Essay:Infighting in libertarian organizations

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There have been many examples of infighting in libertarian organizations. Some of these instances involved disagreements over policy goals or over means of achieving those goals.

Insurgencies and civil wars

Since some libertarian organizations have attracted prestige, members, funds, etc., control over the organization can be an important issue. In 2012, there were a struggle between Charles Koch and others for control over the Cato Institute.[1] Some leaders of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws engaged in legal wrangling for control of the organization during the "NORML civil war" which stemmed from a 1994 vote by teleconference to dissolve the board.[2] In 2012, there was conflict over attempts to oust Paul Kuhn from the board.[3] The conflict between anarchists and minarchists in the U.S. Libertarian Party led to the final demise of the Dallas Accord in 2008, following the Portland Massacre of 2006, in which most of the platform was gutted.[4]


Schisms occur when organizations split, with the various factions going their separate ways. A classic reason for such schisms is that a radical faction favors adhering strictly to principle by promoting major reforms, while a more moderate faction favors watering down the agenda to appeal to the mainstream. An example was the split between Americans for a Society Free from Age Restrictions and the National Youth Rights Assocation. Another example was the breaking away of radical libertarians from the U.S. Libertarian Party to form the Boston Tea Party.

Marijuana Policy Project split from NORML following disputes between staff member Rob Kampia and the NORML director who fired him, Richard Cowan. After historic cannabis-legalizing Amendment 64's passage, Kampia remarked, "The team that drafted the initiative went out of its way to solicit feedback from key lawyers, medical-marijuana industry players, other organizational leaders, and unaffiliated activists. As a result, there was almost no infighting, which allowed us to build a strong coalition of support across the state."[5]