The Art of War and Leadership

Sun Tzu, while a military strategist who wrote The Art of War in regards to conquering one’s enemy on the battlefield, had many lessons that can be applied to leadership within the scope of political work or campus activism. I will detail some of my favorite axioms and how I feel they apply to leadership in regards to my battlefield, that being the battlefield of ideas and policies, and how society will be shaped by those in power.  As Clausewitz stated, war is just politics by other means.  In a sense, politics is war by other means, just a bloodless and democratic form of it.

“A leader leads by example, not by force.”

To lead by example and not force is to excuse those who make mistakes in the beginning and show them the correct way to go about doing something.  Having worked many jobs where I was disciplined for minor mistakes, I can relate to Tzu’s axiom.  If one leads by example and not force (discipline, whether spoken or, in the example that Tzu speaks of, physical), there will be less resentment amongst those you are seeking to inspire and lead.  It need be noted that I didn’t spend very long at those jobs where I was disciplined for minor mistakes and not shown how to do something via example; whereas, those who have led by example have inspired a trust and kinship with myself and other employees  or activists.  Leadership is not about having power to use without limit, it is about pulling the same amount of weight as those under you to inspire their continued loyalty.  If you have to, train fellow activists on the job; I know I have.

“To know your enemy, you must become your enemy.”

What Tzu is stating in this axiom is that on the most basic level, you must understand the tactics of your opponent and, if need arises or if they are particularly effective, utilize them yourself.  Understand the means which create their ends.  Learn their ground game.  Who are they reaching out to?  What is their base of support?  Learn to create a base that numbers larger than that of your opponent.  Remember, in elections or initiatives, all you need is a plurality.

“A military operation involves deception. Even though you are competent, appear to be incompetent. Though effective, appear to be ineffective.”

While achieving this is somewhat difficult in a time of constant communication, 24 hour news, and social networking, it’s still possible.  Make your opponents feel as if they have the upper hand and make them complacent.  Do everything you can do under the radar.  It’s priceless to see opponents aghast, when they catch wind of the phonebanking, canvassing, or any other effective form of field-work that you are doing, due to their constituents contacting them or seeing their poll numbers steadily decrease right before the election.  Leadership in regards to politics is not only about winning, but having the tactics necessary to ensure that victory.  You owe it to those you lead to make the conditions possible for victory, otherwise will they have any impetus to fight?

“The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.”

This axiom goes hand in hand with a Bible verse I detailed in a prior piece about building a tower without making the necessary calculations of the costs.  As a leader, you must take into account everything that will be necessary including funds, materials, manpower, and the most mundane little expenses that you will need to lead and win effectively.  Always remember that it is better to have  something and not need it than it is to need it and not have it.

“The control of a large force is the same principle as the control of a few men: it is merely a question of dividing up their numbers.”

Time and time again, I’ve learned this lesson.  I’ve worked with many people who would have served in other capacities to a much better extent.  As a leader, you must be able to identify one’s strengths and weaknesses, and thus be able to allocate them correctly.  Your activists and volunteers are human capital that can lead to distortions if not correctly placed.  Those who are better with organization are much better suited to planning events, typing up spreadsheets, and making expense reports whereas those who have shown an ability to work with the public are better  suited to canvassing, phonebanking, or serving as ambassadors to those whom you are trying to build coalitions with to achieve your goal.

The Art of War is a great read even for those who aren’t involved in warfare, as it has many lessons that can be applied to other facets of life, especially those in regards to leadership, the form that I embrace of humility and service to those serving under me, a concept that Tzu understood over two thousand years ago.

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Not Above the Law

Enter the Indianapolis City-County Building on a hot August day in 2012.  I made it through the jury selection and was one of twelve Indianapolis residents who were going to decide the fate of the defendant that day: a young black male who had been accused of spitting on an IMPD officer.  The penalty if convicted of  spitting on an agent of the state? A felony, a conviction that would effectively have reverberations throughout the rest of his life, especially due to the fact that he would not only be a convicted felon, but one who also had bipolar disorder and was given to outbursts. One such outburst occurred during the sequestration of my fellow jurors and I, which unfortunately ended the proceedings that day, and led to the judge declaring mistrial.

While having the case explained to us, we were told that it would have only been a misdemeanor had he spat on a civilian who wasn’t employed by the state in a policing capacity. Hearing this, it made me think: Why are cops a protected class in this country?  Why is it a felony if one spits on a cop, but not if one spits on a civilian?  Surely both actions are reprehensible, disgusting, and should be dealt with in the same way.  Why is it mandatory in some jurisdictions that one should receive the death penalty for the murder of a cop, but not for the murder of a civilian?

Cops are ideally of the law, not above the law.  The fact that crimes against them come with stiffer penalties – and that they often receive preferential treatment in countless cases of brutality, manslaughter, and even murder – is reminiscent of the caste systems of ancient India and feudal Europe where certain classes were valued higher than others due to their service to the state.

Those who are cops have chosen to be cops.  They accept the risks inherent with the job when they sign their names on the dotted line, just as those who join the military accept the risks they face.  They are no different than private security guards, yet those who injure or kill security guards are not given stiffer penalties.  Nor are the guards given preferential treatment if they exceed acceptable amounts of force in carrying out their duties.

This is not to say that I don’t appreciate the jobs that decent cops do.  My viewpoint is that it’s wrong to value them higher than others in society due to the work they do.  Every human life is sacred; what message does it send when we apply higher penalties to those who aggress against cops, or give preferential treatment to law enforcement?

If society wants to see the police as an honorable group of public servants that protects and serves, they ought to treat them as anyone else is. They should be held to the same laws that I must follow in my day-to-day life.  As officers who are supposed to enforce the law and uphold the constitutions of their respective states, they’d take a giant step in becoming beholden to those statutes and documents.

"Service is Job One" I'd have an easier time believing this if they were held to the same standards that I am.

“Service is Job One”
I’d have an easier time believing this if they were held to the same standards that I am.

The Unseen Effects of the Ammo Shortage

Frederic Bastiat’s famous essay, That Which Is Seen and That, Which is Not Seen, inspired Henry Hazlitt to write Economics in One Lesson, where he applied the lesson  of a careless boy breaking a window, and the net loss that resulted from it, to economic issues beyond the initial scope.  In the same way that Hazlitt applied the aforementioned  lesson to those issues, I will apply it to a market distortion present in today’s world: the shortage of ammunition created by an overzealous Department of Homeland Security.

I do not believe that the Department of Homeland Security has any intention of using the ammunition they bought in a massacre.  Taking such a rash action would have disastrous consequences and swell the ranks of citizens seeking to defend themselves and their property.  That the DHS has depleted the amount of ammunition that civilians have at their disposal is malicious enough of an action.

What is seen is that the DHS has more ammunition than they need – and that factories are working at capacity to churn it out – all the while prices of components have continued to increase as a result of civilian, military, and law enforcement demands.

What is not seen and rarely considered – except by those who are shooters – is that shooting is a perishable skill. While going to the range not only offers stress relief and a good time with friends, it’s also necessary to make sure that I can place my rounds where they need to be. In that I own firearms not only for hunting but also for self-defense, not being able to place rounds where they need to be can be a dangerous proposition to innocent bystanders (if in public) or family members (if in my home). This is especially the case with new gun owners. While I have owned guns for multiple years, I only recently purchased a handgun and have only put 150 rounds through it, due to the shortage that in part was caused by the DHS’s purchase. While I feel comfortable with it, I am not yet proficient.

I am not alone in my story. The same situation is playing out with hundreds of thousands of other new handgun owners who may be permit holders or are seriously considering applying for one to defend themselves in public. What is not seen is that we are all anxious to carry for our self-preservation and, if need be, for the preservation of the lives of others – as has been done in many cases unreported by the national media. Concealed carry of firearms has been shown to deter crime. In a sense, the public depends on those who carry. Furthermore, the public depends on those who carry to be judicious in their marksmanship, something that they cannot do unless they are skilled in the use of those firearms.

The unseen in this situation will be seen. By then, it will be too late and the media will run with it like they did with Newtown. There will be new calls for legislation on the state and Federal level to ban the carry of firearms in public, but our government has a long history of unintended consequences that they later seek to “solve”.

My advice to new gun owners at this point in time is to buy ammunition when you can find it and to do dry fire practice (preferably with Snap Caps). Familiarize yourself with the nuances of the firearm and how it feels in your hand. Practice drawing it. In your home, have it where you can access it immediately, and have clear shooting lanes based on where the rooms of your family members are. While there may be an artificial shortage of ammunition, it can’t stop you from doing basic drills without having to shoot. Do these things and the unseen may remain unseen.

Separation of Church and State

Lately there has been quite a bit of hubbub on various social media sites about the role of religion in government and politics. I’m going to make some friends and enemies by saying that I personally believe that its role should be nonexistent, as a protection to both religious and secular individuals.  That said, I believe a bit of history and explanation is in order.

Where does the idea of separation of church and state come from?

FirstAmendmentFrom a young age in the United States, many history and government classes teach about something called the separation of church and state.  The general idea behind the phrase was set as a constitutional standard with the first amendment in 1791, as the first of ten amendments detailed in the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment, as many already know, prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, or impeding the free exercise of religion, and emphasizes the importance of a plethora of other freedoms. The phrase itself comes from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to a Baptist congregation, stating that “believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof’, thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”  The importance of adhering to the separation of church and state is that it both keeps the government from interfering in the religious lives of individuals and churches, while also keeping what then, and now, constitutes as a religious majority from exercising political power in a way that would harm those who identify as atheist, agnostic, or simply choose not to identify themselves with a label at all.

So why is it that oftentimes religion gets mixed with government?

I would venture to say that it is a generally accepted fact that individuals develop emotional ties to their political and religious ideologies. Oftentimes the two get melded together; to temporarily play off of a popularized stereotype, one doesn’t identify just as a Christian or a Republican, for instance, they identify as a Christian Republican. The same could hold true of any different mix of religious and political identities, or lack thereof. That isn’t “bad”, or “good”, but merely how we as individuals seem to function.

What does libertarianism have to do with any of this?

th_interfaithWhat’s beautiful about libertarianism is that the political tenants that I hold dear could not care less what you as an individual believe. As long as you support free market values, respect individual rights, and don’t try force your lifestyle on someone else, the political philosophy could not care less if you believe in, or worship, one god, many gods, no god, or the flying spaghetti monster. My father jokingly calls my political views the ideology of “live and let live”, and I would say that’s fairly apt. Libertarianism hinges on the importance of individual liberty, political freedom, and voluntary association. There is no “check this religion” to fit into the “cool kid’s club”. Libertarianism at its core supports the separation of church and state in the sense that it doesn’t allow for force of one group of people, or individual, over another – also labeled the nonaggression principle. The adherents of libertarianism are  just a group of people from different backgrounds with many beliefs coming together to say that we  have a right to  self-ownership to the fullest extent, and I, for one, think that is something that we can all rally around.

Hang Together

Too often I will see threads online where the substance of someone’s argument isn’t what is being discussed, but the person and their beliefs. At a time when the movement continues to grow, why are we focusing on what someone believes or doesn’t?  Why do we feel it is our place to call them out for their most personal decisions, especially in regards to their religious beliefs? This is the type of thing that keeps those on the fence from coming into our yard.

A little tact will go quite a long way in making friends and influencing people.  Condemning and criticizing those of certain beliefs is the last thing our movement needs. The whole point of political work and activism is to build bridges – not to burn them.  How likely will others be to work with someone who has attacked their personal beliefs? Their belief set may have been instrumental in leading them to the ideas of liberty.

Part of being a libertarian is accepting that you will have to work with many different people. I’ve worked with Hindus, Muslims, Jews, and people of many other creeds, or lack thereof.  I’ve worked with blacks, Hispanics, Arabs, Indians, and people of many other ethnicities. When I met these people, the voice in the back of my head didn’t tell me to instantly attack them on their beliefs (or beliefs that I perceived them to have).  Respect is mutual to me, no matter who I’m working with. Nor do I collectivize like some do, something that is decidedly un-libertarian in nature.  Everyone is an individual. It is their character that should distinguish them, not their beliefs.

Categorical descriptors such as religion, one’s ethnicity or, one’s orientation are all things that should not determine the validity of one’s views.  God makes us what we are: equal human beings.  As equal human beings, we all possess the same capacity to reason, regardless of what deity we pray to or those aspects about ourselves that we cannot change, such as our ethnic backgrounds or those who we love.

I ask those who are guilty of such criticisms, regardless of who they are, to consider the big picture. Consider that we have to build bridges and not burn them down. We are a diverse movement, and we will continue to be more of one as our message spreads beyond borders and regions.  I’m not asking for you to lay down your beliefs or convictions, but to become more productive by working with people regardless of who they are.  On social networks, contribute to the discussion rather than lacing your responses with ad hominem attacks.

Working with many different people has opened my eyes and helped me in becoming a more capable leader.  People from different backgrounds, whether they be religious, ethnic, or socio-economic differences- all have much to contribute given ways they’ve done things in the past.  Integration of strengths is one of the best ways to overcome difficulties, regardless of the goals you have.

bridge

Do you want to win? Regardless of what field you are in (be it of the political, academic, or entrepreneurial variety), winning requires overcoming the petty arguments you may have based on someone’s differences.  In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “[w]e must hang together or assuredly, we will all hang separately.” We have too much in common in terms of our political, economic, and moral beliefs to focus on the little differences between us.

The Bible and Leadership

????????????????????????????????????????The Bible can teach us much about life, but most notably, it can teach us how to conduct ourselves as leaders of a young movement that needs guidance. Many of the historical figures detailed in the Bible, especially at the birth of a new and world-changing religion, Christianity, were themselves leaders of a young movement; leaders who were able to overcome obstacles  and led to the establishment of what has arguably been the most influential religion in history.

“[The] Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
-Matthew 28:20, New American Bible

While this is clearly an allusion to Christ’s death on the cross, it tells one of the greatest lessons of leadership.  As leaders in the movement, we should not seek for others to do things for us, but to do things for others.  As leaders, we should be willing to go out of our way, assist others with their activism goals, and apply our talents where others can use them in order to serve the movement.  Leaders, like Jesus, always seek to put other people ahead of themselves and deny material comforts, or comfortable complacency, for the greater good.  Not only does this aspect of leadership have an impact on the movement as a whole, but, if you abide by such a lesson, you will also be respected and relied on by many. You will also be seen as someone who is capable of many functions, which, in my experience, is one of the greatest feelings in the world.

“For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?”
-Luke 14:28, New American Bible

This verse speaks to one of my biggest problems with the movement as a whole; the assumption that things will come fast and be easy to accomplish. Calculating the cost of the tower refers to seeing the big picture. We must know how much work it will take to build our tower- with the tower being a metaphor for the political and academic influence in society.  As leaders, we should be able to see how much work we must put into a certain task to see fruition, whether that be an advocacy campaign for public policy or political campaigns at the local, state, or national level.  To not calculate costs may run you the risk of not completing the allegorical tower.

“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”
1 Timothy 4:12, New American Bible

The movement is full of those in their late teens and twenties. We are often told by those, whether they are older libertarians or older Republicans, that we are too young to be experienced enough to know about the world.  They often reference how many elections they’ve voted in and appeal to their age, not realizing that many of us have been involved since we were in high school.  This verse has often reminds me that, regardless of what others say, I need to remain involved.  I will not let them look down on me for my youthfulness, but will instead work more vigorously towards my goals to represent the movement in a honorable way.

The Bible is not merely a religious document, but a handbook for life and the many different aspects of life that face us on a daily basis.  It has provided inspiration for almost two thousand years, and will continue to do so as long as there are people who are open to its inspiration in their daily lives.

In Defense of Zoning Laws, Part II

As a result of my first article, In Defense of Zoning Laws, I was criticized by many people for my view that a local government should be able to regulate property within its jurisdiction given specific sets of variables that may affect the lives of adjacent taxpayers or residents. In this article, I seek out to refute those criticisms and make counterpoints in regards to them.

“Private lawsuits would not be zoning, but torts.”

I didn’t specifically mention that lawsuits would be the exact same as zoning.  My exact quote was that if I was to win a lawsuit against another property owner in a voluntary society over their use of property deleterious to me as an individual, it would therefore “[enact] a form of private zoning on the individual level.”  I believe the argument here is more based on semantics than any real difference in opinion.  Multiple lawsuits of this nature would set precedents, so, in a sense, they would become a patchwork of privately mandated regulations; a form of private zoning.

Another issue that those who disagreed with me raised was that local laws on zoning would be used to curry favor and capture market share, an issue I addressed in detail in my article, and mentioned how the zoning laws I was referring to- being based around the use of a property that could potentially affect a sensitive aquifer and the local infrastructure –  are not the type of zoning laws or licensing requirements brick and mortar restaurants have used as a weapon against the proprietors of food trucks in cities like Chicago or Washington, D.C.  In an area like McHenry County, Illinois, I hardly think that someone else with intentions to establish a horse-racing track, in an area that’s zoned predominantly for agriculture and not commercial use, has been pulling the strings of the local zoning board to potentially cease the activity at the Tomlin Road Raceway in order to enrich themselves. Therein distinguishes the difference between the zoning laws they mentioned (which I vehemently disagree with) and the zoning laws I made reference to in my article, which I feel are necessary.

Judge Andrew Napolitano, constitutional scholar states in his 2011 book It Is Dangerous to Be Right When the Government Is Wrong the following:

“Common law limits free use only when a use unfairly invades the property rights of others. The law calls this a nuisance.”

Among other things, doesn’t the contamination of groundwater in an agriculturally zoned area constitute an unfair violation of property rights, especially in that the neighbors of the proprietors of the horse track actually do farm and their crops could be affected?  Does the noise, light, and overflow parking not constitute as a nuisance?  Would the people who took issue with my stand on the issue still have the same disagreements if they knew all of the variables?

One last point I will make is that those who disagreed with me need to consider that local decision-making is much preferable to decision-making on the state or federal level.  Just as the Founders wanted the states to be laboratories of democracy under Federalism, shouldn’t localities be laboratories of democracy, as well?  Those who disagree with certain laws in regards to their ventures are free to vote with their feet to find a place more suitable to their needs, just as the proprietors of Tomlin Road Raceway should find a larger piece of land in an area that is zoned for commercial use.  In this way, capital can be allocated in a more economically sensible way based on how parcels of land are zoned given the local variables and infrastructure.

Israel: Not Apartheid, Not Genocide

For as long as I can remember, I have been a supporter of the liberty movement. Over the past few years, however, I have become extremely disheartened with the movement over its attitude towards Israel. It seems as if part of the criteria for being a “True Libertarian”™ requires animosity towards the state of Israel. These “True Libertarians”™ not just oppose some of the policies by the Israeli government, but outright call Israel an apartheid state actively performing genocide. Some even go as far as to deny that Israel has a right to its own existence. While I am sure we can all agree that there should be no foreign aid given to any country for any reason, there is no need to dabble in conspiracy theories about Israel which have zero basis in reality.

The claim that Israel is an apartheid state is absurd. There is no evidence to suggest that the Israeli government is practicing apartheid. The Israeli government does not separate individuals on the basis of race, or gender, or religion. Israel does not enforce separations between Arabs and Jews, does not ban people of different groups from marrying each other, and just generally does not show any element of being an apartheid state in the vein of South Africa. In fact, an Arab judge sentenced the former President of Israel to jail. He was even nominated to be a member of the Israeli Supreme Court. In an apartheid state South Africa, black judges did not send white political leaders of the entire country to jail.

Arab political parties are even active in the Israeli government. If Israeli were an apartheid state, the Arab political parties would not have seats in the Knesset. As well, Arabs do serve in the Israeli Defense Forces—in fully integrated units (which should truly go without saying).

arabsoldierissrael
Bedouin Israeli soldiers in 1949.

Israel also has Arab ambassadors, Arab international football players, an Arab Miss Israel, as well as various other Arabs in various other positions of power and prominence. If Israel were an apartheid state, Arabs would not be able to perform in any these activities. Israel has its road signs in Hebrew, English, and, of course, Arabic. Arabs drive on the same roads as the Jewish citizens do. As a matter of fact, a private bus line was installed to better serve the “Palestinians” who live in Israel—the media, however, accused the Israeli government of apartheid. Somehow, a private business venture, which is not endorsed by the government, is the same thing as government-enforced apartheid.

Israel is also one of the few countries in the Middle East which allows for women the right to vote—including Arab, Muslim women. In Israel, every religion has the right to vote, as well as males and females, along with Arabs and people who consider themselves “Palestinians.”

telavivBedouin (female, Muslim, Arab) votes in Israel, 1950. 

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Female Muslim voting in Israel’s most recent election.

Israel, being the birthplace of the Abrahamic faiths, allows for full freedom of religion. The same, again, cannot be said for the rest of the Middle East. The claim that Israel is practicing apartheid has no merit; rather, it is an emotional argument used by individuals who have been duped by the media into believing lies.

When the topic of Israel being genocidal is brought up, people often point to Israel’s treatment of Gaza. Israel is constantly accused of performing genocide against the citizens of Gaza. Gaza claims to be independent of Israel—except for the fact that it is entirely dependent on Israel. Gaza states that it is an entity with no connections to Israel, unless the “Palestinians” can turn it in to a media narrative to attack Israel. Israel currently supplies Gaza with electricity and water, paid for by Israeli tax-payers. At the same time, Gaza claims to be entirely independent of Israel’s authority. Gaza constantly expresses its disdain for Israel by launching rockets in to Israel—all while receiving money from the Israeli government.

If Israel cuts any of its tax-payer funded aid to Gaza, Israel is attacked for being genocidal and depriving people of their human rights. Yes, a country that chooses not to give free hand-outs to “another country” is considered genocidal. Yes, a country that wants to cut welfare to “another country” which routinely sends rockets over to the former country is called genocidal. Yes, apparently, there is a human right to government-sponsored electricity and water. Israel, out of its own guilt-complex, continues to supply aid to “independent countries”, because if Israel were to cut aid the media would turn on Israel for trying to kill its own citizens.

Notice how the dialogue changes: when Gaza claims to be its own country, it is independent; however, when Israel dares to cut its tax-payer-funded aid to Gaza, Gaza somehow now becomes incorporated back in to Israel! At the same time, if Israel treats Gaza like a territory under its boundaries, Israel is attacked when it attempts to secure its borders. While Gaza is dependent on Israel, it relies on Israel to make sure its humanitarian aid from other countries reaches its citizens. If Israel is not directing the aid, Israel is accused of supporting genocide. If Israel dares to stop a flotilla that is carrying terrorists, Israel is accused of starving and torturing its own people. Gaza has made it so Israel has no autonomy over its own land.

The “Palestinian” cause knows how to play the media game. This allows for the “Palestinians” to garner support from uneducated, uniformed individuals who truly know nothing about the politics of the Middle East. The media cries that Israel is depriving the “Palestinians” of their human rights to electricity and water—when really, that aid is being paid for by the same exact people the “Palestinians” try to murder. The media consistently says that Israel is this evil, oppressive country when it even dares considering cutting its public service of electricity and water to “another country”—which really means that a country is evil for wanting to cut its social welfare programs. While Israel is paying for the electricity and water to Gaza, Gaza calls Israel an “occupying power”, while accepting aid from their “occupiers.”

If Gaza were truly independent, as it claims to be, Israel would have every right to cut off its aid; however, this, apparently, is a human rights violation. Libertarians should be disgusted by the idea that not providing tax-payer funded utilities is considered a grave human rights violation on the scale of genocide. Libertarians should despise the notion that the citizens of a country are being forced to pay for the electricity and water of the people who try to kill them–not sympathize with the terrorists who are holding Israeli tax-payers hostage to perpetually funding their own demise.

It is just simply not mathematically possible for Israel to be committing genocide. The Arab population of Israel continues to grow—whereas, in contrast, the Jewish population of Arab countries has virtually been eliminated:

ethniccleaningjews

ethniccleansingjewsmap

While libertarians should be critical of all government, libertarians should not deny reality. When libertarians claim that Israel is enacting South Africa apartheid-era policies while exterminating a large part of its population, they are completely misinformed about the politics of the region; instead, they rely on hearing lies that their favorite alternative media outlets pump out (namely, Al-Jazeera). When these media outlets continually lie about what is happening in Israel, and these lies are spread, more people end up believing in pure insanity rather than relying on proof. Israel is not an apartheid state, nor is it performing genocide. When libertarians argue that Israel is an apartheid state, they are letting conspiracy theories about what they wish were true, rather than an analysis of the facts, dictate their ideas .

Realism Matters

The biggest difference between people who do effective political work and those who don’t is how they see the world. Theory, and thus ideology, are divorced from pragmatism. While Saul Alinsky is roundly criticized by those on the Right, he recognized this fact and many have successfully used his playbook in campaigns regarding politics and issue advocacy. Seeing the world for what it is now can enable you to one day see the world as you want it to be.

I believe in the precepts of anarcho-capitalism, and believe it would be the most ideal means of organizing society.  However, I need to preface my statement of belief with the fact that, while I believe in that type of a society, I’m realistic enough that I have not divorced myself from pragmatism. I see the world for what it is. Personally, I believe the best way to move liberty forward is through election to local, state, and Federal office and through public policy. I’ve been criticized for being involved with politics and issue advocacy, being told that I’m only legitimizing the system I claim to be against. In a sense, I’m being called a sell-out by fellow libertarians for trying to advance issues in the best way that I can, the way that I believe is the best means of success.

In no way am I demeaning the actions of those who are attempting to blunt the force of the state through academia; they should know as students of economics that division of labor is an important concept. We need people of all stripes to make an impact. I have learned much from those in academia. Did the Pauls, Justin Amash, and other seminal figures in our movement not learn from Rothbard, von Mises, and Hayek, which they have applied (in the pragmatic sense) to their careers at the national level? In that sense, I’ve also learned much about liberty and economics from those authors, learning which I hope to apply one day on a local, state, or federal level when I run for office. From latter-day authors like Gene Healy of CATO and Judge Andrew Napolitano, I have learned much about the abuses of power and law.  Those who teach and write books have just as much of a place in the movement as the statesmen I mentioned.

Just as we cannot all run for office, we also cannot all be academics. Academics have the principle of living theoretically- seeing the world as they want it to be and not for how it is. To this extent, I don’t fault them. They offer an important insight into what the world can be: if the right people advance the message and get policies passed that will incrementally advance us to that point.

Some of these academics do not appreciate that I’m not fully advocating Rothbard’s vision to potential voters. That’s not a pragmatic solution to the problem; voters are often people who grew up in a Democratic or Republican household, and that’s how they’ve always voted. To understand how to effectively communicate, one must understand who they’re talking to and how to stress different things that the voters value based on their income, their education, or their family situation.

Alinsky stated the following: “It does not matter what you know about anything if you cannot communicate to [the voters].” A one-size fits all statement of economic theory will not mesh with most people, as it’s nebulous and foreign to them.  While I realize most academics aren’t seeking to do political work, their input on what I’m doing is what Hayek referred to as the Knowledge Problem. Just as I try not to make judgment calls on the work they do (as I don’t know about it or have experience in it), they shouldn’t be making judgment calls on the work I do or how I go about doing it. The difference between us is how we view things. As someone who must work around voters who tend not to spend the time we do studying political science, economics, or law, I must see the world from the voters’ point of view to be able to communicate to them effectively.

While I believe in the idea of a voluntary society based on contract and not coercion, I believe the best way for me to go about achieving that is through the means of politics. For others to fault me for such a belief because their ideology blinds them to the big picture would be just as bad as if I was to criticize them for their involvement in academia. Both those in the political sphere and the academic sphere are important, but those who actively participate in the political sphere are able to do more to incrementally advance us to such a point where entrepreneurs and private businesses will build and own the roads.