Why Be Libertarian?
Strategies for a Libertarian Victory
The Importance of the Caucus
on Coalitions and Alignments
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.
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
support to groups who happen to be our allies on particular issues.
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
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
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.
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
rather than with, the State. As an example of coalitions
to form, many conservative libertarians, in the late 1960's, allied
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.