Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Rothbard Gives His Take On the Barr-Root Campaign

...from beyond the grave.

In any ideological movement, the temptation to take quick shortcuts, the lure of betraying principle for supposed short-run gain, can become almost irresistible. But usually sellouts have occurred after the movement has taken power, or else when it is teetering on the brink of power. But it is surely rare for an ideological movement to sell out when it merely sniffs the faintest whiff of possible power some day in the future. Surely this is gutlessness and venality of an unusually high order. Yet this began to happen to the growing libertarian movement in early 1979, and is happening right now before our eyes.

This new opportunist strategy we might call, with considerable and much-merited sarcasm, the "quick-victory" model. The reasoning goes something like this: All this principle stuff is just a drag on the machinery. We can gain a rapid and enormous leap forward in votes, money, membership, and media influence. But to gain these great goals we must quietly but effectively bury these annoying principles, which only put off voters, money, influence, etc.

The problem, of course, is that even if money, votes, and influence are achieved by this route, what are they being achieved for? A major purpose, for example, of the Libertarian Party is to educate the public, but to educate them to what? Presumably, to libertarian principles. But if we present to the public watered-down pap hardly distinguishable from liberals, conservatives, or centrists on various issues, there will be no true education. The public will receive education, not in liberty, but in pap, and whatever votes are achieved will not be for liberty but for watered-down treacle. In the process, our glorious principles are betrayed and forgotten, and so the cause of liberty is worse off, even with several million votes, than it was before the sellout strategy took hold. So everyone loses, and no one benefits – except perhaps the opportunists themselves, who may personally gain in power and income from the whole shabby process.

How, then, were the opportunist connivers going to handle all the stiff-necked and principled purists in the Libertarian Party? The answer was simple, and typical of the process of betrayal occurring in ideological parties: Let the purists have their platform, which indeed has gotten harder core and more radical with each national convention. And then, simply control the Presidential candidate, and he ignores the platform. And then the party can quietly go to hell, except of course when needed as foot soldiers for ballot drives. Besides, they believed they could get away with this strategy with only a minimum of hassle from us purist malcontents. So far, in fact, the tactic has worked, and will continue to work unless and until genuine libertarians throughout the country rouse themselves and begin to do something effective about it. And the first step is to raise all of our voices loud and clear against this repellent takeover of our party.

Read the rest here.

Prophetic? You decide.

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