Sunday, March 08, 2009

Adventures with Libertarians

The UK Libertarian Party have a test on their website where you can find out how liberal you are.

I took it and discovered that I was 40% liberal and 60% illiberal. It said: "Thank you for taking our test. But we think you may be more interested in an illiberal, statist party like the Labour Party or Conservative Party. If you wish to advertise your illiberal values, please find your blog badge below."

It's a brave political strategy for a fledgling party - "thank you for expressing an interest in our party, however you might be more interested in these other political parties."

But I was not deterred and decided that I was going to build on the 40% that I had in common with the Libertarian Party. So I thought I'd pick an issue where I knew we would agree, and find out what leading Libertarians had written about it.

I'd just seen the article in the Guardian about the police carrying out surveillance and building a database of protesters. A good example of how George Orwell Was Right, ZaNu Labour, Police/Surveillance State etc. Being a police surveillance and database officer might even be an example of a Public Sector Non-Job.

So first I went to Samizdata.net And Samizdata had nothing about the police database of dissidents. But it did have an article called 'Swearing at Vernon Bogdanor' :

"Progress occurs when free people do things. It just happens Boggy. It is retarded when retards like you try and gerrymander it. In 1900 the fastest growing economy on the planet was Russia's. Look at the plight of the place now? There is nothing "progressive" about being progressive."

Quite. I bet Tsar Nicholas II would have got more than 40% on the Libertarian Party's test.

Then I went to 'Devil's Kitchen'. And 'Devil's Kitchen' had nothing about the police database of dissidents. But he did have an article called 'Harridan Harperson is a lying whore', which is very witty because 'Harriet' sounds like 'Harridan', 'Harman' sounds like 'Harperson', and she doesn't want women to lose their jobs, which is like being a 'lying whore'. He is also very angry about the idea that Sir Fred Goodwin might not get his full pension.

Then I went to 'Old Holborn'. And 'Old Holborn' had nothing about the police database of dissidents. But he was very angry that Glasgow Council were going to pay their workers at least £7/hour because "the thought that any Jockanese Labour Council worker is WORTH £7 an hour is simply stunning. Zimbabwe here we cunting well come." That's another good point because the problem with Robert Mugabe is that he pays the Harare rubbish collectors a living wage.

Devil's Kitchen also covered this story, and he thought that the council was increasing wages for low paid workers so that people in Glasgow who are unemployed and on benefits will vote Labour, because unlike the wealth creators they won't have to pay more council tax. This sort of analysis is why Devil's Kitchen is one of the top political strategists for the UK Libertarian Party.

Then I went to 'Bishop Hill'. And 'Bishop Hill' had nothing about the police database of dissidents. But he did have an article about how we should privatise all the schools so that some schools could bring back section 28 and not teach children about homosexuality. This would create a market in different methods of teaching sex education, which is an 'impeccably liberal' idea.

Finally I went to the 'Libertarian Alliance'. And even the Libertarian Alliance had nothing about the police database of dissidents. But they did have a whole series by a man called 'David Davis' (not that one) about how GCSE exams were really easy and not as hard as when he did O-Levels. And a post called 'Excellent Piece by Tom Harris MP'.

(As an aside, one thing which is quite difficult about reading these Libertarian blogs is that they assume that everyone is already familiar with really quite obscure details of their arguments. For example, 'David Davis' writes several times that "The State has not only taken Nazi ownership of our children, but has also intellectually cast them adrift at the same time, and it’s all probably deliberate", and it is assumed that the reader will already know that the State has taken Nazi ownership of our children and how it has done so. Any guesses?)

So I didn't manage to bond with the Libertarians over the police database of dissident protesters. But I did learn about the merits of Tsarist Russia; that the government shouldn't help women who are losing their jobs; that it's wrong to pay people £7/hour or more if they live in Glasgow and work for the council; about how privatisation can create a market in whether our children get indoctrinated by the gays and about the Nazi ownership of our children by the state.

Not to mention that next time someone asks me for my opinion on a really, really stupid idea, I now know that a polite way to reply is to say that it sounds 'impeccably liberal'.

But something still puzzled me. Why would a group of people who want another way forward for the country, who are extremely ANGRY and who fantasise about stringing up our elected leaders from lamp posts not be worried about the existence of a database which the state can use to monitor dissenters?

And then I thought about it from another perspective, and all became clear. Pity the poor Police Surveillance Officer, monitoring this drivel and having to decide what kind of security risk they might be. I suspect they would conclude two things:

1. Their policy aims seem to revolve exclusively around giving more to those who already have a lot of money and power, so probably not one to worry about too much.

2. And anyway, as credible and organised threats to the existing order go, they make the Socialist Workers Party look like the Bolsheviks.

11 Comments:

At 12:26 pm , Anonymous tim f said...

How did you get 40% liberal? I got 20% liberal and I thought I was being generous.

 
At 2:40 pm , Anonymous Paul said...

Nearly fell of my chair laughing at some of this, so either a very funny post or I'm very easy to please, or my chair's crap.

There is however the serious side to this - how the notion of libertarianism (and by extension 'liberyty') has been in the last 20 years been pretty well entirely misappropriated by people who shouldn't in any way be defined as libertarians (and this leads back to your CoMl postings of course).

 
At 6:38 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have misrepresented the arguments on each of these sites in turn.
Tsar Nicholas was not a libertarian. The point being made was that a professor of 'government' at Oxford is suggesting that 'progressive policies' will bring the world out of recession by promoting fast economic growth. The prof presents no real evidence for this, and has based his prediction on his own views, and has been outed as a socialist.

Harman is definitely a liar. She has instigated a policy of giving women preferential support on the back of no evidence at all - worse, the ONS figures show that her position is exactly the opposite of the actual case. She is a whore, because she sells herself to whatever political cause will get her closer to the labour leadership.
(and BTW Har'person' is actually a pun on Har'man' - the woman is a strident feminist and it probably pains her immensely to have a non-gender neutral surname)

Old Holborn is angry because public sector workers are being given a large pay rise at exactly the time that the private sector are dishing out redundancies and pay cuts. Glasgow Council are thus contributing to wage inflation (hence the reference to Zimbabwe, where they are suffering from hyperinflation), and putting extra burden on the taxpayer just when he could really do with a break.

The libertarian Alliance article
highlights the tragic decline in educational standards, and the fact that this condemns our children to a grim future, unable to think for themselves. Have you tried looking at the biology paper? The only connection to biology in that paper is the diagram of the naked man and woman. Any reasonably bright person could pass that exam without sitting through two years of state education - try it yourself and then draw yourself a GCSE Biology certificate (you could submit that as part of your GCSE Art exam).

As for opposing the 'dissident database', when the time comes, you will find these chaps on the barricades. They don't have to prove their credentials to you.

Jonathan Miller

 
At 12:41 am , Blogger Devil's Kitchen said...

Don,

Lordy, where to start?

First, you might find that if you did a search on any of these blogs for "police" or "database", you would find hundreds of articles. Some of us have been writing about this for years – we can't do the same thing every, single day.

A few extra points:

"... that the government shouldn't help women who are losing their jobs..."

The state should not help women over and above men, no: that wouldn't be equality now, would it? Besides, as Jonathan pointed out (and as I did in the post), Harman's statistics were lies as vouched for by the ONS.

"... that it's wrong to pay people £7/hour or more if they live in Glasgow and work for the council..."

It is most certainly wrong to do so in one of the most deprived areas in the country, in a time of hardship because someone has to pay for it. More importantly (and I admit that you might have had to read the original article to glean this information) it is most certainly wrong to try to impose that minimum wage on any private contractors working for the council.

"... about how privatisation can create a market in whether our children get indoctrinated by the gays..."

Clause 28 simply forbade the teaching of a gay lifestyle as being equally as valid as a straight one.

Bishop Hill was making no comment on the rights or wrongs of Clause 28, but he was saying that it is wrong that parents who don't wish that to be taught to their children should be prosecuted.

"... and about the Nazi ownership of our children by the state..."

If the state decides that children must be educated about said lifestyle in defiance of their parents' wishes, then the state is effectively taking ownership of the child. The Nazis did a similar thing, so it isn't that hysterical a comparison.

"Not to mention that next time someone asks me for my opinion on a really, really stupid idea, I now know that a polite way to reply is to say that it sounds 'impeccably liberal'."

This idea is so stupid that it is how education is implemented in Dutch and Swedish schools, both of which have far, far better results for both basic and advanced literacy than this country. Even the US has started such a scheme and it has yielded far better results – especially amongst the very poor – than their current system.

"Why would a group of people who want another way forward for the country, who are extremely ANGRY and who fantasise about stringing up our elected leaders from lamp posts not be worried about the existence of a database which the state can use to monitor dissenters?"

We oppose and have opposed – vociferously and at length – police databases for anyone: just not today because writing about exactly the same thing is incredibly boring.

I may well fisk your post in greater detail, when I don't have anything better to do. In the meantime, I shall have to await eagerly your reply to this comment...

DK

 
At 8:12 am , Blogger Obnoxio The Clown said...

Don, I am a libertarian and I blog regularly about the database state (as well as many other illiberal state activities.) As DK says, you can't blog about one thing every single day.

 
At 2:58 pm , Anonymous _Felix said...

If I remove your supercilious language, I see the message that remains is "LOL U LIBERTARIANS H8 WRKERS!!!!11". Little things like the retarding effect of socialism on the economy, disregard for contract law, public sector waste, and a lack of choice don't matter, according to you, since these outcomes are all driven by good intentions designed to promote equality, and not by dictatorship as such. So that's fine (I mean that in a sarcastic way, just to be clear). We can struggle along through the homogeneous porridge of your vision for society, content in the knowledge that it isn't as bad as Tsarist Russia or Mugabe's Zimbabwe. However, we should be deeply concerned about police oppression of climate protesters and Guardian journalists and anyone who belongs to your tribe. Which is a fair point, we should, but you can forgive me for not actually knowing it was going on, due to not reading the same newspapers, and anyway not being keen to leap to the defence of socialists, even anti-government socialists, since all they represent is an opposing force campaigning for interference with our private lives and possessions in different ways. Somebody's got to defend them, I suppose. Shami Chakrabarti can do it.

I admit, it's a fair point that many blog entries are hastily written and full of hyperbole. Unfortunate, but possibly a necessary evil in order to encourage the writers to write at all. Having had a long-term LGF habit, I now find myself reading the Devil's Kitchen regularly. My first thought on finding it was "half these posts are incorrect in some way", and my second thought was "this is all very interesting".

It's a remarkably short distance from your blog to the Devil's Kitchen or LPUK (two clicks). It's a shame we can't all get along and have a single vision of opposition to new labour. Then again, if we all thought as one, that would be a bit creepy (socialists are free to disagree on this point).

 
At 3:34 pm , Anonymous Cleanthes said...

I'd be fascinated to know how you managed to score only 40% on that quiz.

Could you post up some examples of questions where the quiz scored you as illiberal with some reasoning why you disagree with the LPUK?

That way you might be able to engage some of your commenters in a useful discussion on the nature of liberty and libertarianism. Currently this appears to be a rather simple straw man hatchet job.

 
At 9:42 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fuck me, Don. You've got a right ambush on your hands here. I'd strongly advise just screaming "LIAR" as loud as you can and something one of this lot's mum taking it up the wrong 'un and you'll be well on your way to attaining the kind of genius that comes up with this searing analysis:

"Harman is definitely a liar. She has instigated a policy of giving women preferential support on the back of no evidence at all ... She is a whore, because she sells herself to whatever political cause will get her closer to the labour leadership.
(and BTW Har'person' is actually a pun on Har'man' - the woman is a strident feminist and it probably pains her immensely to have a non-gender neutral surname)"

Well, knock me down with some of YOUR MUM's size 22 knickers, I'd have never have guessed.

[You get the idea, Don - sing along!]

 
At 10:33 pm , Blogger donpaskini said...

Hi chaps,

Just a quick one for those who want more proper debate and less mockery - there's a good debunking of David Davis' whinging about exams getting easier over at:

http://www.johnband.org/blog/2009/03/08/dumbing-down-and-thats-just-the-fogeyish-commentators/

 
At 8:59 am , Blogger Cleanthes said...

Don,

Umm...

Debunking?

The Higher paper does not require any understanding of
- mechanics,
- energy and forces,
- pressure, temperature etc,
- the key equations governing electricity (there isn't even a V= IR question in there)

There's nothing on Hooke's Law.
There's nothing on Boyle's Law.
There's nothing on Archimedes.
There's nothing on gravity or indeed on any Newtonian mechanics.
There's nothing on moments or balancing a beam.
There's nothing on levers.

There is, in fact, no physics at all in the paper highlighted.

 
At 4:39 pm , Blogger John B said...

I've made this point at my place, but the paper is specifically an energy & electricity paper - mechanics, gases and gravity are covered in separate papers.

Re the original piece: hahahahaha. Although to give them their due, most of the major libertarian writers have indeed slated police and government databases over the years, alongside their half-crazed rants about Harriet Harman.

 

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