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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Globally fucked

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 4/05/2009 11:32:00 pm

Your humble Devil is a suspicious type but not, generally, given to conspiracy theories. However, as report after report came out around and about the G20, I became increasingly worried.

You see, the reports were all about how Gordo agreed with his pal Obama and, in turn, The Boy Blunder was thrilled with the Europeans, and how the Europeans were making overtures to the Chinese, and how everyone agreed that there needed to be a sea-change in the world economy.

You see, your humble Devil is, in these situations, very mindful of that old Adam Smith quote about tradesmen. No, not the one describing the "invisible hand"; this one:
People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.

You see, what I saw—reading between the lines of the manufactured disagreements and media-interpreted problems—was a bunch of people with the same hideous agenda: reform of economies in a model of their choosing.

And I saw a bunch of politicians, all of whom were representatives of socialism—whether that be the soft Communism of the Chinese or the "social democracy" of Brown—coming together with the conversation starting with "a conspiracy against the public". All were advocating the same basic ideas, the same consensus—and you know how keen I am on consensus.

It seems that I was far from being the only one to consider this somewhat worrying, for EUReferendum has picked it up too.
We could not be bothered to do a forensic analysis of the G20 summit. We said it was soap opera and that indeed it was.

However, Burning Our Money has done a dissection, confirming that which we knew from past experience and intuition. Yet there were over 2,000 hacks covering the summit—including a phalanx of fashion editors—most simply lapping it up, filling the pages and the airwaves with their meaningless garbage.

The real agenda, of course, is global governance, an aspect of which Ambrose highlights. But we are not supposed to talk about that—only conspiracy theory nutters talk about that, while the rest of the media claque sleeps, and the politicos work out their next tranche of taxpayer-funded expenses.

"Conspiracy theorists will love it," writes Ambrose. But it ain't theory—it's happening in front of our very eyes, in broad daylight. The genius is that, by lumping critics in with 9/11 deniers and all the rest, the global governance crowd do not even need to hide their agenda. No one is going to blow the whistle … especially as Brown and the rest of his ghastly mob are part of it.

It is this, more than anything else, that has led to my depression today: it looks like those of us who espouse freedom have not only lost the battle, but also the war. All around us and ranged against us are not only the politicians, but the massed ranks of the pig-ignorant and the willfully uninformed idiots who vote for them.

We who are libertarians, who want to be left alone, are being conspired against and soon, no matter how rich you are, there will be no place of escape for the G20 socialist monsters will control all the civilised world.

Even the other countries will be off-limits, for the democratic socialists of the West have already bought their loyalty and obedience with bribes masquerading as "aid".

Such favours, direct funding and tax breaks have already bought the Third Sector and the mainstream media. The blogs remain, but will soon be regulated out of existence.

Everywhere the socialists have won. Can it be true that libertarianism has no place? Can it be that the people of our countries have no desire to be free?

Possibly. But it is also true that they are not content with the current system and are turning elsewhere as a protest.
The 20 percent plus vote is firm, right across the country—with a few dead spots—and BNP are routinely thrashing UKIP, consigning it to the dustbin of history. Currently, the estimates are that the BNP will take between ten and twelve seats at the euro elections, and they will take votes from all three main parties—plus UKIP.

The politicos also know that this is not a vote for the BNP. It is an anti-politician vote, reflecting that the major Westminster parties—all of them—no longer offer any real choice, or any choice at all. And that is what scares them. The votes are coming not just from Labour but from across the board—the Tories and Lib-Dems are just as much threatened as Labour.

This is the real reason why we're getting Jury Team and NO2EU, and why we're seeing last-minute attempts by the political fellow-travellers to talk up UKIP. Vote for us or you get BNP is the hidden message of these groupuscules.

The silence of the politicos about BNP is testament to how scared they are running. But, because—as [Jeff] Randall writes—there are disgracefully few legitimate outlets for redress, people are increasingly taking advantage of the one which sends a clear message to Westminster, expressing their "festering resentment" and their contempt for a system that has betrayed them.

Indeed. And surely this is the time for the UK Libertarian Party to stand up and be counted—to take hundreds of thousands of votes...?

It won't happen. When I speak to those who are not libertarians, there is no real appetite for change. These people are not voting BNP because they want change; they are voting against the current system, yes, but they don't actually want to consider anything other than the current cozy set-up. Not really.

Yes, they want less sleaze in their politicos—but they don't want a smaller government.

Yes, they want less prying into their personal lives—but they still want to stop others doing naughty things, like taking drugs.

Yes, they want to pay less tax—but they are unwilling even to countenance real public service reform.

Until people are willing to think about these things and decide what they actually want, there will be no change. And please do not think that Cameron and his merry men will change anything of any significance—with 70% of our law coming from the EU, they are able to change nothing very much anyway.
As for "global governance"—when people finally wake up to what is really going on, there will be more than a howl of rage. Then there really will be blood in the streets.

I sincerely hope that this is the case. But I also sincerely doubt that it will ever happen. The British people are cowed and beaten; they are acquiescent in their own destruction.

I wouldn't mind, but they are dragging me—and all of those others who do not wish to follow their path—down into the depths of their hell with them.

And that is why seasteading so appeals: it is the only hope—and a terribly slim hope it is—to escape those involved in the vast global conspiracy levelled against liberty, egged on by those who have a learned dependency on the state.

We are all fucked.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 4/05/2009 11:32:00 pm


139 Blogger Comments:

Blogger Katabasis said...

Very similar discussion going on over at Left wing shithole, Urban75 (you'll need to sign up to read their forums).

And of course, the quote from EUreferendum you cite:
"But it ain't theory—it's happening in front of our very eyes, in broad daylight. The genius is that, by lumping critics in with 9/11 deniers and all the rest, the global governance crowd do not even need to hide their agenda. No one is going to blow the whistle … especially as Brown and the rest of his ghastly mob are part of it."

Continues the tradition of the very thing it is railing against - failing to make distinctions between "conspiracy theories" and instead using the phrase as a general term of opprobrium.

4/06/2009 12:54:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gold

4/06/2009 01:00:00 am  
Blogger Man Of The Woods said...

“These people are not voting BNP because they want change; they are voting against the current system, yes, but they don't actually want to consider anything other than the current cozy set-up. Not really.”

Are you so certain? This may indeed apply to some first time voters, but what of those who take more time to study British National Party policies in detail and perhaps reach the conclusion that there may an alternative way. Are those people not interested in change?

There has been growing discontent for many years and rather than simply deal with the situation by choosing to accept that “shit happens“, a growing number of people are instead beginning to ask to the simple questions of “What happened?” and "Why?", because of a genuine desire to understand why, through no fault of their own, they are suffering and suddenly no longer feel in control of the own lives. The fundamental human desire to be able to exercise more control over one's own life could be the deciding factor - despite the government's best efforts to destroy this particular instinct.

4/06/2009 03:39:00 am  
Blogger Shug Niggurath said...

I know that I meet plenty of people who honestly think on themselves as believers in freedom but are just to addicted to the drop of honey on nannies teat to bring themselves away.

4/06/2009 06:47:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cheer uo old chap. It's the fight that matters.

4/06/2009 09:04:00 am  
OpenID Charlotte Gore said...

Absolutely. Politicians have come together to agree that Politicians are answer to the problem - "I'll save your electoral chances if you save mine."

I wrote about this a few days ago, fisking the agreement Gordo wrote and came to the same conclusion.

4/06/2009 09:25:00 am  
Blogger Ian B said...

it looks like those of us who espouse freedom have not only lost the battle, but also the war.

This is my own view. When I espouse, people normally call me a defeatist etc, and ask me to STFU. But I think it is the right characterisation. Furthermore, I think the war was lost a very long time ago.

This doesn't however mean that things are hopeless. It just requires a change of perspective regarding where we are and what our situation is. We are no longer a valiant army fighting a brave defensive action to slow an invading army. We are living, rather, in a vanquished nation. The palace has already been taken and the king beheaded in public; the invaders now roam the streets as police, not soldiers. The institutions of government are theirs, and we pay them our taxes. The metaphorical nation we sought to defend is now conquered, and we are no longer fighting to prevent its fall. We are an insurgency, fighting to take it back and once more raise our own flag over the palace. The things we sought once to defend are gone and must be rebuilt anew.

This isn't so bad. Our old metpahorical nation wasn't perfect. The enemy have swept away much that was bad along with the good. When we rebuild, we can do so without the chains of history. We can construct in reality those things that were more talked about than actual under the ancien regime. The Enemy have destroyed freedom of speech, but we never truly had it in the past; once we have retaken the land we can implement it for real. They abolished the hanging of homosexuals; we are under no obligation to reinstite that barbarism. They gave women the vote, and we are not required to take that away again. The position is not so bad as it seems.

The fact that we are now no longer defending the old frees us from any obligation to it. This is why libertarianism offers a chance of success whereas conservatism does not. In this sceptred isle, progress once stood for progress towards liberty; in the nineteenth century that was derailed into progress towards socialism. If and when we sweep away the socialists, we will not be returning to the past, other than to reinstate that true progress towards a greater state of liberty.

That we have lost, for now, was perhaps a necessary stage in order that we can in future truly win. It is always darkest before the dawn. It is just that right now we sit in the very darkest hour.

4/06/2009 09:33:00 am  
Blogger Letters From A Tory said...

I'm waiting for Cameron to expose Brown at PMQs today by asking him to confirm where the G20 money will come from and when it will arrive.

It is crucial that all opposition parties gang up to tear the G20 agreement into tiny pieces.

4/06/2009 09:40:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've given up reading EUReferendum. Richard North's endless "I was right, I told you so, nobody except me knows anything" refrains have become boring. Worse, though, is his cheerleading for the BNP. His obsessive loathing of Farage leads him to pick the least pleasant of all possible allies. An EU government running Britain would still be preferable to a BNP one.
Farage's cleaning of the Augean stables of UKIP and removal of the BNP sympathisers like Richard can only be a good thing for the UKIP.

4/06/2009 09:58:00 am  
Blogger Ian B said...

LFAT, I haven't seen Cameron standing up against the principle of Keynesian stimulus. Without doing that, how will he attack this agreement? "Doesn't go far enough"? "It's not really a trillion at all"?

I mean, it's all well and good slagging off Brown and Labour. But the Tories are basically whistling the same tune, are they not?

4/06/2009 10:05:00 am  
Blogger Old Holborn said...

We are in the end game now.

We saw massive protest last week in London resulting in a shocking TWO WINDOWS BROKEN.

4/06/2009 10:08:00 am  
Blogger Ian B said...

A friend of mine and some colleagues found one of the "protestors" breaking into a server room having got past reception. They confiscated his crowbar, hit him on the head with it, then threw him out a fire exit.

In this case "protestor" seems to have been a synonym for "opportunist thief".

4/06/2009 10:11:00 am  
Blogger Roger Thornhill said...

I think IanB is right - this is more an insurgency than a battle. The Enemy has been within the gates for decades and has wormed its way into all strata of society.

Fact is, we have the advantage that "hearts and minds" is something that they are losing big time. We need to win it.

4/06/2009 10:28:00 am  
Blogger Stan said...

It's not a conspiracy as such - just the natural evolution of socialism. Unfortunately, too many people who are supposedly conservative openly support globalisation and can not see that global trade requires global governance. The governance will not come from elected representatives of the people because there is no single people. You can not have a democracy without a demos. So the governance will come from appointed bodies - corporatism.

It's also strange that those who claim to support free trade can not understand the basic law of markets - that they must, if free, reach a balance. You can not have free trade and free markets and expect to earn 100 times or even 10 times what someone doing the same job in Bangalore earns. The market will find a level and that level means parity in pay and prices.

This is what is happening now with this recession - it is a market correction. When you have a national based economy that market correction results in a short, shallow recession. When you have a global based economy that correction results in a long, deep depression. Always has and always will.

It's not a question of libertarianism or conservatism - or even socialism. It is a question of nationalism. It doesn't have to be the racist nationalism of the BNP - Britain was a nationalist country for hundreds of years without ever resorting to that kind of ethnic nationalism. It just requires a government which understand that the first duty of a government is to the people and nation it represents.

Much as I support much of what the UK Libertarian Party advocates, the simple fact is that you do not advocate nationalism - and without that you do not have a solution to the problem.

If there were a nationalist party other than the BNP that was committed to protecting this country, its traditions, values and people without the ethnic overtones of the BNP then I'm sure they'd win plenty of support - but there isn't one!

I shouldn't worry, though. As I said, this isn't going to be a recession - it will be a prolonged and very very deep depression which will last for some considerable time. As the world descends into rack and ruin and global chaos reigns nationalism will rise again. The task will be for us to ensure that it does not descend into the global conflict that happened last time. I'm dubious that we can prevent that.

4/06/2009 11:11:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Until people are willing to think about these things and decide what they actually want, there will be no change.

And that is why you, as a self-described libertarian, need to make the argument for change every single minute of every single day (yes, even when you're asleep).

You can't bring about change by simply waiting for everyone to wake up and say "Hey, let's try libertarianism!". You have to argue for it, you have to present the alternative, you have to challenge, challenge, challenge and then challenge again.

You have to point out the inconsistencies in people's current arguments and show them why they're wrong. If you're not prepared to do this, then you either don't believe in your case or you're too lazy to argue it.

If LPUK is just a means for you to impress people with your non-conformity and to show off how clever you think you are, do nothing but complain about the stupid mundanes who don't grok how awesome your ideology is. If LPUK means something, if it represents a new system that you actually care about bringing into existence, the only solution is to stop whining and start engaging.

And if you choose to say "But I run a blog where I present libertarian arguments therefore I shouldn't have to do anything more", then give up now because you obviously don't care.

Me, I am an ex-Tory voter who's willing to consider the Libertarian alternative but why should I waste my vote on a party made up of dilettantes whose first response, when things get tough, is to cry like a little girl and whien about seasteading?

If you want to change people's minds, damn well buck up and do some work for it instead of bitching because you haven't achieved a Libertarian Revolution in the three sodding weeks since your party was formed.

4/06/2009 11:31:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bit off topic, but paul clark got hacked overnight from the looks of it. labourisworking? Not nearly enough it isnt!

http://tinyurl.com/cqk8ye

4/06/2009 11:41:00 am  
Anonymous Budgie said...

Stan said: "If there were a nationalist party other than the BNP that was committed to protecting this country, its traditions, values and people without the ethnic overtones of the BNP then I'm sure they'd win plenty of support - but there isn't one!"

Surely that description fits UKIP?

4/06/2009 11:51:00 am  
Anonymous Rob H said...

If we actually had an education system rather than a dumbing down system they people would realise that this has always been the hidden aim of the socailists since Trotsky, Gramsci and Marcusse wrote the road map for international socialism.

It hasn't been hidden it has not needed to be because no one was able to read well enough to find out about it.

My only hope is that the internet provides an easy link to this information to anyone who wants to know. We can all signpost people in the right direction and build counciousness about the maniacal planners.

As soon as freedom is lost on the web then we are all lost. It reminds me of all those bodies in bubbles in "the Matrix". Only living to provide energy for the controlling power. Substitute "energy" for "Money and Power".

4/06/2009 12:15:00 pm  
Blogger TomC said...

I'm not so sure about people voting BNP because of it being an “anti-politician” vote, a consequence of other parties no longer offering any choice. What meaningful politics do BNP espouse that other parties do not? It is certainly no less statist; in fact it is the very opposite.

If anything, it shows that people's central social motivation is their “fear of life”, and their conviction that democratic politics can provide a solution for this, creating regulations that lessen their fear, to the extent that anything goes, even if some are penalised at the expense of others, as long as their group is alright, or perceived as less weak. This is why ultimately, social forces drag everyone down to the lowest common denominator under the guise of equality and redistribution of wealth.

The point about libertarians (real ones) is that they are not afraid of life, and look forward to solving their problems independently. While this basic difference exists, freedom is unlikely to prevail. How does one go about encouraging people to be less afraid, to see the cup as half full, to have the courage to believe in the ability of humanity to solve its problems? This would need to happen if people were to desire to be free.

This is not going to come from the LPUK. Since the party is competing for the same statist territory as the other parties, no real libertarian is going to vote for them. All they have are disillusioned tories, a few labour deserters and UKIPs, but none of them are going to abandon their commitment to the apparatus of the state any time soon.

To be a libertarian is to have already surrendered, since you cannot win a game that you do not wish to play. You just have to wish everyone else will eventually want to stop playing the game as well. I don't necessarily see this as a futile position; just a “John Galt” position.

The problem is that people are so utterly convinced by the system that they simply cannot contemplate freedom, to the extent that the mere mention of an idea in which the state is absent, provokes a certain degree of hostility. The state doesn't even have to be concerned for its future, since its own slaves maintain the peoples' status of slavery against a minority of dissenters.

Seasteading is a nice idea in theory, but every time it's mentioned I find myself thinking of the artilleryman in “War of the Worlds”, whose vision of a safe underground future turned out to be hopelessly delusional because he'd dug a little tiny hole, in which all of humanity was supposed to find refuge.

Ultimately, change can only come from ideas. We have to keep banging away, discrediting the issues of statism and socialism by exposing the lies and propaganda that underpin them, using the tools of objective, rational reality, and not being afraid to promote the values of laissez-faire capitalism. Like a child who grows up, becomes independent, and leaves home, humanity will, in the same manner, outgrow the tribal heritage which is statism.

4/06/2009 12:54:00 pm  
Blogger Devil's Kitchen said...

Anon,

"Me, I am an ex-Tory voter who's willing to consider the Libertarian alternative but why should I waste my vote on a party made up of dilettantes whose first response, when things get tough, is to cry like a little girl and whien about seasteading?"

Or one could, of course, bitch at people you don't know, in blog comments, about how they aren't doing anything whilst carefully avoiding actually having to do anything oneself...

Like most ex-Tories, you expect to waltz into a party, funded by millionaires, and with thousands of people on the ground so that you don't actually have to do any of the grunt work yourself.

DK

4/06/2009 01:03:00 pm  
Blogger Roger Thornhill said...

TomC: "This is not going to come from the LPUK. Since the party is competing for the same statist territory as the other parties, no real libertarian is going to vote for them. All they have are disillusioned tories, a few labour deserters and UKIPs, but none of them are going to abandon their commitment to the apparatus of the state any time soon."

TomC, that is just disingenuous curl-out. Utter nonsense. Most LPUK'ers were long gone from any other party before they found the LPUK. Many had never been a member of another party. We are Minarchist, so labelling us as "statist" is pathetic disinformation. Stop looking in the mirror when you type, eh?

Frankly, TomC, you sound like a scared LibDem'er, worried that all those with any fire and brains will eventually give up on your rancid pastry of a party and leave it to the Socialists to scared of their own shadow to admit who they are, preferring to hide behind the pretence of "Social Democrat" while remaining an interfering, authoritarian do-gooder.

4/06/2009 01:51:00 pm  
Blogger Devil's Kitchen said...

Roger,

I would say that TomC was an Objectivist myself.

Tom, believe me, come the revolution, I shall be on the barricades. Until that time, we are left with no option but to try the "democratic" route.

DK

4/06/2009 01:53:00 pm  
Blogger Stan said...

Budgie said...
"Stan said: "If there were a nationalist party other than the BNP that was committed to protecting this country, its traditions, values and people without the ethnic overtones of the BNP then I'm sure they'd win plenty of support - but there isn't one!"

Surely that description fits UKIP?"

I wish!!! Sorry - nominally you could say that UKIP are "nationalist", but they're not really. At least, I don't think they are. Besides, until they get away from the problem of being a single issue party then they have no chance. I recognise that our membership of the EU is a problem buy repeating it ad nauseum with regards to every issue the electorate bring up isn't going to turn the electorate on to voting for them.

4/06/2009 01:55:00 pm  
Anonymous Budgie said...

Those who think the BNP might offer the possibility of a protest vote to frighten the main parties have to contend with the BNP's policies. Their social policy is racist and their economic policy is socialist. Is that what people actually want?

4/06/2009 02:05:00 pm  
Anonymous Budgie said...

Stan said: "I recognise that our membership of the EU is a problem buy repeating it ad nauseum with regards to every issue the electorate bring up isn't going to turn the electorate on to voting for them."

It is not just "a problem". Since 80% of our national laws and many of our local laws are dictated by the EU, leaving the EU to restore national democratic control is fundamental and paramount.

If you are suggesting that the BNP, or any other party, could have comprehensive national policies without dealing with our subjugation to the EU first, then you are profoundly mistaken. It is the mistake the Tories make. And the Tories are a laughing stock because of it.

4/06/2009 02:18:00 pm  
Blogger TomC said...

Roger, did you actually read and try to understand my comments, or do you just spout whatever fuckwit rant comes into your head at any given moment?

Quite how you draw any conclusions from my comment about me being scared, LibDem, hypocritical statist, interfering or do-gooder is quite beyond me.

Kind of backs up my comment about how the slaves' natural tendency is to maintain their fellow slaves in serfdom eh?

DK is right; I am an Objectivist, even Anarcho-Capitalist if you like. Look it up on Wiki, perhaps.

You, on the other hand, just nailed your statist colours to the mast. Maybe we could call it Roger's Law - If political philosophy fails you, always resort to ad-hominem attacks.

4/06/2009 02:48:00 pm  
Blogger Ian B said...

I hate to have to say this, but whatever one may think of the actual motives of the BNP, their stated party platform isn't racist. It's nationalist, or culturalist. It's basically an end to mass immigration and incentive payments for those immigrants who want to leave, and repatriation of illegals. It classifies British citizens as British citizens regardless of racial origin.

It's only actually racist if you accept the post-marxist definition of racism, which is so broad that it includes everyone except Polly Toynbee. Their argument is that the indigenous people of Britain have as much right to survival as the Lakota Sioux or Maori or whatnot.

4/06/2009 02:52:00 pm  
Anonymous Chris said...

Seasteading?

They'd just impose sanctions on you for taking drugs and not following the IMF's advice. The only reason the Far East (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos) closed their legally taxed opium dens was threat of sanctions from the UN (i.e the US).

4/06/2009 03:24:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our country has never had much stomach for revolutions, preferring evolution.The fight is not lost my friends.The Libertarian beast has not died but has been sleeping and it is now awakening and not before time.We must all combine to rid ourselves of this socialist and self-perpetuating clique; the best means to do that is to vote Conservative but with strings, holding them to account and being zealous in rooting out greed and incompetence wherever it comes from

4/06/2009 03:26:00 pm  
Anonymous Paul Round said...

My post at 3.26 came out as anonymous.I did not intend it to be so my apologies

4/06/2009 03:29:00 pm  
Anonymous Sir Henry Morgan said...

Thank you Ian B. Not often you come across an honest man. Appreciated.

Budgie:

Within 24 hours of a BNP Prime Minister entering Downing Street this country would be OUT of the EU. There would be no negotiations - just a one paragraph bill pushed through Parliament in the time it took to push the 1911 Official Secrets Act through - about six hours. A message to that effect would be sent to Brussels. What the EU would do with its British MEPs, Commissioners, Comittee members etc would be no concern of ours. That would be up to them.

We would be open and welcoming to representatives of any country, and indeed the EU itself (if it survived this move), who wished to open trade deal negotiations. We have no objections to a European Economic Community, provided we are able to rebuild our Commonwealth connections - our problem is with European Union. We will make our own laws ta v. much, and take a shredder to some 30+ years of directives and treaties.

No parliament may bind any succeeding parliament.

We're not stupid you know - WE KNOW we can do nothing without first leaving the EU. We also suspect that it will only take one of the larger financially contributing members (e.g. ourselves)to leave and the whole house of cards would collapse. And a good thing that would be too. Europe yet again saved from dictatorship by Britain - and without bloodshed this time.

4/06/2009 03:43:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"surely this is the time for the UK Libertarian Party to stand up and be counted—to take hundreds of thousands of votes...?

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Have you sad bunch of rightwing inversions of Rick from the Young Ones even won a deposit back yet?

I thought you were supposedly rationalists who believed in wise investment. Yet you're pissing a huge amount of your own time and money on a political project irremediably plummenting into the shithole of history.

What chumps, you'd be better off saving your pennys so you piss off to some unregulated tax haven where you can wallow about in your own greed and stupidity (like pigs in the dirt) to your hearts content.

4/06/2009 04:05:00 pm  
Blogger neil craig said...

I agree with you that the G20 is a step towards a world where all governments are united - against the people. This has been going on since the fall of the USSR & in particular the wars to destroy Yugolsvia. On the other hand there gace been countervailing trends, particulaly the net, & the balkanisation of the world does increase options in the same way seasteading does.

I think seasteading also makes sense. Partly because of the regulations pushing up the price of housebuilding so that it is probably, once beyond a critical number, cheaper to seastead. Partly because algeal oil, of which we are going to hear a lot in the next few years, is going to be lucrative for anybody who has sun & square miles of water.

4/06/2009 04:29:00 pm  
Blogger Roger Thornhill said...

TomC:: "You, on the other hand, just nailed your statist colours to the mast. Maybe we could call it Roger's Law - If political philosophy fails you, always resort to ad-hominem attacks."


"Ad-hominem"? I said you sounded like. That is far from actually calling you one. Sounding like, TomC, for your totally incorrect attack on the LPUK. Can you not understand the difference? And where does "political philosophy" come into your misguided swipe at LPUK members? Bit late to try and grab that robe, mate, let alone squealing - incorrectly -about ad-hominem after your statements.

Further, how does it "nail statist colours", pray?

4/06/2009 04:30:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Blogger Ian B said...

I hate to have to say this, but whatever one may think of the actual motives of the BNP, their stated party platform isn't racist. It's nationalist, or culturalist. It's basically an end to mass immigration and incentive payments for those immigrants who want to leave, and repatriation of illegals. It classifies British citizens as British citizens regardless of racial origin."

They explicitly say in their 2005 manifesto they'll "voluntarily repatriate" anyone with a dark skin who wants to go (whether they have anywhere to go or not) and, after that, there'll be "compulsory repatriation" of anyone left.

Tell me how that isn't racist.

"It's only actually racist if you accept the post-marxist definition of racism, which is so broad that it includes everyone except Polly Toynbee. Their argument is that the indigenous people of Britain have as much right to survival as the Lakota Sioux or Maori or whatnot."

Well, it discriminates between people on the grounds of their skin colour. Is that somehow 'post-marxist'?

4/06/2009 05:03:00 pm  
Blogger Stan said...

Budgie said ...

"If you are suggesting that the BNP, or any other party, could have comprehensive national policies without dealing with our subjugation to the EU first, then you are profoundly mistaken. It is the mistake the Tories make. And the Tories are a laughing stock because of it."

I'm not suggesting that. Leaving the EU is imperative as part of nationalism. What I am saying is that if all you ever do is blame the EU for everything you'll just put voters off. Generally, people respond better to positive ideas rather than negative attacks. UKIP want to leave the EU - fine - leave that as a given and then start telling people what you would do to make things better. If they then say "you can't do that, the EU won't allow it" THEN tell them that it won't matter because we'll be out of the EU anyway.

4/06/2009 05:17:00 pm  
Blogger Ian B said...

Well, the post-marxist definition is about hegemonic and oppressed groups, for whom different rules apply. Hegemonic groups are not allowed to express a group solidarity since this is oppressive, whereas oppressed groups are required to express a group solidarity. Thus, you can have a womens (oppressed) group, but not a mens (oppressor) group. Or, you can have a black (oppressed) group, but not a white (oppressor) group.

The point is, in practical application, whites are the only definied oppressor group, whereas all other ethnic groups are considered oppressed. So, you can have The Black Fishermen's Association, which isn't racist, but you can't have The White Fishermen's Association, which is racist. So, if you accept that definition, the BNP are racist. As is anyone claiming any feeling of group cohesion who is white, european, or male, or Christian, or (in sexual politics) heterosexual. The ruling class (gramscian) definition of racism explicitly defines all white people as racist and nobody else. How racist is that?

If you take a non-marxist view and consider a racist to be somebody who hates another person because of their race, then BNP policy isn't racist, even if you think (at least some of) their members are. They're just taking the view that England is where the English live, the same as Ghana is where the Ghanaians live, and China is where the Chinese live.

I'm not a BNP supporter. I just get a bit sick of everybody flying off the handle about them being beyond the pale, peddling the post-marxist gramscian line, when in fact their POV is no different to any other of numerous groups around the world, be they native americans, Kurds or black South Africans, who have demanded a right to their own ancestral lands, without being immediately cast into the outer darkness as "racists".

Demographic predictions suggest that indigenous europeans will be an ethnic minority in Europe well before the end of this century. The BNP and other nationalist european groups are saying, "Why is it obligatory that Europe be handed over to foreigners?" It's not an entirely unreasonable question, is it?

4/06/2009 05:21:00 pm  
Blogger Stan said...

By the way, the EU is fast becoming an irrelevance. Once this recession turns into a depression nations will start to turn to protectionism and the EU will collapse along with the whole liberal progressive orthodoxy. It's no longer a question of if - just when. And my bet is within 5years.

4/06/2009 05:23:00 pm  
Blogger TomC said...

That's OK Roger, a simple apology would have been acceptable :)

I wasn't making an attack on the LPUK; don't be so touchy.

Your misunderstanding came about because you are looking at things purely through the lens of party politics. If you try to look beyond that and see things as I aimed to present them - that if, like me, you reject party political contests on the grounds that all political parties represent statism i.e. potential government, while my own personal political philosophy represents anti-statism, or anti-government, - you could understand that no unfair claim was being made against any party, LPUK or otherwise. LPUK competes on the same field as the other parties. I simply reject that field. My point was that the word “libertarian” is unfortunate, as this is not a definition I would use for an entity involved in statism (or party politics, if you object so strongly to my use of this word). To me, it is like someone claiming they were atheist when in fact they follow some form of religion.

It is not obligatory for us all to accept political orthodoxy. I simply feel, and you seem to prove me correct, that many people cannot imagine a philosophy beyond party political battles, which is called statism as there is no other word for it. There is a difference between our use and definition of certain terms, perhaps?

4/06/2009 05:26:00 pm  
Blogger Ian B said...

They explicitly say in their 2005 manifesto they'll "voluntarily repatriate" anyone with a dark skin who wants to go (whether they have anywhere to go or not) and, after that, there'll be "compulsory repatriation" of anyone left.

That's not true. I've just read through their 2005 manifesto, and the only compulsory repatriations are of those illegal immigrants who don't come forward voluntarily. There is an ongoing offer of grants for the non-indigenous to go home, though where home is for a half-white, half-jamaiacan they don't say. But anyway, there's no pogrom policy.

There is however a gloriously barmy bit about "faith and folk" schools, and celebrating May Day. Presumably if the crops fail, we'll be luring a policeman from the mainland and burning him in a wicker man. :)

4/06/2009 05:44:00 pm  
Blogger sconzey said...

I wouldn't view the prospects of the Libertarian party so bleakly, a victory in a protest-vote is a victory nonetheless.

One of humanities greatest strengths and direst weaknesses is it's collective selective blindness. There are ideas that scare us; things we don't want to be true, and I challenge any man to stand up and say that they can confront such concepts head on with pure intellectual might. (I call these "religious issues" because people tend to make a quick unsupported statement on them, and then move on)

What LPUK have to confront is a British people who know, deep down inside how bad things have got, but cannot for any man permit themselves to contemplate it.

The message of LPUK needs to be one of hope: about the greatness of human intellect, the power of the individual, and the fortitude of the lone man. LPUK needs to talk less about lynching political sleazebags, and more about letting people achieve their potential.

[image of a crowd of people straining against a web of red tape]
Voiceover: "Millions of people across the UK -- like you -- strive to better themselves. Isn't it time the government gets out of your way?"
[the red tape shatters, the people rush forward to take their places in offices, factories, laboratories, hospitals and homes, uplifting music (Richard Halley's Fifth)]

4/06/2009 05:55:00 pm  
Blogger Ian B said...

sconzey, I entirely agree and have argued this need for a positive message for libertarianism myself. We very much need to get away from the negative-libertarianism rhetoric about "scroungers"- it's a mistake to believe this actually appeals beyond a very small demographic of angries- and focus on a "why hardly anyone will need benefits in a libertarian Britain" type message.

This is one of those things the Enemy always beat us on. They ask what will happen to the destitute without welfare, and we start mumbling about charities and it isn't convincing because charities couldn't possibly cover what welfare does now. But to explain that welfare dependency is caused by the strangled corporatist market, and that once the market is liberated the need for welfare will rapidly dwindle- that's a message that's easy to sell. Telling people you'll snatch away the dole is, even for people who don't claim it, a scary thought. Tell them it'll still be there, but hardly anyone will ever need it... that goes down much better.

4/06/2009 06:09:00 pm  
Blogger sconzey said...

Ian: LPUK is, as DK reminded us, a small, low-budget party. We need to start talking about how to get "the message" out in a cheap bottom-up type fashion, and indeed, what "the message" actually is.

4/06/2009 06:44:00 pm  
Blogger Ian B said...

I just said what I think the message is. Or ought to be :)

4/06/2009 06:52:00 pm  
Blogger sconzey said...

Indeed, and I expected more people to agree with you. :P

4/06/2009 07:56:00 pm  
Blogger Ian B said...

"Vote LPUK-

Because we believe in YOU"

4/06/2009 08:09:00 pm  
Blogger Patrick Vessey said...

Stan's comment at 11:11am is absolutely spot on as far as it goes. Unfortunately, what he said here got as much attention as when some of us previously attempted to make a similar point privately within the party.

LPUK is supposed to be a political party for national governance. That means putting the UK first, even when such considerations conflict with an ideological desire for 'free markets'; a purely aspirational philosophy, anyway, as no national party will ever be in a position to ensure market freedoms outside of its own national borders.

Reality doesn't always make an easy bedfellow with ideology; live with it -- it's out of our power to change. LPUK could be a great vehicle for bringing freedoms -- personal and economic -- to the UK, but only if it realises to whom it should owe its loyalty: the people of the UK. The people of the UK, and not to an international corporate and financial kleptocracy -- regardless of what ideological posturing such entities and their apologists attempt to use to justify themselves.

We're either going to fix things at a national level, or our nation will cease to be. Does that make the decision any easier?

4/06/2009 09:31:00 pm  
Anonymous Mr Ecks said...

Gentlemen

It may seem that the prospects for Liberty are poor in the short-term. However please remember that thistechnological world of plenty has its origin in the freedom to think. The prosperity we enjoy now (however much govt meddling we may also have)comes from the freedom to act. As those freedoms are removed the rate of human progress will slow and if things get bad enough it will start to reverse.How useless are todays school leavers and graduates?.How much more useless will the next generation taught by those idiots be?.The world of Atlas Shrugged is being created, not by the useful withdrawing but by the useless multiplying and dragging the rest down. In this the future resembles Cyril Kornbluth's "The Marching Morons" far more than the world of Ayn Rand. It may be that human beings will accept that, in which case the sooner this species is dead the better, but I don't think that will happen. The old system will get weaker and more corrupt until it can be caused to fall with little effort. Each of us has to do his/her bit to be as wise and able as we can and keep our powder dry. The enemy is undermining himself and he will fall.We can't say yet how or where or when but it will happen.

4/06/2009 09:46:00 pm  
Blogger Ian B said...

Patrick, I both agree and disagree. I consider myself- loosely- a "nationalist libertarian" for the simple reason you point out, that a UK Libertarian Party- or movement- can only deal with the UK. If the LPUk were to win office, it would have very limited abilities to change the rest of the world. Other nations will persist with trade barriers for instance. We can work to lower them, but cannot force them to.

It may be that a libertarian success would lead to libertarian governments in other nations. We may then be able to create a "libertarian zone" of free trade. Not a customs union like the EU with central governance. Merely, libertarian nations would all want free trade with each other anyway.

Then it comes to people. Up the thread I showed some sympathy for the BNP. Not because I agree with any of their policies, which are mostly illiberal and barmy, and the volkisch element is downright terrifying, but because the issue of cultural integrity is a significant one, which most libertarians ignore for ideological reasons, saying there is no problem because they don't have an answer to it. The reality is, people are tribal to varying degrees, but it is a commonality to our species. Nations only hold together when there is a demos, when people can tolerate being ruled by one another. Without that, mayhem surely follows. Many libertarians tend to be better off people, with a rather more cosmopolitan attitude than average, who don't really grasp how important locality is to people who are tied to one house in one ordinary street. They tend to blithely presume that the culture of western nations will just be there for them to jet in and out of. The reality is that England is England, France is France, Japan is Japan, Ghana is Ghana, because they are populated by coherent peoples. If a madman shifted all the French to Japan, and all the Japanese to France, the Japanese culture would become French, and the French culture Japanese. Cultures only continue to exist because of the people that comprise them.

Most ordinary people grasp this, and thus worry about excessive immigration as they recognise that their culture will turn into something else. When that deliberately imposed immigration consists of barmy theocrats, it scares the willies out of them. Now if the world were entirely composed of libertarian nations, this woldn't be a problem. Everywhere would be roughly economically equal, nowhere would be an insane theocracy, and we could all just wander around as we like. But it's not like that.

So we have this demographic challenge. One simple answer to this is to not have open borders to immigration. But ideologically, because libertarians try to apply libertarian ideology to people beyond its remit- foreign nations- most libertarians see such an idea as nationalist, xenophobic, racist, whatever, and refuse to countenance it. The big problem is, the whole reason the BNP vote is soaring is that increasing numbers of ordinary people are concerned about this demogaphic challenge- literally a fear that Britain will cease to exist altogether as an entity. An internationalist libertarian can't make any traction on that, politically.

Now I take the view that a "national libertarian" party can solve every issue without any of the moonbattery of the BNP and its ilk. You don't need repatriations and volkisch school classes and shit like that- they wouldn't work anyway, and would end up in nazism- all you need to do is stop further immigration for a "breather period", and withdraw state multiculturalism. Gradually the tension would subside. Most of the ethnic minorities in Britain are a fabulous bunch, with an exception or two- but I guess it's too late to get rid of the Scots. The British people have accepted large numbers of immigrants, e.g. from the Caribbean, and are only now getting worried because of Islam which, not to put too fine a point on it, isn't so much some foreigners to get used to but a frankly terrifying religion which ought to be some other part of the world's shit to deal with, and was until recently. England shouldn't be having to figure out how to deal with female genital mutilation and enforced marriages. It shouldn't be our fucking problem.

But even so, with state support pulled away, without government money supporting the MCGB, and laws kowtowing to muslim "offence" and all the other dhimmitude, the problem would sort itself out, even if it would take a while. Muslims would have to learn to fit in, because there would be nothing to be gained by making a big girlie fuss about everything. The problem is being caused by the statist state.

So yes, I want a libertarian party that recognises it is a party of the nation. Not in a flagwavey way, just in a recognition that the people it hopes to govern are the only people it can deal with. It won't be able to fix the rest of the world.

4/06/2009 10:44:00 pm  
Blogger Revolution Harry said...

'The genius is that, by lumping critics in with 9/11 deniers and all the rest, the global governance crowd do not even need to hide their agenda'.

They haven't been hiding it for decades. It's called the New World Order and every one from the Pope, Mikhail Gorbachev, Henry Kissinger, Gordon Brown and Bush the elder have shoved it in your face. One of their key weapons is mind control or conditioning. You've all been conditioned to react negatively to the word conspiracy. How many quotes do you want me to post?

Fabian Socialist H. G. Wells described it as 'The Open Conspiracy' in 1933. In his 1939 book "The New World Order' he said:

"... when the struggle seems to be drifting definitely towards a world social democracy, there may still be very great delays and disappointments before it becomes an efficient and beneficent world system. Countless people - will hate the new world order - and will die protesting against it. When we attempt to evaluate its promise, we have to bear in mind the distress of a generation or so of malcontents, many of them quite gallant and graceful-looking people."

That's all of you here; a 'generation or so of malcontents'.

Let's pick one more at random.

"...This regionalization is in keeping with the Tri-Lateral Plan which calls for a gradual convergence of East and West, ultimately leading toward the goal of "one world government....National sovereignty is no longer a viable concept..."

Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter and now Barack Obama's foreign policy adviser. For adviser read puppet master. We have no democracy, it's a charade. Do you really think George Bush was the most powerful man in the world? He was, as is Barack Obama, a front man for the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission. The CFR is an offshoot of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House). Something that should tell you much about how the world is really set up.

If you're wondering what the 'system' they have in mind for us take a long look at China. Socialism for the masses and monopoly capitalism for the elites. Why else do you think they've built China up? You really think it was 'market forces' that caused China to develop?

Another question, do you really think jet fuel bought down the twin towers at free fall speed? Even if the beams had melted (scientifically impossible) there would have been localised failure first resulting in buckling prior to a partial collapse. Building 7? The anomalies are endless. Once you get over the hurdle of not wanting to be a 'conspiracy nut' there's a world of information out there. Try starting at architects for 9/11 truth.

http://www.ae911truth.org/

Dig some more and only then does the true, horrific, picture become clear. Believe me, the rabbit hole goes much deeper than you could possibly imagine. I haven't even touched on the 'esoteric' aspects to all this. For just a hint study the Freemasonic/occult symbolism on the dollar bill.

There are two key areas which are being assaulted; our liberty and the nation state. Mass immigration is a cynical and calculated attempt to destroy the British, particularly the English, as a nation and a race. These people are evil and I don't use that word lightly. In defense of the BNP they are very clear that ethnic minorities are not to blame. Their rise in popularity is not 'racism' (another mind control trigger word) but an inevitable result of the blatant attempt to transform Britain. Not so long ago I was a Labour voting, 'anti-racist', Guardian reading 'lefty'. I witnessed the changes immigration made to the area I live in. It's a much worse place for it. I have much sympathy for BNP voters but deep reservations about the BNP leadership.

The so called 'credit crunch' was predicted by numerous 'conspiracy researchers'. It's a completely engineered event. The end game is world government with a world bank, currency (cashless via microchip), army and world religion (this is where the esoteric aspect comes in). I'll leave you with a few more quotes:

"The drive of the Rockefellers and their allies is to create a one-world government combining supercapitalism and Communism under the same tent, all under their control.... Do I mean conspiracy? Yes I do. I am convinced there is such a plot, international in scope, generations old in planning, and incredibly evil in intent."

Congressman Larry P. McDonald, 1976, killed in the Korean Airlines 747 that was shot down by the Soviets.

Ever wondered why politicians don't speak out? Do yourselves a favour and listen to the speech JFK made just a couple of weeks before he was assassinated.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3T3gWKURc8

Taken from the speech:

"We are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covet means"

Just so that you get some idea of how deep the rabbit hole is:

"No one will enter the New World Order unless he or she will make a pledge to worship Lucifer. No one will enter the New Age unless he will take a Luciferian Initiation."

David Spangler, Director of Planetary Initiative, United Nations

4/06/2009 11:42:00 pm  
Blogger Revolution Harry said...

Please watch this short 10 minute video.

Emergency Broadcast: New World Order Ahead.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHvTy_fVdJ8&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.davidicke.com%2Findex.php%2F&feature=player_embedded

If you think I'm wrong, watch then tell me why.

4/06/2009 11:59:00 pm  
Anonymous Verity said...

The Anglosphere! We must take our values back and we are the backbone, and the guardians, of today's worldwide civilisation.

Let them all adopt Anglo-Saxon Common Law and get rid of these European gigs. Just get rid of them. Shut them down.

We have around 2bn highly intelligent people who invented just about everything.

The Chinese have around 1.3bn and we could make common accord (not Common Purpose). What we didn't invent in the early years, the Chinese did, including the compass 1200 years ago.

The Muslims and the Africans are passengers, and the power of their voice should reflect their status. Low volume.

4/07/2009 12:50:00 am  
Anonymous Verity said...

What is astounding is, if the internet had existed 40 years ago, the USSR would never have come into being.

Yet, we have the internet and appear to be intent on marching forward to national, and civilisational, obliteration.

There isn't even a scream going into an uncaring universe.

4/07/2009 01:00:00 am  
Blogger Revolution Harry said...

Verity, there are plenty of people screaming. You've just got to look for them.

http://www.ukcolumn.org/

http://www.thetruthseeker.co.uk/

http://www.internationalmensorganisation.info/

http://www.tpuc.org/

http://www.lifeinthemix.co.uk/

http://homoveritas.net/blog/

http://dotconnectoruk.blogspot.com/

http://www.ianrcrane.co.uk/index.php

http://www.silentmajority.co.uk/

http://www.thebcgroup.org.uk/

http://www.davidicke.com/index.php/

There's just a few from the UK alone. What's missing is a focus and a broad consensus of what we want, what we are for. Something that can unite nationalists and libertarians.

4/07/2009 01:46:00 am  
Blogger aproposofwhat said...

Verity - algebra, chemistry, an awful lot of astronomy etc. are owed to the initial flowering of Islam before it got mired in the medievalism of the later Caliphates.

I dislike the influence of modern Islamism as much as you do, but don't think that just because the Islamic world was taken over by lawyers several centuries ago (see the parallel to our current crop of useless fuckers?) that they contributed nothing to our civilisation.

And Anglo-Saxon law? Molmutius had a Celtic law nearly 2000 years before (ca. 1300 BC) that gave all the rights and obligations inherent in Anglo-Saxon law, as did Hammurabi in what is now Iraq.

What we need in this country is a minimalist legal system based on any of the above (excepting Sharia), and a minimalist government.

4/07/2009 01:51:00 am  
Blogger Revolution Harry said...

Apropos, the alleged influence of Islam on science is grossly over estimated.

http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/018746.php

http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/007439.php

4/07/2009 02:29:00 am  
Blogger Ian B said...

The Muslims and the Africans are passengers, and the power of their voice should reflect their status. Low volume.

There's no reason why Africa shouldn't become an economic powerhouse and a place of happiness and prosperity. The best thing we can do for Africa is to stop interfering. In particular we need to get the tranzis out of there. The tragedy of Africa is that vast untapped human potential mired in poverty by disastrous western paternalistic policies imposed by the Left.

Islam is chained by its own history, and change is hard for it because, unlike christianity, it is a "rulebook religion". The stroke of luck for the west was that christianity was a religion of personal revelation, giving it the capability to question itself. Under Islam, there is certainty because there is no concept of sin; so long as you are following the detailed rules of the sharia, you're a Good Person. So, it is always going to have trouble secularising and modernising. But that can happen- it nearly did a century ago, but took the wrong path. We can help that to happen by ceasing to support it. Until it finds a way to modernise, which means vanquishing its own fundamentalists, the only logical policy would be to handle it cautiously, with tongs.

Back to Africa, I see no reason why, with the right policies implemented by Africans themselves- not least shrugging off the tranzi crats- the entire continent couldn't achieve western levels of prosperity in a couple of generations. "Immigration problems" would cease, or reverse, and you may well end up with the situation of Africans worrying about the flood of immigrants from Europe, escaping the grim weather oop North to live happy, prosperous lives in the sun. There is no greater demonstrable failure of international socialism than Africa.

4/07/2009 07:50:00 am  
Blogger Patrick Vessey said...

Ian B wrote: "Patrick, I both agree and disagree. I consider myself- loosely- a "nationalist libertarian" for the simple reason you point out, that a UK Libertarian Party- or movement- can only deal with the UK. If the LPUk were to win office, it would have very limited abilities to change the rest of the world. Other nations will persist with trade barriers for instance. We can work to lower them, but cannot force them to.

It may be that a libertarian success would lead to libertarian governments in other nations. We may then be able to create a "libertarian zone" of free trade. Not a customs union like the EU with central governance. Merely, libertarian nations would all want free trade with each other anyway.
"

Absolutely agree. The problem that I encountered whilst attempting to make the argument privately was that some could not comprehend the difference between trading with (similarly) free nations, and trading with those who were not (e.g. who imposed tariffs, or subsidised various industries). In the latter case, meaningful -- true -- 'free trade' is not possible; ever actor in a transaction chain needs to be equally free for free markets to exist.

Somebody suggested to me that thinking like this was akin to throwing rocks in our own harbours if other nations did likewise. But the analogy is not that simple. If you are dealing with goods imported from other free markets, of course it would be stupid to do this. But, for those markets, UK plc ought to (metaphorically) maintain clear harbours. For non-free market originating vessels, it makes perfect sense to -- if not chuck rocks in their path -- at least to place conditions upon their entry.

LPUK might be able cajole or encourage libertarianism around the globe if it were ever to achieve power in the UK. But its primary duty would always be to the folks working and living in UK plc. By having control of the legal and financial framework within the UK, it would be able to guarantee that free market conditions existed here. It might hope that others follow in our example, but, unless and until they did, some local 'protectionism' would be the only way to guarentee the continuation of a free environment here.

The above is, of course, at odds with the globalisation agenda. Tough, on two counts. Firstly, and despite the rhetoric, that agenda has little to do with genuine free trade, as more and more folks are starting to come to realise. Secondly, whilst it would be wonderful for the whole world to become free, as a realist I'm more concerned about what could be achieved, rather that what just might be possible -- with a lot of ifs and buts. What could be achieved is a free and prosperous UK. The rest of the globe? Maybe, if... but... Well bugger that. Let's at least do what we can for our own nation, whilst it is still here.

There is absolutely no contradiction in an internally free market nation exercising some control over economic relationships with non-free market economies outside. Indeed, the contradiction only occurs in the opposite case; and that contradiction guarantees the breakdown of the original free market. By failing to grasp this simple fact for economics (and they understand the difference when talking about physical defence/armed forces), many libertarians end up adopting a myopic and self-defeating view on international trade relations.

The world economy is going down the shitter over the next few years. I'm sick and tired of folks saying that everybody is in the same boat, and that's just the way it is. We don't have to sink with the global ship, and for UK plc to fail to jump into a life-raft simply because our politicians and their masters wish to see us all drown together is simply fucking criminal.

4/07/2009 09:02:00 am  
Blogger Ian B said...

Patrick, to use an example, suppose Germany subsidises its coal industry, and the result is that German coal is cheaper than British coal. I think a standard libertarian argument would be that we should ignore this; if the german coal is cheaper, British consumers should be free to benefit from it. This is a Bastiat-style argument, and it's a good one. The British pits will close, and the British miners will then deploy to other industries which have a comparative advantage. For simplicity's sake, let's say they all redeploy to the car industry, which makes cheaper, better cars than the German one. We win in this market instead, while British consumers benefit from cheap German coal.

The problem is, if Germany are prepared to use government power to create an artificial advantage for their coal industry, we can safely assume they are also prepared to protect their car industry, perhaps by subsidy or perhaps by imposing a tarriff on British cars. This is thus a situation in which we may get into a situation in which whatever British industry is better than our competitors, it will be blocked by trade barriers. Wherever British industry redeploys its resources, it finds itself blocked.

Now as free traders we know that the economically rational thing for Germany to do is free trade. It benefits both nations. But if they aren't interested in that, we're stymied.

As such, British trade barriers can at least act as an incentive to Germany to negotiate towards freer trade. If Britain imposes tarriffs that negate their industry's subsidy advantage, or quotas, or some other barrier, we can at least force them to the negotiating table, since we've negated the benefit of their government subsidy. Which, to be fair to our current regimes, is what governments who seek free trade currently try to do.

This goes against the standard libertarian dogma, I appreciate. I want a world of absolute free trade too. But trying to lead simply by example is not likely to get us very far. The approach that says "we seek free trade in coal by everyone" is the best approach.

4/07/2009 09:26:00 am  
Blogger Patrick Vessey said...

Ian B wrote: "This goes against the standard libertarian dogma, I appreciate."

Indeed it does. But whilst the world isn't living under a libertarian regime, it also makes perfect sense and is an economically rational position for the UK to adopt. And it in no way precludes a properly libertarian society existing within our national boundaries.

We appear to be violently agreeing -- it's just a crying shame that there are those within the party who refuse to allow reality to intrude upon their thought processes; where dogmatism and pragmatism clash, it seems to be safer for them to curl up with dogmatism. At least it means never having to face the issue in the real world, as it makes the party unelectable -- the electorate are, rightly, more concerned with how the real world works than how theory claims it ideally ought to be.

4/07/2009 09:40:00 am  
Anonymous Sir Henry Morgan said...

Ian B

You speak a lot of sense sometimes.

You know where I'm coming from. Don't entirely agree with everything, but a lot of rational good sense.

4/07/2009 11:51:00 am  
Blogger Ian B said...

Patrick, I think the problem for any political party, movement or group is that all the individuals therein will have different priorities. They will each have things without which they feel are obligatory. For instance in a nominally socialist party, many people may feel that if it doesn't dogmatically support nationalised healthcare "it isn't a socialist party" and will cease to support it.

I'm primarily interested in social liberties. If a "libertarian" party, for pragmatic reasons or a majority view, doesn't support a very strong anti-censorship line, for instance, it's not delivering what I want. People with much less interest in social liberty but a strong economic bent may be prepared to sacrifice anti-censorship in order to woo votes from social conservatives. Then I say, "I can't support this", pick up my ball, and leave.

So it's always going to be difficult balancing the different perceptions of ideological purity with the vast amounts of compromise necessary to build a mass political movement, and party leaders often spend most of their time trying to trick everybody into thinking they're getting at least some of what they want even if they aren't really. I was just discussing in another place that the Left are adept at keeping social liberals in their big tent despite generally offering negligible actual social liberties, perhaps largely because social liberals convince themselves to support leftist social authoritarians because there is no other tent to move to- the conservative tent is perceived as even worse.

I don't really know what the answer is. For many libertarians, absolute free trade and absolute open borders aren't just aspirations but a minimum they will not do without. To be a cynic, one wonders if the best leaders of political groups are those with the best skills at lying to people, and manipulating them into thinking they'll get stuff they won't actually get.

Since libertarians tend to hate following the herd and are naturally cynical, this might be a primary reason libertarian groups have trouble getting off the ground.

4/07/2009 11:54:00 am  
Blogger defender said...

I have found this debate really interesting, it is a pity we did not have it when things were more benign.
At the present time there is the wiff of rebellion in the air, which is not conducive to much finess in working out a policy never mind strategy.
A hungry man is an angry man, I can tell you from personal experience that a population is not really interested in the finer points of liberty, democracy or the isms of idiology, of more interest is where the next meal is coming from by means fair or foul.
As much as I sympathise with the views of the LPUK as an ultimate ideal, it does not sell to people who have more immediate and pressing needs, ie. jobs, roof over head, crime, pensions and the rest. Their cry is "we want jobs, we want it now", "we have no say" "where is my pension money" and so forth.
Where is the required popular support of the LPUK going to come from? Its no good being a fringe group spouting fringe solutions supported by "well off" supporters whose main concerns is self preservation of their own position. There will be no general support of that IMO, a party who by my understanding actually see in other peoples misfortune a reason to blame them personally for being under achievers and not worthy of consideration.
As a member of the BNP and an actual half caste to boot, I am more than aware of the BNP's position on the raciest issues, as a former candidate for local elections there was never at any time any hostility to my standing even from the chairman with whom I have had frank and personal discussions regarding my own circumstances with regards to BNP policy. There is a big ace in the hold which can be played should the situation require it on the race issue.
The LPUK needs to be radical in some way to get itself a voter base and very very quickly. Spending time disecting the BNP or for that matter UKIP is time lost sorting out how you are going to get a foot on the ladder. We are on the ladder and doing well, we are getting good percentages in all the elections we contest, our new membership is growing fast, our activists are very active and we are getting a lot of attention from the press and on blogs.
Whatever you might feel about the ins and outs of the BNP are, we have a solid base and we are building on it. That is all that matters, voters, that is where you need to be to judge wether or not you are you have traction.

4/07/2009 12:43:00 pm  
Blogger Stan said...

The title of the post says it all - "globally fucked". The LPUK is not just seeking to change the UK - it seems to think it can change the world! Sorry - but you can't. Certainly not without first gaining a position of strength in your home territory - and even then, as Britain found when it abolished slavery, it still takes a monumental effort of will and a not inconsiderable military to make the world see things your way.

The point is, with nationalism, it doesn't matter what happens "globally" - you have the power to act as you want to act, legislate how you want to legislate and be as free as you want to be - but the starting premise of the LPUK is open borders for immigration and imports.

Yo can not be nationalist and support open borders and "free" trade. I put free in quotes because there is no such thing as free trade in a global context. For trade to be free you have to have everyone working under the same rules - the level playing field - otherwise one side is penalised and the other isn't - and that is not free.

Look at the sheer hypocrisy of the SNP who, on one hand want to declare independence from Britain and on the other subjugate themselves to the EU. Nationalist my arse!

Traditional, benign, moderate British nationalism is what we want. It's what made this counry great in the first place and it's the only thing that can save it now. It doesn't really matter whether that is under a libertarian, conservative or liberal government - all that matters is that it is truly nationalist.

Unless you have that, everything else is just hot air.

4/07/2009 02:59:00 pm  
Blogger Ian B said...

For trade to be free you have to have everyone working under the same rules - the level playing field - otherwise one side is penalised and the other isn't - and that is not free.

No. The whole point of trade is comparative advantage- that the playing field isn't artifically levelled. Because there is an incentive to produce the best goods at the cheapest price, production rises and everybody wins. It's what creates economic growth (cue that argument again...)

The only problem is when governments subsidise and tarriff, which protects their industries from market forces. Since this is a form of economic warfare, it is reasonable to retaliate, but one must always do so with the intention of both sides freeing their trade up by removing subsidies and tarriffs i.e. "okay we both now have tarriff barriers, let us both remove them and increase trade".

The mistaken idea, popular in the EU, that competing producers have to have every last aspect equalised by force- wages, production standards, etc etc, stifles trade and everyone loses.

4/07/2009 03:25:00 pm  
Anonymous cookie said...

'Verity - algebra, chemistry, an awful lot of astronomy etc. are owed to the initial flowering of Islam before it got mired in the medievalism of the later Caliphates.'

Much of the progress in those fields were by Christians. The rest was due to the lingering effects of the residual native pre-Islamic cultures (not the 'initial flowering of Islam'). Today the biggest export of Islamic countries is people and the biggest import foreign aid. As to contributions to science and culture - you're having a laugh. The tiny blip Israel in the Muslim swamp that surrounds it produces more Nobel prize winners than the entire muslim population of the world.

4/07/2009 07:35:00 pm  
Anonymous Ron said...

"We appear to be violently agreeing -- it's just a crying shame that there are those within the party who refuse to allow reality to intrude upon their thought processes; where dogmatism and pragmatism clash, it seems to be safer for them to curl up with dogmatism. At least it means never having to face the issue in the real world, as it makes the party unelectable -- the electorate are, rightly, more concerned with how the real world works than how theory claims it ideally ought to be."

As someone who argued with you recently on this issue I think your comment doesn't really represent the discussion as it happened. I don't remember you elaborating on your initial provocative statements for example, or answering much of the resulting criticism about the obvious downsides.

I personally would be happy to talk about it more if you would like to resume that argument. I do think that portraying your point of view as blatantly obvious pragmatism as opposed to thoughtless dogma is slightly disingenuous though.

4/07/2009 07:56:00 pm  
Blogger Daveb06 said...

stan try Free England

www.freeengland.com

English nationalists not BNP or Ukip

4/07/2009 08:14:00 pm  
Blogger El Draque said...

Keep the comments flowing.
And read the insightful Eric Hoffer's "The True Believer".
In that, he explains how authoritarian regimes lose.
They start by being undermined intellectually. Only careerists genuinely believe the EU and its socialist policies are the best way ahead.
So keep on undermining.
Trouble is, the regime isn't overthrown by thougtful intellectuals; it's the violent fanatics from one extreme or the other who do the deed.

4/07/2009 09:01:00 pm  
Blogger Patrick Vessey said...

Ron wrote: "I personally would be happy to talk about it more if you would like to resume that argument. I do think that portraying your point of view as blatantly obvious pragmatism as opposed to thoughtless dogma is slightly disingenuous though. "

I'm genuinely sorry that you feel that way.

I no longer have access to the party's forum area, I'm afraid, as I deleted my account a few days ago; after 18 months of this, I'd simply had enough of trying to argue the toss with some individuals who refuse to see how the real world works on a variety of topics (and I'm not necessarily lumping you into that group -- so many folks disagreed with me that I'm afraid I can't from memory remember who said what). Consequently, I've disengaged from the forum and, once I get my party Treasurer duties handed over to Andrew, will be leaving the party. But I do still care, passionately, so I'm afraid that I will continue to comment in places like this.

However, my main argument was, and remains, that if you want free market conditions then you could only ever guarentee them within the UK; that's all the power that a UK party has. Further, and when dealing with non-free outside forces, it would be perfectly sensible (no, actually necessary) for the UK to act in a protectionist manner.

Where I (suspect) that I would go further than Stan and Ian B is in defining what constitutes state granted advantages to business.

Ian B has agreed with me already about foreign use of tariffs and direct subsidies; I would hope that most libertarians could see -- at least from a utilitarian point of view -- why such measures deserve protectionist treatment in return (which might, in time, also cause the original foreign actions to be modified).

Where we might (and I don't know) differ, is that I have clearly stated on many occasions that I view things like corporate personhood, limited liability laws and so forth also as market distortions -- they change the market power balance decisively in favour of corporate entities, and against the individual. For me, libertarianism is about individual rights and liberties, and consequently I will (continue) to rail against any act of state largesse that places individuals in a weaker power position than any other entity. Now, I know that this is a whole different kettle of fish from what we have been discussing above, but might help you understand what I was previously talking about -- if such imbalances were removed in a libertarian UK, then some measure of protection would also be required to prevent predation from those still benefiting from such market distorting factors external to the UK.

Lastly, and totally off of received dogma, a UK government should put the long-term protection and interests of the UK -- physical land, economy and citizenry -- first and foremost. Wherever a conflict might arise between individual rights, in dealings with foreign parties, and with them alone, the government has a necessary duty to protect the national interest, and the continuing existence of the nation state. This was, if I recall, the main point of contention from the forum discussion that we had.

I said it in that forum thread, and I've said in here a few times now: we can work to achieve a libertarian state within our national borders, but relationships with those external may (will/should) be on different terms.

Both myself and my wife have a front door key to our house -- we share a common interest in the property where I'm sitting typing. But I'll be buggered if I'm going to give a key to just anyone in the street who asks for one, though -- they gain access to our home only under circumstances of my/my wife's choosing.

From a physical defence perspective, libertarians get this. From an immigration point of view, LPUK gets this (hence no open borders in the manifesto at present). Why on earth libertarians can't grasp that the economic position is analogous, I really can't understand.

We can fix the UK. Let's fix the UK. The rest of the world can sort itself out.

4/07/2009 09:27:00 pm  
Blogger Stan said...

Daveb06 - I've looked at Free England before and seen nothing there to suggest they are any different to UKIP or the English Democrats.

4/07/2009 09:55:00 pm  
Anonymous Ron said...

"I no longer have access to the party's forum area, I'm afraid, as I deleted my account a few days ago; after 18 months of this, I'd simply had enough of trying to argue the toss with some individuals who refuse to see how the real world works on a variety of topics (and I'm not necessarily lumping you into that group -- so many folks disagreed with me that I'm afraid I can't from memory remember who said what). Consequently, I've disengaged from the forum and, once I get my party Treasurer duties handed over to Andrew, will be leaving the party. But I do still care, passionately, so I'm afraid that I will continue to comment in places like this."

I thought you might have left the party. There has been no announcement but there is an ominous silence. Good luck with whatever you choose to do.

"owever, my main argument was, and remains, that if you want free market conditions then you could only ever guarentee them within the UK; that's all the power that a UK party has. Further, and when dealing with non-free outside forces, it would be perfectly sensible (no, actually necessary) for the UK to act in a protectionist manner. Where I (suspect) that I would go further than Stan and Ian B is in defining what constitutes state granted advantages to business. Ian B has agreed with me already about foreign use of tariffs and direct subsidies; I would hope that most libertarians could see -- at least from a utilitarian point of view -- why such measures deserve protectionist treatment in return (which might, in time, also cause the original foreign actions to be modified)."

I don't think anyone ever argued that a UK government can offer to provide free market conditions in places outside UK borders. My personal disagreement with your position was based on your call for protectionism as an appropriate and even necessary response to protectionism from foreign governments. The argument is based on the idea that government should have a role in the economic decisions of individual people, which I reject. It also fails to take account of comparative advantage: if another country raises taxes to subsidise favoured industry, out competing UK industry in the process, then the tax payers of the competing country are in effect paying for British consumers to have a product at an unrealistically cheap price. This is a good thing. Putting up protectionist barriers and forcing UK producers to continue churning out a more expensive alternative is not.

No single protectionist country with a vendetta (why?) against a free-trading UK can subsidise UK consumers through taxes on its citizens on every single product we might care to buy. If any country tried to do such a thing they would simply be bled dry by the British consumer. This would benefit us, not them. Unless you are suggesting that a protectionist enemy could afford to fill every economic niche available to British workers then I think this argument is meaningless.

Personally I don't think officials in government offices should be able to affect the buying and selling decisions of individual British people. Government enforced protectionism is simply another kind of planned economy, and as such it is doomed to fail horribly.

4/07/2009 10:29:00 pm  
Blogger Revolution Harry said...

Nobody fancied responding to my comment then? Or watching the video?

I'll try a few more.

"Marxism represents a further vital and creative stage in the maturing of man's universal vision. Marxism is simultaneously a victory of the external, active man over the inner, passive man and a victory of reason over belief.....Human beings become increasingly manipulable and malleable...Today we are again witnessing the emergence of transnational elites....whose ties cut across national boundaries....The nation-state is gradually yielding its sovereignty....Further progress will require greater American sacrifices. More intensive efforts to shape a new world monetary structure will have to be undertaken."

Between Two Ages: America's Role in the Technetronic Era by Zbigniew Brzezinski (Bilderberger, member of the CFR, co-founder of the Trilateral Commission with David Rockefeller and now Obama's foreign policy adviser).

"One is impressed immediately by the sense of national harmony....There is a very real and pervasive dedication to chairman Mao and Maoist principles. Whatever the price of the Chinese Revolution, it has obviously succeeded not only in producing more efficient and dedicated administration, but also in fostering high morale and community purpose. General social and economic progress is no less impressive....The enormous social advances of China have benefited greatly from the singleness of ideology and purpose....The social experiment in China under Chairman Mao's leadership is one of the most important and successful in history."

"From a China Traveller" by David Rockefeller. Published in the New York Times on August 10th, 1973.

How many millions of people died in Mao's China? Who do you think funded both Mao and China's miraculous economic growth? Like I said, this is the model they've decided on for us.

"We are at present working discreetly with all our might to wrest this mysterious force called sovereignty out of the clutches of the local nation states of the world."

Professor Arnold Toynbee, in a June l931 speech.

That one was for you DK.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements, arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was the Bank for International Settlements in Basle, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the worlds central banks which were themselves private corporations. The growth of financial capitalism made possible a centralization of world economic control and use of this power for the direct benefit of financiers and the indirect injury of all other economic groups."

Tragedy and Hope: A History of The World in Our Time (Macmillan Company, 1966,) Professor Carroll Quigley of Georgetown University, highly esteemed by his former student, William Jefferson Blythe Clinton.before the Institute for the Study of International Affairs in Copenhagen.

4/08/2009 01:31:00 am  
Blogger Rich said...

Ian B has agreed with me already about foreign use of tariffs and direct subsidies; I would hope that most libertarians could see -- at least from a utilitarian point of view -- why such measures deserve protectionist treatment in return (which might, in time, also cause the original foreign actions to be modified).

I don't see this myself. Ian B has already noted that subsidies are a form of foreign aid. And tariffs of course primarily have the effect of preventing your own citizens from benefiting from lower prices. Hence meeting protectionism with protectionism seems comparable to a case of two people seeing who can punch themselves in the face the hardest.

4/08/2009 01:31:00 am  
Blogger Ian B said...

Ron, Rich, I don't think you've quite got my point. I wasn't speaking in favour of protectionism, and neither was Patrick. What's under discussion is, "how should rational free traders deal with irrational protectionists?"

We're all agreed that protectionism is irrational. But we know that in the real world, nations frequently prefer it, because they don't understand economics like what we do. We can't hope for an entirely rational world in economics terms. The current rush for Keynesian suicidial stimulus packages- the debunking of which is only a Google click away for Gordon or Obama to read- proves that.

So, my point was, that faced with protectionism, protectionists tit-for-tat should be used as a mechanism for penalising others to pressure them into adopting free trade.

Let's look at the example with coal I gave above. Without subsidies, the British coal is cheaper. The german coal is being made artificially cheaper by their subsidies. So the first bad effect is that the more productive industry- British coal- is ruined by the less productive one, German coal. Now we are agreed that Germany can only subsidise its coal by taxing its own citizens. Their own citizens are impoverished, and British citizens are benefitting from cheaper coal at their expense. THis should teach the German government to abolish the subsidy, right? No. They're not rational. They need their coal miners' votes etc. They don't understand free market economics. They'd rather impoverish themselves.

So, our market redeploys its workers into cars. The German car workers complain about cheap British cars, and the German government responds with a hefty tarriff on our cars. So the naive free marketeer says "they can't do that with every product". Well, no, but market restructurings are slow enough that we are a slow moving target, so there is plenty of time for the German government to respond product by product.

So you say, "they are impoverishing their citizens!" and I say, yes, yes they are. But they're protectionists and don't understand that. Worse, by taxing their own citizens to support their subsidies, they are reducing their own citizens' buying power both directly and indirectly for British products. Their protectionism hurts not only their own citizens, but destroys our market too. It's a game where everyone loses. They beggar themselves, but they beggar their neighbours too.

Their subisidised coal and cars are able to dominate the marketplace and knock out more efficient producers. Everybody's economy is worse off. The British economy gains from cheap imports, but loses more in productive capacity. You may say "Germany can't keep it up forever" and that is true- but by the time they have to admit this, everyone's economy is ruined. They drag us down with them.

So the purpose of implementing our own tarriffs is to force them to the negotiating table. If we're blocking their subsidised coal, they're not getting any short term benefit anyway. We can use this fact to persuade them to drop the protectionism. This is a rational strategy, and it's largely the strategy that free trade governments have always used. Simultaneous lowering of tarriffs. If you don't do that, you end up with the more efficient producers wiped out (British coal mines) in favour of less efficient (German coal mines) and, more than likely, no way to pick up the slack with other industries (e.g. cars).

In this example, if two nations (Britain and Germany) makes you think "we'll just trade with the rest of the world then", remember that the rest of the world will be much the same as Germany. Replace Britain and Germany with "Free Trading Britain" and "The Protectionist Rest Of The World". It's a discussion of how best a lone free trader can cope with a world of hostile protectionists.

4/08/2009 08:29:00 am  
Blogger Ian B said...

The other thing to remember is that citizens generally don't understand this stuff either. The German in the street, for instance, will see only their thriving coal industry, while not being directly aware that he is being impoverished through taxes to support it. In modern high tax regimes, the loss to each citizen from each subsidy is small. Anyone who think The People will wise up and tell their government to stop the subsidies obviously hasn't looked at the Common Agricultural Policy lately.

4/08/2009 08:55:00 am  
Blogger Ian B said...

One other point-

If a government of liberty were to gain office in Britain, one of its first acts- massive slashing of taxes and regulation- would cause a sudden very large increase in the productivity and competitiveness of British industry overnight. It's entirely likely that the response from other nations to this would be a kneejerk raising of trade barriers. Our government of liberty must be prepared for that with a pragmatic response.

Also Ron said-

Personally I don't think officials in government offices should be able to affect the buying and selling decisions of individual British people.

That sounds good, but what in reality you're arguing for is for the buying and selling decisions of individual British people should not be affected by British officials in government offices, but that they should be at the whim of officials in foreign governments exclusively.

4/08/2009 09:27:00 am  
Blogger Stan said...

Ian B said ...

"If a government of liberty were to gain office in Britain, one of its first acts- massive slashing of taxes and regulation- would cause a sudden very large increase in the productivity and competitiveness of British industry overnight."

Good luck with that!

And good luck to you, Patrick - LPUK is not the first party to believe they can buck the basic law of markets and they won't be the last.

4/08/2009 09:54:00 am  
Blogger Ian B said...

What is this "basic law of markets", Stan?

4/08/2009 10:04:00 am  
Anonymous Ron said...

Ian I do understand your point, I just think your examples presume an awful lot and the solution to me is as bad as the problem.

Regarding the German car/coal example..I don't think there is any problem with Germany producing subsidised cars and coal if they feel like paying the price to do so. If the cars and coal they produce is of inferior quality then consumers will choose alternatives, if not then Germany pays to subsidise our consumption. There are an infinite number of other economic avenues for British people to persue and the UK economy, provided it is free to trade, will balance accordingly.

Your argument presumes that the UK economy is a minnow facing a German monster, unable to compete effectively and with Germany having the resources to block our every move, but this is not the case. There are many countries in the world much poorer than the UK. To suggest that these countries would not welcome the chance to deal with a free-trading Britain is just not true. The EU has CAP? Fine, sell all of your cheap agricultural produce to us instead to our mutual benefit. America wants to develop uneconomical domestic fuel from maize and tar sands? Fine, sell us your cheap oil. Want to buy some high tech goods? Buy them from us, we won't screw you over with protectionist hypocrisy.

The world might consist of many protectionist states but these states are not coordinated under a single political power determined to crush a free trading UK. There are also many non-protectionist, partly protectionist, or simply poor states as well, leaving ample free trading options for home grown British manufacturing and services. And there is always the absolutely free domestic market.

I think that the best way for a lone free trading nation to cope in a world of hostile protectionists is to focus more than ever on keeping trade free. The argument that since everyone else is a protectionist then we had better be protectionist as well is a seductive one. But it puts all of the decisions for foreign trade in the hands of a few British government officials. This is fundamentally against the liberal idea of government leaving people to find their own solutions and it will inevitably fail.

Yes forign powers might put up protectionist barriers or sell things to us very cheap, but these things are a given..we have no power over them. They are external conditions, like the weather or our position on the globe. To suggest that we accept a reduction in freedom because of these external conditions and entrust all foreign buying and selling decisions to a few important people does not allow the economy to adjust flexibly to conditions as it otherwise would.

4/08/2009 10:40:00 am  
Anonymous NKT said...

@Ron
[quote]No single protectionist country with a vendetta (why?) against a free-trading UK can subsidise UK consumers through taxes on its citizens on every single product we might care to buy. If any country tried to do such a thing they would simply be bled dry by the British consumer. This would benefit us, not them. Unless you are suggesting that a protectionist enemy could afford to fill every economic niche available to British workers then I think this argument is meaningless.[/quote]

Ok, you don't get it at all, do you? If we send all our money to (say) China in exchange for cheap goods, whether subsidised or not, eventually we run out of money. It's my opinion that this is half the reason we are in recession now - spend more in a borrowing plan, and 50% of it goes to China, so leaving us poorer, as we have nothing to sell of our own.

So we are buying cheap subsidised coal from Germany (in this example) - the coal gets used up, so we must always buy more or the turbines stop and the electric goes off. The coal costs us 100%, and the Germans subsidy is only 5%, so we would have to out-spend them by 20 times for the effects to be the same. That is, if we lose 1 million, they lose only 1/20th of that. And they have all our money!

Further, it leaves us in a very weak position if and when they decide that coal is running out, and they want to keep it for themselves now, rather than keep *our* home fires burning. You can't re-open a coal mine. They flood, and you lose the knowledge that is required to mine.

We have to match tariffs, etc. in the way put forward by Patrick.

Also, please recall that the (only?) goal of a proper (libertarian) government should be to protect those inside the country from those outside the country.

4/08/2009 10:48:00 am  
Blogger Ian B said...

Ron, as I said in my last paragraph, "Germany" is standing in for "the rest of the world" in the example. We will face trade barriers from every nation to varying degrees, each trying to hobble our comparative advantage. As such, each nation is a minnow facing a monster- the entire rest of the world's nations. They don't need to be a cartel in cahoots. They will all try to manipulate their trade barriers for what they perceive to be their own benefit; even though we as free traders recognise that nobody is benefitting.

So the purpose of tit-for-tat is to negate their economic warfare, by a defensive strategy and draw them to the negotiating table for a trade "armistice". As I keep saying, I am not advocating protectionism. I am advocating the only pragmatic strategy for reducing it. These things are not "a given" externality over which we have no power, in that the power we have over them is the ability to retaliate. I remind you again that economic protectionism is a form of economic warfare- the term "trade war" is used for a reason- and you are then faced with the choice of being harmed by the aggressor or defending yourself. It is no different to any other situation in which one person is trying to deal fairly, and the other isn't. For the fair dealer to ignore their opponent's aggression is naive and self defeating. It just encourages them.

Our hypothetical German coal industry can destroy the entire British coal industry by being just one penny per ton cheaper. That's a negligible benefit in economic freedom to British consumers, but a vast loss of economic freedom in the costs to the UK economy of pan-economic restructuring after the destruction of an industry that was, on a level playing field, more productive and competitive. Everybody has ultimately lost, sacrificed on the altar of a particular interpretation of ideological purity. The British coal industry were placed in a position in which, despite their superiority, they could not win. How can anyone claim that this is economic freedom?

As I said, you're simply placing the economic decision making in the hands of foreign powers. The choice of what coal British consumers used is being made- in this case- by the German government. If you want British consumers to be free to make a genuine market choice, you need to destroy the Germans' subsidy weapon. And to do that, you're going to need to deploy weaponry of your own.

4/08/2009 11:06:00 am  
Blogger Devil's Kitchen said...

Whilst we are having this debate, I feel that it might be useful to throw in some figures, so that we all know what proportions we are talking about.

80% of our trade and services is internal.

Of the 20% that is exports, 10% goes to the EU and 10% to the rest of the world.

DK

4/08/2009 11:12:00 am  
Anonymous Ron said...

NKT- you are advocating a mercantilist argument. I don't accept mercantilism as an economic theory and I believe it has been thoroughly destroyed elsewhere.

IanB- I think I already covered Germany standing for the rest of the world. As I pointed out before the rest of the world is not a homogenous place. There are ample opportunities for free trade with partially protectionist countries, poorer countries, and the domestic market.

Leaving individual people free to find these opportunities (ie free trade) is much more efficient than a top down approach where only a few people in government act as proxy for the entire nation. I reject protectionism on the grounds that it is a collectivist approach that doesn't allow our economy to flexibly react to changing economic circumstances as it should. A free trading Britain would of course not find it advantageous to produce coal, agricultural commodities other than luxury items, low tech manufactured products and so on..instead it would remodel to produce different things.

I prefer to trust the ingenuity of individual people over the blunt instrument that is state interference in the economy. Where a protectionist state would find itself engaged in expensive trade wars while having to produce massively inefficient commodities and base manufactured products, a free trading state (like Hong Kong for example) would find itself a hub of trade, commerce, hi-tech manufacturing, and individual free enterprise.

I think protectionism is absolutely the wrong route to take. It would end up shackling us to a large interfering state for a very long time. Saying that without protectionism trade decisions would be left in the hands of "German" politicians is incorrect. Germany merely offers goods and services at particular prices and provides more and less afvourable markets. What to do about the options offered by Germany is left in the hands of millions of individual British business people abnd consumers. Some will come up with ingeneous solutions while others will not. Some will enjoy consuming while othrs will prefer to spend elsewhere. Putting British politicians in charge of a protectionist foreign policy on the other hand is a completely different proposition: they are in a position to coercively enforce their decisions through law on the population of the UK while german politicians are not. Under such a sceme you can no longer even contemplate coming up with your own solutions- you are required to abide by the decision that has been made for you. Decision making is removed from millions of individuals and placed in the hands of a few "wise men". Sorry but this just doesn't appeal to me.

4/08/2009 11:39:00 am  
Blogger Ian B said...

Ron, you keep not addressing the point, and I'm starting to feel the same sense of frustration I think Patrick did. I know all those libertarian talking points. I am a libertarian. I know precisely why free trade is better. I want individuals to make free choices in the marketplace. I don't want government coercion.

What I (and I think Patrick) are trying to point out is that by having a naive totally open trade policy, you are simply opening up your own market to coercion by others. You can't just say "oh, we'll trade with somebody else" because in the real world, everybody will be playing some degree of the protectionist game. If a coal producer realises they can devastate others' coal producing capacity by subsidising their own, they will. They can subisidise their own coal until every British pit is closed, then have control of the market since the competing industry is gone, and then set prices as they like.

I will say this again. The point of the threat of oneself enacting trade barriers is to force others to remove theirs. It is not the intention to have everyone have trade barriers. It is the only weapon you have with which to create a freer trading world. It is all you have to stop your competitors beggaring you. I am not advocating protectionism.

So, as a libertarian I understand your dislike of collectivism. I agree. But all naive free tradism does is to gift the coercive power exclusively to others. It does not reduce it. You aren't allowing individuals to use their ingenuity. You're just saying you'll let (in this hypothetical case) the German government set the price of coal. That really is not the same thing.

You are advocating the sacrifice of superior, productive industries in your own nation in favour of inferior, less productive industries in others. That is irrational. You aren't stopping state coercion. You are simply ensuring that the coercion is carried out by foreign states acting entirely in their interest, not yours.

To be a touch emotive; try telling a miner, or any other worker, or business owner, that they must lose their job, or their business, not because they are uncompetitive, but because you will not intervene against economic warfare by a foreign power on ideological grounds, and see how much sympathy you get.

4/08/2009 12:05:00 pm  
Blogger Rich said...

Ian B, it is certainly true that Germany could skew our markets by protecting all of theirs. But, they are only impoverishing their own citizens, and not us.

This bears repeating - they are only impoverishing themselves, and not us.

Our position is that our incentives have changed. Our coal industry in your example would perhaps wind down, and resources would start pouring into industries in which we have comparative advantage.

Then there is the point that Germany are not our only trading partner, so the effect is small, anyhow. Then you may make the argument, well, what if every trading partner protects their whole economy? Well, effectively we'll be on the receiving end of subsidies from every nation in the world! It'll be like Christmas!

In terms of incentivising other nations to drop their barriers (as some sort of altruistic notion), I'm not persuaded by tit-for-tat. Barriers historically have tended to go up and stay up. Governments do not have an incentive to enrich their citizens that much, and people tend to see protection as "good" for them rather than "bad". A protectionist war is hence more likely to happen, where barriers get raised and raised against each other as governments blame the other protectionist trading partners for all their woes.

As an aside, it could be argued that Castro's reign was extended by a few decades because of the embargoes from the US. Hermetically sealing Cuba in a socialist island "paradise" (see also North Korea) was probably the biggest boost Castro could ever have got, as it rendered his citizens impotent and ensured he alone would remain the "Big Cheese".

4/08/2009 12:26:00 pm  
Blogger Patrick Vessey said...

Ian B wrote: "What I (and I think Patrick) are trying to point out is that by having a naive totally open trade policy, you are simply opening up your own market to coercion by others."

You're correct, that is exactly my argument.

As a very slight digression, I'm fairly sure that I linked (in the private LPUK forum discussion around this topic) to some pieces by Paul Craig Roberts, looking at why theory on comparative advantage doesn't necessarily stand up in today's world, as several assumptions that Ricardo made are no longer true. Roberts' argument started in a piece he and Schumer wrote for the New York Times, and the discussion carried on over at mises.org, with Roberts posting two more in-depth follow up articles (here and here). A telling quote from one of those articles (and, please, do read them) is this:

"Many people confuse the workings of capitalism that lead to lower costs and greater profits with free trade. They overlook the necessary conditions for free trade to be mutually beneficial. The same people tend to confuse the free flow of factors of production with free trade. I have been amazed at the number of fierce adherents of free trade, even among economists, who have no idea of the necessary conditions on which the case for free trade rests."

4/08/2009 12:27:00 pm  
Blogger Ian B said...

Our position is that our incentives have changed. Our coal industry in your example would perhaps wind down, and resources would start pouring into industries in which we have comparative advantage.

Rich, I already addressed this. Firstly, our coal industry has been destroyed despite being superior. Secondly, the economic costs of "winding down" and redeployment are considerable- our national productivity experiences a significant dip as all those miners haev to find work, pits must be decommissioned, new entrepreneurs have to start new businesses.

Then, thirdly, which is why I brought in the hypotehtical "redployment to the car industry", that if the Germans are protecting their coal industry, they are going to protect other industries too. Thus, even after we have born the costs of redeployment, another industry we have a comparative advantage in is going to face another trade barrier. Our comparative advantage is a slow moving target. What takes us months or years to redeploy can be counteracted by a simple parliamentary act of fiat in our competitor's parliament. Economies can't react instantaneously but governments can.

I also pointed out a "fourthly". The Germans are harming their own consumers, yes. But that also means those consumers are a poorer market for our goods, even if they can get past trade barriers. So we're losing there too.

I reiterate that "Germany" here is just a proxy for any and all other nations who, as things stand, will pretty much all be to some degree protectionist.

I also reiterate that, while in the past trade barriers have tended to stay up, I am only supporting their use, or the threat of their use, as a means to drag those waging economic warfare against us to the negotiating table.

4/08/2009 12:45:00 pm  
Blogger Rich said...

They overlook the necessary conditions for free trade to be mutually beneficial.

Frankly, with a statement like that, I wouldn't bother to read any more.

The necessary condition for free trade to be mutually beneficial is that it's free. Neither party would enter into the the trade if it didn't benefit them. Pretty basic stuff.

4/08/2009 12:47:00 pm  
Anonymous Ron said...

Ian- Here you are using "Germany" in the sense of an individual country intent on destroying British industry. In reality we have a whole world of competing economies, some more protectionist, some less. The argument that "Germany" will act intentionally to crush British industry and then set prices does not apply when "Germany" actually means "the world".

I already explained the difference as I see it between coercion from our own government through law (ie you go to jail if you do not obey) and the "coercion" of a single foreign government intervening to subsidise a market. These are two different things and treating them as if they are the same is not helpful. The domestic coercion of protectionism is a blanket measure applying to everyone- people simply have no other option, they must abide by the decision. The foreign coercion of a single foreign government setting tarriffs or prices is ameliorated by the options available (buying, going elsewhere, not buying). The world is not all similarly stitched up by a single cartel and I just don't think this argument applies until it is.

Governments always use the excuse that they are protecting people from external conditions when they apply coercive authoritarian measures. Engaging in trade wars and economic protectionism is no different.

4/08/2009 12:53:00 pm  
Blogger Ian B said...

Ron, the point is Germany is "any country in the world". If one subsidises their industry, it allows them to outcompete everybody else, even if they are not the most otherwise competitive producer. The free traders' coal will be more expensive than the protectionists' coal. You can consider a number of free trading nations, versus a number of protectionist nations if you like. The same argument applies. The free trading nations will lose their market. You have no answer to this, at least that you have stated so far, other than an ideological appeal which has merit but by its nature ignores the pragmatic argument, which is the element I am concentrating on.

If you are saying "I am happy to sacrifice the British economy on ideological grounds", that is entirely fair enough. But you can't avoid the fact that maintaining absolute free trade in the face of protectionism from others is going to hurt your economy, and quite badly too. If you do not at least threaten to retaliate, the other nations will never have a reason to lower their trade barriers. It's a lose-lose situation.

4/08/2009 01:08:00 pm  
Blogger Patrick Vessey said...

Rich wrote: "[PV quoted: They overlook the necessary conditions for free trade to be mutually beneficial.]

Frankly, with a statement like that, I wouldn't bother to read any more."

And you demonstrate one reason why this sort of discussion is always frustrating. People think that they understand things, that they know what the great economic thinkers of the past actually wrote; even though they don't bother to read them and they also can't be bothered to look at any evidence that might challenge their assumptions -- whether those assumptions are faulty or not.

I've suffered exactly the same when talking in the past about things that (for example) Adam Smith wrote. Virtually nobody bothers to read Smith these days, but makes do with the Janet and John versions put out by the likes of PJ O'Rourke. These modern 'summations' distort Smith's thinking by attempting to shoehorn his thoughts into supporting the concept of modern corporate capitalism. Christ, when Smith was writing the word 'capitalism' hadn't even been invented! Smith is quite clear in his support for market economies, and similarly clear in his suspicions of corporations -- but you never hear that, do you? As Korten memorably said:

When a defender of global capitalism disdainfully asks 'What is your alternative? We've all seen that central planning doesn’t work,' just respond, 'I think Adam Smith had a good idea. I favour a real market economy that is not centrally planned by either governments or corporations.'

But, no, many don't bother reading Smith, Ricardo or anyone else. They don't bother thinking about the socio-economic context of the times in which such writers were producing their works. It doesn't occur to them that conditions change, and that not all self-evident truths survive those changing times.

If you had bothered to read the pieces I linked to, you would have seen Roberts clearly say:

"A number of commentators misread what I was saying and thought I was refuting the doctrine of free trade. That is not the case. Free trade theory is sound. It will produce shared gains as long as the specified conditions hold. Many libertarians believe that free trade is an absolute good independent of any conditions. They are entitled to that view, but it is not the view of international trade theory."

You can either read the pieces and find out what Ricardo said, or you can read Ricardo himself. If you do neither then you don't have an intellectual leg to stand on.

4/08/2009 01:16:00 pm  
Anonymous Ron said...

Ian, You appear to be confusing the idea of a single protectionist entity vs a single free trading nation (eg the world vs the UK)with a free trading nation in a world full of more and less protectionist nations applying protectionist measures to different sections of their economies while competing with each other. All of your examples apply to a the single nation vs world situation and do not (I believe) generalise to a world full of different nations providing different opportunities.

Yes free trading nations will not find it advantageous to produce certain goods and services, but it doesn't matter whether this is due to protectionist measures or not. Subsidised industry only hurts the producer in a situation with many different producers and consumers. Generalising this argument to make the case that free trading countries will be squeezed out of every single economic sector by protectionist competition is not realistic, although you call it a pragmatic argument.

Until we have world government, there are always innumerable alternative options when we talk about the world as a whole, and the fact that different competing protectionist nations have different agendas means that opportunities for a free trading nation are everywhere. For example, one of the most obvious options available to a free trading UK is to trade with the poorer countries of the world who currently get a raw deal due to protectionist measures from the EU and US.

Also, if the UK was a truly free trading country with very low (or zero) taxes then many of the financial and manufacturing enterprises of other countries would relocate to the UK. Protectionist foreign governments would be unlikely to institute sanctions against companies owned by citizens of their country but operating from the UK.

4/08/2009 01:38:00 pm  
Blogger Rich said...

Firstly, our coal industry has been destroyed despite being superior.

A protectionism big enough to "destroy" an industry in which we have a comparative advantage (assuming this is possible) would involve truly massive subsidies to their coal industry, of which we would be the beneficiaries; or else massive taxation which would so clearly impoverish them that it would most likely not be sustainable.

Secondly, the economic costs of "winding down" and redeployment are considerable-

We're in a modern service economy. The costs of redeployment ain't that high anymore. Plus, to make your hypothetical example concrete, we had the mine closures in the 1980s and emerged stronger for it. This is because our comparative advantage was not in coal, granted, and in your hypothetical example it was. See my above argument.

Then, thirdly, which is why I brought in the hypotehtical "redployment to the car industry", that if the Germans are protecting their coal industry, they are going to protect other industries too.

If them protecting their coal benefits us, this applies to other industries too.

I'll re-iterate: it impoverishes them, it changes our incentives.

I also pointed out a "fourthly". The Germans are harming their own consumers, yes. But that also means those consumers are a poorer market for our goods, even if they can get past trade barriers. So we're losing there too.

Yes, they are worse off. Yes, mutual free trade would make everyone better off. That's exactly my point. And yours too.

I also reiterate that, while in the past trade barriers have tended to stay up, I am only supporting their use, or the threat of their use, as a means to drag those waging economic warfare against us to the negotiating table.

You seem pretty sure that it would work. I don't see much evidence of it, as I already argued. In fact, governments getting together and "negotiating" brings to mind one of DK's favourite Adam Smith quotes about "tradesmen" getting together only ever for the purposes of defrauding the public.

4/08/2009 01:45:00 pm  
Blogger Ian B said...

Ron, I use a simple model because if we started discussing a hypothetical case of 100 nations with thousands of different products all with different tarriffs and subsidies we would get lost in the detail, obviously. The "coal and cars" example demonstrated the challenge a libertarian government will face. Every single nation is "against the world" and libertarian indivdualists really ought to grasp this, but it's one situation where libertarians tend to wander off into idealism-based arguments.

The simple situation I described does scale up to the real world economy. It is the very problem governments seeking freer trade have wrestled with for generations. It is not trivial. It is the case where their own, more competitive industries, are deliberately strangled by competitors being supported by their governments, and it is exacerbated by the fact that those very industries which are the most (free trade) competitive are the ones which will be attacked by foreign trade barriers. If our car industry is crap, nobody will bother blocking it. If it's producing fabulous, cheap cars, that is precisely where a trade barrier will be thrown up, and relying on our economy's ability to shape shift will simply result in massive costs as it does so, since each reconfiguration (shut the car plants, try selling robots or cheese or something) costs a great deal in liquidation and lost production- and then that new competitive industry... meets another trade barrier.

If it is not avdantageous to supply certain goods and services due to lack of competitiveness, fair enough. They will have to go, and be replaced by competitive ones. If they are deliberately ruined by foreign protectionism that is not the same phenomenon and it is simply wrong to think it is.

You can't simply throw your borders open. It won't work.

4/08/2009 01:53:00 pm  
Blogger Rich said...

Patrick, in the spirit of standing on an intellectual leg, I read a bit of Roberts' piece. And oh, he's a Keynesian? What a surprise. Let's take a key sentence:

Comparative advantage is undermined if the factors of production can relocate to wherever they are most productive

No Paul, comparative advantage is vindicated. Free trade is vindicated. The whole point of free trade is that factors of production do relocate to wherever they are most productive.

Anyway, like I said, I needn't have bothered reading it. Every time you hear someone saying, "free trade's great, but..." you know what's coming.

By the way, your Korten quote makes no sense.

4/08/2009 02:03:00 pm  
Blogger Ian B said...

We're in a modern service economy. The costs of redeployment ain't that high anymore.

"Modern service economy" is a euphemism for, "everyone relying on the state-backed fiat money pyramid scheme", isn't it? Well, that worked out well.

Those costs are still costs. And somebody has to produce actual stuff, be it coal, steel or wheat, somewhere in the world. The argument is general to nations within the world economy.

Plus, to make your hypothetical example concrete, we had the mine closures in the 1980s and emerged stronger for it.

Did we? The mines were closed for political reasons. The local economies were devastated. We replaced that with CDO pass-the-parcel in The City.

Funnily, my random choice of coal as an examplar appears to be genuine.

"The spokesman said that although RJB's costs were one third of those of its rivals in Germany and one quarter of those in Spain, subsidies were locking it out of potentially lucrative markets.At the same time, he said, the aid allowed these less efficient firms to make inroads into [the] UK market... Coal production in Britain is the cheapest in Europe, but there is still a substantial tonnage that is imported into the UK,"

And there remains the central point that a government which actively supports subsidised imports at the expense of its own nation's production is actively supporting the triumph of inefficient industry over efficient industry. That is irrational, and I also find it hard to see how that can be increasing anybody's economic freedom.

4/08/2009 02:05:00 pm  
Anonymous Ron said...

Its not irrational if the price is less.

[i]Every single nation is "against the world" and libertarian indivdualists really ought to grasp this, but it's one situation where libertarians tend to wander off into idealism-based arguments.[/i]

Well of course you think this. But all you are doing is attempting to portray your point of view as the obvious, pragmatic "hard choices" one, while claiming mine is idealogical pie in the sky.

Obviously I don't agree.

I would say that, if you look at the problem in strictly empirical terms, free trade has benefitted more than it has harmed, while the so-called benefits of protectionism are extremely dubious.

4/08/2009 02:28:00 pm  
Blogger Rich said...

"Modern service economy" is a euphemism for, "everyone relying on the state-backed fiat money pyramid scheme", isn't it? Well, that worked out well.

No it's not a euphemism. Yes, there is a fiat money pyramid scheme going on, but that has nothing to do with this issue.

Those costs are still costs. And somebody has to produce actual stuff, be it coal, steel or wheat, somewhere in the world.

Yes, but it doesn't have to be us. For example, Taiwan, Malaysia, China etc. quite clearly have comparative advantage in "making stuff" for now. Nothing wrong with that.

As for raw materials such as coal being an exception, Hong Kong has precious little in the way of natural resources. Africa has fucking loads. Little more need be said.

And there remains the central point that a government which actively supports subsidised imports at the expense of its own nation's production is actively supporting the triumph of inefficient industry over efficient industry. That is irrational, and I also find it hard to see how that can be increasing anybody's economic freedom.

It's the foreign government that is doing the supporting. Two wrongs don't make a right. And where we disagree is that I don't see tit-for-tat protectionism as the answer.

4/08/2009 02:32:00 pm  
Blogger Patrick Vessey said...

Rich wrote: "No Paul, comparative advantage is vindicated. Free trade is vindicated. The whole point of free trade is that factors of production do relocate to wherever they are most productive."

Sorry, but you are flat wrong. The argument still being used for comparative advantage is that of Ricardo. Ricardo was quite clear that certain factors had to hold true for his own argument to stand scrutiny. Those factors no longer hold true, thus his argument no longer does. As Roberts wrote, if somebody wants to come up with another theory that gets around the restrictions placed by Ricardo, great! But nobody has to date. We're left trying to justify a real world activity as a 'mutual good' by appealing to a theory that simply doesn't support it.

Having read Smith, I think that the Korten quote makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, the works of all these folks have been appropriated by more recent economists (and think tanks etc.) to justify the economic system that we 'enjoy' today: one based upon corporatism and capital speculation. That certainly wasn't Smith's vision, which was one of a market economy. Scale, power relations and the like which Smith talks about are ignored by the modern re-tellers of Smith's tale, as these aspects of his work contradict what is in place today.

Smith himself provided far more balance than you'd know if you haven't actually read him. Another favourite example of mine is to do with division of labour. Everyone knows how Smith talked about pin manufacturing, and the benefits of labour division. Few, however, realise that he balanced his view by discussing the inevitable downside of specialisation:

"In the progress of the division of labour, the employment of the far greater part of those who live by labour, that is, of the great body of the people, comes to be confined to a few very simple operations, frequently to one or two. But the understandings of the greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments. The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become. The torpor of his mind renders him not only incapable of relishing or bearing a part in any rational conversation, but of conceiving any generous, noble, or tender sentiment, and consequently of forming any just judgment concerning many even of the ordinary duties of private life."

So, Smith makes both a case for, and against, division of labour. At the end of the day, it is a political (small 'p') decision that determines which route we go down, and not a purely economic one. But these subtleties are generally lost to the modern man who no longer goes to the original source, but merely accepts the version being peddled by those who -- understandably -- seek to justify their actions today, in today's socio-economic climate, by appealing to the thinking of past greats.

4/08/2009 02:33:00 pm  
Blogger Ian B said...

For crikey's sake Ron, I am a believer in free trade. I am not a supporter of protectionism. How many times do I have to say this?

Protectionists erect trade barriers because they believe in mercantilism etc. They think nations benefit from trade barriers. I am sure I have quite clearly stated that I believe the absolute opposite. I want a world of free trade.

We are in total agreement that free trade is the best policy.

What I am discussing is how a nation that aspires to free trade should act in a protectionist world. My answer is to negotiate lowering of trade barriers, from a position of strength achieved either by actually imposing barriers or threatening them. The objective being for all parties to lower their barriers.

If you are the only country with open borders, you haven't got free trade, any more than the only country without an army has achieved peace. All it has achieved is vulnerability.

4/08/2009 02:35:00 pm  
Blogger Stan said...

Ian B said ...

"What is this "basic law of markets", Stan?"

Supply and demand, Ian. In a global free market there are not just businesses competing for your hard earned cash - there are people competing for your jobs.

And there are 6 billion of 'em.

Over supply leads to lower demand and lower prices - and that applies to wages as much as products.

Comparative advantage won't save you - that depends on you holding assets that give you an advantage - and we don't.

4/08/2009 02:36:00 pm  
Blogger Stan said...

DK said

"80% of our trade and services is internal."

Yep - very true. But an awful lot of that internal trade is trading imported goods.

The fact is that Britain has a negative balance of trade - and has done since what, mid eighties?

I think it averages about 2.5% of GDP over that time. That means there is some £30 billion quid leeching from our economy every year. Even if our economy was growing by 2.5% per year we'd only be running to stand still - and it isn't. And I'm pretty sure it hasn't averaged that sort of growth over the last 25 years!

Just like any household will struggle if they have more going out than coming in - so will a nation. Stop trying to make economics so complicated - it isn't. What was the Dicken's line - annual income £20, annual expenditure £19/19/6 - result happiness. Annual income £20, annual expenditure £20/-/6 - result misery.

It really is that simple. Our apparent affluence is built on a massive and ever growing mountain of debt - government, corporate and personal debt. Do you really think that can go on forever?

Sorry, but it can't.

4/08/2009 02:54:00 pm  
Blogger defender said...

I am with Stan on this.
If we export more in value than we import, we win.
If we import more than we export, we lose.
Balance of trade is the only indicator as to how a business, house hold, country is doing.
British jobs for British workers, is also good business practice for Britain the nation.

4/08/2009 03:44:00 pm  
Anonymous Ron said...

"What I am discussing is how a nation that aspires to free trade should act in a protectionist world. My answer is to negotiate lowering of trade barriers, from a position of strength achieved either by actually imposing barriers or threatening them. The objective being for all parties to lower their barriers."

I'm sorry, I don't agree that this is a good policy. When trade barriers go up nobody benefits, but with open borders the consumers of the UK do benefit. Your logic would make no more sense to a protectionist government than mine does (since negotiating to lower trade restrictions would result in the free competition they wish to prevent at all costs).

Moreover you are failing to address the argument that a world economy with different competing (sometimes protectionist) countries offers many different opportunities for British producers compared to a single monolithic protectionist entity. Protectionist countries with a car industry might want to raise trade barriers to imports from the free UK car industry for example, but countries without a domestic car industry would have no reason to do so. Similarly if UK producers offered cars filling a particular niche not easily filled by the protectionist country there would be no reason for trade restrictions. But such problem solving actions are stuffed if we adopt trade restrictions as well in some kind of tit for tat game.

I simply don't trust politicians to make these decisions for me and in my best interests.

"If you are the only country with open borders, you haven't got free trade, any more than the only country without an army has achieved peace. All it has achieved is vulnerability"

With completely open borders the UK would certainly have more free trade than if the government raised trade barriers, and more is better than none in my book. I don't think the government should have anything to do with trade.

4/08/2009 04:11:00 pm  
Anonymous Ron said...

Also notice how appealing talk of protectionism is to the nationalist element. Notice how it gets twisted into an argument for mercantilism. Once you raise trade barriers you have the same problem that all protectionist governments do- a large inefficient and protected sector of the work force pressuring government to keep barriers up and protect British jobs.

Personally I'd prefer the UK to adopt a Hong Kong style free trade policy.

4/08/2009 04:17:00 pm  
Blogger Ian B said...

Yes Ron, but I'm not supporting mercantilism, and the fact that a partcular policy can be used by others to support their view doesn't mean it must be avoided.

With completely open borders the UK would certainly have more free trade than if the government raised trade barriers,

No, no it wouldn't. That would only be the case if our trade barriers were indiscriminate. If they are entirely targeted against foreign trade barriers, they would simply negate the foreign trade barriers. Buying artificially cheap goods from abroad harms our economy in toto, even if some individuals (buyers of those specific products) gain a short term benefit. By raising a barrier against German coal, you are nullifying the Germans' benefit from subsidising their coal. They don't have a market to sell it in.

Tit for tat is a basic principle of human interaction, perhaps the most basic. It is a wise strategy that discourages your opponent because whatever he does to harm you, he gets back. It is a primary method in human society of discouraging others from harming you.

The problem is, what you describe as "opportunities" is British producers desperately trying to find some markets that aren't being distorted, constantly at risk of foreign governments just blocking them off.

The policy of tit for tat ensures that other governments, if they consider subsidies or tarriffs, know that they may be punished for them and will thus be less likely to do so. A declared policy of open borders takes away that need for caution. Lowering trade barriers has always been a matter for negotiation- "I will if you will" and any other policy is just naive.

I agree that trade barriers are bad for everyone. That doesn't mean that "so, we just take ours down unilaterally" is the correct answer. Wars are bad for everyone too, but that doesn't mean one side just stopping fighting is a very practical solution. You need to negotiate a ceasefire from a position of strength.

4/08/2009 04:32:00 pm  
Blogger defender said...

Have a look at the underlying cost of a British worker out of work. That is a net loss to the purse.
A private company does improve its profitability with trade by seeking deals abroad which britain cannot match, sure, thats a given, but the downside is a balance of trade negative for the nation,
increase expenditure, less tax revenues, loss of skills and social problems.
Of course free traders do not like it, but what is more important, a few doing well or too many pissed off. There has to be a balance favourable to overall economy.
And we are skint so we have to borrow to import.

4/08/2009 04:45:00 pm  
Anonymous Ron said...

"Yes Ron, but I'm not supporting mercantilism, and the fact that a partcular policy can be used by others to support their view doesn't mean it must be avoided."

You missed my point Ian. Once trade barriers are raised, for whatever reason, governments find them difficult to take back down again due to pressure from those protected by the trade barrier. This is why the tit for tat proposal is counter productive. The foreign government is often more afraid of its own domestic protected industry (since they have the power to vote it out of office) than it is of threats from the UK, so it keeps barriers up. If this happens then UK barriers also stay up and a protected industry lobby grows here as well. In this situation the trade war is more likely to escalate than anything else, harming everyone, and eroding the UK government's ability to remove trade barriers even if they want to at a later date.

Trade between two countries will always result in one out competing the other in terms of a particular good or service. If the foreign country is the one likely to be out competed then it has absolutely zero motivation to remove trade barriers protecting its inefficient industry in any tit for tat negotiation with the UK. In this situation trade barriers stay up in both countries. Since as free traders we are happy to have our inefficient industry out competed in free trade (and I believe that whether this happens through efficiency or subsidy is irrelevant), we might as well lower the barriers right now and let our economy adapt to the prevailing economic landscape. In your system trade barriers will remain in place where we have a comparative advantage, but they will be removed where we don't. Or even worse, they will remain in place everywhere in a tit for tat trade war.

Rather than "if you will I will", what we end up with is "if you won't I won't", and nobody benefits.

4/08/2009 05:08:00 pm  
Blogger Henry North London said...

Patrick Can I make a small request

I almost came over to your house the other day as I was in the North

WOuld you be kind enough to leave an email address for me to correspond with you somewhere?

or you can use my blog name and add a google mail onto the end and email me direct HNL all one word

4/08/2009 08:41:00 pm  
Blogger Roger Thornhill said...

FWIW the LPUK is not so naive to push for open borders - one of the policies is for transparent, points-based immigration because of the very fact that the rest of the world is not Libertarian and so it would be foolish to swing open the doors. Another is to recognise that energy is part of the National Interest - even though this idea upsets some people!

Thus I am broadly with and I believe I generally understand IanB and Patrick.

Anyone who has seen 1/10 of what is being done in Africa by the new-wave colonialists (who, considering their history, ought to bloody well know better but do not give a toss) subverting and stripping the countries bare.

On the flip side we see Socialist Bolivia doing the reverse and equally STUPID stance over its Lithium, demanding that all production of batteries AND CARS remain INSIDE Bolivia, as well as ALL the profits.

NiMH, anyone?

4/08/2009 10:23:00 pm  
Blogger Gandhi said...

On the retaliatory protectionism thing: I've had a think about this in the past and as much as I came to a conclusion, it was that tariffs should be mechanical/automatic - that is - imports from a country known to be subsidising its exports (a mercantilist) should face matching retaliatory tariffs, and that that should be the only way that protectionist tariffs would be employed.

But... Question to the quorum: even if a government were to adopt strict mechanistic rules on import tariffs (to obviate industry calls for ad-hoc protection), how on Earth do we know how much tariff to apply? It may not be practicable to know just how much effective subsidy is behind a foreign industry. And do we factor-in distortions conferred by currency fluctuations? How? Even if we can measure things with reasonable accuracy, who does the measuring? Won't the measurers be under pressure from various parties to return figures which manipulate the outcomes in their favour?

4/08/2009 11:50:00 pm  
Blogger Rich said...

Those factors no longer hold true, thus his argument no longer does.

It's a model, Patrick. Keynesians seem to have a hard time with drawing the distinction. Keynes himself stated that "in the long run we are all dead" but really the long run is a hypothetical abstraction and nothing to do with the real world.

And as a model it's one of the most elegant and illustrative that economics has provided. Simply taking one of the assumptions and attacking it is weak. I used to do that all the time as an undergrad. A better method is to ask how well its predictions turn out.

the works of all these folks have been appropriated by more recent economists (and think tanks etc.) to justify the economic system that we 'enjoy' today: one based upon corporatism and capital speculation.

Perhaps. Some people do end up defending corporatism when they mean to defend the free market. But I'd rather that than attacking ideas that have stood the test of time such as comparative advantage.

So, Smith makes both a case for, and against, division of labour.

Yes. He also said:
The uniform, constant and uninterrupted effort of every man to better his condition, the principle from which public and national, as well as private opulence is originally derived, is frequently powerful enough to maintain the natural progress of things toward improvement, in spite both of the extravagance of government, and of the greatest errors of administration. Like the unknown principle of animal life, it frequently restores health and vigour to the constitution, in spite, not only of the disease, but of the absurd prescriptions of the doctor.

In short then, we may say drudgery is more a symptom of a command economy than of a vigorous free market economy.

4/09/2009 01:43:00 pm  
Blogger Patrick Vessey said...

Rich wrote: "It's a model, Patrick... Some people do end up defending corporatism when they mean to defend the free market. But I'd rather that than attacking ideas that have stood the test of time such as comparative advantage"

Indeed it is just a model. But I fear that you are missing the key underlying tenet of that model: that of mutual advantage.

Folks that I have argued with about this within the party would have said, for example in the context of Ian's German coal point, that as long as the UK consumer was getting a better deal, what's the problem? That the fact that only one party might seem to benefit in the trade shouldn't concern us.

What Ian and I have been suggesting is that we really should be concerned. Not simply from a moral perspective (which is important to some), but from an economic one. As Ian has pointed out, if the German taxpayer is subsidising our consumption, they will have less to spend on their own consumption. This in turn will impact our exports to them.

Ian put it well when he said that not only are we beggaring the Germans, but ourselves as well. At best, an imbalanced act of trade like the one being discussed will probably end up being neutral for all concerned -- our benefit from buying 'cheap' German coal being offset by their subsequent reduction in imports from ourselves. More likely is that at least one of the parties will actually suffer a disadvantage from the trade; who that turns out to be (and whether it's one or both parties) will obviously depend upon the real-world trade -- I can't speculate from a hypothetical.

What I can say, though, is that such a trade is clearly not of mutual advantage. It might be mutually neutral, it might be that one or both parties lose. But there is no way that both parties win.

And that's the key point. For 'comparative advantage' to mean what we all think that it does, there must be mutual advantage.

Neither I nor Roberts have claimed that it's not possible for advantage to occur in a trading position like the one under discussion. All that we've both tried to point out is that such advantage isn't mutual. Thus, using the term 'comparative advantage' is really very misleading, as the suppositions that accompany that term don't stand.

I hope that you don't view the above as 'merely semantics'; it's far more than that. The widespread (mis)use of terms like CA to describe what we see in today's economic world allows all sorts of abhorrent distortions to be slipped past us whilst claims of free markets are heralded from the rooftops.

I'm a free marketeer, and the single biggest problem that I have in explaining the benefits of that economic system to other people is that they think that they already know what 'free markets' are. They think they know because those supporting the current order clothe themselves in that language to gain some legitimacy. All of us who care about genuinely free markets have a duty to point this out, loud and long, until the message starts to get through to the general public. If we don't, I fear that the concept of 'free markets' will be forever tarnished, much as the term 'liberal' has now lost all historical meaning.

4/09/2009 08:33:00 pm  
Anonymous Sam said...

Well, this discussion has been taken further than the internal party discussion, which is helpful.

There seems to be conflation of at least a couple of issues here.

1. If Germany is offering the UK cheap coal through greater efficiency or subsidies then we should buy the coal and spend our time creating something else of value either for ourselves or to sell back to the Germans. By putting up trade barriers all we in the UK then have is less stuff in exchange for making some politicians feel good about themselves.

The point about our export markets potentially shrinking misses the point that if the German govt is intent on screwing the Germans then there's not a lot we can (should?) do about it. In fact, it has been said explicitly, and generally agreed upon I think, that we can only directly control what happens in the UK and we should focus on that.

2. If we pay for the cheap coal by producing cars and swapping them with the Germans then, as a whole, the UK (being our focus) is better off. There are of course frictional costs of moving from one industry to another (coal to cars) but even if we only traded internally this would still happen as we have stated that we believe in free trade within the UK and changing consumer tastes and technology would force industries to adapt over time.

However, and this for me was what stood out from Paul Roberts' articles (thanks Patrick!) which for whatever reason I don't remember reading before, if over a sustained period of time we pay for consumer goods with capital goods (as opposed to with other consumer goods) then, as a country, we can expect to see production and capital move to Germany/China/wherever and, at the very least, a lower increase in our living standards over time than would otherwise be the case.

I agree that this is a concern. However, for some reason, trade barriers seem to be put up as the solution to this problem and I cannot follow that logic.

It seems to me that wealth will still be produced in those countries which are most attractive to do business in. Wages are of course one of the factors involved, and the fact that labour is much cheaper in China and India is of course a big advantage for them while wages stay that low. However, what about all the other advantages that would exist in a libertarian UK? Rule of law, property rights, virtually no taxes or regulations to name a few.

So, I fail to see how the cure is better than the disease. Are we not fighting against an inevitable but still rather slow trend? And if we got rid of all the UK govt interference in the UK could it not be possible that while there may be a transfer of wealth from the UK to China (the general equilibrium that Paul Roberts talks about), this would only come through as lower positive economic UK growth rather than the complete destitution of the UK?

4/10/2009 07:38:00 am  
Blogger Patrick Vessey said...

Sam wrote: "There seems to be conflation of at least a couple of issues here... if over a sustained period of time we pay for consumer goods with capital goods (as opposed to with other consumer goods) then, as a country, we can expect to see production and capital move to Germany/China/wherever and, at the very least, a lower increase in our living standards over time than would otherwise be the case"

You are right, there is a conflation. In my case, deliberately so; on the forum I went straight in with the observation that you've made above, and was arguing against the totally free movement of capital. But because -- I guess -- that such an idea seems anathema to what we think a 'free market' means, I got very short shrift. Nobody bothered to consider the arguments in Robert's articles, the fact that comparative advantage (as we still consider it) as a source of mutual advantage frequently doesn't stand today (for the reasons already laboured), or that many of the past economic greats who championed free trade were talking expressly about the movement of goods, and not capital. I think that these issues are important to any rational economic discussion, but we've all been bombarded with propaganda for so long that it's hard to even bother to give the mental time to engage with them properly when we all just 'know' that the free movement of everything is beneficial to all. Except that it isn't, and folks in the past never argued that it was; again, modern practice has been normalised by appeals to the moral and intellectual authority of thinkers who never thought any such thing.

A pertinent aside to all: an appeal. I can't find on YouTube a pro free trade video I watched a long time ago, and which covers some of this ground. It was an old cartoon, largely focusing upon a young man in the USA who opens a hat shop. In the middle of the vid, if memory serves, there's an example of what trade imbalances and the free flow of capital can do, illustrated using two island economies. If anyone knows what I'm talking about, a link would be much appreciated.

4/10/2009 09:47:00 am  
Blogger Gandhi said...

Perhaps an analogy will help here... The South is richer than the North, jobs/people/capital move South because that's where all the business is; the people left behind are impoverished as they are deprived of the 'neighbourhood effects' of other people's capital/labour/new businesses (jobs). It seems churlish to restrict people's movement/capital within the UK and one reason we don't do this is precisely because people can easily(ish) move south to the 'streets paved with gold', another way we deal with the problem is by internal transfers: spending national tax money oop North (unsustainable unless it creates business); you can't trust China to do that for all of us if we are left with no industry (although they are doing it today in Africa!). In truth, the problem is LACK of mobility: people can't move as easily as jobs/capital! If they could (under international libertarianism?), then absolutely free trade, free capital movement really would be best for everyone, we'd all move to enhance our personal productivity/wealth. In the meantime we have a problem.

It's the nation state that's the joker in the pack here: comparative advantage is based on the premiss of group (national) privilege above the individual (esp foreign individual); while the nation state still exists and while our movements are still restricted, we can't have total freedom: whichever state does so (unless massively endowed with advantage) would be destroying itself.

4/10/2009 01:50:00 pm  
Anonymous Sam said...

Patrick said: "You are right, there is a conflation. In my case, deliberately so; on the forum I went straight in with the observation that you've made above, and was arguing against the totally free movement of capital. But because -- I guess -- that such an idea seems anathema to what we think a 'free market' means, I got very short shrift."

Then I think, sadly, you guessed wrong.

As I saw it, the reason for the short shrift was that it was never explained (and indeed has still not been explained here) what practical policies could be applied and how they are better than the alternatives.

While I now see in more detail and agree with your main concern (movement of capital to eg Asia leading to, all else the same, lower paid UK jobs and lower UK living standards), that is still a long way from saying that tariffs or other trade barriers are the solution. What's wrong with other policies that make the UK an attractive a place as possible to do business and create wealth? AFAICT this leads us back to all the usual standard libertarian economic policies.

4/10/2009 11:34:00 pm  
Anonymous Sam said...

Gandhi

Doesn't your North/South example actually prove the opposite of the West/China situation? Wages in the North are, on average, less than in London. Other costs are also much lower. Wouldn't we therefore expect capital to transfer from South to North?

The answer as I see it is that, despite some higher costs, overall London is a more attractive place to do business for many firms for a variety of reasons. Why can the same not be true for a libertarian UK in the context of low wage China?

4/10/2009 11:51:00 pm  
Blogger Patrick Vessey said...

Sam wrote: "While I now see in more detail and agree with your main concern (movement of capital to eg Asia leading to, all else the same, lower paid UK jobs and lower UK living standards), that is still a long way from saying that tariffs or other trade barriers are the solution. What's wrong with other policies that make the UK an attractive a place as possible to do business and create wealth? AFAICT this leads us back to all the usual standard libertarian economic policies."

There are many interconnected threads involved in this; I'll try a partial answer, again mixing the two issues (goods and capital), as some things overlap.

The "usual standard libertarian economic policies" as you put it only make sense when Free Party A is dealing with Free Party B. That's not to say that -- in the absence of freedom -- either party might not be able to benefit at the expense of the other; but we need to be clear that mutual benefit is highly unlikely. Some think that such beggaring of another for their own betterment is absolutely fine, but, if you do, then you should also be ideologically happy with any redistributive policy that just happens to benefit yourself.

As previously mentioned up thread, there is a likelihood that rather than a mutual or even sole benefit occurring, a mutual disadvantage will be the result. Obviously not for the specific entity directly profiting -- the corporate body -- but for the economies/peoples of the respective nation states.

Do we care? Well, we should. Firstly, LPUK ought to as its interests cannot be those of putting in place a regime that might enable a specific individual or group of individuals a temporary benefit (e.g. temporarily lower prices) if the likely longer term impact is detrimental to the entire UK economy or existence of the state. That's because it is looking to become the UK's national government; it has a responsibility first and foremost to the long term protection and 'health' of the state (a point that I laboured on the forum thread). Now, this sounds a bit collectivist. Yes, it is -- but that's the purpose of government, to act as a collectivist container (if you like) to allow lots of individualist actions to occur unhindered within that container. If you don't like that idea (and, at at heart, I don't), then stop supporting minarchism and become an anarchist. But, whilst LPUK is a minarchist party, we need to recognise that it has collectivist responsibilities, and that sometimes those responsibilities will conflict with the desires of any individual. That's simply the nature of the beast.

Secondly, and as Gandhi pointed out above, I'm not the only one guilty of conflation here. Much of the economic theory on which all of these arguments (pro and con) rest are based upon the idea of an 'economy' as a discrete entity, as opposed to the economic dealings of any specific actor. Again, many of those arguments only stand scrutiny in such a collectivist light, and attempts to use them out of context to justify the activities of Individual X or Company Y is something that I've tried to highlight in this thread. Where theory is individual specific, assumptions tend to be made -- like the total freedom of both actors in an exchange -- that simply don't exist in today's world.

Talking of collectivism brings us around to DK's original post, which has led to this whole interesting discussion. There is an undeniable movement in place to attempt to impose a global order upon us. But DK is only half-way there in explaining the process by apportioning responsibility to policos; the politicians are, after all, only attempting to enact the wishes of those whose interests they represent -- the multi-national corporates who are the beneficiaries of such an order.

In all of the time that I was involved in LPUK, the one message that I relentlessly tried to get across to people was that globalised capitalism (corporatism) has got bugger all to do with free markets and free trade. It's a tough sell, though, as so much effort has been expanded by those supporting this un-free system to make it palatable to us that anyone attempting to shout that the emperor has no clothes is frequently met with derision or downright suspicion ("You're a socialist, Vessey!" No, I'm not. I'm a free marketeer). Even where there is recognition of the difference between corporatism and free markets, the libertarian movement (at least in this country) still instinctively embraces the corporatists -- they're not perfect, but they are better than true socialists, right? Well, no, they are not. They are far, far worse. At least with a true socialist you know where you stand, what it is that they want to impose upon us all. That isn't the case with the cheerleaders of corporatism; by hiding their intent behind free market rhetoric, many well intentioned libertarian types appear to develop a blind spot, and to excuse (or actively support) the corporatist agenda. And the natural outcome of that agenda is exactly what DK was bewailing in his post.

Libertarians are split on the issue of nationhood. You'll know that some within the party (and without) think that nations are a bad thing per se. Others are deeply attached to their homeland, and fears for its future are/were a major factor leading them to libertarianism in the first place. Both points of view are intellectually valid, of course, but we do need to recognise that there is an inherent conflict between natural human tribalism (mentioned by Ian B earlier) and the individualist creed that we hold. However, and no matter which point of view you cleave to, the desire for self determination can only be achieved if you have control at as local a level as possible. For anarchists, that means at the individual human level, for minarchists, within the context of the wider nation state. The further from the individual that democracy resides, the less freedom that you will have (and that's not to say that any democratic process is great, but it's better than none). The further from the individual that power resides, the less freedom that you will have. If you want a familiarly visible example of this, look at where the majority of our legislation now originates: the EU. The distance from us (not geographic, but sheer volume of peoples involved) reduces our impact to be able to shape such legislation as we would wish. Democracy is weakened. More pertinently, much of what the EU does isn't democratically decided at all -- power resides in a self-selected cabal, and the trappings of democracy (MEPs etc.) are largely that, just window dressing.

Now, in a globalised corporate world, democracy barely exists at all, with national governments becoming as effective as MEPs are within the EU. And power, well power resides in the hands of a totally unelected elite, at a great distance from me or you. Neither of these facts is conducive -- to put it mildly -- to the retention of freedoms at an individual level; the loss of freedoms being exactly what blogs like this spend such a large amount of time bemoaning.

And so we come back to the nation state. Even if for no other reason that purely historical, the nation state is all that stands between us and a totally undemocratic rule by powers over which we can exercise no control. Is it any wonder that those involved in this 'project' have spent so long attempting to weaken states? Economically and democratically strong nations are simply the best (and probably the only) thing standing between us and the realisation of the global governance that DK paints. As a libertarian I'm interested in individual rights. And, in the absence of individual or group secession from the world as it exists, strong and independent nations are the only structures of economic and political power that offer protection from the leaching of our power upwards, and away.

Now, the above presumes that you share my view of the pernicious nature of globalised corporatism. If you don't, then (some) of the arguments that I've put forward simply won't stand up for you. I understand that. And if that's the case, then I -- and others -- need to try to convince you of the arguments on that score. Equally, please don't take it that I'm suggesting some grand conspiracy -- I used scare quotes around the term 'project' above quite intentionally. Whilst I personally don't doubt that some directed collusion between politicos and corporate interests has long been in play, much of the effects that we are witnessing, and have been talking about, are perfectly natural outcomes from two of the pillars of globalised corporatism: the totally free movement of capital, and the use of capital not as a means of funding the production of goods, but rather as that of a purely speculative tool (making money without producing 'stuff', but by merely moving wealth around).

I agree that it's all a horribly complicated picture, and that I still have not proposed any concrete measures to address matters. I have done so on the forum previously, but I also understand the reticence on the part of folks to prescribe what might seem to be unpalatable medicine if they don't think that the patient is sick in the first place. Until there is a widespread understanding that globalised corporatism is actually as much the antithesis of a true free market system as socialism/communism is, nobody is likely to sup from that bottle. However, ensuring the health of the UK within an economically diseased world is something that we really all ought to care about deeply.

4/11/2009 12:34:00 pm  
Blogger Gandhi said...

(Sam) Doesn't your North/South example actually prove the opposite of the West/China situation? Wages in the North are, on average, less than in London. Other costs are also much lower. Wouldn't we therefore expect capital to transfer from South to North?

We would, but nowadays that capital goes to China etc; the North isn't a source of cheap (enough) labour, if it was we'd never have lost the manufacturing industry. The key difference between North and South is entirely human-created advantage: established businesses convenient for access to one-another, transport infrastructure, airports...

Given these facts, some people say 'Why don't they move down South?'. Well they do, but London is already a big nasty place to be, and importantly an EXPENSIVE place to be. People, certainly not EVERYONE can afford to move down south, as they try, property gets even more expensive, the divide gets bigger, the situation even more polarised...

Living standards/acceptable wages in the north would have to at least reach parity with that of China (or rather the lowest common denominator: Africa?) for industry to be attracted again en-masse...

Or the government national/local could invest in a better transport, etc infrastructure to make it more attractive for businesses, which they are doing. Businesses tend not to make investments which take a loooong time to pay back, but the government can. Same goes for the country at large, as you've said (I think), we need to make the UK more attractive to international capital etc, just as the North needs to be made more attractive to actually benefit from capital flows, rather than lose out. Education is a good one I think: sets our folks up for jobs that Chinese peasants can't do, and should benefit us as international students come to spend money on their education. I could go on.

(Sam) Why can the same not be true for a libertarian UK in the context of low wage China?

As above, I think it can be.

There are caveats (we've discussed this in the pub before), my thinking is we try our darndest to make the UK uniquely attractive for capital/business and worry about what happens if/when the winds change (when China sneezes or whatever). I mean to say, prepare for existential threats: prepare to be self-sufficient fast when the New Soviet Peoples Reich cuts of our xyz supplies.

...

I also agree with Patrick on the Corporation problem; I was quite bewildered when I joined LPUK and found no hostility to the corporate status quo to speak of. Why people can't see the parallels between state power and corporate power is beyond me, and the answer 'your job is voluntary' doesn't quite cover it. Libertarians ought to be hostile to concentrations of power in anybody's hands.

4/11/2009 06:31:00 pm  
Blogger Patrick Vessey said...

Gandhi wrote: "I also agree with Patrick on the Corporation problem; I was quite bewildered when I joined LPUK and found no hostility to the corporate status quo to speak of. Why people can't see the parallels between state power and corporate power is beyond me, and the answer 'your job is voluntary' doesn't quite cover it. Libertarians ought to be hostile to concentrations of power in anybody's hands."

I think that one of the main reasons for this is that people have been trained to conflate 'business' -- of all shapes and sizes -- with corporatism, something that Adam Smith was careful not to do.

There are obviously different types of businesses, leading to differing power relationship and (national) economic outcomes. For example, an owner-run business will likely behave in a different manner from a business that just has managers (with no long-term interests in the venture) running it. Much as I dislike Rand, this is one thing that she got right, although it's rarely mentioned: the businesses that she lauded (e.g. Hank Rearden's) were still owner-run and managed, those she castigated were not.

Another obvious difference is between national and multi-national organisations. The "invisible hand" metaphor is used only once by Smith in the whole of An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, and the context is that of explaining how the self-interest of a nationally-based businesses assists the broader national economy (book IV, chapter II, para 9):

"...As every individual, therefore, endeavours as much as he can both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of the greatest value; every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention."

If folks want to argue that some 'invisible hand' provides any specific national economy with benefits from multi-national capital investment and movement, be my guest. Just don't drag poor old Adam Smith into it, as he was arguing something quite different.

Businesses, like people, come in all different shapes and sizes. As do the power relationships and economic outcomes that are associated with them. The ideological and practical lumping of all together to give the impression that such differences don't exist has been one of the great successes of those pushing the corporatist agenda in our time.

4/11/2009 08:56:00 pm  
Blogger TomC said...

The war is not lost, it's just that no one has figured out how to fight it. It's a relatively recent war, fought since the end of the 19th C., and the trigger was the moment that everyone became involved in their own political destiny.

From the 1830s, the end of the political system in which Britain was run entirely for the benefit of the aristocracy, under the primitive democratic monarchy that existed between then and 1914, the political foes were essentially the landed aristocracy on the right, and the new industrialists who owned the textile mills on the left. The modification of the monarchy towards a more modern democracy occurred from the 1st World War in response to the danger of “loose cannon” monarchs such as the Kaiser (although it would have happened anyway with the passing of Queen Victoria). Only then did the working man begin to have a consistent political voice.

From then on, the political system faced the worker against the employer, and the business interest against its competitor, as it had been previously for factory owner against landowner, and before that for aristocrat against aristocrat, at the expense of the serfs.

Today democracy presents us with the most difficult battle ever for liberty, as since 1914 there has been a steady proliferation of the use of the state in order that everyone should try to exist at the expense of everyone else.

What we are trying to do, and this includes many so-called libertarians here, is to use the same weapons on the same battlefield, that has pitted all opposing interests against one another for centuries without resolving any conflict, whilst creating new and worse conflicts and disasters as we go.

There is going to be no victor, no peace, no justice, no equality and no relative wealth; not until people lay down their political arms and accept responsibility for their own happiness, and their neighbour for theirs, will there be any improvement.

For this to happen people need to be less scared, to worry less about what immigrants might do and put less importance in nationalistic advantages. Globalism is a natural extension of free-market capitalism. The fact that it has become more of a corrupt exploitation system is the fault of the very statism everyone is railing against, while at the same time shouting about using more of the state's power to change things to their own desire. How can so many people here not make these connections?

Libertarians need to dismantle the state, and interfere as little with their own citizens as in the affairs of other countries. In other words no subsidies or trade tariffs, whatever other countries decide to do or not to do. If you start installing tariffs, you cause other countries to engage in tit-for-tat tariffs. That harms our citizens. We don't care what they do to theirs, not because we are inhuman but because we can't, and have no right to, interfere. If the offending country has an absolute advantage in the production of a good, then its tariff causes the next best country to have it. If it doesn't then they penalise no one but their own citizens.

And, yes, throw the borders open. But not before throwing out multiculturalism, the welfare state, state education and the NHS. If you have nothing left to protect and everyone is playing on an equal field, there is no worry about our “culture” being eroded. As someone who has lived in France for 20 years, if I'd come here with bugger all, and desired to and discovered that I could live at the expense of the French, I might have tried to get away with what some UK immigrants try to do to you. That's the fault of the statist system, not the malevolence of the immigrants. People are people.

Freedom and capitalism are the voluntary means of preventing people from exploiting others and gaining maximum wealth for everyone. The only way for this to happen is for governments to stop manipulating them. If people really desired freedom they would want this to happen. So stop calling yourselves libertarians if you want to exist at the expense of others: from the comments above it's easy to see who those people are.

4/11/2009 11:03:00 pm  
Anonymous Sam said...

Patrick

In terms of your comment at 12.34 pm, I haven't heard it quite described like that before and I think I largely agree, with the rest needing some further thought - thank you.

However, as you acknowledge, knowing there is a problem and knowing what the State should do about it (if anything) are two different things.

Instinctively I'm highly sceptical that the nation state can take positive action and improve the situation. For example, reducing the mobility of capital out of the UK will surely dramatically reduce the capital flowing into the UK.

I'm going to raise this issue again on the LPUK forum and see if we can get anything practical out of it.

Sam

4/11/2009 11:27:00 pm  
Anonymous Sam said...

Gandhi

I think we've got our wires crossed, or maybe I'm missing your points.

When I say I want the UK to be a more attractive place to do business, I'm not thinking about the UK govt implementing lots of large capital investment projects (rail, schools etc). I'm thinking about the govt cutting taxes, spending and regulations and basically getting out of the way.

I don't agree with the idea that only govt can do certain large projects properly. Apart from anything, private firms tend to invest bit by bit to reduce risk; govts splash the cash to try and leave a legacy. Don't read too much into those headline figures.

Wages in the North don't need to be at Chinese or African levels to see jobs return. They need massive reductions in govt spending (currently 70% ish of the local economy!) along with massive tax reductions and to abolish the minimum wage and other legislation which gives trade unions (and corporates ;)) asymmetric power and reduces jobs. The North actually has a lot going for it in many ways, it just needs to be set free.

The whole self-sufficiency argument is also a can of worms which I'm quite wary of.

4/11/2009 11:50:00 pm  
Blogger Rich said...

Patrick - I largely agree. Perhaps the most important question then is how can we make an anarchic (or near-anarchic) system stable and sustainable? Once we've abolished the nation state, how can we prevent a situation where a new "government" might spontaneously arise, claiming to represent the people?

4/12/2009 05:02:00 pm  
Blogger TomC said...

A new government claimant would be like a Mafia gang to the free society. It would need 3 things.

Money. It would have to expropriate the property of the people in order to function. Since this is an immoral claim against man's natural law of his right to exist, this will be illegal and enforceable by private security services. Without money it cannot wield power. Some supporters might donate temporary funds, but it would be a huge risk in a free society to be involved in what would amount to the support of organised crime.

Infrastructure. Government buildings will have been occupied by the people and put to private use or sold on. They would have to operate underground, from private sympathisers' property, again a big risk for those involved and rather lacking in credibility.

Support. Once people discover the opportunities for wealth and progress under liberty they will be permanently vaccinated against state governments. Such support that would exist would be the disillusioned looters that preferred to profit from the previous immoral system of institutionalised theft.

One potential threat to a free society might be take-over by a foreign power. But having thrown out the tools of state and the means of taxation, there is no longer much ability to invade, since there would be no public property to be looted and controlled. All government records and databases would have been destroyed, and we would also have private defence agencies charged with protecting the free zone from foreign and domestic aggression. Also, the people would have an interest in protecting their own property, in the absence of a state that pretends to do it for them.

Courts, police and defence would be paid for voluntarily by insurance. Their independence, cost and quality would be ensured by the value judgements of the subscribers through free market competition.

Under the state, the primary role of the police is the protection of the state from its citizens. In a free zone, the private police agencies would protect the people from violence, including that from would-be leaders. There would need to be a civil war for the state to be recreated. Surely many more would fight to conserve their freedom than would to re-enslave mankind.

One thing is sure – the idea of government in other countries of the world would be utterly subverted and exposed for what it was. The first free zone would rapidly see all other states disappear in a tide of freedom.

I'd be more worried about what it would take to bring down existing governments today.

4/12/2009 07:41:00 pm  
Blogger Patrick Vessey said...

Rich wrote: "Patrick - I largely agree..."

I presume that you meant with Tom C (who has now answered), rather than me, Rich?

4/12/2009 08:09:00 pm  
Blogger Patrick Vessey said...

@Tom C

I'm genuinely interested in where you are going with your line of thought. A few initial questions.

Firstly, you are (apparently?) presuming a nationally universal set of law. In the absence of the state apparatus, where does such law originate? What if I wanted to live under different law (statute and/or process), and hired a private security service to enforce 'my' law for 'my' property? What about enforcing 'my' law in wider society?

How do you address public good/free rider issues? You mentioned private defence agencies for national defence. What if I don't wish to financially contribute? Who is going to coerce me to? What if (as a resident of Lincolnshire, as I am) I don't give a monkeys if a foreign power were to invade Scotland, or the South of England? Can I opt out of paying for the defence of those parts of the UK? If not, why not? And again, if not, who is coercively taking my money to pay for that defence?

4/12/2009 08:45:00 pm  
Blogger TomC said...

Hello Patrick. Yes, I am implying that all rights stem from one basic law, that of man having a right to his own life. Why, because man cannot survive automatically like other organisms and must use his mind and manipulate his environment in order to survive. Because of this it follows that he must have a right to his property and the products of his labour. If he is deprived of these he will not survive. This requires that others may not violate his right to his life and property. It then follows that there can be no “common good”, for this requires that some men be sacrificed for the good of arbitrary “others”. Why would you require different laws if you had no intention of violating others' right to their free existence?

Dealing with your questions -

Public good – there is no such thing where it requires that individual rights be over-ridden, since “the public” is the sum of all the individuals concerned, all of whom have a right to their own lives.

Free rider issues – if the activities of one man violate the right of another's unhindered existence, this man has initiated coercion against the other or others and these men therefore have the right to pursue him for reparations. For example, everyone's lives require that nature be protected, so pollution events would be treated in such a manner. But the environment cannot have subjective and arbitrary precedence over human progress, as the environmental movement would have it, as this subverts man's right to his own life.

Private defence agencies. As these would be financed by insurance companies, you would not have to contribute. Those who considered that they had a risk of something to lose would pay for what would essentially be universal cover. Our employers would almost certainly pay to protect their investments, including us. If bullets began flying though, I'm sure you would agree that total voluntary defence finance would suddenly soar.

No one is coercively taking money to finance police or defence. If there is a demand for defence of an area, then the area will provide according to supply and demand. Lincolnshire may find that it is in its interest to help defend its markets and suppliers. Greater London would have a far more formidable defence system than North Scotland. Free North Scotland, on the other hand would hardly present rich pickings for a potential invader. Greater London may recognise the risk of being isolated and starved into surrender through ignoring the defence of its primary food supply areas and shipping lanes.

4/12/2009 10:16:00 pm  
Blogger Rich said...

TomC, thanks for your illuminating answer.

Money. It would have to expropriate the property of the people in order to function.

Yes - it seems fair to say that there would be "warlords" or thieves in such a zone, as there would anywhere. People whose talent/inclination is violence will team up with other such people and try extortion/"protection" rackets. If they get big enough and start buying influence they are the next potential government. How sure can we be that this would not happen?

Infrastructure.

I guess they could operate from anywhere (property will most likely be cheap), so not such a big problem for them.

Support. Once people discover the opportunities for wealth and progress under liberty they will be permanently vaccinated against state governments.

Yes but those who have ties to an emerging band of bandits may find they can get something for nothing.

One potential threat to a free society might be take-over by a foreign power. But having thrown out the tools of state and the means of taxation, there is no longer much ability to invade, since there would be no public property to be looted and controlled.

The foreign power would be just as happy to take private property, I'm sure.

I guess the point is that, throughout history, violence has tended to monopolise. That's why we've had empires. The irony is that, given a state of laissez faire, the only thing to spontaneously arise so far has been governments. Why have we not yet seen a "free zone" arise? I guess there's Somalia, and it will be interesting to see how that turns out - but nothing like the kind of powerhouse we can envision such a place would be.

If everyone is armed, this erodes the monopoly power of violence, I guess. Perhaps that's why tales of the Wild West are so seductive. But still, the Looters won out there, too, eventually.

4/12/2009 11:34:00 pm  
Blogger Patrick Vessey said...

@TomC

Thanks, Tom. There's a lot of ground in what you've written, and it would be easy for things to get lost in the mix. So I hope you don't mind if I ignore perceived practical objections right now (e.g. that if "bullets began flying", it would really be a tad late to start thinking about building a defence capability!)

Can we talk about property, and the basis of ideology, first off?

You wrote that:

"...man cannot survive automatically like other organisms and must use his mind and manipulate his environment in order to survive. Because of this it follows that he must have a right to his property and the products of his labour"

I would challenge your first assertion above, as there is no difference between man and any other being: all animals survive by manipulating their environment. This extends right down to beings that we (science, today) wouldn't even consider sentient, such as unicellular micro-organisms.

Even disregarding that, though, I can't see how you are drawing your conclusion from your premise. How does it follow that man has these rights? Would you mind elaborating?

If I can toss something back the other way, so that we can pick at each other's arguments, I'd like to point out that the concept of 'property' is something entirely of mankinds own making. It has no independent existence outside of the societal environment which brings it into being.

Physical 'stuff' obviously does, but physical stuff as 'property' does not. Having been born into a society where property is simply an accepted fact of life, it's easy to overlook the distinction. John Searle (as just one example) looked at length at how society constructs such 'institutional facts' in his book The Construction of Social Reality (quick crib here).

I personally think that the distinction is important, because any institutional fact (property, money, the institution of the monarchy etc. etc.) is malleable. All of these things 'exist' for us, right now, as 'reality'. But all could (and I stress could, and am not saying would or should) be changed tomorrow; their meanings to us could be changed, or even their very existence as 'facts' that we recognise.

I bring this up, as the realisation that what is taken as axiomatic for a lot of (differing political) ideological positions is actually the mere product of prior societal 'decisions', somewhat belatedly changed how I view the world quite radically.

4/13/2009 12:30:00 am  
Blogger TomC said...

“If they get big enough and start buying influence they are the next potential government. How sure can we be that this would not happen?”

Well, we can't. But we are paying private companies to protect our individual rights and they will target organised crime as a priority. And criminals can no longer buy influence. We just shut that market down. Can they buy the support of free people? How will they possibly be able to afford it?

“Yes but those who have ties to an emerging band of bandits may find they can get something for nothing.”

Who will be able to afford to pay for them to do this in the face of their other options as citizens of a free society? They are still just a corrupt Mafia gang. Also, to be installed as a state you need to have the police working for you. In our case they work for us – we pay them.

“The foreign power would be just as happy to take private property, I'm sure.”

How? In the aftermath of a war, the occupying power does not generally confiscate and destroy private property; it exploits the people through the existing system and denies them their formerly assured self-determination in an attempt to subvert their rights to their lives. In our case, there would no longer be an “existing system” and the peoples self-determination would no longer be a function of the prevailing state power and would therefore be immune to subversion. Also the police work for their paymasters and the Resistance would be legally armed and have a wholly owned interest in the defence of their property.

Somalia does not have the social institutions that would be necessary for a free society. They would have to know the impact of free market capitalism in order to yearn for the freedom that it offers. Unfortunately they can only look forward to a localised oligarchy of competing armed gangs.

And governments have not spontaneously arisen in response to laissez-faire. We first had tribes and despots, then monarchs, then God, then the “common good”, and now Gaia. At every turn we have inherited the weapons of our predecessors and turned them on our descendants.

Violence has not “tended to monopolise”. The state has simply inherited and enforced the concept of “monopoly of coercion” on its citizens from one century to another for the last 4000 years and has been allowed to get away with it as the cost that citizens have been prepared to pay for the ability to live at the expense of their fellows.

You seem to be one of the real libertarians here Rich. There are not many.

4/13/2009 12:43:00 am  
Blogger TomC said...

“...there is no difference between man and any other being: all animals survive by manipulating their environment.”

No they don't. All other organisms live according to instincts; from photosynthesis up to stalking and killing of their prey. Man has to use his intellect and use tools to survive. We can't photosynthesise or hunt down prey by chasing them and killing them with our teeth and nails.

“How does it follow that man has these rights? Would you mind elaborating?”

Man must have this right or he would become extinct. It's about survival.

“...the concept of 'property' is something entirely of mankind's own making.”

Yes, I'm OK with that. No other animal could understand the concept.

I'm not sure about the merits of your socio-psychological reference and argument, Patrick. You undoubtedly know more about that than me. But mystical attempts to subvert objective reality serve no purpose in the consideration of what is or is not of value for man's progress. What we don't know objectively, cannot change the nature of man or provide moral imperatives in addition to those we can derive from what we do know and understand.

4/13/2009 01:14:00 am  
Blogger Patrick Vessey said...

[PV] ...there is no difference between man and any other being: all animals survive by manipulating their environment.

[TomC] No they don't. All other organisms live according to instincts; from photosynthesis up to stalking and killing of their prey. Man has to use his intellect and use tools to survive. We can't photosynthesise or hunt down prey by chasing them and killing them with our teeth and nails.


That's a wilful distortion of reality, Tom. Man is not the only learnt (non-instinctual) tool user out there. And even if he were, man has spent the vast majority of his existence upon this planet (even if we only count 'man' as originating with Homo sapiens circa 200,000 years ago) living exactly like other animals: gathering and hunting. We tend to forget that our modern way of life is just that, incredibly modern.


[PV] How does it follow that man has these rights? Would you mind elaborating?

[TomC] Man must have this right or he would become extinct. It's about survival.


OK, you're basing your philosophy on a biological grounding? I thought so, and actually agree that it seems to make the most rational sense, as biology is an observed reality external to any human construct.


[PV] ...the concept of 'property' is something entirely of mankind's own making.

[TomC] Yes, I'm OK with that. No other animal could understand the concept.

I'm not sure about the merits of your socio-psychological reference and argument, Patrick. You undoubtedly know more about that than me. But mystical attempts to subvert objective reality serve no purpose in the consideration of what is or is not of value for man's progress. What we don't know objectively, cannot change the nature of man or provide moral imperatives in addition to those we can derive from what we do know and understand.


I chucked in the socio-psychological reference as I thought that you probably were coming from a biological angle. You misunderstand me if you think that I was attempting to subvert matters with "mystical" arguments (although it's surprisingly hard for most to accept that entirely invented concepts like 'money' are mystical!). Searle, as opposed to the post modernists, actually understood that there is an objective reality out there; many of the latter would have questioned that assertion, and claimed that everything was a subjective construct.

Are we on the same page so far: that a valid and truly universal philosophy must be based upon observations of the objective reality outside of any human value constructs?

4/13/2009 09:47:00 am  
Blogger TomC said...

“That's a wilful distortion of reality, Tom. Man is not the only learnt (non-instinctual) tool user out there. And even if he were, man has spent the vast majority of his existence upon this planet (even if we only count 'man' as originating with Homo sapiens circa 200,000 years ago) living exactly like other animals: gathering and hunting. We tend to forget that our modern way of life is just that, incredibly modern.”

Fair enough Patrick. If you don't think man is different from other animals, and needs to act as a rational being, then you are free to think as you wish.

But it is not a “distortion of reality” when one examines human progress over the last 4,000 years. And what other animal requires the use of its mind and the creations of it, to survive? More importantly what other animal has gone as far as man in the pursuit and discovery of the true nature of the universe?

One cannot draw conclusions from the 4,000 year / 200,000 ratio of years spent in primitive existence and say that since the vast majority of man's existence was primitive, then that must suggest that the last 4,000 is an aberration. There are biological reasons for that, Ice Ages being a big one, but if you think the purpose of man is to exist as a hunter gatherer I am sure I would not be the only one to say that this is an immoral and corrupt representation of the nature of man.

I think that Newton and Darwin would have been surprised to hear that they needn't have bothered, and that man is better off living in a cave and not knowing all the things he can.

Are we on the same page so far: that a valid and truly universal philosophy must be based upon observations of the objective reality outside of any human value constructs?

No, not even close. What utter nonsense. What objective reality can exist outside human understanding? Human value constructs are necessarily a result of man's understanding of concepts. Concepts are a result of man's unique ability to reason. Objective reality is the conclusion to which man must arrive if he uses his rational mind to interpret his environment. That's how we know what is real. A is A. Man is Man. Other possible realities, being subjective, are discarded.

A “truly universal philosophy”, if one existed, must necessarily be a human concept. If not then it cannot be understood by man and therefore serves no purpose. We use philosophy to know what values are important to us. If we cannot understand our nature through philosophy, then we cannot conceive of any useful objective values.

I don't see the point of all this I'm afraid, Patrick. Have you been reading too much Post-Modernism? :)

4/13/2009 10:57:00 am  
Blogger Patrick Vessey said...

TomC wrote: "I don't see the point of all this I'm afraid, Patrick. Have you been reading too much Post-Modernism? :)"

Oh, Tom :-(

I was going in quite the opposite direction, by pointing out that it is foolish to base philosophical ideas on subjective realities -- i.e. those mediated by man within any particular social context. This is because as the context changes, so does man's subjective interpretation of reality. Consequently, using such as the basis for any sort of philosophical/ideological framework guarantees its impermanence: such a philosophy for mankind could never be universal, either in time or space.

I'm happy to leave this, though, if you don't wish to engage.

I've found this to be a really interesting thread. Thank you all, and to DK for allowing such a meandering discussion.

4/13/2009 12:04:00 pm  
Blogger TomC said...

Ah! The error of dropping context. Why didn't you say so? :)

Yes, thank you DK, these are rather server bloating, indulgent asides.

4/13/2009 12:40:00 pm  
Blogger Gandhi said...

Yes, my compliments to the host also...

On the philosophy, I tend ultimately to think that we have subjective experiences/beliefs and that the claim to objective knowledge is all about persuading others to accept our ideas in ways that they can/should accept, whether there really is a complete and total 'objective reality' is moot for me. It just so happens that 'great minds think alike'. In that sense objective reality is something we choose for pragmatic reasons.

4/13/2009 02:11:00 pm  

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