Ruling By Fear

The definition of ruling is “exercising authority or influence” and the very act of doing so should be anathema to all libertarians. We do not want others exercising power over us and good libertarians want all of our fellow human beings to be equally free of authority and would never dream of trying to exercise authority over them. That is why a Libertarian political party is a fundamentally flawed concept – we don’t want political power. What would we do with it?

History tells us that we can be ruled by many different kinds of oppressors – kings, emperors, tribal elders, clan chiefs and dictators and coercion is always the medium by which we are ruled. All of the above acquired, by force, the monopoly of the means of violence in the geographical territory over which they governed. Of course they were not always violent towards those over whom they had authority but it was the threat of violence that enabled them to impose laws and levy taxes. People were ruled by their fear of that violence – that was, and is, how authority is exercised.

Of course you might say that times have changed. We are now governed by a parliament which we elect and if they oppress us we have the option to elect others to govern us instead. This, the proponents of democracy would say, legitimises the use of coercion in governance but the problem is that most people are not libertarians. Most people like rules, guidelines and being dictated to because it absolves them of the effort required to think for themselves. From our childhood we are taught that authority is a benign force imposed for our own safety and well being and most people take this as the natural template for their lives. They never really grow up.  So when someone in authority tells them that they must act in a certain way, most people tend to conform. When they are told that something is being done for their own good they are happy to acquiesce but of course this only encourages those in authority to frighten them more.

Smoke and you’ll die of cancer, we are told. Drink and your liver will fail. Pay your taxes or the NHS won’t cure you. Don’t drive in excess of the speed limit we have imposed. Stop at red lights. Give us access to your emails or we won’t be able to stop the bogeymen from blowing you up! And the supine electorate are afraid and vote for ever greater “protection” no matter the cost in terms of their individual freedom.

So it is somewhat amusing to see the current Brexit campaigns being conducted along the same lines.

Vote REMAIN and the economy will collapse. You will lose your job and the pound will be worthless. Vote LEAVE or else the UK will be swamped by immigrants. And because people are being scared by both sides they are, understandably, a bit perplexed. Which of the Doomsday scenarios is actually more scary, they try to compute? On the one hand, any change from the status quo seems risky however I suspect that the irrational fear of foreigners might win in the end. Let’s hope so.

Because I will vote LEAVE, but not, of course, because I’m the least bit concerned about immigration (I don’t recognise the right of the state to have closed borders at all) but because I cannot resist the opportunity to strip out a pernicious layer of government, and, in fact, the most remote and pernicious layer of all.

I rather think all libertarians will do the same?

 

 

 

 

 

More Equal Than Others

Some interesting debate here recently on the correct libertarian response to feminism- here is my contribution.

In my view, the equality pursued by feminists is the same as that pursued by socialists. Both are based on the notion that, because we all share the same broad genus, human beings deserve to be valued identically.

Whist any rational person examining the world will swiftly conclude that all human beings do not have equal value, the socialist will see this and conclude that the reason some seem to have greater value than others is due to the inequalities perpetuated by capitalism and they seek to repair this by having the state impose equal value legislation. There is no logic to it but they believe that, if there were only equality of opportunity, there would eventually be equality of value.

Feminists ought to have an even greater problem selling their ideology because the clear biological differences between men and women have to be downplayed or ignored in order to justify their equality agenda. Males are generally more powerful physically than women and their brains are, on average, larger. (This is factually true but such is the strident nature of the feminist culture we inhabit that it feels somewhat criminal to mention it).

So as a result of physiological differences, men and women cannot compete against each other on a level playing field at sport and women tend to do less well at purely cerebral activities like chess or bridge. Yet although women cannot compete equally there is a strong agenda to have them rewarded equally. At Wimbledon, for example, women have achieved parity of prize money (despite apparently being considered incapable of playing the same number of sets!!!).

But despite the difficulties in justifying equality where there is a direct competitive measure, when this is taken away from the area of activity it becomes easier to ignore reality and blame inequalities on discrimination. So we hear arguments that the reason women have statistically done less well in any sphere of activity is for one of the following reasons.

1) They had to take time out to bear children.
2) Power in the organisation was already held by men so they were discriminated against for promotion.
3) They were handicapped by the gender roles assigned to them in childhood.

And of course the solution to the relative failure of women in public life is to tackle discrimination by the imposition of laws and positive discrimination quotas. There must be equal numbers of women and men in senior roles in political parties, in the Civil Service and in boardrooms. Selection should be made, not on merit, but on gender.

We have still to see the full results of such policies in action but it is unlikely they will be encouraging. Indeed, I think it is possible to trace the debilitating effect on the current Labour Party who have pushed positive discrimination and adopted women only shortlists for the last 15 years. In my view, all organisations would be well advised to avoid both positive and negative discrimination and make promotional appointments based on ability alone. And, in fact, if they are allowed to that is what they will do.

Socialism is much easier to oppose than feminism because most people are eventually persuaded by rationality and outcomes are more easily measurable. It is possible to study what happened in Eastern Europe or Cambodia in the last century and conclude that socialism is not the best way run a society if you want to make peoples lives better.

Whereas voicing opposition to the feminist hegemony is to deny that men and women have equal value. To do that is to invite accusations of bigotry and misogyny and, in the current climate that feminism has created in Western societies, there are not many willing to put their heads above that particular parapet.

OK shoot!

 

The Spiteful State

The essentially spiteful nature of the state was evidenced twice last week.

Firstly, our newly elected government in the UK decided that they were fed up with its citizens choosing to ingest certain drugs that made them feel happy. So frustrated, as they were, by their inability to stop us enjoying ourselves by means of existing legislation they decided to take no further chances and ban everything we might like (other than those drugs already so popular and mainstream that they can easily tax). In doing so, they overturn the fundamental principles of English Common Law and force the legitimate small businessman currently supplying drugs legally from his “head shop” into the gangster world created by the rest of their drug prohibition.

Secondly, the authorities in the US have jailed a man for the rest of his natural life for…..hosting a website. Yes, Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the Silk Road site on the dark web where citizens freely traded in an online marketplace has been jailed for life because some of the trades on his site involved illegal products. Presumably he narrowly escaped execution. Of course if the Americans enacted the UK legislation they could no longer sentence criminals to death by lethal injection as that would be “a substance intended for human consumption capable of producing a psychoactive effect”.

Seriously, libertarians don’t often talk about drugs publicly and apparently this is because we are concerned that our views make us seem wacky and out of step. The majority of our citizens are afraid of drugs and have been encouraged by a rabid media to view those who take them as a threat to civilisation. But the prohibition of narcotic substances is one of the most harmful and destructive cornerstones of the state’s strategy to exercise control over the population. The freedom for each individual to choose what to do with his own body and mind is a key libertarian principle and we must vociferously oppose the attempts of governments to compromise that freedom.

 

 

Sexual Apartheid In Football

The following is the transcript of an interview I managed to obtain with one of the leading figures in the world of football. For some reason the mainstream media has neglected to publish it.

 

KF: Thank you very much for your time.

You’re welcome. What would you like to talk about?

KF: Well I’d like to ask you about racism in football.
Ah yes. It’s endemic I’m afraid. But, as you probably know, we give tackling it the highest priority and we’re making progress. 
KF: How do you know it’s endemic?
Because of the success of our Kick Racism Out Of Football campaign. It wouldn’t have been such a success if there was no racism. And the media love it. 
KF: And what practical progress have you made?
Well, the new rules being introduced next year mean that any player referencing the skin tone or ethnicity of another player will be banned from playing the game sine die. For the purposes of these rules, players with red hair are considered to be part of an ethnic group so the G word will be outlawed. The life ban will also apply to comments relating to sexual predilection, female genitalia, disability and gender orientation.
KF: Are there many disabled and transgender footballers in the league?
We know that statistically there must be. However we’re not going to find out for sure if we discriminate against them, are we?
KF: Getting back to racism, in what other areas do you hope to make progress?
Well, for a start, the overwhelming majority of league managers are middle aged white men. That is completely unacceptable.
KF: So what are you going to do about it?
We’ll adopt the usual approach with these things – talk about it endlessly to anybody and everybody who’ll listen. Get a few hysterical write ups in The Guardian and a feature on Match Of The Day. Then, when nothing changes, we’ll claim the moral high ground and impose a quota system. 
KF: But how will that work? I mean, how can you force clubs to take on black managers?
It’s simple. Clubs tend to change their managers quite regularly. So every time they change from a white male manager we’ll make them choose something else. 
KF:  You mean a black manager?
Or Asian. Or a female. And the salaries will have to be the same of course as we firmly believe in racial and sexual equality. Furthermore I should add at this point that all football league employees receive the living wage. Apart from ball boys. 
KF: So I understand. And are you going to take the same approach with the players?
P: How do you mean?
KF: Well the statistics show that, as a proportion of population either nationally or globally, white players are grossly under represented in your league whilst players with a mixed ethnic background are hugely over represented. Do you intend to use a quota system to correct that imbalance?
No, of course not.
KF: Why is that?
Because the imbalance you refer to is a clear demonstration of the success of our policy of promoting cultural diversity.
KF: I see. One final question. You have no women whatever playing football in your league. Why not?
Because women have their own league.
KF: Why?
Because they’re not physically strong enough to play with the male players.
KF: But I thought you said you believed in sexual equality?
I do. But they’re obviously not equal as footballers. Have you watched women’s football? I mean in an ideal world I’d like them to be but…..
KF: But you could have mixed teams with quotas from each sex. Surely that would be preferable to the…. sexual apartheid you are currently presiding over.
I don’t like that word and I don’t think that would work.
KF: Why not?
Because the fans wouldn’t like it. 
KF: Why?
Well they wouldn’t want to see women getting hurt in tackles by men, for a start.
KF: But surely you could address that sort of thing with Violence Against Women legislation?
Look, mate. I don’t know what you’re game is but this interview is concluded.
KF: Yes of course. Thank you for your time.

 

The Duty To Avoid Tax

For the first time ever, I walked into the Red Channel. There was nobody there, just a waist high white counter with a doorbell button. A laminated sign was sellotaped along side it which said “RING ONCE” and I pressed it.

Nothing happened for the next ten minutes so I pressed the button again. Immediately a large man in a shabby uniform burst through a door. He was overweight, unshaven and his eyes were red.

“Can’t you read?” he snarled.

“Sorry” I replied.

“What do you want?” he growled.

“I want to declare something” I said.

“Really” said the man. “And what would that be?”

“This” I said, taking a litre bottle of 25 year old Macallan from my bag and putting it onto the counter.

“Where did you get it?” he asked,

“At Duty Free in the airport” I replied.

“And is this all the alcohol you’ve got?”

“Yes, of course” I said. “I’m not an alcoholic”.

“Then you’re under the Duty Free allowance and this does not have to be declared” said the man. “You should have gone through the other channel like everybody else.”

“Ah yes”, I replied. “but I’ve been keeping track of the news while on holiday and in the last few weeks there has been a great deal of effort made, by politicians of all parties, to establish the moral case for paying tax. I want to be a good citizen and pay my share. So I insist on paying the duty on this whisky.”

“Well you can’t, there’s no form for it.” said the big man. “Just get out of here and stop wasting my time. We’ve got enough to do here without dealing with nut cases like you”

“Well if that’s you’re attitude…” I picked up my suitcase and walked out.

When I got home I carefully unpacked the thirty cartons of King Edward cigars from it without any feelings of guilt whatever. Then I picked up the phone.

“Hello, is that HMRC?  Oh good, I wanted to have a word with you about my ISAs…..”

 

 

 

 

Image Credit: Martin Burns

See No Evil

It’s just been a bad week.

Like most of you, I lead a quiet and peaceful life happily paying my taxes and smiling contentedly as I do my bit to keep the UK public sector juggernaut on the road. I am not active politically and rarely write any more. I am still a libertarian but I no longer try to explain the concept to others because I now know it is almost certain that they won’t understand. They will just look at me a bit strangely in future.

No, since the Tories took over from the appalling New Labour a few years back, the anger I used to feel has largely left me. If Chris Mounsey couldn’t sustain the venomous rage, how should I be expected to? Anyway, we’ve got the internet- it will guarantee our freedom, won’t it?

And then we get a week like the last one.

First, the Met Police decide that it is unlawful to view a video. Google and Twitter fall into line and close the accounts of “offenders”.

Then the Government announce their intention to introduce a statute giving the police and courts powers to interfere in personal relationships. So if I argue with my wife in future, I could end up in jail. The opposition say the proposals don’t go far enough.

Finally, text messages are put into the public domain and two men’s careers are ruined for privately expressing views that are judged to be politically incorrect.

So am I consumed with indignant rage at these events?

Not at all – it’s just been a bad week.

However I have to say it’s quite nice to be reminded how good it felt to be absolutely fucking livid….

 

 

 

 

Image credit: Tim Lenz

Legal Theft

I should begin with a disclaimer.

Over the last eight years I have owned two successful and profitable businesses which had to be liquidated because the bank I was with moved the financial goal posts. In both cases, my local “relationship manager” was powerless to help mitigate a blanket decision made much further up the food chain. So the news over the last few days regarding the actions of RBS in closing down small businesses seems less remarkable to me than it will have been to many others.

The assertion is that these businesses were closed by the sudden withdrawal of agreed lending in order that RBS could acquire the assets of the businesses at prices below the market value. It is worth noting that the story has been brought to our attention by a businessman who was invited to join the Department of Business Innovation and Skills and had not, apparently, been subjected to the compulsory briefing on how state corporatism works and what truths may not be stated.

But I have to tell you that what has been revealed thus far is [In Ken’s opinion -Ed] only the tip of the iceberg and all the major banks were following similar policies of preying on their customers – weakening them, killing them, then picking their bones.

For even more outrageous and scandalous examples it is worth reading some of the wonderful investigative reporting of Ian Fraser, particularly into the HBOS operation in Reading.

This was a scam run by the wonderfully named Lyndon Scourfield and involved Mediterranean yachts, suitcases of cash and East European call girls. So far, ten people have been arrested but, given the record of the Serious Fraud Office in prosecuting financial crime, I don’t suppose they are too concerned.

And, in parallel with the crimes perpetrated by the banks, it could be argued that the consequences of the actions of the asset factoring companies are even more devastating. After reading these horror stories, you will be astonished we have any small businesses left.

Furthermore, it is a strange fact that most of these crimes have been totally ignored by the main stream media. Not being a conspiracy theorist I assume that they think that the public are either uninterested in financial matters or too stupid to understand them. However it is a fact that, for every business destroyed, real people lost their jobs, homes, marriages and, in some cases, their lives.

But what has all this got to do with libertarianism?

Well, I recently wrote here about the detrimental effects of the energy cartel currently operating in the UK and my concerns regarding the unfettered power of state corporatism. The banking scandals referred to above are yet another symptom of the same problem – a sector protected by state regulation, actively conniving to make excess profits and protected, by the state, from failure.

It is increasingly clear to this libertarian how the battle lines are, and will be, drawn. On the one side we have the large corporations which collude with and feed off the state and are permitted, by government, and the uneven application of the rule of law, to feed off us. On the other side you have everybody else.

This story is important because I believe the natural affection that libertarians have for property rights and markets should not blind us to the dangers and excesses of the capitalist system currently operating in this country and we should understand that there can be no legitimate right to assets that have been stolen, however lawfully.