“Young libertarians are, in so many ways, exemplars when it comes to their commitment to democracy, political knowledge, and furthering civic goals. While many young libertarians described their disillusionment (and often disgust) with the electoral process, their sophisticated understanding of that process and its history was impressive.”
- Liana Gamber Thompson, The Cost of Engagement:Politics and Participatory Practices in the U.S. Liberty Movement
The growth of the student movement for liberty over the past few years has been truly stunning. Both in terms of quantity and quality, our raw numbers and levels of activity have been skyrocketing on college campuses around the world, and we are better trained and organized than ever before. We are lucky to be part of a vast, vibrant, and diverse movement to make the world a freer place. While this might sound like a bunch of insider back-slapping, we are not the only ones to notice these developments. Academic researchers have taken note and have devoted their time to studying this phenomenon.
For the past year University of Southern California Researcher Liana Gamber Thompson has been studying Students For Liberty and the youth movement broadly. The goal, in her own words:
Based on almost a year of ethnographic work, in-depth interviews, and participant observation, this report seeks to unpack some of the more pervasive misconceptions about young libertarians like Dorian Electra and to give a detailed account of what participants call the Liberty Movement. This is not to say there is no room for critique here, but this case study reveals just how complex and multi-faceted young libertarians are.
I strongly recommend reading the full study at http://ypp.dmlcentral.net/sites/all/files/publications/The_Cost_of_Engagement-Working_Paper-MAPP_12.10.12.pdf.
The fact that an independent, objective, professional study like this has been published is an incredibly encouraging sign for the student movement for liberty. While little of the information contained within will be news to a movement veteran, what is important to take away is that the rest of the world is starting to take note. While Liana Gamber-Thompson was incredibly helpful and friendly during the process, she was and is not a libertarian herself. She came into the project as an outside observer and came away with very positive impressions of the community she came to study.
This is further evidence that our theory of social change is working. The academic community knows this and as we continue to grow more and more people will recognize the liberty movement as a force to be respected on campus and beyond.