If a British Libertarian Party existed and it won an election, what ought it to do? (Part 3)


One aspect I have not addressed raises a dilemma, literally.

(1) How does a Libertarian caucus, within a statist polity, get itself understood?  Particularly in the case of Britain, where the population’s ability to understand, discuss and CRITICALLY WEIGH the pros and cons of sheer abstractions is declining, almost yearly?

The main problem here is the virtual invisibility of what Libertarianism means, for nearly everyone I meet: this goes for London just as much as Lancashire. (I’m not an intellectual and I don’t move in the circles of the educated intelligensia of either the “Right” or the “Left”

(2) How would (in the event of a decision to form a Libertarian party) it protect itself, its Officers and its adherents, from the inevitable and ferocious vilification – and worse – that must and will come from the now-embattled Statists? These will at that point realise that, in manichaean terms, this is Armageddon: the actual point of realisation by “The People” that they have been had all along, and that the Statists are rumbled for what they are.  If Statism is to survive in any form at all, then “The People” will have to be deselected, and a new one appointed – the changeover will be messy (for Statists have Hearts of Darkness, and they think we do also) and perhaps  – but I pray not – morally bloodsoaked, perhaps involving the ruin of the lives of prominent Libertarians.

Could there be enough people who have, essentially, nothing to lose and who trust each other implicitly, so that this could go forward? Or could the task be accomplished so fast that the British political compass reverses overnight? I personally am pessimistic, but I wonder what everyone else thinks.

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4 responses to “If a British Libertarian Party existed and it won an election, what ought it to do? (Part 3)

  1. I am not sure there would be a lack of prominent Libertarians. There are enough outgoing people who count themselves as libertarian and proud even amongst the Londoners that I meet now and then. It is more the lack of support or apparent interest outside this fairly close circle.

    Perhaps our only hope is the apathetic. I find those who really aren’t interested in politics to have generally relatively liberal (if not libertarian) leanings. They just need to be activated or perhaps have their eyes opened to possibilities.

    Imagine telling clubbers that we could make it legal for them to use recreational drugs inside private venues. No more dodgily cut pills, and associated violence out on the street. Perhaps even the straightforward message to the self-employed and small business owners that they will pay less tax in the short term and minimal in the longterm?

  2. “where the population’s ability to understand, discuss and CRITICALLY WEIGH the pros and cons of sheer abstractions is declining, almost yearly?”

    I’m not sure that’s the problem, or even if it’s true. I don’t think there ever was a time when the great unwashed strolled the grand concrete plazas of their estates, debating Kant and Chekov.

    Politics is ideally about grand ideas, but I think (and as Libertarians we should understand this, if nothing else), the electorate base their votes on ((un)enlightened(?)) self interest. It’s down to public choice theory. In a statist society, each individual competes selfishly for government patronage. They don’t vote for what is best for the country, they vote for what is best for themself. As such, when a politician says “vote for me, I stand for improved public services!” they’re actually saying “Vote for me, I’ll give you stuff.”

    It’s a zero-sum game. Each voter tries to maximise their own take from the state at the expense of all the other players. The public sector worker (more every day!) votes for the government who’ll support public sector workers. Others look for a tax cut that will benefit them, or a state benefit coming their way, and so on. The voters are, as a group, acting rationally.

    And if that’s wrong, if they’re not acting rationally, then Libertarians may as well give up, because that’s the whole basis (individuals acting rational in a self interested manner) of libertarianism and the free market.

    It’s not a matter of getting understood, or of winning a rarefied argument. It’s about convincing a majority (or at least, a largest minority) that Our Party will benefit them more than all the others. Only loony idealists like Trotskyists and such vote selflessly, and even then they don’t.

    People will vote for Broon because they believe he’ll give them stuff- jobs, benefits, whatever, and screw the people who are losing out. People have learned to treat each election as a financial decision. This is what Statism does to democracy.

  3. Hehe, since everyone else has gone abed, I’ll steal in with another comment… :)

    Nic mentions “legalise drugs within private venues”. I first ask, why only within private venues? Does a libertarian state still arrest people in the street for carrying/using drugs? Isn’t that just lesser statism? But it brings me to a wider question about policies. I’ll follow with a short list of what may be libertarian policies (I think so) but which the public may consider, and which the MSM would undoubtedly portray as, scary and/or cranky.

    Legalise all drugs.

    End sin taxes (beer, cigarettes, petrol etc).

    Abolish all smoking restrictions by the state (private businesses would of course have the right to impose whatever they like on employees/customers freely choosing to use their facilities).

    End censorship (no BBFC, TV watchdogs etc).

    Abolish/privatise the BBC.

    End railway subsidies.

    Fully legalise prostitution.

    End special licensing of “morally disapproved of businesses” e.g. nightclubs, casinos, lap dancing clubs.

    No internet oversight/blocking of “hate sites” or porn sites by guvmint decree.

    That’s a sample, there’s loads more obviously. I ask because many people would throw their hands up in horror at such policies. But if they’re not part of a libertarian party, won’t it just be a kind of conservative party?

  4. It is not so much the population, but the MSM who may have a bigger problem.