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Posts tagged Ron Paul

Welcome, FreeTalkers

For those of you who have been around here for a while, you may be interested to know that I recorded a brief interview this afternoon on agorism and electoral politics with Mark Edge from FreeTalkLive. The interview will be attached to the end of the podcast, which I’m told will be available late tonight. Due to time constraints on the interview, there’s a fair amount that I got the chance to mention but didn’t allow myself the time to follow up on; if there’s anything that you want to hash out at greater length, please do drop it in the comments and let’s talk.

Update 2009-10-09. [An MP3 of the 2009-10-07 show, with my interview included, is now available for download](http://media.libsyn.com/media/ftl/FTL2009-10-07.mp3).)

For those of you who found out about me, or about agorism, or about this website, through the interview, or the show notes, welcome! Let me take a moment to introduce myself. I’m Charles Johnson, also known as Rad Geek. I’m an individualist anarchist, originally from Alabama, now living and working in Las Vegas. I am a member of the Southern Nevada Alliance of the Libertarian Left, maintainer of several anti-statist web projects, and an occasional writer for The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty. If you’re new to the blog, or to agorism and individualist anarchism as a set of ideas, here’s some things which might give you some idea of where I’m coming from, and what I care about.

For an extended treatment of agorism, counter-economics, and what it’s all about — including its positive aspects, above and beyond its critique of electoral politics, you may want to check out this interview I recorded with Jason Talley of the Motorhome Diaries back in May:

For an in-depth discussion of counter-economics and direct action, and of the inherent limitations of electoral politics, see:

Among agorists, I’m a bit unusual in the extent to which I stress counter-economic that are either already-existing projects of, or else inspired by the historical examples of, and tied to goals traditionally associated with, the anti-authoritarian Left — including, notably, anti-statist radical labor unions, grey-market mutual aid networks like Food Not Bombs or LETS and other localized trading networks, black-market mutual aid networks like the Jane abortion network, existing feminist projects like the battered women’s shelter and rape crisis center movement, and existing social anarchist projects like CopWatch and the Anarchist Black Cross Federation. For some discussions of why, see:

If you’re curious, I discuss my views on why I think that some more familiar forms of libertarian political strategy — such as voting for Ron Paul, or running nominally libertarian candidates for government office, or trying to lobby the state to act less statist, or trying to vindicate some less-statist reading of the United States Constitution in the courts, or indeed spending any considerable effort on teaming up in an ongoing, open-ended political party with minimal-statists — are at best futile, and often actively destructive of serious politics, at some length in:

And since the topic of Ron Paul, specifically, came up, and since, out of concern for time, I stated my views but did not spend long on elaborating them — and since, while we’re here, the miserable failure of Ron Paul’s single-digit primary showing is currently the show pony for the awesome potential of libertarian electoralism — it may be worth pointing to some more detailed discussion of what my problems with the Pauliticos are, or were:

I suppose I could also discuss the even more miserable miserable failure of the Libertarian Party, and particularly of its recent strategy of mercilessly pruning away anything resembling libertarianism from the platform in order to advance the prospects for failed candidacies by ridiculous conservative tools, as in the recent Barr/W.A.R. ticket. But really, I am at the point where I think that kind of thing is really beneath comment. The Pauliticos may be wrong, but they have the benefit of being comprehensible. Not so, at this late date, those who still believe that serious political transformation is going to come about by means of the supporting LP.

It doesn’t take much imagination.

Here is Ron Paul, speaking about an occupation.

Imagine an Occupied America

Imagine for a moment that somewhere in the middle of Texas there was a large foreign military base, say Chinese or Russian. Imagine that thousands of armed foreign troops were constantly patrolling American streets in military vehicles. Imagine they were here under the auspices of keeping us safe or promoting democracy or protecting their strategic interests.

Imagine that they operated outside of U.S. law, and that the Constitution did not apply to them. Imagine that every now and then they made mistakes or acted on bad information and accidentally killed or terrorized innocent Americans, including women and children, most of the time with little to no repercussions or consequences. Imagine that they set up checkpoints on our soil and routinely searched and ransacked entire neighborhoods of homes. Imagine if Americans were fearful of these foreign troops and overwhelmingly thought America would be better off without their presence.

Imagine if some Americans were so angry about them being in Texas that they actually joined together to fight them off, in defense of our soil and sovereignty, because leadership in government refused or were unable to do so. Imagine that those Americans were labeled terrorists or insurgents for their defensive actions, and routinely killed or captured and tortured by the foreign troops on our land. Imagine that the occupiers’ attitude was that if they just killed enough Americans, the resistance would stop, but instead, for every American killed, 10 more would take up arms against them, resulting in perpetual bloodshed. Imagine if most of the citizens of the foreign land also wanted these troops to return home. Imagine if they elected a leader who promised to bring them home and put an end to this horror.

Imagine if that leader changed his mind once he took office.

The reality is that our military presence on foreign soil is as offensive to the people that live there as armed Chinese troops would be if they were stationed in Texas. We would not stand for it here, but we have had a globe-straddling empire and a very intrusive foreign policy for decades that incites a lot of hatred and resentment toward us.

— Ron Paul, Antiwar.com (2009-03-10): Imagine an Occupied America. Hyperlinks mine.

That’s one reality. The other reality is all this imagining doesn’t actually take much imagination. The occupation is already here; the uniforms are different, but the practices are the same. The problem here is not us — it is U.S. And if us means you and me and our neighbors, then it’s important to keep in mind that, so long as I have no way of vetoing the acts or withdrawing my material support from projects done on my dime and supposedly in my name, all of us have much more in common with the other victims of Washingtonian command and control than we do with the commanders and controllers.

See also:

Contrarium sequitur

In logic, a non sequitur is the fallacy of asserting a conclusion which does not logically follow from the premises.

Usually when somebody commits a non sequitur, it happens because the conclusion somehow seemed to follow from the premises even though it does not — for example, if it follows only when some controversial but not-yet-mentioned auxiliary premises are added to the premises already on the table, or if the conclusion follows from a distinct claim which has been confused with the claims that the premises actually made.

But life and politics being what they are, sometimes a label like non sequitur just isn’t enough. For example, there’s an extremely common argument, supposedly a refutation of anarchism, which holds that anarchism may be ideal for a society of angels, but that, in the real world, people are nasty and untrustworthy and will relentlessly exploit and violate each other given half the chance. The conclusion the statist then expects us to draw from these premises is that we should all agree to give a small handful of these admittedly nasty and untrustworthy creeps monopoly power to force their will on other people without any significant outside constraints from the rest of the populace (!). Or consider Naomi Klein’s repeated recent efforts to point to the failures and massive government violence against free association and peaceable assembly that attend government outsourcing, government transfers of forcibly expropriated resources to legally-privileged monopolists, and other forms of government-backed privateering — and then to use these as evidence for an indictment of those who argue that the government should keep out of people’s peaceful economic arrangements (!).

In cases like these, just pointing out that the conclusion fails to follow from the premises is not really enough here. I’d like to suggest a new name for a certain sub-set: the contrarium sequitur, or perhaps contra-sequitur for short. It’s the fallacy of asserting a conclusion which is exactly the opposite of the conclusion you ought to draw from the given premises.

Examples aren’t hard to find in this modern world. Consider, for another example, the recent miserable failure of the Barr/W.A.R. ticket.

The Libertarian Party leadership hamhandedly foisted Bob Barr and his crew on the party because, as they saw it, the things holding the Libertarian Party back are the fact that many libertarians don’t have much practical experience in electoral politics, and the common perception that libertarians are weird, kooky, or extremist in their positions. So instead they decided to try a new tack of nominating non-libertarians. Their favorite, ex-Congressman Bob Barr, promised that, what with the benefit of his political experience, and with his attempt to repackage watered-down libertarian and smaller-government conservative views as mainstream, he’d be able to deliver millions of votes and tens of millions of dollars in fundraising. Of course, even if he had gotten that, his Presidential campaign still would have been a miserable failure, but a bit less miserable than the past several miserable failures by LP Presidential candidates, which in the world of LP internal politics counts as something like success. But, be that as it may, when it came down to it, Barr made no significant fundraising inroads and picked up just over 500,000 votes out of about 126,000,000 votes cast, coming in at 0.40% of the popular vote. That makes his miserable failure even more miserable than the miserable failures of Ed Clark in 1980 (1.06%), Ron Paul in 1988 (0.47%), and Harry Browne in 1996 (0.51%).

Thus, Barr, the mainstream libertarian and professional conservative politician, failed even more miserably than a gold-bug politician who ran on abolishing the Federal Reserve and unilaterally withdrawing the U.S. from the Cold War, and who took time out of his campaign to give long interviews about the Trilateral Commission and the secret manipulations of the international bankers. And both of them failed even more miserably than an investment consultant whose main campaign planks were to completely abolish the IRS and to use the presidential pardon to immediately release nonviolent heroin and crack users from prison, and who spent the 1970s publishing self-help books about tax evasion, his unconventional sex life, and defending against invasion under libertarian anarchism.

When this miserable failure is pointed out, the response from the political realists and the Barrbarians has been to insist that libertarians need to do even more to sacrifice radical appeals in favor of making mainstream pitches and attracting professional politicians:

We can (and will, undoubtedly) yammer endlessly on about how and why Barr failed, but what did (and always will) infuriate me was that a pragmatic approach was asked for one friggin’ time, once!, and we couldn’t get the Church Members to stop howling long enough to give it a shot.

The Angry Optimist, comment on Where the Libertarian Party Went Wrong, 17 November 2008, 3:40pm

The LP needs to start marketing and building the party. Part of this means they have to stop with their purity litmus tests. Stop scaring off voters by insisting on the right to own nukes. Sheesh. While I myself may be a radical minarchist, I am not so naive as to believe that anarchists/minarchists will ever be a sizable minority. But we can get significant buy-in on smaller less intrusive government. Let’s aim for that goalpost for a while…

Brandybuck, comment on Where the Libertarian Party Went Wrong, 17 November 2008, 3:57pm

The Libertarian Party is a joke, and libertines are its jesters. It’s fun to navel gaze from the comfort of the parents basement, but out in the real world politics are the art of compromise.

ellipsis, comment on Where the Libertarian Party Went Wrong, 17 November 2008, 3:58pm

The Libertarian Party insists on doctrinal purity and has no plans to open its tent. Given that reality, people who are fiscally conservative and socially liberal will continue to stick with the major parties. The LP doesn’t really represent them anyway. Until the LP becomes practical and realistic, it will remain a protest party. Having seen the last convention, it looks like a reasonable LP ticket is impossible, and as such, a strategy focusing on a few Congressional seats also seems unlikely.

— Lamar,Where the Libertarian Party Went Wrong, 17 November 2008, 4:26pm

Or, for another example of the contra-sequitur, consider this recent exchange at The Distributed Republic, where Kyle Eliason objects to some common feminist claims about male dominance in conventional heterosexual relationships, and insists that forcable [sic] rape is the only time women don’t control sex. When challenged, the evidence he uses to defend his claim that women, not men, control sex is that in his experience lots more women than men complain that they’ve been pressured into having sex when they don’t want to:

[How Many Men] Have you heard complain that a woman was pressuring them into having sex too soon or that a woman was just using them for sex?

— Kyle Eliason, comment on Where Do I Join the Women Approach Men At Bars Feminist Coalition?, 29 October 2008, 9:24

What does it say about the state of our society, and public debate, that you really need a name with which to pick out contra-sequiturs? Well. I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

See also:

View images tagged “Missing the Point” …

Here is a picture of a person dressed up as V from V for Vendetta holding a sign that reads "Government: Obey the Constitution"

(Taken from the MeetUp profile page of a local Ron Paul aparatchik.)

New Jersey ALL

ALLy Darian Worden mentioned organizing a New Jersey chapter a while back of the Alliance of the Libertarian Left. Now that he’s freshly returned from taking to the streets in St. Paul, he announced today that New Jersey ALL has entered the world of the webbed at nj.libertarianleft.org.

For a sample of what they’ve been working on, here’s a flyer they used to spread the good news about Direct Action and Mutual Aid to burned-out Ron Paul supporters in St. Paul:

Freedom in chains! Dissent in cages!

The two party system has failed to uphold liberty. The electoral process has failed to restore liberty.

Participating in elections is playing on the tyrantsβ?? turf by the tyrantsβ?? rules. It is an attempt to wring liberty from a system that is set up to keep the people in chains.

So what is a liberty lover to do? Fortunately there are many approaches. The following suggestions overlap each other and provide effective methods of fighting government oppression.

Think Direct Action β?? Bypass the rigged political system and instead organize the people to affect the changes you wish to see.

Think Market Based Alternatives β?? A system of voluntary trade and cooperation is not only more just and productive than statist intervention, but when economic activity is focused on undermining the state, the power of true entrepreneurs can destroy the system of political power and privilege.

Think Mutual Aid β?? Individuals cooperate for mutual gain and help each other with no centralized control. Looking out for each other is participatory insurance for a free world.

Think Civil Disobedience β?? Why do you have a conscience if you were not meant to use it? Whether confrontational or not, civil disobedience can be effective at gaining a little liberty now and a lot of liberty tomorrow.

Think Communication β?? Alternative media and information campaigns can bypass the press and go straight to the people, or exploit the press for libertyβ??s gain.

Instead of working within the system, why not work on building a new society within the shell of the old? Together we can build a society of liberty, where the rights of every individual to life, liberty, and justly acquired property are respected and upheld regardless of race, religion, trade, orientation, or geographical origin.

Free the Markets β?? Free the People

Agora! Anarchy! Action!

all-left.net

agorism.info

mutualist.org

There’s a ready-to-print PDF of the flyer

While you’re at it, also check out ready-to-print PDF of the counter-recruitment flyer that they are posting in the New Jersey area.

And here’s some of what they’re working on now:

Activities

Our current projects include loitering law street theater and literature distibution, and counter-recruitment flyering. We are also looking to expand our activist base from its humble beginnings.

Get Involved

To get involved or to just learn more, contact us at nj.libertarianleft (at) gmail.com

— From nj.libertarianleft.org

Welcome to the Revolution, New Jersey ALLies!

As a sidebar, I will mention that the subdomain name and the hosting space are being provided by, well, me. Which I bring up as a way to segue into mentioning that if you (yes, you, gentle reader) happen to be organizing a local ALL chapter, and are in need of a subdomain name (in the format ____.libertarianleft.org), or in need of web hosting, or in need of both, then contact me. While traffic remains relatively low, the hosting will be free. If in the course of the Revoution traffic should spike to the point that I need to upgrade my servers or Internet connection to handle it, I would just ask a nominal fee to help handle the costs–certainly less than anything you’d get from buying a commercial web hosting plan. Solidarity economy and all that, don’t you know.

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