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Ralph Swanson's Last Article: Our Libertarian Future

Posted on February 1, 2013 at 11:25 AM


'There's Work to Do!'--So says LIO Honorary Chair emeritus Colonel Dr. Ralph Swanson, here online at LIO HQ in 2011 with world Libertarians and LIO fans. Swanson was retired from US intelligence where he debriefed fascist prisoners, aided in the creation of the UN Rights Declaration and www.liberal-international.org , and co-founded the Florida Libertarians with MG starting 1969.


See also: https://www.facebook.com/notes/libertarian-international-organization/our-libertarian-future-there-is-work-to-do/293008820742263  


I’m delighted to write this overview for the Costa Rican and other world Libertarian youth. I so enjoyed trips in past years to these lovely, important countries. By absorbing best practices in the US to not repeat errors, Costa Rica is setting an example. I hope this article is inspirational, and I’ve added useful key resources. Pages have been formatted in PDF to make handouts for each subject, and feel free to link and translate!




Understanding International Libertarianism…




Modern Libertarianism is a world movement for betterment through rights-based voluntary, and preferably open and non-authoritarian, solutions. In recent decades there’s been great focus on voluntary solutions in public administration and law. The LIO operates as core network of senior and local activists in every area of betterment who help drive, improve, and inspire activity, both short- and long-term. After starting with a few people in a few countries by the early 1970’s, by 2005 the modern Libertarian-interested groups were in every country and many territories. Massive changes in public orientation we drove (even the US tested in 1970 some 40% Fascist and 5% Libertarian-receptive, now the figures are more like 10/30) opened society and reversed the decline towards tyrannical political systems, though obviously there is plenty to do in addressing abuses while raising peer-to-peer awareness of the many wonderful voluntary options and tools from co-operatives to markets to free universities to new forms of social encounter and entrepreneurship.




International sites that drive and rally world interest:



>the LIO (www.Libertarian-International.org ) showcases inspirational and instructive Libertarian-Liberal leadership, and has started a book club/community building project with translations to come in major languages.



>Other groups with vast world resources, low-cost international conferences, and student information and organizing: www.fee.org, www.ISIL.org, http://studentsforliberty.org/college/groups/



>…and in the free market/basic freedoms think-tank area, www.mises.org www.cato.org and http://atlasnetwork.org/global-network-directory/ have many valuable Libertarian-interest resources in many languages . Libertarians are working more every day as a joint global force on e.g. immigration, cultural diversity, family abuses, free trade, and peace.



In the (I paraphrase) words of a senior official (to me) of the Democratic Party USA: “We’re realizing that whatever our plans, if we don’t include voluntary options Libertarians will derail those plans, and very often have some excellent points on why those plans will self-destruct. And Libertarians have some very good options to start us all thinking. Any legislator who doesn’t consult Libertarianism will be in future decades seen as an incompetent. They’re a constituency for rights and choice.”



In understanding Libertarianism, never confuse it with its applications—limited, small or no government; mini-archism, socialism, anarcho-whatever, or other forms of organization; etc. All work for someone!--and the key is to understand they are tools for what is voluntary, proactive and rights-aware, and non-punitive.



In the words of a great Libertarian: “…so long as it is voluntary.”



Rise of Modern Libertarianism…my perspective...


Liberalism (reduction of government/official abuses and more rights) and Libertarianism (development of local voluntary based community and eventual general social attitudes, guided by pledged Libertarians) work together and always have been so intended. I’m the last survivor of key meetings and initiative projects of the last 70 years for both of these. Myself a youth participant at first, I note our movement always aggressively welcomed bright youth. Leaders have set the example. I was first startled into the movement when, after working for civil rights in as a teen in 1939, the young LIO co-ordinator Paul Gilson appeared at my door step and pledged me ( the pledge is one’s commitment to support rights and voluntary solutions); his son, Michael Gilson-De Lemos at 15 swore in the first pledges according to his outline platform essentially adopted by Libertarian groups; and his son has, at 17, been in several public offices and leads a project to promote Libertarians in public administration and community leadership. The USLP, UK Libertarian Alliance and Red Libertaria of Spain were begun around the early 1970’s by teenagers and young people. In Costa Rica many young activists were involved.



So if you're young or old—welcome. In improvement of public administration, key items have been:



>The Liberal Paris-Oxford Process. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford_Manifesto ) I inter-acted with H. G. Wells and many others to bring about the UN Rights Charter and with my friends Salvador Madariaga and G. Ferraro in what’s today the Liberal International (www.liberal-international.org and see: http://www.liberal-international.org/editorial.asp?ia_id=1117 ) and Alliance of Democrats. ( http://www.allianceofdemocrats.org/ ), and visioning the critical Sister-City programs that puts foreign policy in the hands of individual citizens: http://www.sister-cities.org/ (Libertarians are encouraged to participate courteously in all groups, such as the IDU and global Greens). These are increasingly informed by Libertarian-direction think tanks around the world. Libertarians focus on transparency, localism, and direct democracy for rights, including ballot access with low barriers, and coalition dialogue such as the World Democracy NGO’s like: http://www.wmd.org/ critical in many developing countries.



>The Libertarian Program & Pledge Initiative: This began in 1970 for voluntary solutions of each UN right with Lib think tanks, parties and networks in each country. Key: Think-tanks in many countries, and spreading the concept of voluntarism through activist networks. In coming years we will see new parties and non-partisan groups of interested officials in every country, along with book-action clubs and more!



>The Best Practice Projects: In 2000 LIO with other groups began review to assist Libertarian-direction parties and groups worldwide (Besides the Libertarian Program project, see the many RESOURCES at our sites and those we portal). Libertarian management consultants began promoting self-certification and bottom-up & best-practice open management via groups such as www.ISO.org and http://www.idea.int/ Libertarians would like to see 3 rights-focused parties/groups in each jurisdiction: at least one centrist Liberal-Libertarian directional one to promote core rights (the ACT NZ, USLP, Costa Rica LP, and more Lib-oriented Swiss FDP, Norway Progress, and UK Liberal Democrats have much to study and admire); a non-parliamentary and citizen initiative “hard Libertarian” or program-focused one ( the Transnational Radicals and former Irish Progressive Democrats are a good example) ; and a local-based dialogue team of non-partisan officials on LIO suggested issues.



Goal: Libertarian-Liberal parties or non-partisan public administration mentor projects in every nation.





Lib Youth go worldwide…


Even as I wrote this in Summer 2011 a major US newspaper, USAToday, carried an article on how parents should react to questions by their Libertarian youth! Lib Youth are essential to the process. In recent years there’re new efforts championed by US or Latin youth, who enjoy resources we only dreamed (try organizing with expensive postal rates and calls to neighboring cities treated as long-distance, no literature sources, and spending half your time fending off extremist and organized crime spies in your group ):


>Late USLP lead founder David Nolan noted: it always begins with the youth. What is different today is that a new generation is on the move that views Libertarian tools as normalized and the logical start point… this is increasingly influencing the older groups such as: http://iflry.org/ Recently, again, the continental newspaper USA Today ran a piece on how parents should address their youngster’s enthusiasm for Libertarianism!


>Students for Liberty has started college teams and gone worldwide…


>LIO initiatives such as the Activist Facebooks, co-edited by young Libertarians, as bases for dynamic world activists sharing projects…


Some suggestions--


>In cultural change know your type: People are basically thinkers, doers or networkers, and so prefer discussion, immediate action, or development. Working with LIO and ISIL, Libertarians there set up respective think tanks, parties, and a variety of networking projects so people could better divide labor; and have had great success with concrete best practice goals: moving a bit every year towards 20 + people in public office per million population; monthly outreach to schools and similar events; and win lists.


>USE the wealth of Libertarian infrastructure and successes to adapt that simply did not exist a generation ago and took a generation of work to build: Books, think tanks, and Libertarian-helped changes such as cell phones and the web so people work as a global team. In outreach, don’t re-invent the wheel: use what is there and point people to the examples.



Libertarian Future: Success, Challenges…


If you wish to see Libertarian/Libertarian-inspired successes—typically the result of Libertarians piloting projects, citizen diplomacy, or rights coalitions to end legal blocks-- look around you. The PC, cell phones, and web; global move for democracy of low tax rates; the fall of Communist, Latin and now mid-East dictators...are just some of the things Libertarians have helped create through encouraging coalitions, futurist conferences, and grueling action to remove blocking laws. One challenge in coming years is to document our successes, invite people to get involved, and provide a ‘safe space’ --Key:



>Libertarianism begins at home: There’s no point praising rights if you have no self-regard, abuse your family, or act like a financial idiot. Many books by Libertarians can really help: My favorites are the Art of Selfishness (Seabury); Breaking Free (Branden); Harry Browne’s financial books.


>Libertarianism is primarily non-political: Libertarianism is about justice and self-empowerment. Most Libertarian books deal with personal finances, relationships, tools such as home schooling and more. Live Libertarianism now, and to this end we have a link at LIO site with regular new items on futurist themes called SMILE: voluntary ap[proaches in space, sea and garden earth democratic communities, machine servants/management tools, life extension, empowering Libertarian community. . .


>Don’t neglect simple informational or appointive work: If you’re organizing a Libertarian political effort, in most countries the majority of public offices are non-partisan elective or 95% appointive advisory. This is where change occurs.


Also, as your group advances…



>Build networks starting with the top 2%: Where can they be found? Not just networks of professionals such as educators, doctors, or attorneys; but bright people at science fiction, collectors, futurist, and activist groups.


>Don’t under or over expect: Get away from the rhetoric of promoting small or limited government. Say: “We present voluntary solutions proven or promising, and encourage dialogue and experimentation.” If in a community per 1 million, you get 1-2 people in public office, grow in your d-base every year with 1%-5% are doing projects, you’re doing great.


>Above all, don’t believe the voices of hate or a false ‘libertarianism’ that attacks others or democracy with the excuse that liberty is being destroyed. The XXth century under Liberals and Libertarians saw world triumph of freedom and responsive governance. We’re now making continuous improvement normal with a simple message:


Libertarianism in brief? “With voluntary alternatives, things improve!”. ..


We’re a process, not an event. We protect the free process and expand it so people can come to personal and often very different solutions in a peaceful way...Where to begin? Job #1: Discover the free web tools. Use or adapt the free or low-cost tools on-web to get started: If you get familiar, read or use the tools; have a card or bumper-sticker on your vehicle; and hand out items like the quiz every week to people you meet, you’ll be doing the job. I guarantee this: You’ll discover empowering ideas, and amazing and fun people working worldwide for betterment.



You’re Part of Something Noble…


Libertarianism did not begin over a cup of coffee this morning. It is a received and disciplined approach to betterment. Its leaders think in terms of both centuries and immediate improvement. Libertarianism is a tool that alone consciously champions rights for all; harmless behavior as technology and culture permit to embryo, animal, and foreigner; encourages non-punitive solutions, the end of prisons and penalties, above all using voluntary tools to prevent and not react to the problem: Prosperous economies, an end to poverty, bringing knowledge to all, and more. It defends the defenseless and humbles the bully with wisdom and foresight.



While modern Libertarianism is a few decades old, it is solidly part of a long process reaching back to the anarchistic communities of ancient Greek philosophers, the wisdom of Taoism, and tribal lore.



It is noble because it asks you to encourage the noble. There is a wonderful statement by Thomas Moore (I paraphrase) that summarizes the mind set: I harm none, I think harm for none, and wish well for all. I have always kept in mind how Jefferson explained the Liberal goal of cultural tolerance and good governance by a world confederacy of town-hall, localist direct democracies of informed citizens with universal franchise, jury common and secular law, of liberal education. Our novel contribution is to re-affirm that these may take any economic form; to present rights to voluntary solutions in each area of public administration to empower all in every land; to start a small but growing world corps of citizens pledged to encourage betterment with better rights via voluntary, proactive, non-punitive solutions as core civic guardians, resources, and guides.



In the words of Dr. Randall Holcombe, former chief economic advisor to the Governor of Florida: “We’re winning by helping people win.”



The freedom of the world has progressed enormously. Ills from official racism to fascism to ill-functioning markets due to legally induced consumer ignorance are on the retreat. The moral revolution of the Libertarian pledge among community leaders and general conversancy with voluntary Libertarian solutions are the great tools of additional and continual improvement. If you see something that needs improving, saying “I’m an LIO supporter” and getting familiar with tools and what similar people do that work for your situation is all you need to start—because seeing something you can resolve is the universe’s way of saying the solution is you.




What do you wish to do? Better your knowledge, your home, or your workplace? Share a personal or social entrepreneurship project? Address stupid and backfiring official measures effectively? Share the good word? Get in appointive/non-partisan public office? Find self-empowering tools? Meet great people?



My only regret is I will not witness the enormous advances ahead. True, we have many ignorant critics. We do not serve the critics. We have many distorters and enemies. One by one they become our supporters. When things get crazy, never whine but remember: there is work to do.





Dr. Ralph Swanson first participated in the Libertarian International Organization, then the League, in 1939 and at the nomination of H. G. Wells an LIO advisor, then was chief advisor for many years. Co-founding and chairing US state & national parties, he was instrumental in the creation as well of the modern Liberal & Civil Rights movement. He computerized the first Libertarian state, national and world d-bases. He remains interested in local affairs as a Libertarian and resource for world Libertarians. This article began as a joint article with the late David Nolan and John Hospers, and was adapted for Costa Rica & Latin American Libertarian youth published in Summer 2011. A slightly updated version is published here.










http://www.libertarianbookclub.org /




There you’ll find a structured reading program we created and additional items in different languages users recommend—along with these key tools for organization:




> The standard USLP Platform (a canonical LIO redaction with readings approved by Mr. Nolan is forthcoming) outlines the Libertarian system of improvement and explicates the Libertarian pledge. It was personally championed and overseen by originary authors M. Gilson-De Lemos, Dr. Hospers, and T. Nathan as part of an international project to summarize the best starting guide points for Libertarian-direction coalition legislation based on activist experience in the coherent Libertarian public administration system. A short 1 page “Executive Summary” for public officials, candidates and citizen-educators is at the front. This is intended as simultaneously a great program, learning, and coalition building tool; the body, while short compared to most party platforms, is not meant for candidate platforms except as an idea guide; a short 4-line candidate platform will be included in the LIO edition.



>A strategic toolkit incorporating goals and proven ideas for continuing group or party growth was created by over 1000 US and world activists for general guidance: The LIO over the next few years is setting up support projects for these goals and missions to build Libertarian/SMILE-interested community in each major city and college, free and accessible to all.



>Standard start-up readings in many languages including the book for all ages “Jonathan Gullible” and the “Liberty Flash” are linked as well as a growing/approved set of reading lists to start with many free e-books.






>Libertarian groups are adapting into their own languages the Quiz-both how-to and award programs at www.TheAdvocates.org and http://libertarianawards.com/winners/2007-2 (Yes, that’s me, and I did it in a wheelchair; here is one to columnist Jason Pye, so believe me, anyone can do it and find the time: http://www.jasonpye.com/2011/06/lights-of-liberty-award/ ). These are powerful and low-cost tools. Please share your work product with them and everyone else.



>Please adapt and translate this summary to hand out to new people as a discussion guide. Send us a photo-link of your activity via the LIO Facebook!



>Finally, if there is one great piece of advice, NEVER assume Libertarians aren’t doing it in some form, it’s just theory, or it can’t be done. Chances are, what Libertarian scholars are saying is already a few years old—keep alert to what is happening by staying in touch with activists and social entrepreneurs.






Note: The following was published by LIO Friends and Latin groups in 2011. Delayed LIO 2013 publication to 2015.


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