Monday, August 14, 2006

 

The MLP and a thought...

I was walking around New York City's Upper East Side last night when I saw the name "Serf City" on the side of a free paper stand. I knew something was up since I rarely see the word "serf," so I checked it out and it turned out to be a publication of the Manhattan Libertarian Party. I read it on the bus ride home today and it was pretty good.

This was good news to me because I have a fairly dismal view of the future of liberty and I would love to be more hopeful. The only complaint I have is that libertarians tend to be condescending, mean, and confrontational, and this paper was all three. I think we can be thoughtful, kind, and engaging instead, and that with the latter attributes we'll get a lot more done and change a lot more minds.

For example, at work I used to be the "wacko libertarian." Now I'm the sensible, nice, but sometimes sarcastic libertarian. I'm working on limiting the sarcasm, but you know what I mean. More people are finally coming around than if I were still the "wacko libertarian." They ask me questions and we have civil debates. It's nice.

On a personal level, I think one of the best things we can do as libertarians is to wear it on our sleeves and to let everyone know that we're actually good and sane people, despite the fact that most people think libertarians are wackos. Maybe people respond just as much to the personality of the arguer as they do to the actual argument. This might be one of the reasons why libertarians are typically left behind in popularity contests. (If you don't think libertarians come off as wackos, you need to get out more.) What do you think? Is there any truth to this? If not, feel free to be as mean in your comments as you want.

Comments:
Am I alone in trying to convert our non-libertarian friends? Should we just hope they read the blog or does no one else care?
 
I agree with you that it is easier to be a non-wacko to get your point across.

I try to not preach when I am at work and around some folks.

I do preach when I am around my younger (more impressionable) cousins and some other friends.

I agree that you should always be a contrarian to help others question their beliefs and their assumptions.

However, most folks end up being the "I am libertarian but..." as Roy always said. And at some point in the conversation, they simply stop and can no longer proceed to a full baptism in the waters of radical libertarianism
 
Pagans will always look at us as though we are wacko.

That said, there's no mandate that says we have to be asshole libertarians. I've adopted the juris naturalist nomenclature to get around some of the stigma. Besides, its latin, and that's cool. At least in omesay irclescay.
Nathan
 
Well, i think there are at least a few pleasant libertarians. The economics-blogospher is cluttered with them.

Will Wilkinson, Tyler Cowen, Bryan Caplan, etc.

And I love David Friedman--a nice, sane, anarcho-capitalist--though I don't agree with most of his political positions.

But I think you're right that there are lot of libertarians with an acid tounge. That's actually one thing that puts me off folks like Rand and Rothbard.

I say, recomend your friends to the intelligent polite folks like the ones I mentioned. And u probably know more.
 
When discussing politics with people, I usually adopt a totally disarming tactic. I find out where we agree (there's usually something, even if it's really small), then go from there.

Me: Oh, you think marijuana should be legal?
Hippie: Yeah, man.
Me: I agree. People can make better decisions about their personal lives than government. I think we should be able to buy liquor at the grocery store.
Hippie: I could buy it at the same time I'm picking up Funions and Frozen Pizza!
 
Good comments.

I have trouble turning it off, even at work. Government has turned me into a hardened crusader for less of it.
 
Oh and Juris, enough with the Pagans already. We get it. Pagans are bad.
 
Glad you discovered our little publication.

I agree, Libertarians are easily construed as wackos. However, it seems anyone who doesn't drink Coke or Pepsi (or rather, vote Dem or Republican) are considered "fringe" and "odd." One reason I became involved with the Manhattan LP and Serf City is to try to get the word out that we have more than 2 choices. The Mass Media loves it the way it is - 2 parties that are the two sides of the same coin. Easy for the Media to digest and control - just 2 political parties to maintain the status quo, no weirdos or fringe dwellers to confuse people.

I'll pretty much always vote Libertarian, but I would love to see an election, and a voting booth, that featured the complete gamut of the political spectrum -from far Left to far Right, and all points between. I would love to see equal time in the Media for flavors other than Coke and Pepsi. But that would require the Media to do hard work and research. It's easier to report on the thunderstorms rolling our way, or Jon Benet Ramsey, or Brad & Anjelina.

And the Media might say - "no one cares about 3rd parties." Sure, what Americans don't know about won't concern them. But most Americans care about the money in their pocket, and if they would for a moment take seriously the fact that the taxes that are forcibly removed from them each week and each year are essentially being wasted, they might care about what the Libertarians have to say.

And as Jenna alluded in her comment, many people believe in the Libertarian ideals. Most people will work hard if they believe they are being paid appropriately. Most people believe in personal responsibility and think the government should not be involved in individuals personal choices or moral decisions. And most people think our taxes are poorly spent - if they should be collected at all.

Yes, some headlines and pieces in Serf City (such as "Die Health Nuts Die!") come across as mean, nasty and confrontational. There is also a tongue in cheek there. It's a way of getting attention, albeit juvenile at times. But it's a start. In the end, we mostly want the same things: keeping the money we have rightfully earned and deciding how it should be spent, and keeping the government small and minimally involved in our lives.

As a Serf City editorial staff member, I welcome your contributions to Serf City. Please contribute a piece that informs New Yorkers that Libertarians are not nasty, mean wackos. Because we are not, we are sensible to a fault.

thanks

Drew Olewnick
Designer, Serf City
serfcity@manhattanlp.org
 
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