The Libertarian Club
by Paul Tiger, August 28, 2003
[Paul Tiger serves as Legislative Director for the Libertarian Party of Colorado.]
The Pledge that most Libertarians make in signing the non-initiation of force statement, is and of itself a regulatory, freedom limiting document. It de-legitimizes the root claims of the party to support liberty and freedom.
This Pledge is a spirit pledge, for there is no quantifiable focus. The initiation of force is a matter of interpretation. Is force words written or spoken? Is force political manipulation? Is force manual motion; taking a swing at your head? How about simply breathing?
In the reading of the Pledge, every person conjures up their own images of what it means. Most are filled with high thoughts of peace and prosperity. It's a hook and easy to get them to sign it. Its purpose is low and degrading to any true civil libertarian.
It was created in a time when the party was newly formed but yet a few years old. To separate itself from other revolutionary political change groups of the day. By having new members sign this Pledge, Libertarians believed that they could withstand the scrutiny of the fascist government and its new McCarthyism.
Perhaps it helped shape our party for past thirty years?
Let's compare what few facts we know with the reality that we believe that we have created. Does regulation work? How about legislating morality? Does anyone believe that by signing a document that a person is going to change their basic nature?
If an individual joins the party and then performs contrary to the constitution and by-laws, they are dealt with in a judiciary manner. They are dealt with under the basic laws that this party or any republic should. The code of ethics of that court or any should not receive interference from a pledge. As a corollary, imagine the numbers of citizens guilty of heresy when not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. People are judged by there accomplishments. Sometimes they are judged by a dark past. Not so often they are judged on a potential future. But they should always be judged as free individuals, unencumbered from the swearing of oaths or pledges made.
When the Pledge was made to be a demand of entrants, we became a club. The members live in an altered reality based in a belief that all members have made this pledge. Giving up freedom for security. Yet there are those that do sign with the intent of breaking that pledge. There are those that are indifferent to it, and there are further those that think it is a silly thing and overlook its importance.
When questioned about the Pledge, most good libertarians have it handy and can often recall it from memory. Like a mantra. Its good to have a high ideal, but does it have focus? When it is employed to remind members of their Pledge its application it always out of focus and it causes division within the membership.
The 'let's just make sure that you're our kind of people' statement, is discriminatory. The whole thing is shameful and unlibertarian. We are telling newcomers that we don't trust their intentions; that to join our club you have to swear to a vague statement that they have to have explained to them. My rights are those granted to me by the constitution and are not encumbered by a pledge.
The Pledge should be removed as a requirement for entry into the Libertarian Party. Until it is, we should change our name to the Libertarian Club.