A way for Libertarians to be effective and more relevant

Eli Watkins of CNN reports in a May 29, 2016 column (http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/27/politics/libertarian-party-convention/index.html) of the Libertarian Party's newest effort to be relevant to American politics in an effective sense.  Voting in a candidate for President is NOT going to be successful OR effective.  


  There probably is no high degree of correlation between those people who tend to favor personal "liberty” (as the libertarians do to a greater degree than most people) and private citizens, as defined here. There is a conceptual difference between being self-interested and aggressive as private citizens are (i.e., having no problem exploiting the collective) and libertarians who, in principle, don't want to take anything away from anyone. They merely want to be themselves, let live, and be left alone by government and others. Of course, there is an overlap between the Alpha Dog libertarians (like the Ayn Rand novel protagonists) and private citizens where both types don't understand or care if their liberty tramples the liberty of anyone or everyone else. Whether some libertarians want to concede the point or not there is an inescapable trade off in principle of one person's liberty and another's constraints. (Chapter 9 has more discussion of this point and of libertarianism in general.)


At first consideration, most libertarians may be somewhat threatened by the activist program contemplated here. They probably will object to much of it, especially to the ideas of the common good, the collective perspective, and the social fabric. But they may want to think twice about that as even libertarians are part of a collective as members of families, teams, communities, and the nation. All but the most isolationist types are inescapably part of these and other social communities and draw value from them in many ways. They may take for granted much of the value in these relationships. 


Nevertheless, asserting due consideration of the common good and the collective does not necessarily impinge upon libertarian ideals. The program will have no beefs with those self-focused individuals who do not negatively impact the public by their personal choices and actions. The program only will pushback on those who impinge on the “rights” of public citizens. It also has no intention to compel anyone to support it or be a part of it. It doesn't care much what individuals do who just cherish personal space and just carves out new complementary room for those more socially and community-oriented.


The realty is that many libertarians are publicly-minded. Consider the Internet gurus who pioneered the free and open network concept of the Internet, worked in collaboration to develop open source software, engage in all sorts of knowledge sharing, and the like. Many of them are sharing and helpful folks who like membership in social (or virtual) communities even if still protective of their own spaces. There is no essential philosophical conflict in those types of voluntary associations and community activities and the voluntary activities of the many components of the program. 


There are other harmonies, too, between libertarianism and the program. The program is principled and essentially humanist supporting many of the personal liberty values libertarians respect. The program will rely heavily on grassroots levels of development and participation; emphasize reason, science, and technology; and intends to be a populist counterforce to what many libertarians see as their enemies–stupid and incompetent governance and overbearing Big Business. 


The project, of course, conceives of limited but smarter and more valuable government, new checks on both government and Big Business, and more rational public policymaking steered in large part by scientific and technological experts and professionals. Personal liberty interests may be rather facilitated by the rational and scientific essence of the program, too. By implication that might mean, for example, discouragement of irrational governmental or social restrictions on lifestyle choices, more rational regulation of guns and recreational drugs, and smarter choices in military and foreign relations (meaning collectively-based and not driven by special interests.).


Even the most doctrinaire but intellectually honest libertarian-types have to concede the need to accept a middle ground (or multiple perspectives) on a lot of the major contemporary social issues important to them. The official position of the Libertarian Party of America, for example, opposes any taxes at all, yet concedes that government (presumably with revenue from somewhere) is necessary for certain societal functions–national defense, criminal law enforcement, etc. What's up with that? Are we to have private-pay national defense? Law enforcement on an individual pay-as-you-go basis? Where is the bright-line principle anywhere separating the individual from the various collectives? 



In actuality, the hard-edged principles of the libertarians break down when applied to a lot of real life issues. Analyzed properly, they manifest in ranges of compromise or implying acceptance of multiple mixed perspectives. Disputes regarding these kinds of issues presumably will have to come down to good judgment line drawing between individual and collective interests. For that, we have the seemingly acceptable processes of the rule of law and majority rights (supplemented by the rationality processes of the program) to work them out. On balance, it would seem that the program's emphasis on smart, rational governance would be, to most libertarians, superior to lesser, but still bad, governance.



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