“Unmanly and unEnglish”
by Sean Gabb
(First Published in The Libertarian Enterprise, 26th August 2012)
Having seen what they can do to others, I generally try to avoid personal disputes. I write this article with some reluctance. But, since I am aware of a directed campaign to blacken my name, I feel that I have no choice but to write it.
I will begin with two attacks on me. The first is from April 2012, and is a FaceBook posting by Ben Lodge, who works for and was posting from the Adam Smith Institute. The second is from August 2012, and is by Paul Marks, and is a comment posted on the Libertarian Alliance blog. I quote from these.
Ben Lodge: DO NOT work with Sean Gabb and the libertarian alliance. I have inside knowledge of why the LA broke up. Sean is a ‘new world order’ type of libertarian, is very anti multiculturalism and is frankly verging on racist and anti semitic….
[T]here’s no need to get advice from new world order nutters. Tim Evans is an anarcho-capitalist who worked for the libertarian alliance, but left due to the aforementioned paleo-libertarianism of sean gabb (ron paul newsletters type stuff, seriously, avoid him). Tim now works with the ASI, which is where I am as I write this.
Paul Marks: You see Sean Gabb OWNS the “Liberartarian Alliance” – he was given it by its Founder (who, like a tragic figure in a Victorian novel, was striken by a terrible illness – and did not clearly see the person who got closest to him for what he really was).
So when Sean Gabb switched sides and started ENABLING people like Kevin Carson rather than FIGHTING them, there was nothing the Board of Libertarian Alliance could do.
A single man owned the majority of the LA – so that was that Most of the board ended up resigning.”
Ben Lodge writes like a fool. Paul Marks is a fool. Their attacks, in themselves, are worthless. But they are not the only attacks. Their only real singularity, widely spaced as they are, and inconsistent in their details, is that they are in writing. They are unauthorised footprints left on the Internet of a campaign that, so far, has been kept to word of mouth. I was made aware of the scale of this campaign in July and August 2012 when speaking with friends in Bratislava, in Vienna, and in Prague. Before then, I had been told that someone in the Brussels office of the UK Independence Party was warning activists to shun me for my “fascist” views. A few months ago, Toby Baxendale, who funds the Cobden Centre, wrote to me with desperate politeness, to ask for all mention of his past donations to be removed from the Libertarian Alliance blog and website. If there is some variation in the campaign, the essentials are the same – that Tim Evans was forced to dissociate himself from me on account of my abhorrent political views.
The problem with allegations of racial hatred – and this is known by those making them – is that no contrary evidence is ever enough to refute them. I could abase myself. I could drool political correctness. I could link to podcasts from all my non-white friends and present and former students. It would be in vain. I will suggest, then, that rather than accept the claims made in telephone calls, or over a dinner table, you should yourself go looking for the positive evidence.
I have, during the past thirty years, published over a million words on politics. These have not been the kind of nuanced pap written by or for ambitious Tory boys. They say exactly what I wanted to say when I wrote them. They were written in haste, and hardly ever revised, and mostly not read over before publishing. They contain statements of opinion that have sometimes caused outrage. Some of them I regret having written, but have been too honest, or perhaps too vain, to suppress. If you believe I am a nazi or a communist, you go through these writings. If you are right, the evidence must be there.
Or there is my fiction. I have so far had seven novels published. These run to another million and a half words. They contain both black and Jewish characters. If I were what Mr Lodge claims I am, you would find some evidence here of racial hatred. Do go and buy them. They are available in all good bookshops.
I do not think you will find anything that would persuade a reasonable man. But, if you do find something, you can write about it on the Libertarian Alliance blog. We do not censor personal attacks on ourselves. Go to our blog, if you like, and search for the graffiti already left there over the years by Paul Marks and Perry de Havilland, among others.
I turn to the claims made by Paul Marks. Save to reject it as false and malicious, and made without knowledge of the relevant facts, I will not discuss the implied claim of undue influence. But the claim that the Libertarian Alliance has published the works of Kevin Carson in defiance of what Chris Tame would have wished is easily disproved.
In September 2005, Chris read or reread Kevin Carson’s Readings in Mutualist Political Economy. I have his approvingly-annotated copy on my shelves. On the 6th January 2006, Chris wrote this to Kevin about his book:
I’m very pleased to see it getting the attention it deserves [in The Journal of Libertarian
Studies], although I hope they wont take a totally negative perspective. My own position, and that of Sean, is that in spite of what we consider to be errors in your outlook, the positive content is of preeminent importance. Libertarian/free market analysis must cut itself free of residual apologetics for actually existing “capitalism”, must refocus on issues of class and power in their distortion of real markets, must re-emphasise class analysis as a central part of its social analysis, must become aware of the core damage to the market (and subsequent distortion) of limited liability and the corporate structure.
I could publish many other comments made by Chris on the “left-libertarians.” But this one is a fair statement of his opinions. Compare it with anything I have said about them. Of course, Chris may have been wrong. I may be wrong. But the issue here is entirely one of continuity.
Why, then, did Tim Evans resign as President of the Libertarian Alliance in February 2011? I gave at the time what I thought was a sufficient answer to this question. In 2006, I gave Tim 49 ordinary shares in the Libertarian Alliance Ltd. Nearly five years later, he noticed that these did not add up to half of the issued shares, and that I had 51 per cent. He demanded equality. I refused. After this, his behaviour became increasingly questionable. I will not go over these events again. I narrated them fully in my earlier publication.
What I did not fully discuss in my earlier publication was why Chris wanted Tim to have only a minority shareholding. I thought this would have been too hurtful, and I did hope that some formal reconciliation might be possible. But I will now quote from the Will of Chris Tame:
SAVE THAT if the said SEAN IVOR GABB shall upon execution of this will find himself owning all the shares in the Libertarian Alliance Limited I direct him within a reasonable time after execution of this will to use whatever device seems most convenient upon his taking the appropriate advice to ensure that a forty nine per cent share in the Libertarian Alliance Limited may be transferred to the ownership of TIMOTHY EDWARD CALVAR EVANS currently of [home
AND FOR THE AVOIDANCE of ambiguity in the execution of the above direction I intend that the said SEAN IVOR GABB shall own a fifty one per cent share in the Libertarian Alliance Limited and that the said TIMOTHY EDWARD CALVAR EVANS shall own a forty nine per cent share in the Libertarian Alliance Limited the purpose of my direction being to ensure that no difference of opinion among the shareholders shall endanger the smooth running of the Libertarian Alliance Limited as a radical and effective campaigning body
I think this shows clearly enough what Chris thought of Tim. He still hoped that Tim would start raising funds for the Libertarian Alliance on the scale that had been promised since 1998, but otherwise distrusted him. He thought some shareholding was appropriate, but was determined that ultimate control of the organisation should rest with someone whose ideological commitment he trusted.
I will not explain the view of Tim Evans that I have formed over a quarter century of close – and closely-recorded – observation. But I will give one further reason why Chris did not want him to have joint control of the Libertarian Alliance.
In the autumn of 2005, it became necessary for Chris to move to London, so he could be close to his cancer hospital. He asked Tim to put him up. “I’ll pay you rent,” he said. The response he expected was: “I wouldn’t hear of charging you rent, Chris. You are one of my dearest and oldest friends. You just take the spare bedroom, and stay there as long as you want.” Instead, Tim announced a rent of £300 a month, and hurried upstairs to his office to prepare a standing order.
Now, you may be one of those libertarians who giggle at the thought of making your children pay for food. If so, you will look up and say: “Oh my God, Sean has become a communist!” Otherwise, you will agree that you do not charge rent to dying friends. You especially do not charge rent when you are yourself in easy circumstances and your friend has not had a regular job for ten years, and is running down his savings in the hope that one of the quacks he is consulting really does have a cure for terminal bone cancer. Chris was shocked and humiliated. For twenty years, he had been introducing Tim to everyone he knew, and giving him unstinting support through various personal crises. His reward, when he had no other friends in London with room to spare, was to be asked to pay the kind of rent that a stranger down the road might have charged. Do you really suppose this merited joint control of the organisation that Chris regarded as the main achievement of his life? Do you now understand why, two years ago, I refused Tim’s demand for an equal shareholding?
When Mr Lodge posted his comments on FaceBook, I complained to Madsen Pirie about the use of his computer systems to promote Tim’s vendetta against me. His indirect and weasely response can only be described as unmanly. This is a word I can extend much wider. Indeed, it covers much of what passes today for the British libertarian movement. There are many reasons why this movement has failed so completely to slow the growth of our corporate police state. I think one of the main reasons, though, has been the average moral quality of those running it. Character matters. You can put on a nice suit. You can learn to sound like a member of the old ruling class. You can even imply, without actually claiming, that you have a military background. But when you display the emotional responses of a spider, and when you conduct your disputes by shuffling about and whispering into the ear of anyone who will listen, while trying to embargo written, and therefore answerable, discussions of the issues in dispute, people do see that on your face. It is unmanly. It is unEnglish. It will, by association, debase an entire body of ideas.
I will close by reminding Tim that he was given his 49 per cent share in the Libertarian Alliance as an incentive to raise funds for the organisation. Now that he has resigned from this function, so far as he ever discharged it, and is willing to allow his friends to spread falsehoods about me, there is no honourable reason why he should retain his holding. I have already asked him in private. I will now ask him in public to return those shares, so they can be allocated to the other officers of the Libertarian Alliance.