In the same Libertarian Forum newsletter that J.H. Huebert recently linked to we find these encouraging words from Murray Rothbard’s Keynote Address to the LP Convention:
I have long been convinced that the process of becoming a libertarian-whether it happens gradually or in a blinding flash of conversion-is a twofold rather than a single process. If we may use a now familiar rhetoric, we might say that the true libertarian is “born again”, that is, that the process of conversion to liberty takes place in two distinct-though sometimes rapidly succeeding-stages. The first conversion is what we might call the “baptism of reason”-the moment or moments when the person becomes convinced that liberty is the best, and the only just, social system for mankind. He or she realizes that liberty is the true, the good, and the beautiful. But I have become increasingly convinced that this realization is only the first step to becoming a full-fledged libertarian. To be truly “born again”, the libertarian must experience what we might call a second baptism, the “baptism of will”. That is, he must be driven by his rational insight to dedicate himself to the mighty goal of bringing about the victory of liberty, of libertarian principles, in the real world. He must set out to transform reality in accordance with his ideal vision. In short, the truly complete libertarian, the “born again” libertarian, if you will, is not
content with recognizing the truth of liberty as the best social system; he cannot and will not rest content until that system, that set of principles, has triumphed in the world of reality. Reason and will are thus fused in a mighty and unflinching determination to carry on the struggle until the victory of liberty over statism has been achieved. The American revolutionaries pledged “their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor” to their struggle for liberty and independence. They were not parlor libertarians; they were determined to settle for nothing less than victory, regardless of how long or how arduous the task. And one thing is certain they never could have won without that iron determination; for otherwise, they would have wilted very early: after Long Island, or Fort Washington, or Valley Forge. The American revolutionaries would settle for nothing less than victory; can we fail to follow their florious example?…[Tom] Paine concluded his great work [Common Sense] with these stirring words:
“O! Ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose not only tyranny but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted around the globe. Asia and Africa have long expelled her. Europe regards her as a stranger, and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.”
I would like to underscore the importance of the line, “Ye that dare oppose not only tyranny but the tyrant …” For here Paine was referring to that two-step, double “baptism” process of which I spoke earlier. That it is splendid, but not enough, to come to the point of opposing tyranny in the abstract, as a general principle; but that it is of equally vital importance to press on to the second stage, to the concrete activism of engaging in struggle against the actual tyrant of whatever time and place we happen to live in.
…We hereby put everyone on notice: We are libertarians of the will as well as the intellect, of activity as well as theory, of real world struggle as well as idealistic vision. We are a serious movement. Our goal is nothing less than the victory of liberty over the Leviathan State, and we shall not be deflected, we shall not be diverted, we shall not be suborned, from achieving that goal. The odds against us are no greater than the odds that faced our forefathers at Concord, at Saratoga, or at Valley Forge. Secure in the knowledge that we are in the right, inspired by the vision, determination and courage of our forbears, we dedicate ourselves to the noblest cause of all, the old American cause, of individual Liberty. With such dedication and with such a goal, how can we help but win?