Statement Regarding Paul Marks


by Sean Gabb

Though he writes like a man whose doctor has prescribed the wrong strength of anti-depressant, Paul Marks is at liberty to insult me as he pleases on this blog and elsewhere. If I were his friend, I might beg him not to write anything at all. Those unconnected and ill-spelt sentences, and heavy capitalisations, bring him into such obvious disrepute.

However, I must challenge him to justify or to withdraw his claim, on this blog and on Samizdata, that I have sided “with Adolf Hitler against Winston Churchill”. Calling me a leftist, or an anarcho-communalist, or a “black flag person”, or an “enemy of property” is bizarre, but unworthy of reply. Calling me a national socialist not only is false, but, given the moral environment in which we live, is also calculated to get me and my family into trouble.

I make this statement here on the Libertarian Alliance Blog. I also call on Perry de Havilland, owner of the Samizdata blog, at least to dissociate himself from what Mr Marks has said about me.

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24 responses to “Statement Regarding Paul Marks

  1. Sean, you’re on the internets. You’re supposed to just shout “Godwin’s Law!” and move on to the next futile argument…

  2. I too was slightly taken aback to read Paul’s note, but although nominally “in charge of” the type-writing chimpanzees’ regiment that writes this blog, I felt I would let it stand. Having known Sean for about 30 years, I felt I wasn’t reading about the man I know.

    Paul’s comment I felt was addressed to me (see it below against the posting that begins “a bill…”) and so I just applied Godwin’s Law myself.

  3. By all means, let the comment stand. But no father and university lecturer can let that sort of accusation pass unchallenged.

  4. Well in all seriousness. I cannot speak for Paul Marks, but as the other member of the Northamptonsire Peoples Popular Front, I’ll offer an opinion.

    I think Paul, as a straight down the line traditional libertarian, is increasingly perplexed by the output of the LA blog and LA in general. If we look over the past week or two, we find a strange man called Mr Henderson demanding autarky, calling the free market “a religion”, and demanding Big Government. We have large numbers of posts from overt leftists who, one can argue, are trying to steal the world “libertarian” in the same way as the word “liberal” was stolen from us and redefine libertarianism to be something which it has never been. We may note that Kevin Carson coined the perjorative “vulgar libertarianism” to describe those of us who believe in property rights and free markets in the normal sense.

    Vulgar libertarianism. As if the pursuit of liberty can be equated with some oik shouting “fuck” in church.

    And then we have Sean issuing fatwahs. Perhaps the major problem with the accusation of being “like Hitler” is that it’s not as appropriate as “like an Ayatollah”.

    Many of my own views are not in the mainstream of libertarianism. Indeed I’ve just been in a rather long debate over at Samizdata about whether a transitional libertarian government should enact some form of land redistribution, either by a temproary tax or by at least seizing the aristocratic estates and redistributing them by some means. Paul, and most of the other commmenters there, didn’t much like that idea. That’s understandable. It’s not mainstream libertarianism, and I myself feel very much that such ideas should be handled with asbestos tongs. But then, I’m not one of the few spokesmen who ever gets invited on the wireless. I’m just a nutter on the internets.

    We know for a fact that leftists are constantly trying to subvert any potential oppositional nexuses. They’ve subverted the charities. They’ve subverted the Church. They’ve subverted liberalism, and the Liberal and Conservative parties. They’ve subverted every socially liberal movement of the twentieth century; “Turn on, tune in, drop out” had become by 1980, “demand big government and obey it”. Is the Libertarian Movement next?

    As you know, I read this blog most days and frequently comment. But I am sorry to say that when trying to lure innocents into libertarianism, I never recommend it to them, because I never know what they’re going to read here. As the LA is the primary Libertarian institution in the UK, the “banner carriers” if you like, that is troubling to me.

  5. I agree with Ian B.

    I come here for Libertarian ideas and discussion, all to often i find left wing crap from idiots such as Henderson. I’m not interested in the idea of ‘hearing all sides of the discussion’ precisely because the internet and media is full to the gunnels with the ‘other side’ of the discussion. I come here for a break from the Statist drivel that permeates everywhere.

    As for the ‘Hitler’ nonsense. It’s the sort of thing that may be personally annoying but of no real significance. Simply shout ‘Godwins Law’ and move on.

  6. Sean Gabb, you assume I think you have sincere beliefs.

    I do not.

    I do NOT think you are an anarchocommunalist, or an IslamoFasicist, or a National Socialist.

    I think you are a cynical opportunist who is willing to cooperate with such nasty types – if it gets you things you want.That is rather different from actually being any of these things yourself.

    If you had sincere beliefs you would either say (for example) “yes I do belive that Charles and David Koch should have their property taken from them”.

    Or “no I do not – I defend such people, Kevin Carson is my enemy”.

    Instead you complain about my spelling and my typing style

    However, you associate (push) much of the above. Or are you going to deny pushing for (example) Kevin Carson – for years.

    You may not believe a word of it – but I do not remember saying you sincerely BELIEVED the things you push (or that you had a single sincere belief in your heart).

    As for getting your family into trouble.

    How?

    What is this got to do with your “family”?

    As for your own activites – if they are criminal you should go to prison, if they are not criminal you should not go to prison.

    Very simple.

  7. As someone who’s stumbled onto Libertarianism almost by chance, through literature and a good deal of luck in Charity bookshops I’d like to echo the thoughts of the poster above. I’ve been getting into the habit of checking the libertarian alliance blog fairly frequently and the range of opinions is quite diverse.

    Following from that without much discussion it seems there’s a fairly strong case for a ‘recruiting website’ or possibly a ‘best of the best’ page that users need to click through to read the main blog (I’m not awfully familiar to WordPress, but I’m sure that it can’t be done, so take this suggestion as a discursive one). The idea would be to ensure that when someone new to libertarianism clicks through they’re presented, in an internet-friendly persuasive way, the main tenets of Libertarianism, a few case studies and perhaps one or two articles recent articles.

  8. Perhaps we should publish less stuff from Robert Henderson and Kevin Carson, and more of our own. These good people seem to get the LA into hot water from people who ought to be our friends.

    But then, running that policy just gets us tarred and feathered, for the same reason that we do it to the BBC, for not being “even-handed”.

    I personally don’t think there’s any point in being even-handed, when one is against leftists. Leftists (by their own cheerfully-frank admission, decade after decade) are not interested in taking part, but in winning. That’s why I annoy that fellow from “re-elect-tony-blair” or whetever it’s called, who is upset that Sean posted a Fatwah against Tony Blair a few days ago. (See the post called “a Bill for the execution of Tony Blair”.)

    I’d love to know what “Godwin’s Law” is, by the way!

  9. Ian, old friend….

    I asked on Samizdata “what else ought the LA to do”? after someone who ought to know better like Patrick Crozier asked “is there any need for the LA these days?”

    All I got was a tirade from Gervase lajoie or someone, saying I was barking mad. I think his name is an anagram for something but he did not answer anyway.

    Look, people. I do not have to manage this blog. I have other stuff to do as well. Guitar freaks want me to fix their amplifiers. My children want me to talk to them sometimes. I get _/fucking pissed off/_ by (a) being more or less ignored, rather disdainfully, by “important libertarians who blog often and influence people” (nobody who “matters” links to us, for example, but I’ve got used to that – is that knowing what “Godwin’s Law” means? Some Americans do, but that’s all) and (b) by being called “barking mad” for using interesting and antique and “Nice” syllogies, such as pretending that this blog is typed by 100 chimps in a freezing Lancashire Nissen Hut, and (c) I got us 39,000 hits in a month in 2008 by putting up Keeley Hazell pictures (with her bra ON) and possibly at least 11 more regular readers as a result.

    Libertarians don’t influence people. If they did, we would not be sitting here freezong to death, and starving, in the outer darkness of “all-those-disallowed-terms-of-political-discourse”.

    Everyone has got to pull his socks up, and say things in a way which will, while yet legal, get us noticed by many, many, many uncritical, uncurious and (deliberately-made-ignorant) people. Until we do that, we might as well pack up and go home. It may or may not include typewriter-chimps, freezing nissen huts, joke-bills for executing politicians of note, the posting of interesting but misguided essays by Robert Henderson or that other fellow whose name I can’t remember, a rich Mr Sheldon probably, and the like, or it may not.

    But the whol approach has got to change, and we have got to stop aggressively disagreeing with each other in public (as the left learned to do) or the war for liberty is lost.

    You have to decide.

  10. I repeat – this is not something recent.

    For example the association with Kevin Carson goes back several years – and other associations go back even longer.

    My fault is not bad typing or using CAPITAL LETTERS.

    My fault is rather worse than that.

    I should have denounced you long ago – but I did not.

    I kept hoping the problem would somehow solve itself. But problems do not solve themselves.

    My lazyness (and/or cowardice) is not acceptable.

    You have dragged the Libertarian Alliance into de facto alliance with some of the worst groups on the Planet.

    Very well – you own 51% of it, you can do what you like with your own property. Although I do not notice you defending the Koch brothers for using their own property.

    But people need to be warned that the British “Libertarian Alliance” is no longer a pro property, pro Western civilization group.

    It has become what used to be called a “false flag” operation.

    Notice how easy it would be for you to refute this.

    You could say “no I defend the property of Charles and David Kock and other rich people and companies – I utterly oppose the evil doctrines of Kevin Carson and others”.

    And you could say “let the looting begin” – what a VILE idea, I despise Kevin Carson for writing that”.

    Yet you do not do these things.

    Even though you have been given chance after chance to do so – year after year.

    Instead you push this stuff – and then (when attacked) you say “nothing to do with me Gov – I am not…..”

    And attack spelling and other such.

    Do I really have to go on to discuss the Islamic Republic of Sudan?

    You have had so many chances to reform – to turn over a new leaf, to save your soul (I know you do not believe in God – I mean s0ul in the Aristotelain sense).

    But instead you have just carried along the “broad and easy road”.

    Well that is your choice. I can not stop you – and it not my place to punish you.

    All I can do is warn others to not associate with you.

    Again – should they wish to continue to associate with you, that is entirely their own choice.

  11. David Davis, you say

    ‘But then, running that policy just gets us tarred and feathered, for the same reason that we do it to the BBC, for not being “even-handed”.’

    That is silly.

    No one, not even the BBC is going to expect a Libertarian Blog to have anything but Libertarian posts. And, even if they did and used that as an excuse to criticise the Blog, so what? They are going to criticise and nit pick and moan anyway.

    Don’t think that pleasing your enemies is going to make them into friends. Just get on with using the blog to unabashedly propagate Libertarian views.

    And PLEASE, no more stupid articles attacking private medicine or praising Big Government economic intervention, there is enough of that dross elsewhere.

  12. Again, I agree with CH. Political movements and writers aren’t expected to be even handed. They’re polemicists, pushing a particular point of view.

    David, as to the question of what the LA should do, that comes down to the question of what the LA thinks it is. If it were an organisation on the Left, what one would it be? The Fabian Society? Libertarianarianism can’t be expected to be a single monolithic movement, but rather a coalition of groups and individuals, and each of them does different things. The view I expressed over at Samizdata was not so much about expecting the LA to do things, as saying that the rest of us need to do more, in different areas.

    Sean mentioned recently the importance of “cultural libertarianism”. Novels, films, music with libertarian themes. That doesn’t mean being so crass as Ayn Rand about it and bellowing from every page, but producing works from a libertarian perspective. I was an Asimov fan in my teens, and it is only recently I realised how he’d been propagandising for technocratic socialism.

    My own tiny contribution here is that I’m about to have a comic strip published in one of the world’s most famous pornographic magazines. No, not that one. Not that one either. The other one. The punchline is “fucking bureaucrats”. Hardly going to bring down the State on its own, but, you know, par-um-pa-pum-pum.

    I think the LA has an important role to play, but like the Fabians, it isn’t intended to bring the revolution on its own, is it? That is the job of the rest of us. I just myself want the LA to remain to be seen to be a credible nexus for Libertarian thought and not discredit itself with ill-considered actions. And, if our movement grows in influence as we hope it will, it is paramount to not be placed in a position of defending the indefensible, as defined by others.

    Chris Mouncey vs. Andrew Neil should be always uppermost in our minds at this crucial early stage of fermenting the reaction against the new status quo.

  13. Paul Marks, I asked you to justify or withdraw your allegation that I am a Hitler-worshipper. Because you will do neither, I must conclude that you are as morally defective and your tone and style of writing show you to be mentally defective.

    You remain at liberty to continue posting drivel on this blog. Do not expect me, however, to take any further notice of you.

  14. Paul, you at at liberty, if you don’t like us, to set up any site you want and lambast us from there as well – so why don’t you? Do you have such a place? If not, would you like us to give you one?

  15. The Carson stuff is interesting and useful for proving to the Left that being anti-state doesn’t necessarily mean being right-wing. Carson’s vision of a libertarian society is undoubtedly different from Sean’s and Paul’s but he believes in abolishing the state and letting the market rule (I concede there are differences re property rights i.e. Carson believes in a usufructuary system). He just happens to think that this will have socialist outcomes.

  16. Carson goes a lot further than his usufructiness, which is already not libertarian. He promotes crankish nonsense about economics; the benefits according to him of mass production are a myth, big business is evil, and- in tune with the times- apparently we only buy products because “the corporations” trick us into doing so to “keep their production lines running” and make us their serfs. The same bullshit you can get from any of the plague of progressivists running our civilisation into the ground.

    He’s entitled to his views. I personally don’t believe that he’s entitled to try to steal the “libertarian” label, in the same way as for example a radical libertine like myself has a right to try to call myself some kind of conservative, or an atheist like myself has some right to try to call myself a new kind of Christian.

    To be frank, this is post-marxist nutballism and if we get associated with it, we are truly damned.

  17. The point is, if Libertarianism fails to maintain a robust defence of sound economic theory- and remember, we are the last group doing so against a mob of barbarians who are already inside the gate- we may as well pack up our kit and go home.

  18. Ian said:-

    //The point is, if Libertarianism fails to maintain a robust defence of sound economic theory- and remember, we are the last group doing so against a mob of barbarians who are already inside the gate- we may as well pack up our kit and go home.//

    This is it really: if we don’t defend this point, then we are lost, in the end. My gripe, and I suspect this is what is privatelt riling Sean in his heart, is why do we allow the buggers to trample all over us, in our own faces, in their Gramscian triumphalism?

    I continue to utter the thought that, since these people who cheerfully-state themselves to be _/our/_ enemies (nobody else’s – ours and ours only) and who cheerfully-state that we are things like “deniers” and so forth, are so committed to our end, then perhaps we ought to treat them like they do us, and suggest that there might be no place for them in a “better world”? I did get quite castigated for this by “keeptonyblairforpm” in another post comment thread too.

  19. Sean Gabb – you are a liar.

    I have never said you were a “Hitler worshipper”.

    But even if I had…..

    I have asked you a series of questions, over and over again down the years.

    You have never given me an answer to any of these questions – so why should I reply to one of your questions?

    I will ask a couple of questions now.

    Do you support or oppose Kevin Carson’s demand that the property of all companies and rich indivduals be taken from them?

    After all Kevin Carson is a person whose ideas you have been pushing for years – so “nothing to do with me Gov – I will not reply” will not do.

    And….

    Do you support or oppose the stand taken by Winston Churchill against Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists (and their plans for world conquest) in the 1930s?

    “I will take no notice of you”.

    How convenient.

    “Nothing dodgy here, nothing to see, move along….”

  20. By the way there is no “contradiction” in pushing black flag anarchocommualist (in reality anti property ideas) and pusing black flag Fascist and National Socialist myths (such as that the Nazis were not out to dominate the world – that this was just some drunken delusion of Winston Churchill).

    Not if the person pushing the ideas (and others) is not really pushing them because he believes in them (not all of them – perhaps NONE of them), but is just pushing the ideas to…

    Shock and anger.

    Shock and anger other people – especially conventionally minded people (the “common herd” as some have called us) who think that the conditions could be vastly improved and that in many ways we have failed our principles – BUT that the West (and some other places) still hold on to something – are still better than the alternatives.

    That property rights still matter here in the West (and in other places also), that some scraps of civil society still exist – worth defending against all commers (Fascists, Nazis, Communists, AnarchoCommunalists, Islamists …..).

    A libertarian has two jobs:

    To seek to restore civil society – to regain lost freedoms, to roll back the state.

    Therefore (for example) t0 promote the work of someone (such as Mr Henderson) who thinks that resistance to Mr Atlee’s ideas was mistaken and that Churchill and the others were not statist ENOUGH in the areas of social policy – is clearly not a libertarian thing to do.

    And.

    To defend what is left of civil society – both in his own land and in the world generally.

    Indeed if freedom (in the private property based civil society definition of “freedom”) is destroyed all over the world then no one nation can long endure as an island of relative freedom in a sea of tyranny and chaos (not opposites – in fact they are close kin).

    Even the United States could not endure in entirely enemy held world – and Britain certainly could not.

    This does NOT mean one goes in for wars to “spread democracy” or engages in Welfare State “nation building” exerices around the world.

    But it does mean that one observes the world – that one watches out for “armed doctrines” that have the INTENTION of seeking global power, and one prevents these “armed doctrines” from getting into the position of achieving that global domination.

    In the past read “European” for “global”.

    Britain tried to prevent any single great power dominating Europe – because then Britain’s own independence would be under threat (and no allies would be left).

    The situation is even sharper if the “great power” is an “armed doctrine” – for example that of the French Revolutionaries, that had supporters WITHIN Britian itself.

    Fascism and National Socialism were also such armed doctrine – they were threats from within as well as without.

    So was Marxism. And it still is – for it has not gone away or been “replaced by cultural politics” in fact the P.C. cultural and idenity politics is a means to an end – it was invented by Marxists to get to Marxist collectivism by another route.

    So now (although NOT in the past – for there were once hardly any Muslims, radical or otherwise, here) is radical Islam. NOT some Sufi mystic seeking a personal relationship with God (they are good and kind people) – but often people in suits, speaking the language of the universities, and dreaming of a worldwide Islamic STATE.

    Now there is a vast area for debate on TACTICS – and it is no secret that I think that a lot of the judgements (OK “judgments” if anyone insists) of recent years have been wrong.

    But to deny that threats to the world, threats from armed doctrines (from people with certain BELIEFS), have existed in history is silly.

    For example, black flag types of the communal (de facto anti property) anarchists exist – Kevin “contract feudalism” Carson is clearly one of them.

    It is the job of a libertarian to OPPOSE such people – not to promote them.

    Ditto National Socialist and Fascist plans for power.

    Ditto Marxism – and its threat to the world.

    Ditto Islamism (NOT everyone who calls themsleves a Muslim – but the armed doctrine of “Islamic Socialism” and so on).

    Doing the opposite – not opposing them, but promoting a lot of this stuff (even, I ACCEPT, not out of any collectivist belief – but simply out of mischief or naughtyness) is bad.

    I admit that “mischief” or “naughtyness” are the wrong words (because they imply the actions of a child – and you are not that), but it is late and I am tired – and I am not wildy good with fine language anyway.

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  23. I would HARDLY call myself deeply well-read on Libertarian, Anarchist, Rand, etc. material or Kevin Carson.

    However, even I know that “Kevin Carson’s demand that the property of all companies and rich individuals be taken from them” is not remotely true.

    For one, Carson does not make “demands”. Of whom?
    Carson points out that much — but not all — great wealth was acquired through STATIST means, and that predominantly-STATIST corporations deserve (not “demand”) to be expropriated. He derived part of that argument from one of Rothbard’s arguments about students “occupying” public colleges. Likewise, who would call General Electric or General Motors “private individuals and all companies” when they are so obviously married to the Military Industrial complex and Washington in general? (Not to forget the point Carson raised/borrowed on the role of Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway plan implemented by the CEO of General Motors acting as Secy Defense.)

    I understand Carson’s point to be that elimination of the Corporate Nanny State would LIKELY wipe out and bankrupt most of the uncompetitive anti-market Fortune 500, so long as there was not some new “libertarian state” erected to protect dubious abstract statist property rights they had acquired in the past … like “information”.

    I understand Carson’s other point that it would not be morally wrong for “the masses” or someone to somehow liberate property acquired via government handouts or government intervention or government favors, though it’s a tougher question because at the fringes of the argument there’s a mixture of earned private property and unearned statist private property. That, however, was more of an intellectual exercise in ethical considerations, not a “Plan”.

  24. Wow, I ended up here by reading an article over at the Libertarian Enterprise and I must say that after reading this post with all of the comments no wonder England is so screwed up. Some so called Libertarians here are advocating the taking of other people’s property on a so called Libertarian website…WTF? Do you people not know of the Zero Aggression Principle? Despite what appendages to the word Libertarian may be added, anyone who advocates or even tolerates the confiscation of other people’s property is not a Libertarian, they are a statist and an enemy of liberty.

    As to allowing leftist posts on this site for fear of being told you lack tolerance for free speech, again all I can say is WTF? Is this a Libertarian or a statist site? I think the post by David Davis at February 5th at 7:04Pm pretty much nails it. There are plenty of left wing sites out there, this site should be dedicated solely to Libertarian writings and ideology. Hell, practically everything else penned in your once great country is left wing, can’t there be at least one site dedicated to freedom and natural human rights without the taint of statism and oppression? Why are you playing by the left’s rules, that’s why you are so fooked over there. You need to confront their ideas with the ideas of freedom. This site is where you should smack down all of those other misguided totalitarian beliefs with the truth of natural human rights. The only left or statist postings here should be your dissection of them in order to point out all of their fallacies.

    Good grief people, rather than having a pissing match between one another you should be united in your offensive to take back your country. In case you were unaware, you have much bigger problems than a pissing match between one another. This is the type of petty childish stuff which perpetually hamstrings the Liberty movement. The government needn’t worry about us, we’re perfectly capable of sabotaging ourselves without their help.

    Since some here have obviously forgotten this I thought I better post it for everyone as a starting point to work from:

    “A libertarian is a person who believes that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being for any
    reason whatever; nor will a libertarian advocate the initiation of force, or delegate it to anyone else…” – L. Neil Smith

    The sad thing is that my country isn’t far behind yours and we all need to present a united front to the forces of tyranny in order to roll back the gains of the statist control freaks. Confront their ideology and destroy it…don’t do their job for them by rendering one another impotent and laughable.