May Your Chains Sit Lightly Upon You
Should those who've suffered for the cause of Liberty be cast aside, or honored as martyrs and heroes in the struggle for Human Freedom?
The Posties are back at it…
The “Post-Libertarians” as they’ve come to call themselves, are a group of “celebritarian” social media influencers and podcasters who let the stresses and strains of the pandemic years push them past the reason of their previously professed libertarian ideology, and into embracing the strategy and tactic of using the state’s monopoly on force to their own advantage. The strong departure from anarchist and libertarian philosophy needed to rationalize such a shift in principles is evident, and thus the chosen moniker of “Post-libertarian” fits them quite nicely.
Here’s the crazy part to some people, even though I’m an anarchist, I don’t necessarily disagree with them. Libertarians have a cultural obsession, no rather a fetish with non-violence and pacifism that I find to be detrimental to their own goals of increased liberty and freedom. The non-aggression principle is an ill-defined, vague, and childishly incomplete philosophy that fails to account for situational nuance or a recognition that the state by its very existence comprises a continual and ever-present violent threat to the natural rights and liberty of those it governs. Violence was initiated the moment you were forced into the state-sanctioned system of slavery known as citizenship.
But does that necessarily mean it’s ok to seize government power, rather than fighting to abolish it? Is this shift in principles the living embodiment of the old adage “you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain?” At what point do you become worse than what you were fighting against by taking on its strategies and tactics to your own benefit? When fighting for Liberty for all, is it permissible to use force to deprive those who oppose you of their own freedoms in the process? These moral questions of principle aside, what happens when you decide the power of the state, the very entity that exists to oppress, is the only thing capable of freeing you, and you resolve to seize it for yourself?
Oddly enough, there’s not a monopoly on the principles behind this approach either. There are several prevailing schools of thought on how to engage in government politics and use institutions like the GOP for the defense of liberty. Groups like Free Staters and libertarians in New Hampshire have successfully infiltrated a large portion of the state’s GOP, and have used their positions and influence to successfully reduce state power, roll back government programs, and expand the liberty of all within the State of New Hampshire as a consequence. However, some post Libertarians, notably Pete Quinones and the GOP Mises Caucus, preach the approach of right-wing authoritarianism to combat the left. Idolizing the maneuvering of politicians like Ron Desantis in Florida, to use the power of the state to enforce “liberty,” rather than to enable it.
How long until the inherent principles of your new strategy force you to consider those who fight to oppose the very existence of such a power, those you once called friends and allies, to be the enemies and consider them detrimental to your cause? At what point, do you start to use the influence you’ve amassed to discourage others from fighting for their own freedom in ways that don’t advance your new agenda? At what point, have you become what you used to hate?
Marc Clair, of Lions of Liberty, one of the larger names in the liberty community’s little podcasting spheres, and one of the more influential celebritarians, has made the transition to an advocate of post-libertarianism himself and adopted a more “Jordan Petersenesque” approach to activism. Clean your room, get your life together, and become secure in your life and your family, before tackling the larger issues of the state, he would tell you. He would encourage you to become a stoic, to stomach the hardships of the state for the benefit of your family, as opposed to sacrificing your happiness and wellbeing to oppose it. Rather than venturing into the politics of vaccine mandates, you should simply work to put yourself in a position to refuse the vaccine should it become required. He recently decided to surf the views of controversy on Twitter with his latest hot takes on the matter of compliance vs sacrifice.
In a shot across the bow of the liberty movement, Marc called out one of the universally praised martyrs of freedom, Ross Ulbricht, who is currently serving two life sentences for creating an online marketplace that threatened the government’s monopoly on violence in the drug trade. Ross, along with Edward Snowden, are held up as paragons of libertarian martyrdom- two examples of people who struck such a big blow to the status quo of government tyranny that they had to be made political and legal examples. Ross normalized the use of cryptocurrency and opened access to black markets and agorist trade to millions of people. And Snowden exposed the largest violation of privacy rights in government history.
They paid the price, and for that, Marc believes they shouldn’t be the role models we believe they are. Their sacrifice shouldn’t be respected for the good that came of it. That the level of direct action they undertook should not be aspired to. In his opinion, they had poor risk assessment and are paying the price for their own mistakes.
I don’t mean any of this to be an attack on Marc Clair himself, as he’s someone I have a good deal of respect for, and hell, I have fond memories of spending time partying with him in an Air BnB in the French Quarter of New Orleans on 4th of July weekend in 2018, and several fun times at Porcfest. But, Marc’s new focus on post libertarianism, and his new gospel of self-improvement and independence before resistance, would have you comply with the growth of government tyranny, as opposed to fighting back at every step because each strike is a risk too far. Rather than fight to stop vaccine mandates, he believes you should simply put yourself in a position to live around them, regardless of the larger social consequences of such a growth in government power.
Are Ross and Snowden role models? Absolutely, not because of the consequences of their martyrdom, but because of their resolve and intentions. Martyrdom is not something anyone should aspire to, but to live your life in fear of its possibility is to live in fear of stepping out of line. The fight for freedom will be fraught with martyrs, and we’re far from done. It will take many willing to martyr themselves before the state to motivate the masses to rise up against the tyranny we few recognize as reality. But fear of stepping out of line and risking becoming one yourself leaves us without a path forward to fight.
Ross and Snowden are the two big names that come to mind and will be universally recognized by all libertarians for the sacrifice they’ve made. But what about Carla Gericke, who stood up to the police and fought for her right to film in public, and whose legal fight for her own innocence in Gericke v Begin became the backbone of policy accountability activism for the next decade? What about Jeremy Kauffman, who’s thumbing his nose at the SEC and will challenge government regulation of crowdfunding and investment in emerging technologies? What about Ian Freeman and Aria DiMezzo, who are at risk of becoming martyrs to stand up for the freedom to access monetary and financial systems for all people, without government interference?
Are they only martyrs when they lose? When they win, are they just activists? Preaching complacency and compliance tells activists you won’t have their back when they take risks to stand up for you and yours.
I’ll never say each man must seek a fight, but those who would back down from the one at their own doors aren’t those I wish to stand beside. Each man must know the line he isn’t willing to allow the state to cross, and what he’s willing to lose to stop it. And those who aren’t willing to die for anything, truly live only for themselves.
As Samuel Adams said “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom - go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may our posterity forget that you were our countrymen!”
Last night, I sat down with the young David Brady to talk about his awakening to the cause of liberty, and his experience coming of age as a libertarian activist while still in high school, a teenager, learning from those who’ve come before him, while at the same time still finding his own place and way in the world. We spoke at length about how to inspire the next generation of liberty fighters who will join our ranks, and take their place as the standard-bearers of our cause in due time. David finished off our hour with a plea for passion, and an adamant cry for those fighting where the fight takes them to stand firmly for what they believe in, and not back down, but rather speak openly, boldly, and passionately about the need for a free future, not for us, but for those who come after.
Subversive #71: “Coming of Age” with The Young David Brady
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Is Libertarianism a consequence of jaded worldviews, or youthful optimism? What’s it like to be young, still in school, when you’ve had your libertarian awakening? How does possessing that worldview shape the rest of your life?
The Young David Brady joins the show to share his insights on the matter, and maybe we can learn a thing or two about how the next generation of Libertarian Activists will come to be.
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"Post-libertarianism" is a moronic name for a movement that purports to value libertarian principles. It suggests that libertarianism is not merely incomplete but outdated and generally wrong. It discourages us, and encourages our adversaries. A better term is "pragmatic libertarianism".
A pragmatic libertarian bears in mind libertarian principles of justice and the goal of minimizing the state, while prioritizing issues according to their interdependencies, importance (both personally and societally), proximity, economics (resource constraints), risk, and the Zeitgeist (Overton window). Pragmatism is not an excuse for betraying principles. Of course, reasonable people will disagree about priorities, and the finer points of principles, so we should be reasonably flexible and cooperative. Sometimes one needs to build a coalition with non-libertarians, e.g. to achieve progress in drug decriminalization or educational choice.
We often liken Ron Paul to the pure and humble Frodo Baggins—the one who could be trusted to carry the ring of power but not use it, always bearing in mind the mission: destroying it. The post-libertarians sound like Boromir. They may start like conservatives, saying that wielding the ring is a necessary evil, but they will likely degrade into statists, finding an increasing number of worthy uses. "Compromise" is a positive word in the context of conceding personal interests to common ones, or forming coalitions if one simply lacks manpower, but negative when it means sacrificing principles for expediency.
I'm sure some of the American Revolutionaries didn't have their personal lives in perfect order, but Jordan Peterson's rule to "clean your room" first is generally good advice. Some of revolutionaries took large risks, and paid with imprisonment or their lives. Be a smart activist: maximize the ELROI (expected lifetime return on investment) of your activism efforts.
Interesting read although a bit long IMO, I would say Ross & Co are Heroes for sure and I think Marc himself might agree with that statement but a role model is certainly a different thing. Ross made dangerous mistakes in opsec and that very probably made the difference between being a free man and not. It is better for long-term/backend problems to be dealt with quietly in terms of personal responsibility. I also feel the ideas of self-defense voting among other listed tactics certainly comes from what the COVID era mean(s/t) for your every day life depending on the borders. Being someone who might be called a post-libertarian I also don't see it fair to label each other as enemies if we're all actively working for the liberation of us all.