One of the underlying themes that I have picked up on during the last few days at the Mises AERC– not merely from the various lecturers– is the desperate need for libertarians, if the label still fits in the age of a crash-and-burn Libertarian Party, to move beyond politics as a means toward social influence.
Such a demeanor has been communicated more implicitly than explicitly, but in any case what is being noticed and hinted at is the need to be well-rounded participants in society. Being good people, being good husbands and wives, being good fathers and mothers, being good businessmen and women, being leaders that reach horizontally toward colleagues, and vertically to the rising generation.
These are things that libertarians in general have tended to be quite bad at. Living quality lives as human beings is itself a means toward a better world. And for the most part, having grandiose visions of making the world a better place or engaging in efforts toward “cosmic justice” is much less impactful than living well. Of course, living well has implications at a deeper level than the materialism suggested by the colloquial use of the phrase– it implies a quality of social demeanor, the way in which one carries oneself and interacts with the people and institutions around him. Who better exemplifies such heroism than Ludwig von Mises himself?
In this way, the best libertarian is never the one that follows the crowd, but the one who stands “ever so boldly against it.” In the age of an agitating leftism, libertarianism as a movement is disintegrating and slipping away to the extent that it focuses solely on social-trend chasing and appeals to some of the worst elements of the anti-social revolutionaries of our time. Bob Luddy spoke today on the vitality of having a long-term mindset in regards to running a business. Of course, this applies equally to social movements. How immediate-term minded are so many “libertarians?” It’s quite disturbing.
All this of course is said with deep appreciation for the Mises Institute and all that it stands for– it is a bulwark not only in it’s uniqueness as an institution in the world in general, but its uniqueness as an institution in the libertarian world, such as it is, specifically.