Bill of Rights Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 376, July 16, 2006

"I will not see libertarianism redefined or watered down"

A Portland Promise
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

[Author's note]: In the letters-to-the-editor section of this week's The Libertarian Enterprise, you will find a message written by a fellow named David Hughes, which I gather was originally posted on a Yahoo Group, "LPIfreediscuss" and which Mr. Hughes very courteously copied to me.

It is a response to my recent article in The Libertarian Enterprise called "The Portland Purge", which discusses the 2006 Libertarian Party national convention, and the way that convention savaged and bowdlerized its own national platform. Although I have written directly to him already, this is my public response to Mr. Hughes.

We get letters, especially when we succumb to an urge to write about the Libertarian Party. Unfortunately, many of the writers of these letters—David Hughes, the most recent example is no exception—are so afflicted with error and willfull misinterpretation that it's always difficult, frustrating to know where to begin correcting them.

I guess I'll start with Hughes' assertion that "Mr. Smith really messed up the LP's chance to have one presidential candidate in all 50 states in year 2000", because in this rare instance, he's completely correct. That's just what I intended to accomplish and, with a little help from my friends in Arizona, who generously invited me to head the Libertarian Party ticket in their state that year, that's just what I did.

Hardly anybody—and never anybody like Hughes—ever asks me the important question, why did I do it? That's because they know the answer perfectly well and just don't want to hear it or think about it. So I'm going to perform a little "thought experiment" right here, right now, by posing a few important questions of my own, and by their answers—Hughes and his ilk—or the lack thereof, shall ye know them.

Suppose that your political party—the same political party you had given significant portions of your life to for decades, came to be dominated for several years by a criminal hoaxster and his vile minions.

Suppose that over the years you had exhausted every "reasonable" parliamentary and persuasive strategy to dislodge them, but to no avail.

Suppose a state LP on your side was being punished for its loyalty to principle, and that a shady lawyer, connected with and encouraged by the con-men at the national level, had grabbed off its bank account and got a crooked judge to declare him the brand new, unelected party boss.

Suppose that your one remaining chance to wrench these parasites' fangs out of the national party jugular was to deprive them of 50- state ballot status—highly-prized for its public relations value, since it meant more contributions they could pocket as "consulting fees" instead of spending them as intended, on advertising and campaigns.

Would you have the cojones to do what was necessary, knowing (as just one consequence) that for years afterward, bucketheads who were just to damn stupid to get it, would continue to try ragging you about it?

People like Hughes wouldn't, of course. But then people like Hughes are clearly not people like me. Instead—exactly as they chose not to see the criminality while it was being committed right under their noses—they would ignore the dozens of times my Arizona campaign has been carefully spelled out for them in numerous media and in terms so simple, and words so short, that even they could understand them. They would continue foolishly and almost comically to believe that it's a useful tactic to attack me for what I—and all other principled libertarians in the worldwide movement—see instead as a badge of honor.

I'm proud of what I did in 2000 and I would do it again without hesitation.

"He [meaning your friendly neighborhood me] makes references to the July 4th convention, which occurred (by one account) on July 1st and 2nd. This implies that Mr. Smith did not care enough to go to the convention. On the other hand, he acts like a libertarian prima donna!"

Okay, perhaps I should have written, "the weekend nearest the Fourth of July" or something like that. But I'm sure it was billed as being connected with the holiday, and it will always be associated with it—call it the "Fourth of July Massacre" or something to that effect.

Whatever you call it, Mr. Hughes (by one account) doesn't seem to care enough to have been there, himself. And didn't I just explain that, from 1972 until 2000-something, I had learned the hard way that, when principle's at stake, it doesn't do any frigging good to go to LP conventions? I was in San Francisco in 1977, Dave, which you'd know if you'd read The Probability Broach. I was in Los Angeles in 1979, which you'd know if you'd read The Venus Belt. I did ForeverCon in 1981.

Or it did me.

Where were you? A letter grade off for not doing your homework.

So I'm a "libertarian prima donna". I have no idea what Hughes means by that, and neither, to judge from the remainder of his letter, does Hughes. Make that two letter grades for using words he doesn't understand.

Oblivious and clueless, Hughes maunders onward: "His inflammatory statements create the divisiveness that he claims will bring down the party. This is the very thing his article accuses neolibertarians of doing."

No, that isn't quite right. In the first place, I've never accused anybody of "divisiveness" in my life. It's an accusation unfailingly levelled at those who insist on doing what's right, no matter what, by the rationality deprived, the intellectually bankrupt, and the morally retarded. And in any case, "divisiveness"—in this context meaning insistence on being absolutely consistent with the principle which was the very reason the party was founded in the first place—is a good thing.

A very good thing.

I'm sure Abraham Lincoln wanted to call southerners "divisive" when they objected to paying 80% of all the taxes collected in the country. I'm sure Joseph Stalin wanted to call Kulaks "divisive" when they insisted on farming their own land. I'm sure Adolf Hitler wanted to call the German Jews "divisive" when they stubbornly continued to exist. Anyobe who ever wanted to get away, unchallenged, with anything that was crazy, stupid, or evil called those who stood in the way, "divisive".

"In a previous post. . . " Hughes tells us grandly (who's the prima donna now?), "I called for unity. It would be nice if libertarians could learn to play together. Instead we root out ideological heresies in a convenient location: among ourselves. Unfortunately, the real enemies are the statists who currently reign unchecked over our lives."

And why do you suppose they do, Dave? Because, before the Roadster of Liberty (think: 1937 Cord Phaeton convertible, black over ivory) can even get into gear, neolibertarians and Nerfies slash all the tires because they insanely imagine it will run better and faster that way.

Get this straight, once and for all: the one and only thing that distinguishes the Libertarian Party from all the others, the one and only thing that makes it worth investing one's time and energy in, is its stubborn adherence to, and insistence upon (surprise!) libertarian principle.

Letter and spirit.

Otherwise, why not vote for Republicans or Democrats, who have no less moral authority now, thanks to the neolibertarians, than the new, "improved" Libertarian Party Lite? Why not stop voting altogether, as increasing numbers of real libertarians have, motivated, in part, by the consistent failure of the LP to stand up unflinchingly for what's right? Not to mention its failure to avoid compromising with what's wrong.

We are told that libertarian "pragmatists" know better than the "purists" how to change this country politically. That, of course, is a crock, but none of this flap, in fact, has anything to do with LP prospects at the polls. As I demonstrated clearly in 1978, and as Arizona LP candidates demonstrated over and over again until their state party was torpedoed by the Con-man Caucus, the more open any libertarian candidate is with the public about what real libertarians really believe, the better he or she will do in any election. The trouble with such frankness comes (and this is why the criminals at the national level attacked the Arizona party) when you're trying to extract contributions—and "consulting fees"—from Neanderthal conservatives.

At a local level, and on a more personal basis, what we're dealing with is nothing as understandable as mere reasonableness, toleration, moderation, or gradualism. It is nothing more than yellow-bellied, floor-crawling, craven cowardice. Half-hearted individualists and Nerf libertarians afraid to risk disapproval or ridicule by telling voters what real libertarians really believe should never run for office. Nor should they be allowed to set policy for a revolutionary political party.

There is nothing new about any of this. I know this species of fair weather freedom fighters far too well, and have for many, many years. Almost the day that the LP was founded, they began whining and yammering that those of us with integrity and courage should "tone it down", lest they become embarrassed by being publicly associated with "extremists".

Often these are the same sad creatures who very publicly disdain the popular culture—especially television—and at the same time claim to know enough about the culture to change it. Some lift their toffee noses in the air to declare grandly, "I never read fiction", as if that made them something other than the illiterate headlice they are.

I freely confess to being a radical—in the sense that it's much better to deal with a problem's root than with twigs and branches. The word "extremist" is meaningless, used by those who believe in nothing and are frightened by—and jealous of—those of us who believe in something.

Is it radical to believe that libertarianism has a definition, and that those it doesn't describe are not libertarians? Of course. Is it extremist? If it were, every dictionary in print would be an extremist tract.

I simply don't want to watch what I believe in—and the various groups built around it—carried off and gang-raped by the enemies of liberty. That's exactly what happened, of course, when the collection of semiformer Trotskyites we call neoconservatives carried geniune conservatism off and sold her into white slavery to the savage Bush tribe.

Unlike conservatives, who are ideologically passive by definition, I intend to fight back. I will not see libertarianism redefined or watered down. If the neolibertarians won't write a decent platform indicating possession of a backbone, then I'll write a platform for them.

Even better, in each and every race across the country where a self-labeled libertarian is running, I will send—not merely to the media, but to the candidate's Democratic and Republican opponents as well—all of the authentic libertarian positions on all of the most controversial issues of the day. Then we'll watch the self-labeled libertarians spend all of their time and money disavowing those real positions—which will look extremely silly—or openly embracing them, as libertarian candidates ought to have done thirty-five years ago.

So tell me, exactly what did the neolibertarians gain in the end by their gutting of the platform? I was perfectly happy to be busy, writing my novels, but the idiots had to go and call themselves to my attention. They may not like me or what I plan to do, but they brought it on themselves as surely as if they'd stuck their fingers in a wall socket.

As I said, I plan to make life impossible for them. That's a promise. It's also a lot of work, but I'll have lots of libertarians, being driven out of the party by neolibertarians, who'll help me keep it.

I hope the Portland "victors" will have fun when the local fishwrap asks them why real libertarians believe that three-year-olds should vote.

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at

Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas was recently completed and is presently looking for a literary home.

A decensored, e-published version of Neil's 1984 novel, TOM PAINE MARU is available at: Neil is presently working on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Roswell, Texas, with Rex F. "Baloo" May.

The stunning 185-page full-color graphic-novelized version of The Probability Broach, which features the art of Scott Bieser and was published by BigHead Press has recently won a Special Prometheus Award. It may be had through the publisher, at, or at


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