Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Technology Revolution: A Campaign for Liberty Manifesto

Posted by Brad @ 11:11 pm on July 5th 2012
So where might the Revolution go next? According to his campaign team, the next step on the liberty train is to be internet freedom, which is intended to supersede even End the Fed as the next Paul hobbyhorse.
Kentucky senator Rand and his father Ron Paul, who has not yet formally conceded the Republican presidential nomination, will throw their weight behind a new online manifesto set to be released today by the Paul-founded Campaign for Liberty. The new push, Paul aides say, will in some ways displace what has been their movement’s long-running top priority, shutting down the Federal Reserve Bank. The move is an attempt to stake a libertarian claim to a central public issue of the next decade, and to move from the esoteric terrain of high finance to the everyday world of cable modems and Facebook.
This is all great, in a shallow sense. When I get in actual discussions about libertarianism with people, who view it as a kind of utopianism, the internet is usually the example I give of what a nearly pure libertarian “state” would look like (or the Amish; it depends on my mood). It really is one of the cleanest examples around of how that might play out writ large, warts and all.

However, as Brian Doherty reports, in typical Jesse Benton fashion, it’s not really enough to just claim the mantle of internet freedom and find constructive ways to work towards that end. No, one must immediately start such an effort by setting up an “Us vs. Them” mentality, where “Us” is the Paul brand and “Them” is any other pigfucker that dare try to advance roughly the same cause from any other starting point (and, unspoken, anybody else that might compete for donations). So, the manifesto is short on specific discussions of common enemies, and more appears to be geared at trying to pick fights with groups who are advancing internet freedom from a progressive bent.

Some of which I appreciate, to be sure – one can very easily hurt internet freedom by trying to just go after corporations in short sighted and vindictive ways, one can argue that one of the greatest threats to internet freedom is the “commons” argument, which implies the government needs to claim ownership of and then regulate bandwidth as they used to with radio/TV, and under the rubric of internet freedom, some initially progressively-veiled notions like Net Neutrality would be really, really terrible for the cause in practice.

I appreciate all of that.

But at the same time, going out of your way to pick fights with progressives and immediately enter the realm of “internet freedom” by going after the people who have been working their asses off for the cause, even if you disagree with their bent, for years and years while you’ve been sleeping on it, strikes me as narcissistic, petty, cynical, and counter productive. If your actual goal was to advance internet freedom, the FIRST thing you do, I think, is to start going out to the orgs like the Electronic Frontier Foundation or the ACLU or other places who have been doing good work on this for a long time, and plugging yourself in with them. Even if you have disagreements with them, finding the common ground first seems to me to be the only sensible approach.

But of course, that’s not how the Paul team, lead by Benton, approach these kinds of things. Instead, they view everything from a competitive advantage standpoint, and to their mind, anybody that does not explicitly sign on to be subsumed to Paul is an enemy, even if working for the same cause. Paul himself is not generally this way (either Paul, actually), but if Benton had his way, you can guarantee that Dennis Kucinich or Jim Jeffords or Barney Frank would never have entered the conversation on issues – instead they would have been crucified for being Trojan Horses whose support for the cause was merely a smokescreen masking their real collectivist agenda etc. etc. etc. Paul seems to intuitively understand both comity and creating working alliances on an issue by issue basis – the team he has more or less given control over managing his “brand” most certainly do not.

So, they take a wonderful cause to champion, and that’s awesome. And their first order of business is to declare essentially everybody who has up until this point working for it to be the REAL enemy. Great.

It’s been a very slow process, but while Ron Paul remains my hero, I’m very intrigued by Rand as a Senator, I think I have to finally declare myself about off the Paul / Campaign for Liberty train. If they spent half as much time actually building coalitions to achieve concrete things as they did trying to sow mistrust and contempt to keep donors loyal, they could really do something.

The irony, I suppose, is that according to Team Paul, liberty can only REALLY be supported by signing on and pledging fealty to their managed and centralized organization. Everybody outside those confines are Enemies of the State.

The declaration has five straightforward principles:

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