1.) The Mises Caucus should not be the sole or central source of meaning for your life. The Mises Caucus is a vehicle for people who want to contribute in a meaningful way to the fight for liberty and perhaps want to do more than give donations, but who also have a day job, family life, etc. For some leadership members such as state leaders, regional leaders, and staff and board members, the MC will (hopefully) be a more meaningful commitment than your average member. But for all of us, the MC should be a part of a balanced range of things that gives our lives meaning, not the totality of it.
If the Mises Caucus happens to be something that has added meaning to your life when you previously felt there was something missing, that’s wonderful and we’re happy to help people find meaning in life; but we also acknowledge that there’s more to life than activism, and we encourage our members to be well-rounded people, and not totally dependent on us and our fate as an organization. If the Mises Caucus were to go down in flames tomorrow, I’d hope that you’d be at least a little sad about it (because who isn’t sad when good things die?), but I wouldn’t want your life to be ruined by it and send you into a multi-year depression, either.
2.) You should have meaningful relationships with people outside of the Mises Caucus. Our goal is not to bring people into an organization and isolate them, but to be something in their life that they can contribute to when they have the time and wherewithal, enjoy doing it, and feel as though what they are doing matters. Just like it’s perfectly fine and in fact healthy to have friends that are not libertarians, it’s the same way with this organization.
3.) Be motivated more by what you are doing than what other people are doing. It’s no secret that the Mises Caucus has had to deal with a lot of unwarranted attacks and hostility from people inside and outside of libertarianism. Sometimes, nothing helps motivate us more than people being ugly towards us for no good reason. We have absolutely no problem “monetizing our haters,” either literally or in the sense of providing an adrenaline shot to get people active. However, we are ultimately driven by our confidence in our ideas, and our intense determination to take back our liberties wherever and whenever we can. We are about more than vanquishing bad people, we are about liberating and waking up good people.
4.) Give yourself to the work, not to bad actors. Whenever you are having to deal with bad actors, whenever it is possible for you to do so, ignore them and do not seek them out. Have no time for them and their nonsense. Most of the bad people we deal with are smaller than us, not larger, so it benefits them to get our attention more than it hurts them. This only compounds as we become more numerous in the party and bad actors dwindle in influence. This might be a different story when we are dealing with political actors outside of libertarianism, but know when fighting someone is a good investment of your time and energy, and when it is a waste. Let talkers talk, Micaucs prove out in their worth in the real world where it matters most. Our most impressive members also happen to spend the least amount of time mud wrestling with fools, and that’s no coincidence. If the reader will permit me a Biblical metaphor, we are like Nehemiah restoring the walls. We will defend ourselves when we need to, but we will otherwise focus on our chief task of liberty, not our haters.
5.) Manage your expectations. Libertarianism in its current form is only about 50 years old, and Austrian economics is perhaps about 140 years old. Until only a few decades ago, you could count the number of libertarians on one hand, in a nation of over 350 million people. We did not slip into tyranny overnight, and we won’t be free overnight. Cultivate patience and low time preference. We are planting trees in whose shade we may never rest, just like our heroes that came before us like Ludwig Von Mises, Murray Rothbard, and Ron Paul. They knew what it meant to put in a lot of time into something that seemingly had no value. Understand that things happen gradually and then suddenly, more than that false perception of “overnight success”. There will be defeats and setbacks. This is normal. The question is: Are we making progress given the circumstances and given the challenges and limitations we have to deal with? If the answer is yes, and we think that it is, then we’re doing well. There are more libertarians than there have ever been, and we are poised to have far more. Our prospects have never been this good. Remember that while Nathaniel Greene “lost” every battle with the British because every one ended in a retreat that ceded the battlefield to the enemy, he inflicted embarrassingly disproportionate casualties on the British and made a mockery of them in a way the flat footed, old school George Washington never did (and the one time Washington was unorthodox- attacking on Christmas night- it was his most famous victory). This country, in its recent history, has now been defeated three times by insurgencies that perhaps never won a single battle. Not every win is or needs to be technical.
6.) Don’t let petty stuff ruin relationships. The Mises Caucus is intentionally loose in its demands on people regarding culture, lifestyle, even things like tactics, best practices, personalities, and other minutia. Try to give each other a break. Almost all of us are volunteers, and almost all of us are amateurs learning a lot as we go. We are in difficult times in the world, and people are stressed. If someone really is crossing the line into being a bad actor that’s one thing, but take a step back and ask yourself if whatever the issue is really justifies trashing a connection. Maybe it just requires backing that person off into an orbit that’s not as close, or stepping away for a bit to cool off. We may not all be best pals or understand each other sometimes, but we can still get a hell of a lot done for liberty if we shelve the small stuff and agree to join forces. The fastest way for people who don’t care for each other to develop a rapport is to accomplish a goal as a team and share that win.
7.) Stay action oriented. If you find yourself not having done anything this month- try to do even some small thing that helps us move forward. Check in at your local county affiliate, or help a state committee or state team lead get some small task done. Don’t worry about how much or how little you do, as much as not doing anything at all. Going from 0 to 1 is a big deal, going from 1 to 2 is iterative and much easier. Take Human Action!
8.) Don’t be a stranger! Part of what keeps the Mises Caucus going is our culture and comradery. Turns out libertarians don’t have to be atomistic recluses after all, and sometimes we’re even good company! As horrifying as it might sound at first, being in a room full of libertarians can be a very cool experience. It’s so uncommon for us to be in a crowd and not have all the social friction statism creates for us. If your only knowledge about what LP members are like is based on social media interactions, go to some meetings. The worst actors in the LP are rare outliers, and many of those people are total cowards who won’t dare act in person the way they do online. One of the biggest (and most encouraging) lessons I learned once I joined the LP is that it is not composed of Nick Sarwark clones. There are strong odds that if you ever encounter a jerk, they’ll be outnumbered 10 to 1 by people who are not.
9.) Don’t bring or allow others to bring heat on this organization or the LP. People are here because they wanted to do something more than strict cultural or academic work, which is political work. If you want to escalate beyond politics, we don’t want to know about it or have our name be associated with it. This is not because we are squares or pacifists. This is because the federal government is openly moving in the direction of throwing libertarians in prison, in declaring them domestic terrorists, which unironically means going to places like Guantanamo Bay or a supermax facility where there is no Bill of Rights, and they will leap upon any pretext they possibly can in order to do so. If we go to prison, it needs to be for reasons that will seem ridiculous to the public like mail fraud. If we get killed, it needs to be as ridiculous and implausible as John McAffee “committing suicide” in prison after he just got done saying he definitely is not suicidal. What we are trying to do is roughly what people like Ghandi tried to do. Ghandi was not a fan of Indians being disarmed, but he also didn’t use violence. We are HARDLY disarmed, but we are not going to choose violence. That’s our path. Please respect it.
10.) Be dangerous, be in control of yourself, and keep your eyes open. Be mentally prepared to be attacked politically, and be equally prepared to take people out politically. We are engaged in a political mission. Politics is “war by other means”, it is not a sport. Sportsmanship is actually of some use, but is not the most powerful rule in this environment. The Mises Caucus has traditionally behaved in a sportsmanlike manner: We follow the rules, we generally stick to the spirit of the rules, we prefer elections and referenda to procedural shenanigans, we treat other people how we want to be treated, we don’t go after people who haven’t gone after us first. There is real value in that, if for no other reason than to avoid becoming what we despise. However, we should not be blind. Vanquishing people is a part of politics. The way it is done is through institutional processes like voting, procedure, lawsuits, straight up corruption if you know you won’t be held accountable, etc. There’s no doubt that there is a time to get rid of someone politically and not be squeamish about it. There are also times where people will try to vanquish YOU. In the world of politics, there is no tradition, culture, social more, philosophy, bylaw, or anything else, that matters more than power- the ability to somehow carry out your will. Those other things do matter, but they are all subordinate to pure mechanical power. If someone has the mechanical power to do X, at least plan for it to happen, however unlikely. That doesn’t mean you need to openly treat people like they are all terrible schemers, because most people aren’t. You do need to be able to anticipate that people will be willing to violate all of those things to retain and perpetuate their power or that of their allies, because some absolutely will. We have seen keynote speakers canceled over stupid interpersonal drama with the most pathetic of excuses; we have seen the former Chair manipulate events in an attempt to orchestrate being paid $75/hr, as well as openly lie to the entire delegation about the terms of a hotel contract, as well as obfuscate arranging a physical convention; we have seen another former Chair facilitate an affiliate being stolen, including acts of grand larceny; we have seen affiliate leadership dust off 30 year old bylaws designed to stop statist takeovers to stop obvious libertarians from participating in convention business. You can survive and even capitalize on stabs you anticipate; it’s the ones you can’t see coming or react quickly and properly to that kill you politically. This is the dark and uncomfortable side of politics, because it requires you to anticipate the worst in people; but if you accept it, understand it, and anticipate it as a fact of politics, you will fall victim to it less, be stressed out by it less, and have to engage in less of it yourself.