Sunday, June 28, 2009

Libertarians and democracy

Libertarian Lib Dem Charlotte Gore wrote recently about her decision not to stand for election for Parliament in Halifax. Amongst the barriers that she identified, the main ones were:

1. libertarian ideas are rancidly unpopular with the "people"
2. Halifax is a town which is "pretty much in love with the BNP" [sic], and there are very few liberal democrats who live there
3. election campaigns are a lot of hard work and involve being able to raise money, motivate activists etc.

I think Charlotte has probably made the right decision in not standing for election (not least, starting off a campaign by calling her electorate fascists is an unusual campaign tactic). But I'm not sure that her preferred alternative of writing a very strange letter to people in Halifax is quite going to do the trick.

If they want to break up the cozy consensus of the ConLibLab identikit politicians, Team Libertarian are at some point going to have to figure out how to address this problem about the "people" not wanting to vote for them[1]. Since every libertarian on the internet believes fervently that their policies would make everyone better off and free them from being enslaved by the state, it is rather a mystery why they are having quite so much trouble in doing this.

[1] I guess the alternative to winning popular support would be to wait for a military dictator to do the hard work of securing power and then persuade him to hire them as policy advisers, as in Pinochet's Chile. There's nothing quite like having the overwhelming might of the state to crush dissent to enable libertarian ideas to get tried out.


At 12:33 am , Blogger Charlotte Gore said...

You're right, calling the electorate fascist is yet another nail in that particular coffin.

The point is not so much that libertarian opinions are rancidly unpopular. It is that winning elections is about being quiet and saying nothing, the exact opposite of blogging.

The problem of trying to appeal to people who don't vote is that they don't vote.

At 12:13 pm , Anonymous Jako said...

"It is that winning elections is about being quiet and saying nothing"

An interesting interpretation of electioneering.

Here was me thinking that it usually involved knocking on doors, phoning people up, speaking at meetings, giving quotes to newspapers, etc.

In other words it involves quite a lot of hard work.

At 10:50 pm , Anonymous Ben said...

"The point is not so much that libertarian opinions are rancidly unpopular. It is that winning elections is about being quiet and saying nothing, the exact opposite of blogging."


The thing is, if this is what elections are all about, doesn't that suggest that the electorate have a fairly firm view about the sort of person they want to elect? Say, someone who promises not to raise their taxes too much and promises not to slash spending. In other words, someone in the ill-defined ground that traverses leftish Tories to moderate Labourites?

Not a libertarian dilettante who threatens to abolish welfare, radically redesign the role of the state, unleash social chaos and generally destroy the very fabric of the only society they and all the other inhabitants of the western world have ever known?

One might suggest that the electorate were positively canny.

This is just a thought, mind you, and shouldn't stop stupid people from prattling on on the internet about how inferior and sheeplike "the people" in fact are.

As a final observation, the fact that the Liberal Democratic "Party" contains people like Charlotte Gore is rather an indication of quite how miserably ill-equipped for government it is. They also have pseudo-socialists who think Labour is far too right wing, of course.

Is being party to an intellectual, ideological and moral car crash a key aspect of libertarian praxis? I think we should be told.

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