Without diversity and competition of ideas, any philosophy is doomed to underdevelopment and stagnation. Libertarianism is no different, and it surely has a plethora of variations. Every libertarian one comes across probably subscribes to some unique flavor of the broad philosophy. There are anarchists, minarchists, constitutionalists, anarcho capitalists, paleo conservatives, and countless more. Hell, there are even libertarian socialists.
But let’s face it, libertarians are a minority — growing, but still a minority — and without a concerted effort to bring more people into the movement, we’ll never come to prominence. Unfortunately, it is all too often that instead of inclusion, libertarian activists are guilty of a tendency to exclude those who fail to share the same or all libertarian beliefs. As a minority, such infighting and exclusivity could prove more detrimental to the movement than any statist opposition ever could.
This isn’t to suggest that libertarians as philosophers should abstain from constant debate on every intricacy of the philosophy. In regards to philosophy, purism is absolutely vital. Nor is this to suggest that libertarian activists should sell out the philosophy at any point that it gains them a small victory. Activism without sound philosophy is a human with an empty soul. However, it is to suggest that libertarians working as activists should have different goals than libertarians working as philosophers.
The goal of the libertarian activist should always be to bring more people into the movement. A typical situation to consider is the case of handling Reagan and his supporters. Was Reagan a libertarian? I hardly think so. But what favors do we do the movement by bashing all of his supporters, who are likely prime prospects for a libertarian conversion, making them think we’re “extremist” and turning them off from us? A much wiser approach would be focusing on his hints of libertarianism, especially his way of branding it, and using this to bring his fans to a true limited government mindset.
We do ourselves no favors by shunning those deemed not quite libertarian enough.
As activists we must constantly seek inclusion, especially strategic inclusion. Should we bar Ted Cruz from our events because he’s not