The case for including red pill libertarians in the Libertarian Party

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One might argue, "Red pill libertarians are not actually libertarian, because they favor enslaving half the human population."

The question arises, Where does one draw the line and say that a variant of libertarianism is so different from whatever kind of libertarianism is orthodox at the moment, that it should be considered by the Party to be unlibertarian? And at one point (if, indeed, at any point at all) does its unlibertarian nature become so severe as to warrant expulsion?

Given that everyone, especially independent thinkers, will have a lapse or an error from time to time and speak and behave in an unlibertarian way, at what point does it become too much to tolerate? Is it a matter of personal preference and judgment?

Principle vs. pragmatism[edit]

Is this a principled decision, or a pragmatic decision? Do we kick people out because they violate libertarian principles, or because they make the Party look bad (e.g. because of their messaging), regardless of whether their principles and behavior are libertarian?

Allowing experimentation with new variants of libertarianism[edit]

How is the LP platform to evolve unless people are allowed to advocate for kinds of libertarianism that differ from the platform as it is now? Just the fact that the votes on the current platform planks were not unanimous, and the fact that there are LINOs who run for office, suggests that the Party is already tolerating a certain amount of deviation from the platform.

Existing variants of libertarianism[edit]

Existing variants include:

  • Anarcho-capitalism, which holds that that governments monopolize services that would be better left to corporations, and should be abolished entirely in favor of a system in which corporations provide services we associate with the government.
  • Geolibertarianism, which holds that land can never be owned, but may be rented. They generally propose the abolition of all income and sales taxes in favor of a single land rental tax.
  • Libertarian socialism, which holds that nations should be ruled instead by work-share cooperatives or labor unions instead of corporations.
  • Minarchism, which holds that most functions currently served by the government should be served by smaller, non-government groups--but they believe that a government is still needed to serve a few collective needs, such as military defense.
  • Paleolibertarianism, which consists of isolationists who do not believe that the United States should become entangled in international affairs. They also tend to be suspicious of international coalitions such as the United Nations, liberal immigration policies, and other potential threats to cultural stability.

At what point does a variant become so different from the orthodox version described in the LP platform as to be unlibertarian?

New variants[edit]

Is there something to be said for letting people create and explore new variants of libertarianism without needing to worry about getting kicked out of the Party? Rothbard writes:

It is not only necessary to educate others; continual self-education is also (and equally) necessary. The corps of libertarians must always try to recruit others to their ranks, to be sure; but they must also keep their own ranks vibrant and healthy. Education of “ourselves” accomplishes two vital goals. One is the refining and advancing of the libertarian “theory” — the goal and purpose of our whole enterprise. Libertarianism, while vital and true, cannot be merely graven in stone tablets; it must be a living theory, advancing through writing and discussion, and through refuting and combatting errors as they arise. The libertarian movement has dozens of small newsletters and magazines, ranging from mimeographed sheets to slick publications, constantly emerging and dying. This is a sign of a healthy, growing movement, a movement that consists of countless individuals thinking, arguing, and contributing.

Louis Brandeis writes, in Whitney v. California, "If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence. Only an emergency can justify repression." Of course, constitutional guarantees of free speech don't tie the hands of leaders of private organizations, but perhaps the principle is still useful for them to apply in some cases.

People who have made statements contrary to orthodox libertarianism[edit]

Gary Johnson advocated banning burqas, saying, "banning the full-face burqa, as was done in France, would be a reasonable step toward preventing signs of abuse from being hidden." He later walked that statement back.

Robert Sarvis proposed a GPS-based vehicle-miles-driven tax.

Bill Redpath said, "I favor repealing most gun control laws, although I would propose retention and even creation of a few that, according to research by Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck, who has written at least two pro-gun books, have likely reduced crime."

William Weld said, toward the end of his campaign as he seemed to be basically throwing in the towel, "I'm here vouching for Mrs. Clinton."

Does it depend on the person?[edit]

Suppose the person making an unlibertarian statement is a notable major party politician, such as a former Congressman or Governor. He found that his party wouldn't nominate him for a higher position (such as President), and now he wants to run as a Libertarian. Should the LP tolerate a great deviation from libertarian principles for that man than they would tolerate from an average Joe? After all, his name recognition and political experience could theoretically be an asset to the Party and give the Party more legitimacy in the public's eye.

From what I've seen, this hasn't worked too well. But there are some who say that the Bob Barrs and William Welds have done some good for the Party. Personally, I find this kind of opportunism to be hard to reconcile with the idea of being the "Party of Principle". Of course, Red Pill Libertarians may seem pragmatic too, with our talk of making ethics up as we go along, but we're actually the philosophy of pragmatism-based principle. We arrive at principle using the consequentialist idea of "what works" and then apply the principle in a seemingly idealistic way that is actually pragmatic in the long run, because it has a greater influence on the mainstream.

Rothbard notes, "In contrast to matters of theory and principle, the particular tactics to be used — so long as they are consistent with the principles and ultimate goal of a purely free society — are a matter of pragmatism, judgment, and the inexact 'art' of the tactician."