Libertarian Strategy: Purist or Practical?

Libertarian purist

Libertarian Purist

I found a meme the other day on the Libertarian Party’s webpage.

But what I think is kind of funny about this is I would have sworn the Libertarian Party of all people might have taken the time to learn what Libertarianism is, before making a website about it.

So either the people in charge of the Libertarian Party are not Libertarians or maybe they are just “Libertarian-ish?” But that doesn’t make sense, now does it? How can you be “Libertarian-ish?” Rand Paul once said he was “Libertarian-ish”, but Libertarian isn’t something where you can be one foot in, one foot out. You’re either Libertarian or you’re not. It’s not like gender where you can be a mix of anything you want.

The problem with charts like these is they make it seem like Libertarianism is a set of policies when Libertarianism is really a set of principles. These principles being non-aggression and personal and private property.

Now once you get a hold of the principles you can draw up ideas on how you think a society could be organized based on non-agression and personal and private property. Some of those ideas may lead to policies that people on the Left like, and some of those policies may lea to policies people on the Right like, but to say Libertarianism is half-democrat/half-republican is really not it at all. Don’t you agree?

The question is fundamentally one of strategy. Do we moderate (maybe even embellish) our position to make it attractive? Because even we Libertarian Purists must admit the first impression is important, and we shouldn’t want to frighten people away with our radical points of view. So wouldn’t it be better if we softened our stance, even just a little?


Or perhaps not.

Rothbard argued that moderation in theory gets us nowhere in practice, whereas holding fast to what you believe may actually result in something. He cites communism, of course. Now even if we don’t care all that much for communism, we can’t deny it was their uncompromising approach to what they felt was right that enabled them to victory in many parts of the world. “They” being the communists.

Ron Paul was uncompromising and still is. I never heard him introduce Libertarianism as being half-republican/half-democrat. I mean, he may have. But I just never saw him do it that way. Now I have heard Rand Paul (Mr. Libertarian-ish) say it that way, but not Ron. Ron is Rand’s dad, by the way. Because some people might not know that.

And while I think Ron is a good man and an honest man and thorough, I wonder if I don’t disagree with him on this point. Maybe it is better to moderate?

An example:

In my “other” business I talk a lot about working out. People come to me from all other kinds of workout plans, some of them simple, some of the stupid. But even if these other plan are not ideal, they worked to get a person into working out, and eventually they got them to me.

I can’t imagine that I am of all that much initial appeal to people. At least not so much as something like P-90x would be. But it’s these embellishments that get them in. Not ideal, but sexy. And damn good marketing.

So do Libertarians accept this? Do we try to make our message more appealing, knowing the ends justify the means, if that’s how we want to put it? Do we aim to make the most appealing first impression knowing it may not be the most accurate one?

I don’t know.

– Pat


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