Libertarian Alliance Showcase Publication No 9: Purpose and Strategy of the Libertarian Alliance.

David Davis

We have been getting recent hits, interested in “about the LA” and such stuff. I thought I would reprint a link to on of our very first publications.

This was published very early in our development, as “tactical notes No 1”. I can’t think of a better description.


  1. This is a controversial document.

    It originally appeared in “Free Life” magazine, and was conceived and written by David Ramsay Steele. It certainly reflects his views on creating a doctrinal, hierarchically-structured oganization which would promulgate propaganda.

    I had resigned from the Executive Committee of the LA before this was published, and I rejoined at Chris Tame’s request in 1982. It certainly does not reflect my views.

    I was very annoyed when it was reprinted by Brian Micklethwait in 1985, with this comment added by Brian:

    “In broad outline it reflects the
    views of all of the founder members of the Libertarian Alliance concerning strategy and tactics.”

    As a founder-member, it certainly does not reflect my views. It is, in essence, a blueprint for a libertarian church with increasingly rigid doctrinal control.

    Interestingly, it’s remarkably “Wertfrei” or “value-free.” With a word-processor, you can globally substitute any ideology you like for “libertarian” and “libertarianism” and it still makes perfect sense. Indeed, I’ve had Republicans and others thank me for pointing this out to them.

    It is in its essence Marxist-Leninist, reflecting Steele’s years in the Marxist SPGB. Chris was enthralled by it because he thought he would be the “Marx” and the “Leninist” figure and it would produce big results soon.

    Steele had other ideas, hence the ‘split’ in ’82-’83.

    The basic idea is to atract a wide range of ideological enthusiasts, who are then cherry-picked for conformism and ideological “purism” by the “core cadre” directing the thing.

    Mankind has already seen all too often where such projects lead.

    Micklethwait went on distributing it against my wishes and without correction. I asked Chris to instruct him to stop it. He thought it was unimportant (he said).

    Apart from anything else, when the typesetter inserts his own — untrue — comments, and refuses to accept correction from an Executive Committee member who is one of those he is referring to, this is unacceptable, especially when it relates to deeply-held moral and intellectual issues. Is this “petty”?

    So I didn’t write any more for the LA from then on.



  2. Tony, old chap.

    I’m not an academic Libertarian, I just like freedom. I also like the writing in some of the stuff in our archives, and not in other stuff.

    I thought this was well written, and I thought it said roughly what we are about. If I am wrong, then perhaps I ought not to be writing this blog? Perhaps I am too doctrinally-pure?

    Look, old chap, I’m just a bumpkin who happened to fetch up in London in the late 70s with all you people! I’m now somewhere else and trying to just open up the archives of the “Acts of the Apostles” of libertarianism in Britain in the late 20th century, to others who were not so fortunate to know osme of these people or what they thought or wrote about.

    We now have of course a Libertarian Party. (Nothing to do with the LA either.) I have no very strong views really either way but I think on balance it’s a good development, and I do not agree with the views in the paper that won the prize at last conference. What’s your view? DD

  3. Dave:

    You’re no bumpkin! You’re an intelligent, sparky person who is passionate about individual freedom. Perhaps in some ways you’re like salt in the stew: just because some is a fine idea doesn’t mean that a whole lot more is a whole lot better. >:-}

    Steele’s document is persuasive. Fortunately, Chris’s experience with the LA it produced led him to very different perspectives on strategy and tactics. In result, the LA is wildly different (for better and for worse) than the LA envisioned in Steele’s document. I think that “the other LA” was also altered by the experience: Steele’s philosophy changed from consequentialist Austrian to something much nearer Popper’s.

    Don’t give up on your efforts. Real people are especially valuable to intellectual organizations.



  4. I enjoyed it, I saved a copy to my ideas book. ‘Book your ideas up’, that’s what my old Grandad would tell his wayward sons.

    The article certainly puts into perspective where we stand, and I smiled slightly when he mentioned the idea of mass propaganda, and converting the masses – I’d thought of that myself in passing. No, this is mainly a heterodox school, and a realistic victory would be for it to become the modus operandi of those making the laws and policies and so on.

    But as the author writes, ideas change slowly, and they come from groups like us rather than the mass trend. At least I hope so anyway. Just keep plugging away then eh?

  5. I’ll keep plugging. It’s just that some of our stuff is better-written than other stuff, and I want to flag up the good and readable stuff, so as to make more libertarians, preferably reasonably intelligent ones (at this stage).

    I do think though, that we have to become a mass movement at some stage, and rather sooner than later.

    That is why I view the new positively.

  6. So do I. Although the LP may struggle to take on the mainstream parties in future elections, it stands in an excellent position to undermine supposedly liberal parties like the Lib Dems, and more importantly the pseudoliberal Labour Party, and therefore influencing their policies for the better, just by existing. I may well join if time constraints slacken off in future.

Leave a Reply