Strategery for the post-Bush era #2

ALLies,

First, (re-)read Shawn Wilbur’s excellent post from September, Time to free ALL the political prisoners. Also, the discussion on part Strategery for the post-Bush era part 1, and The Empire is Not American, But Washingtonian, and Beyond Blockades. Now, let’s brainstorm.

By the day after tomorrow, we will know something about what regime we’ll be facing for the next four years. Electoral politics are weird, and anything could still happen. But the chances are very good at this point that, a few months from now, (1) the Bush administration will be gone, (2) the Democratic Party will hold even larger majorities in the House and the Senate, and (3) it’s likely, although by no means certain, that there will be Democratic President and administration headed by Barack Obama. This after 6 years of trying to get by under a Republican-dominated government, and 2 years of divided government, which has largely maintained the status quo without any challenge or change. Or, less likely but certainly possible, that there will be a divided government, with both houses held by large Democratic majorities, and with the Presidency in the hands of John McCain. Whatever the case may be, the process of transition and of setting the tone will begin the day after tomorrow when the election results are finalized.

Meanwhile, among movement libertarians, there have been some significant shifts as the Bush era draws to a close. Chairman Ron’s Great Libertarian Electoral Revolution has dissolved, but there are remnant groups remaining. Most of those who have not simply dropped out of electoral politics or returned to their favorite evil of two lessers, seem to have either (re-)joined the LP or launched into an almost certainly futile crusades to take over their local Republican Party aparat. Meanwhile, in the Libertarian Party, the Barr/W.A.R. ticket has successfully marked the take-over and rebranding of the Party, with the express invitation and encouragement of an opportunistic and easily-awed leadership, by small-government conservative exiles from the fracturing Republican party. The election results (i.e., whether the LP’s inevitable miserable failure at the polls turns out to be a little less miserable or a little more miserable than its usual 0.25%-0.5% performance) will probably play some role in determining whether or not this rebranding is consolidated or not over the next few years. On the other hand, alleged political pragmatists are in leadership positions and are, as a rule, immunized against any empirical falsification of their views (if the LP does better, it’ll be taken as proof that the strategy worked; if it does worse, it’ll be taken as proof that they needed even more of the same). So, depending on the breaks, the LP may be stuck with more ridiculous conservative tools at the top of the ticket for some time to come. But if it is not, then the LP’s future may well be marked by left-sympathetic radicals like Mary Ruwart. A lot will turn on the usual weirdness of LP internal politics, and on what happens in the immediate aftermath of the election, starting, again, the day after tomorrow.

The most important point to make about the upcoming electoral coup is that, even if there is a massive change-over in the balance of power in Washington, D.C., it won’t change much of anything fundamental. There will be shifts on the margins — some for good, some for ill, and most of them neutral shifts of patronage and privileges from one set of power-brokers to another set of power-brokers. Whatever may be the case, radicals will have to go on organizing and go on fighting uphill against the warfare State, paramilitary policing, plutocratic state capitalism, government managerialism, the forced-pregnancy brigade, the War on Drugs, the border Stasi, and all the rest of it.

But also, presumably, the changing of the guard in the State citadel will mean that some of the facts on the ground are going to change, as is some of the rhetoric and some of the constituencies of Power. Presumably that means that we are going to have to make some shifts in tactics and strategy for outreach, organizing, education, evasion, resistance, etc. in the coming months. The time to start talking about this, and to start laying the groundwork for what we will be doing in the coming years, is now, if not six months ago. We need to start thinking about where should we go, who should we talk to, and what should we do from here on out.

So, with all that in mind, what changes are there likely to be in the challenges we’ll face during the post-Bush era, and under a consolidated Democratic Party-dominated regime in D.C.? What about under a McCain Presidency with a consolidated Democratic Party-dominated Congress? What changes in strategy, tactics, outreach, education, propaganda, and institutional infrastructure do you think that anti-statist liberation movements need to make, and what should they start doing now in order to be able to make those changes?

Let’s reason together and talk about it in the comments. (Or on your own blog, if you want the extra space; if so, leave a comment here with a link back to your post.)

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9 replies to Strategery for the post-Bush era #2 Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. "Nick Manley" - The Curious "Deviant"

    Charles,

    I am not sure what we can do. I am honestly at a loss as to how to proceed.

  2. "Nick Manley" - The Curious "Deviant"

    “I will make sure that the federal government does what it’s supposed to do…a better job of closing our borders and preventing hundreds of thousands of people to pour in.”

    Woo hoo! That’s change I can believe in.

    http://www.usnews.com/articles/news/campaign-2008/2008/03/17/where-clinton-obama-and-mccain-stand-on-immigration.html

  3. "Nick Manley" - The Curious "Deviant"

    Charles,

    I don’t want clutter this up with quotations like the above, so I feel compelled to honor the purpose of your post. I’d say we should try to distribute information on immigration policy — it would be a two pronged assault on both the “liberals” and conservatives.

  4. Sheldon Richman

    If Obama wins we need to be ready for when the inevitable disappointment with his centrism sets in. Younger voters facing disillusionment might be open to our truly progressive anti-statist meassage. At least no one will be able to blame the lingering economic problems on Obama’s laissez-faire policies, which is what would happen if McCain wins. An Obama victory could mean good days ahead for expanding the ranks of left-libertarians.

  5. quasibill

    Well, I’ve only got half an answer to your query. In the likely event of a majority Democratic federal government, expect massive subsidization of infrastructure and “green” energy projects.

    As for how to respond to that – I don’t know until we see what they actually propose. I’m certain that what they propose will not actually be useful towards those ends, but it’s hard to criticize non-existent proposals.

    Perhaps the answer is to start disseminating literature on real “green” energy, to educate people on the bamboozling about to occur. As for the infrastructure issue – we can’t even get anarcho-capitalists of the mises.org variety to agree about how distorting that policy is; I have no faith that we can reach the masses on that issue – just the localist margins on both the left and right.

    Also perhaps spreading some sort of education about the evils of government debt, and debt in general. They won’t be proposing to pay for any of this subsidization from increased taxes, but from further indebtedness. I personally prefer taxation to inflation (though obviously neither is the preferred end), and I think libertarians should take that position also, for principled as well as strategic reasons. If we can somehow break the link between the financial economy and the political system, that might be the biggest accomplishment we can hope to achieve in the near term.

  6. Sergio Méndez

    Sheldon:

    I think as things are we are getting it very hard. If Obama fails, it will be blamed on his “progresivism” and supposed “leftism”. Which will pave the way for a new generation of right wingers compaigning under the banner of faux “free market”, which is nothing else than the old neo-mercantilism mumbo jumbo designed to favor the plutocracy. And when those policies get into a dead end, when they fail, people will blame it on “laissez fair”, and so the viscious circle continues.

  7. Nick

    I think that Obama’s personality cult will fade away gradually as he is shown to be an establishment hack (assuming he wins). Therefore, as Sheldon said, we should be ready to fill a void that will open up in the “progressive” movement and in youth politics.

    One thing I think we should do is communicate with other people on the political fringe — primarily, the Ron Paul supporters, and the greens/progressives/”mainstream” anarchists. There are signs that a new sort of alliance may be emerging among these political stripes. We should talk about our actual ideas, but most importantly frame the issue in a broader perspective: that people need to unite for self-government against the State. Once we establish that governments must be created by the governed and that there is nothing sacred about the 192 currently existing countries, it will not be necessary to convert these people to agree with us on specifics, if we can simply fight for the same basic thing — self-government. There are potentially millions of people who fall in one of these political “fringe” ideologies, and I think it would be a good step to work to get some of them on the same page. (I don’t see any intrinsic reason people should be hostile to ALL-style views, if we explain them carefully.)

    Another idea is to create a YouTube channel for our movement, thus broadcasting our ideas out to many. I have ideas for videos I’d like to make, but we should have it all be together as a movement, not one person’s channel.

    One thing I’ve experimented with is publishing left-libertarian posts on the commentary sections of popular news websites such as the New York Times. If several of us made a habit of doing this, it would at least get the ideas out there, bringing a glimmer of light into the sewers of elite thought. If nothing else, it would be a moral boost for us, as our ideas would at least be put out there.

    Probably the main thing to do is to arrange times to gather in public places, hand out pamphlets/flyers, and perhaps give speeches. If we can unite with the aforementioned groups in any meaningful way, our ranks ought to expand to the point that we can arrange rallies and mass demonstrations, which I think could be very effective.

  8. Bob Kaercher

    Sergio makes an excellent point that’s crossed my mind more than once. If anything, Obama’s invevitable economic failures (as if the hangover from Bush’s hyperinflationary policies won’t be bad enough) will merely set the stage for a fake “free-market” Republican like Ronald Reagan, who after elected will conveniently discard the laissez-faire rhetoric and exponentially expand government power, just as Reagan and Bush Jr. did. Then the destructive results of those policies will be erroneously blamed on “laissez-faire,” just as so many liberals stubbornly claim that Bush was too trusting of this mythical “free market” we supposedly live with.

    Though I agree that there may be some opportunities for outreach to disaffected progressives as the Obama Regime grinds on, the scope of those opportunities will largely depend on how many progressives actually see the reality for what it is. The track records of progressive liberals, just as with allegedly “small government” conservatives, is not too encouraging on this score.

    So I like the You Tube channel idea. I generally like getting the idea of getting a specifically Libertarian Left critique of the impending Obamatopia out there to the public as it unfolds. Particularly compelling to most progressives will be, I think, showing how Obama’s policies, like the policies of all the other professional managerial “progressive” technocrats of the past, actually hurt the very people they claim to want to help: The poor, minorities, immigrants, blue collar workers, etc., and offering up the left-lib alternatives of worker self-management, localized self-direction, etc., and that such an approach necessarily relies on a lack of government intervention, not more of it.

    I myself have been toying with the idea of “live blogging” the Obama administration–setting up a blog with links to left-lib resources that will be strictly devoted to critiquing Obama’s appointments and policy proposals from an explicitly Libertarian Left perspective, say, two or three times a week, or as major developments in that administration unfold. (Though I haven’t yet made up my mind as to whether I really have the time to commit to such a project.)

    Of course, blogging shouldn’t be the only venue for this: Plenty of printed pamphelets and hand-outs with this same left-lib critique of Obama should be distributed far and wide as well.

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