Eureka – a tea party

Here’s something new on the landscape:-

Bringing the tea party theme to Australia was bound to happen. During the election I explained the LDP to a collegue and they said “oh you’re part of the tea party movement”. Which in one sentence was close enough. And in fact I even proposed the notion of an Aussie tea party on my facebook status on Saturday. The tea party is a meme that the ALS (and LDP) should be tapping into. It’s time to warm the billy.

80 thoughts on “Eureka – a tea party

  1. I’ve always said we should look back at Eureka as part of our liberal heritage.

    When the LDP was having name debates, I’m surprised and regret that “Eureka” never came up.

    Eureka Party.

    You could easily position it as a utilitarian party wanting some constitutional reform to make property rights and checks and balances stronger.

    Almost a no-brainer.

  2. The original post reads like it was written by a 12 year old.

    The (US) tea party is a marriage of convenience between Libertarians and christian fundamentalists. I don’t really see why we here in the ALS should latch onto that when we could already join the Liberal party if we wanted to get into bed with the Fundies.

  3. Also these guys:

    Good point Yobbo. But I think the fundies are in the Liberal party, and not worried about the waste of the NBN and the net filter…Family First would back both of these, AFAIK.

    Eureka came up? I don’t remember. I didn’t join right away. We had a name debate before that? Damn. Must have been just as tedious! That said, an evidence based name is a good one, but probably characteristic of a party set up by an economist…

  4. libertarians + lib party = kinda a hypocritically relationship. you only need a basic political compass to see that.

  5. As many “left wing” hatemails have claimed, socialism in Australia seems to think that it has a divine right to claim the Eureka Stockade, or in particular its amazing flag, as their own private property. It isn’t.

    Peter Lalor and the rest were essentially libertarian running through to card-carrying (figure of speech) anarchists and traditional living Chinese, Aborigines and part Aborigines, and every other colour race and religion. Yes, “even” islamic people.

    They threw off albeit temporarily the chains of collectivism and authoritarianism and thought outside the box. They were essentially what might be called ultimate small government types- and that makes them conservative. The wanted a fast pace of change, arguably, which is not conservative, but we at ATP believe that in fact it was not radicalism but a desire for the quintessential fair go that defined the rebellion and the broader movement. It is how we define ourselves.

    Conservatism can come direct from love of rights and liberty, and a desire to see police states big and small not trample them. It is the socialist collectivists (whether “communist”, “nazi” or just “mainstream” political party) and union thugs who are the enemy of the Eureka spirit.

    Wrapping your fist in a flag before bullying other people is anathema to the EUREKA spirit.

    Gary Walker, Australian Tea Party

  6. That’s exactly how I feel about Eureka. When you look at the history objectively, the aims Lalor wanted were essentially libertarian. We got them for the most part for about 50-60 years after.

  7. Couldn’t WE, at least, adopt the Eureka Flag, instead of letting the unions claim it? We don’t need an American symbol! Replace the Statue of Liberty with the flag of Libertarian australia!

  8. Fiscal conservatism doesn’t make you libertarian. Exactly what socially liberal ideas do you think the Tea Party grassroots support? Free speech and gun rights, I’ll give you those. Drug decriminalisation? Homosexual rights? Civil liberties vis a vis state surveillance and police powers? Separation of church and state? Curbing military adventurism? Does any of this sound likely?

    The Tea Party is composed mostly of paleocons, not libertarians. Frankly when you say “Tea Party” what comes to mind for me is a bunch of disgruntled rednecks throwing a tantrum. I’ll start believing in their alleged fiscal conservatism when they stop saying things like “We should balance the budget and cut taxes!!!11!” and start campaigning on what spending, exactly, is going to be cut.

  9. Which party are you talking about mate? EUREKA the Australian Tea Party is about two things: Rights and Liberties. Taxation’s got to be minimal and government has to be small. All this crap about spending is based on letting the government nick all your money in the first place. It was thinking like that which got the bullets flying at Eureka in the first place.

    If you take personal responsibility for your world and the welfare of yourself and other people, why the hell do you need a bloody nanny state on top of you too?

    -Peter Lalor

  10. Are you actually a Peter Lalor, as in descendent of Peter Lalor, or is that a non de plume?

    I think an Australian Tea Party movement would be great. Maybe it could be the vehicle to get a bit more of a connection between Australians of a freedom bent. I say the way to start would be defining what that movement stands for, as in the post-Enlightenment western tradition of individual rights, lean government and free markets that made the West the envy of the world for a period (that we’re still in).

  11. Chris V: Fiscal conservatism helps. If you don’t have then money, it’s hard paying coppers to oppress people and similarly fund expensive military operations of questionable value.

  12. Our ethos, which is the ethos of the original Eureka Stockade, is on the blog.

    One thing we are doing, corny as it might be, is actually swearing (or affirming) the Eureka Stockade oath.

    The EUREKA concept of taxation we’ve thrashed out is that no tax should be imposed without consent, consent given by voting for politicians or voting directly or telling the political class what we want and making sure they carry out the will of the people.

    This new evil meme about politicans having some will of their own is ridiculous. They are elected to the bidding of the voters. To the extent they deviate from that, they are to be removed from office at the first legal opportunity.

    And we do reserve the right to carry out acts of civil disobedience, as per Eureka Stockade. Oppressors need to know that if they attempt to impose tyranny then we will resist.


  13. we’re not about rallies. We are organising Billy Tea Parties (with lamingtons in honour of the leftoid geeksrulz on twitter :)) where people can meet talk and argue- just like at the Stockade.

    What we are doing is readying marches to electoral offices if politicians do not respond to the 5000+ emails we have bombed them with. Those emails have been polite and firm and have asked questions that require real answers.

    We played out part in destroying Oakeshott’s engineered presser agitprop and now we intend to continue that pressure.

    If anyone wants to rally in the name of EUREKA, we suggest you do what we propose to “join” the movement: fly the true flag of Australia, take the Oath (or Affirmation), and stay alert to tyranny. We have rights and liberties; we are the enemy of all tyranny.


  14. ATP – I don’t disagree with your desire to see taxation more in the hands of the people. In fact I’d like to see the people have direct control of the tax level via a constitutional clause like the TABOR rule in the Colorado constitution. However I disagree with you characterisation of MPs. Our system, for better or for worse is one that entails representatives not delegates. A delegate, such as a government appointment to the UN is there to do as directed by those that appoint them. A representative is different to a delegate and is there to act according to their own reasoned conscience. For the most part I think this is a good concept. The real problem is not that our MPs are representative but rather that instead of acting like representatives of the people all their incentives in terms of re-election and promotion make them behave like the delegates of political parties rather than representatives of the people. There is no easy cure for this but one partial solution I’ve canvassed here previously would be to have senators appointed by sortition. That would make senators true representatives free from the influence of party interests.

  15. Hmmm…. I think the tea-party may have won me over as a supporter. Having lived in a couple of countries with no dole, which worked fine, and seeing the proportion of the budget we spend of welfare, I can see an Australian TEA party gaining a lot of support as long as it’s not overly connected to the far-right and gun nuts. I’m all for cutting all welfare with the exception of disability pensions, old-age pensions and student support. That would be a good start in reducing our taxes down.

  16. The concept of a representative in Australian politics died decades ago when it became nothing more than the excuse to allow clearly corrupt and self-serving activities on an hourly basis.

    Until such time as representatives demonstrate that they have a conscience upon which to act we will continue encouraging avalanches of emails, mail and calls and if necessary organise marches and so on to bring the elected servants of the people back to heel.

    The election process is an act of trust by the voters in choosing someone who is their delegate as well as their representative. It’s not correct to say the representative has any real choice in his or her voting behaviour, or why would anyone concern themselves in the first place with things like conservative or socialist leanings, or anything else the candidate said?

    They work for us. We pay them, they are our employees.

    Australia is not officially an oligarchy.

    If saying that is revolutionary then Australia is in catastrophic trouble.


  17. We urge you as brothers and sisters protecting our rights and liberties to fly the Eureka Flag. In just a few days of our use of it the old lie about it being a left wing icon is dead and buried.

    You stand for exactly what the Eureka Stockade insurrection was all about.

    It’s part of a very ugly myth or propaganda by both the media and academia that Eureka is not properly taught or explained. When its truth is acknowledged it is always in terms that try and shade it into being some sort of anticipatory ALP. And that’s rubbish.



  18. It’s true that there is a religious conservative element to the US Tea Party, even though their main message is simply anti Big Government.

    Of course the leftwing media here play up the ‘far right redneck’ angle as much as they can, possibly becase they doin’t have a good enough counter argument to the limited government message.

    Regardless of how fair this is the fact remains that ‘Tea Party’ is seen here as a bunch of religious nutters. If a libertarian group wants to use the ‘Tea Party’ name locally they’ll have their work cut out dissuading people of that notion.

    In any case I wish you luck, as it sounds as if you have at least least reasonably libertarian ideas. Though I still can’t work out if you’re conservative or libertarian – perhaps a statement of principles on your blog would help people understand what you stand for?

  19. We suffer the freedom lovers’ old problem of trying to avoid as many rules as possible, including anything like a manifesto beyond the points we listed after the First Billy Tea Meeting. I set them out below:

    1. RULE OF LAW
    The just laws that apply equally to all are the basis of Australia’s modern society culture and country. Mercy has to temper Justice.

    Death to tyranny! There is no place in our country for elites, squatterocracies, imported lords or priesthoods or anyone else who lords it over other people for no reason and by no right of law. Politicians in particular are our servants as are the bureaucrats. They do their work for a fair quid or they are GONE.

    “We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties.”

    Anyone of any colour or creed is Australian if they come here legally, stay and form part of our political fabric and respect the law. No one is above anyone else in any way by cause of blood, birth or inheritance. We’re all equal in spirit and deserve a fair go.

    Australian history begins with the original inhabitants not with the European era.

    Taxation should be minimal and never imposed without consent of the governed.
    No more rum rebellions and Eureka Stockade injustices!


  20. Thanks for that – missed them on your site!

    Manifestos don’t have to be left wing you know, though it’s true that a libertarian manifesto would be a lot shorter than a socialist one.

  21. Papachango – you might be right regarding what the average joe thinks about the tea party. However what does the average Joe think about libertarians?

  22. Terje the average Joe probably doesn’t know what ‘libertarian’ means, even though he or she most likely has a beef somewhere with government interference in their lives.

    At least you can try to explain what libertarian means, rather than have people assume you’re a redneck or a religious fundamentalist.

  23. The average joe uses the Today Tonight definition of “Libertarian” – i.e. someone who complains a lot about police powers (the average joe likes Law+Order) and free speech restrictions (the average Joe likes restrictions on speech they disagree with.

    This is why the “libertarian party” was deemed to be a vote loser.

  24. Yobbo, everyone likes being liberated, so we might get good connotations from calling ourselves ‘The Liberation Party’, liberating innocent Joes and Joys from red tape from all those layers of busy-body governments!

  25. I have followed the tea party movement ever since I encountered it when I saw the Rick Santelli rant. The sentiment was simmering out there before Rick articulated the feeling.

    It is not in any way, as the left claims, racist, nor is it “a marriage of convenience between Libertarians and christian fundamentalists.” It is a genuine grass roots movement which is not libertarian nor any of the other elements that form its makeup. The prime mover is the rejection of big government, big taxation, and the entitlement system. It is natural for it to attract libertarians, small government conservatives, Goldwater/Reagan Republicans, independents, as well as some moderate Democrats and elements of Christian conservatism.

    Christian conservatives are strongly split on the issue with some like Palin for it, while others rail against its ‘secular’ origins. Racists would be strongly discomforted by the number of non white candidates who have been supported by the movement.

    It is however a natural fit both here and in America for libertarians, or at least the moderate ones. Wayne Root has strongly endorsed it for some time including his latest effort, Citizen Revolution- One Nation Under Tea Party Revolt!

    If we are to have an Australian Tea Party, I see them as natural allies to our movement and welcome them.

  26. Jim – there are probably a million possible points at which we could say the movement was sparked. I think the Ron Paul money bombs with the tea party theme have got to be a signifcant candidate. However it is a grass roots initative so whatever sparked it nobody controls it. At least not yet.

  27. It is unfortunate that a few simple minded individuals have seen this as a direct protest against Obama, rather than his policies, and added their own agenda to the marches. It’s not just the ‘liberal media’ playing up on the red neck factor, random lefties too are making youtube videos and selectively filming the crazies.

  28. Like many movements, it would be difficult to place a specific event as the point where it all started. Santelli certainly would have gained little traction had the sentiment not been there in the first place. It was never my intention to suggest that he started it and I didn’t.

    My point was simply that the Santelli statement was the event which put the whole thing on my radar.

  29. Jim – I can’t put this any better than Sullivan:

    Yes, they are, for the most part, emphasizing economic and fiscal issues, which is wonderful, even though they have no actual realistic plans to cut spending by the amount they would have to if taxes are not to rise. But that does not mean they have in any way forsaken the social issues substantively. Name a tea-party candidate who is pro-choice. Name one who backs marriage equality. Name one who wants to withdraw from Afghanistan beginning next year. Name one who has opposed torture. Name one who has the slightest qualms about police powers. Name one who would end the military ban on gays serving openly, and take even the slightest political risk on any of these subjects.

    The first Tea Party candidate selected to run for the GOP, Christine O’Donnell, is an anti-evolutionist, favours banning embryonic stem cell research, opposes abortion in all circumstances, and rejects Barack Obama because, quote, “he did not vote for English as the (nation’s) official language. What does that say?”. If that is the sort of person you want in the LDP, you’re envisioning a much broader tent than I am. I have more in common with the average Greens candidate.

  30. Excuse my ignorance but how can an oath of
    “We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties.” be defined as left wing. No government no army no police force no king or queen ever gave you your rights. Unions of people like you and me sticking together they got us our rights I cant believe intelligent working class men can believe the propaganda about unions after all isnt that what you are creating.But a politically correct dont seem left dont seem right popularist sort of union.

  31. Sullivan has generally struck me more as a nutter than a libertarian. I note that the item you quote does not endorse lower taxes, in fact assumes a need for higher taxes as a given. He is a statist with a civil liberties orientation and wants to be able to do his own thing while enfolded in the loving arms of nanny state. There was no call for us to name one who is strong on property rights.

    I may stand corrected on this but I would have thought that Tim Scott who won the so called ‘Kennedy’ seat in Massachusetts in January would have been considered the first. Tim Scott, Rand Paul, Nikki Haley, Kristy Noem, Allan West, and Joe Miller also come to mind.

    The movement in the US is essentially conservative based but the LP would gain significantly from association with the very libertarian attitude toward the Constitution, smaller government, reduced spending, and lower taxes.

    The Australian element looks promising as an ally. I haven’t visited their site but the posts here from them look good, at least on the surface.

  32. Of course Sullivan isn’t a libertarian, though he does swing more that way than most of the commentariat, certainly more than self proclaimed “libertarians” like Glenn Reynolds.

    I think it’s weird that most libertarians are prepared to embrace anyone who makes the right noises on government spending, even if, like the US Tea Party, they’re short on actual plans to accomplish those goals. The Greens are currently supporting the repeal of legislation preventing the legalisation of euthanasia in the Territories, but I am yet to hear anyone hail them as allies of libertarianism. The social side of libertarianism is as important, if not more important to me than the economic side. If you gave me the choice of living in a society where the government consumed 1/3 of GDP and we had the Greens’ social and military policies, versus a society where the government consumed 1/5 of GDP and we had the social and military policies of the US Tea Party, I would take the first option in a heartbeat. Maybe that’s just me.

  33. “Maybe I have more in average…”

    ‘I’ll take the first option…”

    Chris…the average Greens candidate wants the Government to be at least 50% of the economy. That was ONP policy. The Greens are probably pushing 60%+, and you know some of these guys are unreconstructed communists who look rather dopey after the Berlin Wall fell.

    The Greens views on rights are nothing like ours. The Greens will give out special interest rights but ignore other special interests (guns, farmers) and denigrate rights generally (positive rights, free speech restrained by vilification laws etc). Are property rights a civil or economic right? What’s good about “free” speech when you get treated like a criminal for speaking your mind? Having a neanderthal midnset should be no more illegal than gay sex.

    I have little in common with an average tea partier (including the coneger/rival to the tea partiers who post here, who see Sir Joh as a role model, he should have died in prison). I have a lot in common with (Tea Party supported) Scott Brown, Rick Santelli and the republicans Allen West, Paul Ryan. The US Democrats I feel strongly with are Gary Hart and Bill Clinton, whom amongst Kennedy, Eisenhower, Reagan and Cleveland, I think was one of the best Presidents the US has had. I think Hawke may have been our best PM.

    Libertarians should welcome any interest in a common cause with other groups and move to have these issues turned in our favour, on top of expanding our base and tapping into sentiment. We have to commend Gough for example for ending conscrption.

  34. I find the libertarian view an interesting one; not necessarily one that I ascribe to, but one that I have many beliefs in common with.

    Small government. Lower and simpler taxation. Less special cases. Government not being about social and personal freedoms.

    And here’s the odd thing. I’m also a committed Christian, which going by some of the comments above means I should probably be ‘committed’ in a very different way.

    I believe in the separation of church and state, and that to the extent it is possible, that both should stay out of each others business, and that neither should force their views on the population.

    Economy health is the business of the state. To be honest, they are sticking their thumb in the pie more than they should, and not doing that great a job. Increasing debt, falling capital and reliance on government assistance are evidence of this.

    Social health is the business of the church. To be honest, they have abrogated a lot of their responsibility to the state, and in doing so have lost much of the capacity they had for doing so. Increasing poverty, increasing loss of the ability to discriminate between right and wrong; these are indicators of the failure of the church.

    Here’s the thing; a libertarian view allows for the free operation of the church. The church doesn’t need the state to tilt the playing field in its favour. It needs to get off its ass and do its part. Not dictating, but offering what we believe is a better way.

    Two things from my perspective that make me wary; the attitude that marriage should be redefined, and the consideration of the unborn as inhuman. Let me clarify a couple things here before people squeal.

    The issue with marriage being available to gay couples is simple: it inherently devalues something that is important to those who believe it means something. Marriage is inherently part of the social order, not the economic one.

    As to defining unborn as inhuman; that way is madness. Down that path lies war, genocide and slavery. Once you accept that defining someones humanity by a lesser characteristic (such as age, race, sexuality) is acceptable, you open up all these things as simply a matter of application. Yes, sometimes hard decisions need to be made about the unborn. But in no case, should they be discounted as less than human. That cheapens the significance of the decision, and in doing so cheapens the value of life in general.

    In summary, the principles of libertarianism are such that you will attract people like myself. I’m happy to agree to disagree about some of the above things, but if you want to be dogmatic about them, you are unnecessarily alienating a portion of the community that would otherwise be cautiously supportive of your goals. The Tea Party in the US is what it is because it doesn’t make an issue of things like this that aren’t central to what they are trying to achieve – smaller, more accountable and more limited government.

  35. “The issue with marriage being available to gay couples is simple: it inherently devalues something that is important to those who believe it means something. Marriage is inherently part of the social order, not the economic one.”

    Except that Federal and State laws mean you’re wrong. If gays had equal economic rights, the cause, let alone the case for gay marriage would be a lot less stronger and perhaps non existent.

    The desire for gay marriage arises from individual property rights not being given proper respect (i.e with wills) or blatant discrimination in the law. You might even argue that if the law was more clear, the motive to murder Ludwig Gersch may not have existed.

    If we get the State out of marriage, and allow people to marry under canon law or by a document drawn up by their solicitor, I’d say everyone wins.

    Abortion: I err on the side of the life begins at conception crowd. Abortions will always happen, however. I’d prefer to minimise abortions and have them done by properly trained doctors. I have heard horror stories of people forcing miscarriages through drug use etc – I am sure if abortion was outlawed, a black market would re-emerge and self medicated miscarriages would occur. I am personally completely uncomfortable with abortions. I see how many committed Christians would find it offensive, even oppressive that they are forced to subsidise abortions. They should be legal but not subsidised by the taxpayer, and limited to early terms. A line may be drawn from the common law that no woman can be expected to carry a potential human being to term as it poses a significant possible health risk to her. If a baby has any chance of being born alive, even surviving as a special needs paitient, then this has gone too far.

  36. Hi ., one of the best is Ron Johnson who is standing in Wisconsin against Fiengold and has a handy lead of around 7% at present. He is an Ayn Randian free enterpriser who refers to Atlas Shrugged as his foundation. George Will described to him as, “what the tea party looks like.” This may be a bit off as few of the tea partiers match that description.

    The Greens, like Sullivan are no friends of liberty. They have a grab bag of the more popular ‘civil liberties’ agenda items but otherwise are prepared to enslave us with huge taxation and restrictions on every activity that they don’t like. If you are a gay, dope smoking, government funded pox doctors clerk with a tiresome grandmother you want rid of, they are great on civil liberties, as long as your hobbies don’t include fishing, shooting, camping, getting out in the bush, and have no dreams of keeping too much of your earnings.

    In return for all this largesse they merely want a death tax, higher capital gains tax, 50% mining tax, carbon tax, bigger marginal tax rates, …

    They also want to end the mining and export of Uranium, exploration for oil and gas, block new coal mines, shut coal fired power stations, ban new ones, ban nuclear energy, and get rid of GM crops. Use of natural resources is to be restricted to a level they consider ‘socially just’ and all forms of energy is to be made more expensive ‘for our own good’ and to save the planet, which will make everything we use including food much more expensive.

    They are luddites who will allow you to be queer, smoke dope (other than tobacco) or kill yourself. Oh and of course they will not let you go to war when our former trading partners come to get the resources we will no longer allow them to buy.

    There is some chance of getting the more conservative tea partiers to lighten up a bit and adopt a more tolerant attitude. Good luck with making the Greens fiscal conservatives.

  37. I don’t think that civil union and marriage should be treated differently by the government. The government has made that distinction, and I’d be happy to see it unmade, whether I agree with the practice or not. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Just because something is wrong doesn’t mean it should be illegal. As you have mentioned, abortion is necessary at times; one life ends so that another may continue. Nothing is easy about that sort of choice. But in no case should a life be terminated simply for the convenience of the parents. Putting a child up for adoption needs to be an acceptable outcome of an ‘unwanted’ pregnancy.

  38. I agree with . below. We are not anti Christian, in fact some of us consider ourselves to be Christian, however a healthy regard for separation of church and state removes dissent. To clarify things for you, I will point out that the conservatives we refer to are political conservatives rather than personal conservatives. Most liberals lead a conservative lifestyle, however political conservatives want to force their values on others.

    Christian values are a voluntary code which the committed Christian accepts, and in fact is free to advocate to any willing listener. Where the clash of values comes is when they attempt to have those values enforced throughout the community, which is apparently not something you advocate.

    . has explained the issue of gay marriage and abortion. I also disagree with abortion as I consider life to begin at conception. Unfortunately, many disagree with this, so it is a vexed issue. As there is no real way of determining the issue in a way that all accept it has to remain a moral issue. It is clearly wrong to enforce my views on others who don’t accept them and genuinely hold any one of a number of views on the subject.

  39. You sound pretty much like a libertarian to me. You’re starting from a similar premise to many of us but you just have different conclusions on some issues.

  40. I am an esoteric Christian, and a Libertarian. the positions go naturally together- after all, the Book of revelations is all about the Anti-Christ, the ultimate intrusive Big-government type! Christians almost have to be libertarians!

  41. My initial reaction is that it is simplistic, idealistic and unworkable.

    The major issue they are trying to address is taxation as theft. That is far more simply addressed within the current system by limiting the vote to contributors. One those receiving are not longer voting, theft stops being an issue – any distribution then becomes a matter of grace.

  42. ???

    Maybe not. I believe Peter Carswell used to post on the old ALS site and was quite keen on a “taxpayers Senate” where tax dollars paid out weighted your votes.

  43. I’m personally not in favour of it because of the way I view the costs of Government. Taxes are direct and exlicit. Everyone in society pays for the lost output which each additional dollar of taxation creates however. It also has time consistency problems. A poor law graduate now may be wealthy in the future and have some excellent ideas now, but he has less say than a new immigrant with only low skilled labour and a poor education who works 100 hour weeks.

  44. Jim
    I have to agree with your comments; this feeling has been building in Middle Australia for a long time, well before sites like ours chose to articulate it.
    The demonstrator has to be the knife edge result in the 2010 federal election. Most Australians just cant see a difference in what is presented as leadership today.
    All the other comments are spot on.
    We are in the same boat as you and have been, watching the Americans, the English and the Europeans for some time before we decided to launch the Australaian Tea Party, and its web site.
    We are distinct from our brethren on the Eureka site and there is a lot of work to go around.
    You’re welcome to contact me direct using the address.
    I don’t doubt we have much in common and much to discuss.
    I would make the same offer to Adriana and Gary Walker if I could find an efficient way of contacting them.
    Can you help please?
    Warmest regards
    Keep up the good work.


  45. I’ll use the word “personhood” where you have used humanity, for reasons that will become clear. I agree that we don’t want to get in a situation of arguing about someone’s personhood on the basis of characteristics like sex, age, race, etc. The problem is that my definition of personhood starts with the idea of a conscious entity, derived from a functioning brain. This is something that is common to entities we all agree have “personhood”. For instance, we all agree that eucalyptus trees, corpses and sperm cells do not have “personhood”.

    To define “personhood” in such a way as to include all the unborn, you must make one of the following claims:

    a) Personhood involves being composed of living human cells.

    b) An entity has personhood if, left alone, it will develop into an entity that we all agree has personhood (ie a baby).

    c) Personhood isn’t actually vested in something material, but resides in something non-material such as a soul.

    The problems with those claims:

    a) Sperm are composed of living human cells, yet we all agree they don’t have personhood. Fresh corpses are composed mostly of living human cells, yet they are routinely burned.

    b) That an entity will, if left alone, develop into an entity that has a property, does not mean the original entity also possesses that property. Caterpillars, left alone, will develop into butterflies, which have flight capability. That does not mean that caterpillars can fly.

    c) Invokes the supernatural, which is unacceptable. Earthly laws must be based on only that which can be justified logically.

    If you ask me, animal rights activists are on much firmer ground seeking to grant animals personhood. After all, animals have functioning brains, and the only arguments to exclude them from personhood are that their brains are inferior to human brains or that they don’t have a Personhood Membership Card granted by God, arguments that were in the past used to justify the belief that black people were subhuman.

  46. Whatever rationale you use, you are dehumanizing a group based upon a characteristic – here their consciousness. Once you start doing that, it just becomes a choice of which characteristic you evaluate on. Skin colour, age, sexual orientation, consciousness.. Take your pick. Dehumanise them and you can justify anything.

    Take consciousness as an excuse to it’s illogical conclusion and it becomes justifiable to kill someone as long as they are asleep. Yes, this is unreasonable, and not what you meant. But it just illustrates my point – once you accept a rationale for dehumanizing a group, anything can be justified.

  47. Intuitivereason- your own reasoning lacks soundness, because if you don’t define consciousness somehow, then anything could be conscious, or have a conscious awareness! This is called animism. If you define it, all definitions draw borders, so you’re excluding something.
    On what basis, for instance, would you exclude chimps from being human?

  48. Yeah what Nuke said, you haven’t given your own definition of personhood, you are simply assuming without argument that zygotes are people while sperm cells, corpses, chimps, trees etc are not. Unless you make reference to their capacity for conscious experience (or again, some sort of appeal to the supernatural) then rules like “humans are people, but chimps are not” are just as arbitrary as “whites are people, but blacks are not”.

  49. Personally I don’t see what is so bad about voting for English as an official language. Despite what southern california might want to believe, the USA is not a spanish-speaking country, and accepting that would go a great deal towards helping recent immigrants assimilate.

  50. If you gave me the choice of living in a society where the government consumed 1/3 of GDP and we had the Greens’ social and military policies, versus a society where the government consumed 1/5 of GDP and we had the social and military policies of the US Tea Party, I would take the first option in a heartbeat. Maybe that’s just me.

    Yep, it’s just you. The greens social policies are generous towards the standard minority groups and minority viewpoints, but the Greens have absolutely no interest in defending social liberty for people like tobacco smokers, recreational fishermen, 4wd enthusiasts or gun owners. They pick and choose, and it’s very easy to guess which liberties they will defend based on standard culture wars lines.

  51. It’s a pointless regulation.

    Texas and Cali. would find it annoying. There is no point to it either. English is ours but we print a heap of ESL stuff for the Gov depts.

    Simply using English and making everyone cop it might be okay, but I’m wondering if it has any net benefit. Well actually I should wodner if printing stuff in 50 languages has a point.

    If there is a net cost, just print stuff in English and make everyone else adapt.

  52. Mark, im more concerned about English being the official language taught in public schools.

    English is ours but we print a heap of ESL stuff for the Gov depts.

    But then we don’t have a large number of public schools in certain states that want to teach classes in Spanish. The US does.

  53. I don’t have to define consciousness because it is nothing to do with my definition of human.

    A person is human because they are human. A chimp is not human because they are a chimp. A human corpse is a dead human. A tree is a tree.

    Saying otherwise is simply being obtuse. There is nothing arbitrary to it.

  54. A shame that replies aren’t colour-coded for days, so we could find them more easily. Still, in reply to intuitivereason, a definition that works for me is that consciousness is the awareness that other beings have minds like yourself, and reason like you do. Animals use this to fool others all the time. you can thus modify your behaviour to influence theirs, deliberately.
    I agree that humans are different to chimps, but not by much! We are more agressive and warlike, and have bigger tribes.

  55. With “human” defined that way, what is arbitrary is the rule “no human may be harmed”. Suppose we encountered a race of extraterrestrials who were completely the equal of humans in intellectual and emotional capacity. Would it be OK for us to slaughter and enslave them? If not, why not?

    Any moral argument for why it’s not OK for us to do that is going to have to make reference to the fact that they are sentient beings and as such have rights – that is, they have personhood. This argument is going to apply just as well to humans and obviates the need for any special rules about Homo Sapiens.

    I’d be pretty surprised if you even buy your own arguments. Given the choice between 10 blastocysts being destroyed and one 5 year old child being killed, my guess is you opt for destroying the blastocysts. But under your argument, as “humans” you have the same moral obligations towards them as you do towards the child.

  56. I’m happy to leave dealing with aliens until it actually occurs.

    And if you go back and read, I never said that humans couldn’t be killed, and expressly said that there are times when that sort of decision has to be made. What is wrong is making the death of little or no consequence by dehumanising the person, by whatever rationale.

    Hard decisions should be hard. People should have to accept that if they kill someone, they have killed someone, not something.

  57. I’m not particularly worried about whether something is conscious or not; at least not in the context of this discussion. The question for me is simply are they human. Degree of differentiation doesn’t matter here.

    Is a chimp human? No.

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