I am ceasing active support for Libertarian candidate John McAfee. I want to stress that he’s still my candidate of choice by a wide margin, but increasing exposure to him has revealed that he is not as in-line with my principles as it seemed. Seeking clarity, I asked him in his live feed that took place on Facebook earlier tonight:
Speaking of other candidates, you seem to be more anti-Johnson than anti-Petersen? Do you see severe issues with Petersen’s platforms (albeit different ones than those that plague Johnson) as well?
That’s it. Just “No.”
I feel pretty confident that McAfee knows exactly the issues I’m alluding to, because there have been numerous comments, retweets, and likes across Twitter and Facebook in the past few weeks, and my issues with Petersen are the same ones that most people’s issues are: Petersen is Pro-Life and anti-NAP (a contradiction that gets funnier every time you think about it).
I insist that Petersen has quite a lot of explaining to do, and I cornered him weeks ago on Twitter and attempted to corner him into doing that explaining. He showed intellectual dishonesty and overall juvenile behavior. But I don’t mean to get off onto the problems I have with Petersen. The simple matter is: many Libertarians have a problem with Austin Petersen, and I’ve enumerated those in the past–as have many others.
I abide a certain set of principles. They are clear and concise principles:
An individual should be able to do whatever the individual wants to do, as long as the individual doesn’t use force, violence, and coercion.
From that, quite a lot can be extrapolated. Positions on gay marriage, transgender equality, immigration, national defense… Any and every issue can be tackled by the application of those principles, and, indeed, that is how I feel my way through the world. This principle is rigid, set in stone, and unyielding. If it ever fails, then I will amend or abolish it, whatever is necessary, and continue my search for a set of principles that can be universally applied.
It seemed, from the experience I had with John McAfee, that his principles were the same, with the only difference that he added “Keep your word” to the principle. That’s something I’m okay with, because we should keep our word, but I think that’s more of an internal thing than an external one, so I don’t apply it in my principle. In short, it was a non-issue that he added those three extra words.
McAfee’s failure to disavow the positions of Austin Petersen, however, reveal that McAfee cannot abide the same set of principles that I abide. My principles leave no room to tolerate aggression, and a refusal to pledge against aggression is a mandate to tolerate aggression. Under no circumstances will I tolerate aggression. Petersen, by refusing to adopt the NAP, leaves aggression on the table as an option. It is irrelevant what set of circumstances Petersen would detail as acceptable for the application of aggression; to me, there is no acceptable set of circumstances. I cannot and will not tolerate the notion that it is sometimes okay to exercise aggression.
And, again, using force, violence, and coercion to put a stop to the exercise of force, violence, and coercion is not an act of aggression; it is an act of defense. The Non-Aggression Pact is not a vow to pacifism; defense is wholly acceptable. Aggression is not. Moreover, the NAP certainly leaves room for the protection of others–if I am walking down the street and see a man beating the hell out of his wife, it does not violate the NAP for me to intervene and put a stop to the violence.
We don’t even have to discuss the Pro-Life matter, and it’s probably best that we don’t, since Petersen could make the argument that abortion consists of violence against someone, and therefore it is acceptable to use force and intervene on behalf of the victim. He didn’t make that argument–he didn’t even attempt to–which suggests he has no true Libertarian basis for his Pro-Life position, but it’s irrelevant. His refusal to adopt the NAP is more than enough to disqualify him from the principles of liberty.
Many would say that I’m overreacting for withdrawing my endorsement of John McAfee over “such a minor thing,” and would say, “What’s the big deal? You still agree with him on 99% of things. You’re really going to let this one issue undo all of that?”
Yes, I am.
Because I don’t think agreement with someone who is trying to be the leader of the country is something that should be quantified and reduced to numbers and percentages. I probably agree with Sanders 99% of the time, after all–on all of his social issues, and in a lot of his claims about separating business from the state. But that 1% of things with which I disagree… Those are pretty important things. I can say the same thing about Trump. I probably agree with Trump 85% of the time–on most of his economic positions (until he revealed that he is a Keynesian, at least)–but that 15% of the time I agree with him… That’s on some pretty important issues.
Similarly, if I’m going to support a candidate with whom I disagree, why wouldn’t I side with someone more likely to win, like Sanders or Trump? If it’s just a matter of “Well, I do agree with this guy here and here, but not here and here… but I do here and here…” then why wouldn’t I support Trump or Clinton? Or Gary Johnson, or Austin Petersen himself? After all, Petersen and I really only disagree on those two things, right?
It’s a silly argument to make. It’s not about how much we agree or disagree; it’s about what we agree and disagree about. And that McAfee doesn’t see a problem with Petersen’s positions… means that McAfee and I disagree when it comes to principles. I have at great length talked of my principles and have demonstrated exactly how my principles conflict with Petersen’s positions. I am not going to guess what McAfee’s principles are or aren’t. I am simply making the observation that, ipso facto, we do not share the same principles.
That McAfee doesn’t see an issue with Petersen’s positions means that McAfee and I disagree as a matter of principle, and I can’t think of any issue that could possibly be more grave than that.
I have already pulled my endorsements down, though I’ve obviously left my podcasts up. I would never change a previously recorded podcast. At worst, I’ll record a new one, but I doubt that I’ll even do that.
I still have a great deal of respect for John McAfee, and he remains the candidate closest to my principles. This shouldn’t be taken as a statement of resentment, ill-will, or any other impeachment of him; it is a statement of fact. These are my principles. They do not coincide with John McAfee’s. Ergo, I do not endorse him.
It really is that simple.
So who do I endorse for the 2016 election?
I’ve been told that my search to find someone–much less a presidential candidate–who shares my principles is destined to be fruitless and is a waste of time, that I have to learn to accept 99% agreement. I don’t agree. I don’t agree at all, because I hold that my principles are very simple, and that the task of finding a presidential candidate who simply applies those principles should not be that freaking difficult.
I apply my principles no matter how uncomfortable and messy the result is. When my support for Mississippi’s religious freedom law had people asking me, “So you wouldn’t care if these businesses attempted to discriminate against black people?”
I answered, “I would care, yes. But I wouldn’t restrict their rights to stop them from doing it. They have the right to discriminate on whatever grounds they want.”
No one liked that answer. Even a lot of “Libertarians” hated that answer. I don’t care, because that’s a principled answer. The principle is that we should Liberty take its course–we should let the free market take its course. Because society leads government; government does not lead society. Segregation ended and systemic discrimination ended because we as a society cast it aside, not because the state told us to cast it aside. A business attempted to do that would face boycotts that would crush it. The free market would take its toll, and no one’s rights would have to be violated.
The left and the LGBT community really hated that answer. I was even called transphobic and homophobic by a few people. But I stand by that principle nonetheless, and I will continue to do. As Petersen himself said:
What’s right isn’t always popular. What’s popular isn’t always right.
And here I am in No Woman’s Land because of my principles and my refusal to tolerate wavering from those principles. That’s totally okay, because refusing to bend from my principles doesn’t keep anyone else from sticking to theirs. This isn’t the first time I’ve found myself in No Woman’s Land, and it won’t be the last. I take refuge in knowing that my fellow anarchists, terribly few in number though we are, agree with me.
But I don’t need validation; my principles don’t need validation.
Now if only we had a candidate who embraced the principles of liberty. :/
I did not ask McAfee the question because I wanted a pat on the back and for him to say, “Yeah, I see the problems with him, too.” I didn’t ask because I wanted McAfee to validate my positions on Petersen. I asked because Petersen and I conflict because of my principles, and because anyone who shares my principles will therefore conflict with Petersen. It was really the most direct way to find out whether or not McAfee shares my principles.
That’s probably what people are thinking–that I simply wanted him to validate my position on McAfee. When I tweeted a few days ago that McAfee is the only candidate I’ve heard with whom I agreed 100%, some unthinking person said, “We don’t want ‘Yes-men.'” And I had to actually point out that I held my positions long before I ever heard McAfee say them, and that’s why I was supporting him… He shared my principles and therefore I was supporting him. It was not “I’m supporting him, and therefore I agree with him.”
I don’t care what McAfee thinks; I don’t need his approval or validation. That wasn’t why I asked the question. I asked the question because I noticed he had said nothing negative about Petersen, yet he had repeatedly railed against Johnson. I have big problems with them both, but Johnson… I don’t even consider Johnson to be worth attacking any longer. He’s a statist; end of discussion. Petersen, however, falls closely toward classical liberalism.
So I wanted to know if he targeted Johnson because Johnson was the presumptive nominee, or if it was because he didn’t see a problem with Petersen’s positions. As I’ve pointed out, it’s a question of principle–does McAfee share mine or not? And the answer was as short and simple as McAfee’s own reply:
And that cost him my endorsement. Does that matter? Who the hell knows? I have a tiny following–does that following matter? Who cares? I don’t withdraw my endorsement because I want other people to turn away from him; I withdraw my endorsement because… I won’t endorse someone who doesn’t share my principles. It’s nothing against him, it’s not out of anger or resentment, and it’s not bitterness that he didn’t validate my position. As I said on Twitter: I’ve held my positions since long before I associated McAfee with anything but that horrible scourge on the I.T. world that is McAfee Antivirus.
If I felt that I needed to be validated, I wouldn’t be an atheist in the Bible Belt. I wouldn’t be transgender in the state of Mississippi. I wouldn’t be antagonizing the LGBT community by supporting Mississippi’s religious freedom law. I wouldn’t be antagonizing the right by being transgender. I wouldn’t be antagonizing classical liberals by pointing out that they’re not libertarians. I wouldn’t be calling out Petersen as a conservative. So I repeat: I neither need nor want validation or vindication.