Blogging will only increase the sleaze – unless we stop it


4:48 pm - April 12th 2009

by Sunny Hundal    


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It is undeniable that many within the Westminster bubble use Guido Fawkes to push their agendas by sending in tips and rumours. It is also undeniable that Paul Staines has an anti-politics libertarian bent that is pro-Conservative party. He shamelessly campaigned for Boris Johnson as Mayor for example, regardless of the poor barbs he threw at Caroline Spelman during ‘nannygate’.

A lot of newspapers have focused on how New Labour has always been about spin and briefings and back-stabbings. Perhaps. But it’s naive to pretend the Conservative party is immune from this – after all they’ve always looked towards the Republicans for strategic and ideological guidance and they are the original masters of this strategy.

Blogs, you could say, will only accelerate this deterioration of civility in the political culture. During the American election we saw right-wing bloggers (and Melanie Phillips in the UK) continuously try and throw mud at Obama by raising questions about his religion, his birth certificate, his family, his ‘heritage’ and more. Some were even convinced there was a Michelle Obama ‘whitey tape’ that would kill the campaign a week before election. The Democrats had to fight back online: Fights the smears & Truth fights back, and relied heavily on supporters to fight those rumours.

One of the key points made by the top bloggers on the left in the United States over the past 5 years is that if the Democrats wanted to succeed then they had to become as good as Republicans about messaging, defining opponents and focusing on electoral strategy to win. Obama, as I’ve said before, spent the most amount of money ever as a Presidential candidate in negative campaigning to define John McCain in negative terms. But he combined that with a positive narrative. That’s why he won.

Now. Our news culture isn’t even as intense as the American one – but that’s the direction we are going in whether we like it or not.

Guido Fawkes isn’t about to shine a benign light on smears and false-flag operations within Westminster – he is part of the culture that encourages and pushes it. And the more disreputable politics gets, the more his libertarianism wins out. I suspect the Conservative Party will find this out to their cost once they get into power. But by that time it will be too late.

The British left, I think, has to take heed from the American leftwing blogosphere. They didn’t set up their own smear sites and spend all their times ranting like the rightwingers (Michelle Malkin, Little Green Footballs, Townhall, Faux News etc) – because they knew that it would lead to an even more degradation of politics. Instead they organised, spent their time building websites and blogs that were news resources (Huff Po), did proper investigative journalism (TalkingPointsMemo), were meeting points for activists (Daily Kos), focused on electoral strategy (FiveThirtyEight, SwingStateProject), did rapid-response policy proposals (ThinkProgress) and published news video (Crooks and Liars).

If you’re pissed off by this whole episode – and everyone involved – then it’s obvious what the task ahead is. There’s no point complaining about it. If we want the left to succeed and not be killed off by the libertarians, conservatives or New Labour, then we have to do it ourselves. Otherwise the likes of Derek Draper and Guido Fawkes will end up dominating the conversations.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Media ,Realpolitik ,Westminster

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Reader comments


The British left, I think, has to take heed from the American leftwing blogosphere.

A fair point, Sunny, but unfortunately one New Labour is unlikely to heed (possibly unless/until it’s in opposition, and perhaps not even then – they’ve hacked off too many people who might be willing to help). The thing which is truly offensive/depressing is that Macbride was trying to ‘get out’ stories which at best he couldn’t ‘stand up’ and at worst weren’t true in the first place. Oh, and setting up ‘front’ blog to spread them. If you tried this on in a Student Union election you’d get into trouble, so what makes him and Draper think they can do it on behalf of New Labour and the government? It’s not as though the Cameron’s and Osborne’s lack of coherence/strategy re. the recession doesn’t give the government a means of attack – but, oh wait, New Labour are implicated up to the eyeballs with deregulation and neo-liberalism despite their current attempts to claim ‘a big boy did it and ran away’, so unless they can deal with that, and come up with better polcies, maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that Macbride is doing the equivalent of ‘Cameron and and Osborne are seven foot lizards from the planet Zog…and they smell of poo’ (that’s a hypothetical, example not a rumour, btw). If Staines wants to be the UK Matt Drudge, that’s no reason for New Labour’s flying monkeys to behave like Karl Rove.

Once again, we agree……. I have blogged a very similar thing just a few minutes ago:

http://e8voice.blogspot.com/2009/04/blog-wars-they-played-they-lost.html

It will be corrosive for the political blogosphere- which voices will the media elevate? The anti-political ones…..

redpesto – the thing about MAtt Drudge is also how irrelevant he became in the last political cycle. Everything and everyone has their 15 min of fame. I think if we go for another Drudge, then we’re wasting our collective energies

A fair point, Sunny, but unfortunately one New Labour is unlikely to heed (possibly unless/until it’s in opposition, and perhaps not even then – they’ve hacked off too many people who might be willing to help).

I’m not necessarily in favour of just helping the Labour party. I’d like liberal-left ideas and values to succeed – whichever party pushes them is rather irrelevant. Of course I’d like the Labour party to try and be of the left, but our focus shouldn’t be on cheerleading for the party.

The DailyKos lot are frequently anti-Democrats if they think those Democrats are not progressive.
http://www.newpolitics.net/node/87?full_report=1

I agree completely. This weekend has presented the very worst side of the blogosphere with its pathetic bitching, tittle-tattling, irrelevant bullshit. I imagine an awful lot of Joe Publics just felt that it confirmed what they already suspected; that firstly, Labour is directionless, naive and associated with some real dumb-asses, and secondly, bloggers are fucking losers.

If there’s an up-side though, it has demonstrated the influence of blogging, twittering and any other community of politically minded commenter, and how people not employed by newspapers can often do a darn sight better than the press at writing about this kind of guff. I found it quite amusing this morning looking at The Sundays all talking about Wankergate as if it was new and gripping, while the blogosphere had picked it to pieces and become bored stiff by the whole thing by around 4 o’clock yesterday. MSM is really starting to look weak in comparison.

I’d absolutely love to see a centre-left (or even *gasp* non-partisan) community grow and flourish out of all of this, but, as Sunder has rightly pointed out, the very last thing anybody needs or wants is a Red Guido. I think this site takes a pretty good stab at it. One problem facing lefty bloggery in this country though must be the sheer homogeneous crapulence of the majority of British politics; Kos and HuffPo have Obama and a rather brilliant campaign team to rally behind while we have dead weight Brown and communications advisers with all the insight of a blind cyclops. They had Senator Palpatine McCain to boo and hiss at, while all we have is some dull, silly Tory boy who gets his bike stolen when he nips into M&S for his vanilla Twinings. I can see why Draper and McBride (misguidedly) thought it needed an injection of excitement and intrigue to grab the proles and ensure growth.

That’s the challenge, surely: to present the side of politics that people actually give a crap about. I think it’s there, it just needs a decent group to tell everyone about it, without resorting to playground sneers and ‘totally brilliant’ bollocks about someone’s wife. And perhaps some people who do know their RSS from their elbow [haha Drek you tool]

5. Fellow Traveller

Absolutely nothing new about personal attacks in politics. They took place in Ancient Rome and Greece. I read recently how Ramsey MacDonald (as you know, the first Labour Prime Minister) endured the British press trampling his reputation into the mud during the Great War because of his illegitimacy. He had opposed British involvement in the war at its outbreak in 1914, a highly principled position to take in the face of its huge popularity among members of his own party, resigned his position as the leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party in consequence and then had his illegitimate birth raised by the newspapers in an attempt to get him to resign his seat as an MP (they argued that as he’d used a different name during his life from that on his birth certificate he’d stood for election on false pretenses and deceived his constituents).

I love your vision of how one must as a politician shovel shit at the enemy like the best of them and contrive to wear a halo at the same time.

Don’t think anyone’s saying it’s a new thing Fellow Traveller, just that in this instance it is particularly pathetic, utterly absurd and damaging to the very party is was intended to support. And also how weak the mainstream press is for being pretty much directed by a podgy swivel eyed oddball who is no better than the people he condemns.

The DailyKos lot are frequently anti-Democrats if they think those Democrats are not progressive.

I know – and I also know that this site isn’t averse to kicking New Labour when the need arises. So a UK equivalent of Daily Kos or Huffington Post will have to succeed despite New Labour, let alone the destructive tendencies of the right-wing blogosphere.

Hmmm, Sunny, I’m not convinced. You expend a lot of words saying that Staines (by name as by nature) cooked this one to perfection. As he himself now admits, it was done with malice aforethought:
“Guido gave the story to the News of the World and the Sunday Times for pleasure not profit”.

The target was not so much Damian McBride, for Staines is still on first-name terms there:
“The idea that Damian’s poisonous smears were just a few juvenile jokes between old pals is the joke, this was a discussion as to the sequencing of politcally motivated smears by experienced spin doctors. In the know people include not only McBride and Draper but, for example, Charlie Whelan. Whelan is no juvenile.” [sic: proof-reading is another of Staines’s weaknesses.]

Nor am I sold on the outrage now being frothed all over the media. There is little in these “salacious” (indeed) “rumours” that hasn’t been dripped into a variety of ears by other Tories.

Not so long ago, of course, it was fair game (one played by your fair self) to speculate on the “Gordon Brown is insane” meme. Now that was to the continuing accompaniment of the Tory “dog-whistle”

9. Andrew Withers (LPUK)

Sunny

The Labour Party has been caught out lying and being sleaze ridden, just like the Tories were caught out under Major.

The next election is a forgone conclusion now because the people of this country are just sick and tired of Nu Labour. The election after that will be a different affair.

The argument is no longer between Left and Right, that is a war of two generations ago. The central argument is between Liberty and Authoritarianism.

Do not lump Libertarians in with the far right, we want an extremely small Government, we seek not to control anybodies lives, or tell them what to think. We are not anti-politics, we want it reduced to the most basic level of the Community of these Isles.

With Liberty comes a corresponding level of responsibilty for your conduct in not seeking to harm others. There is a human dimension to Libertarianism which as a philosophy is three hundred years old.

The Big State solutions of Labour/Tories/Social Democrats are literally bankrupt. The despotism of the current political system means that differing political view points are not represented in Parliament, they are submerged in either Labour of Tory- this is wrong and IS anti politics.

Cameron has twice stated that he is not a Libertarian, he and the Tories are a Right of Centre Big State Party. As a Libertarian I cannot be a Tory any more than I can be a Socialist.

I agree with you that the left has got to get its act together and project a positive image of itself on the internet. I’d love for the left to put fornward ideas and knock them about on the internet, but what I tend to see is a left that hates criticism, is too idealistic and instead tends to bully, cajole and control in order to suppress alternative viewpoints.

Where I disagree is your interpretation of Guido Fawkes. You say he’s Right Wing and then simply brush aside the fact he “went after” Caroline Spelman. He may have views to the right of centre, but then again a lot of people of a certain age grow out of leftist idealism and take a more pragmantic view of the world. I’m sure Guido included.

What I see in his website and others, like mine is someone pissed off with the machinations of government we see daily. The lack of involvement, the lack of democracy. Government and its supporters have the media in a tight grip. Even the supposedly ambivalous BBC promote a government-friendly viewpoint, with spin spoken as fact and no balancing criticism.

The one thing I’m fearful of now is a goverment ticked off by this episode that it starts to plan to bring the blogosphere into line with the mainstream, by issuing legislation to control the output of blogs and stifle their alternative viewpoints.

Anyone on the left should be wary of agreeing with the idea of legislation and control. By agreeing with or refusing to resist the control of political blogging those on the left will be shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to criticising a Conservative government.

We need free speech, from all sides. I welcome anyone to start blogging and enter the melee. The blogosphere needs diversity.

I don’t know about you lot, but I for one am all in favour of taking advice on What the left should do now from random right wingers.

Plus, I think we should all give the LPUK a huge pass and not ask why their new, world-changing idea to replace “Left and RIght” – Liberty vs. Authauritarianism looks so disturbingly similar to the old bullshit Thatcher vs. teh Commies model, except with more wingnuttery this time.

I think the difference is that in the sequel, they’re supposed to be crusaders for freedom rather than Fruitcake ideologues who will fuck your home town to death for money.

I agree with Sunny’s analysis here.

13. Andrew Withers (LPUK)

Rodent

‘who will fuck your home town to death for money’.

Unlike the Tory/Labour Party Bankruptcy Roundabout then ?

Did not say it was new, I said it was a philosphy that was three hundred years old, unlike Socialism that is 130 years old and has killed and imprisoned millions, and has murderers as icons like Che.

You need to read a bit more, rather than just accept.

Plus you need to read up where the word Liberal comes from, rather than just hijack it.

Your PM has today announced that a ‘big idea’ is to have compulsory volunteering in a reformed Arbeitsdienst, serfdom for ones ‘Lord’ ended in 1348, you want to reintroduce it ??

14. the a&e charge nurse

Recent UK figureheads, like Thatch, Blair, Brown have all inspired loathing (to a greater or lesser extent).
Can anybody see a political figure amongst the current crop who might be able to find a way out of the mire – I can’t.

I know Shatterface doesn’t like him but Gray’s epithet for me rings true :
“Politics is the art of devising temporary remedies for recurring evils – a series of expedients NOT a project of salvation’.

Policies become embarrassing whenever they are too grandiose – the debacle in Afghanistan is just one recent example of this.
It goes without saying that politicians will tend toward sleaze as long as they see themselves as better, or above, or simply too far removed from ordinary people.

Let’s not restrict the bloggers too much at least they are authentic (and entertaining).

A. Withers –

unlike Socialism that is 130 years old and has killed and imprisoned millions, and has murderers as icons like Che.

Socialism has never been tried – the closest that has come to fruition was the Labour government of 48. When will you people ever get it through your heads that the people of the UK WANT universal healthcare? They WANT social security.

Not one for normally throwing out an expletive at people – you’re talking total shit! As with many who espouse your right-wing neo-con rhetoric.

Libertarians want small government? How will you archive that? You have this total bullshit idea that each person can negotiate simple things like healthcare – you are anti-NHS, you are anti-social security, you are anti-minimum wage, everything that means a social society could work, you are in fact, anarchists in suits.

The holier-than-thou attitude sickens me with libertarians – “We have it right and no one else can understand this” bullshit needs to be dropped. You want a society where everyone is left to fend for themselves, boot-straps and no legs and all that. Your ideal is sick.

16. david brough

Fuck off, Andrew Withers.

I must have missed something here. Yes, I can totally see that Guido is a sleaze merchant. It’s what he does. But for him to have sleaze to sell, other people have to be creating it. And Derek Draper and Damian McBride have been creating it in large quantities, and they’re by no means the first or the most obvious examples, given the loans-for-peerages scandal, various bits of chicanery around the Iraq war and subsequent investigations (e.g. David Kelly), ministerial expense fraud (or at least it would be fraud if you or I tried the same thing on our tax returns), pretty much anything to do with Peter Mandelson and the various leaks, briefings and spin cycles that have characterised the Labour party for the last fifteen years. It’s wrong to blame the messenger, even if the messenger is clearly enjoying his job.

Labour were entirely happy to take advantage of Tory sleaze when it happened. I can just about remember the Tories trying to get on the moral high horse and insist that the various affairs, financial misdeeds and downright lies of Tory MPs, ministers and hangers-on were just tittle-tattle, the revelation of which merely served to diminish politics. Did anyone on the ‘left’ stop? Did they fuck. Even now, ‘Tory sleaze’ still gets the juices flowing, and the prospect of being able to give Chancellor Osborne and Prime Minister Cameron’s personal histories a good going-over still gets a fair few people excited. The merest whiff of scandal from an incoming Tory government would be leapt upon by the left-wing blogosphere. And, without being ungracious about it, I really doubt that Liberal Conspiracy will hold back in the name of saving politics from the nihilist libertarians if you’re given a nice juicy Tory sleaze story to run with.

Either you believe in a double standard, where it’s OK for ‘us’ to expose ‘their’ sleaze, but it’s not OK for them to expose ours, or you’re being incredibly naive in thinking that it would be any different when the roles are reversed.

I can see why you might want to take this position right now. At the moment, the sleaze merchants are damaging the Labour party, so it’s quite useful to be against the sleaze merchants. Will you still be against them when they’re dredging up the misdemeanours of Tory front-benchers? Or, for a slightly tougher example, Tory donors?

This is essentially the point made by Cass Sunstein on deliberation and polarisation, and some of the research conducted by Crooked Timber’s Henry Farrell: http://crookedtimber.org/2008/07/01/blogs-participation-and-polarization/

[troll]
You idiots

Why the HELL do you allow politics to run every aspect of your lives?

Why the HELL do 60,000,000 people do as they are told by a mere 646 clueless idiots?

What are you frightened of? Losing your Nectar points?

You get ONE life. Live it as YOU want, not how Ruth Kelly or Anne Widdecombe thinks you should. They end up in the same place as you anyway. Rotting in a grave. And a long time dead.

“When will you people ever get it through your heads that the people of the UK WANT universal healthcare? They WANT social security.”

We want all that too. Just not at the point of a gun, which is where the problems with states begin.

[troll]
W. Rhodes,

You have this total bullshit idea that each person can negotiate simple things like healthcare

Hmmm, whereas you believe that humans are so stupid that they cannot look after themselves, yes? Well, I mean, of course you don’t mean that you yourself are too stupid to look after yourself — you mean that those people on the estates, the ones you see on the news, they are too stupid to look after themselves. Far, far too stupid.

And ignorant. Don’t forget the ignorance. Those people. On those estates. Too stupid. Too ignorant. They need Will Rhodes to look after them, to cuddle them and bring them to the promised land. They need Will Rhodes to guide them, and tell them what to do, don’t they? Because Will Rhodes is much better and wiser than they. Those. Them. Those people… on the estates… and on the news, an’ that. Need. They need Will Rhodes. That’s right.

– you are anti-NHS, you are anti-social security, you are anti-minimum wage, everything that means a social society could work, you are in fact, anarchists in suits.

Well possibly. But are you telling me that society cannot work without the NHS? Or social security? Or the national minimum wage? You are wrong. Come, Will, let me take you back — through the mists of time, back through the aeons of history — to 1997, before the national minumum wage… Do you see? There’s no society… Oooooh.

And now, after the introduction of the national minimum wage? Oh look, anyone who’s labour is worth less than £5.73… well, what’s happened to them? Oh, that’s right: they can’t get a job. And that means that they cannot improve their CV, so they will never, ever get a job.

Wow. Got to love that society. The society of Will Rhodes. Will Rhodes, great philanthropist. Will Rhodes, who is going to employ all those who can now never get a job. “Thank you, Will Rhodes: thank you for leading us to the land of milk and honey!” That is what these unfortunates will cry. “Thank you, Will Rhodes, for making our decisions for us: thank you for realising that we are too stupid and ignorant to make our own decisions… Thank you, Will Rhodes, for telling us what to do with our stupid, ignorant lives.”

You know, Will Rhodes, I have private health insurance. And private social security — alias a pension and unemployment insurance. These three things cost me a little less than £170 per month. Or, to put that in perspective, half the NICs contributions of a person on the median wage. There are alternatives (and the benefits are better too).

The holier-than-thou attitude sickens me with libertarians – “We have it right and no one else can understand this” bullshit needs to be dropped.

Because, of course, you social democrats, soft socialists — or whatever you call yourselves these days — certainly don’t have a holier-than-thou attitude, do you, Will Rhodes? You haven’t just spent the first part of your comment detailing why libertarians are evil and wrong at all, have you, Will Rhodes? There’s certainly nothing holier-than-thou about your comment, Will Rhodes, and I’ll hit anyone who says so, Will Rhodes, you watch me. Oh yes.

And there is nothing in any way hypocritical about the phrase that you used. You know, Will Rhodes, this one:

“We have it right and no one else can understand this” bullshit needs to be dropped.

Yes, that “we have it right” bullshit needs to be dropped, doesn’t it, Will Rhodes? It needs to be dropped because only you have it right: we libertarians certainly cannot be right, because only Will Rhodes is right. You know, that Will Rhodes who is there to guide the people… those ones on the estates… and the news… you know the ones: the ignorant ones, Will Rhodes, the stupid ones — the ones who are too ignorant and stupid to run their own lives, and who welcome and praise the wise Will Rhodes… the Will Rhodes who has led them, guided them, told them what to do and led them, the ignorant and the stupid, to the land of milk and honey.

You want a society where everyone is left to fend for themselves, boot-straps and no legs and all that. Your ideal is sick.

Whereas you want a society in which people are forced — under threat of fines, and imprisonment, and bankruptcy, and worse — to pay for your personal moral convictions. That is, people should hand over half of everything that they work hard to earn so that you, Will Rhodes, can feel that your personal morals have been catered to, so that you, Will Rhodes, are excused the dirty and unpleasant task of actually going and helping those stupid, ignorant people… you know the ones: you’ve seen them on the estates, and the news. You know, the stupid ones. The ignorant ones. You know…

You want to ensure that everyone pays, regardless of their own personal morals, so that you, Will Rhodes, can feel good about yourself, so that the state can carry out your morals, so that the state can assuage your personal convictions, your guilt, without you actually having to go and personally get your hands dirty. And yet, somewhere, people will be crying to the heavens, “thank you, Will Rhodes, for leading us to the land of milk and honey! We want to thank you, Will Rhodes, but we don’t know what you look like; for we haven’t seen you, Will Rhodes, we haven’t seen your face. We have only seen the social workers, and the DHSS officers, and the myriad messengers that you send to us. We wish to thank you, Will Rhodes, for leading us — the stupid and the ignorant — to the land of milk and honey. Thank you, wise Will Rhodes!”

And you call my ideal “sick”! It is you who are sick, Will Rhodes, but I am sure that the stupid and the ignorant… you know, them wot you’ve seen on the estates, and the news… I am sure that they are grateful that you were able to order their lives.

DK

Unlike the Tory/Labour Party Bankruptcy Roundabout then ?

Hell, it’s six-and-half-a-dozen to the farmers and hillbillies where I come from. Mrs. Rodent’s from Cowdenbeath, though – her folks would be happy to explain their preference for left wing over right wing politics, in graphic detail.

I said it was a philosphy that was three hundred years old…

Well, indeed. It’s probably the perfect philosophy for a society where the right to vote is property-based and the main area of economic growth is the capture of foreign markets by unchecked military expansion. Less potential for the Littlebrains to act up, eh?

Your PM has today announced that a ‘big idea’ is to have compulsory volunteering in a reformed Arbeitsdienst, serfdom for ones ‘Lord’ ended in 1348, you want to reintroduce it ??

1) He’s your PM as much as he is mine, Bub and

2) If I check this out, will it turn out that the government has decided to literally return to feudalism, or is it just that the LPUK has put out a press release saying that, if you kind of squint up your eyes, it sort of looks like TOTALITARIAN NU-LABOUR FASCISSES? Because I’m well used to reading this kind of thing from you lot, only to find out that the reality is considerably more mundane.

You need to read a bit more, rather than just accept.

Look mate, the reason MOR Labour and Tory governments have ruled the last century is because their policies have, for the most part, delivered hospitals that work, buses that run on time, streets that are fairly clean and are mercifully free of AK-47s etc. etc.

They have a track record of qualified success – you, on the other hand, are offering us Thatcherism in clown shoes, and no amount of looking down your nose and tutting is going to conceal the fact that you’re selling a fundamentally shitty product.

If you want people to vote for you, you’re going to have to do better than pulling up that Nolan chart libertarians have been using for years to “prove” that every party except the libertarians are totally, like, fascist, because they’re all “authoritarian”.

P.S. If I was publicly backing a party that can’t get a candidate elected to the PTA, let alone Parliament, I’d be a bit slower to go all waggy-finger.

And that goes double for the rest of you who showed up in the interim, BTW.

Christ alive this really is one big fucking yawn.

A few days ago we were talking about police brutality and now this? Talk about skilled distraction from things that really matter…the left and the right are fucking idiots if they think any of this matters to the public. A public, I might add, that have real shit to worry about like losing their fucking jobs and their fucking homes.

The problem, as Flying Rodent said on a previous thread, is the bullshit. The bullshit is either tittle-tattle or stuff about substantive issues which includes dubious facts or perverted logic. Blogging is a medium: the medium can be filled up with bullshit or with something better. There is nothing inevitable about blogging being full of sleaze, or about it becoming something better.

If we want something better we have to start doing something better. This site isn’t a bad start, but we have to focus on blogging that is based on facts and is logical. It may not be popular but I don’t think that we should worry about that. It is important to keep alive serious political journalism, through blogging, as there is a real risk that we get submerged in sleaze and churnalism.

I have no idea whether it is possible to turn around the Labour Party. The constant reference in the Labour Party of “no going back to the 80s when we spent all that time discussing things” makes me think that most people left in the Labour Party are quite happy with spin and sleaze, so it may be very difficult to turn around the Labour Party. So the urgent task is to keep serious political journalism alive. How we get political parties to treat the electorate as serious thinking people is for the future.

“I have no idea whether it is possible to turn around the Labour Party”

I don’t give a shit.

I won’t live my life according to some party doctrine. Anybodies party doctrine.

I’ll make sure my family have health insurance by earning enough money to pay for health insurance. Hard work, I agree. So I work hard.

I’ll make sure my children (all six of them) get educated to a standard that will feed my grandchildren and progress my DNA.

I take responsibility. I don’t need some bunch of unqualified halfwits of any party to do it on my behalf.

27. the a&e charge nurse

OH I was thinking about the comments policy on this site (rather than the wider audience on the net).

I know you and the Devil have an open comments policy – that is my preference actually but as I’m sure Sunny would point out, nobody is forced to either read or participate on the posts put up here.
In other words if they don’t like it they are free to leave – I think that’s fair enough.

No doubt this debate will end up being polarised.
Most of us tend to think in binary terms, perhaps because of the two party system and first past the post – maybe that’s part of the problem.

In other words if they don’t like it they are free to leave – I think that’s fair enough.

No doubt this debate will end up being polarised.
Most of us tend to think in binary terms, perhaps because of the two party system and first past the post – maybe that’s part of the problem.

What?

You think in binary and believe most of the rest of the population do too?

29. the a&e charge nurse

Well, I’m thinking about perceived political choices, or lack of them.

It’s been Tory or Labour all my life – I don’t really count the two Davids

Old Holborn –

What would be excellent is if we all could put that polarisation to one side for a few months and work together to bring about some serious political change in the UK.

I am sure that there are many things we can agree one, the stuff we differ on can be debated at a later date, it is the agreeing part that matter right now.

The two parties, New Labour and Conservative are the real enemy as it were – it is they who have crippled the political process – not the vast majority of people in the UK. Each one being elected with a minority of the vote – so first, do you agree, that the electoral reform needs to be at the top of the agenda?

Guys, you’re trolling. Spout whatever rubbish you want on your own blogs but this is not your space. We have a comments policy. Stay on topic.

It’s a fucking awful comments policy, by the way. It’s so loosely drafted (what is the definition of “abusing our space”? Who decides what’s “silly”?) that it’s very hard to know, prior to posting, whether a comment breaks the rules. If you really mean “this blog is private property and the editors reserve the right to delete or edit (without your consent and without stating that we have done so) your comment” then you should have the decency to say so, instead of waffling about spatial abuse.

33. the a&e charge nurse

OH – I admire your self sufficiency, most people would prefer to be in the same position.

I’m lucky that life is good for me, as well.

But how does the old saying go – people are only 2 pay cheques away from the gutter.

Collectivism can be an antidote to such fears – although open to abuses, of course.

Dr Julian Hart talks about antecedents to the NHS – Welsh miners organising co-ops to pay for health care when they got sick or injured.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLdTpV62Mjg

I would be interested in your views on Dr Hart’s observations.

O Will, Will Rhodes,

The two parties, New Labour and Conservative are the real enemy as it were – it is they who have crippled the political process – not the vast majority of people in the UK.

Actually, I agree with you here, in the main. However, I do think that the people of the UK must also take some blame — if only those who will mindlessly vote for red or blue, regardless of their actual policies.

Each one being elected with a minority of the vote…

Ah, the tyranny of the majority…

DK

There would seem to be some agreement here that the two main parties have crippled the political process, and that the problem is bullshit. I also suspect that quite a lot of people commenting here are not going to vote for the two main political parties for the forseeable future. So, what is to be done? As I said above, my priority would be to maintain some spaces where there is serious political debate. Any other ideas?

DK

Actually, I agree with you here, in the main. However, I do think that the people of the UK must also take some blame — if only those who will mindlessly vote for red or blue, regardless of their actual policies.

I don’t know how people can change or take the blame, mindlessly voting for red or blue regarding whichever policy is put forward, until they (the voting public) have real access to the electoral process through some form of education.

That will have to be some form of standard where bias cannot be shouted from the roof tops.Guido is biased in form – I am biased in mine – he gets a million hits a day I get very few, so which voice is heard most? His, obviously.

Blogging is coming to the fore in the UK – and I am glad that it is. But we see how it can be attacked mercilessly by the MSM because it gives us a voice – somewhere both you and I could agree.

Single transfer vote would be my choice – but that is up for debate.

Are you chaps just pretending that you don’t know that the BNP are going to win the Euro elections in June?

My knowledge of the history of the electoral system is hazy but I believe there was what looks in retrospect as a bit of a stitch up created by the Tories and Labour shortly after WW2, when the last few multi-member constituencies were seen off.

But I think a bigger problem is the slow drift towards greater executive power in the 20th and now 21st century. I think all sides here could agree that a move towards more democratic oversight, rather than administrative edict, is part of the solution.

For fucks sake guys

Paul Staines has just broken down the gates to Parliament, Fleet Street and White City.

As Lech Wa??sa would say..

GET STUCK IN

As Lech Wa??sa would say..

GET STUCK IN

We intend to. Just not in the way he does.

Shame

His way overthrew an empire, freed millions, spared billions

Still, you know best, eh?

42. the a&e charge nurse

Steady on, OH, the UK is not quite the same as Soviet era Poland or Ceausescu’s Rumania (yet)

A conflicted psychotherapist has been caught with his hand in the till – let’s try and keep it in perspective, eh.

I’m sure Brown will have a sufficient coating of teflon to ride the storm.

You and the Devil seem to be advocating a form of social Darwinism – maybe I don’t fully understand the Libertarian agenda but if Hannan is one of yours I would worry that he comes across as a rabid marketeer.
I simply don’t trust him.

43. Dagenham Dave

You fail to distinguish between sleaze and the reporting of sleaze.

These are two different things.

It is sleaze that needs to be stamped out.

Stamping out the reporting of sleaze will make sleaze worse.

What do you *really* wish to achieve?

But in this case it was the supposed ‘reporter of sleaze’, Mr Draper, who in fact created the sleaze. And as for Staines, he positively wallows in it.

Sleaze must still be reported upon, but it doesn’t have to be done in a sleazy manner.

45. Dagenham Dave

@Jamie Sport

It was McBride, in 10 Downing Street, who created the sleaze, Draper was merely the drone who was supposed to disseminate it.

It is the nature of sleaze to be sleazy.

We should all be grateful this malicious bully boy tactic came to light.

46. Chris Baldwin

Oh for the days when the word “libertarian” referred to anarchists rather that conservatives trying to give their politics a cool Guevarist spin…

“There is a human dimension to Libertarianism which as a philosophy is three hundred years old.”

And the earliest humans were essentially communists, and liberalism is at least 400 years old. So what? Since when does how old a doctrine is make it any better? Really old bullshit is still bullshit.

“Hmmm, whereas you believe that humans are so stupid that they cannot look after themselves, yes? Well, I mean, of course you don’t mean that you yourself are too stupid to look after yourself — you mean that those people on the estates, the ones you see on the news, they are too stupid to look after themselves. Far, far too stupid.

And ignorant. Don’t forget the ignorance. Those people. On those estates. Too stupid. Too ignorant. They need Will Rhodes to look after them, to cuddle them and bring them to the promised land. They need Will Rhodes to guide them, and tell them what to do, don’t they? Because Will Rhodes is much better and wiser than they. Those. Them. Those people… on the estates… and on the news, an’ that. Need. They need Will Rhodes. That’s right.”

Devil’s Kitchen, can you actually type a comment coherently and with actual sentences and stuff, without it reading like you’re a hysterical nutjob?

Seriously, no liberal is saying we want the NHS and social security and so forth because people are “too stupid” or anything. We want those things because we understand that without them, society is worse off. Quoting Wikipedia (which puts my point across nice and succinctly), “According to Thomas Hobbes, human life would be “nasty, brutish, and short” without political authority. In its absence, we would live in a state of nature, where we each have unlimited natural freedoms, including the “right to all things” and thus the freedom to harm all who threaten our own self-preservation; there would be an endless “war of all against all” (Bellum omnium contra omnes). To avoid this, free men establish political community i.e. civil society through a social contract in which each gain civil rights in return for subjecting himself to civil law or to political authority.”

The point is that in a libertarian run society, there would be some people worse off than others, most through no fault of there own (such as who they happen to have been born to), but some because they are weaker than other people. By casting aside those people, you are actually hurting society as a whole, because a society where everyone is able to make it to the top regardless of birth or without other people unfairly screwing them over, is a society that is more productive as a whole, and less oneupmanship that gets a select few somewhere, but most of society nowhere.

Oh, and is it just me, but is Devil’s Kitchen just a little bit too obsessed with using the name “Will Rhodes”?

You don’t get it, do you? Guido isn’t part of the problem – he’s using disruptive technology to lampoon and poor scorn on it. ‘It’ is the cosy, illiberal and increasingly corrupt club of professional politicians,functionaries and journalists in British and European politics that is alienating the electorate from public affairs. You need him and his like – unless, perhaps, you want to join the club yourself.

I don’t really agree that Draper was simply a witless autonomous drone in all of this – he was responsible for it as much, if not more, than McBride in my opinion. The pair of them in tandem created this silly little storm.

The sleaze flowed from the mudslingers themselves, not the politicians who were the subject of all the shit being thrown around.

Sleaze will always exist in government, and should be brought to light. But this was the wrong way of going about it. Sunny’s argument is that the coverage and methods of obtaining information need to be cleaned up before we can claim to report on these things with any degree of objection.

Oh for the days when the word “libertarian” referred to anarchists rather that conservatives trying to give their politics a cool Guevarist spin…

Indeed although it’s not helped by lefties that allow that definition to go unanswered….

“And the earliest humans were essentially communists…”

Perhaps, if you define communism as a society in which around 30% of all deaths are violent ones, and where women are treated as chattel.

“You and the Devil seem to be advocating a form of social Darwinism” – an accusation frequently thrown at libertarians, unfairly in my opinion as historically at least, Fabian ideology has been much more closely associated with eugenics. There is a very interesting discussion of the distinction here: http://www.libertarian.co.uk/lapubs/libhe/libhe026.htm

In my opinion, there is a strong altruistic core to libertarian philosophy. It is just combined with a particularly strong opposition to the sort of power structures that the state generates even in pursuit of good ends like healthcare.

Old Holborn,

Get stuck in? How naive. You clearly don’t understand the ethos of this place, and the imperative to place these issues within the context of a sound theoretical framework.

And you ought to beware the violent connotations of your language.

…….. What a bunch of (oops – almost forgot the Terms and Conditions).

You know the more interesting question is who in the Labour party/movement leaked these emails knowing full well the likely damage it’d cause. What else is going to spill out into public scrutiny after this?

The cold light of day, Leon. Bracing, isn’t it?

Anything I can do to move this tedious discussion on from the smear crap to the more serious implications…

Oh, and is it just me, but is Devil’s Kitchen just a little bit too obsessed with using the name “Will Rhodes”?

Not really. Every 10 weeks or so, Mounsey will hone in on some lefty’s blogpost/blog comment which attracts his ire and will then it to a monstering which holds them personally responsible for every human rights atrocity committed in the name of communism. Will Rhodes was unfortunate to be the victim on this occasion, but it could easily have been someone else.

It’s not all Mounsey’s fault, though; from what I hear, this is a pretty standard debating tactic at Eton.

Alex,

“Devil’s Kitchen, can you actually type a comment coherently and with actual sentences and stuff, without it reading like you’re a hysterical nutjob?”

Go and watch the last few episodes of Stewart Lee’s comedy vehicle, and you’ll get the style that I was going for (before someone at LC decided to remove all of the vowels, of course). Maybe not successfully, but I thought there was a certain poetry to it anyway. I thought, in any case, that it was a little more interesting than the usual contemptuous toss-off.

Will,

I don’t know how people can change or take the blame, mindlessly voting for red or blue regarding whichever policy is put forward, until they (the voting public) have real access to the electoral process through some form of education.

I may well be called names for pointing this out, but we have now had compulsory, state-funded education in the UK since 1891: how much longer, precisely, do we have to wait until the people are educated enough to have “real access to the electoral process”?

Blogging is coming to the fore in the UK – and I am glad that it is. But we see how it can be attacked mercilessly by the MSM because it gives us a voice – somewhere both you and I could agree.

Sure, although I think that there is a subtle trap that people fall into: that bloggers are blogging for a reason. Guido blogs for a purpose, sure, but I, for instance, blog because I enjoy it. I get a lot of readers (relatively speaking), sure, but I still do it because I like doing it — and I am sure that that applies to most bloggers.

To return to the main subject, it’s very lovely that Sunny wants to set up a site to rival the “right-wing bloggers” — why? I thought that was what LC was for? — but some of us just aren’t terribly interested in whether the left or right is dominant.

I’ll carry on because I enjoy it: that’s all. And I enjoy it under a pseudonym, Neil, because the pseudonym isn’t me: it’s a character. Part of the reason that people view the left as being unpleasant when they are often more temperate than the right, is because the left do things such as insisting on using real names rather than chosen pseudonyms. It’s called (slightly ridiculously) “netiquette”, Neil.

Anyway…

Single transfer vote would be my choice – but that is up for debate.

I like the Scottish Parliament system, actually. Roughly half of the Parliament is made up of constituency MSPs (which keeps that constituency link, as a sop to those who think that it makes any difference at all) and the rest is filled from party lists in a PR format. It seems to me that said system actually caters for most demands, without simultaneously paralysing Parliament (that may be something that I’d actually desire, but it’s a debate for another time).

DK

Damn, didn’t close the blockquote…

DK

“You know the more interesting question is who in the Labour party/movement leaked these emails knowing full well the likely damage it’d cause. What else is going to spill out into public scrutiny after this?”

Good question Leon.

Another question is — how could this be fixed?

People seem to be worried about the party — what about the country?

What about the country indeed. See my angry post somewhere above about ordinary people, jobs…houses….

How can this be fixed? Well…I’m not sure but my feeling is in some ways Guido and Tories are doing Labour a big favour. Just not quite sure what that favour is yet.

Drudge became irrelevant as soon as GW Bush came into office. Guido is the same here. The moment call me Dave wins the next election Guido‘s job will have been done and he will become a little cheer leader , so to Dale.

The bigger question is will the MSM be prepared to link to this site and other Liberal sites that have information and leaks on the Tory Govt. The American experience says no. There was a lot of stuff about the Neo Cons that got no play at all in the American media.

Conservatives do all the dirty tricks much better than the left. They have the great advantage of wanting the philosophy of Govt to fail. Some Republicans are now saying that Bush was successful for their cause because he proved govt does not work. Heads you lose, tails I win.

DK –

state-funded education in the UK since 1891

Indeed – it’s just that some don’t want that to continue, and that would be a poor show.

Rob Knight:
Either you believe in a double standard, where it’s OK for ‘us’ to expose ‘their’ sleaze, but it’s not OK for them to expose ours, or you’re being incredibly naive in thinking that it would be any different when the roles are reversed.

I can see why you might want to take this position right now. At the moment, the sleaze merchants are damaging the Labour party, so it’s quite useful to be against the sleaze merchants. Will you still be against them when they’re dredging up the misdemeanours of Tory front-benchers? Or, for a slightly tougher example, Tory donors?

You miss my point. I have no problems with people exposing sleaze and I welcome that aspect of Guido’s blogging. There is a deep disconnect among people and politicians and the more our politicians are made to realise that the better.

But really, this story (which Old Holborn is orgasming over) belongs to the same Westminster bubble that I think is part of the problem. People are obsessed over a non-story. As Leon points out, there is a deep financial crisis going on that was created by bankers and one to which we have no real solution.

Anyway, I think you miss my point though. First I take issue with the idea we need a ‘red Guido’ by pointing out that the style of politics itself lends better to libertarian right-wingers who are nihilistic and cynical about politics.

Secondly, it was a call to action to say that our response on the left should be blogs that have followed the trajectory of the left in the US – who have combined leftwing principles with action, activism, trying to hold their party accountable, offering news etc.

The real issue is that the ardent left don’t have any constructive mainstream dialogue. Daily Kos and other blogs were a product of George Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.

If the left had been honest and progressive, they would have blogs which led the fight and tore down Blair from power long before he left.

What agenda is left for the Labour party to pursue on “Daily Kos UK” which grabs the attention?

FWIW, I have read the Democratic blogs for years, but equally in the UK, Guido and Iain Dale seem to be closer to mid-stream and progressive blogs in my view.

Much of what is happening on the left is not progressive, it is statist – ID cards, encroachment of civil liberties through terrorism laws, etc, etc.

Where does it leave Labour bloggers? It leaves them without a coherent story.

“He shamelessly campaigned for Boris Johnson as Mayor for example, regardless of the poor barbs he threw at Caroline Spelman during ‘nannygate’.”

You effectively destroyed your whole argument with that one statement. in other words he’s totally balanced in his views and does not tar everyone with the same brush. Something the main stream media always do which is why bloggers now drive the news agenda not the MSM.
Get used to it this is only the start.

By the way Boris is a breath of fresh air compared to the previous ocupant.

This may not be the true view of the author, but this article appears to equate ‘politics’ with ‘the current government’. If one were to argue for or against certain policies from a libertarian ideological perspective, that would not render the person ‘anti-politics’. The vast majority of self-titled ‘libertarians’ want a smaller state, not the removal of the state. It’s not a position I happen to generally agree with, but to equate all uses of ‘libertarian’ with ‘anti-politics’ is a deceitful argument.

In turn, it is true that the ‘Guido Fawkes’ blog mentioned is anti-politics. But then, based on a number of surveys, it could well be argued that the general populace occupies a similar position. The real question is why we have a citizenry riven with apathy, and more eager to hear of personal failings than collective successes. To spend this time attacking the blog is to rail against an outcome rather than a cause.

“But it’s naive to pretend…” While ‘the other kid did it too’ was of value in the playground, it shouldn’t be a part of serious political debate. You can defend, attack or completely ignore Mr. Draper. But to explain it away by assuming that in power another party would have their own Mr. Draper is to miss the point entirely. Indeed, if the Opposition party is the den of iniquity as supposed, should the Labour Party not be the first to hold itself to a higher standard? Should it not stand up and say that while the Conservative government of 2010 may stay in power through guile and spin, this government of 2009 can do something better?

My annoyance (and occasional anger) with the Labour party isn’t due to having illiberal principles, or because I’m ‘anti-politics’. My anger is that, once in power, the party which claims to be closely aligned with most of my economic and social principles either entirely ignores them or ineptly executes them. That doesn’t induce me to vote for the other guy, but to wish for something better.

The liberal blogosphere is apparently being thumped by a few sleaze-jockeys, who are pussy-cats compared to the Howard Sterns of this world. The (ex-liberal) government is being beaten by an opposition with an almost identical message, simply because it has a touch more success in getting it across. Why? Because after twelve years in power, the people who joined in 1997 to make the world a better place are either long gone or entirely warped by their last decade of employment. If it takes people like Mr. Staines to knock the Labour Party out of the park and force it to re-examine its very raison d’être, I applaud his every effort. I just hope they take the chance when it’s handed to them.

Talking of Liberal conspiracies, what colour is your wife, because new EU rules might be coming into play, you might have to trade her in for a darker model.

http://tinyurl.com/cjjemf

68. the a&e charge nurse

Thanks for the link, Nick [53].

Clearly, Spencer’s ideas were tarnished (by an ex-commie) and this misunderstanding may have parallels with the views of todays libertarians ?
In effect you seem to be saying that ‘Libertarians’ are misunderstood – and that EVERYBODY would be able to trust them if they came to power ?

Personally I have my doubts after watching Hannon on American TV (describing the NHS) – his disregard of facts was almost as blatant as Michael ‘Sicko’ Moore.

Another thing that strikes me as curious is the call to arms by some of the socialist on this thread yet there hasn’t been a socialist government in the UK for many decades.
Nowadays those in power are ALL centre right although branding is used to distinguish one lot from the other.

Sunny,

You explained that your posting was a call to action to say that our response on the left should be blogs that have followed the trajectory of the left in the US – who have combined leftwing principles with action, activism, trying to hold their party accountable, offering news etc.

If your politics is based in any kind of morality and sense of civic duty then you should be sharing in the public anger at this government’s crescendo of corruption and illiberality.

That aside, the British left seems to be incapable of attempting the kind of site you suggest without it being risable or boring.

Whoops – forgot the closing tag at the end of the first para.

Peter,

You obviously didn’t bother to read this post then?

http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2009/04/12/derek-draper-is-poisonous-for-labour/

As for this…

That aside, the British left seems to be incapable of attempting the kind of site you suggest without it being risable or boring.

… other comment threads here have already started discussing how to engage people without being a) worthy yet dull or b) joining in the gutter race.

Clive,

I did read that piece of damage limitation, which attempts to distract from the moral cancer at the heart of government by (a) focusing on Draper, rather than than those for whom he and McPoisen work(ed) (b) claiming moral equivalence with Guido, the attack dog who nailed the Party in the first place. I predict a great future for young Sunny. He’s learning the tricks fast. The problem is, in gaining the world he may loose something even more precious.

As for the comment threads here that have already started discussing how to engage people without being a) worthy yet dull or b) joining in the gutter race.
*** yawn ***.

73. the a&e charge nurse

[75] your analysis is spot on, I would only quibble with one point.

I do not think it is ‘a moral cancer’ – I think it is all part of the rough and tumble of political life, and dates back to the year dot.

What we are seeing is the drip drip effect of the end of an era – I seem to recall a similar mood when Snatch was taken down and then the grey man (Major).
Most people loathed Blair (in the end) and now they hate Broo’n.

What has been interesting is the out pouring of anger from the bloggers after Draper & McBride got caught – it has all become a bit like a later day coliseum, with the libertarian bloggers especially excited.

Then there are the hundreds of comments on LabourList – I’m sure one or two fingers must have been injured hammering out so much invective.

Peter,

moral cancer at the heart of government

You missed a word out. The phrase should be

moral cancer at the heart of successive governments.

This is, depressingly, nothing new. Pretty damn near all governments come to power with lofty ideals and grand visions, all of which eventually become subsumed to the maintenance of power. I have yet to see a single political party manage progressive renewal whilst in power (and damn few that achieve it in opposition either).

As for the comment threads here that have already started discussing how to engage people without being a) worthy yet dull or b) joining in the gutter race. –

*** yawn ***.

Thank you for the constructive input. I hope you don’t mind if we put it on the back burner for now?

People are railing against the government, against the state, against the Labour Party and against politics in general for the same reason. It is because all of the above have become too powerful, too big, too expensive and too interfering in our lives. I genuinely believe Guido would take as much satisfaction in outing a Tory government conspiracy against the opposition and I know I would take as much pleasure in seeing it. This is not about left or right.

What I care about is the government, the state, the politicians eroding my freedom and I detest feeling powerless to prevent them doing so. I don’t want my life and the lives of my children being controlled by th state from cradle to grave by an elected dictatorship so when someone lands one on the noses of those who are oppressing me (Guido Fawkes, Dan Hannan or whoever) they are going to get a big cheer.

This blog would be more contructive if the party hacks could forget their tribalism and start to explore a consensus based around some liberal values and surely the closer Nu Labour gets to meltdown, the better the chances are of this happening.

It’s time for people like Sunny to give a lead and stop trying to defend the indefensible.

Clive,

On the evidence of this blog and discussion board, “we” are on the back-burner and destined to stay there until the bottom falls out of the pan.

Peter, right now I’m afraid I have to agree with you. Time to put on some Hendrix, All Along the Watchtower seems appropriate.

Sunny @ 66:

You miss my point. I have no problems with people exposing sleaze and I welcome that aspect of Guido’s blogging. There is a deep disconnect among people and politicians and the more our politicians are made to realise that the better.

But really, this story (which Old Holborn is orgasming over) belongs to the same Westminster bubble that I think is part of the problem. People are obsessed over a non-story. As Leon points out, there is a deep financial crisis going on that was created by bankers and one to which we have no real solution.

I haven’t heard all that many people welcoming any aspect of Guido’s blogging on here. Nice to see it now though. You’re right, politicians seem to have forgotten what they’re meant to be there for, and Guido shows how it is possible to highlight absurdity and hypocrisy in politics. He might be doing it for the ‘wrong’ reasons and focusing on the ‘wrong’ areas, but the idea that an essentially independent blogger can affect the political discourse is something that will be very useful if the left blogosphere is ever to reach the goals you set out.

It’s not just ‘people’ who are obsessed with a non-story, LibCon is clearly obsessed too, if the list of recent posts is anything to go by. I don’t really read very many (political) blogs outside of this one and a smattering of Lib Dem or economics-focused blogs, yet I feel intimately acquainted with every twist and turn of Derek Draper’s machinations and Guido’s efforts to bring him down. I read most of that on this very site. And the reason stories like that keep appearing is that they invariably generate comments and page views, which is what most bloggers use to measure ‘success’.

It’s all very well telling us all how the left blogosphere needs to rise above this kind of thing, but do I have to point out that you run one of the largest political blogs on the left blogosphere and are widely acknowledged as a ‘leading’ blogger in your own right? And that same blog is just as full of the gossip as any other? If I decided that I didn’t want anything more to do with Draper or Guido and had to pick the one blog from my current reading list to cut out, it would be this one. You have to practice what you preach and if you think that this story is nonsense then cover something else which isn’t. Show people a better way rather than telling them to stop caring about a story whilst simultaneously covering it in great detail.

Re: renewal of left blogging (or general blogging)

Is this a useful pair of questions:

* How is this time round different to last time, or the time before that?
* What is the element Captain Picard needs to break out of the circular time loop?

One answer:

Guido is a Bluebottle furiously Buzzing around a smelly political dungheap. Clear up (or find a way out of, or around) the poo of the New Labour political culture rather than worry about swatting the bluebottle. Politically, that is pandering to Guido’s agenda.

I’ll say that Lib Con has made some signficant progress on that, and that is the knitting to stick to and build on (?)

Mr. Hundal,

You are very much right; much of the mutilation of many of the players characters over the Easter weekend was indeed quite ugly. but only because they themselves are ugly people.

Blogs are mirrors sir; they reflect not our appearance but our ideas – those ideas have turned ugly because of the corruption at the heart of those in power.

Guido has performed a valuable public service; whether he is right wing, left wing, or a fan of the flying spaghetti monster is neither here nor there – weight for weight he has revealed how truly ugly the people who deem to rule us truly are. HIs efforts may be pointed but they are just; something which apologists like those who inhabit this particular website fail to understand anymore.

As for Libertarianism you poor deluded soul; there would not be any need for a term for unbridled liberty if the elite in our country and the world, did not deem themselves superior to normal people so as to remove their liberty wholesale; mans inhumanity and the domination of other men is a disease – libertarianism, and its rise, represents the cure.

The cure this country needs is to isolate that which is bad for all and let it fall at the individual; this is not the same as saying we should operate independantly of each other, only the realisation that cooperation is something that can never be forced; something you “liberals” appear to have forgotten.

One day, very soon, people will take back the term liberal from your ilk – you gave up liberty long ago. Libertarians are its final home.

Will Rhodes,

“The holier-than-thou attitude sickens me with libertarians – “We have it right and no one else can understand this” bullshit needs to be dropped.

Maybe, but atleast when we are wrong we dont pull entire countries into penury, lawlessness and injustice.

You want a society where everyone is left to fend for themselves, boot-straps and no legs and all that. Your ideal is sick.”

We want a society where natural fraternity, natural humanity and natural competition is not perverted, distorted to fit into anothers vision of it; there are “evil” people out there certainly; however, I place a lot more stock in the human spirit – to do the right thing, under their own volition – than you do. Your ideal is the one that is sick, and perverse; if human beings are incapable of doing the right thing then how can we have democracy? After all a free society of evil people will do evil surely? We would have people dying in the streets for lack of universal healthcare like we do for the lack of universal food provision…oh wait…

atleast when we are wrong we dont pull entire countries into penury, lawlessness and injustice.

Ahem – wasn’t it a clique of radical libertarians that advised the Yeltsin government on economic policy, with the predictable result of massive criminality, the total collapse of the government and, yes, huge amounts of penury, lawlessness and injustice?

IIRC, I believe it was a similar clan of extreme no-government deregulators that were shipped into Baghdad to rebuild Iraq’s industries, with predictable results?

And let’s not forget robber-baron era America or poorhouse Britain of the Victorian era, libertarian paradises both.

And to round it off, a stab at Libertarian nirvana has already been made – it’s called Saipan, an American dependency devoted to the production of duty-free consumer goods, built deliberately as a libertarian enterprise. If you’re keen on a holiday somewhere your behaviour is unrestricted, all services are provided by a faceless slave-class of imported labour and there are thousands of beautiful teenagers desperate to blow you for loose change, Saipan is your place.

No doubt libertarians will argue that none of these are real libertarian enterprises, but if your argument is recent parliamentary politics is rubbish, ergo let’s allow markets to deliver countless magical ponies! then I’d be keen to hear an explanation for why a little bit of libertarianism didn’t deliver a little bit of improvement, wherever it was tried, and delivered disaster instead.

Kentron: My annoyance (and occasional anger) with the Labour party isn’t due to having illiberal principles, or because I’m ‘anti-politics’. My anger is that, once in power, the party which claims to be closely aligned with most of my economic and social principles either entirely ignores them or ineptly executes them. That doesn’t induce me to vote for the other guy, but to wish for something better.

That is the ethos of this blog too. So we’re not disagreeing with each other.

Rob:
but do I have to point out that you run one of the largest political blogs on the left blogosphere and are widely acknowledged as a ‘leading’ blogger in your own right? And that same blog is just as full of the gossip as any other?

We don’t do gossip like the other blogs do gossip – that’s an unfair accusation Rob. Yes, we will move on from this issue, though (as I say in Unity’s post) are aim right now is to stop the hypocrisy of the right spinning out of control….

Thom – thank you for your measured post, but I do disagree. We are in favour of liberty here, but probably have different definitions…

84. Andrew Withers (LPUK)

Wow- having other things going on in my life, its been about twenty four hours since I visited this site.

First I would like to thank Dave Brough for his insightful contribution to the debate- the feeling is mutual- Thanks Dave

The concept that any decent person would pass by a person in distress or ill is apalling on a human level. Yet that is what happens on a daily basis. I pay my taxes, the State should deal with the old,the sick, the poor, not me is a common refrain.

The NHS is killing hundreds if not thousands in filthy hospitals- who said Libertarians want to close hospitals ?? The filthy ones I do

The Old are shuffled off into ‘homes’ to die, if they are lucky not to be abused by some of the Staff along the way.

The State is a monolith that requires quotas,tractorstats and targets, not dealing with human beings.

Small is beautiful, Large is unaccountable.

Enjoy the rest of the Bank Holiday

“And to round it off, a stab at Libertarian nirvana has already been made – it’s called Saipan, an American dependency devoted to the production of duty-free consumer goods, built deliberately as a libertarian enterprise. If you’re keen on a holiday somewhere your behaviour is unrestricted, all services are provided by a faceless slave-class of imported labour and there are thousands of beautiful teenagers desperate to blow you for loose change, Saipan is your place.”

Wow – doesn’t sound too dissimilar to the hotel resorts in Cuba. Sounds terrible but also sounds like it relies on employers with state licensed monopolies, but I’ll look into it further. Given the right to choose competing employers and to commune, workers ought to be able to bid their wages up and demand better terms. But unlike socialism, libertarian ideas have landed genuine successes, like in Hong Kong, Switzerland and to some extent the high growth areas in Eastern Europe. But you are right, that the neo-liberal project in Russia (at attempt to introduce the free market from the top down) failed just as other state managed projects have done. I think the problem is that many libertarians don’t take on their own Hayekian lessons that revolutionary economic reforms planned by the centre will tend to fail, whatever the content of the actual plans.

86. the a&e charge nurse

[88] “The NHS is killing hundreds if not thousands in filthy hospitals- who said Libertarians want to close hospitals” ??

Care to elaborate Andrew – if you mean deaths through clinical errors then, yes this happens, and if you mean deaths through hospital acquired infections then yes this happens too.
Deaths occur for identical reasons in EVERY health system in the world.

Here’s a couple of questions for you:
*which health system is exempt from the above causes of mortality ?
*which health system most resembles the model craved by the libertarians ?

You see the easy part is taking pot-shots at the NHS, as rottweilers like Hannon have demonstrated, but what you can’t tell us is how you propose to provide a universal, comprehensive and fair system for only 9% of GDP (bearing in mind the years of chronic underfunding before the recent upturn in spend).

Or, is your answer whatever Richard Branson & Co tell us ?

87. the a&e charge nurse

By the way Andrew [88] – I think I’m right in saying the private sector now provides around 75% of the ‘care’ [sic] for elderly patients in the community.

Is this bidding war the sort of thing you would like to see more of – the market in action so to speak
http://news.bbc.co.uk/panorama/hi/front_page/newsid_7990000/7990929.stm

…doesn’t sound too dissimilar to the hotel resorts in Cuba.

No, it doesn’t, does it? Funny how Communism and libertarianism can produce such similar results. Does this tell us anything about how libertarianism works when the rubber meets the road?

Given the right to choose competing employers and to commune, workers ought to be able to bid their wages up and demand better terms.

IIRC, there have been moves towards unionisation recently, all of them made in the teeth of fierce opposition, anti-union regulations and union-busting, deportations, lay-offs and media propaganda campaigns.

That’s not because revolutionary economic reforms planned by the centre will tend to fail, it’s because the political system was specifically set up as a minimal control on a massive free-trade zone with an expendable, non-unionised immigrant workforce. It was a system deliberately built to enrich its tiny oligarchy through near-slave labour, and the “libertarians” that run the place have stretched every sinew to keep it that way. In other words, the libertarians reacted like any privileged class whose interests are under threat.

The reason I mention these examples is that the removal of imperfect systems and their replacement on libertarian principles has historically not created meritocracies. It’s created lockdown oligarchies, monopolies and mafia states, where power is held by those with the financial and criminal clout to structure society to their own benefit, and the great majority of their populations are either reduced to penury, forced to work for a pittance or left at the mercy of local criminal gangs.

Now, I’m not one of these “socialism has never been tried” types. I can see that ideology and pragmatism are two different things.

Take a look at Andrew Withers’ comment up above – is he quoting ideology or pragmatism? Because I see little difference between his blithe confidence and that of the most committed Marxist.

Will Rhodes –

“Socialism has never been tried – the closest that has come to fruition was the Labour government of 48. When will you people ever get it through your heads that the people of the UK WANT universal healthcare? They WANT social security.”

Well if your idea of political philosophy amounts to nothing more than giving the little people what they want, then I can see how the whole small-big government argument might seem pointless.

“your right-wing neo-con rhetoric.”

Come on, trotting out the neo-con smear every time someone questions socialism? You can do better than that, not least because neo-conservatism is about as relevant to the British libertarian as your bourgeoise/proletariat struggle is to the American socialists. And I know its counter-intuitive (and im being polite here) but libertarians do not identify with the right-wing any more than they do with the left. Opposing the nanny state crap you guys come up with does not mean we support the conservative, pro-war stance of your opponents. We actually like some of the stuff you guys do, we just wish you didnt have to hold a gun to our heads to save us all from ourselves.

“Libertarians want small government? How will you archive that?”

By convincing people that small government is better for them? If they WANTED small government would you become a libertarian or would you continue to argue the case for socialism?

“you are anti-NHS, you are anti-social security, you are anti-minimum wage, everything that means a social society could work, you are in fact, anarchists in suits.”

I dont know what you mean by the idea of “social society” (what other types are there?) but yes, I am anti-taxed-for-a-health-service-run-by-the-state, I am anti-minimum-wage and I am against the monopoly of violence that the state represents.

“The holier-than-thou attitude sickens me with libertarians – “We have it right and no one else can understand this” bullshit needs to be dropped. You want a society where everyone is left to fend for themselves, boot-straps and no legs and all that. Your ideal is sick.”

I take it you don’t agree with the libertarian position then?

FL – it sounds terrible but describing it as libertarian in practice sounds rather like describing Ancient Athens as democracy in practice (i.e. with most of the population enslaved or disenfranchised). Pericles thought himself as a democrat.

But I take your point, that libertarian ideas can be appropriated by privileged groups just as any other radical ideology.

“I am against the monopoly of violence that the state represents.”
“By convincing people that small government is better for them?”

Weber’s definition of a state as holding a “monopoly of the legitimate use of violence” infers that you desire no state, which is contradicted by previous statements. Do you want a smaller state, or to end the state entirely?

Kentron-
I want to see the end of the “state”, yes, precisely because I believe it uses illegitimate violence. I think you have to question the legitimacy of any institution/group/band of thugs that requires coercion and violence to acquire its monopoly status and then enforce it. Does Weber tell us where this legitimacy is derived from or is it legitimate in his eyes merely because such a monopoly exists?

As for the second statement, I appreciate that not all libertarians hold the anarchist view such as myself so I was speaking in the context of Will Rhodes’ initial comment about libertarians wanting “small government”. I agree that they are contradictory, which is why I find the minarchist position as held by DK, and others, to be incoherent.

That is not to say that I don’t find small government preferable to the statist views as held by other commentators.

…describing it as libertarian in practice sounds rather like describing Ancient Athens as democracy in practice

Nicht scheiss – I imagine pep talks in the tiny remnant of Britain’s communist parties don’t often start with First, we send the Kulaks to the Gulag, set up a secret police force and launch a great terror.

Not that right wingers ever mention this, though. It’s all Pol Pot is your homeboy, Doodz! 24/7, with great glee – Stalin means left wing politics is inherently bankrupt.

If that’s the case, I think it’s only fair to note that historically, when shite comes to bust, the “libertarians” are always found in the pockets of right-wing reactionaries and self-dealing oligarchs, and rarely – if ever – side-by-side with the general populace.

You’d never know that from the tone of the posts around here, mind.

Will,

Indeed – it’s just that some don’t want that to continue, and that would be a poor show.

For what it is worth, I am actually willing to allow (in my philosophy) state-funded education — just not state-provided education.

I firmly believe that education is a good thing in and of itself — it is what really distinguishes humans from animals — and that, on a practical level, allows people to fulfill their potential (or, at the very least, to live). That is why the fact that our current system churns out so many people who are functionally illiterate (I believe that the level is about 20% of those leaving school at 16) is such a scandal.

DK

Rodent,

Not that right wingers ever mention this, though. It’s all Pol Pot is your homeboy, Doodz! 24/7, with great glee – Stalin means left wing politics is inherently bankrupt.

No, but that Stalin could be seen as an inevitable consequence of a political ideology that is based on force.

And — whether you think that it is a good thing or not, and whether you think that it is practical or not — left-wing politics (and, to an extent, all “practical” politics, i.e. anything other than anarchy) is based on force: people are compelled, under the threat of force, to hand over money or goods that they would not otherwise give, for the maintenance of people whom they would not willingly support.

And it’s not simply a matter of degree, i.e. the amount that one is forced to hand over, but of philosophy. The right generally view tax as something unpleasant that must be paid and they’ll acknowledge (albeit grudgingly) that it can do some good; for many on the left, however, paying tax is a duty, a moral right. Hence, for instance, all of the outrage about businesses (and individuals) using perfectly legal devices to reduce their level of tax payable.

DK

Hell, I even agree with state provided healthcare (with caveats).

Also, I agree with unemployment benefits, if the beneficiary *agreed* to pay the requisite insurance tax.

I’ll get my coat…

“Nicht scheiss – I imagine pep talks in the tiny remnant of Britain’s communist parties don’t often start with First, we send the Kulaks to the Gulag, set up a secret police force and launch a great terror.”

Well it would help if they took the Che posters off their bedroom walls so that we could be a bit more confident that a few executions aren’t at the back of their mind even while the plot out their utopias.

That libertarians have been found in bed with privileged classes is undeniable, I acknowledge. But there were particular historical circumstances that drove that, much of it related to the Cold War. In politics, sometimes you don’t have much chance to carve out your own options. You have an either/or proposition, in other words which gang in a particular conflict are you going to support. That frequently landed libertarians with conservatives in the West, as the conservatives (whatever objectionable moral views they may have and their privileged class status) have tended towards supporting protections against arbitrary power.

Now that context has changed, you see new alliances developing (you might like this flavour for example: http://www.willwilkinson.net/flybottle/2008/05/30/liberaltarianism-back-the-future/ ) as well as attempts by libertarians to break out for themselves (see the LPUK).

98. the a&e charge nurse

That’s the bit I don’t get, Devil – you say the state should fund education but not provide it.
Do you extend this line of thinking to:
*the police
*the army
*the fire brigade
If not, why not ?

Then we have health – I have heard you express admiration for the insurers in Switzerland France & Germany, but I think I’m right in saying significant parts of these systems are still under-written by the state as well.
They may be slightly more plural in theory, but I doubt if there is very much difference in reality, i.e. most people simply want treatment at their local hospital.

i have highlighted one example of the market in action [91] – is this the sort of thing you would like to see more of ?

“Rolling back the state’ is a phrase indelibly linked with Snatch: the daughter of a Lincolnshire sex-pest with dysfunctional twins stabbed in the front by her own party – it hardly inspires confidence in the concept if she was so keen on it.

I simply cannot get a handle on how life would be in the UK under the Libertarians, and I find the likes of Hannon terrifying – if he’s the rights new poster boy then we are in even bigger trouble than I thought.

Stalin could be seen as an inevitable consequence of a political ideology that is based on force.

One of many, many possible consequences really, ergo not “inevitable” at all.

…for many on the left, however, paying tax is a duty, a moral right. Hence, for instance, all of the outrage about businesses (and individuals) using perfectly legal devices to reduce their level of tax payable.

That’s certainly one way of putting it. Another way would be outrage about the very wealthy using their massive advantages to exempt themselves from obligations the rest of us have to pay, which doesn’t sound quite so totalitarian at all.

(BTW, using corporate taxation as your first example of the evils of left wing politics is a bit of a Giant Public Relations Fail, given I’ve just finished saying that libertarians historically side with the privilege of the wealthy against the interests of the general populace. I’d play that down in the manifesto, if I were you.)

…people are compelled, under the threat of force, to hand over money or goods that they would not otherwise give, for the maintenance of people whom they would not willingly support.

Indeed. This has been a historically popular position for British political parties, with almost 100% of the electorate supporting some variation of it at pretty much every general election of the last 50 years.

And let’s not be coy, DK – you and I both know this “force” and “initiation of force” stuff is less a coherent basis for a political philosophy than it is a giant propaganda wheeze used to paint all non-libertarian systems as anti-freedom.

Neither of us like paying taxes or dealing with the police, but boiling democracy down to this level is like saying the Parent/Child relationship is an oppressive system of control based on baths and bedtime.

@Nick: But there were particular historical circumstances that drove that, much of it related to the Cold War.

Depends on your perspective, I suppose – from your “Che posters on the wall” comment, it looks like you agree with most of the right that firing squads and the NKVD are inherent facets of Communism.

I think there’s an element of truth in that, but it’s a wild oversimplification.

Similarly, I believe that libertarians’ historic, fellatory embrace with wealthy wingnuts is not an accidental quirk of the Cold War – I think it’s the logical consequence of libertarian philosophy, the 20th century form of which I regard as having been created by and for the benefit of a) the rich and b) the super-rich.

You might think that’s a wild oversimplification too, but I think there’s also splenty of truth.

Never the twain shall meet, I guess.

“…people are compelled, under the threat of force, to hand over money or goods that they would not otherwise give, for the maintenance of people whom they would not willingly support.”

Oh no, not the pretend libertarians again. For all those morons who just love the idea of destroying the National Health care system and hate the idea of health being controlled by government bureaucrats I give you this from America…..

Five months ago, Rose Camilleri was a superstar at the Zales outlet at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets. In November, the diminutive grandmother with an Italian accent was flown to Dallas, home of Zales’ headquarters, where she was honored with a 1-carat diamond necklace for making $1 million in sales last year. It was the fifth diamond Camilleri had earned during 4½ years at Zales, where she received nearly a dozen commendations. “I loved my work,” she said. “I loved the people, and I loved it when people came in and asked for me.”

But in early March, Camilleri developed bronchitis and went for a chest X-ray and an MRI. Her doctor discovered an aortic aneurysm, a weakness in the wall of the aorta, which, without prompt treatment, might rupture and cause quick death. Camilleri told Zales she would need surgery as soon as possible. “I told my manager I can’t get upset because it could explode any minute,” she said. “I typed up a letter asking for time off and guidance from human resources.”

One week later, on March 14, she was asked to attend a meeting with a new regional manager. “He said, ‘You’re terminated,'” Camilleri recalled. “I tried to keep myself very calm because I knew something could happen to me. I said, ‘You’re joking — you’ve never been in my store.’ He said, ‘It’s the best thing.'”
It also meant Camilleri had to postpone her March 26 surgery until she could convert her insurance to a self-pay plan known as COBRA. Two weeks later, Camilleri had not even received the paperwork.

Her son e-mailed the Times Herald-Record.
“We are told that it could take up to 45 days,” Charles Camilleri wrote. “I lay awake every night fearing the worst.” Contacted by the Record, Zales would not comment. Charles Camilleri called Zales’ human resources, explaining it was a life-or-death matter, and he simply needed a fax from Zales to start the COBRA process. He was floored by the employee’s response. “She said, “Well, if the surgery was rescheduled, then it’s probably not a life-or-death situation,” Charles Camilleri recalled. “I absolutely was blown away

Once again, the Record contacted Zales’ corporate office, stressing that Rose Camilleri’s condition could be fatal. That afternoon, Charles got good news from Zales. “They’re turning my mother’s health coverage back on today and expediting the COBRA information,” he said. After paying the first premium of $830, Rose had surgery last week and was back home on Sunday. “I don’t think we would have had the surgery so soon if it weren’t for your e-mail,” Charles Camilleri said. “They probably would have kept us hanging.”

If people really think that dealing with private industry bureaucrats is any improvement over government bureaucrats, they need their heads examined.

“Depends on your perspective, I suppose – from your “Che posters on the wall” comment, it looks like you agree with most of the right that firing squads and the NKVD are inherent facets of Communism.”

I wasn’t saying it was an inherent facet of anything, apart from Che’s career. He just makes a funny role model for people who claim they want to do good, thats all. In the same way, you would be quite rightly suspicious of conservatives who reckon Pinochet was an alright bloke.

Your “logical consequence” argument is left wide open to empirical refutation, as all it takes is one example of some anti-establishment, pro-free market character who sided with ordinary people (like say, Frederic Bastiat, perhaps?). Then we see the logical connection just isn’t tenable (no matter how historically true in the 20th century it might be).

I can acknowledge that there have been successful systems that have been informed by socialist ideas too. Scandinavian countries tend to score pretty well on the left’s equality of opportunity and outcome stakes, and they manage to (for the most part) respective individual civil liberties as well. Of course, it is no coincidence that they do this, in part, by keeping things like corporation taxes low :) actually much lower than us and in the US.

103. Nedao Shaw

I’m a life long labour supporter, and didn’t Liberal Conspiracy attack the personal character of Nadine Norries MP last week? Seems a coincidence that Damian McBride and Derek Draper were after old Nadine too. Is this web site really pro anything, say for example analysing and expounded economics policies that combine social justice and the alleviation of the worst economic crisis in a hundred years? Or is it focused on endeavoring to ensure the end of the political business cycle by indulging in the political character assassinations that McBride resigned for and Brown has expressed regret about? These “endeavors” in the name of social justice will only bring about the accession of Cameron more speedily …

Your “logical consequence” argument is left wide open to empirical refutation, as all it takes is one example of some anti-establishment, pro-free market character who sided with ordinary people.

Indeed it is and does – I’m not holding my breath for any such thing, since I see about 100 parts Ayn Rand for every one part Bastiat in modern libertarianism, but I’ll try to keep an open mind.

105. the a&e charge nurse

[106] In the same way, you would be quite rightly suspicious of conservatives who reckon Pinochet was an alright bloke.

Sorry, Nick, I have to take you to task on this one.
Didn’t Thatch give the Chilean mass murderer a helping hand (in lieu of co-operation over the Falklands) – with the Tory back benchers egging her on ?
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/thatcher-support-divides-tories-1180010.html

Sally,
I dont wish to appear flippant, but if you’re going to throw words like “morons” around, you better have a solid and coherent argument, not a copy and paste job that most libertarians would concur is precisely an argument for why the status quo, whether that be in the UK or the US, is not working.

As Sunny asked to not get off-topic and to have it out at our own space, I wrote this little piece.

http://willrhodesportmanteau.com/2009/04/13/libertarians-and-me/

So please forgive me if you thought I was ignoring your points.

Yeah, that was pretty ignominious. It would be nice to persuade the Tories never to do that again. It is the shame that the two schools of foreign policy in recent years have been the realist (“enemy of my enemy etc..”) and liberal interventionist (“bomb them to save their human rights!”).

“I dont wish to appear flippant, but if you’re going to throw words like “morons” around, you better have a solid and coherent argument, not a copy and paste job that most libertarians would concur is precisely an argument for why the status quo, whether that be in the UK or the US, is not working.”

That is very funny, A so called Libertarian does not think that I should be allowed to use the word moron.

I have said it before, and I will say it again , libertarians are bull shitting liars. They are all fake accept for the Rand people. And they are just insane.

“Didn’t Thatch give the Chilean mass murderer a helping hand (in lieu of co-operation over the Falklands) – with the Tory back benchers egging her on ?”

Indeed they did, and they did everything thet could in conjuction with their fascist friends in the US to stop him from being sent to Spain for trial.

Mass murder is ok as long as you are a Conservative.

Sally,

Do us all a favour

Put the kettle on or something

Love and kisses

Old Holborn (a Libertarian)

No such thing as a libertarian.

Just pretend ones.

What has this… “enlightening” discussion of libertarian principles got to do with blogging and sleaze?

What has this… “enlightening” discussion of libertarian principles got to do with blogging and sleaze?

Cuh. Bloggers eh?

Sunny,

Thom – thank you for your measured post, but I do disagree. We are in favour of liberty here, but probably have different definitions…

Your right; here’s mine:

“Liberty is a concept of political philosophy and identifies the condition in which an individual has the right to act according to his or her own will.”

This closely ties to the idea of negative liberty; the freedom from tyranny, coercion and arbitrary exercise of authority – something which positive liberty, which you so obviously follow, demands to ensure we all have “a fair start”.

I would take some time out to review where your path eventually leads and where mine does.

Of course I would be more than interested in hearing your definition – of course, if it, as it appears likely, isn’t really anything more than a dressy version of saying you want to loot the productive part of society rather than be part of it, in the interests of fair use I will have to demand you give the term back.

Flying rodent,

Ahem – wasn’t it a clique of radical libertarians that advised the Yeltsin government on economic policy, with the predictable result of massive criminality, the total collapse of the government and, yes, huge amounts of penury, lawlessness and injustice?

*sighs*

No – the collapse of the USSR preceded Yeltsin; the massive criminality in most cases came from the death pangs as ex KGB and government apparatchniks who had been creaming of the top of their positions in power and, well, remember who your talking to when you mention the collapse of a big(gest) state government – it was brought down under the weight of its own incompetence; trying to introduce capitalism into a centrally planned system will always result in the same effect – the state will provide the path of least resistance for resources and power to businessmen who are more interested in looting than in hard slog; you’d be surprised how many merchantilists dress as libertarians.

a&e [90 & 91],

Not directed at me but I think you are, as is everyone else here, is missing the point – libertarians dont favour any particular system, the favour the freedom to choose for themselves – this could in practice mean one system comes “wins” through open competition through many different systems, thats the beauty of it.

As for your point about 75% of elderly “care” I entirely agree – if I could dip my hands into a massive, cookie jar, the contents of which had been collected with menaces, I too would not care too much about what the users of that “care” wanted; I would be more interested in who had the lid of the cookie jar and what hoops they made me jump through.

Rodent,

One of many, many possible consequences really, ergo not “inevitable” at all.

Hence the “could” and “seen” in my sentence: they are qualifiers, yes?

That’s certainly one way of putting it. Another way would be outrage about the very wealthy using their massive advantages to exempt themselves from obligations the rest of us have to pay, which doesn’t sound quite so totalitarian at all.

But, if the government were interested in that side of it, then they would:

1) simplify the tax system. The simpler it is, the fewer (perfectly legal) options there are for avoiding tax.

2) tax the poor less (which I’m all in favour of). I have advocated, for many years, a rise in the Personal Tax Allowance to about £12k (which would mean that no one on the minimum wage would pay income tax, for starters) and a flat tax after that (the latter may be moot, but who could argue against the former — if one actually cares about the poor, of course).

(BTW, using corporate taxation as your first example of the evils of left wing politics is a bit of a Giant Public Relations Fail, given I’ve just finished saying that libertarians historically side with the privilege of the wealthy against the interests of the general populace. I’d play that down in the manifesto, if I were you.)

Not really. Businesses do not pay tax — they are simply a convenient bank account to take the money from. Only individuals pay tax. There are endless reports (not least a Congressional study in the US from about 4 years ago) showing that the burden of business tax falls on the workers in the form of lower wages (70%) and shareholders in the form of lower dividends (30%). If you support lower wages for ordinary workers, please, advocate higher business taxes: go ahead, be my guest.

That’s the bit I don’t get, Devil – you say the state should fund education but not provide it.
Do you extend this line of thinking to:
*the police
*the army
*the fire brigade
If not, why not?

Because the state, by common consent, is given powers that no individual has, i.e. the right to force. Hence the state has the police and the army. (The Fire Brigade is moot.) Also, be aware that there are libertarians who argue that there is no intrinsic reason why the police should be state-run at all.

I don’t like monopolies, A&E: a state-payer/state-provider is the worst sort of monopoly. We have seen how education has become a plaything of politicians — it is used as a political football and the people who lose out are the children in the schools. Apart from anything else, how much better do you think schools would be is the third of education funding that is taken by the LEAs went straight to the schools?

Then we have health – I have heard you express admiration for the insurers in Switzerland France & Germany, but I think I’m right in saying significant parts of these systems are still under-written by the state as well.

Yes, they are. But the state is not payer and provider. Even in the Canadian system (which is probably closest to ours) the payer and provider are different.

Competition — real competition, rather than the fake “internal market” of recent years — does make for better services (in both the public and private sector). We can see this in education standards in Sweden since the introduction of vouchers in 1994.

I don’t like dogma — of any sort, including libertarianism. I am a Consequentialist Libertarian: that is, I want the best possible outcomes (and I also think that freedom is a good outcome in and of itself): I happen to think that, after 60 years of the Welfare State as currently constituted in this country, we have proven that the downsides outweigh the upsides (others would disagree, and I’d need a few thousands words to “prove” my opinion). So, let us look around the world and examine which systems provide the best outcomes, and implement them.

I don’t quite understand why this should be so contentious.

DK

@Thom – …remember who your talking to when you mention the collapse of a big(gest) state government…

Oooh, are you famous? All I know about you is that you seem to be unironically quoting from Bioshock on your blog. I played that through myself, as it happens.

the collapse of the USSR preceded Yeltsin

No, if I were you I wouldn’t touch Saipan either, but yes, I remember – that’s why I was talking about post-Soviet Russia. I do recall certain free-market magicians being sent in to work their charms with the resident economic geniuses, to much local outrage.

Again, if your philosophy is the obvious answer, you’d think some libertarianism might have helped somewhat – it doesn’t appear to have helped at all in fending off exactly the lawlessness and collapse you were talking about. IIRC, it made it easier for criminals to funnel money out of the country, and it’s been one part of a catastrophe that’s led to a pro-Putin authoritarian backlash.

(That’s yet another unforseen result to chalk up in the Reasons why we shouldn’t ditch decades of proven stable government for gonzo academic theory column – grand ideas do not necessarily equal desirable results. You can sit it next to our current, thank-you-bankers financial calamity, and above practically every other glorious revolution in human history.)

I guess we’d find out how much looting our businessmen would do if we tried some shock therapy on our own economies – our own recent history doesn’t fill me with confidence.

…trying to introduce capitalism into a centrally planned system will always result in the same effect – the state will provide the path of least resistance for resources and power to businessmen who are more interested in looting than in hard slog.

I may be reading you wrong, and you’re not saying Russia was basically that fucked regardless of market theories – if that’s it, I gather the Russians themselves disagree quite vehemently.

@ DK But, if the government were interested in that side of it, then they would: 1) simplify the tax system.

I doubt the government is interested in that – this is New Labour we’re talking about, after all. That’s why lefties with brains complain about the government sucking up to the rich, rather than the businesses and individuals using tax havens. We expect the wealthy to game the system, but we don’t expect a left wing government to hold their hands while they do it.

If you support lower wages for ordinary workers, please, advocate higher business taxes: go ahead, be my guest.

I support the richest adhering to the same system the rest of us do, DK.

I’d harbour strong suspicions over the veracity of any document on taxation that came out of the US Congress in the last thirty years, but I’ll give it a pass for brevity’s sake. You can be my guest and take your congressional study straight to the electorate, door to door, but I imagine If you want to make the wealthiest part of our society play by the same rules as the poorest, you’re only hurting yourself is going to be a hard, hard sell.

It offends on a really basic level.

The OECD are not too hot on corporation tax either: http://www.sourceoecd.org/rpsv/workingpapers/18151973/wp_5kz7vwq7js26.htm

Also, I don’t think corporation tax has really anything to do with making the rich play fairly with the poor. As I have already said, plenty of more egalitarian-minded countries have low corporation taxes anyway. They do that because they don’t want to cook the geese that lay the golden eggs.

But I guess that is the problem with the left’s economic policy in this country compared with Europe: it is not just that they grasping, it is that they are ignorantly self-destructive too. No wonder they ended up with New Labour running the show!

121. douglas clark

Wow!

What a thread.

I’d have thought any reasonable person reading it would have thought DK was a bit exposed as a somewhat uncaring idiot.

But maybe that’s just me

Perhaps DK has an alternate method, one based on the altruisim of the rich to fund the needs of the poor? Or, perhaps, we should just ignore them?

I actually think that Libertarianism is an apologia for Hell.

And the Devils’ Kitchen is exactly what he says he is.

I think it’s worth noting the irony yet again here –

– That I referred to any libertarians with any measure of power in recent history, whose behaviour suggests that they will almost always side with the super-rich no matter the issue, and the interests of 99% of the populace can dangle, and

– That in response, we’ve been given a sterling defence of the right of the wealthiest part of society to evade taxation, an option not open to 99% of the population.

This is why I thumb my nose at claims that the only political axis that counts is authoritarian vs. libertarian – because it allows hard right wing Tories to smuggle a load of crazy, self-serving claptrap past the electorate while painting themselves as populist revolutionaries. I don’t blame libertarians for that – we all vote in our own interests, after all.

I’m just asking, are these your priorities?

1) I don’t want to pay taxes.
2) And fuck you.




6) Oh yes, and civil liberties.
7) And that’s it.

If so, you know which way to vote at the next election.

If they come over to our space to engage in drive-by trolling, they’ll get abuse in return, while having their own contributions mangled. Life is harsh, man.

Really? Drive-by trolling? In other words, anyone who disagrees with your point of view, and decides to put down a constructive argument against it is a drive-by troll. So you can chuck freedom of speech out the window, despite your posturing; indulge in the most incredibly petty disfigurement of a critical comment and then say:
Life is harsh, man.

In other words, you only tolerate people who agree with your point of view.

I didn’t realise the dedication to free speech meant I had to tolerate abuse and trolling on our blog too.

I’m not at all surprised that you struggle with this, since you clearly have no idea of what free speech actually is. Free speech means people can say whatever they like, whether it agrees with you or not. Free speech is not “people can say whatever they like, as long as it’s aligned with Fabian principles.”

Life is harsh. Free speech is even harsher.

And you are just another wannabe bully-boy lefty, hoping to shut down anyone who doesn’t agree with you. Because you’re always right, aren’t you? You’ve never, ever made a mistake, have you? And you know far better than anyone else how people should all live their lives and how people should all think, don’t you?

Your inability to argue your case and resorting to playground bully-boy tactics shows just how much strength the Fabian case for society has: none at all.

Go ahead, strip the vowels out of this as well, it’s a mechanical exercise that any fool without the wit to actually argue his case can do. And you certainly are a fool without the wit to argue your case.

“Go ahead, strip the vowels out of this as well, it’s a mechanical exercise that any fool without the wit to actually argue his case can do”

No surprise, really. If all you have is a hammer, etc, etc… 😉

– That I referred to any libertarians with any measure of power in recent history, whose behaviour suggests that they will almost always side with the super-rich no matter the issue, and the interests of 99% of the populace can dangle, and

Who suffers the most from being taxed? The rich or the poor? If you earn £12,000 per annum, you get taxed on half your earnings at 20%, so you pay about £1100 in tax. If you earn £120,000, you pay about £40,000 in tax. Who do you think feels their tax bill more, the guy who has to get by on £80,000 a year, or the guy who has to get by on £10,900?

Why do you think the guy at the bottom end of the scale would not feel significantly better off?

“But it’s naive to pretend the Conservative party is immune from this – after all they’ve always looked towards the Republicans for strategic and ideological guidance and they are the original masters of this strategy.”

Rubbish. Since 1997, New Labour have taken the art of spin and refined it to a new degree of mendacity. The blogosphere means the end of spin, because bloggers won’t sit back and meekly accept whatever the MSM is feeding them. The MSM is tainted largely by its closeness to the Westminster spin machinery; bloggers know this and will always look behind the headlines for the truth.

It’s not about left or right anymore, it’s about honesty and genuine free speech, not the kind of “free speech” as practiced by New Labour- “We need to engage in a constructive debate about this issue”, or some other similar form of weasel words.

127. the a&e charge nurse

A question to the Libertarians.

Who SHOULD be installed at No:10 ?

I doubt if it will be Brown next time.
Cameron is just another centre-right crowd pleaser.

So who ?
Can you give names …………. rather than rhetoric ?

Incidentally I do share your concern about muzzling dissident voices – I think that sort of thing ultimately leads to the kind of central control and sham consultation processes so loved by NuLabour.

I know DK has already answered, but I find this:

“That’s the bit I don’t get, Devil – you say the state should fund education but not provide it. Do you extend this line of thinking to:
*the police
*the army
*the fire brigade
If not, why not ?”

very odd. Why shouldn’t some bits of what is now state apparatus be funded but not provided by the state? There really is no cosmic rule that says what you do for education you must also do for the fire service.

Charge nurse

Who is the prime minister of Switzerland?

No idea. Neither do most Swiss. They take their problems to their local mayor over a beer

130. the a&e charge nurse

[136] Simply because, Alix, plurality and competition seem to be the two most dominant philosophies underpinning this school of thought.

Applied practically I imagine we could have one private army in Afghanistan (say) and another provider in Iraq – our elective representatives could then decide who was providing best value for money, or they may prefer to approach new providers in the exciting international mercenary market.

After all, even health is just another product – companies are now bidding to provide ‘care’ (sic) for the oldies – as far as I can tell the most important factor seems to be the lowest tender, while regulation is almost non-existent regulation.
I imagine the Libertarians, and Dan Hannon in particular must be in a state of grace ?

I seem to recall a similar situation arising when various ancillary services such as cleaning were outsourced by cash-strapped hospitals – now everybody complains that hospitals are dirty but fail to make the connection between poorly motivated staff and dirt-poor pay or skeleton staffing levels.

@ Obnoxio – Who suffers the most from being taxed? The rich or the poor?

My God, I had never before considered the impact of taxation on low earners! We must abolish all taxation immediately!

(Stops, slaps self in face – rereads own previous comments about how it always, always comes down to “slash taxation and let the rich play free” for libertarians, with every other issue as window dressing, and reminds self that this is all you need to know about how libertarians operate now and would govern given the chance).

Seriously guys, I urge you to put these bold The billionaire and the binman, hand-in-hand towards a bright new future wheezes to the electorate, in as blunt terms as you can muster. I guarantee you that they will be equally forthright in their reactions.

132. the a&e charge nurse

Well I agree OH that dialogue with local businessmen and local elective representatives is a sign of a healthy community – but are the big Swiss financial institutions really so laid back.

Did you know, by the way, that if over 100,000 citizens demand it (via referendum) then the Swiss constitution would have to be reformed – not bad for a country that speaks 5 languages.

Switzerland. The failed Libertarian State. Or not.

The country with the happiest, wealthiest, healthiest, cleverist citizens in the world.

Rodent,

Oooh, are you famous? All I know about you is that you seem to be unironically quoting from Bioshock on your blog. I played that through myself, as it happens.

No; I was merely pointing out that as a libertarian I couldn’t give 2 figs about whether a government collapses because it really isn’t that important.

You appear to have committed the schoolboy error that societal structure, culture and “hooman rights” flow out from our governments backside; they dont – the rights of man are God-given and as a result of man being a social creature lead to the other two; we had the 2 long before we had any form of government.

No, if I were you I wouldn’t touch Saipan either, but yes, I remember – that’s why I was talking about post-Soviet Russia. I do recall certain free-market magicians being sent in to work their charms with the resident economic geniuses, to much local outrage.

I chose not to engage on your Saipan point because I do not know enough about it – however a quick read of the wiki article puts it into perspective:

Besides English, the indigenous Chamorro language is spoken by approximately 19 percent of the inhabitants. The current governor of the CNMI is Benigno Fitial, who is the successor of Juan Babauta. The island also has many other large, strongly defined lingual and ethnic groups because of the large percentage of contract workers (60% of total population, as of 2001) from China, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. In addition, a large percentage of the island’s population includes first-generation immigrants from Japan, China, and Korea, and immigrants from many of the other Micronesian islands…

Yeah real bastions of freedom & opportunity those countries – so much so that working in sojournment and penury to chinese loan sharks seems preferable to the hell they have left behind (have you ever notice you never hear a motive or a comparative to what conditions are like in the countries they leave? Strange that). Oh and I would hardly refer to Republican lobbyists as being “libertarian”; they’ll only stretch it as far as they need to gain an advantage against labour laws in their own country, after all, capitalists are the ones who hate capitalism the most.

What you are in fact describing when you look at Saipan (or were: considering the majority of garment manufacturers are now closed – wonder what wonderful state of affairs await these people at home) is an exercise in corporatism, dressed in cherry picked libertarian newspeak; a bit like what you use in your own latest rant online; I freely admit to not knowing something but you could of at least done a little homework – LPUK was only started in 2008, making Muffchump’s campaigning for 5 years a tetch overzealous dontcha think?

I may be reading you wrong, and you’re not saying Russia was basically that fucked regardless of market theories – if that’s it, I gather the Russians themselves disagree quite vehemently.

No I was saying that bastardising the free market to suit the needs of government will always lead to destruction – we can see the results all around us now. The free market has to be applied from the ground up – ordinary people may not get a handle on the subtle nuances of macro and microeconomic theory (lord knows I cant), but they can see that the ability to trade between themselves for mutual benefit without an interlocutor, or worse, a looter who says it should be “distributed more equally” and then proceeds to cream off the top is easy for them to grasp. Much of Russia’s resources are either state owned or are operated by the looters I describe above; when they step out of line they have a tendency to get squashed by the ex-KGB despot known as Putin.

“LPUK was only started in 2008, making Muffchump’s campaigning for 5 years a tetch overzealous”

ITYF the Muffchumps of this world used to campaign for UKIP, until they noticed people were stifling a giggle every time it was mentioned.

a&e,

A question to the Libertarians.

Who SHOULD be installed at No:10 ?

I doubt if it will be Brown next time.
Cameron is just another centre-right crowd pleaser.

So who ?
Can you give names …………. rather than rhetoric ?

Incidentally I do share your concern about muzzling dissident voices – I think that sort of thing ultimately leads to the kind of central control and sham consultation processes so loved by NuLabour.

I really do sometimes wonder at the language of the left – “installed”? Seems apt to your entire belief structure that maybe your asking the wrong questions, sometimes because your just confused, other times because your downright disingenuous.

Anyway a more important question: Should it matter who is in number 10?

In a truly libertarian society the PM would actually have very little to do – he would enforce the few laws that existed, liaise with visiting heads of other countries and be the steward of every individual’s rights, be their champion – it wouldn’t matter what his personal beliefs were or how he put them into practice because of than exemplifying them they would have little impact on anyone else.

What libertarianism is really about is about giving the power of governance back to the people who are most at its mercy, whether because you believe its the right and just thing to do (as in natural-rights libertarianism) or because it will result in the best possible results (DK’s consequentialism) or both (mine). Government could be a tangible entity that normal every day people are able to get their hands on – whether that means the ability to pick how their childs education is carried out, or how their local council funds policing and social care, or even how their healthcare system should function; for the benefit of targets or for the benefit of the people they serve (when you think about it we can all agree that deep down the thing that most irks us about NuLabour’s target culture is that they most certainly view us all as numbers, statistics and putty for their mad mad schemes.

Neil,

Ah so by extension you paste all libertarians with the xenophobic ultra-conservative brush? Ah… We must be the children of such schooling? In that case considering the fate of UKIP you have nothing to fear from us. Still lets see what the public will say at the next general election eh?

Personally I think the reason you engage with us, despite our many quirks and derangements, is because you fear that deep down an LPUK government would firstly remove the looters from government, and that many on this blog make their living that way.

That was fun!

I’m putting this on my personal blog favourites since I got my new computer – debate is so rich here its fattening!

Get over yourself, Thom.

@ Thom – the rights of man are God-given and as a result of man being a social creature lead to the other two; we had the 2 long before we had any form of government.

Well, isn’t this all going a bit OT?

If you insist on a response, I’d say that a) God probably doesn’t exist and that b) rights mean nothing unless there is a mechanism for their protection or enforcement – whether that’s an impartial judicial system or a local bruiser with a big stick who deters your neighbour from wiping out your family and ripping off your stuff, it amounts to the same. Without law, rights are just some bloke bumping his gums until the Visigoths arrive.

I chose not to engage on your Saipan point because I do not know enough about it…

Allow me to stop you there – I raise Saipan, post-Soviet Russia and robber baron era America not because they are perfect, crystalline examples of libertarian philosophy in action, or because they are worse than China. I mention them because they are examples of occasions when libertarians or their forebears were allowed to put many libertarian theories into practice. If libertarian principles are so sound, then you would expect some libertarianism to have some positive effect. AFAICS, this has not been the case.

You may feel hard done to by this – if so, I’d note that the variations on ZOMFG teh NHS is killing THOUSANDS OF INNOCENTZ/ State education breeds STOOPID kids/ Benefits totally make teenagers get pregnantz etc. I see on libertarian blogs are not very valid either. If the British political system is to be held responsible for its failures, then there should be no problem examining failures in states where libertarians – pseudo, Republican or plain criminal – have been allowed to apply their ideology.

And again, this needs to be stressed until you take the point – revolutionary rhetoric about Taking the power back, Doodz! is all well and good, but history is emphatic about what happens when you smash an existing power structure with only ideology as a backup. It opens the door for extremists, criminals, mafias, wealthy oligarchies and dictators – outside of the American Revolution, I can see few examples of the revolutionaries’ vision being matched by the results, and even that is questionable.

British parliamentary democracy in its current form has a long, long history of qualified success – modern libertarianism in the broad sense, insofar as it has a history, is a cavalcade of free trade zone fuckups and mafia states, and its rhetoric is ripe for seizure by frauds for their own ends. (See also, the Republicans, below)

The form of libertarianism you describe appears to have a success rate of zero-for-zero, which is comparable to the successes of political Scientology, Monster Raving Loonyism and Natural Law – for a bunch of guys running such a vanishingly unpopular operation, you’re pretty quick to get the waggy-finger out, aren’t you?

I would hardly refer to Republican lobbyists as being “libertarian”; they’ll only stretch it as far as they need to gain an advantage against labour laws in their own country

Yes indeedy – this is why your brand of fantasy politics is so toxic. As I’ve noted, libertarians can’t get a candidate elected to the PTA, let alone congress or parliament. The real-world effect of your politics, then, is to hand people like the Republicans a readymade, tacked-on political philosophy for the justification and glorification of greed, union-busting and corporate malfeasance. The fact that you believe they’re not “real” libertarians as irrelevant as the Marxists’ cry that the Soviet Union wasn’t “real” socialism. They’re yours every bit as much as Chairman Mao is mine.

LPUK was only started in 2008, making Muffchump’s campaigning for 5 years a tetch overzealous dontcha think?

You’re picking nits in a joke? For real?

…bastardising the free market to suit the needs of government will always lead to destruction – we can see the results all around us now (Links to post arguing that banking crisis was caused by government, not bankers)

I demand that you take this Capitalism-Blameless-For-Crisis-Of-Capitalism theory to the people and explain that the truly free market – which even the looniest right winger admits is totally impossible – is the only measure that can save us.

Don’t hold back – just lay it all on a plate for them, and let them make up their own minds. I’ll see you after the next election, but don’t go putting your life savings into electoral deposits now.

140. the a&e charge nurse

[145] Thom – how can fathom a person’s ‘entire belief structure’ from a few throwaway lines on a blog, you must be a clever lad ?

From what I can fathom you seem to be saying it doesn’t matter who the PM is ?

A further plank of your argument seems to be that a fair and civilised society will mysteriously emerge through the will of the people.

I hope these aren’t the same people that turn up in A&E every night throwing up on anything within their immediate vacinity.
Or, the people running the firms bidding for the lowest tender to provide ‘care’ (sic) for our oldies.

The easy part is knocking Broo’n & Co, any numpty can do that – what I am less clear about is a meaningful alternative.
The Libertarian alternatives I have heard so far are supping with the local burgomeister, or leaving it to the mysterious will of the people.

141. John Galt profited from the Rwandan genocide

Quite amazing that all of the libertaritrons empirical claims seem so tailor cut to all fit the possessive and selfish man of capitalism isn’t it? Apparently global warming is not a scientific consensus but a vast plot by wicked looters and lefties to hold back forces of rationalism and progress. Forget what you heard about trade unions too, far from improving working conditions and wages their only function has been to hold back the working classes, a dead Austrian not by the name of Hitler said so.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, they might be right. It’s just that on the whole they sound about as convincing as Ratzinger’s recent hilarious “condoms cause aids” stand up routine. How long before the trons are going to start arguing that stepping over a baby drowning in a puddle is really in its best long term interests? Or that altruism causes cancer?

Rather than shitting out these unconvincing hatchet jobs wouldn’t the trons time be better spent on rethinking their particular conception of liberty? At least so that it entails something more than a billionaire driving his Audi S5 over the skulls of the proletariat to his heart’s content for ever at any rate.

“I demand that you take this Capitalism-Blameless-For-Crisis-Of-Capitalism theory to the people and explain that the truly free market – which even the looniest right winger admits is totally impossible – is the only measure that can save us.”

You don’t really need a truly free market in anything to get over this crisis, you just need some sort of market in currency, rather than the state monopolies we have not. http://www.asiaing.com/choice-in-currency-a-way-to-stop-inflation-by-f.a.-hayek-1976.html

We can offer solutions with historical evidence as well as rhetoric.

More generally, libertarianism emerges from the historical evidence of what has allowed people to foster a wealthy, prosperous and less violent society than what has come before. And that is essentially an institutional understanding of government with strong checks and balances and complete opposition to the use of arbitrary law. The best summary I have so far come across is actually provided by this guy in this very entertaining lecture:

http://oxlib.blogspot.com/2008/12/tom-palmers-talk.html

a&e,

[145] Thom – how can fathom a person’s ‘entire belief structure’ from a few throwaway lines on a blog, you must be a clever lad ?

Mea culpa; I should not deem to know what you believe, having read your comments elsewhere for many years.

From what I can fathom you seem to be saying it doesn’t matter who the PM is ?

I’m saying it shouldn’t matter – they would have very little power to do anything more than represent the views of the people who vote for them, not crush them under some massive ideological crusade.

A further plank of your argument seems to be that a fair and civilised society will mysteriously emerge through the will of the people.

Actually my arguement is that fair and civilised societies emerged without the need for colossal government structures; the separation of powers in this country is also what allowed it to grow into the empire that ruled a huge proportion of this rock for a long time and raise the life chances of millions in the process.

I hope these aren’t the same people that turn up in A&E every night throwing up on anything within their immediate vacinity.
Or, the people running the firms bidding for the lowest tender to provide ‘care’ (sic) for our oldies.

I’m trying to say that their ilk tends not to write themselves out of the history books or, worse, become infamous; I live on an ex-council estate adjacent to a fully functioning one – it is rife with the sort you are referring to – resplendant with burnt out cars, old sofas in the streets and BNP/Combat 18 support posters. The carpet baggers sucking at the NHS-teet will not escape justice, my only hope is that it comes sooner and that can only happen if the choice is put back into the individual hands of the stakeholders.

The easy part is knocking Broo’n & Co, any numpty can do that – what I am less clear about is a meaningful alternative.
The Libertarian alternatives I have heard so far are supping with the local burgomeister, or leaving it to the mysterious will of the people.

I’m sorry but have you even read LPUK’s manifesto? Or spent the £10 needed for a copy of The Plan? The Plan goes so far as discussing 30 acts of parliament that would alter this country for the good and does so in a positive and evidenced manner.

Neil,

You first.

Rodent,

Perhaps this is getting OT so I will finish with the following from a cleverer chap than I from his fisking of this debate:

…The central philosophical point of libertarianism is the non-aggression principle: it is illegal to initiate force or fraud against another person’s life, liberty or property…

The governments sole duty should be the enforcement of this principle; this includes protecting against your robber barons, the inconsistencies of the law as exemplified in Saipan or the misdirected idiocies of free-marketeers in the soviet union (they should’ve been telling them to devolve power; something which not one government in existence has ever done without it being wrested from them).

In my view control over ones life is a fundamental human right – you should be allowed to prosper under your own steam and by the work of your hands and those who voluntarily help you, either through plain altruism or from mutual benefit – thats the wonder of the free market.

If you want to live in a socialist utopia be my guest, with welfare, healthcare and education for all then be my guest – just dont expect me to pay for something I know doesn’t work. You find enough people, buy enough land and leave me the hell enough alone.

144. the a&e charge nurse

Thanks for your considered answer, Thom – I will look into it

“I will finish with the following from a cleverer chap than I”

Ah, more smoke being blown up Devils Kitchen’s arsehole.

Libertarianism: like a Personality Cult, but with less personality and more privately-educated fully-grown men repeatedly shouting ‘cunt’ at anyone who dares disagree with them.

@ Thom – …The central philosophical point of libertarianism is the non-aggression principle: it is illegal to initiate force or fraud against another person’s life, liberty or property…

This is indeed the central philosophical point of libertarianism. OTOH, I’ve gone to great lengths to point out that 99.9% of Britain’s people are not libertarians, don’t want to be libertarians and almost certainly will never be libertarians.

Ergo, libertarian philosophy is and will continue to be irrelevant to British people’s lives unless you can somehow convince them it’s in their interests to adopt it – I think they are significantly more likely to adopt hardline Rastafarianism, myself.

That means that, no matter how despicable you find this government or the next, their actions are not some epic affront to libertarianism, because Britain is not a libertarian country. It’s arrived in the position it has done because of the way the population have voted at successive elections, and although neither you nor I are happy with the way the country is run, we’re just going to have to suck it up like good little democrats.

BTW, Not one government in existence has voluntarily devolved power? I may be misunderstanding you, but I’ve sat in the Scottish Parliament, and I don’t recall the Scots storming Downing Street to get it. Additionally, just last year the SNP administration removed ring-fencing on council spending and devolved budgetary control to the regions, all of it without heads on sticks. Does that count as voluntary devolution?

@Nick – I don’t mean to be rude here, but can you chunk down the gospels of the libertarian prophets into a more digestible form? Say, a comment or so.

libertarian philosophy is and will continue to be irrelevant to British people’s lives unless you can somehow convince them it’s in their interests to adopt it

Open your eyes rodent.

It is not libertarians who will convince the British people that freedom has relevance to their lives. It is the statist politicians and police who seem determined to progress the Orwellian nightmare at an ever faster pace.

Open your ears, rodent.

People are beginning to awake and rattle their chains.

That stuff about chains – where have I heard it before? Now let me think…

Just to point out, it is ideologically coherent to both abhor the government’s current direction on civil liberties, and *not* desire the libertarian ‘government’ so proposed. You haven’t necessarily connected the two, but this discussion seems to be bouncing along the lines of “socialism versus freedom”, which I see as a false dichotomy.

It is not an absolute dichotomy. It is just that quite a few socialists tend to view things like protections against arbitrary rule, or seizure of private assets as an old fashioned bourgeois luxury, when in fact these limits on government are some of the most powerful defences of people’s lives that we have yet discovered. Libertarians happen to make those ideas the core of their philosophy, but you can learn from that even if you think there are other things to worry about too.

Open your eyes rodent… Open your ears rodent… People are beginning to awake and rattle their chains.

Oh, oh, I know this one! I’ll join in at the chorus!

Who’s first against the wall this time, comrade? Please, please let it be the intellectuals, it’s always more fun when it’s the intellectuals!

Sorry batman. Don’t follow. I’m not a lyricist as far as I know.

FR @161: It sounds more like a David Icke book title to me.

Which is, you know, ironic.

@Flying Rodent: the discontinuity is that you feel that the only way to improve the lot of the poor is a state handout. But you fail to recognise that decades of the state taking over more and more of the things people used to do for themselves and for each other means that people no longer feel the need to do those charitable or community things.

And who do you think is better placed to spend their money on people in their own community, people who live there or people who see a faceless mass on some form-filling government program?

Your lack of faith in humanity is ironic, since you are using the “uncaring” attitude of libertarians to the poor as some sort of justification for not allowing libertarianism. Libertarians are not uncaring. We just believe in highly localised caring: start with your family, then your neighbours, then the rest of your community. You believe in soulless, mass government programs that treat everyone as a statistic, that rob people of their compassion and humanity.

Yet somehow, libertarians are the uncaring bad guys.

PS I hope the Flying Rodent’s sarcastic comment doesn’t get defaced by the free-speechers.

You’re breaking my inbox. Sssh all yous guys.

What’s a ‘community’, Obo?

@ Obnoxio – …you feel that the only way to improve the lot of the poor is a state handout… You believe in soulless, mass government programs that treat everyone as a statistic, that rob people of their compassion and humanity.

A humanitarian and a mind-reader… (Sniffs, dabs eyes)

And remember, FR @167, you initiated violence by holding the beliefs Obo attributes to you.


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    New post: Blogging will only increase the sleaze – unless we stop it http://tinyurl.com/cb44eo

  6. Jamie Sport

    This is about right – RT @libcon New post: Blogging will only increase the sleaze – unless we stop it http://tinyurl.com/cb44eo

  7. Pickled Politics » On blogging and sleaze

    […] and sleaze by Sunny on 12th April, 2009 at 3:58 pm     A short article about all this on Liberal Conspiracy. To be honest, anyone who thinks the latest episode involving McBride, Derek Draper and Guido […]

  8. sunny hundal

    RT @libcon Blogging will only increase the sleaze – unless we stop it http://tinyurl.com/cb44eo – my article on Liberal Conspiracy

  9. McBride and prejudice | hackcartoonsdiary.com

    […] the issue-of-the-moment, Sunny Hundal at Liberal Conspiracy has a thoughtful piece (after the less-interesting conspiracy theory at the top) about the new age of digital publishing […]

  10. Jamie Sport

    @libcon Sunny, I’ve had it with those muthafunning conservatives on your muthafunning thread! http://tinyurl.com/cxvdkp

  11. Somewhat puzzled | Anonymong

    […] that the “whole blogosphere, right and left” start being nicer, a sentiment echoed by Liberal Conspiracy. Which quite frankly is where I start to get puzzled, I mean I didn’t realise that I had to […]

  12. Liberal Conspiracy’s Bad Couple of Days at Charlotte Gore

    […] feeling rather left out of the whole “Smeargate” scandal, so has decided to troll the whole blogosphere with this piece accusing blogs of promoting degradation of politics and destroying […]

  13. <br /> In the playground | Newpapers Collected

    […] your houses. As far as I’m concerned, the best take on the McBride-Draper farce came from a commenter at Liberal Conspiracy. Excuse the strong language, but he’s right to be so blunt: This […]

  14. The Gunpowder Plot: Why The Conservative Party Fears Guido More Than You Think… | Sharpe's Opinion

    […] is why Sunny Hundal’s best criticism of Guido – that he’s acting hypocritically over the McBride scandal – falls utterly flat: […]

  15. How about a crusty saying…I am not under 30 years of age « Various Philosophies of Cynicism

    […] as young as it is, that people – the voting public that you want to serve, or do you, do not want Draper and his ilk anywhere near politics? It is he, Campbell, Mandelson who are nought but spin – they have destroyed what is known as […]

  16. Longrider » Free Speech, Sleaze, Blogs and General Silliness

    […] attention was drawn by the Devil’s Kitchen and subsequently Charlotte Gore to Liberal Conspiracy (unfortunately). Now, there’s a name to conjure with. These people are not by any […]

  17. Longrider » And Another Thing…

    […] some of the drivel on the LC comments thread, I see that the Flying Rodent mischaracterises libertarianism in an all too predictable manner and asks in a loaded manner what our priorities […]

  18. Some thoughts on blogging « Hundreds and Thousands (on the trifle of life)

    […] inspired by the recent exposure of the smear campaign at No 10 mentioned at the beginning and also this in which the author makes such fatuous comments and draws such facile conclusions that it’s […]





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