As someone who had never attended Liberty Fest-this was its third iteration, as the banner onto which the shadow of radio and television personality Lionel is projected indicates-I didn’t come into the event with any preconceived ideas or expectations. Even though I had been to events organized around similar principles, an eight hour-long seminar/concert/bull session on where the liberty movement is headed is something that has to be experienced in real-time. While Porcfest is the Woodstock of an unplanned, voluntaristic economy envisioned by libertarians, Libertyfest is a strange amalgam of a national political convention-only with speakers who have genuine philosophical disagreements and, for the most part, some degree of intellectual integrity-a bazaar run by individuals who value not only the outcomes but also the ethics of capitalism, and a Lollapalooza sans headliners whose presence necessitates highly paid entourages and absurd backstage riders.
As with any convention, tables were set aside for organizations and individuals selling things. The most popular item being the message of freedom, as Jordan Page might sing. The Ron Paul-inspired Campaign for Liberty, a fixture on the liberty circuit, was pushing its message of political action.
As was the Manhattan Libertarian Party, whose table was manned by borough chairman Ron Moore. Regardless of your feelings towards the LP as an effective change agent, Ron has to be commended for his unwavering dedication to libertarianism, a devotion attested to by his lengthy conversations with anarcho-capitalists-some of whom, it must be disclosed, are personal friends-throughout the day. Although this is purely speculative on my part, I liken it to the dialogue that must have occurred between Christopher Columbus’s Spaniards and the Arawaks about the nature of faith.
One of the fascinating byproducts of the Ron Paul campaign is the effort to monetize intangible concepts like self governance and anarchism. In addition to fashion accessories-including some cleverly designed buttons sold some by my friend Jacqueline-there were other artistic and musical creations by people whose beliefs don’t quite sync with the mindset of the creative class. One of the tables at Liberty Fest sold copies of the Silver Circle Movie, which is a film/comic dramatization whose plot revolves around a clash between central bankers and advocates of an alternative currency, a fictionalized critique of the Federal Reserve system denounced so consistently and eloquently by Ron Paul.
An important element of Liberty Fest was music, which bracketed the first two-thirds of the speaker’s roster. Tracy Diaz of Liberty Chat belted out an amazing rendition of a Jewel classic, which doubled as a barbed commentary on Ron Paul’s former campaign manager, who is considered by many to be a Benedict Arnold of sorts, stripped of the historic traitor’s military valor in defense of country. His strategy of having the candidate downplay his foreign policy views, as others have noted, did not meet with much electoral success. He did, however, benefit handsomely when cashing out of the campaign. That said, Tracy’s singing-her first public performance in over a decade and a half-proved that beauty can be excavated from even something as odious as Jesse Benton.
I was not as impressed with the hip hop portion of the evening. Perhaps I’m spoiled by growing up in an era when Video Music Box actually aired music-videos worth watching, but the appeal of contemporary rap artists has waned considerably, especially since there are still some old school rappers creating powerfully creative works. None of the “underground” hip hop artists left an especially resonant impression on the audience, including the duo who evoked images of Insane Clown Posse every time they shouted the refrain WHAT ABOUT MARS into their microphones. Indeed. What about Mars?
That said, the headline musical performers were exceptional, including Tatiana Moroz, who did an amazing cover of a Bob Dylan classic, as well as original material, and Jordan Page, who added some rock star credibility to the cast of musicians with an eight minute-long guitar riff.
Gigi Bowman of Liberty Candidates needs to be credited with assembling a compelling slate of speakers-more about them in a future post-and musicians, as well as a space where-whatever its demerits-a bunch of libertarians could argue for eight consecutive hours. After all, it’s the idea of freedom that matters. That, and proving everyone else wrong.