Pro Liberty Announcement

Those who use bus services will be familiar with the scenario: You wait ages for a bus, and then three come along at once. The same happens to be true of libertarian political parties in the UK.

Last night at the Rose & Crown in Southwark, Pro Liberty was founded. This is a political party which is being registered with the Electoral Commission to fight elections in England and Wales. The party aims to spread the libertarian message within the media – both traditional and social – and through think tanks, the political system and wherever else we can reach a wide audience.

Not only is the party about promoting libertarianism, it is itself designed to be libertarian. There are no restrictions on membership such as forbidding simultaneous membership of other political parties. Nor will there be membership fees until and unless they can be justified. There is also no restriction on what members can or can not say in the media or elsewhere. Members may not state that they are speaking on behalf of the party, but apart from that anything goes. If we are to promote libertarianism to others, we must be able to at least demonstrate our libertarian credentials in the way we organise our own party.

A party constitution is being submitted to the Electoral Commission. This is a legal requirement. We have designed the constitution to be basic and to last for a year. We want the views of libertarians on what the constitution should contain for future years. There are some very basic legal requirements, but the remainder of the party’s constitution is flexible. And it will be down to you, potential member, to help shape the party to be something that you will be happy to support.

The party will begin a series of debates shortly to help with the process of creating a party that most libertarians can support. We also plan to engage with other libertarian organisations and sympathisers, to have candidates stand for elections, to make a noise in the media, and generally to get the message out there and wake this country up from its century-long sleepwalk.

It won’t be easy. But as Confucius say, ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so get on with it’. We’ve taken such a step, and I hope many of you will join us.

Clarissa, James, and Richard

Several people have been involved with advice, ideas, money, and the hard work required to get things moving. I don’t want to mention them by name because I’m bound to miss someone out. But if you discover yourself talking to someone and they mention they were involved, buy them a drink, they’ve earned it. Three interim officers are being formally registered with the electoral commission. These are: James Rigby – Party Leader; Richard Carey – Party Treasurer; and Clarissa Clement – Nominating Officer.

Going back to where this article started: Lovers of analogies who are also aware of libertarian political parties may wish to ponder whether there was a bus that either crashed or veered off the road a year ago and is still limping along. Maybe you were on it. We hope you weren’t too injured. We can assure you of a safer journey on the Pro Liberty express.

All aboard. Hold on tight. Next stop Corby?

Quote of the evening

I poked further and found assorted interviews of the kind of jaw-dropping rightwingness that used to get pop singers castigated in the music press, but seem to have passed under the radar entirely – despite Turner’s status as an arena-headlining act. I started tweeting some of the choicer quotes, and soon Twitter seemed to be abuzz with amazement at what he’s had to say. – Michael Hann, Guardian

So hang on, is leftwinginess some kind of qualification?

Seriously, they just don’t notice how bloody closed minded they are do they?

Capitalism and love

Yesterday’s talk at the IEA was presented by Steven Horwitz. He argued that capitalism freed and empowered women to marry according to their own economic choices and, later, purely for love.

This is an amazingly important observation and was well argued by Steven. He did not deny that feminist ideas, literacy and formal education played their parts (though he did dispute that the 60s wave of feminist popularity had significant effects), but instead of decrying capitalism as a component of the old order and an instrument of oppression, he showed how the free-market, private ownership of capital, and the distributed means of production actually removed key barriers to marital happiness:

  • The necessity of a joint family enterprise with congruent economic interests (e.g. families of literal millers, carpenters, fletchers and smiths) centred within the household.
  • The necessity, for survival, of specialisation between gender roles, that is, to learn skills for use within the household and within the market place.
  • The incentives to breed, even to breed continuously, to ensure an adequate supply of child labour, to overcome infant mortality, and to some extent to ensure old-age care.
  • And finally, the massive time savings afforded by electrical washing machines, dryers, dishwashers etc – the inventions of entrepreneurs.

Of these the first three, at least, paved the way for the happy outcome where women are now able to marry for love and children can be afforded a childhood in which they are sheltered from adult concerns.

Sometimes fools choose to disagree that happiness is actually what we all aim for, but for those that want it, these are universally held to be profoundly happy outcomes. Others, and we all hear it, bleat that revolutionary “progress”, an endless march away from tradition and toward authoritarian revolutionary policies is the only way to get happy. But on Steven’s view, marriage for love and a decent childhood are not ancient traditions but revolutionary consequences of agricultural, and industrial development and the spread of the free-market. This not just a strategic strength for pro-liberty activists but a warning to authoritarian environmentalists and economic planners: your path is not a happy one.

The fourth argument is more obvious, but I wondered if the invention of the washing machine and dishwasher was repeatable. I attended Steven’s talk with my fiance, as we had argued about the relative importance of education vs the division of labour and we wondered whether the fourth force would continue to have an effect now. What else will continue to reduce the time requirements of domestic chores?

© Ian Muttoo

Then I remembered how my spell commuting to Watford was made tolerable by outsourcing my ironing to the local laundry, a phenomenon Steven had explained by giving restaurants as an example. (Steven, shirt services are a better example). Traditionally the burden of ironing shirts ready for the early morning commute would have fallen onto wives, but the free-market and the division of labour brought about the wonders of the “shirt service”, an invention my fiance is most grateful for. Then, in some kind of pre-ordained twist, we found a pack of boned and skinned chicken thighs (much tastier than chicken breasts) in Sainsbury’s on the way home. 50p bought us a saving of 10 minutes skinning and boning, important after 9pm, and 20g more meat. What made us laugh at this was that actually the division of labour by gender had existed in our household until that moment: if I try to skin and bone chicken it can take 30 minutes. We decided the division of labour and entrepreneurial invention are both hard at work making the domestic scene happier, even today.

Before all that, Steven went on to argue that the household is no longer a unit of production (of baking, tailoring, thatching etc) but a unit of consumption (books, TV, holidays, spirituality). I wondered at this point whether Steven would agree that inflation is therefore an enemy of a happy marriage because the accumulation of a surplus to invest in capital goods (houses, cars) particularly for retirement is undermined by inflation at a steady percentage rate. He didn’t agree, feeling that his argument about consumption far outweighs any such effect, that is, that marriage is now so much about love that the economics matter little and that actually the fact of having a dual income is much more important than what retirement together might look like. I’m not so sure, in a world without inflation big houses and flash cars might become more strongly associated with married couples. I guess we will have to wait to find out.

Meanwhile, the future of marriage looks rosy. Because child labour is not an economic necessity and marriage is about love, same-sex marriages are now possible. The Q&A brought up the issue of longevity as well: is a 70 year marriage something most of us really want? What about 140 years? Marriage is now open for gay participation, which should strengthen it, but will medicine and life extension technologies make it paradoxically more transient and not more permanent as we would expect?

Who knows what will happen. For now living in a somewhat capitalist economy and knowing how unpleasant marriage used to be, I have one more reason to remember how lucky I am.



Self-Defence: the most basic right of all

The shooting of two suspected burglars in a Leicestershire farmhouse has yet again exposed the hostility of the state to that most fundamental of human rights: the right to self-defence. Tonight the police have charged two out of four men arrested following the incident. The other two have been released on bail, and the two householders have finally been released, but also only on bail. No doubt the police will make them sweat for a few weeks or months before telling them that no charges will be made.

No one is denying the necessity to properly investigate such matters, but something is clearly wrong with police procedures, if they routinely hold for days on end those victims of crime who have the guts and the wherewithal to defend themselves. Unless there is something more to this story than first appears, the victims have been treated appallingly.

The notion of individuals defending themselves against aggression seems to bother the statists far more than crimes like burglary.  If they really cared about dealing with crime, they’d be handing out shotguns to householders, and pinning medals on those who bag a burglar, but they prefer us passive and dependent. For this reason, even though they grudgingly concede to our right to self-defence, they have done all they can to take away the means to exercise this right.




The illustration depicts another farmhouse, photographed by K H Rawlings and edited for tone.

Why the 2005 Gambling Act never paid off

The IEA is asking a panel why the 2005 Gambling Act never paid off:

…many of the liberalising measures mooted for the 2005 Gambling Act were dropped by a Labour administration beset by a bruising press campaign – warning of “blackjack on every street corner” – and hamstrung by pre-election jitters.

But is it now time for the Act to be revisited?  Should its more liberal intentions be restored? And what benefits would it bring to the casino industry, its consumers and the UK economy?

You can join them Tuesday September 11  at the IEA, on Lord North Street, from 6.30-8.00pm. RSVP via the IEA.

Thursday drinks update

Thursday evening will kick off with Christian Michel’s controversial arguments on libertarianism and the euro.

Why Britain needs the euro

Christian will be coming out in favour of the euro on a variety of grounds which he says are founded on the bedrock of libertarian thought.

I confess to being a bit nervous about moderating this one. The talk has proved so controversial that some familar faces have said they are staying away. I find that a little dissappointing, as I believed that libertarians enjoy a good debate and are willing to hear opposing opinions and duke it out on the merits. Staying away because you disagree seems antithetical to those sentiments.

Anyway, I hope you will come and join in the debate. If you do I will be making sure there are opportunities to put your opposing opinions to camera so that both sides get access to the Libertarian Home pulpit.

Pro-Liberty party announcement

I am hugely proud that the Pro Liberty Party has selected Thursday to announce itself. The monthly drinks at the Rose and Crown provided a venue for discussions about the formation of this new party and the faces involved will be familiar to you all.

If you want to find out more about the party, their announcement will follow on from, but is unrelated to, the pro-euro talk. As such, you will need to turn up for the talk ready for it to start at 8pm prompt as the door will be closed once the talk starts. There will be opportunities to catch up with the founders for a drink afterwards, and – I humbly suggest – to buy them one.

Max Keiser: refuting the irrefutable

The Pope’s an important religious leader, but he’s not a Catholic.

Jimi Hendrix was a great musician, but he didn’t play the guitar.

Ludwig von Mises was a fine economist, but he wasn’t part of the Austrian School.

All of the above would seem so false, that they hardly require refutation. Indeed, when confronted with such absurdity, one does pause, wondering, if someone can assert such things in the face of all evidence to the contrary, what can be added? And why bother?

For those of you unaware of the case, Max Keiser, financial journalist and presenter, has decided to declare war on libertarians, or as he would have it, ‘fake libertarians’, and his jumping-off point was an interview with an economist, Sandeep Jaitly, who put forth the notion that Mises could not possibly be an Austrian, as his views contradicted those of Carl Menger, the acknowledged founding member of the Austrian School. The fact that this Jaitly also named Mises as the greatest economist of the 20th century during the same interview has been overlooked.

There are two aspects to this. Firstly; Jaitly’s head-scratchingly strange interpretation of Mises work, which cannot even be sustained through the first paragraph of the introduction of Mises’ most important work ‘Human Action’, and secondly Keiser and his sidekick Stacey using Jaitly’s views to open an attack on libertarianism, using all the confused and contradictory ad hominems you can imagine. Not only are libertarians seeking to implement an Old Testament theocracy (that’s right folks), we are also Randian cultists. That Ayn Rand was about as vociferious an atheist as ever lived does not apparently prevent our eagerness to institute the precepts of Deuteronomy.

What it really boils down to is; if you think Lew Rockwell is a neo-con war-monger, there’s nothing I can think of to say which will contradict this. If anyone is unsure, being unfamiliar with the man, just randomly pick any interview or speech he’s ever given or any article or book he’s ever written, and I’m confident you will come to the correct conclusion.

It may seem pointless to comment on Max’s inanity, but following in his wake seems something of a concerted attack on Mises, Rothbard and libertarianism from the Left. Rather than an honest fight, we are labeled ‘fake-libertarians’, the implication being that true libertarianism is to be found in communistic collectivism. Indeed so, just as ‘War is Peace’ and ‘Freedom is Slavery’.

The only legitimate aspect of Max’s attacks are on that faction of the American right, who are happy to sound libertarian on social policy, but never when it comes to resisting the ever-growing, anti-Constitutional power of the Federal state. Libertarians are well aware of how the Tea Party movement has been largely taken over, in order to make it a creature of the Republican Party, but to use this fact as a weapon against the likes of Lew Rockwell is asinine.