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The Libertarian Party (US): a political party in the United States that promotes civil liberties, non-interventionism, laissez-faire capitalism, and limiting the size and scope of government. The party was conceived in August 1971 at meetings in the home of David F. Nolan in Westminster, Colorado, and was officially formed on December 11, 1971, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The organizers of the party drew inspiration from the works and ideas of the prominent Austrian school economist, Murray Rothbard. The founding of the party was prompted in part due to concerns about the Nixon administration, the Vietnam War, conscription, and the introduction of fiat money. [Wikipedia]


Engaging Locally

Local Government is either the agent that bedevils us as a community of people, or the mechanism by which we participate in our own destiny — to serve on the many commissions formed by municipalities and counties, to engage the councils elected to oversee our cities and their works, to run for office or otherwise attempt to seize the reigns of the power of the money taken from the people by force.  A philosophical libertarian might not concern with the effects of Zoning and Public Planning, neither of which would exist in the ideal world envisioned by our ancestors. Yet they do exist, altering our neighborhoods, infrastructure of our daily travel to work… <>. 

Of late in California, we have seen how the control of our lives has shifted — a society that no longer seems to trust local politics to work, where so many new rules and laws come down from Sacramento.  We have become a one-party state where deep control of all of our municipal and county functions is being shifted by the force of political power to a central body, an almost bolshevik-style power grab, as if our communities and neighborhoods cannot be trusted themselves to have the wisdom to control even the forms our local housing and roads must take.

In coming to this series, I arrive from the strong impression that for Libertarians to become considerably more relevant in our political system, we must go beyond our philosophical roots; that is, to engage deeply with local Government as it exists today.

Importance of Neighborhood

The way this can work is from the grassroots up, to understand the issues most important to people in the most concrete sense, not from the sense of the philosopher or ideologue, but from environment and circumstance — from the sense of actual distinct lands, of people and communities trying to do right by our lives, to raise our children, to work at our jobs, to afford for ourselves the basic necessities of food, shelter, and some effective form of medicine… and also equally important, how we create the environment in which we recreate and find pleasure in living. 

In this series we will discuss and motivate concrete engagement with actual commissions, actual school boards and water, sewer, and highway districts, actual city councils, guided by core principles not actually derived by the founding of our party, but by the founding of our nation.  Liberty is not to be the sole ownership of a party, but of the whole system designed originally in the type of constitution Thomas Jefferson, in a period of great intelligence and wisdom, knew we must become.  We believe Libertarian is the original meaning of what America represents to the world, yet somehow lost along the way, at the mercy of power brokers from two desperately self-interested, and by now barely distinguishable parties.  Libertarian is a return to government of, for, and by the people.



This past summer, our SCCLP party affiliate positioned a table outdoors on Castro Street at the Mountain View Art and Wine Festival, a popular 2-day weekend event.  On the table, the literature we had accumulated over the years, for the SF Bay area, the most attractive and popular of which is always some version of this one:

For Libertarians this poster is obvious.  Oddly it tends to grab people who have heard of us only through the popular media and schools and conversations with friends.  I note this here because it is always so striking– in its simplicity it brings together a wide range of libertarian opinions, centered on our critical notions and symbols of Individual Liberty–together with the idea that individual liberty is also, as are people, a range of differences, a rainbow of many colors.


As we were sitting behind this literature table, I happened to notice a thirty-something woman of apparently southeast asian heritage standing, repeatedly casting curious but askance glances our way.  I offered her one of the chairs our activities chair Bob Goodwyn had brought for us to use, which she gratefully accepted.  Then I asked her if she knew anything about Libertarianism.  She said, “of course, you are the ones who want to take away all our benefits.”

Over the years our Santa Clara affiliate chapter has struggled with our inability to reach into the city of San Jose and know how to find traction.  This is generally a problem for libertarians, that big, heavily planned cities where every inch of horizontal and vertical space has a vast set of rules describing its allowed uses.  Big cities tend to be the last places anyone expects us to be relevant… in addition, the tendency of our groups to be, like many fringe movements, energized by activists with university degrees –  people who have tended to immigrate to the ‘suburbs’, preferring garden places like Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Los Gatos, Palo Alto, Monte Sereno, etc. over the gritty yet indefinable ‘no-there’ urbanity of San Jose.



I felt particularly motivated to take on this challenge of diving deep into the mind of the big city, as it occurs to this young woman.  In talking, she revealed that she is from San Jose, born and raised.  She described her neighborhood… glowingly she described the community center the city built there for the locals, and how often she and her children had taken advantage of the Services provided there by the City.


I leave this image here, to return to later in this series, because it is valuable thinking long and hard about how to describe libertarianism to a real-life person–a normal, typical person– and have it not seem our goal is to strip away the fundamental Services upon which she and her family has come to rely and depend.  



Consider what is the role of our version of individual liberty in creating a set of policies for the urban jungle, especially following a century of unapologetic, unmitigated heavy planning and huge expensive government projects focused upon realizing the conceptual (originally European) City construed to be the great dreams of its residents – derived from actual intent and overwhelming streams of fashion in what came to be known as Urban/Public Planning:

Urban planning, also known as town planning, city planning, regional planning, or rural planning, is a technical and political process that is focused on the development and design of land use and the ‘built’ environment, including air, water, and the infrastructure passing into and out of urban areas, such as transportation, communications, and distribution networks and their accessibility


So far so good (i.e. make the sewers work!).  But traditionally, urban planning followed a top-down approach in master planning all the way down to the physical layout of human settlements. The primary stated concern was the public welfare, which included considerations of efficiency, sanitation, protection and use of the environment, as well as effects of the master plans on the social and economic activities.  

To the Individual Libertarian, we can already feel our hackles raised.  How radical the notion that political government should be trusted top-down to form the very structure and rhythms of life for all its people!  


Again, remember the invention of Urban Planning is the 20th century speaking from the perspective of two world wars, a deep economic depression, never-ending cold wars and conflicts with the East, the inventions of airplanes and airports and other so-called mass transit–the impression that people wanted the strongest possible kinds of government is clearly imprinted in our consciousness.







In his book Municipal Libertarianism, Murray Bookchin describes the connections between what we know as citizenship in a society, and the role of politics:


Any agenda that tries to restore and amplify the classical meaning of politics and citizenship must clearly indicate what they are not, if only because of the confusion that surrounds the two words.  Politics is not ‘statecraft’…Citizens are not ‘constituents’ or ‘taxpayers’.


Politics is politics… Citizens are citizens, words are twisted in common use to come to meanings derived consciously or unconsciously to support the powers that have usurped us.  He continues:

Statecraft consists of operations that engage the state:

  • exercise of its monopoly of violence
  • control of entire regulative apparatus of society in the form of legal and ordinance-making bodies
  • governance of society by means of professional legislators, armies, police forces, bureaucracies.

Statecraft takes on a political patina when so-called ‘political parties’ attempt, in various power plays, to occupy the offices that make state policy and execute it.

Each dominant party has its roots in the state…not in the citizenry. Soviet and Nazi examples of the party qua state were the logical extension of party into state. The conventional party is hitched to the state like a garment to a mannikin.  

There is nothing authentically political about this phenomenon: it is meant precisely to contain the body politic, to control it and to manipulate it, not to express its will–or even permit it to develop a will. However varied the garment and its design may be, it is not part of the body politic– it merely drapes it.


In no sense is a conventional “political” party of the body politic or constituted by it.  Political parties are replications of the state when they are out of power and are often synonymous with the state when they are in power.  They are formed to mobilize, to command, to acquire power, to rule…inorganic as the state itself–an excrescence of society that has no real root, no responsiveness beyond the needs of faction, power, and mobilization.





Authentic Political Movements

On the other hand, Authentic Political movements, emerge out of the body politic itself. Although their programs are formulated by theorists, they also emerge from the lived experiences and traditions of the public itself:

Politics is an organic phenomenon. It is organic in the very real sense that it is the activity of a public body–a community–just as the process of flowering is an organic activity of a plant. 

Conceived as an activity, politics involves rational discourse, public empowerment, exercise of practical reason, and its realization in a shared, indeed participatory, activity.  It is the sphere of societal life beyond the family and the personal needs of the individual that still retains the intimacy, involvement, and sense of responsibility enjoyed in private arenas of life. Groups may form to advance specific political views and programs, but these views and programs are no better than their capacity to answer to the needs of an active public body.


The purpose of having a Libertarian Party is to get Liberty people elected or appointed to commissions and boards–through fund-raising and identification of strong local leaders, but equally importantly, to create a frame and a way of thinking in municipal government that naturally implements policies that maximize and celebrate Individual Liberty, rather than to always be taking it away. 

We aim to apply ourselves to the organic origins of how movements and structures for Individual Liberty can grow and prosper, creating conditions not to fight who we are today, but to reach to restore the natural system to its originally intended and proper place.  All of this in a realm of a state of California which over the past generation has grown as a cancer grows, into a centralized, top-down, top-heavy Soviet-style monoculture rooted originally in the unique strangeness of San Francisco, spinning out the the rest of the state, utterly brutish and insensitive to the types of communities most find to be far better for where we live.


Who are we?



Municipalities of Santa Clara County



Quality of Knowledge — Kinds of Knowledge of Who We Are

Friedrich Hayek

In no locale is California the monolith of a great large city our self-appointed masters in San Francisco would have it be or force it into becoming.  It is more a mosaic of many panes, each with its own color and size, each with its own unique sky, its own unique weather, its own unique people, its own unique identity.  Especially striking is our own San Francisco Bay Area, where so much depends on the penetration of fog over the mountain from the Pacific Ocean and through the Golden Gate 50 miles to the northwest.   

Each of our Bay Area municipalities is fiercely proud of its uniqueness and self-identity.  As economic enclaves, Santa Clara Valley ranges from the super-wealthy along the west side mountains, to the heavy concentration of Silicon Valley in Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara, to the rural reaches of Morgan Hill and Gilroy; in the middle, the big city of San Jose with its many different neighborhoods and 10 distinct council districts.

Silicon Valley


Hello 21st Century — Engaging With Decentralization

Layer over this the special circumstances of our times–the decentralizing innovation of the Internet and Mobile Devices, of Zoom and Youtube; the notion that where you are physically does not necessarily alter the types of work and relations we have with each other and with our institutions — at the same time that we are forced to witness a spiraling consolidation of power into a single corrupt and self-serving Democratic Party machine.

Decentralization elevates the importance of the differences in our municipal identities.  As we proceed through this exploration together with our strategies of activism and engagement with each of our municipalities, our own particular uniqueness in the South Bay, the real communities, as well as the real Silicon Valley sprawling with a constant influx of new people and a kind of growth of which few can be proud or feel at home.



Physical Environment — Watersheds of Santa Clara County




Hayek : we describe by the word “planning” the complex of interrelated decisions about the allocation of our available resources. All economic activity is in this sense planning; and in any society in which many people collaborate, this planning, whoever does it, will in some measure have to be based on knowledge which, in the first instance, is not given to the planner but to somebody else, which somehow will have to be conveyed to the planner.

The various ways in which the knowledge on which people base their plans is communicated to them is the crucial problem for any theory explaining the economic process, and the problem of what is the best way of utilizing knowledge initially dispersed among all the people is at least one of the main problems.

Ludwig von Mises

Human Action

Some types of human action:

  • Attend commission meeting
  • Comment on commission agenda, publish to the local media
  • Write position of support or dissent to local initiatives
  • Meet with commissioners or other related parties
  • Be appointed to a citizen’s commission
  • Get elected as a commissioner
  • Offer or broker a privatized version of the service
  • Engage clubs and organizations devoted to environmental and entrepreneurial support
  • Organize public readings, forums, and debate — evaluation and acquisition of legitimate local knowledge
  • Podcasting any of the above / other online dispersal




Resisting Positivism — Seeking an End To Centralized Public Planning in Santa Clara County

Public Planning (or Urban Planning), being derived from the early parts of the 20th century, has become so inculcated into our thinking and subconscious that to oppose it seems like madness — it is as natural as a tooth in our mouth.  Infrastructure!  It rolls off the tongue.  But what might have been a great idea for the Great Cities of Europe has spread globally, with nearly every Township in California calling itself a City, just so it can get in on whatever game the City has going.  However, with the exceptions of Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and San Jose, none of our townships rise to the population level to be considered Cities at all — yet every one of them has a City Council, a City Hall, etc., rather than Town Hall, Town Living, etc. (see Settlement Hierarchy).

Words matter, especially words you come to call yourself.  When residents are convinced to think of their Town as a City, a different set of structures make sense — most importantly, they begin to see themselves organized as Cities rather than Towns.  Most notably, Towns rarely see the need or benefits of Public Planning, preferring to organize organically– conversations about civic actions are face-to-face, council members are seen as just another citizen, usually taking place in a Town Hall rather than the raised dais where we are to bow down before the so-called wisdom and power of the elected.  A Town does not naturally see itself in need of Public Planning, so government changes the words and calls itself a City.  Consider this: the Town of Los Altos Hills, population 8,489, versus the City of Los Altos, population 31,625; one is perceived to be a Town of horses and barns, the other a City of boulevards and offices.

Friedrich Hayek, the great Austrian economist and philosopher that many libertarians see as a trail-blazer, points out that the issue is not whether there should be a plan or no plan, but whether there should be one plan by a single central authority, or millions of plans by the millions of people coordinating in the open market.

15 Towns and Cities


Zoning Reduction


Water Systems Decentralization




This series on Santa Clara municipalities is to highlight and organize the types of human actions and activism which we as a county affiliate have and will be engaged. We will cover the assumptions and results of our distorted systems of taxation, zoning, and regulation, to examine and act on the disorders in our statecraft arising from the hubris of history, manipulation by bad actors or misguided intentions — in hopes of building a more authentic movement and empowerment for the people of this county.



Murray Bookchin, I do not believe in “individualism”… I believe in “individual liberty”