Note: This post is written by Maria Chaplia.
The question of whether libertarians have to be involved in politics always remains on the agenda in liberty movements and keeps provoking harsh debates. It seems to me the question goes deeper than that and the primary reason for this misunderstanding lies in whether a libertarian should expect to see the fruits of her labour during her own lifetime or not. Should we focus on changes here and now or should we aim for long-term goals, the outcomes of which we may not see during our lifetime?
Whether it’s a regional conference in Paris, a friendly liberty evening in Burundi or an education campaign in Kyiv, non-political liberty activism focuses on the promotion of the ideas of liberty through persuasion, not law enforcement. By recognising the uniqueness of every individual, advocates of liberty take the responsibility of ensuring their voice reaches everyone’s ear and is being not only understood, but accepted. Sounds daring, right? Great goals require patience and dedication, but the result is definitely worth it.
If a country decriminalises drugs, that will result in more freedom for the country. The question which always arises in a situation like this goes as follows: was the society educated about the freedom it finally got granted? The key thing here is that freedom is never given by government, it can only be recognised by it. Hence, by helping people realise the importance and essence of freedom, liberty activists are pushing for genuine bottom-up change.
Unlike legal norms, which impose something on you normally without asking your consent, liberty activism lets you decide for yourself whether you agree or disagree with specific ideas. In a free society, freedom of speech followed by other freedoms stands out as one of the highest values. It is invited, cherished and praised. Liberty activism wants to make you a free thinker, not a zombie reciting libertarian dogma everywhere you go.
Coming back to the question of long-term vs. short-term, the only right answer is freedom to choose, which lies at the core of the liberty movement. No one can be forced to choose liberty activism over politics and vice versa. And no one can be blamed for choosing short-term goals over the change which will come in tens of years. Paraphrasing from Walt Whitman, the powerful fight for liberty goes on and you may contribute in your way.