We principled libertarians have no problem recognizing the difference between what is right and true, with what is likely and what we can get away with. They are different questions. But strategists have trouble seeing past strategy and “what works”. If a principles-based libertarian says, “public education is unjustified and ought to be abolished,” a typical reply of a tactician-activist is “but that is not practical” or “but that is not going to sell with the average person”. In other words, the activist makes the mistake of confusing what will sell with what is true. But the committed activist too often relegates something that will not sell now, today, as useless, and in effect as untrue â€“ or, more to the point, he adopts the view that what is true does not really matter; only results matter. Sure, both inquiries â€“ what is the best strategy to achieve liberty? what is liberty? â€“ have their own value and roles. But they are not the same.
The only thing I would add to the above analysis is that this activist mindset, the focus on what will sell to the great mass of men, is the result of focusing on a collective solution (specifically mass persuasion) to the problem of liberty. Libertarians can avoid the problems Kinsella points out by focusing on individual solutions to liberty rather than collective ones.
In fact, libertarians will do better in general to focus more on individualism and less on collectivism. Not only will individualist solutions not get you into the ethical trouble that collectivist solutions will, but sometimes the individualist solutions will actually produce a little liberty for you. And that’s a bar that collective solutions to the freedom problem haven’t yet been able to cross.