After a record short wait, the latest video from the Rose and Crown meetup is online. I would like to claim that my effectiveness at video editing has greatly improved, or that the talk required less encoding time than other talks or less editing, but the real reason was that I did it while off sick with a sore gut. Woe is me, but the rewards are yours:
Brian prefixed his talk with the warning that he wasn’t sure that it was worth listening to, or why it was worth a listen, but by the end the value of his message was abundantly clear: since libertarianism is so very hard to argue for, consider another approach. Don’t argue for it, but instead explain what it is and focus instead on building the libertarian community. Having an explaination and a label for the theory and basic policy directions is enough to raise up the flag and gather together all the people that already agree with them. This is surprisingly useful, he argued, becuase it will help to develop the talents that can take on the detailed work of bringing libertarianism to the detailed areas.
He gave an example of James Tooley, a visitor to some the the earliest libertarian meetups in Brian’s own home who now researches the work of private enterprise in bringing education to the very poorest people in the world, an example of a detailed policy area that needs to be explored to address the second “arguing for it” phase.
That word “phase” was not Brian’s but was rather introduced into the Q&A by regular meetup participant James Rigby who, with Richard Carey, floated the Pro-Liberty Party at the meetup in September. The fact that that earlier launch happened does tend to prove Brian’s point about developing the community, but James’ point brought a new dimension to the evening for me.
Perhaps it is true that a focus on defining the movement is sufficient to grow it, at the moment, but there will come a second “phase” when the movement has grown to it’s natural maximum and action is required to expand it’s potential; to grow beyond natural libertarians. That phase will be much harder, take much more time, will require much more specialist knowledge, it’s more likely to be a career than a hobby and if’s a hobby then you will be lucky to die having completed your small part of it. Fortunately the two phases are, I think, already happening in parrallel at different ends of the battle front.
If there is one thing to take away from Brian’s talk it’s this: know that there is a variety of different ways to fight for liberty and choose your targets according to your strengths.