Singleton on Libertarians

 Posted by on 12 June 2008 at 1:24 pm  Libertarianism
Jun 122008

Alex Singleton of the British Telegraph made the following interesting statement about the British Libertarian party:

What it will do, like the Libertarian Party has done in the United States, is to tarnish the libertarian brand, allowing the crazier aspects of libertarian thinking to come to the fore, and achieving nothing of any merit.

I don’t know anything about the UK Libertarian Party so I can’t comment on them. But there is the interesting issue (which Singleton did not pursue) of why the American LP has allowed the “crazier aspects” to dominate.

A good place to start is Ayn Rand’s own critiques of Libertarians here and here. Peter Schwartz has made similar comments here.

If a political party purports to defend “liberty”, but it takes the position that no proper philosophical grounding is necessary to defend that view, and hence it welcomes “supporters” who advocate all manner of good and bad philosophical views as equal allies in the cause of liberty, what will be the natural outcome?

Just as Gresham’s Law states that, “Bad money drives out the good”, the philosophical equivalent is that bad ideas will drive out the good whenever their respective adherents attempt to cooperate as a political party.

Over time, the inevitable demands to compromise will cause the better people to lose to the worse ones, and the crazier elements of the party will soon dominate. As Ayn Rand astutely noted:

“In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.”

The same is true of compromise between those who trade in genuine currency and those who trade in counterfeit money. Or between genuine defenders of freedom and the faux defenders.

For further discussion on this interesting topic, I also recommend her thought-provoking essay, “The Anatomy of Compromise” from Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. Here’s one brief excerpt to whet your appetite:

The three rules listed below are by no means exhaustive; they are merely the first leads to the understanding of a vast subject.

1. In any conflict between two men (or two groups) who hold the same basic principles, it is the more consistent one who wins.

2. In any collaboration between two men (or two groups) who hold different basic principles, it is the more evil or irrational one who wins.

3. When opposite basic principles are clearly and openly defined, it works to the advantage of the rational side; when they are not clearly defined, but are hidden or evaded, it works to the advantage of the irrational side.

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