Story by Joseph Ford Cotto
These are trying times for libertarians -- especially the orthodox sort.
With populism on the rise among both Republican and Democratic ranks, the Libertarian Party orbiting into near-electoral irrelevance, and seemingly little chance for change on the horizon, some might be tempted to give up on the liberty movement.
Adam Kokesh is not one of them, to say the least.
"A decorated veteran of the War in Iraq, Kokesh came to disparage war and advocate nonviolent resistance to power," Wikipedia explains. "Identifying as a libertarian, Kokesh has called for a 'new American revolution' and has announced plans to run for President in 2020 on the platform of an 'orderly dissolution of the federal government.'"
Kokesh has spread his views far and wide as a nationally-syndicated talk radio host, cable news pundit (headlining his own program at RT), and participant in several documentaries. He is perhaps as famous for his unflinching philosophy of personal liberty as he is well-known for civil disobedience, leading to high-profile run-ins with law enforcement.
Kokesh recently spoke with me about many timely topics. Some of our conversation is included below.
Joseph Ford Cotto: During the early and middle segments of Barack Obama's administration, support for libertarian politics rose steadily. What was the cause of this?
Adam Kokesh: There was a major surge of interest in libertarianism around Ron Paul's presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012. You could say that his candidacy was an overnight success decades in the making. The libertarian movement has been growing steadily because calling humanity to a higher standard of ethics is a natural part of our evolution and libertarianism is simple ethics applied consistently to politics. There really is no such thing as, "libertarian politics," because libertarianism is an anti-political philosophy, that is, it explains how we can make politics obsolete.
Cotto: In American politics, labels have been overused to the extent that terms such as "conservative" and "liberal" are now essentially meaningless. Why do you suppose that this happened?
Kokesh: I wouldn't say they're meaningless, but even when they are given precise definitions, they lend themselves to imprecise and inconsistent worldviews, which is why they were embraced by the political class in the first place. The greatest trick that a politician can pull off is to present themselves in such a way that people can project their own beliefs onto them and think they agree much more than they really do. This keeps people trapped in the duopoly and the left-right paradigm creates the illusion of healthy debate. Left and right just represent different flavors of statism, so arguing left vs right is like arguing if we should commit suicide by hanging or poison. I'd rather choose to thrive!
Cotto: Not so long ago, Ron Paul-style libertarianism was often hailed as the center-right's future. Do you think it has any serious potential during the years ahead?
Kokesh: I think the "Ron Paul Period" of the libertarian movement was hugely critical for winning converts from the low-hanging fruit withing the Republican Party base. It also showed that while libertarianism can be presented within GOP politics in a way that shows people a consistent worldview, the future of libertarianism is in the Libertarian Party. Ron Paul-style libertarianism will be an effective gateway to move people from "conservatism" to libertarianism, but eventually won't be necessary.