The former communications director of the LPUK, Ken Fergusson, writes:
I believe the correct libertarian response to democracy (and government) is to ignore it.
Ken is not only inconsistent, he is wrong. One should not simply ignore that which is being done to you constantly. Today is Tax Freedom Day, and yet is it nearly June. Nearly half a year of your life has been confiscated over the course of 2014.
It is simply irrational to do nothing in the face of such fractional murder, and all the more irrational to be resigned to fixing the problem through some kind of slow leakage into the culture, like water from your shower penetrating old grout and seeping down through your wall for months to make a small unnoticeable patch on your kitchen wall. The danger with such an ineffectual strategy is that someone comes along and re-tiles the bathroom, cutting off even that tiny trickle of ideas.
In the EU elections a “leave me alone” vote was possible – by holding your nose and voting UKIP – not so in other elections, unless something changes. If we do not want to make a libertarian party work, so as to be able to vote for it, then we must have an alternative strategy that goes further and faster than slow cultural leakage.
I propose such an alternative: building the world we want, and then shouting about it.
Imagine a scene:
Joey, down on his luck, is struggling to afford all the essentials he needs. He’s spent all his JSA money and there is a week until his next cheque. His only joy, an occasional overtaxed cigarette, is now in danger too. He must forego his weekly pack of ten in order to afford the potatoes and chicken drumsticks he has grown used to feeding to his family.
Then he sees a friend, Steve, who Joey knows is also down on luck, but he seems happy. He is carrying a bag labelled “Individual Rights Society Food Bank: helping you, respecting others”. In the bag are chicken drumsticks and potatoes, wow. Also in the bag are tinned peas, tinned carrots, dry biscuits, bog paper, soap, and a copy of “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”. Steve has read all of Heinlein now, and offers Joey his copy, then – sniffing – offers him the soap too.
Joey goes along to the food bank (the address is stickered to the inside back cover of the book) and gets a bag for himself and – hugely grateful (even if it makes zero economic sense) – stops at a newsagent for some cigarettes and a newspaper. In the newspaper he reads about a new Individual Rights Society School opening and a new Individual Rights Society networking event. Joey is a plumber, so he goes along to the networking event and gets himself a job fixing the leaky bathroom of someone he met there.
Joey raves about the Individual Rights Society to members of his family, who tell him “be careful Joey, those guys would have us do without housing benefit”. He’s grateful for the food, and soap, and good reads for his children, but that scares him, and it makes him think twice about these people. He looks up who they are, and sees them explaining that whenever someone is taxed, they have to go without something themselves, something that may have benefited the economy, or even Joey personally, like the money for a plumbing upgrade. It could just be a holiday – they say – or a pack of cigarettes, but they earned the right to those cigarettes and should get to make those decisions themselves. His ears prick up when he sees that the IRS vows never to take taxpayers money, because the imposition of tax clouds the moral character of everything done with it. Then Joey sparks up a fresh cigarette from his pack, which the IRS helped him pay for with their own money, and understands that these guys aren’t as nasty as people say.
The next day he goes out – using money from the plumbing job – and buys his own cigarettes.