Benevolent Laissez Faire Conference Schedule

Our “Benevolent Laissez-Faire” conference will be held on May 14th at De Morgan House, Russel Square. Tickets cost from £5 to £15 and are available on Meetup and Eventbrite:

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12:30 – Conference Registration / Check-in

12:45 – Introduction by Simon Gibbs

13:00 – Poverty Solutions Without Politics – Syed Kamall

Syed Kamall is chairman of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Parliament and a stood against Zac Goldsmith for the Conservative mayoral nomination the recently concluded election. The overriding theme of his domestic political career is his interest in community and technical solutions to social problems – outside political institutions [Bio]

13:30 – DIY Governance – Janina Lowisz, BitNation and Julio Alejandro, Humanitarian Blockchain

This decade’s standout technological breakthrough is the blockchain – a consensus driven public ledger which allows arbitrary records to be kept on any topic. See how this amazing new technology permits the delivery of services normally associated with nation states and how it revolutionises the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

14:15 – Break

14:35 – Historical Precedents for Laissez Faire Welfare – Dr Anton Howes PhD (KCL)

What happened before the NHS? Before Job Centre Plus? If it was mere charity how did it scale to providing coverage to the majority of the population? Can we return to these precedents? Anton Howes has been recently award a doctorate in history for his analysis of the ideological changes that enabled Britain to enjoy the Industrial Revolution [Bio]

15:20 – Refreshments break (Tea, Coffee, Sandwiches provided)

15:55 – Capitalism and Inequality [Keynote] – Yaron Brook, President and Executive Director, Ayn Rand Institute

Capitalism – the system of private property and free-markets – is the only ethical system and the only system which maximises individual flourishing. It is a just system in its entirety, including the unequal outcomes it permits. Dr Yaron Brook is a tireless advocate for Objectivism and the implementation of a laissez-faire economic system [Bio].

16:55 – Break and Book Signing – pre-order your copy of Equal is Unfair when you buy tickets via Eventbrite.

17:05 – Panel Discussion: Principled Incremental Transition – How do we get there from here?

Panellists will discuss how to arrive at a Laissez Faire economy, blending US and UK perspectives. We will discuss opportunities in revolutionary approaches, succession, counter-economics etc, and what can and should be done about the escalating furore over tax planning and avoidance.

18:00 – Networking (Drinks provided)

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Benevolent Laissez Faire

The centre-ground continues to march to the left on issues of tax. Since UKUncut began bullying and intimidating retail employees, large corporate employers have been forced to cancel tax-planning measures and raise their tax-bills and help avoid “austerity-cuts”.

We have seen the expectations of tax-recipients and their professional advocates rise. It is no longer merely compulsory to pay tax but it is “morally” shameful to do anything but pay the maximum, regardless of which breaks and incentives (“loopholes”) have been offered historically.

Careful observers will know that public “services”, mandates, and rules are over-specified, unjustifiable, unethical and inefficient. Yet the mainstream does not engage in criticism or resentment of these institutions but seeks to protect them and ensure a “fair” contribution to running them is paid.

We still live relatively comfortable lives despite a growing politically imposed economic order which is destructive and immoral. We should, have and can live without it.

A laissez-faire non-political order would be better, more just and more benevolent.

 

 

To present the evidence for that conclusion, I am organising a one day conference in central London. Tickets cost £15 and are available via Meetup.com. The schedule includes Yaron Brook, Anton Howes, Janina Lowisz and Julio Alejandro.

Early birds can get tickets for £12 if they buy now.

 

Thursday Speaker: Chris Mounsey

Chris is a well known and widely admired libertarian activist and on-off blogger. His infamous “Devil’s Kitchen” swear-blog used a dramatic persona to articulate the visceral anger which is felt by many toward the supremacy of the state, and which should, perhaps, be felt by many more.

Devil’s Kitchen was not, of course, Chris’ first venture into the dramatic. His father registered him for Eton College the day of his birth and he studied there from 1990 to 1995. He co-produced and acted in an independent production by the college’s drama society. He also admits to being somewhat distracted by the Edinburgh scene while studying “in a desultory fashion” Microbiology at that University. He was also the guy who did the flyers and posters for their dramatic society.

Like many, including this author, he switched career trajectory shortly before lift-off. He dropped out of his Microbiology degree to focus on his art. Combining his interest in poster-art and his former interest in metal scupture – developed at Eton – he found a job making “separations” for lithographic printing. An early indication of his eventual career course was that it was here, at the turn of the century, that he got his employer onto broadband and using email (most similar companies insisted on special ISDN lines and modems were used for this purpose, at that time. It was fashionable to print the ISDN number in Yellow pages ads!).

After 4 years at that job Chris did 2 years focused on Graphic design and then for nearly four years worked as a freelance website and all-round designer under the name Devils Kitchen Design.

Chris has been very involved in libertarian activism, helping to found and to even lead the troubled UK Libertarian party. With Chris Snowdon he broke open the story of “Fake Charities” – real legal institutions engaged wholly or partly in lobbying the Government while taking Government money – a strange sort of sock puppetry.

He has continued to act and – until 2012 – to blog but has recently focused on his career at independent technology company VerseOne, where he is now technical director. This is a role he has worked himself into since early 2008. The company produced CMS solutions for housing associations and other clients.

Chris participated in our Cost of Living Crisis event in October 2014 on his specialist subject of environmental regulation. Since last year Chris appears to have picked up his blogging again. He join us tonight to talk about how Fake Charities are influencing the debate on Brexit.

He will speak at the Two Chairmen in Westminster. Doors open there at 1830.

Robert Zdanowski on The Free State Project

Robert began, somewhat surprisingly, by talking about the Schlieffen Plan, his point being that the German General Staff after the First World War included people whose entire job was to criticise and to find the weak spots in all the various plans that other members of the German General Staff were proposing. And for quite a few years after first becoming a libertarian, Robert was himself just such a permanent critic, of all the other plans produced by other libertarians to make libertarianism a reality. He spent, as he put it, “many years doing nothing”.

All that changed early in the year 2014, when Robert heard about the Free State Project, which is based in the American state of New Hampshire. Here was an idea about how to establish and spread libertarianism and libertarian ideas that he felt happy to support. Robert decided that he would move from Poland to New Hampshire. He is not there yet, but is currently in England, and is on his way. Meanwhile, he is learning English as fast as he can.

The idea of the Free State Project is to gather 20,000 people in New Hampshire and have a real impact on the local politics of the area. Statement of Intent signers (the “intent” declared being to move to New Hampshire and join the likes of Robert Zdanowski) numbered very close to the twenty thousand that FSP has been aiming at, and that number has now been reached. It is predicted that fewer than that will actually make the move, but that enough will arrive to make a big difference to the politics of New Hampshire (about 4,000). Not enough totally to transform matters, but enough to push things in a big way towards libertarianism. The two main US political parties have only a few hundred activists each. Several thousand libertarian activists will make a big difference.

Why was New Hampshire chosen for this project? New Hampshire, said Robert, is already one of the most free places in the USA and in the world, and it has a sufficient level of autonomy to start to making autonomous changes. It has no income tax, no sales tax. Better yet, its legistators are almost entirely unpaid, and are regular people rather than the usual pack of lawyers. It is not so hard to be elected. The gun law is open carry. Town meetings decide things like local budgets directly. There is a right to revolution and a right to secession. Juries can acquit not just on facts, but because they don’t like the law they are being told to enforce.

So, Robert has chosen to go to New Hampshire and live his life there, for liberty.

After about twenty minutes, Robert came to what sounded like his finish, and we all started clapping. But this was actually only the last of a number of pauses he had made while finding the right words for what he wanted to say. He stopped our clapping. He had one more important thing to add. There was another pause. Then:

“You can help too.”

At which point we really clapped.

 

I want to add few words of appreciation for Robert Zdanowski and for his talk, beyond the above bare summary. He was, as he himself was acutely aware and as I have already alluded to, handicapped as a speaker by being only recently acquainted with the English language. But despite this undoubted problem, Simon Gibbs invited Robert to speak to Libertarian Home, essentially because he seemed like a good man, and because, for all that his English is as yet very imperfect, he had something of great interest to say. It was, I think, a good decision.

I agree with Simon about what a nice man Robert is. I talked with Robert face-to-face both before and after his talk, I hope not in a way that put him off his speaking too much, and the man’s sheer goodness made a strong impression on me. As Simon mentioned briefly in his introduction, Robert now works in a care home in Margate. Robert told me that his colleagues sometimes criticise him for taking too long in doing menial tasks for those he is caring for, basically because he likes also to talk with his charges as well as just do the necessary physical stuff for them.

So, as Simon said, a nice man. And being nice is no small thing. One of the central complaints that anti-libertarians make about libertarianism is that libertarianism is not nice. So being both nice and a libertarian, even if that is all that you do, is a major contribution to our cause.

Which is not at all to say that this is all that Robert Zdanowksi will do. It will be extremely interesting to see what other contributions he makes to the cause of liberty in the future. We wish him all possible happiness and success in New Hampshire, just as soon as he contrives to arrive there.

Thursday Speaker: Gareth Corfield

Gareth Corfield is widely known as a sub-editor for The Register, a popular technology “tabloid” website. Amongst firearms enthusiasts will be known as trustee of the London and Middlesex Rifle Association, a sporting charity. He is, however, also a blogger and will representing himself as such when he speaks on Thursday 4th February on the UK’s gun laws.

Gareth operates the UK Shooting News which tracks gun legislation and keeps an eye on the highly partial state-institutions lobbying for ever more restrictive gun laws. On this blog he applied his craft as professional journalist to his favorite leisure-time topic.

Gareth studied English with Creative Writing at Brunel and continued there for with a post-graduate diploma. His peers found him to be a natural academic, yet Gareth’s chosen career was professional journalism.  He quickly started up his own website The West Londoner with enviable traffic stats. A week long internship at meta-news outfit Journalism.co.uk precipitated a paid writing commission. He had a short gig at Cicero a consultancy with a government and policy flavour. He handled social media and website maintenance for Cicero and then Lyonsdown adding technical strings to his bow. He then joined The Register as a sub editor responsible for keeping the publication legal, truthful and well presented.

 

Tonight Gareth will speak at the Two Chairmen in Westminster on the UK’s worsening problem of regulation on gun owners.

 

Thursday Speaker: Robert Zdanowski

Robert is a 31 year old Polish immigrant and a recent regular at the monthly meetup. He has made an impression in a very simple way: he worked the entire room, with great politeness and warmth, asking for the help he needed to get stuff done. Whether it was directions to the train station, seeking to meet other Free State Project participants and supporters, or buying some Bitcoin he showed that when he wanted to do something, he was prepared to make it happen.

Robert should know how the state works reasonably well, he worked at Skarzysko-Kamienna City Hall as a clerical assistant  “select[ing] people to redeem the tax”. He also is not the first speaker to have worked as a security guard, which was his last job in Warsaw before leaving Poland for the UK. He now works as a care assistant in Kent.

Robert earned a Master of Arts from the Institute of Political Science and International Relations in Krakow.

Between 2009 and 2010 he shed 110 lbs through a weight loss process. Something I am sure he will be fielding questions on after his talk!

Robert Zdanowski will be providing an update on the Free State Project at the Two Chairmen, Westminster on Jan 7th.

 

LATER: a summary of the event is now available.

Thursday Speaker: Laura Lee

Laura is a sex worker and activist who has been involved in the industry for more than 20 years. She started out working in a massage parlour whilst at university when she realised that it was a better way to fund her studies than more traditional options such as bar work. These days she provides services as a professional dominatrix as well as helping to fulfill the emotional and physical needs of disabled and terminally ill clients that might otherwise be denied them.

When not engaged with clients Laura is an active campaigner for sex workers rights focusing mainly on her native Ireland and her adopted home in Scotland. In this role she has been a spokesperson for the International Union of Sex Workers Scotland and Ireland and appeared as an expert witness before a hostile Justice Committee in Stormont when Lord Morrow’s Human Trafficking Bill, part of which aimed to criminalise the purchase of sexual services in Northern Ireland, was in the committee stage. She has also faced down various abolitionist politicians on radio and television and written for the Independent.

Since the passage of Lord Morrow’s bill, Laura has been working with legal counsel to launch a judicial review in respect of the parts surrounding consensual adult activity and says she will take it all the way to the European Courts if necessary. She is also actively with SCOTPEP and has welcomed MSP Jean Urquhart’s recent consultation which aims to decriminalise sex work in that country.
Laura Lee is speaking at the Two Chairmen, Westminster on December 3rd.