By Craig Bowden:
Radicals in the Libertarian Party were challenged to respond to an article written on LibertyPoint.org entitled Wisdom vs. Reality: Libertarian ‘wisdom’ vs. ‘real’ politics. As a radical, I decided to offer my two cents to the issue in response. I do this independently of the Libertarian Party Radical Caucus, though I am a member. These thoughts are my own and should not be used in an official format as a response from the caucus.
The very first rebuttal I wish to convey is to the following statement within the article:
Unfortunately, as with all too many revolutionary movements, this devotion, dedication and adherence to our tenets sometimes ignores reality.
There is no reality to ignore when adhering to the core of libertarianism. We believe things like taxation being theft, which by definition, it is. You can try to rationalize the “need” for taxation all you want, but when we apply definitions to terms we find that even the dictionary agrees.
the act of stealing; specifically: the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it
Just because a group voted to steal, instead of breaking into your home and taking it themselves, doesn’t change the fact that your property was taken as the rightful owner.
Another core tenet of libertarian thought is that we believe in the non-aggression principle, which means that we believe the initiation of force against a person is wrong. This is the most basic reality that exists. Every one of us was taught since early developmental years that we don’t hit people, break other people’s things, or take what doesn’t belong to us. Libertarians simply take it a step further and say that just because the majority voted to do so, doesn’t mean it is right.
We do not have the power to give authority to someone, if we do not have the authority to do so on our own. Since I cannot steal from my neighbor, I cannot give the authority to someone else to steal from him. When we do this without “government approval,” once we face a court of law, we are still guilty of conspiracy and held at the same level of accountability as the person who actually took the action we asked of them. Why is it different when we ask government to do it?
The next portion the author goes wrong is in the following excerpt:
One of the leading examples of this is the belief that “most people are libertarian but don’t know it yet.”
Reality is somewhat less appealing. Libertarians who’ve been involved with any municipal planning or zoning process know “it ain’t so.” The reality is that, in the United States, in the 21st Century, “most people” have come to expect government to do certain things.
Most people expect local government to pick up the garbage, maintain the streets, provide water and sewer services and police and fire protection. They expect zoning regulations and local ordinances to prevent their neighbor from building a 24-hour convenience store in his back yard.
Evidently, the author seems to think that only the city does trash pick up, providing of water/sewage, police, and fire. I would have to assume that the author has never hired private security to guard assets, has never heard of a volunteer fire department, and never lived in a Home Owner’s Association that does trash pick up. It is also apparent that the author has never lived in a rural community, where there is no sewage system and you maintain your own septic tank. Examples already exist where people have demonstrated that they can do these sorts of things without municipal planning groups. All you have to do is experience things beyond a narrow world view.
Not everyone has city utilities on the grid. Not everyone has to rely on subsidies on farmed food. What utter chaos there must be in the non-incorporated areas around the nation.
The reality is that individuals like the author are just too lazy to do things on their own, or in voluntarily associations. It takes a lot more work to make sure things get done, but why bother when city councils and state legislatures can just do it for you?
The author paints things as there being a dependence on government as a “modern reality,” yet for anyone who lives in a rural area, reality is very different. The vast majority of things are done through voluntary association and personal responsibility. Want power? Better make sure the windmill is in good repair. Want heat? Better make sure to order that propane. Want indoor plumbing? Better make sure the septic system is in good order.Want fire put out? Put on your boots and gear up, because all that’s available is volunteers.
The next passage is one I believe you will find an immediate contradiction between the two statements:
Self-government, however, may have another meaning if you consider that man is a social animal. While rugged individualism is an American ideal, and has and does exist in our society, most people also need and seek community. Even in the “frontier days,” when a man was striking out on his own, family in tow, other individuals came together in voluntary association to help him build his barn.
In other words, wherever two or three are gathered, there will be government in the midst.
Notice how the author is speaking about voluntary association and adhering it to meaning government. There is nothing voluntary about government. You pay taxes or go to jail. You cut your grass or be fined. You want salt? Too bad, it’s banned. 32 oz. soda? Too much sugar for you. Want to choose cannabis as a medical treatment? Too bad, jail time for you. There is nothing voluntary about what is going on. It is put in place with authority that never existed.
Most people are social creatures, but there are miles of difference between voluntary exchange and forced compliance to societal norms defined by a majority.
The reality of the situation is that while it may currently be accepted by the majority, we must always speak the truth boldly and plainly. Watering things down does no one any good. Is it ok if you are elected to a city council to vote in favor of a partial tax decrease? Of course. Take what you can get now, but never settle for more than absolute liberty in all things. As soon as you vote yes, the very next day you should be right back on the offensive in decreasing taxation more.
When we water down things to fit society’s current status, we get lost in all the noise. We must be bold in our approach and show exactly how libertarianism is different. Give examples of ways to improve and always strive for the highest amount in all areas of civil and economic liberty.
In my own candidacy for the U.S. Congress in 2014 and this year, I didn’t cut corners in what I placed in my platform. In 2014, I doubled the Libertarian vote in my district and set the highest polling third party for federal office in Utah since the 90’s. In 2016, I have polled even higher than 2014, and the election is still a month away.
I didn’t say to cut taxes; I said eliminate them. I didn’t say legalize medicinal marijuana; I said all prohibition must end. I didn’t say cut foreign aid to our enemies; I said it isn’t our business to be involved in other nations at all. I didn’t say that we should only go to war with Congressional approval; I stated that war must end and violence is only a means through defense. I spoke the truth. I didn’t take half measures. In the end, a new record will be set in Utah because of it.
The reality is that pragmatists like this author cannot do anything without radicals speaking boldly on principle so that people can see the difference between us and the two major parties.