Monthly Archives: January 2007

Mutualist blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism


Kevin Carson’s excellent web log headed, Mututalist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism  makes for great reading. 

I have long been an admirer of the mututalist, co-operative and voluntary collective self help movements and their better intellectual advocates. Providing powerful critiques of mercantilism past and corporatism present they often provide powerful insights that chime deeply with the best libertarian instincts. 

British casino plan falls way short of libertarian jackpot


Today’s announcement  by the so called Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, that Manchester  is to be allowed to build a venue for more than 1,200 unlimited jackpot gaming machines might be a tiny and welcome step but it falls way short of the libertarian jackpot. For in modern Britain nothing can be voluntarily decided between entrepreneurs and their customers. Instead, everything has to be licensed and regulated by the government – usually through an endless array of front organisations such as the Casino Advisory Panel. 

Today’s announcement was propagandistically spun by government under the rubric of regeneration. In addition to Manchester, other licenses were granted so that Great Yarmouth, Hull, Newham, Middlesbrough, Solihull, Milton Keynes, Leeds and Southampton could all be regenerated.  In a libertarian world such ‘regeneration’ would of course occur in these and any other places that customers and business people desired. Moreover, the process would be accompanied by plethora of regenerative activities currently outlawed.  Perhaps the most damaging economic criminalisation at the moment is propagated by the United Nation’s International Law of the Sea. Effectively outlawing the privatisation of the sea this ludicrous body of law means that 70 per cent of planet earth is effectively rendered useless for economic development. 

Want to know more? Then read this superb paper by Walter Block.

Nurses for Reform publishes a blinding article on former Labour MP Alice Mahon


NFR – the free market nurses group – has just published a great article on the former Labour MP Alice Mahon.

Having spent years promoting the NHS, it turns out that when
Mahon actually needed treatment and care the NHS would not actually give her what she ‘needed’. Reduced to complaining that she has “been an ardent supporter of the NHS all my life, and now feel totally let down” quite rightly concluded that she should go private. Reportedly spending more than £5,000 to get a treatment which might save her from losing her eyesight, I am reminded of something my father used to say: experience is the best teacher.

STATEMENT BY THE LIBERTARIAN ALLIANCE ON ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAWS


 

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The Libertarian Alliance

NEWS RELEASE FROM THE LIBERTARIAN ALLIANCE
In Association with the Libertarian International

Release Date: Thursday 25th January 2007
Release Time: Immediate

Contact Details:
Dr Sean Gabb (Director), 07956 472 199, sean@libertarian.co.uk

For other contact and link details, see the foot of this message
Release url: http://www.libertarian.co.uk/news/nr047.htm

STATEMENT BY THE LIBERTARIAN ALLIANCE ON ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAWS

The Libertarian Alliance, the radical free market and civil liberties policy institute, today issues the following statement on the legitimacy of anti-discrimination laws. This statement is prompted by the continuing debate over the Equality Act 2006, which allows the British Government to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Libertarian Alliance Director, Dr Sean Gabb, says:

“Every person has the right to life and justly-acquired property, and to do with his own whatever does not infringe the equal rights of others.

“From this primary right can be derived all the rights of the liberal tradition – freedom of expression and contract and association, together with security against oppressive or arbitrary behaviour by the State.

“It does not generate any right not to be hated or despised or shunned.

“It does not justify laws against discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, religion or sexual orientation, or laws against expressing or inciting hatred against any group.

“If someone chooses, for whatever reason, not to employ homosexuals because of their homosexuality – or not to rent property to them, or not to provide other paid services to them – that is his right within the liberal tradition. By such behaviour, he is not committing any aggression against others. He is merely exercising his right NOT to associate or NOT to contract. No one who is thereby refused suffers any harm that is, within the liberal tradition, to be considered actionable.

“The same reasoning fully applies to discrimination on the other grounds of race, sex and religion.

“By forcing people to associate with or contract with persons whom they would otherwise reject, anti-discrimination laws are an attack on life and property. They are a form of coerced association. They give some people uncompensated claims on others. They amount to a form of slavery mediated by the State.

“Politically correct authoritarians like to hail each new set of anti-discrimination laws as an extension of human rights. Such laws are in fact violations of the only human rights that mean anything.

“The Libertarian Alliance does not advocate or condone any act of discrimination, but defends the right of others to discriminate and to preach discrimination.”

END OF STATEMENT

The Libertarian Alliance believes:

* That the Equality Act 2006 should be repealed, together with all delegated legislation made thereunder;:
* That the Commission for Equality and Human Rights set up under the above Act should be abolished at the first opportunity, and that all its records should be destroyed;
* That the records of the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Commission for Racial Equality, and the Disability Rights Commission should be destroyed;
* That those sections of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Race Relations Act 1976, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, and the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 not already repealed by the Equality Act 2006 should be immediately repealed;
* That any organisation arguing against the above should receive no public funding.

END OF COPY

Note(s) to Editors

Dr Sean Gabb is the Director of the Libertarian Alliance and edits its journal Free Life. His book, Smoking, Class and the Legitimation of Power, is available at Amazon. His other books are available from Hampden Press at http://www.hampdenpress.co.uk.

He can be contacted for further comment on 07956 472 199 or by email at sean@libertarian.co.uk

Extended Contact Details:

The Libertarian Alliance is Britain’s most radical free market and civil liberties policy institute. It has published over 700 articles, pamphlets and books in support of freedom and against statism in all its forms. These are freely available at http://www.libertarian.co.uk

Our postal address is

The Libertarian Alliance
Suite 35
2 Landsdowne Row
Mayfair
London
W1J 6HL
Tel: 0870 242 1712

Associated Organisations

The Libertarian International – http://www.libertarian.to – is a sister organisation to the Libertarian Alliance. Its mission is to coordinate various initiatives in the defence of individual liberty throughout the world.

Sean Gabb’s personal website – http://www.seangabb.co.uk – contains about a million words of writings on themes interesting to libertarians and conservatives.

Hampden Press – http://www.hampdenpress.co.uk.- the publishing house of the Libertarian Alliance.

Liberalia – http://www.liberalia.com – maintained by by LA Executive member Christian Michel, Liberalia publishes in-depth papers in French and English on libertarianism and free enterprise. It is a prime source of documentation on these issues for students and scholars.

Crystal meth criminalisation will be totally counter-productive


Recently, the drug crystal meth has been reclassified as a class A substance which means that people who now use it will face up to seven years in prison and an unlimited fine.  Although this drug has as yet not taken root in the UK, this change in the law will now greatly encourage its promotion.  We can be as sure as day follows night that this criminalisation will not only encourage its trade from the supply side but its consumption will spread down the age range.

I have read a lot over the years on the criminalisation of drugs and still find this paper by Paul Anderton  to be one of the best.

The sad thing in all of this is that politicians really don’t learn from their mistakes. When politicians outlawed all kinds of fire arms it was obvious then that
Britain would soon become awash with illegal guns and gun crime – as is now the case.

Hurrah for the Oxford Hayek Society!


Yesterday evening – 17 January 2007 – I had the great pleasure of addressing the
Oxford Hayek Society 
– a scholarly society that is now in its twentieth year. The meeting took place at HarrisManchesterCollege  and was attended by some thirty members of the society. I spoke on ‘the relevance of libertarianism’.

As with most student groups, while the formal membership of the society are around 200 the active membership is probably only 10 per cent of that figure.

Nevertheless, it was a great evening and I found the audience to be particularly knowledgeable and engaging when it came to free market ideas and the usual texts. Hayek, Rand, Mises and Rothbard were all mentioned at various points in the proceedings.

Sean Debates the European Union – and Wins!


On Wednesday the 17th January 2007, I took part in a debate organised by a
grammar school in Kent.

The question was whether Britain should leave the European Union.

I was speaking against a former Member of the European Parliament.

I won the debat by 97 to 87 votes.

You can hear a sound file of the main part of the debate by going to:

http://www.libertarian.co.uk/multimedia/2007-01-17-europe-sig.mp3
http://www.libertarian.co.uk/multimedia/multimedia.htm

LA Putney Debates now in their 20th Year


Tomorrow’s LA Putney Debate with
Antoine Clarke on The Long Tail by Chris Anderson will no doubt be interesting. If you are interested in attending then call me on 07956 969523 or email me at tim@libertarian.co.uk

The first Putney Debate of the year, 2007 marks the 20th anniversary of these monthly meetings.

Friday talk at the Putney Debates


On Friday 12 January, I shall be presenting the first of the Putney Debates for 2007.
My topic will be “The Long Tail, by Chris Anderson, what it means for business and libertarians.”

I think “The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More” by Wired editor Chris Anderson, is the best economics and business book written in the past 10 years.

If there is one book that everyone trying to sell things or ideas today should read, this is my pick. The whole Web 2.0 concept contains elements of the Internet boom and bust, but this time there is a lot more substance to the excitement.

For one thing, in 1999 someone would have set a website selling real estate, which some merchant bank would value as if no one else could enter the market for a few hundred pounds. Gullible investors would then buy shares in the property website valued at hundreds of times actual earnings.

This time the focus is more on how the markets are actually shifting. For example, in the UK we have a property boom and estate agent offices are closing down, because about two thirds of all customers are using the Internet to search for properties and contact agents. Some web-based businesses are and will continue to be overvalued and will collapse in spectacular fashion. However, I think we are moving from the era of experiment (like the early days of the motor car) to the era of business (where recognizable brands emerged).

The Long Tail though, is about the way that economies of scale have been utterly transformed in the production process and how consumers are increasingly able to become producers too. If the Marxist concept that the individual is defined by his belonging to an economic class has any meaning, then Web 2.0 really throws up a lot of questions for the cleavage “producers/consumers.” Entire business models are now obsolete, in particular the way in which intellectual property is defined and exploited.

For Libertarians, there is the satisfaction of discovering that the Long Tail is the apotheosis of the sovereign consumer, with the explosion of niche markets. There is also the warning that the tools for intellectual debate have been revolutionised, and we have, so far, been missing out.

For details of the Putney Debates and how to get there, etc, email tim[at]libertarian.co.uk.

Sean on the Wireless


you can hear the BBC interview I did on the smoking press release at:

http://www.libertarian.co.uk/multimedia/multimedia.htm

NEWS RELEASE FROM THE LIBERTARIAN ALLIANCE


 NEWS RELEASE FROM THE LIBERTARIAN ALLIANCE
In Association with the Libertarian International

Release Date: Tuesday 2nd January 2007
Release Time: Immediate

Contact Details:
Dr Sean Gabb (Director), 07956 472 199, sean@libertarian.co.uk

For other contact and link details, see the foot of this message
Release url: http://www.libertarian.co.uk/news/nr046.htm

“NO AGE LIMIT ON BUYING CIGARETTES”, FREE MARKET AND CIVIL LIBERTIES THINK TANK TELLS BRITISH GOVERNMENT

The Libertarian Alliance, the radical free market and civil liberties policy institute, today condemns the decision by the British Government to raise the age limit for buying cigarettes from 16 to 18.

Libertarian Alliance Director, Dr Sean Gabb, says:

“We note with some amusement that in Tony Blair’s New Britain, a man may sodomise a schoolboy in a public lavatory, and the police must look the other way; but if he gives the boy a cigarette afterwards, he will soon be committing a criminal act.

“The Libertarian Alliance actually welcomes the first of these situations. We do not believe it is the right of the State to regulate the lifestyle choices of persons who are or ought to be regarded as adults. But it is on the same principle that we denounce the second situation.

“The Problem with the Blair Government’s legislation in areas of lifestyle choice is that it is driven entirely by the desire to placate special interest groups. It has abolished most of the restrictions on homosexual acts not because it shares our belief in the rights to life, liberty and property, but because it wants the support of the gay lobby. It is oppressing smokers because it wants to create still more jobs for an army of lifestyle regulators whose votes and general support it finds useful.

“The Libertarian Alliance believes in freedom with no exceptions. This includes the right to smoke. If young people are to be considered fit to make potentially disastrous choices in the area of sex, they should be considered equally fit to decide in other areas.

“The War on Smoking is a war on freedom. It is not the business of the State to tell adults what substances they can and cannot put into their own bodies. Arguments about the alleged harmfulness of these substances are beside the point. It is our right to do as we please with ourselves. To deny us this right demeans us from human beings to farm animals. A farmer will keep his cattle from harming themselves because they are his property. We are not the property of the State.”

The Libertarian Alliance believes:

* That all laws banning the promotion of tobacco products should be immediately repealed;

* That all laws banning the use of tobacco products in public should be immediately repealed;

* That, without any increase in the burden of taxes elsewhere, the excise duties on tobacco should be reduced to match the lowest level in any of the other 26 member states of the European Union

* That any organisation arguing against the above should receive no public funding.

END OF COPY

Note(s) to Editors

The Libertarian Alliance receives no funding from the tobacco industry, but would welcome any offered.

Dr Sean Gabb is the Director of the Libertarian Alliance and edits its journal Free Life. His book, Smoking, Class and the Legitimation of Power, is available at Amazon. His other books are available from Hampden Press at http://www.hampdenpress.co.uk.

He can be contacted for further comment on 07956 472 199 or by email at sean@libertarian.co.uk

Extended Contact Details:

The Libertarian Alliance is Britain’s most radical free market and civil liberties policy institute. It has published over 700 articles, pamphlets and books in support of freedom and against statism in all its forms. These are freely available at http://www.libertarian.co.uk

Our postal address is

The Libertarian Alliance
Suite 35
2 Landsdowne Row
Mayfair
London
W1J 6HL
Tel: 0870 242 1712

Associated Organisations

The Libertarian International – http://www.libertarian.to – is a sister organisation to the Libertarian Alliance. Its mission is to coordinate various initiatives in the defence of individual liberty throughout the world.

Sean Gabb’s personal website – http://www.seangabb.co.uk – contains about a million words of writings on themes interesting to libertarians and conservatives.

Hampden Press – http://www.hampdenpress.co.uk.- the publishing house of the Libertarian Alliance.

Liberalia – http://www.liberalia.com – maintained by by LA Executive member Christian Michel, Liberalia publishes in-depth papers in French and English on libertarianism and free enterprise. It is a prime source of documentation on these issues for students and scholars.