The page below is an old version of my Business Plan for a New Political Party. Due to popular demand, I have updated the Plan considerably and put it into Kindle Format. You can buy it here.
Yes, it costs a bit of money. But the return on investment is enormous if you are serious about starting a political party.
Are you serious?
Voter Education vs. Indoctrination
A third party needs to be mainstream somewhere in order to be relevant. What if there is no somewhere? We have two (overlapping) options:
I think both options should be applied. (Surprise! I’m not that moderate.) Water down the message too much and there is no point in having a new party.
I am a big believer in both educational outreach and internal education. Such activities give a third party purpose even while it is still too small to be able to win elections. (Bottleneck C.)
But here is the kicker: the Libertarian Party does rather little voter education. Even those who call for using the LP as a voter education mechanism are not doing much voter education.
The LP – and much of the libertarian movement -- is more about voter indoctrination.
Be careful here. I am using the terms “educate” and “indoctrinate” in a somewhat specialized manner. I couldn’t find the words that mean precisely what I want to say here, so I am bending some words which have approximate connotations.
When I say “educate,” I mean providing the voter with information, verifiable facts, repeatable strings of logic. I can educate voters about the true meaning of the Laffer Curve, that there exists a tax rate beyond which tax receipts go down when rates are increased. (Where this maximum happens to be, is considerably more difficult to prove.)
When I say “indoctrinate,” I mean demanding that the voter change his underlying values, that the voter accept unprovable ideas. I can tell voters that taxation is theft, but I cannot prove that this means all taxes should be eliminated. This requires changing underlying values such that the evil of taxation is considered worse than the evils that result from eliminating all taxation.
The libertarian movement has two strains – the utilitarian and natural rights strains – which emphasize education and indoctrination respectively. Within the LP, the natural rights strain is dominant. As long as the membership oath remains in place, I expect this to continue.
A large fraction of Libertarian outreach materials begin with the non-aggression axiom. Even Mary Ruwart’s Healing Our World, one of the more friendly and data driven outreach books, starts Chapter 1 with “The Principle of Non-Aggression.”
The non-aggression axiom is an unprovable value. To get someone to accept this value as one that should [almost?] never be violated requires getting someone to rearrange their underlying value system. This is difficult! It is akin to a religious conversion.
Ayn Rand understood this difficulty. That is why she considered a libertarian political movement to be extremely premature. She crusaded to change people’s underlying values. She knew that changing underlying values required more than simple acceptance of an axiom from a political movement; such spirit-altering changes require a complete philosophical (or religious, or artistic, or…) framework.
Objectivists reading this should not gloat yet. I read Rand’s works years ago, and found them compelling for a while. But they made me uneasy. Many of Rand’s heroes had loathsome attributes, and her attacks on all altruism are an affront to both Christian values and human nature. Do not expect Objectivism to sweep the world; it won’t.
Voter indoctrination is very difficult, but it is largely unnecessary. Education suffices.
Most people already agree partially with the non-aggression axiom. They realize that forcing people around is not nice. However, they consider such force to be necessary to maintain public order, feed the poor, heal the sick, preserve the environment, or perform other worthy tasks. Sometimes they are right.
But often they are wrong. Often, they overlook opportunities to accomplish these worthy goals in ways that avoid initiating force. This oversight can be cured through education.
Also, people often suppress the fact that they are initiating force; people don’t like making moral compromises, so they hide the compromises using specialized words such as “tax.” It is worthwhile to remind people of the moral compromises being made. This is another form education. The underlying values are untouched; we merely remind people of what is already in their minds.
Then, we have some extreme cases, where people boldly reject libertarian values outright. But even there, some education is in order.
Copyright 2007, Carl S. Milsted, Jr. All rights reserved.