Interview with Spike Cohen

by Libertarian Country January 16, 2023

Interview with Spike Cohen

(Photo Youtube)

Spike Cohen is an American entrepreneur, podcaster, well-known political activist--serving as Jo Jorgensen's running mate for the Libertarian Party in 2020--and founder of You Are The Power, a non-profit organization empowering the liberty movement.

You Are The Power is a national 'network of grassroots activists, community leaders, and candidates for elected office who identify problems and work to implement solutions.' Be sure to visit the website when you finish reading the interview!

Libertarian Country reached out to Spike with questions surrounding the liberty movement, politics at large, and how liberty-loving individuals can get involved with activism and You Are The Power.

Spike provided clear, articulate and thought-provoking responses to our questions. We know you will enjoy reading these, so let's dive in!

--(Interview Begins)--

1.) The Covid-19 Pandemic wrought disastrous affects economically and geopolitically. Where did governments go wrong? What should we do when the next pandemic strikes?

 

Spike: Government's disastrous lockdowns and mandates, and the trillions of dollars in "stimulus" spending that accompanied it, were a recipe for disaster for anyone with common sense. The problem is, government as an organization has no common sense.

It has unaccountable politicians, who order unaccountable bureaucrats to come up with a "plan", and then they order unaccountable law enforcers to force us all to comply with the plan. When that plan fails, no one is held accountable, they blame us for not complying hard enough, they order the bureaucrats to come up with a new "plan", and the cycle continues.

All of that happens because government, as an organization, is a uniquely bad way for people to organize. It is funded through extortion, so it doesn't have to prove value. It runs as a monopoly with no opt-out, so it doesn't have to compete. It holds itself harmless for the damage it causes, so it doesn't have to worry about being held accountable. It presumes authority over all of us, so it doesn't have to seek consensus among stakeholders (or even ask for their input). It appoints its own "experts" and "qualifications" so it doesn't have to worry about serious scrutiny.

As an organization, government is a bad way to handle anything, especially a crisis. If and when another pandemic comes, health care providers should provide care to the sick, businesses should look for opportunities to innovate on new treatments/techniques/services to combat the pandemic, epidemiologists and healthcare providers should provide recommendations and best practices to mitigate the spread, and individuals should make their own decisions based on the information available, and government should stay out of it entirely.

People who act as stakeholders in their own lives and professions, working voluntarily with others to come up with solutions to the problems we face, will always do a better job at it than an organization built on force, coercion and deniability of responsibility. There will still be crises. People will still suffer and die. That is unavoidable. But making it worse is avoidable, and getting government out of it is the best way to avoid that.


2.) The liberty movement is expanding more than ever. What is the catalyst behind this new growth, and what can libertarians do to preserve and accelerate this momentum?

Spike: The liberty movement is growing because people are increasingly frustrated with the status quo and are looking for a better way.

But we need to be very clear: we aren't the only alternative they're looking at, and alternatives like socialism and far-right nationalism would be even worse than the status quo. But people are desperate to find solutions to the problems we all face, and it is up to us to demonstrate that liberty is the best solution. We also need to show them that liberty, and particularly the Libertarian Party, can win. And unlike when the other parties win, when we win, the people win too.

 

3.) Salon published an article in 2015 entitled 'Libertarianism is for White Men: The Ugly Truth about the Right's Favorite Movement.' How do you respond to this? What can the liberty movement do to reach minorities and women who have bought into this myth?

 

Spike: When statists accuse us of things, they are typically projecting, and this is a perfect example of it. 

If we are to believe the progressive left that racism is a system, then the reality is that their plan is to strengthen that system, and ours is to dismantle it. Libertarians seek to decentralize power away from tyrannical, oppressive regimes and put it in the hands of the people. We seek to empower individuals, and destroy collectivism.

Conversely, progressives seek to massively expand that system, give it more power, put even more of our individual autonomy up for a majority-rules popular vote, and use whatever force is necessary to force us all into compliance. There is, logically and historically, nothing more harmful to any kind of minority than what they seek, and nothing more helpful to them than what we seek.

Regarding "educating" minorities, I think it's really more a question of building relationships. We should not look at this as an "us/them" situation. We are all human beings, and all of us deserve freedom, autonomy and dignity.

A great way for us to build these relationships is to meet people where they are, make connections with them, listen to their concerns, discuss our solutions, and work with them to organize and implement those solutions. In doing so, we demonstrate that we care, we have great solutions, and we wish for them to join us as partners. That is the work we are doing at You Are The Power.

 

4.) Libertarians and Anarcho-Capitalists love to argue with each other. Is this debate about limited government and zero government a fruitful conversation? Where should our focus be?

 

Spike: I enjoy a good anarchism vs. minarchism debate as much as the next guy (for the record, I'm an anarchocapitalist). But I increasingly see these debates as the equivalent of two people tied up in the back of a vehicle that's speeding towards a cliff, and they're arguing over what kind of restaurant they'd open if they weren't about to die. Sure it's a fun convo, but let's set ourselves free and then figure this other stuff out as we get there.

You Are The Power has anarchists, minarchists, conservatarians, people who are still figuring out exactly what they believe, and many others across the libertarian spectrum. We are all focused on finding people in need, organizing to help them, making connections in our communities, and sharing our common-sense solutions.

 

5.) Libertarianism is sometimes portrayed as an "extremist" or "fringe" movement. Some of the ideas expressed within the philosophy are new, scary, or impractical to the average Joe. Without deviating from our principles, how do we make Libertarianism more palpable to the masses?

 
Spike: Libertarianism is pure common sense. People should not hurt each other, steal from each other, or threaten each other. It's what we teach children, and it's intuitively what we believe and understand.
 
It is the statists who have the scary, impractical, and failed idea that we should select a small group of people and empower them to order us all around, rob us, threaten us and hurt us.
 
It is they who have to go through mental gymnastics to explain how we have no right as individuals to hurt others, but we do have the right to empower someone else to do it to everyone.
 

It is they who have to convince the world to ignore centuries of evidence that their ideas don't work.

Libertarianism is not fringe or extremist, and we should stop acting like it is. We're the ones acting normal, and we need to connect with other normal people who realize that the status quo isn't working, and help them to see just how fringe and downright foolish statism is.

Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff Shirt

 

6.) David Koyzis argues in Political Visions & Illusions that modern political ideologies have idolatrous tendencies. What would you say to a Christian who fears that Libertarianism is not compatible with their religious faith?

 

Spike: Libertarianism seeks to empower individuals to live their lives as they see fit. This includes any religious faith you may have. I grew up in a Messianic Jewish household (Jews who believe that Christ is Messiah), and I was taught that believers in Christ are to hold one another accountable, and to leave the world to its own devices.

Christians of all stripes weren't called to force others to live as Christians against their will, but to live their lives in a way that encourages others to join them, and to leave those who don't wish to join to live as they wish. That is exactly what libertarians believe, that beliefs and lifestyles should be spread through encouragement and other voluntary means, not through force.

This means that there are Christian libertarians, Jewish libertarians, Muslim libertarians, Buddhist libertarians, Hindu libertarians, atheist libertarians, and so on.

We also believe in freedom of association. So whether a Christian wishes to live among the world and evangelize, or to stay away from those who don't believe and not associate with them in any way, or somewhere in between, libertarians support and defend their right to do so.

 

7.) To an individual who has no understanding of what libertarianism is, what is your elevator pitch to them?

 

Spike: Libertarians recognize that you do best when you're most free. We recognize that things are getting worse because there is too much power in the hands of too few people, and we seek to take that power and put it back in your hands, where it always belonged. We invite you to join us.

 

8.) You were an entrepreneur at a young age. Was it your libertarianism that powered your entrepreneurial spirit, or did your interest in libertarian philosophy come later? What inspired you to become a libertarian?

 

Spike: In retrospect, I've always had a libertarian mindset, even if I didn't consider myself one until my early/mid 20s. I started my first business shortly before I turned 17, because I wanted to be my own boss and build my own financial legacy. I chose web design as my first business because it was just about the least regulated type of business out there. No college education requirements, no specialized occupational licensing, no required brick and mortar location in a specific zoning. I could just get a laptop, get the software, teach myself how to use it, find some mentors to show me the ropes in starting a business, and get to work.

While I didn't study libertarianism as a philosophy until a few years after that, I was clearly operating from libertarian principles of personal autonomy, responsibility, and wanting government to stay the hell out of my business. 
 

9.) You Are The Power is a nationally recognized, membership-based non-profit organization in the U.S. founded by you, Spike Cohen. Could you tell us a little of the 'You Are The Power' story, where you see the organization in 10 years, and how people who share your passion and vision can donate, become members and get involved?

 

Spike: Even before I ran for VP, I saw a glaring problem in the liberty movement: people are suffering and realize that the status quo isn't working, but libertarians don't have a clear blueprint for how to build our movement and disrupt that status quo for good. 

To cope with our lack of a plan, and the accompanying lack of success, we spend most of our time arguing with each other over philosophy, policy differences, and so on, because we have control of that. It's something we can actually do and have control over. Of course, that means we are helping promote the prevailing narrative about us: that we can't win, our ideas aren't feasible, we don't care about anyone but ourselves, and all we do is argue.

This narrative is what keeps others from joining us, and discourages us from staying involved.

To change this, we have to change the narrative, and that's what we're doing at You Are The Power.

We find people in needs and connect with them, showing that we care. We organize our growing network of members across the country to raise awareness, and build coalitions with likeminded people and implement our solutions, showing that our ideas make sense. And we work with the coalitions we build to implement those solutions, showing that we can win together. 

So when someone need help with their charity, we get the word out and fill their coffers with donations and volunteers.

When someone is being mistreated by their local government, we sound the alarm and build a movement around getting justice for them, and accountability for the people who harmed them.

You Are The Power is building a movement for liberty across the country. We are thousands strong, growing every day, and we invite you to join us at YouAreThePower.net

 

--(Interview Ends)--

 

We thank Spike for his thoughtful responses and hope they have been informative to you, the reader. Please visit You Are The Power for more information on how you can get involved with the organization and the liberty movement.

Cheers!

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