I am an economist, and economists like to make people assign quantitative probabilities to risks. "What's your p of X?" we often ask, meaning "What probability do you assign to X happening?" The point is not that anyone has the definitive numbers. The point, rather, is that explicit probabilities clarify debate, and impose discipline on how beliefs should change as new evidence emerges. (Tetlock 2005) If a person says that two risks are both "serious," it is unclear which one he sees as the greater threat; but we can stop guessing once he assigns a probability of 2% to one and .1% to another. Similarly, if a person says that the probability of an event is 2%, and relevant new information arrives, consistency requires him to revise his probability.I've worked as a ballot access activist for the Libertarian Party, on and off, for 15 years. I helped place Badnarik on the ballot in 11 States, including Texas, which has not had to petition since. (For my best work, however, I've been "shown the door" or "fired." These were the 9000 voter registrations that I did in AZ and AK, two States that are worth the FBI or others controlling, or are inhabited by ~100% philosophical and ~0% strategic "Libertarians." The reason I was "fired" by the AZ LP is that I worked a university, gathering "soft registrations" for one day. My mercenary replacement exclusively works universities. Then the reason I was fired became that I suggested that a man whose wife was dying of cancer preserve her brain at Alcor.org. ...But that didn't hold up to any scrutiny, so they just slandered me behind my back. The registrations I gathered in Coconino County stayed on the books for years, instead of "falling off the books" and I was anonymously thanked at their state convention in 2010 for the work I had done in 2005 --all while being "blacklisted from further employment.")
Every long-time Libertarian activist has a similar story (a brief period where you're gainfully employed and "sized up," then ties are severed and your work history is wasted, and you're shown the door, and replaced with people who can't spell the word "libertarian." In short, the same way the U.S. Postal Service was managed for years: politically, for short-term gain, with no thought as to possible consequences.). The National LP keeps internal hiring records not available to its workers, or the membership, or the public. This would be fine if it was a political organization that actually had libertarian intentions (the intention to take political power away from sociopaths who are determined to keep it). But the way it works now, it's simply too easy to infiltrate and destroy, as it has been, for well over 20 years.
Now, because most Libertarians lack a gene for "strategy," but have two copies of the gene for "philosophy," let me simplify the prior statements. If the LP didn't repeatedly insert a pistol into its mouth and pull the trigger after every election cycle(high failure rates which cause high turnover), it would find itself totally owned and controlled by a few FBI agents who have worked on major party campaigns, and fully understand political strategy. This is 100% the fault of the individual small and big-L "Libertarians" themselves. One former LP member in WY said this was a problem of "doers vs. dreamers." He's got a point.
A simple but useful heuristic test for libertarians is designed to "check and see" if they are consequentialists. Consequentialists judge events by their outcomes or "consequences." If libertarianism, in practice, results in theocratic tyranny, then to a consequentialist, that (form/instantiation of) "libertarianism" is a bad thing. If libertarianism, in practice, results in expanded individual freedom, and a free and wealthy society where everyone is free to innovate and keep the results of their labor, then that form of libertarianism is a good thing.
Libertarianism in the USA has had wretched results, results worse than if it simply didn't exist at all, for over 40 years. So we have to ask ourselves, "Why is that?" My past 15 years have showed me that:
1) Libertarians have superficially "good intentions" but zero comprehension of political science, political strategy, and the nature of serious battle. The dilettante do-nothings who run the LP don't intend to be dilettantes, and they're great people to have a drink with. ...But they don't take seriously the lessons revealed to the Libertarian movement by Morton Blackwell, in "The Real Nature of Politics".
2) Those who are capable of strategy are "run out" of the LP. (ie: The few capable/competent people who are employed by the LP are simply not rehired, and when they see the rewards of their hard work being redirected to incompetent simpletons, they usually just walk away "for good." Keep in mind that those who have sought employment in a field have done so often because they have insight, drive, and specialized knowledge. People often get their "choice of career" correct. Markets, in all their optimality, depend on this fact of reality.) The LP leadership are all "heads up their ass" philosophers who wouldn't last a day in any party where they actually were forced to elect someone. A good test of this is heuristic: Ask those running for office how many votes the incumbent received, to win. (If they don't know the exact number, that's ominous.) Ask those running for office how many the "next-closest loser" received. (If they don't know the exact number, that's ominous.) Ask those running for office if they know how many people ran in the prior election, and whether the margin of victory was won by any minor players (If they don't know the exact number, that's ominous.) Ask those running for office, (in private, and off the record!), what they think their prospects are of winning. (If they are highly confident, but don't know anything about the numbers they're dealing with, they're delusional in this regard.) Ask those running for office how they expect to win, in the face of overwhelming conformity to the mainstream. (If they say they're going to "campaign hard" then find out what they mean by this. Are they raising money? Did they start way earlier than the major party candidates? Are they walking their district and measuring support levels from #1-#5? Or, do they think they can "put the message out on a website" and have victory fall into their hand like a ripe fruit?) Bad answers to any of these heuristic guides indicate a fatal level of delusion that is so common in Libertarian "campaigns" that it is the exception, rather than the rule.
3) Libertarians, taken as a whole, without question don't want liberty as much as sociopaths want to steal from us. If they have to enslave us to steal from us, they are not bothered by that fact, even slightly. Will Groves got it right, virtually all prosecutors, cops, and politicians are sociopaths (or, more precisely, they are obedient conformists in the model of Milgram's "Obedience to Authority" experiments, who are "de facto" on the sociopathic spectrum and are pushed to sociopathic action by clinical sociopaths who are higher in the hierarchy than they are). See: http://strike-the-root.com/91/groves/groves1.html In short, freedom does not mean as much to libertarians as the capacity for tyranny means to our sociopathic power-seeking enemies. For them, it's a career, a paycheck, and a lifestyle. Libertarians such as myself who are overly-concerned with the career, pay-check, and lifestyle's OUTCOME that we've signed onto suddenly find ourselves cast out by dilettante strategically-incompetent do-nothings who run the LP.
4) Libertarians don't understand, use, or value feedback-oriented strategies. They don't demand realistic (benchmark-measurable, winnable) benevolent outcomes from their plans. We're not going to be winning the presidency or a governor's race without first having won a single State Legislative race or sheriff's race. (This is especially true of philosophically-and-strategically-clueless races that lack even the passion or capacity to "catch fire" by appealing to the electorate in the way Jesse Ventura did, due to his televized debate appearance.) If you can't see this, you're a "50% and 0%" time-waster, you're part of the problem, and you have no strategic knowledge. You can correct this in a few ways: 4a) You can go door-to-door, shaking hands, and talking with the general public, assigning realistic support levels to those you talk with. 4b) You can admit that you have no "people skills" for dealing with people face-to-face, and you can pay people like me to do so. The prior activities only matter when done in service of a candidate who will appear on an election ballot (if this isn't the case, the public ignores your message, because they are almost 100% of the belief that "elections are the only political activity that make a difference"). Ideally, you will do this in the ballot access petitioning window, so you can see how you stack up next to other signature gatherers. Did you have problems getting 15 signatures per hour for more than 4 hours? If so, you probably don't have the right temperament for the work. Did you assign a lot of "#1s" (see: http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/040719/19point.1_9.htm ) who later clearly did not vote for the candidate, based on precinct-level election results? (You can only calculate this if you don't "wash out," and you actually walk to over 1,000 houses, and the campaign actually records their election performance.) Did you "wash out" before speaking to enough houses to influence the election in any measurable way? If you're not willing to interface with the public in a "feedback and correction" style, then you're ignoring the fundamental laws of cybernetics that govern elections. Although cybernetics is a technical discipline at its highest level, you need not have the math skills of a Norbert Weiner, Ray Kurzweil, or W. Ross Ashby to engage in "feedback and correction." ...You simply need to take five to seven meaningful measurements, and then judge the election results honestly (and your own honesty level) based on the real-world numbers. This is usually a real eye-opener, the first time it happens. People are both more and less successful than they thought they'd be, based on their initial thinking. Usually, they are far less successful(if they were delusionally optimistic), and far more successful(if they thought that "face-to-face" doesn't matter, because elections are won due to media coverage). You need to make falsifiable predictions about the election, and then use the election results (and other measurable results) to determine if you've trained yourself well. For example: Every time a person is called to check support levels in a poll, if you're not the one doing the calling, that provides at least a partially-unbiased level of "real feedback." If you notice that the precincts where your workers have gone door-to-door are all polling with higher support levels (as is very common!) then you now have your work cut out for you! (On the other hand, if some areas where your workers have been are not similarly-supportive, you have a problem with the workers, or the workers' identity. If only the candidate's direct outreach raises support, then you're dealing with entrenched political support for the incumbent state, and only seeing the actual alternative face-to-face changes people's minds.) Personally going door-to-door, is the best way to purge oneself of delusion about the pace of progress that is possible in a given area. Doing door-to-door campaigning eliminates delusion from a campaign, records useful information; it trains individuals to understand what level of peaceful progress is achievable, in a given area, in a given amount of time.
There are a few college textbooks with the title "Winning Elections," one by Dick Simpson, and one by Ronald Faucheux. These are good books that provide insight into, well, winning elections. Most libertarians have not read them. They also haven't read anything remotely like them, even if they've read everything Murray Rothbard and Ludwig von Mises ever wrote. In fact, when you start to talk about getting Libertarians elected, most Libertarians' eyes glaze over. They fidget, they quit paying attention. The exact reverse phenomenon can be seen in most non-libertarians who have found some narrow area of specialization: they are focused on the strategic question, "Can this person win an election?" However, when you discuss philosophy with them, you notice that all the portions of the brain that describe our emergent social system exist "at the non-existent top of a truncated hierarchical structure." The average American has 5% of the knowledge they need to possess regarding History, Economics, Law, and Psychology. They need H.E.L.P. The prior "low-level" disciplines are all of the disciplines that exist to created a well-rounded philosophy in any individualist. They are the portions of "applied individualism" that allow for "basic Americanism" in politics. (Which is precisely why the government schools have stopped teaching those subjects properly.)
One of the primary questions that all Libertarian Party ballot access petitioners are asked by people who had previously not heard of the LP is "So, do you libertarians have anyone elected?" Based solely on tone and body language, if you say "Yeah, we have a few water commissioners in Florida elected." Their interest dissipates, and they say "Ah, OK, I have to go." If you enthusiastically say "Yes, we've elected four state legislators in Alaska, and we have city councilmen elected all across the USA," then you'll see some interest. Many people recognize that control of a State legislature would amount to a measurable ability to produce the outcome of individual freedom. Again: the general public cares primarily about outcomes or consequences, while libertarians care primarily about theory and philosophical ideas(which wind up being "ungrounded abstractions" that are not "mapped to reality"). This is a problem that Alfred Korzybski referred to as "the map is not the territory." (Reality exists, but humans perceive it with their nervous systems incompletely, as an abstraction. In this revelation, Korzybski was a combination of objectivist and cyberneticist.) Psychologically, this means that libertarians need to get over the fact that politics requires dishonesty in general communications to unintelligent and uninformed "generalized" networks. It does not good at all to accurately describe economic reality in a campaign, because a majority of voters do not understand Economics. Further, they do not believe that Economics must be reconciled with morality. For these reasons, brutal honesty about economic reality loses votes, and loses elections. People vote based on their emotions, so all campaign communications must be mapped onto emotional content containing strong, emotionally-targeted moral statements.
This is far from an abstract description of "how things might be." This is how my own family, whom I love, relates to discussions of politics (with one or two exceptions). I have to dole out philosophical knowledge in tiny block-sized increments, checking to see if they've understood my point, to help them "build their comprehension hierarchy upward" when discussing the true structure of society. (And I do this to inform them, with no hope of altering their vote. Their vote would only be altered if they respected my success level, and wanted to be more like me. This crude heuristic is often applied to political messengers, which is why people ignore messengers with anarchy-symbol T-shirts.) In all areas except the domain of jury independence, the progress I generally make is fairly ineffectual. Why is the jury independence message more effective? (1)They know what juries are, juries are called every day, and the outcome of being called for jury duty is something that they imagine can and will personally impact them at some point. Therefore, it is not "theoretical abstraction" and is worth listening to. When a family member has learned about jury independence from me, they view being removed from the jury as an avoidable tragedy, and one that would be shameful to them. They would view it, and rightly so, as a missed opportunity to veto the grotesque victimless crime laws that have made a mockery of the phrase "the land of the free." Contrast that "pragmatic" or "realistic" or "strategic focus" with the philosophical dilettante focus of the mainstream libertarians Doug French, Jeffrey Tucker, and Stephan Kinsella, where they suggest grandstanding and being kicked off of juries, abandoning innocent defendants to the tyranny of sociopathic judges and prosecutors. http://lfb.org/can-jury-slaves-say-whats-true/
Most people are pragmatists in all areas except their narrow area of specialization, where they may have some idea of "what should be." This is because they believe and act as if life is too short for them to learn much outside of this area of specialization. In fact, life may actually be too short for them to learn much outside their area of specialization. Friedrich A. Hayek took note of this with his concept of "local knowledge." It is this local knowledge that allows democratic libertarianism (what Hayek called "liberal democracy") to function, but only when democracy is defined as Proper Jury Trials (67% of the value); Elections (12% of the value); Free Speech and Assembly (11% of the value); and Widespread, Skilled, Private Gun Ownership and Carry (10% of the value). This ranking shows that, if the first two democratic limits on government power have not been eliminated, the threat of violence is not necessary to produce movement toward individual freedom. However, if jury trials are eliminated, the entire 67% previously dedicated to them is then divided between Free Speech and Assembly and Gun Rights, because that is an indication that the State plans to suddenly move toward true totalitarianism, of the type practiced by Stalin and Hitler. (Meaning: If this happens, you have a narrow window of time in which to assemble publicly, demanding a reversal of the situation, backed by the force of arms, before you will certainly lose all freedom.)
For this reason, I like to assign people a percentage score, up to "50" for philosophy, and a percentage score, up to "50" for strategy. Taken together, a person can score 50+50 or "100%" if they are both strategically and philosophically well-educated. If a person has 50% on philosophy (a perfect score!) and 0% on strategy, they get a failing grade. They are totally and completely uninteresting parts of the existing complete "non-solution." This describes the vast majority of the Libertarians I encounter. In fact, if someone is not an existing libertarian, but quickly understands the philosophical ideas I give to them, I assign them a likelihood of being in a position to "change the world."
Someone like Jesse Ventura may only be 30% libertarian (out of a possible 50%), but he's got strategic knowledge superior to most libertarians, so he gets a 30% score there, too (out of a possible 50%). That gives him a "D-minus" or 60%. Jeff Tucker, Stephan Kinsella, and Doug French all get a 50% in philosophy, and a zero percent in strategy (so long as they retain their ignorant view of jury trials, and their commitment to taking a position in the false "anarchy v. minarchy" debate). So, they get a 50% score, or an "F." Imagine that Jesse Ventura moves the debate in a libertarian direction with a campaign that the general public can take seriously. That would be doing far more than "preaching to the converted." Ventura sucks on healthcare, advocating government-run healthcare. But he also says he thinks the government shouldn't wage a war on drugs, and doesn't "own your body." If he gets elected, the same black market in healthcare that exists now (cheaper foreign healthcare in India, Argentina, and other places) will exist. So, if he can abolish, or even attempt to abolish, the DEA and ONDCP, we would owe him far more than we owe dilettantes who have convinced libertarians to defeat themselves. For those "anarchists" unfamiliar with practical arguments for jury independence, don't take it from me, take it from the most intelligent anarchist on the planet, Doug Casey:
Louis James: Hm. So, if you did get summoned to jury duty, would you ever consider playing the role of Joe Six Pack, to try to get on a jury and see if you could help justice triumph over law enforcement? I see that FIJA actually has a pamphlet on surviving voir dire. [ http://fija.org/docs/BR_YYYY_surviving_voir_dire.pdf -JW]
Doug Casey: Well, I don't think you or I could ever get past the voir dire process and on to a jury, but if by some miracle someone of goodwill and interested in justice were to do so, I'd say yes. By all means, get on a jury, if you can. Striking a blow for justice is worth some inconvenience and effort.
For what it's worth (a lot, actually) legendary comedian Doug Stanhope agrees with Doug Casey, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1k4fYIUuAP8
Single individuals have changed the world in the past. John Lilburne was one of them. His practical, highly-intelligent financiers wanted someone brave enough to hand out pamphlets to the great unwashed. Richard Overton printed Lilburne's words (and his own), but it was the charisma, intelligence, leadership and STRATEGIC ACTION that changed the English common law in the 1600s.
Without Lilburne, there would never have been any relatively greater level of freedom in the USA. There would have been no proper jury trial for Lysander Spooner to defend, in the abolitionist movement. There would have been no Spooner to influence the strategically perfect Frederick Douglass (who, by the way, never gets enough credit from libertarians as a courageous strategic innovator).
One person can change the world, and this is true now, more than ever. Technology has enabled our voices to become "An Arrow Against All Tyrants."
I know precisely what needs to happen, but I have spent my life figuring this out (and working my way into poverty, like too many other libertarians who believed there actually was "a Libertarian Party"). In this regard, I'm like Lilburne and Douglass (but with less determination), by doggedly pursuing truth and freedom above all else.
The vast multitude of libertarians I've met have not figured out any of the above. They have a superficial dedication to liberty, and zero comprehension of how it might be practically made possible. Until this changes, big-L "Libertarianism" actually functions as the enemy of freedom.
This is especially true in states like AZ, WY, MT, ID, and AK, where progress toward liberty is actually viable. (An alternate theory is that progress toward liberty is more possible in places like Chicago IL and Houston TX, but only in black neighborhoods that have been viciously exploited by the drug war. Allocating scarce resources to "one or the other" in "all or nothing" fashion is likely a mistake.)
One fatal move is for the "FSP" to have chosen New Hampshire as its battleground state. This is highly ignorant, as the "existing metrics" or "initial conditions" do not support liberty in New Hampshire. The lack of an initiative process alone means that it will be very difficult to incentivize liberty in NH, and without incentivized, that is, paid, workers, nothing is ever accomplished, because the risk is too great for the comparatively small reward.
It will be interesting to see how many people here shit on me for being a "paid shill." (And, of course, I'll be interested to see viable solutions forthcoming from each of those voices.) The tactics I'm suggesting allowed the LP to achieve its "high water mark" in 1978-1982, in Alaska. Since then, I've registered 5,000 people in Alaska, until I was told I was "no longer needed." That's the seriousness of the freedom movement: It wants to be a "big fish in a small pond" more than it wants individual freedom.
This is the message we're sending the incumbent state with ineffectual political involvement.
The state doesn't need to assassinate us, when they can simply misdirect us at the first sign we're doing anything right. Because most libertarians haven't ever investigated real-world liberty, or its political causes, they lack the capacity to evaluate motion toward liberty. They lack the capacity to make realistic predictions that vary with the enemy's strategy. They also lack the capacity to predict the enemy's strategy, since doing totally ineffective things is seen as just as good of a use of scarce dollars as doing highly-effective things. Printing newsletters that nobody reads, for example, is seen as just as effective as measuring support levels door-to-door.
Because this is how stupid the Libertarian movement actually is, they have essentially reduced the value I place on elections quite a bit. However, nobody says you can't inform jurors of their rights while going door-to-door and taking territory for state legislative races. If a campaign is minimally-funded ($5-$10 per door-to-door ballot access signature is a good "rule of thumb"), and then financed beyond that point, so that far more signatures are filed than are actually necessary for ballot access, this would be a viable way to defeat the 2-party system. This would cost a few million dollars.
It's too bad that people like Peter Thiel, the Koch brothers, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, John Mackey, T.J. Rodgers, Elon Musk, and many others who claim to value freedom do not value it as much as those who wish to take it away. I'm really not insulting these people, but that's the only way to interpret the differences in the amount of money spent and attention to detail paid towards achieving the two goals. By seeing the outcomes of every political contest, we can assume that they don't know how to elect voluntaryists like Harry Browne, or they don't care to. If they don't know how to, that's a simple matter of reading the resources this essay links to, or talking to someone like me. Bloomberg, for example, at the time the first draft of this essay was written, was spending several million dollars in Nevada alone, in an attempt to strip Nevadans of their gun rights (which are already treated as privileges, in relation to neighboring states like Arizona). A pro-gun initiative in California(which would repeal Governor Jerry Brown's restrictions on owning certain kinds of rifles) currently lacks enough money and financing to gather enough signatures to access the ballot by the September deadline. If you add up all of the states in which Bloomberg is spending millions, that would be enough to finance the capture of an entire state legislature.
But keep in mind what this would entail: not just short term commitment, but long-term commitment. When you have a lot of money, as well as several companies and solid income, you have a lot more to lose.
In the Englightenment era, people were willing to sacrifice money to the cause of expanding freedom. They were willing to do this even at the cost of recognizing that most of the people they were causing to "support the cause" had a half-hearted dedication to liberty, at best. Two major things have changed this:
1) The USA and the rest of the world has received an object lesson in the methods of totalitarianism in the past 100 years. Donors to libertarian causes don't know if they will be "disappeared" or poisoned, or blackmailed (in an era of universal NSA surveillance).
2) Libertarians don't know if they're risking their personal wealth by seriously battling the system. They think to themselves "They can't possibly destroy me for donating to my political party of choice, but if I was seen as the effective driver of that political party, they might target me specifically. Therefore, I'll give to the political party, but not exert influence over it to make it into a serious organization." Then, when the LP's infiltrators or idiots waste the donations, these major donors disappear. Donors demand results from their contributions.
3) Donors often times don't understand that those few people who are doing effective things inside the LP have to first overcome the idiots, obstructors, and infiltrators within the LP. When you're battling what Norbert Weiner called "Manichean devils," those devils have a conscious incentive to encourage confusion within your ranks. In many cases, you won't be able to figure out who they are, due to plausible deniability. This was the problem that the Native Americans faced in the American Indian Movement (AIM), when they were infiltrated by Douglas(s) Durham of the FBI. Once Douglas Durham had won the trust of enough people in the organization to make his removal difficult, he began holding press releases, stating that everyone who is not an Indian should be deported. Surprise! The funding that the Natives had gotten from sympathetic white liberals suddenly dried up! Later on, when Durhan testified against the Indians in court, it was too late. http://archives.nbclearn.com/portal/site/k-12/flatview?cuecard=36293 This experience helped lead Russel Means to call himself a libertarian. He tragically, in my opinion, lost the LP presidential nomination by the LP Convention of 1988. (Ron Paul is a fine human being, but the counter-culture in the USA begins with those who are most oppressed by the state, because they have an actual incentive to change things. This incentive doesn't "come and go" with the libertarian impulses of financially well-off, comfortable millionaires and billionaires.)
The FBI and CIA are both involved in US elections, as revealed by many sources. For example, former governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura states that he was questioned at length by the CIA after winning his gubernatorial election, even though their charter says they're not to be operational within US borders. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsDvLtpi8W8
The protestors at the latest GOP national convention were recently targeted by undercover goons. As have radical environmentalists, one of which was a woman who slept with a young protestor, and manipulated him into a prison sentence for a scheme that she cooked up. (So, our government makes its own use of entrapment with "honey traps" known, to encourage prior restraint.) See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByCRuIO51u0
If self-proclaimed millionaires and billionaires are afraid of state retaliation, then they should simply come out and say so. Let them point out that they are afraid, because the NSA now functions like a legalized "American" KGB, having honed its resources on Muslims, Militia men, and other disorganized anti-government minorities. Let them simply state that they don't know how to participate meaningfully in elections, nor do they care to find out. That would be the honest truth. For them to claim that they care is a disservice to legitimate political engagement of the enemy, in the twilight of that being a viable option. There isn't much time left, so false friends of freedom are particularly dangerous to the existence of actual freedom. In talking to registered voters in 15 States, I can definitively say that there is hope for individual freedom in the American electorate. Many already identify with small-L libertarianism, and it's probably enough for an organized effort to win a high degree of individual freedom.
So, whereas people like Chris Cantwell think that the LP is an "outreach effort" I'm of the mind that it should actually be used for its intended purpose: to directly expand individual freedom by taking power away from those who want it most.
"I know this well, that if one thousand, if one hundred, if ten men whom I could name -if ten honest men only, nay, if one HONEST man, in this State of Massachusetts, ceasing to hold slaves, were actually to withdraw from this co-partnership, and be locked up in the county jail therefor, it would be the abolition of slavery in America. For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever.Note But we love better to talk about it: that we say is our mission. Reform keeps many scores of newspapers in its service, but not one man."