TM Lutas links to this thoughtful post on “Neolibertarian Practicality,” which takes radical libertarians to task for confusing faithfulness to libertarian values, which is good, with rigidity about political methods, which is counterproductive:
Practicality in lieu of principle seems to be anathema to Rothbard as it should be, but practicality joined with principle shouldn’t be, although he appears to make no difference between the two. He equates any nod to practicality as a compromise of principle. Compromising principle, in the case above would be to be satisfied with a 2% reduction of taxes as a goal. Attempting to achieve your goal of abolishing taxation by using 2% incremental cuts is not a compromising of principle, its simply a different and more practical way of achieving the same goal.
There is nothing noble or admirable about having good political ideas if you are too inflexible to get them enacted. I think that most intelligent people realize the validity of this assertion, which may be one reason why they have been leaving the Libertarian Party for years. Those who remain active in the LP seem increasingly to be strange people who are oblivious or indifferent to the empirical failure of their uncompromising political style.
As an aside, cursory comparison of the personal styles of some prominent libertarians and many utopian leftists reveals some commonality. Members of both groups tend to accuse anyone who agrees on goals, but not on methods, of being opposed to the goals. Perhaps certain kinds of people tend to be drawn to fringe political movements, and the Libertarian Party has its share of such people. Perhaps this is why the LP leadership often comes across as a bunch of cranks. It’s not easy to recruit ordinary voters who hate politics, when your leadership comes across as bitter, fractious, ideologically rigid and utopian. The LP could learn a thing or two from the Republicans in this regard, and maybe also from the Lubavitcher hassidim, who are doctrinally rigid but have recruited many Jews to their movement by being positive and open to dealing with different kinds of people, and by not insisting on compliance with all religious principles as a precondition of involvement. For ordinary voters to become engaged by a political movement there has to be something in it for them, and not just for the minority that enjoys struggle and politics for their own sake. The Republicans understand this, more or less, the Democrats are forgetting it, and the LP doesn’t have a clue.