Thursday, October 26, 2017

What Libertarians Need to Understand About The Nature of Political Alliances

Over at EPJ, I posted, A Potential Alliance Between Socialists and Libertarians Over Puerto Rican Government Debt, the regular and wise NY Cynic commented:
Unless I personally know the person Ill never stand with or trust a socialist (or conservative, liberal or altrigher for that matter).
However, my view is a bit different on this point.

The idea of an alliance is not to
"stand with or trust a socialist (or conservative, liberal or altrigher for that matter)." Most of these people are at best misinformed.

An alliance should be used to advance a specific cause and to pick-off recruits from those we align with. It is never to endorse an individual interventionist or interventionist group.

Certainly, advancing Puerto Rican government default is a good cause. We need not address any other issues with anyone we align with, other than the particular issue we are in agreement on.

But further, an alliance on a particular issue can provide us with a means to address through speeches and written articles our common views with those we align with, which may cause some we align with to look into our libertarian writings on other topics.

In other words, an alliance is about expanding our voice on a particular topic and using the larger body as a recruiting field. To be sure, we need to keep the hardcore strong but"popular front" action should not be dismissed.

As Murray Rothbard has written:
The hardcore man is working for his idea on two levels: in a “popular” or “united” front for limited libertarian goals, and to try to influence his colleagues as well as the masses in the direction of the total system. (This is the essence of the much-misunderstood Leninist theory of “infiltration.”)...

[O]ne of the reasons behind the idea of “infiltration” is that we can probably never hope to have everyone a hardcore man, just as we can never hope to have everyone an intellectual. Since the hard core will always be relatively small, its influence must be maximized by giving it “leverage” through allied, less libertarian “united fronts” with less libertarian thinkers and doers.

To restate my view of the proper strategy: we must, first and foremost, nourish and increase the hard core; we must, then, try to diffuse and advance principles and action as far as possible in the direction of hardcore doctrines. To abandon the hard core is liquidationist; to abandon all hardcore leverage upon others is to remain sterile and ineffective. We must combine the two elements; we must, in short, nourish and develop a hard core, which will then permeate and exert leverage upon others.


  1. I couldn't agree more. If someone cares enough about an issue to go out and demonstrate over it, then they'll listen to other things you have to say if you agree with their position.

    So, if you're agreeing with a socialist about defaulting on the Puerto Rican debt, they're more likely to listen to why you agree with them. When they hear your different reasons, they might become more sympathetic.

    This is how Ron Paul won me over in 2007. The most-important issue to me was war and the U.S. foreign policy. I saw him on Bill Maher's show:

    I then went onto his website and found out what else what he was selling, and it was good.

  2. Libertarians have a bridge burning fetish.

  3. Fair enough, I guess it would make sense to make most of an opportunity when it presents itself. Better for the movement to have a presence at a event on a particular issue than fully yield it to others.

  4. As long as the alliance is on topic and is mostly, if not all, limited to public utterances. It matters with whom we align the closer to a personal relation/alliance it becomes.

    How long would you ally with a cannibal?