Friday, April 13, 2018

Vohra Suspension Motion Fails

A motion to suspend Arvin Vohra (Twitter, Maryland US Senate Campaign Website, Facebook, MeWe) from his position on the Libertarian National Committee has failed.

Current LP chairman Nick Sarwark (Twitter, Phoenix Mayor Campaign website, Facebook) wrote up his opinion on the subject. I thought this part was the most cogent:

When I gave my speech for None of the Above for Chair in Las Vegas in 2012, it was due to the factionalism and infighting I saw on the LNC leading up to that convention. LNC members focused more on trying to oust each other or gain advantage internally than they did on trying to advance the goals of the Libertarian Party. That internal focus resulted in stagnant fundraising, candidate recruitment, and membership numbers.

Since 2014, our committee has been able to move away from the internal factional fighting and focus on moving the Libertarian Party forward. We are improving fundraising, candidate recruitment, and membership. These recent controversies have regressed us back to internal fighting instead of fighting the two old parties. We need to stop the internal fighting and focus on our real opponents.

Sarwark's 2012 speech was in some ways a landmark event in the party's history.  For a good portion of the previous ten years, the majority faction on the LNC had spent far more time setting up intrigues for removing the few radicals and anarchists who happened to be on the LNC -- along with intrigues to make the LP a far more hostile place for anarchists and radicals in general -- than they did trying new fundraising approaches and getting the LP's day-to-day operations in proper order (after basically the same leadership had allowed everything to tank during that same ten years).  It was a landmark because while he was talking, one could almost feel the change in mood among the delegates.  The result was that a different culture emerged in the LP after that convention.

I don't know if Sarwark is a radical libertarian, much less an anarchist. Based on his speech at the Colorado state convention last month, my suspicion is that he is not.

But I don't really care.

Sarwark has been patient and understanding of all sides and an excellent moderator for getting the crowd to pay attention to actual business.

I voted for him for chairman twice because I was one of many who were tired of the internal Machiavellians who simply couldn't keep their focus. I wanted to X out the hyper-factionalists. I didn't get my wish to dump the worst of them altogether, but at least Nick has done pretty well at keeping their desire to dominate contained, and redirect that towards business.

When VC Vohra began writing his controversial articles on his personal Facebook page almost a year ago, what I saw was mostly the same old hyper-factional individuals seizing upon their controversial nature as an excuse to return the party to the slash-and-burn internal culture that was the case prior to Vegas.

Please note that there are also anarchist and radical Libertarians who are in favor of Mr Vohra leaving the LNC.  The above paragraph does not refer to them.  They have their own reasons that are not mostly motivated by partisan hackery, and I understand that -- although I disagree with their position on removal.

I've made my position clear: I say things differently from Vohra. Of course, whatever opinions he puts up on his personal page are his and his alone.

I believe that his comments are infinitesimally less-damaging to the LP brand than the majority of LP candidates have been for most of our existence.   Several candidates in Virginia and almost all other states in years have in the past pushed the national retail sales tax [not to mention our most recent presidential candidate]. Johnson, for his part, suggested that Prohibition should continue, that Finking Feddie should maintain an "enemies list", and that American soldiers should chase hobgoblins like warlord Kony in Africa, among many other off-the-reservation pseudo-alcoholic stumblings.

Bill Redpath -- another sitting LNC member -- in several of his campaigns for federal office,  supported various forms of gun control, continuing to send money to institutions of higher indoctrination, and tax schemes like a "revenue neutral" flat tax.

It was LP candidates who seemed unable to use the "A" word ("abolish") that propelled me into the resurgent Radical Caucus movement in 2005-2006. When we formalized the Radical Caucus, the plan was to help fund candidates who didn't damage the name "Libertarian" and instead advocated a bold, clear, consistent brand.

In any case, the question has been settled for the moment. Hopefully, until the opening day of the 2018 national convention.

At this point, I believe Vohra's most recent comment about school boards was indeed over the line, and if I had said something like that I'd probably resign just so continued controversy didn't distract the organization from more important things.This has indeed become a distraction and a diversion, and it's time for all to move on.

That said, at some point, members of the LP are going to have a reckoning with the increasing hostility shown to anarchist and radical Libertarians.  Almost everything Vohra has said (with the possible exception of his ill-considered comment about school boards) in his writings over the past year have delineated correct, consistent libertarian ideas that are supposed to be part of the alleged "big tent".  Most of the controversy swirling about Vohra over the last year has been a loud call for those ideas to be squelched and thrown out of the tent.


For instance, Vohra's articles early last year criticized soldiers for making themselves pawns in the murderous games of the elites.  Many Libertarians became loudly offended.  Some understood exactly what he was trying to get across, however.

As John Kendrick Meadows said recently (note you will need to be a member of Facebook as well as a member of the particular discussion group to see the comment):

You can't hate war, but worship the people committing those acts of violence, and justify it with "just following orders"....  You can't be anti war and support the pawns of the military industrial complex. Those missiles don't launch themselves. Those planes aren't all autonomous.
[Note: Meadows is Former SSgt USAF Airborne Persian Linguist. 7 Combat deployments, 502 days.]

So, yes, I believe people are using his particular style as their excuse  for what they really object to.  It's not a question of how the message is being presented; it is that the message is being presented at all.

If you don't like what someone says, what's the best response?

How about we all ignore those who say things we don't like, and concentrate on doing what we're supposed to be doing?

One thing we should all remember that Facebook is a social medium, not a political organizing medium.  If growing the Party is your goal, turn off Facebook, grab a few hundred LP flyers and a list of registered Libertarians and Party members in your area (your state LP can probably help with both) and start calling people, and (better yet) visiting them, and otherwise act like you're serious about organizing Libertarians and aren't just playing activist on Facebook.  It starts with *you* and organizing your own home precinct or neighborhood.

If you disagree with one of the 25,000-odd LP members (or one of the the ~50% of them who are on Facebook), the worst possible thing to do is to share their articles, comment on them, or refer to them.  Be the adult, and ignore those who say things to which you object.
Facebook has a "block" feature. Use it.

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For more information about the Radical Caucus, see www.LPRadicalCaucus.org or see the Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/2497146127/  .
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Originally written April 2018, by Marc Montoni, for the Libertarian Party Radical Caucus.  This version released 2018.
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 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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