by Brian Micklethwait
I know how bored most of my little band of regular readers must be by now with the current travails of the Libertarian Alliance, but I do want to say a few more things on the subject.
I am actually now less pessimistic about the future of the Libertarian Alliance, following this pronouncement by Sean Gabb. I didn’t, in this posting, predict the total collapse of the Libertarian Alliance, as Sean accuses me of doing, but I did fear it as an outside possibility. Here, following this, I expressed more serious pessimism. But in this recent statement, Sean says nothing to suggest that any publications from the era when I did them, or any done since, will disappear, either directly, or by himself going further off the mental rails and therefore hinting at further melt-down for the organisation. This new statement is still rather graceless towards various people, me included, but that won’t matter if the LA continues to do worthwhile libertarian stuff.
The most important bits, I think, in Sean Gabb’s account are his defences against fears that have been expressed that Sean is an English nationalist before he is a libertarian, and an anti-propertarian in the Kevin Carson mould before he is a libertarian. (I have not studied Carson’s ideas, by the way.) Had Sean defended himself by saying that he is an English nationalist and a libertarian, a Carsonite and a libertarian, that would have been very troubling, but happily he did not do this. No English nationalist who really is an English nationalist first and foremost and anything else way behind, were he to read Sean’s statement, could mistake Sean for someone joining him in his nationalist struggle without wanting to influence the intellectual content of that struggle in any way. In general, Sean contests the suspicions expressed about his opinions, rather than agreeing and then redefining libertarianism to mean this other stuff. Good.
One thing in particular that Sean says about Tim Evans is, however, very wrong. Sean accuses Tim of financial misbehaviour. I don’t believe a word of it. I think Tim’s handling of the finances of the LA has been excellent, thoroughly honest, and a great improvement, in terms of money raised and then either stored up or well-spent, over the Tame/Micklethwait regime, and then the Tame/Gabb regime. If Gabb now leads the LA successfully, he will have reason to thank Tim Evans. With luck, this accusation will not be repeated and will soon be forgotten. The danger for Sean, and by extension the LA, is that if this accusation gets more mileage, Tim will be put in the position of having to defend himself by proving Gabb wrong, which I am sure he will be able to do but which could get even messier. Sean would be wise to say no more along these lines. Unless of course he sees sense about Tim’s handling of the LA’s finances and changes his mind, in which case a public but brief apology would be in order.
As for what Sean says directly about me and about the here-today-gone-tomorrow, electronic fish-and-chip-wrapping nature of blogging, well, there is some truth in this. Most blogging, certainly most blogging here, is very forgettable. But that doesn’t mean that it has no impact at all, and certainly not when you add it all up. Blogging, as practised by those who have done it most effectively (Guido Fawkes and Bishop Hill spring to mind – in the USA, Instapundit), is not only here today but is having lasting impact upon tomorrow. I think that Sean’s appeal to those who think blogging is mere fish-and-chip-wrapping sets up a false choice, between on the one hand, most blogging and, on the other hand, the more lasting sorts of intellectual endeavour, such as books that last, academic scholarship that lasts, and the best and most lasting blogs and blog posts. The truth is that blogging of the more chatty sort has its bigger impact by drawing attention towards the more long-lasting stuff. Look no further than Bishop Hill. First a mere libertarian blogger, among many others. Then a specialist blogger about the climate change debate. Then a writer of a best selling book about the climate change debate. Would that book have sold so well, and have had the impact it has already had (let alone all the impact that it will go on having in the future), without all of us fish-and-chip-wrappers telling people about it? Without blogging of any kind, this book would not even have been written.
Anyway, I promised Tim Evans that, if Sean went public with what he had been saying more privately about Tim earlier in the week, I would defend Tim in public. I now rather wish I hadn’t promised this, because such is the internet that even contesting such an accusation risks drawing attention to it. I have now defended Tim. But while doing this, I didn’t want to suggest that nothing else in Sean’s statement mattered, hence the length of this posting.