On Wednesday, December 6th, 2017, Students for Liberty fired Noah Mickel, a student activist, and a campus coordinator for SFL since Mr. Mickel graduated high school (Correction: “since Mr. Mickel completed his first year in college”). The official reason for this firing is “violating the respectful communication policy,” but there is ample reason to doubt this justification.
To start, Mr. Mickel is a right-libertarian who unapologetically supports libertarian theorist Hans-Hermann Hoppe, whose works Students for Liberty has banned at their events. Mr. Mickel wasn’t exactly quiet about his views, and he has caused other SFL staff members to engage in what many would call disrespectful communication. Take the example of SFL’s Academic Programs Senior Chair, who went off on a Twitter tirade against Mr. Mickel, myself, and five other libertarian students (three of whom are recently resigned SFL Campus Coordinators) because they took a picture with Dr. Hoppe. See the thread here. But perhaps here is my favorite response from this major figure in Students for Liberty. You tell me if this is “respectful communication.”
So why was Mr. Mickel fired, but not this guy who just called members of his own organization “evil fucks?” Mr. Mickel and many other former associates of SFL are inclined to believe it is a leftist bias within Students for Liberty.
Students for Liberty is on incredibly friendly relations for Center for a Stateless Society, an organization that is explicitly anti-capitalist. While libertarian in name only, C4SS has a dark history of anti-liberty content, such as one claiming the world would be a better place had someone shot Murray Rothbard and Ron Paul. Mr. Mickel is disrespectful enough to get fired, but a violent communist organization is just dandy with Students for Liberty.
Mr. Mickel has had past run-ins with SFL’s thought police as well. In August, Mr. Mickel was assisting SFL in planning their 2017 regional conference in St. Louis. When Mr. Mickel suggested that SFL invite Tom Woods, a popular libertarian historian, and commentator, the organization struck down his proposal, claiming Woods is too controversial. Although Mr. Mickel was not fired for attempting to invite Woods to this event, he does claim to have been harassed by SFL staff over this incident.
What’s incredible is the Orwellian nature of this incident. Simply put, SFL didn’t think this would be bad for them because they didn’t want the public to know Woods was an option.
“We are not picking sides because the public doesn’t know Tom Woods was even an option.”
“It would suck if anyone found out that Tom Woods was being being considered. That’d be REALLY bad publicity.”
These screenshots depict Mr. Mickel discussing the implications of SFL leadership rejecting the presence of Woods even though they will happily invite a figure from the leftist Center for a Stateless Society. As Mr. Mickel says, it confirms the suspicion that Students for Liberty is anti-Mises Institute. Of course, that isn’t the public perception because the public never knew Mises people like Woods was an option. The public can’t get mad about what they don’t know, quoth the corrupt Orwellian businessman.
Inviting Woods and taking a picture with Hans Hoppe isn’t the only reason a left-lbertarian wouldn’t like Mr. Mickel. He is, in fact, a Liberty Hangout guest contributor. His most recent article was an intellectual critique of left-libertarianism. This article was published, however, two days before Students for Liberty decided to fire Mr. Mickel. Just as beltway libertarians are afflicted with Hoppephobia, it seems the beltway is now afflicted with Noahphobia. Based on the article, one can see that Mr. Mickel is an amiable young man with a great intellectual capacity. The fact he is kind, personable, and against left-libertarianism puts the leftist hegemony C4SS has established in SFL at risk. They had to eliminate the risk one way or another, so one could assume firing Mickel is one option for doing so.
Upon being fired, Mr. Mickel released a public statement one can watch below.
This isn’t the only incident of a student being bullied and harassed by figures in SFL because he’s a right-libertarian. In fact, another student activist created a form with which anyone can tell their story of leftist bias, bullying, or harassment within SFL. One can access this form here.
Students for Liberty has also lost more than just Mr. Mickel and their credibility with right-libertarians. They have also lost seven other staff members, who decided to resign after hearing of Mr. Mickel’s termination. Although most of these individuals chose to remain silent, some are coming forward. Mr. Kurt Faulhammer, a campus coordinator who chose to resign upon hearing of Mr. Mickel’s termination, claimed that he had been frustrated with SFL since the invited Bill Weld to their regional conference in NY. To Mr. Faulhammer, firing Mickel was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Another recently-resigned Campus Coordinator, who requested to remain anonymous, said that “it seems like SFL has gone down the toilet at this point with their left-libertarianism.” Giancarlo Diaz, another Campus Coordinator who quit upon hearing the news, said “SFL presents itself as an organization for big tent libertarianism but through my casual experience in SFL and through Noah’s termination; I believe I can justifiably say the SFL has a bias toward ‘right-wing’ libertarianism. I have personally not been in the organization long nor have I done much to contribute as I felt conflicted between supporting a group who had a bias against my ‘right-wing’libertarian beliefs. Noah, on the other hand, was an adamant member of SFL who earnestly participated in the organization and was terminated nonetheless for expressing views that should reasonably fall under big-tent libertarianism” in an email to David Clement, SFL’s North American Programs Director.
Although I requested comment from Students for Liberty, they neglected to comment.
In a comment to me, Noah Mickel said: “I wish SFL the best, and I’m incredibly disappointed that this happened.” He also requested that I share a fundraiser he is hosting for the Ludwig von Mises Institute. If one supports the spread of principled libertarianism, you can donate to the Mises Institute here.