Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Libertarian Long Game is the Only Game We Have

At my post, We Are Losing the Kids, several commenters have argued that libertarian ideas are going nowhere fast.

Bob Roddis, one of the best commenters here at Target Liberty writes:
I’m not sure anyone knows or cares what libertarians say or do about Trump or anything else. I’ve been saying for a decade that absolutely no one but us understands or processes anything we are saying even in long drawn-out internet debates. No one has tried to refute me on that one. It’s been time to have a panic attack about that problem for a long time now. The left controls the schools, the courts, the churches and the media. Further, which libertarian still supports Trump in the slightest after his demonstrated incompetence in foreign policy which was the sole basis of half-hearted support? The alt-right mocks us as “cucks” on immigration and the cultural and political problems of minorities such as the oncoming demographic minority majority. That does not seem to gain us any street cred with the Antifa gang. The left will hate and defame us no matter what we say or do to the slight extent anyone pays attention to what we say or do. There are more things to worry about than how libertarians should react to Trump.

 cheddarbob316 follows up:
Agree 100% that no one cares or knows about libertarian philosophy. It's deeply ingrained in just about everyone that you must have a state to perform certain duties.
I believe a key point is being missed here. When I wrote:
The kids are being herded in the direction of socialism.

Libertarians who fail to attack Trump are making a strategic error. Trump is not a libertarian. He does not appear to hold any libertarian policy positions beyond a desire to stop government regulation of transgenders in bathrooms. Students, with some justification, view him as at least sympathetic to the white supremacist movement.

He needs to be thrown under the bus. The kids need to hear that there is opposition to Trump that is non-Leftist.
I was not suggesting that a libertarian attack on Trump was going to push hordes of students in the direction of libertarianism. That is not going to happen. We are far from the time when that will occur. All we want to do is catch a few of the more intellectually intelligent and curious. That's how you expand the base.

In his unpublished strategy paper, Toward a Strategy for Libertarian Social Change, Murray Rothbard wrote (my bold):
In the first place, libertarianism is a set of ideas, and hence the original cadre is bound to be largely intellectuals, people who are professional or semi-professional dealers in abstract ideas. Mises and Hayek have pointed out how ideas filter out from original theoreticians to scholars and followers, to intellectuals as dealers in general ideas to the interested public.

Thus, in the cardre, the body of intellectuals is of primary importance in influencing the general public, and the handful of systematic theoreticians is of decisive importance in influencing and molding the general intellectuals.

Of course, the ideas of intellectuals are removed in time from the attitudes held by the general public, and the systematic theories of scholars or political philosophers are still further removed in time, so that emphasis on intellectuals and scholars does not have an immediate "payoff" in social action; but their influence is far more powerful in the long run than immediate concentration on the public or political action...

[T]he classical liberals were trapped by their alliance with the "practical" men into foreswearing any sort of radical general principles in striking to the practical short run details, with ultimately disastrous results....

The early progress of the movement  is necessarily slow; the number of converts is miniscule and the amount of effort in obtaining their conversion is extensive. In short, any cadre must begin slow with a tiny handful. A few rare individuals arrive with their own conversion in a self-contained way; but the vast majority have to be converted by others--either directly, through personal contact, or indirectly, through books or lectures. At first, the movement will be encompassed by a few living rooms or salons, then if the movement grows there will be the stage of local discussion groups... Hopefully, then, the cadre begins as a tiny few and then grows in quantity and impact.
Rothbard wrote this in the late 1970s, just when the libertarian movement was emerging from his living room. We have come along way since then.

But the advance of liberty will not be a straight line. The presidential run of Ron Paul 2012 played an enormous role in introducing many people to liberty. With the election of Trump, growth in the libertarian movement has entered a quiet period.

The idea of attacking Trump at this point is not because someone may or may not care about whether libertarians support Trump but because the more attacks that are made, from a libertarian perspective, against Trump, the more opportunities we will have created to "catch" some bright students that can be future leaders in the libertarian movement/

By failing to attack Trump aggressively, we are losing opportunities to deliver our message to the important second-hand dealers of the new generation.

There might be a case that could be made for keeping quiet about Trump if he was good on something other than transgender bathrooms but he is not. If he were actually going to take some steps in a libertarian direction perhaps we should be quiet to support those moves, but he is not. The establishment hating him is not enough. It means nothing policy-wise.

To advance liberty during this quiet period, it is going to be a long slog.

As I have said before, if you don't like the battle, the intellectual butting of heads against pretty much everybody--with tiny short-term payoff----you are better off spending your time watching ESPN. This battle is not going to be won anytime soon.

The long game is the only thing libertarians have right now. There is no short game for us. There are no big conversions coming. We are pretty much down to one on one debates with the limited few who have open minds. But it is a noble pursuit. We have truth, decency and principle on our side. These are powerful weapons to take into intellectual battle.

And at some point, an opening will emerge for us to advance aggressively thanks to the inevitable twirl and clash of events in a centrally planned world. The more people we already have on our side to take advantage of such an opening, the greater the advance will be at that time.

Ex glande quercus.



  1. Good post.

    I'll add that it's somewhat depressing that libertarians have to be prodded into criticizing a sitting president.

  2. I need to develop these themes in more detail later but…

    1. Since I didn’t cause Trump to be elected, I can still sit back and maintain that it’s a positive thing for the whole world to see the complete and utter psychological meltdown of the left and the statists in response to him. That seemingly endless phenomenon might be worth whatever downside there is to Trump. Further, watching leftists play all of their cards (such as they are) out in public puts me in a state of general euphoria. Who can now deny that the entire Democrat party, academia and the media are the equivalent of Crystal Mangum and Mike Nifong? For several decades, you could say that the Democrats had been Clintonized. Now you can officially say they’ve been Nifonged. We should be able to make something out of that. And libertarians need to stop trying to virtue signal to these people. They are deathly afraid of us which is the reason they want to shut us up and never engage our ideas. They blamed Russia because they could not bear to think that it was their fault they lost the election. They now scream “racist” because they cannot accept either that their policies have failed or that women and minorities might have some responsibility for their own predicament. They’re completely nuts and we need to demonstrate that to everyone.

    2. It might be nice if in the next 50 years we came up with a plan so that most people understand that inflation is a purposeful government program and not a mysterious force of nature. How is anyone going to understand ABCT if they can’t grasp that inflation is a purposeful government program intended to solve a problem that does not exist? And it also might be nice if we repeated 5 times a day that Keynesianism is a hoax, that the market does not fail and it does not need “stimulus”. I suspect much latent support for war is based upon public school indoctrination saying that war is good for the economy. We don’t need to prove it does not fail. The statists need to prove it does by engaging and refuting our ideas. Plus, Hayek clearly stated Keynesianism was a hoax. Why not run with it?

    Hayek: The only thing I blamed Keynes for is to making his theory more attractive and effective, he called it THE general theory. In fact, he knew precisely that it was not a general theory, but it was an argument to persuade government in the 1930s to do particular things.

    Mr. Buckley: It was an ad hoc.......?

    Mr. Hayek: It was entirely ad hoc. He was one of the most fascinating men I knew, but the personal magnetism of this man not only persuaded the younger generation of economists. And if I had been a much younger man and a student, I probably would have been swept off my feet as were most of the people.

    Mr. Buckley: Like Nixon.

    Mr. Hayek: No, no. (laughter).

    3.. Demand a complete and total end to private discrimination lawsuits. We think women and minorities will be just fine. Get the statists to admit they think women and minorities are hopeless and helpless.

    1. It’s all about the "left" in your posts. Libertarian doesn’t mean “someone who’s anti-left”. And in the post he cited of yours, you said “The left controls the schools, the courts, the churches and the media.” Nonsense. They don’t control the courts, churches and media any more than the right does. Fox News and talk radio aren’t left wing - neither are churches. The internet and YouTube aren't controlled by the left either.

      The fact is many “libertarian” Trump supporters identified with part of Trumps core message, in particular the Islamapobia and xenophobia and its policy implications; and despised her and the left with a passion. This was apparent from their own words.

      Also, to them it was as if “Hiltery” would have had the power of an absolute dictator, able to get anything she wanted. Obama had 2 years of a Congress controlled by Democrats (both houses), and barely got his ACA passed; Hillary wouldn’t have had even that.

    2. You are so right. The left "progressives" control what I said they control. However, everyone else is a "right wing progressive" like or similar to Trump. None of them seem concerned about war crimes, tens of thousands killed in Mexico due to the drug war or the cause of inflation. Republicans seem to think war is good for the economy and love Israel and Bibi without question.

      There. Things are even worse than what I first implied.

  3. The Left is focused on sanctuary cities, diversity, multiculturalism, and shouting down opponents as racist and sexist. The result is on a per capita basis Sweden now has more rapes than anywhere else in the world. In Germany in the under 30s, 15% are Muslim, and of those 80% are on welfare. Here, since the 1965 immigration law change which Kennedy promised wouldn't change demographics, we suffer 100 million from the 3rd world. Last week a neighbor's grandson visited 3 universities as a potential engineering student in the Philadelphia area, and all 3 asserted that the main reason he should study with them was their diversity.

    The Left and mainstream politicians are trying to destroy Western identity and values either through design or incompetence. I don't know what this should be called. Cultural Marxism?

    1. I'm struggling to figure out what this post has to do with libertarianism. I'm sorry that you don't like immigrants or diversity, but part of being a libertarian is accepting that even though other people will frequently do things that you don't personally like, that's no justification for initiating violence against them, or for advocating for the state to do so.

  4. I'm not sure why the libertarian strategy should be any different depending on who is president. The differences among individual presidents (and different political parties) are minuscule compared with the difference between what libertarians espouse and what exists today. All the different presidents are merely captains of the ship of state, whereas our message is that we shouldn't even be on the ship.

    In my view, we should continue to deliver the message that libertarianism is the only philosophy which is consistently against the use of force against peacefully acting individuals -- who can object to that? -- and chip away where we can at the notion that the state is necessary, moral, peaceful or economically defensible.

    You may never know whose mind you have changed until long after the fact. My strategy is OMAAT: one mind at a time.

  5. The future doesn't belong to the victors, it belongs to the survivors.

  6. I've come to the same realization. Trying to convert the masses is mostly a waste of time & resources, so I'm pessimistic on efforts like the Libertarian Party. I put more stock in technology as a path to liberty. Yes, it can also be used by government to oppress, it's still better than politics, which is almost always used to oppress.

  7. Practically nobody wants to hear attacks of substance on Trump. They want the shallow stuff which requires no work on their part to understand, think, or gain background knowledge. Thus the things to which libertarians should call Trump out on don't matter to anyone but libertarians.

    If libertarians join in the Trump attacks as they are being done, through emotion and nonsense, then all that is being accomplished is further sealing out the electoral process to those who haven't been approved and sent. I don't see what good it does to allow the establishment to make it clear what someone who doesn't come through the approval process will be subjected to.

    The systems, the institutions the state controls have been pushing children to socialism for a very long time. It just gets stronger over time. They took over and created these institutions to further the aims and powers of the state and undoing that programming, that conditioning is the uphill battle. Thus for liberty to have any chance, that programming must first be stopped, interrupted, rendered moot.

    1. Let's not pretend that populist democracy isn't one of the most dangerous flavors of statism.

  8. Jimmy say what needs to be said! The status quo needs to crash in some real way that creates propaganda defying hardship. Some say that is not possible but Trump is a signal that we are heading in the right direction.

    This and the left losing their mind may come in handy sometime.

  9. Can't argue with RW or with most comments here, but I wonder what happened to those huge crowds of students who turned out for Ron Paul. That gave me hope that the government-educated youth were smarter than the government and the media assumed.