Sean Gabb, Speech to the London Swinton Circle, London, 24th January 2014

Note: I like my outings to the more traditional areas of the conservative movement. These people often have libertarian prejudices that are not shared by more formally liberal members and clients of the ruling class. They are also more polite in their disagreement. I had a good time last night in London. SIG

On Friday the 24th January 2014, Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, gave a speech to the Swinton Circle. He spoke at The Counting House, which is a pub at the junction of Gracechurch Street and Cornhill in the City of London. The subject was “We are All Guilty: The Need for a Positive Conservative Vision.”

Sean made these points:

  • People on the Right are good at grumbling – and usually about what “others” are doing to our country. The European Union gets blamed, or the immigrants.
  • However, everything bad that has happened has been quietly accepted by the British people. They have never used their still formidablle constitutional rights to stand up and complain effectively.
  • One reason for this might be that the British people are now at the end of a century of dysgenic change, and that the changes we do not welcome are actually fitted to the degraded condition of the people as they now are. As de Maistre said, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.”
  • But another possible reason is that people on the Right have been ineffective as conceiving and arguing for an alternative vision to the one we are given by the ruling class.
  • Most conservatives seem to want a return to about 1954, plus modern medicine and the Internet. But this is not on offer. The institutional arrangements of the past have been swept away, never to be recovered. There is no going back. We can only go forward, and we must explain where we want to go.
  • Before then, however, we should accept that victory is not likely in the foreseeable future. Before we can start waging our side of the culture war, we need effective communities of the like-minded.
  • One thing we can all do is to do business with each other. We should seek out conservative lawyers and accountants and building workers. This does not mean putting up with shoddy goods and services. It simply means that we should start to behave as homosexuals and Jews and Moslems and Mormons and Seventh Day Adventists, and every other cohesive minority group does. This is wholly natural and reasonable behaviour for people who, for whatever reason, do not wish to be atomised within the general population.
  • We need intellectual communities that are bound together by shared values and by commercial interest. We might then find that we are less easy to push round, and that we have greater confidence to push back.
  • Only then can we start planning for a conservative revival.

Note on the Recording

Sean Gabb recorded the debate on his Samsung Galaxy S2 mobile telephone. The microphone used was not very directional, and there is considerable background noise from a busy pub in the City on a Friday night. However, it also managed to pich up the questions and comments from the floor

6 responses to “Sean Gabb, Speech to the London Swinton Circle, London, 24th January 2014

  1. Let us leave aside the weird conspiracy theories that Jews (and others) conspire together in commercial matters. Rather than seeking out the best products and the cheapest prices.

    The United Kingdom, and al major Western nations, face two fundamental problems – and they intertwined.

    The ever growing Welfare State – pushing towards economic de facto (if not legal) bankruptcy, and (perhaps more importantly) social bankruptcy with the destruction of traditional civil society and the rise of dependency hurting the poor most of all.

    Of course as Douglas Carswell and many others have pointed out, the British people did not ask for this – this system (from its tiny start – to its present huge size) has been the creation of collectivist intellectuals and their manipulation of both education and the political system. We know this because they never made any secret of the fact – even boasted of it (in such things as the “Fabian Window”). The people had a vast network of self help and mutual aid institutions (both religious and secular) – these have been among the cultural institutions (most importantly the family) that the out of Welfare State has undermined.

    The other fundamental problem is the credit bubble financial system. A system by which is not primarily from REAL SAVINGS – but is from credit money expansion (leading to boom-busts and other chaos – which is not totally out of control).

    This problems are intertwined because the tax revenue from the credit money bubble “booms” finance the expansion of the Welfare State – for example Mr Brown encouraged the last credit money boom to finance (via tax revenue) his “Tax Credits” (i.e. wage subsidies – rather like Speenhamland but on a bigger scale).

    The fallacy is exposed when boom turns to bust – and tax revenues turn into desperate cries for bailouts.

    What to do about all this?

    Well firstly the United Kingdom must be an independent country (that should almost go without saying – but actually it does need to be said), so that we can do what needs to be done without interference.

    However leaving the European Union is only the start – here Dr Gabb is quite correct.

    Although a century ago the British people did not ask for any of the present mess – over the last century or so they have been educated to expect it.

    “Rights” to positive goods and services – not rights as restrictions on government power, but as excuses for it. And “low interest rates” almost a “right to credit” and a “lifestyle” funded by credit – not making real goods and services.

    The re creation of civil society (of the vast network of cultural institutions – both religious and non religious) depends on changing principles (BELIEFS) it can not be done as a the result of blind social evolution (here F.A. Hayek was fundamentally mistaken) people have to want to do it – and start of with the deliberate intention of restoring civil society – but in a way that will work in present and future circumstances.

    Here again Dr Gabb is fundamentally correct.

    It is the fundamental beliefs of people that need to be challenged and (hopefully) changed in a constructive direction.

    Back room deals are the way of the Fabians – only an open moral crusade stands any hope of success for the pro traditional liberty point of view.

    And only such an effort will provide any real hope for the poor.

    But how?

  2. A pity your recording device cut you short. Having already over-run however, I suppose the chairman was about to wind you down. I thought your voice was clear and I actually enjoyed the back-ground chatter.

    I’m sure you’ll know that Enoch always made sure he needed to pee before starting a talk. Gave the speech a sense of urgency and caused him to focus in on what he most wanted to say before he ‘had to go’.

    Once I’d read that, I understood better how I was drawn to his always urgent delivery and why sometimes he did drift into ranting – which can obviously turn many people off what is being said. Something like when dad gets annoyed because you forgot to clean the car’s wretched wheels.

    Perhaps if you’d needed a pee, you might not have twice run yourself into boggy ground. I enjoyed it though. Sean for PM.

  3. Sean,

    On a practical note: how do you find out ,if your lawyer, dentist etc is a Tory/Libertarian etc. Just asking will lead to people saying yes to get the business.

    • It helps if you already live in a community of your own. To some extent, you do. If you want a lawyer to handle something, or an accountant, the first thing to do is ask here. Because the NHS works rather well in my part of England, I have no recommendations for dentists and doctors. But – while you should never engage people simply on the basis of affinity – it isn’t hard to find competent workmen and professionals you are happy to give money to.

      I have Jewish friends who sigh pitifully when they see how gentile dissidents behave. They know something we don’t about how to survive and flourish in not wholly favourable environments. It isn’t enough to shout “Amen” on blogs like this, or to go to conferences and cheer your favourite speakers. You need to create a movement and to live, so far as possible, within it.

      I feel a long essay coming on.

      • “I feel a long essay coming on.”

        Italian Americans were supposed to be good at surviving in hostile environments as well. You’ll have to include a section on The Sopranos ;-)

  4. To be fair having a lawyer (in the sense of knowing a lawyer who would trust to go to in time of trouble) who is on the same philosophical wavelength as oneself is useful – otherwise it may simply be very difficult to communicate with him or her.

    As for doctors – a doctor who chooses to work outside the NHS is rather likely to be a conservative or libertarian minded person.

    As for the idea of creating a community that is somehow self sustaining (rather than trying to roll back the state in wider society), I do not see how this would work in modern Britain. It sound more like, for example, the State of Utah seceding from the rest of the United States and becoming a conservative independent country.

    But then I do not see how the state can be rolled back in modern Britain – in the present political climate, or how the moral crusade that would be needed to change this political climate, could come to pass.

    Still economic and social breakdown may change this.