There's no need for pretense and apologies when defending libertarianism. In a sense libertarians have it easy since it's never been tried. When all is conjecture, an answer to every refutation is -- just try it. You can say that libertarian ideas have influenced the game, but there's always been enough Hamilton-style central control to prevent these ideas from becoming the major modus operandi, therefore making dirty any true assessment of the effectiveness of libertarianism. There's always been the idea and reality of regulating freedom, so that libertarian ideas have operated from under a big, oppressive thumb.
Any mixture of statism and libertarianism favors statism because of the special nature of coercion. You can effectively make the case that when statism is thrown into the mix you only have a lesser degree of statism, that there's no such thing as libertarianism as long as it's regulated, only a mixed economy. The same holds true with capitalism -- regulated capitalism is not capitalism but something else -- some form of statism.
If I'm an actor with a definite style, you can't say I'm acting in that style if the director is continually forcing me to act contrary to my style with adjustments that prevent the style from actualizing -- it's a mixed style for which the results will be the director's responsibility since the director forced the changes.
Libertarianism takes a subordinate role as soon as coercion enters the picture, changing into something unfit for the label and definition. Even if a libertarian-minded thinker accepts minarchism and it's constitutional restrictions of negative rights, whenever the state goes beyond the restrictions to positive rights, the deal is off -- libertarianism can no longer be held accountable for the outcome.
I'm 55 years old and I don't know of a time when libertariansism was even remotely a strong influence in government. Reagan spoke the libertarian language but nothing much changed with the statist direction and growth of government. Once coercion moves beyond negative rights it opens the door for more and more intervention. The American people have been under the illusion that the US is a free country, so statists have had to use emergencies to make great strides in government expansion, but the incrementalism and the use of emergency-excuses have become easier to sell and there is less resistance to government intervention. The nation has been trained and has become dependent.
The recent barrage of blame from the left regarding free market principles causing the current economic downturn is so Orwellian it doesn't deserve a response. Anyone who believes that free enterprise is the culprit in the recession doesn't understand enough about political science and economics to understand a defense of free enterprise. These people will have to be shocked by government failure into understanding. The only people who understand are the cynical statists who are manipulating the situation and those who are resisting the manipulation -- relatively speaking, this is a small representation of a large country. The many who are being led in ignorance are being led by a relatively few statists and this is what gives statism it's political power -- it's not the number of people who intellectually adhere to statism -- it's the number living under the illusion of freedom yet ignorantly accepting the statist lie, that more intervention is needed to save freedom. Statists are winning the battles, but as I said the other day, this last victory may be a Pyrrhic victory -- one more such victory and they may be ruined.
The reason is that the direction of statism is the way to ruin -- this has been proved so often throughout the history of nation-states, and other such tyrannies before that, it's truly odd that it's not commonly accepted. Only in a free society where spontaneous order provides flexibility will needs and wants be satisfied to the greatest degree. As I suggested in my last two posts regarding education, private efforts to meets the demands of educational needs will provide a diverse offering of knowledge that prepares young people to think for themselves regarding political science, philosophy, history and economics (among the other vital areas of knowledge, such as science, physics and mathemetics) so that we become a knowledgable nation of individuals prepared for the changes which are taking place all over the world. The present system which includes media, public education and other government efforts is geared toward indoctrination to a statist point of view. This is a sad state of affairs.
The power of the internet is that it's a counterforce to this indoctrination, but people have to be prepared to receive the knowledge and sift through it -- to be able to critically think. The powers of indoctrination are way more organized with a message of dependence and submission. "Unity" is another word for brain-washing and partisan parroting. The revolutionary, independent zeal which characterized America has been co-opted and weakened through submission, creating a nation disconnected from its roots in freedom and individuality -- hopefully this zeal is asleep and not dead.
Never before in the history of our nation has the time been this ripe for libertarianism. We've moved past a lot of the situations that create excuses for intervention -- the building of capital, the establishment of enterprise, the infrastructure necessary for transporation and production, establishment of trade worldwide, development the technology necessary to avoid back-breaking labor, freedom for all races and women, relative peace between the super-powers.
If government in the US collapses, as I think it will (in the next 8 to 15 years), libertarianism, in a general form, will have its greatest opportunity, but it'll take the strong will and vision of many individuals to demand it and make it happen. Education first, though -- if there's a loud demand for private education and the end to the Department of Education, the transition from failed statism to limited government will be a lot easier.
I'll continue along this vein for the next few days.