The Straw Man That Walked Into Conservative Home

The Straw Man That Walked Into Conservative Home Via Simon Cooke, I see Tim Montgomerie has read Wikipedia’s article on a Straw Man argument, and decided to write an article following their template.

The straw man fallacy occurs in the following pattern of argument:

Person 1 has position X.

This being the libertarian (person 1) idea of minimal state spending and interference. No libertarian party worldwide has ever advocated the eradication of the state, just a much-needed and radical reduction in its scope and influence.

Person 2 disregards certain key points of X and instead presents the superficially similar position Y. The position Y is a distorted version of X

In Montgomerie’s case (person 2), the superficially similar (well, it’s not even that) position is ordered anarchism.

A measly 5% chose a libertarian brave new world – which our question described as “a society where individuals are almost completely free of both government control and assistance, and rely entirely on themselves, their families and job creators to make a good society”.

Err, that’s not libertarianism which – in the real world and not Montgomerie’s desperate pro-Cameron fantasy – is overwhelmingly minarchist by nature. It’s, instead, a good description of the ordered anarchy espoused by spotty teens who used to daub a capital A in a circle on public buildings in the mid-1980s. Who mostly used to vote Labour, funnily enough.

Person 2 attacks position Y, concluding that X is false/incorrect/flawed.

And Montgomerie’s attack?

Most voters (95% in this poll) want some role for government. When Conservatives are constantly bashing government it puts middle-of-the-road, moderate people off and it frightens people who depend upon government help for part or all of their income – or who, may be wholly independent today, but who wouldn’t want the safety-net dismantled.

And off he goes arguing against a position which is entirely of his own making – with some quite astonishing contortions of fact – and not remotely recognisable by anyone who lives in the real world.

And that’s the reason why people are not confident in voting Tory anymore. It’s not a libertarian view that they are scared of, in fact a decent majority when it is explained would consider themselves naturally so anyway. They’re not voting Tory anymore because the Westminster-addled cronies, addicted to their opinion polls and vested interests, simply don’t represent anything the public recognise as being useful to the real world they now live in.

Labour went down that road years ago, ceasing to represent the working man and woman properly once Blair and his Shiraz-quaffing Islingtonites got involved. Now Montgomerie proves conclusively that the Tories have decided that they also don’t want to represent the traditional support that brought them many years in government in decades past.

Meanwhile, they talk about voting by text and internet, while scratching their heads and wondering why diminishing numbers can be arsed to wander down the road and put a tick in a box on election day.

Perhaps they might consider that if even their self-installed ‘independent’ supporters are pumping out festering bilge like this, they’re past us making the effort to do anything to support them. What’s the point? They do what they damn well like anyway, whether you like it or not.

Including making up arguments for their own existence which are only fit for being citations at Wikipedia pages on how not to debate with integrity.


11 responses to “The Straw Man That Walked Into Conservative Home

  1. It is fairly pointless reading “Conservative Home” because they have the thing set up so that one can not have proper length replies.

    There is just about enough space for “I do not agree with you” without having the space to explain why

    As for witchhunts against Libertarians – well there has never been an effort to burn me at the stake here in Kettering, in all the decades I have been a member of the Association.

    However, sadly I think that is the “dear old Paul – so eccentric, a libertarian you know” factor.

    If I was important (which I am not) things might be different – at least in the eyes of the national party.

    The Federation of Conservative Students was considered important – so it was destroyed.

    And the people who used a tidal wave of lies to convince Norman T. to close down FCS later turned their dark arts against Mrs Thatcher herself.

    “Who did the Imperial Guard not save the Czar?” – “well you see, most of the pre war Imperial Guard were already dead, they died at the battle of K…”

    It was the same with FCS and Mrs Thatcher – if we had been still about we would have kicked up a big fuss (to put it mildly) when the knives came out for her.

    But we had already been destroyed.

  2. It’s not the metropolitan shits fault that they aren’t winning elections. No, it’s ‘the fringe’ and ‘the far right’, these are the reasons why no-one wants to vote conservative. So we are reminded by the media that we are ‘not mainstream enough’, and have to be more socialist, supportive of the nanny state et al.

    You also end up with stuff like this –
    Not being a supporter of the republicans (minus Ron Paul), this piece is no doubt a good example of divide and conquer race-baiting and tribalism.

  3. JFen

    Rand Paul 2016 – if there is a United States in 2016.

    As the Federal government borrowing figures have come in at 120 billion Dollars for October (22% more than last year) and the “Fiscal Cliff” is really all about tax increases (not government spending reductions) it seems unlikely that the United States will be arround in November 2016.

    Still, just in case.

    Rand Paul 2016.

    • They wont let him have it.

      Although a good comment I was reading over on the Mises forums i’ll quote it here –
      “Modern politics is a game, a game the rich and powerful use to control the masses with pseudo-legitimacy.

      They don’t want a truly free market because it would diminish their control of the masses.

      This is one of the problems with libertarians taking over the repub party. There’s still a great deal of quid pro quo that occurs between politicians and citizens in the process of getting elected and then ruling.

      Libertarians would eliminate all of that. Thus, where would be the incentive for businesses and the wealthy to pay into political campaigns to get them elected? It would be gone.

      And who would reap the reward? Democrats. Because they’re always willing to play the quid pro quo game, and if they’re the only game in town, then those who want to buy favors and privilege will go to them.

      It would be libertarians against all of the businesses in the world and all the poor voting themselves largesse.

      I’s hard to imagine that working out well.”

  4. Most rich people pay very high taxes – only a minority (even of the super rich) do not. And, oddly enough, even some of those rich people who pay very high taxes are in favour of bigger government – Social Justice ideology trumps self interest with some of these people.

    The modern state certainly is not run for the benefit of “the rich” as a class.

    However, to turn to the specfic matter in hand…….

    Win the Iowa Caucus and win the New Hampshire Primary and you are very hard to stop.

    Win neither – and you not going to win the nomination.

    Ron Paul was not cheated of the nomination, no more than Romney was in 2008.

    But, like Romney in 2008, Ron Paul carried on after defeat in Iowa and New Hampshire.

    And in 2016 the world will be a very different place.

    It will be a place of such economic distress and desperation that has not been seen since the 1930s (in fact it will be worse).

    It the election process continues (a big “if” actually) the GOP establishment will be in no condition to stop anyone.

    My fear would be that a populist social conservative (a Santorum type) would take the nomination.

    Gary Johnson makes social conservatives (a very big share of the Republican vote) feel ill.

    But Rand Paul does not.

    There would be no religous campaign against him – as (like Ron Paul) he is “pro life” and so on.

    Rand Paul could defeat a populist.

  5. “They’re not voting Tory anymore because the Westminster-addled cronies, addicted to their opinion polls and vested interests, simply don’t represent anything the public recognize as being useful to the real world they now live in.”

    I have to agree with you. And it is not a national problem. The same thing is happening worldwide. We can observe it in the United States, partly in Canada, and in many other countries. As you correctly assume, many parties became addicted on the opinion polls, creating very strange hybrids without clear prospects and solutions (I do not want to use word ideology).

    Conservative parties are probably the most affected. We have to understand, that from the economical point of view, they believe in small state and low taxes. There is nothing wrong about it, if it is accompanied by effective government (I suggest how to fight economic crisis). But why include sometimes stupid mixture of “values”, which are completely outdated. Yes, promote family, but do not condemn single mothers or homosexuals. Or particularly in American case, the Creationism and sometimes almost stone age beliefs of the conservative Republican politicians. World is much more complicated than that and if they do not realize how to offer solutions, they will be gone.

  6. Historical note.

    The Romney-Ryan campaign was an economy based campaign.

    Not a social issues based campaign – and certainly not a Creationist campaign.

    Any implied claim that Romney-Ryan lost on social issues is undermined by the fact that their campaign was actually economy based.

    By the way even the originial “Fundementalists” (i.e. the authors of the essays in the early 1900s supporting the “Fundementals” opposing the “Social Gospel”) were mostly pro, not anti, the theory of evolution.

    However, today about half of conservative Protestants (somewhat less of conservative Catholics) now oppose the theory – largely because of the moral conclusions drawn from the theory by such things as the American eugenics movement (Planned Parenthood and so on).

    As Hayek pointed out half a century ago – the moral and political concluisions drawn by American Progressives from the theory of evolution are in no way determined by the theory itself.

    A way must be found to save the theory of evolution from the moral and political principles that have been, falsely, claimed to come from it.

  7. Of course had someone like me been advising the Romney-Ryan campaign would have been more economially hard line (vastly so).

    Based on how to save one trillion Dollars (at least) from the Federal budget.

    It is a grim fact that such a libertarian campaign would have lost in every State – all 50.

    This is, I suspect, why Sean Gabb and others (some years ago) gave up the resistance to ever growing Welfare State spending (i.e. gave up the foundation of the libertarian position) as they deemed it to be impossible to win whilst sticking to such an anti “Social Justice” position. In America or the United Kingdom (which Sean tends to call “England” for some reason).

    The problem with such a move (no matter how tactically intelligent it may be) is that it means that the Western World will collapse into de facto bankrupty – economic collapse.

  8. Actually I think the Republicans did lose partly because of socially conservative positions (or at least perceptions of such). US libertarians now need to decide – once and for all – if they are in or out of the Repub party, and then go for it big time: if in (the Repub party), they need to take over the party root and branch and the Libertarian Party would have to agree to fold. If out (ie being the separate Libertarian party) they need to start raising funds – lots! – so they can run a properly funded campaign in 2016. Either way, I feel Gary Johnson would be a far better candidate than Rand Paul: Rand sends confusing signals on some obvious libertarian issues (eg gay marriage), whilst Gary Johnson has a straight-forward message on just about everything including – crucially – a completely different foreign policy.from the current Repubs and Dems. Or maybe someone else will emerge, but whoever it is all the libertarians need to get round that one person and deliver a high-profile campaign from one party platform. Given that probably 2/3 of Americans agree with their policies, this should not be that difficult!

  9. Philip – we already have answers to some of your questions.

    A Libertarian Party has been tried in the United States for more than 40 years – it has clearly failed. The closest it came to success was way back in 1972 when John Hospers got one vote in the Electoral College – because a Elector who was pledged to Nixon was, quite unstandably, so disgusted by the Progressivism of Nixon that he decided he could not vote for him (and looked around for some other candidate to vote for).

    These days the Libertarian Caucus within the Republican Party gets more internet traffic than the Libertarian Party does. But it is going to be very hard for people like Senators Rand Paul and Jeff Flake to defeate the RINOs.

    We also know how successful a candidate Gary Johnson would be – he has just been a candidate and got less than 1% of the vote.

    You raise “social issues” – thus falling into the trap set by the media (and so on). But O.K. I will go into that trap with you.

    “Gay marriage” is nothing to do with the Federal government – which has (or Constitutionally should not have) any such “police power”.

    As for State level politics – whether one man calls another man his “wife” should be nothing to do with any level of government. And neither should private “Gay Marriage Ceremonies” (as long as they are voluntary). Of course government marriage, to a libertarian, should not exist anyway – government should not organise such things.

    However, libertarians must clearly state that no “anti discrimination” doctrine will be followed. If a private individual or group (company, church, club – whatever) does not want to “recognise” these ceremonies that must be up to them.

    Sadly I think you would find that “you can do what you like, but you can not force it on other people” would not win the Progressive votes you might think it would .

    For example, the Gay Marriage financial backers who outspent traditionalists 12 to 1 (12 Dollars for every 1 Dollar that that traditionalists spent) in Washington State would not be interested in such a position.

    They are trial lawyers and other such – they want their “anti discrimination” law suites (indeed that is what they are in this game for).

    There are few libertarian votes to be had from the pro Gay Marriage crowd – they want their anti discrimination money.

    Just as the pro abortion activists want there government financed abortions – and to force (repeat – force) insurance companies to pay for abortions (thus violating freedom of contract).

  10. Phillip – I repeat this “social issues” stuff is a distraction (and a distraction on a massive scale).

    If people can not see that the United States (and the Western world) is going bankrupt – and are obsessed with their pet social issues…..

    Well then I despair.

    “two thirds of the people” agree with libertarian policies?

    Parden me?

    Two thirds of the people agree with getting rid of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps (and on and on)?

    “No I meant social issues”.

    You mean issues that are besides the point? The point being how to prevent bankruptcy, economic breakdown.

    And if you think that “two thirds of the people” are in favour of such things as abortion and “Gay Marriage” you are living in a Hollywood bubble.

    Sorry – but you are.

    Clue it is the education system (the government brainwashing service) and the media (especially the entertainment media) that are most in favour of abortion and Gay stuff.

    They are also the people who are most in favour of expanding (yes expanding) the Welfare State – not rolling it back.

    Why should the people who are most in favour of the state providing everything for everyone (like some “Star Trek: New Generation” stuff) also be the most in favour of destroying all traditional cultural insitutitons and customs and leaving people “atomized individuals” totally dependent upon the state?

    The question answers itself.

    Even back in the 1700s totalitarians understood that to make people totally dependent upon the state, traditional cultural institutions and practices have to be discredited and destroyed.