Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Libertarianism, what it means....


For some strange reason, my humble weblog seems to be attracting ever increasing amounts of readers. I can only come to the conclusion that the views I express here are shared by a great many people. The more people who realise that we are all being taken for a ride by the mainstream political parties the better. And it's not just the liblabcon of 'down south' we should be pointing at with contempt, but also Fat Eck and his chums up here in Scotland.

With this in mind, I have plundered the archives of Leg Iron's excellent blog and posted the following composition by him. If you have not discovered his blog, I heartily recommend it. I'm not telling you to read it, it's your choice after all!

If you like the cut of the Libertarian jib, more info can be found by clicking on the buttons on the left sidebar.


Disclaimers first.

1) I am not a member of anything. I don't speak for the Libertarian Party and even if I join, I won't be speaking for the party because if they have any sense they won't let me near the reins of power. I like to press buttons just to see what they do. To paraphrase Groucho Marx, I'm not sure I want to join any club that would let people like me in. Joining something is, for me at least, a big decision. I once joined a union and that didn't work out too well, so I have to think long and hard before committing to any group.

2) This post has been sponsored by non-approved and soon to be illegal quantities of Glen Grant.

Right. This is what I think libertarianism means and it's not based on anything other than my own random thought processes. Party members are welcome to correct me.


There is some fear of the Libertarian movement among the big three parties. I base this conclusion on labels like 'xenophobic' and 'far right' and 'BNP-like'. They are scared. With good reason. So there is a lot of talk of 'libertarian=anarchist' and 'they'll just let everyone do whatever they please' and so on.

To an extent, yes. But it's not libertinism. You can do pretty much what you please but you must accept responsibility for your actions. There can be no 'it was my upbringing' or 'it was my culture somewhere else' or 'it's a fair cop, but society is to blame'. You did it, you deal with it.

So if you want to build an extension that looks like something from 'A Series Of Unfortunate Events', go ahead. If it falls over and smashes your neighbour's shed, you'll be liable. Not the planning committee. Not the builder. Not the architect. You. You will have to compensate your neighbour. If someone is hurt, you'll go to jail and pay compensation too. it'll take a few years to sink in, but once people work out that they won't get off with excuses any more, most will start to act with some responsibility.

Libertarianism does not mean the absence of law or the disbanding of the police. It means fewer and simpler laws that are easy to understand and follow. It means a policeman would give you a ticking off for dropping litter rather than fining you, taking your fingerprints and DNA and recording all your details on five miles of paperwork. He won't even need to ask your name. All he'll ask is that you pick up your own crap and deal with it yourself. Like they used to in the old days. He'll still have authority and if you want to kick off, he'll have the power to deal with that. But it won't be his automatic response and if you just pick up the crap, he won't even have to report it back at the station.

No targets. Also, no limits. If several months go by where nobody in an area causes a problem, the police don't need to make arrests. If a ruckus kicks off because some bunch of idiots want to clawhammer someone, the police can arrest them all. You are free to do whatever you want in Libertarianism as long as it hurts nobody else. Cause trouble and the proverbial ton of bricks comes into play.

Should you steal, rape, kill, or otherwise damage someone else, expect a long prison sentence. Prisons will have room for long-term inmates because they won't be occupied by people who grow a bit of weed for their own use, or shout a bit of abuse across the street. Sticks and stones, prison. Words, no real harm. Like the old days when the British were real people rather than the professionally offended infants they have been made to be now. Libertarianism, to me, is forcing the country to grow up. It's time, don't you think?

Pause and think for a moment. Recall the news you've read recently. How many complaints to the police, how many charges, how many court appearances, how many prison sentences can be described as 'SIr, Sir, the naughty boy called me a bad name'? The police are obliged to respond. The courts are bound by the law. They enforce something that real people grew out of when they were nine.

I don't agree with every Libertarian out there but that's not a weakness in the party. It's the point. People are individuals. If every Libertarian toed the party line, they'd be like the drones of Labour, Tory or Libby Dimmies. The party is forged on concensus, not blind obedience. I would never join authoritarian parites like the big three, the Greens, the BNP or even the Monster Raving Loonies because to do so, you must accept the manifesto as it stands . You cannot argue. No discussion is allowed. That's the rule book you signed up to, now follow it. Sod that.

Take drinking and driving. Some Libertarians maintain that there's no harm done as long as you make it home safely. I don't agree with that but I do think that drunk driving, as oppposed to driving over some arbitrary limit, is wrong and should be stopped. When you're in charge of a big metal box on wheels, capable of considerable speed, you increase the risk to others when you impair your own reactions and judgement. By a lot. It's not about how many milligrams of alcohol you have in you, it's about your ability to control your death machine.

Some people I know would be able to drive over the current limit with no problem. Others would not be safe to drive even under the limit. One, at least, isn't safe sober. So I would go for a test based on the individual's ability to control their vehicle rather than a breath test. A breath test treats us all as clones. We are not. First offence, lose your licence for a year. A second offence within that year, prison. No piddling about with points and re-education classes. But it's not based on milligrams in your blood, it's based on whether you have control of the vehicle you're driving. The risk is not to yourself. it's to other people.

With seatbelts, that's your problem. You don't want to wear a seatbelt, fine, it's you that goes through the windscreen in a crash, not me.

Speeding is not so clear. If your car does 90 and you're confident of handling it, and there's nobody about, off you go. If you're tailgating or cutting in or out, the hell with you and it's licence shredding time. On an empty road at 3 am, speed cameras are just silly.

Immigration. The love that dare not speak its name, as Oscar Wilde once said about something else entirely. My thoughts? I don't care at all. I don't care whether you're white, black, brown, green, blue, turquoise or puce. I don't care whether you're Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Church of the Militant Elvis, Satanist, Atheist, or even if you think the entire universe was sneezed from the nose of a being you call the Great Green Arkelseizure. I don't care. All I care about is '"Why are you here?"

If you're here to improve your life by becoming One Of Us, great. In you come. For a year at least, it might not be much improvement.

If you came here to sponge, then leave, or die of starvation. We are not feeding you.

To add to the quotes, here's a P.T. Barnum (I think). "There is no such thing as a free lunch".

Libertarian is not libertine. There is no racism or xenophobia. Nobody is forced to leave. Stay, follow the simple rules, you'll be fine. Your gender, race, religion or sexual preference is irrelevant, we don't care.


But libertarianism is not anarchy. There are stringent rules.

Just not very many.


original post (with comments) here

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17 comments:

Conan the Librarian™ said...

There must be something in the air Rab, I've just done something too.

Captain Ranty said...

That's just pure dead brilliany, by the way.

I stole it too, and added my own addled thoughts:

http://captainranty.blogspot.com/

Thank you Mr Rab.

CR.

Captain Ranty said...

Brilliany should, of course, be brilliant.

Dammit!

The Economic Voice said...

Thanks Rab...consider it pinched.

The Economic Voice said...

By that I mean I am pinching it....just though I would be polite in telling you.

I am sure we allow burglars to get away with so much more if they were just a little more polite...

"Dear Sir, you may or may not know that all of your possessions of any value have been removed from your house. This is due to my heroin habbit which in my mind if far more important than the happiness of yourself or your family....yours...The Burglar"

See doesn't it look polite?..

Wormit Steve said...

From words spoken there are voices heard...

Cheers,

Steve

Longrider said...

Not everyone agrees with this definition...

Anonymous said...

By this account then it is made well clear Labour is the overall best choice of political party for adhering to the basic structure of Libertarianism as outlined.

The current smoke-ban makes the best example, harms everyone in the vicinity and rightly banned according to the Libertarian creedo of to do no harm to others.

Ditto with strengthening laws to contain paedophiles and require national ID to prevent similar harm to others and thusly prevents anarchy or to stop the harm done to victims by the predatory smokers, drunkards, paedophiles, terrorists, anarchists and so on.

With that said there should be no reason for Libertarians to oppose Labour as they have done recently and they should instead join hands on creating the better society as has been manufactured the last thirteen years under NuLab.

Pretty cut and dry case there in favour of Labour for implementing the proper responses to social ills all along and the most responsible Libertarian party of the three.

I could hardly vote otherwise come the next election based on those facts, now could I.

Rab C. Nesbitt said...

Gordon! Welcome to my blog!

Sam Duncan said...

“Predatory smokers”! That's a classic. You should be on the telly with material like that, mate.

And Capt.R: I don't know... “Brilliany”: a body of work that has the property of brilliance. Suits this post to a “T“, I reckon.

Captain Ranty said...

Cheers Sam, a simple typo and I can now add a new word to my lexicon.

If Anon believes that second hand smoke is a threat to anyone, he is well suited to ZaNuLabour. That party is full of mongs that think (suddenly*) a wisp of smoke makes people drop dead. Not once, not anywhere, not ever, has anyone died due to exposure to SHS. Hell, any doctor worth his salt would run a mile away from a request to swear on his oath that primary smoking can be said to have killed anyone. No scientific evidence exists to prove that smoking-on its own-has killed anybody. There are just too many variables. There are more than 41 known contributors to lung cancer and over 300 for heart disease.

*I say "suddenly" because this is a brand new phenomenon. People have been smoking tobacco for 8000 years. Only in the last 15 to 20 years has tobacco smoke morphed into Sarin Gas.

CR.

GrassyKnollington said...

"By this account then it is made well clear Labour is the overall best choice of political party for adhering to the basic structure of Libertarianism as outlined."- Anon

You silly man, don't let the oft and incorrectly used insult of "liberal" fool you, Labour, in my opinion certainly, are as far removed from the general idea of Libertarianism, or, for that matter, Liberalism(classic, mind you) as you could imagine. And clearly you've opted to pick and choose the issues you wish to house in the “Labour-camp” without giving cursory consideration to the others.

Personal responsibility to supplement our perceived “rights”, proportionate punishment, clear, unambiguous and brief laws, restoration of accountability of government, promotion of personal liberty, repeal of state sanctioned equality and racism legislation (coercive equality legislation- an oxymoron if ever I've heard one) - hardly policies I’d attribute to our friends in the Labour party.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Well said, Rab.

banned said...

'Brilliany ' is a very good new word.
An example of taking responsibility can be found in Amsterdam. To board their trams you must have a pre-paid ticket which is machine checked, social pressure makes it very difficult to board without one even though ticket inspections are extemely rare.
This avoids expensive additional staff and barrier costs.

However, should you be caught you are going to gaol, not just for bunking on a tram but because you betrayed the trust that is expected of you. Seems to work very well.

6millionth man said...

I enjoy your blog Rab.
I checked alexa.com and see you're about 6,800,000 th in the world for traffic which is ok. There must be about a billion websites. I think Guido is about 1800th with 2 million hits a year.

http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/http%3A%2F%2Frantinrab.blogspot.com

Tomrat said...

Awesome post and a very good explanation of libertarian on your part but I believe the image definition is faulty; it could be said that is actually the definition for Libertinism- the abbrogation of responsibility but not individual rights.

I know I know it is merely the absence of the phrase "individual responsibility" that is missing here but it is important when you are trying to explain this concept to those with willing ears and they balk at the prospect all because they believe libertarians believe in being irresponsible; it is the exact, polar opposite, or at least should be; I care a great deal about the effect of others actions upon me and so try to be courteous in my own.

Cosmic Navel Lint said...

Rab wrote: "Libertarianism does not mean the absence of law or the disbanding of the police. It means fewer and simpler laws that are easy to understand and follow."

If it's anything like the US form and working definition of 'Libertarianism', then it carries with it an irrational paranoia of "Big Gov't", and has managed to convince itself that the gov't wants to inculcate itself into ever facet of an individual's life - which is patent nonsense, as it has neither the time nor the resources to do so (much as it might want to, or make noises to the contrary).

The above rendering of 'Libertarianism' misses one key aspect in its desire to simplify things: society is a multifaceted & complex beast - and simply wishing it wasn't doesn't alter that fact.

By the way, great blog - only just found it (via Dick Puddlecote's).