Libertarians and elections (and why it is necessary to get involved now)

Nearly all libertarians are political, but very few are in office and that’s where a lot of our problems start. Now I’m not going to get into the whole philosophical debate about whether a state is permissible or moral, the fact is, one exists and it has power that all libertarians oppose to some degree, this piece will explain ways that libertarians can try to remove some of this power. Many libertarians oppose operating within the current system, as it’s taking part in what they see as an immoral system, Now unless you have enough money to go out and start your own country in the middle of the desert or ocean away from the tax man, this is stupid and will do you no favours. In the western world if you want to be taken seriously, you have to play the politics game.

It would be a very sad thing if liberty were allowed to stagnate and turn into a cesspool of conspiracy theorists and survivalist nutjobs. It is imperative that libertarians, both prominent old ones and newcomers just discovering how terrible the government is, are vocal in their ideas and actively try to change the system for the better.

Of course it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that at least for the foreseeable future, we’re going to have to choose between the lesser of two evils, it doesn’t mean you can’t try to change things from within. Look at what Ron Paul is doing over in the US at the moment. He may not be winning but he’s got every other republican candidate talking about auditing the fed, real cuts to spending and maybe even questioning the sacred cow of military spending. Gary Johnson (arguably the more libertarian of the two) on the other hand is a possible election spoiler with his attempt to run for the Libertarian Party nomination splitting the libertarian vote and perhaps putting Obama back in for another 4 years. Thankfully in Australia, where we have preferential voting, we don’t have that problem, we can all vote for greater liberty whilst hedging our bets by preferencing the less tyrannical of the two major parties, whichever one happens to be that particular election.

Thanks to the work of John Humphreys et al. we have the Liberal Democratic Party, the forefront of libertarian politics in Australia, but unless something unforeseen happens in the near future, it’s going to be a fringe party with no chance of getting a seat in any house at any level of government. The best thing we libertarians can do is start to join major parties and change them from the inside, speak at their forums, expose politicians to the ideas that maybe other people aren’t just sources of revenue for the state, or to quote a rapping Hayek “…chessmen that you move on board at your whim–their dreams and desires ignored.” The more libertarian activity out there, the more people will hear it, if they hear it enough, maybe they’ll start listening and finally we’ll start to see actual change for the better.

In Australia we have quite a small libertarian community already, there’s no point fracturing it further by refusing to vote for the more libertarian party because some of their policies aren’t libertarian enough.  My message to all lovers of liberty is: Get in and participate, become a member of a political party, influence their policies. If you can’t stand either of the major parties, join the LDP, help them get registered at a state and local level, The lower the level of government they’re registered at, the more say you’ll have on policy and the more likely they are to get a foothold. And remember if you don’t participate, there’s no way it’s going to change.

Below are links to the signup sheets for major Queensland political parties:

Liberal National Party: http://website.lnp.org.au/main-menu/membership/join-the-lnp

Australian Labor Party:http://www.alp.org.au/get-involved/joining-labor/

It’s an uphill battle, but unless we do something now, things will get worse, it’s not going to be our fault, but it’s always terrible to look back and think that you had a chance to stop something but didn’t.

The Santa Claus Government

The pivotal question that is most disagreed upon by everyone in politics is “how much power should the state have?” Answers range from: totalitarianism, with the argument being that a state must control everything to maintain order, nothing can be entrusted to private interests because they might make mistakes; to anarchy, where all necessary services can be provided by the market. Most people that call themselves libertarians lie between a tiny state and no state, in a sort of limbo about whether the state should exist or not, I call them anarcho-curious.

 

Most statists see the state as a Santa Claus figure, giving goodies out to all the poor people and not giving any critical thought as to where those goodies really come from.  I would imagine most people reading this would have some sort of critical thought and know that the government doesn’t magically great goodies to hand out. I would imagine that most people following this blog would be against a Santa Claus state. However I too believe that government should be like Santa, but in another way: unseen, unheard and questionable as the whether it even exists or not. This is a model that the anarcho-curious can quite easily grab on to and help perpetuate. Surely it’s harder to convince the statists that their belief in mandatory government is false than it is to tell them that the government is actually secretly in charge of everything and everything good that the free market does is actually the government. Just like Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, children can grow up believing in government and when they come of age we can reveal to them that everything they thought the government was doing is being handled by private individuals working in the market. The statists will be happy thinking that government controls everything and will not seek to ruin our lives because they’re scared that if someone doesn’t control everything bad things will happen.

 

Of course there will have to be some changes, even the most die hard capitalists will admit there are some things that a free market cannot fix and naturally people will go looking for the government to get it to try and fix the unfixable as well as satisfy their need to vent their frustrations, I propose having a fake politician go around and pretend to listen to people, just like a department store Santa. People can come and air their grievances to these people. It would be a hard job listening to socialists whine all day, but it would be a necessary public service that I would gladly do to keep the socialists from bothering us and I could probably convince some of them that they owe taxes to me. As for voting, fake elections would be held every 3 years the voting would all be done online and all the candidates would be the same person in different disguises. Anyone wanting to run for office would have be given a 1900-number to call, an automated answering device would pick up and have them follow a never ending series of prompts and they would eventually get fed up and hang up. Parliamentary TV broadcasts like Question Time could just be a bunch of actors, some people might protest to ad breaks in parliament, but you can always fund it through product placement in speeches, and by the level of discourse you see in Question Time it would be more believable. Welfare is a bit trickier; trying to guilt recipients out of it hasn’t worked in the past; a better solution would be playing on their dogmatic faith in government and fear of the free market and say that welfare is actually capitalism in disguise.

 

The only downside to all this is that we will be forced to lie to our statist friends and family about what is really going on lest they become despondent and confused because they’ve just found out their whole world is a lie. You may have a friend that you really want to tell, but exposing them to the idea that they are actually responsible for their own actions and have been their entire life is a concept too shocking for most people. Just like a parent taking their hands off a kid’s bike when they’re learning to ride, it’s something that has to be done silently lest the rider lose confidence and crash. It’s up to you to keep your statist friends and family ignorant so they don’t freak out and actually try to govern us.

 

Clearly the Santa Claus model of government is the best. It allows everyone the level of government they want, all they have to do believe in it. The best thing is it’s not that different from the model we have now: A group of people that pretend to fix problems while wasting a lot of money, the only difference is we’re just adding another level of pretend. One day we may not have to keep the ruse, but until society is ready to accept our right to self-governance, we will just have to perpetuate the myth that the state exists.

Andrew Bolt, Race and Identity Politics

WARNING: VERY LONG POST

In a recent court decision, conservative commentator Andrew Bolt was found guilty of breaching the Racial Vilification Act (Eatock vs. Bolt, see http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FCA/2011/1103.html ).

From the classical liberal perspective, the good intentions behind the Racial Vilification Act do not justify the existence of the Act; Free Speech is an absolute right which is only bounded by fraud (for example, in the case of actual defamation) and coercion (i.e. making threats of violence or similar forms of extortion).

I am not a viewer of Andrew Bolt, although in full disclosure I did once send him an email which corrected a philosophical mistake of his; he accused Postmodernism of being Metaphysically Subjectivist (i.e. people’s minds literally remake reality). I believe that to be mistaken since Postmodernism is Epistemologically Subjectivist, typically on philosophical grounds derived from German Idealist thought. This has been my only interaction with his work in the past, and I know little about him. Although I was pleasantly surprised when reading his Wikipedia page that he’s an Agnostic rather than a religionist.

But the reason for this post is that I found a specific comment about the Bolt case interesting from the perspective of political philosophy.

Commentator Brian F. McCoy argued that the ultimate issue in the Bolt case wasn’t freedom of speech. He identified the core issue as “freedom of identity” (see http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=28512).

What a fascinating concept.

“Identity” in the context of the case was referring to social identity or the groups with which one identifies.

The following article is not so much a deliberate argumentative essay per se. Rather, it is a set of commentary on a series of interconnected issues raised by the Bolt affair. In it, I will cover epistemological and philosophical considerations relating to the concept of “social identity” and I will also discuss the various analytical frameworks and assumptions that are used when dealing with the concept. Ultimately I will launch into a discussion of Brian McCoy’s “freedom of identity.”
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Johnson campaign faltering; GOP deserves censure.

Media bias and bastardry and Republican cowardice deny the US a great candidate.

Any avid reader of the Ruidoso News is by now aware that the former two term New Mexico Governor, Gary Johnson is standing for the Republican Presidential nomination. Unfortunately, apart from a couple of passing references in the Adderville Examiner and a fairly positive Op-Ed in the Galts Gulch Gazette there has been little media coverage of his candidacy. The media has in the main staged a lockout.

While it is unreasonable to expect candidacy to automatically entitle anyone to inclusion in media coverage and a place in the debates, a candidate who meets the requirements should not be excluded. This is what has been done to Johnson. In May CNN blocked him from a debate in New Hampshire, although he qualified as an announced candidate with 2 percent support in three national polls during the month.

Despite being even in polls with Herman Cain and ahead of Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum he was excluded from other debates, which included them. Since then it has been standard practice to omit him from the polls that decide places in the debates. With his campaign now faltering, it seems that media bias and bastardry has denied America a candidate who has the track record and principles to revitalize the nation.  Continue reading