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Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Anti-X Party

jre, I don't see the PlatCom's draft as "trying to change the lp world in one fell swoop".  It just tries to repair the Portland crater with a baseline platform foundation that most Libertarians can agree with.  There are really just two historic substantive changes we're proposing.  The first is that we're advocating effective silence on abortion, and in doing so we're agreeing with the delegates of the last 3 NatCons who in aggregated plank retention voting put the old abortion plank dead last out of 62 planks.  The second is that we're agreeing with the Bylaws Committee on a way to excise the "cult of the omnipotent" language -- a change that David Nolan says came within one vote of the requisite 7/8 margin in the early 90s.
I'm glad to hear that the PlatCom's draft won't "change your approach to Liberty".  The whole point of Platform reform is that the Platform shouldn't be used as a cudgel to make Libertarians change their approach to Liberty.  I shouldn't use the Platform to make you a geolibertarian, and you shouldn't use the Platform to make me a Rothbardian (or whatever else you might want to make me).
Jeff, the whole idea of the Pure Principles draft
( is to describe all and only the "common ground" you're talking about.  If our draft includes any details about "utopia", or if it leaves out any significant piece of "common ground", then I'd like to know about it ASAP, because there's still time to fix it before Denver.  The more eyes on it now, the fewer bugs to deal with in Denver.
Michael S., I will to a limited extent defend Tom's characterization of reformers as internally-focused.  Despite the lore about the Dallas Accord, the radicals had what was in effect their dream platform for 30 years, from 1974 to 2004.  What did we get to show for it?  Which kind of candidate -- reformer or radical -- was most likely to be motivated to run on such a Platform?  That Platform kept me out of the LP all through the 1990s, and it took a once-in-a-lifetime total GOP control of Washington for me to realize that the Republicans would never put their small-government rhetoric into action.
You see, Tom, to me, it's as if there are an array of parties that are all obviously wrong, and there is one party that is very close to right -- except that it also advocates the bizarre policy that the letter 'X' be stricken from the English language. Given this situation, if I have to choose between trying to reform the anti-X party, or hitting the sidewalks to recruit for the anti-X party, I'll choose reform a large fraction of the time.  Because frankly, I'm sick of the sidewalk response that goes: "Aren't you the party that opposes the letter X?  What's up with that?"   I'm not saying our party has to go on record that the letter 'X' should never be stricken from the English language, or that anti-X isn't an intellectually interesting position.  I'm just saying that it seems to me that one of the best uses of my activism is to increase and broaden the appeal of this party, by getting it to admit that being pro-freedom doesn't require one to be completely and formally anti-X.  It just so happens that X here is not a letter, but The State.
Michael W., I too would like the LP to get back in the business of producing quality outreach materials, but I definitely don't think it should be done through the Platform process.  I have an archive of outreach materials and activist tools at, but I would also like to see the LP facilitate development and refinement of such materials by our members.  In particular, I would love to see LPedia grow into a competitor of dKosopedia.  I would love to see radicals and reformers compete in the quality and quantity of content they contribute to LPedia.  That's a contest where everybody wins.
jre, I'll defend Friedman from criticism as having a net negative impact on human liberty, but I'm not a Friedmanite the way so many LP radicals are self-proclaimed "plumbline" Rothbardians.  I don't know of any libertarian thinker whom I wouldn't criticize as either wrong or silent on some significant aspect of political theory -- including me as of not very long ago.  I would also suspect uncritical dogmatism in any libertarian who can't truthfully assert the previous sentence.  The thinker in whom I find least to criticize is geolibertarian Prof. Fred Foldvary, but I still have my differences with him.