Steve G.

Knapp address 2012 candidacy on MySpace

In Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Politics on November 11, 2008 at 11:31 pm

Fellow libertarians,

I initially planned to announce my 2012 candidacy for the presidency of the United States on April 6th, 2009, from the steps of the Old St. Louis Courthouse (history buffs shouldn’t have too much trouble figuring out why), and I still intend to conduct a campaign event of some kind at that time and in that place.

I see, however, that others are already lining up with formal announcements or at least clear indications of their own intent … and when a fight’s brewing, I prefer to get in early.

It is therefore my distinct pleasure to announce that I will seek the 2012 presidential nominations of the Libertarian Party and the Boston Tea Party.

Why run for president — and why, especially, for the presidential nominations of two parties which together usually account for less than one percent of the popular vote in presidential elections?

I could give you lots of reasons, but I’m going to stick with three for the moment: There are some hard truths that need to be told, I’m interested in telling them, and they’re most effectively told from a bully pulpit.

Among those those hard truths are that the political wing of the libertarian movement will never make substantial progress toward its goals so long as it clings to the apron strings of the failed movements and parties of the past, remains in orbit around the present political “center,” or falls prey to cargo-cultish notions of what constitutes “serious” politics.

If we want a libertarian future, we must create that future, not hope that our political opponents drag us along to it. They won’t. They’re not going in the direction we want to go in, they have no desire to go in the direction we want to go in, and to the extent that they’re interested in us at all, they regard us either as fuel to be consumed or ballast to be dumped overboard at the earliest opportunity. I don’t blame them. We haven’t yet given them reason to regard us as a true threat to their power. It’s time to change that.

As my friend and mentor L. Neil Smith once observed, “great men don’t move to the center, they move the center.” It’s a big center, folks. Moving it will require a long lever, with us at the far end. I don’t claim to be a great man … but I hope to be part of a great movement, and to help that movement get further out on the lever and put some weight on it.

Insofar as cargo-cultism and “seriousness” are concerned, rest assured that I have nothing against suits and ties, friendly media interviews and the other requirements of realpolitick. What I do oppose is the absurd notion that waving around “mainstreamism” like some kind of voodoo fetish will magically boost us to competitive stature versus our older, more established opponents. It won’t.

The future of the libertarian movement, if it is has one, requires a principled populist approach rooted in class theory. Not the theory of the socialists (labor versus capital) or of the liberals and conservatives (ad hoc identity politics adjusted to appeal to society’s phobias du jour), but rather the theory of the productive class (those who make their living through work and voluntary exchange and cooperation) versus the political class (those who siphon off as much of that productive activity as they can get away with, using the coercive apparatus of the state, for their own ends).

For these reasons, the first phase of my campaign will largely be internal to the parties and the movement; as we move on, it will become more outwardly focused, of course, but first things first.

My fundamental goal in seeking the nominations of the LP and the BTP is not to achieve those nominations or to be elected President of the United States. It is to help the libertarian movement outfit itself for a journey yet to begin — a journey which that movement has stood stock still at the starting point of for nearly four decades now. If I achieve that goal, the nominations and the election results are of secondary importance, as I’m certain others are at least as qualified as I am to march at the front of the column. If I do not achieve those goals, then the nominations and the election results will resemble John Nance Garner’s description of the importance of the Vice Presidency of the United States: “Not worth a bucket of warm spit.”

I look forward to an exciting campaign, and I humbly request the support of all who value the future of freedom.

Yours in liberty,
Thomas L. Knapp

  1. I told Tom that if he had become my campaign manager & we talked Dr. Mary -who has banned my emails- into being vp, we could have won. That is oversimplification but basically accurate. Evidently Obama had been groomed for years for his run by democratic liberals and progressives. They must have concluded in their think tanks & with polling that the only way to get a liberal or progressive elected would be via the democratic party & a black man. That way just about all the liberal/left and black vote could be relied on to win the nomination. Then the rest of the party (Clintonites/Reagan democrats) would be obligated to support. i.e. a very manipulative way. I, on the other hand, developed the progressive alliance strategy which is non-manipulative. A fusion ticket to “marry” the libertarian and left/progressive vote. This corrected Teddy Roosevelt’s try in 1912. This past cycle I learned a lot. Surprising to me much of that from Nader. As soon as he selected Gonzales, he lost where he could have won. simply by choosing a libertarian woman for vp.(which I have found to be easier said than done) He had more than enough ballot access & name recognition. He selected a vp from his niche rather than one who brings a whole other niche. As soon as tom selected the lp & btp he lost. + almost certainly he will choose or be assigned a radical probably a man as vp. Lost again. To win an independent run is necessary because the parties will almost certainly muck things up. Nobody supported me last time & nobody listened to me & we lost. We get another chance for 2012. Hopefully. We might get Martial law because of this reckless stunt by the democrats. Tom won’t listen to me & he will lose. If Obama gets assassinated, every major city in the u.s. will burn. It would be downhill from there.

  2. Knapp for President!

  3. Tom, all the best in your quest. I’ve always appreciated your civility and insights.

    It is news that you associate with L. Neil Smith. And “moving the center” is a wonderful and laudable allusion. Of course, the question becomes, how far and how fast, and who are these great men (and women, I trust) Smith refers to?

    Strategically, a few hundred thousand need a much longer lever to nudge the center. Millions need a shorter one. As you can imagine, I prefer the more realistic and effective millions:shorter lever combo.

    Smith, who publicly suggested my friend Carl Milsted “walk into traffic,” might not be your best choice for campaign advisor from my perspective. Personally, I find his caustic approach toxic and offputting, but I s’pose it takes all kinds.

  4. Steve Kubby. Good. I take it that your endorsement of Tom means you will not be a candidate in 2012. So we needn’t waste time & energy on your campaign.

  5. Robert Capozzi, In my opinion Milsted is a genius. I said that a long time ago. & since my theories correspond well with his, I suppose that is a self supporting statement. If Smith suggested as you report that Milsted walk into traffic I suggest that he is an asshole & should eat shit.

  6. Or Steve, is this just another example of you blurting out something without thinking it through?

  7. Bob,

    Wow. It seldom occurs to me that anyone with whom I enjoy significant political engagement might not be aware that I “associate” with L. Neil Smith.

    Smith is the single person most responsible for recruiting me into the LP in the first place. I guess we haven’t been as closely “associated” recently as we were in, say, 1996-2004, but that’s probably primarily because he’s all but completely given up on the LP while I’m still hooked on trying to save it.

    Neil has not offered to serve as a “campaign advisor,” but if he did I wouldn’t think twice before accepting. The fact that I’m not as caustic as he is probably owes largely to the fact that he has three decades on me in the “refusing to suffer foolishness” department.

  8. Tom,

    Actually, I misremembered slightly. Neil suggested Carl “play in traffic. The world will be a better, cleaner place for it.”

    Charming stuff! Perhaps Doherty is off…this form of narcissism could actually be a very big difference. Wishing — publicly wishing — physical harm on another seems way over the line to me.

    Foolishness, I’m sure you’d agree, is in the eye of the beholder.

  9. Bob,

    OK, so L. Neil Smith has suggested that Carl play in traffic. Not a very nice suggestion, I agree. On the other hand, he was responding to some pretty ugly suggestions of Carl’s.

    The difference between Carl and Neil is that Neil doesn’t pretend to be nice when he’s not being nice. Carl pretends to be nice — while suggesting that the burden of proof against the efficacy of an aggressor institution with an indisputable multi-millennial history of robbery, abduction, torture and murder falls on the shoulders of that institution’s victims rather than on the shoulders of its defenders.

  10. Tom,
    Yes, if one chooses to frame the issue as equilibrating water and soil commissioners with Pol Pot, then Smith’s catastrophizing approach makes perfect sense. I do wonder, though, if anyone associated with or apologizing for ANY State is equally culpable in Smith’s eyes, does he also associate all private citizens with, say, Charles Manson? Laying ALL “robbery, abduction, torture and murder ” on ALL “statists” seems wildly overstated to this hombre, but if you find that line of thinking insightful, knock yourself out [but, please, don’t play in traffic 😉 ].

    Kidding aside, it strikes me as not only not “nice” to suggest bodily injury on a fellow – if from a different school –L, it’s counterproductive. In considering the Smith approach, a newbie might say, “Gee, if I disagree with Smith on anything, will I too be bullied and ostracized?” Seems like a bad way to go, in spades!

    The Golden Rule of mutual respect (and agreeing to disagree sometimes) seems a more fruitful tack. One path to Liberty may well be optimal, but can’t we acknowledge others?

    Rodney King was right!

  11. Bob,

    You write:

    “Yes, if one chooses to frame the issue as equilibrating water and soil commissioners with Pol Pot, then Smith’s catastrophizing approach makes perfect sense.”

    I haven’t spent a lot of time dealing with water and soil commissioners. I’ve spent enough time dealing with and observing other government bodies to observe that the governmental behavioral gap between (for example) Peoria and Pyongyang isn’t as great as apologists for “limited government” prefer to believe.

    Or, to put it a different way, the fact that FDA doesn’t publicly stack the skulls of its victims is a matter of leisure to sanitize its image rather than a matter of substantial difference of outcome.

    It may be that Smith’s reluctance to suffer fools gladly is off-putting. Then again, I said he’s an ideological influence, not my etiquette tutor.

    Tom Knapp

  12. Speaking of Rodney King, those interested in what happened to him might want to watch Celebrity Rehab this season. He is one of the patients, fighting a severe alcohol addiction which has literally destroyed his life.

  13. tom, as a theoretical asymptotic anarchist/applied lessarchist, i’m more than ok with the term ”limited government.’ unless you can lay out a plausible mechanism to deter private WMD, i’m even in theory okay with a tiny state to curb such a (remote) risk. consider the alternative.

    as for peoria v. pyongyang, we seem to be watching a different movie. profound differences in both liberty and material outcomes.

  14. as a theoretical asymptotic anarchist/applied lessarchist

    Do you have this programmed as a keyboard shortcut or something? You say it so often, you must.


  15. On a related note… I received a somewhat testy message from someone regarding my mostly-kidding musings about running for vice president, telling me to get real. It seemed a bit harsh, given the realities of Libertarian politics. In fact, I think I fall into the general level of qualification of past Libertarian VP vice presidential candidates. This year’s was a small businessman and homeschool dad with media experience; the 2004 candidate was a lawyer and businessman.

    At some point in my life I would like the experience of running for office, if only to add to my list of life experiences. I have some other crap to take care of first, like raising and educating my children. I’m also writing a book (theoretically) and taking acting classes and some other stuff.

    Here’s a question, though: What is the low bar for a national LP candidate? It seems one path to the national ticket is to run for successively larger local and state offices, and lose. I’m not sure how this qualifies someone, other than giving campaign experience.

    And for those who criticize Knapp, Keaton, etc., for overambition, remember that Mary Ruwart ran for president in 1983 with hardly any LP experience at all. Now she’s one of the grand leaders of the movement.

  16. IIRC Knapp supports an increase in mob rule (the Ni4D) and, despite no solid evidence, believes in man-made global warming.

  17. His support for those two issues should give any libertarian pause, IMO.

  18. Bob,

    You’ve got your history mixed up. Almost all WMD has been produced by states, and what hasn’t been produced by states (the Aum sarin, for example) has been produced in the presence of robust states allegedly there for, among other purposes, preventing said production.

    The idea that “a tiny state to curb such” would have any such effect is far more obviously factually ahistorical and theoretically implausible than nearly any anarchist hypothesis I can think of.

    All of which is neither here nor there with respect to my own political work.

    The fact that I’m only incrementalist only because that’s the only approach that strikes me as workable doesn’t change the fact that I am an incrementalist or that I assess the likelihood of incremental change arriving at anarchy in my lifetime as zero. So, functionally, I’m just another lessarchist, even if I deny that the divine and inerrant nature of the lessarchist/minarchist religious framework (“transubstantiation of the public goods host,” etc.).

  19. Yes, I do support the National Initiative for Democracy. I’ve explained why elsewhere, but to summarize:

    We have a state, whether I like it or not. That state makes laws, whether I like it or not.

    Those laws are made by 435 US Representatives and 100 Senators (with an occasional vote from a Vice-President), and signed by one President.

    Under the National Initiative for Democracy, those same laws would be made by hundreds of millions of citizens.

    While I don’t necessarily believe that the diffuse wisdom of hundreds of millions of citizens is inherently greater than the assembled wisdom of 537 politicians when codified into law, I do believe that it would be more expensive and more logistically difficult to lobby and bribe hundreds of millions of citizens than it is to lobby and bribe 537 politicians.

    I also note that the NI4D has built into it a long period of consideration and debate, where no such period of consideration and debate at all is imposed on those 537 politicians.

    As a side note, I do not acknowledge a “right” to violate rights on the part of either those 537 politicians or those hundreds of millions of Americans. I simply find the procedure of NI4D to be less susceptible to corruption than the procedures of the US House of Representatives, the US Senate and the White House. I also suspect that in what Mr. Sarnowski refers to as “mob rule” (not entirely without justification) the unanimity of a mob is likely inversely proportional to its size.

    And yes, I also accept the overwhelming scientific consensus concerning the significance of human activity as a component of climate change. What I don’t do is offer force-initiating policy proposals in response to that consensus.

    As to whether my positions on those two issues should give any libertarian pause, well, I hope that everything about every candidate gives every libertarian pause — because at pause is when you have time to, um, think about things.

  20. Mr. Knapp, in the case of the Ni4D, while I agree that the current Congress is highly dysfunctional, direct-democracy is a step in the wrong direction. It is antithetical to preserving individual liberty and restoring a constitutionally-limited Republic. The focus must be on limiting the federal government to those powers specifically enumerated to it in the Constitution. If “democracy” was the path to freedom, the founders wouldn’t have worked so hard to restrict its influence.

    As far as MMGW, I’m glad you don’t advocate force-intiating policy proposals, although I’m still very suspicious of the “evidence” (computer models) since it is by and large a product of researchers looking for more government funding.

  21. tom, sorry, I don’t buy that my view is “ahistorical.” that’s because i’m well aware that states produce and own WMD.

    I simply accept that as a given.

    to me, a bad situation worsens without a coercive monopolist that sez “nope, no private nukes for you.” even theoretically, I can’t imagine a non-nihilist coming to any other conclusion. i’ve socialized this question enough to be satisfied, as no anarchist has offered a plausible counter.

    i’m on board the incrementalist love train, too. and I do tolerate deviations of the sort others are accusing you of here.

  22. Tom Knapp thinks that it’s OK for anarchists to be uncivil to non-anarchists simply because they’re non-anarchists? Well, that explains a lot.

    Tom, to what “ugly suggestion” of Milsted’s do you think you are referring? This little factual dispute could be settled just by comparing the readings of Milsted and Smith on my angrytarianometer, except it broke when I pointed it at Smith.

  23. Greg,

    I don’t idolize the founding fathers or their work any more than I do Public Choice economic theory. Among the things the founders got wrong (there were a number of such things, including the whole slavery issue) was the idea that they could write things like political parties and corruption out of existence with their “checks and balances.” Didn’t work out that way, and isn’t going to magically do so just because we keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

    The NI4D’s procedure for amending the Constitution requires the consent of far more Americans than the current procedure. I seem to recall some old Founding Father talk … lemme see, what was it? … oh, yeah, “the consent of the governed” or something like that.

    I consider NI4D a procedural preference for making it more, not less, difficult for our Masters in Washington to circumvent the Constitution on behalf of their military-industrial complex patrons.

    Finally, I endorsed NI4D because I thought it was a good idea. I stand by that, but I don’t foresee making it my major campaign theme. For one thing, the presidency plays no role in NI4D’s passage according to its own logic (NI4D is internally structured as a direct appeal to “the people” for its own passage — see “governed, consent of the” above).


    In terms of historical failure to observe, I was not pointing to the fact that states make WMD — I was pointing to the fact that they don’t (and can’t) serve to “curb” its private manufacture or possession.

    I’d give good odds on the probability that you, like almost every other American, have chemicals under your sink that you could easily make into a useable chemical weapon without the use of any special tools or processes, and that unless your IQ is well below average, you could acquire the components to make, make, and deploy that same weapon on a scale large enough to kill hundreds or thousands, in a relatively short timeframe, without arousing suspicion until you actually unleashed it.

    I’ve seen that weapon operate (in an industrial accident rather than through intentional deployment), and it’s not pretty. Do you really think that the reason everybody on your block isn’t busy killing each other with it is because the state exists? Or that the existence of the state would stop them if they decided to go at it?

    The fact is that most people aren’t the least bit interested in building WMD and killing people with them, that most of the people who ARE interested in doing so are interested in doing so through the state, and that the state has a much longer, darker and more reckless history with WMD than private actors could ever aspire to. If you need an exhibit to convince you of that, I guess I could enter my probable exposure/sensitization to sarin, courtesy of the US and Iraqi regimes, circa 1991; but I doubt you really want to see video of what happens to Tom Knapp when he’s exposed to common pesticides these days. It’s pretty ugly, too.

  24. Brian,

    You write:

    “Tom, to what ‘ugly suggestion’ of Milsted’s do you think you are referring?”

    His suggestion that the entirety of humanity put its neck under the yoke to deliver him the kind of society he wants to live in.

  25. Tom, sure, “most” people don’t want WMD. A few is all it takes. And, yes, curbing all WMD is challenging. Last I checked, though, radioactive material ownership, at least, is controlled by the State. When and if (a big one) we are successful in rolling the State down to 1st Millenial Icelandic levels, I’m not sure I’d support ending all controls. Ditto for certain sorts of weapons…I’ll cop to being squishy on applying 2A to missiles.

    But I’m making a “forest” point, not a literalistic “trees” one. I simply can’t imagine widespread nonarchism in practice, anyway, for States already HAVE WMD. I can’t imagine them all just giving them up. Pointing to something that pretty much can’t happen seems foolish to me.

  26. Tom, I knew that, as with other simplistic belief systems, being an anarchist came with various seductive psychic fringe benefits. However, I hadn’t fully realized that one of them was a license to insult non-anarchists conscience-free. I wonder if you can appreciate the irony that such angry absolute self-righteousness gives you and Smith more in common with history’s worst statists than many minarchists have. Prominent anarcholibertarian Kevin Carson used exactly your neck/yoke imagery when he wrote today “I’d like to liquidate the ruling class altogether.” This reminds me that ex-Communist Whittaker Chambers 40 years ago famously said that on every page of Ayn Rand he recognized a voice saying “To the gas chambers — go!”

  27. Brian,

    Setting aside the fact that my belief system is probably more complex than you suspect, it is my experience that all belief systems, simplistic or not, come with the optional “holier than thou” bonus cartridge, and that all radical political philosophies are potentially Jacobin.

    Of course, I suspect that you (and Bob, and Carl) tend to think of libertarianism as a reformist approach, while I believe it’s inherently a revolutionary approach — so it’s only natural that my rhetoric would more easily evoke that potential.

    Chambers, having been a member of the Communist Party at a time when it was under continuing internal terror under Stalin and via the Comintern, developed a keen nose for said potential — so much so that he eventually stopped identifying with “movements” per se completely, informing Buckley toward the end of his life that he no longer considered himself a “conservative” but rather merely “a man of the Right.”

    For what it’s worth, I’m not unaware of the problem, and indeed I’ve brought it up before — if nowhere else, then at least on November 22, 2003 in a post to the Smith 2004 discussion list. My recollection is that nobody took the bait, and I’ve continued to mull it now and again but I don’t think I’ve trotted it out for public input since then. Here’s the relevant portion of that post:

    2) The original point, which was to get libertarians thinking about the “Marxist dilemma,” i.e. how will we react when and if our theories get tested in reality and don’t work in some way?

    The Marxists reacted by offing a few hundred million people and pretending that their theories _had_ worked. I don’t want to see us go down that road, and it’s a road that seems to be inherent in the implementation of radical ideologies, which ours is.

    I want to find answers to the question BEFORE we’re at the point where someone suggests the equivalent of the Cheka … and makes it sound reasonable! So far as I know, every revolution — including the American revolution — has been followed by a “terror.” That’s something I want to see avoided.

    Tom Knapp

  28. Tom,
    I certainly recognize that you have a more complex take on an L approach. You have already been attacked – Jacobin/Leninist style – for your “plumbline” deviation on global climate change. More than exposing the implications (and dysfunction, IMO) of absolutist deontological branches of L thought, I believe it’s necessary to shine a light on how Ls treat Ls. Until there’s some civility, I’m not liking the chances of either L reform or revolution. If we can’t get along, what makes us think we can change the political landscape?

    I wish we could all stipulate that there is no such thing as “libertarianism.” Instead, there is a broad range of L thought, and broad consensus that at least most government is counterproductive and (for lack of a better word) immoral.

    Yes, I cop to being reformist vs. revolutionary. If I thought revolution would work, I might be a revolutionary. Perhaps if some reforms were put in place, revolution (in some form) might be indicated. The time’s not ripe. “Ya ain’t gonna make it with anyone* anyhow,” counseled Lennon. (*Anyone overstates for effect.)

    Broadly speaking, reformers can and should differentiate from conservatives and liberals. How much differentiation is a good marketing question, but that calibration is also not written in stone, near as I can tell. What one advocates vs. what one believes is the Truth can and should differ in a civil society.

  29. Bob,

    My position on global climate change is not, so far as I can tell, a “plumbline deviation” (from Rothbardianism, or from any libertarian school of thought that I know of). Whether or not global warming is real and has a significant human component is a question of fact, not of ideology.

    Insofar as “reformist” versus “revolutionary” are concerned, don’t mistake the latter for necessarily being a violent phenomenon. By “reformist” I mean “intent on tweaking the existing system;” by “revolutionary,” I mean “intent on fundamentally breaking with and replacing the existing system.” Alternatively, “revolution” can mean “bringing something completely around to a previous state of affairs” rather than “slightly modifying the present state of affairs.”

    To put it a different way, reformists think that libertarianism is best sold as a different brand, while revolutionaries think that it is best sold as a different product.

  30. Tom,
    yes, I realize that “revolutions” need not be violent.
    i’m a bit of a hybrid. my sense is that if we are to be successful, we should be positioned as non-threatening. over time, success will breed success, so the ripeness of more revolutionary change is enhanced.

    and, yes, I get that your acceptance of global warming theory doesn’t include any particular policy change that (i’m aware of) to address the phenomenon. i’m very open to evolving the LP in a green direction. torts-only doesn’t work, imo.

    nevertheless, your deviation (from their perspective) may not sit well with the jacobin/leninist set.

  31. Bob,

    Well, that’s just it — the libertarian movement is full of Jacobin-Leninist sects. The various Rothbardian, ZAPsolutist, etc. sects tend to speak their minds more plainly than the various Pragmatists, Reform, etc. sects.

    While I’m a radical by ideological standards, that’s not the main reason why I suggest a revolutionary, rather than reformist, strategic approch. The reason for that is that I’m a pragmatist — I prefer to do what works rather than what doesn’t work.

    Bill Woolsey once suggested that LP policy proposals should hew to the criterion of “bold by major party standards.” I don’t think that’s pragmatic. Here’s why:

    Early in the Bush administration, the GOP congress passed, and Bush signed, a set of tax cuts. Those tax cuts were hardly radical or extreme — at the time they were passed, their putative impact amounted to one half of one percent of the previous year’s federal budget, and even that impact was rendered less significant by the fact that deficit spending was not barred, i.e. by the fact that that one half of one percent could just be inflated out of your wallet instead of grabbed directly.

    Here’s how “bold” the major parties were:

    GOP: “We must preserve the Bush tax cuts at any cost!”

    Democrats: “We must repeal the Bush tax cuts at any cost!”

    Whoop-de-friggin’ do.

    “Bold by major party standards” would be “we must expand the Bush tax cuts by ANOTHER one half of one percent of the previous year’s budget, and we MIGHT even balance the budget to make the cuts real.” Or, on the other side, “we must repeal the Bush tax cuts AND raise taxes one-half of one percent, or expand the deficit to increase the amount we can spend.”

    Why the hell would anyone abandon the Republicans or Democrats for that nonsense? Transferring one’s electoral allegiance to a third party is a big step. It has to offer a big potential payoff.

    The traditional LP line has been “repeal the income tax and replace it with nothing.” Many reformists seem to think that’s bolder than “bold by major party standards,” and possibly too bold … but even that would only cut federal revenues back to the level they were at in … 1997. Wow, we want to go all the way back to the bygone small-government days of the Clinton era? How radical! How extremist! Someone bring the reformers some damn smelling salts!

  32. tom,
    i’d suggest it’s not just the boldness of any one issue, but the assembly of the issue*s*. it’s a narrative — the whole story.

    calibrating just how bold a candidate is on any one issue pales in comparison to how those issues cohere and resonate. but, i’d suggest if a candidate is too bold, he or she runs the risk of diminished credibility. legalize weed? credible. crystal meth? not so much. importantly, the legalize meth candidate will not get media, I predict…boldly.

  33. TOM: The various Rothbardian, ZAPsolutist, etc. sects tend to speak their minds more plainly than the various Pragmatists, Reform, etc. sects.

    Me: You know, I’ve heard this before. Rothbardians especially call this “honesty.” I’ve indulged in this “speaking my mind” concept in the past, as a card-carrying Randian/Rothbardian in recovery.

    If you believe in the right to private nukes, you should hold high that banner, seems to be the logic. There is no sense of appropriateness, of timing, of effectiveness…these are not considerations in how one presents oneself. I’m reminded of the old saw: “Out of the mouths of babes.” Children have a propensity to say whatever pops into their heads; they seem to lack an internal editor.

    Good communication involves speaking in a language that others understand. In my experience, when one says, “Yes, crystal meth should be legal, it hurts no one else,” that has a high probability of diminishing the credibility of the advocate. (I of course stipulate as to the truth of that statement.) Perhaps 99% of the time, the credibility damage is irreparable.

    Why waste one’s breath with such extreme implications of L theory? Why NOT start with the low-hanging fruit…a set of issues in which Ls have substantial support in the public square? If it’s for cadre building, at what point does that experiment get deemed a failure?

  34. Bob,

    Here’s a list of every libertarian whom I’ve noticed bringing up “private nukes” in public in the last few years:


    Robert Capozzi


    I’ve run for office six times in the last 11 years. I don’t recall ever bringing up “private nukes” as a candidate, nor do I recall ever being asked about them by a voter, opponent or journalist.

    If I ever AM asked about them as a candidate, my answer will look something like this:

    – To date, 100% of known atomic and nuclear weapons have been manufactured/used by or on behalf of states.

    – The capital investment required to produce even an archaic fission weapon is so large that at present only a few states and perhaps a very few large corporations can or could afford to honestly (i.e. by producing, rather than stealing, fissile material) make it; and for the latter group, the return on investment would almost certainly be highly negative for all non-state-contracted applications, meaning that any board of directors which authorized such a project would be replaced by the stockholders before they could get the first centrifuges into action. I can think of one possible exception (use of atomic or nuclear weapons as accelerators for “blast plate” spacecraft), but even that’s highly speculative and there’s no particular reason that production wouldn’t be undertaken outside US (and all other earthbound governments’) jurisdictions in any case, so I’m not especially worried about it.

    – Per the above, the idea of “private nukes” is ridiculous — the only likely way for them to be produced or acquired privately is through theft (a punishable crime), which would almost certainly be accompanied by a demonstrable intent to cause harm (making that theft an “offer to do harm,” i.e. assault, also a punishable crime).

    – The best way of preventing “private nukes” as above is for states to not keep stockpiles of them, or the fissile materials required to produce them, lying around waiting to be stolen.

    So, there you have it. Now, I’ve played around on the tinfoil-hat margins with you for long enough. Do you want to talk real issues or not?


  35. “Children have a propensity to say whatever pops into their heads; they seem to lack an internal editor.”

    The brains of young children indeed do not filter their thoughts for appropriateness. That ability develops as their brains develop, and as they begin to learn right from wrong (though of course what becomes edited is a learned trait and varies widely, based upon factors such as upbringing and experience).

    While adults can lose that filter due to brain damage, for those poor souls it is very obvious to everyone with whom they come into contact that something is not right. They are many times thought to be insane. After all, that filter edits everything, not just a particular line of thought.

  36. Tom,

    1. You musta missed Smith’s AZ-only presidential running mate Vin Suprynowicz, then, in 2005.

    2. I recall others…a congressional candidate in VA in 1984, though his name escapes.

    3. I know many Ls who hold that view, don’t you?

    4. I bring up private nukes, crystal meth, personal secession, etc. as illustrative of absolutism and extremism’s dysfunction, not because they are front and center issues for any L, radical or not.

    Taking such extreme positions makes the LP a magnet for the tin-foil set. Generally, they can be interesting people to chat with. Indeed, my fascination with the metaphysical and epistemological aspects of The Matrix has a tin foily feel for some. So be it.

    Always happy to talk about issues and strategy. I personally don’t believe the LP should target the tin-foilers, 9/11 Truthers, racists, or extremists of any sort.

    The center will be moved by attracting those in the center to the edge. That’s where the numbers are.

  37. Bob,

    I’ve read Suprynowicz’s piece. Have you? It refers to constitutional original intent, not to libertarian ideology, and even then it includes an important “if” in the sentence pertaining to nuclear weapons.

  38. Tom,

    Yes, and I find Vin’s construction of original intent both tortured and irrelevant. I’m not of that school, so it’s easy for me to dismiss the desires of white male slaveholders.

    I find his “if” irrelevant, too. As I’ve said before, it seems obvious that it’s a given that State’s have nukes.

    His argument reminds me of siblings caught by parents acting out. “He started it,” seems off point to me.

    What next?

  39. Bob,

    Well yes, it’s a given that states have nukes.

    What Vin was pointing out was that states don’t have a right to have nukes unless that right has been delegated to them by the people — and that the people can’t delegate rights they don’t themselves have.


  40. Tom,

    Near as I can tell, the people DIDN’T delegate the development of nukes to the government. It was done in secret. No one has a right to incinerate innocent bystanders, potentially millions of them.

    I find Vin’s point absurd, weak, and loopy. Constitutionalism has a lot going for it, but when it gets edgy and ridiculous, I’m not buying it. Vin’s argument is another example of Emerson’s “foolish consistency” warning, from where I sit.

    No one has the “right” to WMD, yet they exist and are not going away. If we want to be serious and taken seriously, I suggest we deal with this fact, unpleasant as it may be. We are not in Kansas anymore, Toto. While I don’t trust the Wizard with nukes, I’m OK with denying them to the Tin Man. It’s irrelevant whether someone has theoretical “rights” to them or not.

    Perhaps the Knapp Administration will use moral suasion to encourage private Acme Anti-Private Nuke Brigades to police spring up. I’m OK with the State doing that job, and I suspect they’ll be more effective at it.

    Again, while I’m a big fan of the property-rights construct, the point of this exercise is NOT to talk about private nukes, but to recognize that the game has gone to another level. Property rights works for most human action, but not ALL human action. Absolutism doesn’t work in a relativistic world, IMHO.

  41. Do the apologists for the state envision politeness enforcement in their limited government society?

    Are the apologists exempt from politeness requirements?

    Suggesting that some neurotic fool go play in traffic may actually be more polite than telling the fool to shove his nonsense up his ass. Personally, I think the world would be a better place if more apologists for the state would go play in traffic.

  42. Tom B.
    Well, if what you label “apologists” were to all go to play in traffic (read: die), that seems to imply that 99.99% of the population would die soon. Is that what you want? Technically, even that’s probably not so since there would be no such thing as traffic after the first few waves of “apologists” died.

    I developed the label for my branch of L-ism (theoretical asymptotic anarchism/applied lessarchism) when considering Thomas Paine’s “That government is best which governs least.” I don’t believe it’s an “apology” for any State, but rather a recognition that:
    1) The State exists
    2) It should be smaller, then smaller, then smaller (hence, asymptotic)
    3) Prescribing that ALL the useful functions it performs could be handled privately is grandiose.

    In my youth, I used the “politeness” point as well…I’m guessing I picked that one up from Rothbard. Now I find it a silly ruse. Politeness is certainly something to value, but so far it’s not been legislated, by and large.

    Can we agree that what is wisdom and what is foolishness are subjective assessments?

    But, thank you most kindly for the feedback 😉

  43. Bob,

    You write:

    “Perhaps the Knapp Administration will use moral suasion to encourage private Acme Anti-Private Nuke Brigades to police spring up.”

    Well, no. I don’t believe in encouraging solutions to non-existent problems when there are so many real problems requiring our attention.

    To the best of my knowledge, the only effective demand for “private nukes” comes from individuals and organizations who are already up to nefarious schemes of force-initiation. Keeping nukes out of their hands is already part of the mission portfolio of opposing them in general. Trying to change the focus from opposing real, existing, actual violent force-initiators to opposing imaginary, non-existent, potential (but unlikely) violent force-initiators would be irresponsible.

    Tom Knapp

  44. I am only a libertarian because I wish to legally possess my own nuclear weapons. There, I said it. 🙂

  45. Tom, moving on from abstract theory…

    I see you’re seeking the nomination of both the LP and BTP. Have you given any thought to:

    * Potential conflicts of interest running for both.
    * If you do not secure the LP nomination, will you continue to seek the BTP nomination?

  46. Bob,

    Yes, there are potential conflicts of interest in seeking both the LP and BTP nominations. If for some reason I decide those conflicts are insuperable, I’ll either end my campaign entirely, or abandon the campaign for one of the nominations.

    The probability (based on LP recent practice and BTP bylaws) is that the BTP will nominate before the LP in 2012, but the nominations are at least ~3 years away in any case, so that could change.

    If I see that I am unlikely to receive the LP’s nomination, I’ll base my decision on whether or not to continue to seek the BTP’s nomination on whom it looks like the LP will nominate.

    If the LP goes back to nominating libertarian presidential slates, I’ll go back to trying to talk the BTP into re-entering the LP as a caucus, or at least endorsing the LP’s candidate rather than nominating a different one.

    If the LP keeps playing catch-me-fuck-me with the Dixiecrat and Amwaypublican set, then the BTP should, and will, offer America the libertarian choice that the LP isn’t offering it, whether I’m the flag carrier or not.

  47. Tom,

    It’d be helpful if we understood your terms and parameters a bit better.

    Is Ron Paul a “Dixiecrat” in your eyes, or L? Or Badnarik, for that matter? Are Constitutionalists generally NOT L, in your opinion?

    More broadly, it’d be valuable to know if you have specific criteria to determine whether the L candidate is libertarian in your opinion. If you disagree with him or her on 1 issue? 10?

  48. Bob,

    Ron Paul has certainly been inclined to play footsie with the Dixiecrats and associated elements — and that hurt him and the libertarian movement when the newsletter evidence of those dalliances came to light — but he’s not as overtly enamored of the doctrine of “states rights” as, say, Barr, who described “states rights” as “the essence of libertarianism” on national television. Paul is more apt than Barr to speak to a general principle of individual freedom rather than punting with faux federalism most of the time. The main exception, abortion, is one that many libertarians (myself included in the past) have taken a “leave it to the states” approach on.

    I don’t want to try to dissect Michael Badnarik right now, thank you very much. Badnarik is just … Badnarik.

    There’s certainly overlap between libertarianism and “constitutionalism,” but I’m not sure that there’s a tent big enough to cover all of both, even if everyone agreed on what one, the other, or both meant. In my experience, a lot of “constitutionalists” often either forget, or find excuses for ignoring, the parts of the Constitution they don’t like, or the effects of those parts on other parts (for example, the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection of the law” requirement which, being an amendment, constrains Congress’s previously enumerated power to “prescribe the effect” of the full faith and credit clause, contra Paul’s attempt to legislate a “states right” to deny same-sex couples the equal protection of the matrimonial laws).

    If by specific criteria you mean a laundry list of issues with some kind of numerical rating and threshold separating “libertarian” from “non-libertarian,” no, I don’t have one. When I hear a candidate talking pro-freedom, I’m happy to provisionally presume “libertarian.” When I hear that candidate hedging or making exceptions on freedom, the presumption begins to tilt.

  49. Tom,

    We’ve a different take. I’d say Paul is more the constitutionalist than Barr. Paul’s emphasis on gold is a big reason I’d say that, but these are just unprovable opinions.

    I’m OK with the tent including Paul-type constitutionalists, but I too get a bit uneasy at times with them in the coalition at times, too. Still, they are pro-liberty.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: