It’s No Longer About He-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named-Here; It’s About You

Sunni's picture

As I wrote a while back, in One Individual Defines an Entire Ideology?, I have been trying to understand the sentiment, apparently common amongst a broad swath of libertarians, that distills to “If you aren’t for R.P. then you aren’t a real libertarian”. I have encountered some pretty interesting linguistic gymnastics along the way, along with what strikes me as a lot of intolerance for those of us who love liberty deeply, yet aren’t worshipping at the feet of Dr. No.

Look, I understand the frustration that arises from encounters with the libertarian-come-lately set, who claim to be libertarian yet oppose him. But many of those individuals clearly aren’t pro-freedom at all. And that is the point of dismissal for those individuals—they don’t hold the non-aggression or zero-aggression principle as the basis for all interactions, so they aren’t libertarian no matter how loudly they declaim elsewise. The best one can do in those situations is point out their contradictions with the NAP/ZAP, and leave it to others to read and comprehend, or not. However, it is absurd to define libertarianism as excluding the subgroup of individuals who hold most strictly to the NAP/ZAP—anarchists. Really, how does opposing RP for president on principle—because one believes that no one should hold coercive power over another—make someone non-libertarian? And to expect LP members to abandon that party (though it is well worth abandoning, and has been long before the Portland Purge, in my opinion—because it’s an oxymoron) in order to vote for a Republican candidate is equally silly. If they don’t do that they aren’t libertarian? C’mon.

All this is just tap-dancing around the real source of my ire these days, though: it’s you. Yes, you. At the beginning of this popularity contest—which is really all the USSA presidential election is these days—many were saying what a great opportunity RP’s candidacy would be to share the freedom philosophy with lots of Americans. I was skeptical, but hopeful that it might turn out that way. Some individuals are hoeing that row (and to them I am grateful), but far too many supporters seem to have become herd monkeys, screeching endlessly and mindlessly that he is the one-and-only answer. I occasionally check in at certain places that are known to be RP cheerleader sites, and it sickens me. The finger-pointing, the segregation of pro-freedom individuals into left and right, with only one of those groups having the proper pro-freedom perspective, is extremely disappointing. In the rush to support what is admittedly the most pro-freedom presidential candidate from the Dems or Repubs in my life thus far [note: edited for precision], apparently all critical thought must be dashed. One must be totally for, or else one is against—and therefore, one becomes the enemy.

What happened to the understanding that liberty is, first and foremost, an individualistic idea and pursuit? How did it happen that to achieve liberty we must all unite and act as one, pulling the great lever for The One Man Fit to Rule Us All? Never mind that individual goals and paths to achieving them can differ wildly; never mind that some pursue political activism entirely outside the realm of electoral politics. Why is it there’s no room for reasonable, freedom-loving individuals to disagree on some of the genuinely challenging areas in the freedom philosophy? No, all of that must be swept away in the embrace of one man, who alone can save us from the tyranny of political rulers!

Except that he is a political ruler too.

Except that he is just like each of us: human, fallible, mistaken, and sometimes too proud and/or stupid to realize that he’s made a mistake, or misunderstood, or been wrong about something, or hasn’t got sufficient information.

From what I have seen of the man, he seems to recognize that about himself, which is to his credit. The fact that so many of his supporters do not recognize it is to their discredit, and rightly leads to charges of cultism. To make the support of one human being the litmus test for others’ love of liberty is to make a mockery of freedom. The fact that you do not see that; and worse, that you persist in plastering your absolutist stances and assured pronouncements of the glory days that will come if there’s a “President No” on every news story and blog post that mentions him, turns off many thoughtful individuals and encourages the view that you’ve drunk deep of the Kool-Aid.

Still, you continue. He. Will. Be. Elected! you write. And. It. Will. Be. Glorious!

As if Diebold et al’s shenanigans are all in the past.

As if that one man could single-handedly sway Congress to his view.

As if he can dictate cases and decisions to the Robed Nazgul.

As if he can reverse the entitlement and nannying mindsets that decades of government handouts and interference via laws and regulations have engendered in millions of individuals.

My children, ages 9 and 7, show more signs of careful deliberation and examining all aspects of an issue or idea than you are.

My skepticism for RP originated in his position on a few issues. My now thoroughgoing rejection of any kind of support for his campaign rests fully on the backs of those of you who will brook no discussion that questions or challenges any aspect of the man.

Liberty is not a gong, ringing only one note; but your actions are giving it that sound, and in the process you are doing more harm than good for its real advancement in this country. Shame on you.

Very well said.

Very well said. The cultism around this one individual is profoundly disturbing. Especially in the libertarian movement, where the one constant until now has been "everyone here disagrees." Disagreement and debate is good, and healthy. Not allowing such debate is a sign of a movement in trouble.

Call me old-fashioned, but I

Call me old-fashioned, but I still think the one True Answer is None of the Above.

If you HAVE to choose one from Column A OR one from Column B without the ability to walk away, that is not really a choice.

Oh, I may throw in refinements, like barring the losing candidates from serving in that office for the term of that office, or insisting that in order to "win" a candidate has to carry a majority of eligible voters and not just a majority of those who voted or a majority of registered voters. But in the end, it's the same thing.

Rejecting the choices offered is still a valid choice. Otherwise you're playing three-card monty and the red card is never where you think it is.

I call it the supermarket theory of government. I am not required to buy a cola, or even a soft drink, or any beverage at all. Indeed, I don't have to buy anything or even go into the store.

If there HAS to be a choice between 1, 2, or 3, there is no reason for 1, 2, or 3 to be significantly different unless there is a 0. And if it has to be 1,2, or 3, there is no reason that the 1, 2, or 3 HAVE to appeal to the disaffected because 1, 2, or 3 will win no matter what the unhappy voters do.

I agree that RP is no libertarian. But he is a symptom, not the problem.

That pretty much sums it up for me, too

I supported Ron Paul in his past endeavors, but when I turned my back on statist political electioneering back in 2000, I meant it. I'm not going to be lured back onto Circe's island by a charming grandpa and the hoard of glassy-eyed cultists who have glommed onto him.

Stefan Molyneux has a pretty good take on the situation which, though flawed in some particulars, pretty well nails generally what would happen if Hell freezes over and Paul actually wins office. His YouTube video-essay starts here and he has a follow-up here.

--Scott Bieser
Annoying my betters since 1957
www.scottbieser.com
www.bigheadpress.com

Well said

As Sunni says, RP probably qualifies as the most freedom-oriented major party candidate for President in my life as well. I'm older than Sunni, but I wasn't around in the 19th century. ;)

I wonder how some who seem to often show insight into events usually kept from the light of much inquiry even think RP's election could happen. That belief seems to assume the USA has an open political system. I don't observe that.

Well, thank you, gentlemen.

Rejecting the choices offered is still a valid choice. Otherwise you're playing three-card monty and the red card is never where you think it is.

Precisely. I don’t understand why some of us just choosing to sit quietly on the side isn’t an option. I think the herd monkeys may have preferred I do that, rather than write something like the above ...

Scott, thanks for the YouTube links; I’d seen the first courtesy of Brad Spangler, but hadn’t caught the second. I largely agree with your sentiment.

Tom, thank you for grokking what I meant to say, behind the ill-chosen words I used. I’ve edited that part to be more precise. And it sends me to the floor laughing whenever the good ol’ USSA sends its watchdogs out to so-called banana republics and third world countries, to “verify” their elections.

I remain astounded at the

I remain astounded at the number of libertarians flocking to the banner of R.P. The arguments used by many of them to support this campaign tend to fall in several categories. Two quick ones are: 1) Mud in the eye of the statists. As if adopting the methods of the statists somehow entails rebellious action... 2) He is the "most libertarian candidate" or the lesser of evils argument. When I last checked, the lesser of two evils still came out as ... evil. I've been a non-voting libertarian as a matter of principal for over 20 years now. I don't see this as a matter of "protest" or "apathy" but the fact that freedom starts with one individual - yourself. Unfortunately, most people view the world through the perspective of various forms of millennarism, thinking freedom will come "in our time." Call this the rapture of liberated, and it approximated the fervor of the R.P. supporters.

Not taking sides

I'm having this discussion with quite a few friends and on more than one forum. I've been sad to see the "cultism" growing, and the tendency of some to become hostile at those who are simply not interested in anything that has even the remote chance of propping up or legitimizing the political future of "democracy" or even republicanism.

Far too many people just don't see "NONE OF THE ABOVE" as an option at all. We MUST "vote" for some master or another... or have one chosen for us if we don't play the game. And this is from the so-called libertarians and freedom folk!!

There are many reasons not to support RP, nice a guy as he seems to be. I use these mostly:

1. He has made it plain that he is dedicated to "The Constitution," etc. Since that was a failure from the start, I see no reason to "go back" to it.

2. All I want is to be left alone. If everyone else wants to set up some kind of government, I won't stand in your way. Maybe I'll join you when I see it is totally voluntary. In the meantime, leave me out of all of it.

3. Those who broadcast the stupid idea that "if you don't vote, you are part of the problem..." Or any of the variations... I'm pretty much on record (and probably on lots of "lists") with my position. I can't imagine that the lack of an anonymous "vote" is sending a message that I like the status quo just fine - or that the same anonymous vote tells the world I want something different.

Here is an interesting little article by a good friend on the evil of government.

Congrats

I see you made Wendy McElroy's blog today!

Get real!

You guys are missing the boat. Voting is evil, blah, blah, blah,... GREAT! Who cares? Do you really think that all the smart, well-read, principled libertarians supporting Ron Paul are out saying "you have to vote or you're part of the problem"? Get real! Get over yourselves!

I get it. I really do. So do many of Paul's libertarian supporters. I've read Spooner, SEK3, Rothbard, David Friedman, etc. I read your Doing Freedom! web site regularly back in the day. I'm a thorough-going anarcho-capitalist through and through. But listen to the wisdom of Ernest Hancock and realize that the electoral system is a great free soapbox. Like it or not, people do pay attention to these charades we call elections. It lets you get the freedom message out in a big way. That is exactly what Ron Paul is doing. He's saying (most of) the same things you say to people, Sunni, but when you call for the abolition of the Federal Reserve, do 2,000 people erupt to their feet in a deafening standing ovation? This is big, guys! Really, really big!

By all means pursue liberty as best you know how, in whatever way you choose. You maybe have better things to do. Fine. But you are deluding yourselves if you think that the Ron Paul Phenomenon is anything but the most exciting incredible thing happening in the libertarian movement right now. It **IS** educating tons of people about the philosophy of freedom. It **IS** getting the message out there. This Sunday, por ejemplo, Paul explained how the so-called Civil War was a mistake and Lincoln was a criminal. It's been news all week -- discussed over and over again on National TV (see http://69.65.26.137/~ronpaula/RonPaulMSNBCMorningJoeInterview122707.mp3 ). That's millions of dollars worth of air time used to educate people and advertise Tom DiLorenzo's book, which many people will probably now go buy and read and who by the end of the book will no longer be Lincoln-worshipers.

Ron Paul is a good man. The Revolution is a good thing. It's bring lots of freedom-oriented people out of the woodwork and helping them to network together and build relationships. Gathering the remnant, sharing information, much the same as TCF forum's mission, but on a scale 100 times larger. This is a good thing.

Some boats aren’t worth climbing aboard.

You guys are missing the boat. Voting is evil, blah, blah, blah,... GREAT! Who cares? Do you really think that all the smart, well-read, principled libertarians supporting Ron Paul are out saying "you have to vote or you're part of the problem"? Get real! Get over yourselves!

I don’t know who you are, but you seem to know something about at least one thing I’ve done ... which should be enough to give you the clue that I don’t give a flying fuck about missing boats, how many people cheer when I say something, etc. The RP revolution can be as big as it can get, but it will do so without me. I am simply and completely uninterested in participating in electoral politics, and nothing any one can say will change my mind.

And you want to know something else? I am over myself. I am not speaking for anyone else, and I am not trying to tell anyone that they shouldn’t be supporting him. I’m trying not to bother you with my differing perspective, yet many of you RP supporters won’t leave me alone. So you “get real”, and please give me and those like me a little of that vaunted libertarian tolerance. That’s all I want.

As I Said, Go Your Own Way!

I was mostly responding to "Mama Liberty"'s post claiming various fallacies for RP supporters she tries to cure us of. Oh, please!

We will have to wait and see whether the RP thing lasts beyond the election and if anything positive ultimately comes of it. But it has already got thousands of people to consider various aspects of anarchist thought who never had before, and in that sense it already has been a positive.

By the way, back in the day there was a show that advertised heavily for the Liberty Round Table -- "For Which It Stands" with William Pangman and Susan Fisher. Do you remember that show, or did you know of it? You don't happen to have any recordings of it do you? I loved that show growing up!

Is that post here?

I was mostly responding to "Mama Liberty"'s post claiming various fallacies for RP supporters she tries to cure us of.

If that’s the case, why not make your response directly to her post, rather than on one of mine, or even here—which doesn’t have her post?

We will have to wait and see whether the RP thing lasts beyond the election and if anything positive ultimately comes of it. But it has already got thousands of people to consider various aspects of anarchist thought who never had before, and in that sense it already has been a positive.

I’ll grant you the first sentence, but not the second, because RP is no anarchist. If you’re right, they are thinking more about scaling back various aspects of the state, but I bet that’s as far as it goes.

By the way, back in the day there was a show that advertised heavily for the Liberty Round Table -- "For Which It Stands" with William Pangman and Susan Fisher. Do you remember that show, or did you know of it? You don't happen to have any recordings of it do you? I loved that show growing up!

Never heard of it before you mentioned it.

Yes, it is here

"Post" was the wrong word; I should have said her "comment". Which is above.

Paul is not an anarchist, but many of his core supporters *are*. Many (most?) of the anarchists on anti-state.com support him, as well as his former chief of staff Lew Rockwell. Participating gives them street cred and respect among the RP people, who then in giving them respect realize something they never had: anarchists are not kooks, they are good people.

>> Never heard of it before you mentioned it.

Ah, very sad. Someday I'll find it. But truly, every episode I think they would tell people to join the Liberty Round Table, (and subscribe to "the last-ditch Freedom Daily").

I am one of those people! I

I am one of those people! I would not be here now, reading your blog were it not for Ron Paul. I am not attending his rallies or sending money. I was/am not very political though I do vote. Ron Paul planted the idea that these big government bureaucracies can be brought down. I had never thought of it before but it hit a note with me and now I am exploring my libertarian side! You have Mr. Paul to thank for me and my many fellow previously liberal democrats, opening our eyes to libertarianism and it's many faucets and many of us may stay libertarians.

Heh...

Looks like someone read Walter Block's last "Open Letter".

As far as "deluding yourselves if you think that the Ron Paul Phenomenon is anything but the most exciting incredible thing happening in the libertarian movement right now"... Well, pardon the hell out of me for being such a downer, but I'd have to say history would fall firmly in the corner of the cynics on this one. Thirty years ago, the LP was the best thing to happen to the freedom movement since 1776, and what'd that get us? Looks to me like it got us a bunch of Republicans...

And let's not forget the "exciting, incredible" FSP.

You're free to disagree if I tell you political action is useless and/or dangerous; in light of the lessons of history, though, it'd be the height of intellectual cowardice to call it a delusion.

By the way, TCF doesn't exist anymore... it's The Mental Militia now. Also, "TCF forum" is redundant.

> Looks like someone read

>> Looks like someone read Walter Block's last "Open Letter".

Ding, winner!

>> Well, pardon the hell out of me for being such a downer, but I'd have to say
> history would fall firmly in the corner of the cynics on this one. Thirty years
> ago, the LP was the best thing to happen to the freedom movement since 1776,
> and what'd that get us?

The LP has been a useful networking and conversion tool. It's how I got into the liberty movement. So if nothing else, it got you me! :)

>> And let's not forget the "exciting, incredible" FSP.

It *is* a very exciting concept that still has a lot of promise.

>> ...political action is useless and/or dangerous...

Running for office gives you a soapbox. It helps you reach people, like the LP reached me.

>> By the way, TCF doesn't exist anymore... it's The Mental Militia now. Also,
> "TCF forum" is redundant.

To the first clause, I know, to the second, no it isn't. The "F" was for "Files", remember? tcftalk.com and yes, I was a poster there.

Crap.

Well, it sounds redundant, dammit! :) Ah, well. You win some, you lose some.

Yes, the LP has been useful... My own "journey" toward anarchism started with them too, sort of. But I still think the concept is fundamentally flawed, in that it is a political party, and has been corrupted by politics. If you look at the party's history, there is a demonstrable shift toward moderationism and the mainstream.

And as for it getting us you... Well, that kind of proves my point. You, a self-proclaimed anarchist, are supporting a Republican for the highest political office in the United States. As Robert LeFevre said:

When we place voting into the framework of politics, however, a major change occurs. When we express a preference politically, we do so precisely because we intend to bind others to our will. Political voting is the legal method we have adopted and extolled for obtaining monopolies of power. Political voting is nothing more than the assumption that might makes right.

Given that, it freaks me out that so many libertarians, especially anarchists, are so rabid in their support of any presidential candidate, much less a Republican!

What?

OK, I know I'm new to all this but if not democracy then what? You reject voting as a form of group might makes right but if no government wouldn't it come down to individual might makes right? He with the biggest gun rules?
As an open minded newbie can someone please explain or direct me to a source explaining the anarchist ideals? As far as I can see you guys are all simply sticking your heads in the sand rather than trying to fix the problem. How does doing nothing improve the world I leave to my children?

Working on a reply

Bob, your questions are of such a scope that I can’t do them justice in a comment reply, particularly since there’s a link limit for comments. I’m working on a proper response to them, and will post it as soon as I can.

For now I will simply say that not participating in electoral politics (voting) is not the same as “doing nothing”.

How much thought did you put

How much thought did you put into this paragraph?

My skepticism for RP originated in his position on a few issues. My now thoroughgoing rejection of any kind of support for his campaign rests fully on the backs of those of you who will brook no discussion that questions or challenges any aspect of the man.

Are you not as guilty as they are?

They’re not equivalent issues

My skepticism for RP originated in his position on a few issues. My now thoroughgoing rejection of any kind of support for his campaign rests fully on the backs of those of you who will brook no discussion that questions or challenges any aspect of the man.

Are you not as guilty as they are?

I don’t see it that way, not surprisingly. Perhaps there is some exaggeration in my words, because I have not encountered anything to change my concerns regarding a few of his positions, so that does remain an issue. But while I remain distant to the RP cultists—not all supporters fall into this category—I am not hounding them, nor berating them in a futile attempt to change their minds. They appear to be unwilling to extend individuals like myself the same courtesy.