Tonight we are being joined by Stephen McNamara and Stef Johnstone. Who are nominations officer and deputy leader of the Scottish Libertarian Party.
Stephen McNamara has previously stood as a councillor for the party achieving 53 first preference votes and 305 seconds. He’s been a member of Solidarity and the SNP in the past and describes the discover of libertarianism through the SLP as a major moment in his life. He is also involved in the creation of an underground radio station – KA Radio – from his home.
If you want to get a feel for the guy, I recommend this interview with SLP leader Tam Laird:
Stephen will be presenting his views on the NHS as a libertarian.
A reminder that the venue for the event has changed.
The Cock Tavern
23 Phoenix Road
This was arranged as a courtesy to our guests. As always the best way, at the moment to keep up to date with Meetup changes is to be registered and to Star or RSVP events on Meetup.
On Saturday the 28th of April the toddler Alfie Evans tragically died. He was admitted into hospital only seven months after he was born and has remained there ever since as a result of a degenerative neurological condition. This February the doctors at Alder Hay hospital decided that it was not worth trying to preserve Alfie’s life. When the parents tried to remove Alfie from the UK and take him to Italy for treatment, they were not allowed. In the eyes of the law, the opinions and personal convictions of the doctors counted for more than the parents of the child.
This should be a big moment for British culture.
Call it ‘national mythology’ or sentimental, but a large part of British culture is the belief that in Britain, the relationship between citizen and the state is one of mutual respect. Our politicians are not supposed to be despots. They may be idiotic and fumbling but the popular perception is that dictatorship is just ‘not British’. This rosy view is representative of the way we Britons view the government. British civil servants are competent instead of corrupt and nepotistic. British policemen are ‘bobbies’ rather than armed to the teeth pseudo warriors. While many counties have had a difficult relationship with their secret security services we turn our spies into much-loved action heroes. And what British child did not grow up with the notion that although the American army has more guns than we do, the British Army is still (somehow) the best in the world?
Whether any of this is actually true is highly debatable. But the popular view that the British state is a benign, measured entity is a pervasive feature of our national character. The Alfie Evans case could change this. Here we have the state openly flouting the will of a family to save their young son. This certainly does not fit into the view of the gentle state myth we are so used to.
The Alfie Evans controversy should be a watershed for British culture. State power has grown unchecked for decades, to truly frightening levels.The delusion that the British government exists to serve the people is a silly mistake at best, and dangerously deranged at worst. Across the country conversations about the scope of state power will be happening. Let’s hope that people come to the right conclusion. That the state has grossly overstepped it’s mark here and that it should not be tolerated.
Yesterday I wrote a post The Way Libertarians Should Engage in Politics outlining my view that libertarians should be able to take part in politics whilst retaining our identity. Personally, I think that Adam Kokesh’s idea to run for ‘non-president’ of the united states in 2020 is a little too gimmicky but at least he is thinking about how to hijack the political system for libertarian ends. Instead of writing a list of possible things libertarians could do, I have created a pyramid. The activities towards the top of the pyramid would be more effective and hence, require more organisation. Whereas the actions at the bottom of the pyramid are easier for individuals to carry out.
I make no apology for omitting various things from my pyramid such as violent protest and ‘infiltrating the conservative party’. To my mind, these methods of gaining prominence would not work. More importantly, this is not by any means an exhaustive list. There are many more things we could be doing. My intention here is really to help people conceptualise how we could actually begin to reach a bigger audience.
It has been shown that, in complex domains, punishment is an ineffective means of controlling behaviour. The reason is that if someone cannot tell whether a decision will lead to punishment then they cannot rationally incorporate that factor.
Communicating your ideas in a way that is both accurate and also funny is a complex domain. Locking up a comedian for making a bad joke is therefore unlikely to be effective. Pragmatically, it is a stupid idea.
Markus Meechan, Count Dankula, is today being sentenced for the crime of using “gas the jews” as a cue for a cute dog to make a Nazi salute. The context was a joke about cute dogs not really being so special. The intent was to ridicule Nazis. Making jokes to illustrate what aspects of a thing are genuinely special and valuable is an unequivocal social good. Ridiculing the third most evil political movement in recent history is an unequivocal social good. I wish people would make similar jokes about Stalin and Mao.
I’ve written before about how speech precedes politics and should not be regulated by political action. Setting that aside for a moment, there are social goods embedded in Meechan’s intent. We know punishing people in complex domains won’t work, but what it will do is force people out of the complex domain. If there is a clear line between the complex and the straightforward it will mean fewer people crossing that threshold. It will force them out of attempting to create edgy jokes about bad people. It will force comedians to make safe, tame, infantilised rubbish, and will stop people taking the time to ridicule Nazis.
If we want good comedy, if we want bad people to get a hard time, if we want good ideas and good humour to come to the surface, then we need to tolerate dark dank corners where people are allowed to get it a bit wrong. Context and intent matter both as a way of filtering genuine evil and make believe evil (Meechan’s evil was make believe), but also as a way of guiding our eye to what is valuable.
If you forget them, your TV will be full of bad comedy and Royal babies.