This essay from Murray Rothbard provides some intellectual stimulation for those who are well-versed in libertarian political theory. It’s dense reading, but provides some insight into certain ideological traps into which I myself have fallen.
One is the oft-repeated mantra that libertarians are better friends with right-wingers than left-wingers. Rothbard highlights that libertarianism, then called liberalism, was the left-wing but a century ago. It goes to show that liberalism was never meant to be a chronological ideology, but one of principle. Conservatives try to maintain the status-quo, or return to the recent past. Progressives promote the ‘next big thing,’ whether it’s a new form of liberty or tyranny. Both of these camps are incompatible with a principled position, because liberty will not always be fashionable in the near future or recent past. Sometimes, a couple centuries will have elapsed since the last good libertarian revolution (wink, wink).
Principled ideologies require relentless devotion, and a sense of hope. That is Rothbard’s main point: our current self-concept, as freedom activists, is shaped by America’s recent history. Our current self-concept is that we hold an extreme right-wing ideology, that we are losing ground to the statists, that conservatives are our closest allies in the struggle, and that the masses are hopelessly gullible to populist wiles. The lesson is thus: pick up your chin, trust no statist over another, and resist their barbarity knowing full well that liberty has historically been the stronger — and more popular — position. Remember that for us the most civilized of men, the good news is everywhere!