Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Yes, we have no bananarchists


See what a tangled web we weave when we toy with repudiation of the Dallas Accord?

"The current LP membership pledge does not allow for limited government," writes Dr. Carl Milsted. "Some initiation of force is required for a government to do its job. Some taxation is necessary."

I could quibble over this a bit (there's a difference between "government" and "the state"), but I've eschewed doing so before -- I carry no brief for converting minarchists into anarchists. My main concern is that Dr. Milsted has hoist himself by his own petard: He says that he understands the pledge, and he says that he disagrees with it. By so stating, he has de facto resigned his membership in the Libertarian Party (per Article 7, Section 1 of the bylaws), and is therefore of course ineligible to continue serving on the party's bylaws committee (per Article 13, Section 7a), the mechanism through which he had hoped to mount a campaign for removal of the pledge requirement from the bylaws.

Persuading Dr. Milsted to rejoin the LP -- in good faith, anyway -- would require convincing him to become an anarchist (according to his own stated interpretation of the pledge), and I'm not confident that I'm up to the job.

By Dr. Milsted's own stated reasoning, only anarchists (and those who don't understand the pledge, and who therefore took it and continue to hold to it in good faith) are eligible for membership in the Libertarian Party. And those who don't understand the pledge and who continue to believe in good faith that it is compatible with minarchy, aren't going to think that removing it is a solution to any kind of actual problem. QED, there cannot exist a "reform" caucus dedicated to removing the pledge requirement from the bylaws unless that caucus is composed of anarchists who wish to open the party to non-anarchists (this, as it happens, is the classification to which I belong).

"It is time to decide: If we want to continue being an anarchist party, we should practice truth in advertising, and change the name to Anarchist Party," writes Dr. Milsted. "Or, if we want to be a truly libertarian party, we need to either change or eliminate the membership pledge."

The purpose of the Dallas Accord -- under which disposition of the ultimate issue of the legitimacy of government per se was set aside -- was to allow minarchists to meaningfully participate in an anarchist party (according to anarchists). The purpose of the Dallas Accord was to allow anarchists to meaningfully participate in a minarchist party (according to minarchists). Now, a minarchist has defined the party as anarchist -- and, in so doing, has also defined his minarchist self out of the party altogether and, if the party membership accepts his argument as valid, abrogated the Accord and, well, pretty much automatically purged the party of its minarchist majority.

That sucks, because so long as minarchists continued to insist that they accepted the pledge in good faith as not requiring anarchism, there was hope for a resolution in favor of ditching the pledge and setting up a "big tent" in which all Americans who favor less government and more freedom could be invited to camp. Although I personally favor such a course, I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority among the anarchists to whom Dr. Milsted has bequeathed exclusive ownership of the party.

Dr. Milsted might want to rethink his anti-anarchist jihad and withdraw his anti-anarchist fatwah, unless he wants the party to get a lot smaller and move in a direction opposite that toward which he points.

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