Kostric’s Poster An Enormous Tactical Mistake


While I will defend to the death William Kostric’s exercise of his rights to free speech, voluntary association and the bearing of arms (even all at the same time!) and I applaud his fortitude, I have to disapprove of his tactics in this particular case. The combination of firearm and a call to kill tyrants simply is not the message libertarians need to send right now. We need to focus instead on the core of our philosophy: non-aggression. It’s the only thing that separates us from the statists.

Libertarians are Peaceful, Government Not

The foundation of liberty is the Zero-Aggression Principle (or the self-ownership principle, works either way). This means that libertarians are about peace and trade. We are not aggressors. Self-defense is of course alright – but herein lies the rub: many people in our target market see all violence as bad and/or do not see the state as being aggressive. This is our challenge: to demonstrate the difference and shine light on the gun the government is pointing at us all.

Libertarians are NOT the Paranoid Right!

So when a libertarian appears on national television associating open carry (the peaceful but controversial tactic of openly carrying one’s firearm in public) with a call to violence against tyrants (like Obama), it muddies the message. It makes us look like the paranoid right. We’re not the right or the left. We’re above all that red team vs blue team nonsense. Separate yourself from the paranoid right in your mind. We love ’em and we may work with them sometimes, but we are not them. Becoming them destroys liberty. (This is why I wrote all those articles about minarchism.)

Violent Self-Defense is Just our Backup Plan

Obviously, violence against tyrants is morally correct and may even become necessary at some point. But that is irrelevant. Liberty is not about killing. Killing in self-defense is simply a backup plan, a last resort for when all peaceful measures of resolving disputes fail. We have not exhausted the peaceful measures yet and we certainly are not equipped to defend ourselves from the violent onslaught of the state. Which is why right now we need to focus on differentiating ourselves from the statists, weakening the state and strengthening the libertarian movement. Instead, Mr Kostric’s tactic united many statists (of both the red and blue teams) against us. That’s fail.

Kostric Trapped on MSNBC

Even Mr Kostric himself was unwilling to acknowledge his message when cornered on MSNBC by Chris Matthews. He either had to repudiate his poster or admit he was calling for armed rebellion and the killing of tyrants like Obama, who just happened to be on his way to Kostric’s location. Clearly he did not think that through, which is what makes it absolutely essential for me to say what a tactical blunder his poster was – so it doesn’t happen again.


It’s not enough just to flex our rights. We have to act tactically. That means sizing up where our target audiences are and acting in a way that draws them closer to us and farther from the state. We have to be the peacemakers – preparing for the worst but always focusing on how to achieve the best. Our message is non-aggression. The combination of gun + call to armed rebellion looks like aggression to the uninformed. How do you expect to reach people with the libertarian message of peace and trade if our comrades appear on national television armed and advocating the killing of politicians?

Photo credit: Jayel Aheram. Photo license.

By George Donnelly

I'm building a tribe of radical libertarians to voluntarize the world by 2064. Join me.

32 replies on “Kostric’s Poster An Enormous Tactical Mistake”

I think part of the reason he might have made it on hardball could have been the sign. I’ll consider it one of those libertarian macho flashes. Aside from that, if we can say that we know for certain that he would have gotten the same publicity without the sign, then tactical error it is.

The zero-aggression principle is an interesting idea, but it’s hardly the cornerstone of libertarianism, at least not mainstream libertarianism as practices in the US. It’s a concept borrowed from the socialist/anarchists and incompatible with a belief in an active defense of liberty.


But if you have the second part of the TJ quote… shouldn’t the WHOLE quote be used in context?

Also I am not sure he was protesting with his sidearm. He wears it often here in NH as many many people do.

Why do you feel a guy standing quietly with a sign, and a holstered weapon, is aggressive? Is open carry a sign of aggression then?

“Aggression” is “FEAR” by those that are afraid of him.

It’s all perception.

If there were more weapons out in the open, there would be a LOT less crime. Criminals wouldn’t know who’s packing and who isn’t. In an unarmed society only bad guys and cops have weapons, so it’s open season on the populace.

if we can say that we know for certain that he would have gotten the same publicity without the sign, then tactical error it is.

Not all publicity is good publicity.

Thank you Andrew. :)

It’s [ZAP] a concept borrowed from the socialist/anarchists and incompatible with a belief in an active defense of liberty

Dave, the ZAP is from Ayn Rand, so you know it is neither socialistic nor anarchistic. That’s just a ridiculous claim on its face. Your other claims are out there as well.

Chris, you are being willfully blind.

On a side note, I would open carry at a protest (if I thought protesting was useful) but I would be certain any message I was sending with my demeanor, actions or signs was 100% unmistakably non-violent (for tactical reasons).

For example, if his sign had said something like:

Stop the Aggression! US out of Healthcare!

I would have had nothing to complain about.

Thanks all for your comments.

Why do you feel a guy standing quietly with a sign, and a holstered weapon, is aggressive? Is open carry a sign of aggression then?

I don’t! Please try to read what I’m saying with an appreciation for subtlety. I am saying that the uninformed people – most if not all of whom we would like to have as comrades some day – don’t understand the difference between aggression and defense and have a mental breakdown when they see guns. Thus, if libertarians want to reach them, we must abstain from exercising our right to violent self-defense against the government – or calling for it to be exercised (at the very least until such time as we have a fighting chance, and hopefully never).

I was clear in the article, I think you just didn’t read it with a sufficient appreciation for the subtle point I am making.

If there were more weapons out in the open, there would be a LOT less crime.

Preaching to the choir. I open carry my Glock 23 every day.

Thanks for commenting, John.

I’m an L. Neil Smith libertarian. The Zero Aggression Principle is Neil’s definition of libertarian. And mine.

I’m very glad that Mr. Kostric went to the protest with his handgun strapped on. No matter what his sign said. The only problem with it is the big-city sheep who can no longer imagine a man being prepared to defend his own life. What they SHOULD be wondering about is why he was the only one, though I’ll bet there were many others there carrying concealed handguns, since they never leave home without them.

Greetings Fellow Freedom and Liberty Lovers!

Let’s be frank here. It was the sign and the sidearm TOGETHER, which garnered international publicity.

We also know it was short notice but couldn’t someone have taken Mr. Kostric to the mall for a SUIT!?! I know several of you thought the MSM would show a Free State Project shirt, but you should have known better.

Likewise, we have and will continue to defend ALL folks who just want to be left alone, from all the others who have no intention of EVER leaving the producers alone.

Further, we will continue to be, and to recruit, ever increasing numbers of Students and Advocates of the Philosophically Mature Non-Aggression Principle.

We will continue to encourage, recommend, and even donate copies of Atlas Shrugged and Starving The Monkeys to those around us.

We will continue to show the perpetual perpetration of aggression, force, and fraud via the GUNverment by the hoards of bureaucrats, domestic enforcers, and foreign mercenaries.

We will continue to condemn the highway-robbery-called-taxation, steal-from-peter-to-garner-votes-from-paul, redistribution-at-threat-of-gunpoint/kidnap/political-imprisonment/murder, all of which the Mobocracy Looter Minions depend on for their seemingly endless gravy-train and crazy-train to destruction and eventual annihilation.

We will continue to ask the questions-that-must-not-be-asked, mainly “who and whom do they think will pay back this ‘national debt’ ha ha ha.”

We will continue to show that the USSA Amerikan Titanic Empire is FATALLY gashed and slashed, doomed to sink to the cold, murky depths of someone’s dusty, musty history book.

The best that we could ever hope for would be the peaceful and orderly secession of the several states from the national and international global-elite money-master gunverment goon kidnap and murder squads.

The John Galt Solution and Starving The Monkeys is the only solution! Stop funding and forging the chains and shackles that bind you and your children and your grandchildren and all those around you!

John and Dagny Galt
Atlas Shrugged, Owners Manual For The Universe!(tm)


I was totally impressed with Kostric. No BS tactics. Just honesty. What does a suit or nice clothes have to do with defending your rights ? Kostric has perhaps accomplished more in a few minutes than you ( GD ) or I will ever accomplish in the area of supporting liberty. Come on….. The sheeple will never get it. ( sheeple / natural slaves/ lemmings / cow herd / 80% of the population ) It will be a small percentage of the population ( similar to 1776 ) that force the government ( slave-masters ) to back off. Perhaps they will be inspired by Kostric.

He did a spectacular job, except when he was trapped about the meaning of his poster.

What does a suit or nice clothes have to do with defending your rights ?

It’s about maximizing the positive impact you have on people, I think that’s all that was meant by that comment.

The sheeple will never get it.

Bzzt. Wrong. They (I’ve banned ‘sheeple’ from my vocabulary) get it all the time and will continue getting it if we take the time and effort to present it to them right and repeatedly.

If enough of them get it we won’t need to defend ourselves in a war, or we will stand a better chance of coming out of it in good shape. The less people that die the better.

Thanks for commenting. :)

The only real mistake Kostric made was not including the entire Jefferson quote on the poster. Then the meaning would have been clear and the newswhore, who needs to be arrested and tried for treason by the way, would not have had that angle.

This reminds me of the 90s when I was castigated by a ‘pro-gun’ guy for calling them ‘weapons.’ He was afraid it would scare the sheeple.

Let me give you a clue: Before, during and after the war that is coming there will be scared braindead sheeple. Those creatures are a constant.

How many times does it have to be repeated that only 3 percent of the population took part in the First American revolution, and the bad guys won the second one because those seeking independence made the mistake of fighting a conventional war against a superior force, superior in numbers and supply that is.

We desperately need to be getting the message out that we will tolerate “NO MORE” erosion of our Liberties. To do otherwise is to crawl back into a corner and wait for the king to come around so we can kiss his ring or whatever else he sticks in our face.

As for the bullshit ‘zero aggression’ principle: Those who refuse to register or surrender their personal weapons will be called aggressors by the propagandists and many of the braindead sheeple will cheer when the black-suited Nazis storm their homes and kill their families.

There are always many who will bow to the king and celebrate their slavery and many of them will have to be killed just like the Tories and the Yankees.

It’s already ‘fascism’ and headed toward full blown communism. The sheeple and most ‘patriots’/conservatives/truthers/paulbots/whatever will be willing slaves because they are unwilling to do what is required.

It will take many expensive suits hanging along Pennsylvania Ave. to fix this mess if it can be fixed.

Don’t understand? Start here:

Think globally, fight locally. Aim small, miss small. One shot, one dead “Liberal”(communist/fascist).

Well, waypasthadenough, I’ll agree with you there. When it’s time to exercise our right of self-defense against the tyrants, being straight out and direct in our intentions will be the key to success. Make no mistake about it, we absolutely have a right to self-defense, I just don’t think it’s advantageous for us to exercise it yet. I suspect that if Mr Kostric disagreed with me he wouldn’t have been so shy about admitting the meaning of the poster.

I suspect you don’t understand the ZAP. The ZAP is about never aggressing, but always defending. You might enjoy reading Ayn Rand’s philosophy – it’s informative and explains the ZAP clearly.

Thanks for commenting.

Maybe it would help to go read this:

I haven’t read the ZAP. But I can tell you they want us to stay home and wait for them to pick us off one by one almost as much as they want us to do something stupid, or natural, as was the shelling of Fort Sumter, that will give them the excuse they need.

Rules of war are for shysters(lawyers), politicians and diplomats to argue over after the killing is over.

Re: NH and the comment directly above…

Where exactly does the tyrant’s and patriot’s blood come from if everyone is safely snuggled away in their beds?

Trust us, it’s going to get FUBAR ugly…and that is WAY beyond coyote ugly.

When you see the Mobocracy Looter Minions take to the streets after “their” gravy-train gunvernment checks and welfare chits become worthless…and when they riot and loot and burn everything around them…then you shall have a much better understanding of what’s ahead for the long haul.

It remains to be seen as to whether Freedom and Liberty will EVER free their necks from under the techno-jackbooted-mercenarial murderers…there is little time left and no matter what does or doesn’t happen…nobody is much going to care for it.

John and Dagny Galt
Atlas Shrugged, Owner’s Manual For The Universe!(tm)


I am not excited about action or blood or excitement. To me , a great day is spent strolling in the woods or studying at the library. That said, I think John and Dagny are most likely going to be proved correct. I can’t predict the future. The reoccurring behaviour of sheeple ( the majority of the U.S. population ) has been seen so many times that is probable it will repeat ; first denial ; then whining ; then a sheeple mob forms and they take what they want ( while more or less destroying a large part of what makes abundance possible ). What will non-violent libertarians do then ?

to gus:

What will the Libertarians do as society is falling apart, as it is now?

They’ll write another bunch of books, blogs and speeches that most of the sheeple will forever be unaware exists about how it could have been prevented if only they had been heeded.

The Founders used the political process and the news media such as it was at the time until they saw it would no longer do them any good. The British soldiers marching on Lexington and Concord were a good clue.

Then they proceeded to kill British soldiers and loyalists.

It’s strange to me how so many alive today who claim to value Liberty have such a vague understanding of what it takes to ensure it.

Our ancestors forced Liberty on a goodly percentage of the population who couldn’t have cared less about it. Our future must be the same or we will more enslaved than we are now.

And I’d rather be taking pictures:

So John and Dagny, what exactly is your point? Just to scare?

Guy, libertarians are non-aggressive. Pacifists renounce all violence. We just renounce aggression. We don’t renounce self-defense; which is why I carry a firearm with me everywhere I go and regularly attended Appleseed rifleman training.

I hope you’re not trying to paint libertarians as pacifists because that is just boringly wrong.

Thought you were actually going to read my website?

You’re the one who’s whining about getting your ego hurt.

And what I’m doing is on a need-to-know basis and since I don’t know you, you don’t need to know.

That’s how far gone it is, because the so-called ‘good’ conservatives and “Libertarians” didn’t show up and help build up the militias back in the 90s when a lot of dedicated well-meaning people were doing their best to prepare for what will be required.

Now we’ll likely be fighting from a gross disadvantage because of the cowardice of the ‘right’ and the “Libertarians” who were too afraid of besmirching their reputations and losing their 401ks and their mortgages and careers.

Now they all fully deserve to suffer horribly just as the German people did for their failure to get off their asses and do what should have been done before it was too late…

Snotty collectivists who petulantly demand I read their quote collections and then engage in ad hominem are not welcome here. Reasoned, civil argument *is* welcome. Engage in the latter or please go somewhere else.

Any fat lazy “Liberal” could lay on his ass and shoot at paper targets.

I open carried for a couple years. Most of the sheeple are so stupid they either don’t notice, assume you’re a cop, or just don’t care, or think you’re silly.

It will take that tiny minority doing what is required and you’re too afraid, or too pissed off over a discussion that means nothing, to click on a link.

I always investigate those whom I perceive may be my enemies…

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