Wednesday, May 11, 2005

What's a libertarian for?

Reader Justin has politely but firmly asked why some libertarians bother with Libertarianz.
[F]or all your professed admiration for rationality and goal-orientation, you seem to be sorely lacking it. For a (small “l”) libertarian living in New Zealand, it’s difficult to determine the point of the Libz existence.

Is your goal to achieve parliamentary representation and change? If so, do you really think this is realistic?
A fair question which deserves an answer, one which I offer at some length here. I expect disagreement. A few people to whom I've spoken recently may realise I'm also answering their questions.

Linked Article: What's a libertarian for?

9 Comments:

Anonymous Sid said...

Hey, domain libertarian.org.nz is still available. I think its wise to take it because using appendix 'z' may not be many people's natural instinct.

I remember I typed libertarian.org.nz, but thankfully I kept trying and look in google.

5/11/2005 04:18:00 pm  
Anonymous Justin said...

Hi PC,

Thanks for the response. Your answer to my question seems to be “to promote freedom.” There’s nothing in your link that I disagree with, except to say: is a political party really the right vehicle for such activism? Think of all the energy wasted on electioneering: candidates meetings, electoral compliance, putting up hoardings, “getting out the vote.” Don’t you think your activist goals could be better achieved by, say, a policy institute or think tank? You could achieve the same goals, target the same audience, *without* the wastage of electioneering.

You ask, “Do you really think that political activism doesn't influence established parties?” I respond: I guess I meant “influence established parties from *within*.” Rather than antagonise parties likely to adopt your ideas by “threatening” their vote, why not lobby/educate individual MPs? Or work within parties to move them towards a more libertarian base?

5/11/2005 05:16:00 pm  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Thanks for that Justin.

5/12/2005 02:41:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Justin, you said: "Rather than antagonise parties likely to adopt your ideas by “threatening” their vote, why not lobby/educate individual MPs? Or work within parties to move them towards a more libertarian base?"

Why not do both? :-)

Truth is, no politician is going to accept damn all unless they see political necessity in it. We have to make ideas that promote liberty and freedom fundamentally understandable, and politically necessary. Working on both fronts does that - unlike LBJ, basically we try to be both inside the tent pissing out, and outside the tent pissing in. There are no shortcuts.

5/12/2005 03:11:00 pm  
Anonymous Justin said...

Hi PC

You ask, “Why not do both?” I respond, apart from the fact it’s unusual to be a member of multiple political parties, I can think of at least three reasons:

1. The antagonism factor I mentioned above. I think the Libz won close to 1% of the vote in the last election you contended. A party like ACT might reasonably think that had the Libz not contended, most of that share would have gone to them, gaining one, maybe two, additional seats. If I was a decision-maker within ACT, I’d probably be somewhere between irked and mighty pissed off. It’s difficult to work with people you irk or mightily piss off (or “pissed on” to borrow your metaphor!)

2. I think those that aren’t antagonised by the Libz don't take you seriously - the National Party for instance. It’s difficult to work with people who don’t take you seriously.

3. Hours in the day. If you determine one strategy for promoting freedom to be more effective than the other, why would you spend time on the lesser?

5/12/2005 05:06:00 pm  
Blogger Blair said...

I don't know anyone in ACT that takes the Libz seriously. And where they are antagonised, it is not because of politics but because most Libz are such thoroughly disagreeable people. I think the public (where they even notice) understands this too. The consensus in ACT is that most Libz voters are not otherwise ACT voters, but actually non-voters. Their electoral effect on other parties is very minimal, largely because their doctrinaire adherence to the pie-in-the-sky of absolute freedom is far too extreme for most Nanny-coddled voters to get their heads around.

Ultimately, however, principles are useless without the power to move things in the direction those principles dictate. And I don't think the Libz get this at all.

5/12/2005 06:56:00 pm  
Anonymous Rick (with a capital R) said...

Blogman is right that no other kid on the block promotes freedom. It's also right that libertarianism, though it may braid into numerous tributaries of political applications, runs with the substance of one body which must be accepted or rejected as such. All the political parties have allegiance to freedom for one issue at least, but this is wholly insincere unless it is allegiance for all issues. Uniquely therefore Libertarianz alone know what they say and mean what they say, both at the same time.

Unfortunatly this virtue is not enough to whitewash Libertarianz sins nor answer Justin's question. Because, it is entirely a result of The Libz' clear understanding of what's right and wrong about New Zealand that make their ongoing apathy so acutely treasonous. Who is worse- Nats and NORMLs and know-nothings who work like Trojans as best they know how or Libertarianz who know every who, what, how and why but passively yap amoungst themselves for 10 years? Cataloguing, counting and recounting the streams of suicides, property violations, beurocratic victories, burgularies, censorships, prohibitions, apartheids, licencings, re-licencings, child-farmings, disarmings, appropriations, regulations, taxations and indoctrinaions........this is what mad Nero would have done if someone had given him, not a fiddle but an abacus while his Rome burned.

So tell us why to bother. What's a homeless libertarian to do but play eye-spy with this "loony-fringe" franchise? They're no more, were never more, but hundreds of Kiwis would rally in the first second to Libz if they'd only choose to be as relevant as their ideals.

5/12/2005 07:40:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Sorry guys, I've been meaning to get back for days to your answers.

Justin, you said, "If you determine one strategy for promoting freedom to be more effective than the other, why would you spend time on the lesser?"

What's wrong with attacking on all fronts? Each in fact works off the other, and allows each activist to be active in his or her own particular way. And I have to say that chastising from without while activists put pressure from within is peculiarly effective.

Blair, you said: " I don't know anyone in ACT that takes the Libz seriously."

Then why are you here, Blair? :-P

"Ultimately, however, principles are useless without the power to move things in the direction those principles dictate."

Not half as useless as power without principle, and nowhere near as dangerous. The first battle for freedom -- one that ACT woke up to too late and then only sporadically -- is that it is primarily a battle of ideas. You don't need 'power' for that, although it does help, but how ACT have done anything in ten years of parliamentary occupation to advance the ideas that underpin freedom I'm at a loss to know.

The Costa Rican libertarian party Movimiento Libertario are a model of what a parliamentary freedom party should be doing, expanding the market every election for the ideas that underpin freedom. ACT have done precisely the opposite, and now a few weeks or months from an election are desperately seeking headlines by throwing mud. It's appalling and disgraceful. No wonder people turn off 'freedom' if that's what it's made to look like.

Rick you said:"Blogman is right that no other kid on the block promotes freedom. It's also right that libertarianism, though it may braid into numerous tributaries of political applications, runs with the substance of one body which must be accepted or rejected as such. All the political parties have allegiance to freedom for one issue at least, but this is wholly insincere unless it is allegiance for all issues. Uniquely therefore Libertarianz alone know what they say and mean what they say, both at the same time. Unfortunately this virtue is not enough to whitewash Libertarianz sins nor answer Justin's question."

I was with you right up to 'sins.' At which point I'm afraid I have no idea what you're talking about.

Are you saying that all this activity is irrelevant: "Libertarianz who know every who, what, how and why but passively yap amoungst themselves for 10 years? Cataloguing, counting and recounting the streams of suicides, property violations, beurocratic victories, burgularies, censorships, prohibitions, apartheids, licencings, re-licencings, child-farmings, disarmings, appropriations, regulations, taxations and indoctrinaions........this is what mad Nero would have done if someone had given him, not a fiddle but an abacus while his Rome burned"?

I'm completely at a loss, Rick. Should we not have been doing any of that? If not us, who? And why on earth not do the work that needs to be done -- we don't really care who picks up the fruits of that work as long as the ideas go with it, which -- like virus-innoculated blanket -- they do. :-)

So, Rick, how would you suggest "Libz .. choose to be as relevant as their ideals"?

I'd truly love to know.

5/14/2005 04:16:00 pm  
Anonymous Rick said...

The designs of liberty have been parsed into such divine poetry and to this Wal Footrot's vernacular doesn't yet substantively contribute. Refering to the promotion of the most sacred ideal in the universe as pissing inside and outside tents and now as virulent bedwear...y'know, it's your signiture style and all, even endearing and personal, but if nobody's told you lately just take a moment to wonder if you mean to go quite that far. Crossed the line a while back between writing like Barry Crump and an R15 version of Captian Jack Swallow I reckon.

Now, ignore all that- back to business: you're 'compeletely at a loss' you say. Agreed. I explain again in smaller words. Now, nothing wrong in enumerating the demise of a sinking ship per se, for 10 years or however long you please- I didn't say there was- so poor guessing there by you. Where I find fault is in neglect and apathy, who finds that to be a controversial position? Neglect and apathy directed toward freedom are examples of bad attitudes. De ya ken?

However, the worst kind of neglect and apathy is served by those who most know better. So, because Libz undoubtably know better than anyone they are more to blame than all others if caught acting apathetically and neglectfully in the course of their endevours.

And they have been.

So, I ask again- what's a libertarian to do? Band with "the loony fringe" and just count the beans of suffering for a second decade? Is that the calling of patriots and the outlook as well as the history of The Libertarianz Party?

"So, Rick, how would you suggest "Libz..choose to be as relevant as their ideals"?"

Short answer: Dmorsuf

Slightly longer answer: Do more stuff



Rick at your service, TTFN!

5/16/2005 01:09:00 pm  

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