When it comes to deciding who it is one wants to work with, my gut reaction is to be as inclusive as possible. Ideology is an essential part of this decision, but I do not simply draw a strict philosophical line and then reject as allies everyone on the “wrong” side of it.
Rather, I think co-operation is better evaluated with reference to the external perception of the action undertaken. I’ve never been invited to sign a joint letter, but I would wonder how many letter could get published and does the text recognise a plurality of opinion? Can I feasibly achieve anything alone rather than with the group? In that case a separate letter is generally going to be feasible, but for something like a petition – which only makes an impact if it reaches large numbers – joining in is more likely to be the better option.
Do I go and swell the ranks of a Union and SWP sponsored protest march? I would be sympathetic but uncomfortable with that because buried within those ranks I would be merely counted with the organisers’ tribe, lending sanction and power to that tribe. Unfortunately, I think that despite the success of the scientific method many people do still follow the ideas that are popular and end up opting into intellectual package deals promoted by one tribe or another. A new tribe is able to cause a reevaluation of intellectual allegiance in the people that notice it, but an existing tribe that is swelled by the ranks of smaller tribes reinforces the larger tribe and prevents reevaluation.
On Syria, you lot were relatively strict on your exclusion of Paul Staines as “not a libertarian” if he supported intervention, and you gave Perry de Havilland a hard time when he talked about his experiences in Bosnia (and he was opposed to intevention in Syria). These are people who helped bring me, and I’m sure thousands others, into the libertarian tent. Words are shifty things, but even if “libertarian” can no longer be a proper label for their beliefs (notably, Perry doesn’t like it) I don’t think it is possible to say they are not part of the larger scene. Richard Elliot, at The Backbencher (which seemed to get your ideological seal of approval) analyses which parts of the historical tradition oppose interventions and which endorse it:
my contention is that military intervention, depending on where one’s own libertarian principles are derived from philosophically, is not ruled out de facto as a non-libertarian position.
He concluded, essentially, that classical liberals logically might support intervention, and still be part of the historic tradition. Critically rational individualism, classic liberalism, objectivism, minarchism and anarcho-capitalism are also part of that scene, like it or not. This is less to do with what ideas and concepts correctly carry that word, than who the people are that choose to spend their lives promoting similar ideas and concepts. Some of those folks are disposed towards foreign interventions, and they have a whole bunch of other views you may not agree with as well.
Does war have a special status, on account of its hideous consequences, that means co-operation with pro-interventionists is off on, for example, drug legalisation? or any other issue? I think that ignores the serious consequences of those other issues. I picked drug legalisation as an example because the Mexican war on drugs has claimed roughly the same number of lives as the Syrian civil war. If someone is pro-drug legalisation and pro-humanitarian intervention are you going to ostracise them on account of the consequences of one of their beliefs? This is a nonsensical approach; their other beliefs and the opportunities their co-operation entails have value separate from any potential negatives. Are you going to try to net off the body counts? What about property losses? Trying to work out how to divide people up will only result in unecessary division.
I want Libertarian Home to be a platform for constant activism on the topics that unite us, while putting individual libertarians in complete control of how that happens. That’s why the recent website redesign dedicated the first, and most graphically alluring, 300 pixels to specific messages about specific ideas to do things; things involving people who are not even sightly libertarian, such as your MP. In order for those things to work people must feel able to support them. I hope that making this a “libertarian” homepage is enough that you feel encouraged to take part in those things from time to time, but it does not make sense to first reject and ostracise half of the libertarian community before asking the rump for help. A broadly defined community will be more numerous and a campaigning website that welcomes all of the different schools of thought will be more effective.