Saturday, January 21, 2006

Power and Titles

Almost two weeks ago I asked our Executive Committee to recommit itself to ballot access as our overwhelming priority. A few members of the committee replied immediately that no, I am the burning issue that the party must face today. I've been waiting for the noise to die down so I can offer a few observations without getting drowned out. While I have a lot to say in response, the intervening time has given me some perspective which I hope will be more positive than the current infighting.

One area of contention is the use of titles within LPNC. The execomm passed a motion:

"The use of any title by LPNC members, where this title is intended to represent a position or job within the organization at the state level, is disapproved unless the name, powers and duties of the title are specifically authorized by the Bylaws, by a State Convention, or by the Executive Committee."

Let me dispel immediately the notion that this motion had anything to do with me. Yes, as some have noticed, I was obviously the target of this motion. Yet it does not affect me in the slightest for two reasons. One is that the execomm passed exactly such a motion in April 2000, creating and defining the title of "Executive Director" and granting it to me. The other is that since I am quitting the job I no longer have any need to defend the title.

So the question of what this means to Sean Haugh is completely moot. But what it means to the membership is very much a live issue. This motion is a reversal of our longstanding policy on this issue.

Back in 2003 I wrote an article for LFA, The Power of the Title. That describes the opposite approach, one which helped make LPNC strong:

"I encourage you to create titles for yourselves. And if you don't have one handy, let me know and I'll give you one. A title is like a magic wand that somehow makes you special in the eyes of others. The more impressive the title, the more you are accepted without question. This egalitarian fool thinks it's silly, but hey, it works."

But I also included a caution:

"Your authority does not come from the words or letters you can put after your name. It comes from other people recognizing what you have done. Real leadership is something you earn, not something granted to you in a title."

Unfortunately most people are still seduced by the false authority of titles. Including our current execomm.

Libertarianism isn't just a set of positions on the issues. It is a whole different way of doing politics. Our way shows respect for the individual, and builds power and authority bottom up, rooted in individual action. The way of authority dismisses respect for the individual. As expressed in this motion, our execomm has said they own a monopoly on authority and power within the LPNC. Nothing you do means anything unless it has prior approval by the execomm.

This motion expresses the exact opposite of Libertarian leadership. True Libertarian leadership recognizes individual accomplishment and the real authority that comes as a result. We have organized specifically to oppose the current conception of leadership, that someone can hold authority over you simply because they possess a title, because we know this concept is at the root of totalitarianism. We're smart enough to realize that if we simply replace the names holding false authority over us with Libertarian names, we have done nothing to truly change politics. We not only have to gain influence over the issues, we must gain influence over how politics is conducted to produce any real change.

Our executive committee, by passing this motion, has sided with the totalitarian ethic we have sworn to destroy. They believe that your activism must be directed from the top, by them. By passing this motion, they have turned their backs on you, the activists that have made this party what it is today.

So, please, continue with your work and if you need a title to help it along, make one up. You don't need an execomm to express your own Libertarian authority and autonomy, nor can any motion by the execomm eliminate your true authority. If they squawk about it, ignore them. And show up at the state convention in May to replace this execomm with one that understands that Libertarianism is something more than simply a different flavor of totalitarian top-down politics.


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