Libertarian Alliance Christmas Message 2012. What is a Libertarian for?


David Davis

Yup. What is a Libertarian for? Why are we here? Why in the face of all this socialism going on about our ears, do we bother?

It echoes what one of my teachers sometime in the 1950s asked us once…“BOYS! WHY are you HERE?” The correct answer was:- “er…to learn how to learn, Sir!” I mean, sometimes, it’s hard to discern what the hell are we trying to do, since  comparing pissing into the wind with what can be done against the brilliantly-arrayed forces of the GramscoFabiaNazis*** produces an obvious imbalance.

The situation in those parts of the world where stuff goes on that actually matters much to other humans, is not good.Governments everywhere are falling into the hands of the 60s-generation of neoNazi layabouts.

A GramscoFabiaNazi sadly got elected in the USA in 2008: we did try to warn you about him but were ignored. He now has been re-elected with a good majority. Nobody with a brain can think why, but that’s what the election-riggers counters and chad-hangers have said.

In Britain, we thought that a little time had been bought, with the election of a supposedly not-actively-socialist coalition. We (or most of our voters) perhaps naively supposed that a coming-together of dampish Tories and raving “Liberal Democrats” could not actually pass much controversial legislation, even if it might discuss such things. But we were proved wrong.

In France, that fellow who thinks all your money belongs to the government got elected: Nicolas-Psychosis who preceeded him was only marginally less bad. Lots of French people jumped off, hoping to find a lifeboat here, as it’s near home, but this one is also sinking.

The “Arab Spring”, correctly predicted by Sean Gabb to be leading to sinister things afterwards, through manipulation by local GramscoFabiaNazis, is proving him right.

Our wretched soldiers, paid twopence and given no kind of support and kit of any use, continue to come home in coffins, from wars only updreamable in the minds of metropolitan socialists in London.

We could go on, but it’s not a good picture, is it.

So what’s the point of being libertarian in a world  made increasingly to look like it does?

Well, one thing is that we know that we are right. It’s a consolation, I guess, being right, even though everyone else thinks one is wrong, and all those near us shake their heads in confused pity and despision at one’s strange, sad, angular point of view. If one was to be martyred (which one hopes is not the case any time soon) in the public square, then it’s good to be right and to not be wrong: in your going, you get something positive out of your experience, however vestigial it might seem.

The underlying subtext is of course that our enemies know that we are right and not wrong, and that they are wrong and we are right. It’s why they hate us actually. It is fun, in the dark hours of the ongoing 2000s, to consider this truth.

The comfort we draw from the knowledge of what we are are what we believe, lies often in the fact that we represent hope. Hope is, if nothing else, an image, a picture even on cardboard, a line of text saying something like “freedom!” scratched on the walls of someone’s cell in the bowels of the Secret-Police-Building. That there is another way, and it’s also a way out of where we are now.

That awful repellent man John Cleese, in some film or other, stated something like: “It’s not the despair I can’t stand: it’s the hope!” I think he was being a headmaster trying to get to some meeting or other in a crap car, and I didn’t find it very funny – merely embarrassing, rather like watching “Fawlty Towers”. (Not much of that was funny either, rather like “Life of Brian” but this is not about my personal prejudices, sorry, I digressed…)

But I guess if people like the North Koreans and the Cubans don’t harbour any hope that their dreadfully-misfortunate situation might get better, then they wouldn’t go on living. Why should they and what then for, otherwise?

Libertarians, by outlining, even crudely and inexpertly (but sometimes, occasionally, very well) what could be instead of what actually is, and how it might work, offer hope to despairing populations all the world over.

We cannot know whether the first libertarian government (classical-liberal-minimal-statist) will be elected here in Britain, or elsewhere. My sad suspicion is that it will be elsewhere, but I will not complain, even if it was on the Moon. And there are precedents for minimal-statism in comparative ways in faraway places, such as the USA versus Britain in the 1770s.

Bless you all, dear readers, and we hope 2013 will be slightly less negative as a year for you, than we fear it will actually be.

***You knew I would use that word, you just knew it.

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6 responses to “Libertarian Alliance Christmas Message 2012. What is a Libertarian for?

  1. “What is a libertarian for?”

    To press for the reduction in the size and scope of government and (often forgotten) private violation of the non aggression principle (of civil society) by criminals (for armed bandits and terrorists violate the nonaggression principle just as higher taxes and more regulations from the government do).

    Libertarians used to argue (and still do) about whether the “minimal state” (minarchism) or anarchocapitalism (not chaos – the anachocapitalist is not someone who seeks to smash, burn and destroy like the Black Flag crowd, liberty neither means chaos or collectivism – it means ordered liberty respecting the private property of both individuals and voluntary associations such as churches and companies) was the correct objective. However, the rise in the size and scope of government (in most countries) has made such debates seem vain.

    The present British government has indeed been a let down (to put it mildly). The much talked of “cut in government spending” is actually an illusion – as, contrary to the establishment (the Economist magazine, the BBC and so on) government spending has not been cut.

    Yet, on the other hand, the increase in taxation (of sales tax “VAT” and so on) has been only too real.

    On the regulations side – inspite of all the talk of gettiing powers back from the European Union, the government in reality submits to ever more E.U. edicts.

    And, as David points out, things go badly in other lands also – in France, the United States and so on. Government spending, taxation and regulation are all rising.

    Is some radical new road the answer to “the long defeat” that libertarians appear to face?

    Perhaps it is, however not the road that is sometimes suggested on this site.

    As that oracle of all wisdom “Wikipedia” points out, “Mutualism” (the road suggested to us) is based upon funedmentally false economics – for example the labour theory of value, and the idea that trade that should be based on the principle that goods and services should be exchanged on the basis that they require the same amount of labour to produce. A fundemental failure to understand the basic principle of trade – i.e. that (economic value being subjective) that both parties in a trade seek (and can get) goods and services more (greater) in utility than those they give. Even in barter (let alone where money is used) “Mutualism” misunderstands the basis of trade and production.

    So the alternative road presented to libertarians is a false one – a road to Hell, not a road to a free soceity. Yet are traditional policy of working within established politics for a smaller government has not been a success – to put it mildy.

    “So, Paul, what do you suggest?”.

    I have no fundemental suggestions on this Christmas Day – other than we think about the situation we are in. The failure of our old tactics, and the falseness of the alternative offered to us.

    We do indeed need a new road, at least tactically, – but it must be different from the fundementally false alternative we have been offered.

  2. Paul, I do not know. I wasn’t suggesting any answers in this little post: at the moment i suppose i’m saying “keep our heads down and wait for better times”. I have, however, high hopes for what happens when all the people of ChindoBrazIndonesiaStan get ultimately pissed off and cross, at leftyNazi western greenDroids lecturing them expensively at conferences, about “saving the planet”.

  3. To me, the point of being a libertarian (or at least, a point of being a libertarian) is to be somebody who people in the future will look back at and say, “that guy was right, why did nobody listen to him?” :)

    Back in happier times at Samizdata, I remember once Perry and I actually agreeing about something I said; which was that some form of libertarianism is inevitable, because it is the “operating system for advanced society”. We do not know the particular form future society will take, any more than people in 1950 or 1850 could have imagined us all blogging and tweeting and so on. We cannot know precisely what form liberty will assume, nor what political arrangements people will prefer, nor any other detail. But we can be sure that liberalism, in some form, will prevail, because it is the only system that, in the long run, can actually work in an advanced society. Whch is why the principles of liberalism arose pretty much at the same time as advanced society got going; it was obvious to wise men what rules that advanced society would need to follow.

    And then we veered off onto a different path. I think of the past couple of hundred years, and this century too, as rather like a Star Trek episode; where they try every damned fool thing that doesn’t work, until the last act when they reroute the doohickey through the main deflector and reverse polarity on the warp core, or whatever, and that was the right thing all along. Currently, we’re still at the getting redshirts killed stage, in historical terms.

    But eventually (and I do not actually think that this “long run” is really very long at all, at least on historical timescales) everyone will look back at us and say, we were right all along.

  4. To the genuine libertarians, this space on the interwebs has been conquered.

  5. David – thee (if I may use the term) and me are equally baffled at this point.

    Ian B. – yes FREEDOM WORKS.

    That should count for something – eventually.

    Economic law (which really does exist – Carl Menger was right and the German “Historical School” were wrong in the “War Of Method”).

    It would be dramatic if Julie’s example (of Athens Tenn) came true – on massive scale.

    But it may be that (at some point) even the establishment say “well we have tried everything else, and everyone is starving – even we are under threat, so let us try freedom…..”.

    I just do not know.

  6. The question that David Davis asks seems a bit odd. But first I do not think there is any socialism. But he most likely means by that term, he seems merely to mean statism or politics. So that translates to: why are there any liberals when they are so many statists round? The question still seems inept, for if there were no statists around, and there was no government either, then there would be no need for liberal propagandists, as there would then be no problem that advocating liberalism could solve.

    The more statists there are the more likely it is that liberals and liberalism will emerge. But David Davis poses the question as though a lot of statists around are a reason that liberalism should fade rather than it being the reason to expect it to emerge. It does tend to suggest that he does not comprehend what liberalism is.

    My reply to his 1950s schoolteacher would have been because I was coerced into wasting my time at school. I hated my own ten years there.

    I cannot see the ignoramuses on the media, or backward Bolsheviks like the seemingly forever demented, but now finally dead, Eric Hobsbawm as anything like brilliant. I never have been able to see that. What they say would rather give rise to liberalism rather than to inspire conformity to crass politics.

    David Davis writes as if balance has something to do with the truth. It is not clear what he imagines balance can do that is at all useful to any truth.

    Then David cites the general election in the USA and he says he tried to warn people of the now second time winner. But how more liberal would the other side have been? I think we will find a use for elections to roll back the state, to privatise money first, then other things, and to get tax cuts to ensure it, but we are a long way from the liberal population that can use elections in that way. In any case, the clear warmonger that lost in the USA this year does not look much more liberal than even the winner is.

    I suppose GramscoFabiaNazi means Hitler/Lenin fascist. But the main thing about that stance is it that it sees politics as good but liberalism sees it as perversely wasteful so as sheer error. It hardly matters who wins any election. We can expect any winner to be wasteful. War is the acme of perverse political wastage. But then any state will be basically geared to war.

    But David Davis seems to think there is a place for war. Who are “our” soldiers? There can be no liberal soldiers. War is intrinsically illiberal. It is not truth that is the first victim of war but rather it is liberty. Truth is needed to fight any war but liberty must give way to martial law in any war, even when liberals fight it. In any war, we lose our liberty. No army can ever be free.

    The liberal has no enemies. The backward Bolsheviks are not enemies of liberalism but more like the fish that the liberal propagandist throws his net at. Of course the now dead Hobsbawm did not realise that liberalism was right. Being right only enables liberals to make converts to liberalism. It has no other merit. If any non-liberals knew liberalism was right then they would soon be liberals. David Davis writes as if he does not realise that, but instead thinks they know liberalism is right all along and that is why they hate it! But that is sheer backward romance rather than anything one whit like reality, David. Liberalism is not about personality or personal types but about the basic facts relating to wasteful politics. It most of all has nothing to do with the fetish idea of class but is rather with a universal an appeal to one and all.

    What could ever be a libertarian [pristine liberal] government? To govern is to negate liberty. It is also to tax and waste the confiscated money.

    If we win over the population to liberalism then we can use whatever two parties are still there, it will most likely be the two there today, to tax cut the state away. But the public need to be converted first. That is the main aim of the LA, not elections and certainly not the oxymoron of a purely liberal government. There can be no such thing.

    Well, let us see what you have to say next year, David. I hope it will be less confused than this year’s message. In the meantime, do enjoy the Yule.

    Yes, Paul Marks is right that many criminals are illiberal. No liberal should ever lower himself or herself to mistreat others. But taxation, not just higher taxation, is illiberal. Liberty is about social liberty [roughly the same freedom for all, not non-aggression]. An anarcho-liberal need not be a capitalist. Frederick Engels was a capitalist as well as a socialist.

    Liberalism claims to solve problems that the state causes like war and mass unemployment. The LA is indeed an alliance of some who still think we cannot get rid of the state entirely and anarcho-liberals who think that we can.

    It is not clear to me why Paul Marks feels the growing state domain makes debate vain. He seems to be on the same odd outlook as David Davis there. But what merit is there in conformity to the majority? The more state power thrives the more need there is for liberals to convert its fans in open debate.

    No government has ever let me down, or will it ever, as I have no hope whatever from crass politics but rather I see it as sheer error. The anarchist looks at politics much as the atheist looks at religion: it exists only owing to ignorance.

    What defeat do liberals face?

    Mutualism has no merit. Not many will ever be keen on it.

    Liberals do not work within established political parties but rather to work at converting the extraverts amongst the masses, what Hayek called the intellectuals, first as a prelude to converting most of the general public if not all of them. . When the public have been won over, then we might use the big parties but they are not much use to liberalism prior to achieving a mainly liberal public.

    There has been no failure. What has been lacking is liberal activity. Failure is where activity is abundant but it fails to work. What we have had in the last few decades is very little activity.

    A noteworthy act this year was the Labourite adoption of one nation Toryism meme. Since 1931, the Labourites have been Tory and the Liberal Party has been since the 1880s. But this adoption of a Disraeli one nation idea makes things a bit clearer.

    The Internet is not a form of society. That this might not have been imagined in 1850 or 1950 is not to be very ignorant back then of what society today is like.

    There is no alternative to the market society but liberal principles can nevertheless be scotched. While the state exists, they are bound to be scotched.