RE: Non-aggression pledge.

Yes, I mean the Non-Aggression Pledge. Right now people sign it as a
condition of voting membership in the party. If there are no national
dues, does that mean there is no national membership? If there is no
national membership, what happens to the pledge?

I've never understood why you folks have that pledge. Have libertarians been violent or aggressive at some time in the past so the need for that pledge was felt or mandated?

I mean, to my knowledge the other parties don't have such a pledge. Or do they?

Historical background needed.


Yes, this is the same question I had. I always suspected that mabe it
was because perhaps at some point the Michigan Militia types were
starting to gain influence within the LP.


Derek Jensen wrote:

Yes, this is the same question I had. I always suspected that mabe it
was because perhaps at some point the Michigan Militia types were
starting to gain influence within the LP.

The pledge has been around longer than that � since the beginning of the
party, I believe. But it�s proven itself useful in precisely those cases;
when various violent types get identified as associated with us, we can
point to the Pledge and say, �no, those are not our principles, and those
violating them can be (and have been) expelled from the party.�

For example, there was a fellow in New Hampshire, running for state
legislature a few years ago, who said that it was justifiable to shoot a
cop who pulled you over for a traffic violation. He was running as a
Republican; the Republican Party said, �Uh� he�s, he�s actually a
libertarian!� We were able to say, �No, we kicked his crazy ass out of
the party for violating our pledge. You took him in.�

I believe that the Pledge�s origins lie in the party�s birth in part from
the SDS, which began to advocate violent revolution. As a political
party, we are working for change within the system, and believe that force
is only acceptable in defense of one�s self or others.


David Nolan, who I think either wrote the pledge or had a hand in writing it back around the time he and others were founding the Libertarian Party, has said that the purpose of the pledge was as Chris reports -- to give us the ability to point to something saying that we are not advocating violence except in self-defense, and that it was not designed as a "purity test."

  However, I think that the enduring popularity of the pledge has been due to the fact that it *is* a statement of principle. It *does* set us apart from other parties, and that's a *good* thing. By asking people to sign it as a condition of membership we are essentially saying, "If you want to be entrusted with the ability to help shape the policies and direction of the Libertarian Party, you must be concerned with principles."

  Perhaps even more importantly, the pledge also implies that the Non-Aggression Principle is central to the Libertarian Party's reason for being, which I believe is the truth. If we abandon the NAP, and just become a moderate party advocating smaller government, there's no "fixed star in our constellation" (to borrow a Supreme Court phrase). If this happens, we will become much more susceptible to having what we believe in get sold out from under us by future LP leaders and elected officials, to an extent that will make us nostalgic for the relatively minor deviations we are seeing now (typically from the kind of Libertarians agitating to discard the pledge, I might add).

Yours in liberty,
        <<< Starchild >>>

As David Nolan tells it, many of the founders and early members of the
LP were on Richard Nixon’s infamous “enemies list” and because the
majority of them were speaking out against the Viet Nam war, there
existed the very real possibility that the Libertarian Party could be
lumped right alongside the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, the
Symbionese Liberation Army and other groups who advocated overthrowing
the government in the 1960s and early 1970s.

The Pledge was adopted as a clear means to distinguish the LP from
groups that would use force and violence to overthrow the elected
government. The LP needed to plainly articulate its purpose by making
it clearly understood that while we advocated “overthrowing” the
government, we planned to do so the right way, by working within the
provisions of the Constitution as a political party and electing people
to office who were not “crooks” (and making sure the “crooks” already in
office would not be re-elected to those offices). Scandal eventually
forced the resignation of the crook whose crimes kick-started the
Libertarian Party, but the social pressures of that time give me a sense
of déjà vu.

Neither the incumbent parties nor the media have ever had much use for
us, except as objects of ridicule, but if they ever suspected we could
be too threatening to their existing power structure, you know what they
could do to us. They are, after all, the ones who still associate us
with Lyndon LaRouche. Karl Rove’s tactics may be repugnant and as vile
as the worst political chicanery of the century, but you can’t argue
with success. This is the way the game is played, and we are rank
amateurs compared to the slimeballs playing in the major leagues of

The more freedom deteriorates, the longer the war drags on, the higher
our taxes rise to meet the increased costs of our “security,” then it is
all the more likely that there will be an increase in the number of
political groups advocating the violent overthrow of the President, just
as in the 1960s. If you think we are having a problem with terrorists
now, it will only get worse. The “Michigan Militia” connection (or the
Arizona Militia connection) to the LP is tenuous, but not in the eyes of
the media. The Pledge may sound quaint, but I believe it can still
serve the same purpose for which it was drafted.

Libertarians are constantly criticized for using way too many words to
express a simple idea. We hold these truths to be self-evident, but the
vast majority of Americans, do not, and we always feel we have to
explain it to them in excruciating detail. The Pledge is very simple,
clear and direct. This is what a Libertarian believes. Force and
coercion are evil and certainly not the way we should be conducting our
affairs. Yet force and coercion are Standard Operating Procedure in
modern America. The Pledge makes it abundantly clear that we are
opposed to the Standard Operating Procedure.

Terry Floyd