From time to time, I enjoy sharing my experiences with my readers. Stories of success, failure, evangelism, witness, satire, and now an experience of a very political nature. Now I’m going to warn you. This story flows from a transitory free spirit to the legendary Ron Paul. In other words, I was able to visit the Mises Circle, which is a gathering of likeminded libertarians who want to listen to lectures, and have robust conversations on the nature of the economy, education, and future of liberty in the states. For those who might be confused by my title, Anarcho-Capitalists — simply put — are those people who believe that the only other option against corruption is not really solved by the alternative of the State, but by numerous other means, but particularly the free market. They are also called “Libertarian Anarchists.” In other words, there is a strong difference between the government and the people, and the free market is one of those expressions of a people freed from the hand of the State. So, I would like to share with you a few things I learned from visiting the Mises Circle this past Saturday:
- Libertarians make great coffee. Yes, you heard it first from me. The sheer hospitality I received form this marginal group was one of warmth, and not of the typical perception of fringe Objectivists yelling at each other over whose interpretation of Ayn Rands Atlas Shurgged is more radical. No, I didn’t have those kinds of encounters. Rather, it was one of welcoming trust, by which all could have their time of dissent and agreement. They were less interested in anger to tear down, but it seemed if there was anger, it was to build up. And as the day went on, a sense of hope seemed to spread throughout the crowd.
- They are a diverse group. After finding a seat, I found I was surrounded by every race, socio-economic background, with just as many stories as there were people. To be honest, even though there was a representation of every race, there still lacked any representation from the black community. This must be because libertarians are wrongly labeled as white supremacists and “neo-confederates.” Personally, I feel this to be slanderous and a typical tactic of the left (which is now being used by the right) to label groups they long to dismiss. In other words, labels given to them so they can’t be taken seriously. What I found was the most diverse and open political conversation being held anywhere in Texas. Time would even fail me to mention the amount of times the need for the elimination of the war on drugs was necessary, because not only was it expensive — driving us into more and more crushing debt — it also unfairly targets black americans. If more black americans realized they had just a principled group in their corner I’m sure the already diverse group of radicals would become even more diverse. One of my favorite moments was the hour long conversation I had with the Austin traveler who had figured out a way to live free by driving for uber and playing music shows everywhere he went, as well as finding time to release a weekly podcast centered around absurdist humor. A practitioner of cabbala, with hair tied back in skinny jeans, we made a connection that would seem impossible to imagine if one knew it was during an economics seminar.
- Good theology. At one point, a question was posed to the lutheran priest in the room by asking how this priest justified such an anarchist perspective with Romans 13. The priest smiled, and very graciously said that the word “government” is incorrectly translated to mean, perhaps by accident, as the State or the nation/state, when in fact the original word means “legitimate authority.” And he went on to say that there are many authorities in society that are separate from the State, giving the example of the cruise ship captain who is in charge of the people on board, i.e. the legitimate authority that has the right to make decisions. He then went on to say few more things I enjoyed, but I was shocked to hear from others who had seriously dealt with the Romans 13 issue and seemed to despise the lazy accusation from other Christians who translated the “submission” as unquestioning obedience to the State instead of radical subordination. Or those christians who use Romans 13 as a non-argument instead of seriously considering the political implications of the gospel.
- Encouraging dissent. During the final Q&A session, a young college student stood up and asked Lew Rockwell why the libertarian movement had been so associated with white supremacy and such. Mr. Rockwell carefully defined his view of equality, and did so not in a demeaning way, but in a way I found to be interesting and full of humility. And once again, time would fail me to tell you of the times I had one-on-one conversations where I would voice an opinion and the listener would encourage me in voicing dissent. These people seemed to believe dissent was not only courageous, it was necessary.
- Ron Paul. Dr. Paul was there, and in person seemed like a regular senior man. Slow walking, but large in his smile, I had never fully grasped the dynamic nature of his presence until I heard him speak in real time and not over youtube. There seemed to be a humble passion for the truth, and also or a renewed sense of passion for encouraging the lay-person to read history. It is so rare to discover a leader with such integrity who makes so much sense.
Finally, I walked away wondering my takeaway in all of this. I’m still processing the information, but I still retain an anti-war view, as well as a skepticism of the State. But I wonder if perhaps the world needs us to be more radical, but radical in faithful questioning as well as faithful listening. There is a whole generation of voters (particularly for Trump) who are non-ideological; thus, the liberty movement is poised to received millions of these people into their wings. I’m just not sure of my role, but the search for truth continues.