L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 98, November 13, 2000
The People Have Spoken!
The Ailment Killing the Party
by Michael Haggard
Exclusive to TLE
For the last few days it has become evident to me why the Libertarian Party does not work. It has the same ailment that afflicts most modern Churches and service organizations. Both suffer from the problem of the OVERNAME. No worse ailment can infect a group than the crippling and paralyzing effects of the Overname, which sucks the group dry of its very life.
The Overname works on two levels. First, it weakens the activism and internal vigilance of the group by allowing the NAME of the group to imply all of the group's substance. For example, by calling my group "The Stinkers", there is no need to actually go around having passersby smell my stink. The name alone tends to alert passersby before they are offended. So the label seems to be enough for some, no need to actually produce evidence to the meaning of the group name. One need not make oneís self stinky and go to all that work, just belong to "The Stinkers" and the group will do the work for you to give you identity
Secondly, the name affects membership by assuming that everyone in the group under the name is in fact one of us. We become less vigilant in that assumption. Perhaps "The Stinkers" add some new members that love bathing in soap and washing in perfumes. They have a stink, a nice one true, but still a kind of stink. They demand that they are part of the group and fit under the name by their definitions. After a while no one cares really. Membership is all that it takes to be under the name and assumed to be in good standing. After all, once we get big membership numbers, "The Stinkers" will gain acceptance in the media and society, and we can worry about purity of the message then. Everyone will want to be stinkers once we gain notoriety in numbers!
The biggest evil of the Overname Illness is that both the carriers and the actively ill have no willingness to listen to the un-infected or to seek a cure or inoculation. Once the Overname is found, there is a fear of crying "plague" in a crowded island. We let the rotting puss walk around in our midst, infecting all that pass by, attracting more of the infectionís vectors (like flies), hoping that we do not offend the infected.
The freedom movement in the Libertarian party is badly infected by the Overname. I believe that it is fatal. In fact, it may already be in the n-stage of the illness.
The n-stage of the illness is seen when the most infected demand that the rest of us be just as overpowered by the Overname as they are. They insist that the ones in the group that still adhere to the meaning of the party name become just as liberal in acceptance of the name as they are. We should then accept ones who have no action based upon that name in their resumeí just as long as the wear the name.
The symptoms of the Overname as it applies to the freedom movement are easy to spot. When libertarians ask you to tow the party line, they are infected by the Overname. When libertarians ask you why you cannot do what the majority asks you to do, they are infected by the Overmind. When libertarians tell you that the state party is bound to what the National Party tells them they must do, they are infected by the Overname. When libertarians tell you that only by getting people in office will we see freedom, they are infected by the Overname. When libertarians tell you that taking tax money to gain acceptability is good for freedom, they are infected by the Overname.
What can you do to inoculate yourself from the Overname? Very simply, find out what the name you are called by means and see if you are an example of its meaning. There are some questions you are going to have to ask yourself. Can a libertarian continue to be called libertarian and still support the current electoral politics under the nationís modern rules? Can a libertarian be "statist" until such time as we have enough power to change back to "individualist?" Can you be a libertarian and be a part of an organization that is libertarian in name but Republican and Democrat in method and methodology?
It cannot be the NAME that gives identity to the members of a group, but rather the meaning of that name. Can one fathom a world in which the meaning of "libertarian" would encompass people who think winning power in an election is the only way to ensure freedom, or majority rule is the way to convince a people, or tax money is the key to winning people to our cause? Can libertarianism really include folks that hate individualism, despise independent action or activism, or think that people not within their group should be forced to comply with the groupís wishes simply because the name is the same?
What has the ailment of the Overname done to the party? It has taken meaning from a group of individuals, who each had their own activism and lifestyle of freedom, who worked together voluntarily to affect national politics and culture, and turned them into a collective party that honestly thinks that it is helpless and ineffective unless it gets someone elected to office under statist rules. The problem is that once we get that one big officer elected, he will have to get more "libertarians" elected to office under statist rules before he will be effective in office. Soon we will have lots of "libertarians" in office under statist rules who canít give us freedom because it will jeopardize their very offices. Activism has changed things, initiatives have given us new laws, and people in office have given us less freedom.
Sometimes amputation of an infected organ is all that can be done.