Brian Micklethwait on Childrens’ Rights

I found (unearthed?) this video while searching for images of Thursday’s speaker, Brian Micklethwait.

What do you think?

A bit more on Brian.

Brian is insanely well-known around Libertarian circles. Everyone knows he was involved in the Libertarian Alliance during it’s hey day and is responsible for all those LA leaflets and tactical notes that did so much to shape the movement. He also helped out Chris Tame at the Alternative Bookshop and is famous for bringing people to libertarianism by winding up socialists so badly they could not stop talking about libertarianism.

Brian’s name is a bit of a giveaway that he is a bit of posh toff. He was born into a class that expected to run things, for example, his mother was involved in setting up the Natural Childbirth Trust. If you have had a baby, chances Brian’s mum had something to do – very indirectly – with teaching you how to change nappies, breastfeed and give birth. It is therefore not at all surprising that Brian came to libertarianism through the perspective of a governor – an honest inquiry into how best to govern ended at the ultimate in laissez-faire.

These days Brian spends his time helping the grassroots of the libertarian movement grow a bit faster. Helping them to understand what they can do and how best they might do it. It is with that in mind that we have him here.

NHS knew on Friday where Ashya had been taken

This is the video message dated 30th August in which the father of a child with brain cancer appeals to the authorities to stop chasing him around Europe. Why did he end up a refugee? Because he dared to ask for a different medical treatment for his son, one which might stop his brain being damaged by radiotherapy treatment. The Southampton based doctor stonewalled requests for medical information from a Prague based practitioner and in an unrelated conversation (about chemotherapy) threatened to get a court order to keep the sick child’s parents away from him. Instead of remaining a victim of that system, Mr King took responsibility and removed his child from that system on the afternoon of the 28th.

On the 29th the public were told that this father had snatched the child from the hospital, with the press hinting at religious reasons, and a manhunt was launched in France and Spain. We were told about a snatching and a ferry journey to France, while the court were simultaneously authorising law enforcement to pursue them in the Czech Republic:


Why the Czech Republic? Perhaps because Prague, where Mr King was liaising with a radiotherapy practitioner for advanced proton beam technology, is the capital city of the Czech Republic. If so then this is a smoking gun that shows a police chase and European Arrest Warrant was issued for a case in which a father was known to have sought treatment outside the NHS. He was not a mad religious nut snatching his kid away from scientifically rational NHS doctors; nor was it a parent who did not understand the gravity of the situation; it was straightforward case of NHS care not being good enough for Mr King. The NHS knew this with enough notice to correctly guess where Mr King was going and file a lawsuit accordingly.

Was Mr King right? That is not for a court to decide. It is Mr and Mrs King who have responsibility to their child and a practitioner with a different opinion to Mr King has a duty of care to persuade him of the better course – not the other way around.

Non-Aggression Principle and Children

Libertarianism is based on a principle that it is not OK for institutions to implement social programs using force (the non-aggression principle). Surely governments are a major source of force against the individual. Steve Davies talked in June about close-knit communities being another one. And there is a third source of force – the family.

How universal is the libertarian requirement of non-aggression? Does it apply to people of all ages?

School Class

© Michael 1952

Children are semi-slaves. They eat, play, sleep, and spend their free time in ways chosen by their parents, often against children’s will. It is normal practice to ban children from certain activities and games. Children are forced to go to schools which they often hate and stay there to do things they do not enjoy. In the UK and US most children experience corporal punishment at home, something grown-ups have abolished for themselves long ago.

I believe that coercion against children is more important than most libertarians think. It is universal. It is applied to people during their most formative age. When internalised makes it easier to accept violent authorities in adulthood. People who grow up in coercive homes are perfect building blocks for a coercive political society.

On the other hand, force used against children is mostly within our control as parents. It is easier to start listening to your child than to abolish, say, the Bank of England.

So are young people exempt from the libertarian non-aggression principle or does it apply to all humans? Is it OK for libertarian parents to spank children? Shame them? Put them on naughty spots? Should we support laws banning spanking?



Jan Iwanik will be speaking on this topic at the Rose and Crown on September 5th.

This note, all links and all images were added by Simon.