Hi, at long last I have got onto this blog.
Well folks, how very good and pleasant it was to meet our fellow travellers at the blogbash a couple of weeks back, and ‘give to airy nothingness a local habitation and a name’. Congratulations and thanks to skepticlawyer for organising it.
I particularly liked meeting the people behind the net names, finding out how people came to be libertarians, hearing everyone’s interesting approach. It was very enjoyable indeed to hear different libertarians air their views on issues of practice and theory affecting us. Roll on the next one I say.
However the din of those pubs made it difficult to converse without shouting at close range. It also meant we missed other interesting conversations too. Probably more than half of the people I didn’t get a chance to talk to, but I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations I had.
I think next time it would be better to meet at a place where we could sit down in a room to ourselves, where we could buy food and drink and hear ourselves think a bit better. I’ll have a look into it. Any ideas?
That way, apart from just chatting, we could also dispatch some items of business that would give us all more satisfaction as well. For example, we could better co-ordinate our activism, and hear news from within the Liberal Democratic party. If we are going to debate fine points of libertarian doctrine or policy directions, at least let it be so we can all hear and enjoy it.
People who are prepared to stand up for the principle of liberty as a principle, rather than simply protecting their interest in doing this or that particular activity, have always been in a small minority. We libertarians have a history of influence out of all proportion to our numbers in the population.
However Murrary Rothbard wrote that libertarians tend to be strong in theory but weak in practical strategy; whereas socialists tend to have the opposite problem. One thing libertarians tend to concede to the socialists is that, even though their arguments are morally and intellectually bankrupt, they are better at organising effective activism than we are. How much better could we be?
We all want to change the status quo; that’s what defines us. We are all activists. So I invite you to have a think about how can we improve. What is the best use of our scarce resources? How can we focus better, collaborate, and get more bang for our buck?
The common characteristics I saw in the people at the meeting on Saturday night were: intelligence, and passion.
I could only wish for the addition of one thing: more focus.
We must not let our individualism give us the ethos of a herd of cats. Better to focus our efforts, to concentrate our firepower.
I know you all have great ideas: Helen wants Catallaxy to be the premier political blog in Australia, John and David want to take direct action in the legislature to cut back the thornbush of government, Benjamin is setting out the arguments against government in a book I very much look forward to, my goal is to put forward the arguments for liberty in the newspapers, GBH exposes and attacks the lies of fascism wherever they raise their ugly misbegotten head: and glad is my heart for all of this!
However to talk of needing a strategy assumes the need for a process to agree what it should be, before we agree on doing it. Perhaps we could open up the floor to hear people’s ideas on how they would like it to go, or how they would like other people’s help, and then later draw in the threads to agree a common purpose.
A word of warning. The natural thing with a group of critical thinkers like this is to fall into the trap of critical argument which is easy but destructive. Remember Benjamin Franklin’s words to the Continental Congress when they fell into arguing: ‘We are sent here to confer, not to contend.’ We should focus more on how to get better practical results in the 98 percent we agree on, and less on the theory of the two percent we don’t.
For example, a strategy might be like this. We pick an area of policy, which we are going to focus on for a certain time, say three months, or 12. Let’s say it’s abolishing state schools. We campaign on that topic for that period. We try to move policy in one direction. We might begin by defining the result we are aiming for. We collect all the arguments in one place, as well as reduce them to catchphrases. We analyse the arguments against us and their answers. Then we focus our efforts for example by pounding one medium, or one electorate, or one legislature, or one publication. Even if we got only one reform, for example, school vouchers to begin to dislodge the government’s stranglehold on compulsory indoctrination – or even if we saw our ideas gain widespread exposure in the community and media – how good would that be? Wouldn’t we feel better?
The libertarian activist group Bureaucrash do great things too. For example, they find out when there is going to be the launch of a book inimical to liberty. Then they go and crash the book launch, so that anyone there sees objections coming from all over the audience, asking the author critical questions which display to the world what a vicious violent fascist he really is.
Another strategy is to assemble the arguments on a topic, and then write a campaign of letters and essays to all the major newspapers, and all the regional newspapers: a tidal wave of libertarian opinion in the press.
We could also combine our efforts so that next time we meet, it is at a time and place where the LDP has planned some recruiting or other activism, so we can all lend a hand.
We might also want to have a private room on the blog so that we can discuss tactics without our intentions being made public.
Any strategy we come up with will be better than what we have now, which is no strategy.
Let the fact that we are a social movement be more apparent.
Let’s have a bit of focus on our activism. What is the best use of our limited resources, and are there ways we could collaborate better for the same costs in time and money?