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Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Wow -- are the above comments make me start to understand what Lew Rockwell might have meant by a "brain drain" from the LP.  Are the above comments what we want any Gravel fans to read who have followed him here to find out more about the LP?
The "Destroy04" criticisms of Nolan and the old Platform are unfair.  The 2004 Platform was indeed marred by its format.  That was an earnest but misguided attempt to use an editing trick to correct the fundamental problem of what the Platform had become by 2002 -- a rambling, poorly-organized accretion of decades of narrow and breathless Rothbardian litanies.  But despite its incoherent organization and inexorable bloat, one could still find in the old Platform a relatively accurate rendition of the Rothbardian prescription for anarchocapitalist electroshock therapy.  Rothbardian anarchocapitalism is a serious and intellectually interesting school of libertarianism.  What's not nearly as serious is the notion that a libertarian political party should have as its primary goal the "building of cadre" for that particular zero-state strain of libertarianism -- as opposed to uniting all the Americans who want public policy to move toward more personal and economic liberty.  The Pledge and the end-stage metastasized Rothbard/Evers platform were designed for the former goal, not the latter.
It's not clear that Nolan is to blame.  The LP he founded had no Pledge, and the original 2500-word explicitly-minarchist 1972 LP Platform was nearly identical in length to the PlatCom's 2008 proposal.  Our proposal is also similar to the 1972 platform in how it limits itself to the common ground of the various schools of libertarianism that united to form this party.  The original LP of Nolan and Crane experienced explosive growth in the 1970s, before the Platform was completely radicalized.  Immediate non-enforcement of all tax laws was apparently not added to the Platform until 1980.  Personal secession was not in the 1980 platform, but was present in the 1986 platform.
What follows are excerpts from a 52-page "Political Action Manual" by one David Nolan dated 1972.  It sounds pretty good to me.  Restore72, anyone?
The Libertarian Party will offer voters a true alternative -- Less Government.  This may not be entirely satisfactory to those who advocate No Government, but we believe that there is nothing wrong with demanding our freedom back one piece at a time. [...] 
Do not use the word "anarchist" in describing the Libertarian Party; the LP is not an anarchist organization, even though some members (a decided minority) are anarchists. [...]
[In talking to "rightist" groups] stress our desire to return to the republican. limited-government type of system established by the Constitution, and our strong support for the Bill of Rights, with special emphasis on Articles IX and X thereof.  [...]
In selecting your "target districts", you should not jeaporize the tenure of those rare office-holders who are reasonably acceptable by libertarian standards; if the incumbent is about as libertarian as can reasonably be expected to win, there is no point in wasting our scarce resources by entering a candidate of our own, who probably just draw off votes from the "good guy", with the result that someone far worse will take his place.  Likewise, if the incumbent is exceptionally bad, and his major opponent appears to offer some hope of significant change for the better, there is no point in fielding our candidate.
What should our policy be, concerning LP endorsement of and support for candidates of other parties?  The answer to this question will obviously have to be determined by each state LP organization. In some states, especially where there is already a third-party effort with reasonably similar goals, collaboration may be desirable. And there are a few (very few) Republicans and Democrats who are deserving of LP support.