I here want to promote to post-level a thing by Ian B who commented on our previous post about this very matter. Here he is, commenting on this previous:-
The question is whether political parties initiate change, or merely reflect it. I think the evidence is that at least in our corner of human society, they are reflections. So for me the real issue for Libertarians, or anyone else with political goals, is how to engineer paradigm shifts. The Proggies are very good at this, and we are not. I think one problem we have is the myth of the grass roots movement. Consider the difference between the rapid success of Progressive aligned movements such as feminism, greenism etc compared to the failure of, say, Euroscepticism despte it having a lot of support in the genpop.
The key element is surely influence within the small ruling class. Fabians succeed because they are influential among the elite. Eurosceptics fail because they are not. The voice of “the masses” is only heard when it is in tune with an influential elite movement. “…You will be handed a banner and told where to march from and to, little person…”
So I’m not really convinced that a political party can achieve very much. I admit I did join the LPUK initially, but then as is usual for such groups it descended into farce. There is no precedent for outsider organisations developing political power. The most successful is UKIP, and it is still marginally influential with derisory levels of voter support. The only major change in the Party system in history is the eclipse of the Liberals by Labour, but that happened because the authoritarian collectivist faction in the elite decided that a properly socialist party was required compared to the tepid liberals, and there was a readymade voter base in the then new Trades Union movement. Libertarianism has neither a representative elite faction (as I understand it Chris Tame hoped to create one via the LA) nor a block voter base; not least because Libertarianism has no political programme or even agreed outcomes. One cannot creep down the road to an unspecified location.
All I can really think to say is that what worked for the Left will not work for us. They cultivate an illusion of outsiders fighting elite power, but they are not that and never have been. They are an elite faction pretending to be the grass roots, entraining a mass movement behind them.
Us? We have no Fabians. That’s the problem. How to get some… I have no idea. But that in my view is the problem we need to address somehow.
Howard Gray thinks we might as well have a LPGB as not: I thnk I more or less agree, since the costs will be nugatory as nobody has any money anyway, and the marginal costs of setting up another one will always be less than the 10-Downing-Street budget for biscuits and coffee:-
Of course there should be a libertarian party for no other reason than for other libertarians to rail against its existence. The other reason is that it just might work in promoting libertarian ideas beyond the parish pump of the few web sites that we have out there. Is libertarianism garnering a whiff of smugness and parochialism which does little to promote it? Perhaps it is also suffused with pessimism and a sense of defeatism too in some quarters. If this is so, then the optimists are needed, let them create yet another Libertarian Party of Great Britain.
Building a political party is at least optimistic and if all it does is increase the presence of libertarians out there then that is a good thing is it not? Likely as not it will fail, but do you call what all the other parties that are out there doing a success? I don’t think so.
Isn’t politics a generational game? If so then perhaps those wedded to our time don’t see over the horizon so clearly and therefore feel all is lost and rather pointless. Opposing the formation of a libertarian party is a fair thing to do so long as it is only criticism and not negative activism. The prohibition might be good for those being subjected to its scorn as it will harden them and make them all the more adamant that success is something to go for.
Active libertarianism is good for all concerned within or without a libertarian political party. The measure of the success of a libertarian political party may be beyond our lifetimes so what is the good of preventing it? For most of us the possibility of its success does not appear all that likely but are we right about that? There is a good chance that we might be wrong.