In the past few months, I’ve seen a lot of Libertarian Capitalists turn to Socialism or Trumpism (which, by the way, is just a different brand of Socialism). This has perplexed and upset quite a few people in the liberty movement, but it shouldn’t.

In 2008, Ron Paul gave many young people a taste of ideas that fell outside (to borrow Tom Woods’ phrasing) the 3×5 card of allowable opinion. This is always going to be appealing to people, regardless of their understanding of economics, history, or political philosophy because you don’t have to be an expert in these fields to recognize that something, at least, is wrong with the political establishment (to make the understatement of the millennia). 

So people jumped on to the Ron Paul bandwagon. They adopted his brand of Libertarianism and those who became anarchists adopted the anarchism of his allies, not because they fully understood the complex ideas involved, but because it was the first form of anti-establishmentism/libertarianism/anarchism that they had ever been introduced to.

Since then, naturally, new types of anti-establishmentism have cropped up. The rising popularity of capitalist anarchism has dredged up previously obscure figures in the history of socialist anarchism. The unfortunate but predictable ripple effect of the so-called “Ron Paul Revolution” has been the reemergence of old alternative ideas that have always been bad.

There are two things that we should take away from this:

The first is that we shouldn’t lament the abandonment of these fickle libertarians. They were never with us to begin with, and the recent shifts are merely serving to expose the differences we already had. This is a good thing.

The second take-away is a lesson that we can learn from this change. Political movements whose goals are to gain voters for any preferred candidate are always going to be weak movements. Vote-getting rarely has anything to do with principles and education, and largely involves popular sentiment based on whatever issue the voter values at that moment, regardless of anything else the candidate supports or opposes.

What this means is that a true liberty movement can only take place through the continuing education of people in the principles of liberty via economics, history, and philosophy. No matter what your feelings on campaign politics are, it is impossible to argue that voting can ever be more important than this kind of education.

So we shouldn’t be dismayed by these “libertarians” absconding their capitalist or libertarian values. Those of us who study economics recognize that the collapse of a speculative bubble is not really the reduction in value, but the necessary correction of overvaluation; much the same, these political shifts are not the loss of liberty-minded people, but rather the filtration of those who never really were.

Let these people leave this movement so we can continue to build it on real foundations.