During the course of the evening we talked about a number of things. Local
These folks have become convinced of the futility of continuing along the political path, have moved in a new direction, sans politics or just plain burned out or become fed up. Any attempt to number all of reasons for this would require an encyclopedia, so let's cover a couple and see where we get with it.
The reasons for becoming politically active differ widely for everyone involved. Some came to the political because they fled one of the other parties and they were politically active there. Others saw, or see it as a chance to make a change in the political landscape. And there are myriad other reasons for the attraction and adherence to the political arm of libertarianism, some folks just like to argue. I came to it to try and make a change in the landscape, despite a realisation that it was ,in all likelihood a futile action. As I have said to folks before I became active so that if, (more likely when) the shooting starts I didn't have to look at my kids and say that I did nothing to try and stop it. Another once prominent libertarian whom I respect a immensely, (and who has left the politics after being abused by it) came to it for essentially the same reason, to try and avoid the horror of the almost inevitable shooting war. (Despite what some would contend the ZAP doesn't preclude armed revolution as a last resort).
The reasons for leaving activism behind differ just as greatly. Teaching pigs to sing, or to fly can be supremely frustrating and that's what we've continuously run into over the course of many years. People, in general aren't desirous of freedom. The thought of having no masters, no politicians (even Libertarian politicians) to tell them what to do and to regulate their lives frightens them senseless and causes them to attack those offering a way out of servitude. Even "libertarians" have fallen prey to this fear and, even now seek to "reform" the political wing of Libertarianism. In doing this they will, as others have done, drive away more activists. This has served to drive many hard working liberty lovers into seclusion and will likely continue to do so for many years to come.
Some have just decided that politics is too dirty, soul sucking and useless to continue and have gone into promoting Liberty and Individualism in an attempt to teach some people the necessity of being free. Some might argue that this is essentially the same avenue, but they'd be dead wrong. Instead of teaching people to trust politicians they have decided to teach people to trust themselves and each other, promoting a true free market of individuals and ideas. No-one trusts a politician, even a Libertarian and attaching the title "politician" lumps "us" right up there with them in the eyes of John and Jane Q. Public. I admire these folks, (and you know who you are...) because they have chosen a path that may lead everyone to a freer place. Rather than repudiate something they have taken the decision to adopt something more fulfilling and with much greater potential than the political.
The burnout factor is high amongst those who actually do something to promote the cause of Libertarianism. Often it may be that one person has to shoulder the burden for many who are...well, slackers for want of a better word. People in positions of power who often say things like "We want people who DO things" when what they mean is that they wish other people to do things and leave them to their own affairs. Many who have arranged events for the LP have run into these people quite often. You give them the ideas for events, fundraisers and the like and the next thing you know, you're on your own to plan and execute an event as a one person show. This tends to get people burned out and I have seen it happen amongst activists. It leads to disgust and abandonment issues and, inevitably drives people away who could be the catalyst for better things. When one person bears the weight for many things, (like that most admired LP friend of mine) and encounters nothing but incompetence, fraud and the hidden, and not so hidden desires for power it becomes a certainty that they will burn out and leave.
I don't have any solutions to "make" someone stay, because that's not possible, nor wise. You can't change the way things are in the political wing, sooner or later people tire of it and take the decision to move forward with their lives and separate from that venue. You can change the Party, as some are doing in order to keep some people around or attract others from outside the founding and evolved paradigm, but in so doing others will be driven away. Some are even attempting to do this in order to deliberately drive away those whom they would label "purists" or "anarchists". I offer no solutions because there are none. It's the nature of our individualist principles and Libertarian lifestyle. We don't "herd" well, nor should we...being the opposite of cattle.
The Libertarian political wing is bleeding traditional activists and there is little that can be done about it at the present time. Frankly, I'm not even sure that anything needs to be done. People grow, evolve, move towards and away from things every day. That's called life and it's an integral part of it. Perhaps what we are seeing is the beginning of something new, or the renewal of something old....a move away from the realm of the political and towards individual and individualist activism, a repudiation of the leader/follower paradigm. Maybe the politicians are giving a party that no-one wants to attend. And maybe, just maybe...this is the lull before the storm.
While the concept of the tavern based rebellion is old, tried and true we may be seeing the new, electronic equivalent of it. The blogosphere seems uniquely suited as a starting point for whatever may come next. Somewhere, out here in the aether is the next Green Dragon Tavern, all we need is a bartender and some committed patrons. Frankly, I can't wait to see what unfolds next.
(*: I can't stand the "meetup", it's one of those words or phrases that just gets under my skin (like "for free"...it's Free. Not for free.) Call it a get together, a meeting, a potluck, whatever, just don't call it a meetup. It's way the hell too L.A. for me. )
Update: Since I began this I received news that the Reformista have had a moment of repudiation, as the move to get rid of the ZAP has been defeated. Congratulations, the LP still has one core principle.
Libertarian, Politics, Blogging