Sean Gabb on The Moral Maze, 19th March 2014 Flash Animation

Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, contributing to BBC Radio 4 programme, The Moral Maze, the 19th March 2014.

The Panel were:

Claire Fox
Michael Portillo
Giles Fraser
Anne McElvoy

The Witnesses were:

Ian Driver – Green Party Councillor for Thanet District Council Dr Sean Gabb – Director of the Libertarian Alliance. Writer, broadcaster and academic Kathy Gyngell – Editor of the newly-launched ‘Conservative Woman’ website Dr Finn Mackay – The Centre for Gender & Violence Research at the University of Bristol

Answering questions from the Panel, Sean Gabb made these points:

  • There has been no libertarian progress in England over the past quarter century. Homosexuals are no longer persecuted because they are an effective interest group, not because libertarians have won any arguments. Once we look away from this admittedly welcome liberalisation – to the rights of smokers and shooters and DIY enthusiasts, for instance, or of anyone trying to run a business – we see a significant growth of state oppression since about 1988.
  • There can be no crime where there is no identifiable victim. The resulting pseudo-crimes are simply unjust commands.
  • If we want a more orderly society, we should more effectively police existing laws against aggressions – not make laws against acts that may or may not be preparatory to aggressions.
  • The problem with anyone who wants state regulation is that he is calling for power to be given to people he doesn’t know, who are not accountable to him, who may not share his values, and who will eventually use that power in ways that he finds shocking.
  • [To Giles Fraser] You have clearly defined the main difference between libertarians and authoritarians. You believe that, without a mass of criminal laws to constrain from every direction, people will behave like beasts. I do not share your belief.
  • Looking at English history, there is no correlation between order and authoritarianism. The authoritarian state under which we live is a recent construct. Before 1914, there were no controls on guns or drugs. England before then was not a notably chaotic place in need of close regulation.

The above link is to an edited version of the programme. It mostly confines itself to points made by or about Sean Gabb. The whole programme can be found here.

25 responses to “Sean Gabb on The Moral Maze, 19th March 2014

  1. Sean was good as ever, Fraser a fulminating buffoon. But it’s the fulminating buffoons who win the day.

  2. The Somali bullshit again. A large–prob the largest part of what violence there may be in Somalia is cause by arrogant, authoritarian twats battling it out to try and form a gubmint–ie to gain a monopoly of violence in a given geographic area so that they can steal from and lord it over the rest of the population.

  3. The fact that libertarianism works for one race of people doesn’t necessarily mean it works for all. All that can be said with certainty is that Britain was a relatively orderly and peaceful place a century ago. Two massive demographic differences: the population was virtually all of one race, and that race was white Northern European.

    • Concerned Briton

      I understand and agree with what you are saying Rob, and I have actually tried to argue it here many times on previous occasions.

      Unfortunately, in general, it seems that libertarians often fail to take into account group dynamics, race-realism, the importance of homogeneity etc – and thus fail to realise that ignoring these things in favour of abstract constructs (such as “values” and “culture”) will only serve towards signing the death warrant of Libertarianism everywhere.

      The “open borders” types (that occasionally feature in articles here. though they tend to be Americans) especially refuse to even consider such things – and thus tend to slip inside some fantasy world where some great libertarian society can be constructed in which all these other driving factors are magically erased.

      Thankfully, I find the people here are good enough to generally tolerate these kinds of suggestions without going into some form of hysteria, lol. People here may not agree with what we are suggesting, but they are usually adult enough to have a discussion about it in a sensible way.

      I tend to have libertarian leanings, but I would not really define myself as an out and out libertarian as I cannot help but buffers on it when I think it is harmful to wider society and our interests as a race and nation.

      I cannot stand the snooping, the nannying, the over reaching arm of the state, the meddling, the busy-bodies, the thought police, that people can be locked away for five years for making sick or ‘offensive’ comments on public transport, on youtube videos or on facebook (no matter who made them), teachers even banning packs of mini-cheddars from a child’s lunch-box their parents have provided, the “nudging” psychology in general, the overturning of double- jeopardy, secret courts, and so on.

      With all these things I am with the libertarians. However, there are many areas upon which we will part course.

      • I think it’s normal for any British patriot to have libertarian sympathies, in the sense that he would reject the increasingly intrusive laws that are turning his country into a totalitarian state. Most of what is branded “libertarianism” would have been mainstream political opinion in England a hundred years ago or less, e,g. the right to freedom of expression and to defend one’s person and property, etc. I don’t this great system was the result of an abstract formula which can be replicated anywhere among any people (although parts of it no doubt can be). It’s rooted in the ethnic character of the people.

  4. Julie near Chicago

    Yes, Sean, very good.

    I’m not clear on which of the women it was, but one of them also seemed quite sensible.

    Rob, do you locate the difference between Then and Now in the fact of physical racial characteristics, or in the fact that Northern Europeans (who only happen to be of the Caucasian–“white”–race) have over the course of millenia developed a culture in which respect for persons is the norm?

    • Julie, my guess is that race and culture are inseparable. The culture developed by white Europeans is probably shaped by their racial characteristics (and in turn favours people with those characteristics, so there’s a feedback loop). If you were to replace the population of Britain with that of Somalia or Pakistan, and supply the newcomers with the facilities to avail themselves of the whole body of English Common Law, I’d say you’d still end up with Somalia or Pakistan respectively, transplanted to Britain.

      • Julie near Chicago


        Thanks for your reply.

        But in the first place, Pakistanis are mostly of the same race as White Northern Europeans: we are all Caucasian. (That’s why I phrased my question as I did, because I wondered if you are using some definition of “race” other than the standard, or at least the current, one.)

        I’m not clear on the racial makeup of Somalia, but I thought I’d read that they have considerable Arab blood. To whatever extent that’s true, they too are Caucasian, as are the Semitic peoples.

        Now, if you transplanted Pakistanis or Somalians wholesale to England (and put the existing English, or British, elsewhere), I agree that it would take them a long time to absorb the ethos of English Common Law into their worldview, their natural way of looking at things, and for their society to reflect this new understanding–if, indeed, they ever did.

        But not because of “racial” differences, but because of cultural ones; and note that 100 generations hence there would mostly likely still survive traces of their cultural inheritance. (Just as Ian claims has happened in Northern Europe: Cultural outlook and traditions from before even the coming of Græco-Roman and Judeo-Christian, i.e. Oriental, societies still lives in our own worldview. But Ian’s conclusion is that this is all that saves us from Perdition.)

        But just as many American Negroes are perfectly fine Americans despite the unfortunate condition of their ancestors, and their Negro blood notwithstanding, I can’t see any reason why Pakis or Somalis wouldn’t make perfectly good British, provided they or their ancestors came in some small proportion to live in an existing HEALTHY British society.

        To me it’s obvious that the “parent” culture has tremendous influence over the worldview and conduct of its offspring, and it’s even possible that there are certain physical racial characteristics that might have some influence over the same; but, for example, I understand that British Negroes are mostly perfectly well-assimilated Brits. (Or were, before the onslaught of Fabianism, Communism, Progressivism, and their common and highly toxic Identity Politics.) And in general I don’t see that race, and especially not “race” properly understood, has got much to do with a group’s worldview or culture or political practice, practically speaking.

        Often enough a group’s members are ideologically committed to destroying–in whole or in its uncongenial parts–the society in which they find themselves, and this may be based on their common ethnic origins; but that certainly is secondary to the damage to British society that was caused by the “white, Northern European,” Leftist groups I mentioned above.

        I continue to believe that were it not for the Left, who are specifically the enemies of true Western liberalism (in the original sense), the anti-Westerners from Africa and Asia would have found a strong liberal society in which it would have been very difficult for them to cause much of a problem. In other words, the structure was greatly weakened from within before people came along to swing wrecking balls.

  5. The other question is whether we developed that over millennia, or whether it’s a pre-existent cultural trait from antiquity. My own opinion (I am I think in a minority of one here) is that it is the latter, which has struggled on and survived the waves of orientalist collectivism that have washed over us from the judaeo-christian-graeco-roman whatnottery. Which would mean, on an optimsitic note, that it’s probably strong enough to survive this latest wave, but on a pessimistic note that would rely on the natives not being demographically obliterated.

    I don’t think it’s “race” in a biological sense myself, more a “deep culture” thing.

  6. Hard to (honestly) argue with anything that Dr Gabb writes in this post.

    As for Somalia – it is a Civil War between various would-be governments. It is radically dishonest for the collectivists to present this as a example of libertarianism. They might as well declare that the United States in the period 1861 to 1865 was an example of libertarianism, or that England in the 1640s was an example of libertarianism.

    As for “race and culture” – there is no such thing as “white reason” or “black reason” any more than there is any such thing as “capitalist reason” or “proletarian reason”. As Ludwig Von Mises pointed out both National Socialism and Marxism are based on polylogism (the idea that there is no universal reason – no universal laws of thought and universal laws of reality). This is just wrong – flat wrong. As Carl Menger showed in the “War of Method” with the German “Historical School”, the laws of political economy are universal – they are nothing to do with “class”, “race” or “historical period”. If policy (“culture” if you like) violates the laws of reality than that policy will have bad consequences. This is true for an individual (“I do not need to save for my old age – goods and services will appear in my home by magic”) or for a government (“printing more money increases real wealth”).

    In reality we have far more in common with black people such as Walter Williams or Thomas Sowell, than we have in common with white people such as Adolf Hitler and Joe Stalin.

    What matters are the ideas someone believes in (whether these ideas are right or wrong), not the colour of their skin.

    None of the above should be taken to mean that “culture does not matter” or that (for HISTORICAL NOT GENETIC reasons) different cultures are (on average) associated with different ethnic groups. For how different ethnic “ethnic cultures” do matter – see Thomas Sowell “Ethnic America”

    For British examples – see the differences between (average) Hindu behaviour and South Asian origin (i.e. genetically the same) Muslim behaviour – it is quite different (a different culture).

    Or see the difference between how black British immigrants from Africa behave (for example their school performance) and the behaviour of Black British immigrants from the West Indies behave (for example how their school performance is, on average, inferior to that of black people from Africa).

  7. Julie near Chicago

    Paul, over here the general belief is that West Indian Negroes fit into mainstream American society (understand and adopt the prevailing American social norms) BETTER than those of African or part-African ancestry who grow up here.

    At least, on average.

    I wonder if that’s still true if you compare newly-immigrant West Indian Negroes and native-born American middle-class Negroes or part-African ancestry.


    Of course, the fact that American culture has changed so much, to the glorification of Victim Groups, the exculpation of wrongdoers amongst them because they ARE of a Recognized Victim Group, and to the Entitlement expectations that seem so pervasive — how much of the differences we see among racial or ethnic-racial groups and subgroups is actually because of that.

    One does recall that the Negro family was MORE, rather than less, likely to be intact as late as the ’50’s.

    Speaking of which … because it IS pertinent to the racial/cultural issue … I do hope and trust that everybody’s read Edward Spalton’s short paper “Strands of Evil,” to which Frank Davis kindly provided the link a day or two ago:

  8. Yes Julie – that is a point that Thomas Sowell also makes, That immigrant blacks (including from the West Indies) do much better in the United States than native born blacks. Hard to see how there could be a “genetic” explanation for this.

    Also how can “genetics” explain the CULTURAL COLLAPSE there has been among American blacks since the late 1940s and 1950s – with an explosion of births out of wedlock, welfare dependence, and so on.

    What happened – some sort of massive mutation in the DNA of American blacks making them “genetically” different from their grandparents in say 1948?

    Culture is not determined by biology – indeed “cultural evolution” was understood in the 1700s (by the Scottish Enlightenment thinkers) . The modern obsession with biology is often misleading.

    As Walter Williams often says – “I am glad that I was educated before it became fashionable to like black people – it means that my qualifications are real”.

    The government obsession with “helping” black people has caused terrible harm (in many ways).

  9. Julie near Chicago

    *Snarl* “The Government” is surely obsessed with black people, but I’m not so sure it’s obsessed with *helping* them. It’s gotten to where everybody’s obsessed with black people, politically speaking. It’s hard to feel that Govt. is obsessed with anything but itself and its gravy train (power and money and megalomaniacal plans to run the rest of us like its private, personal toy trains, constrained to stay on tracks laid out, provided, and maintained (or not) by it. Especially now.

    Black people are just part of the gravy train.

    “F*** the blacks, I’ll have them voting Democratic for the next 40 years,” was LBJ’s alleged private statement.

    The 40 years will be up in 2016. I hope to goodness we don’t get stuck with Shrill, but some people are talking about Mayor Hatchetface. Across the aisle, I have read that Rand Paul is edging into the Reputblican Establishment camp and has Karl Rove as one of his campaign advisors. Dunno if this is true, haven’t had any long intimate chats with the Senator lately.

    Yes, I’m sure it was Dr. Sowell’s’ discussion of the West Indian Negroes that prompted my remark. I did read his “Black Rednecks” book. Very interesting.

    I’m downright fond of Dr. Williams. :>) Another smart man.

  10. Some of the statists are sincere Julie – and some of them are cynical.

    The effects of statism are the same – regardless of the intentions.

  11. Julie near Chicago

    I don’t doubt the sincerity of some of the Progressives past and present–indeed, probably of most of them, especially the earlier ones. I imagine that among other things they were starstruck by the idea of the Glorious Things they could accomplish.

    Probably true of the everyday gents practicing suttee, too, and even the Aztecs who were all in favor of eating the heart of a living human every so often.

    And the Muslims male and female who practice Shari’ah murder are probably mostly perfectly sincere.

    (I will admit to being overcome by a rush of outrage last night, but as a matter of fact I was perfectly sincere in what I wrote, and now that I’ve had my coffee I stand by it.)

    Nevertheless, Paul, I’m not going to string all “Statists” up by the thumbs, no matter how much vitriol I spray about. Fear not, cowering in the dark somewhere in here there is a kinder, gentler girl. (For example, despite certain faults, I don’t hate or despise GWB–I think he deserves some respect.)

    Unlike the Sith. Although I must say that more and more I take him less and less personally, so to speak, and more and more as a natural disaster that needs to be dealt with in a prompt but coolly rational, practical fashion in order to avoid utter destruction.

    No doubt someone hereabouts can solve the problem. :>)

    • Julie near Chicago

      I don’t know about that, Paul. You were the one who pointed out that some of the statists are, after all, sincere.

      I was just agreeing with you…and pointing out some examples of sincerity that I’m glad I’ll never meet in person.

      And I didn’t say I wouldn’t PREFER to string them all up by the thumbs! (Although there are quite a few self-styled “libertarians” the similar treatment of whom would also be most satisfying to the well-ordered soul.) *g*

  12. Julie you clearly have a less dark soul than me.

    Although, sadly, it is not difficult to have a less dark soul than me.



    It’s clear in the discussion above that nobody understands genetics but aren’t short on opinions. Of course behavioural differences have a genetic basis and the composition of your population will affect voting preferences irrespective of prevailing culture (whatever that is today, for sure it isn’t the same thing it was when I was a boy).

    What can be done about it for those of us that want to destroy collectivism is another matter but sure as hell my vote makes not a blind bit of difference, that much I do know.

  14. Julie near Chicago

    Oh well, I submitted under the wrong “Reply” button. I shouldn’t let myself get sucked into this “threading” game in the first place. Paul, my reply to you is just above your last posting prior to this one.

  15. Julie – allow me to get all pious (and hypocritical).

    One should only ever punish actions – clear violations of the non aggression principle (NOT the “harm principle” John Stewart – people should be allowed to “parade” their disapproval of you as much as they like) , not OPINIONS.

    For example, I watched a drunken Islamist (the irony of being drunk and an Islamist somehow escaped him) in Jerusalem screaming that all Jews should be killed. His chief target was a group of young children who were on a trip to a museum. Most likely he did the children some good – they should understand what the world thinks of Jews. or they will grow up SOFT as so many European Jews did before World War II. Art, literature and music are all very well, as are business skills, but they must not be allowed to eat into the time needed for essential subjects – such as the ability to strip down and resemble a rifle whilst blindfolded.

    Several ladies with automatic rifles were near by – they did not shoot the Muslim gentleman, And nor should they have done so – an opinion is just that, an opinion (nothing more).

    If someone believes that all Jews should be killed that is not a crime (or should not be a crime) – it is only actually trying to do it that is a crime.

    Ditto if someone wants to take over all large factories and landed estates.

    The opinion is not a crime – only attempting to put into practice is a crime.

    • Julie near Chicago

      To Whom It May Concern:

      I repeat this from my reply to Paul above:

      ‘Nevertheless, Paul, I’m not going to string all “Statists” up by the thumbs, no matter how much vitriol I spray about.’

      And Paul isn’t going to either.


  16. “genetics has an effect on behaviour” is not the same thing as skin-colour-determines-political-opinions (or other opinions).

    For example even in 1960 about half the so called “black vote” went Republican. And it is hard to believe a massive mutation in DNA has occurred since 1960. There simply has not been enough time for biological evolution to have taken place.

    However, there has been more than an enough time for CULTURAL evolution (indeed for cultural collapse).

    And what of white people?

    For example the States of Maine and Vermont are high tax States that voted for John Kerry in 2004 and for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

    Hard to blame this on blacks (or Hispanics).

    Surely the brainwashing of the education system (and of the media) is a more plausible explanation than invisible blacks?

    In some parts of the United States (for example much of the South and, non-coastal West), traditional religion serves as a counterweight to the cultural attacks of the education system and the media – but in wide areas of the United States this is not so.

  17. Julie I am certain that is true – in your case.

  18. @Paul Marks – what’s your point? Both Republicans and Democrats are rabidly collectivist.

  19. John – if you can not see any practical difference between the policies Republicans and Democrats in the 50 States, then you should get your eyes tested.

    Can you really see no difference between how a State such as South Dakota is governed and how a State such as (next door) Minnesota is governed?

    By the way it is a bit ironic for a genetic determinist (such as yourself) to denounce other people as collectivists – after all racialism is a form (indeed a classic form) of collectivism.

    Human beings are agents (this is what is meant by “beings”) – we have agency (free will). We can rise above (change) our culture.

    A century ago Argentina was known as a free market county, with sound (gold) money and so on. Now Argentina is a “Social Justice” Third World dump.

    There has been no massive change in “DNA” (no genetic transformation) – what there has been is a change in IDEAS (beliefs).

    In the same period the States of Vermont and Maine have gone from being very low tax States (Maine was a low tax Republican State as late as the 1930s) to being high tax States.

    What “genetic” change has occurred? None – they are still lily white States (just as Argentina is – it is mostly Southern European, Italian and so on).

    Genetic determinism is a council of despair.

    For example, the rising number of “Hispanics” in Texas (and being Hispanic means being a member of a language group – it is not really a “race”) does NOT mean that Texas will inevitably become a high tax dump such as California or New York.

    Although, according to you John, there is no real difference in policy between Republican Texas and Democrat California and New York (both parties being “rabidly collectivist”).

    So (according to you) one should stay at home “not vote” and let Wendy D. win.

    After all the Republican candidate (Mr Abbott) is married to an “Hispanic” – so his children will be “rabidly” collectivist (it is genetically predetermined….. according to determinist doctrine).