Radical Incrementalism?

by | May 6, 2020

Hell, yes! Radical abolitionist anarchist libertarians can — and I say ought to be — incrementalists because, sorry, “abolition now!” is not on the menu today. No contradiction exists in the radical incrementalist or the incrementalist radical.

Tom Knapp addresses this point quite capably in his re-post “Blast from the Past — Without a Net: Compromise versus Calculation.” I recommend it highly.

The reason that no conflict need exist between abolitionism and incrementalism is that the former is an end while the latter is a means:

Incrementalism involves setting (and achieving) incremental goals — taking “baby steps” in one’s chosen direction. Incrementalism is a proposed means.

Abolitionism is the notion that wrongs should be abolished rather than simply minimized (and, at the abstract anarchist extreme — no insult intended, that happens to be where I live myself — that all wrongs must be abolished in order for the abolitionist to claim victory). Abolition is a proposed end or set of ends.

Thus, Knapp adds, “incrementalist means are not only available to “purists” and ‘abolitionists,’ but used by them, and are therefore not available only to ‘pragmatists.'” He also has much to say about “pragmatists,” who turn out to be pretty poor incrementalists.

I wrote about this issue five years ago in “Rothbardian Thoughts on Strategy.”

About Sheldon Richman

Sheldon Richman is the executive editor of The Libertarian Institute, senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society, and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. He is the former senior editor at the Cato Institute and Institute for Humane Studies, former editor of The Freeman, published by the Foundation for Economic Education, and former vice president at the Future of Freedom Foundation. His latest book is Coming to Palestine.

Read My Books

Related Articles

Related

Who’s Sick of the ‘Zombie Reply?’

Who’s Sick of the ‘Zombie Reply?’

On the day Hugh Hefner died I posted a picture on Twitter with a quote in which he puts forth the idea that we own our minds and bodies, and for church or state to attempt to limit that, is inappropriate. A random Tweeter deduced from the comment that if “his own mind...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This