Freedom through politics: a contradiction in terms

Others around the blogosphere have commented on the news that the Free State Project has selected New Hampshire as its target to which 20,000 libertarians will move in order to politically change the state into one more in tune with libertarian ideas. Although I hope they succeed, I am skeptical of their chances.

Why? Because they are trying to change things through politics. And that results in a few problems.

• Top-down change is almost always statist by nature. It is about using power to achieve your ends while imposing your view of the world on everyone else by force. The inherent contradition of the Free State Project is that power is to be used to create freedom. Once the political apparatus is in control, there is more than ample opportunity to use it for self-interested reasons.

• With politics comes politicians. As much as I would like to believe otherwise, Libertarian politicians are no different from other politicians. Contrary to popular belief, most politicians do not work for the 'common good' or strive to carry out the non-existent 'will of the people'. They are self-interested individuals like everyone else, no matter what party they belong to.

• The nature of the democratic process is one of constantly comprising principles. As a result, those Libertarians who are less than libertarian will be the ones to rise to the top of the political structure. This process is often referred to as 'triangulation' in the language of politics, and is the reason that Democrat Bill Clinton reformed welfare, touted the end of big government, and ran the government in the black, but Republican George Bush cannot seem to stop spending money, signed the Patriot Act, and is increasing the size of government at a breakneck clip. The same process will inevitably occur with Libertarians. Over the last year, I have heard various libertarians defending smoking bans in restaurants, saying that we should legalize but 'tax the hell out of marijuana', and opposing free trade. These are the same libertarians that will become Libertarians and gain political power. In fact, I have seen some signs of this already...

Rather than use the corrupting and coercive political process to achieve change, libertarians are, in my humble opinion, better off in finding ways of maximizing voluntary associations in other ways. Rather than go through the state to make top-down change, they should move away from and around the state at the individual level. Liberty evolves through free association; politics is a crude and abrupt imposition.

Although I am skeptical about their strategy and chances for success, I wish the Free State Project the best of luck and hope they reach their goals.

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Of course, moving 20,000

Of course, moving 20,000 people into a state to change the "climate" of a state's politics is the very definition of bottom-up change.

Freedom isn't the goal, liberty is, and it is not inconsistent to believe that liberty presupposes institutions which have the backing of force (police, court system). The point is always "who and whom", and how, where, why, and to what extent power and force is used.

It would also follow that a libertarian's self interest is different from that of an illiberal or conservative (or, more succintly, from that of a statist). It is imprecise to assume that all politicians are statists by both nature and historical inevitability (for that way lay madness and marxism...). It is certainly more than credible to think that a libertarian's self interest would be to stay in power as a figurehead and order nobody around, and bask the in glow of "being the guy keeping the state at bay", etc. He can have all the other apolitical vices of a politician (wanting to stay in office & enjoy perks) without inevitably turning to statism.

Of course, this is the fundamental difference between minarchists and anarcho-capitalists... state is bad always and everywhere (sayeth A-C), or the state is always with us, no matter what (even in an A-C order), so the point is what kind does one choose.

As for compromising principles, the whole point of the Free State Project is to get around that. If compromising principles were the point or the inevitability, there would be no reasont o have a Free State Project in the first place. You don't go to alter a state's political climate to libertarianism with the idea that you're going to... set up a statist system since you need compromise to survive. That's your point, of course, but I think it intentionally misses theirs. If one compromises that raison d'etre, the project is over by definition.

There is a legitimate point to be made about moderates adopting the libertarian pose (or recent migrants from the conservative or illiberal zones that haven't shaken off their previous statism completly), but in all cases I'd rather have the political spectrum go from Top to Bottom (LIberty vs. Statism) than with the bizarre Left-Right split there is now (liberty for half, statism for the opposite half; invert as necessary). Thus, if it were "soft Libertarians" vs "Hard Top Libertarians" vs. "Moderates" (as the most radical party), I think I could live with that.

Sometimes, you have to engage the beast to defeat the beast. THe Croats, in a fit of pique, refused to vote after WWI to set up a limited federal republic- because "voting would legitimize the state". But instead of making the state go away, they left the constitutional congress to the Serbs, who voted for a hard core Monarchy, took the arms, and brutalized the Croats for 70 years. All because the Croats (who had the electoral wherewithall to have stopped the Serbs if they'd just shown up) were too 'principled' to engage in politics...

The only way to ensure

The only way to ensure liberty is for the electorate to believe in it and demand it. The Free State Project will fail and damage principles of liberty if it portrays libertarians as an elite that has finally banded together and taken over a State. The harder you slap water, the more difficult it is to penetrate. All individuals are libertarians; just not all realize it yet. The effort is better expended by helping individuals realize liberty, rather than trying to crowd them out.

So the people who are

So the people who are libertarians but don't know it yet (or act on it) suffer from 'false consciousness'?

I dont buy that. There are plenty of self-conscious statists, paternalists, and illiberals who believe that the state comes before the individual and it is the state's job to provide a certain basket of goods and services to people (As well as to eliminate 'social ills' (other than socialism/statism)).

Libertarians are already portrayed as an elite (or elitist) group, when not being satirized as tinfoil-hat wearing, blue-skinned, militia freaks. What the FSP does in New Hampshire (low hanging fruit if I ever saw one) will not change this. The only outcome is the status quo (libertarians portrayed as elite wackos) or good (state becomes more liberal).

Of course, moving 20,000

Of course, moving 20,000 people into a state to change the "climate" of a state's politics is the very definition of bottom-up change.

I disagree. Bottom-up change involves changing minds first rather than taking control of the state apparatus. Bottom-up change involves making the unethical and inefficient parts of the state obselete and irrelevant. It means using cryptography to hide voluntary transactions and create reputation without revealing identity. It means using email, instant messaging, chat rooms, and so forth to make the post office a thing of the past. It means using hawala systems to transfer money. It means convincing others that a free society is a just and prosperous society.

Freedom isn't the goal, liberty is, and it is not inconsistent to believe that liberty presupposes institutions which have the backing of force (police, court system). The point is always "who and whom", and how, where, why, and to what extent power and force is used.

It would also follow that a libertarian's self interest is different from that of an illiberal or conservative (or, more succintly, from that of a statist). It is imprecise to assume that all politicians are statists by both nature and historical inevitability (for that way lay madness and marxism...). It is certainly more than credible to think that a libertarian's self interest would be to stay in power as a figurehead and order nobody around, and bask the in glow of "being the guy keeping the state at bay", etc. He can have all the other apolitical vices of a politician (wanting to stay in office & enjoy perks) without inevitably turning to statism.

You have more faith in politicians than I do. Perhaps the one and only politician in the last century with any kind of morals and knowledge of economics is Ron Paul. He is one of thousands. Those are the kinds of odds that face libertarians. Sure, one guy may come along once a century, but I'm not gonna wait for him.

You sort of miss the point I making. The democratic system itself is a filtering mechanism in which the virtuous remain at the bottom and the nefarious rise to the top. The system is the reason that some of the worst humans to walk the Earth have become political leaders. It's the way conflict is resolved in politics - deviousness, a hunger for power, and unfettered ambition are much more important to success than acting ethically.

Yes, I know, I know, Libertarian politicians won't be like the rest. They'll actually work to get rid of the welfare state, entitlements, corporate welfare, etc. Right? Maybe at one time I used to believe that, that if only we'd elect a bunch of Harry Browne's into office, we might get somewhere. But recently the Libertarian Pary has been acting much like any other party - scandals, compromising principles, corruption,... It's the nature of party politics in the democratic system.

Of course, this is the fundamental difference between minarchists and anarcho-capitalists... state is bad always and everywhere (sayeth A-C), or the state is always with us, no matter what (even in an A-C order), so the point is what kind does one choose.

You have framed this as a minarchist vs. anarchocapitalist issue which I assure you it is not. Whether a monopoly on the use of force needs to/should exist is a completely separate issue from which strategy is best for changing things from the status quo to something more to libertarians' liking.

As for compromising principles, the whole point of the Free State Project is to get around that. If compromising principles were the point or the inevitability, there would be no reasont o have a Free State Project in the first place. You don't go to alter a state's political climate to libertarianism with the idea that you're going to... set up a statist system since you need compromise to survive. That's your point, of course, but I think it intentionally misses theirs. If one compromises that raison d'etre, the project is over by definition.

Yes, unfortunately, I believe the project is doomed to fail, and was doomed to fail from the outset. I hope they prove me wrong.

Bottom-up change is civil

Bottom-up change is civil society reflecting on political reality- top-down is when the state says "this is now how it will be done. Everyone who is younger than 16, is now 16."

You cannot take politics out of the "bottom-up" category, just as you cannot assume that all politics is that of a potentate or prince or dictator that sends proclamations down to the people from on high so that what is written is done.

I dont have any more faith in politicians than you do, except that politicians are motivated by self-interest. And when libertarians go out of their way to make sure that no libertarian cause is in a politician's self interest (maintaining his personal position or reputation), I know that politicians will never work for liberty.

After all, we don't abandon market exchange because we can't get producers to not act in their self-interest. The market and the rules that surround and maintain it depend on the assumption of self-interest (indeed, one wouldn't have a lot of the rules of the market if everyone could be expected to act in everyone else's best interest- no fraud or coercion). Why then do we write off politics?

Being that politicians have the ability to use the monopoly on force legally should be more than enough to cause a self-interested person to pay attention and do something about it.
The current sorry state of the Libertarian Party (on which I wholly agree with you) is neither here nor there with regards to the need to keep an eye on the political ball.

However, the A-C vs. Minarchist angle is somewhat relevant- If you believe that the state is always and everywhere bad, then it follows you will also believe that politics is always and everywhere bad. The two positions are inherently linked (I can't imagine a coherent A-C position that hates the state but approves of political means to achieve change).

But I don't believe it is "either-or", but rather "both-and", when it comes to enhancing civil society and bypassing the state, and by using the mechanisms of the state to reduce its predation on civil society. Both work hand-in-hand, but sometimes one (the political) has to come before the other (the civil). Gotta get the state to back off to allow civil society to grow...

The only way to ensure

The only way to ensure liberty is for the electorate to believe in it and demand it.

The problem is that the 'electorate' is not a monolithic entity. It is made up of millions of self-interested individuals. If it was a simply "us vs. them" then it would be much easier for libertarians to succeed. But libertarianism is by definition an individualist philosophy, and the democratic system is collectivist by nature. You have to constantly draw people into your 'voting block' and to do so, you compromise your principles. Pretty soon, each separate group, in trying to win the popularity contest, starts to look like every other group. Once the groups exist, it becomes a power grab. In the words of Alex Fraser Tytler:

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess of the public treasury. From that time on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the results that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's great civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence:from bondage to spiritual faith;from spiritual faith to great courage;from courage to liberty;from liberty to abundance;from abundance to selfishness;from selfishness to complacency;from complacency to apathy;from apathy to dependency;from dependency back again to bondage.

And bringing up Ron Paul is

And bringing up Ron Paul is instructive- if it were possible to have 435 Ron Pauls in the Congress, would they then succumb to partisan politics and become statists?

The individual does matter when it comes to politicians...

And bringing up Ron Paul is

And bringing up Ron Paul is instructive- if it were possible to have 435 Ron Pauls in the Congress, would they then succumb to partisan politics and become statists?

The individual does matter when it comes to politicians...

Yes, it is instructive in that 435 Ron Pauls in Congress would never happen. I probably do know 435 Ron Pauls in 'real life', but only one exists in Congress. It's the nature of the system that filters the rest out. It's democracy that weeds out the rest of the Ron Pauls to they only come along once a century.

Gee, I'm not advocating

Gee, I'm not advocating Democracy, I'm saying that it is both understandable and legitimate to use legal mechanisms to curb the state.

Because all that the quote said is true, but irrelevant. One can have a republic without the problems of a democracy, and yet there is still voting. All his objection amounts to is "have institutional controls on your government beyond popular whim", which is a subject on which I have written in the past (the danger of relying on tradition as an institutional control vs. written law and constitution).

As a nitpick, I point out that contrary to his claim that "The average age of the world's great civilizations has been 200 years", the fact that Republican Rome lasted roughly 550 years (from the end of the Tarquins to the accession of Julius Caesar), Imperial Rome another 500 years yet (not counting Byzantine Rome, which lasted another 1000 years after the fall of the west). The Republic of Venice lasted 1000 years, England's polity has been unconquered since 1044... the anecdotes pile up on the high side of "200" with few others coming to mind on the low side (that would be required to pull the 'average' down to 200). One is prompted to think, cynically, that the 200 year mark is conveniently close to how long the United States has been in existence (oh! mirabile dictu, what a fortuitous coincidence!), thus facilitating contemporary political criticism while having little, if anything, to do with reality.

He is better off pointing to classical Democracy in Athens, which lasted roughly the lifetime of Pericles, and fits his definition to the T, or focusing on when Republican Rome became Democratic Rome (with the Gracchi and the rise of the plebeian voting power & people's tribunes, etc), both of which follow the quote's model, rather than making up frankly bullshit statistics.

Democracy is the problem, not representative government, not politics qua politics, but the idea that Vox Populi = Vox Dei.

You cannot take politics out

You cannot take politics out of the "bottom-up" category, just as you cannot assume that all politics is that of a potentate or prince or dictator that sends proclamations down to the people from on high so that what is written is done.

Sure I can take politics out of the bottom-up category. Politics is by definition top-down. If it wasn't, it would be called 'voluntary relations' rather than politics.

After all, we don't abandon market exchange because we can't get producers to not act in their self-interest. The market and the rules that surround and maintain it depend on the assumption of self-interest (indeed, one wouldn't have a lot of the rules of the market if everyone could be expected to act in everyone else's best interest- no fraud or coercion). Why then do we write off politics?

There is a very simple and clear answer. The market is a mechanism that uses self-interest to satisfy others. The baker bakes bread for use by others. But he does so out of his own self-interest. Yet, his self-interest will not be satisfied unless his bread is warm and soft and fluffy enough that others' self-interest is also satisfied.

The fallacy at the root of democracy is that it is viewed in the same way - unless the politician satisfies the masses he will not stay in power. If 'we' don't like him, 'we' vote him out. If he doesn't get voted out, its 'our' fault and the 'will of the people'.

Of course the clear distinction between the two is that the free market does not use guns. If I do not like the baker's bread, he cannot force me to buy it. However, if I do not like the politician's public education, he still takes my money by force. Politics is by definition top-down compulsion.

However, the A-C vs. Minarchist angle is somewhat relevant- If you believe that the state is always and everywhere bad, then it follows you will also believe that politics is always and everywhere bad. The two positions are inherently linked (I can't imagine a coherent A-C position that hates the state but approves of political means to achieve change).

This is a side issue, but your statement is not necessarily true. I know many anarchocapitalists who supported the War in Iraq. When subscription military services one day exist, they would have gladly paid in gold to support the War. But until that time comes, they viewed the state as the only means by which what they believed moral action could occur. The funding was unethical but the current state military was the only means by which ethical actions could be carried out. These anarchocapitalists view the transition to an anarchocapitalist society as a gradual evolution, and make choices as best they can within the existing system until the time comes.

But I don't believe it is "either-or", but rather "both-and", when it comes to enhancing civil society and bypassing the state, and by using the mechanisms of the state to reduce its predation on civil society. Both work hand-in-hand, but sometimes one (the political) has to come before the other (the civil). Gotta get the state to back off to allow civil society to grow...

Well, I never said that the Free State Project should be stopped or that I have anything against it necessarily. I wished them good luck. I just don't think they are going to succeed.

However, unless one argues

However, unless one argues that IF there were 435 Ron Pauls that they would inevitably become statists, then it cannot be said that the political process is inherently statist.

Arguing at a systemic level is better, but that is still viewpoint-neutral. Politicians are bastards, natch. The more bastardly (and less Ron Paul-like, for example) a politician, though, the more they feed off public opinion.

If said bastard's constituency is informed by only the subset that want goodies and not by his libertarian subset (who are avoiding politics out of principle), then the outcome feared by libertarians who shun politics is ensured. Just as all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing (in war/geopolitics), the same is true in the domestic sense.

It seems to me that unless

It seems to me that unless the government can be irrevocably chopped down in a single election cycle, winning an election will be counterproductive, as a second election win will be impossible as the first win will unify all kinds of opponents and their media allies, and damage the credibility of libertarian issues.

Of more possible value, would be offering for bid to each candidate a guaranteed solid 20,000 vote block in exchange for issue-related promises, with a credible future guarantee of retribution at the next election if the promises are not kept.

Regards, Don

Working to create a vibrant

Working to create a vibrant civil society that does not need state intervention does not preclude voting for individuals willing to help out on the state side.

Politics is not democracy is not politics. It is helpful not to confuse/conflate the two. Furthermore, I am not in favor of, nor advocating democracy.

Whether a particular state imposes the will of the majority on the minority based on democratic forms is irrelevant to whether it is useful to try and effect libertarian change via political means. People using (or planning/attempting to use) the current system of representative democracy to thwart democracy by protecting minority rights and eliminating government coercion should be applauded, not minimized or their act dismissed as folly.

Which is to say that because the state can use force and the market can't isn't instructive. A politician is motivated by self interest, which means that many of the same mechanisms that turn self-interest into public good in the market can be (not will be or likely to be, but can be) used in the political realm. And thus to shun politics is, again, to create a self-fulfilling prophecy about democracy and the death of liberty.

On a side note, I am glad that there are A-C's out there that supported the War on Iraq for the reasons you put out. Of course, that makes them functionally indistinguishable from Minarchists in the here and now, unlike the majority of A-Cs who opposed the Iraq war because the state was involved, 'war is the health of the state', yadda yadda. For those anarchocapitalists who are functionally indistinguishable from minarchists, I salute them and when referring to anarcho-capitalists in the future, let it thus be understood that I am not referring to them, but only those that can be functionally differentiated from minarchists.

I think the latter is more

I think the latter is more of what the Free State Project has in mind, Don- the idea of a voting bloc that can be used as both carrot and stick to get certain policies ended and keep them that way.

Because all that the quote

Because all that the quote said is true, but irrelevant. One can have a republic without the problems of a democracy, and yet there is still voting. All his objection amounts to is "have institutional controls on your government beyond popular whim", which is a subject on which I have written in the past (the danger of relying on tradition as an institutional control vs. written law and constitution).

And I still disagree with you on that.

As a nitpick, I point out that contrary to his claim that "The average age of the world's great civilizations has been 200 years", the fact that Republican Rome lasted roughly 550 years (from the end of the Tarquins to the accession of Julius Caesar), Imperial Rome another 500 years yet (not counting Byzantine Rome, which lasted another 1000 years after the fall of the west). The Republic of Venice lasted 1000 years, England's polity has been unconquered since 1044... the anecdotes pile up on the high side of "200" with few others coming to mind on the low side (that would be required to pull the 'average' down to 200). One is prompted to think, cynically, that the 200 year mark is conveniently close to how long the United States has been in existence (oh! mirabile dictu, what a fortuitous coincidence!), thus facilitating contemporary political criticism while having little, if anything, to do with reality.

One is prompted to think, cynically, that the 200 year mark is conveniently close to how long the United States has been in existence (oh! mirabile dictu, what a fortuitous coincidence!), thus facilitating contemporary political criticism while having little, if anything, to do with reality.

'One' may look for cynical arguments where there are none; that is 'one's' choice. My reason for using the quote had nothing to do with timespans or years; it had to do with the mechanisms of democracy that inevitably lead to its own death.

Democracy is the problem, not representative government, not politics qua politics, but the idea that Vox Populi = Vox Dei.

Yes it is, representative government is most emphatically the problem. Representative democracy is not any better than a pure democracy. Not even marginally better. The same perverse incentives that lead to mob rule are still there, only they are channeled through Robert Byrd instead of the masses.

The strongsuit of a republican form of government is not representative democracy, but rather property rights. In the final analysis, property rights are civilization.

My critique of the Free State Project is that it is less fruitful to pursue property rights through politics than it is by true bottom-up means.

Property rights are secured

Property rights are secured either through combat or politics. And popular groundswell (such as the critical mass in 1776 that yielded the American Revolution) can result in 'bottom-up' political action (interest groups working to secure and maintain access to power, in this case the interest group is the people and their interest is preserving property rights). Property rights are protected by politics yet not imposed from the top-down.

A Republic is better than a Democracy. A Republic is Different Than A Democracy. A Republic has representatives, and people vote for them.

People voting for representatives != Representative Democracy.

The incentive to mob rule is present in any form of government or lack of government. It is the reason for self-defense in the first place. That is a particular failing of man, not of voting. And because of that failing it seems doubly incumbent upon individuals who love liberty to fight the political impulse to mob rule and power.

I know you disagree with the value of written consitutions as institutional control, but I believe on Hayekian grounds that the written word & codes can have a strong salutory effect on contemporary attitudes, and can bolster traditions of liberty (or other traditions). Ultimately, of course, it comes down to what people want. If enough people decide individually that they're not going to go along with the norms and practices of a particular civil society, there is no amount of writing or paper that will stop them- only physical force will suffice in that case. But the battlefield of ideas is prior to the actual battlefield, and there written laws and norms come in very handy indeed.

Brian, "I think the latter

Brian,

"I think the latter is more of what the Free State Project has in mind, Don- the idea of a voting bloc that can be used as both carrot and stick to get certain policies ended and keep them that way."

I'm somewhat skeptical about that. If you were to poll the signees, how many would be primarily thinking in terms of electing libertarian candidates?

Regards, Don

The end result is somewhat

The end result is somewhat the same, that unless the FSP people insist on a kind of doctrinal purity in candidates the FSP will either get more libertarian type candidates (because of vying for their vote), or they'll field a candidate themselves, and will get attention due to the 20,000 votes it gets, and may appeal to other libertarian-minded folk in the state. One way or the other; to me it doesnt seem like much of a difference.

Of course, that depends mightily on the non-insistence of "doctrinally pure" (whatever that may be).

ALtogether, though, I think the FSP will have more success on Jonathan's grounds than on their stated grounds- 20,000 libertarian activists descending upon New Hampshire is more likely to have a quicker effect on NH civil society than it will on politics. Spreading the memes of self reliance and self-governance will eventually (if successful) dry up the swamp that the statist politicians breed in, and all that are left are either true believers (who'll do the right thing regardless) or bastards who will vote/govern correctly because they want to keep their job.

Working to create a vibrant

Working to create a vibrant civil society that does not need state intervention does not preclude voting for individuals willing to help out on the state side.

This is not an argument against voting. It is an argument *for* other ways of changing the status quo, and it is a prediction of the likely outcome of the FSP.

Whether a particular state imposes the will of the majority on the minority based on democratic forms is irrelevant to whether it is useful to try and effect libertarian change via political means. People using (or planning/attempting to use) the current system of representative democracy to thwart democracy by protecting minority rights and eliminating government coercion should be applauded, not minimized or their act dismissed as folly.

I agree, and thus I have said so far the following:
"I wish the Free State Project the best of luck and hope they reach their goals"
"I hope they prove me wrong"
"I never said that the Free State Project should be stopped or that I have anything against it necessarily. I wished them good luck"

And thus to shun politics is, again, to create a self-fulfilling prophecy about democracy and the death of liberty.

Not true, but that is a separate issue.

On a side note, I am glad that there are A-C's out there that supported the War on Iraq for the reasons you put out. Of course, that makes them functionally indistinguishable from Minarchists in the here and now, unlike the majority of A-Cs who opposed the Iraq war because the state was involved, 'war is the health of the state', yadda yadda. For those anarchocapitalists who are functionally indistinguishable from minarchists, I salute them and when referring to anarcho-capitalists in the future, let it thus be understood that I am not referring to them, but only those that can be functionally differentiated from minarchists.

You draw a false distinction. They only meaningful distinction between the two is what they espouse as their goal for society. Unless of course you believe that anarchocapitalists should swing grappling hook to grappling hook among private buildings to get to work in order to avoid public roads (after getting the permission of the property owners first), dig a well in their own back yard to avoid public tap water, refuse to eat food that the USDA has regulated, refuse medical treatment at a hospital because every doctor in the country benefits from the AMA monopoly, avoids using fiat dollars, forego their social security benefits, refuse to take Tylenol or Advil because they were regulated by the FDA, and refuse to drive a car due to state inspections and drivers' licensing.

Property rights are secured

Property rights are secured either through combat or politics. And popular groundswell (such as the critical mass in 1776 that yielded the American Revolution) can result in 'bottom-up' political action (interest groups working to secure and maintain access to power, in this case the interest group is the people and their interest is preserving property rights). Property rights are protected by politics yet not imposed from the top-down.

There is a huge difference between what the colonials did fighting for their natural rights than what politics will do. Regardless, combat and politics are not the only options for the securing of property rights. Other options include hiding transactions, escaping, civil disobedience on a massive scale, and using untraceable property instead of traceable property.

A Republic is better than a Democracy. A Republic is Different Than A Democracy. A Republic has representatives, and people vote for them.

People voting for representatives != Representative Democracy.

What is your definition of Representative Democracy?

The incentive to mob rule is present in any form of government or lack of government. It is the reason for self-defense in the first place. That is a particular failing of man, not of voting. And because of that failing it seems doubly incumbent upon individuals who love liberty to fight the political impulse to mob rule and power.

Maybe so, but democracy is particularly corrupting when it comes to creating mob rule, probably more than any other form of government.

As we are wont to say,

As we are wont to say, government power is ultimately enforced at the point of a gun. All of the intermediate means of trying to dodge the state that you listed are ultimately resolved one of two ways-

A) The state continues it's anti property-rights stance and uses force against you (in which case you either surrender or fight)

or

B) The state backs off its anti-property-rights stance and does not initiate force against you.

If situation A holds, there is no amount of encryption or running that is going to head off the combat moment should the state pursue that option (by definition, if situation A holds). Indeed, having to jump through hoops A through Z to try and thwart the state is itself a form of combat (with attendant costs of having to live one's life in a contorted run-from-the-man way).

For situation B to hold, someone has to go into government and say "no".

Absent someone engaging the beast, Situation A will hold in a nontrivial number of cases- indeed if the axiom is true about mob rule and democracy then Situation A is inevitable (its probability over time of holding approaches 100%).

As for Representative Democracy, Democracy is the belief that political justification comes from the people, and that whatever the people decide is to be law (period). A republican form has representatives, but political justification comes from being justified a priori (i.e. in accordance with and respect for individual property rights), where vox populi is irrelevant.

The difference is where the political justification and ruling principle come from. A Representative Democracy is a different way to dress up mob rule. A Republic's ability to do A or B is regardless of the popularity of that ability within the demos.

It's not only about gaining

It's not only about gaining political power, the FPS is alot about creating in the society the structure that will be needed to replace it(charity funded school, etc.) and simply to try to change people view of libertarian by letting them see that we are nice people, that we aren't cowboy who like to carry 2 magnum, that we aren't egoist individualist who would let people dying from hunger without doing anything, that we aren't compulsive gamers or people who wants to have the service of as many prostitutes as possible without being arrested. We want them to see by their eyes who we are in our every day lives... By living with us, they will end up understanding that we are peace-loving people that respect the law, even if we want to change.

Its normal to be sceptic that it will work, but the problem isn't that the idea is bad, it's simply that it is incredibly hard to find 20 000 persons...

Maybe taking a head first

Maybe taking a head first run at the brickwall of the worlds biggest welfare state(US) isn't the brighest idea. If there is was any remote chance of them winning anything but the smallest of victories, the same political machinery that you see operating like a media blast furnace in California would be focused in a laser sharp fashion on the FSP, and we know what the outcome of that would be with almost 100% certainty. perhaps there is an island where 20,000 people could actually have a chance of winning and removing the perverse incentives that democracy provides to the mob. Maybe not, i don't know. it seems to me the 'beast' is not going to stand there and watch 20,000 'crackpots' thumb thier noses at it.

As we are wont to say,

As we are wont to say, government power is ultimately enforced at the point of a gun. All of the intermediate means of trying to dodge the state that you listed are ultimately resolved one of two ways-

A) The state continues it's anti property-rights stance and uses force against you (in which case you either surrender or fight)

or

B) The state backs off its anti-property-rights stance and does not initiate force against you.

Those are not the only possibilities. You can also make it very, very expensive for the state to find you. Or you could make it impossible for the state to even see you.

I think you underestimate just how large a part the frontier of the New World played in allowing escape from the European monarchies to allow a real-life implementation of the ideals of The Enlightenment. Americans did not 'engage' the British state through politics. They did not try to gain power over the British throne to secure their rights. They lived their lives on their own terms, and when they had to resort to picking up arms and meeting the British on the battlefield, they did so. But a large part of the reason America remained sovereign was that it was too expensive for outsiders to rule her.

For situation B to hold, someone has to go into government and say "no".

But you are missing my point: the process does not allow this because it is collective in nature. You say that Libertarians need to band together vote to say "no" to the beast, just like statists band to gether to say "yes" to the beast. If statists can do it, Libertarians can also do it.

I don't think you realize how the system itself mechanistically is biased against Libertarians. Democracy, or representative democracy, or whatever you want to call it, is biased towards statism. A lot of the Founders realized it. Alexander Fraser Tytler realized it. Public Choice economists realize it. The system is biased towards statism because it is about drawing people together under your 'big tent' for the purposes of attaining power, not securing rights. With multiple factions in the race and the coercive monopoly up for grabs, each faction fights tooth and nail to get your vote. Once in control, the winning party redistributes the public treasury to its friends and allies. But during the next election, it has to promise the same and more, or else the other party who promises more will take the power away. The beast grows ever larger. It does not matter if Libertarians win an election. With the coercive monopoly in possession, corruption will ensue. If it does not, those who lost to Libertarians will see the true danger of losing the welfare state and will bring together the largest mob possible to ensure Libertarians lose power during the next election. If Libertarians want to fight off this mob attack, they will have to start making promises to the mob itself. A compromise here, a compromise there. Perhaps a promise to union workers, perhaps a wink to the DEA, perhaps a nudge to the steel industry ensuring tariffs...

Does this sound like any sort of means to promote individualism?

Don't you see how all this democracy nonsense is much fancy talk but nothing more than filtering mechanism that results in the Law of the Jungle?

As for Representative Democracy, Democracy is the belief that political justification comes from the people, and that whatever the people decide is to be law (period). A republican form has representatives, but political justification comes from being justified a priori (i.e. in accordance with and respect for individual property rights), where vox populi is irrelevant.

Who are these The People? Are they the same The People who vote to enact laws that determine how much water I can use to flush my toilet? Are they the same The People who decide how much money I can withdraw from my checking account before the 'proper authorities' are alerted? Are they the same The People who think I am not charitable enough and have no problem robbing me to give to 'those less fortunate'?

If these are The People, why am I not part of The People? Why am I not a part of the demos? Why am I not a part of the vox populi or any other fancy Latin term?

I'll tell you the reason, although you probably know it: I am an individual.

Any strategy to secure individual rights through the collective system of democracy is a priori doomed to fail.

Who are you arguing against?

Who are you arguing against? You've erected a mighty straw man where I am somehow in favor of Representative Democracy and the Vox Populi, even though I've denied it at least three times (before the cock crowed, to boot). Re-read my comment.

Who are you arguing against?

Who are you arguing against? You've erected a mighty straw man where I am somehow in favor of Representative Democracy and the Vox Populi, even though I've denied it at least three times (before the cock crowed, to boot). Re-read my comment.

I am arguing against your assertion that politics in general, and the FSP specifically, can be a means to futher libertarian ideals. You have been arguing that it is imperative that the beast must be 'engaged' through politics in order to stop the growth of the beast.

When I argue that such an 'engagement' is futile because of the nature of the very system through which said engagement must be made, you argue that this is not necessarily so, because I have somehow mischaracterized the system - that representative democracy != republicanism. You state that the the latter is differentiated from the former by the latter's enforcement of individual property rights, whereas the former is entirely dependent on vox populi.

My argument is that this distinction may be conceptuallly valid, it is functionally meaningless, and to somehow believe that what the FSP is doing is engaging a republican beast is giving more credit to the US political system than it deserves by a far stretch. Perhaps republicanism once existed in US politics before the Civil War, but that time has long since passed, and today's political culture is nothing more than mob rule, where vox populi rules the roost. Libertarians would be better off fighting statists on our turf rather than theirs.

I am more or less in

I am more or less in agreement with you, Jonathan, but I must say, if you gotta live in a place where some State says it runs things, and the last time I checked, that was all of the currently existing land on the planet Earth, why not try to find a area where the State is *marginally* less pushy, and where you are more likely to live near other freedom-minded individuals? I'm not a member of the FSP, and I don't intend to join it, but I might move to NH anyway. It's a hell of a lot freer than Montgomery, AL.