, Right, and Libertarian.” According to a 2006 Cato Policy Analysis, 82% of libertarians are white. It seems odd that libertarians wouldn’t embrace this movement. The Alt-right seems much more willing to work within the political system and actually make things happen. Donald Trump is evidence of this. The left has no problem using the state against the right. Libertarians can’t wait until the Libertarian Party gains traction, if ever. I encourage libertarians and conservatives to pay attention to the Republican primaries coming up this year, because we can actually influence who gets into office this way rather than hoping for someone in the Libertarian Party to get into office.
There have been a few recent developments in the Libertarian Party that have further divided the party. From potential presidential candidate Adam Kokesh getting arrested to Vice Chair of the National Committee Arvin Vorha making some very stupid statements about age of consent laws, I’m convinced that the people who truly want to limit the state need to jump ship and run for office as Republicans if we want to have a chance to limit the state. The Libertarian Party establishment is either looking to get votes or is making a huge error on principle by promoting open immigration or open borders as well as support for DACA. The Libertarian Party pretends demographics don’t matter and they don’t realize that opening immigration and allowing countless people who tend to vote Democrat and for bigger government will be detrimental to our cause. We can’t win without a winning strategy. Unfortunately, the Libertarian Party has ignored the Rothbardian Paleolibertarian strategy as well as Hoppe’s strategy.