A lot of people think that the quest for freedom can be won with good intellectual arguments, moral suasion or mere economic competition. These things are important but I don’t share the optimism of those that think it is enough. Freedom needs defending and in order to defend anything you need a degree of power. Not the power over other people that socialism depends on but the power to defend. This logic is central to the argument for a right to bear arms, to the argument for lower taxes and to most aspects of the libertarian agenda. If somebody breaks into your home and attacks you it is not libertarian ideology that will save your bacon but a willingness to exert power and fight back. This logic is also true of politics. The more positions in parliament that are filled by socialists the less free we will be. The logical response is to want more freedom loving individuals filling up those seats. Unfortunately many freedom loving people have a strong aversion to politics.
The Liberal Democrats are far from being a perfect embodiment of Libertarianism. I don’t think any political party ever can be and I’d resist the notion that we should have a political party that takes for itself the name Libertarian. Politics is not a game of purity. It entails compromises, trade offs, second rate options and marriages of convenience. I don’t agree with every position in the Liberal Democrats policy book however I agree with it vastly more than anything I see in the other political parties. It is in my view the vehicle through which Australian libertarians are best positioned to exert political influence.
Some will counter this by saying the Liberal Democrats have no real power. That it is better to exert influence through one of the major parties. I disagree with this analysis. It is true that the Liberal Democrats currently have no representatives in government. However we have had lots of freedom loving people join major parties and then disappear without trace into the party machines. Centrist parties that aim to form government need a form of discipline and compromise that is unsuited to our agenda, especially in the current cultural environment. Whilst the Greens sit on the opposite side of the ideological divide to libertarians (at least on the economic issues) they best represent the means by which an agenda can be advanced through a minor Australian political party. The Greens have never been in government but they have exerted an influence on Australian politics well beyond what mere arithmetic would dictate. Australia needs a freedom loving party sitting on the freedom side of the political see saw and testing the extremity of that lever. The Australian people need to know about freedom as an alternative and to have a box on that menu called the ballot that allows them to express an alternate vision for our society.
As such I’d like to encourage everybody that has even the slightest libertarian leaning to consider coming along to the Liberal Democrats 2009 National Conference. Whilst this event is a business meeting, rather than merely being a social event, you will still find plenty of opportunity to meet like minded people and to enjoy conversation. You will also see a small part of the inner workings of a young freedom loving political party. And of course if you are really brave you may even take the plunge and sign a membership form because like the best things in life it’s free. Bring a close friend if you’re feeling shy.
The event will be held in Sydney on Sunday 25th of January. If you are a user of facebook you can informally register your intention to attend here. On facebook you will also see details about the location and time of the event. I look forward to meeting you on the day.
For more information about the Liberal Democrats, including their policies, please check out the official website: http://www.ldp.org.au/