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Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Stealth Anarchist's Logo

Steve Gordon, you do a great job with TPW.  Every comment here that isn't critical of you should be taken as implicit praise.
(SG why would Antman's pro-Ruwart domain name be a spamword?  Can't you just deputize a few of us here to help you and Knapp etc. delete offensive comments?)
I'm astonished that anyone could call this graphic a "smear".  Ruwart proudly wrote on in 2002 that she is an "anarchist".  (She’s clearly fooled Mike Theodore.) That anarchist "A" is a standard graphic on many anarchist sites and blogs. Her most eloquent supporter Less Antman promotes her campaign with a fan site called  r u w a r c h y . c o m.   Her less eloquent supporters like Susan Hogarth and Steve LaBianca vehemently proclaim here that any existence of state authority is an abomination against the principles of libertarianism. "Key Point #2" of the Radical Caucus is "Radical Abolitionism", and Ruwart obviously is their preferred candidate.
Less, your frank admission that Ruwart is in effect running away from her anarchism confirms what I wrote here the other day, so I'll repeat it.  Why nominate a zero-state abolitionist if she's not going to promote and defend that position?  If we want a middle-of-the-libertarian-road campaign, why not nominate a middle-of-the-libertarian-road candidate, like Phillies?  Radicals criticize reformers for allegedly advocating a stealth campaign strategy of disguising their libertarian principles, but Ruwart's anarchism is so stealth it's simply invisible -- at least to anybody who can't do a web search.
I have a theory that goes like this: you can lead an anarchist to the voters, but you can't make her preach anarchism to them.  I offer a challenge to every radical Libertarian reading this: nominate for us a YouTube video of an anarchist/radical LP candidate giving the most abolitionist pitch you've ever seen offered to a general-voter audience.  Any takers?  It's easy to be an anarchist in the cozy little confines of Third Party Watch, but I advocate exactly the same-sized government in PlatCom debates as I do in local League of Women Voters debates.  How many anarchist Libertarian candidates can offer video evidence that they do too?
The Radical Caucus agenda points one and two are "Rights Are Primary" and "Radical Abolitionism".  However, Ruwart's pitch is famously consequentialist, and her campaign message thoroughly obscures her radical abolitionism.  The Radicals demand that "Libertarians must always make clear that the outright removal of the injustice and interference of the State is our ultimate goal."  Ruwart doesn't make that clear at all, and Rothbard must be turning over in his grave.  I've been re-reading the vicious criticisms published by Rothbard and David Nolan about the rhetoric of 1980 Clark campaign, and that rhetoric sounds quite similar to Ruwart's -- right down to the heresy that eliminating welfare will be painless because Ruwarchotopia will eliminate poverty.  I guess that's a hopeful sign of the continuing de-radicalization of the LP, but I fail to see why we should want such a disconnect between 1) our message to the voters and 2) the actual positions buried deep in our Platform and in the writings of our nominee.  Steve Kubby even ended a recent campaign video with a graphic that proclaimed "Less Government" -- another Clark line viciously criticized by Rothbard/Nolan.   If we're all moderates now, then why is there going to be a Platform fight in Denver?
The most plausible explanation remains that a shrinking but still-powerful "cadre" of deontological abolitionists still want to claim the LP's Platform as a sort of ideological tattoo, advertising to each other (but not to the voters) their political iconoclasm and non-conformism.  That's nice, but some of us have a nanny state to dismantle.
Bob, I agree that many (most?) Rothbardians are given to rudeness and intolerance, but I don't think most intolerant Libertarians are well-versed Rothbardians.  I think the most common trait among intolerant libertarians is their simplistic deontologism. By contrast, consequentialists like Mary Ruwart and Less Antman never seem to lose their cool or act rude to anybody.  The exception that proves the rule may be our young Rothbardian Alex Peak.  But even he admits that Ruwart is not the only effective libertarian communicator in our field of candidates.  I'd rather have a nominee who casts a wide net, and worry about radicalizing people after they join our flock.  When was the last time you heard of anybody who became *less* radical during their association with the LP?  The radicals' notion that we're "negotiating" with the nanny state and thus need to be as radical as possible is, to put it kindly, absurd.  That's like walking into a car dealership and trying to get the best price by making an initial offer of accepting a new car for free.  We don't need to march up to the voters and demand "Zero!"   We just need to explain to them that if they want drastically more economic and personal liberty, then they should board the LP Freedom Train.  We can argue later where it should stop; right now we need to focus on getting it started.
Tom Sipos, it would be absurd to suggest that radicals never try to push people out of the LP.  Wes Benedict seems to consistently vote with the radicals on LNC, and *in this very thread* he wrote: "shape up or watch your asses get kicked out!"  At our recent county convention another radical LNC member, Mark Hinkle, proclaimed to the room that people who disagree with the 2004 platform should consider finding another party.  I've had a radical member of the LPCA Judicial Committee (Starchild) publicly declare that I advocate "tax slavery" which contradicts the membership Pledge.   In 2005, radical LPCA Southern Vice Chair Mark Selzer wrote in the LPCA newsletter that "Disagreeing with one part of the platform usually means disagreeing with all parts of it."  Less prominent LP radicals routinely tell me that I'm a violator of my membership Pledge.   So please spare us this notion that reformers are projecting their desire to purge people.  We just want a level playing field, so that the anarchist minority will share their veto power over Platform content with the rest of us.