Saturday, August 10, 2019

Some Further Thoughts On: "Should Libertarians Try to Manipulate the Legislative Process Through Lobbying and Campaign Donations?"

As a follow up to my post, Should Libertarians Try to Manipulate the Legislative Process Through Lobbying and Campaign Donations?, I want to make a few observations on some comments made under that post.

One commenter writes:
My unqualified answer is no. Asking a politician to support liberty is like asking a fish to crawl out of the ocean and live on the land. Like the fish, the politician would not understand your request because if it moved in the direction you requested it would die a horrible death. 
If you are a liberty loving individual political activity is worse than a waste of time. Neither you or the politician will enjoy it or receive any benefit from it. Politicians live by theft and you live by productive effort. Don't waste your limited resources on politicians. Drawing attention to yourself with beliefs that are antithetical to the very existence of politicians will only make you a target of convenience. Focus on staying out of harms way.
This comment takes a very narrow view of the way the methods by which the legislative process through lobbying and campaign donations can operate. It does not have to be, and in almost all cases, should not be an attempt to convert a politician to libertarianism.

I made clear in my post that I was thinking of rearguard action not the wholesale conversion of a politician or politicians.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines rearguard action this way:
1: a defensive or delaying fight engaged in by a rear guard (as in covering the retreat of an army or the evacuation of a besieged garrison)
2 : an effort put forth by means of preventive or delaying measures or tactics and usually against great odds in defense of a threatened existing order or situation or in opposition to a proposed new departure
In other words, there is nothing in this effort in terms of a grand sweeping campaign (I also made clear in the post a grand sweeping campaign requires a mind revolution).

Rearguard action is not about trying to convert any politician to libertarianism (except in a very rare case). It is the focus of actions on minor points not sweeping libertarianism, often against just particular bills. If there is, say, a gun control bill or a surveillance bill where a key politician can be bought off to kill the bill and kill a further encroachment on liberty, that is rearguard action. Or a corporate donor in a particular sector, who buys off a politician, to get rid of an oppressive regulation in a sector.

Another commenter writes:
This is the order of operations approach I've put forth here many times. With various detractors including RW. But here it is written that first there must be a "mental revolution in favor of liberty" before a street revolution will do any good. 
The same is true with piecemeal approaches on an item by item basis. If not carefully considered that approach ends up strengthening the state because of the order. The state is strengthened or grows through crisis and if it can create crisis through backing off in a particular area while maintaining the status quo elsewhere it will. 
It is also how libertarians are often marginalized. The government will 'deregulate' or 'repeal' some tiny piece of a huge system and when that throws things out of wack and regular people suffer and cronies walk away with the wealth who gets the blame? The free market, the libertarians.
One could even argue that street revolutions on the individual protest level can often be piecemeal approaches where people are concerned about one item. They often aren't liberty minded but rather some government action is so very unfair that even statists get angry. Because they aren't liberty minded they will often accept some middle ground that resolves the issue at hand but results in new government power.
This commenter takes the "let's have more oppression to remove oppression" position, which I think is absurd. Rearguard action is about taking liberty where ever we can until the mental revolution occurs. It should be noted that many communists even view the taking of small advances as important and that can lead to a greater advance. They are not afraid to take advances wherever they can. In fact, that is what AOC is doing, she will advance the socialist cause step by step by step whenever she sees an opening. The idea that we shouldn't grab ground, wherever we can, gets us nowhere.



  1. ""This commenter takes the "let's have more oppression to remove oppression" position"

    The fact that you must deliberately miscategorize my position is what is absurd and nothing more than waving away my point. I haven't called for more oppression, I've called for the same thing you did in the previous article, creating a liberty mindset first to get to liberty, to get the features of liberty.

    Time and time again statists of all stripes out maneuver libertarians by getting them to sign on to some tiny backing off the state in some area which then with the remaining government power creates a crisis. That crisis is then used to discredit libertarian concepts in the minds of the masses.

    When I try to get libertarian concepts across I hit a wall with people where they point to something like the repeal of glass-steagall as proof we need government and libertarian ideas don't work. They don't understand that glass-steagall was just one tiny bit of a large amount of government interference and removing that piece simply changed the end result of the interference. It takes a lot of educational effort simply to get back to zero.

    Another example, Mr. Trump is doing little things that cause delays in the taking of more liberty and regaining tiny bits here and there. Yet you see it as such a trap for libertarians because you know Trump isn't liberty minded at all. So you don't support Trump and say those libertarians who do are foolish to do so. But the tiny advance argument would be to support Mr. Trump.

    Communists and other statists can advance the state little by little because they aren't blamed for their failures. Their failures, because of the mindset of the people, result in more government. In the mindset of the masses they failed because there wasn't enough government, not too much, or it was the wrong people. They got people into a government protects us/helps us mind set over a century ago. So they can make little advances here and there today. libertarians on the other hand have to be careful and ordered because people don't have a liberty mindset. You need the mindset first, as you pointed out. Otherwise the statists just set up libertarians to take the blame for some of their failures.

    The countless debates and discussions I've been in where people blamed the libertarians for the problems. And I counter with libertarians had one congressman and he's retired now, how's anything the government done the fault of people who've been out of power since roughly 1789? That gets a bit of a pause but they still blame the libertarians.

    The state is having libertarians take the fall for its failures. Those pesky libertarians just wouldn't let the state succeed because X was deregulated, repealed, whathaveyou. Much like you argued in having Mrs.Clinton over Mr. Trump because otherwise liberty takes the fall for Trump.

    1. JJM, if I recall correctly, your "order of operations" thesis involves (perhaps among other things) increased state management of borders until the welfare system is dismantled. As Jacob Hornberger has put it, all this does is "produce an immigration police state, especially in the American Southwest...Domestic highway checkpoints. Roving Border Patrol stops and searches. Warrantless federal trespasses onto ranches and farms. Warrantless searches on Greyhound busses. Forced deportations. Violent raids on private businesses. Forcible separation of children from parents. Tear gas on people seeking refugee status. A Berlin Wall. Eminent domain stealing people’s property along the border, And, of course, lots of death and suffering, not to mention the massive infringements on the liberty and privacy of the American people."

      Is that not more oppression first?

    2. I have never called for "increased state management of the borders". That is assumed (words put in my mouth really) by people who want open borders now with the promise of doing something about the state, its welfare programs, and collectivism later. The fact is later will never come. It is never meant to come. If there is a desire to have open borders then a society of liberty must be established first because otherwise you will have people in conflict with each other.

      And if you're going to have the borders open now, then that is calling for more oppression because the collectivist welfare state grows larger and more expensive. And the raids and confiscation of property and such for those that refuse to pay or can't pay will be little different for similar levels of resistance. What about the people who lose their homes because they can't pay the property taxes? What about those who have to sell for the same reason? Sure its quiet and neat and there's no physical trauma unless someone resists, but paying for government is growing beyond people's means and nobody cares about those people.

      Now if the idea is to grow the welfare and collectivism until it shatters the economy to the point of revolution then well that's the street revolution of people who have no clue about liberty. The revolutionaries won't be the people crushed by the taxes but those who stopped receiving them. So what then? It won't be good whatever comes of it.

      So you must get people to be liberty minded first. But that's not going to happen so long as there is a giant beacon of things people get simply for showing up and its considered wrong not to offer it all and more.

      So I ask the simple question again: What is the path to liberty with open borders now and the present conditions for everything else? What's the path?

  2. I never said it was necessary to convert a politician to libertarianism to be successful at influencing legislation in the direction of liberty. Converting a politician to libertarianism is impossible. Influencing legislation that superficially enhances liberty is done all the time. Tax cuts, tax deferrals (as in 401k’s), various tax loopholes, reduction in specific regulation, etc. However, politics is a zero sum system (unlike free market economics where every voluntary transaction is positive sum, both parties win) and so every political transaction will result in a winner and a loser. You pass some tax loophole with the expectation that the “cost” will be borne by a non-libertarian but this just isn’t so. The political system never surrenders power or wealth and can only obtain these from productive people. A political win will always result in an actual loss to some productive person.
    Political action can never be just a “rear guard action” that might slow down the loss of liberty. By engaging in politics you are legitimizing a system that is strangling liberty. Non-participation is the only way you can prevent yourself from becoming a political criminal. H.L. Mencken was right; “Don’t vote it only encourages them.”