Steve G.

LP Platform Committee application sample planks

In Libertarian on November 17, 2008 at 10:29 am

Applications for the LP’s Platform Committee were due this weekend, and were to include three sample planks. Following are the three I submitted. A fourth ‘bonus plank’ follows, especially for Robert Capozzi.

National and Community Defense
A community of free people will act in their own defense and that of their neighbors without compulsion. We oppose any form of compulsory military service, including taxation to support a standing or wartime military.
Social Security
It is the right and responsibility of each individual to provide for his old age as he best sees fit. We therefore support the abolition of the compulsory, burdensome, and unworkable Social Security system. Those who have been victims of the Social Security tax and who can therefore rightfully expect some compensation for their effort should have a claim against government property.
Civil Disobedience
Obedience to unjust laws perpetuates injustice. Therefore, we support peaceful disobedience of all unjust laws.
Bonus Plank: Offensive Weapons
Weapons which cannot be used without extensive concomitant damage to civilian populations (often called ‘weapons of mass destruction’) are – whether controlled by individuals or by states – the tools of terrorism, and as such have no place in the arsenal of a free people. We therefore support a ban on ownership of such weapons and call on the U.S. Government to divest itself of such offensive weaponry. The U.S. Government’s nuclear, chemical, and biological arsenals should be dismantled promptly, and further government research into the production of such materials should cease immediately.

  1. I’d be willing to lobby hard for the civil disobedience one at the next con. I think that’d be very much worth having. It’s a great place to appeal to youth. The sort of ballsy-ness that helped Paul rise to stardom, y’know?

  2. Susan,

    Can’t say I’d word it quite that way (or even have a plank on the subject), but I’m exceedingly pleased to’ve been of some influence on your thinking. I am curious how you would suggest such a ban be enforced.

    Godspeed with your application.

  3. SS & Co. (plank two)
    Those who have been victims of the Social Security tax and who can therefore rightfully expect some compensation for their effort should have a claim against government property. …..Susan Hogarth

    Sounds good to me. The worst mistake I ever made in my lifetime was trying to set up a private-sector retirement account (stocks/mutual-funds/IRA) starting with Capital-Pace and Pioneer II. What I got was a decade of pure hell with a wrong SS# (559-90-7280) and endless troubles with two major crooks of the US Gob’ment, the USPS and IRS. I want damages. One of the painful & expensive lessons I learned from that disaster is that you can’t get your money back using ‘small claims’ court. The SEC is the gob’ment group that prevents simple solutions to take place. The SEC basically protects the financial intituions while occassionally using collectivist arguments to protect ‘groups’ of consumers.

    I can’t actually come up with anything positive to say about the SEC. What’s wrong with axing that whole agency, along with SSA? Hey, and I want damages from a bunch of lawyers, too! (The worthless bastards that kept charging me money to get nowhere).

  4. Can’t say I’d word it quite that way (or even have a plank on the subject), but I’m exceedingly pleased to’ve been of some influence on your thinking.

    I could easily see tweaking the language of any of these proposals. The platform drafting is a team process, so that’s how it’s supposed to work.

    I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say that you’ve had ‘some influence’ on my thought; it’s simply that when I think about getting WMD out of the hands of madmen (i.e., the ‘leaders’ in government) it brings to mind your fascination with the idea that the LP has to specifically disavow ownership of nukes by individuals.

  5. I’d be willing to lobby hard for the civil disobedience one at the next con. I think that’d be very much worth having

    Thanks, Matt. I’ve been concerned with the number of Libertarians lately who advocate following laws simply *because they are the law*. It’s alarming enough to hear that sort of nonsense from non-libertarians, but within our ranks it’s downright depressing.

  6. Susan,

    Re: my “fascination with the idea that the LP has to specifically disavow ownership of nukes by individuals,” I’m feeling terribly misunderstood.

    Actually, I don’t think such a plank is wise. My discomfort is with official documents with absolutist statements like “We further oppose all attempts to ban weapons or ammunition on the grounds that they are risky or unsafe,” as the platform used to read in 04 and before.

    Disavowal of private nukes, personal secession, kiddie porn production, etc. is unnecessary and counterproductive to advancing liberty via the LP. I am not “fascinated” by such issues.

    On these highly theoretical matters, my take is “Silence is golden.” I respect that some Ls enjoy engaging is such speculative theory, but it has no place in winning the hearts and minds of the electorate, as I see it.

    I trust that clears the matter up.

  7. On these highly theoretical matters, my take is “Silence is golden.”

    Makes for a short platform, at least.

    At any rate, I don’t consider the growing danger of state-held WMDs to be a ‘highly theoretical matter’, and I hope you will agree with me that it is a real and immediate threat to us all.

  8. Susan,

    I dunno, we could talk at length about the major issues of the day. A case could be made for the platform being more like an essay on issues that large portions of the population would consider relevant. I am, however, OK with the current platform, by and large.

    Yes, I certainly agree that state-held WMD is not a theoretical risk, but a real one.

    I would probably vote against your plank, however, as I’m not convinced that unilateral disarmament is the way to go. As a peacenik, I like the sentiment, but I’m not sure that unilateral disarmament enhances peace. I certainly could imagine that disarming could have the effect of triggering an attack on the US.

    I am open to hearing a case for unilateral disarmament, however.

  9. I had a nice chat with couple folks regarding 9/11 and the TSA imposed 3 oz. limit on fluids in carry on bags, and no matter what I said they felt the arbitrary rule was justified. I then asked them to assume there was a “credible threat” that some mad-man had rented property throughout metropolitan areas across the US, and had been building up massive amounts of fertilizer and fuel oil (mixed Nichols style) and intended to coordinate something akin to the final scene in “Fight Club” by way of cell-phone. And I asked them, would that justify a daily search of anyone entering or exiting a private dwelling anytime they carried a container greater than 3 oz.?

    While the “threat” of private nukes seems remote and silly, I’d suggest that if there is a “credible threat” of random door to door searches then the state should be burdened with the “credible threat” that the citizenry just might be armed just as well as they are. In 1776 that was certainly the case…

    Dan.

  10. I certainly could imagine that disarming could have the effect of triggering an attack on the US.

    Fortunately our massive military-industrial complex has allowed us to win friends and influence our neighbors with our positive emphasis on trading for food and other useful items, and has at the same time kept us from becoming the targets of terrorist attacks led by those who hate empire.

    Oh, wait. nevermind…

  11. Susan,

    I am quite critical of the military-industrial complex, I assure you. I’m quite opposed to the US government’s foreign interventionism and the needless loss of the blood and treasure, domestic and foreign.

    But perhaps I wasn’t clear: I was not referring to a 9/11 type of attack. At this point in history, I’m not sure that unilaterally disarming US nuclear weapons would be wise. I’d be concerned about an offensive attack by, say, Russia or China.

    It seems to me that statism and militarism are global phenomena. Last I checked, even the stateless paradise of Somalia is now being occupied by Ethiopian troops, and let’s not forget that 1st Millenial Iceland fell, too. These are not particularly prize territories to conquer, but I’d suggest the US is. I’m not sure how Acme Defense Co. could possibly turn back intercontinental ballistic missiles…can they?

    I would appreciate hearing your take.

  12. The civil disobedience plank rocks. Great addition! I will definitely champion it if I make it onto the Platform Committee.

  13. Here are the three planks I submitted as my Platform Committee application (the numbers refer to the plank listings in the 2008 LP Platform):

    1.7 The Arts [proposed new plank]

    Art is a weapon against tyranny. The artistic spirit is anti-
    authoritarian, and stands in sharp contrast to the nature of
    bureaucracy, which is the nature of big government. Bureaucracy is deadening, art is enlivening. Bureaucracy upholds authority, art questions authority. Bureaucracy stands for repression, art for expression. Bureaucracy crushes the human spirit, art uplifts it. Bureaucracy is boring, art is passionate (this is reflected in the quote “boredom is counter-revolutionary — always”). Bureaucracy encourages conformity, art encourages nonconformity. The bureaucrat values law and order, the artist values freedom.

    Again and again throughout history, poets, painters, musicians, sculptors, novelists, actors, and others have played key roles in motivating people to stand up for their freedom and resist government oppression. The Statue of Liberty designed by Frederic Bartholdi, and the poem by Emma Lazarus that graces its base, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” are both
    works of art which have inspired millions, and today Lady Liberty, the “Mother of Exiles,” serves as the unofficial symbol of our party.

    To put the fate of art in the hands of bureaucrats, politicians, or tyrants, either via the power to censor controversial works such as pornographic or “politically incorrect” material, or via the power of the purse by controlling which artists receive funding, is simply wrong. We favor the widest possible application of the First Amendment in protecting creative expression, and no less ardently insist that art not be degraded and robbed of its dignity by paying for it with blood money gained through government aggression.

    2.8 Education [proposed replacement plank]

    Although frequently desirable, formal education is not a duty which should be imposed on the young. Made compulsory, it often does more harm than good by killing the spirit of learning in children. As Leonardo da Vinci said, “Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.” Libertarians decry laws forcing young people to spend regimented hours of the day in educational institutions as if they were prisons.

    Just as we should be under no obligation to become formally educated, neither do we have a “right” to attend an educational facility at the expense of anyone else, because no legitimate right can impose a duty on another to work to achieve it. We *do* have the rights to *seek* knowledge and technical skills, and there are many ways to exercise these rights, only some of which involve enrolling in schools or
    programs specifically called “educational.” Writer Mark Twain wisely advised, “Never let your schooling interfere with your education.” Many accomplished leaders in science, business, art, and other areas of endeavor had little in the way of formal schooling, just as today in the United States, students who are homeschooled often outperform their peers in various measures of learning.

    Unfortunately, schooling *does* appear to be greatly interfering with the education of millions of young people in U.S. government-run public schools. This is regularly revealed in news stories about high school students who cannot even find the country on a map of the world, high school graduates who cannot construct a grammatically correct sentence, and so on. Some of this, as crazy as it sounds, may have been according to plan: According to Thomas Dewey, sometimes
    called the “father” of the government (“public”) system of elementary education in the United States, “Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society.” Dewey, a state socialist, was an early admirer of the Soviet Union, and wanted children to be indoctrinated to serve the needs of the State. And indeed, the current school system largely modeled on the theories of
    Dewey and other “progressives” has been progressively “dumbing down” generations of students.

    Government schooling is also a source of conflict in society, as
    factions of the public fight over how these schools use their stolen tax dollars. Today we see the cherished tradition of Separation of Church and State under new assault, with some on the religious right attempting to substitute the teaching of Creationism for evolution, replace sex education with abstinence propaganda, and sneak organized prayer into the classroom. Meanwhile, others on the far left use their control of many government-run universities to further an agenda of “political correctness” under which speech codes are used
    to criminalize dissenting points of view, school resources are used to lobby for yet more government funding, and educators who do not conform to the dominant mindset often have difficulty getting hired or promoted.

    Libertarians believe that choices of which school to attend, whether to pursue academic or vocational learning, or whether to attend an organized school at all, should be made at the family level, by students and parents, according to their wishes and budgets. We urge private industry and charity to be generous in supporting these choices with scholarships and other educational offerings. Society desperately needs Separation of School and State for the same reason
    Separation of Church and State is so important — it is dangerous to allow those who make and enforce the laws to be involved in telling people what to think and believe. And how much more true when those being so indoctrinated are among the youngest and most impressionable members of society.

    3.4 Freedom of Movement [proposed replacement plank for “Free Trade and Migration”]

    Freedom of movement, when not infringing on the private property rights of others, is a fundamental human right which should not be denied or abridged on the basis of nationality. Countries are not private property, and governments have no legitimate authority to limit who may enter and leave these usually vast areas. Detaining people at national borders without probable cause is just as wrong as detaining them in similar unprovoked fashion at their homes or in the streets.

    This is a pressing human rights issue. Border controls enforced by governments of wealthy countries have created black markets in human smuggling, with tragic and deadly consequences. Each year, numerous migrants seeking to cross the border unmolested die in the deserts of the southwestern United States or in overheated vehicles without adequate food and water, while others are trafficked into the country
    as virtual slaves, forced to work in exploitative, sub-market
    conditions in order to pay off their smugglers, and afraid to leave these workplaces lest they be deported.

    We strongly condemn the construction of the walls and fences which are slowly turning the United States, home to about five percent of the world’s population, into the equivalent of a wealthy, gated community. Such barriers are also the silent killers of millions who never attempt to migrate, taking years off their lives by denying them the opportunity to relocate in places where their life expectancy would have been extended through access to cleaner drinking water, better health care, etc. Equally ominously, with the United States in danger of becoming a police state, the militarization of the border represents a potential “Berlin Wall” which could be used to prevent people from *leaving* the country as well as entering it.

    While we understand the concerns of those who resent migrants as an added drain on taxpayer-funded government services, and would like to see the welfare state ended before opening the borders, basic rights are not conditional. If we were not allowed to own guns until there were no shootings, or free speech were put on hold until it was no longer used to express bigoted views, we would wait forever. There is no justice in criminalizing whole groups of people because some
    members of those groups take advantage of government largess. Per capita, immigrants to the United States actually receive less in total government benefits than do U.S. residents born in the country. The promise of freedom must be extended to all peaceful refugees and migrants to the United States, whether they come to escape tyranny or
    poverty. Toward this end, we call for the elimination of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, an end to the massive roundups of Hispanic Americans and others by the federal government in its hunt for individuals not possessing certain government documents, and the repeal of laws punishing employers who hire undocumented workers. Such laws hurt the economy and systematically discourage employers from hiring Hispanics. Finally, we demand a
    declaration of full amnesty for all people who have entered the
    country without government approval, except in cases where such entry was in furtherance of committing an actual crime.

  14. Would it be considered an act of civil disobedience if the libertarians out there who secretly desire to build a nuclear arsenal were to go ahead and build a few nukes?

    According to some Libertarians, there are apparently large numbers of liberty lovers who insist on the right to do meth, own nukes, and have child porn.

    I like the civil disobedience plank, but I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before the hard-core moderate pragmatists will take this plank to its illogical conclusion and insist that the LP is saying it believes that infant rapists should be able to ignore the law against raping infants if they feel it is unjust – therefore the LP supports raping infants.

    Moderates fear and loathe civil disobedience because it exemplifies self-determination (anarchy). This flies in the face of conformity (collectivism). In fact, it is civil disobedience that renders politics obsolete in the realization of freedom. Quietly undertaken, it is liberating. Politics only validates and legitimizes government’s infringement on freedom.

  15. Tom B.,

    Funny! I’d probably vote for such Civil Disobedience language. In truth, it’s not a major issue from my perspective, and, yes, there are some downsides to it: Which laws are unjust and who is to determine what is just and unjust? Nevertheless, I’m a big fan of Gandhi, so this one’s up my alley. But, what worked in India in the 1940s may not work in the US in the 21st century.

    Relax your mind. Now ask yourself: Who has said the things you say above?

    Surely not this hombre. If we’re going to have a conversation, can we at least agree on facts? Has any moderate or pragmatist ever suggested “large numbers of liberty lovers … insist on the right to do meth, own nukes, and have child porn”? When and who, if so? I surely have not. I’d estimate the numbers are small, but that’s not the point of this exercise. The point, which you don’t seem to get, is that making absolutist, extreme statements is unwise, which is an opinion I hold…again, a fact. And, again, I want to attract large numbers of people to adopt and support libertarian ideas so that those ideas will roll back the State. Shocking people with extreme implications of individualism will, most times, repel most people, in my estimation. Some more inclined to be open-minded may well resonate with a more in-your-face approach, but in my experience, there are few of those sorts of people.

    I will grant, btw, that if the intent is to build a dogmatic cadre, then perhaps holding high the banner of extremism IS wise.

    Good will and credible conversation goes a long way toward enhanced understanding.

    This: “In fact, it is civil disobedience that renders politics obsolete in the realization of freedom. Quietly undertaken, it is liberating. Politics only validates and legitimizes government’s infringement on freedom.”

    Is a fair point. You make the case against a LP, or a BTP, for that matter. I sometimes share that view, but, at the moment, I prefer to use politics and the political process to roll back the State. Both approaches are long shots, I’d suggest.

  16. In my opinion, advocates of unilateral nuclear disarmament have shown their unfitness to be associated with the platform committee of our party. Republicans, The Party of Stupid^TM?, might be able to use their help.

  17. I’m not sure how Acme Defense Co. could possibly turn back intercontinental ballistic missiles…can they?

    I’m not sure how the USG can turn back ICBMs. Can it?

    Surely you are libertarian enough to beleive that the market can produce better anti-missile defenses than the bureaucrats and the fascists of the M-IC?

    But the question is irrelevant. A land and its people aren’t conquered by lobbing a few missiles at them. Occupation and taxation is what conquers people, and a land of people trained to bare their necks to the government (ANY government yoke) is ripe for conquest (in fact is already conquered!), while a land of free folk armed to the teeth and jealous of their freedom will be -impossible- for a gang of petty thugs – from overseas or next door – to occupy.

    Or do you disagree?

    In my opinion, advocates of unilateral nuclear disarmament have shown their unfitness to be associated with the platform committee of our party.

    Well, George, thanks for setting me straight on that. I might say the same for people who advocate allowing the idiots who rule us to continue to create and hoard WMD whose _purpose_ is to slaughter civilian populations whose only crime is that they are victims of their own government’s lunacy. But then I’m a ‘big tent’ libertarian, so I would welcome hashing out these ideas with you on the PC and at convention.

    Perhaps we can do as Bob and others have suggested, and just ‘remain silent’ on issues such as these where we disagree. Maybe the ’10 LP platform will be the “Puppies and Kittens and Apple Pie” platform.

    Mmmm… pie.

  18. George,

    I’m more forgiving on the matter. If Lew Rockwell were to rejoin the LP and wish to be on Platcom, I’d give him consideration. But I would certainly vote against his “rough justice” concepts, like the Rodney King beating was justified.

    Were Rothbard to somehow return from the grave, he too should get consideration, but I would vote against any move he made to have the LP position be that fetuses are parasites.

  19. Susan: A land and its people aren’t conquered by lobbing a few missiles at them.

    Me: Hmm, the only observation we have is Japan, so I’d say long range nuclear terror can be effective in taking a land mass.

    While I hate the doctrine of MAD, at this point the stalemate seems to be the best we can do.

    Free folks armed may well be an effective defense pre 1945, and it works for the Swiss, more or less. But the game has — unfortunately — gone to another level. So, yes, I disagree.

  20. oh, yes, and on the question of the market providing a deterrent to long-range nuclear terror, no, in that case, I can’t imagine Acme Defense working.

    Wish I could…

  21. I think the platform should be no more than twenty planks long and each plank be no more than three paragraphs. To accompany the platform, a book by Starchild and/or anyone else who wants any extremely detailed discussion on the libertarian stand on every issue under the sun.

  22. oh, yes, and on the question of the market providing a deterrent to long-range nuclear terror, no, in that case, I can’t imagine Acme Defense working.

    The question was not ‘deterrent’ but ‘defense’ – you said “I’m not sure how Acme Defense Co. could possibly turn back intercontinental ballistic missiles…”

    When I pointed out that the USG currently *has no effective defense* against ICBMs, you suddenly switched language to discuss deterrence. I’m sure that was merely oversight on your part.

    But since you bring up deterrence, someone who doesn’t balk at killing civilians in a land he intends to conquer won’t flinch much more at the prospect of civilians being killed in the land he’s *already* conquered, so the idea of ‘deterrence’ is a bit on the insane side, in my opinion.

    If you had a guy nuts (or evil, whatever) enough burn down your neighbor’s house to ‘convince’ you to turn over your house to him, do you really think that you threatening to burn down *his* neighbor’s house would be a deterrent to him?

    The fact that there haven’t been more incidents like Hiroshima rests – and I feel a bit strange saying this – on the essential humanity of those who rule over us, and/or possibly on the fortunate greed of those who puppetmaster them, and who seem to happily realize that dead taxpayers are worse than live ones.

    Both of those things are pretty tenuous advantages, however, and I would vastly prefer to see these dangerous lunatics disarmed (at least as regards WMD) as speedily as possible.

  23. Susan, yes, neither Acme nor a State can turn back missiles. Sorry if my phraseology wasn’t precise. I was referring to deterrence. (Star Wars type defenses might work, although they also could be destabilizing.)

    Deterrence has worked, IMO, at least in context. I agree that it all gets quite loopy, and it’s not my practice to second-guess the motives of the bloodthirsty and insane. It would be insanity to do so.

    Disarming: Good. Unilaterally disarming: Too risky for this hombre.

  24. Deterrence has worked, IMO, at least in context.

    Yes, I guess it is fortunate that Switzerland and Mexico have all those nuclear missiles pointed at Moscow, or else those evil commies would have bombed hell out of them long ago.

    Of course, maybe there is something to this deterrence talk. I wonder if Truman would have thought twice about burning so many Japanese civilians if he’d imagined they would be able to retaliate…

  25. Susan,

    Yes, Truman’s calculation may well have been different.

    Yes, Switzerland and Mexico aren’t in the club. Simply because nations that are not nuclear club members have not been attacked is beside the point. If the leader of the club — the US — unilaterally dropped out of the club, given the history and wealth in the US, I’m not willing to take that risk.

    Obviously, we differ on this. Good luck getting on platcomm. Advocate unilateral disarmament there. Perhaps it will be adopted, by Committee and Convention. I hope not.

    Adoption of such a plank will ensure the LP’s self-induced marginalization. To me, that’s a legitimate consideration, too.

    Unilateral disarmament won’t happen, regardless, so it’s not obvious why hold high that banner. Sounds like a gigantic Kick Me sign.

  26. Adoption of such a plank will ensure the LP’s self-induced marginalization. To me, that’s a legitimate consideration, too.

    I think this is a miscalculation. There IS a significant constituency for UND, just as there is for open immigration. Those are our natural constituencies (at least I believe so) – we should be seeking them out, not turning our backs on them because they ARE in the minority.

    Creating a platform based on what we think the majority thinks makes us followers, not leaders.

  27. With respect to World War II, recall that nuclear weapons reduced the civilian death toll. Substantially. That’s because the Japanese war against China was killing around 100,000 Chinese civilians a month, a number that was increasing in rate, and without those attacks the war would have dragged on for another half year. Those Chinese, of course, were citizens of one of our military allies.

    With respect to the Japanese civilian population, you might find its interesting to look up the list of Japanese Prime Ministers, when they took office, and when the Japanese had parliamentary elections in the period.

  28. With respect to World War II, recall that nuclear weapons reduced the civilian death toll.

    That’s speculation.

    With respect to the Japanese civilian population, you might find its interesting to look up the list of Japanese Prime Ministers, when they took office, and when the Japanese had parliamentary elections in the period.

    Do you have a point to make here, because I really don’t have time for that sort of searching?

  29. Susan,

    The in-war Japanese government was subject to parliamentary elections. Unlike the UK, which cancelled elections until 1945. It had the support of its population.

    And if our anarchist wing thinks that there is a substantial libertarian support for UND, it must be even less well advised than I thought. Of course, it did support a candidate whose position in 2005 is that the ozone hole could not be due to air pollution (by CFCs as it happened).

    George

  30. I thought you might be getting at this:

    The in-war Japanese government was subject to parliamentary elections. Unlike the UK, which canceled elections until 1945. It had the support of its population.

    You make quite a Hoppean argument about why a world full of more-or-less democracies is so prone to bloodshed on such a monstrous scale. Democracy is much closer to the Hobbesian war of all-against-all than is anarchy (though fortunately still quite far from it).

    I suspect we will grow out of the habit of democracy eventually, but I also suspect it will take quite some time.

  31. Susan, as a guy who has worked in BMD and does aerospace, I can definitely tell you that missile defense DOES work–for ICBMS and theater missiles, but not for cruise missiles, which is the system’s design flaw. The current squabble with Russia over deployment of the system in Poland and Czech has to do with the fact that it does work and it can create a balance shift in the MAD doctrine. The Russians see its deployment as a means to create a first strike opportunity against them–lunacy of it be damned, but it is old Cold War thinking. What the Russians don’t say is that they are quietly converting their nukes from SS-XX rockets to cruise missiles to negate the BMD, then outfitting the Blackjacks and Bears to launch them in the same way our B-1s and B-2s can, but their missiles have longer range and higher speeds than our Tomahawks. If somebody wants to nuke us they’ll find a way around the defenses, and that by no means that we shouldn’t try to stop them. In fact I would argue that a strong defense of the people requires it. The deployment in Europe is just as much of a tactical as technological issue based in simple ballistic physics. (plus they benefit from it as well.)

    The debate problem is conflating a nuclear exchange with a conventional one. Yes, they both are acts of or in war, and yes, they both kill people and destroy things.

    The difference is how and what can be done about it, and that implies understanding a strategic and tactical perspective on WMDs and geopolitical warfare issues that most libertarians can’t seem to get past the abstract theory phase on into the hard international and technological reality.

    As for RKBNukes, to do so one must possess the ability to acquire the materials necessary to build one and the knowledge to do it, both of which are tall orders. I don’t see a “Sum of All Fears” or 007-Zoran “A View to a Kill” scenario as happening anytime soon. Nuclear material is just too easy to track via satellite these days. Besides, nation-states know the lunacy of nukes. Terrorists would have way too much trouble getting one (for now) and there are easier ways for them to do their work. Nuclear rocket missiles are becoming a thing of the past. Gravity bombs, cruise missiles, and ground-based nukes are the future there, and that is a much bigger problem.

    There is another whole philosophical argument against RKBNukes that involves initiation of force vs. self-defense as well, but that’s another discussion.

    While I’d like to see UND myself, the reality is that barring an alien invasion, we’re not going to see it. The PTB in the world are still warfared and paranoid, and that mindset needs to be tempered towards looking towards our commonality and not our differences. That’s not going to happen anytime soon since political power and military power tend to feed on each other (and us!) like a pair of symbiotic parasites.

  32. susan, yes, the first and most important test is: what is the best representation of a libertarian position on any issue and then whether those issues work together to present Lism as consistent and coherent. that’s leadership.

    I see no evidence that “the” L position is unilateral disarmament or unchecked open borders. I also see no evidence that those extreme positions have significantly large constituencies and no evidence that those outliers are hot prospects for the LP.

    if they are, make the case.

  33. While I’d like to see UND myself, the reality is that barring an alien invasion, we’re not going to see it.

    I could say the same thing about zero taxation, but that’s rather beside the point, I think. Are we constructing a platform of stuff we think might be possible in the near future, or a platform that demonstrates our vision of a free people? If it’s the former, maybe we should just stick to things like “We would prefer to see the rate of growth of taxation lessen some.” After all, it’s certainly true and I think almost every Libertarian could agree with it.

    The ‘do-ableness’ of a proposed plank is the least good reason for not including it, I think.

    That said, this was just a ‘floater’, not a plank I proposed to the LP as part of my application.

    I do find it stunning that so many members of the LP support the government continuing to own NBC weapons whose targets are (as a matter of course) civilian populations, whose existence and brandishing is a constant threat to so many people of the world, and whose development and maintenance is funded by force.

  34. susan, the better term is “grudgingly accept” over “support.” horrible as it may be, the state of play is such that unilateral disarmament is the bigger risk.

  35. unilateral disarmament

    Another ‘accidental’ (?) rephrasing of my words.

    I am not a pacifist.

  36. methinks the lady doth protest hogarth draft: “The U.S. Government’s nuclear, chemical, and biological arsenals should be dismantled promptly….” sounds unilateral to me. is there another interpretation?

  37. You missed the point, Bob.

    I said nothing about unilateral disarmament. I did – and do – advocate that we pressure our government to divest itself of its WMDs – unilaterally.

    Soldiers – volunteers, of course! paid by voluntary contributions! – should by all means keep their rifles, grenades, tanks, what-have-yous. But anything intended to terrorize and/or vaporize civilian populations is downright uncivilized.

    The idea of cultivating terror as a way of preserving civilization is about as stupid as the idea of breaking windows to stimulate business.

  38. sure, divesting all munition sans nukes to militia may not technically be unilateral disarmament. it is in effect so. jump ball on who gets the aircraft carrier!

  39. I claim a missile sub if that happens. I’ll use the nuke warheads to power the reactor, and reprogram the missiles to shoot my trash into the sun.🙂

    I can heartily agree with dismantling the chem and bioweaps. They are not very effective and create more havoc than they’re worth, even in a warfare perspective. I lived for many years downwind from the Pueblo Army Depot, where the mustard gas is stored, and the place is not a place to be downwind from.

    Susan, part of the Platform is the vision for the public, and part of that is the steps for the public on how to get there, and those steps have to be practical and realistic or else the few that actually read it would dismiss us. Internal activities that support the Platform are part of the Program. .

  40. BTW, existence and “brandishing” a weapon is not the problem. Pushing the button or pulling the trigger to actually shoot them is the problem. Yeah, their development and maintenance are funded by force, but defense of the people and their rights to life, liberty, and property from external threats is a legitimate use of that force. The problem arises when the application is wrong (like Iraq). The Founders knew that, which is why they put in the limits they did. The real shame and problem is getting the government to use its military ability back within those constraints.

  41. That’s not to justify nukes, because I don’t. I can’t stand the things as weapons. But the geopolitical and geomilitary calculus as it now stands calls for them, and that’s the biggest problem that isn’t going to be solved anytime soon.

  42. Susan: The ‘do-ableness’ of a proposed plank is the least good reason for not including it, I think.

    Me: My feedback is to focus on what is UNdoable, with an emphasis on the intermediate term. If something is not plausibly UNdoable in the intermediate term, we open the LP up to ridicule. Undoing national defense, including a nuclear deterrent, is not plausible IMO in the intermediate term, so I suggest leaving that subject to theorists.

    There’s nothing about L theory and practice that says we can’t prioritize what can be accomplished in the near to intermediate term. Focusing on the implausible and highly theoretical “loses” most people, and assembling several of these issues loses virtually everyone.

    Do we really want the LP to be small enough to fit in a phone booth?

  43. Mr. Capozzi, civil disobedience is not a long shot, it is immediate. If you don’t like taxes, stop paying them. Don’t like the drug laws? Ignore them. Don’t recognize the government’s legitimacy – it has none other than what you give it. Withdraw your consent to be governed.

    “Has any moderate or pragmatist ever suggested “large numbers of liberty lovers … insist on the right to do meth, own nukes, and have child porn”? When and who, if so?”

    I haven’t been keeping a list of names and dates, but these type of statements were made repeatedly by reformers on numerous blogs just a few years ago prior to the platform purge. Sorry you have no memory of this type of rhetoric, but I did not merely imagine it.

    Just wait, if the civil disobedience plank gains any traction, I’ll bet there will be those who will fight it. You touch on it yourself:

    “Which laws are unjust and who is to determine what is just and unjust?”

    Taken to the illogical extreme, which is the rhetorical style of raging moderates, the plank would translate into:

    The LP supports (insert example of extreme evil here)!!!

    In regards to the nuke plank, maybe folks should study the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and America’s obligations under that. Then again why bother if you are going to only address issues that don’t offend the mainstream. I’m reminded that large numbers of the mainstream feel that it is treason to call for an end to torture prohibited by Geneva Conventions.

    I forget I’m living in bizarro world where preventive war, $700 billion bailouts, surveillance of citizens, etc. are mainstream and I am the radical extremist.

  44. Tom B.,

    Your definition of “civil disobedience” is novel and non-standard. It’s more like “personal secession.” I could add to your list, like any good moderate would do: Don’t like laws against murder, so murder someone.

    Yes, I agree we live in extreme times. Do you really think the LP standing for personal secession will counter the extremism we’re facing? Or, do you think the situation is hopeless, and we should do as The Police counseled: “When the world is running down, you make the best of what’s still around”?

    I’m actually pro making the best if that’s your thing, but nihilism makes for poor politics. Maybe make the best in private?

    Again…maybe this will sink in this time…the reason that moderates use reducio ad absurdum is that absolutist statements BEG for it?

  45. Bob, the idea of civil disobedience is that people should be more guided by conscience than by law.

    That’s a perfectly Libertarian idea.

    Is individual conscience and judgment sometimes wrong? Of course. But as a libertarian, I beleive it to be *less so* than the collectivized conscience and judgment that is called ‘law’.

    Relying on ‘law’ above conscience leads to the sort of ‘I was just doing my job’ thinking that allowed basically decent young German kids to help slaughter thousands of innocent Jews (and basically decent young American men to slaughter thousands of innocent Japanese, lest-we-forget). It led to basically decent people returning escaped slaves rather than assisting them, as their consciences no doubt urged them to do.

    Following the law is a shortcut for thinking things out for yourself. When you can trust that the law is good and decent, that’s a convenience. When you knwo the law is corrupt and perverted, it’s a weakness.

    As libertarians, we should trust that free individuals will make fewer mistakes than a government collective. The idea of civil disobedience just puts into practice this principle.

    Now, you may disagree, and think that the state/collective has better judgment than a collection of individual consciences, but I will maintain that that is a manifestly unlibertarian position to take.

  46. SH: Bob, the idea of civil disobedience is that people should be more guided by conscience than by law. That’s a perfectly Libertarian idea.

    me: Completely agree. Especially so as individuals. How to evolve toward a virtuous social order is the relevant question. I like your term “more guided”…are you joining the relativist club? C’mon in, the water’s fine!

    SH: Is individual conscience and judgment sometimes wrong? Of course. But as a libertarian, I beleive it to be *less so* than the collectivized conscience and judgment that is called ‘law’.

    me: More progress toward the more workable relativistic approach! Yes, yes, yes…LESS so. This is classic applied lessarchism! Laws should be minimized to a few areas where the social order is functional and even optimized. Perhaps a step removed from the state of nature, even.

    SH: Relying on ‘law’ above conscience leads to the sort of ‘I was just doing my job’ thinking that allowed basically decent young German kids to help slaughter thousands of innocent Jews (and basically decent young American men to slaughter thousands of innocent Japanese, lest-we-forget). It led to basically decent people returning escaped slaves rather than assisting them, as their consciences no doubt urged them to do. Following the law is a shortcut for thinking things out for yourself. When you can trust that the law is good and decent, that’s a convenience. When you knwo the law is corrupt and perverted, it’s a weakness.

    me: Susan, while I’m not here to convert you to TAAALism, this is music to my ears.

    SH: As libertarians, we should trust that free individuals will make fewer mistakes than a government collective. The idea of civil disobedience just puts into practice this principle.

    me: Here’s where things get a mite complicated. 1) I do agree with the first sentence on most things most of the time, in theory. Always? Not sure. As we ride the asymptote, we can find out. 2) I’m not sure civil disobedience in any and everything is necessarily putting the first into practice. It doesn’t necessarily follow. My sense is that civil disobedience can work to roll back the State if the issue elicits wide sympathy with large portions of the population. White separatists denying non-whites public accommodation may well be civil disobedience, but it’s an unwise and frankly uncool form of civil disobedience, for ex. My take is that civil disobedience is more a tactic than a principle.

    SH: Now, you may disagree, and think that the state/collective has better judgment than a collection of individual consciences, but I will maintain that that is a manifestly unlibertarian position to take.

    me: My TAAAList, Hayekian, Taoist self says that’s a journey worth taking to test the limits of whether a Stateless society is preferable to a minimal one. I find it a theoretical exercise that has few to no datapoints, and therefore of little consequence in the here and now, which is all there is. My practice is to be humble enough to recognize that any one person really can’t answer that question authoritatively, myself most definitely included. I engage in L politics because I believe we should start the testing in earnest!

  47. My take is that civil disobedience is more a tactic than a principle.

    Duh. That’s exactly what I said.

    That’s why I wrote that “The idea of civil disobedience just puts into practice this principle.” “This principle” referred to the principle that a collection of individuals will make fewer mistakes than a (coercive) collective.

  48. Susan,

    Yes, I get that…we’re in agreement. Of course, mistakes are also subjective and relative. The takeaway should be individuals in aggregate are far more likely to behave in a functional, virtuous manner than coerced individuals will. I just can’t buy ALWAYS…not in 2008, at least.

    Whether civil disobedience as defined by Blanton is the path to the Promised Land…I’m skeptical. It’s a tactic that I’d want to use sparingly, in clearly righteous causes that get widespread support. I’m personally disinclined to support a Libertarian Weather Underground, even though I might in the abstract be supportive of many of their goals.

    But, as you know, I do favor nonarchy pods😉 for those brave souls who want to actively reject all coercion tomorrow.

  49. Of course, mistakes are also subjective and relative.

    Some are; some aren’t.

    The class of mistakes that includes wearing white socks with brown pants (of which I am guilty today) might be considered ‘subjective and relative’.

    The class of mistakes that includes miscalculating the force of gravity and having your rocket smash instead of going into orbit – not-so-much.

    Of course the real question is most often into which category does a particular mistake fall.

    You may think that disobeying a fugitive slave law or refusing to pay an income tax is a mistake, and a mistake of the first sort (since you seem to think everything is ‘subjective and relative’), but I don’t. It may, of course, be a tactical mistake to refuse any particular unjust law, but that’s a different question altogether.

    I’m personally disinclined to support a Libertarian Weather Underground…

    You might note that I specify *peaceful disobedience to unjust laws*, not bombings or riots…

    …. or you might just continue misconstruing my purpose and words in an attempt to make them seem ‘scary’.

    Whatever.

  50. Susan,

    Sure, there are math errors that are pretty objective, assuming one is using base 10.

    Politics isn’t physics. As I’ve indicated, I’d probably vote for your plank, but I do think it’s important to be very careful not to position such language as in a Weather Underground direction. We should be careful to use language that can’t be interpreted in that way. The Weathermen may well have thought they were doing what they did for a greater good. In some ways, they were, as — if I recall correctly — in part protesting the Vietnam War.

    Tactically, though, abolitionism runs very big risks. Risks of alienating the broad center. Risks of overstating or overreacting to an injustice.

    Being a tax protester, for instance, may be on the side of the angels, or it might get someone put in prison. Tactically, I happen to believe that the most effective course is to make the case for lower taxes and spending, not making (obscure to most) cases about 16A’s ratification, for ex.

  51. Hey Bubby C, I haven’t redefined the term “civil disobedience” – you have. You want to call it personal secession as soon as the rubber hits the road.

    SEE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_disobedience

    I’m talking about what real people can do in the real world we live in to actually experience freedom – not to merely view it as an abstract concept.

    Like any raging moderate, you choose to throw violence into the mix. I think that would change civil disobedience to uncivil disobedience. True to form of the rhetoric favored by the moderate, you push ideas to their illogical conclusion where somehow smoking a joint or not paying a tax (both peaceful acts or non-acts) plays out in your twisted morality play to result in murder, if one doesn’t agree with laws against murder.

    Finally, Bubby, you fail to see that your brand of “moderation” is in itself absolutist. It seems to be a rigid adherence to conformity in a desperate attempt to gain the approval of others. This is why I often refer to moderates as raging moderates or radical moderate extremists. It’s a disease and it will destroy your soul and render you a slave to some collective mindset that only exists in your own mind.

  52. Hey Mr. C, I haven’t redefined the term “civil disobedience” – you have. You want to call it personal secession as soon as the rubber hits the road.

    SEE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_disobedience

    I’m talking about what real people can do in the real world we live in to actually experience freedom – not to merely view it as an abstract concept.

    Like any raging moderate, you choose to throw violence into the mix. I think that would change civil disobedience to uncivil disobedience. True to form of the rhetoric favored by the moderate, you push ideas to their illogical conclusion where somehow smoking a joint or not paying a tax (both peaceful acts or non-acts) plays out in your twisted morality play to result in murder, if one doesn’t agree with laws against murder.

    Finally, Mr. C, you fail to see that your brand of “moderation” is in itself absolutist. It seems to be a rigid adherence to conformity in a desperate attempt to gain the approval of others. This is why I often refer to moderates as raging moderates or radical moderate extremists. It’s a disease and it will destroy your soul and render you a slave to some collective mindset that only exists in your own mind.

  53. Hey Mr. C, I haven’t redefined the term “civil disobedience” – you have. You want to call it personal secession as soon as the rubber hits the road.

    SEE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_disobedience

    I’m talking about what real people can do in the real world we live in to actually experience freedom – not to merely view it as an abstract concept.

    Like any raging moderate, you choose to throw violence into the rhetorical mix. I think that would change civil disobedience to uncivil disobedience. True to form of the rhetoric favored by the moderate, you push ideas to their illogical conclusion where somehow smoking a joint or not paying a tax (both peaceful acts or non-acts) plays out in your twisted thinking to result in murder, if one doesn’t agree with laws against murder.

    Finally, Mr. C, you fail to see that your brand of “moderation” is in itself absolutist. It is an absolute rigid adherence to social conformity in a desperate attempt to appear reasonable and gain the approval of others. This is why I often refer to moderates as raging moderates or radical moderate extremists. It’s a disease and it will destroy your soul and render you a slave to some “mainstream” collective mindset that really only exists in your own mind.

  54. Susan,

    I think your bonus plank on offensive weapons is a good one to propose for discussion, but I am uncomfortable about part of the language:

    “We therefore support a ban on ownership of such weapons”

    It would be better to specify that the LP supports a Constitutional Amendment banning ownership of such weapons, as any other sort of ban would be in contravention of the 2nd Amendment which states “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

  55. Kalim, did the founders define “bear”? Can one “bear” a missile?

  56. I do think it’s important to be very careful not to position such language as in a Weather Underground direction.

    PEACEFUL.

    I thought that was crystal-clear.

    Maybe not.

  57. I think your bonus plank on offensive weapons is a good one to propose for discussion, but I am uncomfortable about part of the language:

    “We therefore support a ban on ownership of such weapons”

    It would be better to specify that the LP supports a Constitutional Amendment banning ownership of such weapons, as any other sort of ban would be in contravention of the 2nd Amendment which states “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    Thanks. I think rather than open the can-of-worms inherent in creating a restriction on a certain class of weapons, I would favor dropping the ‘ban’ line altogether, and instead simply calling on US Government to divest itself of such weapons of terror. As political activists in the US, our main goal should be to work to control the aggressions of our own government.

  58. susan, “peaceful” helps, no doubt. my concern is that sometimes L speak is not standard 21st century English common usage, eg, the competing interpretations of the LP pledge. or, bringing it home, personal secession = peaceful.

  59. Susan, divesting WMD seems like a WAY bigger can o’ worms to this playa.

  60. Tom B.,

    Thanks for your no-doubt heartfelt concerns about my soul. Yes, it remains imperfect. If yours is pure as driven snow, good for you! How’d ya do it?

    You initially said: “Don’t recognize the government’s legitimacy – it has none other than what you give it.” That sounds like personal secession to me. If it’s not, please elaborate.

    As your Wiki def. Says: “…refusal to obey certain laws, demands and commands of a government….”

    I note the words CERTAIN laws. Your term was “don’t recognize the government’s legitimacy,” which I take to mean “all laws” or perhaps “all government-enforced laws.”

    In the spirit of RESPECTFUL disagreement, my more moderate approach is a more strategic and tactical question than it is a theoretical or spiritual one. I’m as radical as they come on theory and metaphysics, actually.

    This: “…you push ideas to their illogical conclusion where somehow smoking a joint or not paying a tax (both peaceful acts or non-acts) plays out in your twisted morality play to result in murder, if one doesn’t agree with laws against murder.”

    Is false. If someone chooses to smoke a joint or be a tax protester, they should do so, but they should be prepared for the consequences inherent in the current context. My perspective is that I favor the LP standing for marijuana legalization and do not support the LP calling for 100% tax protests. While I favor lower taxes and spending as quickly as possible, pushing the button and reducing them to zero tomorrow is just too risky, IMO. I do support government-enforced laws against murder until something better comes along😉 Does that make me a statist? Que sera.

    This: “Finally, Mr. C, you fail to see that your brand of “moderation” is in itself absolutist. It seems to be a rigid adherence to conformity in a desperate attempt to gain the approval of others. This is why I often refer to moderates as raging moderates or radical moderate extremists. It’s a disease and it will destroy your soul and render you a slave to some collective mindset that only exists in your own mind.”

    With all due respect, this statement is nonsense, a complete misunderstanding, or both. First, no, moderation isn’t absolute, for there are surely times when boldness is called for. There seem to be degrees of boldness, of course. A 10% income tax cut’s bold in the current context. Abolition of the income tax is another. Abolishing the State another still. I trust we agree on this. Second, if I were a “conformist,” why would I be in the LP? What makes you think I want approval from anyone? Could it be that I’m simply sharing ideas about what I believe is the best course? What do my views have to do with suggestions on how the LP should proceed from a strategic and tactical perspective? Consider reading up on psychological projection, Tom. Third, I agree that mindsets only exist in one’s mind…by definition! I simply don’t find the atomistic/personal secessionist/don’t recognize government’s legitimacy mindset to be an effective approach for a POLITICAL PARTY. It might be great for a Walden Pond League, or some such. Love Thoreau, but count me out of the League, mostly because I don’t believe it would work.

    Peace.

  61. I don’t intend to participate in the endless back-and-forth on this, because there are a lot more important things to tend to, but I thought some might be interested in the following ‘compromise’ position on WMDs:

    “If a weapon is deemed too dangerous for individuals to own, it’s also too dangerous for governments to own, and both should be prohibited from owning them.”

    I agree there should be exceptions for peaceful use of nukes (such as for extra-solar rocket propulsion, mining/moving asteroids, etc).

    In addition, people keep repeating the false mantra that the voting public doesn’t see tax abolition as a viable thing. However, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that this mantra is simply not true.

    For example — Jim Gilmore in Virginia was elected Governor in 1997 with one slogan: “Axe the Tax”. He campaigned across Virginia with a simple primary message: to eliminate — that’s “abolish” — the personal property tax on automobiles (referred to by Virginians as “the car tax”). He was elected by a decent margin. It is important to note, however, that he was a Rep governor with a high-tax extremist Democratic controlled legislature. So — like any D or R, he and the legislature managed to “abolish” the car tax in a ham-handed, guaranteed-to-irritate-everyone way. The D’s loved it, or course — they had gummed it up so well that there would be anger at Gilmore that would provide a convenient smack-down on the next R candidate in 2001. Hmmmm…. Now I’m curious as to what Bill Redpath was saying about the car tax in 2001.

    Another example is of course the Massachusetts End the Income Tax Initiative in 2002, which scored an impressive “near miss” of about 45% of the vote. That was almost 900,000 voters voting in favor of very radical change; and they did so in a media atmosphere that was full of fear and hatemongering and outright lies financed by those at the public trough.

    I think Libertarians who think other voters aren’t “ready” to support radical change are vastly underestimating the intelligence of a very large section of the electorate.

    What Libertarians need to focus on is properly marketing our ideas. What this takes is money and things related to money. The LP must get better at getting people involved and above all, donating, so that our initiatives and candidates have a ready pool of supporters behind them. Look at it this way: McBama spent nearly $1 billion promoting radically larger extremist government. If one were to add in the money put up by all of the interest groups allied with McBama, that’s probably more like $2 billion.

    So while we’re spending a million or two advertising freedom, they’re spending 2,000 times more pressing for the exact opposite.

    There is no magic to selling even radical ideas. That’s how the other guys keep winning. Constantly recruit a bigger support base, then make sure they pony up when the election comes up.

    Y’all have fun.

  62. Advocating elimination of one tax — or even of one entire category of tax — is hardly “radical” in the context of the LP. Heck, even the “watered down” 2008 LP Platform advocates elimination of all income taxation, and I (an alleged non-radical) would extend that to include all taxes on gifts, voluntary exchanges, peaceful production, profits, interest, dividends, financial assets, and produced capital.

    No, what’s “radical” is to advocate immediate non-enforcement of all tax laws, as the pre-2006 LP Platform used to do: “We support ending all taxation. All criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately”.

    I’ve never heard of an LP candidate who clearly proposed that policy in front of a general audience — let alone such a policy getting 45% in a referendum, or being advocated by a successful gubernatorial candidate.

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