James Leroy Wilson's blog

Monday, August 29, 2005

Radicals vs. Revolutionaries

In light of my recent affiliation with the Libertarian Left, and as the Left is often portrayed as revolutionary, I should point out that consider my ideology radical, but not revolutionary.

Here are some ways that I understand the differences:

1. A radical will live for and sacrifice for his highest values and principles; a revolutionary is willing to make others sacrifice for an ideal.
2. A radical will work for the repeal of laws and reduction of government; a revolutionary will use government, and even expand it, as an instrument to achieve his ends;
3. To a radical, the means are the ends; you can not initiate force in order to achieve a culture which rejects the initiation of force. You can not achieve equality of rights for all individuals by classifying them into groups and then treating members of different groups differently. But to the revolutionary, the ends justify the means.
4. To a radical, those for whom the ends justify the means are hypocrites; to a revolutionary, they are praised for their good intentions.
5. A radical might compromise in the political arena if liberty is advanced, however incrementally; a revolutionary will do whatever it takes to win and keep power;
6. Radicals despise war; revolutionaries hope for it;
7. Radicals begin with the world as it is - including economic laws and sociological realities - and strive for greater justice within it; revolutionaries begin with a vision of the world as it ought to be, strive to capture the governing institutions of society, and impose change from above.
8. Radicals maintain clarity of vision and purpose; revolutionaries merge their pursuit of power with their goals, and reduce their principles and values to slogans.
9. The radical prefers political separation - secession - to resolve irreconcilable differences, just like the American "revolutionaries" did. But revolutionaries since then have instead focused on overthrowing the government, rather than separating from it.

Radical change? I'm all for it. More liberty for more people, as quickly as possible. But I doubt that any self-described Left Libertarian has any interest in destroying the world in order to save it.

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