The libertarian movement is at a crossroads. Do we work in the State or only outside of it? Do we work with the existing parties or work on our own? Should we support a small government or none at all? And just how do we reach out to those damn millennials?

Of all the questions facing our movement today 10 rise to the top, 10 questions that I’ve heard asked at every conference I’ve attended and that every libertarian has asked themselves at some point. The answers to these questions will help to shape libertarianism as we move forward and will prepare us to take on everything the 21st century has to throw at us.

So, let’s jump right in. What exactly are the Top 10 Questions Facing Libertarianism Today?

10) Millennials: Future of the movement or its downfall

Those damn millennials, how can they live in the world of the internet, the greatest success of the market, and be so tolerant of others and yet still turn to the government at every turn? How can they see the inefficiency of government in one area of life and yet trust in the government’s “compassionate” programs? Are millennials just hopeless romantics that can never be brought down to earth, or are they just two or three steps away from flocking to the liberty movement in droves?

My two cents: As a millennial myself I might be a bit (or a lot) biased, but after spending over a year with Students For Liberty and other millennial liberty groups I have no doubt that my generation will be known as the most libertarian generation and will do wonderful things for this movement.

9) Which is better: Anarchy or minarchy

We’ve all heard the joke; “What’s the difference between a minarchists and an anarchist? About 6 months.” But is that fair? Is anarchy really the logical conclusion of libertarian philosophy or is it just a fairy tale that works on paper but would end up destroying the world? There are good arguments on both sides but what we can all agree on is that we can and should work together on the 99% of things we agree on before fighting about the 1% we don’t.

My two cents: Well if you look at the title of this here blog you should be able to figure out where I stand on this one.

8) How to structure the movement: Big tent or litmus test

Should libertarianism let as many people in as possible, even those we may disagree with on some core issues, in order to grow our numbers and influence; or should it stick to set central tenants and refuse to water down their message? Is it better to work with groups on a case by case basis to advance specific ideas or should libertarians only work with other libertarians so as to not be grouped with people and movements they may not agree with on any other issue.

My two cents: Big tent all the way. As a market anarchist I’m already one of the outliers in the tent and I consider myself just as much a libertarian as when I was a mainstream, little L, libertarian. Rejecting people who don’t exactly fit your beliefs is a sure fire way to kill a movement.

7) How to effect change: Intermediate steps or all or nothing jumps

Using the Colorado example (because I live here), was it a good thing that Colorado legalized recreational marijuana even though it’s taxed at an insane rate and you have to be 21 to use it, or should Coloradans only have voted yes if it was for full legalization of all drugs with no governmental regulation? Is taking intermediate steps a good way to go in the right direction, or does it give the people just enough liberty that they stop fighting for the rest of it?

My two cents: While I’d happily push the button to end the State, we have to work in the real world, and the only way to bring about change is to do it incrementally. The average person on the street won’t vote to legalize heroin but legalizing marijuana is possible, and after they see how that works then we can talk about the harder drugs.

6) Where to focus: Republican or Libertarian Party

Should libertarians follow the Rand Paul or the Gary Johnson approach? Is it possible and preferable to take over the Republican Party, or are they too far gone so we should focus on presenting an alternative? What about the Democrat Party, should we start focusing on working through them now that the Republicans are dead in the water?

My two cents: All of the above. I think we should be working with both major parties and in LP and see what sticks.  If we can just move the Republicans away from war and the Democrats away from taxes that would be a great start.

5) What is the right approach: Political or philosophical

Is politics so evil that we can never use the existing system to our ends or should be step down from our high horse and do what we can? Having a strong philosophical basis is important but does it blind us to the real world right in front of us?

My two cents: This may lose me some of my anarchistic street cred but, while I focus on philosophy, I think it’s important to do whatever we can to spread liberty. 90% of the time this means working outside the State but sometimes you just have to go down to their level to keep them from destroying even more of our liberties.

4) Culture: How to get outside of politics

No movement can gain success without becoming part of the culture, or can it? Should we libertarians be working on bringing out ideas outside of politics into music, art, and entertainment or is that just a waste of time?

My two cents: For those of us that reject the State entirely, we must go beyond protests and debates and build a culture of liberty
so strong that no State can oppose it; Liberty.me is a great step towards this goal and the best example of liberty steeping outside of politics and into the real world.

3) Technology: The death of the state or its greatest tool

Will technological advances like bitcoin and the internet make the State obsolete, or will it provide the system by which they gain further control over our lives? Will Big Brother use these advances to watch our every move or will we use them to watch Big Brother?

My two cents: We are talking about a government that can’t even deliver mail without going billions of dollars in the red. Technology is our greatest ally in the fight against the State; we use it to create the new world while they can only use it to destroy.

2) Rand Paul: Friend of liberty or just another politician

This Rand Paul guys is an interesting character. On the one hand he stands against NSA spying but on the other hand he seems to have rejected the non-interventionist policies his father taught to so many in the liberty movement. Is he expertly playing all sides of the political dialogue or is he as much of a flip-flopper as any other politician?

My two cents: Whether Rand is one thing or another; he is the only politician that is popular enough to win the Presidency with even an iota of liberty leanings. He’s far from perfect, but if we have to have a president it might as well be someone who has some libertarian ideas.

1) Capitalism: Is it even worth saving

In recent years left-libertarians and their free-market anti-capitalistic ideas have started to make their way into mainstream libertarianism. These are the people that see markets as not only liberating for the people, but as inherently anti-corporation; the ones that focus on freed markets in opposition to capitalism as it is colloquially defined.
In fact they have raised a question so important to the movement that it made its way to number one on my list, should we be fighting for capitalism or freed markets? Or are they the same? Should we continue to support the “true” definition of capitalism or should we admit that public opinion means more than dictionaries and embrace the fact that capitalism and cronyism are one and the same?

My two cents: The more I study left-libertarianism the more I’m convinced by it, not just on the semantic arguments but on the philosophical underpinnings. If you’re like me and want to learn more about left-libertarianism I’d recom
mend reading Cory Massimino’s wonderful article “What Left Libertarianism Is and What it Isn’t” and the fantastically engaging book Markets Not Capitalism. Whether you agree or not, these ideas aren’t going anywhere and should be at the forefront of any libertarian conversation.

So there you have it, the Top 10 Questions Facing Libertarianism Today. You’ll notice that for each one I added my two cents to explain where I fell. I did this because I want to create a dialogue, these questions can’t be answered by one person, we have to work on them as a movement so that the best answers can rise to the top. So please tell us what you think, tell me if I’m as right as rain or if I’m way off the mark. Only by discussing these questions together can we find the solutions to move forward and gain some real traction.