by Jeff Wood
In 1931, in downtown Lansing, Earl Little died in a mysterious incident which was officially ruled a “streetcar accident.” His wife, Louise, was denied a life insurance claim because the company alleged he had “committed suicide.” They couldn’t prove it, but the Little family knew the truth. It hadn’t been an accident, or a suicide. Earl Little was murdered by The Black Legion, a white supremacist offshoot of the KKK. Seven years later Louise Little was admitted to the Kalamazoo State Hospital, apparently after suffering a “nervous breakdown.” She wasn’t released for 25 years.
It seems quite natural that their son Malcolm, left effectively orphaned by racists and the state at the age of thirteen, would grow up to be angry. He was angry about his personal history. He was angry about the discrimination his people were facing. He was angry about the hypocrisy of his own organization’s leadership. He was not, however, angry about his own anger, because he realized the strength it gave him. He recognized that anger could provide the impetus for change.
“Anger is a gift” -Malcolm X
Tragically he was assassinated before seeing the changes brought about by the movement he helped start. The anger that he had instilled in his followers in life was only amplified by the rage brought about by his death. In the wake of his loss, his cause finally found the strength to rise to the occasion.
Now, half a century after his death, the people of Michigan are once again suffering under oppression. The Black Legion no longer stalks the streets of Lansing, and the dark oubliette of the state mental hospital has been replaced by a more modern building, but the oppression we face is no less real. We face the oppression of a government that no longer cares about the will of the people.
In May of this year the people of this state sent a resounding message to our government, a message that we reject their proposal to hike taxes in order to pay for their frivolous public works projects. Unfortunately, our legislature’s response has been to move forward with a tax increase, willfully ignoring the demands of its constituents.
This is not the first time our government has betrayed us, and it will not be the last. As long as people continue believing in its right to rule over us, rather than rising up in indignant outrage, it will betray us with impunity. Why? Because it can. Because if we don’t have the strength of will to demand change, the bureaucracy has no motivation to grant it.
The larger an organization is, the harder it is to change. This is what makes challenging the state such a monumental task, but at the same time it is what makes the Libertarian Party a legitimate threat. We are adaptable, we are quick to respond, we can seize an opportunity and exploit it before our opponents are even aware of it.
Many members of the Libertarian Party of Michigan have taken umbrage at my attempts to drag our party into the 21st century. Many members have resisted my attempts to change our party’s course. Many thought we were doing just fine without all these radicals and anarchists mucking things up. To those people I would ask, what do you have to show for it? After 40 years of begging the system for inclusion, where do we stand?
I say we stop electing hypocritical leaders who want to bring about liberty by imposing a strict and authoritarian hierarchy on our own party. I say we stop trying to recruit from our competition, and start appealing to their marginalized children. I say we stop urging our fellow Libertarians to be moderate, and start radicalizing the populace. I say let’s evolve, let the chips fall where they may.
I know that this message will make many people angry. You’re welcome. Because if you’re not angry yet, then you haven’t been paying attention, or you’ve become inured, or you’ve grown hopelessly dependant upon the system. You’re going to need to be angry if we’re going to change the way our society is run. So to everybody reading these words, whether you’re one of my critics or one of my supporters, whether you’re a fan of mine or a total stranger, I want to extend to you a cordial invitation, to get angry with me.
Jeff Wood, Vice-Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Michigan
Libertarian Candidate for US Congress in Michigan’s 8th District. Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Livingston County.