At the Texas Students for Liberty conference I heard a lot of speakers. One of the issues several of them touched on was the intellectual origins of the libertarianism, pointing out quite correctly that it is an intellectual movement on the political right which balances out the intellectual left which generally has a much higher profile. Nigel Ashford from the Institute for Humane Studies was particularly effective in conveying the relationship between intellectualism and libertarianism in the context of the work of F. A. Hayek and Milton Friedman.
What became clear during Ashford's very enjoyable speech and from the questions which followed is that libertarians, including the young activists at this conference, really do think of themselves as intellectuals and identify with the intellectual elite. What also became clear was that they are utterly oblivious to the fact that they suffer from exactly the same liabilities as the leftist elite, particularly intellectual insularity and the ineffectiveness as a political movement which comes from being so focused on ideology and operating outside of the system that they are incapable of effectively acting on their beliefs or accomplishing anything in the political arena.
The long-time libertarian activists who made up maybe a third of the audience were eager to stand up and talk proudly about their token political campaigns where they spent no money but got their name mentioned in the local newspaper when they won 3% of the vote. Ashford led them on by asking what they would do if they had $10 million to spend on whatever they wanted, which produced a variety of unrealistic pipe-dreams and schemes to flush money down a rat-hole. What he should have said as a conclusion was that so long as they keep themselves splendidly isolated from mainstream politics no one will ever give them $10 million because the money would be wasted on achieving nothing and certainly do very little to grow liberty in the nation.
It's heartening to see the growth of interest in liberty and bringing our government under control, but it's enormously frustrating to see so much of this enthusiasm misdirected into the political dead end and do-nothingism which still characterizes the Libertarian Party. The truth is that the pissed-off non-intellectuals of the Tea Party movement who come to libertarianism out of expediency rather than intellect have already accomplished more real political change in a year than the Libertarian Party has accomplished in more than 30 years.