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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Re: [lpanarchists] Bait and Switch

Roderick Long wrote:
RL) the actual result of the Accord was that minarchist candidates have felt free to promote minarchy (RL
Every time you use the word "minarchy"/"minarchist", I have less and less idea what you mean by it.  Can you please offer a reasonably precise definition of how you are using those terms?  In particular, I want to know if you'd say LP founder David Nolan was still on the minarchist reservation when he wrote in LP News:
DN) In an ideal world, there would be no taxation. All services would be paid for on an as-used basis. But in a less-than-ideal world, some services will be force-financed for the foreseeable future. However, not all taxes are equally deleterious, and the worst form of taxation is a tax on productivity-i.e. an "income" tax-and no libertarian supports this type of taxation. What kind of taxation is least harmful? This is a topic still open for debate. My own preference is for a single tax on land, with landholders doing their own valuation; you'd state the price at which you'd be willing to sell your land, and pay taxes on that amount. Anyone (including the tax collector) who wanted to buy it at that price could do so. (DN
You continue:
RL) while anarchist candidates have been pressured not to mention anarchy (RL
What anarchist candidates?  Pressured by whom, how?  Have they been called non-libertarian by an LNC member?  Have they been admonished as a possible pledge violator by a Judicial Committee member or a candidate for state LP Chair?  Have they been compared to Pol Pot by a Platform Committee member?  Have any of their positions been declared by a (Reform or Radical) caucus leader to be grounds for disaffiliation by any state LP who endorses their candidacy?  I can cite each of these things happening to smallarchist LP candidates.

In my experience, anarchist LP candidates censor themselves in front of non-libertarian audiences.  The wonderful thing about being a non-anarchist libertarian is that you can proclaim your true political philosophy in front of any audience.  Because I have nothing to hide, my own campaign materials have in fact been more radical than those of the 2008 campaigns of at least three prominent LP anarchists -- Susan Hogarth, Tom Knapp, and Daniel Grow.  (Ruwart's campaign site didn't call for ending government anywhere that I could find, but at least it called for ending all taxation.  It also falsely claimed that Ron Paul says taxation is unnecessary.)
RL) Over the past two decades-plus [...] the LP has run both minarchists and anarchists as presidential candidates. (RL
What anarchist presidential candidate has the LP run?  Of the the ten LP presidential tickets, at least eight were headed by men who conceded (then or later) that coercive taxation will be necessary indefinitely -- rejecting the pre-Portland Platform's call for abolition of all taxation and immediate non-enforcement of tax laws.  Andre Marrou (about whom I have little data) may merely have opposed "excessive taxation", which would make it 9 out of 10.  And while David Bergland was a Rothbardian radical when nominated in 1984, by 2000 he was managing the campaign of Harry Browne, who wrote at the time that "until we find a way to finance government without taxes or a way to assure our safety without any government, some form of taxation will be necessary".  So it might actually be 10 out of 10.  (Was Browne off your minarchist reservation when he wrote that?)

Nearly every LP presidential candidate has made a central campaign theme out of (as Marrou said) "restor[ing] a
constitutional government".  I've never heard any LP presidential candidate say that a federal government slashed back to its constitutional limits would nevertheless still be an abomination needing to be smashed.  I've not heard of any LP presidential candidate who campaigned as an anarchist -- or even campaigned on positions as radical as the LP platform of his day.  (I haven't checked any Bergland campaign materials, but I suspect that not even he called for personal secession and immediate non-enforcement of all tax laws.)

I've already said Richard Randall is wrong to say that anarchists cannot be libertarians.  He's also wrong to suggest that the LP's web site or publications should be taken as authoritative guides to the ideology of the Party.  The ideology of the Party comes from our NatCon delegates through the foundational texts they have given us: the Statement of Principles, the Bylaws, and the Platform.  Nothing that LPHQ puts on paper or a web site can trump these texts.

By the same token, I whole-heartedly agree with Randall that some of these foundational texts can help us interpret the others.  In particular, I agree that the 1972 Platform is crucial for understanding the SoP, since both were debated and adopted by the same set of delegates.