I received around a dozen phone calls and emails today from various wheedling surrogates of Mssrs. Starr and Redpath, launching a soft browbeating campaign.
Not a huge surprise. Apparently, if I don't stop criticizing the two reclusive LNC members, I'm not going to get to be friends with their lackeys. Boo hoo.
More surprising to me was the willingness of several more radical Libertarians, who have largely been silent in the face of the latest power plays by the Starr Chamber, disputing my assertion that the Vietnam War was an important -- and arguably THE most important -- formative stimulus behind the creation of the LP in the first place.
A typical email excerpt:
the LP was started as a reaction to Nixon's wage and price controls, not the VietNam war, which was pretty well over by the time the LP was started in 1971
One of the more amusing tricks of the NeoConTarian faction is to challenge the accuracy of even the smallest statement and use sweeping generalizations like "rant" and "liar" to attack those who they wish to avoid addressing directly. That treatment is typically not applied to their own boys, like Bob Barr, who can claim at the convention that he wants to repeal DOMA, yet show up on cable news a couple of days later and hail DOMA as a great example of Libertarian legislation.
This tactic is old hat to those of us used to campaigning against Republicans in the 1990s, when a large proportion of the present NeoCon support base in the LP was campaigning AS Republicans. A quick examination of Newt Gingrich's memo on "language as a tool of control" sheds a bit of light on this, and Libertarians who are serious about campaigning against the righties' tactics would be well-advised to read and memorize every word of it, so they're aware when language is being used as a tool to attempt to "control" them.
Meanwhile, it's disappointing that people who *should* be taking the fight to the NeoConTarians are falling for such tactics themselves and directing their big guns at me.
What of the history of the LP vis-a-vis the Vietnam War?
Marc Gilbert's seminal analysis of the Vietnam protest movement, The Vietnam War on Campus:
Only a united front, the students realized, would truly threaten the Establishment. As the 1960s crumbled around them and the forecast for change in the 1970s looked bleak, these students decided that only a completely new way of thinking and acting would force such institutions as the government, the university, and more amorphous "social order" to respond to their demands... For some, this dream came true in the creation of the Libertarian Party in 1972.
Not into academic citations? How about the mainstream press in one of its few balanced examinations of the Libertarian Party from 2002? Courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
The disenchantment of a few over the Vietnam War and President Richard Nixon's wage and price controls has grown into what they say is the nation's best-organized and most successful third party.
"Other parties come and go," said David Nolan, considered the party's founding father. "The reason we have staying power is that we are consistent."
(If only Mr. Nolan's statement was true today, just six years later).
Still not convinced? Suspicious of academia and the press?
Why not ask the Libertarian Party of Colorado?
David Nolan and several other friends got together in the summer of 1971 after being disgusted with then president, Richard Nixon announced to the public the implementation of wage and price controls, which basically removed the gold standard and allowed the government to impose inflation easier. Along with the 'illegal' Vietnam War, loss of fiscal conservative direction of the Republican Party and the socialist directions of the Democrat Party, the group started the think tank to come up with a better political solution for real limited government and individual freedom.
Or the Libertarian Party of Michigan, noting the groups that came together to form that state's party affiliate, including:
Goldwater supporters. Karl Hess's rhetoric inspired many citizens in a country torn over the Vietnam War. Defining liberty and its defense becomes more than academic when you have a draft card in one hand and a rifle in the other. Later, many supporters became active in Young Americans for Freedom and College Republicans.
I could go on and on. I'm not going to. Worse, I shouldn't have to.
I know that the "bad guys" are prone to mendacity, but excusing their "forgetfulness" and losing the anti-foreign-interventionist heritage of the LP is just another way that the party's heritage is being stolen.
The reason why Starr and Co. are successful is because too many Libertarians are quiet and timid, accept their faulty premises, and spend more time coming after their friends than after their adversaries. Wasting time "proving" truisms like the LP's origins in anger over the Vietnam War only keeps libertarians on the defensive against the indefensible.