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News ::
Let's talk about tactics (english)
26 Apr 2003
Modified: 27 Apr 2003
In February alone, Antiwar.com garnered over 400,000 unique visitors, with nearly one million separate visits: we are by far the biggest antiwar website and the biggest libertarian site. So, once we Libertarians are embedded in the antiwar movement and are vital cogs in the peace machine, what shall we do with this leverage?
Let's talk about tactics
by Justin Raimondo, editorial director of Antiwar.com, March 3, 2003

The libertarian movement has a niche all carved out in advance if it ever chooses to occupy it, for the antiwar movement has been red-baited in every major newspaper in the country: the presence of small but vocal left-wing groups has all but obscured the basically mainstream character of antiwar sentiment, at least in some media. While the hard left will probably not welcome us with open arms, the main body of the movement will find us not only interesting but also necessary as a way to deflect criticism of the movement as too left-wing. Well, you see, they'll say, when faced with the familiar red-baiting from the War Party, we have these libertarians, and they aren't exactly commies, now are they?

Once we are embedded in the antiwar movement, once LP members are vital cogs in the peace machine, what do they do with their leverage? Do they lecture their confreres endlessly on the virtues of Austrian economics? Well, there is nothing wrong with taking the opportunity to invite co-workers in the antiwar movement to a lecture on Austrian economics, or to engage them in casual conversation. But Libertarian Party members are going to earn a hearing by their actions, not their words. Talk is cheap. The LP claims tens of thousands of members nationwide. But how many of them can it turn out for a local antiwar meeting? For a march on Washington? Well, we'll see.

But I can tell you this: the work put into building the antiwar movement, if done correctly, is an investment that is going to reap rich political dividends. And I don't mean just an influx of nominal members that is, members on paper only to pump up the inflated numbers that the LP is constantly touting. A concerted, planned intervention in the antiwar movement could reap hundreds if not thousands of truly dedicated members, that is, future LP activists a new generation of libertarian leaders.

Speaking of a new generation there is one aspect of the antiwar movement that is of vital concern to the continuity of libertarianism as a movement, and that is its demographics. Sure, there are a lot of middle-aged and older people, activists from the 1960s and 70s, involved. But this is also a very youthful movement: as I travel around the country, speaking at various college campuses, I haven't seen such a ferment since the Sixties. Except that, this time around, the youth are smarter, more discerning, less inclined to swallow leftist bromides, and much more receptive to libertarian ideas than my generation ever was.

The lack of an organized youth outreach will be the death knell of the libertarian movement. A childless family soon dies out. Is that what we want to happen to the Libertarian Party? The LP needs fresh recruits, especially among the youth, if it is to survive into the 21st century but where will they come from? Running endless campaigns where we get 1 percent of the vote? Or winning over the voters of tomorrow by taking a principled stand today?

I am not saying that the LP should immediately go out an try to organize a youth organization. Student libertarian groups already exist, to some extent, at colleges across the country, and now, it seems, they are gathering together to form a national student organization known as Students for a Libertarian Society (SLS). We are working with them at Antiwar.com, by offering financial and technical assistance, as well as friendly advice, and they are coming along quite nicely. It seems to me that the Libertarian Party, without intruding on their space, should give them all the organizational and even financial support that they need. They are, after all, the future that is, if there is to be a future.

I started out this talk by going into a bit of my history as a libertarian activist, and, returning to that theme, I can say that I left the Libertarian Party, in 1983, after almost eight years of non-stop activism. Not because I was burnt out on political activism, but because I was convinced that the LP had peaked, and already, at that point, entered a political cul-de-sac. The end of the cold war, and the conversion of a whole section of the conservative movement to a non-interventionist foreign policy convinced me, back then, that it was possible to work more effectively for the cause outside of the party which showed no interest in reaching out to conservatives and others who were questioning the cold war interventionist orthodoxy. In 1995, Eric Garris, a longtime libertarian activist, and I established Antiwar.com, because we were convinced that foreign policy was going to be the key issue in the years to come and, you know what? We were right.

This month [February], Antiwar.com garnered over 400,000 unique visitors, with nearly one million separate visits: we are by far the biggest antiwar website and the biggest libertarian site. I am very proud of what we have done, but not too proud to ask for your help. We can't do it alone. We've been holding down the fort for years, preparing for the day when the rest of the libertarian movement would decide to get serious about winning freedom in our time. Yes, that old slogan, when heard today, takes on a whole new meaning. For what it means is that we must either win back our freedom in our time, or else lose it perhaps forever.

Will America keep her old republic, or will the War Party take us all the way down the road to empire? That is the great issue that stands behind this war, and libertarians can only have one answer. Yes, the war is a great opportunity for the Libertarian Party. Yes, we can bring into existence a whole new generation of libertarian activists. But there's just one other thing: if we fail, we lose everything. The Constitution, our republican form of government, the last vestiges of our American revolutionary heritage and the last hope of freedom in our time or any time.

Justin Raimondo
See also:
http://www.antiwar.com/justin/j030303.html
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Comments

yeah, needs 10 words (english)
26 Apr 2003
Yeah, okay, got it. "Hey lets harness the energy of the youth as a movement against war while we can." Wow, only 16 words. B r e v i t y. Consider it.
not to mention scheming (english)
27 Apr 2003
scheming as bad as ANSWER, feels wrong, feels like a Trojan Horse mentality, is not genuine, weakens and saps true movement energy for social justice, smells bad, pisses me off, got the point?
"vital cog" (english)
27 Apr 2003
By the way, don't flatter yourself thinking you're a vital cog in the anti-war movement just because your website got a couple hundred thousand hits. That's not being a vital cog.

Your politics is fucked. So you are against the same war that a lot of people are against. It doesn't make you a vanguard and it doesn't make you the one who invented the idea of being against that war. If you really want to be a force for change, grow up and get honest with yourself at the core and also listen to other people as if they have something equally valid as you to say, and you can then have a real and mutual effect on people.