Thursday, August 21, 2014

Toward a New Liberty: Why We Disagree

Photo by Judd Weiss
Many in the movement have called me a statist, and that pisses me off like you wouldn't believe. (For starters, calling someone inside the movement a statist is childish ad hominem. It's also a great way to get people to agree with you... NOT!

I'm a libertarian through and through, but I operate differently from most of you. Here's how:

Most of you have a brilliant grasp of libertarian theory. You're focused on the finish line. For some, the finish line is a government that obeys the Constitution to the letter; for others, the finish line is full harmonious anarchy.

You see how things ought to be, then you see how things are (police brutality, unjust wars abroad, obscene taxation) and the difference horrifies you.

It's TOO EASY to focus on the finish line and then self-righteously preach about how the police are pigs, how we don't need a standing army, how the state must be done away with, etc. Too easy!

I see the finish line and I want it just as badly as you do. But I also understand that we need to GET THERE first. It won't happen overnight, and we won't get to the libertarian society in one Great Leap Forward. It happens through baby steps.

Yours Truly reading "The Moral Revolution in Atlas Shrugged"
So when I disagree with you, I'm not negating the Rothbardian vision of a new liberty. I'm either making recommendations on the NEXT STEP on the long journey to get there, or I'm telling you to cool it on living in Theory Land and get back to the now, so that you can help me identify ways to get to that new liberty. Remember, simply identifying how things ought to be does NOTHING to change the reality of what's happening now in real time.

We need to consciously and constantly work towards the finish line, inch by inch and yard by yard. We do this by scaling back big government, having honest and productive discussions with those who disagree with us, and supporting market innovations that complement our worldview (i.e. Uber, Bitcoin, the Internet). Sometimes we'll need to make the best of a bad situation if it advances our cause.

The liberty movement NEEDS theorists--engineers--like you to help us keep our eye on the ball, the finish line, so that our movement never loses its soul. But the movement also needs people like me--navigators--to pay attention to "conditions of the road" so that our movement can get there rather than be a pseudo-religion.

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