What shall we do?

David Davis

Look guys.

I sit here, all clever and intelligent, and keyed up to do really really important libertarian stuff, like, er, liberating people. The problem is,

(1) Nobody likes us, anywhere, ever, for we are seen as nerdy wierdos who like freedom, guns and drugs,

(2) We have no guns, not even machine-longbows on large trailers which would be good (can we have some please?) or even a rubber-band catapult to rub between us,

(3) The Booby-See won’t air us. It will only put up Sean Gabb, who is their favourite “extreme right wing” Patsie, at whom it is permissible to throw stuff at the wireless. And only on the radio (if it put him on the telly, we might win and they can’t allow that. He is quite good-looking.)

We can blog at each other, like we do every day, till we are blue in the face like the hair-rinses of Old Tory Widows. It is very nice. It is a substitute for action to recover liberty. This is why libertarian blogs are closing down at the rate of…oh…about 1 every 2,000 days. (We work in long timescales, lefties! Beware! We will KNOW YOU in 200,000 years, even if you are dead, and we shall charge your descendents for Gordon Brown’s debts. With interest, compound.)

Obo the clown went down a few days ago. It’s sad, he was funny, he used naughty words which perennially-upset the GramscoStaliNazis every day, and he wished Harriet Harman to be raped and murdered (later), but he will be replaced by someone else in the Fyrd, who will occupy his space in the Shieldwall.

But I can’t help thinking that this sort of thing is not really the answer.

38 responses to “What shall we do?

  1. I’m sorry: I don’t know why my byline was “green”.

    “Lessons have been learned…”best practice” has been updated in the light of new studies…. it will not happen to the nation’s children again….

  2. Andrew Withers (LPUK)

    I have just put the first of my platform ideas up as potential party leader for the LPUK on the lpuk blog, thoughts welcome

    Part of which is spread the load, and form alliances with anybody that will create a more environmentally friendly atmosphere for Liberty to thrive.

    Hey, I have been on the Beeboid three times in as many months on radio and on a BBC TV politics programme as party deputy leader.

  3. I agree that this blog is preaching to the converted. I don’t think the British people are willing to be free – there was a pro-serfdom rebellion in 19th century Germany, as people like the security of unfreedom. Watch the Jeremy Kyle show and then tell me the people want freedom? Sorry to depress you, but we’re in for the long haul. Read Juvenal’s Satires for an equivalent period.

  4. Have hope! 2 years ago I was flailing around in political no-man’s-land – then via a lucky google link to Sean Gabbs legendary speech to the young conservatives I discovered this site and have been an avid follower ever since. Suppose the problem might be lack of awareness – I stumbled across you rather randomly and so maybe you need a marketing plan. But then again I would say that – I work in marketing!!!!

  5. @Andre
    Please help us then.

    I know a lot about marketing, having run businesses in London, and also having been a “brand manager” in the 70s when you really really needed to know your marketing, and also a “marketing group head” in Allen Brady and Marsh (advertising agents very very famous chappies).

    I am prepared to believe that still, 90% of the people of the UK are not aware of libertarians. Indeed, I would be surprised if our “prompted awareness” figure (do you guys still talk about that sort of stuff?) is over 1% . In the 1970s, the difference between “prompted” and “umprompted” awareness was often the death or reprive of a “creative group”.

    The “creatives” were mostly druggies. The “writers” smoked cannabis, and the “art directors” used LSD. I doubt that is allowed to be the case now. This is why I could never get my “creatives” after lunch on a weekday in the office.

  6. Is SGs speech to the young conservatives available in video form?

  7. @Andre
    I’m not joking.

  8. In 1991, we could have zapped socialism, totally, off the planet. It was an evanescence, a floating skin, blowable away by the wind.

    But instead, Taki had a party to celebrate the end of it, with yachts and girls and sex and all that delicious stuff, and so socialism found out that we were not really that serious at all, as enemies.

    So, here we are.

  9. Ahhhhh, the good ol’ days. Sadly things have changed a little – coffee has replaced LSD and coffee has replaced cannabis. Maybe a guerilla campaign might be effective – stickering up anything that is remotely seen to be suffocating civil liberties with a pointer to the website. Tube ads, billboards, road signs – you name it!!!

  10. C H Ingoldby

    One tip is to find an issue that will have public traction and then campaign heavily and persistently on it. rguing about principles and reason will only get you so far.

    Find a case of government overreach, preferably with some unresponsive and obviously unpleasant officials who can be easily identified in the public eye as the ‘baddies’ and some telegenic victims of that government action.

    People form their opinions according to emotion, not reason. Find a campaigning point and flog it like a dead horse.

  11. Hmm. In my estimation we are at a point in the socio-political cycle where things appear more hopeless than they are. The current cycle began in about 1970 (obviously an approximation) with a reaction against 20th century social liberalism. The clever thing was the reactionaries clustered on the “Left” to appear radical; they rewrote marxism and rewrote the social rules to suit their agenda, in the process interestingly enough giving Marxism its final death blow.

    What we have now is a new set of social rules- a new Victorian Era of intense moral coercion- and they are at that point where they still seem new enough to be radical- and thus appealing to young radicals- and have not reached the stage where a majority hate them and want rid of them. So what we can do now is to gain those friends and supporters and allies that we can, in no expectation of winning next week. But we can also do the vitally useful ideological work of understanding our Enemy and understanding what went wrong last time- how for instance the general liberal hedonism of the sixties could so rapidly be subverted into social ultra-authoritarianism.

    We need to build on Sean’s important theoretical work regarding ideological hegemony, understanding where the marxist analysis is flawed (and we know it is flawed, because the marxist where themselves subverted, which would be funny if it wasn’t so serious) and develop a post-post-marxist strategy based on the understanding of moral hegemony, which is how our society is modified by campaigners- if we imagine it as a moral control panel, a campaigner changes the society by twiddling the moral dials upon which people base their understanding of the world and their decisions. By twiddling dials like “tolerance” and “compassion” and “fairness” and so on, one changes the world. Or, at least, the Anglosphere.

    So the best thing any libertarian can do is buy my book what I haven’t wrote yet, explaining all this, and then we can look forward to walking forward into the broad sunlit uplands of freedom. But not next week. It’ll take a little longer than that :)

    Seriously, stop thinking like a libertarian, and start thinking like a moralist. Moralists always win in the Anglosphere. That is how it’s done.

  12. Ok, here is a practical idea.

    How about setting up a Libertarian video sharing site. A sort of LibertyTube.

    We complain when videos are pulled from YouTube, why not have a LibertyTube? It would be excellent publicity, drawing peoples attention to the existence of Libertarianism as well as serving a useful purpose in protecting free speech.

  13. I’ve just started a new blog and understand your concern. However, you say:

    “We can blog at each other, like we do every day, till we are blue in the face”

    the way I see it this is the wrong approach. The blogosphere allows us to blog to others, every day, until they’re red in the face. Instead of (or as well as) blogging for each other, let’s blog against those who oppose us. Let’s find their posts and challenge them. Let’s make it very difficult for them to ignore us by linking their posts, leaving comments and directly challenging their claims? This is what I hope to do at any rate.

    Also, it may be beneficial to drop all the swearing all the time :)

  14. I think maybe I am very negative in my posts, as I tell it how it is as regards where we are politically. I saw Jared Taylor’s obituary of Joe Sobran at http://www.vdare.com/taylor/101001_sobran.htm – he wrote:

    “It was this light touch, this sparkle that, I believe, lifted Joe’s writing from the merely admirable to the genuinely great. I write too, but if I really care about something, I get grimly serious, and the sentences scowl. Not Joe. He cared deeply about things—Lord, how he cared—but he could write about the most awful stuff with sentences that smiled. This was a gift Joe shared with only a very few: men like H. L. Mencken and Mark Twain. I rarely envy a man’s writing, but I envied Joe’s.”

    To that extent, humour and keeping things light can actually be a useful tool to deal with the current elite. We need to mock them, not get upset by them.

    The problem is that I can’t do this well. Things are happening so fast and I am getting more curmudgeonly as a result. Did you read that some pupils in London now have their lessons long distance over the Internet, with the teachers based in India? And I am paying for this! The only macabre fun I can get out of it is seeing the teaching unions howl – they all support multiculturalism, and so they lack a language to oppose being replaced by teachers based in another culture… Er, serves them right? But this is the stuff that real anger can be based on. We need to turn our oppositi0n into something fun, funny, light, light-hearted, but not all of us can necessarily help with that in the right way.

  15. Perhaps we should try the Konkin approach and engage in some lovely counter economics?

  16. We have to establish what the barriers are; pretty sure lack of awareness is a huge part of the problem. Hijacking blogs / comment sections on mainstream media would be a start. But then we need to reach the common man. This will be the toughest challenge.

    Can anyone here sing? The X Factor would be the perfect vehicle for our message………

  17. I’ll keep on working to develop social innovations which enable the maximization of negative as well as positive liberties. I don’t think that negative-only systems are desireable or saleable. Too many unlibertarian characteristics.


  18. C H Ingoldby

    Tony, what on Earth do you mean by that?

  19. Do you understand the difference between positive and negative liberties? Do you grasp the desireability of having both the absence of constraint in what you do and having the means to do it?


  20. C H Ingoldby

    I certainly do understand the difference between positive and negative liberties.

    I just don’t understand what you actually intent to do when you state that ”I’ll keep on working to develop social innovations which enable the maximization of negative as well as positive liberties.”

    Care to explain?

  21. I think the problem here is you just destroyed any credibility you might otherwise have with the phrase, `He is quite good-looking’ in relation to Sean Gabb! Clearly a sign of someone out of touch with reality.

  22. Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.

  23. Howard R Gray

    The way forward is to continue what you are doing; it isn’t pointless in any way at all. The problem is that progress is rather like watching a kettle boil or seeing the hand move on a clock, you know it will boil soon and it will shortly be time for tea.
    I visit the blog at least once a week, sometimes every day when there is a topic to follow, comments are appended as and when I am sparked off to do so. I am sure no one takes much notice of what I have to say but they will note that people are active on the blog and that is what counts.
    Moving too fast didn’t help with FCS; the LA was seen as a threat and dealt with accordingly. Libertarians are not practical revolutionaries; we at least have learned how those usually turn out, so let us not work to create such debacles, leave that to the left, after all that is what they are good for not much else. The left, much like dogs chasing cars, when they catch up with the car they have no idea what to do with it, much like the left when they gain power, they don’t have a single policy idea that works…ever! The libertarian cause, in the short run, is to prevent them chasing power by discrediting their ideas and putting a political leash on their ambitions.
    The Fabians and the radial left Gramscians have concentrated for a century or more on the art of subversion rather than revolution, to such an extent that they hold the high ground of the unelected government (Civil service and local government service), the academy, large slices of the old print and broadcast media but little else besides all that. They have fortunately, failed abjectly to understand wealth creation, spontaneous orders and tacit knowledge, all keys to prosperity. Most of all, they don’t understand that these concepts are antithetical to socialism, wealth somehow just springs out of nowhere to them like the golden goose with eggs that keep on coming. For them capturing the ship of state is the objective, sharing out the largess to their friends etc. is what they do. The problem is the golden goose can and does fly away leaving the ship of state to rot and sink. Bummer! John Gault might be a myth, but innovation and wealth creation is very fugitive and soon deserts the statist robbers when they acquire the castle keep.
    The libertarian duty is to share the ideas of wealth creation, negate the left wing myths about sharing the cake rather in contradistinction to libertarian ideas of baking more cakes. The libertarian project is largely corrosive in the early stages where we are now; our job is grind down the old ideas and discredit them once and for all, providing and testing alternative ideas is important but will become more relevant after the current public debate is changed in its direction. It is vital to promulgate the idea that government is just a corporation with special privileges, it might be best if it were abolished or limited to the municipal police function and not much else, all ideas far from easy to promulgate to a public used to the heroin or crack cocaine of entitlements. The paradigm needs to be shifted and will be.
    It will be years before liberty is the yardstick of political life. Just existing is enough in the short run; it will be years before our long march through the institutions begins to place people near the levers of power, or creates those with personal wealth large enough to affect the outcome of political campaigns. Patience is the word folks, while action might appear to achieve little now it will profoundly influence the outcome. Imagine if we never existed?
    The prime duty, as I see it, of the Libertarian Alliance is to just exist and that ain’t easy. Perhaps as time passes, others with money or time will show up to fund marketing or other schemes to advance the cause. It doesn’t preclude looking for it but it may be a while before the message is out there for all to hear. The LA blog is excellent both in content and in advocacy of the cause, there was a time it didn’t exist, and there was also a time when there wasn’t a web site either. Now we have both, there is a vast library of pamphlets on a huge range of topics easily accessible to all. A truly amazing achievement by any standards, I remember when none of it existed at all, scary…very scary!
    I suspect that the next stage is to start online TV stations or some form of comment outlet that can be viewed, perhaps start to run on line salons with conference software where evening time or week end time can be used to meet up over the internet. The media section of the web site is just a beginning; it is fascinating to view David Botsford’s archive let alone the annual conferences. There are hours of viewing, a gift to those who need to get up to speed quickly with the latest controversies in the libertarian firmament. Here’s the point, there is almost nowhere else with all this fine material readily available, a truly immense achievement.
    The Libertarian Party of the UK is where the debate may move towards increasing public notice; the LA on the other hand is where the more astute LPUK members will move to learn the foundations of why such ideas have credence. The battle is only beginning. My message is take heart; we have only just set out on a generational journey. After all, had the LA not existed there would be no Libertarian Party of the UK.

  24. A simplistic response would be: “To develop the means to have more cakes and to distribute the cakes as widely as possible.” This is not the place or the time to elaborate, but such arrangements are both possible and desireable. Indeed, they are necessary if we are to weaken the unjust obstacles to liberty, and move as fast and as far as possible towards a more fully free and open society. More “Win-Win” outcomes.


    PS: And this is not confined to the economic realm.

  25. Howard;

    Your post is rather good. However, I rather think you err in thinking that wealth-creation activity is carried on by an elite. Even Rand noticed that “The Men of the Board” were seriously lacking in creative zeal and ability.


    PS: The FCS fiasco was the proximate reason why I withdrew from active participation in the LA. Most of the FCS types weren’t libertarian as far as I could discern from talking with them, and I thought Chris (and perhaps Brian) were deluding themselves, to be honest. There was an element of pretext in the aggressive description of them as ‘libertarians.’ Not the LA’s most brightly shining hour.

  26. I’m not sure if anyone will get this far down the comment string, but I believe it is imperative to seize back the word liberal. A large section of the demos consider themselves liberal, and indeed they are in a variety of social ways, but not with regard to economics.

    Rather than seeing these people as the stooges of the left, and in doing so, allowing that to be the case, we have to win them over, using the common ground that exists. There’s no point kicking around with old tories, hoping they’ll sober up and purge the fabians from their party leadership. Even if they did, we’ll be no closer to liberty.

  27. Trooper, I’ve just being saying much the same over at James Delingpole’s Telegraph blog. The word “liberal” isn’t a lost cause yet- indeed the perjorative “Neoliberal” is still used by lefties attacking 1980s economics.

    We’re going to have to make libertarianism the radicalism of choice instead of this constant behaviour of libertarians aiming shotguns deliberately at their own feet by trying to call themselves conservatives. For fuck’s sake, Hayek said it years ago, and Hayek wasn’t some stereotypical hippie. Liberalism is radical, not conservative. How the hell anyone hopes to get the young energetic things with the free time for activism and enthusiasm to do it that every movement needs when it’s allying itself with crusty old conservatives God alone knows.

  28. Ian B,

    We can learn a great deal from our brethren across the Atlantic, but need to be aware of the subtle differences in political nomenclature.

    We have a heritage, the great liberal tradition belongs to us, and it’s time we drove these imposters off our territory.

  29. Howard R Gray

    I was surprised by the comment about the suggestion I thought there was a need for elites. It didn’t feature in my mind, though I suppose it could be implied from what I said, nevertheless it wasn’t intended. Those unintended consequences again, shucks! Isn’t the LA somewhat elitist, after all don’t we know what is to be done to avoid the dustbin of history? I very much hope so.

    Sean Gabb’s latest on the blog about market socialists is fascinating and is a case in point about the need for thorough discourse about the problems we face in demonstrating what we are about. Without a place to deal with the finer points of the cause the cause may wither and die. The LA serves a very important and essential role in providing weight to the debates amongst each other and those who are not libertarians, at least we may be better understood.

    LPUK is now deals with the marketing of libertarianism to the nation by way of encouraging people to vote for a libertarian party and its policy objectives. That being said, we can now observe if Chris Tame is right about libertarian parties being a bad idea in principle. As you said, it wasn’t our finest moment when the LA tried entryism a la “Militant” into the Tory party. Personally I think the libertarian party will open the debate about a number of matters that will influence the other parties in the election game. Hopefully they might steal some of the idea the LPUK are putting out there. Without the LA none of that would have happened.

    Here in New Hampshire there is mass entryism going on with those who believe they can take over the political discourse of the whole state and some of the local governments, to an extent that libertarian recipes can be tried out for real in state and local politics. Maybe there will be pies or cakes of a more libertarian flavour soon. If it will be any good or not we shall have to wait and see.

    It isn’t so much about elites it is about coherency in the message that might or might not employ elitism to succeed. Not sure I like that.

  30. Cameron looked up in No. 10 during a love-making session with Nick Clegg, and saw a hand write on the wall:


    MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.

    TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.

    PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

    One could add, “not just the Persians, but to ever other ethnic group trying to gatecrash the country”.

  31. C H Ingoldby

    To a certain extent this thread illustrates some fundamental problems with the Libertarian movement.

    We are asked for practical suggestions to spread the ideals and we respond with a lot of theoretical discussion. We really are the most impractical bunch with our heads in the clouds.

  32. Probably the most useful thing “we” could do; and by this I mean somebody other than me with the skills and financial backing; is to create some type of general media.

    The majority of propaganda is indirect. The newspapers supply a constant source of statist propaganda, but not overtly. 99% of the Daily Mail is guff; celebrity “news” and general news and so on, but woven through it is a generally statist message which bursts out occasionally overtly in a “BAN THIS EVIL STUFF NOW” campaign.

    Blogging only appeals as it stands to a small segment of the population who are overtly political. It does not reach the masses. We need to provide media sources- places people go for the news, the weather, gossip, pictures of pretty girls or what have you that interweaves libertarianism in the same way as the interwoven politics in the Daily Mail, Times or Guardian.

    That is something very useful that we could do. The internet should be an ideal platform for that; but it will require some group of people with the skills and financial backing to get it off the ground. It should not be called “Libertarian News”. It should be generic, like The Daily Stuff. Or The Daily Internets. Or something. But it should contain far, far more other stuff than libertarian agitprop. It should be mostly gossip and gardening, holiday supplements and how to spruce up your spare bedroom and Man Bites Dog. We must recognise that our target audience is those who don’t give a stuff about political analysis.

  33. @ Ian B

    Think you’re bang on there. Subliminal messaging is key – harnessing the power of emotion. We’d have plenty of material.

  34. The primary thing is money. We’re libertarians. If we don’t understand that, God help us.

    We need organisations whose primary job is money. Trusts, fundraisers, what have you. Professional people who sit in an office all day raising money and distributing it to libertarian causes and campaigns. The Left are awash with such organisations. Where are ours?

  35. Howard R Gray

    On second and third thoughts Tony, you were quite right to draw out the point about elitists, it is a vital issue very relevant to those who push ideas us included, we and they had better be well aware about the outcome and, most of all, about the unintended consequences.

    On mulling over elitism, there is one massive difference between the left elitists and any that might inhabit the LA realm it is this, the Weathermen had no problem in the 60’s in considering the mass murder of at least 25 million souls; I trust that no such ideas should enter the heads of any libertarians or libertarian conservatives ever!

    The existence of the LA is perhaps our best bulwark against the fantasies of the left that just might become policy. To date eugenics and mass murder are not that far beneath the surface of the socialist mind set. How come murderers are feted for reprieve but unborn children are summarily executed by forceps and scalpel without benefit of law? Virginia Ironside’s bon mot about snuffing out the odd unhappy sick child seems apposite to this point. More to the point, give euthanasia a chance under governments and it will sooner or later move on to select those judged by the great and the good, and the cleverest of us, as “unfit” to live, following the Fabian George Bernard Shaw who had absolutely no worries, as they say down under, in putting the socially useless, in their judgment, six feet under!

  36. Howard;

    The elites I was primarily referring to were “The Men of the Board”, the capitalist oligarchs who owe their positions to internal politicking rather than creative track records. As Rand noted, these people make poor defendants of the fundamental rights and liberties of all the rest of us. (Rand was a gifted Romantic writer as she was an inadequate philosopher. in many respects).


  37. C H Ingoldby

    A bit off topic, but i think Rand was a bloody awful writer.

    Her characterisations were completely stereotypical and her grasp of human relations and emotions was seriously weird.

    Anyway, you are right about the ‘men of the board’ who are basically rent seekers. The last thing they want is freedom and competition.

  38. My mention of Rand was merely an attribution for the “Men of the Board” idea.