Thursday, 10 February 2011

Freedom is a noble thing


You may not know this, in fact I am reasonably certain that most of you will not know this, but after the Republicans and the Democrats the Libertarian Party is the third largest in the United States. It defines itself as the party of principle, of minimum government and maximum freedom. Could there be any better desideratum, I ask? No, there could not; for these are the principles on which America was built; these are the principles upon which all free societies should stand.

There is so much ignorance over libertarianism, over precisely what it means. It does not entail a free for all; it does not mean licence. While it is true, as I have said on several occasions, that my personal libertarianism – it is such a personal philosophy – comes close to anarchism, at least in the form advanced by Max Stirner, a considerable gap still remains. While I would prefer no government and no state, both restraints on natural liberty, I fully recognise that such a condition could not exist anywhere east of Eden. Instead I will go with the definition given by the US libertarians;

Libertarians support maximum liberty in both personal and economic matters. They advocate a much smaller government; one that is limited to protecting individuals from coercion and violence. Libertarians tend to embrace individual responsibility, oppose government bureaucracy and taxes, promote private charity, tolerate diverse lifestyles, support the free market, and defend civil liberties.

Let me put this another way, let me put it in the form of a joke, one recently told by James Delingpole;

Have you heard about the vast Libertarian conspiracy? We’re going to take over the government – and then leave you alone.

Oh, my, how we need to be left alone; how we need to be free. Yes, free from all of the silliness of the interfering and bloated state; free from all of the health fascism, all the exhortations to do this and don’t do that. We could save millions by cutting government to the bone, by doing away with all of the unrepresentative extra-governmental bodies set up to monitor this or that aspect of our lives and our conduct. Above all we need government to stop treating us as if we were children.

Yes, the state is there, or should be there, only to protect our basic rights. This is what used to be referred to in this country as the night-watchman state, a condition where the sovereignty of the individual, the individual’s right to freedom and property, was respected. The problem is that a new type of state began to emerge from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, one that in the name of ‘reform’ created a form of feudal servitude, spending the money of the citizen, taking increasing amounts of personal income from tax creators to pass to tax eaters. As the state waxed liberty waned.

It’s not a question of ideology or party politics. The Conservatives, I regret to say, were just as bad as the Liberals, Disraeli just as bad as Gladstone. Both began a process of interference which combined in David Lloyd George, who opened a new, more intense style of intervention that is still being followed to the present day, a ruinous path of taxation and welfare that benefits nobody, that creates more problems than it solves.

No, that’s not quite right: it benefits the agencies of the state; it benefits the bureaucrats. We are robbed of personal income as we are robbed of choice in so many areas of our personal life. I would like to reverse it all, clear out the Augean Stable, clear out government and return sovereignty to where it belongs, to each and every one of us. There is no nobler cause than freedom.

21 comments:

  1. nice to reading something so fluent and clear-minded.
    i support your idea on this heartily!even though all these different parties in this country do confuse me all the time, it looks like it is proper to call myself a libertarian simply because of the love of freedom.

    "we need government to stop treating us as if we were children"
    do you know ana, chinese people have a custom of calling government officials as "parent officials"(i am so sick of it)? by confucius' (oh i hate him just like you hate rousseau) idea that government is our parent! that's why the statue of confucius is out on the square and liu xiaobo is in jail! i am afraid to tell you that the portrait of confucius soon will be added on that group portraits of communist leaders!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yun yi, yes, history always moves in great cycles. The portrait in Tiananmen Square may be Mao but the spirit is Confucius. Who would have believed it? Capitalism, Confucius and Communism!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yup, I too can go along with the general thrust of your views.

    The country could be quite rich if it got rid of all the 'agencies' used to advise and control us - we might then, for example, be able to look after our elderly and vulnerable properly.

    ReplyDelete
  4. government is something necessary, many times they do bad things, we do not choose the best representatives, the politicians are corrupts or useless many times, they are the same all the time in many cases, we do not have so many choices, anarchism is a illusion, a hard way to life in a world so mean, the human being alone can not move correctly, need representative of power. Liberty need responsabilities and limits, government put the rules in favor of all the people. In a perfect world human being can life in complete liberty, we live in a imperfect world with many problems, necessities, directions, crimes, violent, terrible people, etcetera, complete liberty is not for all people because the world become in a bad and difficult place to manage when all is easy and open. A kiss. Mario.

    ReplyDelete
  5. To paraphrase Tolstoy: If you want to be free, be. Government can't take away your freedom. They can take away your rights, but they were never yours in the first place.

    ReplyDelete
  6. @ Yun Yi: Confucius will always be remembered in history as a very wise man. In Japan the crime rate has doubled in the past ten years. This is the result of their younger generations adapting certain western values. by the way,the I ching ends in 2012.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anarkía y cerveza fría :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Where is Adam? Why isn't he bashing you for saying that 'Disraeli [was] just as bad as Gladstone'?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Mario, alas, we do live in an imperfect world. I look always for the political equivalent of Eden. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  10. NP, I really wonder about that. It's rather ironic coming from Tolstoy, who lived a good bit of his life as the owner of other human beings. There are places where people have never had rights, places where governments can take away freedom because they can take away life.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Jean Paul, Adam has embraced other causes. I don't think we will ever see him back here again, so I will take this opportunity to thank him once again for his many past contributions, for his refreshingly different views on politics and life.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Political equivalant of Eden? "National Socialism is that which the yearning of our hearts cries out for, the salvation of our people via the common dream that is the perfect society"... quote, author unknown.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi, Ana. Although I like the idea of libertarianism in theory, I think it morphs too easily into anarchism. Radicals For Capitalism by Brian Doherty described the history of the movement, an entertaining and illuminating history.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Anthony, any kind of socialism is anathema to me.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Bob, they come close but never meet. In American terms I would put libertarianism nearest to the spirit of the frontier. I'll have a look at that book. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  16. There has to be order in the scheme of things or crime would run rampant, Oh!,it has.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Quite so, Anthony. I do make that point, but socialism is far too 'orderly' for me.

    ReplyDelete