Returning Libertarianism to its Proper Place: The Current Fight for Socialism within the U.S. Libertarian Party

Colin Jenkins | Politics & Government | Interview | February 13, 2019

The following is an email interview with Matt Kuehnel and Dane Posner, two members of the Libertarian-Socialist Caucus (LSC) of the Libertarian Party. The interview took place over the course of a few months, between December 2018 and February 2019. The LSC may be contacted and followed on Facebook and Twitter. If interested in learning more or interacting, the LSC welcomes prospective members to participate in their discussion group on Facebook.

Colin Jenkins: Please tell us a little about yourselves, your personal political paths/evolution, and about the Libertarian Socialist Caucus of the Libertarian Party?

Matt Kuehnel: Born and raised in Macomb County, Michigan, home of the Reagan Democrats, I'm 35, he/him, skilled trade worker, former candidate for Michigan's State House of Representatives and currently organizing a committee to run for mayor of my home town of Warren, MI.

Bordering Detroit, Macomb County is a mix of rural and suburban communities that has shaped it to be a thermometer on the electoral pulse of America. I was raised in the upper middle-class city of Sterling Heights, but found myself attracted to the realness of the more poverty-stricken southern communities and people. The suburbs, to me, was fake people living fake lives trying to put on their best show for each other, to appear well-adjusted and successful.

My first awareness and resentment of authority was school. I got into drugs and vandalism, bounced around schools, and by senior year I dropped out. I then attended an alternative school and got my diploma. Started my professional career in food service, then CNC machining, residential construction for almost a decade, got my associate degree at age 32 for HVAC (heating and cooling), and I've been doing commercial maintenance for 4 years now.

My political beginnings were largely shaped by my middle-class parents who are Reagan Democrats, now Trump supporters. My first presidential vote was for Bush's second term, then I voted for Obama his first term, and it was then I became disenfranchised with the two parties following Obama's betrayal re-signing the Patriot Act his first week in office. I found the Tea Party, expected revolt. I showed up to the first rally in camo, masked up, with a sign that said, "eat the rich, burn the banks." This was a preclude to me finding the Libertarian Party, where I have an upbringing that should connect me with these conservative middle-class white people, but I reject the identity and advocate for those forgotten, or often vilified, by the suburbanites. I'm able to communicate and be heard, but my priorities and ideals are radically different. I realized that what I was doing was confronting toxic ideas in their safe space. In a way, I see it as de-platforming, challenging them on their own turf. I now consider myself a libertarian, a socialist, and a communist, and I'll use those terms interchangeably. I see ideology weaponized often, treated as religion, and for that reason I refuse to proclaim myself as a specific sect of socialist. I believe all revolutionary ideas hold value, some more than others, but ideology without praxis is nothing more than debate.

Dane Posner : My name is Dane Posner, currently 26 years of age. I've considered myself an anarchist since I first discovered punk rock towards the end of elementary school. Of course, I didn't understand most of the subject matter at the time, but as I transitioned into adolescence, I felt I could certainly relate to the alienating feeling of distrust of authority espoused in those lyrics - especially faced with the assertion from my so-called "superiors" that as a youth, I was discouraged from questioning this hierarchical relationship, as if my elders were somehow infallible. All the while, I was spoon-fed heaps of imperialist propaganda from American textbooks, telling me that everything our government did was for "the greater good", regardless of the human rights violations we committed in the name of "freedom", "liberty" and "justice for all".

I abstained from involvement in the electoral process until around 2015-2016, though I had paid attention to political matters for quite some time before that. I supported Ron Paul in 2012 from hearing his anti-war rhetoric, along with his rhetoric about the importance of personal civil liberties, but I didn't want to get involved with the Republican Party, and I saw how the corporate media controlled the narrative in the first place. During the 2015-2016 primary season, I discovered the same sort of corporate propaganda unleashed upon the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. Of course, it all made sense, as the rhetoric he espoused was fundamentally at-odds with the corporate agenda. I finally learned firsthand that the two-party system was not at all concerned with democracy, liberty, or the people's best interests. I had registered as a Democrat to vote for Bernie Sanders during the 2016 primaries, then traveled from Houston to Philadelphia to protest the dog-and-pony show that was the 2016 "Democratic" National Convention. I immediately "Dem-exited" following that farcical event in which the more unpopular candidate somehow "won" the party's nomination, then proudly voted for Dr. Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka in the 2016 General Election.

I had long identified as an anarchist, and throughout my teen years, as a libertarian, though I was definitely turned off by some of the poor-shaming rhetoric I had heard from that crowd, coming from a background of poverty myself. In early 2018, I learned about a "socialist infiltration" of the Libertarian Party. That certainly piqued my interest, as I had long-identified as "left-leaning." but didn't quite adopt the "socialist" label until late 2015. I had read Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's famous work What is Property sometime during intermediate school, and as I learned more about the Libertarian Socialist Caucus of the Libertarian Party, I was able to draw parallels between that text (in which Proudhon famously declared "Property is theft!") and the phrase "libertarian-socialism". "Finally!" I thought to myself, "a label that I can truly identify with!" I started reading more works by the likes of anarcho-communist Peter Kropotkin and communalist Murray Bookchin and got more and more involved with the so-called "commies" in the Libertarian Party. Finally, I decided to travel to New Orleans to attend the 2018 Libertarian National Convention, to support self-proclaimed "an-com" (anarcho-communist) Matt Kuehnel, who was running for Libertarian National Committee Chair, along with other members of the LSC-LP who were running for various offices within the Libertarian Party (infamous stripper James Weeks for LNC Vice-Chair and Povertarian Caucus founder/LGBT-rights activist Mike Shipley for LP "At-Large"). Unfortunately, no members of the LSC-LP were elected to any offices within the LP, however our very presence there sent shockwaves throughout the Libertarian Party. I personally caught quite a bit of attention by flying and donning the famous red & black anarcho-syndicalist flag of the Spanish Revolution as a cape on the Convention floor. To many of the capitalists' ire, we made it known that the socialists were there to stay.

CJ: Historically and logically speaking, "libertarian socialism" is essentially anarchism - with its primary focus on eliminating coercive, hierarchical structures from both capitalism and the state. Thus, to many anarchists, it is a redundant term. But the redundancy has become necessary in the U.S. due to the capitalist cooptation of the term "libertarian." So, being in the U.S., I suspect you've received a lot of confused responses from folks (the "socialism is anything the government does" lot) thinking "libertarian socialism" is an oxymoron. As well as from those who incorrectly label anarchism as a right-wing ideology. How do you respond to this?

MK: It depends on who I'm addressing. When I hear "libertarian socialism is an oxymoron" from someone who genuinely doesn't understand, I do my best to educate patiently. I understand that the right wing has hijacked the term libertarianism in the US. They did this purposefully and they considered it a victory. When I encounter a right-wing libertarian who proclaims the ideas an oxymoron, I attack, I ridicule, I make an example of them. It exposes the ignorance and hypocrisy of US libertarianism. They are proud of being anti-authority, often posturing against each other as the "most-libertarian" libertarian. This competition to be anti-authoritarian makes them easily manipulated by those of us that oppose authority not just by the state, but in all human interaction. I did learn their ideologies, I learned their language and ideas, and it makes me a formidable opponent in debate.

DP: We encourage those individuals to read up on the origins of libertarian thought, by citing the writings of early anarchist thinkers such as Joseph Dejacque, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Peter Kropotkin, Emma Goldman, Errico Malatesta, etc., as they all predate the works of American libertarian thinkers such as Murray Rothbard and Milton Friedman.

CJ: Touching on the term "libertarian" some more, leftists are often more aware of the rich history of left-libertarianism than others, especially in the U.S., where the term has become bastardized. This history includes the "first socialist schism" that occurred within the First International, where the Bakunin and Marx camps had their differences, leading to the expulsion of Bakunin and his brand of anarchist socialism. It's found in Dejacque, an anarchist communist who is known for the original use of the term "libertarian" in 1857; and in Kropotkin's subsequent work that cemented the philosophical basis for anarcho-communism as a formidable socialist current.

Do you have an educational component that focuses on this history? Or do you take the approach of avoiding too much "dead white-guy theory" (something that's becoming more popular alongside attempts to "decolonize" anarchism and political education in general)?

DP: We try to frame the history of libertarianism not only in the context of its linguistic origins in 19th-century Europe, but also within the context of natural society, as espoused in Peter Kropotkin's work Mutual Aid or Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. Libertarianism is the natural state of being. Non-hierarchical collectives have existed throughout human history, far predating any capitalist or proto-capitalist system such as feudalism. Of course, "libertarian-socialism" is a large umbrella term representing various philosophies ranging from anarcho-communism to mutualism or individualist anarchism. Ownership of the individual product of labor is the basis for this socio-economic philosophy, which can then be applied in various ways, either through voluntary distribution, or self-sustainability. Sometimes we frame it in terms of the Marxist doctrine, "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs," however our disagreements with Marx, in conjunction with Bakunin, stem from the methods used to achieve such a goal. We as Libertarians reject the initiation of force to achieve social or political goals, however we do view economic exploitation as an act of aggression, often backed up by theft-funded state force. This is why we argue that private ownership of the means of production, or the protection of absentee private property, cannot exist without a state or state-like entity.

MK: I honestly try to avoid being overly philosophical these days. Ideals are, by definition, unrealistic. I appreciate philosophy and theory, I think it does have a place in educating. Especially when defending the caucus's presence in the party, it's essential to combat their ideals because it's a party that prides itself on theory and purity. It can be persuasive when dealing with other nerds who read theory, but it's kinda useless with the general population. In my public interactions, I try to keep things simple, focus on policy where the most common ground can be found. It's hard enough to get people over apathetic tendencies of feeling helpless, let alone sell them on the idea that we can have some perfect, specific theory. Anything man makes will be imperfect, and expecting to get a whole community or whole nation to adapt and organize a perfect government is naive. I focus on immediate needs, immediate solutions, and that's where I find the most success.

CJ: Tell us about your experiences thus far within the Libertarian Party. How are you being received overall? Tell us about some of the debates and relationships that have formed with USAmerican libertarians within the party.

MK: I joined the party in 2016 to support Gary Johnson. Being a former Reagan Democrat, he was the perfect centrist to me at the time. He was the compromise candidate, he won my trust on a personal level, and I was raised to judge the person's character more than their politics. Immediately, I realized how small and disorganized the party was. Macomb County is one of the largest counties in Michigan, and the local affiliate was comprised of two elderly couples and a young guy who was their secretary. They were supporting Trump. Me and others had to create a new affiliate and ended up absolving the other affiliate and being recognized as the official Libertarians of Macomb County. It was exciting, because it was a bunch of us younger, new activists just finding our way through the political process. The bonds I formed locally have been what had kept me in the party despite the pushback I've received.

I had no idea of theory prior to the LP. It was there that I was exposed to anarchist philosophy and it started my journey. Originally, I was fighting with the anarchists for supporting Gary Johnson, then I was fighting the "pragmatists" when I took to anarcho-capitalism. Then, I found mutualism and started questioning and challenging capitalist rhetoric. I just kept reading, learning, and drifting further and further left, slowly losing most of my friends and allies in the party. I ran for their national chair position in 2018, the first ever open communist to run for that position to my knowledge. I had enough support at that time to get enough tokens at the national convention for my chair race to make the debates. I don't think I have that 5% support anymore. The Audacious Caucus was where most of my support was, and they are a radical anarchist caucus. Many of the original LSC members were from that caucus. When I received the dual nomination from the Socialist Party of Michigan, an affiliate of SPUSA, for my state representative race in 2018, I lost a lot of that support. I took on more pragmatic positions, and that caused backlash. It also exposed the anti-communist beliefs many of the LSC members hold, referring to things as "authoritarian socialism" and "state communism." which I find to be oxymoronic. It's now been a fight for me within the caucus, to defend against anti-communism and capitalist sympathies. I'm still in the party, still in the caucus, but it's a fight for solidarity and understanding of fellow socialists.

DP: While it has certainly been an uphill battle educating the right-wing Libertarians on libertarianism's leftist roots long predating the Libertarian Party, we have found many left-libertarians who have been waiting for an organization such as ours to spring up for quite some time. The Libertarian Socialist Caucus has only existed since August of 2017, but we've been making waves ever since! At the 2018 Libertarian National Convention in New Orleans, I even got thrice-elected Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark to admit to me in a room full of capitalists that American capitalists stole the word "libertarian" from the likes of individuals like Proudhon and Bakunin - though to not completely ruin his reputation, he did add "but it's ours now," (as is the capitalist way). "True" libertarians don't believe in intellectual property rights, but it's the principle behind the right's attempted erasure of history that irks me.

CJ: What do you view as the main problems with the U.S. version of libertarianism?

DP: The emphasis on private property rights is fundamentally at odds with opposition to a theft-funded state. The way I see it, a "private security company" is not much different from a gang of police officers, perhaps besides how they receive their funding. I support the right to defend one's own personal property by any means necessary, or the right to collectively organize to defend common property, but the ultimate goal, of course, is to ensure that the basic needs of all individuals are met. "If liberty does not exist for all, then liberty does not exist at all." - Benjamin Dryke, LSC-LP member, former State House candidate for Michigan's 36th District and presidential candidate seeking the Libertarian Party's nomination in 2020. We share many common goals with right-Libertarians, such as dismantling the surveillance state, police state, ending the drug war, decriminalizing all non-violent offenses such as sex work, etc., however we feel that many of them are a bit misguided when it comes to our ideas of what a post-state world might look like. Personally, I would rather live in a unified community in which all necessities are readily available to all than a land of unnecessary competition and constant struggle for land rights and access to other natural resources.

MK: Shaming the poor and idolizing the rich is by far the biggest issue. Racism and sexism is also rampant and largely accepted in the party. Social Darwinism is a common theme. The right has done an excellent job forming an ideology based on ideals of morality that justify the most immoral ideas. The party attracted me for their anti-war and anti-police-state stances. Finding opposition to civil rights was the first eye opener for me. Then discovering how stances such as abolishing public education and welfare would have the greatest impact on marginalized people helped snap me out of the dogma I had originally bought into. I think most just don't recognize this, but some are fully aware and proud that they would be operating and depriving marginalized people. There is a very real libertarian-to-alt-right pipeline. The LSC has put a fork in the pipeline, diverting at least some newcomers to the left.

CJ: The left in the U.S. is known for sectarianism. One of the main wedges is that between anarchists and so-called "tankies" (Communists, Marxist-Leninists, Maoists, etc). This wedge is often described as "libertarian" vs. "authoritarian," something that represents a vulgar interpretation, but nonetheless prevails. What are your views on this particular split? What are your experiences working with "tankies"? How do you view sectarianism in general?

MK: I mentioned before, ideology gets weaponized and treated as religion. I find it so toxic. I have comrades throughout organizations like SPUSA, IWW, and the DSA. Prioritizing ideology over things like racism, misogyny, transphobia, ableist, etc., causes unnecessary division. So much stems from confusion, propaganda, and just the general combativeness of politics. That's why I prefer to focus on realistic reform and direct action, where the most common ground is found across ideologies. Even among the LP, that's where I can connect with many people. I like to say that I'm for working class solidarity, not left unity. In practice, we could all be socialists, creating a new and unique application of the ideals without following a specific ideology just through solidarity with our neighbors. I think ensuring organizing spaces are safe and inclusive is the most important factor in exclusion, not purity and conformity of philosophy.

DP: The roots of our disagreements tend to stem from what we interpret to be the most viable methods of achieving our idea of a classless, stateless, non-hierarchical society. The libertarian-left feels that the abolition of involuntary hierarchy cannot be achieved by replacing one hierarchy with another, especially through violent means. That said, we are willing to work with anyone who shares our common goals of dismantling the classist and racist institutions such as the police state that prevent us from living the way we choose.

CJ: A section of your Statement of Principles reads: "We concur that imposed communism would be the most detestable tyranny that the human mind could conceive, and free and voluntary communism is ironical if one has not the right and the possibility to live in a different regime, collectivist, mutualist, individualist - as one wishes, always on condition that there is no oppression or exploitation of others."

I anticipate that many leftists would view this as problematic for a number of reasons, the most obvious to me being the insinuation that a classless society where the means of production are owned and operated in common could be imposed on anyone? As if people would not want more control over our lives. In other words, contrary to capitalist propaganda, a true communist society seems perfectly in line with that of liberty ("the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political views.") Can you explain the thought process behind including this section and what it means to you? Have you received any negative feedback from it?

MK: There is a struggle of tactics and goals within the LSC. My tactics are that of agitation, my goal would be to fill and usurp the party with actual leftists. Others believe it better to blend in and persuade current membership to accept our presence with the goal of creating an anti-state coalition. The platform was created democratically, and there's very few obstacles to becoming a voting member, although roadblocks are being created to combat a supposed "tankie takeover." The most active members are those that were already party members, so they not only hold less than socialist views, they also have bonds and alliances with party members that they are afraid to lose. I honestly loathe this language, and the idea of pandering to anti-communism to appease capitalists is one I am constantly fighting against. I prefer to appeal to actual socialists, and I would encourage leftists to join and help me combat the right, but I can't in good faith without being honest about what you're getting into - a horribly toxic party and a caucus where we have to combat toxicity in our own space. That's politics, though. A large part of my activism is just showing how easy it is to participate. There's elitism for sure, but, for the most part, all you need to do is show up and speak up. It takes away the feeling of powerlessness we've been accustomed to with politics. I'm able to be an open communist in the Libertarian Party; and the Party, as well as the caucus, cannot figure out a way to get rid of me. That's all we need to improve - good people showing up and speaking up, and we should do this in every party, organization, union, etc.

DP : The working class has never fully owned the means of production under any so-called "socialist" or "communist" regime. Socialism, as we define it, means "worker ownership of the means of production and products of labor", whereas communism is a "classless, stateless society in which the means of production and products of labor are commonly-owned". State ownership of the means of production and products of labor is not by any means the same thing as worker ownership.

As long as involuntary hierarchies exist, neither socialism nor communism has been achieved, in my view.

CJ: A section of your Platform that stood out to me reads, "We reject attempts to do away with the violent state's 'crutches' for the most marginalized and at-risk among us, while still maintaining its 'teeth,' and we seek abolition now of its most violent and oppressive elements." Can you elaborate on this a little?

MK: This is a plank I fought for, and it's meant to allow for incrementalism and pragmatism. If you took the philosophies encompassed in what we call libertarian-socialism and applied them strictly, in that the state should not exist, it could lead you to support anything from repealing the Civil Rights Act to public schools. It is my belief that we cannot operate with this mindset, because it feeds into the already oppressive conditions for the biggest victims of state and capitalist oppression. The proletariat must have their needs met in order to be able to fight. The caucus and philosophical ideal are equal distribution through mutual aid networks, but those should come first and eliminate the need for govt assistance programs. Otherwise, it's a social Darwinist 'sink or swim' mentality until inequality is addressed and eliminated. So, the biggest intersects that we share, not only with current party members but also the general population, is the major structures that uphold oppression by the state. By those, I'm referring to the imperialist military industrial complex, the prison industrial complex, the pharmaceutical industrial complex, corruption, and pollution. These big problems are staring us straight in the face and a good 50% of the population can immediately find themselves in agreement against them. Those are where the greatest number of victims are created, where the largest amount of protection and tools for oppression by the capitalist class are found. I think there should be MORE assistance given, like Medicare for All, until these large systems are eliminated, making equality possible. And that's kinda the point of this plank, allowing members to reject idealism for pragmatism.

DP: Militarized police forces serve as a theft-funded tool of oppression and nothing more. The police serve to protect the property of the "haves", oftimes at the expense of the "have-nots" - that is to say, they exist to protect the possessions of the rich at the expense of the working class, who pay more taxes in proportion to their income than their wealthy fellow citizens (through sales taxes, rent, etc.).

CJ: Staying on this topic regarding the Welfare State and mutual aid, your platform reads, "We reject the offensive and paternalistic premise that ordinary people of modest means are unable to run their own lives and need government to 'help' them. Thus, we reject the coercive redistribution of wealth and call for the voluntarily mutualization of the welfare state through a compassionate transition to voluntary, community-based mutual aid networks."

Can you tell us what you mean by "the coercive redistribution of wealth" and how this transition from welfare state to "voluntary, community-based mutual aid networks" would take place and what it would look like?

MK: The "coercive redistribution of wealth" is opposing systems imposed by states to direct resource allocations. It's basically saying 'taxation is theft' in leftist terms. This plank may accurately describe ideals, and a big part of why it's included is to be cannon fodder against right libertarians when they call us "statists". How we transition from a state tax system to voluntary cooperation can be answered in so many ways by so many people. Many in the caucus would envision a stateless free market of competition allowing socialist market practices to outcompete capitalist modes of production rendering capitalist businesses few or obsolete. Others might say that capitalist modes of production are inherently aggressive and worthy of defensive action, essentially outlawing them through a collective rejection, boycott, strike, or insurrection making wealth redistribution unnecessary following the transfer of the means of production into the hands of the working class. An example of what a voluntary system would look like might be like GoFundMe or UNICEF. Organizations of people collectively and voluntarily working towards shared commonwealth, justice, and relief. Ultimately, this plank and others are shared ideals but not necessarily with uniform solutions, tactics, and ideas of how to achieve them or what they might look like.

DP: We believe that without a state, the legal claims to absentee private property will become null and void. It is a shared view amongst most libertarian-socialists that natural resources, as they exist without the additions of human labor, cannot be legitimately claimed or protected without the use or threat of force, however we feel that instead of fighting over these resources, it would be far more beneficial to the community as a whole to voluntarily share these resources amongst ourselves to ease the suffering of all of our fellow humans. Most of us advocate a push towards a post-scarcity world, in which all goods are available to all people free of charge. The innovations of technology in the modern age have pushed us closer than ever to achieving such a world, however, we feel that the state, on behalf of those who claim the most capital, has hindered the human race from achieving that goal. Modern technology has significantly diminished the demand and necessity for human labor, and has made mass food production a possibility, which could ultimately end world hunger, even without leaving a huge carbon footprint (by incorporating green technology and diverting away from the use of fossil fuels). Even healthcare could ultimately be provided to all people with little to no human labor required, however our ideal for the current day and age is a transition to worker-owned healthcare cooperatives through the systematic dismantlement of corporation and state, which currently exists to accumulate profit at the expense of the sick, disabled, and those in pain.

CJ: You mention the 'free market' a few times in your platform and even refer to the free market as "a cornerstone of a free and prosperous society." You also call for an end to "the government enforcement of capitalist property laws and exploitative financial systems" in this vision. Can you elaborate on this? What would your version of a free market look like, as opposed to the capitalist version?

MK: In the libsoc (libertarian-socialist) understanding, the term 'market' is economically agnostic. In a market, you might have some elements of capitalism, some of socialism, and maybe ones we haven't thought of yet. A free market is one absent of restrictions, especially imposed by a state, self-regulated by its natural forces and conscious actors. Some believe that by simply eliminating the state, and thusly the structures that defend and uphold capitalist norms, capitalism would not be possible, especially at the current level. Not all libsoc's are communist, and therefore we are not in full agreement that markets should exist. I'm in favor of abolishing markets altogether, as markets are inherently competitive. I prefer communist ideals of cooperation. Putting ideals into practice, my state rep position included abolishing private property. The way I would describe that in practice as a state rep, is that I would support any measure to give a worker more control over their labor, an individual more control over their possessions, and a community more control over their resources. I'm running for mayor of Warren this year on the platform of banning evictions. This means having our city courts refuse to process, approve of, and aid in evictions as another way to address the destructive nature of private property and offer a solution to strip the owning class of power over our means of shelter.

DP: What we view as a "free market" is a system of trade free of involuntary hierarchy, i.e. government and corporate intervention. "Free market socialism" is not an oxymoron, by the definitions I used earlier. We believe that the individual owns that which they individually produce, and if a collective of individuals decides to collaborate to increase production and productivity, then they should most certainly have the right to do so. This, we feel, is the essence of a truly free market. The complications come when we start figuring out how to trade with entities that exist on a hierarchical, for-profit system, however many basic needs can be met through localization. How is it that humanity was able to thrive in the Americas for millennia, prior to European colonization?

CJ: Under the Labor section of your platform you state, "the exploitation and control of labor, slavery, both direct and indirect, has been the single greatest violation of the liberty of individuals throughout history. We oppose this violation." Can you talk a little bit about this point and tell us what role you believe capitalism has played here?

DP : Income inequality has long been a problem throughout American history, even prior to our declaration of national sovereignty at the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783. It should not be ignored that this nation was built on the backs of slaves and other involuntary laborers such as indentured servants, who had no real choice but to labor for so-called "lords of the land" for the "opportunity" to survive in colonial America. But by what right does man claim dominion over another, either through direct coercion or deprivation of vital resources?

Private property rights in America were claimed through the initiation of force in the form of genocide against the mostly peaceful indigenous peoples of this land. This harsh reality cannot be ignored, regardless of the fact that it is was the past. The enslavement and forced assimilation of indigenous peoples, both in the Americas and Africa, built this country from the ground up. Private property rights were claimed through systemic violence, and passed down from generation to generation. That is how we got to where we are today. The so-called "Founders" of this country, according to our history textbooks, were a union of wealthy, white male landowners, who for the most part inherited their own wealth from generations past. At the founding of our country, many fortunes were made through the systemic exploitation of involuntary labor, maintained through the use of force and the threat of death. Even following the executive order of President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, which allegedly freed the slaves, and the bloody battles fought between the Union and Confederacy during the US Civil War, black and brown men and women struggled for well over a century to be recognized as equal beings who deserved the same rights to land and resources as their Caucasian counterparts. To this very day, there is a blatantly stark contrast between the economic conditions of whites and non-whites. While it is true that white people exist in poverty, per capita, black and brown individuals make up a far larger proportion of the lower economic classes. This does not denote a difference in productivity between races - rather, this is the manufactured design of the American capitalist system. When private ownership of the means of production can be claimed by European colonizers through the use of force and passed down for generations, while depriving non-whites of their rights and subjecting them to forced labor for the accumulation of individual personal wealth, it cannot come as a surprise that the current socioeconomic racial divides exist as they do.

MK: This is an attempt to articulate wage theft, along with any other forms of exploitation of labor. The LP is very much into the idea of things being voluntary, so almost everything gets analyzed in the lens of consent. I don't always like when things that aren't slavery get called slavery, because it minimizes the atrocities committed through chattel slavery, but it's common on the left to consider capitalist exploitation as wage slavery. You're forced to participate, it's coerced consent to surrender portions of your labor to your boss. This becomes a big talking point against what right Libertarians will call voluntary.

CJ: I appreciate what you all are doing and for taking part in this interview. I think your efforts are an important part of the socialist revival we are witnessing in the U.S. That being said, what are your short-term and long-term goals for this Caucus? Where do you see this movement in another few years?

MK: Short term is just to have a presence in the party. Just being there, despite being largely outnumbered, has had a huge effect. What I would love to see long term is a full takeover of the LP, and it would be so easy if people would just show up locally. Most counties don't have affiliates, most affiliate can't even break double digit attendance to their monthly meetings. The national convention had less than 1000 delegates. It is completely possible for the left to swallow up the LP by 2020, but I just don't see the interest in it yet. Even myself, I'm losing interest and prioritizing my non-partisan mayor run and considering running as a Democrat in 2020, assuming I lose the 2019 mayoral race. I'm glad the caucus exists, flaws and all. I'm proud of my involvement and the work we've collectively done. I think taking over the party would be a symbolic and significant victory, but just having the caucus exist is a victory in itself for leftist ideals. The LP is a great place to start your activism, to learn political processes, to practice public speaking, but I find all third parties ultimately ineffective to getting elected. My goal originally wasn't to get elected, but just use the platform to advance my ideals. I've since evolved, I enjoy being a public speaker and giving a voice to those who previously had none. There's often fights between reform and revolution. I support both, but, until a revolution is actualized, people need relief and reform can provide that. I would say my future in the caucus and the LP is undecided, but regardless I hope that the caucus continues to grow, takes on more true socialist tendencies, and continues to challenge and disrupt the LP.

DP: We hope to provide the anti-authoritarian left an outlet for sharing their ideas for achieving our common goal of a world set free. Though we exist as a relatively small organization within a minor political party, our focus is not solely on electoral politics. We encourage direct action, as a more "pragmatic" means of achieving this goal. We hope to build our organization up to include like-minded individuals from various walks of life; a multiracial, multicultural amalgamation of free spirits - like a modern-day "Rainbow Coalition" - working towards the liberation of all people, through peaceful and voluntary means. We want to unify as one resounding, echoing voice that cannot be ignored by the masses currently distracted by the farce and fraud of the bipartisan false dichotomy known as our so-called "two-party system," which ultimately exists to serve the same capitalist masters. We hope to establish voluntary cooperatives all across the nation that can end our communities' dependence on the oppressive institutions that govern our daily lives, forcing us to depend on them or face incarceration for the crimes of free movement and challenging the status quo. We hope to become a force to be reckoned with that expands far beyond the electoral system, that could ultimately change the world for the better by achieving liberty for all in a world truly set free. Our goal will certainly not be easy to achieve, but what have we got to lose besides our chains? Give me liberty or give me death!