Category Archives: Conference Speeches

Me, Two Nudey Men, and a Theatre Full of Lefties – An Alternative View

Note: One must always try to hear the other side. SIG

Review: #LIFTChange Some people think I’m bonkers, but I just think I’m free. Reviewed by Ben DeVere.

“Some people think I’m bonkers, but I just think I’m free” was the fifth event in LIFT’s Change for a Tenner! season, dedicated to exploring ideas around social and political change. We were introduced to eight campaigners who demand change through sometimes bonkers and often beautiful acts in The Yard Theatre, Hackney Wick. Why do they do it? When will they stop? Are they making a point, or do they really believe that a change is going to come?

First up was Ellie Harrison who pointed out that today’s eccentricity is tomorrow’s common sense, and took us through her (really very sensible) campaign to Bring Back British Rail. The most eccentric idea on her menu was of politicians admitting they’d made a mistake. Wessex Regionalist Colin Bex wasn’t very silly either. A very English secessionist, he upped the non-nonsense by reasonably setting out a localist agenda in the name of autonomy and old school common sense. A lovely man with a fine beard, socked feet in sandals and lots of badges. You know the type. Probably a rambler. Continue reading

Me, Two Nudey Men, and a Theatre Full of Lefties

Me, Two Nudey Men, and a Theatre Full of Lefties
By Sean Gabb
19th June 2014

The London International Festival of Theatre is an enterprise funded by the Arts Council  of England and by the Culture Programme of the European Union. If I ever come to power as the front man for a military coup, it will be on my list of things to shut down before breakfast. This being said, I was happy to take part, on Wednesday the 18th June 2014, in its “Change for a Tenner” evening at the Yard Theatre in Hackney. My main outreach of late, has been to explain libertarianism to schoolchildren and traditionalists. Here was my first chance in several years to address an audience of committed pro-state leftists. The fee offered, plus expenses, was nice, though not essential to my acceptance. Continue reading

A Case for the Landed Aristocracy (2014), by Sean Gabb Flash Animation

Sean Gabb,
A Case for the English Landed Aristocracy,
Speech to the (Other) Libertarian Alliance,
London, Monday 10th February 2014

To understand the rubbish heap that England has become, it is useful to look at the circumstances that prompted the emergence of the modern State in Europe.

Around the end of the thirteenth century, the world entered one of its cooling phases. In a world of limited technology, this lowered the Malthusian ceiling – by which I mean the limit to which population was always tending, and beyond which it could not for any long time rise. Populations that could just about feed themselves during the warm period were now too large. Continue reading

Sean Gabb, Speech to the London Swinton Circle, London, 24th January 2014

Note: I like my outings to the more traditional areas of the conservative movement. These people often have libertarian prejudices that are not shared by more formally liberal members and clients of the ruling class. They are also more polite in their disagreement. I had a good time last night in London. SIG Continue reading

Let Us Leave the EU – But Not Yet! (2013), Speech by Sean Gabb

On Saturday the 14th December 2013, Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, spoke at the Intellectual Minds Conference at the Hilton Hotel in Syon Park, “The European Union and the New British Constitution. Here is a brief summary of what he said:

Part of the consensus within the libertarian and traditionalist movements in England is that membership of the European Union is destroying our free institutions; and that, to recover these institutions, our first step must be to leave the EU.

This claim is not wholly supported by the evidence. For example, many of us blamed the EU for the loss of our protection against double jeopardy at law. Yet Germany and many other EU member states do not allow people to be tried twice for the same offence. Australia, on the other hand, has brought in the same deviation from the rule as we have, and the statutes use the same wording. Australia is not a member state of the EU. Continue reading

Report on the CEP The future of England meeting

by Robert Henderson

The future of England
Meeting arranged by the Campaign for an English Parliament (CEP)
House of Lords 20th November 2013

Frank Field Labour MP
Lord Maclennan (Lib Dem)
Professor Wyn Jones ( Professor of Welsh Politics, Cardiff U)
Eddie Bone CEP

There were around 100 people attending including a sprinkling of young faces which is always encouraging. The audience was also pretty hostile to any suggestion that England should not have a Parliament or be Balkanised with regional assemblies. This type of audience reaction has been growing in meetings I have attended over the past couple years which have dealt with the EU, immigration and England’s place in the Union. I would suggest it is indicative of a growing anger and desperation amongst the native population to what they rightly see as the selling out of their country one way or another. People have had enough of what in any other time would have been given its true name: treason.

Continue reading

Hans Hermann Hoppe, “On the Nature of Man, Truth, and Justice”, PFS 2013

Sean Gabb in German

Politische Philosophie: Warum Konservative libertär sein müssen

von Sean Gabb

Die Linke ist mit dem starken Staat verwachsen

[Vorbemerkung: Die folgende Rede hielt Dr. Sean Gabb, Direktor  der „United Kingdom Libertarian Alliance“, am 19.10.2013 in London  vor der Versammlung der erzkonservativen „Traditional Britain  Group“ – ein Verband, der die regierende konservative Partei David  Camerons als Verräter an ihrer Sache betrachtet. Übersetzung für ef-online  von Robert Grözinger.]

Ich denke, meine Damen und Herren, Sie kennen die Socialist Workers Party. Falls nicht: Dies ist eine Organisation, die die letzten vier Jahrzehnte damit verbracht hat, jede Beschwerde der Arbeiterklasse zu übernehmen und sie zur Verbreitung der frohen Botschaft des Trotzkismus auszunutzen. Zum Beispiel wenn die Arbeiter einer Knopffabrik in Leeds wegen eines Streits über Teepausen streikten. Früher oder später würde man das lärmende Gegröle hören und die unverkennbare Schrift der Banner sehen, die einem sagen, dass die Socialist Workers erschienen sind. Continue reading

Britain and the Reversion to Ancestral Ways (2013), by Sean Gabb

Britain and the Global Reversion to Ancestral Ways:
A Speech Given to the Conference of
The Traditional Britain Group,

Held in London on the 19th October 2013.

[What began as laziness, and then settled into method, is that I do not prepare speeches in advance. What I do is to prepare a mental list of the things I feel inclined to say, and of the order in which I might say them, and then to leave the manner of saying them to the inspiration of the day. If there is a written text, it is usually prepared after the event. After decades of practice, this usually works rather well. Because there will soon be a video of it on YouTube, you can judge for yourselves whether my speech to the Traditional Britain Group was any good. Here, for the moment, is what I probably said.] Continue reading

Preserving the substance of a nation: the role of a traditional conservative counter-establishment

by John Kersey

This is the text of a speech delivered earlier today to the Traditional Britain Group conference.

I am going to begin with a simple thesis: the loss of the English nation has progressed to such an extent that ordinary measures will not be sufficient to restore it. I am going to propose to you that if we aim to see the restoration of traditional Conservatism in this country, we cannot rely upon the existing mechanisms of our society – its national politics and its institutions – to serve that purpose. I have two main reasons for proposing this theory, and after I enumerate them, I will then go on to explain their consequences for us and the necessity for a traditional conservative counter-establishment.

The first difficulty we face is really more of a historical phenomenon than anything else. It is that where change of a widespread and fundamental nature has occurred, it is then near-impossible to return to the status quo ante. If we look to English history, there are events – such as the Restoration of 1660 – that may seem to look backwards, but in reality constitute the combination of elements of the past and present. The most usual pattern is that of thesis – which in this example is absolute monarchy; antithesis – the Puritan Commonwealth; and then synthesis – the constitutional monarchy that constitutes the Restoration. England is very good indeed at giving the veneer of continuity to what is in fact profound change. This can fool us into mistaking style for substance. I am going to suggest to you that we as conservatives are too often fooled in this way, and that we are sometimes satisfied with a change of style where in fact it is substance that needs to be addressed. Genuine change of substance – in this case reactionary reversion – is extremely rare, and will almost invariably be achieved at the cost of much bloodshed. We in Britain have not succeeded hitherto in turning the clock back in public life. I suggest it is unlikely that we can easily succeed in doing so in the future.

The second difficulty is in our perception of the effects of change. We often see the results of change and we must then look for its causes. Sometimes this is uncontroversial, but often we feel sure that we can connect cause and effect in a straight line more because of our inner convictions rather than because of an actual and measurable connexion. Many of us believe that much of the blame for the problems that face our country can be placed at the feet of our current batch of elected representatives, or their immediate predecessors. But what if what we are perceiving is in fact a much more gradual and deep-rooted process working its way out, and with less to do with politicians than with social change that is the outcome of a variety of post-1945 factors? The root of conservatism is in an extremely guarded attitude to change, precisely because change has unpredictable, and sometimes unmeasurable effects. We should therefore be very careful not to assume that where we propose change we can predict its outcome. In particular, we must not assume that the solutions of yesterday can be applied to the problems of today with the same results. And we must be aware that anything we create will be at constant risk from both external opposition and infiltration.

Conservatism and traditionalism are not ideologies; they are anti-ideological in that they rest upon a system of fixed, guiding principles rather than upon an agenda based upon change. As such, if we define ourselves as conservatives and traditionalists, we need to beware of ideologically-driven forces that oppose what we stand for. In our time the two most prominent ideologies that threaten conservatism and traditionalism are socialism and neoconservatism. Neoconservatism is the outcome of an attempt to apply Left-wing models of ideology and change to core conservative ideas.

Continue reading

Should Page 3 Pictures be Banned? by Sean Gabb

This House Believes that Page 3 should be Banned
By Sean Gabb
Speech to the University of London Union
30th September 2013

Founded in 1828, the University of London Union describes itself as “UCL’s oldest and arguably most prestigious society.” The University motto, prominently displayed by the Union is the hexameter verse Cuncti adsint meritaeque expectent praemia palmae – which roughly translates as “Let all come who by merit deserve the foremost prize.” Last night, Monday the 30th September 2013, I spoke at one of its debates against the motion “This House Believes that Page 3 should be Banned.” This refers to the calls for The Sun newspaper to be stopped from publishing photographs of half-naked women on its inside front page. Continue reading

Sean Gabb – Speech to the PFS Conference in Bodrum, September 2013

Note: I took notes of all the speeches, and will soon publish these notes. In the meantime, here is my own speech as I wrote if after delivery. I think it’s a bad habit to read speeches from a text – not unless you are speaking in a foreign language, that is, or you need to be exceedingly careful about what you say. But it’s a very good habit to write them down afterwards. Many thanks to Ian B, by the way, for some of the stuff on American cultural hegemony. I was saying much the same long before we met. Even so, I did speak to some extent under his influence, and this deserves acknowledgement. SIG Continue reading

The end of Left-Wing-Conservatism: was it an “infantile disorder”, or just Alzheimer’s?

David Davis

Top Point:- Libertarians working in a statist “democratic civilisation” – which is to say: an imperfect democracy corroded by the presence, vestigial or worse, of socialistNazi components of allowed public discourse – regard political parties as advertising agencies whose job is to service, effectively, the “Liberty Account”. If they would not do the job adequately, then we would fire them and hire another one.

The Chimpanzee Type-writers have not been as active as they used to be. Perhaps, as a fellow I knew once in London said “it’s the heat” that affected their keyboard speeds. But we need to get things going again for the coming Arctic Winter, since warble-gloaming has ceased for the last 17 years, so we are now told by those who know the truth.

However, the Ukip conference is on, or was. I don’t really know if it’s more than a day. What does it matter how long Party Conferences really are? “Do all animals really fly?” is a more important question. They wree only charging £35 for a day ticket, compared with £520 from the Tories. I guess the Tory charge was that steep so as to deliberately keep out anybody who wasn’t a “lobbyist”.

You need to have money these days, to “access ministers”, I guess. I feel a “Piers Gaveston moment” coming on: ministers better beware I think.

Here’s what I wrote to the dully Tory-graph about the problem of Ukip for the British Conservative Party. I use the discriminator “we”, not because I am a member of Ukip (I am not – at least not yet) but because I think it is now speaking for the British working masses of people that live in that class that today’s MetropolitaNazi politicians find difficult to “relate to”. These are people that may not have “senior public sector, public-administrative and media jobs”.

They may drive 53-reg Ford Mondeos.  Or even older. I drive Y67LNE – that dates me…They may work in some smallish private business, a few or many miles from home, and thus have large fuel costs, mostly excise taxation. They may not have had “a pay rise” for years.

So here it is:-
It’s actually too late to do anything aout Ukip. We may win the odd Parliamentary seat, or we may not. I’d guess one, or at a push, two. We’ll clean up anyway in the EuroNazi “elections”, and Ukip will e the largest UK party in StrasNazi-bourg or wherever the thing is “sitting” now, and it will be dedicated to getting arguably the most important caged-EuroNation our of the EUSSR.

You see, Tories, you have betrayed the People of Britain. You’ve tried to be a leftyparty, thinking it’d get you elected. And even that nearly didn’t work in 2010, and you’re saddled with LeftoNazi limpDemNazis who actually hate and despise you – the despising is actually worse than the hating – _Even More that the LabourNazis do_ if that were conceivable.

We in Ukip really, absolutely, don’t give a fuck if we Continue reading

UKIP and the Tories…what will the Toryawayday say tomorrow?

David Davis
It’s actually too late to do anything aout Ukip. We may win the odd Parliamentary seat, or we may not. I’d guess one, or at a push, two. We’ll clean up anyway in the EuroNazi “elections”, and Ukip will e the largest UK party in StrasNazi-bourg or wherever the thing is “sitting” now, and it will be dedicated to getting arguably the most important caged-EuroNation our of the EUSSR.

You see, Tories, you have betrayed the People of Britain. You’ve tried to be a leftyparty, thinking it’d get you elected. And even that nearly didn’t work in 2010, and you’re saddled with LeftoNazi limpDemNazis who actually hate and despise you – the despising is actually worse than the hating – _Even More that the LabourNazis do_ if that were conceivable.

We in Ukip really don’t give a f**k if we tip Ed Miliband into power. We know how bad he will be, and all the trolls and orcs he’ll let back into the farm to continue trashing stuff. You are no better so far.

We also don’t give a f**k if your party becomes toast permanently after a 2015 defeat. You had the chance in 2010 to give the Queen an ultimatum, and say that you were NOT prepared to go into government with either of the other groups of thuggish Nazi gangsters, and that you would _refuse_ to allow Parliament to be restarted until she called another election, which you would then have won. Of course, you still sere not going to give us our promised referendum on Lisbon and the EUSSR so it wouldn’t have made any difference, but at least you’d still have people’s respect to a tiny extent.

Face facts: you’re going to lose seats to Ukip, and probably to the LibDemNazis and Labour Nazis, because Ukip will make a point of targetting your marginals. If we get in, it’s a bonus. If you’re out, at least you’re punished. we’ll all be in the shit whichever Nazi party gets back in.

If you manage somehow to do, we’ll be only marching to the deathcamps slightly less fast than if one of the others was at the wheel.

Sean Gabb: A Searchlight Profile

by Mark Pitchford

Note: I won’t answer Dr Pitchford’s questions. In part this is because answering any questions from such people implies an admission of moral inferiority. In part it’s because no answer other than grovelling adherence to the pc line will ever be enough for the smears to be withdrawn – possibly not then. However, I’m not sure any answer is needed, nor any comment. Compared with the frequently gross libels for which Searchlight is renowned, this is very gentle stuff. Also, while there may be a tendency here to unfairness, this could be a simple result of misunderstanding. Lefties hardly ever read anything not written by other lefties. When they do, they generally see only what they want to be there. SIG

Libertarians of the world unite: you have nothing to lose but your credibility

There is something superficially appealing about libertarianism. Its obvious derivation from ‘liberty’ makes people comfortable being described as a libertarian. Indeed, libertarians’ advocacy of free speech, freedom of association and permissive attitudes towards sexuality resonate both with long-established rights and a more tolerant Britain in which institutionalised bigotry has little traction. Investigate a little further, however, and the libertarian position looks less comforting and more like a fig leaf for closet racists. Continue reading

The Letwin Plan – Freedom of the Press in a post-Leveson UK

Report by Robert Henderson

The Letwin Plan – Freedom of the Press in a post-Leveson UK
Freedom Association meeting 25 February


John Whittingdale MP (Chairman of the DCMS select committee).
George Eustice MP
Harry Cole Blogger

Depressingly John Whittingdale and George Eustice are both wholeheartedly in favour of the Letwin Plan which is the Government’s response to Leveson’s proposals. I say depressingly because the Plan is dishonest in overt intent because it produces a system of regulation which pretends to be independent but is in reality authoritarian. Continue reading

The Bruges Group meeting From Here to the Referendum

by Robert Henderson

The Tory MPs Peter Bone and Richard Shepherd were the speakers . ( Both are in favour of the UK leaving the EU, although that of course begs the question of on what terms. Much of their speeches were not directly to do with the referendum . To get the parts which were go into the Peter Bone speech at 9 minutes 27 seconds and the Richard Shepherd speech at 11 minutes and 50 seconds to get to their views on the future and the prospective referendum. Continue reading

Sean Gabb: Speech to a Traditionalist Conservative Group Flash Animation

On Friday the 1st February 2013, a debate took place at The Counting House, which is a pub at the junction of Gracechurch Street and Cornhill in the City of London. The question was How to be a Conservative in 21st Century Britain.

Sean Gabb spoke for the Libertarian Alliance. Sam Swerling spoke for the Swinton Circle. Their speeches were followed by a lively question and answer session. Continue reading

In Defence of English Civilisation

In Defense of English Civilization

by Sean Gabb
October 24, 2012

We know that England is under attack, and from its own ruling class. Beforewe can speak of defense, we need to understand the reasons for the attack.

This is not an attack on tradition in itself, but the unfolding of an alternative tradition.

Part of what defines a nation is the relationship between its ruling classand the people at large. Our historic self-perception as English is based on the relationship between rulers and ruled that existed before 1914, and, though to a fading degree, for a couple of generations thereafter. Continue reading

Libertarian Anarchism: Responses to Ten Objections

Libertarian Anarchism: Responses to Ten Objections

Libertarian Anarchism: Transcription of a talk by Roderick T. Long

I want to talk about some of the main objections that have been given to libertarian anarchism and my attempts to answer them. But before I start giving objections and trying to answer them, there is no point in trying to answer objections to a view unless you have given some positive reason to hold the view in the first place. So, I just want to say briefly what I think the positive case is for it before going on to defend it against objections. Continue reading

In Defence of English Civilisation, by Sean Gabb
Flash Animation

On the 20th October 2012, the Traditional Britain Group- a traditional conservative organisation – in conjunction with The Quarterly Review- an historic Tory journal – hosted an all day conference at the East India Club in central London titled, “Another Country – is there a future for Tradition?”

The format involved a number of 30 to 40 minute talks, followed by questions and discussion. Speakers Included: Derek Turner, Lord Sudely, Richard Spencer, Andrew Fear, Pete Myers, Stephen Bush, Peter King, and Theodore Dalrymple.

Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, spoke last. The title of his speech was “In Defence of English Civilisation.” Here is a summary of his speech. The speech was not written in advance, and was given without notes, and this summary is, in some respects, an amplification on and a clarification of what was said. It also incorporates into the main speech points that were raised in the questions and answers session. This text, however, can be checked against the recording, and can be seen to give a fair account of what was said.

The recording was made with a Samsung Galaxy S2 mobile telephone, and the quality is acceptable, though not outstanding.

Continue reading

Smiling in Bodrum

Smiling in Bodrum
By Michael J. McKay

Photo by Helio Beltrao,

“Why are you smiling?”

My friend asked me this as our van accelerated away on our departure from Bodrum, Turkey.

I was unable to answer him, frankly, because I had stopped noticing. I guess I had been smiling permanently since my arrival at the Property and Freedom Society conference six days earlier. Continue reading

Inside the conspiracy: Property and Freedom Society, Bodrum, Turkey, 2012

The latest report on the recently-concluded 7th Annual Meeting of the PFS, by the Cobden Centre’s Andy Duncan, is appended below. Previous reports include Jeff Tucker on PFS 2012: The Center of the Conspiracy and Doug French on PFS 2012: The World’s Greatest Haircut; Duncan’s report from last year’s meeting is Outside the Asylum: Property and Freedom Society, Bodrum, Turkey, 2011. (For other accounts of previous Annual Meetings of the PFS, see our Press page.)

Inside the conspiracy: Property and Freedom Society, Bodrum, Turkey, 2012

By Andy Duncan
Posted on October 3, 2012

In my article last year entitled Outside the Asylum, I described the joys of being alive at Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s annual Property and Freedom Society conference, held in the beautiful Turkish harbour town of Bodrum. I compared and contrasted this to life everywhere else, inside the asylum of the organised criminal set of insidious tax farms known as the world’s nation states. Continue reading

Totalitarian Humanism and Mass Immigration

by Keith Preston

This is the full text of my speech at the National Policy Institute Conference on September 10, 2011 in Washington, D.C. Continue reading

Historical Notes 052, Understanding the Chinese (2011), by John Derbyshire |


Here are some remarks I delivered to the sixth annual meeting of Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s Property and Freedom Society, held at the Karia Princess Hotel in Bodrum, Turkey, May 26-30, 2011.

The subject of my address was “Understanding China and the Chinese.” The conference organizers meant it to form part of a set, with Jared Taylor following me on the topic “Understanding Japan and the Japanese,” then John O’Sullivan on “Understanding Europe and its Bureaucrats,” then Professor Norman Stone on “Understanding Turkey and the Turks.”

As things turned out, the set was unfortunately incomplete, as the Japanese Embassy in Washington DC, with very un-Japanese inefficiency, lost Jared’s passport a few days before the conference, leaving him no time to sort the problem out and so unable to embark for Turkey.

We missed Jared and commiserate with him on what seems to have been an exceptionally bad year for him so far, marred by misfortunes and indignities at the hands of various state apparatuses, by no means only the Japanese.1 He did manage to bring out a book, though.2

The rest of us went ahead with our presentations anyway. Here is mine.

Historical Notes 052, Understanding the Chinese (2011), by John Derbyshire |

Understanding China and the Chinese, by John Derbyshire

Understanding China and the Chinese
By John Derbyshire

Here are some remarks I delivered to the sixth annual meeting of Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe’sProperty and Freedom Society, held at theKaria Princess Hotel in Bodrum, Turkey, May 26-30, 2011.

The subject of my address was “Understanding China and the Chinese.” The conference organizers meant it to form part of a set, with Jared Taylor following me on the topic “Understanding Japan and the Japanese,” then John O’Sullivan on “Understanding Europe and its Bureaucrats,” then Prof. Norman Stone on “Understanding Turkey and the Turks.”

As things turned out, the set was unfortunately incomplete, as the Japanese Embassy in Washington D.C., with very un-Japanese inefficiency, lost Jared’s passport a few days before the conference, leaving him no time to sort the problem out and so unable to embark for Turkey.

We missed Jared and commiserate with him on what seems to have been an exceptionally bad year for him so far, marred by misfortunes and indignities at the hands of various state apparatuses, by no means only the Japanese. (He did manage to bring out a book, though.)

The rest of us went ahead with our presentations anyway. Here is mine. Continue reading

Political Notes 196, The Mirage of Equal Opportunity (2011), by Anthony Daniels

Resentment is a very common and easily aroused emotion. In fact, it is one of the very few emotions that never lets you down or disappoints – the only other I can think of is righteous indignation – and is certainly the only emotion that can last a lifetime. Righteous indignation, it is true, can be long-lasting, but is seldom lifelong; unlike resentment, it necessarily changes its focus and attaches to something new, whereas resentment can be fixated early and last until the deathbed.

via Political Notes 196, The Mirage of Equal Opportunity (2011), by Anthony Daniels.

Mustafa Akyol: Arguments for a New Turkish Hegemony over the Near and Middle East

pfs-2011 Mustafa Akyol, Drawing Borders in the Middle East: Ottoman Provinces v Western State Creations from Sean Gabb on Vimeo.

Doug French, In Defence of Mortgage Defaulters

Property and Freedom Society Videos

Here is all I have had time to upload so far:


Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Welcome to the Property and Freedom Society Conference, 2011

The Sixth Annual Conference of the

Property and Freedom Society,

held at the Hotel Karia Princess,

Bodrum, Turkey,

26-29 May 2011

Hans-Hermann Hoppe,

Welcome and Introductions

Sean Gabb Speech in Brussels

Sean in Brussels

My speech to the Young Libertarians went very well. One of these days, my ability to stand up without prior thought and given a longish speech will fail me. Not tonight, however.

Brussels, by the way, is otherwise a most degenerate place. Though I spoke slowly and with a loud and menacing voice, the only people able to understand me in French were those who insisted on replying in English. Foreigners are often a sad disappointment. I remember how I once tried to buy a bus ticket in Poprad. After five minutes of shouting at the driver, I had the mortification of hearing a couple of Slovaks assure each other I was a “bloody Hungarian”!

Sean Gabb Speaks in Locarno

Libertarian Alliance Conference Video Record

Here is an almost full video record of the conference held the weeked before last by the Libertarian Alliance and Libertarian International. One video is missing for technical reasons, but should go up in the next few days.

Do please blog these videos and generally spread them about. I hope you will agree that the sound quality is excellent, even if my lighting skills leave some room for improvement!

Also, here is an article published last night by VDare:

Here it is on my own provision website, which allows comments to be left:

Whatever we think of Nick Griffin and the BNP, the conduct of the British State is shockingly oppressive. If we won’t stand up for those with whom we may disagree, we have no right to call ourselves libertarians.

Best wishes,


Alex Deane, Anonymity is not a Crime

The Libertarian Alliance Conference is Doing Well

Sean Gabb

We’re now into the afternoon session of day one, and all the speeches so far have been of high quality. Certainly, my new camera lights have given the video footage an almost televisual glow.

I will upload the video footage late next week.

“Bad news coming” thought Winston…

Christopher Houseman

No, not the impending cuts of so many public payroll salaries (some of which have jobs associated with them), but rather a certain commonality in the Coalition about the motives for their present course of action.

Nick Clegg has assured the LibDems that he doesn’t want to cut the state for the sake of cutting it. No, he wants to cut it so he can rebuild the state differently. Likewise, Liam Fox has informed the Tories that he doesn’t want to cut defence and nor does David Cameron (cue Tory applause) – but at the moment, he has no choice.

Thus is the libertarian ideal of a smaller state smeared in the eyes of political activists and the wider public as a necessary evil, a stopping-off point to be endured on the road to the sunny uplands of a reshaped and re-expanded State tomorrow.

Unless libertarians can convincingly and appealingly present to the public the truly joyous reality of being able to work (or not) as we please, with whom we please, to offer goods and services we’re proud of to whomever we please, libertarians will remain marginalised and misunderstood. They’ll be seen as an articulate but callous bunch, perversely rejoicing over the wider dislocation and misery caused by the State’s champions ditching the minions they think they can most easily do without.

When faced with people determined to do exactly the wrong thing, Lenin’s “The worse the better” dictum may be an accurate response to their failures. But it’s no way to market anything to anyone.

PS. I note the Tories’ pledge to let headteachers discipline children for misbehaviour on the way to and from school. I leave the last word on this news to John Taylor Gatto:

As schooling encroaches further and further into family and personal life, monopolizing the development of mind and character, children become human resources at the disposal of whatever form of governance is dominant at the moment.

David Robert Gibson Reviews Sean Gabb on Popular Culture

What a fine talk! – clear, persuasive, full of content and relevant asides, succinct but unhurried – I enjoyed it, belatedly alas, and conserved it upon several disk drives. My own hope is principally for a catastrophic collapse of this truly evil Champagne Socialistic-Corporatist Regime, but as you said it is a delight one cannot depend upon in short order. I take you point, strongly, that while we are waiting/a workable alternative task is *to dominate popular culture*, just as the fashionable Left have done so thoroughly this past 60 years. That Was The Week That Was and Till Death Us Do Part are early examples.

I found it instructive that you mentioned the abysmal, culturally blind failure of the apparently so dominant Thatcher 1980’s government to sponsor relatively conservative/libertarian folk like Hill, Williams, and Everett (I did not know that Bernard Bresslaw took an interest in Chris Tame’s bookshop!). They could also have brought Hughie Green out of a retirement enforced by proto-PC types at Thames Television. I do not consider that I have any outstanding talent as a scriptwriter or entertainer, so I will have to leave the public delegitimisation of this nasty Regime to others. I do so hope they can achieve it as, for examples, in the French and Czechoslovakian Revolutions that you described. The Champagne Corporatists have left open goals a plenty – the EU, variations on Quantitative Easing, hidden externalities of the consumerist system, the gross unfairness and growing fallout from mass immigration, inverted crime policies, uncontrolled profligate waste, the relentless demoralisation of decent people, and so on and on.

David Robert Gibson

LA Conference – Book Now!

Liberty 2010


Saturday 30th October-Sunday 31st October 2010

Saturday-Conference: 9.15am-5.30pm
Saturday-Dinner: 7.30pm-10.30pm
Sunday-Conference: 10.00am-3.45pm
Sunday-Drinks Reception: 3:45-5.00pm

The National Liberal Club
One Whitehall Place
London SW1A 2HE
 Saturday 30 October 2010
09.00am – 10.00am Registration and Refreshments

10.00am – 10.05am Introduction Dr. Sean Gabb (Director, Libertarian Alliance)

10.05am – 10.40am Session 1: Humour, Freedom and Political Incorrectness
* Speaker: Professor Christie Davies (Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Reading University)
* Moderator: Dr. Tim Evans (President, Libertarian Alliance)

10.40pm  11.15am Session 2: Praxeology, History and the Perils of Historicism
* Speaker: Dr. Peter Mentzel (Associate Professor, Department of History, Utah State University)
* Moderator: Christian Michel (European Director, Libertarian Alliance; President, Libertarian International)

Coffee Break

11.30am – 12.00pm Session 3: Honest Money and the Future of Banking * Speaker: Steve Baker MP (Conservative Member of Parliament for Wycombe)
* Moderator: David Farrer (Finance Director, Libertarian Alliance)

12.00pm – 2.00pm Free time for Lunch in the local area

2.00pm – 2.45pm Session 4: Question and Answer Panel Session
* Speakers: Professor Christie Davies, Dr. Peter Mentzel and Steve Baker MP
* Moderator: Dr. Anthony J. Evans (Assistant Professor, ESCP
Europe; Founding Senior Fellow, The Cobden Centre; Senior Fellow, Libertarian Alliance)

2.45 – 3.15 Session 5: A New Playing Field – A View from the Next Generation
* Speakers: Kenli Schooland, (The Language of Liberty Institute)
* Moderator: Dr. Nigel Meek (Editorial and Subscriptions Director, Libertarian Alliance)

3.15pm – 3.30pm Coffee Break

3.30pm – 4.00pm Session 6: Anonymity is Not a Crime
* Speaker: Alex Deane (Director, Big Brother Watch)
* Moderator: Dr. Jan Lester (Senior Fellow, Libertarian Alliance)

4.00pm – 4.30pm Session 7:
Against Publicly Funded Science
* Speaker: Dr. Terence Kealey (Vice Chancellor, Buckingham University)
* Moderator: Dr. John Meadowcroft (Lecturer in Public Policy, Kings College, University of London; Senior Fellow, Libertarian Alliance)

4.30 – 5.00pm Session 8: Question and Answer Panel Session
* Speakers: Kenli Schooland, Alex Deane, Dr. Terrence Kealey
* Moderator: Dr. Richard Wellings (Deputy Editorial Director, Institute of Economic Affairs; Senior Fellow, Libertarian Alliance)

5.00pm – 7.30pm Free Time and Cash Bar

7.30pm – 10.30pm 2010 LA Annual Dinner and Awards
* Award 1 LA Liberty In Action Award 2010
* Award 2 LA Liberty in Theory Award 2010
* After Dinner Speech Mark Littlewood (Director General, Institute of Economic Affairs) “The Future of the Institute of Economic Affairs”

Sunday 31 October 2010
09.30am – 10.00am Refreshments

10am – 10.30am Session 9: Freedom and the Internet
* Speaker: Malcolm Hutty (Head of Public Affairs, London Internet Exchange)
* Moderator: David Carr (Legal Affairs Spokesman, Libertarian Alliance)

10.30am – 11.00am Session 10: On Mutualism
* Speaker: Jock Coats (Liberal Democrat Activist and Blogger)
* Moderator: David McDonagh (Libertarian Alliance)

11am-11.10am Session 11: Libertarian Alliance Update Report
Dr. Tim Evans and Dr. Sean Gabb

11.10am – 11.30am Coffee Break

11.30pm – 12.00am Session 12: Multiculturalism – Right or Wrong?
* Speaker: Peter Tatchell (Civil Liberties Activist)
* Moderator: Dr. Tim Evans (President, Libertarian Alliance)

12.00 noon-2pm Free-Time for Lunch in the Local Area

2.00pm – 2.30pm Session 13: Question and Answer Panel Session
* Speakers: Malcolm Hutty, Jock Coats, Peter Tatchell
* Moderator: Dr. Sean Gabb (Director, Libertarian Alliance)

2.30pm – 3.00pm Session 14: The Mirage of Climate Justice
* Speaker: Dr. Mark Pennington (Reader in Public Policy and Political Economy, Queen Mary’s College, University of London)
* Moderator: Christian Michel (European Director, Libertarian Alliance; President, Libertarian International)

3.00pm – 5.00pm Drinks Reception
Guest of Honour: Mark Skousen (Producer, FreedomFest – The world’s largest gathering of free minds)

As promised, we have just raised the price of the LA Conference to £99

Our reason is that the National Liberal Club has had to increase its own prices, and, while we never make a profit from the conference, we cannot afford a loss.

Yes, think of this every time some slimy politician comes on the telly and tries telling us that inflation is not a problem.

Hegemony: Where is the Libertarian Revolution? – Robert Grözinger


Hegemonie: Wo bleibt die libertäre Revolution?

von Robert Grözinger

Voraussetzung ist der Einbau ihrer Ideen in die populäre Kultur, meint Sean Gabb von der UK Libertarian Alliance

Seit Jahrzehnten argumentieren Libertäre für die radikale Schrumpfung oder gar Abschaffung des Staates. Mit Büchern wie „Human Action“ von Ludwig von Mises, „Die Ethik der Freiheit“ von Murray Rothbard, „Die Verfassung der Freiheit“ von Friedrich von Hayek oder „Demokratie – Der Gott, der keiner ist“ von Hans-Hermann Hoppe sind ihre Standpunkte unwiderlegbar untermauert worden. Die Zahl der Werke dieser und vieler anderer Autoren ist inzwischen riesig. Dennoch wachsen die Staaten weiter und fusionieren sogar zu überstaatlichen, zentralistischen Konglomeraten. Unter den Folgen leiden fast alle. Doch 99 von 100 Menschen, oder noch mehr, haben nie von den genannten Autoren gehört, während die Namen Marx, Lenin, Trotzki oder Rosa Luxemburg, deren Werke ebenfalls kaum jemand liest, zum Allgemeingut gehören.

Sean Gabb, der Direktor der britischen Libertarian Alliance und Autor mehrerer Bücher, hat Anfang August ein Vortrag diesem Phänomen gewidmet und kam darin zu dem Schluss, dass die fehlende, entscheidende Zutat in der libertären Bewegung die kulturelle Komponente ist. Zur Verdeutlichung zog Gabb den Vergleich mit dem Aufstieg des Sozialismus nach der vorletzten Jahrhundertwende. Als Karl Marx 1883 in London starb, interessierte das in England niemanden, abgesehen von einer Handvoll Anhänger. Wenn um 1900 herum jemand argumentierte, dass der Staat die Sozialversicherung übernehmen sollte, hörte kaum jemand zu. 40 Jahre später jedoch hat es kaum noch jemand gewagt, die Gegenposition einzunehmen. Was war in der Zwischenzeit geschehen?

Der Erste Weltkrieg mag Ansichten verschoben haben, doch allein kann diese Katastrophe keine dauerhafte Einstellungsänderung erzeugt haben. Gabb führte aus, dass die Sozialisten um 1900, wie heute die Libertären, massenweise Bücher und Traktate produzierten, die aber damals kaum jemand las. Außerdem wurden ihre Argumente schnell von der Gegenseite zerpflückt – vor allem schon damals von Vertretern der österreichischen Schule der Ökonomie wie Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk. Die kulturellen Werke der Sozialisten dagegen, ihre Romane, Theaterstücke, Musik und so weiter, wurden eifrig und gerne konsumiert. In ihnen waren Wertvorstellungen und Appelle an das soziale Gewissen verpackt sowie Vorstellungen darüber, wie die Welt gerechter zu gestalten sei. Selten so offensichtlich wie beispielsweise bei Brecht, eher subtil, nebenbei und ohne große Worte zu verlieren. Dies sei das Geheimnis des Erfolges der etatistischen Linken im zwanzigsten Jahrhundert, meint Gabb. Sie haben ihre Argumente auf die kulturelle Schiene verlegt. Auf dieser Ebene Gegenpositionen im Diskurs aufrechtzuerhalten sei fast unmöglich, denn die meisten Menschen verstehen die Aufregung nicht. Es ist in ihren Augen bloß ein Roman, Theaterstück oder Film.

Gabb appelliert nun an die libertäre Gemeinde, diese Methode der Linken nachzuahmen und, statt eines weiteren Traktats, populärkulturelle Werke zu produzieren, die die radikalliberale Botschaft transportieren. Gabb selbst geht mit eigenem Beispiel voraus und hat in den vergangen Jahren unter dem Pseudonym Richard Blake mehrere historische Romane veröffentlicht. Ein Fehler Ayn Rands sei es gewesen, in ihren den Kapitalismus feiernden Romanen seitenlange doktrinäre Reden einzubauen. Solche Intensivkurse wollen Romanleser eigentlich nicht sehen und wirken auf viele abstoßend. Trotzdem haben Rands Romane unzählige Menschen zum ersten Mal auf den Gedanken gebracht, dass es vielleicht doch besser wäre, sich nicht immer auf den Staat zu verlassen – und sie somit auf einen intellektuellen Pfad geführt, der oft im Anarchokapitalismus kulminierte.

Einer der Fehler der konservativen Regierung der 80er und 90er Jahre in England, dozierte Gabb weiter, sei ihre völlige Vernachlässigung der kulturellen Sphäre gewesen. Es gab libertäre und konservative Kulturschaffende, beispielsweise Kabarettisten. Diese hätte die Regierung auf vielfache Weise fördern können, hat es aber unterlassen, wollte mit „diesen Methoden“ nichts zu tun haben und verließ sich lieber auf die Überzeugungskraft des rationalen Arguments. Derweil baute die Linke ihre Hegemonie im Kulturleben weiter aus. Während die Konservativen die Wahlen – noch – gewannen, eroberten die Linken über das Fernsehen und andere Medien, in Filmen, Serien, Romanen, Hörspielen allmählich die Hirne und Herzen der Wähler. So fiel dem damals noch für die Konservativen werbenden Gabb auf, dass viele, die er ansprach, sagten, sie würden seine Partei wählen, dass aber kaum einer für sie werben wollte, etwa durch ein Plakat im eigenen Fenster.

Inzwischen ist es völlig normal, in England darüber zu reden, ob sich die Partei der Konservativen ausreichend vom angeblich radikal-marktwirtschaftlichen Erbe Thatchers „entgiftet“ habe. Selbst die konservative Führung scheint bemüht, bloß nicht wie ein „Dinosaurier“ aus der Zeit der Eisernen Lady zu wirken. Es bringe überhaupt nichts, so Gabb, darauf hinzuweisen, dass Thatcher den Staat weder geschrumpft noch die Marktwirtschaft entfesselt hat, sondern einen Korporatismus schuf, eine effizientere Zusammenarbeit zwischen Großunternehmen und starkem Staat. Die Linke beherrscht den Diskurs weiterhin über die kulturelle Schiene und transportiert dort weiterhin die Mär vom bösen, marktwirtschaftlichen Thatcherismus, der die Gesellschaft entsolidarisiert hat.

Mit seiner These, dass die Konservativen eine kulturpolitische Chance verpassten, scheint Gabb auf der richtigen Spur zu sein. In den 80er Jahren, also kurz nachdem sich der Sozialdemokratismus in der „Stagflation“ festgefahren hatte, waren viele Menschen in allen westlichen Industriestaaten offenbar bereit, die Botschaft des Individualismus, der Leistung und der Freiheit zu hören und zu verinnerlichen. Man denke nur an den überwältigenden Überraschungserfolg des Films „Amadeus“ im Jahr 1984. Der Streifen lief wochenlang, über ein Jahr lang sogar, ununterbrochen in den Kinos. Sind die Leute in die Filmtheater geströmt, um ein Mozart-Potpourri zu hören? Wohl kaum. Sie wollten eine Geschichte sehen, in der ein etablierter aber mittelmäßiger Komponist, ein Günstling des Kaisers, den Aufstieg eines Ausnahmekünstlers diabolisch zu verhindern versucht und trotz seines scheinbaren anfänglichen Triumphs am Ende seine bittere, absolute, ja vernichtende Niederlage eingestehen muss.

Doch die damaligen Wahlkampfslogans über eine „geistig-moralische Wende“ oder „Leistung muss sich wieder lohnen“ blieben nur Sprüche. Auch in Deutschland erfolgte keine gezielte Förderung konservativer und liberaler Kulturschaffenden. Vielleicht im Grunde deswegen, weil Angestellte des Staates sich nie ernsthaft um ihre Abschaffung bemühen werden. Welcher Beamte würde schon für die Förderung eines libertären Kabarettisten eintreten? Mit anderen Worten: Die liberale kulturelle Hegemonie kann nur aus eigener Kraft gelingen. Die sozialistische Kulturrevolution benötigt heute die Stütze des Staates in Form öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunks und der Indoktrination an den Schulen und Hochschulen – eigentlich ein Zeichen der Schwäche. Doch anfangs war auch sie ganz auf sich allein gestellt. Der Kampf gegen ihre gegenwärtige mediale Übermacht mag entmutigend wirken, ist aber nicht aussichtslos. Als Alternative zu den Medien und den offiziellen Bildungseinrichtungen steht heute das Internet bereit. Jeder kann mit wenig Geld und Aufwand eigene Radio- und TV-Sendungen herstellen, Books-On-Demand-Plattformen nutzen und Online publizieren.

Nicht jedoch ein weiteres Traktat, nicht der X-te soziologische oder ökonomische Abhandlung – so notwendig sie für die interne philosophische Bildung sind – werden in der Gesellschaft reale, dauerhafte Veränderungen in Richtung Freiheit erzeugen, sondern nur eine unübersehbare Fülle von populärer kultureller Erzeugnisse, die die liberale Vision nebenbei transportieren, als sei sie das Selbstverständlichste der Welt.


Sean Gabb: Rede und Diskussion über kulturelle Hegemonie (Video in englischer Sprache, 95 Minuten)

Hegemonie: Wo bleibt die libertäre Revolution? – Robert Grözinger – eigentümlich frei

New Video Files for the Property and Freedom Society Conference

Sean Gabb

Note: I have said this many times to individual correspondents. But I am now getting so many enquiries that I will say it generally. I use a video hosting service called Vimeo. This allows me to upload high quality video of any length. However, there is an upload limit of 5Gb per week – which sounds a lot, but isn’t. This is also an inflexible limit, and there is no question of a rollover from the many weeks when I upload nothing.

Therefore, the videos for this month’s Property and Freedom Society conference in Bodrum must go up over several weeks. I have uploaded the main details for every speech, and have attached position holding videos for those that have not yet had the speeches uploaded. That is the reason for the four second clip of a baby crawling – it was the shortest piece of video I could find at the time.

These position holding videos are now being replaced one at a time. So far today, I have uploaded the following:

PFS 2010 – Hans-Hermann Hoppe, On Private Goods, Public Goods, and the Need for Privatization

PFS 2010 – Norman Stone, World War I: Britain, the Ottoman Empire, and the Making of Turkey and the Modern Middle East

At this moment – 1:20pm BST – I am uploading these videos:

PFS 2010 – Thomas DiLorenzo, America’s Culture of Violence: Myth vs. Reality

PFS 2010 – Anthony Daniels (Theodore Dalrymple), “Public Health” as a Lever for Tyranny

These should be ready for viewing within the next few hours. I will continue uploading until I reach the 5Gb limit. I expect to get everything up before then except two of the general discussions.

Therefore, please be patient. Everything will be available soon. In the meantime, do think of me. My dear friend Richard Blake, the critically-acclaimed and internationally best-selling author of “Blood of Alexandria” (available through all good booksellers), etc etc, is trying to work on his next masterpiece. I am preparing lectures. My Baby Bear has found how to unlock the bathroom cupboard and is unpacking all the aftershaves I have been given over the years for Christmas and never used. And all you want is video uploads…..



2010 Property and Freedom Society Conference Report

Free Life Commentary,
A Personal View from
The Director of the Libertarian Alliance
Issue Number 194
17th June 2010
Linking url:
Available for debate on LA Blog at
Reflections on the 2010 Conference of the
Property and Freedom Society
by Sean Gabb

I have never bothered asking what persuaded Hans-Hermann Hoppe to invite me to the first conference of the Property and Freedom Society in 2006. I received his invitation in about the February of 2006. It looked interesting – not least because it was to be held in Bodrum, which is the modern Turkish name for Halicarnassus, the birthplace of Herodotus and otherwise famous for its Greek theatre and the remains of the great Mausoleum. However, Chris Tame was dying in hospital, and I decided that my place was at his side.

“Oh no, it isn’t,” Chris answered from his bed. He sat up and stabbed at the print-out of the invitation. “I’ll be dead long before May. Whatever the case, you’d be mad to turn this one down.” He took me through the names listed in the invitation, pointing out their eminence within the conservative and libertarian movements. Finally, he reminded me of the key importance of Professor Hoppe within both movements, and his importance in his own right as an economist and philosopher. It was my duty to attend, Chris announced. If he were not confined to his death bed, he would go with me.

And so – Chris now dead, just as he had predicted – I set out in the May of 2006 for Bodrum. I wrote a longish account at the time of this first conference of the Property and Freedom Society, and see no reason to say more about it now. But Chris was right. It was a significant event in my life. Until then, I had long admired from a distance, but never met, men like Professor Hoppe and Paul Gottfried and Stephan Kinsella. Now, in the luxurious surroundings of the Hotel Karia Princess, and in the perfect weather of the Eastern Mediterranean, I could sit down to dinner with them and get to know them. I was invited back the following year, and the year after that, and the year after that. Last week, I went again, and can report that this fifth conference was every bit as interesting and productive as all the others.

PFS 2010 – Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Welcoming Remarks. The PFS – After Five Years from Sean Gabb on Vimeo.

Because I made video recordings of all the public proceedings, I do not need to give a close account of all the speeches. They will, in the next week, all be uploaded to the usual place for anyone to see. But it is worth discussing professor Hoppe’s opening speech, The Property and Freedom Society: Reflections After Five Years – now published by the Libertarian Alliance as Personal Perspectives, No.25. In this, he explains why he set up the Property and Freedom Society and what he hopes it to achieve. He begins with a critique of the mainstream libertarian and conservatives institutes. It is, for example, now 63 years since the first meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society, and it is hard to see what good this has achieved. F.A. Hayek cannot be wholly blamed for its failure, since he was never wholly in charge. But it was, from the start, a place where limited statists were able to mingle with avowed advocates and beneficiaries of fiat law and paper money. And any scheme for limiting either of these is impossible in principle and has failed in practice. The tendency of fiat law is to become ever more arbitrary and burdensome. The tendency of paper money is semi-permanent inflation. Both are means for the ruling class to tighten its control on society. The State cannot be limited. At best, those directing it can be persuaded to pick and choose among various schemes for making their control easier or less immediately destructive.

The very success of organisations like the Mont Pelerin Society to engage with governments is a sign of their failure. In the past, ruling classes were able to neutralise the far more potent threat to their control posed by religion. They have used much the same methods to deal with the limited state movements. As with the churches, they have been bribed and flattered into moderating their critique of the State, and even co-opted as some kind of intellectual fig leaf.

Professor Hoppe saw this clearly in the 1990s, when he attended three meetings of the Mont Pelerin Society. These were filled with politicians and central bankers and general clients of the ruling class. There was no discussion allowed of the American State’s military aggressions, or of its monetary corruptions, or of the multicultural discourse that is the main current legitimation ideology of the State. His own attacks on democracy and support for constitutional monarchy were considered scandalous and “confrontational”, and he has not bothered going back.

His experience of the John Randolph Club was slightly more positive. This was largely a Murray Rothbard front organisation, where conservatives and libertarians were able to come together and discuss their equal, of sometimes different, objections to unlimited state power. It was also a place where members of each movement could learn from the other. Libertarians, for example, could overcome the indifference to the cultural and historical underpinnings of liberty that often proceeds from their emphasis on economics. In turn, the conservatives could learn some true economics.

Ultimately, though, the John Randolph Club fell apart because of the failure of many of its conservative members to radicalise. They were never able to put aside their fantasy of somehow capturing the institutions of an extended state and using these to impose a conservative authoritarianism. And they would not reconsider their support of stupid economic policies like protectionism and soft money.

It was on account of his disappointment with even the least useless of the other policy institutes he had known that Professor Hoppe decided to set up the Property and Freedom Society. Its purpose was not to engage with the ruling class or its various clients, but to have nothing whatever to do with them. It would exclude politicians and economic illiterates. It would reject the State and all its works. It would instead seek to foster a counter-culture that was opposed both to the State and to the legitimising ideologies of the State that many libertarians have not been able to recognise for what they are. The Property and Freedom Society would provide a space within which representatives from a range of traditions would be able to discuss the principles of a free market natural order, and to see the State more clearly than is normally possible as nothing more than a gang of bandits surrounded by various applause societies and useful idiots.

The Property and Freedom Society was conceived as a kind of salon – a place where intellectuals from various traditions could come together as friends, and share and harden their own opposition to the State and its legitimising ideologies. Presided over by him and by his wife Gülcin Imre, the Salon Hoppe would surely have it impact on the movement, and on the world at large.

This was the essence of Professor Hoppe’s opening speech. And his movement has been a success in the way that he intended. Its public proceedings are the speeches, and I am glad that I have been able to help make these available by making video recordings of them and putting them on the Internet. I regret that my recordings of the first two conferences were incomplete. I also regret that my fuller recordings of the next two were marred by technical incompetence. Some of these have adequate sound, but many are hard to follow, either because I relied on the internal microphone of my video camera, or because I was ignorant of how to place an external microphone. This year, I am happy to say, I was more successful. All the speeches have adequate sound, and many have good sound. A problem I have not been able to overcome is that, outside of England – in both Turkey and Slovakia – recording on mains power with an external microphone is inseparable from a feedback hum. The morning sessions I was able to record on battery only, with partial recharges during the coffee breaks. Afternoon sessions required mains power. I can filter out much of the feedback hum, but cannot wholly eliminate it. Whatever the case, the speeches all have clear sound, and I shall eventually buy additional batteries or a better video camera.

PFS 2010 – Mustafa Akyol, Are Islam and Capitalism Compatible? from Sean Gabb on Vimeo.

But, as said, because they have all been recorded, I do not need to describe the speeches. If I have to acknowledge any star of the conference, I suppose it would be Mustafa Akyol, on Islam and Capitalism. He is a Turkish journalist who is completely fluent in English, and is a libertarian, and, it seems, is a fairly devout Moslem. His speech is an informed response to the frequent claim in the West that Islam is a religion only for men with frightening beards and wild eyes and a taste for suicide bombings. It is not. If is, of course, The Other – the historic enemy of Christendom, that subdued three quarters of what had been the Roman Empire, and came close more than once to taking the last quarter. No one who is not of that Faith can take a sentimental view of Islam. At the same time, Islam produced a great and often admirable civilisation that had room for much intellectual freedom and for extended commerce. If the accidents of immigration have made Islam in Europe a religion for displaced peasants with lavish funding from Saudi puritans, that does not make Islam in the wider sense other than a religion compatible with as high a degree of enlightenment as Christianity. Islam is compatible with a free market order. The development of a market system in Turkey has been associated with a recovery of Islam in the public sphere, and this must be recognised by anyone who wants to see through the fog of propaganda that has been raised to lead us into another world war.

I liked Paul Gottfried on Herbert Marcuse, and on Marxism in general. I liked Olivier Richard on the economics of inflation. And I liked everything else. To single anyone out other than Professor Hoppe and Mr Akyol would be – as I keep saying – superfluous, bearing in mind that everything is on-line, and unfair to the other speakers.

Naturally, this does not prevent me from mentioning my own speech. I was asked to speak about the Second World War and why it should have been avoided. I did this rather well. Mrs Gabb, who came into the conference room to watch me, was not impressed. She said it all sounded too much like an advertisement for the novels of Richard Blake. But I have watched my speech twice now on video, and I still think it was rather good. I dislike reading from a text. Even without one, my voice tends to dullness, and my general delivery is wooden. Since I can speak fluently enough without, I like to avoid having either a text or notes in front of me. At the same time, I do like – other commitments allowing – to produce a text in advance. This lets me lay down the structure of what I want to say. It also removes any suspicion that I have just turned up without any preparation to deliver a speech that is only clear by accident.

PFS 2010 – Sean Gabb on the Second World War from Sean Gabb on Vimeo.

Because both text and video are available, I will not go again over the main part of what I said. What I do think worth mentioning is the point that came into my head for the last five minutes of the speech. This is the lack of any sustained cultural production within the conservative and libertarian movements. We have always been strong on analysis and criticism. We have our philosophers and economists and historians, and these are among the best. We are not wholly without our novelists and musicians and artists. But we have not so far excelled in cultural production, and have mostly not considered this of comparable importance to uncovering and explaining the workings of a natural order. So far as this has been the case, however, we have been mistaken.

The socialist takeover of the English mind during the early 20th century was only in part the achievement of the Webbs and J.A. Hobson and E.H. Carr and Harold Laski and Douglas Jay, and all the others of their kind. They were important, and if they had no written as they did, there would have been no takeover. But for every one who read these, there were tens or hundreds who read and were captured by Shaw and Wells and Galsworthy and Richard Llewellyn, among others. These were men who transmitted the socialist cases to a much wider audience. Just as importantly, where they did not directly transmit, they helped bring about a change in the climate of opinion so that propositions that were rejected out of hand by most thoughtful men in the 1890s could become the received wisdom of the 1940s. They achieved a similar effect in the United States, and were supplemented there by writers like Howard Fast, and, of course, by the Hollywood film industry.

More recently in England, the effect of television soap operas like Eastenders has been immense and profound. Their writers have taken the dense and often incomprehensible writings of the neo-Marxists and presented them as a set of hidden assumptions that have transformed the English mind since 1980. No one can fully explain the Labour victory of 1997, or the ease with which law and administration were transformed even before them, without reference to popular culture.

I do not wish to disparage novelists like Ayn Rand, who was a libertarian of sorts. At the same time, what I have in mind is not long didactic novels where characters speak for three pages about the evils of central banking. What I do believe we need is good, popular entertainment of our own creation that is based on our own assumptions. I think the most significant objective propagandist of my lifetime for the libertarian and conservative cause was the historical novelist Patrick O’Brian. I have read all his historical novels, some more than once, and I do not think he ever sets out an explicit case against the modern order of things. What he does instead is to create a world – that may once have existed largely as he describes it – that works on different assumptions from our own. If this world is often unattractive on account of its poverty and brutality, its settled emphasis on tradition and on personal freedom and responsibility has probably done more to spread the truth than the Adam Smith Institute and the Institute of Economic Ideas combined.

I would never claim that Richard Blake is in the same league as Patrick O’Brian. But he is significant so far as he is a libertarian novelist who has managed to find a mainstream publisher. His latest novel, Blood of Alexandria, is still more explicitly libertarian than his others, and he deserves all the encouragement that our movement can provide. Indeed, someone else who deserves our encouragement is Jan Lester, one of the most significant figures in the Libertarian Alliance and in the Libertarian Alliance – yes, this is not one of my typing mistakes! The Libertarian Alliance has just published his play, The Naked Politician, as Philosophical Notes, No.82. This needs a performance. Anyone who can help with this is doing the cause of right, truth and justice as great a service as by funding the distribution of the more abstract works of our movement.

But this really is enough of the public proceedings of the conference. Professor Hoppe spoke of a salon, and this works at least as well through private conversations as through formal speeches. And one of the few rules of the Property and Freedom Society is that there are to be no limits on what anyone cares to discuss over lunch or dinner. Sadly, these were private conversations, and I might find my own conversations in Bodrum far less open and interesting in future if people thought their words were about to be transcribed and published to the world. One part of a long conversation, though I can reveal. I was at dinner with some Turks who explained their bitter humiliation at being kept out of the European Union. They listened patiently to my explanation that they were lucky to have avoided that horrid embrace. Their reply was that it was a matter of national pride. They could put up with being excluded from a club made up of great nations like France and Germany and England. They could accept the inclusion of the Greeks – a matter of historical connection with Europe. But to be passed over in favour of disreputable mafia states like Romania and Bulgaria was too much to be tolerated. If I wanted to understand Turkey’s rising disillusionment with the West, and its recent closeness with the Arab countries of the Middle East, I needed look no further than its rejection by the European Union.

But this is all I think I can say. If you want to know more about them, you will have to go to Bodrum yourself next year!

I should say something now about the location of the Property and Freedom Society conferences. The Hotel Karia Princess is a luxury hotel in one of the quieter parts of Bodrum. It is about a ten minute walk from the harbour and shops of the city, and just a flight of steps away from a discreetly-placed supermarket that is most useful for those things that are not provided by the hotel. With its swimming pool and large garden and its gymnasium and Turkish bath – the hotel is a world in itself, and many guests – some go every year for a month – and conference attendees hardly ever go outside it.

Even if it were not owned and run by libertarians, I would recommend the Hotel Karia Princess for the excellence of its location and the quality of its service. But it is owned and run by libertarians, and I suggest that any libertarian or conservative who is planning a Turkish holiday should consider booking a room here. It has all that anyone could desire for a memorable holiday. Since all the hyperlinks will be stripped from this article when it is posted out, here are the full details of the hotel:

Hotel Karia Princess
Eskiçeşme Mahallesi,
Myndos Caddesi No:8
48400 Bodrum
Tel. :+90.252.3168971
Fax : +90.252.3168979

Speaking of Turkey in general, I do most highly recommend the country to the more discriminating traveller. As with Islam, I do not take a sentimental view of the Turks. Historically, they have been implacable advocates of every cause to which they attached themselves. This being said, they have never been other than a brave and honourable race. They are justly proud of their country. To anyone who does not attack Islam or the memory of Kemal Ataturk, and who refrains from going about stark naked in public, they are as straight and welcoming as could possibly be desired. Since I regard Ataturk as a great man – if somewhat flawed – and have no desire to shock the religious sensibilities of others, and am far too modest to expose my flesh to the world, I am not inconvenienced by these limitations.

I cannot speak for those parts of the country remote from the sea. But the parts of Turkey I have seen strike me as entirely safe. The reputation of Turkish drivers is undeserved. On three of my visits with Mrs Gabb, I have hired a car and driven for several thousand miles. I have never once seen an accident, and the other cars are far less battered than in Greece. The main problem on the mountain roads is finding the right points for overtaking the lorries that rumble uphill at about 20mph. On one occasion,, we ran into a giant storm on the mountain roads between Aydin and Mugla. For half an hour, it was like driving in a car wash, and the road was an inch deep in water. But everyone else on the road slowed to a steady crawl and stayed safely in lane.

The beaches within easy reach of Bodrum are mostly either crowded or dirty. The beach at Bitez is both. We spent an hour there, struck by the omnipresent smell of dog mess and the stains on the cushions provided by the local restaurant. Unless you are a lower class Englishman or an elderly German of limited means, my advice is to avoid the place. There is an excellent beach resort outside Fethiye, a few hours south of Bodrum. We arrived rather late in the day, and so had less benefit of the place than we might have liked. Otherwise, boats can be hired for about £200 a day. These will take you to places inaccessible by road, where you can swim in the warm, sparkling sea.

So far as sightseeing is concerned, I am less fond of Ephesus than I ought to be. Though grand, it is normally filled with tourists. We went there in 2007. I enjoyed sitting in the theatre where St Paul preached, and the public toilets have a sociological interest. But it rained hard while we were there, and our most memorable experience was trying not to fall down on the wet marble pavements.

But I do recommend Aphrodisias, about four hours through the mountains from Bodrum, and hardly ever visited. In ancient times, this was the provincial capital of Caria, and its sudden destruction by an earthquake in the 7th century – plus the quality of the marble used for its construction – has left ruins of great freshness and magnificence. The reconstructed gateway to the Temple of Aphrodite is particularly impressive, as is the partially reconstructed Temple of the Emperors. There is also an immense stadium on the outskirts of the city, part of which, I regret to say, was partitioned off in later antiquity for gladiatorial combats.

On all my visits to the ruined cities of what used to be Asia Minor, I have been struck by the great wealth of the region. Judging the wealth of past ages by modern standards is a worthless activity. But I do not think Western Europe had anything until fairly recently to compare with the civic life of the Asiatic Provinces of the Roman Empire. I will not boast about my knowledge of the ancient languages. I have much trouble with reading inscriptions. The ancients never separated words, and used many abbreviations that I am not learned enough to understand. But I was struck by the fact that almost every carved block in Aphrodisias is covered in writing – dedications, funerary inscriptions, public memorials: this was a civilisation based on the written word, and those who carved their words into stone did so in the assurance that their civilisation would last to the end of time. It is both interesting and melancholy to walk streets that once swarmed with people, and to wonder how London or Paris might appear to the travellers of some remote future in which our own civilisation has also passed away.

Because, yet again, we arrived rather late in the day, we had to hurry about the city. We missed the public baths and the theatre. However, we did find time to look in the museum. This is well worth seeing. Perhaps its most interesting exhibit is a statue of a Governor set up in about the year 500. I had never before seen a public statue from so late a time in antiquity, and, though much influenced by the stiffness of Christian art, this shows a strong survival of the classical tradition. For this alone, the trip was worth the drive.

We have been twice to Pamukkale, anciently known as Hierapolis. Both times, we arrived late and without any hope of seeing the whole of what was once a large city – a large city surrounded by one of the biggest cemeteries in the world. Mrs Gabb, on both occasions, was much taken with the limestone deposits that have given the whole site the appearance of a snow field. I was more interested in the bizarre paganism of the city. This was a centre for the worship of Cybele, whose priests would castrate themselves in a religious frenzy. They were notable for their visits to the Plutonium, which is a fissure in the rocks through which poisonous gas escapes. Though more visited than Aphrodisias, This is also far less crowded than Ephesus, and repays a visit.

One day, we shall pay visits to Miletus and to Laodicea. It would also be interesting to find some Turkish towns that have not been stripped of their old charm by modern development.

I could say much more. I could go into detail about the immense hospitality shown by Professor Hoppe and by his wife Gülcin Imre. I could mention the meals, the visit to the fishing village, the boat trip, and all the rest. However, this has already been a long article, and Stephan Kinsella has already written at length about these things. And so, I commend Turkey and the Hotel Karia Princess. And I commend Hans-Hermann Hoppe and the Property and Freedom Society. Long may their salon continue to shine from Bodrum!

NB—Sean Gabb’s book, Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, and How to Get It Back, can be downloaded for free from

Sean Gabb, Speech in Bodrum on the Second World War

Free Life Commentary,
A Personal View from
The Director of the Libertarian Alliance
Issue Number 194
15th June 2010
Linking url:
Available for debate on LA Blog at  

Chamberlain, Churchill and World War II:
Reflections on Factual and Counterfactual History.
A Speech to the 2010 Conference of the
Property and Freedom Society
by Sean Gabb



This is not actually the speech that I gave in Bodrum. That was a shorter affair and was given without this text in front of me. I am not very good at reading from a text. It makes my voice even flatter and duller than it naturally is. Even so, I do find it useful to have something written in advance. This allows me to get straight in my head what I want to say, and parts of the structure and wording stay in my head. It is also useful to have as proof that what I am saying has not been made up on the spur of the moment. Therefore, the video to which I link is somewhat different from this slab of text, and may be worth watching in its own right.

I am, by the way, converting and uploading videos of all the speeches from this most remarkable of conferences. These will be made available through the Multimedia page on the Libertarian Alliance Website.


PFS 2010 – Sean Gabb on the Second World War from Sean Gabb on Vimeo.

I could make this an entirely conventional speech about what a disaster the Second World War was for humanity, and how much better it would have been had we all managed somehow to avoid fighting it. However, bearing in mind the present audience, I do not think I should be saying anything original or challenging. For those who are interested in a conventional argument, I attach as an appendix to my speech a review article that I wrote several years ago. What I want to do instead is to explore how the world might have appeared in 1960 had there been no Second World War.

Why do this? you may ask, and why choose 1960? The answer is that my dear friend Richard Blake is now ahead of his contracted schedule. His Blood of Alexandria will come out next Thursday the 10th June 2010. The next in the series, Sword of Damascus, was offered a few weeks ago as an unrevised first draft, and was accepted without any need for changes. This means that time he had set aside for rewriting can now be given so some other project. He could write another novel about the Byzantine Empire, but has decided instead to write about something completely different.  

Mr Blake has for many years been impressed by Continue reading

Cobden Centre Lecture (Plus Free Food & Drink!)

The Cobden Centre

For honest money and social progress
The Cobden Centre is delighted to invite you to its Annual Lecture and Drinks Reception to be held on Wednesday 9 June 2010 between 6.30pm and 9.00pm at the National Liberal Club, On Whitehall Place, London SW1
(nearest tube station: Embankment).
The Emperor’s New Clothes:
How to Pay off the National Debt and Give a 28.5% Tax Cut
Toby Baxendale

Toby Baxendale is Chairman of The Cobden Centre and a graduate of the London School of Economics. Dedicated to furthering the teaching of the Austrian School of Economics, he and his colleagues are passionate about reviving the Great Manchester School of Cobden and Bright. Toby is an entrepreneur who owns a company that is Britain’s largest fresh fish supplier to the catering trade. He also has active interests in several charities and is a Magistrate and an Ironman triathlete. 

The dress code for this event is lounge suit or small casual.
To confirm your attendance please RSVP Dr. Helen Evans at

Sean on Telly Yesterday

by Sean Gabb

Dear All,

I made a brief appearance yesterday on BBC1’s “The Big Question”, where I
argued that voting should not be made compulsory. Here is the relevant

On Saturday the 6th March 2010, I recorded a long interview with Al Gore’s
television station all about the decriminalisation of incest. Stand by for
news about where to find this.

Tomorrow morning, I shall be interviewed by BBC Radio Bristol about CCTV
cameras. I will upload the recording of this shortly after.

On the 17th March 2010, I shall be talking to Haberdashers’ Aske’s school
for boys all about libertarianism.

On the 24th April 2010, I shall be speaking at this event:

Saturday 17th April 2010
2.30pm to 4.30pm

Carrs Lane, Birmingham B4 7SX
10 minutes walk from city centre New Street station.
See website for directions

Who Speaks for the People of Britain?

In the Chair
Chairman, Campaign for an Independent Britain


Director The Libertarian Alliance

The Taxpayers Alliance, West Midlands

Vice-Chairman Campaign for an Independent Britain & organiser of General
Election “Candidate 2010″

Published by The Campaign for an Independent Britain For 35 years,CIB has led efforts to safeguard our
nation’s sovereignty. We are a democratic, independent and strictly
remaining a non-party political pressure group, supported by membership
subscriptions and donations from members of the public. Our objective is
Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union whilst maintaining trading
and friendly relations with other countries

. Enquiries 07092 857684

Antoine Clarke: Can a Libertarian also be a Conservative?

Can a Libertarian Also be a Conservative?
Antoine Clarke

Political Notes No. 195

ISSN 0267-7059 (print)
ISSN 2042-2776 (online)
     ISBN: 9781856376228

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

© 2010: Libertarian Alliance; Antoine Clarke.

Antoine Clarke graduated in Philosophy from Birkbeck College, University of London, and completed his Baccalauréat in Economics and Social Sciences at the French Lyçée Charles de Gaulle in London.  He is currently studying for a Masters in Business Administration at The Open University.  Has written about currency competition and free banking for the Libertarian Alliance and the Adam Smith Institute.  He is a former member of the Slovak Republic Prime Minister’s Policy Unit in Bratislava and economic and political advisor to the Finance Minister of the Slovak Republic in 1991.  A journalist and communications expert, he has worked for media outlets in the UK, France and Spain, and is fluent in English and French.  This essay is a slightly edited version of the winner of the Libertarian Alliance’s 2009 Chris R. Tame Memorial Prize: “Can a Libertarian also be a Conservative?”

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.


“At all times sincere friends of freedom have been rare, and its triumphs have been due to minorities, that have prevailed by associating themselves with auxiliaries whose objects often differed from their own; and this association, which is always dangerous, has sometimes been disastrous, by giving to opponents just grounds of opposition.”

Lord Acton, cited by F.A. Hayek1


An informal alliance between conservatives and libertarians, especially in the United Kingdom, can be said to have started with Winston Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech in March 1946, and ended with the abolition of the Federation of Conservative Students in 1986 because of its take over by libertarian activists and the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1989 to 1991.  The abolition of the FCS marked the moment when the Thatcherite part of the Conservative Party preferred to abort its own intellectual future, rather than continue what had been a fairly successful alliance against the idea of big government, at home and abroad.

The alliance, as often in history, was based on the perception of a common external enemy, Soviet imperialism, as well as the internal threat of socialist economic policies of nationalization and central planning.  There was also the sense in the United Kingdom at least, that the social engineering experiment of the welfare state was an assault on freedom, whether liberty was valued for being ancient and traditional, or for being the expression of individual freedom of self-actualisation.

There was some disagreement on what to do about the Cold War.  The British Conservatives were often more opposed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation because of the subservient position that the UK was placed in relation to the United States of America.  British libertarians, in stark contrast with most of their US counterparts, tended to be more favourable to fighting a global crusade against communism.

On the welfare state, conservative paternalism was reluctant to “abandon” the poor to their own initiative.  Chris R Tame, the Libertarian Alliance’s founder put the conservative view of libertarianism thus:

“The average classical-liberal sympathising conservative puts our ideology in a liberty versus order straightjacket, where freedom is seen to be achieved at a cost in social order and security, and where those values can only be achieved at the price of liberty.  This is a typically conservative viewpoint in which freedom and order are in tension with one another, and the remedy for social chaos is the state.”  2

In the USA, the experiences of isolationism, the Pearl Harbor attack of December 7th 1941 and the Vietnam War exerted diverging pressures on any libertarian/conservative alliance on foreign policy.  However, a coalition of what two British commentators termed “Sun Belt conservatism” and a religious opposition to the secularist/welfarist “liberalism” from the 1930s’ New Deal to the 1960s’ Great Society, gathered pace from the dynamic but electorally unsuccessful 1964 Barry Goldwater campaign, to what became known as “The Right Nation.”3


The modern libertarian movement is a fusion of several historic intellectual traditions, with a style that generally embraces human progress and the liberating aspects of technology.  Traditionally, conservatism could be seen as the long struggle against the enlightenment, taking a sceptical view of human nature which is either explained in terms of Original Sin or a distrust of rationalism.  Dr Tame, in an interview with the current LA President, Tim Evans, expressed the optimism of the libertarian position as: “We’re extreme rationalists…  Death and Taxes, we’re against BOTH of them!”4  The libertarian tends to oppose God’s plan, sees the Enlightenment and its economic outcome—the Industrial Revolution—as the most tremendous liberating force in 2,000 years, and flatly rejects Thomas Hobbes’ scepticism about what free individuals will get up to without a night-watchman state to keep them in line.

Roger Scruton, formerly the editor of the Salisbury Review and Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, the University of London, set out the conservative objection to the Enlightenment’s humanism in a Wall Street Journal article in 1996, titled “Godless Conservatism.”5

Professor Scruton wrote:

“There is a growing tendency among American conservatives to blame society’s present condition not merely on liberals but on the secular and skeptical philosophy of the Enlightenment, from which modern liberalism descends.  As conservatives see it, the constant questioning of established beliefs and authorities has set us upon a path that has anarchy as its only destination.  Many conservatives therefore suggest that we must repudiate the Enlightenment and reaffirm the thing against which the Enlightenment stood: organized religion.”

He added:

“it is not hard to sympathize.  Religious belief fills our world with an authority that cannot be questioned and from which all our duties flow.  Yet there is something despondent in the search for a religious solution to the problems of secular society.  All too often the search is conducted in a spirit of despair by people who are as infected by the surrounding nihilism as those whose behavior they wish to rectify.  Their message is simple: ‘God is dead—but don’t spread it around.’  Such words can be whispered among friends but not broadcast to the multitude.”6

Professor Scruton and Dr Tame would have agreed on almost every issue of significance during the 1970s and 1980s: the economy, the harm caused by socialism, the Cold War, the “battle of ideas,” yet the philosophical underpinning of their positions was almost entirely opposite.  This would not matter so long as the target for their attention was the same and the solution, if only by coincidence, was broadly the same: to support the underground civil society of Soviet colonies, to oppose socialism performed by Conservative politicians, the importance of the statement of ideas and their debate.

Yet as with such coalition projects as the French Revolution, harmonious relations would struggle to  last beyond the achievement of power or the disappearance of the common enemy.  Here, one of the striking differences between the British and US coalitions can be found.  According to John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolridge, in philosophical terms, classical conservatism, as formulated by Edmund Burke, “might be crudely reduced to six principles.”

These are:

  • a deep suspicion of the power of the state;
  • a preference for liberty over equality;
  • patriotism;
  • a belief in established institutions and hierarchies;
  • scepticism about the idea of progress; and
  • elitism.

Micklethwait and Woolbridge argue that:

“to simplify a little, the exceptionalism of modern American conservatism lies in its exaggeration of the first three of Burke’s principles and contradiction of the last three.  The American Right exhibits a far deeper hostility toward the state than any other modern conservative party.  How many European conservatives would display bumper stickers saying ‘I love my country but I hate my government’?”7

The result is that American conservatives tend to display more openness to human progress, making an alliance with some libertarians possible (it may also help to explain the poor performance of the US Libertarian Party since 1972).  The American conservative movement tends to take a classical liberal approach to Burke’s last three principles: hierarchy, pessimism and elitism.  The heroes of modern American conservatism tend to be the same as for libertarians: rugged individualists who don’t know their place and defer to class status, the self-made businessman, or settlers on the Western frontier.

As Mickeltwait and Woolbridge put it:

“the geography of conservatism also helps to explain its optimism rather than pessimism.  In the war between the Dynamo and the Virgin, as Henry Adams characterized the battle between progress and tradition, most American conservatives are on the side of the Dynamo.  They think that the world offers all sorts of wonderful possibilities.  And they feel that the only thing that is preventing people from attaining these possibilities is the dead liberal hand of the past.”8

A more modern representation of this cleavage can be found in the writings of Virginia Postrel, especially her best-selling work, The Future and Its Enemies.9  She replaces the left-right cleavage with one based on the notions of people as either “dynamists” or “stasists.”

Sean Gabb, the Libertarian Alliance’s Director, is perhaps the best known British advocate of “libertarian conservatism,” a body of beliefs that consists of harking back to the days when a British subject could spend virtually his or her entire life with no contact with government or its services except when visiting a Post Office.  Although he did not use the term in his 1974 book, The Offshore Islanders,10 Paul Johnson remarked that English history can be seen as a succession of conservative revolutions, largely attempting to restore ancient liberties, in marked contrast with the French Revolution of 1789 for example, which aimed to create a new order, to the point of creating a decimal calendar with 10-day weeks and 10-hour days with new names for the months.11  The contrast between the ancient liberties of Englishmen (a near approximation of the libertarian ideal) is defended in the name of both its liberalism and its rooting in history.

One example of how these forces are fused in Dr Gabb’s activism has been the 15-year campaign against national identity cards, which has in no way been deflected according to which political party (Conservative or Labour) has held office in the UK.12

Dr Gabb wrote:

“I believe, however, that there is more to ‘rolling back the frontiers of the State’ than paying regard to economic indicators alone.  It is not enough to control the money supply and deregulate the unemployed back into work.  It is necessary to roll back the frontiers in social and political matters as well.  My ideal England—the England that largely existed before 1914—is one in which individuals and groups of individuals are free to pursue their ends, constrained only by a minimal framework of laws.”

“I have no doubt that an identity card scheme would be absolutely fatal to the realising of this ideal—even the ‘voluntary’ scheme that Mr [Michael] Howard proposes for the moment.  It would undermine the half-open society in which we now live.  Given the technology that will soon be available, it would allow the erection of the most complete despotism that ever existed in these islands.  I am astonished that such a scheme could be put forward by a government that dares call itself Conservative.  It is a betrayal not merely of the libertarian and classical liberal wings of the Party, but also of the most reactionary High Toryism.  I will not argue whether this is socialism by other means.  But it is undoubtedly collectivist.”

The problem appears to be that there is a type of modern Conservative who really does not believe in God, natural rights, the virtue of ancient customs, or spontaneous order.  I came across this position in 2002, in a series of discussions on-line with Peter Cuthbertson, who at least has the credit of being one the very early pioneers of conservative blogging in the UK.  One could argue that this was a continuation of the debate between a Lockean and a Hobbesian in the 17th century.  Under the title ‘Is there an Act of Parliament for Table Manners?’13  I wrote:

“I don’t normally respond publicly to comments, but I will make an exception.  Peter Cutbertson has a blog called Conservative Commentary, it is certainly better than the Conservative Party’s website.  He thinks that this conclusion I made makes me insane:

‘The problem for British libertarians is that they aren’t really used to the idea that the state really is our enemy.  This is one reason why I don’t think that the UK withdrawing from the European Union is an automatic recipe for joy.’

In the exchange which follows he appears to believe that ‘without law or government’ society cannot function, and those who disagree with him are ‘insane’ or follow ‘an incoherent, warped political philosophy’.”

I continued

“However, it amazes me that Mr Cuthbertson cannot see that law doesn’t necessarily derive from government.  For a start, any conservative who believes in God ought to consider the possibility that there is a higher authority than the State.  Assuming atheism (which isn’t very conservative, but hey, who’s being coherent?), I should have hoped that a conservative might believe in the organic, spontaneous order of common law.  Assuming God doesn’t exist, and the common law is a fiction (sounds more like a French Jacobin!), what has Mr Cuthbertson done with civil society?  Is it true that members of the Carlton Club only behave because of the fear of being arrested by the police?  Does the members’ code of conduct depend on the State for its existence and enforcement?  Is there an Act of Parliament for table manners?”


In presenting the major philosophical differences between conservatism and libertarianism, I am conscious of one potential fallacy to the negative prognosis: a marriage doesn’t have to be perfect to be successful.  Within each of the tribes, conservative and libertarian, there are numerous differences of opinion, often underpinned by a complete opposite fundamental principle.

There is the obvious problem of abortion.  To one school of libertarian, the woman’s right to choose is absolute and rooted in the idea of self-ownership of our bodies.  Surely no one could argue against that!  But other libertarians argue that there is a point at which a foetus is more than merely a type of cancer tumour, to be charged rent or evicted.  They may root their argument in the concept of a natural right to life from the moment or conception, or 10 weeks, or 20 weeks of pregnancy.  If it is wrong to kill someone who is in a temporary coma, or remove their organs without consent, and also wrong to do the same to a mute or a child who has not yet developed speech, why is it acceptable for a being that has some degree of consciousness and would surely develop all the human attributes of sentience and free will?

Another issue is the transitional state.  Even if all libertarians were anarchists, and many are not, what of the national debt?  Should it be defaulted in full at once?  Should government promises of pensions be treated as the promises of extortionists and therefore have no contractual force?  Are Bank of England notes to be rejected in the Libertarian Year Zero?  Or collaborators with the “bureaucrato-feudalist régime”shot?

One starts doubting whether one can even properly speak of a libertarian position, given the multitude of factions (which have a tendency to denounce each other as “deviant” in a not always deliberate self-parody of the Popular Judean Front of Monty Python’s Life of Brian).  However, it should be noted that the same cleavages exist in any ideological school, whether it be socialism, conservatism or liberalism, so it would be wrong to worry too much about libertarianism’s diverse origins and blueprints for a good society.

Conservatism can mean the support of a theocratic society, the restoration of absolutist monarchy, opposition to post-Leninist reforms in the Soviet Union, support for the use of tanks against student protestors, opposition to homosexuality, the support for free trade, protectionism, the abolition of drug prohibition or its resolute enforcement.  Conservatives are split on abortion, taxes, the National Health Service and whether London should have got the 2012 Olympic Games.


Libertarians and conservatives have many vehement (not violent) disagreements and it is fair to say that each side’s vision of heaven on Earth could be considered hellish to the other.  Yet within each tribe, there are people who have as much in common with each other as with their own tribes.  One thinks of prostitution, abortion and the death penalty, to name just three examples.

Because both a conservative and a libertarian have a degree of scepticism about the power of the State “to make things right,” it is very likely that opportunities for defensive joint action will emerge from time to time.  Conservatives will tend to see their role as reigning in the enthusiasm of libertarians for technology as a liberating force for humanity.  Libertarians will see their role as giving the conservatives a kick up the backside for their passive acceptance of inevitable defeat.

However, it is probably worth keeping in mind the words of Lord Acton, concerning the challenge of ideological alliances which opened this essay:

“At all times sincere friends of freedom have been rare, and its triumphs have been due to minorities, that have prevailed by associating themselves with auxiliaries whose objects often differed from their own; and this association, which is always dangerous, has sometimes been disastrous, by giving to opponents just grounds of opposition.”

Each party to the alliance, libertarian and conservative, regards the other as a sometimes embarrassing auxiliary.


(1)F.A. Hayek, ‘Why I Am Not a Conservative’, in The Constitution of Liberty, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1960.

(2) Chris Tame & Gerry Frost, Libertarianism Versus Conservatism: A Debate, Libertarian Alliance Pamphlet No. 14, 1989, retrieved 1st December 2009,

(3)John Micklethwait & Adrian Wooldridge, The Right Nation: Why America is Different, Penguin, 2005.

(4)Tim Evans, Maggies’s Militants, video produced as part of a PhD thesis, published as Conservative radicalism: A Sociology of Conservative Party Youth Structures and Libertarianism 1970-1992, Berghahn Books, Oxford, 1995.

(5)Roger Scruton, ‘Godless Conservatism’, The Wall Street Journal, Friday, April 5th 1996, p. 8.


(7)Micklethwait & Woodridge, op cit.


(9)Virginia Postrel, The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise and Progress, The Free Press, 1998.

(10)Paul Johnson, The Offshore Islanders: England’s People from Roman Occupation to the Present, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1972.

(11) ‘French Republican Calendar’, 26th November 2009, retrieved 2nd December 2009,

(12)Sean Gabb, A Libertarian Conservative Case

Against identity Cards, Libertarian Alliance Political Notes No. 98, 1994,

(13)Antoine Clarke, ‘Is there an Act of Parliament for Table Manners?’, Samizdata blog, 30th November 2002, retrieved 1st December 2009,

oh Chris Mounsey: Speech to LA Conference

Bah! How do I get Vimeo videos to show in preview boxes? I’ve followed the WordPress advise several times now, and this is the best I can do. Can someone please advise me?

Director’s Bulletin, 9th November 2009


Director’s Bulletin
9th November 2009

I would have written this Bulletin several weeks ago. However, I can supply many excuses for not having lifted a finger. The most convincing – and perhaps the truest – is that I have been installing Windows 7 Professional 64 bit. Mr Gates wrote to me at the beginning of October, offering me a copy of his latest operating software at the hard to refuse price of £30. So I paid him and downloaded the software. Installing it went like a dream. I didn’t have to download a single driver. It then took several weeks to get the whole system working as I wanted. But I have now been able to fit 8Gb of RAM and give myself what may be more computing power than NASA had in 1969. Many of my friends are hostile to the idea of intellectual property rights. So, for that matter, am I. No doubt, though, Mr Gates does make exceedingly good software. On this occasion, he well deserved his £30. So here goes with the Bulletin.

The LA Conference

Our London conference went off very well. As usual, we were solidly booked, and we had to turn away a few last minute arrivals. The speeches were uniformly good. Guido Fawkes gave an interesting and entertaining speech at the dinner. This year, moreover, we seem to have got the video recording right. I bought a Canon HG10 high definition video camera late last year. This gave me something like television quality video footage. As with all cheapish video cameras, however, the sound quality was rather drossy. So, a few weeks back, I bought a Rode external microphone. This perked the sound up no end. I didn’t get round to hiring the builders’ lights that I kept promising myself. Even so, I think the quality of the video footage is remarkably good. Many thanks to Mario Huet for manning the camera.

You can see the video footage for yourselves by going here:

Other Video Files

Now that I can process high definition video at better than real time speeds, I’ve decided to start taking full advantage of the Vimeo account I bought earlier this year, and to upload much better versions of stuff I first made available via Google Video. So please keep an eye on my Vimeo account – I plan to upload 5Gb a week of video. This will include the celebrated Botsford Archive.

The Chris R. Tame Memorial Prize

You may recall that this year’s title was “Can a Libertarian also be a Conservative?” I had a number of interesting submissions. After much thought, I decided to award the prize to Antoine Clarke. I thought his submission was the best. What most impressed me was that he went beyond the reading matter that I suggested, and he used a quotation from Lord Acton in a most relevant way. We shall publish his essay just as soon as our Editorial Director has found the time to set to work.

Personal Message

At the Conference, I met two people who turned out to be neighbours of mine here in Deal. One of them must walk past my front door every time he goes to the chip shop. Well, with the Baby Bear now jabbering away and insisting on endless viewings of Eddie Cantor in Keep Young and Beautiful and Melina Mercouri in τα παιδιά του Πειραιά (both courtesy of YouTube), Mrs Gabb and I aren’t up to much entertaining. But we can certainly offer coffee. So do please get in touch.

Libertarian Outreach

In the past month, I have written articles for Gay Times and for VDare. The first was about drug legalisation. Sadly, Gay Times doesn’t put it stuff on-line. So, if you want to read my case, you’ll have to put on dark glasses and brave the giggles of Miss Patel in her school uniform as you shamble round your local newsagent – unless, of course, you already subscribe. The second you can read here:

I’m rather pleased with this and with my other articles for VDare. What I’m trying to do is to make a case against the British National Party that doesn’t rely on smears. I don’t believe the BNP is nowadays a national socialist party. Much of what it says – and almost certainly believes – is attractive to millions of people in this country. I admire Nick Griffin for his courage for standing his ground in our post-modern police state. I doubt if I’d be half so brave were Libertarianism to become as unpopular with the authorities as white nationalism is. This being said, he and the entire leadership of the BNP are tainted by what they used to believe. It would be a shame if they were to become the only alternative to the political cartel that now governs England. And I am able to say this to an audience that has not so far been exposed to honest criticism of the BNP.

Other than this, I’ve done quite a lot of radio. And I do promise, now my computer is so wonderfully powerful, to start recording and uploading all this again.

Libertarian Alliance Meetings

Our friends over at the other Libertarian Alliance continue with their monthly meetings. I can hardly ever get up to London to attend these. But they always look very interesting, and I receive endless reports of how interesting they have been.

The next meetings are:

On Monday, 9 November David McDonagh will talk on “Why Classical Liberalism faded after 1860.”
On Monday 14 December, Kristian Niemietz will talk on “20 Years After: The Fall and Rise of Socialism in East Germany”
On Monday 11 January 2010 Antoine Clarke will talk on “The Wisdom of Crowds”.

Contact David McDonagh for details:

Libertarian Holidays

With my two women, I went on holiday in September to Crete. This was my own fifth time there, and Mrs Gabb’s second. This was the first time we had a child with us, and that would always have made it a more difficult time. However, the Baby Bear behaved herself remarkably well. Our problem was the Greeks. They joined the Euro on the basis of massive false accounting, and an optimistic rate of exchange, and then allowed an inflation of costs to continue that has now made their price level into a joke. A result of this was that Crete was almost empty of tourists. Most of the coastal resorts were almost empty. The historical and archaeological sites were abandoned. Unfortunately, rather than cut prices in an attempt to attract the remaining business, the response of the taverna proprietors has been to rip off every foreigner who steps through the door. We spent a fortnight paying about three times more for indifferent kebabs than the Turks round the corner charge here in Deal.

Also, I find myself increasingly dismissive of the modern Greeks. When I was first out there in 1987, I found that they could mostly understand me if I spoke slowly in their strange pronunciation. Nowadays, they seem so pleased with the ugly patois they call Greek that they cannot even follow quotations from the New Testament. Indeed, on our second Sunday, I insisted on attending a church service. The church was empty except for some German tourists. The priest responded to my carefully phrased greeting with the sort of stare you get from a caged animal. He and his deacon raced through the service as if they were trying for a record, then ran out of the church. Mrs Gabb and I stayed awhile to look at some decidedly sub-Byzantine icons and much evidence of mind-rotting superstition. Then we went shopping.

No, my dear readers, if you want a holiday in the Mediterranean, my advice is to avoid Greece. The people nowadays are too degenerate and the prices too high. A better place by far is Bodrum in Turkey. The Turks in general are a fine people – proud and clean and brave. Bodrum in particular is a superb holiday resort. Within a five hour radius of the places, you have Ephesus, Miletus, Hierapolis, Laodicea and Aphrodisias, and many other places of note. There are golf courses, shops, watersports, bars, restaurants, and at least two branches of the Migros supermarket. The moderately Islamic government there has decided to squeeze the taxpayers with high duties on drink. But cigarettes are still a pound a packet, and the Turkish police usually leave foreign tourists alone who break the Euro-style public smoking ban.

And the jewel of Bodrum, in my view, is the Hotel Karia Princess. Owned and run by libertarians, this is a five star establishment, boasting a swimming pool, gymnasium, Turkish bath and some of the best cuisine in the Eastern Mediterranean:

The summer season in Bodrum can be rather oppressive, wherever you choose to stay. But, outside the summer season, I can think of no better place to stay than the Hotel Karia Princess. Try it out. If you haven’t been there already – and I have stayed there four times now – you will be astonished and delighted. My friend Mr Blake even tells me that, once his Blood of Alexandria has made him filthy rich, he will become a permanent guest there.

Any Other Business?

I think the Libertarian Alliance is holding a Christmas reception in December. Stand by for announcements on this. I shall be speaking to some undergraduates at Warwick University on the 19th November. My subject will be something like “Libertarianism: Left or Right?” I plan, between now and Christmas, to convert twenty audio tapes of interviews that Chris Tame conducted with Ralph Harris and Arthur Seldon and upload these to the Web. I will give much moral support to Mr Blake while he works on The Sword of Damascus, which is a long novel about weapons of mass destruction during the early wars between Byzantium and the Caliphate. Like everything else he writes, this will all be in the best possible taste.

Oh – and is there anyone out there who has a socket 775 quad core processor he no longer wants? Donate this to me, and Mr Blake will send you an autographed copy of his Terror of Constantinople. You may recall that this received a most flattering review in The Daily Telegraph:

Best wishes to all,


Sean Gabb
Director, The Libertarian Alliance
Tel:  07956 472 199  07956 472 199
FREE download of my book – Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, and How to Get It Back
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Director’s Bulletin, 9th November 2009