Posts by Simon Gibbs

Editor of the Libertarian Home blog and meetup organiser.

Facebook purges libertarian(ish) accounts

Libertarians, mostly Americans, on Facebook are frantically working through the details of a mass ban of Facebook Pages maintained by organisations in the libertarian-conservative part of the spectrum.

One user posted this “working list” of affected accounts to another libertarian’s wall:

The Free Thought Project – 3.1 million fans
The Anti-Media – 2.1 million fans
Police the Police – 1.9 million fans
Cop Block
Filming Cops
Policing the Police
Cop Logic
Rachel Blevins
End the Drug War
V is For Voluntary
Legalizing Cannabis Hemp
End the War on Drugs
Anonymous News
Get Involved, You Live Here
Dan Dicks – 350,000 fans
Political Junkie News Media – 300,000 fans
Murica Today – 180,000 fans
Choice & Truth – 2.9 million fans
You won’t see this on TV – 172,000 fans
Modern Slavery Hilarious Vines – 129,000 fans
Fuck the Government – 168,000 fans
Punk Rock Libertarians – 190,000 fans

Also blocked were Peaceful Anarchism, Liberty One and The Truth Is Viral.

I am not personally subscribed to these pages, I am not vouching for them or identifying them as libertarian or as anything else. I prefer to limit my consumption of social media, but I have certainly heard of many of them.

Some sound a bit bonkers, others seem to have been doing important work which anyone should recognise as valuable in a democracy. It is possible Facebook has some evidence that they were up to something? There seems to be an issue with pages being “forced” to spam for reasons related to Facebooks algorithms.

I’m asking you a question: have you been tuning into these pages and what do you think is going on? Are some of these legit targets based on some criteria of public safety that you feel is valid? Or are they legitimately operated venues of dissenting opinion which is being squashed?

Speaker Profile: Tom Walker

Many libertarian activists will know Tom from his consistent presence at think tank and meetup events and his writing at Backbencher, the ASI Blog and Telegraph Refresh. He helps the European branch of the Ayn Rand Institute to arrange events in communication with the other UK objectivist organisations.

Professionally Tom is a planning consultant and is therefore well placed to speak on the prospects for New Towns under consideration in England. Tom speaks at the Two Chairmen tonight in Westminster.

#DrowningInPlastic fails to address economics or human needs

I watched Liz Bonnin’s Drowning in Plastic documentary as I have heard plenty, through headlines and punditry, about how evil and disgusting plastic is and how it must be banned. I was sceptical that plastic could be as bad as depicted and wanted to listen in a bit more depth.

Like most I found the various depictions the impact to sea life disgusting and saddening. One bird, for example, had eaten its weight in plastic which had become stuck in its stomach and it was unable to fly to hunt. Seals had vicious cuts to their necks and majestic whales were entangled with an ungainly mess of ropes.

Consistently, however, the economics of the situation for humans were missed. The most thorough coverage of the impact on humans came very late in the program where organised fishermen from Cape Code were permitted a voice but only alongside coverage of their own efforts to solve the problem themselves. This was all very thin and was arranged very late into the program. This was not a a case of plastic being put on trial, it was an emotional and largely one-sided tirade.

There was nodding coverage of the fact that plastic sachets in the remote Philippines had enabled a dramatic improvement in the local people’s way of life. Later in the program Bonnin emerged from the sea frustrated holding a clutch of the sachets in hand. That fact the sachets were revolutionary for humans was not reintroduced. Nor was it noted that the sachets, a very irksome part of the problem for Bonnin, seemed to be a problem exclusively in non-western non capitalist societies where, as a consequence, dirt and flies were prolific. In fact, of the problems discussed, only that of lobster fishing was associated with a developed western economy.

When Bonnin did try to describe the arrangements in depth she failed to pick up on interesting questions.  In one broad stretch of river floating plastic had formed a dirty boom across its width. We were shown how locals in long shallow boats bent on their knees to pick valuable plastic from the water for recycling. We were also shown that the plastic came from impoverished rural communities who were throwing plastic in heaps down river banks. What was not explained is why the two groups had not managed to connect themselves together. If plastic is so valuable that people will bend over the side of a boat to filter it out, then why can they not organise themselves to do that on land? What barriers exist between these peoples?

When Bonnin went to visit entrepreneurs working to solve the various problems she was similarly shallow in her economic questioning. For example, she showed a frankly amazing floating device in a Canadian harbour. It was powered by the flow of water, supplemented by solar energy. It was able to pick tons of plastic from the water in a day. It was, apparently, far too expensive for many “local authorities” to afford. You won’t be surprised to learn that there was no mention of tax payers at this point or their competing needs, but there was also zero discussion of whether this plastic recovery could actually be profitable.

Likewise, the amazing edible sea weed packaging material was described as having great potential with great interest from corporations. You would not catch me eating it, but it was still an impressive product. Bonnin omitted any discussion about the challenges the seaweed entrepreneur faced commercially, therefore stifling any efforts her impassioned audience might exert to solve those specific problems. Instead, we were told there was some lingering concern about the impact of seaweed farming. Facepalm!

There was some other discussion, finally, very late in the program of an island community organising to profit from sea borne plastics. But the fact is that Bonnin consistently failed to pick up on interesting economic questions, failed to interview entrepreneurs in any real depth on economic issues and in doing so offered little to support the audience in coming to a balanced view.

Predictably the #DrowningInPlastic hashtag is drowning in emotive calls to action to ban plastic and save the cute animals. It is as if we have forgotten what it is that makes our lives possible, and the role of plastic products in making human beings comfortable.

BookMarks store invasion was a gross failure of character

I was shocked to hear via Guy Herbert and Sky News that there had been an attack by right-wing thugs on a socialist bookshop in London. Socialism is an inaccurate world view and unethical political policy which promises economic utopia without an algorithm for allocating resources. When it is proceeding tolerably it undermines individual autonomy and crushes free expression, when proceeding along it’s inevitable decline it is associated with mass murder, starvation, preventable deaths, and economic collapse.

The fact that socialists advocate such destructive policies does not remove their rights. The books they are selling do not advocate for the terrible consequences of socialism, but for the unobtainable dreams they intend. They are fools, dangerous fools, but not devils.

Socialists are blind advocates of destruction on a scale I find unimaginable, despite several historical and current examples to look to. I cannot think of a worse political policy to advocate, but I still respect the rights of the bookshop owners to trade freely and exercise their free speech. In fact, as a literal marketplace of literary content book shops are places worthy of deep respect.

Who was it that organised this store invasion? Who could go that low? What is a devil, or a fool?

I know that the person leading the group that day was Luke Nash-Jones. I do not yet know if he is a devil, I trust he is a fool.

After a morning defending the free speech rights of Alex Jones, conspiracy theorist, Luke Nash-Jones lead, or perhaps followed, his protest group into the BookMarks bookshop. He says on a video that he met a bloke in a Trump mask in a pub. The guy was refused service. Other “third parties” suggested pranking the nearby book store instead. He says he went in first with a cameraman to challenge the store owner on his political views, already a confrontational course of action. He says that others followed him in and caused the trouble. He does not mention in the video that the people who entered were waving his Foundation’s placards and wearing his Foundation’s hats. The most charitable interpretation here is that he inflamed a store-invasion by mistake, while attempting to act like a prat.

Nash-Jones is leader of a group formerly known as Young Britons for Liberty. I spoke at a Young Britons for Liberty event on the topic of Marketable Ethical Libertarian Policies (an early warning sign was that at that Q&A I was upstaged by excited chatter about Trump) and again under the Young Chartists name at a pro-Brexit rally where I told them Brexit would be defeated, based on electoral arithmetic if they promoted a nasty, racist post-Brexit outcome – because there is no support for that outcome. I went back to tell them again, and warned them that nasty rhetoric would easily drown out voices helping to build a positive Brexit.  At the latter of these events I noticed the shift towards Trump related imagery and populism. I have not been back.

Luke Nash-Jones’ video has condemned the things that left-wing media have read from the store invasion – that the right is on the rise and they hate free speech and that they are violent thugs. There is undoubtedly exaggeration of the events in the media (the managers account ring’s truest) but Luke’s error was to imagine himself able to control not-only the mob he gathered, but the way their ignorant impromptu actions are interpreted. Luke must apologise for taking his protest group to BookMarks.

LATER: Luke Nash-Jones apparently uttered the words “The Jihadi Has the Machete Hand Over the Englishman” to a stonily silent audience on 28th July. Devil or Fool? Hmnn…