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Resolution on Coalitions and Alignments

Adopted by the National Committee, May 14, 1978

Libertarians face the challenge of cleaving always to pure principles and never betraying or undercutting such principles, while still acting efficaciously in the real world to bring about the triumph of those principles. This paper attempts to apply such a strategic policy to the questions of coalitions and alignments.

  1. Coalitions Ad Hoc
    It is right and proper that libertarians, including the LP, form coalitions on specific issues that will advance libertarianism, with non-libertarian groups (e.g., with liberals on the draft or on marijuana laws).

    But the coalitions should be on specific current issues; they should never be permanent organizational coalitions, since this would necessarily mean submergence of the LP and of libertarian principle. We should always remember, then, that coalitions are for limited purposes, and that we should never extend uncritical support to groups who happen to be our allies on particular issues.

  2. Relations with Allies: Membership, Activites, Revenue
    Is it legitimate for LP organizers and activists to speak at forums or platforms provided by non-libertairan organization, whether they be allies or other? The answer should be yes, there is no reason to avoid use of such public platforms, with one prudential proviso. That proviso is that it might be unwise to speak before a forum provided by organizations so out of public favor that they might militate against the LP goal of becoming a majority movement in America (E.g., speaking before the Ku Klux Klan, the CIA or the Mafia).

    A more Amore difficult question: is it legitiamte for LP organizers and activists to join (either as rank and file or as board members) organizations with whom we have ad hoc coalitions? The answer should be yes, since we are here dealing with inidvidual memberships, rather than permanent membership by the LP as a whole. such a membership would be particularly worthwhile where the activists can have a significant impact on the policies and programs of the allied organization. (examples of such organizations might be ACLU or NORML.) Assuming that this organization is not the State, we still have a prudential proviso: that it might be imprudent for the LP acitivists to join an orgainzations that is out of public favor, or that has a public image of being anti-libertarian, so that we would seem to be inconsistent (e.g., the Ku Klux Lkan or the Mafia).

    An allied question: whose monetary contraibution should the LP accept? Should it turn any contribution down? Recognizing that no organization can be expected to engage in the lengthy investigation of the remote source of every dollar, we conclude with similar guidelines to the previous issues: namely, that we should accept any money proferred, with two provisos. One, the moral proviso--that we accept no money from the State, whether the CIA or the federal elections machinery. And second, the prudential proviso--that we should refuse any money the acceptance of which would seriously embarrass us in our goal of becoming a majority movement (again, the Mafia or the Ku Klux Klan).

    On the money question, we might add that if the LP engages in any money-making activity, the activites themselves should advance libertarian principles at the same time that they yield revenue (e.g., the LP should sell libertarian literature, but not sell investment advice).

    Thus, ad hoc coalitions are legitimate and proper, provided that they are not immoral in allying with the State, and that ehy are not imprudent in cutting against the task of building a majority movements.

  3. Coalitions With Whom?

    With whom should we be forming coalitions?

    First, to use Staughton Lynd's phrase of the 1960's, we should never form coalitions "with the Marines"; rather we should coalesce against them. In short, whether we form coalitions with liberals, leftists, conservatives or rightists, we should always take care that the specific coalition is against, rather than with, the State. As an example of coalitions not to form, many conservative libertarians, in the late 1960's, allied themselves with the police and with government-run and -financed universities, and against the student rebels against these statist institutions.

    Second, the potential libertarian constituency is all those groups and classes in America who are net taxpayers, this is, who lose from government intervention. Most of the public are net taxpayers, and more and more citizens are beginning to perceive themselves as exploited taxpayers. As statism begins to founder on the rock of its own fallacies and inner contradictions, we can expect that even many government employees, perceiving those flaws, will become libertarians. The government employees should be welcomed into the libertarian movement, but we must always realize that the abstract convictions of these members continually cut against their own personal economic interests.



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