An Open Letter to All Libertarians

Dear Libertarians,

Most of you have staked all of your hopes on Ron Paul. He has been defeated, during the course of the popularity pageant we call the democratic process.

The Libertarian Party has existed for more than thirty years, with no concrete results under its belt except a few local, irrelevant posts. Perhaps you believe it is the only solution. Perhaps you believe that the sole alternative to political evils is a violent revolution, and thus prefer the evils to violence, and call it “necessary” (as if anything evil could be necessary).

Suffrage is… powerless and unreliable. It can be exercised only periodically; and the tyranny must at least be borne until the time for suffrage comes. Besides, when the suffrage is exercised, it gives no guaranty for the repeal of existing laws that are oppressive, and no security against the enactment of new ones that are equally so.

Lysander Spooner

Or perhaps you may now be coming to the same realization that Anarchist writers have written about for centuries:

No political means have ever produced lasting freedom. Political means can engender nothing but the sustenance of political means. Only disengagement and principled resistance can produce lasting freedom.

With very few and very temporary exceptions, no government has ever been made smaller by political means. No successful movement for freedom in history has ever been guided by any other principle but disengagement and principled resistance.

From Étienne de la Boétie, 16th century precursor of the modern Anarchist movements, to Murray Rothbard, founder of the modern Market Anarchist movement, all are in agreement: disengagement is the best way to oppose the ever-growing State.

The surest sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Libertarians, is what you’ve been doing working, and if not, why do you keep doing it? Has the constant compromise of your principles (culminating in the nomination of Bob Barr for candidate, who is about as libertarian as George Bush) resulted in any success?

Gradualism in theory is perpetuity in practice.

William Lloyd Garrison, on the emancipation movement

You believe in smaller government. We are on your side. But libertarianism cannot be fulfilled by political means, and it cannot be fulfilled by violent revolution. The only way through which libertarianism can be fulfilled is disengagement. This is the method that Market Anarchists have always preached and followed.

How can disengagement succeed where political means and violent revolutions fail? Because the State can only survive when we, the people, believe in its legitimacy and treat State law, State “justice,” war, taxation and democracy as “necessary evils.” If a mere 10% of the people in any society refuse to vote, refuse to pay their taxes, refuse to recognize the legitimacy of State courts and the State police, establish their own voluntary courts and security, and promote a peaceful, voluntary way of life to the majority, then the State will be exposed as the criminal gang that it is.

If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible. If the tax-gatherer, or any other public officer, asks me, as one has done, ‘But what shall I do?’ my answer is, ‘If you really wish to do any thing, resign your office.’ When the subject has refused allegiance, and the officer has resigned his office, then the revolution is accomplished.

Henry David Thoreau

But most of you do not want Anarchy. This is well understood. However, some Market Anarchies in the past have had a legislative or law enforcement structure (e.g. the well-documented example of Iceland). I would like to submit to you that the establishment of such a structure is far more likely than any Libertarian political victory. Once the State is dissolved, I believe that most people will readily join the principles of freedom that you espouse: “as long as you don’t harm me, I won’t harm you.”

Ron Paul had a lot of good ideas, but he was wrong about one thing. He believed that the “role of government” was to protect and serve us. No government in history has ever done this. The role of government is to cheat, steal, and kill, for the profit of its members. We constantly observe this to be a fact in all its actions.

Hitch your wagon to ours. We have the ideals, the arguments, and the methods to change society forever. With your help, we cannot fail.

Francois Tremblay, in the name of all Market Anarchists
For more information on Market Anarchy, please consult my reference site Simply Anarchy, or come discuss with us on the Market Anarchy forum at Graveyard of the Gods.

11 thoughts on “An Open Letter to All Libertarians

  1. esun67 June 1, 2008 at 23:41

    Dear FT,

    Thank you for the encouragement of the Libertarian Party in the political process, your insight on the futility of such engagement is something that insiders have fought about for years and will most likely continue to do so for years to come.

    Given the state of ballot access, media coverage, our own campaign’s financial woes and a lack of candidates, it’s hard to imagine a more disengaged political scenario already. At play in the fields of tyranny indeed.

    I’ve never been convinced of the arguments against political action based on past success (failures in this case) or the idea that continuing to do so year after year somehow is analogous to some sort of platitude developed and espoused by the fellow who brought us Relativity.

    Without going into a palaver about the historic role of third parties in the context of the American system, I would suggest that ours is not a project based on false hope or unsuitable ambition. We often suit up for battle and charge windmills with full knowledge that our failure is imminent. Consider the party as Senor Quixote’s steed Rocinante and the riders the few who are capable of such risk within the brutal arena of electoral expectation.

    While I applaud the efforts of market anarchist theorists as yourself (I’m a proud contributor to a least two Market Carnival efforts recently), I often wonder the fear and loathing of your own for those of us whom seek this curious talisman of discourse. Certainly it is of our own choosing, expense and will. Short of not extending proper principle and perspective, I cannot see what harm it does to the leisure of the theory class. Even Mr. Block recognizes, in a recent LRC posting, that the value it extends throughout the entire libertarian franchise is something that even Hayek acknowledged in the course of the decade upon decade of struggle that this effort must surely accept and undertake.

    Ron Paul has certainly been a boon to all those whom have never been exposed to the likes of Mises, the horrid reality of the Federal Reserve and numerous other ideas and principles that have been the life bread of this particular pop of the movement. While many bought into the hype of the ethereal world of the POTUS quest, I would suggest even RP himself knew of the probabilities of the latter’s pursuit and is still likewise pleased that his recent book effort has been so well received by many who undertook the journey.

    While there are many within the LP itself who believe that electoral success needs to come with some expense to principle and theory, I can assure you that many of us continue to labor in the putrid piles on political pavements with no such lyrical yearning or misguided expectation. Ours is a visceral hatred for the evil which you so rightly identify and revile. Ours is a practical struggle for attention and acceptance in a world that cannot recognize us as serious, when a simple electoral device like single plurality districts continue to haunt us through the misgivings of one founder (Madison), who believed that factions were in fact that evil. Yet we rise as the noble locals (like Madison envisaged) who oppose those two dominant factions, who indeed rose from that design.

    Thus we are consigned to such an absurd existence like Sisyphus knew through Camus. Yet we cannot accept the mush and tides of pluralism as they make intellectual hay and that become the hope of scrambled eggheads who refuse to confront power to it’s face and speak truth to it. Perhaps we will always fail and turn back down the hill accepting that absurdity, but we do not conclude that any alliance however beautiful or secured will be the source of anything so pathetic as the real hope of success.


    Eric Sundwall
    Libertarian Party of New York

  2. Francois Tremblay June 2, 2008 at 02:38

    “Without going into a palaver about the historic role of third parties in the context of the American system, I would suggest that ours is not a project based on false hope or unsuitable ambition.”

    You’re right: your former “project” (I say former due to the fact that Barr is now the Libertarian candidate, meaning that the libertarian project is now completely imploded) is the equivalent of hitting yourself with a hammer in order to promote health. Political means can engender nothing but the sustenance of political means.

  3. Francois Tremblay June 2, 2008 at 04:35

    There was a typo I just corrected. Instead of “No politician means have ever…,” it should read “No political means have ever…”

  4. […] Written by Francois Tremblay and published at his website. […]

  5. Mike Gogulski June 2, 2008 at 20:50

    Dear Francios, I re-posted the letter with your worthwhile updates. Thanks again for this.

    On another note, I submit a possible substitute for your hammer analogy:

    “Electioneering for liberty is like fucking for virginity.”

    Hits a bit harder than the old hammer :)

  6. teageegeepea June 2, 2008 at 22:00

    I agree that libertarian politicking hasn’t achieved liberty. I just don’t expect most other angles to do so either. I look forward to seeing what comes out of Seasteading though.

  7. cork1 June 3, 2008 at 01:13

    I will have to check out the GoTG forum later this week. I’ve been looking for a good market anarchist forum.

  8. […] Spooner, open letter, politics, ron paul, William Lloyd Garrison This letter was posted by Francois Tremblay on his blog.  Although I’m not an American, there are certainly points I agree […]

  9. Royce Christian June 4, 2008 at 07:19

    Wasn’t the Libertarian Party originally started as a Christmas joke to make a point?

  10. […] Tremblay wrote an excellent open letter to all Libertarians, and that’s with a capital L, meaning the ones who think of themselves as members of the […]

  11. […] An Open Letter to All Libertarians « Check Your Premises "The Libertarian Party has existed for more than thirty years, with no concrete results under its belt except a few local, irrelevant posts. Perhaps you believe it is the only solution" […]

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