Sunday, May 31, 2015

What Magna Carta can teach libertarians about strategy

What Magna Carta Can Teach Us About Libertarian Strategy - - Sheldon Richman:

May 24, 2015 - "Magna Carta was an agreement a group of rebellious barons forced on King John on June 15, 1215, at Runnymede, a meadow on the Thames in England, about midway between London and Windsor Castle....

"The charter is one of those things that virtually everyone across the political spectrum (however defined) has invoked in support of his or her cause. As the scholars point out in the "Liberty Matters" discussion, dissidents have held it up as a shield against tyrants, while kings have used it to defend the legitimacy of their rule. It’s been enlisted in a variety of missions. Advocates of slavery took refuge in Magna Carta, but so did the proto-libertarian Levellers....

"As Magna Carta scholars point out, the interpretation (mythology) and impact of the charter over the last eight centuries are as important as — maybe more important than — the document and the authors’ intentions themselves. Even if it wasn’t actually a charter of liberty, it is regarded as such — by people, as I’ve already noted, who have widely differing views on liberty.

"This has implications for libertarian strategy today.

"That genuine liberty — in the sense of what Roderick Long calls 'equality of authority' — can grow out of efforts intended to achieve something less is worth keeping in mind. I claim no profound insights in the matter of strategy, but I do know that social processes, like the people who actuate them, are complex, and therefore unintended consequences — good and bad — are ubiquitous and to be expected. This makes devising a strategy for social change complicated and more likely impossible. There’s no algorithm for changing a society from unlibertarian to libertarian. We have no script. That’s an argument for the 'let a thousand flowers bloom' strategy."

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