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Contributors to Gavin Wax's Liberty Conservative invited Richard Spencer to speak at a 2017 conference
This was cut from the piece in The Nation last month, a side story about Liberty Conservative (LC), Gavin Wax’s far-right blog that heavily featured work from Shane Trejo. While initially a libertarian blog, the outlet quickly moved into edgelord, far right shitposting territory, publishing advice for future spree shooters, and comparing male tax payers to rape victims.
By February 2017, Liberty Conservative was ready for offline shitposting. In preparation for Students for Liberty’s annual conference, several LC contributors and their friends organized the Hoppe Caucus, named after Hans-Hermann Hoppe. Hoppe, an anarcho-capitalist economist, has regularly hosted conferences with white nationalist speakers and once wrote a book about his hatred for democracy. Hoppe’s push for the “physical removal” of political enemies, specifically communists and liberals, was a popular meme within the alt-right in 2017. In true meme spirit, the Facebook URL for the Hoppe Caucus was “PhysicalRemoval.”
The purpose of the caucus was to help move libertarianism to the right. They invited white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak, though Students for Liberty’s organizers refused to let him in. The Hoppe Caucus had their meeting with Spencer in the lobby of the host hotel, where they stayed until they were asked to leave. Shane Trejo was in attendance at the event, and livestreamed it on the Liberty Conservative Facebook page.
Eventually, a jeering crowd gathered around the Hoppe Caucus, and Spencer left. Though the organizers were banned from future Students for Liberty conferences, the caucus was a promotional success. Reason covered their stunt, and libertarian influencers use it as material for YouTube videos and blog posts. Spencer addressed the controversy on Twitter, tweeting “the thing that scares the libertarians is that we were once them but wound up #altright.”
Afterwards, some in a private Facebook chat for LC contributors worried that the outlet had been involved in the Hoppe Caucus. One asked if LC was responsible for bringing Spencer to Students for Liberty.
“No. We were tipped off 30 minutes beforehand. And so covered the story.”
“Mmmkay. Trejo and Allsup's mancrush notwithstanding, we can't have anything to do with that kind of crap,” the contributor replied. “How did this rumor get going that we had something to do with inviting him? And has anyone publicly disavowed yet?”
“I love Richard Spencer,” someone using a now-suspended Facebook account replied.
“Of course you do. Make it three, then,” the first contributor replied. “I'd like to be able to say with confidence that we had nothing to do with it besides covering it since we had a writer present.”
“I would be 100% for putting a statement on our official page if Gavin's okay with it,” another contributor suggested, though the suggestion was met with pushback from other writers.
“Can we just once and for all be clear on the fact that not everyone who wants to maintain a standard of professionalism, and wants to avoid the stench of white supremacists is a leftist?” the first contributor asked. “It could be that left libertarians hate Spencer because he's too far right. Or it could be that they hate him because he's a small-minded neo-fascist mouth breather, and that such disdain isn't limited to left or right. And disclaimers become necessary when people are claiming that we had to do with it and several of our writers are celebrating Spencer and sharing an article singing his praises.”
The contributor added they wanted to make sure “that if Shane wants to go the Spencer route the LC name stays clear.”
But social media posts from the time indicate no difference between Liberty Conservative and the Hoppe Caucus, an impression further confirmed by interviews with people who were aware of the caucus. One write up at the time noted,
The “Hoppe Caucus” is nothing more than a Facebook page started by a couple of alt-right crypto-fascists masquerading as libertarians surrounding websites like the oxymoronically named The Liberty Conservative and the grossly misnamed trashy click-bait site Liberty Hangout.
One anonymous source shared screenshots of Shane Trejo sending direct messages on Facebook hours before the caucus started. “Start getting the word out. We need big attendance for Spencer,” he instructed those attending Students for Liberty.
In the chat, however, the denials continued — even as a piece Trejo wrote on the Spencer event was criticized for being pro-Spencer.
“Also, Steve [Horowitz] called us a ‘Spencer sympathetic website’ and insinuating that we helped plan the event for ‘trolling,’" one contributor said.
“It isnt pro spencer,” Wax replied.
Another writer agreed. “Completely neutral.”
“We wont apologize for being free speech absolutists,” Wax added.
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