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  1. A famous Socialist realised that The Proletarian Revolution was not going to happen, so co-opted industry and controlled that way. His name? Mussolini.

    The Fabians have a method. While gradualism might be a way forward, and I have long felt we often need to build a bridge to lead people across chasms, not expect them to jump, I do not accept a solution that so systematically lies, tricks and betrays people like Fabians do.

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  2. It’s an interesting point. While I was certainly talking about gradualism in my blog post, the issue of truthfulness is a good one worth revisiting.

    Let’s imagine that somehow a hardcore libertarian is standing for office and they have a reasonable chance of being elected (I could see this happening, say, if Labour and the Tories failed to deliver a convincing candidate for London Mayor and UKIP put up a libertarian or a libertarian independent gained traction).

    And you’re asked a question, a direct question, by the press. “Do you believe in the abolition of the NHS”

    To answer yes would be electoral suicide.

    To answer truthfully by saying “No, but in a hundred years I envision a world with a vastly reduced state where 99% of services currently provided by the state are provided by the market” would also be suicide. It would simply lead to

    “So you don’t believe in the NHS, then?”

    You could swerve it with a flat out “No, I believe there will always be an NHS in my lifetime, I believe the doctors and nurses do a fantastic job, I do not believe in a system that lets innocent people die” etc… all true technically, but still being disingenuous.

    I find the idea of lying abhorrent, and even an untruth by omission is morally dubious. Nonetheless, after a century of propaganda by our Fabian friends, the idea of libertarianism is so alien to most people they simply can’t swallow it without choking.

    It’s an intense moral dilemma. Medicine tastes bitter and has to be sugar coated in order to get people to swallow it.

    The sad truth is political races are rarely (if ever) won by those who tell the whole truth. Libertarianism is a bitter pill to many, but medicine for all. And we may need to sugar coat it at first if we’re to gain acceptance of it. Perhaps this is an inevitable part of gradualism, too.

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    1. I think you can manage this if you make it a moral issue:

      I would reform the NHS to an insurance model because I believe that taking money without consent is wrong. You probably agree but you take a view, reasonably, that failing to help people is wrong so you fall down on the side of providing the help through confiscation. I want to reform things so that there is no conflict with with the principle that we own our lives, and I will ensure that doctors and nurses still continue to help patients.

      So you would prefer to abolish the NHS?

      That’s a loaded question. Let me ask you if you prefer someone else owned your life? Of course you wouldn’t say that. You would never say that society has first dibs on the hours of your life. The thing is, you can’t have it both ways. I want reforms to resolve that moral dilemma and I believe patients would be better off in practice.

      But in a democracy we collectively decide how to balance the issues.

      But there is no balance, not in the culture. Not democratically. When a cancer patient demands very expensive drugs to extend her life by a few days, she is effectively demanding her fellow citizens work for her, on threat of imprisonment. The result is that either way, other people lose control of their lives. It’s prison, or working harder on behalf of the patient. There is not a referendum on that. The matter is settled by bureaucrats working to placate or to desperately appease the patient to preserve a rationing system. The democratic system is not in play, rationing is in play instead.

      …And at this out you have changed the argument to an argument about principles, or detailed policy and economics. A better place to be.

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      1. I think you might as well be straightforward. Whatever lawyer’s evasion you may give, it will be interpreted as saying exactly what you have studiously avoided saying, and if it seems that you are evading something, a journalist will go after it.

        Perhaps it is important to take a step back and consider where the question is coming from, i.e., what are the presuppositions in a question like; ‘do you want to abolish the NHS?’ This is based on the ahistorical notion that prior to the NHS being set up by the socialists in 1948, there was no health service, and that poor people had no access to medicine. A cursory look around the hospitals of London reveals the falseness in this – St Bart’s has been standing the best part of 1000 years. Probably the best way of answering the question is saying ‘what do you mean?’ A libertarian who opposes the NHS is certainly not in favour of having no hospitals or doctors, nor does he think that this would be the result. What he is really in favour of, is getting the government out of the business of providing healthcare, and changing the way it is funded.

        So, I don’t really see the point in dodging any issue. It’s a lot easier to be honest, then you don’t have to remember what you said all the time. The one argument that people do understand, is that they are being ripped off, so maybe try to work this angle. Besides all this, very few libertarians are totally consistent or totally pure, and we all have different interpretations on what that would mean, anyway. But, it we were in a situation where a libertarian candidate had a chance of winning an election, and the crunch came of a controversial question, and we all knew what the libertarian answer was, I’d rather he/she said it, come what may. Better to die on your feet than live on your knees!

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      2. I’m going to memorise both of these answers as they’re excellent!

        However, while they’re good in the pub debate that seems to happen every time I tell someone I’m a libertarian “Wot, you don’t believe in the NHS?” etc I think we’d have trouble compressing these arguments into a televised soundbite that could be understood unambiguously for the x-factor voting public.

        In any TV interview I can see a Paxman figure demanding a yes or no answer… “Do you believe in the NHS / in welfare / in state schools etc yes or no?”

        And IMHO a no on any of these things is an instant end to a political career and its our intransigence and honesty that relegates us to the political fringe.

        Imagine us as politicians, we’d all be terrible. Going around telling the truth all the time… 😀

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      3. It’s horses for courses. If you’re in an argument, it’s a matter of rhetoric, i.e, winning the argument by fair means or foul. If it’s an attempt to outline what is wrong with the current system, or what you would rather put in its place, then a more measured approach is required. Perhaps the problem we have is that we haven’t thought through the position enough, so although we are against certain things in principle, and believe that voluntary action would take care of something in the absence of state interference, we haven’t filled in the gap between these two points. Not that it is necessarily necessary to do so. Especially with the NHS, there is a swirling cloud of false assumptions, such as whenever the USA is held up in comparison. It is almost always the case that the person doing this has no clue as to the situation in America, and how it has not been a free market for about fifty years. Two places to look for useful comparisons is in places like Germany, Holland etc, and in the past in this country, with regard to friendly societies etc.

        It’s also worth keeping in mind the fact that taxation is not paying the full tab for these services, that the government is borrowing to do so. This is a moral argument for one thing (as Simon said, I think, above).

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