Sean Gabb, Speech in Bratislava on Ideological Hegemony

12 responses to “Sean Gabb, Speech in Bratislava on Ideological Hegemony

  1. Interesting, get in under the radar via popular culture.

    The only problem with this is that the Tea Party in the US are blowing this cover with some decidedly non-libertarian views.

  2. I think it is again mainly a problem of money. Television is widly in the hands of the state. And media prodruction is very often somehow financed by taxpayer money. If you, for example want to become a director, you will need to direct some short films that are doing well on film festivals. And most film festivals are somehow financed by the state. That results in the fact that mostly the most political correct film win. Directors of course know that and so competing in who makes the most political correct film.

    So if that should change there need to be production money from libertarians. For example a freedom film festival that rewards libertarian films with money for future projects. If we would have something like that directors would immediatly start producing libertarian film in order to get the money. But since there is little money in this movement, I don’t see that happening.

    If someone knows a good book, for example for children that does not have copyright on it, we could produce audio plays for free download on the internet. I could do the audio production, but I am not good with literature, and I don’t know if there are authors who would give their copyright for this.

  3. An excellent talk, Sean.

    Looking back, although I didn’t associate it with libertarianism at the time- my “conversion” came much later- the Illuminatus trilogy had an enormous influence on my thinking. It was years ago and I can’t to be honest directly remember most of the book, but ideas that stuck with me were the idea of a “right (wing) anarchist” (I’d never heard such a concept before) and the idea of competitive currencies. That latter thing at the time, to somebody who was awash in hegemonic values, seemed barking mad. Money has the Queen’s head on it! But it started me thinking…

    It was also only after I became a libertarian that I realised what a ghastly authoritarian statist Asimov was- I was a great fan in my teens.

    Going along with what you said in your talk, I think there is a great misunderstanding among politics nerds, in that we write political or economic tracts, and hardly anybody reads them, then we bemoan the ignorance and stupidity of the masses. But as you said, hardly anyone read Marx or the Fabians either. Most people aren’t politics nerds and will never want to read Human Action any more than the masses read Keynes’s General Theory, and they never have been.

  4. Christopher Houseman

    A very informative and helpful speech, Sean. Thanks for posting it.
    Do you know of any Libertarian writers and artists circles or clubs? Or are any efforts being made to target members of existing writers’ clubs as invitees to LA meetings, dinners and presentations?

    For my part, I’m happy to try to “talent spot” and promote libertarian ideas among clergy and laity of my acquaintance.

  5. There is one thing that gets me about this speech and others like it: the idea that we have to be publishing literature and doing all sorts of things to achieve the libertarian revolution. Do we “owe” anything to society? Or to the future? Do we have a “moral duty” to do what we can to try to steer society back? Or do we mainly have a duty to ourselves, and if society is not going to be the way we want it, then we can just go and feather our own nests and forget about the big picture? I would totally support everything Dr Gabb is doing – after all he is enjoying himself and making a living at it – but I don’t think he has a moral duty to do what he does if it doesn’t interest him.

    I might take a different tack in a viable nation-state: we could believe that our nation was a contract with generations to come, and hope that our lives’ work had relevance even beyond our deaths. This is the insidious thing about the demographic reconfiguration of our country: it means that eventually our nation will no longer exist; it removes any long-term significance to our actions beyond our lives and those of those who know us.

    And this is the difference with the left: they had a long-term Gramscian strategy. Why? They don’t believe in the nation-state, but the Communists do site themselves in the the forward-stream of history: first of all, their lack of commitment to the national culture means they cannot be written out of history the way we can; and second, the Marxist theories show, to their satisfaction at least, that they, the left, will triumph in the end. This is the doctrine of “inevitability” connected to the “falling rate of profit” etc, etc, etc, replete with the confidence it gives them that socialism will replace capitalism, just as capitalism replaced feudalism.

    It doesn’t make any difference that their theory is wrong – because the managerial state we have today is not bourgeois capitalism at all; they are ultimately positive that they will triumph in the end. It gives their own personal lives significance; it keeps them active even when things are going badly for the socialist cause.

    There are millions of people who might rally to some kind of conservatism or libertarianism who have been demotivated by the experience of living in a state propaganda zone. I might do more myself, but I am always aware that it will make little difference in the end. Can Dr Gabb explain why we SHOULD do our best for the future, even when we ourselves are not getting younger? Is it just because, as Socrates said, an unexamined life is not worth living, or because the campaign and the ideas are interesting, or because the ideas keep us personally unconquered by the state apparatchiks? Or is Dr Gabb assuming the long-term survival of the nation will make our efforts worthwhile? And what if the nation is no longer there in a century’s time? I don’t mean to demotivate readers, but I think the issue of our “moral duty” to do something needs to be aired and discussed.

  6. We should do our best because it is our duty to do what we can for our families and for our nation, and – if in a weaker sense – for all mankind. There are some libertarians who go along with the lefty claim that we are all utterly selfish and uninterested in our fellow men. This is ridiculous. Anyone who were that selfish would not be in a movement like ours. It is not hard, even in places like France, to make a decent living for one, and to live mostly under the radar of the state. Those of us who are in the movment are here because of ideological commitment to the betterment of mankind.

    Men are both selfish and altruistic. Conservatism often comes close, but only libertarianism can fully reconcile these two impulses.

    If we haven’t visibly succeeded in bettering the condition of mankind, that is no reason for giving up, but instead for considering whether we might be doing something wrong.

  7. >>>Men are both selfish and altruistic. Conservatism often comes close, but only libertarianism can fully reconcile these two impulses.

    That’s something for me to think about for a while!

  8. There’s a good selfish reason too. Too fight for libertarianism is to fight for a better life for oneself, and for one’s descendents. It would be nice to be able to wak away and leave our Enemy in the cesspool of their own making; but we havc nowhere to walk away to.

    I am 44 and have long given up hope of living in any State deserving of the description “libertarian”. I do believe it will ultimately triumph, but not in my time frame, unless the secret of immortality gets discovered very soon indeed. But we can still have some effect, for the moment, in blunting the extremity of the Enemy. It may be that had there not been libertarians and our fellow travellers making a noise, and working behind the scenes, the Coalition would have not felt it necessary to abolish the ID Card and ContactPoint programmes. It may be that their economic policies would have been even worse. And there are other areas Libertarians can have an effect in. I think the scandal of the Family Courts is somewhere we need to train what fire we have on, for instance.

    That is, even if we cannot at this stage start making anything better, we can at least make things less bad than they would have been without us.

  9. Ian B – I put it to you that, unless you enjoy making a nuisance of yourself to the powers that be, libertarian activism is an altruistic activity. You do it not because you want to be more free yourself, but because you want freedom for everyone.

    In this country, so long as you keep your head down, and are reasonably lucky, you can already do whatever takes your fancy. you don’t need to pay taxes. You don’t need to obey the worst bad laws. A purely selfish person would simply withdraw from the world. Libertarian activists are driven by the same kind of ideological commitment as drove socialists in the 19th century or the anti-establishment greens and animal rights people of our own age – no hope of personal advancement, only a strong belief in the rightness of our cause.

    There is no need for intellectual somersaults to show that we are rational egoists or whatever.

  10. Sean, that wasn’t my intention, to say that. The OP asked what reason there is to campaign, and my answer was just one answer to that. I do want freedom for everyone, but that is not to deny that I very much want it for myself. That doesn’t make me some Randian nut, it’s just a recognition of what I want.

    I don’t know how many people are altruists. I think the overwhelming majority of campaigners are just trying to make the world they would prefer personally to live in. That is overwhelmingly true of our Enemy. The social reform movement is, and has been since its formation in the nineteenth century, utterly and totally selfish, in the worst kind of way.

    “In this country, so long as you keep your head down, and are reasonably lucky, you can already do whatever takes your fancy. you don’t need to pay taxes. You don’t need to obey the worst bad laws. A purely selfish person would simply withdraw from the world.”

    I don’t agree. It much depends on what you want to do. If you want to take drugs, you can probably get away with it if you are careful, but nonetheless many people do not get away with it. Most people cannot evade taxes. It is very hard to evade censorship laws. A major part of my libertarianism is that I find everyday conditions in Britain increasingly intolerable. I cannot even have a pint and a ciggie in the pub any more and, if the Temperance Movement are not stopped, there will not even be any pubs to not be allowed to smoke in. We cannot simply withdraw.

  11. Didn’t Ayn Rand believe that altruism was for wimps?

  12. “Those of us who are in the movement are here because of ideological commitment to the betterment of mankind.”

    Well, speak for yourself. As for me, also I really wouldn’t mind if mankind is doing well, I am mainly fighting for my own freedom. And I do know a lot of libertarians who think so too. It does not seem to me that the majority of people really want to fight the state. In Germany there was just a survey that over 70% of Germans would like to live in a less free, socialist state. Why should I have an interest in changing their stupid opinion? If they like the state than let them have it. They will reap what they sow. Just leaf me out of it, I don’t want that. And that is where the problem begins. They won’t leaf me out of it, and that is the only reason why I am fighting them.

    And also I like the approach of just trying to ignore the state (certainly more useful than to take part in the political system) I don’t think that this strategy can be 100% satisfying. You will always have to pay a lot of your money to the state one way or another (I don’t know how you think you can avoid paying taxes like VAT) , so you will always get exploited. And if you are trying to hide under the radar of the state you are very limited in your pursuit of happiness. It will not allow you to expend your standard of living beyond a certain point, unless you reach the point where you are among the superrich. No, let us fight for our own freedom and the ones that we love, but not for concepts like nations or mankind. At best this is stupid, at worst a recipe for disaster, because it opens the door for all kind of empirialist people like the neocons who want to bomb people into the glories of western freedom.

    BTW, because of this my favourite libertarian films are “Shenandoah” and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Wallace”. Sadly both are playing in the 19th century.