Saturday, March 9, 2019

An Introduction for Libertarians to the Strategy and Tactics of Lenin

By Robert Wenzel

I have often referenced Leninist strategy and tactics when discussing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other American socialist democrats, but I have not gone into detail about what Lenin's strategy and tactics were.

Let's put it this way, socialists don't know anything about economics and freedom but they know an awful lot about strategy and tactics.

It would take a book to discuss in detail what they know. The great libertarian Murray Rothbard spent a considerable amount of time studying their strategy and tactics and understood how their techniques including the forming of alliances controlled by a cadre is very powerful.

If Charles Koch, with his money, stuck with Rothbard, we would have been much farther along the way toward a free society.

Instead, libertarians have gone off in all kinds of directions that make no sense in advancing the cause.

It is so bad that Lenninst tacticians laugh at libertarian and ancap efforts to advance liberty. They violate all kinds of basic rules of bringing about great social change.

The below clip by TheFinnishBolshevik provides a brief introduction to Leninist strategy and tactics. He uses Joseph Stalin's book Foundations of Leninism as a starting point.

Please keep in mind that this is a very brief introduction and provides just a hint of the way Marxist-Leninists think about strategy and tactics. There is much, much more to it. But do notice how they think about various groups as tools to form alliances to advance their causes.

What is particularly educational about this specific clip is how TheFinnishBolshevik discusses the period and thinking of Lenin and also mixes in a discussion of the current period. And, yes, in the middle of the clip he mentions libertarians and ancaps as pretty much nothing burgers when it comes to strategy and tactics. There is a BIG lesson that libertarians need to learn from this clip.

As a side note, I should mention that while I see AOC as adopting many of Lenin's tactics there are many hardcore Marxist-Leninists who don't see it that way and see her method as leading only to "compromise with the capitalists." I only wish.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of and Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank and most recently Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. His youtube series is here: Robert Wenzel Talks Economics. More about Wenzel here.


  1. " the middle of the clip he mentions libertarians and ancaps as pretty much nothing burgers when it comes to strategy and tactics. There is a BIG lesson that libertarians need to learn from this clip."

    I'm not sure that this is entirely fair to libertarianism. We are "fighting" on a very different "battlefield." All non-libertarian political philosophies advocate relatively rapid destruction of the existing power (sometimes through explicit violence, other times through the ballot box) and replacement with a new power. There is action involved in both parts. The average person can visualize that quite easily.

    On the other hand, libertarians are advocating non-violent resistance to the existing power, and replacement with no power, just an idea (the NAP). As Rothbard once noted, political injustices are deeds inflicted by one man on another and, since they are the actions of men, their elimination is subject to man’s instantaneous will. Thus libertarians are trying to change men's wills, and convince them that the concept of having no overarching power is a good thing. That's harder for people to visualize.

    It's much easier for a small group of highly active men -- such as the Bolsheviks in revolutionary Russia -- to effect change than it is for libertarians to change sufficient wills to bring about a more peaceful society. We are fighting an intellectual battle, not a physical battle, and can really only proceed one mind at a time. We need numerically more, highly energetic ambassadors like Lew Rockwell, Ron Paul, Tom Woods, Robert Wenzel, etc., but we are not going to be able to effect change as rapidly as more action-oriented philosophies.

  2. His indictment of the liberals is spot on. See how the liberals react to the AOC crowd. In otherwards, social movements are cool until the green attention is drawn to your chemically-manicured lawn.

    His atavistic belief that a revolutionary proletarian class exists in the industrial world shows he is out of touch with reality. The Marxists finally realized a proletarian revolution in an advanced society is impossible, which dawned the long march through institutions.

  3. This advice doesn't seem to apply to libertarian ancaps since we're not trying to wrestle control or even violently overthrow the existing government. We have a much different challenges of changing hearts and minds.

  4. Maybe we should strap AOC into the Captain's seat asap and let her own the crash. Some lessons can only be learned through experience.

  5. It's very easy to strategize about ways to get control of the State. That's why socialists are so good at it. All you need to do is drop all morality and have a penchant for violence.

    IF the goal for ancaps and libertarians is to being about an ancap/libertarians world, why would we think strategize to get control of the State is the correct means to attain that end? What ancap/libertarian honestly believes that if we just got control of the State, we could finally implement our libertarian dreams? Come on!

    I find it ludicrous to criticize the progress ancap/libertarians have made ─ largely in the realm of changing ideas rather that getting control of the State ─ from the point of view of how far we've come to controlling the State to impose our vision, let alone a Leninist point of view!

    If Austro-libertarians had stuck with the Koch brothers, there would be no more Austro-libertarians. It's precisely because Rothbard and Rockwell decided to break off from those corrupt idiots that we still have a strong Austro-libertarian movement!

    I don't fret about the fact that ancaps and libertarians haven't made progress in getting control of the State because I'm not naive enough to think that if only we had control, we would be closer to a libertarian paradise. No. The State will never be the correct means to attain our ends, so judging our progress from that point of view is just wrong. Rothbard (facetiously) estimated that there were probably only about 25 libertarians around when he started out. Today, we have millions. We've definitely made progress in the ideological front. How will this spill over to the political sphere? I don't know. What I do know is that the only way to get success in the political sphere is compromise, which ultimately destroys the original motivation. There's nothing wrong with alliances, but they must be means to an end. But sometimes alliance building turns into an end in itself as well as a means to attaining some other end that wasn't part of the original plan.

    If the fate of ancaps and libertarians is that that will never achieve political success required to bring about our world, that is unfortunate. But, although I can't articulate exactly what IS, I don't think political success is the means to achieve that end.