However, here in New Zealand we have the interesting situation of the former leader of the Libertarianz, Objectivist Lindsay Perigo, on Tuesday taking the quite unprecedented step of calling for the violent overthrow of the presiding government, a coalition of several parties dominated by the Labour Party. Comparing the situation to the American War of Independence, he said:
"...the time for mere marches is past...It is the right and duty of New Zealand citizens to throw off this government, which has long evinced a desire—nay, a compulsion—to subjugate us to absolute despotism. We should not wait for the 2008 election...New Zealanders must now ask themselves if they are a free people—and if so, are they prepared to act accordingly? Which is to say, are they prepared forcibly to evict all tyranny-mongers from their positions of power?"In a followup comment, "So, now to overthrow!" Perigo continues:
"Private feedback this evening indicates overwhelming acceptance that the time has come...Everything from this point until Showtime must of necessity be clandestine..."He then seems to try to soften his original position with some of his trademark outre humour, before returning to his theme:
"All right, I'm getting flippant already. Seriously, don't fret at the absence of progress reports. Needs must that this project go underground. But help is on the way."One commenter described himself as "shocked" yet applauded Perigo's stand, to which Perigo replied "Bravo to you! At least you took in its import. And yes, this is where we've got to..."
This is the first time in my recollection that the former leader of a longstanding political party has called for the overthrow by force of a sitting government. The issue that has apparently brought him to make these threats is the Electoral Finance Bill, a controversial attempt to stop anonymous election funding that is currently before Parliament. The bill appears flawed in many ways; but does not appear to be serious enough a threat to free speech to require revolutionary action.
Should we take this sort of literal call to arms seriously? Probably not. These days Perigo seems to largely act as a figurehead in the Objectivist/Libertarian movement, issuing various provocative pronouncements and leaving others to do the organizational donkey work behind the scenes. The Libertarianz themselves, while composed of some highly competent and intelligent people, also do not have much of a reputation for organizational prowess, and have struggled to gain political traction. A former media personality, Perigo's star has fallen significantly over the past decade or more since leaving employment in the state-run Television New Zealand. His naturally contrarian tendencies have made him an interesting figure in the political landscape, but other than sporadic fill-in media gigs, inflammatory web posts and a short run in a student newspaper column, his actual output has reduced to a trickle. How seriously he is taken in Objectivist circles is also uncertain.
It is most likely that this is either a simple cri de coeur, to be quietly regretted in the cold light of day, or a kind of publicity stunt intended to re-ignite media interest in his views. The danger, however, in these sorts of things lies not so much with Perigo himself, but more with some of the figures on the fringes of these movements who perhaps might take calls for some kind of "Showtime" more seriously than their author may have intended.
At any rate, I will email Bernard Darnton, current leader of the Libertarianz, for a reaction to these statements.
UPDATE: Perigo has now deleted his later "So, now to overthrow!" comment. However, I had archived it, and will put up a link to it later.