Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Quote of the Day...

... comes from a stirring article by James Delingpole—a piece which I heartily recommend that you read in full.
Wherever you go, even if it’s somewhere run by a notionally “conservative” administration, the malaise you will encounter is much the same: a system of governance predicated on the notion that the state’s function is not merely to uphold property rights, maintain equality before the law and defend borders, but perpetually to meddle with its citizens’ lives in order supposedly to make their existence more fair, more safe, more eco-friendly, more healthy.

And always the result is the same: more taxation, more regulation, less freedom. Less “fairness” too, of course.

The reason that I pick out that section, rather than any one of the other excellent paragraphs, is because it neatly sums up what I, as a minarchist libertarian, believe are the legitimate functions of the state: to...
... uphold property rights, maintain equality before the law and defend borders

And I believe that the state should do these things not because I am ideologically a minarchist—for I am not—but because I don't believe that humanity is yet ready for an anarchist state. And, as always, I am interested not in pure ideology (although it informs my practical advocacy) but in the best possible outcome.

I believe that a state that performs those three important functions, and only those three important functions, provides the best possible balance between freedom and security.

Like Tim Worstall, I believe that (in humanity's present state) there are some things that a government can do better than a group of individuals can: national defence is one of those things.

I do not think that the state should be providing healthcare or unemployment benefits or education or Child Benefit—and I strongly object to its National Insurance system that destroyed and continues to crowd out better, freer, more efficient, voluntary community solutions.

I certainly object to—and am horrified by—the way in which the provision of these services has enabled governments to justify quite disgusting intrusions into our private matters, our lifestyles and our day-to-day activities.

I am outraged by the way in which governments have seized control of our schools in order to brainwash generations of children with state propaganda, feeding them a one-sided story of civilisation—a story that includes the Welfare State as saviour and which mentions Friendly Societies not at all.

Dellers maintains that the Tea Party are the ones who will save us, but I am not so sure; although their grass-roots origins are laudable, they have foolishly lost the propaganda war—the Tea Partiers have allowed the leftist media to paint them as backwards, religious loons and, as such, said media has destroyed the movement's value as a motivational tool outwith the US itself.

Despite the slow-down in the libertarian blogosphere, those who are still going are now moving towards carrying out actions to minimise state intrusion. But, generally, they are doing so as a "don't tread on me", movement of their own lives off the state's books. We do not seem to have a general movement calling for the removal of the state from society as a whole.

It is the latter that I am interested in—and yet I find that this movement is no further forward under Our New Coalition Overlords™ than it was under NuLabour. As Delingpole observes, this struggle is carrying on almost all Developed Countries, and there seems to be no change in sight.
Sure there’s no comparison (well not that much) between Obama’s US and Stalin’s Soviet Union; Coalition Britain and Mao’s China; Julia Gillard’s Australia and Queen Ranavalona’s Madagascar; sure the war we’re currently fighting doesn’t involve mass destruction like that of World Wars I and II. But it’s precisely because the ideological struggle we’re currently engaged in is so seemingly democratic and innocuous that it is in fact so dangerous. With Hitler and Stalin it was easy: the enemy was plain in view. Today’s encroaching tyranny is an of altogether more subtle, slippery variety. It takes the form of the steady “engrenage” – ratcheting – of EU legislation; of the stealthy removal of property rights and personal liberty under the UN’s Agenda 21; of the eco-legislation created by democratically unaccountable bodies like America’s Environmental Protection Agency; of the stealthy encroachment of the Big Government into the most intimate recesses of our daily lives – not just under barely disguised socialist administrations like Obama’s even under notionally “Centre right” ones such as Cameron’s or Sarkozy’s. When the Enemy is as sly and insidious as that, it’s much much harder for the increasingly oppressed populace to rouse itself to the appropriate state of alarm and rebellion.

And that, I think, is the problem. And as I say, unlike James, I cannot see how the Tea Party will be of help to us in this increasingly benighted isle. After all, how can we possibly fight against the kind of attitude displayed by one of Snuffy's pupils?
She proudly announces that she’s been living in France. I’m impressed and secretly pleased because maybe I had something to do with that. I ask her what she’s been doing there. She has done a stint as an au pair and has spoken lots of French. There she is, all grown-up, all of twenty-two or -three, living abroad. So far from the little girl who thought I was hyper.

I smile. “So what are you doing now?”

“I’m going back to France, man! Can’t stay here! This country is S—!”

I’m slightly stunned by the force of her condemnation. “What do you mean? What’s so awful about it?”

Trendy hops from foot to foot. “This country is going just C–P, man! With these Tories, man, no one can afford to do anything here!”

“Is it that bad?” I wince, still somewhat baffled by her genuine anger at what Britain has to offer.

She taps her forehead to suggest I’m being silly. “Yeah, man! Look, even my mum said it, you know. She said, “Put my name down on the list, but it’s ‘long ting’, you know!” She throws her arm in the air. “Nah, man! Too long! I ain’t waiting!”

We chat briefly before Trendy leaps back into the van and disappears down the road.

I look at my friend as we trundle along. “The list?”

My friend nods. “Yeah… the housing list.”

I stop us in our tracks and grab hold of my friend’s arm. I want to scream. This country is s— because it isn’t giving out free flats? Have we all lost our minds?

No, not all of us have lost our minds—but our corrupt and ineffectual political system has meant that we have lost our voices.

Of course, those of you who have not lost your minds, but have lost your faith in our political masters, should join the Libertarian Party.


Ian R Thorpe said...

I think you may be wrong about the Tea Party making a mistake in allowing mainstream media to paint them as redneced retards. Only followers of The Cult Of The Obamessiah have any faith in the U.S. mainstram media. the Tea Party aim to appeal to independents and disillusioned Republicans who always assume whatever the mainsteam says, the opposite is true.

John Demetriou said...


I know you probably cant bear to see his face or hear his voice, after he tore you a new one earlier this year, but Brillo did a great docu on Beeb 2 yesterday on the Tea Party, which I thought was pretty balanced.

From my own libertarian perspective, they cannot be supported or relied upon as a proper, viable or even vaguely libertarian force for the good, as they often sidestep into hard line authoriarianism and conservatism when it suits them. Ideas that are the antithesis of liberalism and libertarianism,

They are also, in my mind, a movement ripe for taking the fight forward for protectionism and trade wars.

The best way they can succeed is for them to remain organic and to use people power to build support for home industry.

But as they become more top-down organised and funded, that won't happen, and so their ideas will be more obviously contradictory and unworkable on the national and international stage.

Not a good outfit. I oppose.

Tom Paine said...

"...the Tea Partiers have allowed the leftist media to paint them as backwards, religious loons and, as such, said media has destroyed the movement's value as a motivational tool outwith the US itself..."

That's a bit harsh, DK. How, precisely, could they NOT have allowed themselves to be painted thus? Said media are also doing a good job of painting those who believe in taking responsibility for themselves as "irresponsible" and those who believe that human charitable impulses are strong enough not to need compulsion as "uncaring". A practised hack who is your intellectual and ethical inferior had the skills to do you up like a kipper - and few Tea Partiers have been educated to your standard.

The point about the Tea Party movement is that it is grassroots. It's real and therefore unsanitised. It's as messy, inarticulate and embarrassing as a radio phone in show. To judge it for its media management is (unusually for you) to miss the point.

Americans are more inclined to take a critical view of their media than Brits (and many Brits would say they have more reason to be). Either way, the American media are the captains of no-one's soul.

Xerographica said...

The Tea Party is only interesting in that the less government camp is now fragmented into 3, rather than 2, main groups.

"the best possible outcome" = allowing people to directly decide which public goods they fund with their taxes = pragmatarianism.