I don’t have time for a long comment, and am only 1,000 words into chapter 2 of my novel. But no one in the LA has commented on the Woolwich murder.
This has key implications for liberty, not least because it is argued that the government’s snoopers’ charter proposal is a good idea in order to combat Islamic extremism. Islamic extremism in our country is a powerful confirmation of John Stuart Mill’s view (in chapter 16 of On Representative Government: read the section starting “free institutions are next to impossible in a country made up of different nationalities”) that free institutions are impossible in a culturally divided society. Cultural conflict encourages state control. Continue reading
Note: The Libertarian Alliance does not recommend or condone the use of violence to achieve political ends. Of course, the story published below is merely advice on how lawfully appointed Ministers of the Queen should proceed once in office. As such, it falls within the section of the Bill of Rights providing “That it is the right of the subjects to petition the king, and all commitments and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal.” But the Directors and Officers of the Libertarian Alliance devoutly hope that the restoration of constitutional government will not require such extremes as are described below. SIG Continue reading
by D.J. Webb
Libertarians have generally been concerned about the development of a police state. While I am concerned over the behaviour of the police—and in particular, what Sam Francis in the US called anarcho-tyranny [“we refuse to control real criminals (that’s the anarchy) so we control the innocent (that’s the tyranny)”; see here]—there is a good deal of evidence that it is the courts that are driving the creation in our society of the miasma of state control. So I am more worried about living in a judicial state. A police state could be a state where laws passed by Parliament are enforced in an overbearing manner; a judicial state is one where the laws aren’t even drawn up by Parliament in the first place. There is a connection between the two, of course, because in the absence of judicial tyranny, high-handed actions by the police and other officials could be combated. Once the judges are committed to unaccountable rule, it is harder to discern a path out of the maze we’re in. Continue reading
by D.J Webb
I have umm’d and aah’d for a long time over how to approach this issue, because it often seems that libertarianism is an ideological reflex of personal interests. For example, Allister Heath at City AM, generally fairly free-market in his approach, called recently for tax reform, but a “reform” that would retain taxes on income and profits and avoid imposing any levies on the occupation of land. On this very LA blog, many people otherwise libertarian in their general views have seemed vituperatively to oppose shifting taxation from income and profits onto property. Such people are often vocal in decrying any attempt to talk about the “fairness” of the free market, while happy to accept state intervention to skew economic opportunities in the interests of those who already have wealth and property. It is likely that most people who are “free-market” in their view of economics are simply expressing their own interests in the economy. Continue reading
by D.J. Webb
An intriguing article on the Telegraph website claims that the Royal family are regularly vetoing new laws, although the article appears sloppily written, and in particular the writer doesn’t appear to know the difference between the formal casting of a veto and the registering of some kind of objection to a law in advance. Continue reading
by D.J. Webb
Women are forced out to work by house prices. This is the real subtext to absurd plans for the state to pay £2,000 to each working woman for childminding. With high taxes and council tax, high transport fees and high childminding bills, it is hard for women to make work pay — and the only result of their trying to do so is to push up the income on which mortgage loans are calculated, thus supporting the property Ponzi scheme. Continue reading
By David J. Webb
Located as I am in “rip-off Britain”, it is a worthy question indeed whether capitalism is, in the final analysis, just fraud. Businesses should try to sell their goods for the maximum price in the market—doesn’t that make it likely that the free market is just a conduit for deception? Libertarians are generally left with vague comments along the lines of caveat emptor that ignore the fact that good value and good service are hard to find in the market, whoever one buys from. So I think the question apposite and worth considering. Continue reading
by D.J. Webb
It is amazing just how much authority our current ruling class draws from the distinction it continually draws between itself and the former ruling class. We are seemingly unable to identify the ruling class today. We still think that it is the Blimps, the “conservatives”, the people who went to Eton, members of the Bullingdon Club, the Royal Family, the Lords, the “rich” (???), people who wear ties, people who wear straw boaters at Oxford, etc.
Actually, this has not been the ruling class for a generation, and yet those who have taken their place constantly poke fun at them and gain a kind of demotic support for a much nastier and more intrusive form of rule today. Continue reading
by David J. Webb
The real key to understanding politics in a country like the UK is that the élite long ago tired of the nation-state. It is not that the concept of a self-governing nation lacked support among the wider population—after all, the opinions of the wider population are heavily influenced by the “opinion-formers”—no, it is that the élite themselves no longer believed in the concept, and so set about trying to move on to more cosmopolitan territory. I would argue that the real reasons for our membership of the EU, our promotion of multiculturalism and our encouragement of mass immigration are political or cultural—our élite wants to change the look and feel of the country—and not economic. Yet these policies are “sold” to us in economic terms, as if dropping these policies would lead to a collapse of the economy. Even people who are opposed to the EU and immigration on political/cultural grounds have to pause for breath while considering the economic impact of a policy change, as we all depend on the economy for our livelihoods. Most people simply don’t know whether the economic arguments are true or not, and so a large section of the population is hoodwinked by bogus economic arguments. Continue reading
by D.J. Webb
Finland is a country that I have mixed feelings about. One of my great-grandparents was Finnish, from the Swedish-speaking minority (the other seven great-grandparents being English and Irish by extraction), and so I am interested in the country. Yet try as I might, there seems to be some kind of barrier preventing me from really admiring the country and its culture. Finland’s demands for “collateral” when taking part in eurozone bailouts are a pointed reminder that this country is quite different from the UK culturally, taking a full part in the EU structures, but demanding the right to defend its own interests all the same. Surely if you’re in the eurozone, you should either meet all your obligations, or just leave? Finland’s troubled relationship with Russia is also worthy of analysis. In the end, I feel that Russia is the long-term strategic partner the UK should be focusing on, at the expense of EU nations such as Finland. Continue reading
by D.J. Webb
Libertarians support low taxation on principle, in order to free people and the economy from the burden of the state. If the writings of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill are anything to go by, however, there is an important exception: land taxation. Land taxation is not just a necessary evil that affords the state some revenues with which to perform the very few necessary functions of government; it is a positive good, in that it tackles monopoly and speculation, and should ensure efficient use of land. If land taxation had remained the key source of government revenue in the UK, the current economic crisis would not have taken place. Continue reading
by DJ Webb
Flat-chested women all over the world will sympathize with Kate Middleton today, after her assets – or lack of them – were captured on camera.
Why should Buckingham Palace be thinking about suing the French magazine that published the photographs? They were taken with a telephoto lens – but it is clear that Kate Middleton does like to relax topless. Would Queen Alexandra or Queen Mary have relaxed topless (with or without the intrusion of telephoto lenses)? Continue reading
by DJ Webb
My thoughts wandered for a while after I read that Boris Johnson had taken part in discussions to find him a safe seat by means of which he could be propelled into Parliament. Mr Johnson has made a name for himself as a eurosceptic, although I fancy this is just clever positioning. I doubt he really gives two figs for our ancient constitution—and as Mayor of London, he has made clear his support for mass immigration to displace the majority population of England. For various reasons, therefore, I doubt his true political convictions are much more conservative than David Cameron’s, although he might be able to promise a little bit more “true blue water” between the Conservatives and Labour, although not so much as to restore our country’s constitution. Nevertheless, my subconscious filled in the blanks in my rêverie and this is what I dreamt of as I suspended belief for a few minutes: Continue reading
by DJ Webb
It is interesting to see some parallels between the government of England under the English Commonwealth in the 1650s and the revolutionary constitutional settlement being gradually established in recent years. One thing I have just noticed is the parallel with the second chamber of Parliament.
The intention of recent constitutional changes is that the revising chamber should not consist of the landed interest, people who have dominated the country for centuries, but should be cronies, appointed purely on the basis of their support for the constitutional revolution.
Cromwell’s Other House was established in 1656 as a check on the Lower House, as one of the provisions of the Humble Petition. Cromwell refused to adopt the title of king in the draft of the Humble Petition, but accepted the other proposals in May 1656, giving him the title of Lord Protector, providing for Parliaments every three years, and for him to nominated 40-70 members for life, with a quorum of 21.
Interestingly, most of the peers refused to sit in the Other House, apart from one, and Cromwell had difficulty finding enough appointees to accept the positions (a difficulty not encountered today, where senior people are all too eager to angle for life peerages). So the Wikipedia article tells us of the 63 people nominated by Cromwell, only 42 accepted the positions.
The Other House lasted for less than three years, and was finally dissolved in April 1659. The intention of English Common Law, that the Crown, the House of Commons and the House of Lords should balance each other, and each should be constituted according to time-honoured common-law principles, has been badly traduced. I cannot regard those accepting life peerages as honourable people, and I would like to see all legislation since the introduction of “life peerages” called into question in a new constitution setup.
by D.J. Webb
As libertarians will be well aware, English Common Law confirms the right of Englishmen to use arms in their self-defence. I am one of those who would not accept the legality of purported laws to strip us of this right, but in any case, we have not been stripped of this right, at least in terms of statute law. The 1688 Bill of Rights, which has not been repealed and has been affirmed by higher courts as being a major constitutional law that cannot be impliedly repealed (i.e., can only be repealed by express language clearly repealing it), specifies our right to use weapons in our own defence. Continue reading
by D.J. Webb
Libertarians have traditionally stressed the need for freedom, rather than democracy. There is a good reason for this: democracy is a way of selecting legislators, but contains no guarantee that legislators will not seek to become ever more intrusive in the lives of citizens. Furthermore, democracy, if interpreted as indicating widespread popular support for the political élite, may be used to justify state interventionism. A democracy can be a manipulated democracy and not a free society. Consequently, freedom and democracy are not equivalents, and are not necessarily even mutually supporting concepts. Continue reading
It is only natural in any human society that government policy should be overwhelmingly oriented towards defending older, vested interests in the economy. To a large extent, the vested interests are the economy. Yet taken too far, this becomes a case of protecting those with wealth at the expense of those without, and cutting off the possibility of economic growth in the future to protect the bank balances of the older generations. At some point it becomes unsustainable, as the need for economic growth in the future has to ultimately override all else, although politicians often take their time in getting round to that conclusion, making the eventual crisis even more painful that it would otherwise have had to be. Let’s take a few overseas examples before discussing Britain. Continue reading
by D.J. Webb
Dear all, no time for a long post, but I was amazed, at a time of cuts, to read that clinical negligence payments by the NHS rose by £10bn over the past five years to total £16.6bn! [See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9353443/Comment-The-spiralling-cost-of-no-win-no-fee-lawyers.html%5D This is not a small amount of money. Continue reading
by D.J. Webb
1. Privatise the whole education system
2. All teachers’ salaries set by the schools
3. A voucher system instituted allowing parents choice, but the vouchers set at a level that does not cover the full cost of education (e.g. requiring a top-up co-payment averaging 10% of the cost of attending an unglamorous school from the parents, and much larger top-ups to attend better schools). Unmarried mothers with five children would still have to find a certain sum for their children’s education. Continue reading
by D.J. Webb
The euro is part of a pan-European architecture that is keeping the peace in Europe, they say. I don’t think the European nations have any appetite for war, and such talk is either hysterical or too grounded in the views of people who lived through the Second World War, whose influence on politics today logically needs to start rapidly declining. Continue reading