A libertarian political party can be created by changing one simple rule in the institution of a democratic party – each share of membership in the party is a form of property, and any single member can own as many shares as he desires, purchase or sell his shares, and exercise the right of selecting candidates in proportion to his share of the party.
A political party works by creating a brand identity. An election is almost always a contest between a known (the incumbent) and an unknown (the challengers). The unknown have no track records, hence they must persuade the electorate that they are preferable to the “devil you know” by either having experience in a previous political office, or showing adherence and submission to a larger known group (the political party).
In most modern democratic republics power was consolidated immediately by two or more political parties holding an equilibrium. This makes them radically different in nature from classical democratic republics, where power was exercised in person by the individuals who appeared in the assembly. In modern republics the political parties exercise power and do it out of self-interest, the primary self-interest being the survival of the party. This makes them ideologically ambiguous, politically opportunistic organizations. The politicians who are elected to executive office thanks to the party are also self-interested, and will always put their own self-interest ahead of that of the party; their incumbent advantage means that they will always run for re-election, no matter how little of the party’s interests they defended in their previous term, and they will wait until a complete calamity in an election before resigning and allowing another politician to be chosen to rebuild the brand.
The choice to replace the leader is then made by an egalitarian vote of party members. The battling candidates attempt to sell the most member cards to the party in order to garner supporters for the fateful vote, where each party member owns and casts one single vote. This makes the party’s policy agency basely egalitarian. Potential politicians must make egalitarian promises to their own party before making egalitarian promises to the general electorate in order to win office.
The result of such a process is obvious to all: professional politicians are experts at maneuvering egalitarian systems, but have no qualities, talents, morals, vision or will to achieve anything else but easy re-election. Those politicians who are ambitious enough to desire a higher office will become experts at egalitarian redistribution, taking wealth from the taxpayers to give to their supporters and using this as their track record in order to gain higher office.
The problem facing libertarians is thus: all of these institutions are destructive of wealth and state and promote gradual de-civilization until total collapse. A system for the defense of property rights and taxpayer wealth is needed. This requires the creation of a very special kind of political party.
As Hoppe makes clear, the fundamental flaw in the democratic system is the absence of ownership. No one is ever truly in control of the office or state, and one’s stake on the system is never greater than anyone else’s, leading to extremely short time horizons along with general irresponsibility. The same is true for the mini-democracy of a political party. The first solution to the problem of a property party is therefore to ensure that members of the party own their share of the party, much as one owns shares in a corporation. This has the following immediate benefits:
- Wealthier individuals can exercise more authority within the party, and can be encouraged to engage in politics indirectly even though they lack the rhetorical skills to win an election. Because most of the party’s shares will be concentrated in the hands of a few natural elites, candidates for office will be chosen much more carefully, with the intent not only to win the election but also to properly manage the duties of office once elected.
- Because party shares have an exchange value, economic calculation of the party’s capital can unfold, and the party can raise campaign funds by issuing more shares. (Existing members find their shares diluted unless they continue to contribute to the party’s campaign fund.)
- The party continues to exercise authority over elected officers, which cannot use the state’s resources to pack the party with egalitarian supporters, and facing a challenge at the next election if they do not tightly conform to the party’s program.
- Those politicians who pursue a political career within the party remain employees of the party, and rise in office by better serving the party’s agenda until they achieve the highest office, where they must be incentivized to obey the party by offering them future ownership of shares as a bonus. (Much like a corporate CEO is rewarded for guiding the corporation to greater wealth.)
The party’s board of directors must therefore carefully manage the brand value of the party by selecting the right candidates to run in the election, directing the resources necessary to see these candidates elected rationally, and raising more resources when a new office is to be taken by the party. These new offices need not be in the same political region as the previous office – what counts is that the brand is known as trustworthy enough to overthrow the incumbent. The Property Party is therefore a truly international political force, and once its power equals or surpasses that of any state, it becomes the foundation for the First Distributed Republic.