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Vice Chairperson of the Libertarian National Committee Invites Racists to Join the Libertarian Party

Image of Arvin Vohra's Facebook post.

Arvin Vohra, the Vice Chairperson of the Libertarian National Committee (LNC) and U.S. Senate candidate posted several racist remarks onto his Facebook page during a 24-hour period.

Vohra’s statements include:

“Taxation is theft. Racism is just an irrelevant opinion. #TaxationIsWorseThanRacism”

“Racism is bad. Statism is worse.”

“Should we [libertarians] welcome White Supremacists?”

“I’ll take a white supremacist who wants to tear down the welfare state over a government school teacher who wants to keep it.”

“Does Libertarianism allow racism? Sure. Does Libertarianism allow government schools? Nope.”

In response to the second to last post, Vohra clarified his position by stating:

“That [both white supremacists and government school teachers should be shamed] was my original position. But realizing that many supposed ˈLibertariansˈ want to keep the largest part of the welfare state, which is government schools, I’ll honestly take any replacement.”

This is not Vohra’s first encounter with controversy. Just a couple months ago, Vohra jokingly posted online: “Bad Idea: School Shootings. Good Idea: School Board Shootings.”

In February, Larry Sharpe, the Libertarian Party’s nominee for the New York gubernatorial race, resigned from the Libertarian National Committee after the LNC failed to remove Vohra over his tirade against the age of consent.

Analysis

Libertarianism, in the past and in the present, has a racism problem. One of the premier libertarian intellectuals, Murray Rothbard, wrote in support of Klan leader David Duke’s failed candidacy for Louisiana governor in 1992. Former congressman Ron Paul’s newsletters included many heinous remarks such as calling Martin Luther King Jr. a “world-class philanderer who beat up his paramours.” There is little evidence for much libertarian activity during the civil rights era, and many libertarians are not very supportive of federal anti-discrimination laws as demonstrated in a Libertarian Party presidential debate in 2016.

Christopher Cantwell, a neo-Nazi and an attendee at the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally, explained how libertarianism justifies his attitude towards discrimination:

“In libertarian philosophy, nobody ought to be compelled to associate with anyone else. People should be free to exercise complete control over their own person and property. If blacks are committing crimes, or Jews are spreading communism, discriminating against them is the right of any property owner.”

Libertarianism is not compatible with social equality. Indeed, it may stoke racial tension and justify white supremacy more than the casual libertarian would suggest.

Written by Jon Blum

Jon is an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst studying economics. You can find more from him on Medium. Follow him Twitter @blumfest.

Jon is a Guest Contributor to Progressive Army.

2 Comments

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  1. I’m a hard line libertarian and am involved enough in the party that you might be able to call me an insider. Respectfully, I’d like to point out that there have been several motions made at the national level to remove Arvin Vohra from his seat. As they required a 2/3 majority instead of a simple majority, both failed, but the second failed more narrowly than the first, coming up just one vote short instead of four, as Vohra has gone more and more insane. Pretty much everyone who still voted against removing him after the school board comment is hated by the party membership, and we have full confidence both Vohra and anyone who refused to let him go will be ousted and replaced at the 2018 National Convention next month. I’ll be a delegate there, in fact, and I’ll be voting to replace a lot of the current leadership, most crucially Vohra.

    I would, however, like to point out that it is pretty much impossible by definition for Vohra to be a white supremacist or a bona fide racist himself, since he’s not exactly white. His comments are simply absurd and tactless, but I don’t necessarily think he’s a symptom of a “racism problem”.

    With regards to the other charges levied against the Libertarian Party, I won’t deny that Murray Rothbard is an imperfect human who drifted toward the alt-right toward the end of his life. While he may be revered as a brilliant, unorthodox economist, logician and even philosopher, I myself find that he made many mistakes even on those fronts, even if 90% of his arguments are compelling. It’s not necessarily erroneous to criticize Martin Luther King Jr. on some fronts, such as his socialistic attitude which his family generally tries to hide because it’s too divisive, but I don’t think any serious libertarian would argue that King’s primary objective — racial equality — was a worthy one. There’s also significant doubt whether Ron Paul himself even wrote or reviewed the newsletters in question. Based on how he writes and speaks today, I do sincerely doubt the newsletters’ representation of him. Neither a large libertarian movement nor the Libertarian Party even existed at all during the Civil Rights Era (the Party was established in 1971), so it’s specious to use a lack of organized action as proof of anything.

    With regards to the charge that libertarians oppose federal anti-discrimination legislation, that’s true. That does not, however, mean libertarians support arbitrary race-based or sex-based discrimination of any kind. All it means is that libertarians place private property rights and the individual’s right to freedom of association above other concerns. Libertarians by definition cannot be bigoted, because bigotry is a collective mindset and libertarianism is strictly individualistic. (This automatically rules out neo-Nazis like Christopher Cantwell from being libertarian.) But libertarians simply believe two things: freedom of association doesn’t end when you open a business, and that government should not (and cannot effectively) stamp out bigotry. If they have that authority, it’s not a hard stretch to imagine them censoring free speech by extending the definition of bigotry. In fact, the UK has demonstrated what this looks like, with the recent sentencing of that guy who taught his dog the Nazi salute, but didn’t even do anything to anyone.

    I took the time here today to comment because there is a lot of false information floating around regarding what libertarians think, largely perpetuated by edgelords like Arvin Vohra, and self-identified (but not actual) “libertarians” like Cantwell. My perspective is that if you ever succumb to any form of collective or group thinking, or if you ever start slandering or advocating for the initiation of force against people, you never were a libertarian.

    As a libertarian, I won’t deny that I’m more capitalist than you’ve likely ever thought it possible for a person to be, but behind everything I say is a great deal of philosophy, economics, and in general, contemplation and logical progression. If you’ve ever thought libertarians seemed closer to conservatives than liberals, it’s only because conservatives are superficially “capitalist”, but the philosophy is still either worlds away or absent. Conservatives hate the left more than the government, they value tradition more than liberty, and they value their own freedom more than that of those around them. Libertarians value liberty above tradition, but also above change. Libertarians value everyone’s freedom, including their own. Libertarians fight against the government, not against either the left or the right. Because in truth, there’s no such thing as left or right up here in our corner of the political spectrum. If the government is so small it can barely do anything, there’s not much room for it to be enforcing either left or right perspectives on anyone.

    If anyone made it all the way through this, thank you for hearing me out.

  2. This is inaccurate, hyperbole to spin a viewpoint rather than fact. Everything allows racism, because we cannot control how people think. We cannot even adequately control how people choose to behave, though law attempts to. Libertarianism simply suggests that no one has the right to initiate force upon anyone else. Of course people may defend themselves from initiations of force, fraud, coercion, but no one can initiate it. It’s super simple and often difficult for people to understand.

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Vice Chairperson of the Libertarian National Committee Invites Racists to Join the Libertarian Party