Ever since the Libertarian Party collapsed amid much rancor and passion at the centre and an equal amount of head-scratching amongst the ordinary members, those of us libertarians who have been meeting in Southwark, under the auspices of the Party but never limited to Party members, being open to all-comers, have been pondering; what are we going to do now?
Presuming that we have not had a change of heart or mind with regard to the principles which led us to seek out other like-minded souls, and that notwithstanding our diverse views on a host of issues, we share a unifying belief in the central virtue of liberty, and a desire to further the principles we hold dear in this country of ours and the society we live in, it would be a shame to abandon the start we have made, humble though it no doubt is, to build something new within the libertarian movement.
The ultimate goal of such a movement must be to bring about a libertarian society. Although we will differ in our vision of that ‘New Jerusalem’, our task in the here and now, I would say, is to struggle in support of everything that makes our society more libertarian and against everything that makes it less so. After a century that has witnessed an unparalleled growth in state power, a massive increase in bureaucratic regulation of all aspects of life, and the virtual overthrow of sound and well-established economic principles, we are not short of causes to champion nor targets to assail.
The Libertarian Party was formed to raise a standard to rally around. It was a means to an end, not an end in itself. Certainly, it was to provide a vehicle for candidates to challenge in elections, but even electoral success would only be a step towards the ultimate goal stated above – a libertarian society.
That vehicle – the Party – is at present stalled in a ditch. If it can be rescued it may yet serve a purpose, but we cannot rest idle in the meantime, there is work to be done.
A political party can do some things, and it can’t do others. A non-party association likewise has advantages and disadvantages. Given the country’s electoral system, the nagging fear of futility could never be wholly banished from the enterprise of attempting to establish a new party. A brief perusal of the register held by the Electoral Commission reveals a Kyper Belt of every political hue beyond the gas giants of Labour, Tory and Lib Dem. Closest to many of us amongst the lesser political planets is UKIP, which has still not achieved one seat in the House of Commons, notwithstanding the broad antagonism towards EU membership amongst the voters.
Certainly the possibility of a Libertarian Party rising swiftly to prominence exists – hope springs eternal, after all – but it is also possible, and not mutually exclusive, that a better strategy for libertarians lies in political action outside the structure of party politics, through campaigning on diverse issues and joining forces with like-minded people of whatever party or none.
Therefore I propose that a new Association be formed, open to all who share our common principles, including those who are members of political parties.
The purpose would to continue the social aspect of meeting other libertarians, the importance of which should not be overlooked, but also to act as a catalyst for political action and to develop links between other existing organisations to further libertarianism as a movement.
At this stage (writing as the first and only member!) it would be unwise to plan too far ahead, or to be overly precise in what the Association should be and should do. What is required is a handful of people willing to sit down and agree a statement of principles, which will be the foundation stone for this new Association.
As libertarians, we believe in voluntarism. So, brethren, sistren, what do you say?