Sunni and the Conspirators

Movimiento Libertario, Not a movement, Not libertarian
June 28, 2005
9:31 p.m., MT
Jorge's Mood: tired, drained, burnt out

An internal battle between ideologues and pragmatists in the Movimiento Libertario has resulted in a narrow win for the pragmatists. Narrow or not, the political process is a winner take all process, so the pragmatists are in control. Some candidates for the national legislature are flat out not Libertarians. Others are very pliable, they are "gut" libertarians, who would be fine if surrounded by committed ideologues, but as it stands, can be easily swayed to anti-libertarian positions. One candidate has been called "brain damaged" and "retarded" by the very person who strongly supported her. But she will vote as told, no danger of independent, or Libertarian, thinking there.

Secondly, I am now, after having seen this type of behavior several times, convinced that L. Neil Smith was right when, in Pizzacracy he said "During my tenure in the Libertarian Party, when these malfunctions began occurring, I went so far as to write to other prominent libertarians, ask what was going on, and couldn't we stay friends? It didn't work. I don't mean to single out the LP, it's simply the place where I gained the bulk of my sad experience. It doesn't differ significantly from any other majoritarian group."

I really thought the Movimiento Libertario was different. I was very wrong. When you think about it, it makes sense that the pragmatists would win, after all the Libertarian ideologues want Liberty, the pragmatists want power. It follows that the pragmatists will be more effective at achieving control over the organization. It also makes sense that the divisions caused bitter resentments, and that the mud slinging has become public.

In case anyone believes the pragmatists are nice folks, they have already fired several people who worked in the Asamblea (Congress) and are probably going to fire several more.

Also, do not believe that the ideologues are perfect, their ideas are the correct ones, they are the ones that want Liberty above all else, but they are also human. Several people voted against the ideologues for strictly personal reasons. Some among the ideologues have angered others when there was no need. They have, on more than one occasion, been their own worst enemy.

Getting down to the gory details I find that I don't know where to start. There is so much to explain, so much history to tell. So I will start with something that will be seen as obviously wrong to all Libertarians, anarchists, minarchists, hard and soft core alike.

Approximately two weeks ago, there was a meeting where the party's president, Otto Guevara, said that to be a candidate for public office, it was not necessary to be 100% Libertarian, 70% was acceptable. This caused a furor among the hard core, but I managed to rationalize it away, because we had a "magic" weapon. A great tool that would go a long way to insuring 100% compliance, even if the individual was only 70%. Before anyone jumps on me for this rationalization, you can be sure that my friends already have.

This tool was the contract with financial guarantee that each candidate was going to have to sign, before they could even compete internally to become a candidate. The initial idea was Otto's. I was at the meeting where he thought of it. I thought it was brilliant and ran with it. Otto even announced it to the press, where it received good coverage. The idea of the contract is simple. Follow Libertarian principles, as specified in the contract (never vote in favor of tax increases or state monopolies, etc) and back that up with all the money you receive from your job as a Libertarian legislator. In March, the ethics committee of the party was charged with drafting the actual contract. All their attempts to meet with Otto and the existing Diputados (congress critters) were stymied. Almost from the beginning their process had been sabotaged. So, at the party's national assembly, held on June 25th, there was nothing to vote on. One member of the ethics committee announced that it was dead, the others confirmed it to me privately.

We are now left with a party where to be a candidate one need only agree 70% with libertarians, in other words, it is ok to be in favor of violating rights up to 30%, and where there is no mechanism to bind a candidate to the principles. In fact, one does not even have to state that they are a libertarian to be a candidate. The assembly proceeded straight downhill from there.

The questions this raises are:
-- How did this happen?
-- What happens to the party now?
-- What happens to the Libertarians who are now "homeless"?

The last question I can only answer for myself. I have been an anarchist for a long time. I saw working with a political organization as a method to advance liberty. I now see this as wrong. The only way to advance liberty is to withdraw sanction from the state. To live your life as free as possible under the circumstances and convince others to do the same. The only way to have the state wither away is to stop feeding it. How to best do this is another question, which I need to ponder. But I now realize that engaging the state on its own terms is the wrong approach. It just corrupts and makes one like the very organization we are trying to get rid of.

How did we go from a situation where Otto would stand up in the Asamblea and attack other Diputados for being immoral, where he would be the only person to vote against a law, where he was a champion of the rights of illegal lottery vendors, informal taxi drivers, landless campesinos and small business, to one where he is willing to sell out 30%?

That is more difficult to answer, and I am sure that other people, armed with different and more facts than I have, will have different opinions, but here is mine. I'll start by saying that a key part of this insight comes from someone else, who I have not been able to contact and therefore will not name. I hope they will claim credit in the comments.

The door opened when the ML started taking money from the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, a Liberal (in the European sense of the word) political foundation. They give money to market oriented parties around the world, but they are not Libertarian. They have a goal, to get the parties they contribute to into power. Dealing with them and taking their money, meant listening to their agenda, which was "you have to dump the ideology to get elected". The Foundation sent consultants who pushed the message, they paid to have people from the ML attend seminars all over the world, where the message was repeated. Many people in the party, including Otto, have been listening to this message for several years.

On top of this, there are many who have been in the party for a long time, who are not 100%. They have been held back by the ideologues and have not been happy with this. These people have been getting closer and closer to Otto over time.

Then there is the problem with the message the ML has been putting out. I just reviewed the press releases from the last two years, if there is a unifying theme to almost all of them it is "good government". Often it is "small government equals good government", but "good government" is the main theme. Occasionally the theme was "rights". Very, very rarely was it "freedom". The TV and radio programs put out the same message. Additionally, the Diputados of the ML have fought the tax package and other government programs on the grounds of waste, corruption and mismanagement. The message almost everyone has gotten is that the ML is the party of political control and good government. Period. Nothing else.

Therefore, it is not surprising that we attract a phenomenally good person, who wants, not Liberty, but good government. Namely, the presidential campaign manager, an individual I have a tremendous amount of respect for. Someone who is a very successful businessman and an incredibly hard worker. But not a Libertarian. He never claimed to be one. He does not claim to be one today.

Into the mix comes this individual, who says flat out, dump the ideology, focus on Otto, not the party, present Otto as a leader, etc, etc. I think this is what finally pulled Otto into the "dark side".

Now, that would not have mattered too much if the rest of the party had really been hard core. If the entire national assembly of the party had reacted with horror at the party's president saying that 70% was good enough there would have been no problem. But they did not.

I suspect that the general logic of organizations is to blame here. The party was formed to advance Liberty via political action. That means electing people to public office. Electing people to public office has now become the main function of the organization. Winning elections is now the goal, Liberty is nowhere to be seen.

Finally, what happens to the party? Difficult to say, but here is my take.

One evening, three of us, all volunteers, met with the campaign manager, himself a volunteer, who said that the one advantage we had, was that in no other party were there four dedicated people meeting who were working for the cause, not for some direct personal benefit. The people I recruited all joined for the cause. There were many, many more like this. Most of these people are ideologues, most will leave. Many already have. So first off, they are going to lose a large number of hard working people, who are going to be impossible to replace.

Next, there is one individual who has publicly stated that he will do everything he can to destroy Otto and the party. This person has a blinding hatred for Otto and what he has done. He will run against Otto to be the presidential candidate. He will lose, but he will have his time to speak, and the press, loving a feeding frenzy, will give it good coverage. Given that the pragmatists have not been gracious in victory, this person is going to get many votes. An obvious loon getting a lot of votes against a popular, charismatic leader is going to drive the press wild.

Finally, given the political panorama in Costa Rica (the credit goes to my friend Ricardo for stating it so clearly), the ML has lost its niche. The traditional parties are what they are and people know them, those who want what they offer will vote for them. The PAC has the vote of the state employee unions. The dozen or so even more leftist parties will get the vote of those who feel PAC isn't communist enough, then there is a xenophobic party, who wants to expel all the Nicaraguans. The ML was the party that could be counted on to follow a fixed ideological course. You may not have agreed with them, but you knew exactly what they would do. This appealed to a lot of people, this is now gone.

I say that this means they will at most get seven seats in the Asamblea, instead of the 12 to 19 that Otto is claiming in the press. We will find out in February.

I will further predict that they will take government funds for the campaign. We will probably find out in October/November if I am right, when they try to get a bank loan.

A political party is entitled to government funds based upon percentage of the vote. If the party gets 10% of the vote, they get 10% of the allocated funds. What the parties typically do is take out bank loans against the debt. Say that the polls show a party will get 20% of the vote, a bank will loan up to the amount they would get with 15%.

It is a great pity, but if I had believed L. Neil Smith back when I first read Pizzacracy, or if I had taken to heart the great article by Carl Watner in the Voluntaryist, I would have realized that this is the logical outcome. As Watner notes " In each case the organization begins with a devotion to a purpose and somehow along the way turns away from that purpose and gradually becomes a collection of special interests." This is exactly what has happened to the ML.

Jorge

Replies: 36 people have spoken!


On Wednesday, June 29th, at approximately 5:17 a.m. Mountain time, Sunni said:

Wow. Sorry you've been put through such a wringer, Jorge. I can't say I'm surprised it happened, but it saddens me all the same.

More ominously, I believe that foundation you mentioned is helping ISIL with their conference this year.

On Wednesday, June 29th, at approximately 10:09 a.m. Mountain time, John Newnham said:

Sadly this is (it seems) the logical outcome. I am sorry to hear about it though Jorge. I've been following the situation from afar with interest and, till now, optimism.

On Wednesday, June 29th, at approximately 3:33 p.m. Mountain time, Dan Libby said:

Wow, that really bites. 'Tis a sad day in CR. sad

Thanks for the write-up Jorge, and for all the work you've done.

On Thursday, June 30th, at approximately 4:43 p.m. Mountain time, Laura said:

Well Jorge, reading this ( on top of giving me chills) made me go over the several steps that lead ML to where it is now. Again I remembered Ayn Rand expressed taking libertarianism to the political arena didn't seem like a good idea.

Guess is just that political parties are a type of organization design to create a path for people who want power... it works. Then, not by surprise: power turns into corruption. Corruption of principles, of moral, of friendship even.

As a "homeless" libertarian, from now on I'll have that very clear.

As to predictions, I wouldn't like to make any... just hope some of us (real libertarians) will find a way to keep working for liberty.

On Friday, July 1st, at approximately 7:26 a.m. Mountain time, Jorge said:

When I first met Laura and a few other young Libertarians, I wrote to a friend of mine that with such committed, hard core young people on our side, we couldn't lose. I did not consider being destroyed from the inside.

Laura is the person who gave me the insight on the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. She was (is still?) a member of the Ethics Committee, and one of the most outspoken defenders of principle at the national assembly. For this she was fired from her job at the Asamblea.

Laura has fought for her principles and paid a high price. She is a true lover of liberty.

Laura, Thank you for all that you have done.

--jorge

On Friday, July 1st, at approximately 9:28 a.m. Mountain time, David said:

Summing up what someone has said, to attempt to change the government and the state by the means provided by the state means being eaten by the state mechanism.

The experience I have seen says that to win victories over the state you must develop politics and ties among the people that are outside and external to the government and the state.

Many thanks and congratulations to the ML for the good things for CR that they have accomplished to date.

On Friday, July 1st, at approximately 9:33 a.m. Mountain time, Ian Bernard said:

Damn it. I was really excited about what I thought was a burgeoning Liberty movement in CR. What a bummer. It looks like the Free State Project really is the only choice now.

I've enjoyed your emails, Jorge.

http://freestateproject.org

On Friday, July 1st, at approximately 9:34 a.m. Mountain time, Bill said:

Jorge, Lo siento mucho!
Unfortunately, what you have experienced is the way it is. Lord Acton had it right- "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
I think that the world as we know it is doomed, and the cancer of government has progressed to a non-treatable degree.
A friend gave me a zen-like way of dealing with this: Think of yourself as an anthropologist observing the death of a civilization. There's really nothing you can do, so you may as well derive whatever entertainment value you can from the current events.
Buena suerte!
Memo

On Friday, July 1st, at approximately 9:38 a.m. Mountain time, Jared said:

This has been a very unfortunate turn of events... I have been following the progress of the ML for about two years now.. thinking of one day relocating to CR to support and enjoy living under a Libertarian government. It seemed CR was the best chance for the experiment to succeed... and now? I hope the true supporters will bounce back and use this time before the election to let the locals know what has happened. If they have kicked you out of the house you built.. sometimes it's best to burn it down... metaphorically speaking... The party name has a good reputation.. don't let the invaders ruin it.

On Friday, July 1st, at approximately 10:07 a.m. Mountain time, Tom Jeffers said:

Folks, pragmatism is a necessary component of any politically viable form of libertarianism. If you ask for 100% you'll get nothing. Better to be effective than right. 100% is feasible down the line only if steps are taken in the beginning that might not necessarily seem libertarian. Sure the existing party members need to kiss up to the mainstream, they're only 10% of the Congress. Wait until they're 20% or 30% - then it's time to really push for libertarian change. But if you're not committed to a political approach to the problem, then you're doomed to fail.

On Friday, July 1st, at approximately 10:09 a.m. Mountain time, Tom Jeffers said:

For a good group looking to make the American Libertarian Party more viable, check out the Libertarian Reform Caucus: www.reformthelp.org

On Friday, July 1st, at approximately 10:33 a.m. Mountain time, Jorge said:

Tom,

Here is the problem with a 70% or a 90% solution. Which 10% (or 30%) are you willing to have the "libertarian" legislator go against?

Is it OK to raise taxes as long as they vote "correctly" on the other issues? How about marijuana? Or maybe it is OK to vote for a law that prohibits criticizing members of the government?

Which 10% (or 30%) are you willing to let them be against?

If it is any 10%, and we elect 10 people, each one can betray a different 10%?

You have it exactly backwards. With out principles, nothing can be done.

Just because you are 100% does not mean that you try to get all Libertarian policies through at the same time. Some things you can win on, some things you will lose but will generate good publicity, some are not worth fighting today. That is all a matter of tactics, which are good to discuss. But the people we elect must be 100%. They must have the goal clear. The moment we lose that, as we have in Costa Rica, we become just like any other party.

An excellent example of this happened at the national assembly of the ML. Otto strongly supported a candidate, who often said "I'm a libertarian, but I support employment quotas for women and for giving special assistance to women via government programs". This was one of Otto's 70% candidates.

As soon as she won she turned on Otto and pushed her own agenda. She did not support many of Otto's candidates. She supported women. Period. She has her own agenda, if she is elected to the Asamblea, she will follow it. Will it be Libertarian? I doubt it.

That is the problem with pragmatists. They have nothing to guide them except the expedience of the moment.

This is not the way to achieve Liberty. It is a sure way to destroy it.

On Friday, July 1st, at approximately 12:25 p.m. Mountain time, Ron Silva said:

Jorge,
Lo siento mucho tambien! I too, like Jared above was looking forward to a day that CR would blossom into a bastion of liberty and had high hopes in my heart to make the move to a free land of Costa Rica. But, I always had this nagging doubt, politics and Libertarianism never mix as the on going compromises will only short change the libertarian cause. It seems, again, the proof is in: It will never work, as compromise is the essence and life blood of politics and politicians. The selling out of one's libertarian principle's by Otto Guevara is sadly, another nail in the coffin of libertarian politics. I am glad it happened now and not later when the stakes were so much higher. Personally, I thank you for all the updates and wish you the very best in your future endeavors and hope to hear from you in the future. I think it's time toss the idea of libertarian politics onto the ashbin of history. Maybe we can toss the ML and the US LP together as it would make a great bonfire! Thank you for providing the match.
In Liberty,
Ron

On Friday, July 1st, at approximately 12:56 p.m. Mountain time, Jorge said:

Ron,

Thanks for the comments. You will be hearing more from me! Right here. Since Sunni has not (yet) wink regretted allowing me this forum I will use it.

The on-going saga of the ML will be a topic. Some people are trying to save it. If not now then for the 2010 elections. I wish them luck, but will not be joining them.

There is a Yahoo group made up mostly of delegates to the National Assembly. The archives are public, but it is in Spanish. It will give those who are interested another perspective.

A new piece of news: One of the candidates elected on Saturday has resigned the post in protest over the dismissals.

--jorge

On Friday, July 1st, at approximately 1:01 p.m. Mountain time, German Libertarian said:

Scheiss Naumann-Stiftung!

post scriptum:

Friedrich Naumann was a NATIONAL-SOZIALIST!!!

On Friday, July 1st, at approximately 1:20 p.m. Mountain time, Jorge said:

Before we go nuts on this, Fridrich Naumann died in 1919. Here is the Wikipedia entry.

--jorge

On Friday, July 1st, at approximately 2:23 p.m. Mountain time, Sunni said:

Mr. Wakfer, you may not remember my name, but I certainly do remember yours. You are not welcome on my web site. Your comment was deleted by me, and your IP banned.

On Friday, July 1st, at approximately 5:10 p.m. Mountain time, Greg Woods said:

Hello, everyone,

I am the guilty party who introduced George (Jorge) Codina to the ML. I had been working with them up until the last elections in 2002. I worked as an unpaid consultant to Otto for two years, and am friends with several of the present deputies to the National Assembly. I moved out of the San Jose area 3 years ago and have not been participating actively in ML politics, other than talking to local people about libertarian ideas (principles?).

I only realized several days ago in a report in the local paper that there was controversy within the ML. I was aware that there were some non libbies in the party but hadn't realized that the situation was so serious. I personally had already come to the conclusion that one cannot make a pact with the devil, ie politics. The one advantage I saw to the ML gaining power is the complete obstruction of all proposed legislature, a situation which in fact has occurred to some extent. It Otto should ever become president all of the public unions would go on strike and CR would experience a complete chaos, as all utilities and petroleum distribution are controlled by the unions. It would have been a fine opportunity for us anarchists. But I would still recommend CR for those of you considering a retreat from the empire. There are areas here where one can live relatively independently. For those who wish more info please contact me.

On Friday, July 1st, at approximately 6:02 p.m. Mountain time, Jorge said:

Gerg, Great to hear from you!

I agree 100% with Greg, CR is still a great place for freedom lovers to be. I intend to expand on this in future posts.

--jorge

On Friday, July 1st, at approximately 6:05 p.m. Mountain time, Juan Carlos said:

Hi Jorge, I'm very sad about your departure from the ML, but unlike you, I think the ML scored a big victory last Saturday.

You know about my commitment to the principles, you know I'm a 100% libertarian, and yet the ideologues voted against me when I ran for a candidacy last Saturday. Did you see Raul, the "father" of the ideologues, celebrating how Marta Angulo won the nomination, a woman who can barely spell libertarianism?

Being a libertarian means more than simply reading Ayn Rand. You have to live according to those principles. I was threathen by Raúl (the ideologue) for not supporting the candidacy of his girlfriend. So much for libertariansm. Instead, Otto supported the candidacy of people who oppenly opposed his candidates.

Jorge, it was all about who controls the party, and principles had little to do with it. We are a political party, not a cult. I'm very confident that in those issues where the elected candidates might vote against liberty, there'll be a party line that will always favor our ideas.

The ML is well and alive. People committed to the libertarian principles are still within the party and looking forward to the next elections. I'm really sorry about your decision, but I'm confident that what happened last Saturday was in the best interest of liberty in my country.

On Friday, July 1st, at approximately 7:00 p.m. Mountain time, Jorge said:

Juan Carlos,

Thanks for the post. I know you are a Libertarian (100% is the only kind there is), and I agree the battle was over control.

With regard to Marta Angulo, she is a "gut" libertarian. As you say, there is more to being a Libertarian than reading Ayn Rand. Marta's heart is in the right place, and if there was a guarentee mechanism, I would not be worried about her being there. As it stands, I do not think she will be elected, but that we will see in February.

There are other candidates whose hearts are not in the right place. These I worry about a great deal.

An item that should worry every Libertarian is that Otto said 70% libertarian was acceptable in candidates. Does this means the party (you) will accept a candidate that will raise taxes as long as they vote correctly in other areas? How about denying marriage to homosexuals, as one of the current Diputados has proposed? Maybe it is OK to support 30% of the state monopolies, as long as they oppose the rest?

As far as Otto supporting candidates that openly opposed his other choices, that is not my recollection. He supported one candidate, who, after she was selected, went against his choice. She did not openly support anyone before she was selected.

Serious errors in judgement were made by the ideologues, Raúl included. This is what happens when emotions replace reason in decision making. This does not mean that Raúl's basic thinking was incorrect.

As far as the party being alive and well, that remains to be seen. You probably know better than I do about many of the fights that are coming. Both sides are now fueled by hatred. I do not think that the party can survive the internal battle, a great part of which will be fought in media. However there is only one determining factor, and that is the election. We will see what the people decide in February.

I personally wish you the best.

--jorge

On Saturday, July 2nd, at approximately 2:24 p.m. Mountain time, Greg said:

Saludos, Juan Carlos - it has been awhile since we have spoken. As I have been out of party politics for 3 years I cannot contribute much to the current discussion. I think that Jorge is right that the press and others will certainly be alert to any schisms in the ML. If Raul the ideologue could not maintain libbie principles then who? In the time that I was associated with the ML I saw many good people come and go, including one of the founders, Rigoberto Stewart. My friend Rolando Leiva also gave up on them. Party politics always leads to pragmatic decisions.

We should all stand back and think about what it means to participate in politics. Apart from the famous 'sanction of the victim' there is another aspect: One cannot transfer a power that one does not possess to another. I cannot empower(vote for) another person to tax or rob others. Libertarians cannot honestly participate in politics.

What is the solution? Education. We must get out there and educate other individuals, in much the same way as the Mormons and other sects try to spread their ideas.

Any recourse to coercive means is hypocritical and counterproductive.

Note to Jorge: If you have any ideas on promoting CR as a libby haven please share them with me. Guacimo

On Sunday, July 3rd, at approximately 12:15 a.m. Mountain time, Dan Scupin said:

Sad to hear the english language version of the newsletter will be discontinued. The 100% or nothing argument has been responsible for libertarians having very little power (how I hoped CR would be different)but we can't seem to come to a solution. I personally liked the "contract" idea. It was worth a try..to bad it really didn't get off the ground. sad sad sad

On Sunday, July 3rd, at approximately 8:21 a.m. Mountain time, Jorge said:

Dan,

It has never been "100% or nothing". Non-libertarians have always been welcome in the ML, just not as candidates. In the Asamblea, the Diputados of the ML worked with those of other parties to stop the tax package and to pass some good laws. Not 100% better, but small incremental steps. This was good.

What has changed is that now it is acceptable to have candidates who will support increases in state power (ie. quotas for women). To me, this is not Libertarian. I cannot work to elect this type of person.

--jorge

On Sunday, July 3rd, at approximately 2:31 p.m. Mountain time, Rob, England said:

A difficult decision - 100% libertarian or not. Naturally all members of a LIbertarian Party should be 100% libertarian but people cannot be like that so you can NOT get only 100% libertarians. After all are libertarians for allowing abortion or against? Up to what age of foetus? I think of myself as 100% libertarian but I can certainly believe that someone could take a different view to me on abortion and still be 100% libertarian themself. Whatever happens there are some things (such as quotas for women) that can be never be libertarian so....

Best of luck for the future CR. We used to have freedom but now have the most fascist Govt in our history and we could be really stuffed in a few years sad

On Sunday, July 3rd, at approximately 9:18 p.m. Mountain time, Jim McIntosh said:

Let me add my condolences. I too, had great hopes for ML, and found your newsletters motivating.

I have been treasurer of the Ontario Libertarian Party here in Canada for many years. Few of our candidates receive more than 1% of the votes cast, so it was good to hear about Libertarians being elected as Libertarians.

Unfortunately a few of our newer members are trying to promote policies that will be more palatable to the voters, by watering down the principles. We even have the Leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada supporting “fair trade!” (i.e. We shouldn’t allow US dairy products into Canada because the US government subsidizes their dairy farmers.)

Fortunately, the Leader of the Ontario Libertarian Party understands the need to stick to our principles.

Anyone who wants to be a candidate for the party must be a Voting Member. A Voting Member must sign an oath that they support the Principles of the Libertarian Party. They can be removed from the Party if they support non-libertarian policies. Does the ML have a similar requirement?

Regards; Jim

On Monday, July 4th, at approximately 12:46 a.m. Mountain time, Peter Cresswell said:

Very, very sad news. Costa Rica's libertarians have been a beacon for all libertarians around the world, and it's terribly sad to know that meddling compromisers have sowed the seeds of dissent and destruction in a formerly principled party.

Very, very sad, and a lesson for libertarians everywhere. Commiserations, Jorge, from New Zealand, where unfortunately plenty of parellels exist with your own battles. As I say today on my own blog, " If politics has replaced principles, then how does ML fundamentally differ from any other bunch of power-lusters?"

As far as the need for compromise and the complaints about "frightening the horses," I've never found those arguments to hold any water, but they always do attract people who don't understand the real galvanising effect of genuinely powerful ideas.

How exactly should a minor party act when confronted by holding the balance of power? In my view, if they're principled and in favour of more freedom and less government, then they have no problem and they don't need to sell out: they can simply say "We will support every measure that advances freedom without introducing any new coercion." And then they would do so. Such support would be reliable (as long as freedom is advanced) and it would be consistent.

I've argued that New Zealand's Libertarianz follow this principle, and in this context I explain somewhat tongue-in-cheek here how the studious application of this principle would suggest that killing the entire front bench of Government in their beds would be unprincipled; and here (scroll down to 'We'll get our fair share of abuse') how this principle would rule out support for a flat tax, for educational vouchers, and for state welfare being a 'hand-up and not a hand-out.'

Anyway, commiserations Jorge, A sad day for libertarians everywhere.

On Monday, July 4th, at approximately 8:00 a.m. Mountain time, Skeptic said:

I think you people are jumping the gun here. Why wouldn't you want to hear the other side of the story first?

I'd like to hear what's been going on from Otto and others before I come to a conclusion.

On Monday, July 4th, at approximately 12:46 p.m. Mountain time, Juan Carlos said:

Well, I'll take the ball. As I stated before, I think that there's no reason to believe that the Movimiento Libertario has lost its way. Just the opposite, I believe that last week’s National Assembly was a good opportunity for real libertarians to take over the party.

During the years, the ML has been under a “rule of fear” from the Secretary General, a guy who has certainly read every single libertarian book there is, but who nevertheless is an expert in bullying people. Some national delegates, Congressmen, and even Otto were threatened by this guy in different ways for not supporting his candidates.

So this guy recruited some people who have been with the party for several years to run for Congress, including his wife. Some of them were 100% libertarians, some were not. The candidate from Limon wasn't a hard core. The candidate for the 4th position in San José wasn't an ideologue, and yet this side claimed to be the “ideologues”. I prefer the term “Taliban’s”. However, in several instances, when the time came for a vote between real hard core candidates and “gut libertarians” (whatever that is), the ideologues didn’t hesitate to vote for the latter. The “ideologues” also voted for candidates who weren’t 100% libertarians in provinces where there was a consensus. In the end, it was just a cover up to justify the control of the Secretary General.

On the other side, and after 3 years of being bullied and yell at by the Secretary General, several people, including the 5 Congressmen, started to look for more independent candidates that will share as much as possible our principles and who will bring strength to the tickets. That’s how we recruited the former president of the Business Chamber to run for Congress, a woman who helped build business opposition to the tax increase the government is pushing for. In Heredia, we found another woman who is an expert on free market environmentalism. Yes, they are not hard core, but these are people who share most of our ideals, are very committed to the party, and who eventually will follow the party line on tough issues. These are the people who Jorge calls “pragmatists.”

We have to be realists. Some subjects are not issues here in Costa Rica. We can have a Congressman who has reservations about gay marriage, but that debate is not going to arrive to this country in several decades. Someone maybe against legalizing heroine, but there won’t be a bill on that issue for several years.

As a matter of fact, when elected, most of the current Congressmen were not 100% libertarians. And nevertheless, they have done a great job, and there are very few instances where one can say the voted against liberty. In the end, on tough issues, the party line (that is, libertarianism) has prevailed. Besides, it seems almost certain that Otto will return to Congress. Under his leadership, we are guaranteed an almost monolithic caucus.

In the end the “pragmatists” won, and this has caused this schism people are talking about. It was mostly a reaction to the rule of fear from the Secretary General. We won’t have puppet Congressmen as he wanted.

So please, don’t think that the ML is death, or that it’s not longer libertarian. This is being written by someone who is a hard core libertarian. I’ll be the first to denounce any departure from our ideals. However, we are a political party, not a cult. We are here to get elected and make a change for the better. We can nominate blue people who aren’t charismatic and don’t get elected. Or we can take a risk with people who aren’t hard cores but will be elected and will have fellow Congressmen who will lead them on tough issues.

For a political party, not a cult, the choice seems obvious.

PS: José Francisco Salas, the congressman who defected from the ML just one month after being sworn in, won his nomination 4 years ago thanks to the big push made then by the Secretary General, the father of the ideologues.

On Monday, July 4th, at approximately 4:48 p.m. Mountain time, Greg said:

Juan Carlos:

First of all, we should name names. Raul Costales is the Secretary General that you are referring to. When I read the articles in La Nacion that always seem to avoid the issue and naming names it really pisses me off. After talking with Jorge today I understand that you had a personal run-in with Raul. As Raul is not here to defend himself there is not much I want to add. For those who are reading this blog Raul was a member of the LP in Florida before moving to CR. His demeanor can be intimidating.

The real question is this: What can be accomplished by political action in any case? If your agenda is to be a politician, then I understand. I am currently talking with a politically ambitious young man here in Guacimo, trying to illustrate that politics is a dead-end street. What is happening at the national level here is not atypical.

Juan Carlos, we will never attain individual sovereignty appealing to collectivist sentiments. If the intention is to halt entirely the functioning of the government I support electing as many people from as many different parties as possible. After the recent scandals here there are at least six parties with chances to elect deputies. Talk about gridlock. In addition, when Oscar Arias is elected we will have a situation here like in Bolivia with Meses. Does Hugo Chavez have a hand here? Who knows? Out of chaos, opportunity. We should be as lucky as Somalia.

We don’t want better government; we want no government what-so-ever.

On Monday, July 4th, at approximately 4:56 p.m. Mountain time, amused said:

I agree with the person who said people were jumping the gun. We had one post claiming that the ML “compromised” without stating precisely how. He said that they were willing to accept 70% libertarians and that people didn’t have to be 100% libertarian. What precisely does that mean?

You can be 100% Rothbardian anarchist or a 100% Libertarianz Objectivist cultist. They are very different creatures and both claim to be 100% libertarian denouncing everyone else who doesn’t agree with them. Those aren’t political positions but religions positions run by cults.

We certainly needed far more information that was presented here to judge whether anything awful happened. When the person making the accusations said 70% libertarian people read into it what they are are as a libertarian and then deducted from that. We don’t know what the man’s vision of 100% is so we don’t know what 70% is. He says he an anarchist. Which is why is laughable that an Objectivist cult like the Libz immediately use his post to lament the sorry state of libertarians everywhere in the world except the pure bunch in the Libertarainz Party. A 70% anarchist may well be an Objectivist like Cresswell.

I was particularly amused to see the link that the Objectivist from NZ posted to promote his lecture on the morality of politics and how we can all be successful libertarian candidates if we follow the gospel according to Ayn Rand (or is it Lindsay Perigo?). He says the unelected Naumann foundation preached to the elected ML. But then we have the unelected Libz preaching to everybody. As I understand it FNF doesn’t run candidates so of course it’s not elected. That’s just an absurd remark for Cresswell to make. But it is affiliated with the FDP in Germany which is in the ruling coalition in the majority of provinces and will form part of the government in September. So in fact they are elected and far more successfully than the Libz who can’t manage over about a quarter of one percent (that is if they remember to mail in their candidates papers in time -- which they forgot to do in the last election).

On Monday, July 4th, at approximately 5:22 p.m. Mountain time, Rolando Leiva said:

One thing to be understood is that Libertarianism is in its developing stages in Costa Rica.

Finding 100% libertarians, Costaricans and ready to battle in the National Assambly, is very hard, if not impossible at this time.

So, the ML is in a position where the support is growing and there are difficulties finding candidates.

There is also the problem that Raúl and Otto think of their role in the ML as shareholders in a company. If they have the shares, they can vote and choose as they want. One excellent candidate, 100% libertarian, could very well loose his or her bid for a candidacy under this situation.

I see myself as a libertarian, but i guess that maybe some of you may not think so. As Juan Carlos points out, we have to be Costa Rican Libertarians. We cannot be a branch of the American way of thinking that by the way has not accomplished much in the "land of the free and the home of the brave".

Jorge, I encourage you to have your own group within the ML, press for your ideas, etc.

It's either political participation or subversive activities. ¿Which one do you wnat?

Greetings from Escazú, Rolando Leiva.

P.S.: Greg, Call me!, I lost your phone number! :-)

On Monday, July 4th, at approximately 8:18 p.m. Mountain time, Timothy West said:

From reading all this is sounds like a great victory for those Libertarians who desire a Libertarian Political party as opposed to a anarchist 100% solution.

I have been active along with many other libertarians in the USA in attempting to bring the US LP into focusing less on unsellable idealogy such as anarchism and into the practical reasons a political party exists : to get your candidates elected so that they can turn policy into what they desire, in this case, more personal liberty and individual freedom. There is even a organized caucus within the USLP for this. ( The Libertarian Reform Caucus)

If the measure of a so called excellent candidate is the measure of how pure they are, with no other considerations, they probably are a god awful actual candidate in reality. Until the USLP starts playing politics as is actually practiced the libertarian movement wont amount to anything. There's no support for it in the USA. it is better that a 70% libertarian get elected and make Costa Rica 20% more libertarian than it was before in actual practice rather than feild a 100% libertarian who does not get elected.

It sounds like to me the LP in Costa Rica has taken it's first step towards being a real political party with the give and take required. and thats good as far as I am concerned.

Anarchists: if you dont believe in government, why not start a anarchist party? That way you can be true to your principles the way you want. Sounds like a good oppoutunity for you.

On Tuesday, July 5th, at approximately 4:46 p.m. Mountain time, Greg said:

To Timmy:

why not start a anarchist party?

that would be an oxymoron

On Tuesday, July 5th, at approximately 9:19 p.m. Mountain time, Rolando Leiva said:

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground."

Thomas Jefferson said this in 1788.

Agreeing with this gentleman, I would say that we either try to rein in the government from within it, by having people elected to positions of decision making; or we take up arms and fight openly against government.

As long as it is possible, I go with the former. The latter should be used once all other means have been used.

What's not valid is to complain and not do anything about it. That's whinning!

Same for those who believe going to far away places will give them liberty. That's hiding from reality.

Jefferson also spoke about "eternal vigilance". Let comply with his teachings!!!

hehe

On Wednesday, July 6th, at approximately 11:44 a.m. Mountain time, Jorge said:

As Ricardo noted here, it is good when things happen publicly, because then you do not need to rely on the word of a few people. There are many commentators. You can get many points of views. Those seriously interested in this issue can follow the postings on the Yahoo Group, where you can read the posts by Laura and Julio on their dismissals for expressing opinions contrary to those of Otto and the Diputados, along with the resignation of Alvaro Cordero as a candidate, due to the dismissals. Plus a lot of other interesting information.

Juan Carlos is correct that the party's Secretary General, Raúl, has acted incorrectly at times, but to call it a “rule of fear” is a gross exaggeration. No one ever lost anything tangible, such as a job, by disagreeing with Raúl. In fact, Raúl could have fired Juan Carlos and others at any time, but has not. However, Juan Carlos omitted the threats made against many people by the Diputados and pragmatists. While Raúl may have said some inappropriate things at times, he never acted on them. The Diputados have carried through with their threats. In doing so they have violated the contract they signed with the Executive Committee of the party.

Regarding the ideologues choice of candidates, the candidate from Limón was much better than Otto's and, this is very important, was willing to submit to the guarantee. This is true of all the candidates that the ideologues proposed. Regarding the forth place for San Jose, she had several characteristics that many other candidates did not have, first of all she actually claims to be a Libertarian, not that this is enough in and of itself, but it is more than at least three of the pragmatists candidates, secondly, she attended ideological training, once again, more than many of the other candidates, third, she has proven to be an amazingly hard worker, building an effective Canton (county) organization in the most densely populated and one of the poorest areas in the country. A very difficult task. She has been working as a volunteer for more than eight years and has a lot to show for it. And least we forget, she was willing to submit to the guarantee. As Juan Carlos himself notes, there is more to being a Libertarian than reading Ayn Rand.

As there are candidates who do not even claim to be Libertarians, I seriously doubt they can be counted on the follow the party line. They are there for themselves, to benefit themselves, they view the ML as vehicle to be elected. They will all go their own way if elected.

To say that there is a Diputado who "has reservations about gay marriage", is an understatement. He is rabidly against them and has gone so far as to co-sponsor a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. If we are lucky, this will not come to a vote.

"As a matter of fact, when elected, most of the current Congressmen were not 100% libertarians. And nevertheless, they have done a great job, and there are very few instances where one can say the voted against liberty."

Note that there are instances. Very few, true, but there are. And they are still not 100% libertarian. The big problem is that if Otto is correct and the ML manages to get 20% to 30% of the legislature, there will be many, many more instances. Liberty will lose more ground instead of gaining. Small government plus 1 exception adds up to Big Government. Some of the current candidates have stated that they support one exception. As others have not even claimed to be Libertarians, it is unclear how many exception they will support. Maybe voting the Libertarian positions will be the exception.

"However, we are a political party, not a cult. We are here to get elected and make a change for the better. We can nominate blue people who aren’t charismatic and don’t get elected. Or we can take a risk with people who aren’t hard cores but will be elected and will have fellow Congressmen who will lead them on tough issues."

When Otto, Raúl and Rigoberto founded the party in 1994, they wrote a book in which they stated that the goal was not to elect people, it was to transform Costa Rica into a Libertarian society. Many, many people joined the ML based on that ideal. In fact Otto used to tell that to new members himself. We need to move people to us, not move closer to them. The way we achieve the goal is to elect Libertarians, not to run candidates who can attract votes for the sake of attracting votes. If Otto has repudiated that goal he should say so publicly. If the goal is now to win seats, no matter who we put in there, he should say so. In fact, I think he has, by saying that 70% libertarian is acceptable. Those of us who came to the party to help create a Libertarian society, those who believed Otto, now find ourselves in the wrong place, because that is no longer the goal of the party.

Regarding Salas, who betrayed the ML, Raúl was fooled. Otto was fooled. In fact everyone was fooled. Salas pulled a very good con job. Which is why a few of us have been trying to figure out how to prevent this from occurring again. Not only that, but also, given that the present set of Diputados are not 100%, how to fix that as well. Up to mid-January Otto was enthusiastically behind this effort. Since at least mid-March he has effectively sabotaged it.

We will see what happens in February. If Juan Carlos is correct, then the fact that the ideologues have stopped working, that the pragmatists have been taking the battle to the press and have fired people, will not have any effect, and Otto will get his 20% to 30%. Then we will see how they act in the Asamblea. Somehow, I do not think this will be the scenario.

--jorge


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