Former Libertarian Party presidential candidate Austin Petersen discusses the shadowy groups and individuals who helped contribute to the demise of the Tea Party movement.

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Austin Petersen is the chief executive officer of Stonegait LLC, a for-profit consulting firm specializing in photo and video services. Stonegait also provides social media advice, political campaign expertise and grassroots organizing strategies to candidates for office or to brands looking for more exposure. Petersen is the editor in chief of The Libertarian Republic news magazine, one of the most read political news sites in the United States. He also hosts The Freedom Report podcast, which has 30,000 daily listeners. Petersen is the former Director of Production at FreedomWorks and was an Associate Producer for Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show, “Freedom Watch” on the Fox Business Network. Petersen built Judge Napolitano’s social networks boasting over 600,000 fans and millions of clicks a month. His work has appeared in Getty, Reuters, the LA Times, NBC and Time Magazine. He is also a frequent contributor on television appearing on Russia Today and on dozens of local radio shows. Austin grew up on a farm in the Midwest in a town called Peculiar, Missouri. Graduating from Missouri State University with a degree in the Fine Arts, Petersen moved to New York City after graduation to a pursue a career in media.


  • I am very curious, there is no legitimate libertarian movement in the UK. The closest there is to that is the eurosceptic crowd (which all of us fall under anyway), which isn’t libertarian anyway, due to the majority of eurosceptics being statists. Are there just too few of us in the UK to create a movement? Or are we all just hiding in the proverbial closet about our love of liberty? The silence from the UK compared to the US regarding liberty is so deafening, there seems to be nobody from the UK that is bringing attention to the evils of statism and promoting liberty, libertarian ethics, the NAP, anarcho-capitalism, etc. and I want to change that, so how do we go about this? Edit: And I’m not talking about a political movement, or a libertarian party. There is no dialogue whatsoever in the UK about these issues, and I think we need to deal with that.

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  • There is a growing prevalence of ideals antithetical to liberty in this sub and across the globe. In lockstep correlation, the observation that Anarcho- Capitalism is failing as a movement is also growing. Many have voiced this concern outright and still more keep it too themselves as a quiet unease. The internal and external signals are too numerous to list and their brazen reality rings out that Anarcho Capitalism will not grow into a mass movement. I think that this realization is both true and necessary for the creation of a free society. For a truly free society can not come to fruition through a mass movement. Liberty will not have a May Day, CNT revolution, or Independence Day. This is because individual liberty can not be diluted to create a mass movement since it’s end goal is to gain in popularity until it hits a critical mass or score a decisive victory where it can impose an ideal on others. All movements are centralized under a leader who will inevitably lead the collective to tyranny. A successful mass movement is therefore opposed to freedom. In his book The True Believer Eric Hoffer discusses the nature for a movements and I highly recommend giving it a look. (Shout out to Academy of Ideas for providing excellent video essays!) The intellectuals who lay out the doctrine must only convince a small minority of True Believers who take the reigns. These early adopters must bastardize and mutate the ideals in presentation to the discontented masses to unify their hatred against a devil. The principles are interchangeable and can be contradictory since it is the hatred of a unifying enemy that fuels the masses not the principles. The danger, as seen throughout history, is that hatred manifests into fanaticism who’s faith condones terrible acts of violence. These terrible acts only perpetuate the fanaticism, both for the actors and the faithful observer. When contradictions arise the fanatics imagine justifications for violence in order to avoid condemning their faith. Even an ideal as pure as peace and liberty can be forgotten when the hatred of fanatics move into action. If libertarianism becomes a mass movement, it is just as vulnerable to use violence as the bloody revolutions throughout history. The price of fanaticism is the destruction of principle. Often libertarians will praise a leader such as Ron Paul or Gary Johnson to deliver everyone to the promise land. However a leader exists to unify and collectivize. Giving a podium to a Ron Paul or Gary Johnson definitely spreads the message of liberty but there is a difference between the orator and the leader. The orator is the intellectual who lays out the principles and ideals, while a unifying leader inspires a collective. The orator aims for principle while the leader chases power. A leader and true believers must muddy the message of the intellectuals in order to connect with the opinions that outsiders already hold. Through the podium or propaganda a leader does not convince converts to become more principled or change their ideology. Eric Hoffer writes, “propaganda on its own cannot force its way into unwilling minds; neither can it inculcate something wholly new; nor can it keep people persuaded once they have ceased to believe. It penetrates only into minds already open, and rather than instill opinion it articulates and justifies opinions already present in the minds of its recipients. The gifted propagandist brings to a boil ideas and passions already simmering in the minds of his hearers. He echoes their innermost feelings. Where opinion is not coerced, people can be made to believe only in what they already know”. This is how you get Gary Johnson misrepresenting Libertarianism on CNN and why some condone his actions because “it could grow the movement”. This will only lead to further erosion of principles and result in the same capitulation to tyranny we have today. What use then do we have for a leader if the principles that lead to a freer society are cast aside? A mass movement is centralization; incompatible with liberty. Therefore creating an AnCap Movement should not be a goal, nor is its subsistence as a movement a sign that Anarcho Capitalism itself is falling away. I think that true liberty can only exist in the post political realm, decentralized interpersonal connections that render the state irrelevant. So even when I see clashing of ideals antithetical to liberty on reddit and elsewhere I take solace in knowing that even if their voices seem to drown out others, they do not dictate my path in creating freedom where I stand.

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  • I am a dance teacher with a lot experience and expertise in the field, and I find myself constantly surrounded by children who have no discipline, motivation, focus, or attention span to dig in and learn. It seems to me that the problem is bad diet, bad parenting, and I run into a brick wall not knowing what to do.  Is it reasonable to think that I, having most of the dance students for 1 or 2 hours per week, can have any effect on their development of intellect and physical intelligence? Can I really do anything about it, or should I just take whatever I can get and hope they decide to want to learn a skill sometime in the future?   I hope this isn’t too vague, I just would like advice on how to spur interest, especially in a subject that is extremely hard to learn.  Dance takes years and years of practice and focused attention to master, and even then the constantly shifting and developing body changes the course, presenting ever more new challenges.  How do you get the child to appreciate the journey?

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  • I kept you in mind when I made this recording. I am speaking to you as a muse, not as a leader. I hope to inspire you. I have been with Students For Liberty for three years. But this time I need my liberty community more than ever. If you’re able, I am asking for your help. I am currently the co-founder & curator of the Ama-gi Magazine. Despite its enormous growth and popularity last year, I am afraid many of its supporters have graduated. Our standard partner organizations have denied help and replied their mission is not for art. I think all of our missions are for art. Economically speaking, the publication itself costs nothing. Any participator gains a high reward including publicity, platform, street cred, and the purest high of an aesthetic connection. The demand is large and in evidence of last year. It is within our liberty community. But the lack of interest this fall signaled to me a silent sign of rejection – my beautiful mistake. The blossoming of Arizonan conference was a huge smack in the face. It *snap* wiped away my apathy. My voice returned reciting Rand: “Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all….” How could I forget? I remembered why Art is compatible with our mission. I remembered Art is the flame we must save from perishing. Art is within Students For Liberty, but as I did, it easy to forget it. This temporary lapse in passion unsheathed the monster separating Ama-gi Magazine with artistic libertarians. There are costs associated with being an artist that I didn’t realize. I am not sure why. Could be because artists are producers. There is a commitment to bring ideas to reality when one is an artist. Possibly stereotypes like impoverished, hermits, egoistical, elitist, relativist, unhappy, pseudo-intellectual, or mentally deranged. Or being an artist is costly because they do not have technique or equipment or schooling even though the age of the internet provides apps, training videos, and a laptop equipped with a plethora of tools for production. I am not here to make sense of excuses since I side with Henry Moore: “To be an artist is to believe in life.” Whatever the reason, these costs all stem from mental blocks, not a legitimate resource issue. Someone says, “I love x – RAP, painting, doodling, photography, fashion, flash animation.” I’ll respond with – “Yes, I think you’re creative” or “You ought to create x since you enjoy it so much.” Or “This piece is so amazing, please share it.” “Oh, I am not creative,” they say. “I can’t. I am not an artist,” they say, “No one will like it. It’s not good enough,” they say. “I am not creative. I don’t do art, I like science instead,” they say, as if the two are not compatible. People get cold feet and decide: it is better to consume than to create. Consuming different media and exploring artists is a component for imagination, but I argue it is not the crux. As Ray Bradbury best said, “We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over.” Sometimes we do tip over. We know how to ruin a Tea Party. We splash on any argument defending disempowerment of the individual, yet the outlook that most individuals don’t believe they can create art is a huge disempowerment to our movement. Art is the forefront to liberation. Take Oscar Wilde for example, gay man in the socially oppressive 1800s, he knew: “Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.” Our peers are petrified to express the philosophy of liberty. What a waste of time that we use only words to share our voluntaryst outlook! What a loss of morale! Especially when it implies some people have a ‘place’ they must remain confined. If this was true, it means something superstitious; some individuals are born as artists, and they possess creativity and others don’t. It is the same argument for large government regimes that some individuals deserve to have political power because they are better at deciding for other people than others are for themselves. Why regurgitate the same economic arguments of Hayek & Rothbard? It doesn’t add any value. Why not show someone how the works of Friedman & Bastiat twisted your perceptions? If we want to attract free-thinking individuals to libertarianism, then wouldn’t it be better if our arguments ask our audience to interpret the information for themselves? To achieve intellectual diversity for Libertarians mustn’t we push beyond the frames of politics and show its compatibility with many facets of civilization? Jeffrey Tucker expressed a similar concept that, “Politics is often just like academia… a kind of follow-up indicator to other forces in life itself…It’s not a leader in society, and in many ways it’s a follower.” Let me clarify myself, we are not short on talent. Our activism cuts the charades of party lines, and sincerely asks, “Why do you think the way you do?” We are movement of intellectual sincerity. I truly believe SFL survives and thrives as an organization because we care about our relationships to each other, our opponents, and our spheres of influence. I care about people exercising their ability to be open and risky and artistic. To not create because of feeling insecure or bland or unoriginal depresses me. I had to say something. Again, I am asking you for help in showing the brilliance of your peers. Create something. Show what you believe and why it liberates you. Continue the sincerity through the aesthetic realm, so our narratives towards a liberty life have a richer history and memorabilia for our culture to cherish. How can you support the Ama-gi? So many unimaginable ways. “The reason that art (writing, engaging, and all of it) is valuable is precisely why I can’t tell you how to do it. If there were a map, there’d be no art, because art is the act of navigating without a map.” ~Seth Godin But first thing first, challenge your artistic personality. Submit anything you may believe is artistic and originally you. This may include: homemade videos, flyers, photography, music, painting, speeches, documentary activism, SFL fashion, plays, stories, REALLY ANYTHING. How else to contribute to the Ama-gi: · Create art: share what is your emotional experience, your personal narrative with freedom · Let others know if you work is published in the magazine · Support the artists and in closet artists in your community – people are terrified of rejection and rather avoid instances that require presentation. o Encourage individuals to publish and share their art. Knowledge sharing is crucial to maintain passion, inspiration for new directions, and vision. Empower them with confidence that their creations deserve recognition · Vive voce: tell anyone that inspires you that you can provide them with a platform. This is important for our model of inclusion that artists of different ideologies have a voice in our community. This supports us and expands our conceptions of freedom. Last but not least, advice from E.B. White “Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.” Thank you for listening. As a gift, I give you this message hoping to inspire you. I wanted you to know there is an undreamed-of art already dormant in your mind and I have built a convenient location for you to put it in. Thank you.

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