Monday, February 11, 2013

How to Effectively Transition Towards Liberty

I consider "The Case for Radical Idealism" by Murray Rothbard to be one of his more important essays, as it deals with the crucial question of what strategies are needed to achieve genuine victories for liberty. Excerpted below is the portion where he discusses how we should judge the merits of a transitional or compromise proposal:
How, then, can we know whether any halfway measure or transitional demand should be hailed as a step forward or condemned as an opportunistic betrayal? There are two vitally important criteria for answering this crucial question: (1) that, whatever the transitional demands, the ultimate end of liberty be always held aloft as the desired goal; and (2) that no steps or means ever explicitly or implicitly contradict the ultimate goal. A short-run demand may not go as far as we would like, but it should always be consistent with the final end; if not, the short-run goal will work against the long-run purpose, and opportunistic liquidation of libertarian principle will have arrived. 
An example of such counterproductive and opportunistic strategy may be taken from the tax system. The libertarian looks forward to eventual abolition of taxes. It is perfectly legitimate for him, as a strategic measure in that desired direction, to push for a drastic reduction or repeal of the income tax. But the libertarian must never support any new tax or tax increase. For example, he must not, while advocating a large cut in income taxes, also call for its replacement by a sales or other form of tax. The reduction or, better, the abolition of a tax is always a noncontradictory reduction of State power and a significant step toward liberty; but its replacement by a new or increased tax elsewhere does just the opposite, for it signifies a new and additional imposition of the State on some other front. The imposition of a new or higher tax flatly contradicts and undercuts the libertarian goal itself.
It's important to keep these points in mind especially as we assess the new "Ron Paul Republicans" or "Liberty Republicans" that have been elected since 2010. Ron Paul was very good at upholding liberty as the ultimate goal and not taking steps to contradict those goals. In politics we should look for others that will do likewise, and be very careful of those who don't.

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