The Libertarian National Committee, the governing board of the Libertarian Party, on Tuesday issued a statement denouncing white supremacists as unwelcome in the party.
Issued by Executive Director Wes Benedict, the statement reads:
There is no room for racists and bigots in the Libertarian Party. If there are white nationalists who — inappropriately — are members of the Libertarian Party, I ask them to submit their resignations today. We don’t want them to associate with the Libertarian Party, and we don’t want their money. I’m not expecting many resignations, because our membership already knows this well.
The statement was only partly a reaction to events in Charlottesville, but also a rebuke to quarters of the libertarian movement who have sought to align themselves with the fringes of the populist far-right.
Two of the speakers at the “Unite The Right” rally had previously been involved in the party. Augustus Invictus, whose real name is Austin Gillespie, unsuccessfully sought the party’s U.S. Senate nomination in Florida in 2016. He was defeated in the primary in a landslide. He later quit the party and announced that he is running again for the U.S. Senate in 2018, this time as a Republican.
Additionally, Christopher Cantwell, who became infamous this past week as the “crying Nazi,” was involved with the libertarian Free State Project in New Hampshire before that group kicked him out for threats of violence. He had also run as a Libertarian for Congress in 2010, though at the time he had not yet embraced his current white-supremacist views.
Even before the violence in Virginia, many libertarians had been embroiled in a controversy over a speech given by Jeff Deist, president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.
In that speech, Deist urges libertarians to be more understanding of “blood and soil and god and nation” and inveighed that “an Irishman is not an Aboriginal, a Buddhist is not a Rastafarian, a soccer mom is not a Russian.”
Several prominent libertarian thinkers, including the party’s chair Nicholas Sarwark, pushed back against that sort of talk as clear pandering to racialists and other far-right extremists. Many saw it as a return to the misguided “paleolibertarian” strategy that had produced Ron Paul’s notoriously noxious newsletters in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Most mainstream libertarians reject these corners of the movement where the rhetoric of liberty is associated with unsavory elements of the far-right, but there has long been a minority faction that seeks to make common cause with those they deem “anti-establishment.”
The events of the past two weeks, as well as the election of Donald Trump, have helped make one thing clear: shared opposition to the establishment, does not necessarily make extremists groups and causes a good ally for individual liberty.
(Screenshot of video of “crying Nazi” Christopher Cantwell.)