Last week, 1819 News spoke to Libertarians in Alabama about what a libertarian is, the history of the libertarian movement, and where Libertarians stand on the issues. But where is the libertarian movement headed?

Self-described Libertarian and host of News & Views on Talk Radio 93.1 Joey Clark said he is very optimistic.

"I'm optimistic because more and more people are waking up to the reality of a system they've taken for granted for a few generations now," Clark said. "The only way you can start to solve problems and fix a problem is acknowledging it exists in the first place."

Gavin Goodman, the chair of the Libertarian Party (LP) of Alabama, said he is ultimately optimistic but also worried.

"Am I optimistic?" said Goodman. "I don't know. Sometimes, I'm scared … I'm concerned, but I also believe that the struggle is worth it. Nothing worth doing is ever easy."

"I'm very optimistic about what the Libertarian Party is going to accomplish in Alabama this cycle," Jonathan Realz, Libertarian candidate for the Second Congressional District, said. "I definitely think there are some candidates who are going to get elected … People are tired of the government overreach. They're tired of the lack of accountability. They're tired of the corruption. It doesn't matter if they're a Republican voter or a Democratic voter. Traditionally, every single person when I'm out campaigning … is tired of being treated like government property."


"I think a part of being in the modern liberty movement is struggling with the difference between the philosophy and practical approach to bringing liberty into the world," Goodman said. "It's something I'm not sure politicians in the two major parties struggle with."

Infighting has haunted the libertarian movement and the Libertarian Party since the beginning. Not only are there many different kinds of libertarians, but they sometimes have a difficult time getting along. 

In the Libertarian Party, disputes sometimes occur between caucuses, which represent different gradations of libertarianism or preferred political strategies.

In May, members of the Mises Caucus obtained a handful of party positions, including the party chair, which went to Mises Caucus board member Angela McArdle.

The Mises Caucus was formed in 2017 by Michael Heise in opposition to then-party chairman Nicholas Sarwark and the failed 2016 presidential campaign of Gary Johnson. The caucus is named after Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises and is largely associated with former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, who ran for president as a Libertarian in 1988 and as a Republican in 2008 and 2012. 

Since its inception, the Mises Caucus has been the center of controversy inside the Libertarian Party. Its members felt that the party grew too politically correct and supportive of identity politics under the previous leadership.

Goodman said the majority of the Mises Caucus are younger individuals who were brought into the movement through Paul's presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.

"The way that they are branding themselves is the Ron Paul Revolution 2.0," Goodman said. 

Goodman said he is not involved in any of the caucuses.

Realz said he doesn't get involved in the party drama either.

"Whether or not someone is pro one caucus or another really shouldn't matter," Realz said. "We're all fighting for the same goal. With any group, there are absolutely bad actors that harm the movement or harm public perception, but I know plenty of people that are in the Mises Caucus that are wonderful human beings … There are people that hate the Mises Caucus who are wonderful human beings that I absolutely love to death. There are people in both of those groups that I think make the party and the movement look bad with either bad messaging or the way they treat people."

Not all libertarians even support the Libertarian Party.

Founder of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Lew Rockwell, said he doesn't think politics is a way to advance liberty but lauded the Mises Caucus for their success.

"The people who took over the Libertarian Party are our type of people and not the creepazoids who were running things previously," Rockwell said. "It's people who love liberty." 


Libertarians both in and out of the party, face many misconceptions from the public. 

"Foreign ideologies … ideologies that are not the mainstream, tend to attract people that are also on the fringes," Clark said. "They might just be unique thinkers, or they might just be odd ducks. 

"... Often the press will find the most extreme example of a person who claims to be a libertarian, and they use that as a broad brush for everybody that claims to be libertarian," Clark said. "That can be somebody who is uber right-wing, or it could be somebody who is uber left-wing who culturally is left or right but is also libertarian."

Goodman said one of the biggest misconceptions about libertarians is that they are "just Republicans that want to smoke weed" or "just Democrats that like guns."

"We just don't believe in the right of the government to infringe upon what we put in our bodies or our right to bear arms," Goodman said. "It's not a one way or the other kind of thing. It's just that we don't recognize that the State has a right to monitor those kinds of things because of our understanding of the way that liberty works."

Goodman also said people misconstrue libertarians as overly selfish. He said this has a large part to do with a misunderstanding about Ayn Rand, a key figure in the early modern libertarian movement who believed in "ethical egoism," which professed "rational self-interest" as the ultimate end of human life. 

"When we're speaking, we're talking about the right of the individual, and people think that we're talking about ourselves," Goodman said. "In reality, we're talking about all individuals. We very much care for the group. We believe that the way you protect the group is by protecting the individuals."

Goodman said Rand is one of the most misunderstood philosophers in modern history.

"Even if libertarians haven't read Ayn Rand, they would agree with her philosophy," Goodman said. "She is talking about the rights of the individual."

Clark said that libertarians often get labeled as utopians when they are not.

"Often I find that the utopian position is actually the people who think the Constitution is going to limit government or if you give the Davos sect - the World Economic Forum - the people in Brussels, Washington, D.C., Beijing and the like more power then all of a sudden the world is going to be better, that seems utopian to me," Clark said.  

Learn more

Clark, Goodman, Realz and Rockwell all recommended resources for interested individuals to learn more about libertarianism:

Goodman suggested the novels "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein and "Atlas Shrugged" by Rand. 

Realz said he suggests reading "End the Fed" by Paul, listening to former Vice Presidential candidate Spike Cohen's podcast "The Muddy Waters of Freedom," or watching the crowdfunded documentary about anarchism, "The Monopoly on Violence." 

Rockwell recommended reading the essay "Anatomy of the State" by Murray Rothbard. It is available on the Mises Institute's website for free in pdf, epub and audiobook format. The Mises Institute website also offers other free resources as well as its blog, the Mises Wire.

Clark recommended reading the Founding Fathers, such as Thomas Paine. He also suggested listening to "Anthem," a rock song by RUSH which was inspired by Rand. 

"Libertarianism isn't exactly something you can read in a book," Clark said. "I think liberty is actually something that is struggled for, and liberty most of the time breeds when power checks power. In the struggle, liberty is shown to be the best way forward. [Liberty] is something that you learn to love within yourself at first, then something you wish to project onto others or onto society. It won't be easy. There are always folks who want to control you, and it's just a matter of pushing back enough to have that room to live your life as you see fit."

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