Article by Kevin DeAnna.
I suggest there is a model for the Western resistance in the “liberty movement.” Several years ago, a friend who now has a prominent position in a hugely successful libertarian organization used to joke to me that reading the news was a depressing experience because the subtitle of every article should read “the state wins again.” For libertarians who were concerned with preventing an interventionist foreign policy, cutting government spending, and combating “neoconservatism,” 2004 and 2005 were extremely dark times. The election of Barack Obama also seemed to be a crushing blow to the idea of limited government. The article “What it’s like to be a libertarian” concisely summarized this resignation towards never ending defeat. However, viewing the political landscape today, libertarians unquestionably command the most vibrant political movement in the country, raising millions of dollars, electing favored sons to high office, and introducing once radical ideas into the political mainstream.
This did not come out of nowhere, even though it seems like it only emerged over the last five years. Between various magazines, think tanks, cultural movements, and festivals, the groundwork for the liberty movement was established years ago. Newly emerging libertarian activists enjoy critical advantages, from an already established and tested intellectual infrastructure at both the elite and popular level (from Austrian economics programs in universities to Reason magazine), a vast subculture and symbolism that taps into libertarian themes, and, perhaps most important, financially viable organizations that allow libertarian activists to work full time for the causes they believe in.
Libertarians also are in the perfect position with the Republican Party and the conservative movement. They are “in” but not “of” the larger right wing. They have a huge presence at events like CPAC and can mobilize for events that are important to them. At the same time, they are not beholden to the GOP. If they lose an internal battle within the Republican Party or even the conservative movement, they use the defeat as fodder for greater organization. They have an autonomous movement that belongs entirely to them that they can’t be purged or driven away from.
The libertarians also suffer the same kinds of divisions over both ideology and tactics plague the patriotic movement. There are many that believe participating in elections gives sanction to the state and therefore make one culpable in its iniquities. Nonetheless, there are a host of other projects they can participate in, such as the Free State Project or Porcfest. They are gaining a foothold in both academia and the mainstream media. Culturally, libertarians are beginning to develop their own projects such as Silver Circle. They can also sustain larger projects like the independent production of the Atlas Shrugged movie. Each gain lays the foundation for further growth for their movement.
Libertarians have failed to halt (or even slow down) the growth of state power. This might be something inherent to the structure of democracy or perhaps their movement simply has farther to go. However, even if they continue to fail, their movement continues to exist and that gives them openings and opportunities beyond simply competing in elections.
This movement overlaps ours to some extent. Some of our members are also involved with Campaign for Liberty or various allied youth movements and we share many of their goals. There’s no contradiction between being a part of both movements. However, at a core, fundamental level, the patriotic movement needs to be able to sustain itself and function autonomously rather than just being a faction within libertarianism or conservatism. This doesn’t mean that we oppose any other conservative or libertarian group – on both a chapter level and on an individual level we’ve been working with other conservative and libertarian youth organizations on a host of issues. Unlike many in the American Right, we don’t attack our own. In the end though, we need our own network of institutions that pursue explicitly nationalist goals. These institutions need to be able to work together, even as they pursue different specific goals and engage different constituencies.
The libertarian movement has really coalesced over the last few years. Unfortunately, our movement lags behind. We need to follow that model. As of this moment, Youth for Western Civilization is not part of a larger institutional framework. We don’t really have “strategic partners” except on an ad-hoc basis. We hope to change that in the months ahead. We also are exploring options for an “adult” version of YWC, to link the various patriotic movements in the different states and around the world. We will be implementing ways young people who are not in school to join YWC and function as part of the organization. Finally, we need to actively build the kind of subculture that will sustain our movement through temporary political defeat and even cataclysmic political change. More than any election, piece of legislation, political party, or even country, our movement lives as long as we continue to believe in it.