On Immigration and Outlawry

By any objective measure, the immigration system in the United States is a joke. Current estimates find at least 11 million illegal aliens living in and working in the United States. There is a possibility that the real figure is significantly higher, given the fact that criminals do not normally volunteer to tell census takers about their criminal exploits.

If one needs any more proof that American immigration policy is a logical mess built on wobbly legs of moralism, then one need look no further than the current controversy over DACA. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which produces so-called DREAMers, is nothing more than warmed-over pablum about each new arrival making America more “American.” The Left fights for illegal immigrants and their children because Hispanics and Asians, who make up the majority of America’s immigrant population, are among the most solidly Democratic voters in the country. Mainstream Republicans tend to favor “amnesty” or “immigration reform” because their corporate overlords have an unending appetite for cheap labor. The mushy middle either keeps silent or pretends to support DREAMers and other illegal aliens simply because they do not want to look like the “bad guy.”

Curtailing illegal immigration is a public safety issue. Contrary to establishment media propaganda, illegal and legal immigrants are overrepresented in American crime statistics. They are nine percent of the U.S. population overall, but make up about 27 percent of the federal prison population. It is also a cultural issue that directly weakens the original American promise of liberty. Freshly arrived immigrants and well-established immigrants both use welfare at higher rates than the native-born. 48 percent of all immigrant households are on some kind of welfare. Hispanic immigrants alone use 73 percent of this 48 percent share. Such welfare dependency expands the vampiric state, and in turn promotes the continuance of anarcho-tyranny (more on that shortly). Such a state will never voluntarily shrink itself; therefore, the more immigrants America has, the more the American Leviathan will expand and consume.

Illegal immigration has helped wages for working-class Americans to either stay the same or decrease since the 1970s. These Americans, many of whom have failed to get the stamp of approval of the neoliberal world order that is known as a college diploma, the opportunities for ascending the economic ladder have virtually become null and void. This is a direct suppression of economic liberty via the coercive force of the state and its unwillingness to enforce its own laws.

Finally, curtailing illegal immigration means protecting the unique heritage of the United States. America is not a “proposition nation,” nor can such a thing really exist, despite all of the starry-eyed propaganda to the contrary. America and its culture can be traced back to the English Reformation of the 16th century. New England received the rebellious Puritans, who dissented from the Stuart’s practice of the divine right of kings and the supposedly godless idolatry of the “popish” Anglican Church. Virginia on the other hand became the home of Englishmen from the Vale of Berkeley, a part of old, Anglo-Saxon England with a strong tradition of slavery and hierarchical social relations. Subsequent waves of Scots-Irish, French Huguenot, and German Protestants added to this English culture, thus creating a firmly Anglo-Celtic and Protestant nation by the 18th century. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution did not make America; these failed pieces of paper merely tried to document a culture and a people that already existed. This culture is precious and should not be beholden to the whims of transnational corporations or academic aristocrats who control the moral economy.

A true libertarian alternative to America’s broken immigration system would emphasize the concept of outlawry. This pre-modern designation, along with attendant penalties, would not only help to decentralize border enforcement, but it would also prioritize punishments for those individual aliens who enter the United States illegally and who commit crimes against people and/or property. By branding illegal aliens who also attack Americans as outlaws, enforcement would fall to local jurisdictions, not to the monolithic federal government.

Anarcho-Tyranny

The term anarcho-tyranny was first coined by paleolibertarian writer Samuel T. Francis. According to Francis, this is a state of affairs in which real crimes are not policed, while innocents are tyrannically controlled. Francis’s concept echoed the wisdom of 18th century conservative Edmund Burke, who noted that “Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more of it there must be without.”

When it comes to state-enforced multiculturalism, freedom of association is curtailed under the auspices of keeping the peace. Ingrained tribal prejudices must either be shamed out of existence or injected with happy drugs. Christian bakers must create wedding cakes for gay couples so that the neoliberal state maintains the consent of homosexual voters. Americans who exercise the right of self-defense in some states have to deal with the prospect of police officers invading their homes and confiscating their guns because someone claimed that they were crazy. All of these are examples of anarcho-tyranny in practice.

Anarcho-tyranny can be seen when Antifa and Black Lives Matter agitators are allowed to riot while the Unite the Right demonstrators faced down riot police after suffering the slings and arrows of the control-left. Every violent protest in recent memory could have been put down with extreme prejudice against radical leftists, but the police almost invariably hang back either because they do not want to be called “racist” or because their superiors told them to give the rioters room to blow off steam. (When they do not hang back and instead form and hold a protective line, events tend to remain nonviolent.) These decisions not only cost private businesses and business owners millions of dollars (when was the last time that violent protestors in America seriously attacked state buildings?), but they also directly oppress law-abiding citizens. After all, what does the state do better; capture real criminals or harass individuals exercising their liberty?

When it comes to illegal immigration, the state has the money and resources to enforce existing immigration laws. It simply refuses to do so because it is in its rational self-interest to behave in this manner. A multicultural society with low trust levels between citizens is the ideal state for those who seek to create statism. When neighbors do not trust each other or do not even interact with each other, each threat, real or perceived, becomes the job of outside forces, namely the police. What this does is remove the responsibility of personal and communal defense from individuals, thus further legitimizing the idea that the state is the only entity that has a right to use violence.

The Concept and Practice of Outlawry

In pre-modern societies, outlaws were those individuals or families who directly threatened the security or private properties of the community. Since these communities managed their own security and made their own laws, they had a very visceral idea of why branded outlaws were dangerous.

In ancient Greece, organized thievery was considered a somewhat legitimate way of earning money. Later Balkan cultures (for instance Serbia) relied on bandit warriors named hajduks in order to resist Ottoman Turkish control. British Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm would later characterize the hajduk figure as an “invented tradition”—a masculine folk hero that lived outside the cloying strictures of both Turkish and official Serbian rule.

The ancient Romans did not take the Greek view of banditry. The Roman Republic considered outlawry to be the antithesis of Roman virtues like Industria (industriousness) and Severitas (self-control). The later Roman Empire similarly took a dim view of outlaws. The punishment for banditry was fierce—all outlaws became “non-persons” and were barred from maintaining or earning Roman citizenship. Furthermore, outlaws, which were known in Latin as latrones, faced the threat of losing all property rights, crucifixion, or being used as animal bait during gladiatorial games.

Several famous outlaws struck against Rome, thus showing why the Senate and the Caesars took outlawry so seriously. Between 147 and 139 BC, Viriatus, a Lusitanian sphered led a rebellion against the Roman government. After surviving praetor Servius Sulpicius Galba’s massacre of the Lusitani, Viriatus swore revenge and created a peasant army in what is today Portugal and Spain. Viriatus’ army initially had the upper hand during the Lusitanian War, especially when Celtiberian tribes decided to join his cause. Ultimately, Rome crushed the insurrection by renewing the war after Viritaus agreed to a peace with Fabius Maximus Servilianus. Servilius Caepio bribed war-weary Lusitani emissaries with a money and peace if they assassinated Viriatus, which they did. Rome would rule Hispania until the 5th century AD.

In the medieval world, outlaws continued to plague private citizens as well as the state. In medieval England, outlaws were those individuals who were considered “outside of the law” (hence “outlaw”). These individuals had been accused of crimes in court, and if they failed to appear before a local judge, the sheriff was sent to get them. Robin Hood is the most famous outlaw of this period. In the late medieval courts, outlaws were those who committed treason, rebellion, or murder. A special writ of capias utlagatum could be issued by the Crown or Common Pleas. In these instances, sheriffs could seize the property of outlaws, which was then forfeited to the Crown.

As recounted in the work of Michel Foucault, pre-Enlightenment Europe disciplined all outlaws and criminals very publicly. For instance, in 1757, Robert-Francois Damiens, a domestic servant who tried to kill King Louis XV, was drawn and quartered by the command of the king. Such punishments seem ghastly to us today, but that is only because the Enlightenment took a completely radical approach to the entire concept of criminality.

Thanks to social reformers like Jeremy Bentham and others, crime became something that could be cured, or, at the very least, hidden away from society. This idea of criminality as something “antisocial”—as something against the mass of individuals that make up so-called society—led directly to the growth of the impersonal penal state. Rather than be punished and made to perform restitution by the Crown or the process of common law, modern-day outlaws are institutionalized by prisons that operate very much like schools and hospitals. In essence, outlaws are still those who go against the wishes of the state, but the modern state sees it as its duty to try and rehabilitate these criminals. Of course, the government seizes money from private citizens in the form of taxes in order to carry out these hare-brained designs.

For A New Outlawry

Officials in the modern state have no real conception of interpersonal violence because the state is not controlled by a small set of private individuals. The state is a monstrosity that moves forward with its own internal logic, regardless of which political party is in power. In order to reclaim any sense of liberty in the modern world, America must embrace the pre-modern sense of security and responsibility as primarily the province of local communities.

Rather than rely on labyrinthine state and federal laws that only seem to allow repeat offenders to constantly cross back and forth between borders, a more sane alternative would simply brand those illegal immigrants who commit serious crimes as outlaws, seize their property (if they have any), deny them the possibility of ever obtaining American citizenship, and force them to pay restitution to their victims.

Furthermore, like the “civil death” doctrine of medieval Europe, immigrant outlaws should face the wrath of the civilian population. Rather than promote further statism through the use of federal agents or local law enforcement, private individuals should be able to take the reins of enforcing immigration laws. In preparation for a stateless society (or at least a society that does not fit the current definition of the neoliberal state), free associations of individuals should be tasked with not only securing their properties and the border, but should be authorized to apprehend outlaws and bring them to court.

As dangerous as these laws may sound, they at least would show that this country and its people take immigration laws seriously. Similarly, so long as illegal immigrants only fear deportation, they will consistently break American laws in order to get on American welfare or to work for better wages in this country than elsewhere.

Physical Removal

Hans-Hermann Hoppe argues that culturally destructive forces like Marxism, both economic and cultural, should be physically removed from libertarian societies in order to guarantee the survival of liberty, free association, and voluntary transactions. Continued illegal immigration is clearly a threat to America’s precarious liberty, and as such should be met with a form of physical removal. This removal should be accomplished by private citizens or groups of private citizens.

First and foremost, the police, in the words of Robert Taylor, “do not exist to protect you, defend private property, or maintain the peaceful order of a free society.” Taylor further notes that the primary function “is to make sure that the state’s exploitation of the public runs as smoothly as possible.”[1] Therefore, security should become a private affair. This includes enforcing the law against illegal immigrants who directly threaten communities.

Criminal illegal aliens should answer for their crimes in front of the communities that they have injured. As Hans-Hermann Hoppe writes:

“Families, authority, communities, and social ranks are the empirical-sociological concretization of the abstract philosophical-praxeological categories and concepts of property, production, exchange, and contract. Property and property relations do not exist apart from families and kinship relations.”[2]

There is no need for a government corrective here. Immigrant criminals, many of whom come from countries where socialism is the norm, not only carry the possibility of political warfare (in the form of voting for or giving a raison d’etre for anti-liberty statists), but they expressly threaten the organic unity of American families through violence. As ever, the democratic state can grow from the chaos of illegal immigration, and as such, stopping criminal aliens without the overview of the state is one way of circumventing state power.

Objections

Such a draconian proposal is certain to meet with objections from both the political mainstream and from left-libertarians, so let us attempt to address some of the most likely criticisms. First, left-libertarians consistently make the argument that open borders are the only truly libertarian solution to the problem of state power and statism. However, as has already been noted in this publication, “maintaining a distinctive culture is a good reason to restrict immigration.” Of course, immigration has economic benefits, but all libertarians should ask themselves whether immediate economic benefits are worth the cost of potentially dissolving any chance for a libertarian social order. After all, Taylor correctly notes that the left-libertarian case for open borders often conflates state with nation. He notes that “the state is artificial, arbitrary, and coercive,” but calls a nation “a national identity, protected by borders.”[3] This is healthy and natural so long as private property rights on the border are respected.

Another possible libertarian criticism of the entire concept of national borders is the problem of state coercion, namely the fact that immigration laws are fundamentally about states using force to welcome or remove private individuals based on sloppy thinking or criteria that seems highly flexible and dependent on the whims of Washington bureaucrats. An answer to this criticism can be found in the words of Murray Rothbard, who summarized why libertarians should never overlook the fact that “nation” is a category separate from both “state” and “individual.” Rothbard writes:

“Contemporary libertarians often assume, mistakenly, that individuals are bound to each other only by the nexus of market exchange. They forget that everyone is born into a family, a language, and a culture. Every person is born into one or several overlapping communities, usually including an ethnic group, with specific values, cultures, religious beliefs, and traditions. He is generally born into a country; he is always born into a specific time and place, meaning neighborhood and land area.”[4]

To ignore this is the height of political autism.

A third criticism is that implementing outlawry encourages murder. The plan described above only labels unrepentant, determined aggressors as outlaws, and killing aggressors is defense, not murder. Furthermore, anyone who tries to kill an outlaw but instead ends the life of a non-outlaw would be guilty of premeditated murder and thus subject to life imprisonment or capital punishment, thus providing a strong deterrence against overzealous outlaw hunters.

Finally, the most likely objection to this plan is that it would lead to vigilante justice, but in a sense, that is precisely the point. And is not vigilante justice preferable to anarcho-tyranny? A world wherein outlaws are chased down is better than a world wherein immigrant criminals rape and murder, get deported, then rape and murder some more before being thrown into a money-making machine run by the state.

Conclusion

The outlaw solution would encourage communities, towns, and counties to mobilize their independent resources to protect their own people from the threat of criminal illegal aliens. If a serious crime is committed, then these localities could extract just punishment from the criminals without feeding into the state’s prison system. Outlawry not only takes away the state’s monopoly on violence; it is also preferable to any open or quasi-open borders situation wherein wanted and unwanted immigrants used public roads and public property that once belonged to private individuals.

The concept of outlawry as a way to combat illegal immigration may only be feasible in a truly libertarian state. However, certain measures could be put in place at present that could dramatically change the on-the-ground reality. Namely, the rise of border militias like the Minutemen is a positive development. America should go further by abolishing the Border Patrol and replacing it with private security agencies that have to answer to those citizens who own the land on the American border. Unlike federal employees, these private agents could be fired for doing a poor job and/or for colluding with Mexican drug cartels.

Illegal immigration has not only helped the cause of “Brazilification” in America, but attendant criminality is a direct threat to all private citizens, their properties, and their freedom of association. Given this reality, criminal illegal aliens who return to the United States after being arrested, convicted, imprisoned, released, and deported should be treated as outlaws and should face the possibility of death for impinging upon American liberty. This proposal has the added benefit of legitimizing decentralized power structures in the face of anarcho-tyrant state.

References:

  1. Taylor, Robert (2016). Reactionary Liberty. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. p. 125.
  2. Hoppe, Hans-Hermann (2001). Democracy – The God That Failed: The Economics and Politics of Monarchy, Democracy, and Natural Order. Transaction Publishers p. 203.
  3. Taylor, p. 221.
  4. Rothbard, Murray. Nations by Consent: Decomposing The Nation-State. Journal of Libertarian Studies 11:1 (Fall 1984). https://mises.org/library/nations-consent-decomposing-nation-state-0

On The Relationship Between Libertarianism and Fascism

In the August 2, 2017 episode of the Tom Woods Show, Woods talks about the moral outrage of left-libertarians and their tendency to call other libertarians fascists, Nazis, or whatever other insults they can muster. To follow up these complaints, he asserted that libertarians and fascists are completely contradictory political perspectives and could never be combined, alluding to the “libertarian fascists” and libertarians with fascist sympathies. He also said that when one embraces fascism, one must have relinquished one’s libertarianism, as there is no other solution that would make sense. In the historical sense of fascism, libertarian fascism is a contradictory term. A person who is a libertarian cannot actually and fully consider themselves a fascist in that sense, or vice versa. However, we can treat libertarian fascism as a placeholder term for a broader ideological shift toward a synthesis of libertarianism and fascism. We may also consider how a private property owner in a libertarian society could have a fascist structure within the bounds of private property.

Examining Premises

The first mistake that Woods (and many other libertarians) make is to assume that the combination of different ideological perspectives is dependent on policy and not the fundamentals of their philosophy. From this, Woods implies that fascism is about centralization and boundless idealism, while libertarians accept people as they are and favor decentralization. Some more simple-minded people also think that fascism is about authority and state power while libertarianism is the complete opposite. This may be true when we look at policy proposals, but policy cannot be the arbiter of ideological coherence or ideologies themselves. We need to analyze the premises of different ideologies if we are to analyze how compatible these ideologies are. This is necessary because ideologies are fundamentally systems of thought and analysis flowing from basic premises. A person using an ideology is a person looking at the world in a certain way and proposing policy positions from that set of value judgments.

To illustrate this, let us consider the example of Milton Friedman. Milton Friedman is claimed by both libertarians and neoliberals as representing their ideologies. This means that both libertarians and neoliberals see Friedman as using their methods of analysis and looking at the world in the same manner that they do. But here we find a contradiction; there appears to be a problem if we are to place neoliberalism and libertarianism on a scale of politics. First, we have to establish that there is a connection between Rothbard and Friedman when it comes to libertarianism; that is, that one could draw a straight line from Rothbard to Friedman and it would naturally follow from their ideological positions. This may be done; one can see that both men respect property rights, advocate for reducing the size of the state, and wish to increase the freedom of the market. But one must also draw a line from Hillary Clinton to Friedman, as they are both neoliberals. Both are cosmopolitan, fairly progressive, and advocate for a sort of economy that is not only free but also open. Although they differ in their degree of state intervention, one can ideologically connect Friedman and Clinton.

But there is a problem, in that no such connection is present between Rothbard and Clinton. There is no consistent line that could connect Rothbardian thought with Clintonian thought. Their philosophies and perspectives are mutually exclusive. There is no principled alliance or synthesis between them; only alliances of convenience may exist. However, when it comes to Friedman, there may be a synthesis between these ideologies. Both Rothbardians and Clintonians will have their criticisms of Friedmanites, but Friedman’s position is palatable for both neoliberals and libertarians. This is because Friedman used both the premises of neoliberalism and the premises of libertarianism. He analyzed the world in a way that followed from the neoliberal desire for openness and personal freedom and the libertarian desire for self-determination and liberty. We can boil down these two positions to this: the neoliberals want looseness while libertarians want property. Neoliberals tend to favor whatever makes national identity, economic policy, or social cohesion looser. Libertarians tend to favor whatever makes property rights stronger, whether it be self-ownership, non-aggression, or property rights in external objects. Coming from both perspectives, one would both appreciate property rights and self-determination but also a loose society without national identity or strong social norms, and this explains the desires of left-libertarians. Friedman was first and foremost an economist, so we see more of the propertarian side of him, but he was also a neoliberal.

The Premises of Fascism

We have already established that the libertarian premises are self-ownership, non-aggression, and property rights. Libertarians tend to favor whatever increases the power of the property owner over his justly owned property. But what do the fascists take as their premises? Contrary to popular belief, it is not opposition to property or to personal liberty. No fascist regime has ever gotten rid of property and the personal liberty question has only been a policy proposal, not something most fascists believe in strongly. There are some fascists who are against property, but they are few and far between and have never had a strong presence in a notable fascist government. In fact, most fascist governments suppress these left-wing variants. In fiction, some fascists are opposed to personal liberty on principle, but these are not reflected in reality; the closest real approximation are people who believe that control is necessary for virtue. But in that case, the premise is virtue rather than control, as the fascist does not want control for the sake of control. To really understand the fascists, we need to look at fascist movements.

In Italy, there were the national syndicalists that eventually became the fascists. They believed in creating a pseudo-syndicalist economy that combines worker interests and business interests to reduce class conflict. They also believed in strengthening Italian society and creating an incredibly traditionalist social order. The Nazis shared the second point, but they wanted an economy where there is comparatively stronger property and there are more capitalistic structures, but on the condition that these structures benefit the nation. In this form, national socialists treat property owners as trustees given property by the nation to take care of the wealth and resources of the nation. We can see many other movements that hold themselves to be both anti-communist and anti-capitalist, but eventually, end up with what we would call a fascist economic policy.

Other movements were somewhat different. The Francoists come from the more orthodox Falangist position, and they are outliers because Franco eventually liberalized the economy and created a more free market than many people would have favored originally. Though Hitler privatized multiple industries, this was nothing compared to the Spanish miracle. The Greek military coup lead by Papadopoulos constantly referred to their movement as being explicitly temporary, however, the attempts of liberalization by Papadopoulos were shut down by other people within the government. It is impossible to know how Greece would have developed if these liberalizations had occurred, but the government was overthrown and Greece eventually became a leftist mess.

One could include Pinochet and use the Chilean miracle as another example of success, but fascists often consider Pinochet to be a sellout, and it is not entirely clear whether Pinochet was actually a fascist or simply a paid CIA operative; an anti-communist or globalist agent. Finally, one can look at the American Nazi party. They are certainly fascists, but they are also constitutionalists. They want to return to the founding documents of the United States, and support sound money and free markets. This contradicts the common image of fascism, and thus may befuddle any libertarian who has not analyzed the premises of fascism.

The Conclusions of Fascism

What all these movements had in common was the ultimate goal of creating a better nation. This meant creating a world where the destructive forces that were threatening to the nation could not take hold and the nation could prosper. They all wanted a society and an economy based around the nation, which they believed would create a better life for the people within that nation. One can see how the policies of all these movements actually follow from the nationalism that fascists take as their ultimate premise. Many say that fascists have no coherent economic policy, but this is untrue. The economic policy of fascists is and always has been to strengthen the nation. The 20th century was marked by a struggle between Marxist world socialism and liberal world capitalism. The Marxists agitated the workers while the liberals agitated the middle and upper classes, creating an immense class conflict that fueled revolution and chaos. The fascists in the early 20th century came along and attempted to create an economy that would work both for the upper and the lower classes, an economy where the workers would get what they think they deserve while the capitalists could keep their capital and use it productively. To do this, they wanted the state to have control of the economy to make sure that no one is exploited (at least, by any entity other than the state) and that everyone will work for the nation to ensure a lack of parasitism for greedy or materialistic purposes (again, outside of the state itself). When this was shown to be unsustainable, the smart fascists shifted to a policy of privatization. This happened under Hitler and Franco to various degrees; they ultimately let go of some state property and handed it to people who used it productively. The Nazis were not ready to give up their desires for the aesthetic advancement of the German people, so they needed to expand their empire to fuel their faulty economy, but some privatization still took place.

The social policy of fascist regimes has always been to make sure that the nation is sustainable and that the nation does not slide into degeneracy. From this follow positions against promiscuity, homosexuality, drug use, and whatever else people do in order to derive hedonistic pleasure at the expense of a healthy society. It also has a strong connection to the view that traditional family structures should be the basis of society, meaning that incentivizing motherhood and the creation of strong men to take care of the women is proper for sustaining the nation. This explains the ethnic element of fascism, as all nations are ultimately determined by the genetic stock of their people and the historical condition where the people have developed. Furthermore, this explains why anti-Semitism is present in historical fascist movements, as fascists tend to view Jews as a hostile minority with disproportionate influence that works to undermine the nation with moral degeneracy and financial manipulation while refusing to assimilate into the host nation.

Libertarianism and Fascism

First, from the premises of libertarianism, fascism is a lesser evil than left-wing socialism. Fascism undoubtedly preserves property more than left-wing socialism does, thus fascist sympathies cannot be construed as completely anti-libertarian. But one cannot take as ultimate goals both nation and property, as the conflicts between these goals would have to be solved by means of arbitrary decision. This means that libertarianism and fascism cannot be combined as ideologies because their premises are different. One may combine republicanism, minarchism, monarchism, anarcho-capitalism, etc. into a broad political movement, as the premises of these positions are sufficiently similar. But there is no way to create a big tent movement that can accurately represent the interests of both fascists and libertarians; the premises come into too much conflict.

Second, there is some value in the notion of being a fascist politically while being a libertarian philosophically. This is a position that some people are becoming more and more sympathetic towards. Left-libertarians like to refer to these people as “helicopterists,” so we can use that term to describe this position. What these people tend to believe is that a military dictatorship is necessary or beneficial if we are to establish a libertarian social order and that we cannot simply transition to absolute liberty without first making sure that policies are implemented to push society toward that goals. These people often argue for violent suppression of leftists, which is not what libertarians traditionally favor, and for a general purge within society that would result in favorable conditions for the formation of a libertarian society.

Third, libertarians may take nationalism as a premise and fascists may take property as a premise, even thought these cannot be their ultimate premises due to the aforementioned conflicts. Fascists may advocate for free-market economics insofar as it increases the health of the nation, while libertarians may advocate for nationalism insofar as it strengthens self-ownership, private property, and non-aggression. In this manner, libertarians and fascists can find common ground by using common premises, and they can create a compromise that is palatable for both fascists and libertarians. We touched upon Milton Friedman earlier to show that it is theoretically and practically possible to embrace different premises even though the policy proposals may contradict themselves. Although there can be a degree of collaboration between libertarians who value the nation and fascists who value property, they will still ultimately be fascists and libertarians, respectively. The priority between property and nation determines with which camp people identify.

Finally, it is possible for a private property owner to administer one’s holdings according to the structure of a fascist dictatorship. Being the owner of property means having a right to exclusive control over it, including its governance structure. However, libertarian standards do not permit forcing non-aggressive people to come into such a structure or remain there against their will, so a libertarian running a fascist governance structure within private property will have to be far less oppressive than statist fascists in order to keep a regime populated. This kind of governance, which offers people no voice and free exit, has proven best at limiting state power throughout history. It would also be best for limiting the tyranny of the private property owner that so concerns critics of libertarianism.

Authority, Anarchy, and Libertarian Social Order

On May 8, Fritz Pendleton published an article at Social Matter in which he argues that liberty is best preserved by authority rather than anarchy. He then proceeds to launch a misguided attack against libertarianism, all while misunderstanding authority, anarchy, liberty, and the nature of a libertarian social order. Let us examine what is wrong with Pendleton’s case on a point-by-point basis.

Stateless In Somalia

Pendleton begins with the old canard of Somalia-as-libertarian-utopia, though to his credit, he does not invite all libertarians to emigrate there. His description of the situation is essentially correct:

“It is a patchwork of warlords who have each parceled out a slice of mud to call his own, to rule according to his whims and fetishes. There are the Islamic warlords of al-Shabaab in the south, the government strongmen who collaborate with al-Shabaab when it suits them, the Somaliland separatists who want a separate nation in the north, and a thousand other men of questionable loyalties.”

Pendleton claims that “it takes a certain type of idiot to look at Somalia and see something promising,” then that “it requires an idiot of some erudition to see promise in a failed state like Somalia.” These are not equivalent. To look at Somalia and see something promising is to examine the entirety of their culture and find that there is at least one idea which could be adopted elsewhere to improve another society. To see promise in a failed state like Somalia is to believe that the situation in that particular place can be greatly improved in the foreseeable future. The former endeavor makes far more sense than the latter.

Though he is correct to say that “libertarians are interested in Somalia primarily because its central government is weak and has no effective presence throughout most of the nation,” his assertion that anarchy is not an effective solution to much of anything is confused. An absence of rulers is not meant to be a solution to anything in and of itself; its role in libertarian theory is to remove the statist intervention in the market economy that inhibits and/or prevents individuals from working together to find effective solutions to problems. Pendleton’s passing mention of human biodiversity is also misplaced, as the best means of analyzing anarchy in Somalia is to compare it to statism in Somalia, not to anarchy elsewhere or statism elsewhere. We are thus considering the same thede under different conditions rather than different thedes under the same conditions. His claim that “whatever the merits of decentralization in theory, in practice it mostly involves being subject to the whims of the local warlord and his cadre” is particular to the current cases of failed states. There is good reason to believe that a controlled demolition of a state apparatus by people who wish to impose a libertarian social order would not be like this because the people would have the will and means to disallow it. Even so, a nation-state government is essentially a warlord writ large. Localizing this evil and reducing its strength makes it easier to bribe, escape, or overthrow, which is a definite improvement.

Pendleton claims that a libertarian must search hard to find supporting evidence in Somalia, but the evidence is clear. Before Mohamed Siad Barre’s regime fell in 1991, the annual birth rate was 0.46 percent, the infant mortality rate was 11.6 percent, the life expectancy was 46 years, the annual death rate was 0.19 percent, the GDP per capita was $210, the adult literacy rate was 24 percent, and 35 percent of the people had access to safe water. The most recent measurements are that the annual birth rate is 0.40 percent (2016), the infant mortality rate is 9.66 percent (2016), the life expectancy is 52.4 years (2016), the annual death rate is 0.133 percent (2016), the GDP per capita is $400 (2014), the adult literacy rate is 38 percent (2011), and 45 percent of the people have access to safe water (2016). The telecommunications and money transfer industries have also improved to offer some of the best service in Africa.

It is easy to argue, as Pendleton does, that these improvements are negligible from his relatively cushy first-world environs, where such improvements on either a real or a percentage basis are barely noticeable. But in the third-world hellhole that is Somalia, such improvements can be the difference between life and death, not to mention the difference between having some basic quality of life or not having it. His claim that anarchy is not much different than communism is asserted without evidence and may therefore be dismissed without evidence.

The Case of Tudor England

Pendleton seeks to contrast the anarchy of Somalia with the historical Tudor monarchy of England. His contention that giving people more freedoms is not a prerequisite for a well-run society is technically correct but beside the point. The fact is that a society need not be ‘run’ at all in the sense of top-down management by a ruling class. People can (and in the absence of interference, do) form voluntary associations to solve problems without being ordered around at gunpoint by government minions. That people have flourished in times of gentle oppression, a strange phrase indeed, says more about human resilience than it says about the merits of oppression.

He continues,

“Henry VII and VIII set in motion a series of clever reforms that reached a climax during the rule of Elizabeth I. England had finally found its stride. It must be noted that Elizabethan England, despite its relative freedom, was not keen on handing out legal recognition of liberties to its people. The era was one of unapologetic centralization. The crown’s subjects were given no guarantees of free speech at all; in fact, the censors worked hard and fast to clamp down on anything they perceived as dissent. Freedom of speech was still very far over the political horizon. And yet, despite the book burnings, despite the cages, despite the severed heads around London Tower, the Elizabethan era gave us Shakespeare, Marlowe, Spencer, Jonson, and Bacon. Imagine an era that gave the English language so much genius and not one assurance of free speech to go with it!”

One must ask whether this occurred because of oppression or in spite of it. It is possible, of course, that the great writers of the day produced such memorable works because the adversity of censorship forced them to innovate novel speech patterns in order to evade the censors. In an earlier age, Chaucer gained a lasting place in the canon of English literature for doing just that. But one must wonder, what potential was wasted? What great works were never penned because their would-be-authors feared for their lives? Perhaps the literary marvels of Elizabethan England were due to its relative freedom rather than its censorship, and more liberty would have been better.

Pendleton asks us to consider that the Elizabethan era was when the British Empire began in earnest, but does not explain how this happened. Spain, Portugal, and even France were ahead of England in colonizing the New World and expanding trade routes in the latter half of the 16th century. It was not until Elizabeth died and James VI and I became King of Scotland and England that the English shifted their attention from attacking the colonies of other nations to the business of establishing their own overseas colonies. The burdensome regulations of the day may disappoint a contemporary libertarian, but the English trade policies were about as good as there were at the time.

Chile and Singapore

Next, Pendleton presents Augusto Pinochet’s Chile and Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore as examples of anti-libertarian success stories. Both pursued economic liberty while restricting social and political liberty; as Pendleton says of the left-libertarians, “a libertarian would rather choke on his bow-tie than defend [their political policies].” Though left-libertarians tend to recoil at such measures, a reactionary understanding of libertarianism provides quite a different view. The libertarian reactionary understands that the desired goal of a libertarian social order can only be achieved by physically removing the state from power. Doing this, however, requires a critical mass of the population to use self-defense against the current system. If such a critical mass is absent, then those who seek liberty must turn to other methods. Those libertarians who are capable of checking their autism and doing what is necessary within context may come to support a Pinochet- or Yew-type for the purpose of restoring a balance of political terror. The idea is for libertarians to use a reactionary authoritarian approach in order to suppress leftists and reverse the damage they have done, overthrow the regime once the left is defeated, then maintain the power vacuum by continuous application of defensive force. Furthermore, a libertarian social order will not necessarily offer a great deal of social and political liberty, especially to those who do not hold allodial title over private property and/or disagree with anarcho-capitalism. As Hans-Hermann Hoppe explains,

“As soon as mature members of society habitually express acceptance or even advocate egalitarian sentiments, whether in the form of democracy (majority rule) or of communism, it becomes essential that other members, and in particular the natural social elites, be prepared to act decisively and, in the case of continued nonconformity, exclude and ultimately expel these members from society. In a covenant concluded among proprietor and community tenants for the purpose of protecting their private property, no such thing as a right to free (unlimited) speech exists, not even to unlimited speech on one’s own tenant-property. One may say innumerable things and promote almost any idea under the sun, but naturally no one is permitted to advocate ideas contrary to the very purpose of the covenant of preserving and protecting private property, such as democracy and communism. There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and expelled from society.”[1]

This is quite similar to the standard of no voice and free exit advocated by Nick Land and some other prominent neoreactionaries. The only real difference is that the libertarian reactionary is especially concerned with making the sovereign units as small as possible. It is worth noting that both proposals blend anarchy with authority, in that there is an irreducible anarchy between sovereigns who have authority within their private properties.

Pendleton wonders how Singapore would have preserved liberty in the midst of conflicts between the various ethnic groups present there without Yew’s rule, and how the various religious groups could have been kept from fighting in England without Elizabeth I’s despotism. The possible answers to such questions are the same in each case. First, groups may hire neutral third parties to resolve disputes. Second, the groups may voluntarily segregate themselves so as to avoid contact with each other. Third, some groups that cannot get along with others may have a mass exodus. Fourth, a troublemaking group may be forcibly exiled by all of the other groups. Fifth, each side may be armed to such an extent as to create peace through mutually assured destruction. Sixth, the groups may simply choose to fight it out, as some hostilities reach a point of no return. In the first five cases, the preservation of liberty is maximized. The sixth case is far more troublesome, but such quarrels can be formalized and separated so as not to catch innocent bystanders in the crossfire. A system of dueling has filled this role in many historical societies. There are thus many options other than authoritarianism for preserving liberty; the only question is whether people care to utilize them.

Libertarianism and Reaction

Pendleton writes,

“The reactionary and libertarian both agree that small governments are good. But the reactionary feels that small governments are made not by relinquishing authority, as the libertarian would do, but by strengthening it. Liberty is too precious to be entrusted to anarchy in the same way that diamonds are too precious to be entrusted to one’s doorstep.”

Here, he misunderstands what a libertarian would do, at least those who are not leftists. A libertarian reactionary seeks not to relinquish authority, but to make it as absolute as possible in the hands of the private property owner within that person’s private property. And contrary to Pendleton, liberty requires anarchy because the freedom to do as one wishes as long as one respects the right of other people to do likewise and commits no aggression against them is violated by a state apparatus by definition. If a state is present, it will fund its activities through taxation and civil asset forfeiture, take private property through eminent domain, and restrict the use of property through intellectual monopoly, zoning, and environmental regulations. Its officials and agents will choose the nature of the law and the enforcement thereof, meaning that they rule the law and not vice versa. Its enforcers will initiate the use of violence against people who are known to disagree with government statutes and acts upon their disagreements, thus presenting a constant threat to peace. Its agents are allowed to do that which is considered criminal for anyone else to do, and the system is set up to keep them from being held to account. It will force people to associate with it regardless of whether they want to use or pay for its services. Therefore, it is clear that liberty cannot be protected by state authority; such a threatening protector is a contradiction of terms.

Final Arbitration

Next, Pendleton presents a case to make the ‘final arbiter of disputes’ criticism of libertarianism:

“Suppose we have one of those highly attenuated legal battles where the details of the case are complicated and emotionally charged. Let us suppose that a drunk driver crashed into a tree and his passenger was killed when she flew through the windshield; she had not worn her seat belt. The grieving husband of the passenger demanded compensation from the driver to help take care of his kids in place of his now deceased wife. Daycare is expensive these days, after all. The driver apologized profusely but pointed out that the passenger was just as responsible for her death because she was not buckled into her seat. The husband countered by saying that the belt would not have been an issue if the driver had not been drunk and crashed into a tree.

Since these men live in a libertarian utopia, there is no superseding legal authority to arbitrate: a third-party arbitration company will have to be hired. Now let’s suppose that one of these arbitration companies is owned by a brother-in-law of the driver, and not surprisingly, the driver only agrees to hire that company. The husband refuses. The driver in turn refuses to pay any compensation whatsoever. The furious husband now threatens to kill the wife of the driver to make him understand what it feels like to lose a loved one.

How can any libertarian who sings the praises of anarchy not see how this situation will only continue to escalate? How can there be any justice for the woman who lost her life in the original crash and what about the violations of liberty that will ensue when this conflict devolves into a family feud? If there had been one authority to take control of this dispute the liberties of everyone involved would have been much more safely guarded. In a world where emotion forms the greater part of human action, liberty requires authority.”

This situation may be resolved in advance through contracts. The owners of the road set the conditions for operating vehicles on their private property, with violators subject to physical removal not unlike the traffic stops, arrests, and impounding of vehicles today. They may demand that everyone using their roads have arbitration services which do not involve such conflicts of interest, and contrary to some myopic analysis to the contrary, are almost certain to frown upon drunk drivers. They might even have all cars on their roads driven by robots, which nips this scenario in the bud. Failing this, a person who has committed an offense and refuses to make restitution can be ostracized from society until compliance is gained. Furthermore, such a person may rightly be forced to make restitution because an unrepentant aggressor is not subject to the non-aggression principle through his continuing violation of it. The driver’s wife, however, is an innocent bystander unless she was responsible for getting him drunk and/or making him drive while intoxicated. Threatening her absent these conditions makes the widower an aggressor to be subdued. As a libertarian society would have several private defense agencies available to handle such applications of defensive force and almost everyone would have a protection policy with one of these companies, an escalation is quite unlikely. Even if this kind of situation does escalate, it pales in comparison to the carnage wrought by the one authority that Pendleton defends. States were responsible for 203 million democides and war deaths in the 20th century alone. This is hardly a price worth paying to stifle a few family feuds.

More generally, a final arbiter of disputes cannot exist because no person or institution can absolutely guarantee that any issue will be resolved forever with no possibility of review. The way that disputes ultimately end in any social order is that some party finds the dispute to no longer be worth continuing. Everything else, whether statist courts and legislatures or anarchic arbitration services and private defense agencies, is simply window dressing on this immutable truth.

Of Rules and Rulers

Pendleton writes,

“A libertarian who is honest with himself has to ask why even jungle tribes have a chief and why high schools have hall-monitors. Human beings require authority, and if authority is to mean anything at all, it requires the power of compulsion; liberty cannot last long in a nation that thinks of its authority as a polite suggestion.”

It is important to understand the true meaning of anarchy. Anarchy comes from Greek ἀναρχία, which is typically translated as ‘without rulers.’ More precisely, it means ‘without beginning to take the lead.’ This is not the same as ‘without rules’ or ‘without leaders.’ Having a ruler means that there are no rules because the ruler has authority over the rules and not vice versa. That the lead is not taken does not mean that no one can lead because leadership can be freely given. This is well-understood in every aspect of life other than politics. In the words of Mikhail Bakunin,

“Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or engineer. …But I allow neither the bootmaker nor the architect nor the savant to impose his authority upon me. I listen to them freely and with all the respect merited by their intelligence, their character, their knowledge, reserving always my incontestable right of criticism and censure. I do not content myself with consulting authority in any special branch; I consult several; I compare their opinions, and choose that which seems to me the soundest. But I recognize no infallible authority, even in special questions; consequently, whatever respect I may have for the honesty and the sincerity of such or such an individual, I have no absolute faith in any person. Such a faith would be fatal to my reason, to my liberty, and even to the success of my undertakings; it would immediately transform me into a stupid slave, an instrument of the will and interests of others.”[2]

Additionally, compulsion and initiatory force are not equivalent. This is because compulsion may take the form of defensive force or of less violent means such as shaming and ostracism. Thus, if human beings require authority (and Pendleton does not prove that they do), a libertarian social order is quite capable of compelling people through contract law, ostracism, and private military forces.

Mischaracterization

Pendleton laments that not many libertarians will be swayed by his arguments, but does not understand why. It is not the case that libertarians are “far too busy sketching intricate political systems on paper to be bothered with considerations of human psychology.” Libertarianism, properly understood, is anti-political; its primary interest in political systems is in finding ways to destroy them without causing unnecessary damage to the social fabric. As for considerations of human psychology, they should lead one to reject the state as an enabler and multiplier of evil in the world. Ultimately, libertarians are not swayed by his arguments because they are easily refuted, as shown both above and below.

The Definition of Liberty

Pendleton writes,

“Liberty, as we now know it, is a set of unquestionable boundaries that are owed to all citizens: the right to peaceable assembly, the right to free speech, the right to a free press, and so on. The problem with these ‘rights’ is that they are very enticing ideas that are very murky in their specifics. They exist in the minds of Americans as a hazy bundle of entitlements, as things that they are owed, rather than things that they must earn.

The greatest problem with this notion of liberty as an entitlement is that once citizens start declaring rights as ‘universal’ and ‘God-given’ there is no mechanism to stop them from continually inventing new ones. The ‘right to privacy’ or the ‘right to universal healthcare’ are muddled ideas that our founding fathers never anticipated. Jefferson and Madison almost certainly would not have approved of them, but they are ideas that have as much legitimacy as America’s own Bill of Rights: if Madison can conjure up new rights with a few quill strokes there is likewise nothing to stop Supreme Court justices from doing the same thing. And so the list of entitlements owed to Americans steadily grows longer as its list of responsibilities dwindles.”

He correctly criticizes the contemporary understanding of liberty in liberal democracies. As I have explained elsewhere, these rights belong to private property owners within the spaces that they own. No one has a right to assemble, speak, print, and so on within private property if the owner disagrees with such activities. Those who would do so are trespassing and thus subject to physical removal. The current problem is that the state has greatly interfered with private property. This is a problem of the commons, and the only solution is to eliminate the commons and return it to private ownership.

From here, as Pendleton realizes, it only gets worse. When people fail to connect rights to logic and ownership of property, or more simply, to thought and action, they confuse negative rights with so-called “positive rights.” These positive rights cannot be valid because their provision violates the negative rights of other people. For instance, a right to healthcare implies that someone must be forced to provide healthcare, even if it against the provider’s wishes to serve that person.

But though he correctly identifies the problem, Pendleton proposes an incorrect solution. He seeks to restore the ancient Roman ideal of liberty rather than to correct the errors in the practice of modern liberty. The Romans viewed liberty in a collective sense, as imposing responsibilities to the state in eschange for individual rights. In truth, liberty is neither a list of entitlements nor a reward for serving society or the state; it is the result of gaining and defending private property. With this understanding, it is not ironic at all that libertarians would condemn a system which subordinates the individual to a collective as fascism (or more appropriately, as communism).

Rationalism and Empiricism

Pendleton claims that the Roman notion of liberty has the example of Singapore while the libertarian has no compelling models; only fantasies and Somalia. Implicit in this claim is a sort of historical determinism that demonstrates a lack of courage and imagination to look beyond what has been and see what is possible but as yet unrealized. As explained above, Somalia has shown improvement without a state. And fortunately, libertarians have more than fantasies; we have a priori theory. In the words of Hoppe, “A priori theory trumps and corrects experience (and logic overrules observation), and not vice-versa.”[3] This is because one may use rationalism without using empiricism, but one cannot use empiricism without using rationalism. That rationalism is independent and empiricism is dependent establishes a clear hierarchy between the two ways of knowing. Of course, this will not convince a strong empiricist of the historical determinist variety, but this has no bearing upon the truth value of the argument.

That being said, it is worth considering why there are no empirical examples of a stateless propertarian society in recent times. The obvious answer is that states initiate violence to sustain their operations, and libertarians have yet to suppress this aggression with enough defensive force to stop it. The other, less obvious explanation is that those who govern in statist systems know at one level or another that their institutions are unnecessary for the functioning of society, but that most people are more empirical than rational in their thinking. It is for this reason that they cannot allow a working example of a stateless society to be created, as this would permanently turn the masses against the state. They thus use force not only to maintain their power, but to ensure that most people never consider alternatives which do not include them.

Conclusion

Pendleton closes by contemplating the issues on the horizon for America, from racial tensions to Islamic terrorists, though he says nothing of the various economic issues. However, the “furious, explosive derailment” he fears is not only unavoidable, but necessary. The current system cannot be fixed; it must end in either a controlled demolition or a chaotic collapse. In any event, the answers are to be found in the restoration and enforcement of private property rights and freedom of association, with physical removal for those who challenge these norms. It is best to work toward emerging from this chaos looking neither like Singapore nor like Somalia, but as something completely novel in time memorial: a functional stateless society of covenant communities.

References:

  1. Hans-Hermann Hoppe (2001). Democracy: The God That Failed. Transaction Publishers. p. 218
  2. Bakunin, Mikhail (1871, 1882). God and the State. Mother Earth Publishing Association. Ch. 2
  3. Hoppe, p. xvi.

20 Reasons Why Gary Johnson Will Not Be Inaugurated

On January 20, barring any extraordinary circumstances, 2016 Republican candidate Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. Needless to say, this means that Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson will not be inaugurated. There are a multitude of reasons for this, some of which are common to all third-party candidates, some of which affect the Libertarian Party in particular, and some of which are specific to the Johnson himself. Let us examine all of them in that order and see why Johnson not only lost, but failed to earn 5 percent of the vote against two of the least popular major-party candidates ever to seek the Presidency.

I. All Third Parties

a. Duverger’s Law

Duverger’s Law holds that plurality-rule elections (such as first past the post) structured within single-member districts tend to favor a two-party system. Duverger suggests two reasons for this; some smaller parties ally together to make a stronger party, and other smaller parties fail because voters abandon them. A purely statistical restrictive feature is that because the system rewards only the winner in each district with political power, a party which consistently loses will never gain political power, even if it receives a sizable minority of votes. There is also the matter of polarization; if a large group of voters support a candidate who is strongly opposed by another large group of voters, defeating that candidate is easier if they do not split their votes among multiple candidates. Furthermore, evolutionary psychology suggests a possible genetic basis for a left-right two-party political system.

b. Electoral College

The American system for electing presidents contains an additional barrier to third parties: the Electoral College. Rather than a direct popular vote, the winner of the popular vote in each state gains a number of electors which depends on the population of that state. This amplifies the effect of Duverger’s Law by making all losing votes in each state worthless for gaining the Presidency. This effect was seen in the 1992 election, when Ross Perot earned 18.9 percent of the national popular vote but failed to earn any electoral votes, as he did not come in first place in any state. This result has made people in recent elections more likely to view third-party campaigns as a wasted effort. Another historical example is the 1912 election, in which Theodore Roosevelt’s candidacy caused Woodrow Wilson to win far more electoral votes than his popular vote percentage would suggest.

c. Media Coverage

If a candidate is unlikely to achieve political power, then it makes little sense for the media to devote significant airtime to covering that candidate’s campaign, activities, and policy positions. Diverting media to a third-party campaign might also incur the wrath of the major parties, who could view such a move as a conspiracy between the media and the third party to upset the established order and respond with censorship measures. With the advent of the Internet and social media, this barrier is breaking down, but it is not yet gone.

d. Funding

Part of the purpose of funding a political campaign is quid pro quo; in other words, wealthy donors expect something in return for their patronage. In fact, studies show that there is no better return on investment for a corporation’s capital resources than to bribe politicians, which can generally only be done legally by funding their campaigns or their SuperPACs. If a candidate and/or party is unlikely to achieve political power, then funding them is a waste of capital. Furthermore, funding them may invite a backlash from one’s fellow oligarchs, who do not wish to see the system that benefits them be upended by a new political force.

e. Ballot Access

Like most groups which manage to consolidate power, the Republicans and Democrats abuse it. Regardless of whatever disagreements they have, they routinely agree that no other party should gain a foothold in the institutions of power and act in concert accordingly. The most common way of doing this is to pass ballot access laws which greatly favor the two major parties. This is done to burden third parties with expensive and time-consuming efforts to gain thousands of petition signatures in order to gain or keep ballot access. The third parties which cannot succeed in this are eliminated from the ballot and thus eliminated from political contention. Those which do succeed are greatly weakened by the loss of effort, money, and time which could have been spent campaigning for office if there were not such onerous requirements for ballot access.

f. Debate Access

Just as the establishment media is loathe to devote coverage to alternative parties for the reasons discussed above, they also collude with the major parties to deny access to televised general election debates. Since the 1988 election, the Republicans and Democrats have used the Commission on Presidential Debates that they created to effectively silence third-party candidates in general election debates (with the exception of Perot in 1992, but this was only because both major-party candidates believed that Perot’s presence was in their self-interest). This creates the appearance in the minds of voters that the two major-party candidates are the only legitimate choices.

II. The Libertarian Party

a. Inherent Contradiction

Libertarianism is a philosophical position on what constitutes the acceptable use of force. It says that initiating the use of force is never acceptable but using force to defend against an initiator of force is always acceptable. Taken to its logical conclusion, libertarianism requires anarchy and views the state as an institution of violent criminality. This is because the state is a group of people who claim and exercise a monopoly on initiatory force within a geographical area.

With this in mind, the Libertarian Party contains an inherent contradiction, in that it is a political party devoted to anti-politics, an attempt to use the current system in order to destroy it. In the words of Christopher Cantwell,

“Any libertarian who tells you he is trying to win an election is either lying to you about trying to win the election, lying to us about being a libertarian, or terribly misinformed. As far as we’re concerned, elections are a bad thing. We’re trying to end them, not win them.

The nature of the State is to make false promises to bait support from the people it victimizes. They promise to protect you from boogeymen; they promise to solve your economic problems; they promise to carry out the will of your deity. We see this as completely ridiculous; we know it will fail, and we know that most people are stupid enough to swallow it hook, line, and sinker, so we cannot compete with it in a popular vote.

Libertarians are anarchists, whether they realize it or not. Even the ones who are delusional enough to think that they are going to get elected and restore the bloody republic are little more than useful idiots who are repeating anarchist propaganda for us through channels normally reserved for government. The goal is not to win your elections; the goal is to turn a large enough minority against the legitimacy of the State as to make its continued function impossible.”

Though the Libertarian Party has other purposes, such as social networking and educating people about libertarian philosophy, it is hampered in a way that other, non-libertarian third parties are not by its contradictory nature.

b. Principles Over Party

The Libertarian Party brands itself as the Party of Principle, though this is questionable when one considers the candidates who run under its banner. To the extent that this is true, however, it can harm the party’s election results. A principled libertarian will reject the political quid pro quo bribery that allows the major parties to fund their campaigns and maintain their power, and this puts one at a structural disadvantage to the political establishment. As Nick Land explains,

“Since winning elections is overwhelmingly a matter of vote buying, and society’s informational organs (education and media) are no more resistant to bribery than the electorate, a thrifty politician is simply an incompetent politician, and the democratic variant of Darwinism quickly eliminates such misfits from the gene pool. …It is a structural inevitability that the libertarian voice is drowned out in democracy.”

c. Lack of Unity

If an insufficiently libertarian candidate wins the party’s nomination, LP voters are more likely than voters of other party affiliations to support another party’s candidate. In 2016, this manifested in the defection of many libertarians to the Trump campaign (and a small handful to the other campaigns), as well as the quixotic write-in campaign of failed Libertarian candidate Darryl Perry. This results in the LP having less of an impact than it would if its voters came home after a bitter primary to the same extent that voters for the two major parties do. A lack of unity in an already small party is a death sentence for its political influence.

d. Bad Presentation

From the standpoint of a philosophical libertarian, the 2016 Libertarian National Convention was a raging dumpster fire. Candidates voiced support for all sorts of anti-libertarian ideas, the least libertarian candidates for President and Vice President were nominated, a candidate for party chair performed a striptease at the convention podium, and failed presidential candidate John McAfee thought it wise to attack the core demographic of libertarianism. At a time when the Libertarian Party most needed itself to be taken seriously by the American people, the convention did nothing to help the image of libertarianism while doing much to pollute its message and tarnish its image in the minds of voters.

After the convention, the LP spread misinformation concerning what a vote for Johnson could actually accomplish. It turns out that contrary to LP propaganda, 5 percent of the national popular vote does next to nothing for ballot access because ballot access is a state-level issue. The only such law is found in Georgia, but it requires 20 percent of the national popular vote for automatic ballot access in the next election. Lying to potential voters about the impact that they will have for one’s cause is not a recipe for success.

III. Johnson/Weld 2016

a. Lack of Libertarianism

As mentioned above, Gary Johnson was the least libertarian of the five candidates featured in the debate at the convention. Johnson repeated the tired falsehood that libertarianism is social liberalism combined with economic conservatism, supported fixing Social Security rather than phasing it out, claimed that market forces had bankrupted coal companies rather than government regulations, supported for a consumption tax (which drew a round of boos from the audience), advocated regional banks rather than a free market in currency, declined to condemn the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, had no answer as to whether American involvement in the World Wars was justified, supported government involvement in marriage, favored the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which drew a round of boos from the audience due to parts which violate private property rights and freedom of association), and supported government-issued driver’s licenses (which drew several rounds of boos from the audience). Johnson also has a history of supporting military intervention against Joseph Kony, saying that Jews should be forced to do business with Nazis, wanting to ban Muslim women from wearing burqas, and growing state government spending as governor. William Weld, Johnson’s running mate, was even worse; he was the least libertarian of the four vice presidential contenders by a mile. Weld has a history of supporting affirmative action, eminent domain, environmental regulations, gun control, the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama, and the presidential candidacy of John Kasich. There was nothing to attract anyone who was looking for a principled libertarian message, and much to repel them.

b. Lack of Knowledge

In a September 8 interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Mike Barnicle asked Johnson about Aleppo. Johnson completely blanked out on the issue. At the time, he was hovering around 9 percent in the polls and needed to reach 15 percent to gain access to the debates. This gaffe marked the beginning of his gradual decline from 8.8 percent on September 7 to the 3.3 percent of the vote he received on November 8. Attempts were made to defend his gaffe by claiming that Johnson could not bomb other countries like major-party presidents do if he did not know about them, but these rightly rang hollow. A few weeks later, Johnson was asked to name a foreign leader that he admires and was unable to name anyone. While a philosophical libertarian could say that all heads of state are presiding over criminal organizations and are thus unworthy of admiration, Johnson did not do this and attempts by his supporters to spin his gaffe in that fashion were risible at best. It is one thing to withdraw from foreign entanglements, but quite another to have no idea what is happening in the world.

c. Lack of Personal Growth

Johnson first ran for President in 2012 as a Republican, then switched parties to gain the Libertarian nomination. As the 2012 campaign season wore on, Johnson improved in his ability to speak publicly and articulate libertarian ideas, though he still made some significant errors. Unfortunately, this trajectory did not continue. Four years is a long time in which to gain knowledge and grow as a person, but Johnson did not noticeably do either during this time. If anything, his mental faculties appear to have regressed between his 2012 campaign and his 2016 campaign.

d. Bad Presentation

Not only did Johnson gaffe badly on multiple occasions, but his presentation was downright weird at times. In an interview with NBC’s Kasie Hunt, Johnson stuck out his tongue and spoke almost incoherently. His intention was to make a point about debate access and how bad the major-party candidates were, but it looked desperate, forced, and strange. He appeared to be stoned in other media appearances, despite claiming that he had stopped using marijuana for the campaign.

e. Lack of Preparation and Study

A lack of knowledge and personal growth can only be properly addressed by preparation and study. Johnson and those around him needed to make sure that he was learning everything that he would need to know in order to be an effective presidential candidate on par with the major-party candidates. Clearly, this did not happen.

f. Inactivity Between Elections

A person who intends to run as a third-party candidate in multiple election cycles needs to be involved with the party’s activities in the intervening years. As the most public face of the organization, no one else has more power to bring in donors, encourage activists, and invite new people to the party than the party’s presidential candidate. But Johnson was nowhere to be found between the end of his 2012 campaign and the beginning of his 2016 campaign, having retreated into the private sector to run a marijuana company (which may help to explain the previous points in more ways than one). Johnson has similarly fallen off the face of the political landscape now that the 2016 campaign is over, which may harm the party’s outreach efforts leading up to the 2020 campaign.

g. Lack of Charisma

Johnson seems to lack the ability to take over a room in the way that successful presidential candidates do. Instead, he is usually soft-spoken and nervous, which causes his statements to lose some of their gravitas and his barbs to lose some of their sting. When he does raise his voice, it comes across not as righteous indignation but as a simple loss of temperament. While this might be good for countering the imperial Presidency after taking office, it is counterproductive for getting there.

h. Lack of Political Awareness

Much like Rand Paul during his campaign, Johnson seemed completely oblivious to what was happening in middle America. Whether by the statism indoctrinated into the voting public or by the political autism and cuckoldry that commonly manifest in mainstream libertarians, the libertarian moment passed and the right-wing populist moment came. The Libertarian Party found itself just as unprepared for this as did the Democrats and the establishment Republicans. For this reason (and the previous reason), Johnson was incapable of effectively countering Trump.

i. Unscrupulous Spending/Ron Neilson

The Libertarian Party and its candidates never have the resources of a major-party campaign. It is therefore of the utmost importance to wisely use the limited amount of funds available. The Johnson campaign failed to do this, spending an inordinate amount on campaign consulting services while still owing nearly $2 million from his 2012 campaign. If the campaign had received a good return on its investment into Ron Neilson’s consulting firm, then this might not be so bad. But given all of the above issues which a consulting firm might be expected to notice, bring to a candidate’s attention, and attempt to resolve, this was clearly not the case.

j. Lack of Loyalty

Even if all of the above issues did not exist, it is difficult to mount a successful presidential campaign when it is being torpedoed by no less than the bottom half of the ticket. Bill Weld proved that he is not only anti-libertarian on the issues, but a traitor to the Libertarian Party. In an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on November 1, Weld said,

“Well I’m here vouching for Mrs. Clinton and I think it’s high time somebody did, and I’m doing it based on my personal experience with her and I think she deserves to have people vouch for her other than members of the Democratic National Committee, so I’m here to do that.”

At a press conference on November 7, the following exchange occurred:

Press: Between Clinton and Trump would you say ‘vote for Hillary Clinton?’

Weld: “Absolutely! I’ve sort of said that from day 1… But I’m saying, you know, if you can see your way clear to vote the party in the middle, that would be the Libertarians, that’s our first choice.”

Weld then said,

“We want people to vote Libertarian, but I understand in very close swing states there may be different dynamics at play, but in places like Massachusetts, where Mrs. Clinton is way, way, ahead, I would encourage everybody to vote Libertarian.”

Given the history of third-party candidacies, this is exactly the wrong approach. Third parties advance their causes by playing spoiler, thus forcing the major parties to either adopt their platforms or face the threat of being replaced in the way that the Republicans replaced the Whigs.

Conclusion

Gary Johnson is not going to be President, and the 20 reasons discussed above show that there was never any doubt of this by any competent observer. In future elections, this should be a thorough guide for the Libertarian Party concerning what not to do. But because Johnson gained a record vote total and vote percentage for the LP and libertarians tend to be no better than other people at recognizing the need to contemplate counterfactuals rather than to look only at what happened in this timeline, these lessons will likely remain unlearned and the LP will continue to wander in the wilderness.

The Not-So-Current Year: 2016 In Review

Though the specific demarcation of the passage from one year into another is a rather arbitrary social construct, it does provide a useful annual period for self-examination and remembrance. Now that 2016 has entered the history books, let us take a look back at a year’s worth of essays and review the not-so-current year.

We begin, of course, with last year’s article of the same kind. Some articles in this list are sequels to articles in that list. Aside from that, we may move on.

My first article proper of 2016 was A Case Against the Nineteenth Amendment. It was intended to come out before the New Year, but I was not satisfied with it until January 3. If I were to rewrite this article, I would say more about biological differences between the sexes and why these make the entrance of women into democratic politics a danger to the stability and sustainability of a society. I took down the First Amendment later in the year.

The Bundy standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Preserve began. I made nine observations on the event. Their later acquittal on several felony charges after the standoff ended in what was essentially an instance of jury nullification was cause for celebration.

As usual, leftists called for more gun restrictions and an end to gun violence without seeing that the former would both cause and be enforced by gun violence or the threat thereof. Rather than take the usual path of reductio ad absurdum, I argued the sharper point that gun deaths can be a good thing. This did not sit well with the editors at Examiner.com, who pulled the article. Given a long and contentious history with the site, I decided to part ways with them and start my own site. This proved to be a wise choice, as Examiner gave up the ghost less than six months later, with all content disappearing into the aether. My next task was to choose a name for the site and explain its meaning.

Christopher Cantwell argued the libertarian case for Donald Trump, and I gave him some pushback. Shortly afterward, Rand Paul suspended his campaign, and I wrote a list of observations on the event.

‘No victim means no crime’ is a common saying among libertarians, but an altogether too reductionist one. I explained why.

A Russian film crew flew a drone over the city of Homs and recorded the aftermath of Assad’s forces besieging the city. I rarely get emotional, but seeing the wanton destruction was quite triggering for me. Aleppo was conquered later in the year, and I wrote a list of observations on the event.

I decided to take an educated guess at whether Ron Paul could have defeated Barack Obama if he had been the Republican nominee in 2012. I believe he would have done so easily.

Twitter decided to give in to government and social justice warrior requests to censor their enemies. Unsurprisingly, this tanked their stock prices. I proposed several remedies for the situation, and Twitter has of course used none of them.

Jason Brennan published an article arguing that arguments made by libertarians against open borders have disturbing implications that said libertarians almost never address, so I addressed them and showed on a point-by-point basis that some such implications are not only not so scary, but are actually vitally important to the maintenance of a libertarian social order.

Charlotte City Council approved an expansion of its anti-discrimination ordinance to include transgender people, which I denounced as a violation of private property, freedom of association, public safety, and freedom of religion. Governor Pat McCrory and the state legislature responded with House Bill 2, and the controversy has brewed for almost a year.

An author known as Mr. Underhill published an article arguing that violent revolution is not the appropriate method for achieving liberty. I took the opposite view, which led to a lengthy exchange of four more articles on my part and four more on his part. Following this exchange, I decided to write about how I choose who to debate and for how long, which made me realize that I had entertained Mr. Underhill for far too long. Later in the year, I covered political violence more generally to argue that we need more of it as well.

When examining the intellectual foundation for private property rights, I noticed an unexplored quirk which turned into an original proviso. A critique in the comments section led to another article defending the proviso.

Islamic terrorists attacked the airport and a subway station in Brussels, killing 31 people and injuring 300 others. I wrote a list of observations on the event.

Social justice warriors seem to have their own language which is distinct from both the dictionary definitions and the common understanding of words by most of the general population. I created a glossary to help normal people better understand SJW rhetoric.

Donald Trump suggested that women could be punished for getting an abortion, which outraged both sides of the mainstream abortion debate. I weighed in with a view which did the same.

Having addressed water ownership and pollution in two articles in 2015, I decided to lay out a libertarian theory on air ownership and pollution.

Puerto Rico reached new lows of fiscal irresponsibility, and I explained why it is best to cut them loose from the United States to become an independent country.

The rise of neoreaction and the alt-right has brought reactionary thought back to the forefront. I deemed my first attempt at examining its relationship to libertarianism to be inadequate, so I took a second stab at it. A Jeffrey Tucker article prompted a third effort, and I made a fourth effort later in the year in response to a pro-Trump neoreactionary article by Michael Perilloux.

Peter Weber published an opinion piece arguing that the institution of the American Presidency is being delegitimized, and that this is a dangerous direction. I argued that this is actually a welcome and even glorious development.

Having already explained my decisions about debating other authors, I wrote two more articles explaining my lack of profanity and lack of satirical content.

Many incorrect arguments concerning libertarianism and punishment began to appear, so I laid out a theory of libertarianism and punishment which utilized heavy doses of Rothbard.

The Libertarian Party held its nominating convention, and it was a disaster from beginning to end. The Republican convention was not much better in terms of substance.

Many people have noticed a correlation between weightlifting and libertarianism. I explored this correlation and found many reasons for it.

A terrorist who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State attacked a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., killing 49 people and injuring 53 others. I wrote a list of observations on the event, but missed a major point in doing so. Democracy is partly responsible for terrorism because it gives the common person a political voice, which makes them viable targets in a way that absolute monarchies or stateless societies would not.

When the Supreme Court ruled against Abigail Fisher in her anti-white racism case, the Internet cheered. I did not, realizing that the decision was a rejection of pure meritocracy.

Against all predictions, the vote to remove the United Kingdom from the European Union succeeded. I wrote a list of observations on the event.

In my most controversial article to date, I argued the most extreme position in the gun control debate: a private individual has a right to own nuclear weapons, and this would be beneficial for liberty. The troll brigades were out in force making typical leftist non-arguments, and I thank them for granting me a then-record in daily page views (and thus advertising money). A few did raise legitimate criticisms which will require an addendum to be written in the future.

As the major-party presidential nominations were secured, the establishment media wasted an inordinate amount of time engaging in speculation about who would be the running mate of each candidate. When discussing the potential benefits that each potential vice presidential pick could have, they neglected the aspect of assassination insurance.

Several recent problems with the criminal justice system demonstrated that government will not hold government accountable, and that a market alternative is required.

Five police officers were killed by a sniper in Dallas. I used the event to argue that those who kill government agents now are not cowardly murderers perpetrating senseless violence, but neither are they heroic or helpful to the cause of liberty.

A certain type of policy analysis exhibits many symptoms which are also found in high-functioning autistic people. This is more common among libertarians than among people of other political persuasions, so I decided to address the phenomenon.

A significant portion of the media coverage leading up to the Republican convention focused on the possibility of violence on the streets involving leftist protesters and rightist counter-protesters. This possibility went unrealized for reasons which were covered up by the establishment media.

Hillary Clinton said that she was “adamantly opposed to anyone bringing religion into our political process” and that it is “just absolutely wrong and unacceptable.” I argued the opposite case.

Gardening is an enjoyable hobby and a useful metaphor for many things, a libertarian social order included.

Trump hinted at the assassination of Clinton should she win and threaten gun rights. Predictably, every element of the establishment went apoplectic. I argued that political assassinations are ethically acceptable, though not usually the wisest practical move.

Since the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement, libertarians have had strong differences concerning how to engage with it. I explained the differences between their intentions and libertarian goals.

The 2016 Summer Olympics took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I wrote a list of observations on the event.

Whenever disasters impact an area in modern times, governments play a large role in the cleanup and recovery efforts. But this causes a behavioral problem in the population, not unlike that caused by the Pax Romana.

The Commission on Presidential Debates decided to exclude third-party candidates yet again. I made cases for peaceful and violent protest of this policy, and longed for a future candidate who might actually motivate people to engage in meaningful resistance.

Liberty Mutual created more advertisements that contain economic fallacies, so I did another round of debunking.

The establishment media tells us that every election is the most important of our lifetime. I proved that this cannot be the case, then psychoanalyzed the establishment media to explain why they keep repeating this, as if to convince themselves.

Argumentation ethics has been controversial since its introduction, but Roderick Long’s criticisms of it had gone unanswered. I remedied this state of affairs.

Rioters plagued Charlotte for three nights in response to a police shooting, which happened to involve a black officer and a black suspect. I wrote a list of observations on the event.

Congress voted to override President Obama’s veto of a bill that allows relatives of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia for any role in the plot. Though some libertarians argued against the bill, I celebrated it for chipping away at the anti-libertarian idea of sovereign immunity, giving victims of American foreign policy a peaceful means of addressing their grievances, and possibly revealing clandestine activities to the American people about which they have a need to know.

Having heard libertarians argue in favor of every presidential candidate except Hillary Clinton, I decided to give it a shot. Only a bootlegger’s case was possible, and it was rather grim.

The idea of market failure is a widely believed misconception which has found widespread use in statist propaganda for the purpose of justifying government intervention in the private sector. I gave the idea perhaps its most thorough debunking to date.

In the last quarter of the year, I began reading more books, which resulted in several book reviews. I can strongly recommend The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing and Our Sister Republics; The West Point History of the Civil War somewhat less so. Good Guys With Guns, on the other hand, is a disaster.

The month before the election presented several opportunities for rebuttals. Milo Yiannopoulos demonstrated both a misunderstanding of and an enmity toward libertarianism, and I rebutted his assertions, which gained a surprising amount of attention. Jeffrey Tucker tried to defend democracy as a superior alternative to monarchy or political violence, and I showed why this is misguided. Penn Jillette argued in favor of vote swapping, and I argued against it.

Finally, the 2016 election came and went, which presented many observations to be made.

Black Friday is revered by most libertarians as a celebration of free-market capitalism. I updated my explanation of why this reverence is somewhat misplaced.

Finally, Otto Warmbier spent all of 2016 detained in North Korea. I made the unpopular case that he should be left there.

All in all, it was an interesting year full of occasions to make sharp libertarian arguments. May 2017 bring more of the same. Happy New Year!

A Campaign Against the Commission on Presidential Debates

This is the third essay in a three-part series. This essay will detail the campaign a hypothetical future third-party presidential candidate who makes use of the tactics described in the first and second essays, which discuss peaceful and forceful tactics, respectively.

In the weeks leading up to every United States presidential election, a series of debates between the candidates are held. When the current series of regular debates began in 1976, this was handled by the League of Women Voters. By 1987, the Republican and Democratic parties decided to take over control of the debates by creating the Commission on Presidential Debates, which was co-chaired by Frank Fahrenkopf and Paul G. Kirk, the Republican and Democratic national chairmen at the time. The CPD has controlled all presidential debates involving Republican and Democratic candidates since 1988. With the sole exception of Ross Perot in 1992, all third-party candidates have been excluded from the debates since its inception, and they have now succeeded in doing so for the 2016 election cycle.

Various efforts to resolve this matter peacefully, such as protests, lawsuits, boycotts of debate sponsors, and the organization of other presidential debates have failed. The use of force to remedy this situation is morally justifiable, but no candidate has yet showed a willingness to resort to such methods. But as this may not always be the case, let us now consider a hypothetical future election in which there is a third-party candidate who decides to use force to either get onto the debate stage or shut down the CPD’s activities.

The Candidate

Let us call our candidate Aurelius. Aurelius is a tall, imposing man of forty. He is well read, both inside and outside of the libertarian philosophical tradition. He has a quick wit, a sharp tongue, and a gift for public oratory. His personal views on issues are rather reactionary, and he distances himself from the hedonism embraced by some libertarians. He is a man who has endured much hardship at the hands of government agents, and he will have his vengeance. But he knows that taking power by force, even if he intends to dismantle that power from the inside out, is a hard sell in a democratic system. He also knows that the Republicans and Democrats want nothing to do with anyone who is as radical and controversial as him, and he is the wrong sort of radical for the Green Party. As such, he decides to run for the Libertarian Party presidential nomination. (We will assume that no other right-leaning third party becomes a better avenue for his candidacy in the next eight years.)

2016-2020

Aurelius makes his first attempt as soon as he is old enough to be constitutionally eligible for the Presidency in 2020 and is narrowly defeated, but only on account of shenanigans pulled by the party establishment to deny the nomination to a firebrand revolutionary in favor of yet another milquetoast mediocrity. Not deterred by this disappointment, he strengthens his resolve. His concession speech at the 2020 Libertarian National Convention blasts the party establishment and the nominee, intensifying a rift within the party. This gives him mainstream press coverage for several days for his bold rhetoric and controversial views, but then the press largely moves on.

In mainstream politics, the 2016 election turns out to be not as important as most people thought. Donald Trump has been elected and fails to deliver on his lofty campaign promises, the gridlock in Washington continues, as does the economic stagnation and growing political divide throughout the nation. In the 2020 election, Trump seeks re-election, a radical progressive wins the Democratic nomination, and third parties are denied a fair chance yet again. This also offers no relief, as no one in a position of power understands the problems facing America. As the 2024 campaign season approaches, America is ripe for revolution, and it is only a question of who will begin the revolt, where and when it will happen, why it will be done, and whether the revolution will be political or anti-political.

2021-2023

Aurelius spends most of these years touring the United States, giving speeches, making alliances, performing outreach, training people in electioneering, and doing everything else that is necessary to set up his campaign strategy for 2024.

2023 – Second Half

In September 2023, Aurelius announces that he has formed an exploratory committee for a potential presidential campaign and filed the necessary paperwork with the Federal Election Commission. During the next few months, Aurelius and his surrogates discuss his plans with his SuperPAC as well as with local militia groups all over the nation, many of which he has played some part in establishing or expanding over the past few years. The exploratory committee does not do as much work as many have done historically because Aurelius has spent several years carefully considering campaigns slogans and themes, developing media appeals, and writing position papers and speeches. He realizes that endorsements from powerful individuals and groups would actually harm his cause, as it would diminish his credibility to have their blessing. Aurelius is also quite wary of hiring consultants and pollsters, recalling how the Gary Johnson campaign in 2016 spent entirely too much on consultants who provided far too little service for the pay they received. His exploratory committee does act more normally in hiring staff and in organizing state campaigns. Aurelius focuses on swing states, particularly Ohio, as he is determined to make a difference one way or another.

On September 27, the CPD announces that the presidential debates are scheduled for September 25, October 8, and October 14, 2024, with the vice-presidential debate scheduled for October 3. Five venues are named; one for each of the aforementioned events and one alternate location. These locations are passed on to the militia groups so that they can make strategic assessments.

On October 26, the CPD announces its criteria for inclusion in the debates. As always, they are designed to exclude all non-duopoly candidates, requiring 15 percent across five national polls. Aurelius begins publicly condemning the CPD but does not disclose his eventual plans.

On December 21, Aurelius announces that he is running for the 2024 Libertarian nomination for President of the United States. After this time, Aurelius uses unofficial surrogates and former campaign staff to relay messages to supporting SuperPACs, knowing that his campaign will likely be given more scrutiny by the Federal Election Commission than the major-party campaigns, which regularly violate the ban on SuperPAC coordination with impunity.

2024 – First Quarter

Aurelius spends the first quarter of 2024 raising money, getting his supporters to attend state party conventions and become delegates to the nominating convention, strategizing with liberty groups on college campuses, and debating the other Libertarian candidates. His opponents consist of the usual Libertarian field; several nobodies who run to make a name for themselves with no serious chance at the nomination, a former politician of a major party with non-standard views for that party, a few professionals in non-political fields, and a libertarian activist or two. Their views of Aurelius range from fear of his boldness and disgust at his right-libertarianism to agreement with most of his positions but not with the means he is willing to use. His poll numbers start off somewhat low but steadily rise as he outperforms his challengers in debate after debate.

In early March, Aurelius speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, just as several Libertarian candidates have done before him. He offers himself as an alternative for disaffected conservatives and far-rightists who are disappointed in Trump’s performance and do not like the Republican frontrunner in the 2024 primaries. He uses the opportunity to attack the Republican and Democratic frontrunners as well as the CPD. In late March, the first televised Libertarian primary debate of the season airs, and Aurelius is among the participants. He presents himself and his candidacy well, getting the attention of many voters and pundits for the first time.

2024 – Second Quarter

The Republicans and Democrats have their nominees all but secured by April, and most Americans are none too happy with their choices. Aurelius and the former major-party politician opposing him in the primary gain attention as a result, as the nobodies are forgotten and the other candidates who are invited to primary debates prove no match for the two frontrunners. The campaign between the two gets nastier, and the rift opened at the 2020 convention grows wider.

This comes to a head at the nominating convention in May. Aurelius narrowly manages to secure the nomination after two ballots, but tempers flare during the vice-presidential nomination as the establishment wing of the party tries to saddle Aurelius with the former politician who opposed him rather than give him the running mate of his choice. This vote goes through several ballots, but Aurelius finally manages to win over the room with a rousing speech.

Just as Trump’s candidacy altered the composition of the Republican Party eight years earlier, Aurelius’s nomination alters the composition of the Libertarian Party. The former major-party politician walks out of the convention, several party stalwarts resign their posts, and many left-libertarians either leave the party or decide not to support the nominee in the general election. This has an impact, but many Aurelius supporters have already entered the party and more than outnumber those who leave. Aurelius gives another powerful speech denouncing those who abandoned the Libertarian Party over his candidacy.

The General Campaign Begins

Aurelius does a round of interviews following his nomination, and it quickly becomes clear to everyone that he is not the calm, soft-spoken, non-threat to the establishment that past Libertarian nominees have been. Talk of a three-way race begins, and pollsters being including Aurelius in their surveys. The first surveys show him at a startling 10 percent of the vote, with both major-party candidates near 40 percent and the rest either undecided or supporting other third-party candidates. The establishment becomes nervous to an extent that they have not been since the Trump campaign of 2016, though for different reasons. In June, the CPD names moderators for the debates. Aurelius and his running mate participate in a live town hall on June 26.

In July, the Aurelius SuperPAC begins airing campaign advertisements, but carries out a novel strategy of attacking the CPD as much as promoting the candidate. The reason for this is to vilify the CPD and make the American people hate them in order to make countermeasures against them more palatable. These anti-CPD ads continue airing through the middle of September, with several ads left on the back burner for various possibilities in late September and October. When asked about this in interviews, Aurelius declares that he is come to fight the enemies of the American people, and that the CPD is the first such enemy that he must defeat. He assures the press that he will not allow the CPD to silence him or his supporters, but stands up to media pressure when asked to divulge the full meaning of this, saying that he will not reveal his strategies to his enemies and the establishment press can find out when everyone else does. Most interviewers move on to other topics, but Aurelius does walk out on one interviewer who will not stop trying to discern his plans.

In August, Aurelius supporters on the college campuses chosen by the CPD ally with other third-party and non-partisan liberty groups to acquire as many debate tickets as possible in an effort to disrupt the debate, especially at the campus chosen for the first presidential debate. His poll numbers slowly move upward into the low teens, prompting the establishment press to dig deeper into his background and question him more rigorously in interviews in an effort to derail his candidacy. But unlike many previous third-party candidates, Aurelius does not gaffe or back down, having a strong answer for everything they throw at him. Aurelius and his running mate participate in more live town halls on August 7 and 21. Aurelius finishes getting nationwide ballot access in late August.

Showdown With The CPD

In September, the major-party candidates are worried. The final polls which are used to determine debate access have Aurelius in the neighborhood of 15 percent. The surrogates for both duopoly candidates are scrambling to try to convince voters not to support Aurelius, warning them that “a vote for Aurelius is a vote for the other duopoly candidate” and “electing such an extremist endangers the republic.” He effortlessly slaps down their arguments. Both major-party candidates wish for the CPD to exclude Aurelius despite having poll numbers which could qualify him to debate. The CPD responds by choosing the five polls which have Aurelius at the lowest level of support for its average, giving him 14 percent support and the CPD an excuse to exclude him.

Later that week, the plan to disrupt the debates by filling the audiences with hecklers is discovered. The CPD decides to cancel all of the admission tickets, hold the first debate without an audience, and let Republican and Democratic party officials decide who to let into the audience for the other three debates. Aurelius disavows any direct involvement in this plan, saying that it was the work of his supporters as well as concerned citizens who seek fair debates. However, he expresses sympathy toward the means and the end. Interviewers again pressure him to divulge any more plans for disruption that he might have, but he still refuses.

On September 21, scouts for the militia groups show up to the five debate venues in plain clothing. Some of them enter the venues, hide until late at night, then open the doors to allow a large number of militia members to enter each venue with enough armament and supplies to carry out an occupation for the duration of the scheduled debate season. They allow non-militia members to leave the buildings but not enter, as they do not wish to create a hostage situation. On the morning of September 22, everyone becomes aware of the situation and an armed standoff ensues between the militia groups and federal agents. The militias demand either fair debates or none at all, and inform all concerned parties that more groups are ready to respond to any hastily organized plans to hold CPD events elsewhere or retaliate if federal agents massacre them. Aurelius is contacted by federal agents and the media, and he informs both that he will hold a press conference at noon the next day to discuss the situation and will not discuss the matter with anyone until then. The two major-party candidates give campaign speeches in which they denounce Aurelius and the militia groups.

At noon on September 23, Aurelius delivers a lengthy address explaining the history of the CPD, its role in determining who can become President and who cannot, and the reasons why the tactics used by his supporters are necessary and proper. He answers all of the objections raised by the major-party candidates, the press, and the CPD over the past 36 hours. He leaves enough plausible deniability for himself in order to avoid conspiracy charges, but makes clear that he stands with the militia groups and welcomes their efforts in his fight against the CPD.

Negotiators attempt to dissuade the militias from their occupation, and representatives for the militia groups attempt to dissuade the CPD from its policies, but both sides refuse to budge. The establishment press does its best to vilify Aurelius and the militia groups, but alternative media personalities along with his speeches, supporters, and campaign ads largely blunt their efforts. The desperation of the American people to finally have real change that the Republicans and Democrats have continually failed to bring them makes many of them sympathize with Aurelius and his supporters, even if they view their methods as extreme. The CPD and major-party candidates decide to cancel the first debate on September 25 rather than risk a battle at the debate site, and no press outlets offer to hold a debate elsewhere, heeding the warning from the militias.

Possible Outcomes

At this point, the ball is squarely in the court of the CPD, major-party candidates, and federal agents. How they decide to respond from here on out is difficult to predict, but let us consider some likely possibilities. The best outcome is that the CPD relents and allows Aurelius to debate. However, it is difficult to imagine the major-party candidates agreeing to debate under such circumstances. They would be more likely to deliver some rhetoric about not negotiating with terrorists. Thus, a lack of presidential debates in the 2024 election would likely result. But from Aurelius’s perspective, this is a superior result to one in which they debate and he does not.

Another peaceful resolution would involve working out an agreement with the establishment press, Aurelius and his running mate, the major-party candidates and their running mates, and any other relevant third-party campaigns. In lieu of the CPD events, the networks could air 30-minute segments with each of the candidates. This is more likely than having a multi-candidate debate with the CPD’s involvement, but it is still a somewhat remote possibility.

As we are dealing with an armed standoff, it will not do to leave the possibility of violence unexamined. There are five major concerns in this regard; a medical issue, a surrender, a move against Aurelius, a false move, and a move-in order. Given the duration of the occupation from several days before the first scheduled debate until at least one day after the last scheduled debate, it is quite possible for someone to have a medical issue of some kind that must be addressed. If this happens, then a militia member will need to leave the premises. It is almost certain that the person will be placed under arrest, and the person would do well to accept this and be transported to a local hospital. A surrender by some members of a militia group would function almost identically, except that they would be transported to a police station rather than a hospital. The issue here is that government agents have been known to exact a blood price against a resistance movement by killing a member who is surrendering. While this in isolation could create sympathy for the militia groups and by extension, the Aurelius campaign, shots being fired in response by the militia members could needlessly escalate the matter into a pitched battle. The militia members would certainly have difficulty in holding their fire in such a case, but they would need to do so.

Given the entirety of the situation, it is quite likely that the government would attempt to break the occupation by neutralizing the person(s) on whose behalf they are acting. It would not be difficult for prosecutors to trump up charges upon which to arrest Aurelius (and any other third-party candidates who may stand to benefit from the occupation). Given the history of candidates continuing to run for office while in jail, this is unlikely to have a major effect, except that Aurelius would be hindered in his ability to deliver speeches. There is a chance that an unstable member of a militia could use this as an excuse to start shooting, and the other militia members would need to be prepared for this possibility and contain that individual. An assassination attempt against Aurelius by the establishment cannot be ruled out, but this would signal desperation and inspire a more direct revolution than that proposed by Aurelius, as it would make a martyr of a person who has 15 percent support to become President.

Much like the first two concerns, a false move by either side could have disastrous results, and it is imperative for the militia members and the Aurelius campaign that any such flinch occur on the part of the federal agents and not the militia groups. It is standard procedure for governments to provoke armed resistance movements into firing a first shot so that they have justification to respond with overwhelming force. The occupiers must not fall for any such provocations if they are to maintain proper public perception.

Finally, it is possible that the state may allow the occupations to go on for a time, but finally decide to move in and crush the militia groups. If this happens, then a battle with hundreds of casualties on both sides is probably unavoidable. Fortunately, recent history suggests that this is unlikely, given the results of the Bundy standoffs as well as the blowback and negative press that resulted from more aggressive postures in previous standoffs.

Conclusion

It is impossible to predict the outcome of the 2024 election without knowing how the standoff is resolved. One could not even say for certain that there would be an election if battles occur at the debate sites and unrest grows to the point of civil war. After all, history shows us that great wars can be started by a single shot, and that shot may occur at any place and time. But as the most likely result is a campaign season without presidential debates, a peaceful end to the occupations, and efforts to bring the militia members to trial stretching several years into the future, let us assume that the election does go forward and that Aurelius performs much better than most third-party candidates due to his oratory skills, level playing field with respect to presidential debates, and increased exposure due to the armed standoffs.

A victory for Aurelius would have the political establishment scared for their lives, and they may lash out violently against the American people. He could use the presidential pardon to immunize the militia members as well as himself against any charges related to the occupations, effectively normalizing armed resistance. This would represent a massive cultural shift in a pro-liberty direction unlike anything in time memorial, although it may lead to a civil war between the political establishment and Aurelius’s supporters. This would also have the effect of keeping Aurelius from becoming tyrannical, as armed resistance could turn on him if he did. A narrow defeat may have similar cultural effects, though the boot of state power would aim to crush the Aurelius faction instead of being worn by it.

A massive defeat for Aurelius would indicate a complete failure in messaging or tactics, and would be the likely result of the militias firing first or Aurelius going too far with his rhetoric. This might speed up the efforts to subject the militia members to the criminal punishment system, as the election result would make clear that popular opinion is against them. This result would indicate that no remedy is to be found through political means, so the options for those who desire liberty are to continue suffering or revolt.

Whatever the final result may be, one thing is certain: a campaign against the Commission on Presidential Debates would change the political landscape forever.

Democracy, Violence, and Libertarian Social Order

In an October 20 article at FEE.org, Jeffrey Tucker discussed the media panic over Donald Trump’s potential refusal to accept the election results on November 8. His explanation of the reasons behind the horror displayed by the establishment is accurate, if incomplete. The powers that be sense that the public are waking up to the realization that the current system not only fails to serve them, but is designed to oppress them in order to benefit the ruling classes. Knowing from history what people are capable of when such sentiments become sufficiently common and bold, and knowing that the current system is ultimately unsustainable, the rulers and those well-connected to them seek to keep the system going a while longer so as to pass the ticking time bomb to someone else. Thus “the demand that all candidates join hands in a celebration of democracy” which is “nothing but performative piety.” Where Tucker goes wrong is in his defense of democracy versus the alternatives.

Democracy and Violence

Tucker’s next act is to explore why the talking heads made much use of the phrase “peaceful transition of power” in their commentary. He writes,

“Along with the spread of human rights in the late Middle Ages, the theory of government began to change. The king or head of state did not possess legitimacy as a result of divine right; instead, the legitimacy of rulers is derived from the support given to them by the people. It is the social usefulness, and not some mystical magic, that grants them power.”

In reality, neither of these are true, regardless of the former or current opinion of most people. In a universalizable ethical theory, the state cannot be legitimate by any means, as its agents invariably commit actions which are considered criminal for anyone else to commit. In practical terms, a government is legitimized by its ability and willingness to martially defeat challenges to its power.

Tucker continues,

“The end result of this way of thinking is, of course, democracy, which gradually came to dominate governmental transitions between the 16th and the 20th centuries. It was widely believed that the more democracy you had, the less civil war and violence would interrupt the development of civilization.”

This was the historical outcome, but it was not necessarily for the best. Though the transitions of power became more peaceful, the power itself grew far more destructive. This was partly due to the increased productivity brought about by capitalism, as a large bureaucratic state cannot survive upon the meager portions which were available in the Middle Ages. But democracy’s tendency to sanitize statism played a larger role, in that it makes crimes easier to commit and removes incentives for the people to limit government. To rob one’s neighbor directly, one must risk one’s life, liberty, and reputation in the community. To vote for a politician to hire a tax collector to rob one’s neighbor is a far less risky proposition. If a property owner kills a thief in the act, few would fault him. If he kills a tax collector, he will be almost universally condemned. If there is an unelected monarch and no path to the throne for the citizenry, then they know who wields power and that it is not and will not be them. They are therefore incentivized to seek restraints on the king’s power. But give them democracy, and each citizen can come to believe that they are the state and might wield its power. One is less likely to seek restraint of a power that one might get to use.

The Misesian case for democracy, which Tucker echoes, asserts that peace is a necessary condition for human progress. To believe this, one must ignore all of the inventions which were borne of necessity in wartime. The anthropological record shows that intelligence and innovation occur as a result of adversity, and humans experience no other adversity like that which comes from opposing humans. While it would be a broken window fallacy to ignore the progress which could have occurred without the destruction of warfare, it would also be fallacious to ignore the powerful incentive provided by the stark choice to either make technological progress or lose a war. Even if it were better for people to, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, “suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed,” one must remember that no revolution in that time period sought abolition of the state, but rather the replacement of one form of statism with another.

In that view of democracy, it was to limit government be allowing people to vote out rulers who attempt a power grab without subjecting the law or the type of regime itself to democracy. But this is a logical impossibility; one cannot vote for people to determine the nature of the state without voting on the nature of the state. When presented with a choice between a democratic response to peacefully “throw the bums out” and a revolutionary response to violently overthrow the system itself, people usually choose the former, and this knowledge has been weaponized by the ruling classes. They have discovered that all they need do is to make sure that one group of bums will invariably be replaced with another by controlling who gets to run for office, who gets campaign funding, who gets seriously covered and discussed by the press, who gets into highly publicized candidate debates, and so on. As Noam Chomsky observes,

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum—even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”

Democracy and Liberalism

The reason that classical liberalism and democracy went hand-in-hand is that the Enlightenment philosophers whose theories were brought into practice between the 16th and the 20th centuries were uniformly guilty of a contradiction. They started with what they claimed were self-evident truths (which were not, but that is another matter) which are incompatible with any form of statism. They then invented fallacious arguments using these premises to justify what is now called minarchism, or the belief in a state which only acts to enforce the universal ethics which are necessary for a free market. But rule of law, legal equality, private property, free association, peace, and justice cannot be provided by the state, as the state makes all of these logically impossible.

Over time, democracy has taken society further and further away from these ideals, and no other result should be expected. In a democracy, power is wielded by temporary caretakers who only own the usufruct of the country rather than the capital stock. Their incentive is not to take care of the country so as to leave a good inheritance to their descendants, but to loot and plunder while they can. Rather than accept donations from and grant favor to special interests that help the society, they are incentivized to do what is best for themselves at the expense of the citizens they are ostensibly representing. The citizens themselves are also subject to perverse incentives, as they can vote themselves handouts from the public treasury, conflicting their personal interest with that of the nation. They can also use state power to attack each other by using the ballot box to impose their criminal intent upon their fellow citizens without suffering the normal criminal penalties for engaging in such behavior oneself. The end result of subjecting everything to a vote is well described by Nick Land:

“[T]he politically awakened masses [are] a howling irrational mob, …the dynamics of democratization [are] fundamentally degenerative: systematically consolidating and exacerbating private vices, resentments, and deficiencies until they reach the level of collective criminality and comprehensive social corruption. The democratic politician and the electorate are bound together by a circuit of reciprocal incitement, in which each side drives the other to ever more shameless extremities of hooting, prancing cannibalism, until the only alternative to shouting is being eaten.”

In fairness, Tucker does realize toward the end of his article that democracy in practice has not played out according to theory, although his reasoning is again incomplete:

“Democracy with a huge and entrenched permanent bureaucracy, a deep state that is impervious to election outcomes, a thicket of laws and regulations created by people long dead that still exist on the books, and spending commitments that do not change regardless of who is in charge, is not really providing peaceful transition at all. It becomes a veneer that the ruling class uses to entrench the status quo. In other words, the problem has less to do with the elected than the problem of the unelected. And this realization is a part of what fueled Trump’s rise and will continue to empower others like him in the future.”

Democracy and Revolution

While it is true that the historic alternative to democracy has been not liberty, but authoritarianism and violence, Tucker hastily generalizes by claiming that this must always be the case going forward. To the contrary, a thorough analysis shows that removal of state power in favor of a libertarian social order can only be accomplished through violent revolution followed by the continuous application of force to subdue common criminals, organized crime, warlords, terrorists, and foreign government agents. This is because all of the other methods that libertarians have proposed and tried to increase the amount of liberty in society fail to address the fundamental problems posed by the state apparatus, which are:

  1. The people who manage, run, and/or benefit from it have become accustomed to existing parasitically upon the productive members of society, and at least some of them will not stop doing so unless they are forced to stop.
  2. An institution based upon initiatory force will resort to force to counter attempts to remove and/or dismantle it.

Note also that if we are to discount revolution as a method of ending the state because it has yet to succeed, then we must discount peaceful methods even more so, as people have attempted many more acts of nonviolent resistance than revolutions. It is for these reasons that political violence is a necessary step toward the goal of the anti-political democracy of the market economy.

Conclusion

While Tucker’s analysis of the current situation is generally correct, his view of the prospects of democracy and peaceful change are far too optimistic and his understanding of the phenomena at work leaves something to be desired.

Requiem for a Dumpster Fire: The 2016 Libertarian National Convention

On May 27-30, the Libertarian Party held its national presidential nominating convention in Orlando, Fla. Over a thousand delegates from all 50 states attended the convention, along with dozens of guest speakers. Much of this was well and good, though some leftist degeneracy has infiltrated most corners of the libertarian community, and the guest seminars and panels were no exception. But none of this matters much to those who are not libertarians and/or have no interest in the inside baseball of the Libertarian Party. Those people were paying attention to the presidential and vice presidential debates, as well as the election processes for the party’s presidential ticket and national party offices. What they saw, at least from the standpoint of this philosophical libertarian, was a raging dumpster fire.

At the vice presidential debate on Friday, the audio quality was unbecoming of an organization seeking to put people into the White House. William Weld was generally lacking in passion and boldness, supported using the United Nations as a check against corrupt governments in third-world countries, and frequently diverged from straight answers in order to attack presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. Larry Sharpe seemed to believe that all punishment should be abolished and misidentified several historical figures as libertarians who were not. Will Coley was a mostly consistent libertarian, but managed to confuse non-aggression with pacifism. Alicia Dearn was more on point, but otherwise unremarkable. All four candidates were soft on the topic of violent revolution.

If the vice presidential debate was bad, then the presidential debate on Saturday was worse. The audio problems continued. Gary Johnson repeated the tired falsehood that libertarianism is social liberalism combined with economic conservatism, supported fixing Social Security rather than phasing it out, claimed that market forces had bankrupted coal companies (and was promptly corrected by Austin Petersen), supported for a consumption tax (which drew a round of boos from the audience), advocated regional banks rather than a free market in currency, declined to condemn the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, had no answer as to whether American involvement in the World Wars was justified, supported government involvement in marriage, favored the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which drew a round of boos from the audience due to parts which violate private property rights and freedom of association), and supported government-issued driver’s licenses (which drew several rounds of boos from the audience). John McAfee defended keeping entitlement programs for older people. Petersen voiced support for a flat tax to fund Social Security, claimed that roads will be unnecessary because we will have jetpacks, and voiced support for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Darryl Perry was wrong on some historical facts, but was generally a strong libertarian. Marc Allan Feldman mistakenly asserted that one cannot fight for one right without fighting for others, claimed that the Islamic religion cannot be blamed for terrorism, failed to realize that political leaders will want to engage in warfare if they perceive it to be in their interest, and was equivocal on the Civil Rights Act concerning private sector discrimination. All five candidates engaged in various degrees of openborders cuckery and said that there is no lesser evil between Republicans and Democrats.

The nominees were chosen on Sunday, and to the surprise of few, Johnson and Weld won, though neither earned a majority of delegate support on the first ballot. In this decision, the delegates decided to choose nominees with the most name recognition in hopes of reaching out to more voters at the cost of presenting a false message of what libertarianism is. This decision says that the Libertarian Party has forgotten its purpose as an educational tool and is instead trying to play the establishment’s game, thinking that the establishment is sufficiently divided against itself to allow an upstart challenger to the duopoly to have a chance. As such, they chose the most moderate, safe, mainstream, establishment candidates they could find to run with the banner of what is supposed to be an extreme, bold, anti-establishment party. But if history has taught us anything about third parties in America, it is that the two major parties always agree that no other party should be allowed to compete.

It would be bad enough if the heresies of Johnson and Weld were limited to their debate responses listed above, but there is much more. Johnson has a history of supporting military intervention against Joseph Kony, saying that Jews should be forced to do business with Nazis, wanting to ban Muslim women from wearing burqas, and growing state government spending as governor. Weld has a history of supporting affirmative action, eminent domain, environmental regulations, gun control, the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama, and most recently, the presidential candidacy of John Kasich.

It is hard to view this as anything other than a culmination of the hostile takeover of the Libertarian Party by cuckservatives and cuckertarians that has been underway for a long time. To quote myself from an earlier article,

“The cuckertarian denounces anarchist libertarians as utopian idealists, preaching instead a form of limited statism that contains obvious contradictions. Cuckertarians prefer to moderate the message of liberty to reach a wider audience, but in the process they corrupt it into something that a consistently principled libertarian would barely recognize. In the Libertarian Party, this results in moderate or even fake libertarians gaining the presidential nomination.”

Some libertarians may say that this election is a test to see whether libertarians can work within the system, but has this experiment not been run repeatedly for the past 40 years, with essentially the same result each time? This many attempts should be enough to convince even the most stalwart party operative that, in the words of Christopher Cantwell,

“Any libertarian who tells you he is trying to win an election is either lying to you about trying to win the election, lying to us about being a libertarian, or terribly misinformed. As far as we are concerned, elections are a bad thing. We are trying to end them, not win them. …Libertarians are anarchists, whether they realize it or not. Even the ones who are delusional enough to think that they are going to get elected and restore the bloody republic, are little more than useful idiots who are repeating anarchist propaganda for us through channels normally reserved for government. The goal is not to win your elections, the goal is to turn a large enough minority against the legitimacy of the State as to make its continued function impossible.”

Unfortunately, the troubles did not end with the presidential nominating process. At a time when the Libertarian Party most needs itself to be taken seriously by the American people, one candidate for party chair decided to perform a striptease on the convention stage during the process to fill that office. But perhaps worst of all, failed presidential candidate John McAfee thought it wise to attack the core demographic of libertarianism. During his concession speech, McAfee said,

“When I first joined the Libertarian Party, two things stood out very starkly. One, 75 percent of you are men. Number two, 99.8 percent of you are white. Shame on you. Shame on you, and shame on me for never having mentioned it before.”

If anything, white men deserve praise for being the demographic group that is intelligent enough to become libertarians to such a disproportionate extent. What McAfee is suggesting is that there is a white man’s burden, that it is the responsibility of white males to make sure that females and non-whites are educated and behaving properly. But rather than denouncing him as a racist and sexist, as would have been proper, the audience applauded him. Even if his intended point was that more outreach should be done to females and non-whites, there are evolutionary reasons to believe that this will be less than fruitful.

The long-term result of the 2016 Libertarian Party National Convention is hard to predict, but it did nothing to help the image of libertarianism while doing much to pollute its message. As such, the best result in the general election may be one of total failure so that libertarians can reject the approach taken by the party. As always, the path to liberty is anti-political.

Would Ron Paul Have Defeated Barack Obama? An Educated Guess

On Nov. 6, 2012, President Obama defeated Republican nominee Mitt Romney by an Electoral College margin of 332−206, with the following electoral map.

2012_RomneyObama

But what if the Republican establishment had not gotten behind Romney from the beginning? What if Ron Paul had been the Republican nominee? Could he have defeated Obama in the general election? Let us look at the available data and attempt to answer this question. Before we begin, we must note that this analysis cannot account for the completely different general election campaign and debates that would have occurred between Obama and Paul, the possibility that an establishment Republican-type candidate would have run on a third-party ticket and gained significant support in the event of a Paul nomination, or the possibility that establishment Republicans could have acted faithlessly in the Electoral College in the event of a Paul nomination.

Let us begin by listing the major considerations of such a calculation. We start with Mitt Romney’s and Barack Obama’s vote totals, and then add or subtract the following factors as follows:

  1. Add the number of voters who cast a write-in vote for Ron Paul to the Republican column. Let us call this V(Paul).
  2. Add the number of voters who chose not to vote because Ron Paul was not on the ballot to the Republican column. Let us call this V(Disaffected).
  3. Add the number of voters who voted for a third party candidate but would have voted for Paul to the Republican column. Let us call this V(Third).
  4. Add the number of voters who voted for Obama over Romney but would have voted for Paul over Obama to the Republican column. Subtract this number from the Democratic column. Let us call this V(Spite).
  5. Subtract the number of voters who voted for Romney over Obama but would have stayed home or voted for a third party candidate in the event of a Paul nomination from the Republican column. Let us call this V(Die-hard Romney).
  6. Add the number of voters who stayed home or voted for a third party candidate but would have voted for Obama to try to defeat Paul to the Democratic column. Let us call this V(Third Anti-Paul).
  7. Subtract the number of voters who voted for Romney over Obama but would have voted for Obama to try to defeat Paul from the Republican column. Add this number to the Democratic column. Let us call this V(Romney Anti-Paul).
  8. Subtract the number of voters who voted for Obama over Romney but would have stayed home or voted for a third party candidate in the event of a Paul nomination from the Democratic column. Let us call this V(Anti-Romney).

The estimated vote for Ron Paul can be expressed as

V'(Paul)=V(Romney)+V(Paul)+V(Disaffected)+V(Third)+V(Spite)−V(Die-hard Romney)−V(Romney Anti-Paul), (1)

and the estimated Obama vote can be expressed as

V'(Obama)=V(Obama)−V(Spite)+V(Third Anti-Paul)+V(Romney Anti-Paul)−V(Anti-Romney). (2)

Now let us attempt to determine the values of the factors. In states with semi-open (independents allowed, members of other parties not allowed) or closed primary processes (only Republicans allowed), it is necessary to multiply by 1.5 or 2, respectively, in order to account for Paul supporters who were unable to vote for him because of their party affiliation. Let us call this constant the C-value.

V(Paul) can be directly used on a limited basis, as some states do not require a write-in candidate to file a form to be counted as a write-in candidate. In those states, we can simply use the vote count for V(Paul). We can then compare the percentage of the known write-ins to the percentage of votes Paul received in the Republican primaries and caucuses from those states and account for the type of primary or caucus as well as the total number of general election votes to get an average ratio. This ratio is 0.072, and it can be used to estimate V(Paul) for the states that did not count write-in votes for Paul.

V(Disaffected) is impossible to calculate, because there is no way to count a non-vote. This means that an educated guess will have to suffice. Robin Koerner conducted a poll in August 2012 of Paul supporters and found that 12% of Paul supporters intended to do something other than vote for Gary Johnson (66%; this amount is already present in V(Johnson)), write-in Ron Paul (16%), or vote for Mitt Romney (6%; this amount is already present in V(Romney)). As part of this 12% would be supporters of Constitution Party nominee Virgil Goode who are accounted for in V(Third), another part would be “spite voters” for Obama who are accounted for in V(Spite), and it is uncharacteristic for Paul supporters to do nothing, it is best to be conservative in our guess of how many Paul supporters decided not to vote at all. A reasonable figure would be 4%. Therefore, V(Disaffected) should be 4% of Paul’s primary vote in states with open primaries or caucuses, where all of Paul’s supporters were free to vote for him. The problem in calculating comes from so-called “Blue Republicans” who were registered Democratic, and were therefore not allowed to vote in closed Republican primaries and caucuses. A survey done in Iowa before the January 3 caucus showed that only 51% of those who supported Ron Paul self-identified as Republicans. In New Hampshire, the figure was 56%. So in semi-open primary and caucus states, V(Disaffected) should be 6% of Paul’s primary vote; and in closed primary and caucus states, V(Disaffected) should be 8% of Paul’s primary vote.

V(Third) mostly consists of Johnson voters, with a few Goode voters mixed in. It is unlikely to include voters who supported Green Party nominee Jill Stein, Peace and Freedom Party nominee Roseanne Barr, or Justice Party nominee Rocky Anderson, as they are mostly a far-left element with little interest in an economic and social conservative like Paul. Johnson publicly stated that he would not have continued running if it meant running against Paul as the Republican nominee. Not all Johnson voters would have supported Paul due to a few differences on social issues, but as Paul was the Libertarian nominee in 1988 and is still highly regarded by most people in the Libertarian Party, most of Johnson’s voters would have supported Paul. As for Goode, while Paul did not endorse anyone in 2012, he endorsed Chuck Baldwin, the Constitution Party nominee, in 2008. Goode received in 2012 about 60% of the votes that Baldwin received in 2008. This appears to indicate that a Paul endorsement can significantly increase a Constitution Party nominee’s turnout. Therefore, let us assign V(Third) a value of 2/3 of Virgil Goode’s vote who are not part of the 12% of Paul supporters mentioned in V(Disaffected), as well as 90% of the Gary Johnson voters who are not part of the 66% of Paul supporters mentioned in V(Disaffected). Perhaps 4% of all Paul supporters would have looked at Goode as the next best option. The final value of V(Third) is then 2/3 of other Goode voters plus 90% of other Johnson voters plus:

70% of Paul’s primary vote in open primary and caucus states;

105% of Paul’s primary vote in semi-closed primary and caucus states; and

140% of Paul’s primary vote in closed primary and caucus states.

Note that in states with a small turnout for Johnson or Goode relative to Paul’s primary vote, one or both of the first two parts of this factor may be negative. In such cases, the negative parts of this factor should be set to zero, as the purpose is to count positive voters for Johnson or Goode who would vote for Paul.

V(Spite) consists of two main groups: voters who are Democrats but would have crossed party lines to vote for Paul, but did not cross party lines to vote for Romney; and so-called “spite voters” who chose to vote for Obama because their candidate (Paul) did not become the Republican nominee. This group of voters is related to the groups of voters who make up V(Disaffected) and V(Third), but these voters decided that sticking it to Romney and the Republican establishment by voting for his major-party opponent was a better option than staying home or casting a third-party protest vote. This amount is probably about 4% of Paul supporters, but there are also “Blue Republicans” in this group. A good estimate is that V(Spite) is roughly equal to V(Disaffected).

V(Die-hard Romney) consists of people who voted for Romney as a vote against Obama, but would have found Paul to be objectionable as well. They would not have voted for Paul as a vote against Obama, choosing to either support a third party candidate or not vote instead. These voters would mostly be those who supported Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich in the Republican primaries, and could not tolerate Paul’s positions on social issues and/or foreign policy enough to hold their noses and vote for him. The last PPP poll to compare an Obama/Romney race to an Obama/Paul race found that 82% of Republican respondents said they would ultimately be willing to back Romney, while 76% of Republican respondents said they would ultimately be willing to back Paul. Therefore, a reasonable value for V(Die-hard Romney) should not exceed 6% of this 82%, or 7.32% of the Romney vote. Let us assign V(Die-hard Romney) a value of 5% of Romney’s vote total.

V(Third Anti-Paul) consists of left-leaning voters who did not turn out against Romney but would have turned out against Paul. But the Democratic base had an abnormally high turnout like they did in 2008. Any significant value for V(Third Anti-Paul) would probably have to be diverted from the vote totals of left-wing third party candidates, such as Stein, Barr, and Anderson. But the voters who supported these candidates are mostly far-left voters who are disappointed in Obama’s record as President, and are unlikely to vote for him in almost any case. Let us assign V(Third Anti-Paul) a value of 20% of the vote totals of Stein, Barr, and Anderson.

V(Romney Anti-Paul) consists of two main groups: voters who are Democrats but crossed party lines to vote for Mitt Romney, but would not have crossed party lines to vote for Paul; and so-called “spite voters” who would have chosen to vote for Obama because their candidate (Romney) would not have become the Republican nominee. This group of voters is related to the group of voters who make up V(Die-hard Romney), but these voters would have decided that sticking it to Paul and the libertarian wing of the Republican Party by voting for his major-party opponent was a better option than staying home or casting a third-party protest vote. Due to the small number of Democrats who voiced support for Romney, the reluctance of Republicans to back Romney in the primaries, and the nearly universal hatred shown by Republicans toward Obama, this factor is probably rather small. Let us assign V(Romney Anti-Paul) a value of 1% of Romney’s vote total.

V(Anti-Romney) consists of people who voted for Obama in order to vote against Romney, but would not care about an Obama/Paul race. These voters would tend to be progressives who are disappointed enough in Obama to not vote for him on his own merits, but voted for him because they oppose Romney. These voters would be indifferent to Paul, not supporting him enough to vote for him but not opposing him enough to vote against him, so they would vote for Stein, Barr, or Anderson, or stay home. Given Paul’s polarizing nature on issues that are important to progressives, V(Anti-Romney) is probably small enough to be safely assigned a value of zero.

Finally, we must modify the Paul primary vote to account for the difference between primary turnout and general election turnout. This constant, which we will call T, has a different value in each state, and is defined as the number of general election voters in that state divided by twice the number of Republican primary or caucus voters in that state. (The factor of 2 would not apply if there had been a serious primary challenger to Barack Obama. In that case, we could add the Democratic primary figures into the denominator instead.) To avoid anomalous results and keep the modified vote total below the total number of registered voters in each state, let us reduce all T-values greater than 15 to 15. So our final equations are

V'(Paul)=V(Romney)+T*[V(Paul)+2*V(Disaffected)+V(Third)]−V(Die-hard Romney)−V(Romney Anti-Paul), (3)

with the Johnson and/or Goode parts of V(Third) being excluded when they have negative values, and

V'(Obama)=V(Obama)−T*V(Disaffected)+V(Third Anti-Paul)+V(Romney Anti-Paul). (4)

Let us now apply equations (3) and (4) to the national popular vote, as well as to the vote in each state.

Alabama: The general election result was 1,255,925 votes for Mitt Romney, 795,696 votes for Barack Obama, 12,328 votes for Gary Johnson, 3,397 votes for Jill Stein, 2,981 votes for Virgil Goode, and 4,011 votes for other candidates. Alabama has an open primary (C=1), and there were 30,950 primary votes for Ron Paul. Alabama’s T-value is 1.666. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 1,225,775 votes for Ron Paul and 806,872 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Alabama’s 9 electoral votes, as Romney did.

Alaska: The general election result was 164,676 votes for Mitt Romney, 122,640 votes for Barack Obama, 7,392 votes for Gary Johnson, 2,917 votes for Jill Stein, and 2,870 votes for other candidates. Alaska has an open caucus (C=1), and there were 3,410 caucus votes for Ron Paul. Alaska’s T-value is 11.366. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 237,870 votes for Ron Paul and 123,320 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Alaska’s 3 electoral votes, as Romney did.

Arizona: The general election result was 1,233,654 votes for Mitt Romney, 1,025,232 votes for Barack Obama, 32,100 votes for Gary Johnson, 7,816 votes for Jill Stein, 289 votes for Virgil Goode, 119 votes for Rocky Anderson, and 44 votes for other candidates. Arizona has a closed primary (C=2), and there were 43,952 primary votes for Ron Paul. Arizona’s T-value is 2.253. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 1,328,462 votes for Ron Paul and 1,031,234 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Arizona’s 11 electoral votes, as Romney did.

Arkansas: The general election result was 647,744 votes for Mitt Romney, 394,409 votes for Barack Obama, 16,276 votes for Gary Johnson, 9,305 votes for Jill Stein, and 1,734 votes for other candidates. Arkansas has an open primary (C=1), and there were 20,399 primary votes for Ron Paul. Arkansas’ T-value is 3.510. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 674,069 votes for Ron Paul and 399,884 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Arkansas’s 6 electoral votes, as Romney did.

California: The general election result was 7,854,285 votes for Barack Obama, 4,839,958 votes for Mitt Romney, 143,221 votes for Gary Johnson, 85,638 votes for Jill Stein, 53,824 votes for Roseanne Barr, 21,461 votes for Ron Paul, 992 votes for Rocky Anderson, 503 votes for Virgil Goode, and 38,665 votes for other candidates. California has a closed primary (C=2), and there were 199,246 primary votes for Ron Paul. California’s T-value is 3.387. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 7,876,793 votes for Barack Obama and 5,699,997 votes for Ron Paul. Obama still wins California’s 55 electoral votes.

Colorado: The general election result was 1,323,101 votes for Barack Obama, 1,185,243 votes for Mitt Romney, 35,545 votes for Gary Johnson, 7,508 votes for Jill Stein, 6,234 votes for Virgil Goode, 5,059 votes for Roseanne Barr, 1,260 votes for Rocky Anderson, and 5,571 votes for other candidates. Colorado has a closed caucus (C=2), and there were 7,759 caucus votes for Ron Paul. Colorado’s T-value is 15. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 1,773,281 votes for Ron Paul and 1,328,408 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Colorado’s 9 electoral votes, which Romney failed to do.

Connecticut: The general election result was 905,083 votes for Barack Obama, 634,892 votes for Mitt Romney, 12,580 votes for Gary Johnson, 5,487 votes for Rocky Anderson, 863 votes for Jill Stein, and 55 votes for other candidates. Connecticut has a closed primary (C=2), and there were 8,032 primary votes for Ron Paul. Connecticut’s T-value is 13.083. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 904,295 votes for Barack Obama and 854,732 votes for Ron Paul. Obama still wins Connecticut’s 7 electoral votes.

Delaware: The general election result was 242,584 votes for Barack Obama, 165,484 votes for Mitt Romney, 3,882 votes for Gary Johnson, 1,940 votes for Jill Stein, 23 votes for Virgil Goode, and 8 votes for other candidates. Delaware has a closed primary (C=2), and there were 3,017 primary votes for Ron Paul. Delaware’s T-value is 7.238. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 242,880 votes for Barack Obama and 203,663 votes for Ron Paul. Obama still wins Delaware’s 3 electoral votes.

District of Columbia: The general election result was 267,070 votes for Barack Obama, 21,381 votes for Mitt Romney, 2,458 votes for Jill Stein, 2,083 votes for Gary Johnson, and 772 votes for other candidates. DC has a closed primary (C=2), and there were 621 primary votes for Ron Paul. DC’s T-value is 15. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 267,030 votes for Barack Obama and 57,952 votes for Ron Paul. Obama still wins DC’s 3 electoral votes.

Florida: The general election result was 4,237,756 votes for Barack Obama, 4,163,447 votes for Mitt Romney, 44,726 votes for Gary Johnson, 8,947 votes for Jill Stein, 8,154 votes for Roseanne Barr, 2,607 votes for Virgil Goode, 1,754 votes for Rocky Anderson, and 6,788 votes for other candidates. Florida has a closed primary (C=2), and there were 117,461 primary votes for Ron Paul. Florida’s T-value is 2.533. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 4,420,933 votes for Ron Paul and 4,259,357 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Florida’s 29 electoral votes, which Romney failed to do.

Georgia: The general election result was 2,078,688 votes for Mitt Romney, 1,773,827 votes for Barack Obama, 45,324 votes for Gary Johnson, 1,516 votes for Jill Stein, 432 votes for Virgil Goode, 154 votes for Rocky Anderson, and 109 votes for other candidates. Georgia has an open primary (C=1), and there were 59,100 primary votes for Ron Paul. Georgia’s T-value is 2.163. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 2,066,809 votes for Ron Paul and 1,789,834 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Georgia’s 16 electoral votes, as Romney did.

Hawaii: The general election result was 306,658 votes for Barack Obama, 121,015 votes for Mitt Romney, 3,840 votes for Gary Johnson, and 3,184 votes for Jill Stein. Hawaii has an open caucus (C=1), and there were 1,975 caucus votes for Ron Paul. Hawaii’s T-value is 15. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 307,320 votes for Barack Obama and 171,295 votes for Ron Paul. Obama still wins Hawaii’s 4 electoral votes.

Idaho: The general election result was 420,911 votes for Mitt Romney, 212,787 votes for Barack Obama, 9,453 votes for Gary Johnson, 4,402 votes for Jill Stein, 2,499 votes for Rocky Anderson, and 2,222 votes for Virgil Goode. Idaho has a closed caucus (C=2), and there were 8,086 caucus votes for Ron Paul. Idaho’s T-value is 7.301. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 527,906 votes for Ron Paul and 213,654 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Idaho’s 4 electoral votes, as Romney did.

Illinois: The general election result was 3,019,512 votes for Barack Obama, 2,135,216 votes for Mitt Romney, 56,229 votes for Gary Johnson, 30,222 votes for Jill Stein, 419 votes for Virgil Goode, 185 votes for Rocky Anderson, and 231 votes for other candidates. Illinois has a semi-closed primary (C=1.5), and there were 87,044 primary votes for Ron Paul. Illinois’ T-value is 2.808. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 3,032,281 votes for Barack Obama and 2,319,620 votes for Ron Paul. Obama still wins Illinois’s 20 electoral votes.

Indiana: The general election result was 1,420,543 votes for Mitt Romney, 1,152,887 votes for Barack Obama, 50,111 votes for Gary Johnson, 625 votes for Jill Stein, 290 votes for Virgil Goode, and 78 votes for other candidates. Indiana has an open primary (C=1), and there were 98,487 primary votes for Ron Paul. Indiana’s T-value is 2.065. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 1,508,648 votes for Ron Paul and 1,159,084 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Indiana’s 11 electoral votes, as Romney did.

Iowa: The general election result was 822,544 votes for Barack Obama, 730,617 votes for Mitt Romney, 12,926 votes for Gary Johnson, 3,769 votes for Jill Stein, 3,038 votes for Virgil Goode, and 9,286 votes for other candidates. Iowa has a closed caucus (C=2), and there were 26,036 caucus votes for Ron Paul. Iowa’s T-value is 6.511. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 982,200 votes for Ron Paul and 817,042 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Iowa’s 6 electoral votes, which Romney failed to do.

Kansas: The general election result was 692,634 votes for Mitt Romney, 440,726 votes for Barack Obama, 20,456 votes for Gary Johnson, 5,204 votes for Chuck Baldwin, 714 votes for Jill Stein, 95 votes for Rocky Anderson, 58 votes for Roseanne Barr, and 84 votes for other candidates. For this analysis, Baldwin’s votes will be counted as though they were Virgil Goode votes because the Kansas Reform Party usually runs the Constitution Party nominee, but it did not update its nominee from 2008. Kansas has a closed caucus (C=2), and there were 3,767 caucus votes for Ron Paul. Kansas’ T-value is 15. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 797,191 votes for Ron Paul and 443,305 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Kansas’s 6 electoral votes, as Romney did.

Kentucky: The general election result was 1,087,190 votes for Mitt Romney, 679,370 votes for Barack Obama, 17,063 votes for Gary Johnson, 6,337 votes for Jill Stein, 245 votes for Virgil Goode, 60 votes for Rocky Anderson, and 6,947 votes for other candidates. Kentucky has a closed primary (C=2), and there were 22,074 primary votes for Ron Paul. Kentucky’s T-value is 5.101. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 1,217,951 votes for Ron Paul and 682,513 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Kentucky’s 8 electoral votes, as Romney did.

Louisiana: The general election result was 1,152,262 votes for Mitt Romney, 809,141 votes for Barack Obama, 18,157 votes for Gary Johnson, 6,978 votes for Jill Stein, 2,508 votes for Virgil Goode, 1,368 votes for Rocky Anderson, and 3,651 votes for other candidates. Louisiana has a closed primary (C=2), and there were 11,467 primary votes for Ron Paul. Louisiana’s T-value is 5.349. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 1,241,105 votes for Ron Paul and 817,426 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Louisiana’s 8 electoral votes, as Romney did.

Maine: The general election result was 401,306 votes for Barack Obama, 292,276 votes for Mitt Romney, 9,352 votes for Gary Johnson, 8,119 votes for Jill Stein, 2,305 votes for Ron Paul, 62 votes for Rocky Anderson, and 30 votes for other candidates. Maine has a closed caucus (C=2), and there were 2,258 caucus votes for Ron Paul. Maine’s T-value is 15. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 436,382 votes for Ron Paul and 403,155 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Maine’s 4 electoral votes, which Romney failed to do.

Maryland: The general election result was 1,677,844 votes for Barack Obama, 971,869 votes for Mitt Romney, 30,195 votes for Gary Johnson, 17.110 votes for Jill Stein, 453 votes for Virgil Goode, 204 votes for Rocky Anderson, 64 votes for Roseanne Barr, and 9,588 votes for other candidates. Maryland has a closed primary (C=2), and there were 23,609 primary votes for Ron Paul. Maryland’s T-value is 5.242. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 1,680,748 votes for Barack Obama and 1,196,008 votes for Ron Paul. Obama still wins Maryland’s 10 electoral votes.

Massachusetts: The general election result was 1,921,290 votes for Barack Obama, 1,188,314 votes for Mitt Romney, 30,920 votes for Gary Johnson, 20,691 votes for Jill Stein, and 6,552 votes for other candidates. Massachusetts has a semi-closed primary (C=1.5), and there were 35,219 primary votes for Ron Paul. Massachusetts’s T-value is 4.276. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 1,928,276 votes for Barack Obama and 1,329,170 votes for Ron Paul. Obama still wins Massachusetts’s 11 electoral votes.

Michigan: The general election result was 2,564,569 votes for Barack Obama, 2,115,256 votes for Mitt Romney, 21,897 votes for Jill Stein, 16,119 votes for Virgil Goode, 7,774 votes against Gary Johnson, 5,147 votes for Rocky Anderson, and 199 votes for other candidates. Michigan has an open primary (C=1), and there were 115,911 primary votes for Ron Paul. Michigan’s T-value is 2.374. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 2,580,124 votes for Barack Obama and 2,237,393 votes for Ron Paul. Obama still wins Michigan’s 16 electoral votes.

Minnesota: The general election result was 1,546,167 votes for Barack Obama, 1,320,225 votes for Mitt Romney, 35,098 votes for Gary Johnson, 13,023 votes for Jill Stein, 3,722 votes for Virgil Goode, 1,996 votes for Rocky Anderson, 46 votes for Roseanne Barr, and 16,284 votes for other candidates. Minnesota has an open caucus (C=1), and there were 13,282 caucus votes for Ron Paul. Minnesota’s T-value is 15. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 1,782,427 votes for Ron Paul and 1,554,413 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Minnesota’s 10 electoral votes, which Romney failed to do.

Mississippi: The general election result was 710,746 votes for Mitt Romney, 562,949 votes for Barack Obama, 6,676 votes for Gary Johnson, 2,609 votes for Virgil Goode, 1,588 votes for Jill Stein, and 1,016 votes for other candidates. Mississippi has an open primary (C=1), and there were 12,955 primary votes for Ron Paul. Mississippi’s T-value is 2.186. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 694,906 votes for Ron Paul and 569,242 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Mississippi’s 6 electoral votes, as Romney did.

Missouri: The general election result was 1,482,440 votes for Mitt Romney, 1,223,796 votes for Barack Obama, 43,151 votes for Gary Johnson, and 7,936 votes for Virgil Goode. Missouri has an open caucus (C=1), and there were 30,647 caucus votes for Ron Paul. Missouri’s T-value is 5.467. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 1,660,269 votes for Ron Paul and 1,231,919 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Missouri’s 10 electoral votes, as Romney did.

Montana: The general election result was 267,928 votes for Mitt Romney, 201,839 votes for Barack Obama, 14,165 votes for Gary Johnson, 59 votes for Rocky Anderson, 39 votes for Virgil Goode, 6 votes for Roseanne Barr, and 12 votes for other candidates. Montana has an open primary (C=1), and there were 20,227 primary votes for Ron Paul. Montana’s T-value is 1.723. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 281,563 votes for Ron Paul and 203,137 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Montana’s 3 electoral votes, as Romney did.

Nebraska: The general election result was 475,064 votes for Mitt Romney, 302,081 votes for Barack Obama, 11,109 votes for Gary Johnson, and 6,125 votes for other candidates. Nebraska has a semi-closed primary (C=1.5), and there were 18,508 primary votes for Ron Paul. Nebraska’s T-value is 2.142. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 497,259 votes for Ron Paul and 304,453 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Nebraska’s 5 electoral votes, as Romney did.

Nevada: The general election result was 531,373 votes for Barack Obama, 463,567 votes for Mitt Romney, 10,968 votes for Gary Johnson, 3,240 votes for Virgil Goode, and 5,770 votes for other candidates. Nevada has a closed caucus (C=2), and there were 6,177 caucus votes for Ron Paul. Nevada’s T-value is 15. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 709,330 votes for Ron Paul and 528,596 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Nevada’s 6 electoral votes, which Romney failed to do.

New Hampshire: The general election result was 369,561 votes for Barack Obama, 329,918 votes for Mitt Romney, 8,212 votes for Gary Johnson, 1,374 votes for Ron Paul, 708 votes for Virgil Goode, 324 votes for Jill Stein, and 875 votes for other candidates. New Hampshire has a semi-closed primary (C=1.5), and there were 56,872 primary votes for Ron Paul. New Hampshire’s T-value is 1.431. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 414,162 votes for Ron Paul and 368,043 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins New Hampshire’s 4 electoral votes, which Romney failed to do.

New Jersey: The general election result was 2,125,101 votes for Barack Obama, 1,477,568 votes for Mitt Romney, 21,045 votes for Gary Johnson, 9,888 votes for Jill Stein, 2,064 votes for Virgil Goode, 1,724 votes for Rocky Anderson, and 2,902 votes for other candidates. New Jersey has a closed primary (C=2), and there were 24,017 primary votes for Ron Paul. New Jersey’s T-value is 7.864. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 2,127,090 votes for Barack Obama and 1,738,459 votes for Ron Paul. Obama still wins New Jersey’s 14 electoral votes.

New Mexico: The general election result was 415,335 votes for Barack Obama, 335,788 votes for Mitt Romney, 27,788 votes for Gary Johnson, 2,691 votes for Jill Stein, 1,174 votes for Rocky Anderson, and 982 votes for Virgil Goode. New Mexico has a closed primary (C=2), and there were 9,363 primary votes for Ron Paul. New Mexico’s T-value is 4.349. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 468,163 votes for Ron Paul and 416,208 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins New Mexico’s 5 electoral votes, which Romney failed to do.

New York: The general election result was 4,485,781 votes for Barack Obama, 2,490,431 votes for Mitt Romney, 47,256 votes for Gary Johnson, 39,982 votes for Jill Stein, 6,274 votes for Virgil Goode, 217 votes for Rocky Anderson, and 11,258 votes for other candidates. New York has a closed primary (C=2), and there were 27,699 primary votes for Ron Paul. New York’s T-value is 15. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 4,485,486 votes for Barack Obama and 3,459,220 votes for Ron Paul. Obama still wins New York’s 29 electoral votes.

North Carolina: The general election result was 2,270,395 votes for Mitt Romney, 2,178,391 votes for Barack Obama, 44,515 votes for Gary Johnson, 534 votes for Virgil Goode, and 11,537 votes for other candidates. North Carolina has a semi-closed primary (C=1.5), and there were 108,217 primary votes for Ron Paul. North Carolina’s T-value is 2.315. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 2,454,467 votes for Ron Paul and 2,186,066 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes, as Romney did.

North Dakota: The general election result was 188,163 votes for Mitt Romney, 124,827 votes for Barack Obama, 5,231 votes for Gary Johnson, 1,361 votes for Jill Stein, 1,185 votes for Virgil Goode, and 1,860 votes for other candidates. North Dakota has a closed caucus (C=2), and there were 3,816 caucus votes for Ron Paul. North Dakota’s T-value is 14.214. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 300,527 votes for Ron Paul and 123,358 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins North Dakota’s 3 electoral votes, as Romney did.

Ohio: The general election result was 2,827,710 votes for Barack Obama, 2,661,433 votes for Mitt Romney, 49,493 votes for Gary Johnson, 18,574 votes for Jill Stein, 8,152 votes for Virgil Goode, and 15,483 votes for other candidates. Ohio has a closed primary (C=2), and there were 113,256 primary votes for Ron Paul. Ohio’s T-value is 2.299. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 2,947,694 votes for Ron Paul and 2,837,211 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Ohio’s 18 electoral votes, which Romney failed to do.

Oklahoma: The general election result was 891,325 votes for Mitt Romney and 443,547 votes for Barack Obama. Oklahoma has a closed primary (C=2), and there were 27,596 primary votes for Ron Paul. Oklahoma’s T-value is 2.329. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 947,441 votes for Ron Paul and 447,318 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Oklahoma’s 7 electoral votes, as Romney did.

Oregon: The general election result was 970,488 votes for Barack Obama, 754,175 votes for Mitt Romney, 24,089 votes for Gary Johnson, 19,427 votes for Jill Stein, 4,432 votes for Will Christensen, 3,384 votes for Rocky Anderson, and 17,707 votes for other candidates. For this analysis, Christensen’s votes will be counted as though they were Virgil Goode votes because the Oregon Constitution Party chose Christensen as its nominee instead of Goode. Oregon has a closed primary (C=2), and there were 36,810 primary votes for Ron Paul. Oregon’s T-value is 3.115. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 973,420 votes for Barack Obama and 909,002 votes for Ron Paul. Obama still wins Oregon’s 7 electoral votes.

Pennsylvania: The general election result was 2,990,274 votes for Barack Obama, 2,680,434 votes for Mitt Romney, 49,991 votes for Gary Johnson, 21,341 votes for Jill Stein, 383 votes for Virgil Goode, and 11,247 votes for other candidates. Pennsylvania has a closed primary (C=2), and there were 106,148 primary votes for Ron Paul. Pennsylvania’s T-value is 3.560. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 3,163,854 votes for Ron Paul and 2,991,116 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes, which Romney failed to do.

Rhode Island: The general election result was 279,677 votes for Barack Obama, 157,204 votes for Mitt Romney, 4,388 votes for Gary Johnson, 2,421 votes for Jill Stein, 617 votes for Ron Paul, 430 votes for Virgil Goode, 416 votes for Rocky Anderson, and 896 votes for other candidates. Rhode Island has a semi-closed primary (C=1.5), and there were 3,473 primary votes for Ron Paul. Rhode Island’s T-value is 15. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 278,691 votes for Barack Obama and 241,456 votes for Ron Paul. Obama still wins Rhode Island’s 4 electoral votes.

South Carolina: The general election result was 1,071,645 votes for Mitt Romney, 865,941 votes for Barack Obama, 16,321 votes for Gary Johnson, 5,446 votes for Jill Stein, and 4,765 votes for Virgil Goode. South Carolina has an open primary (C=1), and there were 78,360 primary votes for Ron Paul. South Carolina’s T-value is 1.627. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 1,116,065 votes for Ron Paul and 872,648 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins South Carolina’s 9 electoral votes, as Romney did.

South Dakota: The general election result was 210,610 votes for Mitt Romney, 145,039 votes for Barack Obama, 5,795 votes for Gary Johnson, and 2,371 votes for Virgil Goode. South Dakota has a closed primary (C=2), and there were 6,657 primary votes for Ron Paul. South Dakota’s T-value is 3.531. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 245,585 votes for Ron Paul and 145,265 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins South Dakota’s 3 electoral votes, as Romney did.

Tennessee: The general election result was 1,462,330 votes for Mitt Romney, 960,709 votes for Barack Obama, 18,623 votes for Gary Johnson, 6,515 votes for Jill Stein, 6,022 votes for Virgil Goode, 2,639 votes for Rocky Anderson, and 1,739 votes for other candidates. Tennessee has an open primary (C=1), and there were 50,156 primary votes for Ron Paul. Tennessee’s T-value is 2.217. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 1,473,815 votes for Ron Paul and 972,716 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Tennessee’s 11 electoral votes, as Romney did.

Texas: The general election result was 4,569,843 votes for Mitt Romney, 3,308,124 votes for Barack Obama, 88,580 votes for Gary Johnson, 24,657 votes for Jill Stein, 1,287 votes for Virgil Goode, 426 votes for Rocky Anderson, and 934 votes for other candidates. Texas has an open primary (C=1), and there were 174,207 primary votes for Ron Paul. Texas’ T-value is 2.757. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 4,705,147 votes for Ron Paul and 3,339,624 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Texas’s 38 electoral votes, as Romney did.

Utah: The general election result was 740,600 votes for Mitt Romney, 251,813 votes for Barack Obama, 12,572 votes for Gary Johnson, 5,335 votes for Rocky Anderson, 3,817 votes for Jill Stein, 2,871 votes for Virgil Goode, 18 for Roseanne Barr, and 414 votes for other candidates. Utah has a closed primary (C=2), and there were 11,520 primary votes for Ron Paul. Utah’s T-value is 2.144. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 741,381 votes for Ron Paul and 259,077 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Utah’s 6 electoral votes, as Romney did.

Vermont: The general election result was 199,239 votes for Barack Obama, 92,698 votes for Mitt Romney, 3,487 votes for Gary Johnson, 1,128 votes for Rocky Anderson, 717 votes for Ron Paul, 594 votes for Jill Stein, 13 votes for Virgil Goode, 9 votes for Roseanne Barr, and 1,405 votes for other candidates. Vermont has an open primary (C=1), and there were 15,391 primary votes for Ron Paul. Vermont’s T-value is 2.459. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 198,998 votes for Barack Obama and 119,401 votes for Ron Paul. Obama still wins Vermont’s 3 electoral votes.

Virginia: The general election result was 1,971,820 votes for Barack Obama, 1,822,522 votes for Mitt Romney, 31,216 votes for Gary Johnson, 13,058 votes for Virgil Goode, 8,627 votes for Jill Stein, 76 votes for Rocky Anderson, and 7,170 votes for other candidates. Virginia has an open primary (C=1), and there were 107,451 primary votes for Ron Paul. Virginia’s T-value is 7.257. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 2,409,871 votes for Ron Paul and 1,960,595 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Virginia’s 13 electoral votes, which Romney failed to do.

Washington: The general election result was 1,755,396 votes for Barack Obama, 1,290,670 votes for Mitt Romney, 42,202 votes for Gary Johnson, 20,928 votes for Jill Stein, 8,851 votes for Virgil Goode, 4,946 votes for Rocky Anderson, and 2,523 votes for other candidates. Washington has a closed caucus (C=2), and there were 12,594 caucus votes for Ron Paul. Washington’s T-value is 15. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 2,061,302 votes for Ron Paul and 1,758,365 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Washington’s 12 electoral votes, which Romney failed to do.

West Virginia: The general election result was 417,655 votes for Mitt Romney, 238,269 votes for Barack Obama, 6,302 votes for Gary Johnson, 4,406 votes for Jill Stein, and 3,806 votes for other candidates. West Virginia has a semi-closed primary (C=2), and there were 12,412 primary votes for Ron Paul. West Virginia’s T-value is 2.982. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 439,922 votes for Ron Paul and 241,106 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins West Virginia’s 5 electoral votes, as Romney did.

Wisconsin: The general election result was 1,620,985 votes for Barack Obama, 1,407,966 votes for Mitt Romney, 20,439 votes for Gary Johnson, 7,665 votes for Jill Stein, 4,930 votes for Virgil Goode, 112 votes for Rocky Anderson, 88 votes for Roseanne Barr, and 6,249 votes for other candidates. Wisconsin has an open primary (C=1), and there were 87,858 primary votes for Ron Paul. Wisconsin’s T-value is 1.947. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 1,629,794 votes for Barack Obama and 1,469,334 votes for Ron Paul. Obama still wins Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes.

Wyoming: The general election result was 170,962 votes for Mitt Romney, 69,286 votes for Barack Obama, 5,326 votes for Gary Johnson, 1,452 votes for Virgil Goode, and 2,035 votes for other candidates. Wyoming has a closed caucus (C=2), and there were 439 caucus votes for Ron Paul. Wyoming’s T-value is 15. Applying the equations, the vote becomes 253,743 votes for Ron Paul and 70,469 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins Wyoming’s 3 electoral votes, as Romney did.

National popular vote: The general election result was 65,915,835 votes for Barack Obama, 60,933,500 votes for Mitt Romney, 1,275,971 votes for Gary Johnson, 469,928 votes for Jill Stein, 131,877 votes for Virgil Goode, 67,326 votes for Roseanne Barr, 43,018 votes for Rocky Anderson, 26,204 votes for Ron Paul, and 226,520 votes for other candidates. There were 2,105,358 votes for Ron Paul in the Republican primaries and caucuses. Summing the above results, the vote becomes 70,214,176 votes for Ron Paul and 66,169,260 votes for Barack Obama. Paul wins the popular vote, which Romney failed to do. In all but five states, Paul has a better margin against Obama than Romney did. Romney had a better margin of victory than the estimation for Paul in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Utah. These states are all Republican strongholds at present.

Electoral College: The result of the above analysis is that Paul defeats Obama by a 342196 margin, compared to the 332206 margin by which Obama defeated Romney. The difference is that Paul manages to win Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, all of which were lost by Romney. Also, Paul does not lose any state that Romney won. This is a net gain of 136 electoral votes for the Republican candidate. In terms of states carried, Paul carries 36 and Obama carries 14+DC, while Obama carried 26+DC and Romney carried 24 in the real 2012 race. This produces the following electoral map.

2012_PaulObama

In general, a larger T-value indicates a less reliable figure, as it indicates a very small primary or caucus turnout relative to the general election turnout. For the states that Paul flips into the Republican column, the minimum T-values that allow Paul to win are as follows: Maine 11.968, Washington 9.736, Minnesota 8.775, Nevada 5.352, Colorado 5.018, Iowa 3.031, New Mexico 2.899, Virginia 2.778, Pennsylvania 2.649, Florida 1.763, Ohio 1.755, New Hampshire 0.825. The last elections in which these states went Republican were as follows: Maine 1988, Washington 1984, Minnesota 1972, Nevada 2004, Colorado 2004, Iowa 2004, New Mexico 2004, Virginia 2004, Pennsylvania 1988, Florida 2004, Ohio 2004, New Hampshire 2000. Most of these states were considered by at least some commentators to be swing states, except for Washington. That Paul could have won Washington may seem surprising, but Paul had a strong showing in the caucus there with significant enthusiasm across party lines as well.

Now let us grant Obama some leeway and see what happens. If we exclude states that require a T-value above 8, Paul still wins the Electoral College by a 316−222 margin, with the following electoral map.

2012_PaulObamaT8

If we exclude states that require a T-value above 5, Paul still wins the Electoral College by a 301−237 margin, with the following electoral map.

2012_PaulObamaT5

If we exclude states that Republicans have not won since before 2000, Paul still wins the Electoral College by a 296−242 margin, with the following electoral map.

2012_PaulObama2000

So, could Ron Paul have defeated Barack Obama? Absolutely. Would Ron Paul have defeated Barack Obama? We will never know.

Seven observations on the end of the Rand Paul 2016 campaign

On Feb. 3, Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul announced that he was suspending his campaign. Following a fifth-place showing in the Iowa caucus and polling in the low single digits in New Hampshire, Paul said,

“It’s been an incredible honor to run a principled campaign for the White House. Today, I will end where I began, ready and willing to fight for the cause of Liberty. Across the country thousands upon thousands of young people flocked to our message of limited government, privacy, criminal justice reform and a reasonable foreign policy. Brushfires of Liberty were ignited, and those will carry on, as will I.”

Seven observations on this event follow.

1. Rand Paul did not run a principled campaign. Whether pledging to cut military spending and then proposing to increase it, considering cutting foreign aid to Israel and then backing down, being skeptical about belligerence toward Iran and then getting on board, taking a principled stance on the Civil Rights Act and then retreating, pandering to evangelicals, or reaching out to social justice warriors, Rand has repeatedly strayed from libertarian principles.

2. One cannot serve two masters. While running for President, Paul was also in a re-election bid for his U.S. Senate seat in Kentucky, and his victory in that election is by no means guaranteed. Republican Party operatives were becoming concerned that Paul’s attention on his presidential campaign to the neglect of his Senate campaign could cause him to lose both, thus giving Democrats a Senate seat that they might not otherwise get. Had he chosen to focus solely on his presidential bid, he might have fared better. But perhaps not, because…

3. Truth is treason in an empire of lies. The previous sentence is a quote from his father, and it adequately describes Rand’s role in the Republican primary debates, just as it did his father’s when he ran in 2008 and 2012. Whether challenging the dangerous bellicosity of Chris Christie and Ted Cruz, the threat to civil liberties posed by Marco Rubio, or the lack of detail provided by Donald Trump, Paul was the truth-teller on the stage. In a system that favors pleasant lies over uncomfortable truths, this is a campaign-ending liability.

4. Pandering to groups which are at cross purposes will get one support from neither group. Unfortunately, Paul was not always a truth-teller. As mentioned in point #1, Paul tried to broaden his support base by reaching out to people who openly reject libertarian principles. As another example of point #2, this backfired on him because his pandering to non-libertarians was not only believed to be phony by them, but also lost him the support of hardcore libertarians who backed Ron Paul.

5. The Libertarian Party is unlikely to gain much from this. Though the Libertarian Party’s statement on the event is correct to say that “the Libertarian Party nominee will be, indisputably, the only choice for small government in the 2016 race for President of the United States,” said nominee will likely be facing major-party contenders who have much greater difference between them than did Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in the last election. The possibility of Michael Bloomberg entering the race as an independent candidate would almost certainly mean that the Libertarian candidate would finish fourth, as Libertarian candidates have historically fared poorly when other well-known third-party candidates ran.

6. The establishment media is using the word ‘isolationist’ as a dishonest smear. Several commentators referred to Rand Paul as an isolationist rather than a non-interventionist. The difference is that isolationism is a non-interventionist military policy combined with a protectionist trade policy. All of the other candidates favor more trade barriers and economic sanctions than Paul does, which means that he is actually the least isolationist of all the candidates. This has been explained to the pundit classes on numerous occasions, so we may rule out incompetence and deem this malice.

7. The path to liberty is anti-political. Many libertarian-leaning voters continue to support politicians as a means of advancing liberty, but this has a terrible track record. Such efforts have not even accomplished as much as random violent outbursts against the state apparatus, let alone the anti-political methods of alternative currencies, black markets, cryptography, mass non-compliance, and revolution. The path to liberty is not to vote away the problems of statism, but to do what is necessary to impose liberty on our fellow human beings.