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?