Farewell LP By Roderick on May 25, 2008 57 The bad news: Barr beats Ruwart for the LP nomination. (No word on a running mate yet.) The good news: at least it was damn close. Agorist Demerit Count: 3 Democracy, Left and Right, Left-Libertarian
Education and counter-economics certainly aren’t mutually exclusive. They’re both aspects of agorism, and mutually supportive. You need education and advocacy to instill a sense of solidarity among practitioners, discourage red market aggression and imbue it with a pro-revolutionary consciousness. Likewise, as Black Bloke noted, it helps to be able to point to a tangible and immediate microcosm of our ideas, and not just just some big and distant “political” ideal. There’s a reason most people have no use for politics.
I dispute the assertion that underground economies are hindered in their production of wealth. If anything, that would have more to do with a lack of development and impediments to open operation, which are both remedied by further development and by advocacy (education!) to acheive a cultural climate in which non-violent illegality can operate more openly without fear that your fellow human beings will narc on it. In San Francisco, pot is almost de facto legal because its use is so socially accepted that police can do little to enforce their law (while tolerated medical marijuana clubs legalise much of the existing pot possesion). Even here in Chicago, a friend tells me that he’s gets more dirty looks smoking a cigarette on the street than he does smoking a joint. In this one area, cops have largely lost the organic street-level legitimacy that makes enforcement effective.
Even granting that black markets are inhibited in wealth creation on a macro-level, they still benefit practioners on an individual level. Every excise tax, sales tax, regulation and prohibition increase the profit incentive to people that bear the risk in evading those laws. That’s precisely why so many people do those things spontaneously, without any ideological motivation. Libertarian advocacy here is easy, because the numbers practically do the job for us.
It can be risky to push for revolution while breaking the law, but less risky than you think. First of all, you don’t necessarily have to reveal to your own activities while doing it. If you want to use example, you can use someone elses’s without naming the person, or just discuss a certain business model in general (gypsy cabs, for example).
And of course, none of this precludes the existence of independent advocacy groups operating completely aboveground. It’s important that we convince ordinary people of the legitimacy, or at least the unimportance, of so-called “criminal activity”, with the usual set of op-eds, buttons, bumperstickers and debates. There’s also legal education and defense funds; there’s nonviolent civil disobedience; there are “grey market” activities that provide arguably or completely legal services that nevertheless help black market operators evade detection; and any number of other things.
You’re correct in recognizing that as long as the Party exists it effects public opinion of libertarianism, and that we should be care about that. The difference is that I think of this more as damage control rather than positive advocacy. Political parties, because of the games they need to play, and because of the built-in incentives to conform to the existing system, inevitably end up being coopted for purposes contrary to their stated ideals. Anarchists end up pulling damage control by futilely trying to resist that; as you yourself said, it was mainly criticism from anti-political anarchists that kept the LP from straying faster and further off course than it has.
While reading your comments, it occurred to me that counter-economics was critical to the mid-1980s immigration amnesty bill, and is constantly used in politics to explain why an illegal immigrant crackdown is inconceivable today. Of course, counter-economics in drugs has, so far, led to enormous pain and suffering, with legalization still not in the cards and only marijuana tolerated and only that in some places (plus, there are too many people in prison for pot and too many who have been victimized by asset forfeiture laws to say it is a de facto legalization). But I don’t want to exclude any strategy.
I think open defense of illegal activities is easier for someone not personally engaging in them. I know that my own advocacy of relegalizing drugs is more persuasive (and safer) because I’m such a teetotaler: I went to college at Berkeley and never even experimented once with marijuana. When my 1982 senate campaign in Orange County, California issued a position paper, The Case For Legalizing Heroin, I frequently thought of the fact that it would have been a riskier campaign topic if I had ever used or dealt it.
I said the criticism of anti-political libertarians (and SEK3 specifically) was ONE thing that kept it from straying as quickly as it might. I think people within the LP who have tried to keep it honest deserve credit as well, and if we’re allocating it, more credit than outside critics. And I can’t get out of my mind the frustrating knowledge that it would have taken less than 60 radical libertarians in Denver to make Mary Ruwart the current nominee, which I think would have been the finest moment for the party and the movement imaginable. Se la vie.
I’ll confess that I occasionally get ornery when people deny that the LP is part of the movement, and I may be guilty of some retaliatory farce in this thread: I believe that anyone who lives a non-aggressive life is part of the solution, advocate or not, legal or not, and I do believe that anyone providing goods or services in the voluntary sector advances the cause of liberty. I also think that political libertarians should speak up in defense of people engaged in non-aggressive but illegal activities. If I’m too conventional and law-abiding in my life, I do think it sometimes makes me more persuasive in defending those who are not.
In any event, to the extent I implied counter-economics isn’t part of the strategy, I retract and apologize. I do stand by the belief that, when it comes down to it, changing people’s minds so that they reject the legitimacy of all coercion is game, set, and match for the cause, and that all activity should be weighed against its contribution to that goal. And I believe that the LP, on balance, has been a positive contributor.
I find the desire for “libertarianism” to be equated with family centric collectivism to be absurd. I know a young rebel against Southern Baptism right who whose father cut off financial aid to her, because she is living with her b/f at age 20.
Absent the freedom from her family she enjoys by having her own job in a city of some kind of distance from them, she would be stuck with her bigoted patriarchal father.
As someone who feels little profound connection to most of my biological family, I strongly resent the notion that “freedom” has something to do with staying tied down to your biological family, because they are your biological family.
“Paleolibertarianism” should go join the GOP.
Natasha wrote, obviously to me:
> I know a young rebel against Southern Baptism right who whose father cut off financial aid to her, because she is living with her b/f at age 20.
Well… as it happens, I was raised in a Southern Baptist family myself, and I adamantly refused to ever be baptized, to join the church, to “accept Jesus as Lord and Savior,” etc., so I can have some sympathy with your friend.
On the other hand, I generally found Southern Baptist moral views to be admirable, even while I never found their theological views very convincing.
But, most importantly, if your friend considers herself mature enough that she thinks she can decide for herself to live with her boyfriend, why should she be financially dependent on her daddy anymore?
I notice that far too many “libertarians” mean by “liberty” that someone should be free to do whatever she wants and that someone else should be obligated to pick up the bill!
When your friend’s daddy is financially supporting her, it is quite fair that in exchange he gets to set some ground rules. Your friend was quite unreasonable if she expected the parental support to continue with no strings attached.
Natasha also wrote:
> I strongly resent the notion that “freedom” has something to do with staying tied down to your biological family, because they are your biological family.
I doubt that you can find anyone who claimed that. All libertarians I know (and all non-libertarians I know, for that matter) of course recognize that freedom does include the right to sever relations with one’s biological family, and that, in some unfortunate situations, this may be the wise thing to do.
The discussion of this point did not begin with me or anyone else claiming that freedom meant you were stuck with your family. It started with Aster attacking China as totalitarian, partly because of the well-known Chinese “familialism.”
That’s the real issue, and it is a significant one: should libertarians condemn a culture as antithetical to human liberty if it has a strong familial orientation.
I think that for libertarians to do so, as Aster does, is absolutely bizarre, and, indeed, inimical to human well-being, and, ultimately, human life.
Human children desperately need parenting. In some exceptional situations, that parenting can come from non-biological families. In most cases, it will inevitably come from their biological families, for obvious reasons. To condemn a society for its familial orientation, as Aster does, is to deny the basic framework that makes human childhood livable.
Furthermore, a society that rejects family ties as the basis of society, as Western societies increasingly have, is unlikely to be libertarian. If people cannot rely on their family in difficult times, they are likely to expect the government to step in as a substitute. It is no coincidence that unmarried mothers, for example, tend to be supporters of big government.
Finally, as a strategic approach for the libertarian movement, condemnation of a familial orientation is simply disastrous. Even in Western countries that have weakened family ties, most people are, or expect to become, parents. In non-Western countries, familial orientation remains quite strong.
If it is a systematic part of libertarianism to condemn, as Aster does, “familialism,” then most human beings will, quite rightly, reject libertarianism.
Families are the one natural, primordial human institution: most human beings, if forced to choose between a political ideology and their family will — thank Heavens! — choose their family.
Natasha also wrote:
> “Paleolibertarianism” should go join the GOP.
Right on, Natasha! As I said, I voted for (and sent a few bucks to) Ron Paul. One of the main reasons why I support Ron, and why I left the LP, is precisely what we are discussing. Aster expressed his strong disdain for, as he put it, “bourgeois libertarians,” for “familialism,” and for those of us who would like a society with much less over-emphasis on sexuality.
I found those attitudes that he expressed to be dominant within the LP. They are not dominant in the GOP, and, indeed, while these attitudes are much more widespread than I would like in the US, they are still not dominant in the country at large.
I agree with you and Aster. The central split among libertarians is not anarchists vs. minarchists, or plumb-liners vs. compromisers. The central split is: do you or do you not hate “familialism,” “bourgeois values,” etc.
Mainstream libertarians hate such things, and they belong in the LP. They will never reach out successfully to most Americans, much less most of the human race.
Those of us who admire a familial orientation, bourgeois values, etc. – i.e., “paleolibertarians,” “Paulistas,” etc. – do not belong in the LP.
Of course, in the final analysis, it is all moot, because Asia still generally adheres to traditional human values, and Asia will triumph, as much as that pains Aster.
Who the fuck cares whether you would deign to consider Aster male or female? I can’t see how it’s any business of yours to say one way or the other. What does it matter to you?
What does matter, on the other hand, is what Aster considers herself–at least, that is, if you want to try to have a conversation with her according to basic norms of civilized politeness.
You used some language which, whatever your intent may have been, inadvertently caused her grief; she earnestly and straightforwardly explained the reasons why, and now, rather than doing something as simple and decent as apologizing for your inadvertent fuck-up, you’ve decided to get defensive about it, and back up the defensiveness with being a dick to her about it, first by repeating the same term you used earlier, and then by adding your wildly irrelevant and pointlessly presumptuous speculations on whether or not you personally would consider her female (as if anyone asked you; as if anyone other than you cares what you think about it). You could not possibly have been more rude if you were to address a black 16 year old as “boy,” and, when he asked you to choose another way to address him, you called him “boy” again and then went on to ramble about how you wouldn’t know whether to consider a 16 year old a “boy” or a “young man” or something else again.
This kind of callous rudeness is completely unacceptable and I think you ought to apologize to Aster for it.
You know, I see no reason to think that Aster’s comments about the “familialism” of mainstream Chinese culture were directed against a position that countenanced the right to sever relations with one’s biological family. As far as I can tell, there is good reason to believe that failing to countenance that right is part of what she was complaining about, and part of what Natasha was complaining about after her. Has it occurred to you that when she criticized “familialism,” she was criticizing something that she identifies with that word, not necessarily what you identify with that word?
If you want to change the subject to something else — like, say, the position that custody of children ought to default to biological parents in the absence of some compelling reason for a different arrangement (which I doubt Aster or Natasha disagrees with) or perhaps the position that, although children have a right to sever ties with their parents for whatever reason, morally speaking, they owe a (non-enforceable) duty of filial obedience and morally ought to sever ties only under extreme and unusual conditions (which I know that Aster and Natasha disagree with, but which is a distinct position from the one that began this conversation), then you should feel free to discuss that, instead. But you do owe it to your readers to make clear that you are changing the subject, and not to pretend as if you are responding to Aster’s original comments.
If people cannot rely on their family in difficult times, then they are likely to rely on somebody other than their family. That need not be the government, and historically, there have been many institutions developed that provide mutual aid and support outside of family ties. (For example, the many workers’ societies and ethnic mutual aid societies that have always flourished in working-class immigrant communities, where, as a matter of necessity, working folks couldn’t count on support from their mostly overseas families.)
If you want to ask why it is in this country, today, that there is so much less of a mutual aid infrastructure in place than there has been in times place, and why there is so little institutionalized support for, say, single mothers, outside of the government welfare and education bureaucracies, well, that’s an interesting question to ask. But once you start asking it, you may find that it complicates your picture of the real dynamics here, and it becomes a lot harder to scapegoat single mothers for welfare statism.
This is either vacuous or counterhistorical nonsense, depending on what you mean by “families.” If “families” means “nuclear families,” then it’s certainly not true that human societies are “naturally,” or always, arranged around those. If “families” means “extended family,” the claim is vacuous; ties of kinship are extremely variable across human societies, in terms of who counts as family, how important distant family relationships are (as well as how comparatively important ties of kinship by blood and by marriage are, etc.), and there is no fixed cross-cultural definition of just what the hell an extended family is. In late 18th century America it was extremely common for young children and adolescents to be packed off for years to live with very distant relations or family friends, in ways that would be unthinkable in contemporary American “nuclear families.” Who counts as family, how much certain kinds of family ties matter, etc. are all culturally variable phenomena which change a lot over time and space, and the particular form of family ties that are now common in bourgeois American families are a very late development, which has nothing in particular to do with nature and everything to do with American culture and American standards of living.
I have no idea what logical point all this guff is supposed to establish. Even if you’re right, the popularity or the material success of an ideology has no bearing on its truth or falsity.
I mean, look, I’m already throwing in for an ideology that proclaims a universal and unconditional right to shoot up heroin and bid for private surface-to-air missiles on eBay, while you engage in consensual sodomy, for (tax-free) money, with an undocumented immigrant while you the two of you cross back and forth over the U.S.-Mexico border. Do you seriously think someone who goes in for that sort of thing ought to be swayed by complaints that their beliefs about family ties might not go over well at the next Homeowners’ Association meeting?
Hi. I suppose I am addressing Dave primarily. I am the person Natasha was talking about and just wanted to clear up the misunderstanding.
I never once made a peep of complaint about the withdrawal of financial assistance. I find it rather odd that of all the complex web of minor family related concerns I have discussed with Natasha this was what came up. The only financial assistance I have been accepting from my parents for some time now was 1/4 of my college tuition. The withdrawal of this help is truly of little significance to my life. The only awkward part of the situation is that my parents are being rather insistent that I do in fact need their financial assistance and therefore I must do as they say.
I would not consider myself to be rebelling against anything. I enjoy a very secure relationship with my entire family. There are, I will admit, minor frustrations which I have with my father’s attitudes toward a female’s role in society/family. Natasha happens to be a good listening ear when I feel the need to whine around about these minor frustrations. That is all.
I do find it interesting that I was quite the inverse of you growing up. I found the base theological concepts behind their belief system to be comprehensible. On the other hand I had a very difficult time stomaching their specific moralities. I realize these specifics vary from family to family, so it is truly no surprise, I just found it interesting.
Oh, and you really needn’t bother with a personal assault on me as I am rarely on the internet and even more rarely on web forums.