There is a growing prevalence of ideals antithetical to liberty in this sub and across the globe. In lockstep correlation, the observation that Anarcho- Capitalism is failing as a movement is also growing. Many have voiced this concern outright and still more keep it too themselves as a quiet unease. The internal and external signals are too numerous to list and their brazen reality rings out that Anarcho Capitalism will not grow into a mass movement.
I think that this realization is both true and necessary for the creation of a free society. For a truly free society can not come to fruition through a mass movement. Liberty will not have a May Day, CNT revolution, or Independence Day. This is because individual liberty can not be diluted to create a mass movement since it’s end goal is to gain in popularity until it hits a critical mass or score a decisive victory where it can impose an ideal on others. All movements are centralized under a leader who will inevitably lead the collective to tyranny. A successful mass movement is therefore opposed to freedom. In his book The True Believer Eric Hoffer discusses the nature for a movements and I highly recommend giving it a look. (Shout out to Academy of Ideas for providing excellent video essays!)
The intellectuals who lay out the doctrine must only convince a small minority of True Believers who take the reigns. These early adopters must bastardize and mutate the ideals in presentation to the discontented masses to unify their hatred against a devil. The principles are interchangeable and can be contradictory since it is the hatred of a unifying enemy that fuels the masses not the principles. The danger, as seen throughout history, is that hatred manifests into fanaticism who’s faith condones terrible acts of violence. These terrible acts only perpetuate the fanaticism, both for the actors and the faithful observer. When contradictions arise the fanatics imagine justifications for violence in order to avoid condemning their faith. Even an ideal as pure as peace and liberty can be forgotten when the hatred of fanatics move into action. If libertarianism becomes a mass movement, it is just as vulnerable to use violence as the bloody revolutions throughout history. The price of fanaticism is the destruction of principle.
Often libertarians will praise a leader such as Ron Paul or Gary Johnson to deliver everyone to the promise land. However a leader exists to unify and collectivize. Giving a podium to a Ron Paul or Gary Johnson definitely spreads the message of liberty but there is a difference between the orator and the leader. The orator is the intellectual who lays out the principles and ideals, while a unifying leader inspires a collective. The orator aims for principle while the leader chases power. A leader and true believers must muddy the message of the intellectuals in order to connect with the opinions that outsiders already hold. Through the podium or propaganda a leader does not convince converts to become more principled or change their ideology. Eric Hoffer writes, “propaganda on its own cannot force its way into unwilling minds; neither can it inculcate something wholly new; nor can it keep people persuaded once they have ceased to believe. It penetrates only into minds already open, and rather than instill opinion it articulates and justifies opinions already present in the minds of its recipients. The gifted propagandist brings to a boil ideas and passions already simmering in the minds of his hearers. He echoes their innermost feelings. Where opinion is not coerced, people can be made to believe only in what they already know”. This is how you get Gary Johnson misrepresenting Libertarianism on CNN and why some condone his actions because “it could grow the movement”. This will only lead to further erosion of principles and result in the same capitulation to tyranny we have today. What use then do we have for a leader if the principles that lead to a freer society are cast aside?
A mass movement is centralization; incompatible with liberty. Therefore creating an AnCap Movement should not be a goal, nor is its subsistence as a movement a sign that Anarcho Capitalism itself is falling away. I think that true liberty can only exist in the post political realm, decentralized interpersonal connections that render the state irrelevant. So even when I see clashing of ideals antithetical to liberty on reddit and elsewhere I take solace in knowing that even if their voices seem to drown out others, they do not dictate my path in creating freedom where I stand.