“X Is Why We Aren’t Winning”

Sometimes it is tough to be in the liberty movement. To the outside world we can seem unnecessarily zealous about niche issues and to within the movement we seem to be filled with pessimistic infighting. A dear friend of mine posted this on Facebook “I’ve started keeping a list of every time a libertarian says, “X is the reason we’re not winning.”” and it got me thinking. Most libertarians have heard thousands of reasons why “we aren’t winning”. Maybe it’s the anarchists fault or Rand Paul isn’t pure enough, we focus too much on drugs, there aren’t enough women, etc. There is always someone to blame for why libertarianism isn’t more popular. I have a couple of problems with this mentality.

First off, we ARE winning. Libertarian/Classical liberal thinkers have helped improve society by leaps and bounds in the last couple hundred years. It was pro-freedom advocates who helped end slavery, end the draft, and increase equality under the law. Sure, the last decade or so has kind of sucked but the world has gone through a lot shittier times than this where government has clamped down on civil and economic liberties. Libertarians job is to help provide an intellectual foundation and shift the Overton Window so that politicians are forced to move. Political action follows behind intellectual action and on the intellectual side we are winning. Yes, there have been steps back and yes, things aren’t going as quickly as we would like but it would be short-sighted and wrong to say the ideas of liberty aren’t winning, particularly if you take a look at things from a long-term and global scale.

So, what some people really mean is “X is why we aren’t winning elections”, which is a whole different statement. I think we aren’t winning elections with the Libertarian Party and explicitly libertarian candidates is because politics is the opposite of liberty. Liberty is freedom from coercion and government is a monopoly on coercion. Expecting libertarianism to spread throughout the government (particularly the federal government) is like getting your pilots license to fly to Japan and then purchasing a Honda Accord and driving into the ocean. It doesn’t matter how good of a pilot you are the vehicle is wrong for the task. And teaming up with Progressives and Conservatives is great on some issues but they have a different foundation for their beliefs, both sides generally believe that violence against peaceful, non-consenting people is okay if it is creating greater equality or security. Libertarianism itself cannot work within government, it can only shift people away from government and back to peaceful cooperation (preferably at a community level in my opinion).*

As access to information increases and technology provides greater opportunities around the globe it will become increasingly easy to ignore the government and spread libertarian ideas. Anyone who has read “Radicals For Capitalism” knows that in the early part of the 20th Century being a libertarian was a lonely idea, if you were lucky you could correspond or read a few journals entries on the subject but times have changed. The internet allows thousands of people to come together to discuss ideas and coordinate events. It would have been unheard of even 15 years ago to imagine putting on one convention that attracts 150 students dedicated to freedom and now Students For Liberty and Young Americans for Liberty hosts dozens combined. We are winning, and things are going to continue to get better. 3D Printing, longer life spans, bitcoin, wikipedia, and a thousand other developments are going to contribute to a society that does not need the state any longer. There will be bumps in the road, there are fights ahead, nothing is inevitable, but things really are better now than they have ever been.

*People point out Ron Paul as working within government. I disagree. His strength was in changing the conversation and using his position to get the issues discussed, which is very different than using legislation or political office to make changes from the inside.

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CTRL – P

We live in a wonderful new world where knowledge and information can be sent at nearly the speed of light across the globe. The Industrial Age is giving way to the Information Age and with that revolution there are bound to be forces that fight this evolution. Government, as always, is one of those forces. Government thrives off of the status quo and control of information, every tremor caused by new technology gets the bureaucratic machine moving to slow things down and those in power fight to maintain it. But in many ways the genie is out of the bottle, you can’t stop the internet or exchange of information except through tyrannical restrictions that are nearly impossible to impose on an armed, diverse public spread over a large geographic region. That doesn’t mean the state won’t try though.

I believe that 3-D Printing will revolutionize the world. From ears, shoes, art, human organscars, homes, and guns the ability to input blueprints into machines will change the economy in ways unknown since the internal combustion engine, assembly line, and printing press. It is the idea of a 3D Printed gun that has sprung the state into action, but the ramifications could be far reaching. The government has utterly failed in the past at restricting information, from copyrights to state secrets it seems that the truth will always get out as the market moves faster and can adapt to changes than bureaucrats can fathom.

What I find interesting about the current demand from the State Department to take files offline (files that have been shared 100,000+ times already and are being hosted in countries around the world) is that they have not accused the creator of a crime. They are ordering the restriction of spreading information, a right protected by the 1st Amendment, while they investigate if a crime was even committed. They are enforcing punishment without even the accusation of a crime, much less the conviction. If the government is allowed to control what people talk about and what ideas are shared online they have rendered freedom of speech void.

I have always been curious how far gun control advocates are willing to go. I’ve heard some say we should ban all guns, but that raises some practical questions that could have far reaching effects on individual rights. If I can’t buy or own a gun can I build one? What constitutes “a gun”? If I can’t build one can I draw diagrams and write down how to build one? If not, can I discuss building them with my friends? How much speech are people willing to censor when the subject is something that is uncomfortable for some but causes no harm? It appears the state believes that blueprints sent in electronic format should be stopped… that information should be stopped… that discussions should be stopped… I wonder if they will be willing and able to send agents with guns to stop “free” people from talking about guns.

Armed March in DC

As some may know there is an armed protest planned in Washington DC for the 4th of July. Adam Kokesh, a former RT tv show host and military veteran, plans on leading 2000+ people from Virginia (where open carry of loaded weapons is legal without a permit) across a bridge into Washington DC (where I’m pretty sure thinking about any item powered by gunpowder is illegal). This has put me in a position I am not really used to, my view is apparently moderate.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe we have the right to own any tool we want as long as we don’t harm others and I believe we have the right to self-defense. I own a gun (and she is beautiful) and have broken many gun laws in the past and I think the case for civilian ownership of firearms is strong from a philosophical and practical standpoint. Philosophically, we should not be discriminated against based on other peoples actions, which means I should be able to own a gun, tank, or whatever if I own it peacefully. I should not have my rights restricted based on what people like me have done in the past and I should not have my rights restricted based on what harm I have the potential of doing. Basically, the law should not discriminate and we should all be innocent until proven guilty.

From a practical standpoint I think when people say “but what about nuclear weapons” they are being intellectually dishonest and have divorced themselves from reality. If Iran can’t get a functioning nuclear weapon I am not concerned about my neighbor getting one. Also, I think that the government is here to serve the people and part of the balance of power is allowing citizens the ability to physically protect themselves from tyranny. If history tells us anything it is that every government eventually oppresses their own people or is invaded and overthrown… in either case, a well-armed populace will help secure the life and liberty of everyone. The United States of America is no different, there will come a day when this empire will become a police state or weaken so much that an aggressor will take over (I think the former is most likely).

So, I support private ownership of weapons but I think Adam Kokesh’s move is fucking stupid. This is not 1776 where marching against some red-coats will motivate a few people get involved and King George won’t know it is happening for a few weeks or months. If they march on DC and shots are exchanged (it really doesn’t matter who fires first) it will be used as an excuse to strip more rights from individuals, expand a “gun free zone” based on mileage instead of state borders around the capital, and the protesters will lose. And the public will support every one of these measures.

I have to wonder what Kokesh is trying to accomplish. This is tactically foolish and makes all libertarians look like gun-nuts. The current strategy of using the judicial and legislative system to re-secure our rights to own a weapon has been incredibly successful. There are more “will issue” states for concealed weapons permits, the Castle Doctrine is spreading, the Brady Gun Ban expired with little real opposition and the Supreme Court has defined the 2nd Amendment as an individual right in “DC v Heller” and “McDonald v Chicago”… it has been a good couple decades for gun rights and there is no real opposition to it. There has not been blood in the street, in fact, quite the opposite is true. So, what is Kokesh trying to do? Is this a power trip or some sort of ego-trip? He has been accused of worse though I really don’t know, I’ve never met the guy.

But, I think Skeptical Libertarian has it right:
“70% chance the protesters will meet in Virginia, try to walk over the bridge, get stopped by DC police, turn around, march around Arlington and call it a symbolic victory.
20% chance most of them turn around and a couple get arrested. 10% chance someone does something stupid and they die in a hail of gunfire.”

I certainly hope they are right, bloodshed over a relatively non-issue (regardless of the right-wing screeching about Obama trying to take our guns) would be a tragedy for all involved.

On The Edge

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“Each person spends a lifetime engaged in a single overarching project: designing his or her own life. To be this thing, this person, to do it just  the way you want, and to be satisfied with it, that is the major artistic endeavor and creation of our individual lives.” 

I love when dear friends recommend books to me. I feel like they often know my tastes better than I do. That was exactly the case with Karl Hess’ autobiography. When cracked the book I new next to nothing about Hess. I’m not really a well read libertarian, most of my views come from my own self-reflection and discussions with friends. I enjoy reading but I often don’t have the patience or the desire to dive into the classics or even modern political analysis. That’s just not how I work. Lucky for me, that isn’t how Hess writes.

I feel within Hess a kindred spirit. A person who would understand why I rode across country, why I live my life my own way with little concern with laws or social norms, and why my first principle continues to become love. Hess was a man that had many chapters to his life and reading about how he lived and his views has really given me a new perspective and respect, particularly for “beltway” libertarians.

While Hess lived and operated often on the fringes of society he did have his days working in DC and within the established system. I am often critical of the DC life and those that live it, I’ve come to find my criticism is unfair. Those within the beltway are doing good work, it isn’t my work, but it is good work. We all have skills and passions, and as libertarians I believe we should encourage all paths to freedom. If someone is not causing harm I consider them my ally.

Hess’ real focus though was on love. He loved his life and lived it to the fullest. He loved his family and neighbors and with this love pursued activities that would enrichen their life as well as his own. His passion for community and fighting illiteracy shows a man that wants good results, not good intentions, and rightfully sees well-meaning bureaucracies as generally destructive to charity. His love of creating led him to be a sculptor, a welder, an architect, and an artist. He wasn’t defined by a job, he was defined by his passion. When asked what it meant to be a perfect anarchist he didn’t respond with “resistance to authority”, he responded with being a “good friend, good lover, and good neighbor”.

I couldn’t agree more. If Karl was here I would thank him for his life well lived, something that inspires and encourages me to pursue my passions despite the risks or criticisms I may face. I get one shot at this life, there is no reason to refuse new experiences, taking risks, or having many diverse chapters. I know I am certainly going to do my best.

Late Bloomer

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I have one coworker at work who actually knows things about my personal life. For all intents and purposes she is my platonic work spouse… that person you joke with, vent to, and generally have around to make the workplace tolerable. Well, being the overly open person I am at times she also has a vague idea about my polyamorous and open relationships. She seems to think it is based on sex but she did ask a comment that struck a cord, she asked if I was a “late bloomer” when it came to sex. I don’t think it takes away from my philosophical and social choices but yes, I was a late bloomer by modern standards.

I lost my virginity at 23 to my ex-fiance. I only really drank alcohol once in high school, and probably would have been arrested if not for Officer O’Keefe recognizing my car and knowing that I was a police explorer. I didn’t smoke weed until well after the army and “harder” drugs didn’t enter my system until I was about 28. So yeah, I was a late bloomer, but I am happy for that.

As someone who was able to experience as an adult both the conservative life and the libertine life I feel I am much more capable of figuring out what works best for me. It also gives me the perspective to not judge others decisions with how they decide to live their life. My views on relationships, politics, anarchy, peace, and love come from life experiences outside of the city I was born in. What people do with their mind, body, and spirit is not for me to decide and I think being a late bloomer has helped with that. I don’t think these experiences would have happened if I went the traditional route of “growing up”.

This is particularly true for my drug use. I can safely use a variety of drugs because I have the experience and knowledge to act responsibly. Altering ones mind through drugs is best done when you are mature enough to know what normal is. There have been a few cases of serious damage due to the use of MDMA but this has little to do with the substance and a lot to do with people using them without knowing their bodies well or how to get help. When I was 15 I wouldn’t have known how to handle the effects, I just wasn’t mature enough.

I think this same principle applies to relationships. I look at people who graduated with me and most of them are married, with kids, and living a life that makes them incredibly happy but seems awful to me. I was almost in that same position and it makes me wonder if I would have been satisfied with that traditional life. I am incredibly happy now with my freedom, my partners, my friends, and my adventures.

So, yep, I’m a late bloomer and happy I am. Each year of my life I have grown more, learned more, and experienced more. Some accuse me of never growing up, I hope that accusation follows me until my last breath.

The Future of the Grand Old Party

 

There has been much debate within the conservative movement about what to do moving forward. I believe that if the Republican Party is to be viable at all it must make some serious policy positions changes that would actually realign themselves with the small government, Constitutional federalism that they claim to support. Now, I want this to happen because I am a libertarian who does not think the 2-party system will ever allow a third party voice. They control the media, the funding, and the debates. The rules will always change to prevent the Libertarian Party, Green Party, Constitution Party, or any of the other parties that have valid thoughts on the proper position of government. In order for a third party to gain any control the entire Constitution would have to be modified to allow proportional representation.

Anyway, that’s off subject. In order for the GOP to be viable they need to actually do what they say and change policies to reflect their philosophy. These few things I think would help:

  • End the federal war on drugs. Any conservative can easily say “I think drugs are bad, I wouldn’t want drugs legal in my state, but it is not a federal issue. If those hippies in Colorado want to smoke pot the federal government shouldn’t take money from my state to stop them. Let each state deal with the consequences.”
  • Introduce real immigration reform. Free markets means free movement of goods, services, and labor. Work to end the ridiculous process for citizenship and simplify the whole process to allow those who want to work to work within the system
  • Stop talking about marriage. Social issue does NOT equal government issue. The “sanctity of marriage” is not being damaged by it, if you think your love for your spouse is being damaged by someone else’s love then you have personal issues to deal with. Also, if you somehow think that gay marriage will equal pedophilia, beastiality, or whatever you need to really think things through, there is a huge difference between consenting adults entering into an arrangement and an adult trying to marry a non-consenting child, animal, or object.
  • Disobey the 11th commandment. Reagan’s 11th Commandment (Thou shall not speak ill of another Republican) is stupid. If someone says something batshit crazy the GOP should pull funding and call them out for it. Stop circling the wagons in the name of party unity.
  • Actually be small government. That means military cuts and ending crony capitalism. Stop bailing out favored industries, stop subsidizing, stop building bases across the globe, and start actually practicing what you preach.

I think the first four would go a long way to actually helping the GOP be a viable party again that might somewhat reflect libertarian principles, and that’s all I can really hope for. These moves would actually attract younger voters, female voters, and immigrant voters. The era of the old white man running the government is coming to an end, the GOP needs to stop being neo-con corporatism light. If people want big government they will go with the Democratic Party, if they want small government right now they will stay home because the Republicans don’t actually offer a real difference. You can support social conservatives and still not ask for government interference in the bedroom, you can support business without subsidizing it, and you can support a strong national defense without invading every nation which creates more enemies.