I initially joined the Libertarian Party Mises Caucus Facebook group sometime around August 2017, within weeks of its creation. At the time, I was mainly interested in keeping an eye on things for Fakertarians, a watchdog Facebook page that attempts to keep the alt-right (and other authoritarian groups) from gaining a stronghold in the libertarian movement.
As I anticipated, there were a decent number of alt-righters there. However, some of the names in leadership were surprising to me; several of them were people I had ran into before who were openly anti-alt-right. This gave me some hope that the LPMC could be a force for good, and as the number of alt-righters in the group gradually went down to a minimal level once they realized that the LPMC wasn’t a Chase Rachels fan club, I decided to become more involved in the caucus. While there were still various disagreements I had with some of the members (I was generally more socially liberal in my personal outlook, although I was far from the only person like that), I thought that I had found a group that cared about once again making the Libertarian Party the party of principle.
I eventually became involved in leadership as a moderator for the Facebook group, often tasked with parsing through membership requests to boot out alt-right infiltrators, and I assisted with the LP chair campaigns of their endorsed candidate. I was also one of the caucus’s loudest defenders, frequently arguing with those who claimed the LPMC was a group designed to bring in the type of people with views like Christopher Cantwell, Augustus Invictus, and the aforementioned Chase Rachels.
But over time, I became concerned with the direction the caucus was heading, noticing two main issues. The first was a sort of hero worship, in which any questioning or criticism of podcasters, philosophers, or other activists associated with the caucus resulted in an uproar. It seemed to be that many (but not all) members of the caucus took this criticism as a personal attack, feeling the reflexive need to defend their “team” from those who suggested that they were less than perfect.
The second issue was that, although I still don’t believe it was the explicit intention of (at least most of) those in leadership, the alt-right problem was beginning to ramp back up. Membership in the caucus was rapidly increasing at a level not seen before, as the previously referenced podcasters began to encourage their listeners to join. To be clear, some joining were good, principled libertarians, but even many of them were inflicted with the aforementioned hero worship problem.
But alongside those members came those who were clearly at best influenced by, or at worst part of, the alt-right. Others like them, who had been in the caucus group for a long time but generally kept quiet, came out of their dormancy. This played heavily into my resignation from LPMC leadership in November 2019, during which I also cited the fact that I no longer wanted to feel a conflict of interest between my work with Fakertarians and with the caucus (given that I felt the need to post from Fakertarians about individuals who were LPMC-endorsed or adjacent). However, I still stuck around as a normal caucus member, maintaining some level of hope that things would improve.
That changed several weeks ago, when I finally felt that something drastic had to be done before things spiraled out of control. For several weeks, many of the Fakertarians admins (myself included) were highly critical of Dave Smith, a podcaster associated with the LPMC, for what we viewed as a willingness to cozy up with and pander to alt-righters like Stefan Molyneux and Nick Fuentes (as well as Christopher Cantwell, in an interview that occurred several days after the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally in 2017), an issue that could take up an entire article by itself. I shared a Fakertarians post about it to the caucus Facebook group hoping to start a conversation and received a lot of pushback, which to be clear, was expected.
However, what struck me by surprise was a contentious interaction I had with the caucus chairman, Michael Heise, after I had raised the possibility that the caucus had an issue with alt-righters joining. He asked me to name one, so I proceeded to do so, explaining my rationale for why I thought this person was a problem (an individual I’ll refer to from here on out as “JM”, as his name isn’t particularly relevant to the story). I specifically zeroed in on JM’s previous comments about how “Europe is for Europeans” (a common alt-right trope) and how he had previously said that libertarians need to do more about race (JM had said that more needed to be done as it relates to “IQ, criminality, [and] social cohesion”). Instead of the individual being booted from the caucus, or at least a private message asking me for my evidence, I had a conversation with Heise that revolved around the semantics of “alt-right” in which Heise contended that “Europe is for Europeans” only indicates that JM has a different “cultural preference” than me (as opposed to showing that he is alt-right and should be booted). During that conversation, JM also indicated that he wanted to ban all immigration to the United States.
This interaction motivated me to leave the caucus, because if what seemed to be an obvious case of an alt-righter present resulted in this kind of pushback, I felt there wasn’t much hope for solving the alt-right problem in general. In the comments section of a Fakertarians post about it several days later that included screenshots of JM’s comments, Heise doubled down on his defense.
A couple days after that, JM was finally booted after screenshots surfaced of JM ranting about Jews and using the anti-Semitic “triple parentheses” that originated in alt-right circles. I gave credit to the LPMC from the Fakertarians page for getting rid of him, but I was perturbed by the fact that Heise was continuing to public defend the decision to not boot JM for the first set of comments.
Several others have been booted from the LPMC since this for alt-right ties (including one after we made another post about the specific person), but I still worry that these actions are either being done to save face (although I do know for a fact that some in leadership do oppose the alt-right and have taken at least a step or two behind the scenes to help fix things, even if I think the response hasn’t been adequate) and/or that it is only the symptoms of the problem that are being addressed (a few members here and then), as opposed to treating the “disease” itself (aka why the alt-righters are joining in the first place, which like the Dave Smith controversy, is complicated enough to write another entire article about).
I want to make it clear, as I alluded to earlier, that I do think there are still some good people in the caucus (and in the caucus’s leadership). I’ve had numerous caucus members reach out to me privately in agreement on a lot of aspects of this, and I know that some of them are working on trying to solve the issue, although I do think there are far too many who won’t even acknowledge that there’s a problem (and even those who think that the actual problem is that this issue is even being addressed at all, as some have complained that the caucus is taking the criticism too seriously).
After one individual in caucus leadership, who has generally been critical of the alt-right but has also objected to my public posts on the issue, told me several days ago that I should “either join the mod team again, or let [the caucus] handle it,” I made a good-faith public offer last night to rejoin as a moderator and help them combat the problem (although I do not particularly expect to be taken up on my proposal and have yet to hear any comment from LPMC leadership about it).
I generally have a propensity for trying to help groups or organizations that I see as salvageable get better instead of simply going scorched-Earth and only trying to tear them down, maybe even to a fault (like I did when I gave Liberty Hangout some credit several years ago for their firing of several alt-right writers, only to see them devolve once again several months later). But I do think there is something to be gained from a Libertarian Party caucus that focuses on Austrian economics and strict adherence to principles (which, although it is surely debatable how much that has happened in reality, is what the LPMC has often billed itself as). If I were in LPMC leadership right now, my first course of action would be to loudly state that the alt-right is not welcome (as opposed to simply kicking a person here or there without making a big deal about it publicly).
But whether the caucus really attempts to solve their alt-right problem and does so, whether they only pay it lip service, or whether they completely ignore the criticisms of myself and others and devolve into an alt-right cesspool, the other Fakertarians admins and I will continue to do what we can to help keep the alt-right from gaining a foothold in the Libertarian Party and movement.