Sheldon Richman: Are Libertarians Looking for Results or Self-Congratulation?

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Fibonacci Blue/Foter

Among libertarians, notes Sheldon Richman, "statist" is the severest term of condemnation. But who else gets that? We need to pay more attention to what we say. For example, when we talk about decentralizing power, which of course is a good thing, we must not forget that many people reasonably associate local authority with slavery, Jim Crow, and lynching with impunity, and central authority with the abolition of those evils. That doesn't mean we should abandon the idea, only that we should think carefully about how we explain it. Let's make sure people hear what we say. If our goal is to persuade others of the value of freedom, it's a mistake to assume that any confusion is the listener's problem. It's our problem.

Ultimately, we need to ask ourselves if we are trying to win people over or merely trying to feel good about ourselves.

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