Libertarianism has a Bigotry Problem. It’s Time We Stop Throwing It Under the Rug and Do Something About It.

I was first introduced to the libertarian movement during Ron Paul’s 2008 Presidential run. By the time the 2012 campaign season rolled around, I was fully onboard with both Ron Paul’s subsequent run and libertarianism as a whole. I was excited about revolutionary ideas that I am still on board with today: ending the war on drugs, ending overseas wars that have resulted in the deaths and maiming of countless human beings (Americans and non-Americans alike), and keeping the state out of our personal lives and wallets.

During Paul’s 2008 run, and especially during his 2012 run, Paul made headlines for his unorthodox positions and impassioned supporters. But he also made headlines for another reason: newsletters that had gone out under his name in the 1990s. One article from the newsletters featured such ugly quotations as “order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks” (in reference to the Rodney King riots), “we can safely assume that 95% of the black males in [Washington D.C.] are semi-criminal or entirely criminal,” and “we are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, but it is hardly irrational.” Others featured such lines as “homosexuals, not to speak of the rest of society, were better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities” and “[HIV-positive homosexuals] enjoy the pity and attention that comes with being sick.”

During his aforementioned Presidential runs, Paul denied writing the newsletters and claimed to have not even known about their content at the time they were published. To his credit, he also disavowed what was featured in them. In 1996, however, he had defended many of the comments in the newsletters as being out of context while not denying authorship. Based on my review of the evidence, I find it likely that Paul did not write the articles in question. However, he is almost undoubtedly covering for the person or people who did.

The chief suspected culprit in the newsletters saga is Lew Rockwell, Paul’s former chief of staff, according to a 2008 investigation published in Reason Magazine (in which multiple sources corroborated Rockwell’s involvement). This is considered somewhat of an open secret in libertarian circles, with many with knowledge whispering about it, but few willing to go on the record (rumors about libertarian writer Jeffrey Tucker’s involvement also abound, although Tucker made an apparent about-face on the issue of racism with his 2014 article “Against Libertarian Brutalism”). Rockwell is well-known in libertarian circles as the founder of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a libertarian think-tank that promotes the Austrian school of economics. But aside from Rockwell’s economic views lies a history of pandering to racists.

In the early 1990s, Rockwell collaborated with libertarian philosopher and economist Murray Rothbard on what is now commonly referred to as “the paleo strategy.” Described as “outreach to the rednecks” by Rothbard, the paleo strategy consisted of appealing to the worst sensibilities of racists in order to convince them to ally with libertarians. Much of this outreach occurred through essays written in “The Rockwell-Rothbard Report” (RRR). The RRR featured Rothbard’s famous “Right Wing Populism: A Strategy for the Paleo Movement”, which began with a lamentation of former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke’s electoral defeat in the 1991 Louisiana gubernatorial election and ended with Rothbard’s calls to “take back the streets” and “crush criminals”, writing that “cops must be unleashed, and allowed to administer instant punishment, subject of course to liability when they are in error” (for more on Rothbard’s insane calls to unleash the cops, see here). In the same edition of the RRR, Rothbard and Rockwell co-wrote an endorsement of paleoconservative Pat Buchanan for President, during which they expressed glee at a hypothetical world where elections were between Buchanan and Duke: “We can say: ‘Look, gang: you have a choice. It’s either Pat Buchanan or David Duke. If you don’t vote for us, baby, you’re going to get Duke. And how do you like them apples?’”

The RRR also included articles by Rockwell, Rothbard, and others complaining about illegal immigrants receiving driver’s licenses, arguing that slaves actually liked slavery, and lampooning “The Real Rosa Parks” as a radical leftist whose anti-segregation efforts resulted in “increased racial hatred and less real freedom for everyone” in an article that ended with this quote: “In the Montgomery of 39 years ago, the worst fear was of bus de-seating. Today, in Detroit, theft and mayhem are the norm. Rosa Parks wasn’t in danger of being beaten by the busdriver. But at the end of her life, and of the civil rights movement which she allegedly began, she isn’t safe locked up in her own home.” Separate from the RRR, Rockwell also once published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times endorsing police brutality during the Rodney King riots.

But there may be no better example of the ridiculous pandering to bigots involved in the paleo strategy than Rockwell’s 1994 article in the RRR entitled “Why Is the Ice Still White?”, which featured Rockwell seemingly being angry that the movie D2: The Mighty Ducks featured minorities playing hockey. Next to a blown-up excerpt exclaiming that “movies tell the majority: hate yourself, hate your people,” Rockwell wrote about how “not only is the actor playing the coach Latino, his team… is composed of blacks, Hispanics, Asians (including a gay Chinese figure skater), an American Indian, and girls.” After complaining that the opposing team was “from Iceland” and “blonde, blue-eyed, male, and thuggish,” Rockwell went on to complain that black kids taught the protagonist team new shots and strategies and expressed disappointment that the coach chose his “dark-haired girlfriend . . . over an evil blond from Iceland.”

Now why would the founder of a libertarian think-tank be complaining about minorities and girls playing hockey in a Disney movie, of all things? The answer is likely that he saw a potential audience, and he looked to reel them in to increase his standing and revenue. It just so happened that this wasn’t just any audience: Rockwell was appealing to the bottom of the barrel of society. It was an appeal to people angry that their kids were watching movies that had black protagonists in them, an appeal to people who were angry that their kids were in school with minorities, and an appeal to those who generally did not want those with extra melanin in their skin around them. How else could you explain a libertarian, whose philosophy would generally be against the state telling people they cannot travel, from complaining about “illegal immigrants” having driver’s licenses?

While the original paleo strategy went up in smoke as an unsuccessful stain on the libertarian movement’s history, remnants of it and attempts to revive it remain. Rockwell himself has continued to churn out garbage in the hopes of attracting bigots, publishing articles on “why transgenderism is immoral,” puff pieces on former President Trump, and linking to articles trying to attack police victim Breonna Taylor for having a weapon (which is quite an odd stance for a libertarian). Rockwell has also continued his attacks on the idea of free immigration. Likewise, Jeff Deist, the current President of the Ludwig von Mises Institute that Rockwell founded, has expressed a desire to reboot the paleo strategy.

Hans-Hermann Hoppe, an economist and philosopher who studied under Rothbard during the paleo years, is frequently the go-to for those in the movement who want to justify government immigration restrictions (Hoppe’s argument, which I’ve written about in some form or another here, here, and here, revolves around the idea that “net-taxpayers” have the right to public property, and therefore we should hope that the state generally keeps out foreigners). In keeping with Rockwell’s paleo pandering, Hoppe has stated that we should aim our message at “white Christian couples with children,” as they are the “most severely victimized people.” In saying this, Hoppe highly downplays the evils of corporatist regulations that keep the poor in poverty, the disproportionate effect of the drug war and other forms of systemic racism on minorities, and the often non-white victims of U.S. foreign policy.

Hoppe’s outreach to outright racists does not stop there. Hoppe once invited white nationalist Jared Taylor to his “Property and Freedom Society” conference in 2013 to give a speech on race relations. During the speech, Taylor described how former slaves showed a “kind of nostalgia for slavery,” brought up how Jefferson Davis’s slaves were disappointed when Davis had to leave his home during the Civil War, complained about miscegenation (race-mixing), and stated that “and so as the United States becomes increasingly non-white, I believe it will cease to be part of Western civilization and slide increasingly into the third world.”

And even though Hoppe ultimately objected to his foreword being published in Chase Rachels’s book “White, Right, and Libertarian” after Hoppe learned that the originally-proposed cover had depictions of hangings from helicopters, he still name-dropped Rachels and his “Radical Capitalist” website as examples to look up to in his January 2018 article “Getting Libertarianism Right.” For those unfamiliar with Rachels, one of the first articles published on “Radical Capitalist”, which has been very open about its endorsement of white nationalism (not to mention Rachels’s rationalization of the Holocaust in saying that “Judea” declared war on Germany), was an article that referred to black people as “proto-humans” and claimed that “modern man evolved from Blacks by hybridizing with the large-brain Neanderthals.” Interestingly, Hoppe has also brought up racial pseudoscience in his writings, arguing that blacks have a higher “time preference” (or less of an ability to delay gratification) than whites.

Even those that see the problems with Rockwell, Hoppe, and others may contend that the issues with them do not extend to the libertarian movement as a whole. This is true, to a point: there are many great libertarians out there who strongly oppose bigotry; the Libertarian Party platform even includes a plank stating that “we condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant.” But the issues with bigotry still persist today, and it is about time that we do something about it.

Back when I was supporting Ron Paul’s 2012 Presidential run, I tried to play off the newsletters issue as “not a big deal”; I have seen many libertarians do the same thing. This was, and is, a mistake. By refusing to condemn issues with bigotry in our ranks, we are allowing those issues to grow. And by allowing them to grow, we are turning off large groups of people who have been and are still victimized by the state and could help us achieve a freer world.

So rather than sweeping the Ron Paul Newsletters under the rug, let’s recognize that grave mistakes were made and that Ron Paul is not infallible. Rather than inviting anti-Semites to headline events, or dismissing anti-Semitism as “truth-seeking,” let’s condemn bigotry where we see it. This is not to say that we cannot have conversations with people and attempt to change their minds, but welcoming people with bigoted views into the Libertarian Party or the libertarian movement and making excuses for that bigotry should not be confused with the kind of outreach performed by people like Daryl Davis. When we talk about libertarian views on freedom of association or freedom of speech, let’s also talk how we should boycott businesses that refuse to service to customers on the basis of race, gender, or sexual orientation, how market forces can be used to quell bigotry, and how our freedom of speech can be used as a force for good.

Rather than dismissing being against bigotry as “virtue signaling,” let’s “virtue signal” even louder, so as to show the world what we stand for.

Chris Johncox: From Mainstream Libertarian to Working with David Duke. What Went Wrong?

Chris Johncox’s time in the libertarian movement seems to have started innocently enough. Johncox co-founded Being Libertarian, an organization with a popular Facebook page and website that tends to take a somewhat big-tent libertarian view, incorporating voices from all across the spectrum of libertarian ideas. I would like to make it clear that this connection isn’t meant to disparage Being Libertarian; I know many great libertarians involved there, and they’ve even published a few of my articles before. My objective is to illustrate that Johncox’s initial foray into the political world came with few or no warning signs, at least from an outside observer’s perspective. Johncox eventually left Being Libertarian, choosing instead to write for a variety of other sites. This included Liberty Hangout (which I’ve written about here and here), a website that bills itself as somewhat of a conservative/libertarian fusion that has since risen in profile due to its association with the Kent State Gun Girl. This is around when I had my first interaction with Johncox, who at this time went by the pseudonym “I, AnCap”, after writing an article that included criticisms of Liberty Hangout’s founder. I had gone out of my way early in the piece to make it clear that I was making an ideological attack as opposed to a personal one, but that didn’t stop Johncox from typing out a rather unhinged rant in the common section.
By this time, the warning signs of someone going down a dark path were beginning to pop up. In March 2017, in reference to infamous white nationalist Richard Spencer coming out in favor of a healthcare public option, Johncox wrote on Facebook that he “actually kind of liked Spencer until this bullshit.” It became clear that Johncox was wading into the realm of white identity politics, which from what I have seen generally acts as the first step down the alt-right pipeline. A May 2017 profile of him by Mel Magazine, entitled “The Young Libertarian Blogger who Wants to be the Future of the Far Right”, raised additional red flags. While he was quoted within the article as saying that he is “not a big fan of the white nationalist thing”, he still espoused common white nationalist talking points, saying “I don’t buy the idea that Europe is for everyone. Humans have their native communities.” In October 2017, while “Crying Nazi” Christopher Cantwell was in jail for his actions at the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally, Johncox was tapped by Liberty Hangout to conduct an interview with him via phone. The interviewed, reuploaded on the Fakertarians page here, generally consisted of Cantwell ranting about Jews, with Johncox saying “right, right” and neglecting to challenge him. His time at Liberty Hangout soon came to an end, however, when he was removed from the site after he had tried to put Christopher Cantwell and alt-righter Augustus Invictus (whose site, The Revolutionary Conservative, Johncox is a co-owner of) on a list for an article about the “top ten libertarians of 2017”. Since the firing, Johncox has taken an even sharper alt-right turn. His views seem to have evolved to become more extreme; whether this is just a change in being less careful about his rhetoric or an actual ideological shift is something we can only speculate about. He strongly supported the push by some on the alt-right to report sex workers to the IRS for tax evasion, writing that “Left wing cam thots estoppel themselves from property rights by contributing to the replacement crisis.” This nonsensical logic is often seen in those who drift toward fascist ideologies from libertarianism; their new hatred of whichever group they’re focusing on at that point in time causes them to try to twist libertarianism to justify violence against said group. This often culminates in an abandonment of libertarianism altogether, at which time many have already shifted into fascism without directly acknowledging it. Johncox also frequently speaks negatively about Jews, a common refrain of those on the alt-right. Writing under a variation of his new pseudonym (he has switched to using Krios Kritikis, Krios Krisis, or Kaiser Krios, a sign that he may be attempting to appeal to the non-anarcho-capitalist factions of the alt-right), he said on Facebook in October 2018 that “Keynsianism [sic] is a Jewish state controlled and managed form of Neo-liberal economics where the state manages and regulates the private sector through corporate law.” (Keynesianism is admittedly terrible, but Keynes wasn’t Jewish; in fact, he’s often accused of disliking Jews).
He also made a post in February of 2019 alleging that “the Jews” are responsible for whites eventually becoming a minority in America.
At some point in late 2018 or early 2019, Johncox became involved with the Heel Turn Network, an alt-right streaming group that has been covered extensively elsewhere. Those featured on the network have included Johncox, Richard Spencer, and Jared Howe, among others. Johncox is also now a producer for a show hosted by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, according to Johncox’s Twitter account.
Confirmation that this Twitter account is his (note the I, AnCap URL on the blog)
So I would say that the important question here is: what exactly went wrong? What motivated someone interested in libertarianism, which is supposed to be about rights for all individuals, to end up palling around with people like David Duke and Richard Spencer? Having been involved with Fakertarians since its inception in 2017 and covering many people with a story similar to Johncox’s, I can make an educated guess. Libertarianism, especially the radical version (which I subscribe to), is essentially a fringe ideology. Those who are susceptible to adopting fringe ideologies are more likely to be libertarians than those who generally stay in the political mainstream (the stereotypical Republican versus Democrat battle). This isn’t a bad thing in itself, as I see a lot of value in going against the grain and challenging conventional opinions to try to ascertain the truth. But sometimes, those on this journey stumble upon pseudoscience, downright lunacy, or the work of those with bad intentions who care more about power and control than individual rights. Many times, I see those who enter the alt-right from the libertarian sphere start with race science that has generally been looked down upon by the scientific community (like the idea that certain races are genetically inferior). They think they’ve discovered a hidden truth and seek to incorporate it into their ideology. Often, this incorporation involves a twisting of libertarianism, like mental gymnastics to justify keeping members of the “undesirable” races out of a country by use of government force. As the newfound alt-righter drifts further and further away from libertarianism, they begin to find more ways to justify authoritarianism under supposed libertarian principles (like Johncox’s insistence that taxing sex workers is okay because he believes they corrupt society and bring about additional taxation/spending). Eventually, but not always, the libertarian label fades away, with libertarians being seen by the alt-right as not willing to be able to do what it takes to bring about major change.
A post about race-mixing by Johncox on Twitter
So what should be done? First, I think we need to remain steadfast in our libertarianism. The fact that a handful of libertarians have went on to espouse destructive ideologies does not mean that we should abandon ours. But we should be loud about disavowing those who seek to deny individual rights under the banner of libertarianism; those who justify government force through bigotry should not have a home in our movement. It is technically possible for those who profess racism to support libertarian policies, but in practice, the vast majority of those who claim to be both racist and libertarian are only the former.

Augustus Invictus Returns, This Time in the California GOP

A lot has happened, to say the least, since I last wrote about former US Senate candidate Augustus Invictus (if you’re unfamiliar with him, see my previous article).

This includes his participation and scheduled speaking spot in the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally that began with the now-infamous tiki torch march through the University of Virginia in which many chanted “Jews will not replace us” and culminated in alt-righter James Fields murdering Heather Heyer with his car, his Unabomber fandom, his appearance on a small, openly anti-Semitic show called “Goy Talk” alongside Richard Spencer, his website publishing an article about the “Jewish question”, and his criticism of those who denounced political violence the morning after a white nationalist murdered dozens of Muslims at mosques in New Zealand, among other craziness.

But in terms of electoral politics, Invictus has generally been quiet since he abandoned his short-lived GOP Senate run in 2017 (he had previously lost decisively in the Libertarian Party’s primary when he ran for Senate in the 2016 election). A little digging, however, reveals a different story.

Invictus was recently appointed by California Republican Party Delegate Anthony Macias to fill a vacancy in the GOP as an Associate Delegate; the pair are running for re-election in 2020. In addition, Macias is seeking a spot on the California Republican Party Platform Committee, in which case Invictus would be his alternate. Macias is also running for the California State Assembly. Macias had said that if he were to win the primary for the Assembly seat, he would resign from his delegate spot and appoint Invictus in his place.

While the positions of power described above that Invictus is currently in or could eventually fill are relatively low on the totem pole, it is nonetheless alarming that someone as open about his repugnant views as Invictus has been able to insert himself into a leadership position while remaining relatively undetected and free of relevant media attention. There also remains the strong possibility that Invictus could again choose to seek some sort of higher office if his current tenure is successful.

What makes this situation even more odd is that Macias seems to be trying to appeal to Jewish Republican voters for support; he recently attended the San Jose State University Purim Carnival, writing on Facebook that he will “always… oppose antisemitic hate, wherever it rears its ugly head.”

Besides the fact that Invictus has closely allied himself with people like Richard Spencer and David Duke who generally like to blame Jews for all of the world’s problems (including what they view as a plot to demographically replace the white race, ridiculously referred to as “white genocide), even writing the first draft of the “Charlottesville Statement” for the rally mentioned in the second paragraph, Invictus also dabbled in Holocaust denial in a 2017 interview, saying “Do I believe that 6 million Jews were killed by evil Hitler? Is that what you’re asking me? Okay, then I am still waiting to see those facts.”

From my research, it’s been difficult to tell whether Macias is sincere in his statement against anti-semitism, and is simply deluded and wholly ignorant of Invictus’s views, or if this pandering to the Jewish community is all some kind of a sick joke.

Regardless, it remains imperative that people like Invictus, who represent an ideology that deserves to be relegated as a footnote to the dark corners of history, are kept from any position that aids them in making their sick dreams a reality.

The paperwork for the Invictus appointment, with an announcement on Facebook
Macias making the appointment via email
Macias talking about how he’d appoint Invictus as a delegate (as opposed to associate delegate, which Invictus is now) if he’s forced to resign if he wins his primary
Macias/Invictus running for the California Republican Party Platform Committee
Macias’s statement against anti-Semitism, despite his running mate’s views