Williamson County “Libertarian” Party Chapter Meeting (10.12.15)
POLITICAL FIELD TRIPS WITH KYLE REARDEN
By: Kyle Rearden [social title=”” subtitle=”” link=”thelastbastille.wordpress.com” icon=”fa-bitcoin”]
October 13th, 2015
Party politics is abhorrent to those individuals who truly hold human liberty as their highest value. As an anti-political philosophy, libertarianism eschews political parties and the concomitant phony partisanship that inevitably results from such reformism. If libertarians are serious about restoring American liberty, then they must give up the political means of making money in favor of direct action.
Whether a libertarian thinks that freedom guarantees the greatest good for the greatest number, or that liberty is best upheld by adherence to the non-aggression principle and the self-ownership axiom, there is still no philosophical or even utilitarian assumption being made that “working inside of the system” is desirable or even necessary. Regardless of whether a libertarian believes that rights are naturally inherent to individuals, or are bestowed upon humanity by a benevolent deity, the fact of the matter is that libertarians hold fast to the idea of liberty being only negative. Probably the worst scourges of all are the false notions of “libertarian-leaning,” or “adding to/completing” libertarianism itself, which are usually promulgated by authoritarian entryists.
Reformists, as I have observed during my brief lifetime, are illogical collectivists. They presume to know best how to secure American liberty, but then they fail to bear their burden of proof for demonstrating the efficacy of their methods, not to say anything of their grand strategy that is “infiltrating the State.” Their hubris is the source of not only their flimsy credibility, but also their strategic incompetence.
The anti-libertarian “Libertarian” Party (LP) is a notorious failure, mainly because its operations and very existence is riddled with contradictions. Christopher Cantwell, oddly enough, has promoted in recent years the virtues of the LP, which he sees mainly not as a vehicle for electoral success, but rather as a type of soapbox. In his brief introduction to libertarianism, Cantwell says:
“There is plenty of difference of opinion on how freedom is achieved, and whether or not working within the system is good or effective or justifiable. The platform of the Libertarian Party has changed over the years, and many different types of candidates with many different ideas and motivations have come and gone. But the Libertarian Party does not, cannot, and will not define libertarianism. It is only an institution originally intended to educate the public on the virtues of liberty.” [Emphasis added]
Although I truly appreciate Cantwell making it very clear that the LP is impotent in terms of defining our shared anti-political philosophy, he still insists on the LP’s educational value. In his overview of the LP as an institution, Cantwell said:
“If the Libertarian Party wants to serve its purpose, and efficiently allocate their very meager resources, they should do so as David Nolan intended, as an educational institution. Serve as a place to recruit and train new activists. Serve as a place that helps educate the public. Don’t moderate yourselves, radicalize others instead. I am proof you are capable of accomplishing this goal, and whatever your opinion of me personally, I think we can agree that the last thing the State wants, is thousands of Chris Cantwells running around sowing dissent.”
I am quite skeptical when it comes to the educational value of the LP. Despite Cantwell’s appreciation for how the LP saved his life, that doesn’t therefore mean the LP is worth anything objectively to libertarians, or Americans, at-large. If the LP’s value lies in its educational outreach, I’d argue it’s rather poor – their YouTube channel has only had 746,539 total video views since being established back on May 20th of 2006; as I’ve mentioned before, this pales in comparison to libertarian vloggers such as Stefan Molyneux and even Eric English, neither of whom, I have reason to believe, were influenced by the LP in any way. Interestingly enough, Cantwell republished a 1971 article by David Nolan, the LP’s founder, who shamelessly promoted the political means of making money:
“Now, one may argue that politics in an ‘immoral’ game, that political approaches are inherently coercive, that one cannot achieve pure ends by impure means, and so forth. But the fact nonetheless remains that we live in a society whose shape is largely determined by political processes, our chances of achieving our goals is not great. Many libertarians have recognized this fact, of course – and have expended hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of man-hours in political activities. But to date, we have reaped only a minuscule reward for our efforts.”
This is rather curious, for it would seem to be the case that David Nolan changed his tune quite a bit during an interview he gave on The Lew Rockwell Show #85 back in 2008. He said:
“We have, unfortunately, created (or the party has created) a little class of mini-bureaucrats who are more concerned with keeping their job and perpetuating the institution as an institution and raising money, than they are with spreading the message…now we’re down to the level of people who are, I think, for the most part, well-intended, but when compared to those men [i.e. Murray Rothbard] are several orders down the intellectual scale, and they’re absorbed with minutiae, they are concerned with fund-raising, and they are afraid to say anything that might scare people, because that might keep people from voting for us, so it’s become a very timid organization in the last 6 or 8 years.”
Nolan went on to say that the national LP membership had dropped by almost exactly half of what it was at the end of Harry Browne’s campaign back in 2000. Despite this coming from Nolan’s own mouth, Cantwell decided to rejoin the LP, I’d speculate, because he appears to believe the LP has improved noticeably in the last 7 years since Rockwell’s interview with Nolan. As Cantwell wrote:
“We might not be winning elections any time soon, we might not even make the ballot. I don’t particularly care about those things anyway. What we can do, is get a radical libertarian message in front of people who are curious about it, under the banner of a recognizable organization that just happens to be the nation’s third largest political party. We can run candidates for public office who don’t have to tone down their message in hopes of winning over a majority of the electorate, giving them the soapbox of a political campaign to put anti-State messages in the minds of voters.”
Perhaps Cantwell should consider what he himself wrote about four months previously, especially regarding the desirability of spending time and effort on people who have vested interests, specifically, the American electorate:
“So the truth of the matter is, even if elections weren’t rigged, even if you had the choice of voting for whoever you wanted to vote for, it wouldn’t matter. Democracy creates incentives by giving people the illusion of gaining the most valuable thing of all, control over other human beings. Think about how much it would cost for you to pay 300,000,000+ people to do what you want. More than that, think about what it would cost for you to expand that influence all over the world. The cost is beyond anything even the richest people in society could ever hope to afford. Government violence is the only way to accomplish such things, and as long as that option exists, people will exercise it.” [Emphasis added]
I’m not quite sure what Cantwell hopes to achieve by using the LP as a vehicle to reach out to statist voters in order to teach them about the virtues of human liberty. In the spirit of good faith, I’d suggest to him that perhaps he would do better promoting cancelling one’s voter registration on his Radical Agenda broadcasts.
Since the LP is little more than anti-libertarian reformism, I decided that the last political fieldtrip for my county government circuit would be to attend a chapter meeting of the Williamson County LP (WCLP). Arriving at Logan’s Roadhouse half an hour early, I chose to kill some time by doing a quick perimeter check, since I was unfamiliar with the area. Because the roads from the interstate were under construction, the only way to get to the roadhouse was through multiple parking lots, but once I had arrived, there was plenty of parking.
Upon completing my perimeter check, I trundled on inside about 10 minutes before kickoff. I asked the lady at the hostess podium for Robert Butler, as per the instructions on the WCLP’s Meetup webpage, to which she directed me to the doorway to a segregated private dining area underneath a green neon sign. The lack of security, thankfully, was akin to last month’s TAG meeting, yet also debatably similar to that Williamson County commissioner’s “court” meeting I attended.
Once I had entered through the doorway and sat down at an empty table, I was cordially greeted by several members of the WCLP. Jay, one of the rank and file, asked me if this was my first meeting, and I told him I had been to a few meetings about three years ago. Robert Butler subsequently introduced himself, as he is the Big Cheese of the local Reformism Caucus and Prefecture Ambassador to the battleship New Jersey (obviously, these are satirical descriptors of his “titles” as WCLP County Chair and District 5 SLEC Representative). Bo Zimmerman showed up, and I recognized him from previous WPLC meetings years ago, but I doubt he remembered me at all; when I asked Bo what accomplishments this LP chapter had gotten in the interim, he responded by showing me on his smartphone a document he helped compile together, which was the LP of Texas’ 2015 Legislative Review: The 84th Texas Legislature. When I asked Bo whether this document was similar at all to the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance’s annual liberty ratings, Beau replied in the negative.
Arguably similar to my other recent political fieldtrips, this meeting started late, despite the fact that I arrived quite early. Butler got up and addressed the “crowd” about 10 minutes after the meeting was supposed to have started, and announced that because there was a guest speaker for tonight, he wasn’t going to officially start the meeting until more people arrived. Shortly thereafter, a couple came in and sat at the same table where Bo and I were; the man, who claimed to be a cameraman for Infowars (which is Alex Jones’ news cycle website), asked Bo whom the speaker was. As Bo tried to be coy with my earlier question to him about that (since, like TAG, there was no meeting agenda handed out or easily available, otherwise), he directly answered the question by saying that Jax Finfel is officially leaving her leadership role within the LP in order to assume the position of the Grand Pooh-bah for Potheads United (Bo himself used the term “grand pooh-bah” to describe the Executive Directorship of Texas NORML, since he couldn’t remember precisely what the title was).
The décor of the roadhouse closely mimicked both the Williamson County commissioner’s “courtroom” as well as the county (judicial) courthouse in that there was tons of wood paneling everywhere. I kid you not, if there was one attribute common to my county circuit of political fieldtrips, it is that the design of the buildings these events are occurring in have incorporated copious amounts of wood. I don’t know if this is a rural Texas aesthetic, but it’s what I was pondering while waiting for the WCLP meeting to get underway.
Finally, the meeting got started once Butler decided that there was no realistic chance the attendance of the audience was going to exceed twenty people. He first mentioned that that the Round Rock city council has been considering putting up red-light traffic cameras, but since there wasn’t enough of a revenue stream, they ultimately decided against doing it. Allegedly, studies had been done that showed that only 5% of all drivers were running those red lights, and a significant portion of those drivers were performing the notorious “California stop.” I find it quite revealing that Butler self-admittedly took credit for a grievance that solved itself, thereby requiring no action on the part of WCLP; besides the fact that this problem only dealt with the Round Rock municipal government, and had nothing at all to do with the Williamson county government.
Next, Butler introduced Jax, who spend the majority of her speaking time on how wonderful NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) is, for all of their attempts to decriminalize cannabis. Jax mentioned that after all of the grassroots lobbying by the Texas chapter of NORML, the only solid legal result worth mentioning was that a legislative bill got passed that allows cannabis to be grown in Texas, but only for the benefit of licensed epilepsy patients. Her next big project will be for simple possession to be treated as a civil infraction, “like a speeding ticket,” as she put it, where the penalty would only be “limited” to a maximum $250 fine. She also mentioned about an effort to promote medicinal cannabis to treat the PTSD of returning veterans by using empty pill bottles for their symbolic value during some kind of Veterans’ Day parade.
Lastly, she said that Texas NORML is interested in getting more people registered to vote; if I had told her that I had already canceled my voter registration two years ago, and that I openly advocate for more people to do likewise with theirs, then I bet she would’ve pegged me as her enemy, which is why I kept my mouth shut. Oddly enough, Jax will be the very first Texas NORML executive director to earn a salary of $42,500 a year, much like Free State Project president Carla Gericke getting paid ~ $50,000/yr in order to encourage libertarians to move to New Hampshire so as to get elected to the legislature in Concord and then repeal as many laws as possible. It would seem to be the case that such reformist “activism” is more of a job along a career path than it is a cause for anything.
One sidetrack that occurred during the meeting was that one of the members in attendance was running for county sheriff. When Jax asked whether anyone had served in the military, this candidate raised his hand, to which she thanked him for “his service.” This same aspiring politician mentioned somewhat earlier that he was running under a GOP ticket rather than on a LP ticket, and absolutely nobody batted an eyelash (much less called him out) when he announced he was doing so in order to “teach a lesson” to the other (anti-republican) Republicans. If I had only a few minutes to question that statist, I bet I would’ve been able to expose him as a shameless authoritarian, much like I did last year with Matthew Monforton.
Throughout this entire time, I was chuckling and snickering openly whenever either Butler or Jax said something I found either poignant or hysterical (just consider the ridiculousness of the aforementioned observations). Everyone else had blank stares, maybe because they were attempting to be polite, but it was as though they were electoral zombies. Expressing my humanity in this way got me a stare or two from both Jax and the county sheriff candidate, yet, I kept laughing and grinning anyway.
Eventually, Jax finished, about 50 minutes into the meeting, and then Butler took over, which was good, because the whole thrust of her yapping was that Representative Abel Herraro is the chairman of the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee who killed other decriminalization bills; this is not surprising as Jax admitted that Herraro has lobbying support from the government police unions. Butler said that elections were coming up and that some positions were open, including two seats on the Williamson County “commissioner’s court” (which was the only time during the entire meeting the county government was mentioned at all); the filing deadline was in two months, on December 14th. Then, Butler had two of his daughters head up to the front of the room and try to sell Girl Scout cookies.
I must say, that for the duration of this meeting, I felt totally out of place, but it wasn’t due to my previously mentioned laughing. The atmosphere wasn’t sad, hostile, or even boring, largely because it felt more like a TAG meeting, except, of course, that Justin Arman could pass off some of TAG’s recent activities as if they were accomplishes, unlike Butler; also, Arman was simply a better master of ceremonies than Butler given his showmanship, which I am, reluctant to say, I missed tonight. Unfortunately, both TAG and the WCLP were identical in that they were “equally” begging their political masters to be nicer to everyone, but for reformism, this is par for the course.
After the sales pitch ended, Butler announced the official end of the meeting, saying that we were free to talk amongst ourselves. This was announced at about the top of the hour, which was the halfway point through the meeting’s allotted time slot; so, just to get this straight, Butler started the meeting 10 minutes late, and then ended it an hour early, which means that the meeting itself took only about 50 minutes. I thanked Bo for showing me that legislative summary document earlier, and then I quickly left; unfortunately, I got stuck in gridlock traffic along the interstate, because a long-ass train was passing through Round Rock.
In terms of accomplishments, what can the WCLP lay claim to, exactly? Considering that the WPLC recommends that people grassroots lobby, run for public office, and worst of all, register to vote, I think it is more than fair to say their lack of accomplishments are a fait accompli. How many elections have been won, how many laws have been repealed, and most importantly, how many government employees have been fired or impoverished? I doubt the WCLP can answer, “At least one,” to any of those questions. In addressing Cantwell’s advocacy that the LP’s most valuable role lies in its educational outreach, I saw no evidence at the meeting that the WCLP was doing any such thing, whether through the The Philosophy of Liberty cartoon, The Magic Words: A Know-Your-Rights Mixtape, or even The World’s Smallest Political Quiz.
Ultimately, the LP is a partyarchy funded by the Kochtopus (or, at least, used to be, since the Koch brothers appeared to have thrown their lot in with the fascist Tea Partier war-mongers). Giving endorsements to political candidates as an alternative to voting, which Murray Rothbard suggested, is laughable. As mentioned in George Smith’s Party Dialogue, the problem is not the specific individuals vying for a political office, but rather, the political office itself.
Minarchists (advocates of minimal statism), such as constitutional patriots and kritarchists, would do much better by forming Committees of Safety, because that’s what the Founding Fathers did, rather than waste inordinate amounts of time and effort dicking around with reformist organizations like TAG or the LP. Putting aside my concerns about constitutional republicanism, I do think that establishing local Committees of Safety would not only lower the opportunity costs for American patriots, but also would increase the probability that Leviathan could be drastically shrunk, if not abolished.
This political fieldtrip concludes my county circuit, and I must say, I am glad it is over. As bad the Austin municipal circuit of fieldtrips were, at least the horror of “local” government was blatant; the Williamson county fieldtrip circuit was much more subtle in its display of tyranny, in that the business of statism was conducted as if it were as inevitably natural as sunrises and sunsets. What I have learned from these two circuits of “local” government (that is, these six political fieldtrips) is that this monstrosity of the State must be abolished immediately; the question of whether or not to experiment with hypothetically “limited” government following the abolition of Leviathan is one that should be as protracted and exhaustive a public debate that ever occurred, preferably lasting well over five times as long as the ratification period of the late 1780s, which is to say, 10+ years of living without rulers.
Shane Radliff’s circuit of political fieldtrips within the Communist State of Illinois earlier this year were rather eye-opening for me, because he was the very first one to publish eyewitness accounts of “local” government in action as part of a coherent series. His last political fieldtrip, which was to the McLean County LP chapter, simply reinforced his decision as to his firm anti-political (reformist) attitude. Now, I understand why Shane become an anarchist – it wasn’t because of utopian idealism, at all, but rather, his sober and adult observations regarding the daily operating procedures of local government. By acting as a pragmatic witness inside the natural habitat of the State, Shane realized that any and all arguments in favor of government as a “necessary evil” are hilariously ridiculous, and (I think) ought to be shamelessly mocked as such, because this isn’t a fucking game – our liberty and property are on the damn line here. As Sam Konkin explained back in 1985:
“The ultimate nightmare, which I’ve described in a few pamphlets (for those of you who don’t remember it), the idea of a ‘libertarian working his way through the system,’ who arrests one of us counter-economists (one of those people who actually go and break the laws and things, because we don’t believe in the government), and he takes us in front of a ‘libertarian working his way through the system’ who is a judge that sentences us, and a ‘libertarian working his way through the system’ is a bailiff, takes us to jail where a ‘libertarian working his way through the system’ is a turnkey, holds us prisoner, until eventually a ‘libertarian working his way through the system’ is the prison priest, brings us up to the electric chair where a ‘libertarian working his way through the system’ is a state technician, making sure [the chair] is in good working order, a ‘libertarian working his way through the system’ is a burly guard, slaps us down in the chair, and another ‘libertarian working his way through the system’ is an executioner, throws the switch, and wipes out the one person, who is in fact, a libertarian not ‘working his way through the system.’ This is, therefore, the distinction that I am trying to draw.”
Reformists, hard as it may be to hear, are parasites, and at the end of the day, I am ultimately advocating on behalf of the entrepreneurial producers who are those grey downtrodden being pushed around, kicked around, taxed to death, and seeing their businesses destroyed by the State. I don’t have the patience, anymore, to try and appeal to vested interests who, if given a half a chance, would attempt to forcibly capture me in order celebrate my death in a government town square, to the sound of government trumpets blaring. Simply put, fuck that, and fuck them – I have had enough.