Here’s something a bit outside our normal wheelhouse, but not that far outside, and maybe actually squarely within it.
For the last couple months, the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire has been on something of a Twitter bender, posting provocatively right-wing (read: fascist) takes that seem designed to stir controversy and keep the account in a prolonged state of main characterdom. A few examples:
A few days ago a LPNH member named Jeremy Kauffman claimed authorship of these posts. Kauffman is affiliated with the party’s Mises Caucus, a far-right movement founded in the image of its namesake, the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises. There are many things one could say about Mises, but for now let us just say that he, like other Austrian economists, believed fascism to be a great way of staving off communism. He also served as mentor and inspiration for bigtime racist Murray Rothbard, the Mises Caucus’s intellectual godfather. Today the Caucus is engaged in a campaign to “take over” the Libertarian movement by winning positions in local party committees. Here's what one Libertarian had to say about his decision to leave it last year:
[O]ver 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.
That was a year ago. The Mises Caucus’s bigotry problem obviously hasn’t been solved in the interim, as evidenced by LPNH Twitter maestro Jeremy Kauffman. Here are some tweets from his personal account:
Serious question: does Amash actually not know or is he just pandering? pic.twitter.com/AEgFNNTNhWJune 3, 2021
(also this research generally doesn't replicate well, and even the purported effect size is not a full SD of IQ) pic.twitter.com/zs3JH8ffKeJune 20, 2020
Jews went from the Holocaust to running the world in like 50 years
Why is Tulsa in 1921 relevant to anything today?June 1, 2021
if 1,000 transpeople were murdered every year but there were no taxes, we'd live in a substantially more moral world
for reference about 40 people transgender people are murdered in the US per yearMarch 7, 2021
For every 1 act of violence by an Asian person against a Black person, there are 280 acts committed by a Black person against an Asian.
Blacks commit more violence against Asians than Whites, despite Blacks being 1/5 the population of Whites (~6x the rate).#StopAsianHate pic.twitter.com/brim0WJ3WIMarch 17, 2021
I gave money to the LP every year for the last 3 until they embraced the anti-racism agenda, because it is fundamentally anti-liberty.
So now I have stopped and disassociated.
I will continue to fight for liberty through the @FreeStateNH and @LBRYio.July 17, 2020
Yesterday the chairperson of the New Hampshire Libertarian Party announced that she had purged Mises Caucus members from party committees and membership rolls. She wrote in a post on the party's website that the faction was deliberately using "bold messaging" to rile up support for its broader mission of taking over the Libertarian party, then the Republican party. She said they could rejoin if they signed a pledge to condemn bigotry.
This action has caused something of a stir among Mises-affiliated Libertarians, who view the purge itself as a hostile takeover of rightfully won committee seats. One such Libertarian is comedian Dave Smith, member of the Legion of Skanks. Sources within the party tell me that Smith is positioning himself to run for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination; Smith said himself in a recent interview with Joe Rogan that he’s considering it.
I have written before about Smith's extremist ideologies. He’s no outlier in the Mises Caucus. In the last few days alone he’s vocally opposed a campaign to bar Mises luminary Thomas Woods, Smith's friend and ally, from speaking at the party’s 2022 convention. Thomas Woods is a co-founder of the League of the South, a neo-Confederate hate group whose goal is to create “a free and independent Southern republic.” Woods, who wrote in 2004 that the Civil War was fought over states' rights and who's criticized the “belligerent and vitriolic anti-Southern rhetoric” of 19th century abolitionists, has distanced himself from the League’s racist elements but refused to apologize for his role in it.
Dave Smith’s rise within the Libertarian party has not been without resistance from less radical members. Over the last couple years, I’ve observed a few general responses to intra-party criticism of his coziness with alt right figures like Gavin McInnes, Nick Fuentes, Christopher Cantwell, and Stefan Molyneux. One, he and his allies like to say that for all the flak he gets for interviewing far right actors, he never gets similar flak for interviewing left-wingers. (The wise man bowed his head.) Two, they like to argue that Smith’s goal is to find common ground with the right-wingers, and if that helps advance the cause of liberty, isn’t it worth it? Finding common ground and advancing the cause, of course, mean recruiting. The goal has always been to win over the followers of people like McInnes and Fuentes. Dave Smith has done this remarkably well, hence his popularity in the movement. Which brings us to the third tactic he and his ilk use to bat away accusations of alt right sympathies: that the alt right doesn’t exist anymore, making it laughable to suggest anyone’s cozy with it.
Well, yes. The loose confederacy of extremist groups commonly referred to as the alt right dissolved in the wake of Charlottesville. But its members didn’t vanish from the earth. They were not disabused of their ideologies by unfavorable media coverage. All that happened was that they had to find new sanctuaries, new leaders, and savvier cover stories.
What we’re seeing now is one result of that realignment. It’s no coincidence that a man who built his audience as an “offensive” comedian—his beliefs rendered immune to criticism by his industry's social norms—played a major role, and will likely keep playing one for years to come.