And so we enter the Long Dark Night of un-liberalism


David Davis

Once upon a time, there were members of the Libertarian Alliance who thought it would be possible, and that indeed the day would come, and soon, when we could capture the British Conservative Party. This was to be the way forward: getting libertarian ideas and policies into the normal high-level political discourse of a major modern state.

Therein, we thought, lay our best hope for confronting the pre-capitalist-barbarians, fascists, other lefties, Gramsco-Marxians, and all the other fellow-travelling worthless sub-human murderous trash which we knew even then was bent on infecting and corrupting our institutions, especially the schools and universities. We could make all these uncouth monsters irrelevant. But the damage to these institutions, and the traditions which they enshrined, has been done, and it is probably too late to fix and repair the loss of our culture’s and civilisation’s volume distribution in our population’s folk-memory.

Clearly, whatever opportunity to hijack a good major party may have ever existed, has been lost. Patrick over at the UK Libertarian Party puts it much better than I can: David Cameron not only can’t change anything much, but he also does not really want to.

If Gordon Brown and the Tories both carry on the way they are, Cameron will probably win a majority at the next election, whenever it may occur. But let’s not expect any miracles therafter.

Let’s preserve what can be saved, through the night, and survive, and perhaps even sometimes laugh, if allowed, when nobody is looking.

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16 responses to “And so we enter the Long Dark Night of un-liberalism

  1. David — the piece was actually penned by our Party Leader, Ian Parker-Joseph.

  2. As I am wont to tell anybody who is willing to listen, I believe that the strategy of trying to influence and/or take over the Conservative Party was fatally mistaken. I accept that it was pursued with the best of intentions, but history takes no account of such things and failure is not a beast that knows or succumbs to pity.

    Because we have regarded ourselves as a mere faction of the Tories, we can hardly be surprised it that is how others regard us too. Hence, like a barnacle, we have sunk with the ship. Furthermore, it has prevented us from getting out message across to many people who may have been quite receptive were it not for our unfortunate association with a political party which (in many cases) they had good reason to mistrust or actively despise.

  3. David Carr:

    “Amen” to that!

    The Tory Party is a vehicle for increased Social Control. Its core membership _detests_ free spirited people. It serves as a cover for unconfessable interests.

    Anyone who actually met and talked with these Ersatz-“Libertarians” HAD to notice what a horrible assortment of people they were, whose politics consisted of attempting to get up the noses of Left-Radicals by posturing as the exact opposite of anything and everything that they believed in.

    This is how Thatcher actually formulated policy, so naturally they all loved her.

    The origin of this catastrophe is easy to find. It’s called “Ralph Harris”, a true-blue Tory, who repeatedly lured Chris R. Tame on with promises of the eventual Directorship of the Institute for Economic Affairs. Of course, Chris was never “One of US”, so that was a real non-starter.

    But Chris actually BELIEVED it. So he did everything he could to accommodate Harris, even getting married to Judy (a radical feminist) (instead of just living together).

    Every little whim of Harris’ had to be pandered to (Chris even called the man “Lord Harris” to his face AND behind his back (how “libertarian!)). He called Arthur Seldon (a more decent man) “Mr. Seldon” even as I was calling him “Arthur.” Chris was PROUD to be invited to meet Thatcher at a soiree at 10, Downing Street. He truckled to the Tory “Toughies”. He even asked Rhodes Boyson (!), an archaic “Hanger and Flogger” to be Guest Speaker at the 1984 Libertarian International Dinner, prompting Sam Brittan to publicly rebuke him, and ask him what Boyson was there for…

    He readily succumbed to the blandishments of the Adam Smith Institute, even though huge pictures of Richard Milhous Nixon (the character model for the Evil Emperor Palpatine in STAR WARS, according to George Lucas) were displayed on the ASI’s walls. Of course ASI was and is the British arm of the US Republican Party. Not the worst of the Republican bunch, either.

    As the years went by and no IEA Directorship materialized, Chris grew increasingly bitter, and started bad-mouthing Harris and Thatcher, as if they wouldn’t get to hear about it! This is all the stuff of politics. Eventually, Harris delivered the bitterest insult to Chris by making his worst enemy (one of them, anyway) John Blundell the IEA’s Director, at GBP 100,000 a year.

    Chris (and not only Chris) sold his soul for nothing. The idea that the Conservative Party would EVER be a vehicle for “Libertarianism” (even in its twisted Crony-Capitalist form) is about as probable as one of the SS Einsatzgruppen’s mobile gas chambers making a handy bus for a Jewish Old Folks’ day excursion…

    The amazing thing is that the L.A. actually survived Chris’s appalling political judgement. The whole distasteful business was horrible enough to instill a healthy aversion to further attempts.

    A sweet and good Year to you all!

    Tony

  4. Thanks to Tony, for that interesting assessment.

    Strange, isn’t it, that, as a member and officer of the LA for more than 30 years now, I never knew any of that.

    As a minor aside, I bet you Tony, 5p as of now, that Nixon’s reputation will grow and be enhanced as the centuries go by, while those of FDR, Kennedy, Clinton and those three other guys whose names momentarily escape me, will crumble into powder and blow away. (Oh, that funny little man Carter was one…and Warren Harding was NOT one of the others….)

    Ozymandias comes to mind.

  5. Not getting at you, Tony, honest, guv! DD

  6. Oh, and when are you going to write something for us here?

  7. Methinks Mr. Cameron totally misunderstands what libertarianism actually is.

  8. Dave Davis:

    I’m not clear what you’re saying here:

    “Strange, isn’t it, that, as a member and officer of the LA for more than 30 years now, I never knew any of that.”

    Well, in April 1985, the “LA infiltrates FCS” saga hit the 7 o’clock C4 News, News at 10, TWO stories on the front page of the Daily Express written by John Warden, the Daily Express Political Editor, television documentaries, magazine articles and Heaven knows what else. Brian Micklethwait and Chris were named as the evil spirits behind the plot. Both of them were enamoured with the “Toughie” FCS faction, led by Peter Young and others.

    The Conservative Party closed down FCS, then had to close its successor organization when that got taken over too.

    According to John Warden, the Press attacks were being orchestrated by the odious John Selwyn Gummer in his capacity as head of Conservative Central Office. How could you not know what your own organization was doing? Chris introduced me to the “Core Cadre” in FOREST’s office.

    If you’re trying to say that all this never happened, you’re living in fantasyland! >:-} Or the Matrix. Or both… >:-}

    Could Chris be two-faced to his friends? Yes.

    Could he think you didn’t need to know? Maybe.

    Chris did what _he_ wanted to do, often without much thought. He had many, many virtues, also.

    And Ralph Harris screwed him something rotten.

    Cordially,

    Tony

    PS: I’ve just finished an Essay Prize entry. Give us a break! >:-}

  9. What’s a “Matrix”? I thought it was something mathematical, or else Cherie Booth’s something-or-other.

  10. Dave:

    You HAVE to be kidding us!!!

    You would be the only libertarian in the enttire world who hasn’t seen “The Matrix”, “The Matrix Reloaded” and “Matrix Revolutions.”

    Start with the loathesome word “forkforce”, treating humans merely as a source of work — energy to be used by others…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Matrix_(series)

    Go buy the set — I’ll pay for it as a present to you.

    More on the “long night” that we night-owls are looking forward to:

    — “The Owl of Athena flies at dusk…”

    http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174984

    Cordially,

    Tony

  11. I really don’t know what you mean by the “Matrix”, Tony, if it’s some filmy thingy. Sorry if I have upset you by that…..

    Perhaps I have been living in a parallel Universe, and I’ve been teleported auto-anti-materially from the planet Tharg, into the position of earthling Blogmaster of the LA.

    Of course, as all that conservatives-and-Chris business is now water under the bridge, for he’s dead and the Tories don’t like us anyway, it’s all irrelevant.

    But I was only thinking about it ffom my point of view, taking into account some historical discussions with old Chris, and lamenting the tragedy of what we have now on this planet – a non-libertarian Tory Party.

  12. The LA’s “infiltration” / influence on the FCS was not entirely wasted even if it did not lead to the taking over of the Conservative party.

    Before I was involved in FCS my only exposure to libertarian ideas was reading Robert A. Heinlein novels (and studying pre-civil war American history).

    All the active members of FCS in the years prior to its closure were exposed to libertarian ideas and the majority were influenced by them. After all ideas (that are new to them) do appeal to students.

    Both the IEA and the ASI presumably had a beneficial effect during the Thatcher Years.

    In fact, weren’t several Tory MPs of that period former pupils of Dr Madsen Pirie at St Andrews? (Dr Pirie was the Director of the ASI).

    Also, the IEA did publish a pamphlet on the denationalisation of money at that time, which would seem to me to be pretty libertarian territory.

    I’ll finish my nostalgia fest with something I remember Brian Micklethwait saying when he came to speak at my university. I remembering as saying that if you want to sell your ideas you have to willing to unpack them and let people chose which one’s to take up. I am sure he is right.

  13. Otto:

    Hayek’s “The Denationalization of Money” was published in 1976! My copy is signed by him!

    The Ur-“Libertarians” of FCS were “exposed” to Social Darwinism, not Libertarianism. There is a diffeence.

    I well recall Ralph Harris approaching me at an Adam Smith Club meeting, whee I was studiously reading an IEA pamphlet. “NoNoNo!” he explained to me, turning it to the rear cover, where there appeared a list of “key points.” “That’s all that matters”, he said. The witten stuff is just in there to sopport that list.”

    There’s a name for this: “Propaganda.”

    As George orwell wrote:

    “All propaganda is lies, even when it is telling the truth.”

    Indeed, Brian Micklethwait comes to mind…

    Best,

    Tony

  14. Tony:
    What’s “social darwinism”?

  15. Dave:

    This article should make the issue witheringly plain:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Darwinism

    Regards,

    Tony