As a naïve schoolboy, like many others, I became caught up in Trotskyist politics. I was never a ‘good comrade’ being as likely to read Jo Grimond or Bakunin as Marx and Trotsky but for a while the excitement of being involved in clandestine politics (or so I fondly believed!) was enough. My mother always said I would ‘read a toffee paper’ so stopping me reading anything was always going to be difficult. I’m not sure I knew exactly what being a Trot meant (as I suspect did many others involved with me) but somewhere in it I was sure was the utopian idea of a better world. My involvement lasted at most about two years and ceased when I went to University. I think by then the endless factionalism had become simply too wearying so the physical move provided a convenient excuse.
Because I read ‘outside the doctrine’ I found of course much contradiction in what I read. At 18 finding ways to reconciling Grimond and Trotsky was perhaps too much to expect. What always appealed to me though was the idea of taking responsibility and control of one’s life – something for which I suspect Jo Grimond had more sympathy than Trotsky. This is why for me the attraction of Libertarianism is not in rampant individualism. We do not live in isolation and our every action places us in some relationship with others, requiring us to find some way to mediate those relationships. We do so by recognising that our individual actions will have cumulative, collective consequences and that ignoring those consequences is likely to place our relationships in a mode of conflict. Taking responsibility for one’s own actions is thus, pace Rand, a long way from ignoring the consequences of those actions on others.