Augustus Sol Invictus (he acknowledges this is not his birth name) is a Florida lawyer, a former member of a branch of the "Thelemist" religious group Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) (associated with the doctrines of British mystic Aleister Crowley), and the author of a letter to some of his fellow DePaul University law graduations in 2013 announcing:
I have prophesied for years that I was born for a Great War; that if I did not witness the coming of the Second American Civil War I would begin it myself. Mark well: That day is fast coming upon you. On the New Moon of May, I shall disappear into the Wilderness. I will return bearing Revolution, or I will not return at all.
War Be unto the Ends of the Earth, Augustus Sol Invictus
Mr. Invictus since emerged from the wilderness an announced candidate for federal Senate from Florida under the banner of the Libertarian Party (L.P.), although he has not yet filed the over $10,000 fee or over 100,000 signatures he needs to officially be on the ballot.
On the stump speech video that is front and center on his campaign website, one mostly dedicated to reminding Libertarians that their enemy the state is at war with them, that they have to turn themselves into legitimate threats to the state, Invictus says, among many other interesting things (including references to "more reasonable men, men less insane" than him): "I want you to revolt…I want you to be dangerous…I want each and every one of you to be a legitimate threat…I don't want you to vote so much as I want you to wake up, drop out and tune in, I want you to take LSD and practice sorcery, I want you to listen to trap music and black metal, to learn the law and break it deliberately…to subject yourself to rigorous physical training, treat your body as holy temples" and to take your girlfriends to strip clubs while you seduce the dancers in the back room.
The Senate candidate also says he knows federal agents will be listening and will eventually come to arrest him.
Invictus has also drawn the raised eyebrows of some other Florida Libertarians via an article he wrote while in law school defending and recommending government eugenics programs.
While he officially disavows eugenics as a political project of the U.S. government, and notes he's not campaigning on a eugenics program, he still writes that "in theory, were a State run by a beneficent philosopher-king, and were his edicts carried out by magnanimous servants of the people, then perhaps eugenic measures could work."
For those Libertarians bothered that such thoughts could ever have issued from his pen, even though he does not advocate state-sponsored eugenics as a candidate, Invictus writes that "To circumscribe our freedom of thought because of the delicate sensibilities of suburban paper pushers is the most despicable type of totalitarian tyranny imaginable."
Adrian Wyllie (who ran for governor of Florida last year and got a very high for the L.P. nearly 4 percent, 223,000 or so votes) resigned Thursday from his position as chair of the Libertarian Party of Florida (LPF), because he felt the Party's executive committee was insufficiently willing to speak out publicly against Invictus for what Wyllie considers obvious offenses against libertarianism.
Wyllie made a public announcement of his resignation on his Facebook page:
The legally-changed name he chose for himself is revealing. August Sol Invictus is Latin, and translates to "The Unconquerable Sun God."…
Clearly, this man is the absolute antitheses of a Libertarian. Violent Fascist and Neo-Nazi ideologies are completely incompatible with Libertarian values. As such, I had repeatedly and vocally disavowed him and his followers. I advised the LPF that I would continue to speak out against him, regardless of the consequences.
Wyllie wants it understood that he doesn't think the others on the LPF executive committee were fans or supporters of Invictus, but that they were overly punctilious about how disapproval should be expressed, or when.
"The vast majority of L.P. members and the executive committee recognize that this guy is the antithesis of of a libertarian," Wyllie says. "He is a fascist, violent, wants to start a war, the kind of person we should totally distance ourselves from. The disagreement came about in how we should handle it." (As to the fascist accusation, Invictus's official campaign logo literally contains fasces.)
Exactly the degree to which Wyllie was being prevented by his fellows on the LPF executive committee from speaking out against Invictus is ambiguous, though Wyllie ultimately felt they were not sufficiently alarmed by the threat of Invictus to the Party's image.
Last week Wyllie put forward a motion of no confidence in himself, after telling the executive committee he intended to continue speaking out against Invictus with or without their explicit support. The no confidence vote did not pass. Wyllie resigned anyway, after noting that a near-majority on the executive committee abstained from or ignored the vote; this was not the ringing support he wanted for his condemnation of Invictus.
Indeed, Wyllie's former vice chair, Lynn House, also resigned, not over Invictus per se but over belief that in letting Wyllie speak out against him without explicitly directing him to do so, the executive committee were violating their own bylaws.
Specifically, as House said to me in a written message, "Because 10 members of the EC have voted to support the Chair's position that he may speak for the LPF on matters of his personal opinion without approval from the EC, and in doing so have willfully voted to violate Bylaw provision Article III, Section 3a and Standing Rule Article VIII, Section 1….Bottom line for me was that they defrauded the membership by violating the bylaws," House wrote. Again, violated them by not stopping him from condemning Invictus.
Last night the LPF's executive committee voted on two motions, one to expel Invictus and one to condemn him for certain of his positions. The expulsion vote failed, seven against and five for.
The condemning passed, eight for and five against. Even that condemning was quite legalistic, declaring that the executive committee will if the motion passes issue "a strong single or series of press release that condemns the content of Mr Invictus campaign but not to specify that we do or don't support him." One such press release came out today.
After the vote to bounce him failed, Invictus wrote on his Facebook page that:
I urge both my supporters and my detractors to show good sportsmanship so that we may all work together to grow the Party. If we have cause for celebration it is not for the fact that I have won anything but for the fact that the Executive Committee has done the right thing in refusing to expel a member of the Party without a clear violation of the Non-Aggression Principle.
Florida law allows anyone who is a registered member of a Party (registration is a matter between the voter and the state, not the voter and the Party) to get themselves on the ballot. The L.P. has nothing but the bully pulpit by which to police its candidates. They do have a voluntary certification process to vet candidates, but Invictus has not yet chosen to go through it.
Invictus, in a phone interview last week, thinks Wyllie is pushing religious prejudice against him, seeing his thelemic beliefs as essentially "dark." Wyllie was telling people that Invictus was booted from the OTO for a violent goat sacrifice; Invictus insists they wanted to be separate from him because of the same 2013 letter quoted above. That letter, he says, caused OTO to fear it would "get the FBI called on them" even though Invictus did not talk about OTO or thelema specifically.
Invictus considers himself a solid libertarian, and says while he was more or less raised as one his desire to enter politics was primed by a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raid on a pharmacy he used to work at, and a strong desire to see that organization destroyed.
Wyllie says that in a face to face meeting with Invictus at an L.P. meeting last year Invictus reiterated a desire to wage war on humanity. Invictus recalls it differently: "He asked me about certain of my writings, I tried to explain the doctrine of transhumanism, Nietzsche, who thought mankind must be overcome, I don't know, clearly I didn't explain it well. Because [Wyllie] immediately started going around saying I said I wanted to kill every man, woman, and child on earth."
But Invictus does not back down from the general sense of his "war" rhetoric. "There is a cataclysm coming," he tells me. "I don't think I'm the only one who sees it. I might be the only one who talks about it. I think it's disingenuous for people to talk in their living rooms about government collapsing, the possibility of total anarchy, but when someone says it in public it's so terrifying they have to persecute that person."
Invictus grants that "I totally understand I'm an eccentric person, I'm not going to claim to be a normal person." But in the context of running for office, what should be the issue is "my vision for the country and if I'm capable of bringing it about."
That vision, he insists, is not about "race war" despite Wyllie's accusations that he's deliberately bringing white supremacists into the L.P. Invictus says that these accusations come from his relationship with the white supremacist group American Front, who he has "refused to say are evil people, since they are my friends." Invictus as a lawyer is in the process of defending American Front leader Marcus Faella in his appeal on a domestic terrorism case.
Wyllie thinks other aspects of Invictus' past floating on the Internet will cast bad light on the L.P. if Invictus is their Senate candidate. That includes such audio recordings as "Give Me a War" and "Hades" (that latter labeled an "LSD recording"). Invictus says they are his "poetry readings" and reflect nothing important about his candidacy.
When you interview Senate candidate Invictus, he doesn't talk in the strangely accented declamatory style on those recordings; it's clearly performative. In some of his current official Senate campaign "fireside chats" he sounds somewhere between his normal interview voice and his "poetry" voice and includes lines such as "the success of the American revolution…was predicated on battle and bloodshed…where is your bravery, my fellow Americans? Where is your love of danger?…I see rising a generation of warriors and explorers , cosmonauts and psychonauts, frontiersmen and wild women…"
Beyond things he seems to believe outside the specific context of his campaign, Invictus the candidate has some milder departures from libertarian orthodoxy on things like "energy independence" and the environment. He thinks government action to ensure the former and protect the latter are needed, scoffing at the idea that private tort claims for environmental damage could work; "maybe it would work for rich people, but if an average citizen has his water polluted by a megacorporation, what's he going to do about it?"
Various executive committee members I spoke to since Thursday were unwilling to take the Wyllie tack of just declaring that of course for the sake of political realism if nothing else, the Party must loudly and in every possible way condemn and distance itself from Invictus.
One of the L.P.'s slogans has been "the party of principle" and in many cases LPF executive committee members stuck punctiliously to principle in their stances regarding Invictus.
Karl Dickey, regional representative from region 13 (including Palm Beach County) (who voted no on expulsion, yes on condemnation) says "I would like to see the Party distance itself from Invictus" and that "based on the conference call last night it was clear no one was supporting Invictus who is on the executive committee."
Still, though, "I don't feel we have any direct evidence that Invictus violated the NAP." The "NAP" is the non-aggression principle, the vow to not initiate violent or coercive force on another, and allows for any and all "thoughtcrime" that doesn't result in actual assault on another's person or property. L.P. members have to vow to follow it, and many in the Party seem to agree with Dickey that nothing short of that should get you booted.
Lynn House, the resigned vice chair, agrees, writing to me that: "I wanted proof that would stand up to the NAP of what Adrian was accusing Augustus….Proof of the NAP violation were weak, either untimely, or vague, or erroneous."
Char-lez Braden, now acting chair of the FLP, notes that "Libertarians tend to be a very open minded group" with "freedom of speech as a big strong core value" so one might say "some pretty outlandish things and still be libertarian and it will really come down to force and fraud, non-aggression or initiation of aggression" and notes that to some, "even voting is aggression."
Thus, Ken Willey, representing region 5 (including Duval County), voted no on both motions, though he says, "the idea that some of us are OK with [Invictus representing them as a candidate] is completely inaccurate." Still, he thought that even bringing attention to Invictus through condemning him was unwise public relations. (Wyllie says that one of his reasons for quitting was to draw press attention to Invictus and begin the public process of disentangling the L.P.'s reputation from Invictus'.) Willey thinks no one could seriously see this guy as a real threat to start any war and that now the L.P. is just tagged with another "news of the weird" story about a politician sacrificing a goat.
But even as far as voting to condemn him, the very legalistic Willey tells me that since the LPF have an official process for vetting candidates which Invictus has not gone through, that the only proper time to condemn him is then.
The LPF has nothing to say about who their candidate is on Florida's ballot. If you are a registered member of a Party and file the proper number of signatures or cash, you are on the ballot. If more than one person does this, then you are on the primary ballot where statewide registered L.P. voters can decide.
As of now, no one else has announced a definite intention to seek the Senate ballot slot except Invictus. Ever since May, a somewhat less outre controversialist, former GOP fixer and author of a book that insists LBJ was responsible for the Kennedy assassination, Roger Stone has been saying he might do so.
Stone tells me last week via email that "I am actively considering [running for Senate with the L.P. in Florida]…I am more likely to run if Clinton and Bush are the presidential candidates of their parties as the Senate race would be a great forum to expose the two party duopoly in which both parties are the same; endless war, erosion of civil liberties, massive debt, wild spending and a weak dollar."
Stone is aware of the Invictus controversy, and writes that "I find Invictus' views repugnant and not in anyway Libertarian."
If Invictus actually pays his filing fee or collects his 100,000 plus signatures to get on the ballot, and if neither Roger Stone nor anyone else does so, then the Party will be stuck with whatever public relations problem Invictus represents. But as current acting chair (he was only the secretary until both the chair and vice chair resigned last week) Char-lez Braden says, "The laws of the state of Florida do not allow us as a Party to have any control over that."