Chris R. Tame Memorial Prize 2010


Why a Libertarian Society would not Deprive Individuals
of Cultural Roots and Collective Identity

David Robert Gibson

Cultural Notes No. 55

ISBN: 9781856376211
ISSN: 0267-677X (print)
ISSN: 2042-2539 (online)

An occasional publication of the Libertarian Alliance,
Suite 35, 2 Lansdowne Row, Mayfair, London W1J 6HL.

© 2010: Libertarian Alliance; David Robert Gibson.

David Robert Gibson was born in London in 1953, and lives in semi-rural Essex. He left school at 16, and has worked in many occupations including the civil service, as a community worker and as a courier. Since 1988, he has worked in information technology and he has been a freelance computer consultant/technician since 2000. His interests include individual freedom, spiritual development, libertarian politics, history, the countryside, aesthetics and motoring. This essay is a slightly revised version of the winning entry to the Libertarian Alliance’s 2010 Chris R. Tame Memorial Prize, ‘
Would a Libertarian Society Deprive Individuals of Cultural Roots and Collective Identity?.

The views expressed in this publication are those of its author, and not necessarily those of the Libertarian Alliance, its Committee,
Advisory Council or subscribers.

FOR LIFE, LIBERTY AND PROPERTY

PREFACE

I take it as a privilege to present my essay for a prize established in the name of the late Dr Chris R. Tame.  I have tried to write this from the heart, to further and do honour to the cause of libertarianism, and also as a modest effort to help continue the work that Chris championed for almost 40 years.

INTRODUCTION

The answer to the question is No—well, that’s certainly my answer.  If and when we achieve a libertarian society, two things are certain—that its people will have individual freedom at their core principle, and those people will have histories—cultural roots and many of them collective identities.  Being libertarians, those people will surely reflect upon whether or not those cultural roots and collective identities are compatible with individual freedom, and so keep or discard them accordingly.  In a libertarian society, there will not be, as there are now, central authorities to impose or deny those associations, or to make a ‘Year Zero’ break from their past.  They will not be ignorant, passive ‘sheeple’ to be cajoled and coerced into obedience by rulers.  Rather, free people will, having complete freedom of conscience, action and association, decide themselves.  So we had best answer the question by reflecting upon what sort of adherence to cultural roots and collective identities will be compatible with living the libertarian life.  There is the additional possibility that these freed people will set down new cultural roots and even collective identities, freely entered into and freely left.  Any collective association will be subservient to the prime principle of freedom—that the individual person is free to think and act as they choose, provided that that does not infringe other people’s freedom to do the very same.

Libertarianism is a political and social philosophy, and most completely, a way of life.  The vast majority of political ‘philosophies’—I use inverted commas because most of them are not wise—boil down to one group of people imposing their will upon those who do not agree with them, i.e. everyone else.  In 21st Century Britain, we live in a society that most political commentators would call ‘free and democratic’.  To be sure, this is neither an absolute monarchy nor a communist or fascist state, according to the purist meanings of those words.  However, and despite regular elections, local, national and European, like all three political models ‘ representative democracy’ exists by ‘elected’ groups of people, almost invariably supported by a minority of the electorate, enacting laws that the rest of us are required to obey.  If we disobey, even if that disobedience hurts no one and may help many, the Regime can and will send their agents, and not even always as a last resort, to imprison or murder us.  That is not freedom, it is not libertarian, and it will not do!

THE SURVIVAL OF CULTURAL ROOTS AND COLLECTIVE IDENTITIES

Families are the most universal and enduring cultural roots and collective identities, and they must endure for any society to survive.  A libertarian society will not subsidise families, either by money or propaganda, and so I foresee a resurgence in the traditional heterosexual marriage/partnership between a man and woman, usually with children, simply because it is the most self-sustaining kind.  Without children a society becomes extinct!  Parents would nurture children when they are young, and children no doubt would return that kindness when they are old.  That is the traditional way.  Sadly, because the state provides copious welfare payments and big business issues propaganda in the form of advertising telling people they should work for status, possessions and shallow entertainment, this traditional way is dying-out.  Instead, parents are often ‘semi-detached’ towards their children, leaving them to be ‘brought-up’ by role models on television, the media and in computer games.  They then increasingly often, send them off to ‘uni’(versity).  These children as adults then ‘return the compliment’ by having increasingly little to do with their parents, and when the latter are old, pack them off to a nursing home.  This does not make for a caring and cohesive society.

Work would continue, and as workers spend much of their lives at work they would naturally build and sustain a collective identity with their colleagues, during work and afterwards.  As government would not exist, or if it did it would be vastly smaller than now, there would be far fewer people working in central locations.  The state would be gone or minimal in size, and large companies would no longer have the state protection given them via limited liability.  Nor would large companies have state patronage.  I work in Information Technology, and I have noticed that in state colleges, most of the computers there are supplied by huge multi-national corporations including Hewlett Packard and Dell.  Their turnover would wither considerably.  Consequently, most people would work locally and so their identities would be far more with people in their locality.  This was, of course, true of the vast bulk of people throughout almost all of recorded history.

Clubs and informal groups attract many people to spend time, with and identify with, others who share their interest in practicing games, arts, intellectual pursuits, various forms of ‘self-improvement’, myriad hobbies, and historical societies and re-enactment groups like the Ermine Street Guard and the Sealed Knot.  These are voluntary, and so I foresee they will continue.

Political parties, I expect, would cease to exist, since they serve to gain freedom or advantage for themselves and or their ‘clients’.  A libertarian society will give people freedom and those people will not take advantage, since to do so would not be libertarian!  I suspect that some readers will be surprised by my summary dismissal of political parties.  To them I pose the question: In a society where people are free, what would be the raison d’être of political parties?  The same must be asked of international organisations, and probably even the nation state—and answered, in my view, in the negative.

Religion in libertarian society deserves a more complex answer.  Religion, or the modernist term for it, ‘Faith’, includes a vast array of doctrines and, much more important, practices.  It is not the business of libertarians, rather like Elizabeth I, to enquire into men’s souls, but we must consider whether what they do allows people to be free.  Religious practices are of two very different types – those that focus on meditation, contemplation and or prayer—what I shall call mystical, and those that act to change the world socially (and culturally and politically)—what I shall call militant.

The religions that are largely mystical include Buddhism, Taoism, the more quietist forms of Hinduism, contemplative Christianity and Sufism.  In the modern world Islam is by far the most militant—both in the laws it imposes in Muslim countries, and the violence it carries out there and in other lands in the name of Islamic jihad, although in the Indian sub-continent some Hindus and even a few Buddhists take up arms to impose their religion upon ‘non-believers’.  I include under the title militant, less formal but widespread practices including female genital mutilation and ‘honour killings’.  Some ‘Christian fundamentalists’ would like to impose their religion upon others, that is a desire rather than a practice.  In short, a libertarian society can co-exist with mystics (indeed it may be enhanced by them as I will mention in my Conclusion).  It cannot co-exist with militants, but rather the overwhelming majority of individual people asserting their own freedom of action, without denying other people theirs, will make its successful establishment possible and so people will have no reason to be militant.  Some readers may find this a bland assertion; of them I ask: How can we have a libertarian society when many members of it are not willing libertarians?  People must become libertarian in their hearts and souls before a libertarian society can be created.  They will not be obeying orders!

There are people here, and in growing numbers, from abroad, who follow cultural traditions from their homelands, or the homelands of their descendants, including Ramadan, Eid and Diwali.  Jews and Muslims traditionally do not eat pork, nor do Hindus eat beef.  Most of these practices do not conflict with the libertarian life, but I feel that my Essay would be incomplete if I failed to mention, at least in passing, that many immigrants are establishing the cultures of their homelands here.  Insofar as those cultural roots and collective identity are anti-libertarian, as many manifestly are, they will delay or render increasingly impossible a libertarian society here.

I have long argued1 against mass immigration, that is immigration without the prior invitation of a native citizen here, is illegitimate.  I have also argued against imposed multi-culturalism, that is the state imposition of enforced association upon people with members of other races, religions, cultures and orientations.  I think both are morally wrong, not least because they are achieved via coercion, and that both are destroying the peace within society and may well bring it to a bloody end.  I consider that both are disruptions of the traditional relatively homogeneous culture and neither deserves to stand.  What is to be done to cure these problems?  I do not have a watertight answer, but I do feel that libertarians should spend time in thought and reflection to find one.

Libertarianism is not a nationalist movement, but rather an individualist one.  However is it a non-coercive philosophy, and both mass immigration and multi-culturalism have been imposed.  Words including racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic (not to mention homophobic, sexist, etc. in other conflicts) have been used by the new-Left establishment, with a mounting intensity that crosses the line into fanaticism, to vilify people who prefer the company of others who are like themselves.  They should not stand, and I feel that in a libertarian society people will be free to resume traditional associations, if they wish to, freely.  We will not be made to fit into cultural straightjackets tailored by any regime.

I do not know whether a libertarian society will establish itself throughout the nation, or even the world.  In view of the way society is fracturing, I think it rather more likely that it will start locally, perhaps within a ‘patchwork’ of differing cultures.  If that comes to pass, the militia that I mention elsewhere probably will be essential to its survival.

There are many periodical traditions that people follow, including Remembrance Day, Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes Night, (largely Christian) Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, Saints Days and Harvest Festival and Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday, and wearing crosses, (largely Pagan and Druid) Summer and Winter Solstice celebrations at Stonehenge and elsewhere, May Poles and Morris Dancing, (largely in Scotland) Hogmanay, and sundry other religious and secular celebrations.  None of these involve people suffering or imposing oppression upon other people, so I see no conflict between their practice and the libertarian life.  Many of these constitute part of what many people see as ‘being English’, and again for the same innocuous reason, I do not see anything un-libertarian in that.  Some may even have ‘Charles and Di’ mugs on their mantle-pieces, but not, alas, me.

Charity is a long-established tradition here and throughout most of the world, operated by church and secular groups.  One major criticism that the political Left level at the dismantling of the ‘welfare state’—a natural consequence of a libertarian society—is that the poor will ‘go to the wall’.  Whether or not that became true it should not be maintained at the expense of coercive theft from taxpayers.  I also think that that is unjustified.  In a libertarian society, people will be free to do as they wish with their money and their time.  I have talked with many libertarians, and my strong impression of them is that they are decent-hearted folk.  I deduce that in the absence of state poor relief, charitable giving would continue and probably increase, at least until such time that the libertarian morality of self-support replaced that of financial dependency (upon taxpayers via a coercive state machine), for all but people who were too ill or disabled to support themselves.  Those people were once known as ‘the deserving poor’, before political correctness brought obloquy upon those who uttered it.

REVIVED AND NEW TRADITIONS

Some English ways are in decline or have all but died.  Libertarian culture will give people the freedom to sell their apples in pounds and ounces, to hunt foxes, and to own guns, including handguns (I was interested to see a pair of Wordworth’s pistols in the William Wordsworth Exhibition at Dove Cottage in Grasmere, Cumbria—clearly there was a time when even such as a poet would own handguns!).  Successive United Kingdom governments and the European Union have legislated to make these traditional practices extinct, and their health and safety laws threaten playing conkers and such local traditions as Cheese Rolling at Coopers Hill in Gloucestershire—no more in a libertarian society.  There may also arise new traditions celebrating men who have furthered the cause of liberty here, including John Pym, John Hampden and Oliver Cromwell.

Libertarians will not initiate violence, but those who are not pacifists will surely want to be able to protect themselves.  Even if our society becomes libertarian, most of the world will be slower in becoming so—judging by the state of the world over hundreds of years of history.  Consequently, I suspect we will see the return of militias, local paramilitary forces—strictly voluntary equivalents of the Anglo-Saxon fyrd, and of those here in the early modern period.  They will serve to expel foreign invaders, and be held together not by conscription or formal contract with the state, but rather by the security of mutual protection and a sense of honour in not leaving their comrades in the lurch.

Readers may have noticed my mention, with approval, of mystical pursuits.  I suspect that many libertarians are so because they find libertarianism intellectually satisfying or compelling (and so it is).  I find more inspiration in how well it reconciles with the quest for spiritual liberation, and I would be far from surprised if the triumph of libertarianism saw many more people following the path to spiritual enlightenment.  I think we will see the establishment of meditation centres – modern echoes of the abbeys that were widespread in the mediaeval period.  In my view we need to seek inner liberation from fear, guilt and anxiety in order to be in the right state of mind to be alert fully to our political serfdom, and to assert our freedom from it.  Conventional religion is largely focused upon collective identity—services in churches and more recently in some areas in mosques and temples, but the religion to which I refer focuses more within—upon individual identity, arguably enlightened by a greater Self, or to some God.

Why do I write of mystical religion in an essay that is considerably about politics?  Was not one of the achievements of the ‘Enlightenment’ the separation of Church and State?  To those questions I reply that personal spiritual elevation is not obedience to an institution or a creed, it is the search for inner freedom, and how can we become free without, politically, when we are not free within, spiritually?  We live in an immensely complex, fast-moving, ambitious and materialist society, in which publicly no value is placed upon the inner man—the soul or spirit.  Jesus is recorded as saying, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26 and Mark 8:36-37).  Buddhist and Taoist sages said similar, indeed Taoism has as its central principle Wu Wei—non-interference (with the natural rhythm of life).  Is not non-interference also central to the libertarian life?  I feel that it is in harmony with the thoughts of great libertarians like Mises, Hayek, Rand, Rothbard, Rockwell, Hoppe, etc.  I hope that this non-interference will become an established culture.

I will digress briefly from the central point of my essay because I think I would be unfair for me, having mentioned spiritual endeavour to readers, to leave them without giving them any direction towards it.  Do try to practice meditation (or prayer), for example two techniques ‘Sitting quietly doing nothing’—and watching the passage of thoughts without becoming attached to them, and the similar ‘Mindfulness of Breathing’—observing your natural rhythm of breaths, without interfering with that rhythm.  You may well find that you become less urgent, less ambitious and more at peace with yourself.  You may find that you understand yourself better, and as I consider that we all have the same mixture of feelings and motives, albeit in different proportions, we will understand other people better.  You may also find that you become less tolerant of coercion, being coerced and coercing other people, and so deepened in libertarian convictions.

We venture into the unknown in predicting what new traditions will arise, but judging from our pre-libertarian past, they will continue to be very varied, and probably often local.

CONCLUSION

So, to conclude: the cultural attachments that people hold dear to themselves are numerous and varied in character.  We can deduce that some of them will survive in a new libertarian society, and that others will not.  The question that the essay title poses begs another: How will we achieve a libertarian society?  Answering it lies beyond this discussion, but it should occupy at least some of the time of all who call themselves ‘Libertarian’.  Answering it successfully in ways that satisfy both our minds, and more importantly, our souls, and consequently satisfy the vast majority of people who are not libertarians, will lead inexorably to libertarian lives for all.  We do well to reflect, day-to-day and hour-to-hour, how we need to change our outlook, and to make those changes.  I commend this essay to its readers, and I hope that reflection upon it will help them to illuminate their libertarian life.

NOTE

(1) Such as on the Libertarian Alliance’s Yahoo! Group, where you can read more of my reflections from time to time on a variety of subjects.  The Group can be found at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/libertarian-alliance-forum/.

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34 responses to “Chris R. Tame Memorial Prize 2010

  1. That’s very good. Liked it. I may lift quotes from it when I do the LA Christmas Message, in due course.

  2. I like the yellow background. On the whole, though, I do prefer a comments button at the top.

    Also, do you know how to set up Facebook and RSS feeds in WordPress?

  3. I’ll try to re-add the comments button, not sure where it’s gone….

    I’ll later investigate facebook-share buttons etc. With 1,640 “friends”, and American/Canadian conservatives trying to add me every day, they ought to be finding you too.

  4. An FB button would make life easier for both of us, as it would cut down on the need for duplicate postings. By the way, I’ve found that I can post to this blog by e-mail.

  5. Sean, if you cllick on the headline of the article, and then go to the bottom of it, the Facebook button shows up now like the others. I have absolutely no clue how I did that, but I did.

    You and I are rather like the heroically-brave rocket (not) pilots, who save the world in the SF novel by sitting at the controls of the space-machine, full of panicking people and doing “what does this button do”?

  6. With Drupal, I feel exactly like that. I spend a day trying to get the Ad module working, only to find that I needed to tick a box that had no apparent connection with what I wanted.

  7. Widespread illegitimacy, working mothers and family breakdown is the reason why cultural traditions are now no longer transmitted. In other words, feminism.

    What the essay did not mention is that unmarried mothers are a burden on the state and tend to have offspring who also become a burden on the state.

    Worse, their unsocialised offspring who go into state schools spoil it for those who want to learn, and the female-dominated teaching establishment refuse, for ideological reasons, to discipline them.

    So it has been that for quite a few generations now educational and moral standards have deteriorated and this deterioration has accelerated as inexorably as a snowball rolling down a mountain. Our descent to hell in a handcart is analogous to this unstoppable snowball that started with universal child benefit and the Sex Discrimination Act.

    This also rather explains why the working classes are unfit for purpose. It is all down to bad parenting by single mothers, bad teaching by the female-dominated teaching profession, who now spend most of their time trying to disguise the failure of state education.

    These factors necessitate the import of cheap and better foreign labour. The foreigners who settle here clearly don’t want to end up being white trash, and that is why they prefer not to assimilate and stick to their own culture.

    It is a vicious and ever decreasing circle which no political party – not even the Libertarian Party – dares address because it would entail the dismantlement of the welfare state to which all Britons are now fatally addicted together with the cheap sex and easy women that feminism uses to bribe men into supporting feminism, an ideology that supports the right of women to be as promiscuous as men.

    The Muslims – which Libertarians and Nationalists fear – are just waiting in the wings to take over when the muck that passes for brains in this country’s political establishment finally explodes and oozes out of the putrefying orifices of the degenerate and stinking corpse of PC liberalism.

  8. Oh dear, Claire has discovered the LA Blog. It will never be the same again!

  9. I was the one person who gave just one star for this article. Clearly, others disagree with me. I thought of not posting a negative comment, but then I reflected that the article is up for discussion. I agree that libertarianism is not inimical to collective cultural identity; I just don’t think it was a well written article.

    I didn’t like the preface about Chris Tame, or the comments about “writing this from the heart”. The general writing style seems to be that of a 14-year-old school pupil who has no idea how to construct an essay, and no serious intellectual points with which to give it structure. Straightjackets, anyone? Whatever they are!

    The points made in the article were all correct, but the article lacks intellectual content.

  10. ENTRY FOR THE CHRIS TAME MEMORIAL PRIZE 2007

    Essay Title: Does Britain need a Libertarian Party?

    The answer is YES, if only to give voters a choice between having a succession of tax and spend governments (whatever their official party ideology) and the option of having, at the very least, a party that consistently promises lower taxes and smaller government. It is also important to give the impression to the rest of the world that the British are still governed by a political system called democracy, even if it is in fact an oligarchy. Like a cartel, Labour and Conservative have carved up the market in policies between themselves and successfully excluded the competition by claiming that anyone who wants anything other than the policies they offer, (eg withdrawal from the European Union, lower taxes, the death penalty etc) are mad, bad and sad. This is common to all declining Western nations whose party system allows this state of affairs to continue.

    Now that the Cowardly Cameronian “Conservatives” have unilaterally withdrawn the option of lower taxes from those who had been under the impression that being a Conservative meant supporting a political party that at least offers the option of voting for taxes lower than a sitting Labour government, there is now a gaping Democratic Deficit that must be bridged in the name of the choice that is meant to exist within a democracy. The impression now that Conservatism as practised by Cameron is merely a knee-jerk reaction of maintaining the status quo, whatever that is, must be corrected. Conservatism is not, after all, about displaying the Cameronian characteristic of a cushion that bears the imprint of the person who last sat on it.

    What, though, is a Libertarian?

    Chambers defines this as “a believer in free will: one who believes in the maximum amount of freedom of thought, behaviour etc.” This is best exemplified in John Stuart Mill on Liberty: “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.” Or, more graphically: “Your right to swing your arms ends where my nose begins.”

    But what does this mean in practice?

    It can only mean fewer laws and lower taxes. Not only would a Libertarian be in favour of Small Government, he would actually want a Minimum State. What this means is of course a question as apparently as unanswerable as:

    “What is good?”

    “Where does commercial lending end and usury begin?”

    “What is Justice? (or indeed “social” justice?)

    “What is a ‘just society’?” When do we know we have it? When no one complains that life is unfair?

    How are we to measure the “greatest happiness of the greatest number”? Leaving this concept practically indefinable, even with a Felicific Calculus in place, was fatal to the now discredited concept of Utilitarianism. If the happiness that was to have been generated by Utilitarianism cannot be measured or quantified, then it is unlikely to gain adherents as widely as did Communism, Liberalism, Socialism – ideologies which wisely avoided being hoist by their own petard by assuming that the greatest happiness of the greatest number would be generated if World Communism/Liberalism/Socialism were imposed!

    MILL’S LACUNA

    Mill’s Lacuna is one to which there certainly exists a solution. Happiness can in fact be measured, but negatively, in terms of the absence of evil or unhappiness – through Negative Utiliatarianism, which requires us to prevent the greatest amount of suffering for the greatest number.

    Even if it is generally accepted that Evil is the unnecessary infliction of suffering and Good the necessary enjoyment of something that makes a moral life possible (eg food, water, shelter, beauty, justice, peace etc), there will inevitably be disagreement about what is in fact “necessary” or “possible” or “moral”.

    In the face of this disagreement, objective criteria of measurement must be used and it is proposed that violent crime is to be an indication of unhappiness with murder as its strongest conclusive indicator. Statistics on divorce, abortion, war casualties, criminal damage, suicide and civil litigation will also provide a good indication of unhappiness which can be used over time to make comparisons as to the relative success and failure of policies formulated negatively to prevent unhappiness (the raison d’etre of a Minimum State) rather than to promote happiness (the operating policy of our Nanny State that has been failing for some time). The Minimum State is more rational simply because we can all agree on what we don’t want (eg crime, war etc) while we are more likely to disagree on what we do want (eg whether the state should continue to sponsor illegitimacy and crime by giving unmarried mothers housing and child benefit when it is already known that single parents will have children who are more likely to grow up into under-achieving single-parenting adults who will be a burden and blight to society, or whether to give all pregnant women as much as £200 to eat healthily).

    The apparently indefinable Minimum State could be defined thus: a flourishing nation that runs on the fewest possible laws and the lowest possible taxes, with Liberty, Efficiency and Economy as the new Holy Trinity.

    Get this right, and Mill’s Greatest Happiness of the Greatest Number would subsist. Keep getting it right and Heaven might even prevail on Earth.

    In 1787, about the time the original 13 American states adopted their new constitution, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, made the following statements about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2000 years earlier:

    “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government.”

    “A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.”

    “From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”

    Machiavelli observed in The History of Florence: “Countries generally go from order to disorder and then from disorder move back to order … because ability brings forth quiet; quiet laziness; laziness disorder; disorder ruin; and likewise from ruin comes order; from order ability; from the last glory and good fortune.”

    In this way does human society lurch: from bondage to courage, courage to liberty, liberty to abundance, abundance to complacency, complacency to apathy, apathy to dependence, dependence to bondage again.

    Instead of the traditional Bill of Rights proposed by those who want a written constitution, it is proposed that following two rules are always observed:

    “No law proposed shall be passed or any act of war committed which cannot be proven to be necessary to prevent an evil that is clear and present rather than imaginary and exaggerated.” (eg passive smoking, environmental disaster, the late Saddam Hussein’s non-existent WMDs)

    “No law proposed shall be passed if the evil it wishes to address calls for a disproportionate deprivation of the citizen of his Liberty and property.”

    The Law of the Jungle is of course no law at all, and it is probably necessary to point out that a Minimum State must at the very least protect its citizens from offences against the person (eg murder, assault, rape) and crimes against the property (eg embezzlement, fraud, theft, criminal damage).

    Apart from protecting its citizens from the harm they might do to each other as well as foreign aggression and invasion, the next right that must be protected is their right to property, without which we might as well all be Communists.

    A tramp may in theory have the freedom to say what he wants, be with whom he pleases and do business with anyone, but in practice none of this will be within his reach if he does not possess any property with which to make transactions with him worth while. State confiscation of property through punitive and oppressive taxation needs to be prevented to protect a citizen’s liberty and it is proposed that no tax rate shall exceed 25%. This ought to be the motto of HM Revenue & Customs and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Any shortfall will have to be made up by efficiency and ingenuity or individual contributions from altruistic citizens as and when required.

    Liberty is a nebulous concept that requires a concrete and legal definition. Once this is in place, the sacred cow of the Nanny State can then be slain and a new goddess of Liberty put in its place.

    The 3 essential ingredients of Human Liberty are:

    (1) Freedom of Expression

    (2) Freedom of Association

    (3) Freedom of Contract

    It is revealing how little Liberty we really have now that it has been broken down into its constituent parts. Patrick Mercer could not even suggest that it may not be necessarily racist to call someone a “black bastard” during army training even if other “bastards” were being similarly insulted by being called “fat” or “ginger” without being sacked from the Front Bench.

    Freedom of association plainly does not exist if gentlemen’s and working men’s clubs are now compelled to admit women and make them equal members against the wishes of the majority male members.

    Freedom of contract is non-existent if we are not allowed to discriminate against potential employees on grounds of sex, age, race, disability and most recently, on grounds of sexual orientation. (Catholic Adoption Agencies that refuse to serve same-sex couples are now to be closed down under the Sexual Orientation Regulations.)

    It can be seen that we are now the Mature and Declining (or Over-ripe and Decaying) Phase of Democracy. Voters “have discovered that they can vote themselves great gifts from the public treasury” and are “appeased by candidates who know they must promise the most generous benefits from the public treasury” (Cameron’s refusal to promise lower taxes is conclusive evidence that we have reached this stage) and the state is about to “finally collapse from loose fiscal policy to be followed by a dictatorship”.

    What can be done to prevent this collapse and the dictatorship that is to follow in its wake?

    The answer is to narrow the franchise from indiscriminate universal suffrage to a more accountable type of democracy where, to turn on its head the idea of “no taxation without representation”, there will be the converse of “no representation without taxation”, which no one can justifiably claim to be actually unfair.

    Added to this would the refinement that there will be greater representation with greater taxation by which it is meant that those who pay more tax will receive proportionately more votes, as if they were a shareholder of a company with votes allocated according to the number of shares held.

    This proposal is intended to serve as a Manifesto for the Taxpaying Classes, from the professional to the plumber to the prostitute, without distinction.

    There appears to be no reason why this idea should not catch on amongst those who wish to do better for themselves and who have the confidence to believe in the viability of a state that has low taxes, an excellent and free education system and compulsory health insurance.

    The technology is already there to support this system, as can be seen from http://www.1party4all.co.uk – an opinion-polling direct democracy website that visually demonstrates how it would work. It uses no unworkable Felicific Calculus, believing that the collective opinion as to what should be done should always be seen as the objective indicator of the current perception of the greatest happiness of the greatest number. If the majority of members are in favour of departing from the status quo, then it can be inferred that maintaining it is perceived to generate more suffering than departing from it. Should the departure from the status quo prove to be a case of going from the frying pan into the fire, then voting by a majority to return to the previous position remains an option, from which we can infer that returning to the previous position is perceived to generate less suffering than remaining in the current position.

    As can be seen, there is always a time-lag in the calculation of the actual amount of unhappiness a policy under this proposed system prevents. The amount of unhappiness prevented can be inferred from the length its implementation under a Libertarian administration. The longer the length of implementation, the less unhappiness it is deemed to have generated.

    These objective criteria are necessary since we can never agree on what is (a) necessary to prevent (b) an evil and (c) whether it is clear and present or imaginary and exaggerated, until we have the historical perspective to do so.

    Those who fear that the country would be ruled by a plutocracy need not fear too much, since no individual, however wealthy, can prevent the mass of taxpayers voting for tax rises for individuals earning over a certain amount, if there is perceived to be a shortfall. These super wealthy individuals would have to buy more votes by paying more tax to defeat the proposal for a tax increase amongst ordinary taxpayers, and this act alone would make up for the shortfall that caused ordinary taxpayers to agitate for the increased taxation of those wealthier than they, in the first place, and the shortfall made up and the problem resolve itself under this system of voting. The system is foolproof in theory and beautifully transparent, fair and simple.

    Will these ideas gain support if a political party promoting these principles were formed? Quite possibly, if all that is proposed is that any policy is allowed, without fear or favour, and that the entire membership is allowed to decide on policy.

    All policy is to be presented in the form of a promise to conduct a referendum on a particular question, should the Libertarian Party be elected into office.

    Any proposal will become official party policy provided (a) over 50% of its membership has voted on it and (b) of those who voted on it over 50% are in favour.

    It cannot be stressed enough that Direct Democracy must be seen to be above ideology to attract popular participation. Its manifesto must therefore be a completely blank sheet to be filled up and changed by its membership from time to time.

    The Acting Leader in a caretaker role will in due course hand over to an elected leader when sufficient talent emerges amongst its membership to make a leadership contest a worthwhile exercise and a national event.

    If nothing else, it will encourage ambitious and talented thinkers and speakers to participate in politics.

    Why is Direct Democracy here equated with Libertarianism? Because any enthusiasm for voting under such a system, which makes such great demands on the voter, will in time be worn away by the inevitable apathy that would eventually overtake him. This would therefore tend to decrease or even completely prevent unnecessary legislation, since not enough people would trouble themselves to vote or agitate for any change unless and until it causes enough distress to warrant action. In this way would state interference be discouraged: by the apathy, laziness or the attitude that there is no need to fix something that ain’t broke.`

    The crowning glory of Direct Democracy is that it would herald in an age of Minimum Government with the minimum of political parties: just one good one, instead of many big and small ones that do not do what they say on the tin.

    

  11. I quite agree with “dj” about the schoolboy nature of the essay. I cannot find the other schoolboy essay that Sean gave the prize to in 2007 in preference to mine.

  12. 哦!Claire, 你好!我在往上看过你是马来西亚华人。我问一下,你怎么到英国来了?你能不能告诉我,你也反对移民吗? 这个是我们英国民族的国家,不应该有华人常住,对不对?我对中国文化,语言,历史什么的都感兴趣,但是这个毕竟是英国,不是中国。其实,自由放任主义是属于英国文化的一部分。你自己祖先从来没有想到自由。这个并不是说我们不能接受你作为参加我们自由放任运动的比较聪明的一个人,但是你最高的责任,尤其是因为你不是这个国家的当地人是帮助我们对国人解释移民和所谓多文化主义为什么不行的原因。而且Gabb博士2007年每有选定你自己文章,我不知到什么,但是你不用放在心里。让这件事情过去不是对你自己心里有好处吗?

  13. 我刚才发的信息有错误:”往上”该写”网上”。是这个微软输入法不行,不知到为什么它老给我选择不对的词语。

  14. 还有每有应该写没有。哎!太糟糕啦!

  15. This is quite embarrassing. My Chinese literacy skills are just not up to it. May I have a translation, please?

  16. I thought you were Malaysian Chinese? How come you can’t read Chinese? I said, “oh! hello, Claire. I read on the Internet you are Malaysian Chinese. May I ask, why did you come to England? Can you tell me whether you oppose immigration? This country is for the English ethnic group, and there should not be Chinese people settling here, right? I am interested in Chinese culture, language and history, but this is after all England, not China. In fact, libertarianism is a part of English culture. Your own ancestors never dreamed of the idea of freedom. This doesn’t mean that we can’t accept you as an intelligent person taking part in our libertarian movement, but your highest duty, especially as you do not belong to this country, is to help us explain to our countrymen what is wrong with immigration and so-called “multiculturalism”. I don’t know why Dr Gabb did not pick your essay in 2007, but you shouldn’t take it to heart. It would be better for your own psychology if you got over it!

  17. If you are Malaysian Chinese you should know that not everybody who is Chinese can actually read Chinese!

    I regard myself as a libertarian, actually.

    I do not oppose immigration, I merely wish to support the rights of those who wish to complain about immigration, in the name of, guess what, free speech and freedom of belief.

    I know exactly why Sean did not choose my essay. It was because he disagreed with what I was saying. I was not one of his schoolboy followers in arrested adolescence or a member of their drinking club.

    Ain’t that that so, Sean?

    I am quite accustomed now to people who are supposed to be on the same side as me being the most obstructive and destructive to the cause of lower taxes and fewer laws. In those days I was naive enough to think that Sean would give the prize to the most interesting essay, whether or not he agreed with it, but at the time I was quite unaware of the depths of moral turpitude the typical Englishman had sunk to.

  18. ”I was quite unaware of the depths of moral turpitude the typical Englishman had sunk to.”

    Miaow!

  19. I ration Claire to a certain number of exchanges per month. She has used up her quota for this month. In the meantime, she is at liberty to say about me whatever she pleases. Some of it is rather entertaining.

  20. Hmm, a Google search of her name being up as its first result a website that claims she is in favour of reintroducing slavery and is supportive of the BNP as well as believing that the Koran should be used as a basis of British law.

    http://benwoodhams.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/claire_khaw/

    She sounds very amusing.

  21. Claire, I don’t understand why you are still upset about an essay competition in 2007. If as you say you did not win the competition because SG disagreed with what you were saying — doesn’t that give you your answer as to why the essay was not chosen? Clearly, an essay that chimed in with the LA’s views is going to be chosen. I just objected above, not to the views in Gibson’s essay, but to its lack of intellectual/theoretical content. But I think it is time to move on from the essay issue.

    It is nice of you to support free speech on immigration, but the topic of the essay above was whether libertarianism and a cultural identity could be reconciled. Most of us here think it could, or even that a genuinely free society can only be built on the basis of a common culture, as a culturally riven society calls forth various forms of state intervention just to keep the whole show on the road. From this point of view, immigration itself is a problem. You seem to think immigration is no problem, as long as the English can say what they like on the issue. But the only reason our freedom of speech is being restricted is because of the presence of large numbers of non-English people, such as yourself.

  22. I didn’t say immigration was not a problem either, because it certainly is a problem.

    My view is that Libertarianism would most certainly allow a society to develop its own cultural roots once you take away the dead hand of the state, which imposes the abominations of the Turner Prize to upset and disgust the ordinary taxpayer, Black History month etc.

    I don’t quite see your reasons for blaming me for restricting freedom of speech. I don’t make the laws and I certainly don’t approve of totalitarian anti-discrimination thoughtcrime legislation, which I have been nagging the bloody useless Libertarian Party of the UK to say it will repeal in its manifesto, but so far no luck, as they are just a bunch of incompetent amateurs with their heads stuck in the clouds and up their arses.

    For your information, I am actually member of the BNP, and stand up for their right to complain about immigration as much as they like.

  23. I do assure C H Ingoldby that my reputation for being amusing is quite simply unassailable.

  24. Claire, while I do not object to the BNP in the same way that the left does, I find it hard to admire too. Are you sure you haven’t made a mistake by joining a party of, frankly, louts and ex-criminals? Maybe you should explore UKIP for a more mainstream option? Are you one of those few token ethnics that Nick Griffin had to allow into the party? I am sure you don’t get a warm reception at the party’s meetings!

  25. The BNP are undeniably a working class party. The more working class you are, the more likely you are to have criminal convictions. This rule applies the world over and not just to the white working classes, I’m sure you’ll agree.

    I have gained a rather favourable impression of ex-cons whom I now know for a fact can be very charming.

    The fact is that I was invited to join and thought it would be rude to refuse.

    They have been so nice to me that I really cannot complain. The fact is that I find, out of all the parties I have joined – and I have in my time been a member of the Conservatives, UKIP as well as Labour – I find the BNP most congenial.

    What I have in common with the BNP and the Muslims is that we feel a duty to speak what we feel to be true, even at the expense of being unpopular, unlike the others.

    “No one likes us, we don’t care.”

    Guess which football team I support?

  26. A bit of a ding dong between me and the members of the Libertarian Party who are having a conference in London on Friday 27 November at the Punch Tavern, 99 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1 DE.

    http://www.annaraccoon.com/silliness/happiness/comment-page-1/#comment-26974

  27. dj:

    Taoists are and always have been libertarian.

    Tony

  28. C H Ingoldby:

    You and Claire Khaw make a fine pair…

    Tony

  29. The Sam Hamill translation of the Tao Te Ching is the best one I have read.

    Radical Libertarianism is what is needed which means *maximum activism for minimum government*.

  30. Actually Daoism is awful as a philosophy, as are all ancient Chinese philosophies. Chapter 3 of the Dao De Jing says it clearly: “xu qi xin, shi qi fu, qiang qi gu, ruo qi zhi”. Empty their hearts, fill their bellies, strengthen their bones, weaken their will.

    That might as well be the philosophy of the Communist Party today: develop the economy, fill the people’s bellies, don’t let them think about anything, weaken their will to control their lives.

    There is nothing libertarian about the Dao, just despiriting and demotivating.

  31. After religion was abandoned, consumerism is now the opium of the people. It keeps them quiescent until it no longer works.

    I like “By doing nothing, everything is done” which I trust anyone who cares about minimum government would support – a kind of perpetual motion of politics.

    I believe it is possible once you get a decent party constitution.

    http://www.1party4all.co.uk/Home/Account/TopicForm.aspx?topicsId=107

  32. Well, apart from the fact you can’t organise a political party in opposition to the government, the Chinese people are left alone to a much greater extent than we are. Only a handful of people pay tax – most are not earning the level that would require it, and those who do are evading it – and so everyone’s money is just their own money. There is little available in the way of benefits, so you have to go and make your own luck. You can sit at the side of the road selling oranges, and no one will come along to ask you if you have a licence, or to tell you you can’t occupy the pavement in that way. You can sit at the side of the road selling beer – once again no licences required. You can convert your van into a taxi, and put in extra seats, and no one will come along and ask how you manage to fit 20 people into a van with 10 seats and no seatbelts. Basically, the Chinese fend for themselves. And the average Chinese people have tens of thousands of yuan on hand in the home. To tell Chinese when I lived in China how we earned so much more than they, but gave a large percentage of it to the government, and then the house prices were so high that most people were in hock to the mortgage companies (you can only get a 70% mortgage in China ) and so, while on paper richer than the Chinese, and living in nicer houses with nicer possessions, actually had less savings, or no savings…. that simply provoked shock as the Chinese couldn’t really understand it. So you see when they say Chinese is unfree and we are free, you have to realise that the few troublemakers who want to go and campaign for democracy outside the Communist Party headquarters have no backers – most people are busy making money, and they are largely allowed to do so. Of course, a libertarian society is not one where the government controls the Internet and bans political parties, and forces women to have abortions at 39 weeks of pregnancy in order to fulfil the one child policy, but there are ways in which the Chinese are freer than we are.

  33. dj, i can’t see that you are really in disagreement with what Claire is saying.

    You are perfectly correct and very interesting on the situation in China. It seems a little like that of Monarchical States where in theory the Monarch has supreme despotic power, but in reality for all practical purposes the people are left alone to live their lives. How this will continue and develop in China will be a matter of great interest.

    Claire is more talking about the organisation and tactics of the Libertarians in Britain, so i think you are talking at cross purposes.

  34. dj:

    The third tranche reads:

    “Not exalting the gifted prevents quarreling.
    Not collecting treasures prevents stealing.
    Not seeing desirable things prevents confusion of the heart.

    The wise therefore rule by emptying hearts and stuffing bellies,
    by weakening ambitions and strengthening bones.
    If people lack knowledge and desire,
    then intellectuals will not try to interfere.
    If nothing is done, then all will be well.”

    From “The Daily Tao” trans. Jane English & Hua Quo Fung

    You have to understand that this refers to the policies to be applied by those who wish to rule, and that it would be better if they left well alone.

    Tony