19A030 Political Action? by Jim Davies, 7/23/2019    


A ZGBlogger questioned a point made in the recent Blog The Demolition. There, the task of demolishing government was said to be impossible just by depriving it of votes or money; that only denying it labor will do the job. The reasonable question was, cannot a true libertarian party do the job instead by attracting ever more votes, until it commands a majority at all levels?

By "true" is meant an LP that stays faithful to its principles, that does not compromise as the actual LP has done many times, by for example nominating candidates who propose some actions that violate the Non Aggression Principle.

It's a fair question; it troubled even Murray Rothbard and Harry Browne, and each in his turn and manner decided to give it a try. I think the answer is "no", but let's examine the reasons.

First and foremost, a reminder of the objective: to demolish government in total. Each person owns himself 100%, therefore the right amount of control for government to exercise is exactly zero. We are not interested in minarchism.

So a Libertarian Party makes that its platform, and runs candidates. It may propose doing so gradually over a few years, that's realistic, but it makes clear that such is the eventual purpose. It is selling freedom... and responsibility.

Problem 1: it will not work. Voters don't want to spend their votes on that, they want goodies of some kind at someone else's expense; they wish to impose their preferences on others using the force of government guns. That's the whole point of the democratic system, however well disguised.

Am I sure it won't work? - yes. The LP has offered freedom for 50 years, and gets about 1% of the vote with no rising trend. Not only does this fail the test of reason, it fails that of half a century of earnest and dedicated action.

Problem 2: That's so even though the LP has in numerous ways compromised or softened its message, seldom in fact making it clear that total abolition is its eventual aim. Same result: no sale. The lack of progress is a powerful motivator to soften the message, and if a further softening were to produce credible progress, that would be worse news yet! - for it would move the party to soften it yet further. Eventually it would closely resemble the R&D Party.

Problem 3: Voting is an act of violent aggression, and to vote is to endorse that system - even when a particular vote (for the LP) is designed to reduce the level of violent aggression. It uses the enemy's own weapons or system. If there is any alternative at all available (there is), that's morally tainted.

Problem 4: Would an electoral win "impose liberty" on the losers, and isn't there something wrong about that? I've used that phrase and argument in the past, but on reflection I don't think it's correct, so will not use it again.

The losers - statist parasites - have been habitually living off their neighbors in one or many respects, and an LP win would stop that theft. When a thief's career is brought to an end, we don't say we've "imposed liberty" on him. Rather, we just remove his opportunity to commit aggression.

Even so, an LP win would bring severe problems, as in #5 below.

Problem 5: In the unlikely event of a victory, violence would result.

That's because in every election the losers (who may be 49%) are sore; and if the LP were to win overall control the losers would be sore and desperate. Their whole system (of beggar thy neighbor) would be threatened with destruction and they would have nothing to lose by starting riots, creating mayhem and perhaps launching a civil war. They would have ready access to weaponry and might well prevail. In that case, a victory would trigger its own defeat.

A counter-argument to the foregoing is that the LP has been a very effective way to educate people about liberty; and as a grateful recipient of such education I cannot deny that. But for the LP, I don't see how I'd have had access to knowledgeable and inspiring speakers, nor to the library of good books that have made the second half of my life so full of meaning and purpose.

Let's say that's true (though one might question its general truth by noting Problem #1 above; if it were true, why has it not produced growth and success?) Certainly, education is vital; but is a political party the most effective way to get it delivered? The purpose of a party is to win elections, not to educate. If its real objective is to teach, why bother with all the razzmatazz of selecting and running candidates, the passionate appeals for funding, the submission of petitions, the release of balloons? What's needed for education is simply some kind of school. Robert LeFevre knew that.

TOLFA is one such, and uses a one-to-one approach analogous to home schools for children; progress is both gradual and relentless so there will be no large minority of "sore losers" to create havoc. My Transition to Liberty offers more.

Once re-educated, the population will not need "political leaders" to remove the apparatus of the State; it will simply collapse on its own because nobody will any longer work for it. There's a parallel with Tandy's famous dictum about revolutions: that if a violent revolution could be won, it need never be started; or simply "if it were possible, it would not be necessary."

We might adapt that for political action: if the LP could ever win an election, there would be no need for it to bother trying.

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