This is a guest post by Katie Chown, leader of the Libertarian Party in Canada. Find more at Facebook.com/katrinachowne and on Twitter @kyachtic
To start, I had not asked @kalimkassam how the #OccupyTogether movement could direct their rage toward something practical.
I am a typical Libertarian in so far as I have not and will not join #OWS. I am an atypical Libertarian because I have chosen to engage in politics, I am the Leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada
Upon hearing that #OWS was coming to Vancouver, I had many, and sometimes, diverging thoughts and feelings- as I think at least some other Libertarians had.
It wasn’t until I spoke to a friend who, despite my best efforts, is very keen on OccupyVancouver that I decided to hash out my thoughts into an email that was sent to local Libertarians/Anarchists, Freedomain listeners, and Austrian Economists.
In my email I suggested that instead of letting the wave of anger, confusion et al happen while we live our lives, that instead we go down to the protest area (in Vancouver protests almost always happen at the Vancouver Art Gallery) and see if we can be a metaphorical beacon of light to anyone who is looking for more than what #OWS people are offering.
Here is an excerpt:
The people down at these events are lost. They see problems but they dont see clear solutions. As my left wing friend put it “it’s like having your foot hurt, you go to a doctor and you tell them that your foot hurts….just because you don’t know how to fix the hurt doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to the doctor …. and sure, yeah, we can learn how to fix our own feet….I think we all need to learn how to grow our own food…but in the meantime, just because we don’t have the solutions, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t speak up to the problems we see in this world.”
I think it’s important to be at this Event in Vancouver…. with a booth, with internet, with flyers.
There is much confusion out there and, as my friend Paul said, they are ripe for a new idea. Whether you wish to keep this passive, and stay at the table to only engage those who come to you, or if you want to be in the crowd asking questions and creating discussion is up to you.
So, my question wasn’t whether or not we should join them. It was not asking if spending a day around people who do not recognize property rights as desirable. I hear from everyone that “the last thing that should be done is to engage”… But I never hear ideas that are considered “first thing”. I think movements like these have been avoided by Libertarians- were those outcomes desirable?
I didn’t learn about Libertarianism or associated ideas through school. When I went to College I once asked a professor why he didn’t mention Libertarian as a political philosophy. His response was that people get the word too confused with Liberal and so he doesn’t bother. I grant you, now with the internet making ideas more accessible than they were a decade ago, it’s difficult to use “I didn’t know” as an acceptable defense. But I also find that people who talk politics and know politics too easily forget how uncommon it really is for the “average person on the street” to know basic politics.
In any case, I don’t know which reason d’être people will use at this protest. I just know people think it’s important to be there. Because it’s decentralized, I think it will be people who are young and “don’t like what they’re seeing” and after that anything goes. I think there will be a lot of “philosophically homeless” people or at least people who don’t vote.
Because of this, I think we have an opportunity to hand out some books and literature to people who have just stared to ask themselves the question “how?”.
Someone from Mises Canada has said he would like to have books to hand out and a place for people to load up their kindles, iPads, Sony Readers, etc.
If you would like to donate money to buy books for our contrarian existence at OWS, you can here: