Audio: Making Change Within Your Lifetime

This rather noisy recording is from the Fine Line – the dinner and drinks venue for the Liberty League Freedom Forum 2015.

Brian Micklethwait, Charlotte Bowyer and Guy Herbert joined myself for a wide ranging chat about how they have do and have done libertarian activism.

I think all the participants looked at their efforts as incremental, not revolutionary, and that they all agreed it was difficult. Things will get worse before they get better.


  1. When thinking of people who have made changes, for the better, in life I tend to think of businessmen and technologists – people such as Josiah Wedgewood in the 18th century or Jon Huntsman (senior) in our own day. Political matters are different.

    Who could deal with the Credit Bubble financial system?

    And who could deal with the unsustainable effort of modern governments to take over the basic functions of civil society.

    Not “just” an economic problem (one that, along with the utterly debased financial system, threatens collapse), but a cultural problem – if people come to expect all the basic functions of Civil Society should come from the state, one is dealing with an “Arab Spring” population or a Latin American “Social Justice” population (screaming for “cheap bread”, or for regulations to save them the bother of checking the reputation of companies and checking independent [Underwriters – nothing to do with “race”, but everything to do with ideas and beliefs (lethal ones).

    Yes the size and scope of government has been radically reduced in the past – for example by President Warren Harding (the most libelled President in the United States history), or by the “Do Nothing Congress” elected in 1946.

    But they faced nothing like the things we face.

    Perhaps the government of Estonia has a few lessons for us – after all Estonia seems to have come back from the socialist nightmare, of the Soviet period.

    But recovering from that is not the same sort of problem that we (or that Estonia also) now faces.

    Still I am an old man thinking aloud – and I should have listened to the discussion.

    Still I agree that things will get worse (vastly worse) before they get better – if they get better.

    But things can get better – if people have the right beliefs the right PRINCIPLES.

    That is what annoyed me about F.A. Hayek when I was a child – apart from in his “The Road Serfdom” he did not seem to think that beliefs (the principles) of ordinary people were important – going on about social evolution as if people were not really people (as if ordinary people were not capable of understanding things and making real choices).

    Even Ludwig Von Mises wrote in a way that implied that he thought that only a few people were really people – were capable of understanding liberty and believing it (still better than writing in a way that implies that no one can understand things or make real choices).

    I will say this – and it is the truth.

    If ordinary people can not understand the basic principles of liberty and make real choices (choose to do other than we do), then nothing we do matters – it does not matter a damn.

    I am not saying that a majority of people will understand the basic principles of liberty everywhere – but if a majority of people understand the basics in a few places (places of importance) then civil society (civil interaction – civilisation rather than tyranny and chaos) has a chance to survive – and more than survive.

    Civil society (free human beings – agents) will do things that will astonish us – people will create (deliberately create – it does not just “happen”, the choice is not between state planning and no planning [“human action, but not human design”] the choice is between state planning [which is a nightmare of evil] and human beings making their own voluntary plans – and working to carry them out) a civilisation that will spread to the stars.

    And yes – people making voluntary (but large scale private property based) plans will have unintended results as well as intended ones (Hayek was not wrong in talking about some things being the product of “human action, but not on human design” – he just let the idea strangle everything else), but they need to have real objectives of their own, a lot of the time. Someone like Josiah Wedgewood has a good idea of what he wanted to achieve BEFORE he achieved it. And a large number of people can accept (and no they are accepting) basically decent (although certainly not perfect) principles – for example the Constitution of New Hampshire of 1784 (although I object to the religious clauses – and I believe in God), or the Constitution of Texas of 1876 (although like the Declaration of Independence decades before it had a fatal flaw as regards to state EDUCATION).

    “Paul is now going to do a David Crocket and say “you can all go to Hell – I am going to Texas” – “.

    Well no I am not going anywhere – other that to dust, after some humiliating and squalid death.

    But, yes, Texas is one of the places (places of importance) where I think most people might (just might) make a stand for basic liberty – the basic liberty that is the mother of civilisation.

    If people have the right basic beliefs – pro LARGE SCALE PRIVATE PROPERTY beliefs (anti collectivist beliefs), then they can survive what is coming – and they can build a civilisation that will be worth while.



  2. Nice audio. Sound quality quite good too. There is no career in liberty, unlike statism, there is no money in it worth getting out of bed for, there is no ‘selfish interest’ in promoting liberty, other than doing what is right and the joy of being right, for which no money could compensate me.



  3. Thanks for posting this Simon- very interesting, especially thoughts around single issue campaigns.
    I wouldn’t say there are no careers in liberty. Certainly there are opportunities for entrepreneurs to disrupt services the state is used to monopolising.
    There are tipping points however, and the balance between leaving a just good enough state subsidised service to set up a private competitor is not always worth it, at this time.
    Of course if global financial meltdown does occur these calculations will change drastically and it is important to be ready for this.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s