Revoking my Libertarian Party “Life Membership”, a.k.a. Politics Sucks!

The Libertarian Party (LP) had, after the late, great Harry Browne‘s campaigns, been falling further and further from it’s original principles. In the early portion of this decade, when the LP removed from the party platform their calls for the abolishment of the CIA and FBI, I wrote their newspaper to say I’d not send them another dime of money until they got back to their founding principle: the non-initiation of force.

As I drifted away from the LP and politics and toward market-based action, I paid less and less attention to the LP. I even said on the air recently on “Free Talk Live“, my talk show, that the only reason I was still a member is because I bought a life membership and it hadn’t been worth my while to cancel it.

Well, along comes this post on the LRC blog. I agree with the sentiments of the post, and felt this move by the LP was the last straw. I called and revoked my membership, and felt clean and fresh afterward!

The LP is dead to me and no longer resembles the party I joined ten years ago. After the 2000 Browne campaign, I jumped into LP activism. I attended meetings regularly and single-handedly organized and paid for libertarian outreach at the county fair, gun shows, and gay/lesbian pridefests as well as created and tended their website. I did and funded it all myself because of the political nature of the LP. It was not hard to notice how bureaucratic and slow they were. For example, they spent uncountable weeks debating over bylaws. Plus, at the non-bylaw-reviewing regular meetings, whenever an idea was proposed there would nearly always be someone who would derail the discussion into debate on the idea or the issue. Very little ever got done. This was just my experience with the local LP in Florida. (Nothing against the individuals, they are good people. It’s the central planning that is the major failure.)

The LP state conventions I attended were dull. Having watched the LP national conventions on TV, I can say that while some of the speeches were excellent, the bulk of the time was spent bickering over party platform, blah blah blah. I’m glad I never went to one. All of this distasteful bureaucratic, political garbage was frustrating to me, as I didn’t know what else to do to achieve liberty in my lifetime.

Since I discovered the Free State Project in the first half of the decade and especially since moving to New Hampshire, I’ve been learning about the free market and experiencing REAL, decentralized, activism. Sure, there are a bunch of political Free Staters (for those of you who still believe you can change the system from the inside), but the most exciting and effective activism has been market-based. There’s a cadre of great market-based activists (both NH natives and Free Staters) here in Keene, NH, and that number is growing. We’re creating our own media (TV, radio, print, blog) and have begun living free. If the Blue Light Gang interferes, we already have proven success at deterring their aggression. As more join in withdrawing from coercive society and joining the voluntary society, we will only be more successful as the coercive gang’s veil of legitimacy will crumble from its own inherent contradictions. Eventually, the transition to the free market will be completed and not one vote need be cast or politician promoted.

Goodbye LP. Their contribution to the dilution and destruction of the term Libertarian is appreciated. “Free Marketeer” is so much more descriptive of my beliefs. Thanks LP, for helping me realize that politics is never the solution to problems.

We will never be free by begging, but only by choice. I choose liberty. What about you? Will you join the Nonviolent Evolution?

28 Comments

  1. The LP sucks. Harry Browne was the last great Libertarian candidate.

  2. Although politics can be frustrating, I still believe it is worth changing things from the inside. I like a culmination of all sorts of liberty activism. To each their own.

  3. Just a point of reference: I have been a member of the Libertarian Party since 1977, and it has never been dominated by those who wish to eliminate the state. In 1987, Liberty Magazine published a poll of party members and found that 70% of all LP members considered themselves minarchists, as opposed to those who wish to abolish the state.

    The LP should NOT have issued this press release. The federal government has no business in local criminal matters, as the 10th amendment makes clear. But it is not a fatal flaw. The effort to move the party more towards the center is not necessarily a bad thing. As the LP grows, (if it grows), it will inevitably move towards the center. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It is, however, a necessary thing IF the LP is to grow. As people join, they will learn about liberty.

    Despite the best intentions of those who believe in the abolition of the state, there are a host of arguments that indicate that a society without a state cannot succeed. The voluntarists have not demonstrated how such a society could come into being, and how it could be maintained without a monopoly on the use of force. The revolution will have to come about with a popular consensus, and the LP can lead us to such a success, but only by making people aware of the blessings of liberty. They can't do this outside of the mainstream.

    Craig (Houston)

  4. What does it matter if the LP grows if its direction is away from true volunteerism and toward greater statism?

  5. I prefer to call myself a libertarian (small l) because I have a passion for liberty ("liberty-arian"), and that word best represents my political philosophy. However, my party is independent, so I (as my philosophy indicates) have the freedom to vote for anyone on the list (including not voting at all). The Libertarian Party is my favorite party, but I loathe parties and politics in general.

  6. I agree with you Ian. After reading that Lew Rockwell blog entry about the LP, it sure doesn't seem like a place for those that question the government's presence in our lives.

  7. <a>"

    The Bankruptcy of the National Libertarian Party

    I agree with Ian and Russell. My first race was Ed Clark for Governor (California, 1978), and my last was Michael Badnarik for President (2004). What I saw first-hand in 2004 turned my stomach. The Libertarian (Party) National Committee was utterly useless, destructive even. The campaign was filled with abuses and fiscal irresponsibility. Badnarik was the only true L-Party anarcho-libertarian candidate, but others were decent people – the LP itself always let them down. From holding conventions in statist cities like Portland to bureaucratic, top-down power plays to the miasma of endless platform debates, the LP killed itself in the neck a dozen times over. Read L. Neil Smith's description of the LP in the late 1980's and early 1990's in his book "Lever Action" <a>" and you'll find this early pioneer of the LP, and a true anarcho-libertarian, description of how the LP died very early on.

    The latest nonsense of "respectability", of wooing Bob Barr (who, a decent enough fellow, is actually a pretty statist/authoritarian guy hiding behind y "state's rights" – as if my local state should have any say-so in my inalienable rights!), is just icing on the stale cake.

    Not that you need an "attaboy" from me, but the people in New Hampshire, on the ground, are doing more for liberty than over 40 years of the LP.

  8. While the LP might not always do things that you like it is an important element in the struggle for greater liberty. Working from the inside might not be your thing, but it is definitely effective. By it's very nature as a political party the LP gets a lot of free press. This free press helps spread the word of personal liberty and gets people curious to learn more about libertarianism. That alone makes it all worthwhile.

  9. Excellent essay – no doubt that Harry Browne is a hero to many who love liberty. I just re-read "Why Government doesn't work" – and it's as important today as it was when he wrote it.

    This isn't the LP's first step towards centralization – Lew Rockwell wrote about the decline of the LP some time ago too:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/rockwell/lp-turkish-de

  10. Total free-market will never work unless you are willing to sacrifice innocent lives to get there. One look at the mess with China and RX drugs is more than obvious evidence of this. Some things simply MUST HAVE government oversight in order to be in the best interest of society.

    Poltics has its part, as does a free-market. You are just another extremist who has no concept of the necessity for all things in a balanced manner!

    90% of the time your concept will be correct, but the 10% that will be wrong will be aweful and hurtful towards society.

    TRUE, eventually, the free-market will always get it right (because of the consumers), but how many lives will be lost or destroyed to obtain it? Is the free-market the best you think we can EVER do???

  11. Wow, such absurdity from the minarchists.

    There has never been an example of a society with a state that has succeeded, and there are a host of arguments against it.

    In addition, the minarchists have never been able to show that government is necessary for anything.

  12. Guys, don't let this die into another debate – that's the problem! Yes, there are disagreements on minarchist vs anarchist vs free market, and those are important! But I have a question:

    Do you support abolishing the Federal gas tax?

    Of course you do – we all do! My enemy's enemy is my friend! And we need to be friends now – minarchist, free market, everyone – and push for changes that WE ALL WANT.

    Some republicans want different degrees of gun freedom. Some democrats want different degrees of universal health care. But they don't splinter off into ineffective micro-groups. They work within the core group of the general democratic or republican philosophy to change the party.

    Michael, I was infuriated to see such a pro-liberty figure doing such damage to the cause for liberty (your LP bashing). I understand you don't agree with it, don't like it, and would rather not have to work from within the Federal gov't to change it. But that won't matter if the government strips us of our rights, and sends the army in to arrest you for your dissent.

    We can't turn our back on the beast just because we are opposed to its philosophy – if we don't kill it from the inside out, it may get so large that it consumes us all. Whatever you believe in the spectrum of liberty, we all must unite to serve our common goals – and that won't happen by attacking eachother, and it certainly won't happen by losing our unity.

    Michael, the LP needs more people like you to change this country – not less! By you leaving, that side of the party only gets stronger. By bashing the party, fewer democrats and republicans will leave their party and join the LP.

    Look at the democrats – the Hillary/Obama thing could be destroying the democratic party's shot at the white house – a divided house cannot stand! Don't do the same to those that love liberty.

    Again – do you support abolishing the gas tax? So does the LP. So let's work together to make it happen – that, and everything else we agree on (abolishing roughly 98% of the federal govt). The remaining 2% difference is important to all of us – but not so important that we should sacrifice achieving the 98%!!

  13. Sorry Michael – not sure why I kept using your name – Ian, those "Michael" comments were meant to be directed at you.

    (slip of the keyboard…)

  14. I don't care about changing the country. I only care about my freedom here in NH. We're living free while you keep playing the government's games.

  15. Ian:

    Great point. When people start actively working for liberty in their own areas – rather than spending their time worrying about what everyone ELSE is doing, then….maybe….we'll see liberty advance a little.

    It's like when Harry Browne used to talk about how the US Federal government is unable to keep even its own Washington D.C. "safe" – and yet, it's constantly off to war in some foreign land to "protect" people from "tyrants."

    Absurd.

    Liberty through localism!

  16. Michael Hampton is right, and Craig is incorrect; there indeed has never been an example of a society with a State that has worked, and I've seen plenty of examples of societies without States that seem to work just fine (just read Rothbard and Ruwart).

  17. Ian, how are you living free when you pay federal income taxes (if you do), or line the government's pocket with every gallon of gas you buy, or pay to renew your drivers license and plate tabs, or any other of the government imposed fees and taxes?

    How are you living free when the dollars you use to buy food are worth less and less every day because of the government's war funded with borrowed funny money?

    And how will you be free if the federal government erodes personal freedom even further, and locks you up "claiming" illegal wire tape evidence?

    How are you free when your corn flakes are overpriced because of subsidized ethanol production, while you can't put cheap Brazilian ethanol in your tank because of federal import tariffs?

    I'm not saying stop what you're doing for your self, your town, and your state – it's great. Hell, Obama got to where he is almost exclusively through local action – it's very powerful.

    But it is united action – local action for a common cause. The federal government won't go away if you ignore it – it will only grow. And even Reps/Dems have trouble getting their way against the other – and they are large organized groups.

    All I'm saying is this – you have a large audience with your show, and can influence many people. Encourage your specific flavor of liberty, but don't hurt other flavors of liberty. Look, if an LP candidate became president, the things you are after in Keene would get much closer to reality than if a republican or a democrat were president – even if that LP president only agreed with you on 90% of the issues.

    So yes – liberty through localism – and liberty through the LP – and liberty through ANYTHING that is better than where we are today – because the war against the federal government won't be won all at once – or through ignoring it – but only by winning every battle we can.

  18. Freedom will not be achieved by begging.

    Just because certain businessmen obey their masters, does not make me unfree.

    I may not be totally free yet, but we are getting closer all the time.

    I do not want to war against a government. You should know as a libertarian what happens when you have a war on something…

  19. I sent an email to the local party leaders and the State party leader in Florida. This is not the position of someone who wants liberty and I think I will be dropping out of doing any thing for the LP from now on. I think I will just work on the Science FIction Convention a friend of mine has and Raise my son to love liberty and work on my wife to move to NH. Thanks for a great show you guys do. http://www.ancientcitycon.com

  20. I do not know about the Free State Project. It is a great concept but I do not really want to pledge my future to New Hampshire. If I just dislike New Hampshire or cannot make a living there. I would just like to see a collapse of the government after competing currency are established. Then people can pick up the services that government was doing and as long as the currency is stable. I imagine there would be relatively little chaos as long as the money is intact. Even shortages of local water could be taken up by bottled water until an entrepreneur came along and provided local water, maybe it would even be shared? Who knows but I agree that the LP is not doing things fast or effectively enough.

  21. While I am all for cooperation with others of a similar mind. I am offended and insulted by those who ask me to "shoot" for someone or for a subject because it will advanced the cause of liberty.

    "Shooting" someone, more commonly refered to as voting, is objectively immoral. Whenever you "shoot" for someone or for some subject, there always remains the possibility that you will accidently "shoot" someone who wasn't even "shooting" for anyone or subject.

    I understand those who do "shoot" do so in self-defense, and that is objectively moral. If however in defending one's self, you harm another who is not "shooting" for someone or subject, you have commited the objectively immoral act of initating force, thereby nullifing your 'self-defense' action.

    Those, like myself, who choose not to "shoot" for people or subjects, do so because it is objectively immoral to "shoot" against people who are not "shooting".

    "Shooting event", or elections, apply only to those who consent, and not to those who do not consent. This is what was meant when it was said 'governments derive their just power only by the consent of the governed'. If you "shoot" then you agree to the out come of the "shooting event", and if you do not "shoot" you are not consenting to the outcome of the "shooting event".

    Often it is said that we are ignoring 'government' things when we choose not to "shoot". I ask you to look at it from another view. Can the "shooting event" exist if there are no "shooters"? Some might answer yes, and to them I ask, if there is no structural support, does a house stand? The answer is no. Logically, then if there are no "shooters" then there is no "shooting event".

    What you have after there are no "shooters" are individuals who are no longer pretending to represent anyone but themselves, which let us face it is what they are doing now.

    I choose not to debate my belief systems, and instead try to educate the masses. If you believe "Shooting" is okay, great. I only hope that you will listen, really listen, rather then hearing, and let logic guide you.

    It is true, stopping "shooting" today won't stop things today, even Rome wasn't built in a day, won't you feel just a bit better knowing you are no longer acting objectively immoral, and acting more objectively moral?

  22. I'm glad the LP has become more of a pragmatic party. it's only natural for its continued growth.

    Harry Browne was a great candidate. And he had a very nicely built and maintained web site.

    However, he had no revolution. Who knew Ron Paul would start a revolution.

    Nonetheless, even the success of Ron Paul's campaign didn't get him elected.

    To be electable, libertarians are going to have to moderate some.

    I left the party in 2002 because I hated who I had become. I had a one-track minarchist mind. I couldn't see anyone else's opinion. Since I left the party and stayed away from politics, I've grown to support Social Security, nationalized health insurance, and spending to help us on the hydrogen highway with the hydrogen internal combustion engine.

    I have no desire to get rid of the U.S. Post Office. But I do still see a need to get rid of the U.S. Dept. of Education and either scale back or get rid of other organizations. I think too the DoD could serve for homeland security.

  23. I do think the LP needs to be pro-gay, pro-choice, anti-drug war to differ itself from the republican party and hopefully attract liberals as well who believe in smaller, not minarchist, government.

  24. Peacefully rejecting societies laws, while commendable and attention getting, always lands those involved in one place. The government's jails. There is no safety in numbers either. FSLDS demonstrated that. I'm afraid Ian and the Free Stater's are putting the cart before the horse. The only way to be free is to repeal those laws that are so offensive, and the only way to do that is through the political process. Nobodies going to be free sitting in a jail cell. And those people would be much more effective proponents of freedom if they weren't locked up.

  25. Death to The Libertarian Party! Long Live Ron Paul!

  26. I'm upset at the recent discord in the LP. However, since I believe in 3rd parties-as well as the potential for the LP in the future-I will stay in the party and work for reform. It will be for the best if at least one party can continue to stand for true libertarian ideas!

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