(My Clovis News Journal column for January 6, 1012)
I've heard it said that getting libertarians together for any project is as difficult as herding cats*. Perhaps that is why I like most cats better than I like most dogs: I'm not terribly fond of the blindly obedient personality. I will admit I'd appreciate it if my cat would clean up her own gooey hairball messes.
I think one reason it is hard to get libertarians together is the nature of individual liberty. What is important to me may not matter at all to the next libertarian. While I spend a large portion of my life writing about liberty (because it energizes me), other libertarians are busy living their own lives in their own way, focusing on their own priorities, and most are not at all concerned with spreading the philosophy. And that is perfectly fine. I am aware there are areas of my life which would benefit if the writing didn't get so much of my time.
I recently sat down for a chat with another local libertarian and was struck by how different from mine was the path which brought him to this philosophy. Different experiences, backgrounds, and lives, leading to the same basic realization- that liberty matters and is not negotiable. Like every libertarian I have ever met, he was extremely intelligent, common-sensical, and stimulating to talk to. And just plain nice. The main difference I can see is that he isn't as publicly outspoken as I am. But that doesn't mean he isn't doing just as much, or more, to promote liberty in his own way.
Among libertarians, even among those libertarians concerned with spreading a love and understanding of liberty, there are differences of opinion as to which methods work. Some are still convinced they can "vote themselves free", while others see no evidence of this. Some prefer "preaching to the choir", while others enjoy stepping into the lions' den to try to show fans of coercion-based statutory "law" the superiority of voluntary action. Some think that it is a waste of time doing anything other than just living their life as they see fit to the best of their ability, and never try to help those who don't want to be helped. "Just let the wagon go into the ravine if those on board insist on staying the course."
Personally, I think there is a place for all those strategies, and it will take a little of all the above to once more make the world excited, and safe, for liberty. I'm not going to be too hard on anyone who is working toward the same goal.
* I actually had a guy comment on the newspaper site that " The herding cats comment was by the inventor of modern Libertarianism to show how easy it was to organize them." Seriously? He thinks that's what it means? Has he ever been around cats OR libertarians? I have my doubts.