Document:Letter 20 Jan 1993 David Nolan on Meaning of Membership Pledge
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"I hereby certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals." What does the pledge on the membership form mean? We ask our members to disavow the initiation of force. This does not mean that you cannot defend yourself; you DO have a right to defend your life, liberty, and property. It does mean that you cannot use the coercive power of government to forcibly achieve your personal, ethical, or religious goals. This commitment helps us maintain our principles and provides us with a measuring stick to determine if we have strayed from our common goal: a society where all relationships among persons are based on voluntary cooperation.
David Nolan replied (emphasis added)
Dave, This is a perfectly good explanation of what the "pledge" or "oath" means. Interestingly, most people in the LP do not know why it was originally placed on membership applications. We did it not because we believed that we could keep out "bad" people by asking them to sign--after all, evil people will lie to achieve their ends--but to provide some evidence that the LP was not a group advocating violent overthrow of the gov't. In the early 70's, memories of Nixon's "enemies list" and the McCarthy hearings of the 50's were still fresh in people's minds, and we wanted to protect ourselves from future witch-hunts. DFN