My views have developed quite a lot in the few years in which I have been blogging, of course. The way that such views might be developed are articulated by Mr Eugenides' spendid article on Libertarianism. This is particularly pertinent...
Yep, I’d say there’s a tension between my conservatism and my libertarianism; I'm not too proud to say that it’s a work in progress, with all the contradictions and missteps that may entail.
Of course my views are still developing; it would show a remarkable lack of self-knowledge to maintain my railing against dogma whilst being similarly inflexible. It should also be pointed out that my natural leanings are reinforced by the situation of a year or so ago when—despite having paid fat wads of taxes and NICs for seven years—when I was actually doing very badly, about to lose his home, being taken to court for Council Tax arrears and quite literally starving, the state refused to help him.
However, I have always tried, not only to rage against the soft-socialism which all the mainstream parties seemed to have embraced, but also to suggest viable, libertarian alternatives. Which is why reading the kind of fucking shit spouted in this Never Trust A Hippy post makes me what to knaw through my own arm.
I fear that Chris [Dillow, in a response to a post of mine] is too patient in his defence of the term liberal left. He could, far more easily, gone on the offensive against the notion of a liberal right.
Not really. Yes, he could go on the offensive against the right, but the libertarian right...?
No, I shall control myself and see what this nitwit has to say.
You can see the problem with it by revisiting Mr Eugenedes' point. Bloggertarians, as he points out, will always gravitate towards something pragmatic, right-wing and populist like the Conservative Party or possibly UKIP, because they don't have any positions of their own that could be sold to a sceptical public.
What the fuck? That motive might be true of Eugenides but it is not true of many. The pragmantism comes from the likelihood of getting a party into power that might be more orientated towards your sort of area; it's the argument that Jackart constantly makes.
I have plenty of positions of my own that could be "sold to a sceptical public" but, unfortunately, from a practical point of view that simply won't work: our political system demands big, reasonably centrist parties.
They have a critique, of course - and the bloggertarian position is absolutely stupendous as a standpoint from which to oppose something.
Quite. Personally, I loathe all of the big three parties and pretty much all of the others too.
But if you ask a right-wing libertarian to explain what they would actually do on any given subject (with an audience consisting of some members of the general public, as opposed to wonks from the Adam Smith Institute) ... well, don't hold your breath waiting for anything coherent.
And this is where my shit has been mercilessly gripped. I have always put forward solutions to problems based on libertarian ideals. A number of times, commenters or other bloggers have disagreed with my solution and I have revised the idea; but to say that people like myself never put forward solutions is either rank ignorance or simply a lie.
Once again, we find ourselves faced with the Polly conundrum...
Here's what I mean. Have a quick look around a few bloggertarian sites. It's easy enough to find out what they are against. In the example of 'law and order', generally it's...
- ID Cards
- DNA databases
- Police powers in general (though the distinction between bloggertarians and libertarians is that they only oppose police powers where they are endorsed by a Labour PM).
Jesus, but you are a fuckwitted little tit, aren't you? That last point is particularly stupid: we have had a Labour government for the last decade and a fucking wet Opposition for most of that time: who else has endorsed and implemented increased police powers in that timeframe?
For some people, you might be right, Hippy; but to point to Longrider (an ex-Labour Party member) and I (given my voluble criticism of the Tories) is just fucking stupid.
Yet, if any of the bloggertarians were to break the habit of a lifetime and provide us with a libertarian - or right-liberal - prescription, you can bet your arse that it would not increase the liberty that we enjoy in any way.
Really? I beg to fucking differ.
For example, let's look at what a more libertarian alternative to a publicly funded and accountable police force would look like.
Sorry: an alternative? How, exactly, is our police force accountable to anyone but central government? Our point is that the police force is not accountable, in any meaningful way, to those whom they are supposed to serve.
How will it be funded, in whose interests will it operate as a consequence?
There are two basic funding options which are generally advocated.
- Privately funded. In which case they, like any other business, are accoutable to those who pay them directly, i.e. their customers. If this force does not do a good job, another is hired.
- The police remain publically funded—preferably at local level but that leads on to a number of other issues—but their Chief Constables are locally elected and thus answerable to the local electorate for their jobs. In this way, they have a real incentive to respond to the needs of those people whom they are supposed to serve.
What powers will this atomised entity be provided with?
Ah, this "atomised" entity, eh? This is what I love about socialists: they will bitch and moan about how supermarkets are conspiring, i.e. working together, to fuck everyone over, but the idea that localised public services might do the same thing is obviously lunacy, eh?
And what powers would they have? Well, that depends on the laws that the government passes, doesn't it. Fucktard.
How would the end of socially-funded policing impact upon the environment that we live in?
Well, hello, Mr Strawman—how are you today?
Look, strong property rights are absolutely essential to libertarian thought; as such, law and order is vitally important. Law and order is, in fact, one of those few things which needs to be handled by the state as it is one of those areas (the other being defence) where most libertarians can agree that we need to avail ourselves of the unique power of force that we endow to the state.
Would there be less CCTV?
With a libertarian government, yes, one would think so. Why? Because CCTV impinges on personal freedoms whilst simultaneously being almost entirely useless for its intended purpose.
CCTV makes people feel safer but has no impact on actual crime levels [PDF] or crime clear up rates. This is an overconfidence that has lead to real miscarrages of justice, luckily this is rarer than it might be because even with high quality systems it is hard to identify people from CCTV that you are not already familar with, and CCTV is very rarely of high quality.
But, actually, once again, this is partially up to any government.
Less by way of gated communities and general obstructions in the way of the free individual walking about where they please?
Well, yes, hopefully. Isn't that the whole point? People don't really want to live in "gated communities"; after all, they still have to walk around the streets. But that is the point of making the police more accountable to the people they serve.
One of the single most consistent replies to any survey is that everyone—rich or poor—wants to see more police on the beat. However, there is no real incentive for the police to do this plus, of course, they have to spend so much of their time filling in forms that most policemen are out and about for very little time.
Remove central government's petty form-filling, and let the local people decide what the priorities should be (that'll be "bobbies on the beat" then).
I don't think so.
Well, that is because you have set up a load of straw men and you haven't even bothered knocking them down, for fuck's sake. You have simply asked a load of questions and then stated your opinion without even explaining yourself. Or, indeed, articulating what the libertarian position is.
Would commercial risk aversion demand that we have more robust means of proving our identity?
Er, well, does it now? Are banks demanding DNA samples? No.
Is the state? Yes.
Will well-heeled lawyers be able to demand access to any information held by organisations that verify our identity, should such organisations exist?
What about the not-so-well-heeled lawyers? Or do we have nothing to fear from them? But the answer to your question is, "no". I am really not sure what Paulie thinks libertarianism is about, really. He seems to be assuming that it is the same as anarchism, in which case he's a fucking idiot.
Will we wish to provide these atomised entities that we pay to look after our personal security some kind of legal leeway to make mistakes?
Oh, look chaps! It's those pesky atomised entities again! Again, as for the question, it depends doesn't it?
But let's clear something up here: we pay the police to look after our personal security right now. They don't come for free, you know.
Or will every standard of the law apply to them even though we expect them to constantly place themselves in situations that demand the use of force or coercion in our interests?
It rather depends, Paulie: would you like them to get away with shooting an innocent man seven times in the head with no one being held accountable, or not? Because that is, by the look of it, the system that we currently have in place.
Will we be a more, or less regulated society? Will we be more or less intruded upon? Will life generally be fairer? Will our initial choice of womb be any less of a future-defining decision than it is now?
I don't know, Paulie: what is the point of these questions, precisely? And when are you going to answer any of them? And what the fuck has the choice of womb got to do with anything?
Some people are born into more difficult circumstances than others: I'm afraid that that is always going to be the case. After all, despite ten years of your lot attempting to do something about it, social mobility has not progressed at all.
In this case, I'm pretty sure that market liberalism would result in less of what most people would call liberty.
Really? I am pretty sure that you are utterly wrong.
Let us take your ludicrous womb analogy and run with it, shall we. Let us assume that the reason that you referred to it was because you feel that liberty is partly the liuberty to move social class: to not be irrevocably doomed to have a shitty, unproductive live and bring your children up the same way, shall we?
And let's assume that Willetts is right when he asserts that schools are the key to social mobility—and I think that we can assume that. And NuLabour have comprehensively failed on this front, despite their "education, education, education" mantra.
So, what should we do? Well, libertarians try to look for the nearest to the free-market solution; the solution that allows the customer the most choice. Competition works. So, I, like Timmy and others, propose a voucher system much like Sweden has. Does it work? Yes.
The strongest evidence against this criticism comes from Sweden, where parents are freer than those in almost any other country to spend as they wish the money the government allocates to educating their children. Sweeping education reforms in 1992 not only relaxed enrolment rules in the state sector, allowing students to attend schools outside their own municipality, but also let them take their state funding to private schools, including religious ones and those operating for profit. The only real restrictions imposed on private schools were that they must run their admissions on a first-come-first-served basis and promise not to charge top-up fees (most American voucher schemes impose similar conditions).
The result has been burgeoning variety and a breakneck expansion of the private sector. At the time of the reforms only around 1% of Swedish students were educated privately; now 10% are, and growth in private schooling continues unabated.
Anders Hultin of Kunskapsskolan, a chain of 26 Swedish schools founded by a venture capitalist in 1999 and now running at a profit, says its schools only rarely have to invoke the first-come-first-served rule—the chain has responded to demand by expanding so fast that parents keen to send their children to its schools usually get a place. So the private sector, by increasing the total number of places available, can ease the mad scramble for the best schools in the state sector (bureaucrats, by contrast, dislike paying for extra places in popular schools if there are vacancies in bad ones).
More evidence that choice can raise standards for all comes from Caroline Hoxby, an economist at Harvard University, who has shown that when American public schools must compete for their students with schools that accept vouchers, their performance improves. Swedish researchers say the same. It seems that those who work in state schools are just like everybody else: they do better when confronted by a bit of competition.
Good, that's that sorted, then. On to the next thing.
In the meantime, any examples of bloggertarians not simply being negativists would be greatly appreciated.
Well, I have some 3,200 posts on this blog and I would say that a good 50% of them propose positive measures of some sort. Also, why not give Worstall a shot?
Of course, if you prefer, you could just keep asking questions that you don't answer, carry on avoiding defining your terms, and just trog on supporting your lovely Labour lot. Or, of course, you could try reading a few more of these bloggertarians before you just wade in with the sweeping generalisations.
You could even grow a brain and start telling us what your solutions might be (given that the traditional statist ones have been a massive failure over the last 10 years).
UPDATE: Strange Stuff also replies to this, articulating some of the libertarian policing strategies rather better than I. I should start adding these to your folder of non-negativist plans...