New Libertarian Manifesto

Samuel Edward Konkin III

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Chapter Index

Page numbers appear in blue: 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22

My notes appear in pale yellow.



We are coerced by our fellow human beings.  Since they have the ability to choose to do otherwise, our condition need not be thus.  Coercion is immoral, inefficient, and unnecessary for human life and fulfillment.  Those who wish to be supine as their neighbors prey on them are free to so choose; this manifesto is for those who choose otherwise: to fight back.


To combat coercion, one must understand it.  More important, one must understand what one is fighting for as much as what one is fighting againstBlind reaction goes in all directions negative to the source of oppression and disperses opportunity; pursuit of a common goal focuses the opponents and allows formation of coherent strategy and tactics.


Diffuse coercion is optimally handled by local, immediate self-defense.  Though the market may develop larger-scale businesses for protection and restoration, random threats of violence can only be dealt with on the spot ad hoc.1


Organized coercion requires organized opposition.  (An excellent case has been made many times by many thinkers that such organization should remain skeletal at best, fleshing out only for actual confrontation, in order to prevent perversion of the defenders into an [16] agency of aggression.)  Institutional coercion, developed over the millennia with roots of mysticism and delusion planted deep in the victims’ thinking, requires a grand strategy and a cataclysmic point of historical singularity: Revolution.


Such an institution of coercion—centralizing immorality, directing theft and murder, and coordinating oppression on a scale inconceivable by random criminality—exists.  It is the Mob of mobs, Gang of gangs, Conspiracy of conspiracies.  It has murdered more people in a few recent years than all the deaths in history before that time; it has stolen in a few recent years more than all the wealth produced in history to that time; it has deluded—for its survival—more minds in a few recent years than all the irrationality of history to that time; Our Enemy, The State.2


In the 20th century alone, war has murdered more than all previous deaths; taxes and inflation have stolen more than all wealth previously produced; and the political lies, propaganda, and above all, “Education,” have twisted more minds than all the superstition prior: yet through all the deliberate confusion and obfuscation, the thread of reason has developed fibers of resistance to be woven into the rope of execution for the State: Libertarianism.


Where the State divides and conquers its opposition, Libertarianism unites and liberates.  Where the State beclouds, Libertarianism clarifies; where the State conceals, Libertarianism [17] uncovers; where the State pardons, Libertarianism accuses.


Libertarianism elaborates an entire philosophy from one simple premise: initiatory violence or its threat (coercion) is wrong (immoral, evil, bad, supremely impractical, etc.) and is forbidden; nothing else is.3


Libertarianism, as developed to this point, discovered the problem and defined the solution: the State vs. the Market.  The Market is the sum of all voluntary human action.4  If one acts non-coercively, one is part of the Market.  Thus did Economics become a part of Libertarianism.


Libertarianism investigated the nature of man to explain his rights deriving from non-coercion.  It immediately followed that man (woman, child, Martian, etc.) had an absolute right to this life and other property—and no right to the life or property of others.  Thus did Objective philosophy become part of Libertarianism.


Libertarianism asked why society was not libertarian now and found the State, its ruling class, its camouflage, and the heroic historians striving to reveal the truth.  Thus did Revisionist History become part of Libertarianism.


Psychology, especially as developed by Thomas Szasz as counter-psychology, was embraced by libertarians seeking to free themselves [18] from both State restraint and self-imprisonment.  Seeking an art form to express the horror potential of the State and extrapolate the many possibilities of liberty, Libertarianism found Science Fiction already in that field.


From political, economic, philosophical, psychological, historical, and artistic realms the partisans of liberty saw a whole, integrating their resistance with others elsewhere, and they came together as their consciousness became aware.  Thus did Libertarians become a Movement.


The Libertarian Movement looked around and saw the challenge: everywhere, Our Enemy, The State; from the ocean’s depth past arid desert outposts to the distant lunar surface; in every land, people, tribe, nation—and in the individual mind.


Some sought immediate alliance with other opponents of the power elite to overthrow the State’s present rulers.5  Some sought immediate confrontation with the State’s agents.6  Some pursued collaboration with those in power who offered less oppression in exchange for votes.7  And some dug in for long-term enlightenment of the populace to build and develop the Movement.8  Everywhere, a Libertarian [19] Alliance of activists sprang up.9


The State’s Higher Circles were not about to yield their plunder and restore property to their victims at the first sign of opposition.  The first counterattack came from anti-principles already planted by the corrupt Intellectual Caste: Defeatism, Retreatism, Minarchism, Collaborationism, Gradualism, Monocentrism, and Reformism—including accepting State office to “improve” Statism!  All of these anti-principles (deviations, heresies, self-destructive contradictory tenets, etc.) will be dealt with later.  Worst of all is Partyarchy, the anti-concept of pursuing libertarian ends through statist means, especially political parties.


A “Libertarian” Party was the second counterattack of the State unleased on the fledgling Libertarians, first as a ludicrous oxymoron,10 then as an invading army.11

Although not fond of political parties or party-politics, I do not have the same anti-LP outlook as Konkin.  Truth be told, I bet most agorists start off as LP-supporters.  The LP, despite its flaws, is still the primary outreach tool for libertarianism to the general public.


[20] The third counterattack was an attempt by one of the ten richest capitalists in the United States to buy the major Libertarian institutions—not just the Party—and run the movement as other plutocrats run all the other political parties in capitalist states.12


The degree of success those statist counterattacks had in corrupting libertarianism led to a splintering of the Movement’s “Left” and [21] the despairing paralyzation of others.  As disillusionment grew with “Libertarianism,” the disillusioned sought answers to this new problem: the State within as well as the State without.  How do we avoid being used by the State and its power elite?  That is, they asked, how can we avoid deviations from the path of liberty when we know there are more than one?  The market has many paths to production and consumption of a product and none are perfectly predictable.  So even if one tells us how to get from here (statism) to there (liberty), how do we know that is the best way?


Already some are dredging up the old strategies of movements long dead, movements with other goals.  New paths are indeed being offered—back to the State.13


Betrayal, inadvertent or planned, continues.  It need not.


While no one can predict the sequence of steps that will unerringly achieve a free society for free-willed individuals, one can eliminate in one slash all those that will not advance Liberty, and applying the principles of [22] the Market unwaveringly will map out a terrain to travel.  There is no One Way, one straight line graph to Liberty, to be sure.  But there is a family of graphs, a Space filled with lines, that will take the libertarian to his goal of the free society, and that Space can be described.


Once the goal is fixed and the paths discovered, only the Action of the individual to go from here to there remains.  Above all, this manifesto calls for that Action.14

Back to the Fourth Preface

Forward to Chapter Two


1 I am indebted to Robert LeFevre for this insight, though we draw differing conclusions.

2 Thank you, Albert J. Nock, for that phrase.

3 Modern Libertarianism is best described by Murray Rothbard in For a New Liberty, which, regardless how recent the edition, is always a year or more out of date.  Recommending even the best writing on libertarianism is like recommending one song to explain music in all its forms.

4 Thank you, Ludwig von Mises.

5 Radical Libertarian Alliance (RLA), 1968–71.

6 Student Libertarian Action Movement, 1968–72, later revived briefly as a proto-Movement of the Libertarian Left (MLL).

7 Citizens for a Restructured Republic, 1972, made up of RLA members disillusioned with revolution.

8 Society for Individual Liberty, 1969–89 (now merged with Libertarian International to the International Society for Individual Liberty).  Also Rampart College (now defunct) and the Foundation for Economic Education and Free Enterprise Institute, all of whom were around before the libertarian population explosion of 1969.

9 Most important, the California Libertarian Alliance, 1969–73.  The name is still kept alive for sponsorship of conferences, and is also used in the United Kingdom.

10 The first “Libertarian” Party was set up by Gabriel Aguilar and Ed Butler in California in 1970 as a hollow shell to gain media access.  (Aguilar, a Galambosian, was staunchly anti-political.)  Even Nolan’s “Libertarian” Party was mocked and scorned by such as Murray Rothbard in the first year of its existence.

11 The “Libertarian” Party that eventually organized nationally and ran John Hospers and Toni Nathan for President and Vice-President in 1972 was first organized by David and Susan Nolan in December 1971 in Colorado.  Dave Nolan was a Massachusetts member of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) who had broken with it back in 1967 and missed the 1969 climax at St. Louis.  He remained conservative and minarchist right up to this first edition.

The libertarian and anarchist factions of YAF, known as the “rads,” came to heads with the larger conservative faction, known as the “trads,” in 1969.  See Radicals for Capitalism by Brian Doherty for more on this.  Although Konkin is correct about Nolan being a minarchist, it hardly seems appropriate to call him a “conservative.”

Although the Nolans were rather innocent, and other early organization and candidates often so, the debate on “the Party Question” began immediately.  New Libertarian Notes attacked the “Libertarian” Party concept in Spring 1972 and ran a debate between Nolan and Konkin just before the election (NLN 15).

By the 1980 presidential campaign, the Nolans had broken with the “Libertarian” Party leadership of Ed Crane and his candidate Ed Clark, who ran a high-powered, high-financed, traditional vote-chasing and platform-trimming campaign.

12 Charles G. Koch—Wichita oil billionaire—through his relatives, foundations, institutes, and centers, had set up, bought up, or “bought out” the following from 1976–79: Murray Rothbard and his Libertarian Forum; Libertarian Review (from Robert Kephart), edited by Roy A. Childs; Students for a Libertarian Society (SLS), run by Milton Mueller; Center for Libertarian Studies (CLS) (Rothbard-leaning) and Joe Peden; Inquiry, edited by Williamson Evers; Cato Institute; and various Koch Funds, Foundations, and Institutes.  Named the “Kochtopus” in New Libertarian 1 (February 1978), it was first attacked in print by Edith Efron in the conservative-libertarian publication Reason, along with allegations of an “anarchist” conspiracy.  The Movement of the Libertarian Left cut away from Efron’s anti-anarchist ravings and rushed to support her on her key revelation of the growth of monocentrism in the Movement.

In 1979, the Kochtopus took control of the national “Libertarian” Party (LP) at the Los Angeles convention.  David Koch, Charles’ brother, openly bought the Vice-Presidential nomination for $500,000.

13 Murray Rothbard broke with the Kochtopus soon after the ’79 LP Convention and most of his close allies were purged, such as Williamson Evers of Inquiry.  CLS was cut off from Koch funding.  The Libertarian Forum began attaching Koch.  Rothbard and young Justin Raimondo set up a new “radical” caucus (RC) of the LP (the first one, 1972–74, was run by progenitors of New Libertarian Alliance (NLA) as a recruiting tactic and a way to destroy the Party from within).

Although Rothbard was moved to ask “Is Sam Konkin Right?” in his July 1980 speech to an RC dinner in Orange County, the RC strategy is to reform the LP using New Left and neo-Marxist tactics.

14 I hope subsequent editions may omit this note, but in the present historical context it is vital to point out that Libertarianism is not specifically for the most “advanced” or enlightened elements of North America, perhaps typified by the young, white, highly read computer consultant, equally feminist mate (and 0.5 children).  Only the freest market can raise the “Second” and “Third World” from grinding poverty and self-destructive superstition.  Compulsory attempts critically to raise production standards and associated cultural understanding have caused backlash and regression: e.g. Iran and Afghanistan.  Mostly, the State has engaged in deliberate repression of self-improvement.

Quasi-free markets, such as the freeports of Hong Kong, Singapore, and (earlier) Shanghai, attracted floods of upwardly mobile, highly motivated entrepreneurs.  The incredibly well-developed black market of Burma already runs the entire economy and needs only a libertarian awareness to oust Ne Win and the Army, accelerating trade and annihilating poverty overnight.

Similar observations are possible about developed black markets and tolerated semi-free markets in the “Second World” of Soviet occupation, such as Armenia, Georgia, and the Russian counter-economy (nalevo).

Note to the Second Edition:  The above note is still, sadly enough, needed.

Note to the Third Edition:  With the collapse of Communism, maybe the need is declining, but the note’s still here!

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